Friday, March 21, 2008

Oyster going to read this post?

"What did the clam say to the oyster?"

"Is that a pearl in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?"

Hardy har har.

If you actually laughed at that, I'll be amazed, because I made it up myself.

But seriously, this post isn't just about lame jokes. I wanted to pass along some important information that I was recently reminded of. This isn't a big deal for me now, since I decided to go Kosher-style a few years ago and give up treif, but it could definitely impact a lot of my friends.

There are some important rules about seafood consumption that not everyone knows about. If you are going to eat raw or undercooked Gulf oysters, then you need to know what the risks are. A lot of people can do this (it's considered a delicacy) without any problems, but if you are in an at-risk group, you should think twice before risking your health. The Web site can tell you what all the at-risk groups are, but for now, I'm just going to talk about one in particular. Pregnant women.

I went to a barbecue at a co-workers house when I was about 14-15 weeks pregnant. Most people knew because I'd announced it by then, but I wasn't quite showing obviously yet. I looked bigger, but it could have just been me gaining weight. A woman I didn't know very well had brought some oysters and they were cooking some on the grill, but also eating them raw. It was almost trusth-or-dare style, one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen adults do. Trying to intimidate people who thought it was gross into trying them. And of course, when I politely declined, they started razzing me too.

I didn't feel like they deserved an explination. It wasn't their business why I didn't want an oyster and I didn't deserve to be peer-pressured by 40 year olds. How lame. Anyway, I got pissed off enough that I just left and went inside. Later, the woman who brought the oysters came and apologized. She said she had no idea that I was pregnant and I was right not to do it. Raw oysters are bad news for the unborn. I gave her a look and didn't say much. I just wished that people would mind their own business at that point.

But I'm passing this information along because it occurs to me now that maybe she really thought she was helping. For all she knew, I was refusing because I thought it was gross and then would get brave later and go try them just to make a point. So since I never told her "I'm not eating them because I'm pregnant" she felt she should make sure I knew it was unsafe.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about sleeping on your back while pregnant too, which she didn't know was unsafe, so I figured I should go ahead and pass this along. Maybe I'll save a baby today :-)

A little lonely

So even though a large percentage of my friends have said that they think the lj boycott (yes, I agree that "strike" is the wrong word for many reasons) is dumb, I decided I would stay away today. There are two reasons for this.

1. I do remember the uproar about lj banning nursing photos as user icons and am very upset that they are contributing to our society's disgusting and incorrect view that breastfeeding is sexual or something you should be ashamed of and keep hidden.

2. Even though for the most part, the new changes don't affect me and aren't my cause in particular, I'm being repectful of the people who are affected. It's like I'm not striking myself, but am just choosing not to cross the picket line. I mean, c'mon, it's only 24 hours, I'm not going to die from lj withdrawals. Right? Right.

The one sport that makes sense

It's no secret that I'm not exactly what you would call a sports fan. I mean, basketball is a bunch of sweaty guys jumping up and down, football is a bunch of freezing guys jumping on top of each other and wresting is a bunch of naked guys trying to kill each other. But even I have to admit that Amercica's favorite passtime, baseball, can be pretty fun to watch. It's easy to understand and relatively non-violent. The year that the Mariners were doing so good that they made it to the playoffs (the lost to the Indians) I made sure I was watching baseball.

But there are people who are so into baseball that watching the real thing isn't even enough for them. They also play fantasy baseball, which is, as far as I can tell, pretty impossible to win. But a lot of people are VERY into it, and spend large chunks of their time online trading players, etc. At least now there is Web-based software that helps you keep track of all the decisions you've made. You can access it from anywhere, not just your home computer (good news for all those guys at my old work who spent large amounts of time playing fantasy baseball after deadline was over) and it even comes equipped with artificial intelligence that makes mid-season projections.

Apparently the reason we should all care about this nifty tool is that there is a significant amount of money to be made in fantasy baseball. Now that I did not know about.

If any of you are into fantasy baseball and want to sign up to use this software, you can enter the promo code BMC200 and get $10 off. Ta-da! Pass it along :-)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'd like to purchase a time machine

The only good news I can report at this particular moment is that Ben went to bed at the fantastically beautiful time of 8:15. And that's not down to bed at 8:15, that's ASLEEP at 8:15. I've seen nothing like this in months and months and months. But at the same time, I haven't had a day like today in um, ever?

Our day started well. I woke up and we nursed. My alarm went off and I actually was able to get out of bed, so I scooped Ben up and carried him upstairs, stripped him down fast and put him on the potty. Ta-da!!! Dry diaper, overnight :-) That's right, I'm a potty-training genius. Yay! I suddenly felt a lot better about the $7 I spent last night on an online potty training course. (I wouldn't recommend it if things are going fine, but if you're having problems, it does have a few good tips. Probably worth about half of what I paid for it, but hey, $7 is not that much to begin with. Since a lot of things on the Internet turn out to be a scam, I'm happy that it was useful at all. It's actually one of the ads on the top of this page "potty training in 3 days" so check it out if you're interested.)

Anyway, I digress already.

He peed, we watched Backyardigans, we went to art class. It was an Easter-themed day, and I even thought about not going, but decided we'd paid for it and he'd have fun. He doesn't know bunnies and eggs have anything to do with the J-dude. So we did some fun projects and when class was over, lo and behold, he was still dry!!! Yay again. We went to the public restroom but he was too distracted. So I bribed him with candy to stay dry all the way home. He did, we made it and he went in the potty again!!!! A potty-training goddess, that's me.

Then we had lunch and nap. I set a nice alarm so I'd know what time to go get him to make sure he made it to the potty in time (if he wakes up naturally, he never makes it) Well, of course, he woke up 3 minutes before the alarm. And wet his pants. Ah, well. To be expected.

The next pee was when we were outside playing in the yard. We of course tried to go before playtime, but he didn't go. So I set an alarm on my cell phone for 3:45 to try again. Every 20 minutes until they go. Want to know when he went? Three mintues before the alarm went off. Great.

So now, it's late afternoon. We watched some tv. We did some potty sits. Nothing. Time went by. He got up a lot. More time passed. The more sure I was that he had to go, the more he refused to even sit at all. We tried the big potty. We tried the little potty. He screamed, "No potty!" Oh dear. I saw the carpet accident coming a mile away and had no idea what to do.

But thankfully we figured it out. I put on Penguin Movie which we haven't seen in eons. He peed right in the potty before the previews even STARTED! Yup, sure you didn't have to go. But what I can't understand is why he hates the potty later in the day. Seriously, each potty visit is harder than the last and by the end of the day he basically refuses to go at all. Our last accident was actually when Stephen was watching him and he was sitting on the massage table. Stephen actually got a little mad which is kind of unusual for him.

Le sigh.

By the time I got Ben to the bath, we were all insanely tired. He'd been screaming and getting into things and making a big ol mess of anything he came near. We get into the bathroom, and he goes for the toilet paper. About a third of a roll in .5 seconds. And then he threw a bunch of it in the bath. AGHHGHGHHGHGHHHHHH!!!

Things were better in the bath, he calmed down some and did some listening. All was going well until we got out. He tried to get back in, with his towel and I told him that bath was all done. So he bolted straight to the toilet paper. Double handed unrolling. And as much of it as possible into the draining bath. In an instant.

So. Onto the title of this post. I thought to myself while nursing Ben to sleep, what happened to my baby?

This lead me to two separate trains of thought. Why on earth would I want ANOTHER child when I'm so close to strangling this one? What makes me think that I could watch two? And live? They'll tag team me ... one will destroy things while the the other cries and then I'll go to clean up the destroyed stuff and someone will bite or pinch or cry and then I'll lose one and I just can't imagine what the hell I'm thinking.

But I really thought about why it is that I want another baby. Not just the two kids was always the goal in the long run. Not just so much that I want a daughter so much that it physcially hurts me to think about it for too long. It's that I want my baby back. And since Ben will never get younger, the only way to recaptures those wonderful sweet little newbaby moments is to have another one.

I wondered if people would have so many kids if there were time machines and you could just go back and visit your first at any age. Hmmm.

Cause seriously, if Stephen came to me and said "Throw out your pills! Let's make a baby tonight!!!!" I'm not sure I could do it. I am THAT tired.

I spent the whole six and a half hours that I slept last night dreaming about potty training. That's right, dry pants are so much a part of my life now that they're infecting my dreams.

I just want a little break.

PS: the newest good news is that it turns out that not only did he go to sleep at 8:15, he did it BY HIMSELF with zero get ups. Wow. That's one tired kid.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gaining exposure

It's kind of ironic to me that back when I was working, I was in journalism, which I was always very careful to explain to people was completly seperate from advertising. But now that I'm at home, my extra income comes from writing ads, which is kind of what I said I was "too good for" when I was working. Ha ha ha. I guess that just goes to show you that you should never say never. After all, even when I worked at the newspaper, I was totally dependent on advertising. I mean, that's where my paycheck came from, right?

Ads are responsible for sponsoring a lot of things that we use every day that are "free" to us, like large portions of the internet. And since people buy stuff online all the time, it works out good for each Advertising Agency as well, because they want to get their names out there, gain some exposure and make some new business. Somtimes I click on various ads I see at the side of people's Web sites, especially if it is something I'm interested in, because you never know when you're going to find a good deal that you wouldn't have even thought to look for. :-)

How many flavors was that again?

To motivate Ben with his potty-learning, I've been giving him treats for two reasons. One level for staying dry, and one level for going in the potty. I read once that just giving reinforcement for going in the potty doens't get the whole message across. Then they get the idea that it's good to go in the potty, but not that they have to do it everytime. Just when its convienient for them.

Rewarding for dry pants is a completely different mentality. It's not saying "You have to use the potty" it's saying "Mama likes dry pants." It's hard to explain why it works differently, but it does. If you do this technique completely the way its recommended, you're not really supossed to make a deal out of using the potty at all. Rewards are for potty sits (trying, regardless of success) and for dry pants. This is supossed to keep him from feeling pressured or stage-fright or whatever. But I can't help but get really excited when he pees in the potty, so I'm kind of doing a combo approach.

Anyway, I decided to go out and get some special potty treats for dry pants. Out of nostalgia and a general good memory of them, I went with a box of Jelly Bellies. A pre-mixed set. Like 40 flavors.

And do you know the problem with Jelly Bellies? You can't tell what you're getting (yes, even if you pore over the little chart thing that they include) until you put it in your mouth. It's the worst guesing game ever. Will it be chocolate pudding? Or will it be root beer? Ewwwww!!!!

Ben asked for a "black one" the other day after using the potty and I gave it to him, warning him that Mama doesn't even like black ones, and that if he didn't like it, it was OK.

I seriously should have taken photos. I've never seen him so confused. He's like "It's candy. I like candy. But it's bad!!!! What's wrong with the candy? Why is it broken?"

Ha ha ha. I'd give up on the Jelly Bellies completely except for one problem. What's that? Juicy pear. OMG, if you've never had juicy pear Jelly Bellies, it's worth going out and getting a whole box just to pick out the pear ones. Mmmmmmm. Pear.

Thankfully, I like more than just the one flavor (I really like the popcorn ones, which I've heard makes me weird/rare) and interestingly Ben likes a lot of the ones that I don't, like Tutti Fruiti and Orange and Lemon-Lime. Ha ha ha.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Houses on sale

One of the things that's always been hard for me to understand about economics is the whole buyers market/sellers market thing. Like if the rates are low, then it seems like people would want to look into purchasing homes. But at the same time, how are they going to sell their previous home if rates are low and there are so many homes to choose from? Does that make any sense?

Not to mention, if rates are low, that means things aren't going so well in the economy. Which means no one has any spare money, and everyone is looking into mortgage refinancing. People can't afford to move, so they hope to just save money on the place they already have.

I know that if Stephen hadn't gotten that new job, that's what we'd be doing about now. And we actually got some pretty good mortgage rates when we bought our house about 18 months ago. Seriously, the highest rate we're paying right now is 7 percent and that's on a loan that we used for home improvement.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Playing ain't what it used to be

Do you know what would be a cool job? Designing children's play equipment. See, from what I was able to dredge out of my ancient brain, when I was a kid, a jungle gym was a jungle gym. You had your basic monkey bars, a slide or two and that was it. If it was a good park, there might be some swings or perhaps you'd hit the jackpot and there would be a tire swing.

It is my personal opinion that all the tire swings are now gone from the world because a park designer actually witnessed them being used once. This then caused that person to say "Holy crap, what were we thinking?!?!?!?"

Tire swings were one of the most deadly things ever invented and marketed toward children. I don't know what you did on a tire swing when you were a kid, but I know that I would pile on it with a whole bunch of other kids, WAY more than the recommended number, which I believe might have been three, and some big huge kid in junior high that was technically too old to be getting his jollies at a park anyway would push the big ol' hog pile of kids up into the stratosphere. Whoever was the littlest on the swing would get scared and start crying, which always made the big kid push harder. This continued until somebody fell off and bit it in the sawdust or little pebbles or whatever else they thought would be a "safe" landing zone for little kids being launched at a velocity of 238 miles an hour off of a tire swing.

It always ended in blood. And not once did it ever occur to us not to get on the damn thing, because hey, everyone else was doing it and didn't it look like so much fun? So I'm very glad that I've never seen one in all the parks I've ever taken my son to.

So clearly, somebody came through in the past 15-20 years since I was a kid and remodeled all the parks to take out the death traps for children and replace them with newfangled high tech, specially enginerered developmentally formulated fancy play equipment 3000.

The stuff they have at parks these days is beyond anything my poor little raised in the '80s mind could possibly dream of. There are bridge and weird step things, and seesaws that are fun without being launch pads for the smaller child. There are 543 kinds of slides and 83,434 things for kids to climb up and on. And somehow, they've kept the fear of death right there on the surface of the equipment (because that's what little kids want when they go to the park, right?) but taken the actual RISK of death down to a reasonable .5 percent or so. I mean, nothing is perfectly safe, and you have to just assume that if your 2-year-old is playing too close to a snarky 7-year-old that pushing could happen at any moment. But seriously, they guard rails are better, the materials are better (no more splinters from wooden equimpent, or burns from metal slides) and the creativity is better.

All this stems from my taking Ben to a park in Renton that I used to go to as a child and being bowled over at what has been done with the place since I was last there. They had two play structures, one that was labeled "Appropriate for children ages 2-5" and another that was labeled "Appropriate for ages 6-12."

Want to guess which one Ben wanted to play on? Thankfully, it was during school, so there were no actual 6-12 year olds to mow him down, but I was up there with him, standing behind him every step of the way, because there was some scary looking stuff up there and I didn't know what to expect. My child has been known to pull a "Chuckie" every once in awhile, and I figured I should be around to help him find his way down.

To his credit, he was amazingly brave. The thing that struck me the most about this play structure was they had a place up high where there were some stairs that had gaps in between them. You could see ALL THE WAY DOWN and of course the gaps were small enough that the worst that could happen is Ben's foot could get caught or maybe he might fall all the way to his waist. That would take some effort though. But to my toddler, it looked like THE BIGGEST SCARIEST THING HE'D EVER SEEN!!!!

He had both hands superglued to the vertical handrailing (like crib bars) as he carefully placed one foot on the first step. I verbally coached him through it, telling him to move his hands to the next blue bar while putting his foot on the next step. There were six total steps and when he made it to the top without my having to help or even hold his hand, I gave him like 20 highfives and a big hug and told him how proud I was. He was beaming.

And then I cried because I know it's moments like these that I'll think back to when he's adjusting his tie on his wedding day and asking me how he looks. The answer?

Absolutely perfect.

(boy, this post ended up in a completely different place than it started out, huh?)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Seeking buzz?

I've been trying to get a little more exposure for this blog, so I submitted a post to, which is supossed to distribute your material to a large group of interested people. I have no idea if it will work, but it was really easy to sign up. The downside is that they wouldn't let me market my first post without sending an email invite to at least five friends. So if you are one of those friends and you're not interested in this, let me know, and I'll take you off. In my opinion, that wasn't realy the point. My friends already read my stuff. I'm interested in meeting NEW people, you know? But I guess even if I get just a few new readers from doing this, that's better than nothing, right? I mean, it's free, so what have I got to lose?

Monday, March 10, 2008


Joe and I had a nice talk the other night. I told him that if no one else was going to talk to him about sex than I would. He interupted me to say "Yeah, yeah, I know. Don't do it." And I said that I was a teenager once and am not going to just say don't do it because that's how dumb things happen. I said that he could talk to me and if he needed anything but was too embarassed to go buy it, then I would go for him. I know that teenagers are going to have sex when they're going to have sex regardless of anything any adult says, so he might as well be protected. The last thing we need is 16-year-old Joe becoming a father. I shudder at the thought.

Anyway, at this point, he admits that Harley is on bc and she already has condoms for if they need them. They haven't done anything yet though. I'm glad to hear this, as they haven't really been together for very long, but I can see it coming a mile away. He loves her already, and I think maybe she loves him too. She's quite a catch and I just hope that neither of them end up with an STD or a broken heart.

So I've been feeling pretty close with Joe recently, and things have been looking up. But then, I found a bunch of ASH in the car I'm sharing with Joe. (Actually, Ben found it, as it was all over his carseat and he decided it looked yum yum yummers. Eww.) So I called my mom to ask if she knew of any reason there might be ash in the car. OK, mostly, I called to whine and complain about it because I was bitchy and it made me feel better to know that Joe was going to get in trouble for whatever the hell he did that got ASH in the car. I mean, he's not really my brother, and I could care less what he does as long as he stays out of my way and behaves himself (as in, not doing stupid illegal things like driving with Harley in the car or anything else dumb like that.)

But in order for this to occur, he would have to stop stealing all the gas I put in the car, which has been happening more and more recently and be straight with me when I ask him questions like "Why the hell was there ash all over the inside of the car?"

So I ratted on him. Big deal. Seriously, teenagers NEED someone to keep them from killing themselves or else they'll just keep on getting into more and more trouble. I should know, I was one.

Anyway, as we aren't really siblings, it's kind of weird having this relationship where it feels exactly like having a whiny kid brother who I love and care about, but still have the urge to shout "MOM!!!!!! Joe got ash in the car and owes me at least $15 in gas money."

Sometimes living here really feels like getting the childhood/teenagehood that I never got to have due to whatshisbucket ...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Shiny and clean

I am not a particularly vain person, but I do love my hair. Most people who met me briefly probably wouldn't think much about it, because I usually just throw it back in a ponytail. But the thing about ponytails is that then the hair is there when you need it. You can do it up or let it down or curl it or straighten it or whatever you feel like doing. Sometimes, I do my hair nicely just to remember what it looks like, since mostly it's just wash and go.

I was happy to receive natural shampoo and conditioner samples in the mail because I am a total hair product junkie. The idea of a natural shampoo that is good for both my hair and the environment is very appealing. I have to admit that my first concern was, would it work? I mean, those pesky chemicals are there for a reason! To scrub out the other crappy chemicals like hairspray and gel and whatever else. Also, applesauce. (I'm a mom, what can I say?)

Thankfully, I had a rich lather instantly, and my hair came squeaky clean. But that was just half the test. For me, the real reason I've tried practically every single hair product out there is because I'm in an eternal search for conditioner that will weigh down my frizzies. Thankfully, the naked naturals conditioner did a great job of making my curls separate and look cute.



(Of course, I never really look like this because my 2-year-old doesn't let me do my hair. So normally I'm either wearing a towel on my head, or I've got my hair shoved in a sloppy ponytail.)

The best part about the free samples is that they came with a $1 off coupon for the product. Oh, and the part where my hair smelled like lavendar. Mmmm. Nice :-)

How embarassing

I posted a cool poll on my livejournal about cleaning and privacy, and I'd just like to say that it is apparently time for me to hide under a rock and die. Or something. No, really. All those "You're supossed to do that?" answers were mine. And the "When company is coming" type answers. Especially the sheets and the bathroom. Le sigh. At least I'm lucky enough to be married to someone who is the same way as I am. I mean, maybe my house would be cleaner if I married a neatfreak, but he'd probably be really grumpy with me all the time.

And as for the other questions, they were mostly inspired by learning that my BIL and his girlfriend (they live together) leave the door open when the use the potty. And have conversations! While pooping!!!!! This horrified me. I have major stagefright and won't go any kind of potty in front of anyone. Well, Ben in an emergency, but it's really not my preference.

Le sigh. Thankfully, you're not required to disclose your own answers if you don't want to :-)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Help and support for paid bloggers

The paid blogging industry is something that has a lot more layers than you might thing when you first sign up. I learned about writing sponsored posts from someone I didn't even know in the breastfeeding community on livejournal. I was asking questions about egg donation because we were so desparate for a financial solution. So before I knew it, I was working for payperpost and writing sponsored posts for a few extra bucks. I've since joined a few other outfits like Smorty and SponsoredReviews and really put my heart and soul into this work. It's like a JOB for me, and it's really made a huge difference.

But apparently there's like politics involved, and all sorts of changes keep on coming about. First there was the pagerank issues and then the realrank stuff. Plus there's the fact that ppp seems to deeply dislike all free hosts, but livejournal in particular. More than anything, it really helps to talk to other posties (people who write sponsored posts) about what's going on and how to do better. I am really proud of how far I've come in the sponsored post business, but let me tell you, none of it would have been possible without the help of both friends and strangers who have done it all before and had some wisdom to lend me.

Seriously, before I started doing this, I didn't know ANY html, not even a simple href. Now I know how to embed photos and video and all sorts of cool stuff. How? By asking around. But eventually, you run out of friends, or everyone gets tired of hearing the same stuff. I mean, my blog is supossed to be for and about ME, you know? It's frustrating enough to read through all the sponsored posts without having to read a bunch of posts ABOUT them as well.

Anyway, I found this really awesome Web site that provides support to posties (from all companies, but especially ppp) and a place to complain and vent in a free place. It's not owned by any of the sponsored post companies, but still moderated to keep things ontopic. Everyone I've met there has been really nice and helpful, and of course it's free to joing. Go check them out!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sick again

Everyone at my house has been sick in the last three weeks, so I wasn't surprised when I started feeling ill last Saturday. I didn't figure I'd be lucky enough to escape. But how come everyone else got off with a sore throat and cough and I had to end up puking in my friend's toilet? Huh? Could someone please explain the fairness of that? I mean, our trip was meant to be for Stephen's birthday so he could have "adult time" and sit down and play a game and talk and stuff, and I managed to be all ill and lightheaded and go to bed early and ruin it. Nice. Good thing I didn't crash the car or anything too ... wait ...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Calling all procrastinators

So I was shopping around on the Coupon Chief Web site today, laughing about all the last minute Valentine's Day deals they have going right now. But I can't laugh too hard, because it's not like I've done any of MY Valentine's Day shopping yet. Whoops.

But Valentine's Day is like the one time that you're allowd to procrastinate, because who wants week-old droopy flowers? I'm sure my mom with much prefer the shiny fresh ones that I will be picking up for her tomorrow.

But if you're the kind of person that buys actual gifts for Valentine's Day, you should check out these Target coupons because Target rocks and has the best stuff ever. It's probably where I will be picking up a card for my husband. (At this point in our debt-paying existence, I really shouldn't get anything more than that.)

But if we were in a good place financially, do you know who'd be getting Valentine's Day love? BEN!!! You should see the awesome Children's Place coupons and the adorable stuff they have. Simply adorable.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone

Learning heaven

I found this store downtown today with a ton of stuff for kids. It's almost a toy store, but more like a learning store. It had art supplies and books and puzzles and toys, but only good ones. Lots of Melissa and Doug stuff. I think it was like a homeschooling supply store or something I don't know. All I know is that Ben sat and played with a wooden Thomas the Train set for like 20 minutes without getting into trouble while I shopped and drooled all over everything. He also found a little wooden tool/peg set thing that he played nicely with.

I finally chose my purchase, a pack of three books about numbers with a dry erase marker, crayons and stickers all included. It also has a cd with more stuff to color. I guess you put it in the computer and then print out more coloring book pages. That's pretty awesome for $10. We were happy campers.

And the sticker book was a huge hit! We spent about 25 minutes putting stickers in the book this afternoon. And if you know my son, you know that anything that causes him to sit still and do one thing for that long is a miraculous invention.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Save some money

It was about a year ago when my husband convinced me to at least let him call and check if we could save some money on our car insurance. We were previously with progressive and I was pretty loyal to them, but I said, hey, money is money, right? So he called some little company that I'd never heard of, and sure enough, they saved us a TON of money!!!

I was shocked! The price was seriously like 1/5 of what we were previously paying. I highly recommend getting quotes from anyone and everyone who is selling car insurance. I mean, what do you have to lose?

We've been visited by a fairy

Last night, Ben was up from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. and it was horrible and we all wanted to die. I knew he'd been teething for quite some time now, from his finger and clothes chewing. We even went out and bought him some popsicles the other day because he's been so miserable.

Obviously, popsicles weren't an option in the middle of the night, so I went ahead and gave him two tylenol meltaway tablets. (He calls them "medicine candies" and was happy for the idea.) STILL no luck. Finally, Stephen took him out of our bed and layed down with him in his own bed and he went to sleep. At least he managed to sleep through the rest of the night from that point until 8:45 when we got up.

This morning, I found out why the medicine didn't work. He spit it out!!! Both tablets were in the bed smooshed under the sheets. Well, no wonder! Grr. I'm so frustrated because we were pretty harsh with him by the end, assuming there was no way he could still be in pain and was just being obnoxious. Why would he spit it out? He begs for that stuff. Mmmm grape.

Anyway, as we were laying down for our nap (this is a completely different story that I'll have to get to later) he said, "Mouf no more ouchie. Mouf all better." And he even let me look. Sure enough, the first of his four 2-year molars has finally broken the surface.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Time to be proactive

It's so hard to think of myself as an adult, you know? I mean, sure I'm married and have a kid, and am closer to 30 than to 20, but some things, like retirement, seem like things that only GROWNUPS have to worry about. But I've seen those articles that state how much money you'll have if you invest $5,000 at various ages. The main point is the earlier you invest, the more your money can do for you. On this NewRetirement Web site, it explains a lot of the things you need to know in order to be prepared for your future.

I wish we were in a position to actually follow all these suggestions, but its so hard with the amount of debt that we have to justify not putting every extra penny toward reducing it. I mean, with the interest we're paying, we're really got to get this stuff paid off before we can even think about future plans.

Now or never

Well, sort of. We're going back to Aberdeen tomorrow (Ben will stay with Grandma) to meet with ANOTHER real estate agent about the house. I mean, sure it's lame that the market sucks and it probably won't sell right away.

But it CAN'T sell if its not listed. Ignoring our problems until they go away on their own hasn't really worked out for us in the past, so I'm proud that we're learning and growing and aggressively pursuing this, you know? It's nice at my mom's house, but I don't want to live here forever!!!!

Wish us luck :-)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

How many cars do we need anyway?

I was so excited to move back to Puget Sound where there is nice public transportation and lots of city type things within walking distance. But then my mom offered to let me use Joe's car while we lived here, and I have to admit, now I'm kind of spoiled by being a SAHM with my own car.

I know that it makes no financial sense for us to be a two-car family once we don't live here anymore. But it doesn't stop me from browsing the internet, looking at Car Prices, wondering how horrible a person I am for wanting a family car when we don't even know how many kids we will be having yet.

I mean sure, if there are three, then I can see that we would need one. But only two? And a gas guzzler? Not a good plan. But its so NICE having so much room in my vehicle for the dog and groceries and stuff. Oh well.

Waste not, want not

I heard a factoid in 8th grade that has stuck with me throughout my life. "Your garbabge disposal eats better than half of the world's population"

At the time, I didn't really understand it. I thought, why would people want to eat orange peels and egg shells. But once I did get it, I strove to make sure it wasn't true. If I didn't finish my meal, even if it was only by a few bites, it went back in the fridge.

The same held true for Ben, and since he's a baby, this obviously happens a lot. He doesn't eat a whole yogurt, he eats like 1/5 of it. So I usually put the rest back and he finishes it over the next couple days.

Well, my mom took one look at how fast her fridge was filling up with open yogurt and cans of peaches and half-eaten string cheeses, and she snipped at me that this wasn't going to work.

So now I'm stuck with either finishing everything that Ben doesn't eat (yipes! that will make me fat quickly) or throwing it away. That's pretty sad too. I've already thrown away pieces of hot dog bun and smashed banana. And I know I'm not really stealing food from third world countries when I do it, but it still sucks.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The big V debate

My husband goes back and forth on his opinion of the big V day. Sometimes he thinks its a capitalistic evil trick designed to make men look bad. Other times, he's disgruntled because he thinks that he should be allowed to do sweet things for me whenever he wants, and doesn't need a special day with "expectations" surrounding it. But other years, things are good between us and he's feeling laid back and romantic. Then I get stuff.

Chocolate, flowers, dinner, a movie, a massage, whatever he can think of. He sometimes gets original things, like a painting for the wall, but most of the time, I think he understands that a cheesy holiday equals cheesy things, like these pink gifts. Would I buy any of these things for myself? No way! But if he came home with something like this for me on V-day, would I be happy? You betcha! With our history, I'm happy for his thoughtfulness. Besides, everybody likes pink stuff at least one day out of the year. ;-)

Clean again

I was just talking today about how nice it feels to be warm and not have to worry about how much every degree is costing, but there's even more than that. I was in our "apartment" with Ben, letting him have some free play (it's almost toddler proof!) while I put laundry away. I was folding some of his older T-shirts, which are now only used as pajamas because they're so gross. I don't know if you've ever smelled a shirt that has been constantly drooled on, but it really is gross. Most of Ben's shirts smell like dishrags.

So we get him new clothes every so often (thankfully, this has so far corresponded approximately with when he would outgrow things anyway) and make his old clothes for sleeping only so that no one thinks he's gross for smelling like a dishrag. It totally ruins the sweet smell of his soft skin and freshly washed hair.

Anyway, I was folding the shirts, and noticed that I didn't notice the smell. So I bravely pressed my nose into the collar of the T-shirt. Mmmm. Detergent.


Who knew that all this time, our discount detergent was the cause of Ben's clothes not coming clean? Our clothes came clean just fine, so I always thought that it was just some sort of toxic toddler goo that didn't come out. Nope. Mom's super pricy stuff did the trick. Man, it sure is nice to have luxery stuff around without having to pay for it ourselves!

Friday, January 25, 2008

teh cute

It is really too bad that the bottom half of this picture isn't useable because Ben looks so adorable dancing in my nylons and shoes. But at least you can see him for the ham that he truly is in this now completely SFW cropped photo.


That's my boy. One of these days, I'll have to put a video up of him dancing to "Penguin Movie" (Happy Feet) because he just goes crazy during the part where Mumble is dancing alone on the hilltop. He likes to say "be himself" outloud with the movie too. I swear, it's the cutest thing on the entire planet.

The doctor is in

I am so grateful that after her car accident, my grandmother didn't end up needing hip replacement surgery. She did break her hip, but she has healed and is on the mend. It's harder for her to get around and do things these days, but my uncle lives with her and takes good care of her. I can't even imagine if she had to go through complex surgery and heal while living alone. I do believe though, that if you need any type of invasive surgery, it's best to do your own research on various doctors. I wouldn't just trust whomever the insurance company sent me to. That's scary. Check out this Web site and see for yourself the ground-breaking work this doctor is doing in managing joint pain. At least he considers other options before just telling everyone that they will be needing surgery.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My cross-dressing kid

After coming home from "going to work together" last night, Ben decided that he needed to go to work too. In order to go to work, first we have to put on our "nylon socks" and then we need our shoes.

Time to go to work Mama!

(you can see the white socks he was previously wearing on the ground, as well as the animals who are both always around whenever pictures are being taken.)


Phew. Hey Mama, did you know that working is hard work?

The most amusing part about all of this is that he isn't wearing a diaper underneath that super-big T-shirt (when he goes pee-pee in his potty, he is rewarded with some diaper-free time which he is always thrilled about) and there's one picture where you can see. Sadly, it was the very best picture because he was dancing in the nylons and shoes and looked adorable. But I am not the kind of mom who would put photos of her naked baby on the internet. That's not a good idea for a phethora of reasons. :-)

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Fantasy house for sale

The money we put into the house was mostly on repairs, but some of it went to things like the plants you see in the pictures. I can't believe how much they help it to look nice. You would live here right? It looks shiny and happy and pretty and artistic and romantic and dreamy.

The one thing I have to say though, after putting in probably more than 60 total hours of cleaning, I'm frustrated that a few things ended up the way they did. When Dan came to take the photos, he had us take the dog dishes up off the ground, and so I put them on the counter that was behind him while he took it, so they wouldn't be in the shot. Well, I guess he came back and shot it again from a different angle and didn't bother to either move them or ask me to move them. So you can clearly see two dog dishes on the counter looking weird and cluttery.

This is insanely annoying if you knew how much stuff was previously on our counter and how I killed myself to get it PERFECTLY CLEAN!!!! He also had us take the magnets and photos off the fridge, which I can't believe didn't occur to me. (It was probably the saddest thing I've done thus far. Having Stephen gone is hard enough without taking all of our family photos down. They are like lovies to Ben. We sit and look at the fridge and talk about all of our family members at least once a day ...) Anyway, now I don't even have photos of papa around that we can say goodnight to. :-(

Anyway, back to yesterday. I took them down, but didn't do the ones on the side of the fridge because he was standing in the main doorway and you couldn't see them in the shot. Well, guess what. Again, he must have come back later, shot another photo from a different angle and all the remaining clutter is clear as day. Le sigh. And if you ask me why we didn't just do it all before he came, I will seriously have to jump through the internet and strangle you.

Getting our house to look this good nearly killed all of us, especially Ben, who kept inventing new levels of trouble to get into in order to get some attention. It was murder on Saturday. By the time it was crunch time, (like after 7 p.m. on Saturday and we still had to drive all the way to Kent so Stephen could get up and go to work first thing in the morning) we were all about to lose it. There were definitely some tears shed trying to get a few last minute things done and keep everyone from melting down. There was literally no time left to do any "one last thing." We didn't even take the time to eat a family dinner. Ben snacked on weird things and then started refusing to eat anything because his blood sugar was low and he was tired and cranky. We ended up going through the drive-thru on our way out of town and letting Ben eat some chicken nuggets in the car. He was a lot happier after that.

But luckily, when Ben and I got back to Aberdeen yesterday at around 2 p.m. (he napped in the car like a champ, yay!) the weather was nice (what? no, say it again) so we were able to spend some time doing some last minute weeding. About 20 minutes of yardwork made a tremendous difference and Ben was as good as gold for all of it. He used a screwdriver to dig in the dirt and helped me put the pulled weeds in plastic bags. What a sweetheart :-)

Our house:



From the front


Stained glass window, close up


From the back, with the hot tub sort of showing. I would have liked to have washed the cement a little, but it's January and we ran out of time. Oh well.


Upon entering. This is one of my favorite shots. Man it looks good in there.


This one came out pretty good too. See how the fireplace looks just fine without the glass panels?


Kitchen. YAY! This is what sold the house to me.


Kitchen. Too bad you can see a few dishes in the sink. I offered to take care of them really fast, but he said that he'd shoot it over them so they wouldn't show. Hmm.


Dining room and part of the kitchen. This is the one that shows the less clean part of the kitchen, which is frustrating because it WAS clean until I had to move things around for other shots that he didn't even end up using.


When we bought the house, this floor wasn't even there. Surely someone will fall in love with it in all its splendor and offer us a gazillion dollars, right?


The downstairs bedroom, which is technically the master, but we use it as our guestroom. (I can hear all of our previous guest complaining that it didn't look like that when they stayed with us. Sorry you guys! :-)


Our room. The shelving was $600 and Stephen screwed it into the wall, so its staying. It was a great idea since we lacked closet space, except that we never used it because I got dressed downstairs as to not disturb Ben and Stephen while they were sleeping. Oh well. Sometimes you just can't forsee these things.

(Oh, and if you look really closely, you can see Trick-or-Treat Bunny sitting on the shelf in the corner. Why he didn't move her out of the way before taking the picture? The world may never know ...)


This is Ben's room, which is really a lot cuter than is shown here. The things on the wall above his bed are glow-in-the-dark stars, and we also have wooden letters that say "BEN" but those aren't in the picture, for obvious reasons. :-)

Want to buy our house? Know someone else who might? It would make a great family home or a rental, whichever.

Here's the official listing ... fair warning. I did not see the text before it was posted, otherwise I would have copy-editted the hell out of it.

"Has a functional Hot tub, Nice back patio and deck area for BBQ or hanging out and entertaining."

Oh dear. Well, hopefully, people who are looking to buy homes aren't picky about things like appropriate capitalization and such.

It's also up on craigslist, which he swears is effective, even if there's no Aberdeen listings and it has to be lumped in with Seattle, which is two hours away ...

Oh, and of course there are two classified ads set to run in the paper tomorrow. I got them both for free :-)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cute specs

My sister-in-law used to work for a glasses store, and she had this amazing knack for looking at a person for a few seconds and then pulling a pair of frames off of the shelf that looked perfect on them. She was paid on commission and was very good at her job, because everyone left happy. One day, just for fun, I had her do it for me, even though I don't wear glasses. Sure enough, I looked super cute! But because she worked for a big box store, the frames all had high prices. This is great for people who have insurance that will buy them a new pair of glasses every X number of years no matter what they cost, but a lot of people have to pay something out of pocket and would benefit more to shop on a budget.

If I ever end up needing glasses (which is starting to look more and more likely as each day goes by) I would have her help me pick out some frames and then try to find similar ones at an online store.

This Great Discovery: has a lot of different choices, but I thought these ones were kind of cute. If I ever get around to getting my eyes checked again, I'm sure I'll end up with something like this. That is, if my sister-in-law approves. :-)

It's so hard to say good-bye

Stephen and I both agreed that after the storm, we'd lost a lot of the attachment we'd previously had for our house. When we got home, it was trashed and cold and stinky and just so empty. It wasn't home, it was a big nagging chore.

We think that this was one of the main factors in encouraging him to go ahead and apply for out-of-area jobs. Sure, it would be a big deal to move, and a big deal to sell, but a manageable deal. No longer the emotional heartache that it would have been when I was in love with our house and dreaming of never having to move ever again.

But, first things first, in order to get other people to actually want to purchase your house, it can't be the pit of despair. So we've been pouring lots of $$$, as well as blood, sweat and tears into making it nice. Not just nice. Beautiful. The house I fell in love with. BETTER than the house I fell in love with.

For example, we boarded up the fireplace last winter (or was it fall?) when baby Benjamin, who was just learning to cruise, broke one of the glass panes. When we looked into having it repaired, we learned you couldn't buy that sort of replacement part and the whole fireplace front would have to be replaced — and a new one was $600 or so. We thought about it, but then just decided to leave it boarded up. And somewhere in my mind, I equated "boarded up fireplace" with "fireplace is broken." It had a bandaid for its ouchie, you know? :-) And soon, I pretty much forgot we had one at all. It just blended into the background.

It was actually Stephen's dad who pointed out that the doors just unscrew. There is still a metal screen behind them, and a perfectly functioning fireplace. The house flippers said they've sold many houses that just have the black screen and no glass doors. So we took them off, cleaned up the whole thing and had a fire, just for the hell of it. It was so bittersweet, I can't even begin to explain. Here I was, sitting in my beautiful house, in front of a roaring fire, cuddling on the couch with my husband for pretty much the last time ever. Sniff sniffle. And the worst part is, it was never really broken. We could have enjoyed our fireplace for all this time, with the help of a simple screwdriver and some dust rags.

It sucks that all the things we're doing to make our house sell make me want to stay. The emotional attachment is coming back worse than before. But if we don't do them, then we'll be stuck with the house! Who cares if I'm not emotionally attached to it if we can't unload it on someone else?

Anyway, it's starting to look really smashing. About $200 on repairs and accessories has really gone a long way. And I think it's a great investment, because not only are we going to get a better price for our house, we get to take a lot of the stuff with us. Yay!

I should have photos to post of how it all turned out sometime early next week. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Keeping track of people

A friend of ours was also our real estate agent when we moved to Washington from Idaho in 2006. He was very kind, personable and easy to work with. In fact, since he and my husband were friends from childhood, we kind of tried to renew that friendship after we got settled, especially after we learned that he and his wife were expecting their first child. Well, it didn't take me long to quickly conclude that perhaps they weren't as interested in that idea as we were, since they didn't bother to follow up with us or return our phone calls after their baby arrived. I purchased gifts for them that were never given because I assumed they were not interested in having any sort of relationship with us.

Imagine my surprise when, out of the blue, a few days ago, we get a call from him asking "how we are." My theory originally was that my mother-in-law mentioned to her close friend (this person's mom) that we were moving again, and she mentioned it to him and he thought, "Oh, I should call them!" But my husband claims this is not the story he got. I guess our "friend" claims he lost our phone number and meant to return our call after his son was born, but was really busy, and then forgot, and you know the drill. New baby = no spare time. So it was actually his boss who learned that he'd been doing a shoddy job of keeping in contact with all his former clients and made him go look up the numbers in the computer system and check to see how everyone was doing. My husband says that the best word to describe the tone of the call was "sheepish." Yeah, I'll buy that for a dollar.

I don't know if I buy the whole story, especially because if our phone number was in the computer system the whole time, why didn't he just look it up while he was at work? Hmmm. Sounds suspicious. Perhaps his computer ATE the phone number, and then miraculously it reappeared.

Anyway, I thought of this story while reading about real estate software because I was imagining purchasing some and sending it to him as a kind of light-hearted joke with a point behind it. Like, "look, now you don't have any more excuses!" Ha ha ha. As if I had an extra $150 lying around to spend on a sort-of friend ... but if I actually were a real estate agent and needed the software for my job, I'd get it in a heartbeat. That's a pretty good deal, considering there's no monthly subscription fee to operate it once it's purchased.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Why is growing up so bittersweet?

Ben did not nurse tonight while I was home on my dinner break. This should be good news. Wasn't I weaning him? Wait. Why was that again?

So, first I wanted to get my fertility back, I guess to see if there was anything wrong with me and to start charting. I thought it would take months and months. Well, that's taken care of.

Next, I wanted to learn to chart, but know that being new, there could be an accident. Previously that was OK with me. What's the difference if things happen eight months earlier than we planned? It's just a few months, right? Well, Stephen's new job won't provide us with health insurance until he's worked there for six months. So now, that six months is vital. There can be no accidents. So, in our best financial interests, I switched back to the combo pill, knowing its a lot stronger than the mini pill and we'd be much safer from accidents.

Can't chart on the pill. I mean, you could, but it'd be silly. So really, I'll take the pills up until the insurance kicks in and then start charting, I guess.

I knew that the combo pill makes your supply tank. That was OK with me, since we were weaning.

Now, I have a period, I'm taking combo pills, and we're moving. Ben is having a really tough time with all of it. Especially the moving. The house is different. We're always cleaning. He can't make messes any more. His stuff is rapidly disappearing. OUR stuff is rapidly disappearing. To a 2-year-old, this is his whole world turning upside down. He has already regressed a ton with his potty training. He refuses to go pee-pee in his potty now. He will sit on it for awhile, but only goes in his diaper. Stephen took the diaper off and kept putting him back on the potty over and over today, about every 20-30 minutes or so. Nothing. Finally, he goes into the corner and pees on the carpet. And then he says outloud, "No pee-pee on carpet!" and tries to clean up the wet spot WITH MY PURSE!!!!!!!! Le sigh.

I didn't make a deal out of it. I told Stephen just to let the potty thing go. If our house in upheaval is already traumatizing him, I can't even imagine what it will be like when Stephen leaves, and then when we live with my mom, and then when we live in a whole new place ... of course he's going to regress. We're kidding ourselves if we think anything otherwise.

So wouldn't it make sense to just put all the weaning plans on hold, since he will clearly be needing to nurse more for security as all these changes happen in his life? Of course it would! And I really have no other reasons for weaning at 2 other than the ones I mentioned. (I'm ignoring the mounting family pressure. Really, I swear.)

But I think it's too late. The pills have tanked my supply. Now I literally have just a few drops when I used to have ounces and ounces. He gets this sad look on his face when he nurses. He latches for a very short period of time and then asks to switch sides and then is done. I know there isn't milk. He knows there isn't milk. He's hanging on for the closeness, but I think he's starting to realize there's not much of a point. And all this crazy life stuff is happening and I wish I could take it back. But I can't. Really, in the grand scheme of things, I think him weaning at 2 is better than my accidentally getting pregnant before Stephen's health insurance kicks in.

I know it is. Ben will be OK in the end.

I just hate to see him go through the in-between.