Thursday, August 28, 2008

Spreading the Bloggy Love...

I never cease to be amazed by this thing called the Blogosphere. It seems so bizarre to say it, but I've made so many great friends, most of whom I've never met in real life (that's the bizarre part).

A couple weeks ago, I won a contest over at Raising A & C -- the prize was my very most favorite new mascara -- Covergirl lashBlast. That was terrific enough -- but you know what else the fabulous "mah-meeee" threw in? Check it out:

That's Godiva chocolate and you'll notice TWO mascaras. And, because that girl understands my picky eater struggles -- a box of Mickey-a-roni and cheese. She's such a great bloggy friend. Isn't she the coolest?

Then, my pal Domestic Spaz sent an award my way!

Like mah-meeee, Spaz has been a blogging friend from the very beginning. I wanted to turn right around and bestow this award on her, because I do heart her blog. But, she obviously already received the award. So, I'm following the rules and passing on the love to seven other worthy recipients:

She Just Had to Say It -- for having the courage to spill the beans (the good, bad and engorged).

Finding Me in the Madness -- because there is no one more committed to health and well-being than Heather.

Domestic Accident -- because her baby steps toward green living are so inspiring, and she's got a wicked sense of humor.

Such the Spot -- because Darcie's writing is first rate and every post she writes is well worth the read.

Just Pure Lovely -- because Lori's photos inspire me to keep trying for just the right picture.

Style for the Stay at Home Mom -- for Leah's love of clothes, books and all things Banana Republic.

Gourmet Momma -- for always having an easy solution to the "What's for Dinner?" quandry.

And finally, one last bit of bloggy love. One of my closest college friends has finally started a blog. It took Lori a while to come over to the "Dark Side" (heck, it took me six months to convince her to create a Google profile so she could stop commenting as "Anonymous"), but she's finally jumped in with both feet. Go check out her new digs over at Barefoot in High Heels. And feel free to pass around some bloggy love -- leave her a comment!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Laptop Lunch Alternative or How Target Actually Saved Me $30

I've been hemming and hawing about buying this Laptop Lunchbox. It's a great idea. It would allow me to pack my daughter a variety of foods for lunch. It would seriously reduce the amount of plastic bag waste. See?

But, it would also seriously dent the budget, because the cheapest I can purchase it for would be $40 shipped. A pricey lunchbox, no doubt. And, as I mentioned before, it's substantially bigger than my daughter's current lunch box and there is no clever Disney Princess marketing slapped on the front of it (that reduces the "cool" factor, you see).

So, I popped over to Target this weekend and look at what I was able to find -- a handy-dandy sectioned container that comes with its own reusable silverware:

It allowed me to pack this:

And it all fit neatly into this:

Here's the cost breakdown:
Lunchbox: $7.59
Sectioned Container: $2.99
A totally functional lunchbox that helps cut back on plastic bag trash: Priceless

For more great and useful tips, head on over to Shannon's place.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What's on Your Nightstand?

I'm not much for the self-help genre. That's not to say that I haven't read more than my fair share of self-help books, but I always find the reading somewhat laborious and (truth be told) I never make changes in my life that last longer than two weeks.

I suppose that's more my problem than a problem with the self help books. But. Still.

Not too long ago, while reading Kristen's blog , I read about a book titled, For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men. Kristen credits this book with literally saving her marriage. I was intrigued. That's a pretty serious claim. And while I'm not experiencing much in way of marital difficulty (thankfully), every now and then communication will pass between my beloved and me, leaving me scratching my head and wondering if he experienced the conversation the same way I did. You know, the classic Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Communication Gap.

So, I picked up a copy.

Shaunti Feldhahn, the author, wrote this book as a result of research she conducted for a novel she was working on. One of the main characters of her novel was a man and, in an effort to accurately portray the thought life of that man, she conducted hundreds of interviews, as well as a professional survey. The results are compiled in this book and are truly enlightening. To use Feldhahn's words, "We all know, for example, that 'men are visual,' but, well...what exactly does that mean?"

I'll tell you, it doesn't mean what I thought it did.

One of the best things about this book is that it is written in a very easy, conversational style. You can cruise through this book in a matter of days. I've read relationship books in the past that have taken me literally years to slog through.

And the best part, is not only did the book help me understand my husband better, it also helped me understand my son and the struggles he is likely to encounter. It's a fantastic book -- well worth a read for the tremendous insight you'll gain.

If you're looking for more great reading recommendations, head on over to 5 Minutes for Books and check out the What's on Your Nightstand carnival!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Saving the Earth, One Lunch at a Time

Just to be clear, I was not setting out to Save the Earth. Selfish gal that I am, I really only wanted to make my own life easier. But ever since I bought those reusable Publix shopping bags, I've noticed that small things I never gave a second thought to before are starting to give me a little twinge of guilt.

Take lunch for example.

I pack lunch every day for my daughter and for my husband. You know what's bothering me about it? The number of Ziploc bags we seem to tear through in a week. I just can't get the idea of growing landfills out of my head.

Then, my September Parents Magazine comes in the mail and features lunch ideas packed in one of these.

Doesn't that look beautiful? I'm hungry just looking at it. Buying it would reduce the amount of lunch waste. It would also make it easier to offer my daughter a little more lunch variety (I could pack her favorite spinach salad, for example.)

But I'm still trying to get my head around the price. Shipped, it's going to cost me about $40. That's one pricey lunchbox -- not to mention the fact that there is not one trace of a Disney Princess on it (thus seriously diminishing the "cool" factor in my daughter's eyes). It's also a good deal bigger than the lunch box my daughter is using at the moment.

I've been debating the issue for about a week now. I'll probably debate a few days more, and then bite the bullet and give the thing the a try. Because the guilt will just not leave me alone.

But, for the time being, I'm still sticking with disposable diapers. I'm sorry. A girl's gotta draw the line somewhere.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Go Grab Yourself Some Free Stuff...

I'm over at Chic Critique today talking about free beauty products available to you right now! Hurry! Run! Go grab your bad self some free beauty loot!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Things Finally Reached the Breaking Point

Have you ever read the exhaustively titled Shel Silverstein poem, Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out?

It's about, well, a little girl who wouldn't take the garbage out. Obviously.

Sarah's problem starts out innocently enough, with a little garbage strewn here or there. But, before she knows it, it starts piling up. Before she realizes it, it touches the ceiling. It touches the sky. And eventually, after all the neighbors move away and nobody comes over to play, poor Sarah exclaims, "Ok, I'll take the garbage out!"

Really, there is no better metaphor for my struggle with home organization.

I'm a perfectionist and a procrastinator. It sounds paradoxical, but that combination is the Perfect Storm for shoddy home maintenance. I procrastinate a job because I don't have enough time to do it perfectly. When I finally do decide to do it, it's usually long overdue. I reach a breaking point where I can't take it a minute longer -- something has to be done!

I'm ashamed to say, "neat and orderly" has never been my forte. I'm pretty distractable. A lot of times I make more messes in my attempt to clean up just one. In my head, the concept of "put away what you take out" seems simple. In reality, I can't seem to do it consistently.

And, if I had problems keeping things neat and orderly before kids, you can only imagine the struggle I have in doing so with kids. You've got the baby paraphenalia (exersaucer, swing, bouncy seat, baby toys), the boy paraphenalia (10,000 Matchbox cars, Rescue Heroes, superhero costumes), and the older girl paraphenalia (My Little Ponies, Polly Pockets, more books than you can count).

To make things more challenging, there's additional clutter coming home every day in the form of school papers. I did a little computing and figured that new papers are being dumped on my desk at a rate of about 30 sheets a week.

So, in the midst of my growing chaos, I had my Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout moment. I finally said, "Okay! I'll clean the house out!"

I've got to stop the madness, you see. (Does anyone else ever feel this way?!?) We don't really need 10,000 Matchbox cars. A handful would be more than sufficient.

So, I've been busy clearing out. And with every bag that heads to the trash, with every box that goes to Goodwill, I am feeling the pressure ease up just a little bit. Little by little I'm taking on the pantry, the clothes closets, the craft closet, the makeup drawer, and the like.

Less stuff = less work = a simpler life (hopefully)

Ahhhhh. I'm feeling better already.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

"The one thing children wear out faster than shoes is parents."
-- John J. Plomp

I've said it once and I'll say it again: I do not enjoy buying shoes.
This sentiment applies not only to buying my own shoes, but to buying those of my children as well.
My cyber-pal Darcie over at Such the Spot, also detests shoe buying. Thanks to her, I won the cutest pair of shoes for Jilly. (Thanks, Darcie!) But, they are way too cute to see the likes of a playground. So, for that reason, and also because I do have other children, we made a trip to the shoe store.
Is it just me or does anyone else feel like a trip to the children's shoe store is equivalent to running a 5K?
We spent well over an hour in the store.
And the decisions.
Josh wants light up shoes.
Jilly wants glitter.
This shoe hurts.
I don't like these.
Hey, can I try these?
Where is Jilly?
Jilly don't walk out of the store!
Josh, put that shoe down.
No, they don't have it in your size.
Would you be able to check his foot for a minute?
Josh, just walk to the mirror and back -- the mirror and back.
And, if I was exhausted at the end of it all, I can only guess what that poor saleswoman felt like. It was the beginning of the tax free weekend, Stride Rite was running its Buy One, Get One 50% off sale, and she made at least 15 separate trips to the back, each time emerging with a new tower of boxes. And that was just for us.
While I was busy making crucial shoe decisions, my mom was feeding Grace lunch in her stroller. (Of course I brought my mom -- I'm no glutton for punishment. Taking three kids shoe shopping would put me over the edge.)
You know what my mom found?
You know what she bought?
Oh, prepare yourselves!
Your ovaries might ache just a little after seeing this:

Can you even stand it?!?

Oh my goodness. Honestly. Those little white shoes are the cutest things I have ever seen. By the way, the size is for babies "6 weeks to 3 months old." Grace is 14 months. Perhaps that's the reason she's not walking yet -- who can balance on those teeny feet?

Or it could have something to do with genetics. In our pediatrician's words: "Well, I'm not too concerned. You and your husband are not exactly the Bull Mastiff variety. You're more the Terrier variety."

That's doctor speak for: "Y'all are some scrawny peeps."

Regardless, the little white shoes made the in-store chaos totally worth it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Why I'll Be Rooting for Dara

I'm going to let y'all in on a little secret.
I'm thinking about setting a new goal for myself. A way over-the-top kind of goal.
I want to earn my black belt in Tang Soo Do by the time I'm 40.
Crazy, right? I'm 34 years old. That's retirement age in the sports world these days. When Andre Agassi retired from tennis a few years ago at the age of 35, he was considered practically ancient. For whatever reason, people just don't seem to pursue physically demanding sports past their mid-30s.
But then, I read about Dara Torres, the 41-year-old, five-time Olympian (and nine-time medalist) who will be swimming at the games in Beijing.
Here's a woman who took first place in the 100-meter freestyle at this year's U.S. Olympic Trials beating Natalie Coughlin by .05 seconds. Coughlin is 16 years her junior. Then, Torres went on to break a couple world records. She's swimming faster now than she did in her 20s.
Did I mention she's 41?
And mother of a 2-year-old?
She also has asthma.
And a body that could stop traffic.
She is the oldest Olympic swimmer in history, on a team with kids literally half her age.
Naturally, there's speculation about drugs. But Torres has repeatedly and voluntarily been tested over a dozen times since March, and her results have always been clean.
I hope she's telling the truth because, for me, Dara Torres embodies what I think each one of us secretly hopes is true: being a mom and getting older is not the end of life as we know it. Just because I've given birth doesn't mean I have to give up. I can take care of my children while also taking care of myself. I can be a mom and an athlete.
Here it is in Dara's own words: "It's like I always say, 'you don't put an age limit on your dreams.' I haven't and I think I've proved that age is just a number."
Rawk on, Dara. Rawk on.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

And...we've got a winner!

Congratulations to Mary of International Freebies! You were lucky number 75, as chosen by I'll be getting your necklace out to you this week. Thanks to everyone for playing along!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Where I Finally Get a Little Hairapy

I'm back over at Chic Critique today talking about my stick-straight hair. I've finally found a product that gives it a little "oomph." Curious? Click on over and check it out!

If you're a new visitor from Chic Critique, welcome! I hope you'll stay and have a look around. I just wrote my 100 things post and you can see some of my favorite posts here. If you like what you read, I hope you'll come back or you may even want to consider subscribing. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

100 Things About Me

1. I can be a huge procrastinator.
2. Particularly if I feel a task might be difficult.
3. Or I don’t have enough time to do it “perfectly.”
4. Which would also make me a perfectionist, I guess.
5. But back to the procrastination. Case in point: this post.
6. It was supposed to be my 100th. It’s actually my 109th.
7. My tendency to procrastinate is one reason I love deadlines.
8. I’ve worked as a magazine editor, feature writer, freelance writer and public relations manager.
9. Although I didn’t start off on that path.
10. My parents felt my creativity should be channeled into a career where I could earn – you know – a real paycheck.
11. I began my freshman year of college in an honors economics program.
12. I had never taken an economics class in my life.
13. It was my written essay that got me into the program.
14. After one semester of econ, I realized I’d rather be poor and happy than rich and miserable.
15. I switched my major to English/journalism.
16. I left college after my sophomore year to work as an editor and finish my degree at night.
17. It was a great experience that allowed me to see the practical application of my education.
18. I met my husband when I was 20.
19. He was 30.
20. He didn’t know I was underage when he asked me out.
21. After he found out, he would call ahead to bars and tell them that he was bringing his girlfriend, she was underage, and she would not drink.
22. They never said no and I never drank.
23. We were engaged within 6 months of meeting each other.
24. We were married 6 months after that.
25. We’ve been married for 13 years.
26. We have three kids.
27. No, I don’t know if we’re done yet.
28. Yes, I realize I’d have to change the name of my blog.
29. I have a very low tolerance for pain.
30. When I was pregnant with my first, I had a friend convince me that natural childbirth was the way to go.
31. I religiously attended Bradley Method classes and dragged my husband along with me.
32. I even had a doula lined up for the birth.
33. The doctor discovered she was breech at 38 weeks.
34. I had to have a c-section.
35. God so knew what He was doing there.
36. I could never have withstood contractions.
37. I cried when they put the IV in.
38. I’ve had all three of our kids by c-section.
39. I’ve nursed all three for over a year.
40. “The Girls” reflect that fact.
41. I toy with the idea of a boob job, but I’m too big of a chicken.
42. I’m pretty sure it would involve an IV.
43. I am terrified of bugs.
44. Spiders, in particular, seem to know this and descend on me whenever possible.
45. I hate swallowing pills.
46. I love scrapbooking.
47. But since I discovered blogging, I've fallen a little behind on my albums.
48. I’m a morning person.
49. I used to teach aerobics classes at 6 a.m.
50. After 8:30 p.m., I’m really not that much fun to talk to.
51. I hate talking on the phone.
52. I agonize over most decisions.
53. I’m probably the only woman on earth who does not enjoy buying shoes.
54. Clothes, on the other hand, are a totally different story.
55. I have a Banana Republic addiction that I’m seeking help for.
56. My favorite TV show: What Not to Wear
57. Followed closely by: The Next Food Network Star
58. I’ve always wanted to have a cooking show of my own.
59. But I don’t consider myself a good cook.
60. I’m a good recipe follower.
61. There is a difference.
62. I love to read.
63. I’ve started turning the TV off and reading more.
64. My all-time favorite book is Jane Eyre.
65. I also love Rebecca, Memoirs of a Geisha and Redeeming Love.
66. I learned to snow ski and water ski in my 20s.
67. My husband loves to do both, and you either keep up or get left behind.
68. So, I do my best to keep up.
69. I love playing tennis.
70. Although it’s been a while since I’ve picked up a racket.
71. We live near a lake.
72. But I'm not really a strong swimmer.
73. However, I’m making sure my kids are.
74. Before kids, my husband and I lived in England for a year.
75. London is my favorite city in the world.
76. Sometimes I dream of retiring to the English countryside.
77. We visited eight different countries in Europe and Asia while living overseas.
78. I was born in New York and lived there for the first nine years of my life.
79. At one time, I had a very thick New York accent.
80. It has since been replaced with a Midwestern accent that sports an occasional Southern twang.
81. I love sweet tea.
82. I can’t sing, but wish I could.
83. I once joined a group called “Voices Anonymous,” for people who find themselves in that very predicament.
84. I've held real estate licenses in Michigan and Georgia.
85. Truth be told, I’m not much for pets.
86. We had a dog and, while I loved her like crazy, I’m not really in favor of getting another one.
87. I went to the very first Lollapalooza.
88. I don’t have a favorite color. I like them all.
89. I can be pretty naïve.
90. I once stopped drinking milk because someone told me milk production makes cows “lose their moo.”
91. I’m also a sucker for beauty products that promise to “reverse the signs of aging.”
92. I always know when I’m getting sick because my teeth get itchy.
93. I love Thai food.
94. And a good glass of Chardonnay.
95. I’m not a red wine kind of gal.
96. I never thought I’d be the kind of mom to drive a mini van.
97. We upgraded to a Honda Odyssey last year.
98. I will happily drive it until I die.
99. I'm a “weak” extrovert. I love meeting new people, but after a few hours, I need time to myself.
100. It took me more time to procrastinate writing this list than to sit down and actually write it.