Sunday, September 30, 2007

I often think that we've got to get more storage in what used to be the garage. Many years/months ago. It's not quite a garage anymore. It's actually a pretty nice family room complete with fireplace, cobwebs, thirty packing cartons worth of books, and assorted cartons of Stuff that still has to be unpacked and stowed. But where are we going to put it all?

Some of the stuff should get tossed. I'll have to resist my inner packrat urges on that one. No! We can't throw that away! I might need that again in a few months. Yet I've not needed it so far, and I suspect deep down that if it was magically gone from our lives I'd never look for it again. If you're looking for garage storage, whether for an actual garage or just for more utilitarian needs, look no further. Gar Guy Garage carries a large range of cabinets, shelving, pegboards, and everything else you need to turn your disaster zone into a liveable and more importantly workable space for your home.
A sweet little day this has been. I got the Toddler down for her nap, and tried to fall asleep. A short while later I discovered that I couldn't sleep. Because my boobs itched. Because I had acquired a bra full of cereal bar crumbs.

Such is the life of a mother. Especially one with such cleavage that it apparantly encourages small children not only to rest their heads on it, but to use it as a special secret storage space for all sorts of snacks. (try saying that ten times fast)

This is not the first time I've found things in there. It won't be the last. Today it was funny, usually it means I need to resist the urge to undress outside where I can shake all those crumbs out for the birds instead of leaving them strewn over the carpet to lure sugar ants. It could be worse.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A friend of mine recently asked about how she could meet someone who shared her interests without having go hang out in wierd bars. I referred her over to a site where she could check out biker personals without having to leave the comfort and safety of her own kitchen. Which is good. Online dating is easy, relatively safe as long as you follow standard don't be a moron rules, and "biker dating" can be a fun way for a normally straitlaced girl to go out and explore a looser side of life. So often the outer impression of a person fails to reflect what's really there. I know that I've been guilty of taking the surface for granted- if the surface doesn't seem like someone I'd want to know I try to stay again from them. On the rare days I've been able to really talk with people who I'd normally stay away from I'm often surprised at how much we do have in common with one another.

Another instance of letting the dustcover define the book inside it. How many books do we pass up without giving it a chance? How many times are we surprised, pleasantly, to find something that really speaks to us deep down? The love of your life could be waiting for you, in a somewhat offputting package. Look under the surface and let your destiny find you.

My Boy walks into the room holding a book in his hands and looking sheepish.

"Do we still have book 3, or did you have to take it back already?" he asks.
"I took it back," I said.
"Oh. I need closure." he manages to look a bit more sheepish although smiling. "It was good."

So I think I'm going off to the library this afternoon. To go and look for that book. I don't mind- I thought it was pretty good too. Which is why I did an interlibrary loan for books 1 and 2. Ghost, Kildar, and Choosers of the Slain by John Ringo. Some books are like crack for the brain when I'm a certain degree of hormonal.

mmmm. yummy, yummy books.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Undercover Mama. Changing the world, one dirty diaper at a time.

I think this is going to be my new catchphrase. I'm still toying but mostly in the preliminary planning stages for a new site, still a blog, which will serve ultimately to be a more funny parent-oriented writing thing that can give one more outlet. Not completely sure about the finer details of this, and I'm saving now towards the hosting for this site, but just so you know watch for some changes/updates/ one more site to visit regularly.

And the Toddler, yes, is taking her nap without protest today. I'm plotting my next secret mama-mission to locate and obtain the latest on my must-have-now craving list. Why does Vons make such yummy signature soups? Why are they priced on the upper end of affordability? Why am I powerless to resist these soups when I know that they're again almost within my reach and I wants some NOW?

Answers to these questions and more will be forthcoming. I hope.
Times were that files weren't that large. Graphics were minimal, video and sound clips were almost unheard of... and everybody walked places because no one had invented the car. Times change. Technology changes faster than most of us are familiar with. We increasingly turn to file sharing when getting together with friends and colleagues across the globe, and email can only support so many attachments.

I know I'm not the only one out there who has from time to time come head on against the attachment limitation when sending cute baby pictures to the dozen or so of her closest fans. Fear not! There is another way! Driveway is one easy way to create file uploads and storage when sending those bulky files to someone else. Easy to use, easy to maintain. Up to 2gigs can be handled.

If I had had this going when we recently lost our harddrive, I might have been able to save more of the pictures. I hated losing all of those. The Boy could have been sharing his gaming files with the boards over this method -hash out a few of the strategy problems with just one or two others before facing the entire forums. It could have gone better. As far as schoolwork and more data-oriented things, we could have easily taken advantage of the features that allow use of the standard Office applications through a browser.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A short followup based on my Sept 10th post .

The Little Bit is now grounded. Seriously. This afternoon I had one child gouging bloody red marks in my shoulder in her displeasure that I would not let her run wild through the library, and the other one kicking something somewhere that caused intense lower back pain. Which still hasn't let up, incidentally. And since I cannot do anything productive to fix these event-specific behaviors the unborn child is grounded and the toddler is tucked in bed a trifle early.

My boobs still hurt, in case anyone had a burning need to know that. Who knows why. Perhaps it's the four cups I've gone up within the past twelve months? Perhaps it's the reopening of closed ducts? Everybody run a status check! Drill, people, we need to drill! I pause in my day to bend over and hold them to my chest in an attempt to ease the pain. It doesn't really help. Of course, a two-year old reaching over and grabbing them violently whenever the mood strikes her doesn't help either. I don't know why she does this. Perhaps she sees the size changing and wants to explore this?

At any rate I'm tired. Sore. Tired. My fingers are slowly swelling. I gained a couple of pounds since the last time I weighed in -yippee!- and am renewing my hope that I'll gain more than three pounds from the first week of pregnancy until the day I check into the hospital to deliver this baby. I have hope. I have faith. I have love. I'm a walking billboard for 1 Corinthians 13:13. I even know where my clean towels are.
My daughter, the Active One. Sigh. I chased her around a small waiting room this morning, then she got more sillies out with the physical therapist, then fell asleep in the car- worn out by this fabulous morning of car rides and new sights.

She's getting better. I'm getting better. When I think back to all those months in her first year that I co-existed with her, I want to take that younger version of myself in a great big hug. It did get better. I knew it would, if I just hung in there long enough. My little girl really is mine; she really does love me. I really do love her with my whole heart. And the little boy will be just the same.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I know that even in my fairly insulated world there's way too much information to ever make up my mind. Parenting skills, tricks, experts. Household management experts. Financial experts. What's riding on my ability to decide is one home, one family. What if it were my job to make wider reaching decisions for a company, that in turn would effect the lives (maybe drastically) of ten or twenty employees? Or more? If those twenty families were dependant on my ability to always make the best decisions about technology, training, marketing... maybe it's a good thing that I'm not in charge of that.

One company that is helping to make those decisions easier is Contempory (business solutions) They work as consultants helping companies wade through the swamp of too much information. There are a hundred products eager for the business and your hard-won money, and they don't really care if their service is the best one for your needs as long as payment clears. Wouldn't you much rather spend the money on something that works and you need? Consider Contempory for help in researching Business Objects and Intelligence Training. They have recently revamped their website and it now includes video clip answers to important questions; instead of reading a dry and brief FAQ page isn't it nicer to see a presentation of these people letting you know in their own words "face to face" why you should choose to do business with them? Contemporary specializes in small to mid-sized businesses. They know MS products. They offer technology training for your employees. Most of all, they care. I like the look of the new website; there's not a lot of flashy graphics to take your mind off the service. It's simple, streamlined, easy to navigate. The important things.
Mommy has got to get back to exercising. The past couple of months have not been good for that; I've been tired and sick and tired and I just don't want to exercise. Not even the wimpy little minimal program I had figured out for myself. But. Gotta do it. Gotta get back into some sort of shape so that I can at least climb a flight of steps without my knees clicking and my breath panting. I'd like to blame the lack of desire on the pregnancy, but let's be honest here if nowhere else- I just hate exercising.

So what to do? How to begin? Part of it is that I've got to get off my butt and start moving around for 30 minutes a day. The trip to the fridge for snacks does not count. Unfortunately. I wish it did. I wish I was allowed to have donuts and twinkies. More the donut than the twinkie. Because, well, I always want more what I'm not allowed to have. I didn't want twinkies so much until the Boy and the docs told me that I am no longer allowed to be in the same room as one, much less consume it. Which bites. More than that, I didn't even let them know that I hadn't finish a whole twinkie serving. My sugar spiked to nearly 300 with only the majority of a twinkie. And how sad is that, to be proven right about the whole diabetic thing after so many years?
The real estate market has benefited greatly by the internet and all the "new" technologies. It's easier than ever to conduct business online. More especially, it has made relocating and house hunting better for all concerned.

How many people have to relocate and find new homes way out of their community? It used to be a more uncommon thing to move a state away. Now it's a matter of course to move across the country. With money being tighter and so much distance between home and prospective buyer, it's important to be able to do things online. The realtors that make the process painless and provide the best info are the ones who get the business. Virtual home tours, community links and maps from one centralized location, fast answers to phone, email, or fax; all these are signs of a really good realtor. One such company is The Holm Group in Arizona, where mcdowell mountain ranch homes are currently one of their hot properties. Find real time availability in Scottsdale and Phoenix communities and subdivisions near shopping and top golf courses. Check out everything the community has to offer you before making a trip in person to look at the properties- why spend a ten day trip chasing your tail in an unfamiliar area when you can get the basics ahead of time and pinpoint your searches and time to what best suits your interests?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On Suburban Bliss today she's talking about the side door of possibility, and briefly mentioned having imagined sticker shock at the market. This ties into something my mom brought up the other week on one of her phone calls home. "You just wouldn't believe it! Some things are just so dirt cheap and some other things are so expensive."

Case in point: milk.

Now, I realize that milk prices are, to a certain extent, subsidized by the government and are relatively stable. I know that at a local market you can expect to pay $3.20 a gallon for whole milk of the local, WIC approved brand, and $3.60 for a "better" bigger dairy's product. Milk prices vary from store to store. Walmart is around that $3.20 mark. One large market with the ability to carry three different brands of milk has in fact broken that $4 ceiling. When and who can pay $4 for a gallon of milk? Maybe if that's not a staple of your pantry. We are currently going through about 2.5 gallons a week. We could push that way up if we tried.

Other things in the dirt cheap category include broccoli (48 cents a bunch last week) , and local-type produce. Grapes are usually cheap. For the past month it seemed they were giving away watermelons (whole, seedless, less than $2 per). I haven't been here long enough to really tune into the market fluctuations, and I no longer get paid to track the grocery prices obsessively -time was I could give you prices for all dairy products in a three state radius. Now? I still have the time, maybe, to do that. I don't get paid for it though, and I see no real need for that level of knowledge when I'm living as close to the smack-dab center of California as I care to come. According to the weather-lady's map, Fresno is the red dot in the middle of the state-shape. We're a hair or two south.

Centrally located. Does that mean that we're average? And if we're average, when can I expect to see gas prices coming down beyond $2.70 ever again in my lifetime? We just pushed past the 3-dollar mark again. Hence, my renewed commitment to those paid postings. No offense, people, but every little bit helps. Besides, I really do want and need to get a new diaper pail in the house. This week will pay for that, and a case of diapers, and possibly even a domain. Mama wants a new website. One that's hers. One she can shamelessly whore to the public while getting her nuttiness out into the open. Does then mean my kids will be less embarassed by me as tweens and teens? I'm not insane enough to think so.
Nowadays everybody's living longer. Not only do you have to think ahead financially, but one has to consider romance. Seniors aren't dead from the heart down. Really. Part of a well-balanced and rounded life has got to include romance, "companionship", and a host of other things. But where to go to find these things? - "senior dating" is a good place to start. Especially if you haven't been out on the dating scene for a while. Gone are the days when all that was available were smoky bars or flourescent-lit senior center mingles for "senior dating"- not that there's anything wrong with them if they're your taste. I just don't know many people who would want to.

Who are senior singles? They are the people at church, at the store, anywhere you go. Maybe they aren't comfortable going out publically to meet people. Maybe they're more comfortable and feel safer chatting with someone over the computer before committing to meetup in real time. Nothing wrong with that at all. The thing is, you can't sit home alone and lonely waiting for a knock on your door. Do what you can in your comfort zone to reach out and find someone today. Who knows? A new life might await.
Here's a nice idea. The Fifty for Fall contest, run by The terms are, write a 50 word minimum post with a couple links (specified) and at the end of the month all the people who submit entries go into the hat. A virtual hat, maybe? The winner gets fifty dollars. Which, as I'm sure you know, gets you a tank of gas in California. What could I do with this money? I could replace the diaper pail. Buy a tank of gas. Get a bunch of adorable little outfits for the Little Bit. Or even- gasp- buy myself a payperiod's worth of chai latte's. Which isn't on my current diet, but if I'm extra good and can cut out every other little tiny thing I splurge on I might just be able to manage it.

Joana is, among other things, one of the payperpost people that I read regularly. She always manages to put such a nice spin on things. And no, I'm not just sucking up :)
And in other news, how about this chilly snap of overnight weather around these parts? It's been low 50s for a week. I've gotten my coat out for the early morning drive to base. Is that insane? Cold and moist enough in the air this morning that I got that nifty smell of Cow in the Morning. Yup. We're still in the country after all, not just a desert.

The Toddler grows more stubborn by leaps and bounds. She's using more of her words, and not just in her daily effort to escape bedtime. This morning we got up, cleaned up, and I lifted her out of bed. She followed me to the door, then firmly closed it behind me. Well, I got to eat my breakfast in peace before she agreed to exit the bedroom and sit down for her own breakfast.

She never ceases to amaze me. I know this entire post isn't very coherent, and I could go on for pages and pages and pages about her. That's motherhood in a nutshell. Particularly motherhood before 0800.
I couldn't sleep last night so in an effort to take my mind off whatever-the-heck was keeping me up I tried a virtual vacation. This is the problem with being fascinated with global history of certain times, and the drawback of having read so very much on so very many topics. With all the things I could have been thinking off to try and steer my dreams back on point I had to choose China.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Quite. Has everyone heard of the terra cotta army that was buried way back when? They're at the British Museum this winter, as part of a special exhibit. Unfortunately you can never quite get the full feeling of the thing unless you're there, standing in front of hundreds and thousands of these lifesize sculptures. Dialaflight is having a special deal on Terracotta Warriors tours right now, if you live in/near the UK and can get away. I think the Chinese culture and history are so fascinating because in one sense it's so far away from everything I grew up with. And living in the same spot where your immigrant ancestors landed and settled 400 years ago can really instill a certain sense of history in a person! It wasn't just that my mother the family historian could give me chapter and verse on the ancestors and family legends. She could drive me to the actual plots of land and point things out. I grew up a mile or two from their graves. Morbid, maybe, but it makes you feel connected. Countries that have a similar sense of history are endlessly fascinating to me. Most of Europe, for example. But how much more so the Orient, where written languages and traditions peaked when Europe shivered in the little ice age? Tours of foreign countries are absolutely the best; you're guided through the best of the best, sheltered from miscommunication with locals (if like me, you don't have a large language capacity and get scared of being lost in a country where you can't talk to anyone), where the arrangements are mostly all laid out ahead of time for you and you just have to follow the leader for days on end. Personally, I think it's worth it. Look for good deals with reliable companies. Dialaflight has a good reputation for helping people pick the package that's right for them and for making the entire experience as painless as possible.

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's been four years since the Boy and I held hands and signed papers at a courthouse, far far away. Four years of laughter, tears, and everything in between. We've been separated by oceans and continents. We've been reunited in more airports than I care to remember. We had one child and conceived two.

For the past four years, for the time I learned that I never want to do without you, I thank you dearest. May we have a hundred more.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Perfect moments are by nature nearly impossible to plan. Things happen just so. Lighting, temperature, smells and textures. How much more difficult is the creation of a perfect moment when it involves a finicky toddler?

This moment was such a moment. Chilly but not quite cold. French toast with cinnamon and a little sugar. A pajama-clad toddler giggling from her high chair. It doesn't get much better than that. Only the Boy would have made it better- but try creating that on demand. The only thing that comes on demand around here are Tubbies and CSI. Usually.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Long distance rates are hard to comparison shop for. International, or cross-country, in this age where very few people stay put and long distance relationships are the norm. You can spend a fortune on phone calls. The Boy and I try to use our cells for everything, but his has roaming fees attached during certain daytime hours and whenever he's overseas... well, let's just say that they add up awfully fast.
We even know people in Canada now. People we'd call more, if we could figure out time zones and roaming charges and fees, and what happens when the cell-reception is so crappy that you just need to use a land line? One solution for that, obviously, is to get a Canada calling card. Or we can call the United States for 1.8cents a minute, which is about as cheap as long distance rates stateside can go.
Why choose Pingo as your provider of prepaid calling cards? It works like all the regular discount prepaid cards, with the benefits of being run by the same service that provides the Big Name networks with their coverage. Tollfree numbers are available from most areas to get you into the network. You can arrange for several different “sub”accounts bundled together under your main account if you're running a business (or if you have a couple of teenagers who you'd like to monitor use on?) Sign up and get a bonus on your card- if you use this special phone card blog discount coupon: “ppp3” valid for $3 off Pingo you will get a $25 card for only $17. That's almost 5 hours of free international calling.
Blogger's Note: the following is not a sponsored post.

I always assumed that the raisin commercials about "grapes and sunshine" were nothing but clever marketing ploys. Then I watched the morning news yesterday. There's a storm front moving in. Finally, after months of dryness there will be a serious rain. Maybe more than one. Water from heaven to drown my parched soul. I didn't think at first about the crops and farmers around here.

There's a small town/city/community south of Fresno called Raisin City. I've not been there, but usually around when I'm seeing the signs for it I'm also seeing field after field (vineyard after vineyard?) of grapes. A few weeks ago I started seeing that between the rows of vines there were long paths of some sort of brown stuff laid out. Those are raisins in the making. After the grapes come off the vines they get laid on these monster rolls of brown paper right there in the fields to dry. It really is just grapes and sunshine. The news segment talked with one of these farmers, and they need nearly another week of warm sunny weather to make sure these grapes finish drying. If they box them too early it's more likely to have spoilage issues.

Now the almond crops and the cotton crops should survive the rain well, as long as the cotton doesn't get all muddy from wind and rain. But the raisins will not do well. Makes me almost ashamed of wanting the rain so badly. Almost. Not enough, however, to go against that double joy in knowing that the Sunmaid Raisin Lady didn't lie in her commercial and that there will soon be rain to wash the summer dust off our homes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Probably the best thing I ever got since I've been married to the military is our digital camera. Hands down, it has been used and toted around and whatnot more than any other product since that point. Pictures of me when he was first deployed. Pictures of our baby the day she was born and the first weeks of her life when the pictures came by putting the camera into the isolette with her. Digital pictures flew around the world during her first birthday and second summer of life when her daddy was overseas on the Big Tin Can of a boat. Sorry, ship. I meant, ship.

Something I mean to do someday is to make a scrapbook or two. There are tons of scrapbook page ideas to be found at Ritz Cameras, one of the leaders in photography. Right now we're using an HP. Digital photography is particularly good for our family because I inherited my picture-taking gene from my mother- you know the one. The one which makes half-people headless, where your hands jerk and your eyes close reflexively when you press the button, and maybe one of every hundred that gets developed actually has a usable picture. Digital changed all of that for me. My mistakes are fewer with the picture finder. My mistakes can be erased. And the precious smile of my little girl can be instantly sent to her grandmothers on the eastern side of the country as well to her daddy when he's away.

A picture says a thousand words. How much more so does the picture of a sleeping toddler, worn out, clutching her daddy's shoe to her chest? He may not have been here physically sometimes, but he got to share those moments.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Is it true that stupidity makes news? I just saw this and said to myself, Excuse Me? I thought it was common sense not to put a snake in your mouth. But maybe that's just me...
Again, I've got to admit that there's very little better on a morning when you've had to wake up sooner than you'd like, than a warm and cuddly child hell-bent on snuggling over breakfast. I perched her on my lap, we shared a bowl of cereal, and watched her beloved Tubbies.

What fun. What immense fun. I dozed a few times while she snuggled further and further into my arms. Do you think I will ever get this again when she's grown?

Monday, September 17, 2007

A while ago I wrote about London restaurants at The website has changed a bit lately, making it even easier to find your way to pre-screened restaurants and hotels anywhere in London or the world. Right now they're still focused mainly on London and the UK, so keep that in mind. Soon it should start featuring more and more, and since the reviews are driven mainly by the people who sign up (free) at the site and offer their two cents- well, they need to get the word out there so that it will be a better and better commodity.

I'd so use this for not only virtual vacation planning, but for an actual trip. It's possible that our next duty station will be overseas. So... not a lot of money to go darting around the EU, but proximity can make it possible to get the best of the best and away from some of the more obvious tourist traps. And haven't we all stumbled onto one of those just at the wrong time? The best experiences can be had by finding out in advance what you can about a place. Take advantage of everything you can to make the most of your resources.
Another day, another toddler moment. Trip to the park, to the store, so much to see and do and get into! I'm making that Beer Beef Stew right now, and it's already smelling so good.

I'm also listening to Midsummer, by Heather Alexander. And trying not to get completely lost in the lyrics and her voice. Either one alone is incredible. Both at once is amazing. And March to Cambreadth? I heard it once, way back in college and it left an impression. I stumbled across it again this past weekend, and I had to get my hands on the album just for the song. Moves the blood and makes my feet tap. Touches something in me that's deeper than the pacifist ancestry. Scary-good.
I love my crock pot. Seriously, I love it. The day I went out and upgraded from the crappy metal-lined slow cooker that burned stuff on the bottom and didn't have a good thermostat was one of the happiest days within the past two years. My current crockpot has that nice removeable crock, making it dishwasher friendly and has risen the ability of my slowcooking skills. And of course I'm always on the lookout for something new and nasty thatI can do with it. A good place to find home-style crock pot recipes is linked. The beer beef dumpling stew is what I'm probably going to throw together for dinner tonight, as it's sounding so perfectly yummy and tempting. Little Baby Boy is bumping and jumping this morning, making my tummy not fond of food and still hungry. How to solve the dilemma? I'm going to feed myself only what I'm hungry for over the next couple of days. Crock pot cooking is great for that; I can dump everything together first thing in the morning with no worries, and start smelling that wonderful aroma around lunchtime. Especially handy with a toddler -eep, and soon to be an infant!- when those morning minutes can be hard won.

I've been meaning to streamline some of that prep even further, by combining all the prepped meat and veg and liquids in a gigantic freezer bag. Defrost overnight in the sink and just dump that into the crockpot first thing in the morning. Cheaper and healthier than a lot of the pre-assembled crockpot meals in the freezer case. I always end up adding stuff to those as well. Not quite sure of the freezing ability of beer... but I know that for today's purposes my Boy will be only too happy to help me out!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Half a day gone, and one clean install of WinXP later and we're finally back online. All my bookmarks are gone, of course, and the Boy is mourning the loss of his Civ campaign(s) and assorted notation.

It happened just like a car accident. One minute you're cruising safely down the street with no cares in the world, the next you sit down to see an endless reboot loop as windows fails and fails to start. A recovery/repair could not be achieved. I had no choice. We lost the bookmarks, the digital pictures from the past year (most of them were not anywhere but on this laptop). But ultimately it's okay because the computer itself was able to be reinstalled and goes on... bookmarks can be found again. Pictures can be retaken.

Still it's a lousy way to clean the desktop...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Went thrifting today! Finally, all systems and energy levels were coordinated for this! We hit two stores (alright, that's not a lot, but still... for me and Toddler and Gram it was a lot). The first place was having a sale. I have given up figuring out how thrift shops organize their sales and final prices. Every time and every place I've been since moving to Hanford have used the marked prices as a general guideline. Never more than the sticker, but almost never that price. So at the first place I scored two nice dresses. One was the knit jumper style that I love and have been mourning ever since the death of the nice black knit jumper that I got handmedown and wore out over the following ten years. This one is white, has some buttons in the back, and has little daisy flowers embroidered all over it. That's really the only difference. The other was more of a sunday dress in peach. Both were marked $2.50, I paid $1.24 for both together. So who can tell?

The second store had a hooded sweatshirt jacket for Tiff, a seersucker romper in pale green and blue with Peter Rabbit embroideries for the Little Bit, and a Dr Seuss book. I paid $2 and a bit for all of that. To be fair, I didn't bother checking the marked prices on those before checking out (bad thrifty mama) because I had been so shocked at the markdown at the first store.

I came home, immediately changed into the nice new white knit jumper, and am feeling horribly comfortable already. The Boy was right when he told me this morning that I needed to go out and buy something for myself. He usually is. I should listen to him more often.
What makes a mother? A woman? A person? The ability to feel certain emotions? The ability to nuture and sustain another individual? I've spent a lot of time thinking about this in the past two days. It was helped a bit by a line regarding marriage delivered by Marie Barone (Ray's mom, Everybody Loves Raymond) "You're going to have hate. Hate is real. Marriage is real."

It's like life. Marriage, parenthood, and everything else you come across in real life. Full of real things. Love, hate, preferences both strong and slightly felt. Obsessions. Fear. Anxieties. The last few can be controlled and reined in with drugs now; anti-depressives, anti-anxieties, the rest of the spectrum. But at what price? When I was deep in recovery and therapy I was heavy into the anti-everything. Pills to help me cope, to deaden the emotions, to make me not have to cope with feelings that seemed like they would rip me apart. But along with taking the bad stuff away they also took the good stuff. It was an effort. A serious effort to do or to be anything else.

I went off those pills eventually. I learned to deal with life again. The highs were so much sharper when not dulled by the meds. The lows were so much scarier. As low as I can sometimes get, even now, when the blackness comes crashing down around me... I don't want to ask for those pills again. I want to selectively lose negative feelings and keep the good ones. But that's almost an impossibility. It's not real.

You're going to be amazed and enthralled by beauty- in nature, in the ones you love. In the soft curve of a toddler's cheek when they're engrossed in discovering something new that you've taken for granted for twenty years or more. That's real. You're going to be scared and disturbed at a million other things. That's real too. We can't pick and choose when we want to be a person. Take the good with the bad and everything else. It's sweeter that way.
black friday 2007 is coming our way. Soon! To a shopping plaza near you! Or just to your computer screen, while you huddle down in the wee morning hours while sniffing your coffee and wondering if there's any pie left in the fridge. Christmas preparations in this house and in the budget are starting to take more concrete shape. The memories of that Black Friday I spent working retail are still fresh in my mind. My feet hurt just thinking back to it. While on one hand it was an easy day (didn't have to schmooze customers) it was brutal... ring, ring, ring up the sales. One after another all day long for hours and hours and God help me if I had to pee...

There is another child to plan for now, and I know what I'm having. A girl and a boy by next christmas. We will need to do even more planning of a meaningful nature. Is it the media that tells me that I'm a bad mother if there aren't a bunch of presents under the tree? I know the Boy will also feel this way, if not more so- he never had a lot of toys at the holiday and feels the money crunch harder than I do when it comes to gift giving events. We can't even say that by next year the kids can be sharing most of their gifts -girls and boys, so different when they get a little older...

When I was younger and on the East Coast I knew all about Black Friday. It was the highlight of my year. The Sales! The Crowds! The Stuff! (The Headaches, the Aching Feet!) And then I was feeling bored so I went and nosed around and found black friday which is a great way to plan your Black Friday shopping both in store and online way ahead of time. As in, far enough in advance to start putting the money away for it? Not having to put the holiday on plastic? Overstock Specials! ToysRUs sales for limited hours (like the ever-popular 9-11 time frames, designed to snarl traffic and tempers) The email alerts are of particular interest to me right now. I may not have time to read every one, but I can rest assured that I'll know about stuff even if I don't have time or ability to act on it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I may have run out of things to write about today. We had PT this morning; the Toddler is tired and nap-resistant. The Mommy is nap-proactive. Seriously. I'm having such a hard time keeping my eyes open today. I came home and fell into the pillows on my bed. I left them only long enough to eat some lunch. In a few moments I'm running right back into them. Me? Tired? Yep. The house? Cluttered with debris? Yep.

The rest will take care of itself for today. Let the family be resting. The heat of summer has broken all around us, the AC still works great, I need to write bills out tonight and pay them tomorrow- and the bed magnet is summoning me with all it's might.

Take care of yourselves.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It's a boy. The child within, who will Stay Put for at least another 18 weeks! He's a boy.

Just. Wow. I'm so content this afternoon. I may have a migraine, and I may have been up all last night, but this afternoon I'm sitting around with a smug little smile on my face. I'll have a boy and a girl in my family. Of course I'd have been happy with two little girls as well, but this plays in so well with that June Cleaver mindset in the back of my subconscious brain.

Bring on the white picket fence and the minivan. I've already got the pearls.
As I'm getting more and more accustomed to the idea of spending the rest of my life as a mother of two and wife to a man with seriously itchy feet, I've got to face the part about not being able to stay at home for the rest of my life. Same time, I hate going to new places blind. I went to look up some nice restaurants on a Toronto Dining Guide.

Ah. The wonders of the Net have made possible a virtual vacation. Since I'm chronically poor, and temporarily confined to my chair and comfy fuzzy slippers, I can plan a complete vacation for our family and think fond thoughts of actually getting to go there if we ever have the money. Toronto restaurants. Toronto's Nightlife. The
Toronto Dining Guide

What better place could give me all of this for a minimum of my own effort? I can painlessly cruise the high points of this city, choose the best places for me and my family's tastes. Galleries. City events. Theatres, movies, literally everything I could wish for. I can browse the offers. Compare prices. See the pictures of places I'm never likely to visit close up.

Am I in heaven right this second thinking about it? Yep. Sure wish I could make it there.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Is it not totally bizarre how much our kids act like us? The early years are so full of uncomplicated behaviors. If they avoid eye contact, they can pretend they never heard us. If they don't acknowledge us, they think they can continue to do whatever they want without repercussions.

My baby girl is the light of my life. She's stubborn and outright defiant on so many aspects. But when she first wakes up in the morning she's generally content to sit next to me and share a bowl of cereal while watching her Tubbies. Today she sat next to me, but after a few minutes she sidled closer, and closer, and finally found herself snuggling under my arm with her head almost in my lap. Good moments. I could have stayed like that forever. Then the episode ends, and she smiles at me, and then it's off to whatever other adventures lay in wait for her.

My own. My precious.
Everyone goes paperless these days. Healthcare, education (hah! I wish!), why not mortgages? Paperless closing makes it easier; since reams and reams of documents have to be created, it's actually easier for the environment and the administrators to keep them as paperless as possible.

These days electronic closing uses SmartDocs, based on XML which enables the base form and the filled in information to be stored separately. This process simplifies portions of the application process and gets rid of others! Think of it- a kinder, simpler application process. One which does not require hundreds of reams of innocent paper to be sacrificed. One that doesn't keep you pinned in a banker's office for hours and hours and hours on a beautiful day. And best of all... when you leave you can carry your copy on a CD in your pocket. Not in a huge cardboard box which will strain your neck and throw out your back.

Monday, September 10, 2007

After all I posted about not being able to sleep or needing sleep, I woke up exhausted this morning. Is this just another sign of the Little Bit making his/her presence known? Were there parties happening in my uterus that I was not invited to in the wee hours? Because if there were, this child is SO grounded.

While I was pregnant with the Toddler I often informed her that she was grounded. After bad nights or particularly long/painful kicking and puking sessions, I would sternly glare at my belly and ground her. After she would spend an entire OB appt hiding from the doctor, leading me to panic at the doctor's carefully non-reactive expressions and necessitating simple ultrasound readings to determine that yes, there was still a baby in there, I would inform the Boy that either I needed a stiff drink or the child was grounded.

It did very little good except to make me feel better. Today, I find the same results apply.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Do you ever feel that we're all just here for someone else's amusement? Today I've tipped between cranky and contented, and to be perfectly honest my head is spinning from how bizarre it all seemed. Now it's nighttime. The Toddler is down for sleep for the night. The Boy is down for the night as well. I appear to have slept my body out in the past couple of weeks- now I'm so seriously Not Sleepy that I could likely stay up all night tonight and function perfectly well tomorrow.

Not that I'm going to try that experiment. I have the hunch that it would not end well. Besides the more normal wonkiness, there is the hormonal and pregnant wonkiness to consider. I'm a natural night-person, true. I'm also married to a natural morning-person and mother to a morning-person, and while I may think from time to time fond thoughts of "what if the new baby is a night-person?" those thoughts are, ultimately, not a Good Thing. Because the night time hours are now Mine. I came to rely on my Toddler waking and sleeping early because that meant the evening was mine. She may have been stubborn about naps and daytime downtime, but she was exhausted by the time the evening rolled around. Then she would sleep. Then I would have a few hours of uninterrupted me-time before I could go to bed.

And I'm making almost less sense than normal. I should go now. Go and have a snack and then get all the way into my jammies and go to bed.
Way back when I first followed the Boy to Sunny California, I temped for several months on a construction site. That was (nearly) the highlight of my working experience. I was able to use my admin background in conjunction with my college degree and Do Something. Over those months I also got familiar with the massive amount of paperwork that has to happen to build something as small as a single room of a larger structure.

It's not enough to just go out and build the room. Or the house. And it's not enough to just have a set of plans. You need a general contractor to run the show. They, not having enough resources to do Everything that has to be done, hires the subcontractors who specialize in painting, electrical, plumbing, whatever else has got to be done. Even with the best education and experience, a contractor has to deal with myriad issues. Just like we can go out at Borders and pick up a book to help you with quick tips and answers on things like cooking and parenting, a contractor can now pick up the new release by Matt Stevens', Managing a Construction Firm on Just 24 Hours a Day. For excerpts of the book, go to: and you'll have a thorough guide at your fingertips no matter what crisis comes your way.

Press Release:

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There's also a fascinating and tightly narrated chapter called "The Business of Contracting" on the changing nature of the construction industry. In it, Stevens discusses, among other subjects, how most young construction professionals "do not [and did not] go through the 'field' because they don't want to work" in the dirty and dangerous environment of the jobsite. They have "turned construction into a business" in which "craftsmanship is now assumed to be the same from contractor to contractor."

The book contains 406 pages describing critical processes, 100+ illustrations/examples and 130+ best practices for the business of contracting. Order from us the bundle of:

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For $149 (plus shipping) . This is a $199 value when purchased separately. (This is not available from anyone else). Yes, we do accept international orders via Master Card / Visa and American Express. Go to our E-store located at and click on the book link.

To buy only the book, go to these bookstores:, World of Concrete, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waldenbooks, Books-a-Million, Borders,, Staci's, The Construction Specifications Institute, Booktopia (AUS), National Concrete Masonry Association, A1 Books, Northwest Builder's Network, NPHCC, Direct TextBooks, McGraw Hill, Bookmark Inc, Shop.Com, Reiter', Brown's Books (U.K.), Urban Think!, Construction Book Express, BooksFirst (U.K.), Campus Books, Shearer's (AUS), Alibris, Follet's or The Harvard Coop.

We also offer the book (by itself) personally signed by the author. Again, go to our E-store located at and click on the book link.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

My Toddler, last year, in full Kitten Mode. She loves playing with Mommy's yarn, and has decided that it's a wonderful toy. Mommy gave her a whole jar of play yarn that summer. It was loved all too pieces.
Another hot, stinking day in which I have no real motivation to either leave the house or to do anything. Including but not limited to- cooking, cleaning, tidying, or getting up off my butt.

So what have I done? Read a lot. Tried to nap, although I couldn't really because it was just too hot and bright in the bedroom- I did drop off a little bit but not enough. I need to do some needlework at some point, but I don't feel like doing that either. Maybe at some point I will. Maybe not.

Friday, September 07, 2007

One of the many things I do on the Net to keep myself sane (since I hate leaving the house or interacting directly with people face to face) is browse CNN. When I was working I read three print newspapers a day. I was constantly refreshing CNN on the browser. I almost always had a decent handle on current events and the major discussion points of the day. Yeah, I worked too. I answered phones and filed and administratively assisted my way in the background of a bunch of things. These days- not so much. It seems the same from time to time although I do sure miss the chance to sit at a desk and deal with grownups all day long. Anyway. One of the big things lately is the mortgage market. And credit issues for major mortgage companies, most notably the ones that operated more on the "fringe" of normal business practices. Not to imply that they were all thinking rashly, but it seems to me that any company offering interest only loans, no payment down, and even the more common balloon payments all pushed at us 5 or 6 years ago as a way for first-time homebuyers with bad credit to get the property of their dreams? Not making a real good decision.

And now I see articles every week about how those decisions are coming home to roost for a lot of people. They never got that promotion that was going to enable them to keep up with the balloons. They got laid off, and maxed out their credit cards, and can't get a job and now will lose their homes permanently because they have no or negative equity in them (thanks, interest only mortgages!) I do not want to end up like that. It's my humble opinion that real estate is still one of the best and biggest investments a person could ever make. I think that an extra percentage point in mortgage rate for a 15 or 30 year fixed is worth the price- because hello? It's fixed. There will be no horrible surprises when you open the mail one day to see that your payments are now doubled or tripled and you need to find the money in 11 days.

I've found a great source of information about real estate. There are articles about every aspect of the process, laying out the terms and language in such a way that a newbie can understand them. Calculators to figure out just what you can afford, and definitions of the options (since there are about fifty billion types of variations on a home loan). Go to the lender being able to ask for what you want. Don't rely on them to tell you what you want and not try to upsell so that they receive the most advantage out of the transaction. If you keep your wits about you when buying a home it's much more likely that you won't become a tragedy on the news, losing everything when you overreached in buying your home and now have nothing to show for it. Your time and money are worth more than that.

There are times that I absolutely despair of ever getting anything done, ever again.

I don't know if we'll ever get beyond the bare paycheck to paycheck. I don't know if we'll ever get all the way up to, say, having a balance in the savings account again. I don't even know if this is flat-out impossible to dream. It's been a week where paid posting opps have been sparse, where I was counting on them to furnish a bit of fundage for the next month, where I was hoping that something extra was going to fall into my lap so that we could afford a few of the luxury items in our lives. Like a pizza. Or, for instance, paying the bills back to a zero balance every month. And this is not happening. This is likely not going to happen anytime soon. I might as well go out and buy a lottery ticket for all the good my hoarded pennies do.

And is this mostly the depression talking? Hm. Probably. Likely, in fact. Even more likely because all sorts of paid opps are dropping at once this afternoon, but I'm not going to see payment for them until this time next month. That doesn't mean I should ignore it, but dammit... I was hoping for some good things. I was hoping for something good to happen this week, I was hoping for a chance at having a Real Anniversary in two weeks, and I was hoping for a little peace of mind.

But my Toddler still giggles at me. My Boy still says he loves me. I can hope and pray that some of that loving care sinks into my soul during the next few days; and be glad that my mom's still here and can contribute to both groceries and the gas tank until the next payday comes rolling around. Is this the universe's way of keeping me humble? I wish it would choose another method.
I often end up moving to new places and spending most of the time living there stuck at home. Why? Because I don't know what's good, either by way of local shops or restaurants. I don't know what I should avoid or seek out. I hate finding out by accident. If I lived in London I could find out easily which london restaurants to eat at. At the very least, I would be getting some honest opinions and commentary to start from. Maybe a place is really good but I showed up on a bad day? How would I know? I wouldn't- and without an incentive to try them again I'd avoid the place like the plague for fear of getting the same service.

Where I'm living now, on the West Coast, I could access a couple major cities that I'd be likely to want to visit. My Boy likes to travel, and often wishes that I'd be more open to going. Hey, if this site lets me get some feedback on the city in question before committing to hotels, traveling, and eating/sightseeing while there, I'm much more inclined to say "yes" instead of "are you freaking kidding me? with our kid(s)?" Life was easier before kids, in terms of traveling arrangements. Life is more complicated but potentially more fun after having the kids. Sites like this one are perfect for people like me who hate to go into unknown situations blind and have somewhat limited means/resources to find out what we so badly want/need to know before committing to the journey.
Pills to bring me up, pills to bring me down. No pills to magically wave a wand over my physical/mental slump and make it better. Come to think of it, the only thing that seems to help is burying myself in the pillows. Preferably with a cool drink on tap. And a clean bathroom to run to.

I've got caffeine through my body trying to keep me awake. I've got decongestants trying to clear my nose enough to breathe through all the mucus. I've got Juice trying to keep me hydrated.

I've got hormones run wild, forming legions of unruly wild-haired pregnant dreams in my brain. I'm half-hysterical and all weepy when I have to interact with society. I'm crying because I'm just borderline functional today. I want that damned magic wand to wave and make something better. At least bring in a paid post or two so I can think ahead to making next month's books balance.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

How do you feel about "stay and work at home moms"? How do you feel at the prospect of combining the two while remaining neither one nor the other? That's how I feel a lot lately. I can't be a real SAHM because I've got to make money on the blog. I can't be a WAHM because I've got to tend the Toddler while trying to carve out time to sit on the Net making money. Either way I get screwed by society and the Other Mothers who sit in judgment. My house is cluttered, I don't vacuum or scrub enough, and I sit on my butt most of the day instead of organizing playdates that I have no emotional resources to survive- and what's so wrong with preferring to be on my own most of the time? I'm an introvert. I have problems being around most people, no matter how much I like them. I shrivel up inside when someone pushes me towards playdates no matter how much I know it's good for the Toddler. Yes, I get it already. She needs socialization. Isn't there some sort of public service available I can call for that? I don't have the medication necessary to get me through it. I doubt that watching me lose my shit is going to help her socialize.

Whine, whine, whine. Poor me. I need to suck it up. Right now this second I am having emotional indigestion and cannot suck it up. Deal.

Monday, September 03, 2007

This is what I've just pulled out of the UFO pile. I'm going to do it as a queen-sized quilt, alternating blocks with a slightly different 8 pointed star done in the same two shades of blue by the same artist. It's fun and exciting. No, really.

My life has turned into a big UFO pile again. Half finished projects, unstarted projects, piles and piles of materials and supplies for everything. Then there's the yarn. And the yarn projects. And the sewing projects. And all the rest of it. (oy.) But right now I can start pulling stuff out again and try to get it done. Who knows? Maybe I'll even finish one or two of them before the urge of startitis strikes again?
Stress has always been a big hot-button topic in my family. Since we tend to turn it inward way before confronting it out loud, stress manifests in tooth grinding -also known as bruxism- and ulcers. While we can't do much about ulcer prevention, we can certainly do something about the tooth grinding before it scales all the way up to the most painful and expensive of consequences. Dislocating your jaw while you sleep? Nothing says a troubled night like having to pop your jaw back in joint when you wake up in the morning.

Night Guard, TMJ, Bruxism, Tooth Grinding, NightGuard is a product designed to help. If you can't eliminate the causes of your nighttime stress, you can at least minimize the time you'll spend popping bones back into place and the money you'd spend at the dentist once you've ground your way into a root canal or two. (Ever break a crown? I've known people who have. Not pretty.)

One of the nice things I've found as I've gotten older and more familiar with these problems is that I have full removeable dentures. I get to take my dentures out at night, and although my jaw still tries to grind those teeth together there's no way that the upper and lower jaw can make full contact. I often wake up in the morning to find my jaw popped out, and I'm sincerely grateful for only a dislocated jaw instead of a broken tooth.
We may finally be getting that sideboard for the living room that I've been dreaming of! A friend is letting us come over this morning and take a look at a piece that's been sitting in her garage for some time collecting dust. Oh, I hope this works out! So much fun. I could actually have a local home number to plug in and screen my calls again.

The Toddler had a very rough night, as compared to the past week of beautiful night-sleeping. I feel bad for her. I feel worse for us. At least there were three adults to get up with her, none of us took more than two turns.

This morning is a quiet morning. A very quiet morning. Let us all pause and reflect that it's a gorgeous Labor Day weekend, the summer vacation season is now officially over, and we have stepped into a brand new school/academic year. Despite what the local districts think, what with them starting so early and all... call me prejudiced, but the school year rules I follow are still stuck on what the district I grew up in followed. School starts the day after Labor Day. School ends the week of my birthday. In the middle are a handful of tenderly cherished snow days. Not that I expect to see snow days here, but a girl can dream, can't she?