Saturday, March 29, 2008

around the www

If you know me IRL or if you've read my blog at all then you know I'm a planner. I love list-making and scheduling and I often feel that if I didn't have these things I'd quickly go insane. Someone in my mom's group directed me to Menus for Mom's about a month ago. I used it pretty faithfully for a couple of weeks and I really liked it. Basically it's a service that provides a "free weekly menu plan including recipes and grocery list for 5 nights of dinners by email. Did you get that? Not only do they send you a 5 night dinner plan, but they also send you the link to the grocery list you'll need for those 5 dinners and then a link to the recipes and cooking instructions for those 5 dinners. Awesome.

I will say that like most things like this, you have to tailor it to meet the needs of your family. Of course, if someone in your house has a food allergy or requires a special diet this might not be the best idea for you, but for us it works great. I usually get the menu at the beginning of the week and decide right away which 3 or 4 dinners we'd prefer. (Since I hate to cook I only use about 3 or 4 of the meals and we eat out or eat leftovers for the rest of the week. Plus this gives us a chance to automatically eliminate the one or two meals they suggest that don't sound all that appetizing to us.) Then I print out the menus, recipes and grocery list. I mark off the items I won't need to buy and I add other items that we'll need for breakfast and lunch. And voila! I'm done! The list is organized (unlike my usual shopping list) so it makes it much easier to navigate in the store and the entire process requires very little thought on my part.

The best part is how well-planned out it is. For example, one night at the beginning of the week you'll make sloppy joes and double the recipe so that then at the end of the week you can make sloppy joe pizza or calzones or something else that would require the rest of the meat sauce and each night you have a nutritionally balanced, well-rounded meal. On a night where the main dish may take three or four hours in the crock pot the sides can be made ahead as well so that the entire meal can be put on the table in a jiffy when dinner time comes OR on a night where the main dish only takes twenty minutes to prepare, the side dishes take even less than that so everything is timed to be done right at the same moment. This is a problem I constantly have when I'm trying to cook a meal. I'll have the meatloaf done but the potatoes will still be boiling on the stove yet to be mashed.

One last thing I love about this and then I'll shut up. I love how these menu plans make me try foods I would never try before. For example, one night the meal plan suggested "5 Cup Salad" which is basically a fruit salad with a cup each of 5 ingredients such as whipped topping, mandarin oranges, pineapple, and some other things I can't remember. I would have never even considered making something like this before, but because it was on the menu I went ahead and bought the ingredients for it at the store and then when the night came to make it I thought, "What the heck!?" and threw it all together and darn if it wasn't pretty good.

I got off track last week with Easter and birthday parties, but that's part of the beauty of it too. I can make the whole thing as flexible as I want and I don't have to always stick to it. For me, I find that is what works perfectly. A plan when I need it to be there and a plan to forget when I don't need one.


I've also recently discovered Bookmootch and I'm in love. You see, I've got rows and rows of books that I've already read and can't bear to just give away but they're taking up lots and lots of real estate here at my house. I considered trying to sale them on Craisglist and after browsing the book category on there for a few weeks I decided that that wasn't really worth the trouble because it looked like stuff rarely moved in my area. Then I looked at and thought about selling some of the books for a little extra money there but when I registered I realized that there were more hidden fees (plus shipping) than I had anticipated and upon noticing that they were associated with Ebay I bailed on that idea quickly since I've never really been a fan.

So. I was about to go on amazon and order the next book for my book club a week or so ago and I read somewhere about Bookmooch. I decided to try it out and created an account and started listing the books I'm ready to get rid of in my BM inventory. I quickly earned enough points just by listing books to request the first book I wanted to get (A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author as The Kite Runner). Then today alone I had three requests for some of my books so I will get them in the mail on Monday and now I have three more points just like that. I can get my next three book club books essentially for the amount it takes for me to ship these three books on Monday. I'd been spending about $10-15 each month on my book club books and this should only run me about $9 or $10 to ship all three. Love it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

twenty four months

Easter Sunday
Dear Julianna,

My sweet little baby girl. My sweet little big girl. I can hardly call you a baby anymore. Somewhere around the two year mark is when people stop speaking in terms of months for your age and instead start speaking in terms of years. It’s bittersweet really. While I know that time inevitably marches on, I also long for the days when I could snuggle you easily whenever I wanted instead of just when you want. I long for the days when I could put you down and you wouldn’t run off and get into trouble. I long for the days when you needed me for everything. But at the same time I’m excited about the future days when you realize something new all on your own and you share it with me happily. I’m excited about the future days when you can dress and bathe yourself. I’m excited about the future days spent with you doing “bigger kid things” and I’m excited about the future days when you accomplish something you’ve never done before and I get to see that proud smile on your face.

walking the the hill at Memama's

Today when I picked you up from school you were giving your teacher the sweetest, most enormous bear hug I’ve ever seen you give. It made me smile from ear to ear and I couldn’t wait to hold you again even though you said you’d rather walk and then asked “Where Pap is?”

hunting Easter eggs
One of the cutest things you’ve learned this month is how to say, “Play marbles with me, please!” or “Play cards with me!” or “Read it to me.” Sometimes you’re so stinkin’ adorable that it’s hard to deny you a thing. That’s why every day since Easter you’ve had a cupcake, a chocolate egg, a piece of monkey birthday cake, or a ring pop – whichever you ask for that day. I’m a sucker for your brown eyes.

Plus you’ve got these amazing half-curls that stick out above your ears. You call your blonde hair “so pretty” when you brush it and you are turning into a beautiful little girl.

You’re doing better in the sleep department. You’ve stopped waking up in the middle of every night and only wake up every few nights. It’s also pleases me to be able to report that you’re still easy to get back to bed whenever you do wake up. You’ve moved into your big room and into a queen bed. The first night you slept there (your birthday night) you pooched out your bottom lip in protest just like you did exactly two years before (your real birthday) but of course you were easy to comfort and you did great sleeping there all night. We really, really, really love you for that.
eating monkey cake

Jules, you’ve made your daddy and I so proud to be parents. We weren’t sure how hard or how easy it would be but luckily you’ve made it loads of fun. The rewards of being your mama can’t compare to anything else I’ve experienced and I gush about you to anyone who’ll listen.

I can fondly remember those early days two years ago when I’d sit on the couch and closely examine every wrinkle in your long and tiny toes and I’ll treasure every moment I had like that with you, but I look forward to the new moments we get to share together and I’m so glad to have you. Happy birthday, Big Girl! I love you!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

overheard from the 2 year old’s bedroom

Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton...
I see the moon and the moon sees me...
Old MacDonald had a farm EIEIO...
Hippity hoppity easter’s on its way!...
Mulberry bush Pop goes the weasel...
Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday Jules YAAAAYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!...

…And she’s OUT...


Friday, March 21, 2008


Alternate title:
Julianna's Asleep, A Goat's Mommy, and Tree Hugging

A while back when we went to the beach there was one night where I lost track of time for some reason. I scooped Julianna up from one condo and carried her down to the other one to get her ready for bed. Jonathan was on the computer doing something and he usually puts her to bed, but he just told me he'd be there in a little bit. Well, a little bit came and went and I just went ahead and put her to bed. It turns out that I had the time all wrong and I was actually about 20 minutes earlier than usual.

Anyway, I had just closed her bedroom door, turned the monitor on, and sat down on the couch when Jonathan walked in. He didn't see me sitting there on the couch and called out something like, "Where are you?" as he headed down the hall. Next we both heard Julianna call emphatically from the bedroom, "I going to sleep!" and as he walked bath into the living room we were both trying our best to stiffle our laughs.


We call my grandmother Mama Lou. Somehow she got a couple of goats to keep for a few of her other great-grandkids. Julianna has visited these goats a time or two and has become very fond of them. The other day in the car Jules said something about "Mama Woo" and I couldn't understand her. I just asked her, "Jules, did you know that Mama Lou is Pap's mommy?" and she paused for a bit thinking about that. Then I said it again, "Yes Mama Lou is Pap's mommy." She declared, "No, no, no, Mama Woo Buddy and Daisy's mommy."


We dove by a log truck on the highway the other day. In an effort to STOP THE WHINING (ahem) I pointed it out to the little girl and I asked her if she knew what the truck was carrying. She stopped whining and started listening (amazing how that works with 2 year olds...). Anyway, I told her that they were trees and that when the trees were cut down they would fall over and the people would pick them up and put them on the trcuks like that to take them somewhere. I could see her in the rearview mirror as she kept staring at the truck. Then she said, "trees?" and pointed out to the still-standing trees on the side of the highway and I replied, "Yes, that's right. Like those trees." Then as she looked back at the truck she told me the oddest thing.

She said, "I want to hug a tree." I thought, "That would make you a tree hugger, my dear."

up to

A certain 2 year old's birthday party. A "monkey" cake. An Easter Egg hunt.

Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos. Different, but good. I would recommend it. Getting ready to start on the next book club book, A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons. Love the first sentence, "She hasn't been dead four months and I've already eaten to the bottom of the deep freeze."

Julianna's "big girl room" a mustardy goldish/yellow.

Snow? At the end of March? Yes, they're probably wrong, but indeed they are calling for snow on Monday.

Longing For:
Nicer landscaping in my back yard. A bicycle and toddler trailer. A swingset/playground set for Jules. A new mattress - one that doesn't roll to the middle.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

i just realized

My daughter is not even 2 yet and she can already correctly identify Wendy's, Burger king, and "Old McDonald's." Should I be embarrassed?

Thank Goodness Easter is Early This Year

Cadbury eggs are evil.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

money and blog business

There is a person I know that always complains about not having any money. In my opinion, this person doesn't do a whole lot to help their financial situation and I find it very difficult to have pity on them sometimes because MY GOODNESS! WHY CAN'T THEY DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT BESIDES COMPLAIN? It's not like they're uneducated or incapable of getting and holding a significant-enough job. It's just that they're MAKING CHOICES that contribute to their current financial status.

Over the last few months we've really struggled financially. I've found myself complaining about it a lot because I've obsessed and worried over it a lot. I've started to consider going back to work part-time or full-time this fall. Still in the thinking process though. Right now I'm just concentrating on not bringing other people down because I realize that the choices I've made have affected my situation, not the choices of someone else.

Anyway, tonight I finally got to looking at the information for ads I placed on this blog at the end of last year. I finally figured out how to see how much money I'm making off of them and I have to say that I was pleasantly suprised that it wasn't a number really close to zero. Of course, the ads don't do much, but at this point something is better than nothing. So I'm pleased.

Thanks to all of you who click over and send me a few pennies each time. It's much appreciated.

And if I start whining too much about being po' then I declare you a winner of this Slap Bet .

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

i hope this stickks

A while back I discovered Stickk and committed to quit drinking soft drinks from January 22nd until my birthday (March 5th). It's not that I didn't want to ever have one again. It was more that I had gotten to the point where I didn't like to drink anything BUT soft drinks. I had always tended to choose water over anything else and I wanted to be that way again and after multiple attempts I realized that I really couldn't do it without quitting them cold turkey for a while first.

Anyway, the way Stickk works is that you put a contract on yourself to reach whatever gol you set. You then choose a "referee" to monitor your progress and it can be anyone. All they really have to do is vouch for your success (or failture) at the end of the time period. When you "sign" your contract you put up a (determined by you) set of money that you will either get back or lose at the end of the contract period. You do have to pay the money up front. You can designate who you want the money to go to. It can be a friend, an enemy, a charity (chosen by Stickk), or an anti-charity (an organization that you would NOT want to give money to). Read more details here.

I know it's not for everyone, but for me this is the perfect set-up. For one thing, I am super-tight with money. Not that I don't spend it, more like I love a bargain, try very hard not to throw money away, and do my best to get a good deal on everything. I hate seeing my money go to waste! Also, it incorporates friend and family participation if you follow the plan correctly and recruit supporters to encourage you along the way. And when you're done with the contract you've either met your goal and gotten your money back to apply to the next contract or you've failed and suffered the great loss of not only falling short of reaching your personal goal, but you're also out a few bucks.

I would like to point out the obvious fact that if you don't put up a significant-to-you amount of money in the first place (whatever that may be) then you're sort of not really committing fully to the goal to begin with and you're setting yourself up for failure. Certainly different goals would warrant different sums of money, but whatever it is you kinda know from the begininng if it's going to be an amount valuable enough to you.

I gave Stickk $25 of my desparately needed dollars and then earned it back. And I was super-duper proud of myself.

That was on March 5th. Today is the 12th and I still haven't had a soft drink. I just haven't really wanted one that badly and even when I did want one, the experience of the past couple of months made me actually stop and think about it before I poured that glass or opened that can.

Now I have $25 back and I'm trying to think of my next Stickk goal. Maybe 15 minutes minimum exercise per day...?

So tell me. Do you think this Stickk thing would work for you? What are some personal goals that you want to work towards? Aren't these people geniuses? To come up with an idea like this where all they really have to do is set up the site and then just hold people's money for a designated time period before they give it away again. They get the benefits of holding the money, as a bank would I suppose.

**Also, please don't forget Vinny!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend

I have a friend who has a sweet little boy named Vinny and he is deeply in need of your prayers. You can read more about him here. And of course, if you would like to provide financial support to the family for the mountain of climbing medical bills, please click the link below.

I cannot imagine what impact it would have on me to discover that my daughter had a tumor at the base of her skull, but I can imagine the warm fuzzies I would get just knowing that people around the world were praying for her. Thanks for whatever you can do for Vinny.

Friday, March 7, 2008

three oh

It was a great day to have a birthday. I got the BEST PRESENT EVER first thing in the morning when I opened my eyes. I realized that, Hey, it’s 6:20 in the morning and my daughter hasn’t woken me up ALL NIGHT. How long has it been since that happened? I CANNOT REMEMBER. Anyway, then we went to a friend’s house to play and from there to the DMV to get my driver’s license renewed. There were only four people ahead of me and it was a relatively painless trip with the exception of one small tantrum on our way out the door. [IDON’TWANTLEAVE!!!! NO MOMMY! NO HOME!] Luckily the people there were kind-hearted about the pile of 2 year old spilled out across the grungy tile floor and one even remarked, “I’ve never heard of anyone not wanting to leave the DMV.” hee

From there we came home and had lunch and naps. Well, the girl had a nap after singing happy birthday to me a dozen times over the baby monitor. I just sat and paid bills while she sang. After singing happy birthday to me she decided to sing, “Jon-san’s birthday in April. Daddy’s birthday coming up” over and over again.

After nap we got to go to the dentist where Julianna did two things right for each and every thing she did wrong yesterday. She was an angel. Or it may have been a fluke of nature.

And then to exercise followed by a quick dinner after which my lovely sister arrived to babysit while the DH and I got to go see our first movie since the dark ages. He gets major points for picking a chick flick (27 Dresses) and setting up the babysitter himself. All in all it was a great day. Thanks for the well wishes everyone!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

all i can say is amazing

A friend pointed this story out. Did you hear about this? I’m speechless. Toddler reads at 17 months

ten reasons why today could not end soon enough

  1. It has been one sucky, sucky day. Especially since it started at 4 am for me thanks to the doesn’t-ever-want-to-sleep-anymore toddler.

  2. My daughter has spent the better part of the day in time out. First for biting (YES- BITING), then for pulling on a kid’s shirt, and several times after that for not listening to Mommy.

  3. My antibiotics for c diff run out Thursday morning. I am having major anxiety issues that it will grow back and get my GI system out of balance and I’ll get sick again. I want to believe that two rounds of this antibiotic will be enough, but this junk is hard to get rid of and I fear that it won’t be enough.

  4. I can’t drink while I’m taking these antibiotics and while I don’t drink that often, I could really use a glass of wine right now. After the crappy day I’ve had and the whole month of being on this medicine, I could stand to relax a little.

  5. As if the alcohol weren’t enough, I’ve been trying to limit my sugar intake while fighting c diff. As I understand it, this type of bacteria thrives on sugar so I’ve been doing all I can to make myself cut back lately. This has made me lightheaded and nauseas each morning and afternoon. It makes me feel pregnant and I can assure you that I am most certainly not experiencing morning sickness. (see previous whinings about great desires for baby #2)

  6. Julianna threw the mack daddy of all temper tantrums today. It began with not wanting to go upstairs for naptime and ended with her practically catapulting herself over the crib rail at my parents’ house screaming “No Naptime!” in between gasps for breath. While she survived, my mom and I were questioning our newfound abilities to join the WWF.

  7. It hasn’t stopped raining all day! I hydraplaned on the way home and that scares me to death.

  8. Tomorrow’s my birthday! I know I mentioned I’ll probably skip the birthday cake (see # 5 above) but did I mention that I’ll be OFFICIALLY OLD tomorrow?

  9. I have to go to the dentist tomorrow. I’ve found that as I age I dread visits to the dentist more and more. Besides, I’m planning on taking Jules with me for the first time ever so that she can get used to the dentist’s office, etc. But did I tell you about the time I got my hair cut and took her with me to the salon with no help and then I watched her in the mirror take out ALL of the items in my purse, distribute them neatly across the floor (including open chapstick and lipsticks), AMONG THE FRESHLY CHOPPED HAIR? I just want to get it over with.

  10. We have absolutely NO MONEY. Wednesday is pay day around here and I have some bills that are desperately in need of being paid. Tomorrow is Wednesday.

So here’s to tomorrow. I hope it’s a fun one!
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