Monday, December 30, 2013

White Elephant Gone Wrong

I don't like white elephant (WE) gift exchanges. Yes, they may include laughter and good-natured teasing (I prefer bad-natured teasing), but they include the stress of finding the perfect gift. Plus, I don't believe in re-gifting trash. A box full of old magazines is not a good WE gift. No one wants it. Therefore, you are done with the exchange if you pick this gift, which is what happened to Husband.

My viewpoint is not shared with most people. One of those people is my stepmom who in recent years has included WE exchanges at our family Christmas. 

However, this year I was excited. If you have read my blog, you will know Husband is a saver. (We do not use the word hoarder.) We're also trying to get rid of stuff we no longer need. Husband also has friends that give him funny, ridiculous items that he saves. You can see how all this would add up to somehow already having the perfect WE gift. 

So there was hope. I'd already identified it - the velvet picture of a matador killing a bull. It is on the wall in my workout/yoga room, which somehow seems wrong to meditate in front of a sad, dying bull. Getting rid of it would be a double score. 

My request was denied. 

Find something else then, I told him. It shouldn't be difficult. He checks the attic and brings down some items - a broken incense burner, old golf clubs and some sort of rustic, bark-covered mallet. Hmmm. Then I notice the mallet has the words "Women Getter" etched in the handle. This will work. 

It would be even funnier if it's picked by my stepbrother Ryan. He is nice, handsome, gainfully employed, forty and not married. You can understand why Ryan needs a drink at our family gatherings surrounded by woman asking him personal questions.

So I wrap up the mallet, excited that we may have the best gift. And we do, except no one picks it because my nephew Alex decides to lay on top of the mallet for the entire gift exchange. When Husband or I try to coerce him into offering it up for exchange, he only wants it more, wrapping his body around it like a snake. Of course, no one is going to be the jerk who rips a gift away from the sweet five-year-old. And of course, there's an extra gift in the mix so no adult has to take it from him. 

As the exchange winds down, Husband is not pleased. It's a combination of anger at even offering the "Women Getter" combined with the fact a child is going to take it home. He tries to reason with Alex, but to no avail. His frustration is evident, but fortunately he realizes he's on the edge of looking like a jackass so he backs down.

We drive home, having wrapped up another chaotic, over-indulgent holiday with my family. I think we're done with the disappointing WE exchange. 

We are not. Husband's frustration is evident the next day. 

"What's a five year old going to do with the Woman Getter?" (Well, our daughter plays with squirt bottles, so I'm sure he'll figure out something.)

"Frank gave me that as a gift when I was single!" (Well, you shouldn't have put something you're emotionally attached to in a gift exchange.)

Though he didn't verbalize it, the insinuation was that it was pressure from me that caused him to offer up such a prized possession. 

"I hate white elephant gift exchanges." (Finally, something we agree on.)

So there you have it. My dislike of WE gift exchanges will continue. I hope if you participated in one you ended up with something awesome like a boob mug or bad toupee that you can regift at the next exchange. Sadly, I did not take a photo of the Woman Getter, so I can't share its awesomeness. I can, however, share the fine piece of artwork that remains upstairs. Don't be jealous.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday Homestretch

Two weeks off, people. After today, it will be sixteen lovely days until I return to the world of meetings, projects and deadlines. Sixteen days. Christmas break is such a lovely perk to working in higher education. Those in the corporate world, feel free to brag about bonuses, profit sharing and the like. On your own blog, of course.

There are no big plans, other the the normal holiday family visits, which suits me just fine. Initially, I thought a few days would be spent painting the living room. It's embarrassing how long there have been drywall patches showing, but whatever. We have a baby. Nothing gets done. I've accepted it. However, Husband surprised me by having a painter take care of it last week. Hallelujah! Two days of freedom regained.

Now the home improvement snowball has started. New mantle for the fireplace. New vanity for the bathroom. Paint the hallway. Tile the backsplash. We'll be lucky if we get one done before spring.

We're also contemplating new furniture. With a 17-month old. We're idiots.

Chit chat aside, I'm really excited to watch Bean experience the hoopla. Yes, she was around last Christmas, but still in that loaf of bread phase. My expectations are higher now. Last night she finally noticed the presents and was enticed by the glittery ribbon. Husband was able to redirect her before she tore anything open. (I'm finding that's pretty much life with a toddler -- a "no" followed by redirect. All. The. Time.)

Above is this year's Christmas card. Happy holidays.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Star Wars Costume -- Strike Two

So this was the second year we attempted a Star Wars halloween costume and it was the second time Bean was not having it. In an attempt to appease Husband, he has been allowed to select the costumes until she is old enough to have an opinion. As evidenced by the photos, her opinion is clear.

2012 - Princess Leia

2013 - R2D2 (or R2TUTU)

2013 - pre-meltdown

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wasted Saturday

I had a glass of wine last night while gabbing with a girlfriend. Then I had another. Then I lost count. As I heard the slurred speech coming from my mouth, my brain berated me -- Stop it. You are fine. Your nickname used to be Fun Jen, for god's sake. Two glasses of wine is not going to bring you down.

It brought me down. Hard.

Then it kicked me in the chin when the Bean woke up wailing at 5:15am. The super little sleeper decided this was the morning to lose it. Of course.

So Saturday expectations have downshifted. An early morning swim? Um, no. Yoga? Head still spinning, thanks. A large plate of cheese and crackers? That I can handle.

Bean and Trudy are napping. Husband is at the office. I'm drinking a Fresca and blogging to document how being hungover with a small child is worse than 8 a.m. econ class on Fridays. Yes, that bad.

Enjoy your Saturday, folks.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Bottoms Up

Is it really August 1? Seriously? Where has the summer gone? It's passed by exceptionally fast as I have taken on extra duties at work and now truly know the meaning of busy. (I know, I know, we're all busy, Jen. Quit bitching.)

August 1. Six weeks since I last blogged. Not that there haven't been stories to share. Husband's first father's day, the bean's first swim and yesterday - the major milestone of all first-time parents - birthday #1. My brain replayed the reel of the day she was born - how terrified I was, how I didn't feel an instant connection, how Husband initially took to diaper-changing much quicker than I did.

Now here she is, almost a full head of hair, scooting everywhere, eating mac 'n cheese (organic, for those who might judge) and drinking wine. We're so proud. (Of course the glass was empty, people. I hope you would already know that, but since this will be on the internet forever, I need to clarify.)

It's bittersweet when you're 99% sure you're only having one. I constantly remind myself to just stop and pay attention. Enjoy the experience. I may never play with blocks again, but dang if we don't have fun doing it now. I bought bubbles yesterday and am giddy to see her reaction.

Earlier this year a friend told me not to worry about when to start something, pay more attention to when it ends. The last bottle, rock to sleep, time she wears the ice cream cone pajamas. (She may have "fat man in a little coat" working, but she will at least wear them one more time.)

Because I hate to be sappy, I'll end with a Trudy story. 

One of Husband's friends came by the other night with his five-year-old son who was fascinated with Trudy. He wanted to pet and love on her. Trudy being Trudy, I felt the need to chaperone.

Joe pulls out all of T's toys while asking, "Does he like this one?" 
Me: Yes, SHE likes that rubber chicken. 
Joe: Can I pet him here? 
Me: Yes, SHE likes to be pet there.

This continues on for what feels like an hour until Joe grabs her tail. 
Me: You know, that's one place she really doesn't like to be messed with.

He lifts her tail up. 
Joe: Is that his bottom?
Me: Yes, that's her bottom.

Joe: Where's his penis?
I desperately send telepathic waves to his dad, trying to get some help.
Me: Well, she's a girl so she doesn't have a penis.

Joe: Then how does he pee?

Dear lord. 

Me: Girls can pee without a penis, Joe.

Joe: Oh. Where does she pee from then? (Now simultaneously lifting Trudy's tail and hind leg.)

Me: All business happens under the tail.

Joe: Everything happens under the tail?

Me: Yes, everything happens under the tail.

Body part explanation with another person's kid avoided. Realize I need to get out while the getting's good. I alert Husband that he is now on Trudy patrol and I'm going to fold laundry. And by fold laundry I mean have a popsicle and enjoy the fact that Bean can't yet ask questions.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A little celebratin'

So much to write about; so little time. I'll take the easy route and cover my first mother's day. 

Crap folks, had I known this was such a big deal I would've had a kid years ago. Mother's Day is better than a birthday - equal celebration and no aging up. Fantastic. And I should be celebrated. None of this demure "oh you shouldn't have" attitude. Bring on the compliments! Bring on the gifts! I'm happy to receive them all.

Here are a couple reasons my mom-ship should be celebrated:

1. I let my kid chew on her report card every day when I pick her up from school. Husband does not allow this, but I don't care. Pink paper for everyone, I say.

2. In an effort to keep her occupied so I could prep for dinner, I let the Bean eat mail. It was just a credit card solicitation, but that envelope gave me 20 whole minutes. (Are we detecting a paper theme here?)

3. Sometimes I rotate between Tylenol and Advil just because she's fussy. Her liver will thank me later.

4. She has learned how to share her Mum Mum with Trudy, meaning she takes a bite, gives Trudy a bite, then she takes another. While proud of her sharing ability, the fact that Trudy also eats goose poop makes this disgusting.

5. Speaking of poop, the Bean finally did what I've been anticipating for months - went in the tub. So I took her out, rinsed her off and left the poo-filled baby tub for Husband to clean.

Husband and Bean did particularly well on gifts -- a Ninja Blender (insert Kung Fu noise here) and new bike shoes. We've been blending everything and it's amazing the difference a good blender makes. We also bought Charley her first bike helmet which is so cute it makes my heart hurt.

Now if we could just find time to ride.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fishing, Botox and the Cupig

This weekend was Husband's eagerly anticipated fishing weekend with the boys. I don't know the details of what goes on - besides fishing, obviously - but it seems to include a lot of meat. The grocery list he gave me included sausage, which we rarely eat, and previous trips have included meat wrapped within another meat wrapped within another meat. It makes me throw up in my mouth a little just thinking about it. He did take Trudy which left the Bean and me to hold down the fort.

It was a fairly uneventful weekend, which suited me just fine. The Bean loves the BOB stroller, so we tool several long walks around the Nelson. I did actually run with the Bean a few weeks ago and for the next week my calves reminded me how out of shape I am. Then I tried to run with Trudy last week and it was not a success. Maybe someday I'll actually get back in run shape. Sigh.

The Bean continues to amaze us with the most trivial of actions. She now purses her lip up to her nose and then blows out her nose hard while furrowing her eyebrows. It's really funny, but I'm not sure how to tell her there will eventually be a correlation between this expression and a need for Botox.

She also has figured out how to activate the Cupig. The what, you ask? The Cupig. It's one of those Hallmark dancing animals that sings a song called the Cupig Shuffle. It's also the best crying diversion we have. Last night she reaches out, squeezes his paw and watches him dance. Is it normal for an eight month old to know how to do this?

Just when I think she may be advanced, she begins knocking her head against the giant toy piano keys, which makes me think of the movie Parenthood. ("He likes to butt things with his head." "How proud you must be.")

Monday, April 8, 2013

Sentimental Monday

I buy The Kansas City Star twice a year; once on Red Friday and once on the day of the Royals' home opener. Like most people under the age of fifty, my news comes from the web. It also leans more toward entertainment (Halle Berry's pregnant at 46!) than world politics (damn you, North Korea), but whatever. So I was pleasantly surprised to see an article in the Star about Boone Elementary School on the front page.

Boone, a school in the Center School District, received the National Center for Urban School Transformation's Silver Award. Boone is also where my mother taught for the majority of her career. It was - and still is - a school with a large number of students from low-income families.

Once my mom married Charlie, we moved from Red Bridge to north of the river. She continued to make the commute even though there was no quick route to 88th and Wornall. Broadway was still a toll bridge and when she was short a quarter the attendant let her pay with a stamp or just waved her through.

I remember going to school with her on days my school was out. There was far more diversity, though as a kid I didn't notice. I just liked the chance to play on a different playground with kids my own age. 

Mom taught remedial reading and English to fourth graders, many from troubled homes. She was occasionally called as a witness in custody hearings and a few times regarding child abuse. She regularly took food to the classroom because some of the kids only received food at school, so she'd send some home with them. 

One time, we ran into a student at the Quik Trip in Riverside. Heath was sitting on the curb eating candy. When Mom asked what he was doing there, he said his mom dropped him off with $5 and was coming back in a few hours. Heath was nine. We waited at QT until his mom came back for him.

Mom had opportunity to teach closer to home, to avoid the commute, headache and struggle to teach children who's parents sometimes just didn't care. But to see her in the classroom, it made sense. The kids liked her, they needed someone like her and she loved teaching them. She continued to teach during chemotherapy treatments until a month before she died in 1987.

I got teared up while reading about how well Boone is doing. Then I smiled when I realized one of the pictures is my mom's friend Eileen Bergman who is a math consultant for the school. Mostly, I'm just happy to see the school that my mom loved and made her teaching home is doing so well. 

Well done, Bobcats.

Friday, March 29, 2013

'Lil Smokies and Costco Cake

Yeah, you read that right. When I fall off the wagon, I fall hard and on the way down I eat nitrate-filled meats and over-frosted cake. Damn you, co-worker, for getting pregnant and having a baby shower will all sorts of delicious, processed food.

If there is any good to be taken from this situation, my system was "detoxified" enough after nine days of clean eating for my  binge-o-rama to have quite an effect. The afternoon was spent slumped over, moaning and hoping no one came into my office. Of course, I can't precisely pinpoint which food caused this because there were so many. (Did I not mention the punch, sour cream dip or cream cheese mints? Oops.)

The sad thing was, I didn't even care. Here's why. On Monday morning, after seven days of eating like a freaking rabbit, I stepped on the scale. This was going to be fantastic. Every night I'd gone to bed with my stomach feeling like it was eating itself, but the pay-off was going to be worth it. As the number flashed before my eyes I couldn't believe it. It was four pounds heavier than when I started. Four pounds. FOUR POUNDS! How is that even possible?

I didn't do this cleanse for the sole purpose of losing weight. The main goals were to get my sweet tooth back in check, ratchet up the weekly vegetable intake and feel better. But it would be a lie to say I didn't want to drop the last of the pregnancy weight. Once I saw that number, my resolve was gone.

So to answer the few who have inquired about the cleanse this week, there you go. I am still eating a few of the recipes and snacks because they were good enough to put in regular rotation. It also inspired me to find some new, healthier versions of my old recipes. 

The weight loss thing will be handled by my fall-back method - getting up earlier to work out longer. After my hiatus, I also look forward to taking Trudy out running again. If I can just figure out how to run without peeing myself. That's another little post-pregnancy gem they don't tell you about when you're pregnant. One of the many.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Week 1 Complete

Yes, I'm still doing the cleanse, detoxifying, eating so clean it hurts thing. While I was far from perfect, I did better than anticipated. Grade for week one - B+.

Some of the recipes were good, others I didn't make. By the end of the week, it was pretty much roasted vegetables for dinner. Husband had some pasta and I did steal a bite. It was so good. I also took a bite of his roast beef sandwich this weekend. Since I made the sandwich, I consider it a toll.

On the good side, I haven't had sugar, processed foods or booze. With the exception of the sandwich bite, no meat or dairy either.

Things learned:

1. When all you eat is vegetables, fruit, nuts and lentils, you will go to bed hungry.

2.  Spoonfuls of organic almond butter are a fine substitute when you can't have sugar.

3. The program says you'll feel bloaty and icky the first week. The program is right.

4. I'm not "springing out of bed" in the morning yet. (Does anyone with a baby spring out of bed?) However, I am getting by on little to no caffeine.

5. Had I not done the accountability thing, I would have quit this weekend. Snowed in plus March Madness equaled me wanting pizza.

6. It's imperative your spouse support the effort. Despite the Facebook mockery, Husband has been a great sport about eating the cleanse food.

That's it. I'm tired. I'm hungry. I have two more weeks.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cleanse - Day 1

Started out the day with forty minutes of yoga, green tea and cleaning up a poop explosion courtesy of the Bean. (How can so much come out of something so little?)

If interested, the plan I'm following can be found along with the recipes. Some things have been modified since I won't eat foods I don't like. (Beets, I'm looking at you.) I'll also rate the recipes I try using one through five, five being excellent.

8am: Blueberry-Mint Smoothie (4.5, surprisingly good, but used less avocado than it called for)
9am: Celery with almond butter
10:30am: Apple, Excedrin (this is not part of the plan, but I don't care so much about cutting caffeine)
11am: Trail Mix (3.5, it's good but would require something with chocolate to earn a 5. Old habits die hard, I guess.)
2:30pm: Lentil soup, salad with vinegar and olive oil, orange
3pm: Now is when I usually get an afternoon snack of the sugar variety. The vending machine misses me.
5:30pm: a few cashews and two apricots
8pm: Cauliflower "Rice" Stir-fry (4, good, but time-consuming for a weeknight)

Not gonna lie -- I'm pretty hungry, but it's almost bedtime and I've brushed my teeth. Sad thing about any sort of food regiment, is you think about food all the time. Fortunately, the first week appears to be the hardest and I'm one-seventh way through. (That's a half-assed fraction.)

Included is a picture of the Bean from tonight, sitting up, getting big and generally ruling the roost.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


This will be brief, but I'm hoping for some accountability. Tomorrow I begin a 21-day cleanse. This pains me as I've always thought the whole cleanse-detoxify-colonic thing was total bunk. (I still think colonics are whack.) However, last week my sugar addiction reached a new low as I found myself eating spoonfuls of frozen buttercream frosting multiple times a day.

So after an intensive weekend of yoga teacher training, tomorrow seems like as good a day as any to start this experiment. Week one is vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and lentils. I anticipate being mean as a snake. Husband best plan a work trip.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Puffers and Poop Pants

My blog post mini-hiatus is not due to lack of material. It's also not due to the new mom fallback reason of I just don't have time. (I have time to look at houses on the Reece & Nichols web site, so I have time to blog.) The real reason is, I get halfway through an entry and don't have a tidy way to wrap it up so it gets scrapped.

Previous unfinished posts have been about yoga teacher training (awesome), my parents selling the house I grew up in (not awesome) and turning 40 (awesome and not awesome simultaneously?)

Today's post, because I'm lazy, is yet another list of parenthood insights I have gained from the Bean.

1. Always go to the bathroom before you leave work to pick your kid up from daycare. This will be your last opportunity until your spouse gets home or the baby goes to bed, whichever comes first.

2. The baby will always have the biggest poop ever within an hour after a bath.

3. The should give out a Ph.D. in baby toenail trimming.

4. Your baby will never be totally booger-free. You clean out the nostril, turn to dispense the Q-Tip and turn back around to find new boogers. It's like they're on-deck boogers waiting to step in. You will eventually make peace with the fact your kid has a party going on in her nose even though you used to judge other parents for the same thing.

5. The rate at which ear wax accumulates in their ears is astounding. The easiest way to get it out is with your pinky-nail. Totally disgusting, but effective. Next I'll be spitting on a napkin and wiping her face.

6. Baby food meat is really cat food.

7. No one tells you how difficult it is to maneuver the car seat. I have tendonitis in both elbows from carrying her around in it and cannot figure out a good solution.

8. The Bean is baffled by those puffer things. However, Trudy is delighted to have a third person from whom to steal food.

9. The Bean also has an aversion to coats. I'm hoping she didn't inherit Husband's aversion to pants.

10. When the baby starts to have "poop pants", it's time to size up in diapers. (This is when you remove the diaper to find poo covering the entire region, therefore shaped like a diaper. It's as disgusting as it sounds.)

Well, I made it to ten, so I'm considering it a successful post.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Snow Day Observations

1. Snow day #1 = awesome. Snow day #2 = cabin fever.

2. Staying in PJs for an entire day is also awesome. Day #2 = funk.

3. If you are craving something sweet (the story of my life) and don't have anything in the house, you can eat one of your kid's teething biscuits. Teething biscotti, if you will. It goes excellent with coffee.

4. When teething biscotti no longer cuts it, make snickerdoodles. There's nothing like lounging by the fire with warm cookies and a begging dog. On day #2, have husband hide snickerdoodles so you won't eat the entire batch by day's end.

5. When the entire family is confined to the house for the whole day you will clean the kitchen 72 times. Don't try to figure out how this is possible, it just is. At 8pm when you believe you've wiped down the counters for the last time - hallelujah - your husband will ask what's for dinner. Seriously. (I love you, Husband.)

6. An unexpected day home with your baby is just lovely. You snuggle and play and hope she takes a long nap. (Two and half hours long. Yeah, baby.) On day #2, you check the daycare's website to see if they're open. Just a late start? Yes, please. I'm the crappy mom who dropped her baby off at daycare for a half day. I feel tremendous guilt. I'm also reveling in a quiet house and a chance to workout and blog.

Stay warm.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mom Guilt

The mom guilt has arrived in full-force. Actually, the guilt train pulled into the station the day I went back to work. Dropping the Bean off at daycare sucked. (That's the nickname that seems to be sticking. Bean or Peanut. I must have a thing for legumes.)

Anyway, it's time to purge my guilty conscience. There's The Mom I Wish To Be (TMIWTB) and the actual reality of my parenting skills:

TMIWTB: Hand knits or at the very least orders sweet, one-of-a-kind baby clothing from Etsy.
Me: Can barely sew on a button and buys baby clothes from Target online because they are cheap.

TMIWTB: Sends out baby announcements within the first two months of baby’s arrival.
Me: Doesn’t send announcements because that’s what Facebook is for. Instead, uses Christmas card with pics of child as a pseudo announcement.

TMIWTB: Makes crafty thank you notes by hand with thoughtful messages.
Me: Buys cards at CVS and scribbles thank you while the baby drools on the envelope.

TMIWTB: Has professional photographer take beautiful black and white photos of baby.
Me: Take pictures with my phone. (Maybe this is why there was no announcement.)

TMIWTB: Photo documentation of baby’s growth monthly, usually with child positioned just so and artistic lettering with the date.
Me: Again, take pictures with my phone.

TMIWTB: Teaches child to begin signing before they can talk.
Me: Sing the baby ridiculous jingles using the same rhyming words repeatedly. Also, continue to use the same foul-language I used before she arrived. Her first word will probably be shit. Is there a sign for that?

TMIWTB: Has baby on a structured nap schedule so we can plan outings accordingly.
Me: Encourages nap schedule to accomodate yoga class, grocery store trips and my favorite Food Network shows.

TMIWTB: Fills out baby book thoughtfully while attaching pictures of all major milestones. 
Me: Wrote stuff in baby book at around one month and hasn't opened it since. And again, all photos are on my phone.

However, one thing going for me is I have consistently blogged about pregnancy, childbirth and the perils of having an infant. So at least she'll have that resource when she realizes there is no other documentation of her childhood. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Christmas was extra merry this year, as Husband upped the ante on gifts with this beauty. I've always liked Italians with a strong profile. A good bike name is in order, but I can't do that until after the first ride which hopefully happens tomorrow.

Before you think Husband is the best gift-giver ever (though he is pretty damn good) it should be mentioned that he bought a Pinarello for himself, too. Yes, we're that couple -- matching bikes for Christmas. When I pointed this out, he explained they aren't matching because his is a gloss finish and mine is matte. Um, okay. If we start wearing matching jerseys, please mock us mercilessly.