Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Birthdays & Babies & (a) Brontë.

Today is my 28th birthday, which of course means that it's time to quietly contemplate my own mortality and to look back fondly on the salad days when I was blessed with the gift of youth.



Last night we were all in the living room: K was in her cow chair (yep, she has a cow chair) coloring, Bob was in his Man Chair probably using both his laptop and his ipad simultaneously, and I was on the couch alternately trying to get some work done and ogling baby things I can't afford (because I waste my time ogling instead of working, probably), when it hit me: I had three and a half hours left to achieve something truly spectacular and then, well, die, if I wanted to be immortalized in the Forever 27 club. Bob just said, "Please don't," and K kept on ignoring me.

So midnight came and went, and I continued to toil away in relative obscurity. I gave K her morning dose o' drugs for her ear infection. I checked facebook to collect the first round of birthday wall posts. I took out the trash. I did a pregnancy workout that refers to one's ass as "buncakes" and repeats "squeeeeze the buncakes" so often that K starts saying it as soon as I put the DVD in. I did some actual work in between each of these things. I made lunch then realized that all I really wanted was an unlimited supply of baked potatoes and .... ketchup. I put back the non-potato components of my lunch and made myself a second potato. I threw my work manuscript in my purse, grabbed Starbucks (calories don't count on your birthday!) and we hit the playground since it got up to 65 today and it's supposed to maybe snow tomorrow and we wanted to take advantage of the weather. I rented Jane Eyre (um, and the Pooh movie and the new Barbie movie so maaaaybe K will stay in her room watching those long enough for me to get my Brontë on). I "made dishes," as K calls it. I worked some more. I popped open a bottle of sparkling apple-grape juice that I can't get anyone else to drink with me. I spent some time playing the "gas bubbles, or baby kicks?" game. If this is what 28 looks like, you better watch out when I hit 30. Who knows what kind of mayhem I will release upon the world!

Time is moving a lot faster these days. K is three now and has a full schedule that includes preschool and swimming lessons, in addition to her usual yoga and storytime routine. My grandma turned 90 last month. I'm fifteen weeks into this pregnancy and the list of decisions we need to make before the baby gets here is not getting any shorter. We're only 46 days away from Christmas. Christmas! Didn't we just get married on a 95 degree day? How is my car 8,000 miles overdue for an oil change already?

Questions for another day, I suppose. Maybe to be pondered over a nice glass of prune juice, and the early bird special.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tomorrow's forecast: flying monkeys.

Friday was hot.

(How hot was it?)

It was so hot that heading down to the Social Security office seemed like a *good* idea. Free government air conditioning! Cheery atmosphere! Friendly employees! Quality people in the waiting room! Posters of George Takei urging you to do your business online!

OK. I actually like George Takei, and he was the best part of the experience, after the ice-cold air.

Lest you think I'm filing for early retirement (ha!), I'm still in the process of changing my name everywhere. My ID says one thing, my credit cards say another. It feels slightly scandalous when cashiers compare the two. I'm a little embarrassed about how slow I seem to be moving on the post-wedding follow-up work. It feels like we just got back from our mini-moon, and we should still be in the middle of summer, not September. It's totally acceptable to send out thank-you notes eight weeks after the wedding, right? They're all addressed! And sitting on our mantle! That counts, right?

Anyway. Friday. Hot. The heat index was 103 or something absurd (for Michigan) and after Bob got home from work we all took a trip to the beach. (Which was lovely, until another family there decided it would be totally kosher to take their toddler's soiled diaper off and rinse it out IN THE WATER WE WERE ALL SWIMMING IN. Not okay, other family!)

Saturday it stormed. K's pool ended up in the creek. I decided it was more important to run out to the truck for my ipod than to, you know, stay inside and alive. (I like music while I cook!)

Sunday it got cold. K and I headed to the playground for some pre-fireworks cold-tolerance building fun. By the time the show started I had lost feeling in my fingers, and we huddled under a blanket where our thoughts shifted between, "hey, these fireworks are really pretty!" and "enough already, I'm freeeeeezing."

Today it's sweaters and blankets and fleece pajamas for Labor Day. Michigan takes this unofficial end of summer thing very seriously, it seems. (Low 40s tonight!) It's less hot dogs & cold beer and more of a hot tea & pumpkin-based dessert kind of day. I'm not sure I'm ready for that. I'm not sure the weather cares.

Hope you're all staying warm this Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Taking a walk with great-grandma:

...and Cheyenne.

To the fairy ring and the cornfield.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Sometimes you just need a cheeseburger cookie. On a beach. With friends.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Working Mom Syndrome

I'm a stay-at-home-mom in the sense that I don't leave to go to an office. I don't drop K off at daycare (though I did for a while when we had easy access to an absurdly affordable caregiver and only one mortgage to pay).  I don't have to call my boss and explain why I won't be there when K is sick, or spend money on a work wardrobe, or deal with a commute in crappy weather. I do, in fact, stay at home.

But I also work (and not in that "all mothers work" sense, valid as it is). I might be in the same room as K, able to respond to her urgent (urgent!) needs for fruit snacks and chocolate milk, but the majority of our interactions include me grumbling "not now, babe, I'm working." I offer to queue up another episode of Caillou on Netflix. I encourage her to go up to her room to play with her babies. I beg her to FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP JUMPING ON ME AND GO FINISH THE HELLO KITTY COLORING BOOK. I feel like most of the time my mothering style is of the, "hey, don't you have some TV to watch somewhere?" variety. And since I don't have set office hours, my workday can spill over into the evening, or the weekend, or --

On the days when I Absolutely Am Not Opening That Work E-mail Window, I want to make it count. I want to cram in as much quality mother-daughter-family time as I can. I want our time together to be enriching and entertaining and memory-making.

So when things like weather or unexpected crowds or illness or unplanned naps get in the way of whatever I had planned for those special, non-working times, I get a wee bit cranky. Saturday I wanted to take K to the beach and to visit her great-grandma, but she was coughing like a TB patient and I didn't think lake water or exposure to the elderly was a great idea. Sunday we were going to go to a photography exhibit, but when we got there we couldn't even find a parking spot and had to abort the mission, then en-route to our plan B it started raining, and en-route to our plan C K fell asleep in the car. We did end up making a pit stop at a playground to practice bike-riding later in the day, but it felt like a weak substitute. K didn't seem miserable, but I felt like a failure. I want to have a good, impressive answer at the ready when someone asks us what we did over the weekend. This weekend? Um. I don't know. I made some baked oatmeal for breakfast one morning. That was okay.

(Not okay for oatmeal to be the highlight. Not. Okay.)

So, mopey and discouraged, we moved on to plan D. The work-on-Sunday so I can slack off on Monday plan. I hunched over my laptop while Bob took K out for ice cream. I read a work manuscript that left me in tears (mostly in a good way) and kept me so busy that microwaving some hot dogs was about all I could do for Sunday dinner. I even skipped my Sunday night True Blood viewing!

Because Monday? Monday we were going to make up for it. Monday we were going to cram a whole weekend's worth of quality time into a short mother-daughter outing. We were going to go to the zoo, dang it.

(More to come in Working Mom Syndrome Part II, or WHERE ARE THE BEARS?)

Friday, August 5, 2011

And So We Go On.

It's Thursday.

Or it was Thursday, anyway, a few hours ago when all of this was going down.

I work really hard to make Thursday my Friday. In a perfect world, Friday would be devoted to things like lounging in the backyard with a vodka lemonade  cleaning the house (because good Lord, it takes a beating during the week when both Bob and I are working and K is being -- well, when she's being a 2 year old) and taking care of odds & ends that have already been put off too long. On Thursdays I work until dinnertime, then make/do/go out to/etc. dinner, then sink down into the couch with some wine and let Bob put K to bed while I watch me some high-quality television (The Office/Parks & Rec/30 Rock during the fall and winter, and Project Runway now!).

But then, you know, real life creeps in. It's been a busy spring and summer in the Unlikely Origins household. We planned for a wedding. We unplanned (we didn't 'unplan' the marriage itself, but we moved from a 100+ person guestlist to a private courthouse ceremony and back again before finally settling at something in between). We charged a heck of a lot to a credit card for salon services (but hey, I looked decent!). We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning the day of our wedding folding programs and tying ribbons around them. We, eventually, were married. (We're married!!!)

And life goes on. After the wave of cards in the mailbox and unpacking from the honeymoon (with toddler), we went back to work. Clients sent congratulatory e-mails but wanted to get on with things w/r/t their individual projects. I don't get paid vacation time, so -- heck *I* wanted to get on with their projects, too!

Bob returned to his office. Last week I hovered over my computer in one room while K helped out by simultaneously flooding the bathroom. (Other days this week she used a travel sized shampoo as toothpaste, poured plaque revealing gel all over the downstairs, and emptied out a whole tub of salt onto her sweaty toddler self.) Bob tried to mow the post-honeymoon wilderness yard and the riding mower started smoking. He put K to bed and then she woke up with a scary barking cough/cry five minutes before the winner/loser on Project Runway was announced. Hey, real world. How *you* doin'? (Tell me I'm not the only one who secretly still loves Joey. Right? RIGHT?)

Now it's two in the morning and I'm just now finishing up the work-work that I hoped to have done several hours ago.

And that's okay. Not, "I love everything!" okay, because, obviously, I'd rather be doing things other double crossing my T's for the week work-wise at this time on a Friday morning, but okay nonetheless. I'm not thrilled about certain aspects of the day, but yesterday my new driver's license -- with a new last name! -- came in the mail. I'm not happy that K is sick, but instead of the Project Runway interrupting barking cough, she's (thank you God) back to breathing peacefully. And tomorrow will go on, with all of us doing what needs to be done, and then we'll have the weekend. Just like always.

We're returning to life as normal in every sense of the world -- sneezing toddlers, demanding clients, and trying work commutes, and blogging ;-)

Happy Friday, everyone. I hope yours is everything you want it to be, or at least, everything it *should* be ;-)

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Bad Case of the CCABs.

The Unlikely Origins house has been afflicted with a terrible case of the Can't Catch A Breaks lately.

Bob had an especially rotten week at work. (It was not made any better by sleep issues and a malfunctioning alarm clock!) My to-do list was so long that just looking at it made me want to curl up into the fetal position. I didn't get K to bed until after midnight most nights, and then there was still a pile of work manuscripts with quickly approaching deadlines staring at me. A client even offered me extra cash to "work faster," which while I would have found amusing at other times, in this case it nearly sent me over the edge.

But the winner of the CCAB perfect storm award? Ms. K, who simultaneously:

1)Is going through a growth spurt. For her, this always means sleep disruptions and major crankpants issues.
2)Is teething. Again. Hi, new molars!
3)Managed to catch strep throat (or something similar) which necessitated a trip to the doctor and some antibiotics. These antibiotics are supposed to be "orange berry caramel" flavored, and -- yep, taste just as horrible as "orange berry caramel" flavored antibiotics sound. Try selling a syringe-full of that to a cranky toddler twice a day.

By the end of the week, we were all dead tired.

On Saturday mornings I go workout -- but this week there was no class. Normally, I get home around 11 to find everyone still passed out from the night before. This weekend? My "free" weekend? K got up at 7:30. Fine, I thought. Let's make the best of it. We watched the sunrise through the kitchen window and pulled ourselves together and headed to the movie theater. (They show free kids movies on weekend mornings, and I thought it might be fun.) And it was! K loved it. She was attentive to the movie and kept her running commentary down to a moderate volume. She stayed in her seat. She smiled a lot. She inhaled her popcorn.

No, really. She must have literally inhaled her popcorn because about ten minutes before the end of the movie she turned to me with that oh-crap-there's-something-caught-in-my-throat face. The help-I-can't-breathe face that stops parents' hearts.

She did (obviously!) manage to get the offending choking hazard out of her throat, but she had coughed/gagged so hard that, uh -- well, she got *all* the popcorn out of her system. All. Of. It.

Dear Lord. There are some things that the parenting books just fail to cover. What's the protocol for when a toddler vomits in a movie theater? Do you stand up and issue an apology? Do you just discreetly wipe up as much as you can with tissues from your purse and shove them into the popcorn bucket? Do you rush out of there, avoid eye contact, and never show your face again? Do you go tell the 15 year old minimum wage worker at the concession stand that they're probably going to need a mop and some upholstery cleaner? I just . . . I don't know.

As I loaded her up in the truck, both of us with bits of "choke," as K calls it, still on our clothes -- I decided that was it. The weekend was going to get better. (It sort of had to, right?) We went home, changed, and got on with our day. It was gloomy and raining and cold, but we got some flower seeds to start indoors. We picked up a bird feeder for K to paint, and next weekend, assuming winter decides to finally pack its bags (seriously, this morning we had snow and sleet and rain and thunder! ENOUGH!) Bob will help her hang it outside where she can keep an eye on it from the picture window in the living room. We got chocolate in pretty pastel Easter wrapping. (Chocolate would still make me happy even if it were wrapped in the obituary page from the newspaper, to be honest, but all the pinks and yellows and greens of this time of year sure help make it *feel* special, you know?) We're choosing to believe that things will get better.

And if they don't? Well, K has taught us that even if you've got to suffer through the worst case of CCABs ever, you should do it with STYLE: 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Pseudoscorpion Edition

OK, not really wordless. I do have one word for this picture. EEEEWWW.

Snagged from Animaloid.

I found one of these charming little buggers climbing on the wall upstairs when I went to workout tonight. After a quick smush with some toilet paper (I know, I know. I don't like bugs inside. I'm trying to be a better person but --) I took it downstairs to Bob, who I looked to for confirmation that this was not, in fact, a bloodsucking monster waiting to kill us in our sleep. "What is it?" I asked. 
"I don't know," he said, innocently. 
"WHAT IS IT? FIND OUT. GET TO GOOGLING." Sometimes I am bossy. I'm also paranoid, so it's a better idea that someone else do the googling.

By the time the workout video was over, Bob had flexed his bug-identification muscles and declared that it was a "totally harmless" pseudoscorpion. Sounds nice and cuddly, right? He repeated the words "harmless" and "beneficial" about twenty times in the next ten seconds. (Have I mentioned I'm paranoid? And not a fan of BUGS IN THE HOUSE?)

Does the presence of one mean there are probably more in the house? (Yes.) Are they venomous? (Yes, but they are so tiny that they couldn't pierce human skin if they tried.) How big do they get? (Apparently in these parts they stay 3mm or less, which in my frenzied state I demanded that he translate "into American.*" I can't handle the metric system when I'm in panic mode, people!) 

(OK, this picture shows how tiny they actually are. I may be a bit prone to overreacting.) 
Snagged from this site.
Whatever. I am still Not. A. Fan. 

*I'm not really retarded, I promise. I was 97% kidding here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Winner of THE COUNTESS Giveaway...

as selected by random.org is comment number 9, which belongs to Robin from Pink Dryer Lint! Congratulations, Robin! I'll e-mail you later on today to get your mailing address so we can get that right out to you.

 Didn't win? You should still consider checking out the novel. I finally started reading my copy yesterday, which led to a confused exchange between Bob and me:

Bob: Did you get another work manuscript? (Eyeing the manuscript box on the dresser.)
Me: No. . . why?
Bob: On the phone earlier you said you were reading. But this box doesn't look like it's been opened.
Me: Because I wasn't reading for work! I was reading an actual book!
Bob: Oh. Wow. I don't know that I've ever actually seen you do that before...

So, yeah. It was time. And the novel itself? Dark and rich and gory and beautiful. You should take a peek.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Simply Saturday

We're joining up with Jenn over at A Country Girl's Ramblings for today's excuse to post more pictures of K Simply Saturday link-up!

Today we're talking about sleep.

This was how I found K a few days ago when she went up to her room to "watch Shrek." Tough life, eh? 

And now it's noon on Saturday, and I'm the only one in the house who is awake. I've already had breakfast, gone to my yoga boot camp class, come home, showered, made coffee, done two loads of dishes (I'm awful about keeping on top of dishes!), cleaned the kitchen, and I'm now taking a break to play around on the computer. 

Bob is out cold, but I don't give him too much crap about weekend sleeping habits because he gets up at an ungodly hour during the week for work. But K? I don't know. Bossing people around all day is hard work, I guess. 

Want to join in and make your own Simply Saturday post? From Jenn: "Grab your camera and take a picture of anything that speaks to you of simplicity and/or home. Your post can be as wordy or as wordless as you like. You decide!  Then come back here and link up." 

Happy Saturday, everyone! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Staying on Track

I've posted before about how K is kind of a brutal personal trainer.

She's getting worse.

This morning I was trying to wrap-up work stuff for the week, and she handed me an Oreo to "open" for her. (She only likes the middles. Um, for breakfast? I don't know. It's Friday.) Instead of twisting it and handing it back to her, I absentmindedly popped it into my mouth.

I wish you could have seen the look of horror on her face as she cried, "No! Mom! Spit it out! Spit it out!" There were tears. So many tears. (I know that they were really tears of "I can't believe that hooker ate my cookie" and not "I'm so disappointed in your dietary choices," but --)

I can take solace in the knowledge that she's tough because she cares. During my afternoon workout, I was making some really pained attractive noises as I was finishing the last few reps with some weights, and K ducked her head into the room.

K:"You okay?"
Me: "I'm okay. It's just hard."
K: (comes in, puts a hand on my face) "You're very brave."

Then she looked at me a little while before adding, "Your hair is really big. You need a haircut."
I don't know what I'd do without her.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We've been celebrating St. Patrick's Day via indulgent food choices for the last week! Last Thursday we kicked things off with some frosted Irish cream brownies, Saturday we tortured ourselves by popping a corned beef brisket in the slow cooker too late to actually get to enjoy for dinner that day, so after several hours of trying to will it to cook faster we gave up and ordered a pizza, then Sunday we had the real deal. We've been working our way through the leftovers ever since.

But let's go back to those brownies, shall we?
K admiring our work, sloppy as the glaze may be. 

Can I gush for a moment about these brownies, guys? They're chocolate. And booze. And sugar. And more chocolate. (And, um, baking provides a nice positive outlet for parent-child bonding? K loves to help me measure ingredients and mix everything together. And the Bailey's in the batter helps ease the transition into sleepytime...) Kidding, kidding, CPS representatives!

I wanted to stick my face finger into that pan, too.

That's my girl.
Seriously, blog readers: I can't think of a better way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day ANYTHING than with these brownies. Last week I hit my 100 pound weight-loss milestone (seriously!) and -- no kidding, I'm willing to backslide a pound or two for these suckers. (Also, future wedding invitees? Don't be surprised if you see these at the reception instead of wedding cake, because a) these are delicious, and b) have you priced professionally-made wedding cakes lately? Dear Lord. We could have a cake or pay the mortgage for the next couple months, but probably not both.)

Happy St. Patrick's Day, gang, and don't forget to enter our giveaway if you haven't already! (It closes tomorrow evening!)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Giveaways Revisited!

Once upon a time I had interests (mostly books). And things I felt passionately about (mostly books). And I ran with it and turned it into a degree (in books). I spun it into a career (in college I worked as a book critic, and now I work for a book editing company) and earned myself a full scholarship to grad school (studying... books!). I liked books. I loved books. I hauled a U-Haul trailer full (well, half full, anyway) of books across the country when I moved back home-ish to the midwest. I. Like. Books.

That said, I can't remember the last time I read a book outside of work. (I think it was Lorrie Moore's A GATE AT THE STAIRS sometime in 2010, and before that? A collection of Sherman Alexie stories at the hospital while I was in labor. Seriously. Ms. K took 36 hours to, erm, work her way out into the world, & I needed something to occupy my mind.)

But it's a new year (...three months into a new year?) and one of my resolutions was/is to read something that a)is not for work, and b)is not for K. I love GOODNIGHT MOON as much as the next parent, but -- enough is enough.

So, with that in mind, this month I'm publicly declaring my intent to actually read a book that's been on my to-read list since it came out back in October: Rebecca Johns' THE COUNTESS. Rebecca and I worked together for a time (she's since moved on) and she's a fellow mom (of an adorable toddler girl!) When I heard her new novel was coming out I told Bob about it and he ordered me a copy for my birthday, right around the same time that I won one on Rebecca's facebook page! What does this mean for you?

It means I'm giving one away! I'm keeping the autographed, personalized one (sorry, gang) but the copy that I'm giving away is a gorgeous hardcover -- brand new and still in the shrink wrap from Amazon!

Here's the blurb, via Amazon and Publishers Weekly: Johns's creepily enticing second novel (after Icebergs) travels to 1611 Hungary as Countess Erzsébet Báthory--aka the Blood Countess--is being walled into a castle tower as punishment for the murder of dozens of women and girls. She begins writing her life story as an exposé of the many betrayals that have brought about this--as she sees it--outrageous and unjust imprisonment. The steady, calm tone of Erzsébet's narration lulls the reader along so that the first hints of madness in her girlhood engender doubt and discomfort rather than horror, and as her lack of remorse and grandiose sense of entitlement are unveiled, a matter-of-fact self-portrait of a murderer emerges. This is a carefully researched story, gothic in tone and grimly atmospheric, with subtly handled psychology and an initially unassuming tone. Unlike most serial killer stories, this rewards patience and close reading.

Sound like something you're interested in? Leave a comment to enter our giveaway! Here's how to earn a chance to win:

1) Tell me what the last thing you did for you was. Time out for a book? A movie? A meal somewhere other than McDonalds? Leave a comment and spill!

2)"Like" us on Facebook! Click here to go to our page.  Leave a separate comment  to tell us that you've done so!

3)Subscribe or follow us via RSS or Google Friend Connect. Again, let us know via a separate comment here!

4)Tell your friends! Link to this post on your blog, facebook, twitter, etc., and again -- can you guess what's coming here? -- leave a separate comment to let us know you've done so!

We'll choose a winner via random.org on Friday, March 18. Until then? Enter, enter, enter! Reclaim some of your pre-parenthood self along with me!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

We went from this:
Saturday night living room dance party complete with costumes, wigs, hats, and craziness to spare!

to this:

Stomach flu --> vomiting blood --> severe dehydration = THUMBS DOWN.

in about 36 hours. We spent some quality time in the hospital (about 27 hours!) and are finally home, but oof: what a week!

On a much happier and completely unrelated note, if you're not already reading Jennifer at Midwest "Mom"ents, you probably should start! It's a lovely blog and we just won a fun giveaway from her! Also, in that spirit, we're going to be having another giveaway here at Unlikely Origins in the near future (assuming, of course, that we can stay out of the "hostable" for a while!) so stay tuned!

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Am A Big Mean (Old?) Ogre.

That's what K told me today. (After getting out of the shower, she modified her assessment and told me that I was a "big wet ogre." We've been watching a lot of Shrek lately.)

The other day my new (temporary!) charges (seven and ten) played a rousing game of "guess how old Karinya is" and finally decided that I was forty. I'm twenty-seven. 

We made it out of February alive, but March hasn't exactly brought the warm, springtime-y reprieve that we were counting on, either. We spent Friday morning glued to the TV watching for a school closing that didn't come, then Saturday's bad roads meant that we were mostly stuck at home and that Bob's journey to a memorial service for a friend took him twice as long to get to (and return from).

Sunday we were just about to load the crew up into the minivan (I'm temporarily driving a minivan, guys. A MINIVAN!) to go to the movies and get the heck out of the house when the seven year old announced "I think I'm going to throwup."

And then did.


It's Monday afternoon now and she's still going strong.

K is on the floor, coloring her fingernails with a black marker (...because she's goth now?) and I don't even care.

I am a big mean ogre. Watch out. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mostly Wordless Wednesday, Now With. . .

America's Toughest Toddler Trainer!

She looks sweet, right?

That's just because the workout hasn't begun yet. She doesn't want to hear your excuses!

We want reps! Now! Fast! Do you want flabby arms for your wedding, mom? Didn't you just buy a (gorgeous) sleeveless gown? DO IT! Pain is just fear leaving the body!

Also, please try to look as cute and fashionable as I do when exercising. It's really the only way to be.

*I have lost an entire person  a significant amount of weight in the last ten months or so. Usually when people ask my method I'll mumble something about single motherhood/distraction/grilled chicken/running/having my butt handed to me by Jillian Michaels DVDs. But today I'm coming clean. It happened because I have America's Toughest Toddler Trainer on my case 24/7. (Anyone want to sign her for a DVD series/TV show/book deal?) In case you think I'm kidding, she carries around my 15 pound kettlebell. FOR FUN. She only weighs 30 pounds, guys!

Send me strength, blog readers. And lean protein. I'm going to need it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Missing the Middle

If you work in an office, I bet this morning a co-worker has already asked you some variant of "So, how was your weekend?"

(If, like me, you work from home and your only interactions are with tiny people and household pets, perhaps you have had this same conversation with the cat.)

Today I don't have a clue how to answer it. I feel like we had about seven different weekends this weekend, and not in the "it was so long and relaxing and awesome that it feels like it just went on forever!" way, but in the "wait, how the heck did all those highs and lows get crammed into two days?" way.

Saturday morning, I was on a mountain. (Um, in mountain pose, at least. Saturday mornings come with an early morning yoga boot camp class these days.) Saturday night? I was spending some quality time in a ditch. (Nope, there's no cute little "just kidding, it wasn't a literal ditch!" note to add here. It. Was. A. Ditch. The highway glazed over with ice awfully fast, and we did an impressive little spin into a snowy ditch. K, for what it's worth, was a total trooper about the whole ordeal, which made waiting for the tow truck much more tolerable.) I feel like that's pretty representative of the weekend as a whole.

On the "awesome!" side of the weekend: K helped me make a blueberry-nectarine cobbler for dessert Friday night (she will proudly tell you that she is a "good helper in the kitchen," and she totally is. I measure and she dumps the ingredients into the bowls, I prep the pans while she stirs things up, and the whole time she provides entertaining running commentary "What's that? Butter? Butter makes my tummy happy!") I survived my boot camp class and managed to sneak in a toddler-free trip to Target on the way home (Target!). The house got cleaned, K kept herself amused long enough to allow Bob & me to watch the original True Grit movie (we'd seen the new one on a K-free date over the holidays.)

On the less-awesome side? Well, the ditch. The ice. And snow. And rain. And thunder. K's insistence on reminding me every hour or so about how she has an ouchie on her face because I accidentally sliced her with my ring last week. (I KNOW. I'M SORRY. STOP MILKING IT.) The addition of several tractor stickers to the hardwood floor. The way I totally snapped at Bob for trying to share fries with me when we went to dinner. (Losing weight maaaay have made me slightly neurotic about looking up nutrition information on restaurant websites before we go and I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY CALORIES THOSE HAVE ARE YOU TRYING TO SABOTAGE ME I ONLY ASKED FOR ONE.)  There may have been an incident involving a diaper blowout and the upstairs carpet. And now Bob is down for the count with some bug that hit him suddenly in the middle of the day yesterday.

This weekend was so all-over-the-map that I'm not even bemoaning the fact that it's Monday! (Well, not too much anyway. I still did a bit of token whining when opening my work e-mail this morning. I haven't lost my mind completely.) This week promises to bring with it a whole lot of crazy (lots of obligations and starting mid-week we're going to be joined by two extra children while their parents are out of the country!) but -- as long as we can keep it on the road and in between the lines? Bring it on.


I try to resist the urge to cram affiliate programs and referral links down your throats. You know that, right? But still, at one time or another you've probably had to endure my pitch/see my facebook pleadings  encouragements to sign up for Swagbucks, which I love.  I've been a member for about 14 months and have gotten $185 in Amazon credit through them -- and it's completely free! (Also, while I'd love to say that I'd used all that credit on things like books with more than fifteen pages in them, or intellectually stimulating foreign films, it's mostly been spent on chocolate milk and Huggies , but aaaanyway.) Today they're having their big birthday celebration and, as such, are throwing lots of bonus codes out there so that if you *are* interested in signing-up, you can rack up the points much quicker. Signing up through this link will get you 30 points to start with anytime, but if you sign up today and use the code BirthdaySense you will get an extra 80!

Click, click. Make us tremendously wealthy in. . . chocolate milk boxes. Really. K loves those darn things.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

28 Days of Cruelty

Editor's note: This is the latest installment in Bob's The Geek Speaks series! (In other words, I've been neglecting Unlikely Origins so it has fallen to Bob to give it some sweet blog lovin'.) At any rate, here he is! 

In "The Waste Land" T.S. Eliot calls April "the cruelest month."  I have to respectfully disagree with him and proclaim the cruelest month to be February.  February is also the most taunting month, giving us  hints and glimpses of the spring to come by bring us the sun and temperatures even into the 50s.  A scant 72 hours after that the temperatures are back down into the low double digits and we're shoveling several inches of snow beneath skies the color of a poorly maintained battleship's hull.  If these things are not cruel and taunting, I'm not sure what would fit that definition.

I have lived in Michigan for my entire life.  Every one of my life's winters from 1965 onward has been spent under those leaden skies.  Every February I gain hope and joy at seeing the sun and being able to walk around in, at worst, a light jacket.  Then the mirage falls away and we are pushed down into the depths of the winter again.  It happened again to us last week.  We enjoyed a temperature moderation into the 50s and most of the snow melted away.  We walked around in shirt sleeves outside!  Karinya contemplated going for a run! (Ed. note: contemplated!) We could smell springtime in the air!

Then came Sunday.  It was a great morning; we were able to pawn the baby off on… err… send the baby to spend some quality time with her cousins and we got up late and went to have a nice breakfast and then home to watch some Big Bang Theory (I love that show, have I mentioned?)  We were in the bedroom, which typically has the blinds closed, and eventually got a call from my sister.

"Hey, is it snowing yet down there?" she asked. 

"Of course not!" I replied.  "It's just grey out but not snowing!" 

This was before Karinya opened the blinds in the bedroom.  It was not just snowing, it was SNOWING.  Crazy snowing.  And now I had to drive in it to get K from my sister.  What a cruel month.  The storm set down about six or so inches of snow and a nice layer of glaze on top of it.  Now, four days later, we're looking at another five to seven inches in the next 36 hours.  Cruelty indeed.

But I know that these are the death throes of winter.  I know that there is far less to come than there is behind and soon it will be March.  There is talk on the radio of the Tigers in spring training and the beginnings of discussion about playoff time in hockey.  Karinya is looking through her bridal magazines and is sharing interesting web sites for invitations and save the date and thank you cards.  These are all signs that spring will, well, spring and the crocuses will bloom and winter will finally melt away -- for eight or nine months, at least.  The smells of spring will soon be on the breeze and the wedding plans will proceed at a breakneck pace until the big day.  And winter -- and February -- will be a memory.  For a while.

February may be the cruelest month by my account but the joke is on it -- it's the shortest month and the last month of the deep winter.  There can be no despair when so many wonderful things are just around the dark grey corner!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cabin Fever

How is winter not over yet, guys? (Actually, I feel a bit disingenuous writing this post today, since it is sunny and 40-something and you can actually see patches of grass through the snow in the backyard, but! While I'm enjoying this temporary reprieve, I know that we're not done with winter yet. Yet. Ugh. Anyway.) The novelty of playing in the snow & hot chocolate & soup in the crockpot & cuddling under electric blankets has worn off. I want to have playdates at parks again. I want to be able to run outside instead of doing eight million v-steps to workout videos in my living room.

...but since winter, much like my toddler, doesn't listen to a thing I say, we've been doing our best to stay active and combat cabin fever. This weekend's activity was a trip to the Impression 5 Science Center in Lansing. Museums for kids seem to be a kind of hit or miss (I've been to some awesome ones ((COSI)) and some . . . less awesome ones that I won't bother naming here.) At any rate, this was our first trip to Impression 5, and it was a hit!

Our first stop was at the big water table, where K explained . . . something very important to Bob. (Actually, that's another lie. Our first stop was the Bubble Room, which K loved! Alas, I hadn't broken out the camera yet.)

Then we moved on to the First Impressions room, which is aimed at babies up to 4 year olds. While K had a ton of fun playing around with the "big kid" exhibits in the rest of the museum, she could have happily stayed in this room the whole time. There was a shorter water table, a slide (good lord, that girl loves slides and they're hard to come by in the winter), and several other areas for creative play that we didn't have time to explore. The center provided raincoats and Crocs, so clothes/shoes/socks didn't end up soaked.

We made a stop in a giant heart (stay with me) where K ran through it the wrong way (there's a picture of that, too, but blogger is giving me a heck of a time with the picture arrangement in this post, so -- just imagine a crazed toddler zooming through the right atrium in the wrong direction. You can picture that, right?)

She listened intently to something!

Next up was the Simple Machines room. Time for a mom picture! This was where you hoisted yourself up via pulleys. I am strong. Like Bull.

There were more amazing feats of strength as Bob pulled a 500 pound block o' cement. Feats of strength!
Gears, gears. Bob and K found this part of the museum much more interesting than I did. (Because I'm a girl and just want to look at rainbows and ride unicorns all day.) ((KIDDING, Kidding.)) (((But seriously, this part didn't do a lot for me because as many times as Bob tried to get me excited about the gyroscope, I just... I can't.))) Side note: it's free-form punctuation day here on the blog, folks.

The music room, on the other hand, was more my speed. (And at this point in the adventure, "my speed" was "something that will keep K busy while I sit on this bench.") She loved the xylophone!

This was in the simple machines room, too. She's cute though, right?

Oh, heck. I'm officially throwing in the towel on the "get the pictures in order" front. Here is K inside a giant mouth, which she was a little terrified of, to be honest, but I wanted a picture and goaded her into standing in it because I put my needs in front of those of my child. Or, um, I mean I didn't want to deprive her of what was surely a character-building experience.

There was a special model train exhibit in the basement of the museum, which was another hit with both of the kids ;-) While this was one part of the museum with a no-touching rule, they did have a nice little area set up with a set of tracks the kids could play with, and a coloring area (though they were out of the train coloring sheets by the time we got there, I think). K is quite the little engineer!

It was a fun something-to-do and it got us out of the house, and K was exposed to some new things (both scientific concepts and germs, probably, because despite my desperate "don't put your mouth on that!" cries, you know she did). They actually offer a series of science classes for toddlers (neat!) and I think we're going to give that a try (you know how I feel about hauling K all over the state for "enrichment activities"!)

What adventures have you gone on lately to combat cabin fever?

Edit: There is actually a great deal on a "Family Four Pack" admission to Impression 5 through Groupon going on today! Check the Lansing deal if you're interested.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

from the Unlikely Origins crew! (Who are not dead, just really busy!)

Hope your day was wonderful and full of the folks you love!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Snowpocalypse That Wasn't. . .

Kind of.

There was enough snow that more than a few obscenities flew past my lips as I tried to shovel out the driveway. (Between the drifts & what the plows kicked up? Ugh. On the plus side, my arms are going to be way buff by the time swimsuit season hits! Also, did I just say "swimsuit season?")

But a snowpocalypse it was not. (Listen, guys. I know that fake words like "Snowpocalypse" and "Snowmageddon" are completely absurd, but just between us? I kind of love them. There's not a lot to brighten up winter in the midwest, and February is a rotten month for a variety of reasons, and -- I don't care if their origins lie in exaggerations from talking heads who like their weather forecasts with a dab of sensationalism -- they amuse me and add a bit of excitement to the situation.) We didn't get a zillion feet of snow. We didn't get a crippling layer of ice. We didn't have power outages at all, let alone power outages that necessitated the use of the camping lanterns and non-perishable foodstuffs that I'd thoughtfully stocked the pantry with. Ahem.

To recap: enough to keep us from yoga class & a playdate we had scheduled for tomorrow (we only have one 4 wheel drive vehicle and the person with outside-the-house obligations that pay wins the "who gets the truck" debate) but not enough to earn either of us an official "snow day." The upsides? Bob brought me a peppermint mocha from Starbucks and a bunch o' flowers for my shoveling efforts, and I got the following pictures of K from the whole eleven minutes she braved the great outdoors before deeming walking through the snow "too hard."

All in all, not a bad snowpocalypse ;-)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Simply Saturday

This is a new link-up that Jenn over at A Country Girl's Ramblings is starting today! The idea? "Grab your camera, take a picture of anything that speaks to you of simplicity and home. Your post can be as wordy or as wordless as you like. You decide!"

Jenn is an awesome photographer (you can see her photography blog here  or see some of her offerings on Etsy here.)

At any rate, we'll leave the photography photography to her this week ;-) But here's a snapshot of K that I took today while she was watching Saturday morning cartoons (Dinosaur Train!) that just feels very "Saturday" to me:

Toy story couch? Check. Elmo blankie? Check. Kitty jammies? Check. Chocolate milk? Double check.  

Click on the Simply Saturday icon below to hop over to Jenn's blog and join-up!