Thursday, January 31, 2013

Happy Dryer Day, er... Birthday to me.

Boy what a difference a year makes in your birthday expectations. Last year I was turning the BIG 40 so it felt like it should be special, but this year? 41? I couldn't have cared less. Being sick played a role in that, but even if I wasn't sick I would have wanted a low key celebration. And how they heck did I get so old? Wasn't I just 24?

My birthday this year landed on a Saturday so I knew we'd be going to Riley's music class in the morning, filling the day with typical weekend stuff, and then finishing it off with a night out at dinner while Riley stayed over at grandma and grandpa's house. But a cold got me good and even though I was on the upswing Riley took a turn for the worse with a fever. We cancelled with the grandparents, Riley and I napped, I found my gift in the dryer, and we got take out for dinner. Simple, low key and fantastic.

I knew Jesse would get me a gift, but thought of telling him not to after the doozy of a gift I got last year (hello iPad). I seriously would have been fine with going out to dinner because not having to make a meal is worth so much to me. But Jesse did get me a gift and I unintentionally told him what to get me the Tuesday before my big day.  It's the day I went in to get my driver's license renewed (and had one of my least favorite driver's license pictures taken - at least it's not as bad as I imagined it). My DMV is located within AAA so after renewing my license I decided to take a peak in the AAA store. I've been looking to upgrade my Sherpani purse. I love it, but I just need a little more space (I'm a mom, ya know) and want something durable, but a little more professional looking. And there I saw a hobo Baggallini that was perfect. Except for the price. I told my husband about it - not thinking that I was suggesting he get it for my birthday - but because he always seems to find a better deal online. He didn't, but he still got me the bag. He put it in the dryer which shouldn't be a surprise since he had put every gift of mine in the dryer since I did it one time when we were dating. He even proposed to me via the dryer.

Check out that up and down lighting on the ring.

At any rate, I should have been thinking that I would receive a gift in the dryer at some point that day, but instead I absentmindedly put a bunch of wet clothes in the dryer and was about to start it when Jesse abruptly stopped me. I have no idea if he had a better set up for presenting it to me, and if so I ruined it, but yay! I got a new purse.

Tuesday was also the day I got sick. I went to work Wednesday, but left slightly early and then stayed home Thursday and Friday making it a 4 day birthday weekend. I usually hate being sick and hate having to use paid time off, but I have to admit that I loved it. Sure I felt like crap, but I got to sleep a lot and watch TV (finished season 3 of Parenthood - oh how can you make me tear up so much!),  I got to hang with my family, and didn't have to deal with the stress of work. One of the few times I will say getting sick was so worth it. It was a perfect birthday.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fashion help

I'm constantly complaining about my wardrobe. I don't like most of my clothes -  either because they don't fit right, aren't as fashionable as I'd like, are old and worn out, or aren't magically ironed by themselves. I joke that I need to be turned into What Not to Wear (do I have to start wearing renaissance attire, or what, for this to happen?), but I'm not really joking. 

I know my outfits aren't that bad and it's probably mostly the fit and ironing that get to me. Because of my pain issues, I am also super sensitive to touch which includes the type of fabric I'm wearing and the fit of clothes. Oh, the darn fit of clothes!!! Between my super long torso and my odd hip to waist ratio I feel like I can never find clothes that fit right. Oh, and regular pants are too long, but short/petite ones are just short enough to look odd. Apparently, I need to start making my own clothes. 

And the ironing, yeah... that's probably not going to change. I may be doomed to a life in polyester.

I've been following Liberating Working Moms for some time and they have a series on Working with Style so I was inspired to track what I wear in a normal work week. I ended up taking a Friday off to burn some PTO I had (this was before the end of the year), but ended up wearing something that I probably would have worn to work that day anyway. 

In the end I wasn't sure what documenting my attire would bring me, but I now know that my current go-to colors (besides black and brown) are blue and dark pink, that I still don't like my clothes, that I thought I looked better than these pictures attest to, that I am doomed to ever finding a brown work appropriate shoe, and that it's hard to get a full body self portrait.


~ Sweater from Target.
~ Shirt from Ragstock. After purchasing it I discovered why this new shirt was only 5 bucks - arms too long, tight in the bicep area, but so loose in the forearm area. So cheaply made. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.
~ Pants are used from Second Debut . They are comfy, but stretch throughout the day and are slightly too short like most of my pants (see above comment about regular vs short/petite pants). I often go for the slightly too short as I'm too lazy to take my clothes to get tailored.
~ Shoes from DSW which I returned because they didn't fit right. I just can't seem to find a pair of brown shoes that would be work/casual appropriate that I like.


~ Long sleeved black shirt from Kohl's
~Sweater from J.C. Penny's - the one that's closed down in Brookdale mall. What was that - 10 years ago?
~ Scarf from Land's End at Sears. Love that it's super soft and not itchy - it feels like cashmere at first touch without the scratchiness  (yes, cashmere scratches me), but I did end up with blue specs all over my black shirt.
~Pants from Target and are very much over 10 years old. They are comfortable and fit fairly well, but are quite grayed from the years of used. I liked these pants so much that I used to have multiple pairs of them. These are the last to survive. When you have a difficult time finding things that fit you sometimes buy many of them. 
~Shoes from DSW. These are new and super comfy. Initially, I felt like I was back in the '90's wearing big clunky clown shoes, but they look so much better than the beat up shoes I was wearing.


~Shirt - probably from Target. Super thin and always wrinkly looking.
~Sweater was a gift, but I think it's from Charming Charlies along with the necklace. The sweater has a touch of wool (or something that bothers my skin) in it so I have to wear something under it so it doesn't touch my skin. I typically am not a pink and purple combo kind of girl and wouldn't have bought this necklace on my own, but I actually quite like it. I'm not really good at accessorizing and usually stick with the same few pieces of jewelry.
~Pants from Goodwill. As far as pants go I generally like these although, like most of my pants, I wish these were a tad longer, the hips wider, and the waist smaller. 
~Shoes from DSW.


~Sweater is from New York and Company, but I actually got it at Goodwill. I love Goodwill for scores like this. This is also one of my favorite outfits as it is comfortable. That is probably my most important request in clothing.
~Scarf from Kohls. This scarf pretty much gets worn every single day. It's usually cold in my office so I try to keep warm by adding this scarf or a fleece sweater. There are some days it's pointless to pick out an outfit as I wear a zipped-up fleece all day long.
~Leggings from Target. I had a decent pair of leggings that I ruined by wearing them through my pregnancy. I then tried to find a new pair, but found it to be an incredible challenge. I bought these when I shouldn't have as they did not fit right at all in the waist. They were fine everywhere else, but I ended up using a book clip to keep the waist tight. I know, right? Either they've shrunk or my waist has gotten bigger, because the gap doesn't bother me nearly as much anymore.
~Boots from DSW. I love these boots, but I almost returned them because they made our house smell like there was an oil spill for quite some time after I bought them. I even kept them out in the garage for while to help with the smell. Glad I kept them because the smell is gone and I get a fair amount of compliments on them. 


~Shirt from Kohls. I ended up changing shortly after this because of how wrinkly this shirt is. No it's not supposed to look like crushed velvet. The shirt I changed into was also red which is another color that I tend to wear a lot of.
~Sweater is same from above from a closed down J.C. Penny's.
~Jeans from Old Navy. I like the length of these jeans and they are super soft, but the waist is HUGE. I have two Old Navy jeans like this so I am guessing they think all women's waists are larger than their hips. Thank God for belts (and thanks to Erin who suggested the Dapper Snapper for my kid. I got one for her and myself - I love it! No more bulging belt buckle.)

So there you have it - my lame work look. I didn't include my weekend, because, let's face it, I wear yoga pants or my jammies as much as I can. If I could just professionalize those looks I would be set!

One of my issues is shopping. I rarely have time to do it on my own with out dragging around a toddler and I haven't had much luck with online shopping. I was even thinking about hiring a personal shopper, but didn't want to spend the cash on that (let alone spend it on clothes). Although, I read that some thrift stores are providing this service for free since middle aged women in my income bracket have become their biggest shoppers. It's still on my mind, but I haven't taken any action on it yet...

And style? I mean, if you look at my Pinterest boards you might say that I can identify stylish clothing - it's just the trying things on and having them fit correctly and comfortably that get me. And in the end I give up. I may or may not come home with some new item to wear, but I haven't bought anything I really loved in a long, long time.

Does anyone else struggle with finding clothes that they like/are comfortable? Has anyone used a personal shopper? If so, what was your experience? And most importantly, how can I get away with wearing yoga pants everyday?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day in the Life - Winter 2013

With prompting from Navigating the Mothership I present A Day in the Life for winter 2013.
Saturday, January 19th, 2013
Riley - 2 years, 11+ months

I totally planned on documenting my Day in the Life on Thursday, but didn't remember until 8:30 at night. It's a shame since I had this super weird dream that morning in which I uttered "thanks for the crotch hug". People are right when they say context means everything. Instead you will have to hear about my Saturday morning dream. When I woke at 4:04 I recalled a dream that I thought I would remember for sure since I couldn't get it out of my head as I tried to go back to sleep, but no matter how hard I try to remember it's gone.

However, I did fall back to sleep and had a dream that I should have taken a picture of Jesse for my day in the life when I was just awake. Apparently, I totally thought I was still awake or something. In my dream Jesse and Riley were in bed with me, but when I looked over at him he had a nuk in his mouth and was holding a baby doll. I totally had to take a picture of that! But by the time I grabbed my camera he was sitting up playing with Riley and the baby and nuk were gone. I was so bummed that I didn't capture that moment and that's all I remember of the dream. (I'm sure he'll be delighted to know I shared that dream with the internets.) I then woke up after what felt like 5 minutes of sleep to find out it was 5:43 - way to early to wake up, but almost two hours later.

I tried to fall back to sleep, and I'm pretty sure my body would have if my brain let it. So I 'rested' until I heard Riley making noises across the hall. I went in to get her and decided that she could watch some cartoons in my bed with the hope that I could get some more rest. Jesse fell asleep downstairs so it was just us girls hanging out in bed (including Lucy the cat).

I didn't actually rest as I had anticipated because Mr. Roger's Neighborhood was on and I got to see how fortune cookies are made and I got to see Eric Carle create some of his characteristic art for his children's books. It was actually really interesting stuff. (Update: Saturday night I had a dream that I was at an event where they served fortune cookies. They must have been defective because mine looked like it had been flattened on one side before it totally hardened up and one looked burnt, but I was able to grab a good one that I planned to bring home to Riley.)

Riley and I headed downstairs to eat some breakfast and to harass Jesse. That second part wasn't intended, but it was a little challenging keeping Riley from making noise and waking him up. I don't think he was too pleased, but, you know, he's a dad and he understands what comes with that role.

Riley helped feed Lucy while I got our breakfasts together. Lucy is a tad fat so some time ago we decided she would work for her food. We'd throw one nugget of food and she'd run for it. We've been lazy about doing it (and it shows on her). I had Riley do it one day to keep her preoccupied and now she wants to do it all the time.

Besides making and eating breakfast I cleaned up around the house and did laundry. We started music classes again so I wanted to get the house in better order before we left for that. Plus, we had a pretty full day scheduled.

I've been having some huge dry eye issues for 4 or 5 months now. I'm working with my doctor on different treatments which have all included eye drops. In a couple weeks he's going to put in these plugs that are supposed to help keep my tears on the eye. I hope it works, but I also read that omega 3's are good for this as well. I emailed Jesse about it on Thursday and he ordered me some supplements right away. Let's see if they work.

By 8:00 am we were rushing to get ready and leave by 8:30. It seems like it would be more than enough time, but it's amazing how long everything takes to do. But we did make it out the door on time to music class.

The only way I could get her to stand still for the picture was to tell her to stand by the frog... then she kept wanting to stand by the frog. And all through the day she repeatedly told people that she had on a "cute shirt". Not sure if that was something I said to her and she was just copying it or if she really thought that herself.

We took a music class with the same company last year and while Riley enjoyed it she was always the wild one in the room. All the other kids sat complacently in their parents laps while Riley ran around the room (often not listening to directions). This time Jesse was a little more excited for her to take this class than I was (partly because I don't want to be seen as the parent who can't control their kid). But this year she has totally embraced the class and is so engaged. Sure, she doesn't always listen, but I am ok with that. That's normal. Plus, we think the teacher this time likes Riley's spiritedness (is that a word?). I neglected to take any pictures in the class, but  scarves, sticks, a parachute, crafts, music, dancing... all occurred within 40 minutes. Loads of fun. Riley even got some "jingle bells" as she calls them to take home with her. She was pretty darn excited.

The day before I had suggested we head right to the gym after music class even though I had to be at a baby shower at 1:00 pm... which was an hour and a half away. So glad Jesse talked me out of that because I barely had enough time when we got home to wrap the gifts, feed Riley and myself, do some more laundry, and take a shower. I only left about 20 minutes late, but figured I would be fashionably late.

This is me attempting to wear mascara. It's one of the few times I've done so in months due to my dry eyes. I'm putting in about 6 eye drops a day so makeup just seems like a pain. Putting the mascara on was like doing it for the first time - I had my lashes all clumped together and mascara all over my lids. Luckily, I was able to clean up enough to make myself presentable.

While I was attempting to make myself presentable Riley got into one of my drawers and found these back up glasses. I ordered them online for $25 just in case they were ever needed. It's a good thing I never needed them because the prescription wasn't quite right. Also, once I got them I thought they were ugly, but Riley looks great in them. I'm a little jealous.

Shortly after noon we headed down towards Albert Lea, MN for my birth sister-in-law's baby shower. Yes, that's sort of a mouth full. Tara is married to Derek who is my birth brother and the shower was at my birth sister, Lindsey's, house. (I was adopted and found my birth family years later). It was a fairly nice morning with clear roads, sunny skies, and a decent temperature of 41 degrees. The only downfall was that it was a bit windy so I was on high alert the entire drive down.

I was also hoping that Riley would sleep in the car since the baby shower was right during her nap time, but I made the mistake of telling her she could have the iPad in the car... and there was no sleeping with that.

Southern MN has way less snow than we do.

We showed up about 20 minutes late, but these ladies were on top of things and already started the games. I was ok with this since I'm not a huge fan of games anyway, but it turned out I was a winner in the first game I played.

I did not win this game

We got a little surprise when my birth dad, Leo, showed up. I don't get to see him (or any of my birth family) very much so it was nice to get to chat for a bit.

There were a few other kids there... and books and balloons so Riley had a good time as well. 

Lindsey, Riley and me, of course.

Some last minute primping before we left

We headed home just before 4:00 pm and I was overly optimistic that Riley would fall asleep in the car. I forgot to bring her comfort sleeping items so she just whined for the iPad... and I gave in. 

Oh, Minnesota and your large sculptures of everything.

I stopped to get gas before I got on the highway and it was apparent that the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. The car said the outside temp was 31, but it felt far colder than that. I just hoped that my ride home wouldn't be a white knuckler with the force of the wind, but it sort of was. Let's just say I was grateful when we got home and got in the door. It was cold out and is only supposed to get even colder over the next couple days. Like, don't leave the house cold.

It was about 5:30 and I know both Riley and I were hungry (plus she was getting sleep deprived crabby). I opened the fridge and freezer and made a note that I might have to go out in the cold the next day after all as we really need groceries. Jesse's mom had brought him a party pizza (to remind him of when he was 15 apparently, and me too - didn't we all eat those things when we were teens?) which has been sitting in the freezer so I decided to pop that in the oven. Moments later Jesse walked in the door. He spent the afternoon with his buddy, Tom, playing a board game. There is a game store in Roseville where you can also go and hang out to play games. I don't totally get it, but I don't have to - as long as Jesse gets to see his friends and has fun.

We decided to throw together some other food for Riley so she didn't have to wait for the pizza to cook. And we popped in the movie "Brave" which I just won at work the day before. Eventually, we all sat down to eat with completely different meals. But at least we ate together.

After dinner Jesse gave Riley a bath while I finished putting the laundry away. I then read a bunch of books to sleepy head and put her down about 7:20 - 10 minutes early. It's not much, but she didn't make a peep after going down.

After Riley went to sleep, I finally sat down in front of the computer to write this post and organize all the photos I took during the day. After about an hour I determined I should really eat some veggies after eating  pizza for dinner so I made myself a small village salad.

Doh! Realized a day later when looking at this picture that I forgot the feta!

Seat stealer

At a quarter to 10 the cats start bugging me for food and I realized that I was starving. I don't like eating that late, but there was no way I would make it through the night. I poured myself a bowl of cereal, typed up some more of this post and eventually made my way to the basement to say goodnight to my husband who had been watching West Wing all night. It's 10:30, which is about a half hour after I usually go to bed, and Jesse is asleep on the couch. Some natural disaster show is on and it's talking about the great flood in East Grand Forks in the 90's. I get sucked in, but finally pull myself away at 10:45 and crawl upstairs to zonk out in bed.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Patience in Parenting

I was brought up in a home where one parent (who struggled with mental health issues) created a world of instability, lack of boundaries, and confusion. The other parent was my rock. He was strict, but I knew I was loved. I was given clear boundaries by him and was expected to follow rules. I know without this structure my life might have turned out to be such a different one so I appreciate that it was there. This has obviously  guided my own parenting - what not to do and, of course, what I think I should do.

There was also a time when I was sure I wouldn't have any kids. I had a number of reasons, but mostly because I didn't really feel I had it in me to be a parent. I worried a bit that I never received the motherly guidance I deserved to show me how to be a good mom and I figured it was better off not to bring a kid into this messed up world (cynical much, Jo?). Time passed, I realized that I did want a kid, but I still doubted it was the best choice (actually I went through a long phase of wanting to want to have a kid that eventually turned into genuinely wanting a child of my own). It wasn't that I was insecure about being a mom and it wasn't that I thought I would be like the mom(s) I had (I was lucky to find some other female role models). I just knew me. I knew I could do it, but I also knew it would be hard for me at times.

Everyone assured me that I would be a great mom because I have lots of patience and am a good listener. It's what makes me good at my job. It's why friends come to me to talk. But being a mom is different. I can go home after my work is done to refuel. My friend who needed an ear to listen? She lives elsewhere. But my child lives with me. She is my responsibility and it is my never ending job to show her what it means to be a good person.

So while my parenting style includes my best attempts at patience, I often lean towards a need to create boundaries. She needs to know clear rules. She really does, but sometimes I wonder (especially since the husband and I don't always see eye to eye on parenting skills) whether the boundaries I want to set are too much for her.

So the other night when Riley was in bed and started crying (when all I wanted to do was shower and eat some food) I felt frustrated. "Why is she crying?!" She's been doing this a lot lately - crying after we put her down. She's usually fine. Jesse and I take turns and head upstairs to hold her or sing some songs to her and she's fine. We've been working with her on removing this so-called second bedtime ritual (by creating some structure and clear rules) and it was better until the other night when she screamed fairly hard shortly after she got in bed. This was more than her usual whiny cry. Jesse went up first, but couldn't determine if anything was really wrong. He thought she was fine, but shortly after he came downstairs she cried again.

I went upstairs, walked in the room and gruffly said "what's the matter, Riley?" She mumbled something in her whiny voice (which usually drives me nuts and makes me even more impatient) and I was ready to tell her to stop her mumbling. "Stop whining. Use your words!", I wanted to tell her. I pulled her onto my lap, perhaps a little rougher than I should have.

And then I stopped.

I took a deep breath and I remembered that she's only 2 years old and something is wrong. I remembered that I have a duty to guide her (whether she is genuinely upset or just trying to avoid going to sleep). I remembered that I didn't get much of this as a child and would have loved it (it's a whole other story about if this made me the loner I am today).

I held Riley close to me and said "take a deep breath, sweetie, and when you can, tell me why you are crying". She took a moment and then squeaked out that she heard a noise.

She was scared.

And I had been impatient with her. It's not the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last. I'm not someone who actually thinks there is a perfect parent, but I know I can always work on being the best I can be for her. And I hadn't been even close to my best when I walked into that room. I was making it worse. Luckily, we can recognize our actions and choose to try something else. So I tried to think about what she really needed at that time.

It's not the first time we've heard "the noise" complaint, but she really sounded genuinely scared this time. We talked about all the different noises we hear (airplanes, dogs, showers, wind, creaky house noises...). I tried to assure her that mommy and daddy were nearby and nothing would happen. I held her, and when she cried again as I laid her in bed, I stayed by her side. Eventually, I moved to the floor, but still didn't leave because she cried again. Sometimes it's hard to know when your kid is ok or not, but I stayed with her because I felt she needed it.

Eventually I left and unfortunately she started crying again, but I have an awesome husband who went up to console her so I could shower. In the end, she fell asleep in his arms. And, in the nights since then she's gone to sleep without a peep.

Parenting is hard. I constantly have to be mindful of my actions, the words I use, the looks I give... I hope for all the moments I don't quite have it together I have far more moments that I do. And if I ever have any doubt about parenting, I remember moments like this morning when Riley, unsolicited, told me "I love you, mommy".

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Book Review: Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story

Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb

I fell in love with Wally Lamb's writing with his first novel, She's Come Undone. I had to wait another 6 long, long years before I read another one of his novels. His second novel, I Know This Much is True,  was an equally good book and had me excited to read more (side note: oddly enough I felt more connected the the first book about a woman and her weight struggles; something I've never had. The second book focused on twin boys in which one has paranoid Schizophrenia; something I do have much more exposure too. I'm not sure if it was anything in the writing or the fact that  it was while reading that first book that I fell in love with his writing hard.)

I waited and waited and waited for another novel and then sort of forgot about it. But one day I decided to see if Mr. Lamb had written anything new. Turns out there was a novel from 2008 and one in 2009. Boy, was I behind. I put them on my wish list only to have Wishin' and Hopin' show up as an Amazon deal of the day two days later. Sold!

This book does not disappoint. It's less a story about Christmas and more a story set in 1964 about a young boy named Felix who just happens to have a fairly famous cousin: Annette Funicello. And it's not really so much about Annette either, but about Felix's interpretation of the world around him while attending parochial school. I found the writing easy, the kind that makes you think you are watching this all unfold firsthand and forget you are actually reading a book instead. And it was laugh out loud funny. 

This book was a departure from Lamb's previous books he's written in the sense that it was more comical than serious... and he was able to do that just as well. I'm hesitant to mention this (only because I want to be clear that Wally Lamb's writing stands on it's own), but it reminded me a bit of David Sedaris (also a favorite of mine). Go forth and enjoy.

Grade: A

Books read since the beginning of 2012: 27

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Review - What Happened to Sophie Wilder

What Happened to Sophie Wilder by Christopher Beha

Absorbing, eloquent, engaging, clever could all be used to describe this book. A well written story that made me feel that I had an inside view of... oh who am I kidding, I don't really have it in me to write a good book review (something that I'm not that great at anyway), and I have three outstanding 2012 book review posts. I want to get them out. So there.

You know those movies with the privileged young men who wear suit coats and party in someone's Manhattan apartment? Yeah, I sort of felt like I was in one of those movies. There were complex relationships, people who seem super cool and mysterious (but are probably just 'socially awkward' with lots of confidence), and unfinished stories. Just like those movies, but with slightly less testosterone.

I don't want to give anything away, but this book ended in a way that I didn't expect and to be honest I found myself a little frustrated. OK, a lot. This is the only reason it went from an A to an A minus. I can't figure out if the ending was brilliant or not, or if I just totally missed something (ok, ok, I'll stop talking about the ending now). Either way, I look forward to reading Beha's other works.

Grade: A -

Books read since the beginning of 2012: 26

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Snow Angels

Since Riley was feeling better we decided to spend some time making snow angels and hopping like bunnies (her request) on this crisp winter day.