Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Signs of Improvement

I can't believe it's two days before Christmas 2009. I can't believe we have a healthy little girl with a loving personality, developing sense of humor and growing body. Its so amazing to hold her, look at her, watch her sleep or eat or play in the tub and feel that overwhelming storm of emotions. MC is our world and she makes it a better place.

You see last year was somewhat of a disaster. My father-in-law became ill in September and after a week in the hospital was forced to begin dialysis. He'd been home for almost a week when we got hit by Hurricane Ike. I never thought of Houston as a city in the path of a hurricane, but Ike made me a believer. I was nine months pregnant with MC, taking care of my father-in-law as much as he would allow and my husband, Pop and I were all sleeping in the den when Ike rolled through town taking out the power, most of the fences across Houston and a lot of roofs. We went two weeks with no power in the summertime heat and humidity that Houston is so well known for. Two weeks where I slept on the couch, my husband slept on an air mattress and Pop slept in his chair.

And then when the power returned and we thought we'd be able to return to some kind of normalcy, Pop had another heart attack and this time he was in the ICU. MC was due in a week and we were at the hospital almost around the clock, waiting, hoping, praying for Pop to improve. Unfortunately, God had other plans and Pop passed away on October 4, 2008. It was so difficult for us to lose him. JB lost his Dad and his best friend. I lost the best father-in-law anyone could ever have and my best friend in Houston.

Pop was there when I was tossing my cookies during the first tri-mester. He was there in the middle of the night when sleeping had become impossible. We'd sit outside and play with the dogs or in the den and talk about how the dogs weren't going to be too happy when the baby arrived and replaced them as the center of attention. Once a month Pop would give me money "for you and the baby" he'd say and then everyday he'd ask me when I was going shopping. When I'd return home from babies r us or Target, he'd pretend to be uninterested in the bags I was carrying. But when I'd stop and take everything out on the coffee table I could see a spark of interest in his eyes. Pop was excited about MC from the day we told him we were expecting. He was ready to spoil another grandchild and while he joked that he'd be spending more and more time in his room, JB and I know if Pop were here we'd probably catch him sleeping in a chair in the nursery so he could be close to MC.

MC was born exactly a week after we lost Pop. Her arrival hit me with a bombardment of emotions, anxiety-I'm not ready for this yet; joy-she's beautiful and healthy; sadness-we should be sharing this with my Mom and Pop, etc. I was so confused when they handed her to me and I felt afraid instead of elated. Now granted, between the epidural and the pain meds I felt more drunk than anything else, but I knew something was wrong. I should have been grinning from ear to ear about our beautiful, perfect baby girl but I was mostly frightened.

Around three weeks later when we were home from the hospital and adjusting to life as three rather than two, I crashed one evening. It was almost 6 in the evening ad I called JB to see when he'd be home, he was another hour away, and I felt myself beginning to panic, about what and why exactly I'm unsure. I needed to get out of the house so MC and I went next door to visit the neighbors and her extended family. When JB got home I was trying to explain the panic feeling I experienced but all I could do was cry and cry and cry, I cried for hours. I was so scared, what was happening to me?

JB called the doctor's office the next morning and made me an appointment. We went in and explained what happened and the doctor gave me a depression quiz. I couldn't even complete the quiz without help from JB, I was too indecisive.

Afterwards, the doctor scored the quiz and diagnosed me with Post part um depression. She wrote me a script for some "happy pills" aka Paxil and told me to see a psychiatrist immediately. Well let me tell you, in Houston, its easier to see the Bushes than it is to see a psychiatrist immediately, let alone in the near future.

Anyway, for the past year I've battled with PPD and I do mean battled with it. There are so many things I've learned and so many things I need to share because I know the shame that comes with fighting this illness. And I hope that I can write more about my experiences over the past year and that someone out there will be helped and know you aren't the only one that "went crazy" and was too afraid to tell anyone, ashamed of your thoughts and terrified that you would never be yourself again. It happened to me, but its been a year and I'm better. I'm not 100% recovered but the improvement is significant. And for the first time in over a year I'm not taking any happy pills.

Last Christmas, I was in a fog, a thick fog and I couldn't even find the motivation to get out with my husband and pick out our tree. I was a stranger to myself and to my friends and family. But its Christmas 2009 and while I'm not the same person I was two years ago before the PPD, I'm a stronger person. So I'll focus on my signs of improvement and enjoy this Christmas without the haze.

If anyone that reads this post or blog knows someone experiencing PPD or is experiencing PPD and needs someone to talk to, please feel free to contact me. And remember "It won't be like this for long."

Toys for Tots

Discovery Toys Steps It Up! to Make Sure Deserving Kids Celebrate with Toys this
Holiday Season!

Discovery Toys , longtime Sponsor and Partner of Toys for Tots, was in the midst of readying their annual toy donation last week when members of the Concord, California, Marine Reserve Unit arrived at our warehouse and related the toll that the economic crisis has taken on the local Toys for Tots area drive this holiday season. With many businesses shut down this year and many more not able to support the annual T4T drive as in years past…they needed over 20,000 toys in one week to meet their goal…it looked as though the Holidays were likely not to be so jolly!

Every year Discovery Toys makes a firm commitment to donate at least 2500 toys or $50,000 to Toys for Tots! This year the dock was loaded with over 3000 toys at the time of pick-up! Upon hearing this story, though, Discovery Toys leaders and staff made a very quick decision to do more…

This year we literally opened our warehouse to giving…and loaded palettes of toys, books, games, and more, to exceed the Toys for Tots need! Monday, December 14, 2009, over 27,000 products left our company warehouse with a retail value of $500,000 - ten times our customary donation!

At Discovery Toys, we believe in giving back to our communities and partnering with causes that bring education and joy to children everywhere. Thank you, Toys for Tots, for doing what you do to help us contribute our share!

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation has supplemented local toy collections around the country with more than 81.3 million toys valued at more than $487 million. While the Marines coordinate and manage the program, the Foundation’s success depends on the support of the local community, local business leaders and the generosity of the people who donate. That’s why Discovery Toys is part of this great tradition!

Support Toys for Tots in your community and help make a difference for an underprivileged child this holiday season.
Discovery Toys has joined the US Marine Corps to help support the Toys for Tots Foundation by collecting and donating toys for children in need.

For more information contact:
Discovery Toys
7364 Marathon Drive, Suite A
Livermore, CA 94550
or visit our website at

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, an IRS recognized 51© (3) tax exempt not for profit charity, is the authorized fund raising and
support organization for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The mission of the Foundation,, is to provide a tangible sign of hope to economically disadvantaged children during Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bargain Hunter Overload

Does anyone else find that when you have money to spend, especially on yourself, and you go to the mall for clothing etc., you find nothing? But when you are flat broke and digging for your last dime at Starbucks, everywhere you go you see the perfect outfit, etc. This seems to be a recurring problem with me.

Of course right now with it being 8 days from Christmas, I feel like I'm suffering from bargain hunter overload. If I google that phrase will it take me to WebMD or a Dr. Oz website and show the symptoms of a real condition? LOL

With the way the economy has been there are so many sales, deep discounts, real bargains etc. that when I am somewhere and something is full priced I find myself thinking, I'll just go home and check Amazon's price or Google it and see if its lower somewhere else. Its almost out of hand...when I was out getting a bite to eat I found myself thinking, should I order that, I mean it is full price? As if I can just drive home, or use my phone, hit and order lunch for less.

On Thanksgiving Day, I ordered myself some new pajamas from and two new shirts and for a great price, plus free shipping. I LOVE these flannel pants and have been living in them. When I went in to Aerie to exchange them because I'd ordered the wrong length, I accidentally left my Lucky 30% off coupons in the shipping package. I was on my way to Lucky to use my coupon for my brother's Christmas present when I realized I'd told the sales clerk she could throw out the empty package. So I rushed back down there to retrieve my coupons and all three of the girls behind the counter were flushed and laughing. They had found the coupons and already divided them among themselves. I was embarrassed and so were they. But I told them I only needed 1 and they could have the rest.

As I was walking back out of the store, I jokingly said but if you want to give me a discount on my next visit that would be great! The sales clerk immediately replied, the next time you come in I'll give you 20% off everything you buy! Of course, I didn't think I'd be back anytime soon. But those pants were so awesome that I stopped in this week to see if they were on sale and they'd been marked down to $11.95! I picked up three more pairs and as the clerk was adding up the damage, she asked, what did I tell you last time you were here? You said you'd hook me up with an awesome discount I answered...kind of shocked that she'd remembered without prompting and BAM! 20% off.

So I saved 30% at Lucky and got some cool pj's for myself and saved 20% on top of a great sale price!

Then there's the website that will be the death of me! They were selling the Leap Frog Tag Jr. for $14.99, the regular price is usually anywhere from $34.99 to $39.99. And while MC isn't quite ready for it, I ordered it because the price can't be beat!

We've been making out like bandits on some DVD purchases this month too. When Disney has a new release they've been offering $10 off of the Blu-Ray/DVD combo packs. So you can go to Wal-Mart, find the combo pack for $19.99, save $10 with your coupon and walk it with a Blu-Ray/DVD movie for $10. If you rented the movie you'd pay $3-4 so that's a real bargain. Current $10 offer can be found at and is good through December 22.

We saved a lot of money on gift wrap this year at Hallmark. I love Christmas wrapping paper, love it! And its a tradition, that my mom started, that every year my presents are always wrapped in Snoopy paper. So a quick glance under the tree and I can see what kind and how much loot I've scored. Thanks to Daisy I've been able to buy two rolls of wrapping paper for $1 by using the $5 Hallmark coupon

This year we were supposed to have a very small Christmas! A very small Christmas. But as I look at the tree in our den with presents piled underneath and around, I know that very few items put there by me were expensive. Almost everything I bought with the exception of a few shirts for the hubby, was on sale by at least 30%, sometimes much more. I think I've become addicted to saving money, but with only 1 income in a rotten economy, there are worse things to be addicted to.

I'll try to start posting some of the deals I find so I can share them with anyone out there reading! Please e-mail me with any great delas you find and I'll add them to my post. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Voice of Christmases Past

With the cooler/cold weather we're experiencing here in Houston I've been wearing one of my ski jackets to keep warm. It still has all of my lift tickets on it from our last ski trip in December of 2006.

That was a great trip. My boyfriend, now my husband, and I had been dating for a little over six months long distance. I was living in WI, he was in TX and we saw each otehr about every three to four weeks when I was in Dallas, San Antonio or Houston. Because of the distance we'd decided to take a trip for Christmas. I had to go to New Mexico on business the week after Christmas to close out a market but other than that I was off for two weeks. So we decided to make the trek out to New Mexico together and turn it into a ski vacation.

On Christmas day we were in Ruidoso, New Mexico riding the lifts up and plowing down the slopes as fast as we could go. During one of our breaks I called my best friend in SC to wish her and the kids a Merry Christmas. They had opened all of their gifts and were watching some TV while the kids played with their new toys. What did you get for Christmas I asked? "Just a few mixing bowls and kitchen utensils," she replied. Then she continued on about how when you're married and have kids life and the holidays are boring. All gifts become about what you need more than what you want...

Of course I sympathized and said well I'm sorry you're not having a more exciting Christmas. We're out here where its beautiful skiing, drinking warm cocktails, eating out and having a blast! JB had given me a new MP3 player and I'd given him some new clothes, we were both loving our time together and the holidays.

So now its three years later and I'm happily married and we have a 14 month old bundle of joy. Let's review, last Christmas I got a Dyson vacuum, mixing bowls, a trailer hitch cover and a DVD, pretty exciting huh? It was almost comical to see the look on our friend's faces when I told them my husband gave me a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. You could actually see the horror, the thoughts of impending doom on our relationship and the sympathy for me the recipient of an appliance! What they didn't know or realize is that I'd wanted that vacuum cleaner for forever and we'd discussed if it would be an acceptable Christmas present. But, looking from the outside in, I can understand the presumption that JB had made a terrible mistake.

This year I was talking about Christmas with a friend and what we were getting each other and she just nodded her head and said "That's the way it is when you're married and have kids." Wait, so is there an unwritten law or policy somewhere that states after you've said "I do" all presents must be practical rather than fun, perform some type of household duty or make a chore easier, or solely fall into the category of need rather than want?

My husband wanted to take another ski trip this year. He wanted to drive or fly to New Mexico or Colorado and spend a week on the slopes. Yes, it does sound like a lot of fun. But what would we do with our little one? How can we justify spending money n a vacation when he hasn't bought any new clothes for himself in two years? And we'd already splurged and purchased a new digital SLR as a family Christmas present so we could take better pictures of MC. Alright so maybe the writing is on the wall, we're married, have a kid and Christmas has become practical and boring.

Then there's MC and her Christmas. Again, as we go back two years, before we left for our ski trip we celebrated Christmas with JB's family. We were all sitting around my brother's house as our nieces unwrapped their Christmas presents. We watched as the youngest one ran around playing with her toy that she's brought with her completely oblivious as her mom opened all of her presents. And afterwards we watched as she played with the discarded paper and empty boxes showing zero interest in the new toys.

Later as we were driving home, JB and I laughed and said when we have a child we'll just get them wrapping paper and boxes for their first few Christmases and they'll have just as much fun as they would with new toys, if not more fun!

Now we're nine days from Christmas and the presents under the tree are overflowing. MC is getting a new chair that's her size, a wagon to ride around in, several new books, mega bloks, a push toy, some Disney movies, a stuffed animal and a few miscellaneous toys. And in the back of my head I hear ourselves saying, she'll just get paper and boxes, we'll she's getting lots of boxes and paper with all sorts of fun stuff inside. I have to kind of laugh as I'm hearing the voices of Christmases past and seeing all of the practical gifts we've purchased for each other and the toys for our little girl!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Head is Spinning, Hair is Thinning

I feel as if someone trapped me in an hourglass and turned it over and the sand is almost covering me. Where has the time gone? Are we really 12 days away from Christmas?

I was shopping Saturday afternoon, attempting to finish up so I wouldn't have to return to the mall and do battle with the crazed shoppers that wait until the last minute. And while I was in Yankee Candle, buying a Mountain Pine candle so our house would smell like a Christmas tree, I saw their sign which said "13 days until Christmas." I know I read it but its like it didn't register with me. Didn't I just finish clearing the Thanksgiving leftovers out of our refrigerator?

No wonder the mall was slammed, parking was a disaster, the line at Barnes & Noble was almost 30 people deep and all of the cute wrapping paper was gone!

We've been so busy this month, doing what I'm not exactly sure, that my head is still spinning. When I called my old roommates in WI on Friday to let them know a package with presents for their little boy was on its way, my friend laughed and said she hadn't even started their Christmas shopping yet. Well, I hope she doesn't have much shopping to do, or can get it all done in one day.

By the end of the day Saturday I'd taken care of a present and stocking stuffers for my brother, my husband, our nieces and nephew, my best friend's children and our little girl. Now there is a daunting pile of gifts in our guest bedroom just waiting to be wrapped and placed under our tree. I love choosing gifts for friends and family, I love hitting the stores (before the crowds) and browsing all the cool stuff, I love buying Christmas wrapping paper but I absolutely dread wrapping those gifts. I'm gift wrapped challenged in every sense.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Weekend in Review

I guess I've decided every Monday I'll review the weekend. Maybe it will give me a chance to see where all of our time went so I can plan better for the next weekend.

This weekend was pretty much uneventful. As I say it was uneventful it seems so strange considering we had snow on Friday, Saturday was a crazy day in the world of football and on Sunday we went on the 2009 hunt for the perfect Christmas tree.

Friday evening by 5:30 PM almost all traces of the snow from earlier were gone. If it weren't for the pictures we took there wouldn't be much evidence of snow. We had dinner with our neighbors and then came home and camped out in front of the TV.

Saturday we were running around the house trying to clean while watching some of the college championship games. I was so totally surprised by the Alabama v. Florida game. It seems like the game should have been much closer. If anyone had asked me I would have said it will be a close game but Florida has a good chance of pulling an upset and I would have been wrong. The same thing with the Texas v. Nebraska game, I thought Texas would run away with that game in the first half instead of battling until the final second and winning with a field goal. By the end of the game, my husband, was standing up, holding on to the chair while holding his breath.

Saturday night we stayed up pretty late until 2 AM, but we were both shocked when we didn't wake up until 2 PM on Sunday. I guess we all needed some extra sleep and we're very fortunate MC agreed.

But that meant we got a lot start on getting things accomplished. We had several errands we needed to run, buy more diapers, pick-up a few groceries but most importantly finding the perfect Christmas tree and getting it decorated.

It was about 4 PM by the time we started our search for the perfect tree. Let me take a minute and explain my definition of the perfect tree: first and foremost the perfect tree is always a real tree, ALWAYS, then it must smell like a real Christmas tree and it should be full and tall with no problem areas that need to go against the wall to be hidden. In the past we've learned this is not the easiest task since we living in SE Texas. You can't just go out in the woods or drive to a tree farm, pick out your tree, cut it down and haul it home. And so we're used to driving around to several places looking at trees, smelling the needles, shaking the tree to see how many needles fall and then if we've found the right one, negotiating a better price.

This is a time consuming experience that requires a full stomach, patience and some perseverance. So we should have known that at 4 PM on a rainy, cold afternoon with a small child that tree shopping was going to be challenging to say the least. We started at Costco, moved on to a tree farm, then a local nursery and ended at a garden center.

We'd finally found the perfect tree. It was tall, full and gorgeous and we were wet and tired and ready to be done. My husband went and found someone to carry it through the giant tree maze we were in to the front where it could be trimmed and bailed. But when the gentleman put the tree down we noticed the entire bottom 1.5 feet of the tree was brown. Now we'd tested the branches and they bent like they were supposed to, we'd shaken the tree and very few needles had fallen so why was the bottom brown? Well back out to the maze to continue our search, this time with our flashlight. But after another 15 minutes of searching we were now in complete darkness and it was raining a little harder, so we called the search off.

Now we'll have to go back out today and start over again.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snow Day in Texas

They predicted it and it came true. Today in Houston, TX, snow made a rare appearance. Some schools were cancelled or dismissed early but most were not. Preparations started on Thursday night, the news anchors talked of little other than the chance of snow on Friday.

I know some of you find it funny and maybe I would too but then I was born and raised in SC, where when I was a kid, if snow was a possibility in the forecast then schools were sometimes cancelled before the first flake arrived. The grocery stores were stripped of all their batteries, milk and bread by anyone that could get there early enough to find anything more than empty shelves. Now that I'm older and have survived a hurricane, I wonder why the bread and milk and not beer and chips? Because if I'm without power and stuck inside for more than 24 hours I want comfort food and something to distract me, i.e. beer.

Anyway, although today's snow came and went within a matter of hours it was a beautiful sight to observe as it fell and began to stick to cars, roofs, etc. So I'm going to share just a few photos from today.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Target Rant

I have to admit I've been on a bargain hunting binge lately. If I see something that's a really good deal and it would be a good Christmas present for MC then I'm all over it. Lately, some of the best deals I've found have been on children's DVDs.

On Sunday Target had an ad that showed Night at the Museum 2 on Blu-Ray-DVD-Digital the 3 disc copy for $15.99. After the sale this copy will be sold for $39.99 so this is a real bargain. We don't have a blu-ray player but when I can buy the Blu-Ray DVD pack for the same price as the DVD then it just makes more sense. I'm sure we'll eventually join the pack, cave to the industry's pressure and buy a Blu-Ray.

Anyway, so here's what happened last night: A friend and I make what I said would be a quick trip to Target. We walk straight to the movie section and I look everywhere for the Blu-Ray copy of the movie. There were plenty of copies of the DVD but none of the Blu-Ray and this has happened on several occasions at this Target and its starting to frustrate me. I find a salesperson after looking around for one and she walks over and checks the same shelf and says "We're out." And there in the spot where it should be is a price of $24.99 "as advertised." As advertised where?

We walk back up to the front of the store and check the current ad. "Am I wrong?" I ask my friend, and when I am wrong, she's usually the first to point it out. But she agrees the ad says its $15.99. So I still want to take advantage of this good deal and she's in no hurry to get home, we head to another Target.

We find the Blu-Ray copy and walk it over to a price checker, because they're sign also says $24.99, and it won't scan. An employee approaches us and points to the $24.99 sign and says with some sarcasm, "It's $24.99."

"No, the ad says its $15.99." I say.
"Well you must be mistaken, do you have the ad?" she asks.
No I wasn't carrying the ad with me, shouldn't the store keep plenty of copies of the ad around to reference, why is that my job? So I ask to speak to a manager. She calls a manager on her walkie-talkie, says she's on her way and walks off. While I'm waiting I see her talking to the manager and she's trying to hide the fact that she's talking to her. I guess she's talking about my inability to read the price tag or ad correctly.

I explain to the manager the problem and she walks over to the electronics counter and pulls out the ad. We look at it together and she says well it says Blu-Ray low price...what low price? And I ask her well if you were looking at the ad what would you think, she just shakes her head. I don't know sign language so I'm not sure what the head shaking meant. "Well I feel like this ad is very misleading even deceptive. Are you going to sell it to me for $15.99?" I ask.

"No ma'am. The ad says Blu-Ray and this copy has three discs, DVD-Blu-Ray and digital. (Now I'm even more frustrated with the situation."

"Well, I explain, you only have the three disc copy so that's how its packaged and it should be $15.99."

By this time its very apparent that I'm not getting anywhere and she's adamant that I'm wrong. So I ask for the number to corporate so I can file a complaint about the misleading ad that I'm sure has also caused confusion for other people and she directs me to guest relations. (Guest relations? I didn't realize Target was a part of Disney)

On the way out we stop at guest relations and I ask for the number. While the girl searches for the number a store manager stops to assist her and asks if there's anything she can do to help. So I explain the situation to her. Now she pulls out a big binder with the Target ad and all of their competitors. She checks the ad and says well the picture in the ad isn't showing a Blu-Ray because if it was it would have Blu-Ray on the packaging as the real ones do. Alright, whatever. But she checks the Wal-Mart ad and offers to match their ad if that will make things right. (No it doesn't make things right. I've driven to two stores, had to deal with multiple employees that treated me like I'm incompetent and will still be paying almost $5 more than what I expected to pay.) I say sure I'll buy it for $19.96.

As we're walking to the car I continue to vent to my friend about how ridiculous I find the situation. I drive her home and drop her off. When I get home I hop on the Internet and Google coupons for Night at the Museum 2. I starts clicking on the sites and find at least three forums where people bought the Blu-Ray copy at Target for $15.99. One of the people that commented said it was also listed online for $15.99.

And you know what, they're right, which means I was right. So after about twenty minutes of figuring out how to print the pop up window with the description and price, I have proof. Now I have to go back up to Target, show them my proof and get a price adjustment. There was a time when I wouldn't go to this much effort for such a small amount of money but not only is the economy bad but its the principal. How many people read the ad the same way I did but then paid $24.99?

When I saw that I was correct I felt both furious and vindicated. For the principal of the matter I'd like to drive back to the Target that's not close to my house and show all three people I spoke with the "proof" that I was right. Its not so much about being right as it is that the advertising was misleading and the store should have agreed and given me the price on that alone but on top of that they were also wrong and probably have and are overcharging a lot of people.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Winter Storm Warning in Texas

The last few days have been cooler and I'm loving it. When I'm home I'm lounging in my flannel or fleece PJ's, wearing my soft thermal shirts and enjoying a fire in the fireplace. If I venture out to run errands then I wear my jeans and boots which is almost a constant regardless of the weather, but I also wear my cozy, fleece North Face jacket.

While living in WI I acquired a lot of winter gear in order to stay warm and survive the frigid winters that seemed to last all year. I now own two scarves, leather gloves for driving and heavy gloves for scraping snow covered windshields, cashmere sweaters for the office, winter boots with traction, ski jackets and two North Face jackets. And for the past three winters that I've lived in Texas I've never worn the scarves, or the gloves, worn my cashmere sweaters only twice and have never worn any of my turtlenecks or long johns.

So this week when all of the local news stations began talking about the frigid weather we're expecting for Friday and part of Saturday, well I've been cautiously excited. Let it snow, let it snow and let it stick, let it stick. No, I don't miss the WI winters and that's not what I'm saying here, but I would love a nice week of winter. Just one week with snow, ice and frigid temperatures and I'd prefer to enjoy it the week of Christmas. I don't want much, do I?

Sure I do. I mean I was in total disbelief tonight when the weather forecasters and they are called forecasters for a reason, said there is the potential and he emphasized potential, for Houston to get 3-5 inches of snow. Then he went on to say if we experience "thunder snow", I'm not making that term up, we could be in for a lot more. I have no idea what thunder snow is. I've heard of lake effect snow and even experienced it while living in WI, but thunder snow? You know what, it doesn't matter to me what you call it as long as we get it.

I'm trying to be optimistic but at the same time not get my hopes up. Tomorrow you can find me sitting by the window and waiting for the snow or the ice or whatever might fall. I know not to hope for a white Christmas but I hope for a white Friday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Stephanie Shirley Photography Freebie

If you live in Houston and you enjoy free stuff then let me tell you about the promotion Stephanie Shirley Photography is offering right now. When you join Stephanie Shirley Photography's Facebook page and bring 20 more fans with you win a free session with all your images on a free CD.

This is an awesome deal and she's a fantastic photographer. So check out her blog and then become a fan on FB, follow her on Twitter and tell your friends.

You can find her on FB here:!

Photos are some of the best memories a family has forever. Thanks for a fun contest Stephanie

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Mommy-Files Hickory Farms Give-Away

Alright so, my name is Kris and I love free stuff. I didn't realize it was a problem or obsession until this moment as I'm writing my first blog about a give-away to win a free Family Gathering Gift Basket. It has

(2) 12 oz Beef Summer Sausages
(1) 12 oz. Ham Summer Sausage
(1) 10 oz. Original Cheese Ball
(1) 7 oz. Pennsylvania Dutch Edam
(2) 6.5 oz Apple Pie Cheddars
(1) 10 oz. Sweet Hot Mustard
(1) 5 oz. Box Flatbread Crackers
Customer Hickory Farms Cheese Slicer

Shannon over at The Mommy-Files was given a Family Gathering Gift Basket from Hickory Farms to review and they have generously donated one for her to give-away. (I feel like one of the ladies at her friends weddings jostling for the bridal bouquet, LOL)

Anyway, this is one of my favorite blogs to read because Shannon is down to earth and sincere and I feel like I'm reading something a friend wrote not someone that wants to win a popularity contest or become rich and famous

Kodak Photo Fantastic House Party

So this Saturday evening I'm having friends over to check out the new Kodak Gallery website. This is probably one of my most frequently visited sites now that I have a child and definitely a site where over 50% of my online shopping is done. Since most of my family is out of state I can order photos, gifts etc. and have them shipped directly to their home which is so easy and convenient.

I'd learned about the House Party website while reading a friend's blog. They'd had a few parties for various companies and said it was a fun experience. When I received and e-mail from Kodak encouraging me to apply to be a host, I thought sure this should be fun.

As a host I received a $75 credit to use towards a photo book, a mug and a holiday card. These were fun to design and make. The photo book I created is a baby album full of pictures from McKenzie's first year. It took me forever to finish this project but not because the Kodak Gallery is difficult to use but because I love almost every photo we've taken of her. This is the second time I've made a photo book with Kodak, the first was a wedding album I created and gave to my husband as a Christmas gift last year. Kodak recently made changes to their website making it easier to use, faster to upload photos and provides the use with more options than ever.

Both albums are keepsakes that our family will be able to enjoy forever. And as someone that isn't very organized at home I don't have to fiddle with putting picture in the album, writing captions, labeling everything etc. Its as easy as uploading, placing the pictures into a layout I choose and placing an order. I also love the fact that if I need more of an item my project is saved at Kodak and I can easily order more copies.

My family is hoping to take more and more pictures and improve our photography skills. For Christmas we're going to upgrade from a point and shoot camera to a SLR. This will mean more photos, which means more prints for the family and more photo books for me.

Kodak has provided me with some sample holiday cards to share with the party guests as well as 40% off coupons for my guests and their friends and family.

So far my experience with House Party and Kodak has been a positive one and I look forward to hosting more parties. Check back for pictures from this weekend's party.

Funny Moments Worth Laughing About

Are you one of those moms that starts a diary or journal for your child and promises to write everything in it, the good moments, the bad, the funny and sad? I am and guess what I haven't touched that journal in months. Bad mommy, everyone say it together now, "bad mommy". Okay not really, I know this happens to most of us we start a project with good intentions and then life gets in the way.

Well if I had written in the journal as I promised and intended I would have shared this story with MC. When she was about two months old, her daddy, and that's the story I'm going with and sticking to...her daddy changed her while I was napping soundly and forgot to put a diaper back on her.

Now we were both out of it most of the time from sleep deprivation and my post part um anxiety I was like a walking zombie on autopilot. I'd gone o lie down in the guest bedroom where its extremely quiet if you run something for white noise. I'd probably been asleep two hours when I heard MC crying. I came into the den to see what was going on and found her in her swing rocking back and forth. Normally, she would be quietly enjoying the ride or asleep but she was not happy. I look around the den, kitchen and master bedroom and can't find JB.

So I pick up MC and immediately know that she's soaked. The swing is soaked,her onesie is soaked and now I'm getting wet too. I opened the front door and hollered, "HONEY!!!!" and there he was running to find out why I was screaming like a banshee. We stand next to each other with MC on the changing table and start pointing fingers, you changed her last, no you did I was taking a nap. JB" "Well I know if I'd changed her she would have a diaper on."

Well whoever has changed her last (her dad of course) had forgotten to replace the old diaper with a new one. After the initial finger pointing we both started laughing and couldn't stop. We'd been so anxious about being new parents since we'd come home from the hospital. For the most part whenever it was possible we did everything together, her baths, tucking her in, dressing her etc., except when I was napping or he was at work. So careful, so out of it that our little girl was commando in her onesie and neither of us could remember who changed her last.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Poem-If Tomorrow Starts Without Me

A friend sent me this poem in an e-mail and I do not know the author. But since September 11th when I lie down at night and say my prayers I always say "thank you for today and for the hope of tomorrow." I enjoyed reading this and felt like it was important to share it with others.

To my husband and MC please know you are my world. I love you both more than the moon, the stars and everything in between. And if tomorrow starts without me....


A few weeks ago a woman was killed in an auto
Accident She was very well liked, so the office shut
Down for her funeral and it was on the news and so on.
On the day the workers came back to work, they found
This poem in their e-mail that the deceased woman had
Sent on Friday before she left for home.

If tomorrow starts without me,
And I'm not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me;

I wish so much you wouldn't cry
The way you did today,
While thinking of the many things,
We didn't get to say.

I know how much you love me,
As much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me,
I know you'll miss me too;

But when tomorrow starts without me,
Please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name,
And took me by the hand,

And said my place was ready,
In heaven far above,
And that I'd have to leave behind
All those I dearly love.

But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye,
For all my life, I'd always thought,
I didn't want to die.

I had so much to live for,
So much left yet to do,
It seemed almost impossible,
That I was leaving you.
I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad,
I thought of all that we shared,
And all the fun we had.

If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for a while,
I'd say good-bye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile.

But then I fully realized,
That this could never be,
For emptiness and memories,
Would take the place of me.

And when I thought of worldly things,
I might miss some tomorrow,
I thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow.

But when I walked through heaven's gates,
I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,
From His great golden throne,

He said, "This is eternity,
And all I've promised you."
Today your life on earth is past,
But here life starts anew.

I promise no tomorrow,
But today will always last,
And since each day is the same way,
There's no longing for the past.

So when tomorrow starts without me,
Don't think we're far apart,
For every time you think of me,
I'm right here, in your heart "

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rivalry Weekend

I live for college football. Football, its not just a game its a way of life. Alright so no I don't really live for college football that would be silly, right? But I am passionate about college football. I found it funny and ironic that while I was in labor we were watching Texas vs. Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout. Wait, I was really watching the game I was in labor and between the extreme pain and epidural I was out of it. But the doctor that delivered MC well he was watching the game.

When he walked in to deliver the baby, his exact words were "alright let's get this done so we can watch the game" and he wasn't joking. I can't fault him too much because I can relate to wanting to watch college football expecially the big rivalry games. But it did make me a little nervous that he was turned towards the tv, watching the game as he was waiting to "catch" MC. I guess if I'd not been so out of it I probably would have complained or turned the tv off but I also needed a distraction and I felt drunk. So even when I had a coherent thought other than "I'm dying" it was gone as fast it had come.

Rivalry weekend for me is some of the best football of the season. I look forward to rivalry weekend and make sure my schedule is clear. When I was employed in the real world I would not work on rivalry weekend and that was non-negotiable for me. As someone that attended Auburn for almost a year and graduated from the University of South Carolina I can tell you without a doubt that the "Iron Bowl: Auburn vs. Alabama" is the biggest college rivalry of all. Both ESPN and Sports Illustrated have referred to this rivalry as one of the most intense.

I had a chance to experience the Auburn/Alabama rivalry firsthand in 1993 as a student on the Plains. Auburn was undefeated entering the game against Alabama. Now if you are not familiar with football in the south, especially Alabama then it may be hard to understand the passion of these fans. There was so much excitement surrounding this game that the fans began arriving in their RVs on Monday. Everywhere you looked there was an RV parked on any grassy spot, sidewalk and anywhere else the RV would fit. By Wednesday the town and campus were so crowded with fans that my classes were cancelled. And let me say even if you aren't a football fan when classes are cancelled because of an upcoming game you begin to wonder what all the hype is about.

So as an 18 year old that thought she had the world by the tail or at least the southeast, I took advantage and began enjoying all of the festivities. At the time I was living on campus and our co-ed dorms has lots of "green space" so we had RVs all over the place. I decided that if these people were parked in "my yard" then they should cook for us. My friends and I approached people sitting outside in their lawn chairs with their grills and coolers and asked if we could join them for a beer and some food and you know what, they all said yes. For three days, Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and Friday anyone that we aapproached invited us to join them and provided us with food and refreshments, we even got a few to give us underage kids a beer.

What started as a cheap form of entertainment for me, became an experience that I will always remember and cherish. I met so many people that were die hard fans. Some of them had driven for more than 12 hours to see this game in person, some hadn't missed a game in 20 years and some had come just to tailgate and celebrate with other fans because they were unable to score tickets to the game. On Thursday morning I called my Dad and told him he and my brother needed to come down and check out the insanity. I was one of the lucky ones with a student ticket which meant guaranteed entry to the game but for those looking for tickets the prices started at $500 for one regardless of the seat's location. I was offered $250 for my student ticket and considered selling it but didn't and feel I amde the best decision. Without a doubt watching the 1993 Iron Bowl from inside the stadium in the student section was a one of a kind experience that can't be duplicated.

My friends and I spent Friday evening circling the campus in the back of strangers trucks. Yes, I realzie that sounds strange, crazy and just plain stupid but you had to be there to know this was part of a tradition and everyone was particiapting. We'd jump into one truck as it slowed, make a few laps while tossing rolls of toilet paper, singing the fight song at the top of our lungs and chanting "I say it's great to be an Auburn Tiger." And the Alabama fans would yell "Roll Tide" and shout right back at us. For me this was a blast and an experience I won't forget.

On Saturday morning Dad and Brian pulled into town. Neither of them could believe the number of RVs, cars, amount of traffic and people everywhere. Dad became determined to buy two tickets to get inside the stadium to watch the game. Unfortunately, they never found tickets for less than $500 each and ended up missing the game completely. Dad was so frustrated that when the game started he decided to drive on back home and missed the entire game.

I watched the game with friends and strangers from the student section. If you were wearing orange and blue and cheering everyone there was a new friend. We stood the entire game, shouted at the top of our lungs, sang the fight song over and over for four quarters. I don't even remeber sitting down at halftime. And when the clock was out and we'd won the game to finish the season undefeated at 11-0, I headed to Toomer's Corner with thousands of others.

Now if I were reading this and unfamilar with Auburn I would assume Toomer's Corner must be a bar or restaurant where people would hang out after a home game. But Toomer's Corner is literally a corner located across from Toomer's Drugs. Its a tradition to gather at Toomer's Corner after every home victory to celebrate with the band and the throng of Auburn fans while rolling the trees. Before I was a student at Auburn I had witnessed this one weekend while visiting the campus and well I fell in love with the tradition. It was one of many traditions Auburn has that made me fall in love with the Village on the Plains and want to be an Auburn student. If you haven't been to Toomer's Corner after an Alabama victory you can't understand the intentsity. I hope one day I will have the chance to take MC to an Iron Bowl and share in these traditions with her.

This weekend was a good rivalry weekend. Auburn lost but they played an excellent game against the #2 team in the country. The chicken curse was overcome and the Gamecocks defeated Clemson. Oh and don't let me forget the Texas win over A7M on Thanksgiving evening. MC watched a little football with me but I am lookign forward to the day when I can teach her about the game and hopefully this will be a pastime we can both share and enjoy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Special Moment

MC and I curled up on the couch last night and watched a little football. She was sitting across my lap and I was holding a plastic container of sliced strawberries. I was holding her and feeding her strawberries which she found amusing in some way because she kept giggling.

At one point she turns toward me and gives me a kiss, and then another and another. It just melts my heart when she gives me affection without any encouragement. After my three kisses, she turned back around, grabbed a strawberry and fed it to me. So I'm thinking it makes her happy when I feed her and she's trying to take care of me the same way. What a sweetheart.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks Mom!

I miss my Mom everyday. Mom passed away three years ago and I wouldn't say its any easier for me. The holidays are always difficult. My mom always made the holidays special for us. Yes there was always drama but there was also always great food that mom put both her time and love into making.

Tonight as I'm cooking mom's recipes for dressing and sweet potato casserole I want to pick up the phone and give her a call. I can't remember the exact amount of butter for the dressing or the order of mixing the ingredients.

Mom was a great cook. And mom always cooked enough to feed a small army. Now we never ate on time and I do mean never but the food was so good and there was so much that the frustration always faded while you were eating.

I'm not sure I told mom often enough how much I appreciated her cooking. I'm quite certain I didn't spend enough time in the kitchen trying to learn from her. If I could go back in time I'd watch how she prepared the food, I would have written down all of her recipes, and I would have learned to be a better cook.

When mom became ill the last time we all realized there were so many foods mom cooked that we all loved but none of us had the recipes. My dad began coming over and asking mom to share the recipes. As she would list the ingredients he's write them down, type them up later and save them on the computer. What we didn't know at the time was that mom's memory of the recipes wasn't always complete. We also didn't realize that the recipes she had written down or recipes that were in her cookbook were also incomplete.

You know how you'll be in the kitchen cooking something and decide to change it up, you add an ingredient you don't normally use or leave something in the recipe out well if you like the changes write it down, make a note. Apparently my mom frequently made changes to recipes but never wrote the changes down. She knew the changes, she'd remeber the changes when making the dish but now she's gone and we're clueless.

Somehow cooking Thanksgiving dinner makes me feel closer to mom. Thanks mom for teaching me that food can bring a family together. Thanks mom for leaving us some of the best recipes for dressing and sweet potato casserole. And thanks for teaching me yet another lesson, keep our favorite recipes and note all changes, teach your kids how to cook their favorites because you won't always be there and everything made with love always tastes better.

Thanksgiving Shuffle

Well we spent yesterday and part of tonight doing the Thanksgiving shuffle, i.e. going to multiple grocery stores in order to get everything on our list. And then going back to the grocery store to get the items we realize we forgot put on the list. I used to always have the shopping done the Sunday before Thanksgiving...but a baby changes everything.

Okay, okay so yes she's 13 months old now and maybe that's a bad excuse but I seem to be doing more and more things at the last minute than ever before. Typically, I'm proactive in almost area of my life except house cleaning. But this year I've been running around at the last minute buying birthday cards, groceries and everythign else.

And I hate to wait until the last minute because I can always feel my stress level increasing the closer an event gets when I'm not prepared. So I definitely hate to go shopping for Thanksgiving dinner at the last minute. We didn't get to Costco last night until 8PM and they close at, you guessed it 8:30. We're racing down the aisles, throwing items into the cart and made it in and out in record time. It was a relatively easy trip.

But then we had to go to H-E-B for the rest of the groceries. Saturdays and Sundays at H-E-B are crazy, the aisles are jammed, shelves are running low and people are everywhere and last night was like a Saturday and Sunday combined. They were out of rolls, out of sage sausage, out of sweet tea, etc. We waited in lines to go down aisles, lines to get close to the shelves and a long line to check-out. I spent the entire time kicking myself for not shopping earlier in the week.

Then we get home unload all of the groceries and debate which one of us is going back out into the night to another store for the last items...ughhhh. Tonight we were out again because we still needed sage sausage, cranberry sauce and frozen rolls. And at some point I remembered we also need a meat thermometer. I used my new phone to navigate to the nearest Sur La Table. Of course they had already closed and thus still no meat thermometer. Fortunately, the neighbors aren't cooking a turkey tomorrow so I was able to borrow theirs.

Now we're chopping celery and onions, browning the sage sausage and baking sweet potatoes and I'm already exhausted again. I had the brilliant idea that we'd cook a trukey, dressing, sweet potato casserole and pie for us to eat and another batch of dressing and sweet potato casserole for dinner at my brother-in-law's. Yes crazy idea!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend in Review

I survived the weekend. So normally I'd probably be saying I survived the week but not this time it was the weekend that was a challenge.

My husband's 50th birthday was Sunday. No that's not a typo, he's 50. And with the economy being stuck in the dump and our bank account resembling the black hole I had to figure out how we'd celebrate his milestone.

My birthday was back in June. And we'd already decided that we would do something simple and affordable without any gifts. No problem. So as his birthday approached I had a similar discussion and we agreed no gift would be expected or even accepted as it would mean leaving a bill or several unpaid.

But you only turn 50 once. Three years ago when we were still dating and I moved in with him I had grand plans for this occasion. One afternoon over lunch with his best friend I told him how I was going to book a long weekend in Las Vegas for my husband and present the tickets and trip as a surprise. I love surprises. I love giving them as much as I love receiving them. My mom was always giving us "no reason" gifts, usually something small like a book she knew we wanted or a CD by a favorite artist. And those little surprises of unexpected gifts always made me feel so special.

My husband loves to play poker. He's not a big gambler and that's not why we're in debt. But when on vacation if there's a casino where he can enjoy a game or two then you can bet he'll be there, drinking coffee and hoping he'll win a big hand. And I know deep down he dreams of playing on the World Poker Tour as a professional. So how cool would it be to give him a trip to Vegas? And even cooler if I came along to shop and chill by the pool while he made money. Plus, I was going to invite a few of his friends along so he'd have buddies to help him celebrate. Wow how things change so quickly, just imagine three years later.

Now we're married and have a 1 year old little Vegas even if we had the money is probably off the table for the near future. Of course I could have done other fun things for him, there are so many possibilities when there's money to pay for them. But since that wasn't the case I decided I'd have to give him a surprise party.

If you know me you know I'm not Martha Stewart, not even a distant cousin and the only reason someone would even say my name and Martha's would be to give an example of how opposite we are on every level. You can't even say I can keep up with Rachel Ray. So, most of you may be laughing at the idea of me throwing a surprise party and I understand. But, I wasn't. No, I was stressing out about it. With more resources I could have made it a party to talk about, i.e. money to hire an event planner and have it catered.

But it was just me and a few friends that offered to provide a location and assistance with food. I had to decide if it would be somber, or fun, or full of all the over the hill gags. It was my job to create a menu, choose the right decorations, invite people without leaving anyone out and if that weren't enough to make my head spin, it also had to be kept quiet so it would be a surprise.

I have no idea how many lies I told last week. And when I lie I become anxious, and when I'm anxious I get stressed out and when that happens my body decides to go on strike. My stomach gets tied in knots, my head begins to pound violently and my mind won't shut down so I can rest. Doesn't that sound like fun?

First, I was sneaking over to a friend's house so I could get on the Internet to choose and order decorations. Then, I was stealing his phone to "backup his numbers", but I was really getting numbers of friends so I could invite them to the event. And on Friday night, the evening before his family reunion, I had to tell him I wouldn't be going because I was exhausted and too anxious to attend. Of course this was not what he wanted to hear and led to conflict which left me more stressed out. At one point I even considered just telling him about the party but instead just listened to him complain about my lack of support.

I spent all day Saturday running around town, buying food, last minute decorations, preparing food, etc. And while I'd planned on being home when he returned I was still busy making dip and reminding everyone about the time and location. It was exhausting. But I felt guilty about the lying, missing the reunion and not getting home to spend time with him, so I stayed up watching movies until 3AM.

Sunday morning I had to sneak out again to deliver the cake, check on the decorations and drop a few more items. Then I had to create a fictional story about having lobster with our friends at their house after we watched football with them. And of course any other time he would have just said sure, whatever, but this time it had to be difficult. Why do we have to go in the middle of the game? Can't they come over to our house?

But after it was all said and done the party was a success and a surprise. The food was awesome, not because I made it (LOL), turnout was good and JB had fun. So I guess the stress this week, and fatigue I'm feeling today was worth all of the trouble. And maybe, just maybe I'm one step closer to becoming a better cook, hostess and wife.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Black Friday is not for Amateurs

It seems that for the last 4 weeks all I hear about is Black Friday. My inbox is full of Black Friday links for the latest information on the hottest deals. When I'm on FB I'm continuously seeing pages for Black Friday events and ads. And the Auburn v. Alabama game is on Black Friday this year so they're sending me e-mails with t-shirts made especially for Black Friday.

Does anyone else think that Black Friday sounds incredibly depressing? It sounds like an ad for a funeral of a famous person or like the National Depression day. Don't get offended I have PPD and continue to exerience symptoms and recevie treatment for it so I'm not saying depression is soemthing to be taken lightly. I'm just saying if there was a national awareness day for depression then Black Friday might be a suitable title.

On every Black Friday evening or the following Saturday morning the news is reporting injuries/tragedies that occurred while shoppers rush, trample, shove, etc. on their way into a store. And since that's the case the name Black Friday sounds even more ominous. The game shirts that Tiger Rags is selling to celebrate the "Black Friday match-up" says "BURY BAMA" on the back in all caps.

True, I'm a die-hard Auburn fan and would like to see Auburn crush the Tide on Friday. I know, I know the shirt isn't mean to be "literal" but the game is being played on "Black Friday." Ironic?

Let me point out that I've never joined the Black Friday madness. I both admire and laugh at those that venture out in the dark, cold hours before dawn armed with sales ads, lists and even some with maps of the store to stand in long lines awaiting entry, long lines to check-out and deal with parking that's is just another obstacle in the long list of challenges you'll face while getting the "best deals."

Personally, I can't see putting myself through the stress and frustration as well as the dangers out there. I'd rather be snug in bed sleeping through the turkey induced coma. No, I won't be able to brag about the incredible deal on a Blu-ray player or tell stories about rude shoppers or clueless sales clerks but I don't care.

You see the closest I've ever come to the Black Friday madness was trying to take advantage of a killer sale Kohl's had advertised on an ordinary weekend. I'd seen a flannel sheet set at Kohl's that I really wanted but it wasn't in my budget. So when I saw that Kohl's was having a killer early bird sale and I could but the set for $15 I figured no problem. I mean how many other people or going to get up to shop at 6AM when its not the holidays....I discovered firsthand that while the number of people wasn't outstanding the mindset and fervor of the shoppers was not to be taken lightly.

On the way into the parking lot I was almost hit twice by drivers not observing traffic laws, traffic lights or any courtesy at all. I was forced to park towards the abck of the lot because for whatever reason Kohl's had roped off and closed a good portion of their lot. So there I am, barely awake because as you know I am NOT a morning person, standing at the front doors with probably 40-50 other people. Everything appeared to be alright, noone was really talking but just standing and trying to keep warm. And there wasn't anyone standing right at the door, but everyone was about 3 feet away from the door.

But when the doors opened, those seemingly calm, friendly people became rabid shoppers pushing and shoving other people so they could get one of the 75 coupons being passed out and then they ran off to their items destination. It was like watching vultures fight for roadkill. I just stood still until I could move over to the side, out of the way until the madness was over. When I entered the store I was handed the same coupon the animals had just raced for and walked over picked up my sheet set and checked out. There wasn't even a line at the registers yet. When I made it back to the house I realized that was exhausting and really not worth it.

I saw one of Target's Black Friday ads today and thought it was spot on although a little sad. Its the one where the lady is hauling two carts full of packages behind her and she says "I'm doing calisthenics to get ready for Target's Black Friday sale."

Yes, Black Friday is not for amateurs. Its for those hard core deal seekers willing to put up with early hours, traffic snarls, parking nightmares etc. all for the deals. And there's nothing wrong with that I admire you to some extent. But why we try and make it a little more civil and while we're at it give it a better, happier Dealicious Friday, something more upbeat. And for those of you heading out Friday morning please be careful, there's no deal out there worth getting injured or causing injury to someone.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You Do The Math

Last night my husband and I watched Star Trek on DVD. When it started in theatres he really wanted to go see it but we either couldn't get a sitter, couldn't afford to see the movie, couldn't afford a sitter and/or just got busy with other things. So yesterday MC and I went up to Blockbuster and rented it so we could surprise him.

When he got home and realized we had the movie he wanted to watch it right away. Now, I have no interest in Star Trek and never have. I don't watch it on TV, have never seen any of the Star Trek movies from start to finish and wasn't too excited about seeing the DVD. But I know that he watches movies I want to see so I was ready to make the sacrifice.

I have to say that I actually enjoyed watching it. Its quite possible that my enjoyment was fueled by the good looks of Chris Pine as James T. Kirk but I wouldn't say I'm that superficial. Overall the plot kept my attention, the special effects were well done and I liked the action.

But this is not a movie review, but rather more of a relationship review. While we're watching the movie I tell my hubby that I don't really understand the fascination with Star Trek. It seems like Trekkies are just nerds with a fixation on a fictional world. Live long and prosper?, get real!

Of course as I'm saying this I also know that I was, am and probably always will be a Star Wars fan. As a child I had all the action figures, the vehicles and accessories my parents would buy. And as of today I still have my Darth Vader carrying case with a few beat up action figures inside.

Anyway, in our conversation, JB says well we like a lot of different things. Pause: this couldn't be more true which would lead an outsider possibly you as you're reading this to wonder, "how do you guys work?" So it made me think about the math of our relationship. If we were to take an Excel spreadsheet and list my interests on one tab, his interests on another and assign the differences or similarities a point value and then calculated them, how big of a difference is there?

I know many people will say, well opposites attract and that's true to some degree in some relationships. But to clear the air let me first say that when my husband and I first started dating I wasn't looking for opposites or differences but rather for someone that had common interests, a similar personality but with interests of his own and the ability to complement my personality.

I'm not writing this to say I'm unhappy because I'm not. True I have days when i wonder how we ended up together but then so do many couples. And I think we both shake our heads on a regular basis and wonder how do we work?

We're both night owls and prefer to staying up late to getting up early. But I'm not a morning person in any shape or form, I'm downright scary and mean in the mornings, my husband can pop out of bed and start singing while he gets dressed...a habit I find quite annoying. Not to mention the fact that once I'm awake and have a conversation with someone I can't fall back asleep, my brain is in gear and won't snooze. My husband, can answer the phone from a dead sleep, be completely coherent, have a brief or long conversation and be sound asleep again in less than five minutes from the time he ends the call. I WISH I could do that.

If we rent a movie and 10 minutes or 30 minutes into it I realize its not going to get any better and I have other things to do then I will stop watching it. But my husband will watch the entire movie with the rationale that someone took the time and spent the money to make it, the least he can do is finish watching it. I really don't understand this concept, rather I figure life is short and why waste it watching garbage?

Then there's the subject of politics, the complicated, lengthy, detailed subject of politics. I don't think there's much we can agree on in the area of politics. I've always studied the candidates and voted for the person I consider to be the most qualified as well as one that expresses views similar to my own, which means on election day my vote may be split between the Republican, Democrat and Independent candidates. I won't say which party my husband favors out of respect for his privacy, but I will say that he tends to favor a party rather than consider the individuals involved. And yes I find this frustrating!

Now when looking at food, music, activities we cross the same page but aren't always on the same page. I like drinking beer and have a wide variety of tastes. But typically if we're in a social setting I'll have a beer or a Makers and coke, he'll have a raspberry Smirnoff Ice or a margarita.

When it comes to music I like country, pop, rock and beach music mostly...he likes everything from Tony Bennett to George Strait. He can listen to the same 300 songs over and over, I need more variety.

As far as food goes we mostly agree, we both love Mexican, Chinese, Italian and seafood. BUT when eating out I like to try new things and he always orders the same thing depending on the restaurant. And he thinks french fries and onion rings are the only vegetable choices.

I could continue to analyze our differences but I'd run out of time and you'd run out of interest. As I said when we met and started dating it was more about our similarities than our differences. We both love to dance, enjoy music, like movies even chick flicks, could eat pizza three times a week every week, love to travel, like to snow ski, etc.

There are days when our differences create problems but we work through them. And while I sometimes wish we were more alike I think I'd find that boring.

So if you did the math on a spreadsheet, if we took a compatibility quiz or joined E-Harmony I don't think we'd be a match. But it doesn't matter. I don't need anyone or any system to show me our differences. I already know most if not all of them. And last night won't be the last time we shake our heads and say, "and we're together how?"

We work somehow, not without fights, disagreements, complications and I can't explain how, but we work. I don't want a cookie cutter marriage and we don't have one. And yes if I was able to make some changes, "customize my husband" I would make some tweaks here and there, as I know he would say the same about me but I wouldn't trade him in or exchange him for a different model.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Brrr Reason to Celebrate!

Today when I ventured outside to check the mail I was greeted by a wonderful surprise, not my favorite magazine or a package of goodies but cooler weather. It wasn't hot or warm but just right.

Is it sad that I was so excited about this or sadder that its November and the cooler temperatures will be gone in a day or two and we'll have 70+ temperatures again. It really is hard to get in the mood to cook a turkey and all the fixins when its warm and even hot outside.

Today and even tonight I looked for reasons to go outside. I made an unnecessary trip to Target tonight just to breathe in the cooler air, the smell of fireplaces being used and so I could break out my North Face jacket. When I moved to WI I had to buy some cold weather gear, scarves, gloves and heavier jackets. So I bought two North face jackets because I LOVE them. And now I live in TX and almost never have a reason or occasion to wear them more than 3-4 times a year.

Now, I don't miss the WI winters and I'm not planning a move back to the Midwest, northwest or northeast anytime soon. But I do wish we had four seasons.

While I won't spend my wishes on a White Christmas, in Texas that would be a total waste of a wiash. I will wish for more cooler days, some freezing nights that justify having a fire and lots of sunshine.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Am I Becoming My Mother?

From the time a female becomes a teenager there's a recurring thought that at some point all women have, "Am I becoming my mother?" Now this thought may come as an "Oh no, I'm turning into my mother", or it may be more positive like "I can cook as good as mom or better."

But for me its been both. Don't get me wrong, my mom was a terrific person and mother. She was a phenomenal cook, a survivor of breast and ovarian cancer, a best friend, shoulder to cry on etc. And then there was the other side, you know the one where your mom calls you on a daily/weekly basis to tell you she saw a cold front on its way while watching the weather channel so you better wrap up or take a jacket to work with you. And the crazy moments she has where she's yelling and screaming and its so loud that you have no idea what she's so mad about.

I'm realizing as I go through MC's pictures in an effort to create some kind of organization as well as a first year photo book that just as my mom did year after year I'm avoiding the camera. And I'm using the same reasons mom used, "my hair isn't done," "just wait until I lose a few pounds", "I'm not wearing any make-up", etc.

And at MC's birthday party after we'd unwrapped all of her presents, I started folding small squares of all of the paper used to put away in a scrapbook for her. If I follow mom's footsteps one day, years later MC will be using some gift wrap and discover these squares of paper that were never labeled or organized.

I didn't even know my mom had saved as much paper as she had until several months after her death. I had given her gift wrap organizer along with rolls of paper for every occasion and bows to a friend of mine that helped me pack up the house. When Christmas rolled around, I got a call telling me that when she opened the organizer to start storing her Christmas paper, etc. she found all kinds of paper that had been folded and tucked away. My eyes got watery when she said there must be paper from the last 20 years that mom had saved and then I began to laugh.

I laughed because it was typical for mom to save things with good intentions. She had in all aspects become a professional pack rat. When we emptied the filing cabinets mom had, we found files on bills, repair work, insurance and family documents, etc. but the bulk of the files were recipes, clippings from magazines with pictures of beautiful furniture or fabulous kitchens, ideas on how to re-furnish an old chair, etc. So I guess it makes sense today when I find myself saving an article I read that seems like a good reference, clipping recipes and cute pictures of party ideas for children, etc.

I know there were years where I thought I had a terrible mom, now I find that sad. I wish I could take back some of the things that were said and the four months when I refused to speak to her.

Nonetheless, even with my mom's best traits and she had more than I can name, I still don't want to become my mother. No, I want to be a different mother. Not necessarily better because that would be difficult to judge and probably impossible to accomplish, but different. Maybe I can be a little more hip, more involved with my children's interests, more adventurous and more spontaneous.

There will always be traits and habits we inherit from our parents. Some will be good and others will be bad. Am I becoming my mother? Yes, in some senses I am. I'm a mom now and so I've become more sentimental, consumed with laundry and household chores and with a burning desire to improve myself so I can be the best for my daughter and my husband.

I stay awake worrying about things I can't control and thinking about the future. I take way too many pictures and can't decide which ones are my favorites. I've subscribed to almost every parenting magazine on the market and several cooking magazines. I prowl the grocery aisles looking for healthy foods, organic yogurt, all natural snacks and anything with DHA. When I toy shop I do research, extensive research, to learn which toys are the best, which are educational, are they free of toxins, etc.

In some ways I'm my mother and in others I'm the total opposite. But I'm no longer afraid of becoming my mother, instead I'm more focused on becoming the updated version of a phenomenal woman that loved with everything she had. And maybe if I do a decent job, one day my daughter will be somewhere and instead of wondering "am I becoming my mother?", she'll think I hope I'm like my Mom.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fisher- Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Review

I have the best kid in the world. I know every parent thinks their child or children are the best. And I don't meant to come across as arrogant by saying my daughter is the best. But how many babies do you know start sleeping all the way through the night by the second week?

My little girl is 13 months old and sleeps 10-12 hours a night. So you started reading this thinking you were reading a review now a brag-fest right?

Well, one of the reasons that MC sleeps so well and for so long is due to the Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium. There's been many a morning when we've checked on her and she's laying there staring at the aquarium. Some mornings we'll even catch her turning it off or on with her feet. It helps her fall asleep at night and keeps her occupied in the mornings. So in my book, this is a must have for all moms, new moms or those that have done this before, you need this toy. Its definitely one of the best investments we've made thus far.

The Ocean Wonder Aquarium is a crib attaching infant soother that captivates baby with the mesmerizing effects of water. Lovely classical music plays one of 5 songs (or one of 3 sound effects) all the while bubbles rise upwards to the "surface".

Mama Fish has a realistic motion as she appears to be swimming through the water, followed closely behind by her baby. Their little crab friend plays peek-a-boo behind the coral as the seaweed sways gently in the waves.

Up to 18 minutes of continuous musical play. 4 classical styled songs, 2 sound effects. 3 modes of use:1 = Sounds, Lights and Water/Swimming Motion. 2 = Sounds & Lights. 3 = Sounds only

It requires three C batteries. And I don't have any real complaints about the battery life. We haven't had to change ours that frequently even though its used every night, every morning and at least one more time when MC takes her nap. But even if it did eat batteries, can you really put a price on uninterrupted sleep?

It also has a remote control so you can turn it on or off without entering the room and distracting your baby.

MC is 13 months old now and she still LOVES this aquarium. My husband laughs because there have been times at night when we're reading her a story and she'll walk over and turn on her aquarium while we're still reading. I guess she's trying to tell us the aquarium is more entertaining than the book.

Remote Control
Multiple options for volume, types of music, etc.
Stays on for 18 minutes unless you turn it off sooner with the remote
The night light provides just the right amount of light
Easily attaches to crib

Cons: As of yet I don't have anything negative to say about this product. It was well worth the $45 we paid and I wouldn't want to go a night without it. However, if they made one with an AC adapter I'd be very interested in purchasing it.

Here's the link to the aquarium on Amazon:

I was not paid or solicited to write this review. All opinions expressed her are my own from firsthand experience.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Favorite Time of the Year

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I can say that without hesitation as its always been my favorite time of the year. I love the cooler weather and the fresh feeling that's in the air, well at least until my allergies kick in. I love to see the leaves change and begin to fall. I love the holidays and the hustle and bustle that comes with them. And I love football season.

And maybe football season is the reason I've always loved fall. Because as a child the holidays were dreaded, we knew that Thanksgiving, Christmas and the days leading up to them would be full of conflict, it never failed. Sometimes I wonder if we'd changed the calendar, locked my parents away and they didn't know it was Thanksgiving or Christmas, would the drama bubble up to the surface anyway?

Now I'm an adult, not just an adult by a wife and mother. Wow, even when I write those words and see them in print its hard to grasp at times. Me, a mom?

But as an adult and a parent I still love fall. Unfortunately, living in Texas I miss out on the cooler air, sure 78 degrees is cooler for Texas, but I wouldn't say it qualifies as fall weather. Along with the cooler air I miss the beautiful, colorful leaves. And the mountains, I miss the view, the foliage, the creeks and the tradition. Every year, for as long as I can remember, we drove to Gatlingburg, TN in mid-October for a four day weekend.

It was a great trip! We'd get to enjoy the beauty of fall as we drove to the mountains, through the mountains and into the Blue Ridge Parkway. We always stayed at the same place and in the same condo. And as shocking as even I find it, these trips were 98% drama/conflict free. Typically, the biggest conflict we'd have is when to start a fire, who would hike outside to get the wood and what we'd eat for dinner.

My aunts and uncles from both FL and TN would always meet us and come out for a visit to our condo. And after we'd all visit for an hour and catch up, my mom and aunts would go to town and shop for the day, while my Uncles and I claimed our spaces on the couch and camped in front of the television to watch....that's right, college football. What else?

While the games were on I'd cook a large batch of chili, and in the evening when everyone was home we'd eat dinner in front of the fireplace. I loved this tradition. For me October was never about Halloween, we hardly ever celebrated Halloween. Nope, October was about cooler weather, our annual trip to the mountains,the state fair, football and the peak of the fall foliage.

And I guess its good that October was always a great month because then we had to face the holidays and the conflict. Now last year, it was the first year we had MC and so our first year as a family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And my single, most important goal had nothing to do with food, presentation or gifts. It was to celebrate with family and without drama, conflict, fighting, arguing etc.

My dad flew in to visit the week of Thanksgiving. I'd called him and explained the troubles I was having with post-partum anxiety and depression and begged him to come spend some time with me. What was I thinking? Well, to clarify this was roughly a month after I'd delivered our first child, a month after we lost my father-in-law and best friend, and I was in full blown PPD I wasn't thinking, not on any level.

The short story, is dad flew in on Tuesday and promised to stay through Sunday. This way he would be able to join us for Thanksgiving and his birthday. But by Wednesday morning he was already talking about going home early and by Thursday he was on a plane back home. So this put even more stress on my husband and me as we'd made plans around dad's visit and his early departure was not on the best of terms.

Now we moved on and put this behind us. My brother was planning on flying in and spending Christmas and a few days after visiting us. So of course when he called and asked, should we invite dad, because if we don't he'll be alone...I agreed we needed to include dad.

Again the short version, Dad threw a fit on Christmas afternoon on the drive over to my sister-in-laws house and demanded to be taken to the airport immediately. There was arguing, yelling, pleading etc. all happening in the vehicle where MC was riding. The drama only ended when we arrived at my sister-in-law's house and learned my husband's grandmother was very ill and probably needed to go to the emergency room. Yes, more drama, however this wasn't really any one's fault.

So another year and another holiday season with way too much family conflict. This year, its that time again. Its November and we're making plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My brother hopes to fly out to spend Christmas with us again this year. And he's already asked, should we include dad? And my response, without hesitation, was an emphatic NO! I know some people will find this cold and heartless, most people won't understand and can't relate because they've always had uneventful holidays. But my father and I haven't spoken since April. We had a falling out when we were in SC for a visit combined with vacation. I don't see this changing in the near future if ever and that's not something I'm proud of, its more of a fact.

This year is going to be different. I want to share my love of fall and the holidays with MC and my husband. I want to make new family traditions that the three of us can look forward to every year. I want to celebrate a Thanksgiving where no one seated at the table says they're thankful the arguing has ended. I want MC to experience the season and know the reasons we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I would rather explain to my daughter the reason we don't talk with or see her grandfather than to have her experience the holidays with the anxiety and dread that my brother and I felt each and every year. Yes, this is my favorite time of the year and hopefully, MC and I will be able to share our love of fall together!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We've Got Bugs

Last night while sitting on the couch watching a little TV I saw something on my shirt, looked closer and it was a flea! YUCK! But I just figured it was a random flea that had made it in when the dogs were in the house earlier. We don't have bugs! I don't like bugs! I can't handle bugs.

But you know how once you see a bug you, get bugs on your brain. Anytime you feel even the slightest breeze on your arm, you think its a bug. Then you feel like something's crawling on your leg, your neck, your back and you wonder, is that a bug?

So after finding, catching and flushing the flea I headed straight to the shower. I stood under the hot water and used half a bottle of body wash, a handful of shampoo and stayed until the water turned cold. Then I took my clothes and all of the laundry to the washing machine.

And when I was confident I didn't have any bugs on me, and all the clothes were
washed in hot water,and the sheets on the bed were fresh,I relaxed.

But this morning while I'm trying to cram those last few minutes of sleep in before MC wakes me up demanding breakfast...I felt something on my arm. I tried to convince myself that I was just being paranoid and should keep my eyes closed, it didn't work.

I hate mornings, I also hate bugs. Yes, I should be PC here and say I strongly dislike these things but I really hate both bugs and mornings. I'm not afraid of bugs I just don't like them. So when I opened my eyes and found a flea crawling up my arm, well I was unhappy, grumpy and mad. That's right mad. The house was exterminated just last week, and even though we didn't have fleas in the house we had them treat the hosue for fleas just to be on the safe side so why am I finding fleas and WHY are they on me?

The dogs haven't even been inside for more than a minute. So how do we have fleas that appear one week after the exterminator? I was fuming!

After telling my husband about the fleas he makes the call to Terminix. And they can't get us on the schedule until Thursday at the earliest. Are you serious? So we have to wait two more days. I went out and bought flea shampoo and medicine for the dogs so we can torture them with a flea bath. I vacummned the house, over and over and over again.

It pains me to admit we have bugs but we do, at least until Thursday. Now some would say well fleas are better than roaches but not me, remember I hate bugs!

So on Thursday when MC and I have to leave the house and interrupt our day for roughly four hours while the house is fumigated, I won't complain about the inconvenience. MC and I will visit friends, or take a trip to the mall or hang with teh neighbors and whether its four hours or twelve as long as the bugs are gone when we return it doesn't matter.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I know there have to be times when people overhear a conversation between JB and MC or myself and MC and they probably start shaking their heads with confusion. I say this because if I wasn't a party to the conversation I'd probably react the same way.

You see before we had a child, we had three dogs. And we tried to use the same words with every dog for the same command. So when we want them to quit barking or cal down, we say "settle." At night when its time for bed we say "Go night, night, sleepy, sleep." When it starts raining and thundering and the dogs are scared we say "Its just a stormy storm." And as I'm sharing this with you, I'm also laughing at how ridiculous it sounds. I know there have even been times when we're home and one of us asks the other where's MC and the response was "she's in her crate" now of course we meant her crib but nonetheless I can just imagine the horror on someones face that didn't know we'd just used the wrong word.

So when we're out at a restaurant or in a store and McKenzie is getting restless and one of us says, "McKenzie settle," I'm sure people think we've lost our minds or that we're harsh with her. But when we tell her to settle its said in a very calm, matter-of-fact voice.

There have been times when my husband decides that MC's behavior requires she have a time out, and he'll put her in her play yard. Now he'll say she's in her play pen but I don't like to use that term. It just sounds too confining, whereas a play yard sounds like fun.

Speaking of MC, its time to run, its "chow time", LOL.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

McKenzie's First Party a Success

Last night when we crawled and I mean crawled into bed, my husband says, "We survived our little girl's first birthday party and it was a success." And I think that was my last thought before I crashed hard.

I'm not the best hostess, Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray would be stunned at my total lack of entertaining/presentation skills. I'd like to be better at it, but where would I find the time?

Yesterday, and this happens every time we invite guests over, I was running around from the time I got out of bed until I crawled into bed last night, like a chicken with its head cut off. I ran to Costco and picked up the burgers, dogs and soda. Then I popped over to Kroger for chips, ice and produce.

When I arrive back at the house, my husband, is in the garage trying to turn a chaotic space into an outside dining area. We had mail covering the kitchen table, toys scattered all over the place and grocery bags with food in multiple locations.

I knew my neighbor, Kayla, was going to come to my rescue and decorate the house but how was she going to decorate when you couldn't get to any of the areas? We went into overdrive, things were stuffed, yes stuffed into the laundry room out of sight. Our guest bedroom became a dumping ground for anything that needed to get out of the way. And when we'd finished our dumping, I locked the door, afraid that if someoen were to open the door, the contents would spill out everywhere.

And by 3PM and hour before the party was scheduled to start, we'd made great progress. Kayla was hanging yellow and blue streamers, tacking the banner to the wall, putting together the cone party hats, etc. I had the chili simmering, the hot dogs boiling and was chopping the vegetables that would top the burgers. Bethany, our neighbor and Kayla's sister arrived with the cake...wait her fantastic creation that was the cake. And it was pretty awesome for a little girl's first birthday cake. Our other neighbors arrived, began wrapping a few presents we hadn't wrapped yet, and helped finish setting the table.

I took a deep breath, checked the clock, 3:45 and realized we were so far ahead of schedule compared to our usual party preparation timelines and I relaxed. The guests arrived and MC enjoyed moving from one to another being held, and fed, and plain being spoiled. She came over and played with Colton, the 2 year old from down the street, and they played next to each other for a while.

Everything went relatively smoothly. Now MC didn't smash the cake as we were waiting and encouraging her to do but that's not such a bad thing. And we weren't able to keep her attention while unwrapping all of the gifts, no surprise there. JB and I found it amusing how MC was so fascinated with all of the balloons.

So her first birthday party is in the books as they say and we can relax until next year.

Now, how do we handle having a live Christmas tree and wrapped presents with a toddler?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Booty Goo-Product Review

Booty what? I was a little embarrassed after our pediatrician recommended "Booty Goo" to clear up and prevent McKenzie's diaper rash. But we'd tried almost all of the other rash cremes/ointments that were available, including a prescription treatment that was $50 for a small tube with insurance and $200 without insurance. And that small tube of expensive medicine didn't improve the rash, it made it worse.

After writing the prescription our doctor recommended we permanently switch to "Booty Goo" an ointment that she personally uses on her daughter. But as she said while this stuff works wonders its very difficult to find.

My first purchase of "Booty Goo" was through I was able to buy four 2.5 ounce tubes for around $23. I first attempted to locate it locally, but the response at almost every pharmacy was "Booty what? Is this a joke, I've never heard of it." So as I ordered the four tubes I was thinking this stuff better work and it better be amazing and it was, it is. We LOVE it! I swear by it, you don't need any of the other stuff on the market. While a lot of the other ointments and creams have the same ingredients this stuff is different and very effective. The awful, red, irritated rash McKenzie had was resolved within 24 hours after applying Booty Goo.

At every diaper change, McKenzie gets some Booty Goo. You don't have use very much so the four tubes I ordered last for a long time. We haven't had any issues with diaper rash since we started using Booty Goo and there's no strong, funky or bad odors in the product. There's nothing worse than a toddler walking around smelling like menthol ointment.YUCK!

Booty Goo is non-staining, non-greasy with Anti-bacterial and Anti-fungal properties.

My only complaint about Booty Goo is that it needs to be more available. When we were on vacation this April we drove through Arkansas on our way home. And since Booty Goo was developed by an Arkansas pharmacist I thought we'd be able to find some at a Walgreen's, CVS or Wal-Mart and could stock up. But we stopped at all three of these chains and none of them carried Booty Goo. So I returned home and purchased more through Amazon.

To learn more about this product or to order from the manufacturer please visit their site:

All opinions expressed above are my own. I was not asked or compensated to review this product by anyone.