Wednesday, September 26, 2012

101 in 1001 Updates

I have 9 months to go in my 101 in 1001 challenge, so I thought it was time to give a little update. Well that, and the fact that I was ever so sweetly asked how it was going by a blog friend in a comment on this post. At first glance, it's looking like I'm approaching this project in true form: by procrastination.

Here's how it's going; I'm writing my updates in RED.

1. Read 101 books (19/101). (I,II) Yeah, not looking good AT ALL. Just haven't been into reading since Charley was born, and from the looks of things, I wasn't that into it before she was born either. 
2. Volunteer. Hoping to volunteer for Samaritan's Purse to process Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes in November. I forgot to call when they first opened up the volunteer opportunities, and am now on a waiting list.
3. Cook dinner at least once a week for 3 months. I am pretty sure I have already done this since I HAVE to cook for Charley now. I need to keep track of it to be sure though. That's pathetic, right?
4. Take 1001 photos in 1001 days (1001/1001).
5. Get a pedicure.
6. Spend an entire day in pajamas.
7. Try 10 new foods (6/10). (I)

2. Pad Thai...yum!
3. Chicken and Dumplings...delish!
5., not so much
6. Fried Pickles...yes! You couldn't even taste the pickliness!

8. Have breakfast in bed.
9. Make breakfast in bed for someone.
10. Eat at 10 local restaurants I've never eaten at before (8/10). (I, )
Add three more to the list:
6. Harry's Grill and Tavern
7. The Penguin
8. Cheesecake Factory 
11. Take a trip for our anniversary.
12. Visit a state I've never been to before. Going to Louisiana in November!
13. See a Broadway show.
14. See a show by Cirque de Soleil.
15. Go to the movies 10 times (2/10). (I, )
16. Watch the sun rise.
17. Watch the sun set.
18. Get a massage.
19. Take a bubble bath.
20. See the oral surgeon about my wisdom teeth.
21. Publish at least 101 blog posts. (101/101)
22. Have at least 10 real date nights. (0/10)
23. Spend an entire day without turning on the computer / no internet. Check! You may think it's cheating, but to me, a full day is a full 24 hours, right? So, when we went to Germany last month I went 24 hours without accessing any internet at all. Sure, some of that included sleeping, flying, and at airports without free WiFi, but when we finally did get to a place with WiFi I resisted until my 24 hours were up. And let me tell you, that was not easy. That's so terrible, right?
24. Bake cookies from scratch.
25. Carve a pumpkin.
26. Go on a picnic.
27. Go to at least 5 concerts (0/5).
28. Win something.
29. Participate in a charity run/walk.
30. Visit 5 places in the NC region I've never been to before (0/5).
31. Go through a corn maze.
32. Replace all the broken blinds in our house.
33. Learn to identify all 50 states on the map and their capitals. (I, )
34. Watch 5 movies that won the Academy Award for Best Picture. (0/5).
35. Splurge on something nice for myself.
36. Donate $5 to charity for every challenge not met.
37. Make the on-time train every day for 2 weeks.
38. Move to a bigger house. (working on it)
39. Collect all spare change until the last day of this project.
40. Visit Charleston. (Doing this next month! YAY!)
41. Get parents’ home videos transferred to DVD.
42. See a drive-in movie.
43. Have a baby.
44. See a movie in 3-D.
45. Build a snowman.
46. Host a game night with friends.
47. Take pictures in a photo booth.
48. Learn 5 constellations.
49. Go to a fair.
50. Go to a theme park I haven’t been to before.
51. Get my legs waxed.
52. Upgrade to the latest iPhone.
53. Go camping with a group of friends.
54. Go to a haunted house.
55. Give a homeless person food.
56. Put away $10 for every goal completed.
57. Dress up for Halloween.
58. Use our fondue pot.
59. Have no soda for one month. (ICheck! For the entire month of June and probably an additional week into July I didn't have any soda at all and I never really missed it. I've had a few since then, but I really don't like the caffeine all that much. If only Dr. Pepper didn't taste so darn good! 
60. Get a bike.
61. Watch 50 movies on IMDB’s top 250. (0/50)
62. Become 100% credit card debt free. CHECK!! We paid them all off to a $0.00 balance and it feels so good. We owed so much just a few years ago, and we paid them all off fully with no late payments, thankfully, but I am so glad to be done with them. 
63. Get my car windows tinted.
64. Have at least 50 blog followers. (50/50)
65. Bring my lunch 4 days of the week for an entire month. (I, )
66. Find, get, and like a new hairstyle.
67. Go out and play pool one night.
68. Go to the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
69. Exercise 3 days a week for a 4 continuous weeks.
70. Try 5 new cupcake recipes out of my “Cupcakes! From The Cake Mix Doctor” book. (2/5) (I, )
71. Take 5 more photography classes. (1/5)
72. Finish my picture scanning project.
73. Visit New York City. (The plan: My 31st in April 2013)
74. Get new [matching] kitchen appliances.
75. Beat Super Mario Galaxy II.
76. Take pictures of each item as it is completed in the 101 list.
77. Take a day trip to the mountains in the fall.
78. Go to a parade.
79. Attend the midnight premiere of a movie.
80. Rent and watch an entire season of a TV show on a lazy weekend.
81. Go swimming in our neighborhood pool 5 times. (1/5) (I, )
82. Use another round of Crest White Strips.
83. Type, print and organize all recipes into a notebook.
84. Fix all of the “broken” clothes in my closet: missing buttons, broken hems, etc.
85. Go to a zoo.
86. Go to the mountains to cut down our own Christmas tree.
87. Do something with the wedding pictures – prints, photobook, etc. (MyPublisher - next sale)
88. Go to a festival of some sort that I haven’t been to before.
89. Buy a canvas and paint a piece of artwork. - Check! It was more of a class type thing instead of how I originally intended to complete this goal, but I did have to PAY for the class which included the canvas so I say it totally counts. I went with my sister Joy:

photo.JPG 90. Go canoeing.
91. Make my Christmas cards one year.
92. Babysit each of siblings’ kids so they can have a free night alone. (2/5)
93. Buy a sewing machine, Cricut cutting machine, or some other crafty machine.
94. Go to a movie alone.
95. Buy a digital video camera.
96. Buy a new lens for my camera.
97. Start a new tradition.
98. Inspire someone else to make a 101 in 1001 list for themselves.
99. Make a piƱata. Check! Charley's birthday cat pinata was 100% handmade by me! Meow!


100. Have professional pictures taken.
101. Complete a 365-day photo challenge. (262/365)

Here are my totals: 36/101 are complete. 18/101 are either planned or in progress. 45/101 haven't even been started or thought about. Which leaves us with 2, which can be contributed to my lack of counting skills. Based on the ratio, it looks like those 2 should be added to the other 45 that I've yet to start. Either, I'm about to fail miserably at this project, or I'm about to have a very busy remaining 9 months.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Cat Birthday Party

No, not for my cats. I'm not that cat ladyish. This was a cat themed birthday party for Charley's first birthday. It was a no brainer when it came to the party's theme; the girl loves her cats.


So once I decided on the theme, I went to Google and to Pinterest to search for other cat-themed birthday parties to give me some inspiration. And then I tried again the next day and the next. And really, there were very few people to steal ideas from so I decided I was on my own for the most part. (Also, a major reason I'm blogging about this is so other cat party Googlers can find this too! Welcome Googlers!) This is typical for me - choosing something to make things harder on myself. But I must give credit where credit is due. So here were the things I DID find:

(These should also be found on my Pinterest board here: Party!) had a little slide show for a cat-themed birthday party.

This blog had some really cute ideas including yarn balls.

Another blog with more cute ideas.

And that was really it besides a few pictures on Pinterest. So in this age of Pinterest, I had to do it up or else be laughed at for all of forever. And I remember telling party guests that I really wished all of my guests weren't on Pinterest so they'd think I was way more creative than I actually am. Turns out I'm just a good copycat. Cat! Get it?! Oh man, AM creative after all.

Here's what I made:

Cat Plates, as stolen from here:

Yarn balls stolen from here, with food signs stolen from nowhere - as in, yes, designed/made/came up with the names with no help from the internets.

Also, fish pizzas stolen from here.



(Here's the details on the food signs: I bought paper straws from I had blue, pink and white card stock and a general idea of how I wanted them to look. I went to to find a cat-like font. I decided on Garfield the Cat and downloaded it. I went into the very complicated computer program called "Paint" (you may have heard of it, or have seen me use it in the past) and typed some samples and printed them until I got them to be the size I wanted. I then made some solid line rectangular shapes, took the eraser tool and made the solid line a dashed line. Then I drew a little cat in the bottom corner and typed the words in the center. Print. Cut. Glue onto card stock. Attach paper straw to back with tape. Stick into yarn balls (or not, for some items) and that was that. So easy, and yet I've turned the instructions into an extremely wordy paragraph. Someone thank me for that so I feel justified.)

Cat shaped sandwiches were also an original idea, made with the cookie cutter purchased here.


Party hat was another original idea (and a last minute one at that! My original idea was to put cat ears on all party hats, and they ended up looking quite devil-hornish so I scratched that idea. Scratched! Another cat pun!) I just bought the party hats from Target and added some fun foam and pom poms.


Cat pull string Pinata. This was a variation from the instructions here and here. But the cat pinata was my idea. And then I saw this blog after the fact that had a very similar pinata and didn't feel so creative anymore. 


Cake table. The crepe paper was a Pinterest idea here. But what I really want to point out is a little decor that I'm not sure anyone even got which makes me sad. But, that open bird cage there had feathers laying in the bottom of it and I was so darn giddy about that little funny, and then no one even mentioned it. But it made me happy and that's all that matters. Since it was my party and all. Or, Charley's party, but same difference, right? 


And here are some things I bought, which includes that cat cake up there. I bought it from here if you are local.

Cute little banner! Made by a friend who sells the cutest stuff you've ever seen here.

Invitations were purchased from here.


Charley's outfit was purchased from here.


I think that covers it all. So, for all of the 99% of you that AREN'T planning a cat themed party, here's what you've been waiting for. Pictures of the sweet little one year old, and some more from her party. It was such a good time, and the girl definitely loved her cake and ate it all. 

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381025_10151407017304325_908181492_n262310_10151407020669325_1776876016_n (1)

Do you think Charley had a purrfectly good time? I do! I am pawsitive that she had fun by the way she pounced on her cake and how she needed the catnap afterwards! I think she's the cat's meow. 

Sorry, I'll stop it with the cat puns and idioms. I don't want to hear any catty remarks about them either.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pinterest: Yes, No, Ehh

Without a ton of wordage, here are my latest attempted Pinterest projects. I will let you know if they were successes by a simple yes, no or ehh. [Ehh meaning sorta, but not really, but maybe someone with some more talent might be able to turn the ehh into a yes.]

Also, I'm using the actual pictures from Pinterest and not pictures of my results. If you wanna see how something I did turned out, just ask and I'll share!

1) Making a wreath form from pipe insulation for cheap!

Result: Ehhh. It worked, and it WAS cheap, but it was a bit flimsy for my liking. Like, it didn't stay perfectly circular, and hung a bit ovallish. So, sure, cheaper, but maybe a less flimsy pipe insulator would work better.

1a) Use foam wreath above to make this:

Result: Ehh. Maybe it was the ovallish wreath, but my major issue with it was the tulle didn't end up as straight as it is in this one, so it looked a bit too scraggly for my taste.

2) How to Sharpen Your Rotary Cutter Blade. Fold a piece of foil a few times and slice away with your dull rotary cutter to sharpen the blade.

Result: NO. Not even in the slightest. Go take yourself and your coupon to the craft store and get a new blade.

3) Make a DIY crib rail cover to protect against baby teeth.

Result: Yes! So far so good. My only advice is to make either end's knots an actual knot instead of just a tie, or else those little baby fingers can rip the whole thing off while "napping".

4) Make a shadow box for that precious little hat worn in the hospital.

Result: Yes! Easy peasy and so cute.

5) Make a treat stand from things found at the Dollar Tree.

Result: Yes! Made it using Dollar Tree candle stick holders and clearance Target melamine plates, and had a cute little treat stand for Charley's birthday party.

5a) To utilize the treat stand, make this dunkaroo dip: 1 box of funfetti mix, 1/2 container cool whip, 1/2 container plain yogurt. Serve with graham crackers & animal crackers.

Result: Ehh. Wasn't a hit at the birthday party, and I ended up throwing most out. It WAS good, but too sweet to eat very much of it. And that's saying a lot coming from me.

6) Super miracle tub cleaner! Consisting of Blue Dawn and vinegar!

Result: Ehh. But listen, this was for sure user error, as I only had a little bit of blue Dawn left, and I ran out of stuff in my spray bottle before I actually got to the tub part. D'oh. What a dummy. So while I could tell it was working pretty well on the walls, I didn't actually get to see crazy results like this in my tub. Also, believe it or not since tub cleaning is the worst chore of all and therefore doesn't get done very often, mine was not this dirty to start with.

Result: Yes! So much easier than keeping up with a grease container. Also, don't leave it on your counter overnight to harden if you have cats that are SUPER NAUGHTY and get on the counter while you sleep and then EAT the grease. Ew ew ew. 

8) Use the ends of pants hangers as chip clips, because you never have enough of those!

Result: Yes!

9) Crash hot potatoes.

Result: YES, YES, YES. Omg. Yes. We've devoured these twice now, and will be making them again soon.

10) Bubble Up Enchiladas. Weight watcher friendly, also.

Result: Yes! We've made this one about 8-10 times already. It's in the regular rotation.

11) Ranch pork chops in the crock pot.

Result: Yes. We've made these several times too.

12) No peek chicken. Uncle Ben's Long grain wild rice, cream of mushrooms and cream of celery soup, chicken breasts or tenders - mix all ingredients together in greased dish, cover with foil and bake 2.5 hours.

Result: Ehh. We ate it, but probably wouldn't make it again.

13) Crockpot chicken: stuffing, cream of chicken soup, sour cream & chicken. (Can you tell we like easy crockpot meals with minimal ingredients?)

Result: Yes! The leftovers are delicious the next day too!

14) Cream cheese spaghetti casserole.

Result: YES! This one is a favorite in our house now too. SO SO good.

15) Buffalo chicken roulades.

Result: Ehh. Okay, but not the easiest meal, and wasn't buffalo-ey enough for us.

16) Make annual year books through

Result: YES! Cannot wait to continue making these throughout all of our years. Great way to sum up a year of pictures for not a ton of money or space.

So basically, I'm having a lot more luck with my pins that I did last time I shared with you. I think I've learned how to scope out the duds and avoid those at all costs. Although there was one recipe that was such a disaster that I even deleted the pin, so I'm not 100% yet. But I'm getting there. Any pins that just knocked your socks off recently? Share with me, would you?

Speaking of a quality wardrobe...

I mentioned that I am now working towards having a more quality wardrobe versus quantity. But, as is the case for most people, the budget really hinders a quick transition from quantity to quality. I don't have much patience, and don't really like wearing my quantity wardrobe pieces with my newly acquired quality pieces. They don't match on principle alone, right?

BUT! Then a friend of mine invited me to a website that sold quality USED clothing for the same prices I was getting my cheap clothing at before. I was leery, but I ordered a couple things to check it out. They also gave me a $10 credit for my first purchase, and since I used the link that my friend shared with me, she also got an extra $10 credit in her account.

I ordered my very first thing from Anthropologie ever, and a BCBG shirt. It was $43 for those two things including my $10 discount, so, not as cheap as I was getting stuff at Kohl's and Target previously but I was expecting these things to not pill and wear out after one season of wear. Let me just say that you can instantly tell how much better quality clothing is than COKATC. (cheap-ol'-Kohl's-and-Target-crap) Also, it took two whole days for me to get my new things, which was a bonus. AND, if all that isn't reason enough for me to give them a try, they also offered a 30 day return policy, where they pay the return shipping! I figured I couldn't lose, so I was convinced to try it.

That's the Anthropologie shirt there. It's lace, which is totally appropriate considering my name.
So, then I shared the website with another friend, who then purchased some things, which gave me another $10 credit in my account. I was itching to use it, but knew I shouldn't spend the money. But each day, I'd go to the website, add several things to my cart, and hover over the purchase button. As usual though, I'd rethink it, and close the page out before I'd purchase. It wasn't a ton of money I was about to spend, but spending a little money is still more than spending NO money. 

But today, as I hovered over the purchase button while I had 2 pairs of pants and 3 shirts in my cart for $85, I had a thought. I NEVER order anything online without doing a quick google search for coupon codes for websites. (Although obviously the first time I purchased something from there I did, but whatever.) So, retailmenot comes up, and right there is a 20% off code. I type it into my shopping cart, and bam. An additional $17 came off, on top of the already free shipping (since I was spending more than $50). I've never hit purchase so fast in my life. I ended up spending $58 (after my $10 credit too) on 5 things, and I know for a fact that each piece was more than that new. And now, commence stalking of the mailbox. I'm so darn excited!

So, perhaps I should share this website with you now that I've talked it up? It's, and I've liked it twice myself, and I plan on liking it several more times. Especially if you guys like it too, buy something and I get more credits in my cart. John would really love that! Hehe. Oh! And if you want to try the coupon code too, it was LOVETWICE20. 

Also I feel like I should mention that I am in no way affiliated with this website, or am I getting anything by sharing this unless of course you buy something and I get the referral credit. BUT, the referral credit was not even why I wanted to share it with you (even though that's a nice bonus). I just get really excited when I find a company I really like and I like to share the excitement. It would have been a quick Facebook share, but I obviously had more words to use than Facebook would allow me. (Seeing as how I'm at 657 words and counting...) But I too get annoyed with the blogs that are constantly advertising or having "giveaways" so I hope you don't see this as the same. It's hard to tell when a blogger is really into something these days, or if they are just writing a rave review because they are getting free crap, and that's really lame. 

So anyways, if you want to go shop here is my referral link:

And, if you aren't into buying used clothing (it's fine, it's not for everyone!), you can also sell your clothes to them. I would especially encourage that if you are a size 10, tall, and you like the things I like. ;) Just let me know when they post your stuff so I can snag it first!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Up To Date

It's hard keeping you all up to date on things I've talked about on here. So, occasionally I just have a big up-to-date post where I can attempt to tie up loose ends. The last time I did this was December 25, 2010 (I blogged on Christmas?!), so I have almost 2 years worth of questions to answer.

Also, sometimes when a question is asked in the comments I'll use Blogger's semi-new reply feature to answer it. Only, I tested that out this week and the stupid thing doesn't send a notification to the commenter that you replied. I highly doubt anyone goes back to blogs they asked a question on to check for replies. Nice try Blogger, but per usual, you fell a bit short. Another reason why I am doing this update.
  • So, if you recall, I was trying to share my Instagram pictures with you on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for a while there. I quit doing that. But, I haven't quit Instagramming. Also, I always always always seem to pick the 'Rise' or 'Earlybird' filters. I'm just drawn to them every time. And just once I'd like to have a chance to use 'Toaster', simply because I like it's name.

Laceyloo22 if you'd like to see a million pictures of my bald beauty.
  • I got a lot of questions about my clothing spreadsheet and closet the last time I talked about it. I have a BIG update about that, but let me answer questions first.
Jess asked if Charley also had a spreadsheet and if I had to update it every time she changed clothes halfway through the day. Charley does NOT have a spreadsheet though. I do try to remember the last time she wore [outfit A] and if it's been too soon then I put her in something else, but it's not officially tracked. However, I do rely on my memory for this method which is less than stellar so it's not a foolproof method.
    Trisha asked how the spreadsheet worked exactly and if I assign numbers to each article or descriptions or what. [Also she used the word 'blouse' in her question which makes my skin crawl. I have no idea why I hate that word so much; it's up there with the word 'panties'. Blech. Sorry for the tangent.] I do assign a number to each shirt, pant, skirt. I have separate tabs for pants, shirts and jackets, and this is where they are assigned their number. To differentiate between several black shirts I may have, I add a brand, sleeve length, or special feature to the description. Like, black 3/4 length ruffled shirt versus black cowled neck short sleeved shirt. Then a separate tab keeps track of the calendar and only uses the numbers to identify the pieces of the outfit, which is linked back to the pants/shirts/jacket tabs. Make sense? So then a COUNTIF formula is used to count how many times number 37 shows up in the calendar year to help me keep track of how often each thing is worn.

    Heather asked to see a picture of my closet. John and I share a closet, and it's really tight getting all of our stuff in there so I no longer organize by sleeve-length and color like I used to.
I get the top row. Stuff is packed in there like sardines for now.
    And finally, Haley suggested I wean myself off. This is the BIG update: I did. I finally quit the ol' spreadsheet back in May. It was hard, but I needed to change my outlook on clothing to a more quality wardrobe versus quantity, and stopping the spreadsheet upkeep was the first step. I am getting rid of a ton of cheap Kohl's and Target clothing that I've kept forever just so I'd have a large QUANTITY of clothing, and instead I am now buying nicer quality clothing (slowly, this stuff a'int cheap!) to replace it all. I did consider starting some sort of spreadsheet for my new quality wardrobe to try and show me the many different outfits I could do with just a few quality pieces, but I stopped myself. (And a friend recently told me there is now an app for that. I'm holding myself back from the iTunes store for now.)

    Instead, I'm now using a spreadsheet to track how many millimeters my hair grows each day by plucking one hair a day and measuring it.

    [That's a joke, by the way.]

  • About a month before Charley was born, I posted about what our house looked like pre-baby. It really wasn't too bad post-baby for the first 6 months or so. And then this happened to my living room:

This picture was taken in July, and it has gotten a little better since then. The big stuff has gone away, and I got rid of the foam mat too. In the new house we have a dining room and won't have a dining room table for a while, so I'm considering letting Charley have that room for her stuff for a while so I can have a proper living room again. There's just no room for anything like that in our current house.

  • Speaking of the new house... I know you are all dying to know about the house updates. This is quite possibly the slowest house building process ever, so there really isn't much to update yet. The land is clear. We changed house plans. (Wahhh! I knew I was jinxing it when I shared them with you!) But, the new house plans/layout is almost identical to the old except it's 463 more square feet - not including the basement and this one is way cheaper to build so win/win.
The old: 
The new:Concord

Currently, we are waiting on the county to approve plans and the bank to finalize everything they need for underwriting, and we can finally move into the construction phase. But I'm still extremely anxious about the whole thing and have not updated you because I just know I'm going to jinx it and have to eat my words. Puh-lease let this go smoothly.
And, regarding our current house, we've got until November 20th to move out. New house will not be done by that point, so we are spending the holidays with my parents! We could rent something for a couple months, but my parents graciously offered and we graciously accepted.  
& yes, we are losing the $850 we spent on the first set of plans we bought. Anyone in the market for house plans? I'll sell them to you for a great price! Oh well, you live and learn.
  •  Of the two gifted movies I received on March 6, I have watched one of them. Mean Girls. Man, that was such a good movie! I should maybe catch up on the last 5 or so years of movies I've missed.
  • CAPTCHA still annoys me. Turn yours off, please!
  • I'm still bitter about the lack of participation
  • The neighbors. They are still gone for the most part. They very rarely come back except sometimes on the weekends to gather more of their things. We avoid eye contact at all costs and peek out of our blinds to watch them because even when they only come back for 2 hours, they spend 1 hour 45 minutes of that time in the parking lot. Arguing. 
What did I miss? Any updates you were looking for that I left out?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kitchen Klutz

Let's face the facts here: I don't belong in a kitchen unless I'm sitting on the counter eating fudge & drinking milk.

But, unfortunately I have a child now that requires food at a certain time, and sometimes I am the only person available to supply that hungry little mouth with food. In an effort not to feed her frozen or take-out pizza every night, I have recently spent more time in the kitchen than I'd prefer. It hasn't been so pretty either.

Before Charley, I could avoid the kitchen for months! John cooks and I am not a huge eater. If he had to work late pre-baby, I'd just eat later. (Some wife I am, huh? Husband has to work late and instead of feeding him when he finally got home, I'd just wait until he got home so he could then cook for both of us! The horror!) But, Charley gets hungry at 6:00, and lately John is just getting home around that time, which doesn't leave enough time to cook something before her dinner time. Which means, I've had to do it.

Before I get into all of the klutziness, let me also remind you of this little factoid about me: I am a meativore. I don't eat vegetables and rarely eat fruit. Meat and potatoes are where it's at. But I know that's not a well-balanced meal for my growing baby, so I do not intend on letting her follow in my picky footsteps.

Given those two things, cooking and even grocery shopping have been such a challenge for me. And I am constantly told that practice makes perfect, but we are not coming anywhere close to perfect in this house. In fact, let me draw you a diagram of how practicing is working out for me:


You see, in most situations, practicing leads closer to perfection. However, in my situation, practicing is leading somewhere, sure, but I'm still as far from perfect as I was when I started. And I'm not even looking to be perfect; I'm just looking to decrease the circumference of my practice circle! Is that too much to ask?

Let's start with the basics. Opening a can. I have no idea why in today's age where you can turn lights on and off with a clap of your hands that we are still using devices like this that were surely invented by cave men. I know there are electric openers and fancy non-sharp-edge ones, but we've been through a lot of them and nothing works as good as this kind. And when I say GOOD, I mean it takes me at least 10 tries to get the darn thing locked on to the lip of the can. John doesn't understand how I still CAN't (pun totally intended) do it, but he obviously doesn't understand my practice circle.


But it's worse than just that. Let's take produce shopping for example. Now, I don't eat the majority of the stuff in the produce department unless it's potatoes or corn, or occasionally apples, grapes or oranges. But, when I go to the grocery store I still have to buy for the normal people in my household. So I will walk up to the wall of fruit and start squeezing because that's what everyone else is doing. What am I squeezing for? No clue! I usually end up settling for the prettiest ones I can find that are squeezy but not too squeezy and throw them in a bag. Only to get lectured later at home in the art of choosing tomatoes/apples/avocados/grapes/etc. I try my best, and he tells me what to look for every time, but it just doesn't sink in and I make the same mistakes time and time again. See, more practice circling!

& then there's my inability to stray from a recipe. If a recipe calls for 2.5 tablespoons of oil and we only have 2 tablespoons left, forget it. Or if a recipe calls for xyz spice and we have xy spice but it's missing some z, then I cannot make that recipe until I find xyz spice exactly.  And don't get me started on searching for spices in the grocery store. I KNOW I've stood there for 10+ minutes before looking for a certain spice, only to give up, and come back later with John who found it in 45 seconds. It's just not possible. There must be a better way to organize those little jars on the shelf. Surely.

& do you want to know how many times I had to go back to the bag of frozen broccoli that I'd already thrown in the trash can to double check the preparation instructions tonight? FOUR times. Yes, four times of digging in the trash can to read these most difficult instructions just one more time:

Pour green beans in sauce pan and add 1/2 cup water for whole package. Bring water to full boil over HIGH heat; cover. Reduce heat to medium. Cook 8-9 minutes. Drain if necessary. Serve.
What exactly did I not get the first 3 times I read it? Not to mention I have actually prepared frozen vegetables a time or two before. Practice. Circling.

Other issues:
  • Using way too many dishes while cooking.
  • Undoubtedly slinging flour (or whatever powdered ingredient I may be using) out of the bowl while mixing.
  • Having a lifelong fear of squishy stuff in the kitchen sink's drain, and will use a knife to force it down the drain before I'd ever pick it up and toss it into the food disposal drain instead.
  • Always forgetting to turn the burner/grill down to medium after the food's heated up or boiled.
And the list goes on and on. I know when I lay down to go to sleep tonight I will come up with several more examples that I'll wish I had added to the list. Basically, anything that can be done wrong in a kitchen, I do. I'm really starting to think there's no helping me either.

So please. Help a girl (and her suffering family) out. Give me some no fail tips and tricks you use in the kitchen. You don't want me to stay at the same circumference forever, do you?

Charley Bear: 12 Months

[1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, 8.5 months, 9 months, 10 months, 11 months]


Last week as you know, my sweet potato turned one, or 12 months as the sticker says. Lucky for you I ordered the stickers for months 13-24 so our fun can continue on for the next year!

The last month has brought a lot of changes in Charley's world. And change can be scary with a baby so I was a little apprehensive about messing with a good thing. The biggest change: milk. I ran out of formula about a week and a half before her birthday and I knew my pediatrician's advice was to switch to whole milk at the one year mark. I didn't really feel like buying any more formula, so I decided to just try it out and see how she'd do.

She did awesome. After adjusting to the new taste and not drinking quite as many ounces as she was in formula, she was completely weaned off of the formula and enjoying her milk. This kid makes things so easy for me and I love her for it. & she's pretty too, darn it.


So then, the other thing I knew my pediatrician recommended was getting her to switched over to drink from a straw cup instead of bottles by age 1 as well. I loved our bottle time because it was a cuddly time for us, and because bottles don't leak like cups do!** But, the first day I tried putting whole milk in her bottle instead of formula, she flat out refused it. I poured the milk from the bottle into the cup and she took it. She quit the bottles all on her own just like that. Had I known the night before that it was going to be the last time I bottle fed her, I would've taken a picture or something. Sad! In fact, that's exactly how she quit nursing too. When the girl's ready to do something, she's ready apparently. Sounds an awful lot like her Daddy...

Another way she's an awful lot like her Daddy (and Mama too actually) that we discovered this month is that she loves sweets! On her actual birthday we gave her a cupcake to eat, and at her birthday party she had her own little cake to eat. When she was finished, there really wasn't much left at all. She LOVED them. I don't think there's any way a child of ours can avoid having a sweet tooth, sadly.

**I have now found the most perfect, non-leaking sippy cup ever and it's saved my sanity. But it was touch and go for a couple weeks there.


She's now eating like a big person too. Breakfast is usually yogurt, or grits, waffles or pancakes on the weekends, or eggs with milk to drink. Lunch is either leftovers from the night before (which is what John and I usually have for lunch too) and some fruit or cheese or something and milk. Snack in the mid-afternoon (graham crackers are her favorite) with water and then dinner at 6 with milk, where 99% of the time she just eats whatever we are eating. Sometimes we alter what we are eating a little bit for her (give her the meat before we spice it up) but the girl loves to eat.

This is another one of her new things: yell TOUCHDOWN! and the arms go in the air!
She's still not walking, but she loves to practice. She did learn to climb stairs this month, but so far she doesn't go up them unless one of us is going up with her. She likes to be wherever we are.


2 of her molars are really close to breaking through now too, which would bring her up to 10 teeth!


But more than anything, I want to remember how my 12 month old IS. How she needs to be on the couch if I'm on the couch (which she'll then crawl all over like a monkey!), or if I'm sitting in the floor playing with her, she needs to be sitting in my lap. If I'm in the kitchen, she needs to be there too. And sure, the separation anxiety can be irritating at times, it makes me feel good that she NEEDS me. Or at least she thinks she does.

I love that when I pick her up out of her crib and start patting her back, she instantly starts patting mine back.

I love that whenever she gets fussy in the car, I can stick my arm back and rub her cheek, and it makes her instantly happy.

And one of my most favorite things of all is how she also loves my family too. She will jump out of my arms into any of their arms in an instant, and it makes me happy that she makes them happy too. I love to share the love with the ones I love.


Last night while I was taking the bear pictures (yes, 8 days late because my camera was in the shop), I sneakily put the sticker on her onesie before I put the onesie on her. Otherwise, little miss nosy would know there was a sticker on her chest and she'd try to have it for dinner. That will explain why it's not centered on her chest.

But, I wanted to compare Charley now to Charley one year ago and realized the sticker company should really have included a "0" month sticker so you could see the newborn baby compared to the 1 year old, instead of the 1 month old compared to the 1 year old. So it figures that as I took the 12 month sticker out of the package, there was a 0 month sticker hiding there! I missed that one and that's going to forever drive me crazy. You'd think they would have put that one in the front of the pack, not behind the 12!! This comparison is going to have to do though. My favorite thing to compare isn't even Big Bear. It's the size of the sticker in comparison to Charley. Those stickers are the same size! Wahh. My bayyybeeeee.


It's been such a wonderful year with my Charley Jane! Happy birthday, baby!

(Yes, she's still a baby. I don't believe in using the word "toddler" until she's officially toddling, thank you very much.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Charley is ONE!

One year ago today this little squishy baby joined my family, and we called her Charley Jane.


She has made this year the best one of my life, obviously. That's a given, right? What's also a given is all the sweet, sappy things I want to say about my baby on her birthday. I woke up several times last night (which is very rare for me) and I'd look at the clock and think "1 year ago right now, I had just gotten that lovely epidural", and then "1 year ago right now, I had just started pushing", and then I'd hoped I'd wake up at 6:58 a.m. so I could smile and think back about that exact minute she was born, but I accidentally slept through that moment so I thought about her birth 40 minutes later when I did wake up. All the same, right?

But what I really want to do for her birthday is go back to my poetic roots. I haven't poemed since these haikus I used to do, and a haiku won't do here because I have way more syllables I want to use than just 17.

To Charley
Let's take a moment to remember our year,
Filled with dimples for you (and for me on my rear).
They first laid you on my chest to cuddle a bit,
But forgot to diaper you- thanks for not getting me wet.
Our breastfeeding journey was rough at origin,
But we overcame that and all that skin grew back in.
You decided real early to sleep through the night,
But that didn't stop me from staring at you sleep through iPhone light.
You loved our cats from the start and they loved you too,
Except when they realized they weren't getting the attention they're due.
I wanted a bald baby, long hair - take a hike!
But I'll now allow you to grow hair if you'd like.
You were born into a large family with lots of names to learn,
But it's worth it, sweet baby, for all the love they'll return.
I was in your face every day with my big camera lens,
I hope one day you're so proud you'll want to show your friends.
 You're loud like your Daddy, sensitive like me,
You look like Daddy too, though some may disagree.
And tonight on your birthday, we learned something new,
A sweet tooth you've inherited, from Daddy and me too.

So happy birthday little one, this first year sure was fun,
We'll have many more to share, but for now my poem's done.

Love you Charley!

And if that wasn't enough sap in one post, let me now add an eleven minute long slideshow I made of her first year. I don't even know who I am anymore.

Also, I've now watched it myself about 80 times. 80 x 11 minutes = approximately 15 hours I've cried through a slideshow. Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but I'm not going to tell you if it's the number of times I've watched it, or if it's the fact that I cry every time that I'm exaggerating.

Anyways, a regular Charley bear: 12 months post is yet to come, but had to post something on her actual birthday.

And finally, she's still a baby so don't go blabbering this "toddler" word around me. Thanks for your compliance.