Sunday, May 31, 2009

One small step for man

Toddlerhood, officially. As of yesterday, our little Bean is finally walking. Hooray!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Show & Tell

I am almost afraid to post this Show & Tell, because I fear that I am going to end up with thousands of women hunting us down and busting in our front door, trying to steal my awesome DH away from me. Not that I couldn't kick the crap out of all of them, I'm just saying.

In spite of the great risk, today I am sharing one of my most favoritest possessions, a gift that DH gave me in college.

First a quick background for those coming from Mel's. DH and I go waaaay back... to elementary school. I've had a crush on him since I was 10 years old. Unfortunately he was always way too short for me. Until! The fall of our junior year of high school, we started the new year and I noticed he had finally gained about 5 inches on me. Time to make my move. (Bat eyelashes here.) Yadda yadda yadda, he asked me to the Homecoming Dance and we've been inseparable ever since. Except those four years when we went to college in different states. We were pretty separated at that point. Physically, at least. Emotionally, though, we were still LIKETHIS.

In high school, my future DH was extremely romantic. I am not exactly sure where he got his mad skillz (with all due respect to my father-in-law), but he really swept me off my feet. One Valentine's Day, he "stole" my car without me noticing, and quietly returned it filled it with chocolate and red paper hearts he had cut out. He had also arranged with all my teachers to put a rose on my desk in between classes, so when I arrived at each period throughout the day, there was a beautiful red rose waiting in my assigned spot. On my birthday, he set up a treasure hunt through my house and had my mom lay the clues the night before for me to discover when I woke up, with my gift at the end. Another V-Day, he pretended that he was taking me out to dinner, but after he picked me up we returned to his house because he "forgot" something. I soon discovered that he had transformed his basement into a romantic picnic for two, complete with blanket, picnic basket of goodies, and his sister's Beanie Baby ladybug. He had even borrowed those GIGANTIC reams of colored paper they have in art class at school (remember those?) to cover the ceiling in blue. I could go on, but I'm guessing you have the point.

As we went off to college, with him in Michigan and me in Illinois, the distance made romance dificult and my sweetie became consumed with numbers and circuits and copious amounts of beer. His biggest show of love was borrowing his family's car to make the drive out to see me once a month. And there was nothing that could have made me happier.

Every now and then, however, I had a glimpse of the old high school DH. On a Valentine's Day visit, he brought me the following present.



I like to think there was no motive behind the shirt other than to show his love. But I suspect it's because I was constantly asking him in our phone conversations, "Why do you love me?" and he always responded, "I don't know, I just do!" (He may have been romantic in action, but my guy is no poet, God love him.)

He certainly shut me up with this shirt. On that topic at least.

Unfortunately, the shirt was made for my small college body, and if I put it on today, we'd have a scene of Incredible Hulk shirt rippage going on. But on a positive note, those days of insecurity are behind me and I never think to ask that DH that question. We have grown even stronger throughout life's trials, and I need no further proof than the unwavering support he gives me every day. I can't imagine being myself without him next to me. Plus I have his kid now, I'm pretty sure he's not going anywhere.

Please head back to Mel's and see what the rest of the class is showing! Single file now.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The reason I am not a hostage negotiator

I am the worst negotiator, like, ever.

I could give any of numerous examples of this failing, but I have a horrible memory and I don't remember enough of the details to make an interesting story. I'm sure DH remembers, but he doesn't have a blog (that you know of, HA! ... okay, no, he really doesn't have a blog), so you'll just have to call him if you really need the entertainment. Let's just say that one time probably 10 years ago, when future-DH and I were outside a sporting event, we were buying tickets from a scalper (and we probably drove slightly over the speed limit to get there, we bad), and the scalper actually charged us LESS than the stupid price I first offered. I will never forget the look on that scalper's face, he was shocked at the depth of my idiocy. I could almost hear him thinking, "In all my years of illegal scalping, I have never seen such an enormous moron." I guess that's why he took pity on me. Whatever.

Fortunately, as DH and I merged our finances, he decided that my negotiating deficiencies were no longer funny because it was his money I was losing too, so he skooled me. And I'm proud to say that I negotiated TWO raises at my former employer when my coworkers said it couldn't be done. *takes a bow*

Despite my vast improvement, I still sometimes get an Attack of the Brainless when I'm negotiating. It's hard, and I hate it. I get emotional -- often in favor of the other side of the table. I much prefer looking at the tag on a shirt at the mall, deciding it's too expensive, knowing I can't haggle the price down, and purchasing it anyway. I may have a large credit card bill, but at least I can sleep at night knowing I couldn't have done any better. Except if I had remembered to bring that 20% off coupon I stashed in the cupboard above our telephone. Damn it.

Which brings me to the point of this post. (Did I have one? Oh yes, that's right.) I have decided that It's Time, we are getting a babysitter. On our last day of preschool for the year *sniff sniff* the teacher passed around contact info for the 19-year-old daughter of a former teacher. She's taking classes three days a week at a salon academy nearby and is looking for babysitting hours on the other two days and the weekends. Score! I called her up and set an appointment for today for her to come by and meet Bean. And give me styling tips. Seriously, my hair is so embarrassing right now.

My first challenge was cleaning the house. It suddenly occurred to me that throughout my own 10-year babysitting career, I could not recall any house that suffered in the cleanliness department. Sure, I may not really have been paying attention, it probably would have taken a giant cobweb blocking a doorway to make me stop and say, "Hey, maybe they should dust and vacuum this dump." But still... how did they keep it up? For this first meeting, yes, I was happy to make the house presentable. But regular visits, I'm just not so sure about the feasibility there. Hopefully she doesn't mind sticky floors and linty carpets.

She came over today and was perfectly lovely. She has a lot of babysitting experience, and I was completely assured that she was mature enough to handle an active 14-month-old and an obnoxious Schnoodle. Bean took to her immediately, generously holding out some of his magnetic letters to her in offering. He's going to be a ladies man, like his papa.

Then the second hurdle, negotiating the price. A few months ago, we moms had this discussion in preschool: what's the going rate for a sitter these days? Now, as background, when I babysat in high school (1994-1998), I made $10 an hour for two kiddos. In college, it was $12-$15 for two to three kiddos. So with inflation and cost of living figured in, I estimated I was looking at around $35 an hour. Imagine my shock when the final consensus among the moms was that it was appropriate to pay around minimum wage. Our fair state has the highest minimum wage in the country at $8.55. I was actually pretty pleased with this and figured I would try to negotiate the sitter down to $9 an hour. So maybe I wouldn't be among her high-paying clients, but Bean's outrageous adorableness would make up some of that difference.

Imagine my surprise when I asked her how much she usually got paid for babysitting one toddler.

"Five or six dollars an hour," she responded.


"Oh, I can pay you seven," I responded quickly.

Look at me, the big shooter!

I don't know what came over me, but even I was insulted by five or six dollars an hour. Maybe I was feeling some mama pride, that surely My Son was worth more than that. But I think I just felt bad for her. I mean, she's here for two hours and would get paid enough to buy one tall latte and a croissant from Starbucks on her way home. At least now she can get a venti.

I am either the biggest sucker in the world, or a very generous rich woman. (There are no in-betweens in my world. Sorry.)

How much do you pay your sitter? Am I insane? (These questions may or may not be related.)

PS In other news, Bean is now consistently sleeping through the night (~12 solid hours) and starting to maybekindasorta try to take his first steps.

PPS I am super pissed at all the moms out there with infants who started sleeping through the night after only a couple of months. Because this effing rocks.

PPPS I am trying not to get too attached to it, though. Next week (!) we head back to Michigan for a visit, and if our last trip was any indication, I will be awake with him every 1-2 hours all night every night, then our schedule will be totally screwed up when we get back. Worth it, though. Or at least, so I tell myself.

PPPPS No one ever told me that it's not so easy to identify a "first." Like Bean's first word or first steps. It wasn't like one day he was babbling nonsense and the next day he was asking for a drink of juice, please, mom. Okay, so I didn't expect that exactly. But I wasn't expecting "ball" to sound like "booa" either. Same with walking. Did he take a few steps, or was he awkwardly propelled forward by some bad gas? Your guess is as good as mine!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Life's a beach

I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend! Ours was low-key, alternating between running errands and totally vegging out. (Okay, I totally vegged out. DH did lawn work. I'm so lazy.) Yesterday we seized the beautiful day and went to a beach on Puget Sound. Here are a few pics of the munchkin, the pooch, and Daddy in the sand.

Oh, and is anyone else incredibly depressed after watching the season premiere of Jon & Kate Plus Eight last night? I really expected them to sit on the couch together and defend themselves and their relationship, but they DIDN'T! I have never liked how Kate treats Jon, but I always thought they could work it out... instead, they both seem to be giving up. I'm so sad for their family, and I feel a bit guilty for watching as they fall apart.

Monday, May 25, 2009

An important note to self

I'm sure it seemed at the time, dear Self, that it was a good idea to try on the lingerie you purchased when you were first married.

However, Self, let me assure you that it was NOT.

Because the only thing less sexy than witnessing 18% more flab test the very precarious integrity of lace and ribbon, is then laying on your bed in a ball and weeping.

I will give you points, Self, for your optimism. Seven years ago when you purchased those silky white undies that brilliantly announce BRIDE in rhinestones, you decided it would be romantic to wear them once a year, on the anniversary of your Missus-ness. Because of course you were going to be small enough to fit in to them for the next 60 years.

Alas, poor Self, you had a nasty discovery only one year later, didn't you?

It was certainly good timing to get married when you did, the thinnest time of your adult life. Many people gain weight in college, but not you, Self! Your distaste for taking extra money from your parents was noble if perplexing, and it shrunk your stomach so small that you could be genuinely full for 5 hours from a single Snicker's bar.

That magical time, just like the recent comeback of New Kids on the Block, was over far too soon.

I just hope Bean finds someone to marry who shares your 22-year-old figure, Self. Otherwise there will be some awkward moments when you insist that she wear your wedding dress at the ceremony.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A green bum

That's my little man of the cloth! Yep, we've made the transition to cloth diapers (mostly, still using up the last of our 'sposies) and there's now a little more "crunch" to this mainstream mama.

Looking at the pictures above, you can tell how it's been going.


Overall I prefer cloth diapering (CD) to disposables, and I'm really glad I decided to take the plunge and try them. But there are definitely some pros and cons. Here is what I like most about cloth diapering.

1. Shopping. I am hard pressed to think of many solo activities that I enjoy more than ordering crap online and having it magically delivered to my house several days later. In fact, I can't even come up with one solo activity that I enjoy more than ordering crap online and having it magically delivered to my house several days later. When I was building our stash, I spent hours and hours of Bean's naptimes reading the CD forums, visiting online shops, and selecting the fluff. Overwhelmed at first, I studied and researched the terms and items with more passion than I did any subject as an undergrad. Now I can whip out an "SBish" or "wool soaker" with the best of 'em. Okay, maybe not the BEST of 'em. There are some CD nuts out there, let me tell you.

2. Saving money. To be honest, getting started this late, the money savings won't be that enormous in our household. I can perhaps order a latte with less guilt, but between the price of the diapes, the accessories, and the extra laundry, it's not really paying off much at this point. HOWEVER. If we have another child, we will then reap the rewards of our investment. Plus, either way, I can sell the diapers on and recoup partial cost there as well. I love that I am actually getting something substantial for my money when I purchase a diaper, instead of the irritated feeling I would get at the grocery store when I grabbed a box of 'sposies, adding another $30 to our bill for something that I'd just be throwing anyway. Like that tofu.

3. Less waste. Living in Seattle, there is enormous pressure to be green. Even the waste removal company provides these HUGE recycling bins and tiny little garbage bins. In our neighborhood, if you don't use the recycling bin and instead have extra trash, the homeowner's association makes a flyer with your face on it and puts it in everyone else's mailbox. Then your neighbors give you the stink eye when they pass your house. It's harsh! (They probably also do this if you have excess weeds in your landscaping, which would explain why we don't have any friends in the 'hood yet.) It's a nice feeling to know that we are producing SO much less needless landfill waste each week, and it gives our neighbors one less reason to hate us.

4. Safer for baby. "They" say that the cloth is healthier -- not to mention more comfortable -- for babies than the chemicals and other substances used in 'sposies. I have heard of people using cloth when they need to cure a bad diaper rash, so there's probably something to it. I'll just trust "they" on this one and list it as a positive.

5. The cuteness/fun factor. You saw the pictures, right? 'Nuff said.

Here is what I don't like about CDing.

1. More time spent with poop (and pee). Obviously the convenience of disposable diapers is that you can simply throw them out and be done with it. (Other than emptying the nasty garbage bin, of course.) Now Bean happens to be an awesome pooper. I am happy to brag that he could eat 12 bananas in one day and still be as regular as the Friends of Police calling during dinner asking for a donation because I value the sacrifice of the officers in the name of my family's safety, don't I? But just because I am proud of my son's Digestive System of Steel doesn't mean that I want to prolong the time I spend communing with his turds. It's not the most fun thing ever to remove a poopy diaper, rinse it off, put it in the storage bag, and see it again when I'm doing laundry. Oh yeah, I remember that shite! Corn and beans. Good times!

2. Expense. The initial expense of cloth diapers makes a significant dent in the wallet. I haven't added up the entire cost for us, but it's a few hundred dollars. You could go cheaper, but you'd have to give up some cuteness, which is not a sacrifice I'm willing to make. Some women make their own diapers, too, which totally kicks ass. Sewing is probably the number one talent I wish I had. That and being a pet psychic.

3. Learning curve. With the snaps and snappis involved in the diapers I bought, it's taken me some time to be proficient enough to get the changes done quickly. And our switch to cloth has coincided with Bean deciding that he wants NO PART of diaper changes, and he is willing to scream, thrash, kick, and give Indian Sunburns (how the hell did he learn how to give those?) until I will Unhand Him, Now. It's frustrating and not fun. Little punk.

An important factor that did not make either the pro or con list is the extra amount of laundry. You must wash the diapers frequently; to get the max life from your diapes it's recommended every day or every-other-day. (Sometimes I do it every third day.) But here's the thing... I kinda like doing laundry. Shhh, I know! Don't tell DH, it ruins the whole martyr act I have on reserve for crucial bargaining. And if you try to have me committed to the hospital for insanity, I will totally deny it. But I find it oddly satisfying, so other than the whole poop-revisited thing, I don't mind washing them.

In case you are curious as to what diapers and accessories I purchased, here is a brief guide and some links.

-- bumGenius. The "genius" clearly referring to them for coming up with their products, and not for us lazy folk who purchase the diapers. I have an all-in-one (which is just as it sounds, basically it works just like a disposable except you wash it) and six one-size pocket diapers (similar to the all-in-one but there is a pocket down the center where you stick an insert to absorb the mess).

-- Goodmama. This company makes super cute, basically irresistible fitted diapers. Fitteds are not waterproof, so you have to buy diaper covers to put over them. However, in the summer, a lot of moms let their kids run around in uncovered fitted diapes when just hanging out at home.

-- Prefolds. These are more like what you might remember of cloth diapers of yesteryear. (Wow, I can't believe I just said "yesteryear." Weird.) Anyway, they are a square of fabric divided into three panels, with the center panel having extra layers for absorbency. You fold the diaper appropriately around the baby and then secure with pins or a snappi (I use snappis, haven't tried the pins yet). I got my prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers because they were unanimously the favorite on the CD forum I visit. I am still getting the hang of them, but they are pretty cool. Like the fitteds, they are not waterproof, so you need a diaper cover.

-- Diaper covers for the fitteds and prefolds. I have some plain covers that I bought at a local baby store, plus I ordered a froggy one from Amazon, and a couple cute ones from Blueberry.

-- Wet bags. These are for storage. I have one large butter-colored bag that stores several days worth of diapers in his bedroom, and then a small cute flowery one for his diaper bag.

-- Diaper sprayer. To help clean the poop off. It's hooked up to the toilet in the guest room, so when needed, I can rinse and flush before putting the diaper in the wet bag. Now that is genius.

I hope I answered all your burning questions about cloth diapering. If not, just ask, and I'll direct you to a CD nut near you. Have a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mountain man

We've been busy around here lately, although I'm struggling to come up with exactly what we've been doing. To pick up where I left off with updates, Mother's Day weekend was a lot of fun. We decided to celebrate on Saturday instead of Sunday (because we are punks like that), and we spent the day in Seattle. I hit the town with the two most gorgeous men in the world, doing the things I like to do best: eating, shopping, and more eating. It was our first of what will surely be many visits to Cupcake Royale where DH treated me to a six pack of deluxe delights... perhaps knowing I'd only be able to handle four, thus he had his pick for the final two. I scarfed delicately nibbled a Chocolate Scorcher, Lavender, Peppermint Party, and Salted Caramel. (Not all in one sitting, I'll have you know. But I'm working up to that.) They have a graduation special coming up... and Bean is graduating from the infant class at co-op preschool this week, so I'm pretty sure that means we'll have to celebrate at Cupcake Royale on Saturday. I would hate for the little munchkin to think we weren't proud.

As DH had a huge assignment due on Friday, last week was spent with him working insane hours while I labored insanely hard myself to spend all of his overtime pay on cloth diapers and accessories. Good news, though, we were both successful. (Cloth diaper review coming soon, I want to wait until I'm entirely past the learning curve.)

Luckily, following that exhausting week, we caught a bit of a break this past weekend. We were supposed to be one of the hosts for a "family mixer night" with the MOMS Club on Saturday, where the participating families are split up into small groups to have their own themed potlucks. Luckily, due to some last-minute cancels, our group became too small so we disbanded and joined other groups, thus relieving us our duty to clean and decorate our house. The theme of our adopted group was "light and healthy." (The "heavy and fattening" party was full, as I'm sure you can imagine. Okay, so there really wasn't such a group. But if there was, I'd have been all over it.) Despite the lightness and healthiness of the menu, it was a delicious meal and the other families were very nice.

On Sunday, Bean and I went on a playdate with Jen (cupcakes again, yes seriously!) while DH and the pooch took advantage of the beautiful weather and went hiking with about 853,046 other Seattlites. I did my best to consume the same amount of calories that he burned, I figured at least we'd balance each other out by the end of the weekend. We are joined as one, and all that.

Here are some pictures from the past week or so, lest you become overwhelmingly bored from my pointless recap.

"You stick this neti pot WHERE, Mom?"

No, this is not a toy store, it's our family room.

Bean and Evey watch as Daddy mows the lawn.

My sweet pea eats his sweet peas.

Whatever Bean is saying, Evey's not having any of it.

I can't imagine many dogs less suited for mountain climbing than a Schnoodle. But according to DH, he couldn't hike fast enough for her!

A view of Mount Rainier from their trail up Tiger Mountain.

Enjoying the summit.

Pooch asks why they aren't paragliding down like many of the other hikers.

Random cuteness.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hello, my name is...

The only thing harder than coming up with a title for your blog is coming up with the name/nickname you'll use to sign your posts and the comments you make on other blogs.

I find it very awkward, personally. Because I don't believe the fates want you to give yourself a nickname. Case in point, "The Maid" episode from Seinfeld. George tries to get all his coworkers to call him T-Bone by constantly using the phrase. It backfires, another coworker earns the T-Bone moniker, and George ends up as Koko.

I really don't want to be compared to a gorilla, do you?

When I started this blog, I thought and thought and thought and (oh so very creatively) ended up with "C."

No, I didn't throw a dart at the alphabet. That's the first letter of my name.


But as I got deeper into the blogosphere, I kept wondering how other people came up with their amazing names. Funny, descriptive, clever. I grew more and more dissatisfied with C. In fact, I hated it. So going back to the drawing board, I thought and thought and thought again. This time, I even used valuable shower thinking time, which is the only period during my day that I have the concentration to string three or more coherent ideas together.

Not only was it a dark time in my household, seeing as all that valuable brainpower was being diverted, but I also came up nearly blank.

I reluctantly settled on CJ, which is my nickname in DH's family. (The "J" is for junior, because his mom and I share the same first and last names. I know, it's kinda weird.) But it was longer than just C, and it was given to me by someone else, so I decided to just make the switch and finally put the whole nickname fiasco behind me.


Last week, I emailed Mel at Stirrup Queens to let her know I put her book's badge on my blog (see it there on the right?) and ordered it from Amazon. The book, I mean, not the badge. Of course they don't sell the badge on Amazon.

Anyway, in her response to my email (which had my full first and last name attached to it), she said that she always thinks of me as "Sunny" and not as my real first name, and it was funny to think of me that way via email.

My first thought was, OMG, Mel thinks of me ever? She's such an amazing, famous IF blogger with tons of followers and lots of blogs to read herself. And although I read her every post, I am mainly a lurker. Her writing is so thoughtful and thought-provoking, and seeing as I don't read her blog in the shower, it's difficult for me to respond intelligently, so usually I just go mmmmmm to myself and then slam the laptop closed before Bean can smack all the keys. (And I suppose that means if I do comment on your blog, you aren't thoughtful or thought-provoking. See how I stuck my foot in my mouth just there? Well done, CJ.)

My second thought was, SUNNY! That's the perfect nickname! Because I am Sunny in Seattle. Me, Sunny... and I'm in Seattle. OMG, seriously! How did I not think of that? I kept trying to think of ways to build the Seattle in the nickname, when it was really supposed to be Sunny all along.


So that's yet another brilliant lesson from Seinfeld. Don't try too hard to give yourself a nickname. If you wait long enough, someone else will. And it will be perfect.

Oh, and don't sleep with your maid.

(In case it wasn't obvious, the point of this post, other than to name drop and showcase my extensive knowledge of the greatest sitcom of all time, is to announce that you will now hear from me as Sunny, on both of my blogs as well as in the comments I'll be leaving you on yours!)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Show and Tell

I love to read.

I have loved to read forever, since spending hours in my room holed up with R.L. Stine and The Babysitters Club. No, even before that, I'm sure. When I was a toddler and my mom would find me in bed "reading" to Snoopy. (The book was upside-down, no less. I was a talented child!)

I wish I could claim a working knowledge of classical literature and literary fiction; I'd love to be up on Oprah's latest pick. But honestly, the books I devour will not be found on any book club list. You won't overhear two intellectuals discussing them over espresso at a trendy cafe: "What was your take on the bodice ripping in chapter four?" "Why, that bosom heaving left me grappling with its contraposition of existentialism and deterministic fatalism!"

Some call them trashy. I call them perfection.

On my nightstand, you'll find nothing but historical romance and my new obsession, paranormal romance. (Which is like "Twilight" for grown ups, for those of you who shop in the more high-brow areas of the bookstore and are unfamiliar with this genre.)

I recently had the honor of listening to a speech by one of my favorite authors. Her keynote address at the "Romance Extravaganza" (yee haw!) was about the struggle of popular fiction authors -- those who write romance novels, thrillers, mysteries, etc. -- to get the same respect given to their literary fiction counterparts. Not surprisingly, being a consummate wordsmith, she was able to define something that was more nebulous in my own mind. The major difference between the two categories (popular fiction v. literary fiction) is like comparing black-and-white to gray.

In popular fiction, there are good guys and bad guys. Right and wrong. Problem and solution. The reader begins the book knowing one thing for certain: there will be a happy ending. All the questions raised will be answered, except maybe Does the author get embarrassed when her parents read the sex parts she's written? Literary fiction is the opposite. It explores the human condition without definite resolution or capital Truth, pushing readers to examine the unknowns of life and love and choices and God and all those other fun things that make your head spin and send you to the freezer for another scoop of ice cream. (Or is that just me?)

(She also said that many readers will only read one area of romance, like historical or contemporary. Which is very true for me. Nothing contemporary unless it's in the paranormal. Because I have a really hard time believing that "normal" guys these days would say any of those cheesy touchy-feely lines, and the books just lose all credibility for me. But a pirate or a vampire... whose to say they wouldn't talk like that?)

This particular author's apt description of the two subcategories of fiction solidified in my head why I avoid any books that require me to do much contemplation. One of the most valuable lessons I learned in studying and then practicing counseling was that if you don't accept the grayness, uncertainty, and relativism in life, you can run yourself into some mighty serious mental problems. This was news to me, previously having lived mainly in black-and-white myself, and although it was a struggle at first to be comfortable in the gray, it was actually a huge relief to take that pressure off. Infertility became a prime example. As much as I craved immediate answers, only time could reveal What fertility treatment will work for me? or Will I actually ever get pregnant? I had to accept that.

But even though I can now (mostly) embrace a life that includes black, white, and all shades of gray, that doesn't mean I'm not comforted by the occasional escape to places like sitcom land, where trouble never lasts for longer than 30 minutes. (Unless it's a Very Special episode that requires two parts, of course.) Which is why at the end of the day, I seek comfort and refuge with my trusted old friend The Romance Novel. I prefer this explanation to one that might dismissively label me as simply shallow and, well, horny.

This post is already longer than I had intended, but we are just now getting to the good part! The part where I realized it was my destiny all along to move to Seattle so I could meet my favorite historical romance novelist of all time: Amanda Quick. (Or Jayne Ann Krentz, which is her real name, if you want to get technical.)

She resides in Seattle, because as I am constantly reminding you, SEATTLE ROCKS. And as an extension of that rockage, the King County Library System is arguably the best in the country. Among other reasons, they are the brilliant, generous hearts that brought the "Romance Extravaganza," and thus Amanda Quick, to the lives of rabid fans such as myself.

Leaving DH and Bean home for the afternoon, I drove to the library with knots in my stomach. I tend to get very star struck, like the time I saw Jerry Springer walking in downtown Chicago or spotted Mr. T's limo on the highway. I arrived 30 minutes early, purchased a copy of her newest book, and sat gripping it tightly in my seat. I glanced around and finally spotted her, looking surprisingly normal as she chatted with a group of women. (Did I expect her to glow?) When she presented the keynote address as discussed above, I found her to be incredibly funny, smart, and confident... not unexpected, considering those adjectives describe every one of her female main characters. And I would know, having read all 25 (now 26) novels.

After she spoke, I quickly took my place in line for her to sign my new purchase. As I inched forward, my heart raced faster and I frantically searched my mind for something clever and witty to say, which would of course then prompt her to laugh heartily and respond, "Would you like to join me for coffee after the event?"

Me and Amanda Quick, BFFs.

Unfortunately, in reality I stood in front of her like an idiot, barely remembering how to spell my own name as she flashed a smile and scrawled her signature.

"Not that I would expect you to remember me, but I comment on your blog as CJ," I offered lamely.

My head swam as she responded pleasantly and thanked me for following her blog.

I smiled and nodded, all ability for coherent speech having left me by this point.

After a brief silence, she politely added, "It's a nice varied collection of authors we have on the blog."

I managed a weak "yep."

With that, she handed me back the book, and I was left to return to my seat and suppress the bile that had risen in my throat.

I will never forget meeting her, it was such a thrilling experience to interact (even moronically) with an author I have loved and admired for 10+ years. As I squeaked excitedly to DH before I left that morning, "It'd be like you meeting.... (glancing down at his current read) ... Kurt Vonnegut!" He shot me a look that said you are out of your mind, but to each his own, I say. Now if I could just meet Kresley Cole and Jane Austen, I can die a happy romance reader.

Whether you read that entire post or just scrolled down for the pictures (I don't blame you!), we have finally arrived at my show and tell: my pictures from the book signing and the coveted dedication.

Now go back to Mel's for more Show and Tell fun!

(Cross-posted on Secrets of an Infertile Mom.)

Friday, May 8, 2009


I think Seattle is wearing off on me.

No, I don't drive one of these and squawk about how the country is finally heading in the right direction.

I have ventured... into...

Cloth diapers.

I can just imagine what my Mom is thinking as she reads that. "Why would you do this? Where did I go wrong?"

I don't know, Mom. But it was obviously in a major way, wasn't it?

Because really, cloth diapers go against many of the things I believe in. I have invested much effort into thinking of ways to make my life easier and avoid contact with poop as much as possible.

But in truth, I have been a cloth diaper (CD) wanna-be for months. I don't know exactly how it started. On the parenting forum I visit, I would lurk at the CD posts, envying their excitement over snagging a new style or print. I couldn't imagine being that excited about diaper changes... but I kinda wanted to be. These are not your grandma's cloth diapers, my friends. The sheer amount of variety and adorability out there is mind-blowing. In fact, I think I stayed away so long because I was daunted by all those terms and acronyms to learn. AIO? Soakers? PUL? Doublers? Pocket diapers? Snappis? PB&E? Is this like the Star Trek language?

I told myself that I would give the cloth a shot when we have another baby. It's too late to make the switch now, I thought. But recently, one of the preschool moms (whose son is older than Bean) went to cloth, and she assured me it's worth it. And then what finally pushed me over the edge: What if I never do have another baby? Can I live the rest of my entire life knowing that I had never covered a tiny butt in a cloth diaper?

Clearly not.

So on Monday, the Bean and I grabbed our ring sling and drove into Seattle to the gorgeous new location of Birth & Beyond. I had already gotten advice on a good diaper for idiots beginners, so I was prepared to ask for bumGenius one-size. The women at the store were so helpful, and armed with six diapes, we headed back home to give this a go.

Upon returning home, I spent the next 24 hours washing them, admiring them, arranging them, taking pictures of them, posting the pictures on the CD forum, and congratulating myself on being so healthy, earth conscious, and financially responsible.

Then it was time to actually use them.

I put Bean on the changing table and grabbed the diaper and insert. He grinned up at me gamely. I frowned, looking at the snaps and velcro. I decided I was a little too hasty in putting him on the changing table before I had figured out the diaper, so I put my nakey boy in his crib to play while I worked it out. Luck was on my side -- it was pretty easy to figure out, and Bean didn't use the crib as his own personal urinal.

I snapped the diaper to the size I thought would fit him best and slid in the insert. I waited for a round of applause or balloons to fall from the ceiling to know I did it right, but nothing was forthcoming. After putting Bean back on the table and securing the diaper in place, I stood back to examine my handiwork. I was pleased with myself, but Bean was still skeptical about this whole deal.

I put him down on the floor and let him move around in it. His verdict: "I rock this thing!" And mama agrees.

The pooch sniffed Bean's butt to bestow her own approval.

"What are we going to do with these 'sposies now, Mom?" (That's what we cloth diaperers call them. 'Sposies. We are cool like that.)

In addition to saving the world, another benefit of the cloth is that they make his butt huge. Which means 1) his 12-month pants now fit him better and 2) he looks more like his mom.

Now I am on a quest to build my "stash" of cute fluffies. I've already had my first heartbreak. I was stalking the CUTEST DIAPER EVER by Bagshot Row Bamboo (that's BSRB for those of us in the know), anxiously counting down to when the Jungle Friends print would be on sale in their online store. Screen refresh. Screen refresh. Finally, it was time. My spirit was crushed to see it sold out in less than 5 seconds.

Okay, I can see this is going to be an addiction.

And I'm going to have to get a little nasty.

I know at least one of my friends uses cloth -- Sarah! Who else? Any tips for a newbie?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How to entertain your guests

So my parents have left -- boo hoo -- and gone back home to the giant mitten state. (As an aside, one of my sorority sisters in college once argued that Michigan looks nothing like a mitten whatsoever. I may not be a genius, but I did watch Sesame Street growing up, and I'm pretty sure these shapes are similar.)

Anyway, the visit was wonderful, how could it not be? My Dad was easy to keep busy, his agenda looked something like this:

1. Hang mirror sconces in dining room.
2. Hang box wall hangings in nursery. (Bean's room was then finished, just shy of his 14-month birthday. I am an awesome mom!)
3. Install cabinet knobs and drawer pulls in the kitchen. (Yes, these were my birthday present from DH back in February. Since my Dad had to put them in more than two months after my birthday, I am demanding kindly suggesting that DH get me a new gift. I can't wait to see what it will be this time, I hope it's a new camera!)
4. Install medicine cabinet in guest bathroom.
5. Spend entire day cleaning and organizing garage. (Now we can actually fit a CAR in there! OMG!)
6. Assemble and install hanging cabinets above washer and dryer.
7. Assemble storage cabinet next to sink in laundry room.
8. Assemble and install decorative cabinet above toilet in downstairs bathroom.
9. Recover dining room chairs in a fun new fabric. (I should mention that it was my Mom who selected the fabric, not my Dad. He's straight.)
10. Sort through moving boxes in loft and clear additional space.
11. Hang mirror above fireplace.
I'm sure after reading this list, you are all impressed at what an amazing hostess I am. Martha Stewart, look out! My new book, "How to Entertain Guests and Get Your Gutters Cleaned at the Same Time," is coming out this fall. Meanwhile, my Mom was cooking tons of meals and desserts for us, which were similar to some of the things I make, except they tasted good! I gained a few pounds and my pants are tight this week, but it was worth it. After they left, DH remarked, "I am pretty sure I would love it if your parents moved to Seattle." Um... yeah.
Here are some pictures of proof that I didn't work my parents to the bone the entire visit, plus some of the things we've been up to lately. And stay tuned for adventures in baby butts and acting lame in front of famous people!
Do you think his sly grin is because he knows his mom wouldn't have let him sit on the back of the couch like that? Love the jammies though.
Disproving my theory that she prefers my parents over us because they don't torment her, my Mom and Dad had a good laugh putting reading glasses on the dog.
Last Tuesday was family night at the preschool. (Yes, a dreaded potluck!) Bean was excited to show his grandparents off to all his classmates.
The next morning, Grandpa and Grandpa came with us to preschool class.
Bean spent at least 15 solid minutes pushing this shopping cart around the play area -- with a flat expression on his face the entire time. Groceries are serious business!
Their plane flew out on Thursday. Before they left, Bean and Grandma enjoyed some cuddle time as the little guy took his morning nap in her arms.
Friday was free day at the Tacoma Children's Museum, and we met a few friends there for some play time. It says a lot about the museum that Bean's favorite part was playing with his own stroller.
Oh, and in keeping with the grocery theme, he liked the fake food, too. Even the plastic jelly that had a stomach-churning resemblance to fake barf.
Practicing with Grandpa paid off... he is finally able to push his lawn mower by himself without falling forward on it.
Yesterday, Bean and I took a little field trip into Seattle for some shopping. He fell in love with this xylophone, so I got it for him. Of course, being a boy, he is genetically compelled to use the stick to bang on everything but the actual toy. (See, by the frownie face, you can see that even he doesn't want to be doing that! But the poor kid doesn't have a choice.)