Friday, December 30, 2011

I Hate Shopping

I hate trying on jeans.  I hate trying to find jeans that might possibly fit, and then I hate trying them on to discover they don't.  Trying on jeans today, when I could hear my toddler SCREAMING at the top of his lungs in Old Navy, was ever so much worse.

I swore I wasn't going to be one of those people that dragged their overtired, screaming kid around driving other shoppers nuts.  But there I was, in Old Navy, with a SCREECHING kid.  As we tried to get him out of the store as quickly as possible, I found myself clutching him by the front of his coat as he tried to fling himself backwards on the concrete, wondering when I had become "that" parent. 

We're home now, and my husband and I are both exhausted and annoyed.  Fortunately Ben is ridiculously adorable, so it's hard to stay mad at him.  But I know we are both thinking about the fact that the house is low on groceries and at some point, we're going to have to take him shopping again.

When Don and Ben finally left Old Navy and I took a deep breath getting ready to get in line with our purchases, I saw a mother pushing a stroller with a little bundle of blue blankets.  It was all I could do not to grab her by the shoulders and say "DON'T let him turn TWO!!!"

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Setting Some Goals

Sixty-eight books.  That's how many books I've read this year.  Well, as of today anyway.  But since the rest of the week looks busy, I don't think I'll be able to squeeze in too many more.

Sixty-eight, that's a lot...right?  It averages out to one every five days or so, which is better than one per week.  And I suppose if you take into consideration the MASSIVE page count on the majority of those books, I've done alright.

As the new year is approaching, I'm trying to set some serious goals for myself.  Obviously, I want to set a reasonable, yet challenging reading goal for myself.  I could set a goal of 100 books for 2012, which is definitely do-able, especially if I read more "normal" sized books (ie around 300 pages instead of 800) and take advantage of the ease of access my new Kindle brings me.  So, sure, I don't think 100 books would be an unrealistic goal.  But is that it?  Is that the ONLY reading goal I want to set?

Today I was reading an article about reading challenges.  Reading Challenges can be simple, like reading 100 books in a year, or more complex, like reading a select number of Titanic related books in the course of the year, or a select number of romance novels, Jane Austen novels, vampire novels, etc...  There's even a challenge to read all the Stephen King Dark Tower novels.  For some you need to post reviews, for others you don't need to post at all. 

I'm planning on perusing the internet for some good ideas, and I might just sign up for a few challenges, you know, something to keep me focused next year.  Honestly, the Jane Austen one sounds tempting.  I actually haven't read all that much Austen and I feel like it's one of those things I should do at some point in time.  So maybe 2012 is that time.  We'll see I guess.

As well as reading goals for 2012, I'm determined to set some writing goals for myself as well.  And I'd like to find myself some kind of productive hobby that leaves me with something tangible when I'm finished.  Knitting, sewing, cooking, pottery, something like that.  Again, another thing I'll be thinking about over the next few days while waiting for 2012 to start.

Can you tell I'm looking forward to a productive 2012???

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Belated Christmas Blog

Oh dear.  I think this is the longest I have ever gone without blogging.  And while I'd like to say it was because I was soooo busy with the holidays, that's not exactly true.  I'm addicted to my Kindle.  That's the truth.  And because I'm so technologically impaired, I can't bring myself to type out a blog on the tiny little touch screen keypad.  So I've been putting it off.

But I'm back, and I'm determined to post more, and force myself to use this stupid old laptop.

So, we had a nice Christmas.  As expected, my son was spoiled rotten.  It took HOURS for him to open all his gifts, since he wanted to play with each one.  The rest of the family had a nice time as well, we had a nice breakfast together and spent the afternoon cleaning up and playing with Ben and his gazillion new toys.

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the next morning when I get up and get to use all my new Christmas lotions, creams, soaps, makeup and clothes.  This year I noticed there was a bit more wrinkle cream thrown in the mix, but I suppose since I'm getting dangerously close to 30 I ought to start fighting back.  So I felt pretty good about myself that afternoon after a nice hot shower and layers of nice smelling lotions.  Until I went to put Ben down for a nap.  He started sniffing me and looked at me and said "Pew Mumma, that yucky."  Apparently wrinkle cream does not smell appealing to an almost-two-year-old.  (And yes, he says pew like church pew, not p-u.)

Now that things have calmed down a bit, and I've managed to pull myself away from my Kindle, I'm planning on spending the rest of the week making numerous trips to the dump with boxes and the crumpled up wrapping paper, and I'm going to put away the rest of the decorations and (hopefully) take down the outside lights while we have a little break in the weather.  (The Christmas tree got an early boot due to the overwhelming amount of Christmas toys the little dude received.)  While January should be a nice quiet month, I have a feeling things will be a bit hectic with four family birthdays to be celebrated (one of them being Ben's birthday number 2) and a slew of bookkeeping work to be done prior to tax season.  And, of course there's my Kindle addiction to contend with, and my New Year's resolutions I intend to make.  Yup, January looks like it's gonna be a busy one.  Bring it on 2012!

Spiderman Ball Pit was a huge success (and a great conductor of static electricity)

As was the new BBQ grill and accessories!

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Early Christmas Gift

I was wrong.

There.  Are you happy?  I'm admitting it.

Kindles are the coolest things EVER. 

Last Christmas my mom received a Kindle as a Christmas gift and I thought it ridiculous.  Why would anyone replace the beauty of a book with a piece of electronic gadgetry?  Books have been around for so many years, I wanted (and still want) to take no part in their eventual demise.  But, books are expensive, and libraries are not always convenient to get to, nor do they always have what I'm looking for.  When Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire a few weeks ago, I did my research and decided now is the time.

The Kindle Fire can access Amazon's GIANT online bookstore with the touch of a button.  The books are downloaded in seconds, and sit on a little virtual shelf where they wait for me to read them.  Music is equally as accessible, as are apps.  And since there is a huge variety of apps, I can watch movies or tv shows nearly as easily.  The Kindle has a web browser, so all of the internet is at my fingertips, and facebook and my blog are also easily available.  It's small enough to fit in my purse, yet large enough so I don't have to squint to read or watch something on it, and it's simple enough for me to use.

Now, the Kindle Fire isn't cheap.  I've been saving up for quite sometime and have designated my new purchase as my one and only Christmas gift this year.  But, since I'm probably one of the few people in the world still using one of the original ipod nanos, and I have perhaps the oldest cellphone of anyone I know, this new piece of technology is going to last me awhile.  I'm having a ton of fun messing around with it, playing games, downloading things, and gloating to family and friends.  I do have to admit though, I haven't read a book on it yet.  I've got a massive library book to finish, once that's done...hello digital!

And, just so you know, this will not keep me from buying or borrowing books.  I'll still frequent bookstores, and my local library, but now, when I can't find what I'm looking for, or a new release comes out that I just HAVE to have, I'll put technology to use!

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Holiday Coupon Success!

Man the holidays are a busy time!  I'm finding that my poor little blog is taking a backseat to cookie baking, present wrapping, and online gift shopping.  But I'm happy to say that the majority of my gifts are purchased and wrapped, so next week will hopefully be a little less nutty.

I've been pretty impressed with my budgeting abilities this holiday season.  I've always been one for looking for bargains, but this year I've REALLY been paying attention for great deals and coupons and online coupon codes.  As it stands now, if you combine my savings using coupons, coupon codes, and the Black Friday deals, I have saved $218.22.  I have also received $50 worth of gift cards for purchases that I made and was able to put towards additional holiday gifts.  And that does not include sales (other than Black Friday) or any other bargains, of which I've been able to find many.  So yeah, I'm pretty proud of myself.  This is the first year I've really tried to take advantage of coupons and coupon codes, and I think it's paid off.  I've been doing Black Friday for several years now, and that's one of the best ways to save on some great gifts.  You don't have to go at midnight to get those deals either, especially if you aren't looking for the high ticket electronics items.

And since my shopping is pretty much finished, and my gifts are nearly all wrapped (don't hate me!!) I'm looking forward to spending next week ENJOYING Christmas time for a change.  And by "enjoying" I mean baking a gazillion different foods and cleaning my house like a mad woman.  Ahhhh, the holidays....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Note to Family and Friends:

Dear Family and Friends that will be giving or getting presents to or from us:

I want to apologize for the crinkled or ripped paper.  The missing or deformed bows.  The bent or warped boxes.  The random puzzle pieces that may have fallen into your gift bag.  And, of course, any broken, damaged or otherwise destroyed Christmas gifts.

I have an (almost) two year old.

Sincerest Apologies,


As I finished writing this he grabbed a bat and started beating one of the boxes.  I'm really sorry guys....

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Barbie Basics

I was shopping today, and while leaving the store with a few Christmas gifts in hand, I happened to see a table of Barbies as I was walking out of the store.  I caught them out of the corner of my eye, but I forced myself to pause, and take a better look.  They were a line of Barbies called Barbie Basics.  Barbie was wearing the perfect little black dress.

And I smiled. 

I had an Aunt that loved everything Barbie.  She worshipped Barbie.  She must have had a zillion Barbies in her collection before she passed away, all gently held and dressed, with hair and clothes in perfect condition.  Her face was the first thing that came to mind when I saw that Barbie.  She would have loved it.

My Aunt passed away a few years ago, she was young, but had lived surprisingly long life.  Both mentally and physically handicapped, she had a funny side, a spoiled side and a gentle side.  My sister and I loved to make her mad when we were younger, and tease her about boyfriends when we were older.  We were never mean spirited, and I think she liked the attention.  And her Barbie collection was legendary.

Thinking about her today, and that Barbie, made me smile.  A nice thoughtful moment to interrupt my Christmas shopping.

And I almost went back to buy the Barbie.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Fun Website!

So yesterday I came across the website  It appears to be the perfect website for me.  Basically, you set up an account, select your favorite genres, and rate books you've already read.  Once you have rated a big group of books, the website generates recommendations based on what you liked.


I'm always trying to figure out what to read and just looking at bookshelves in stores or the library can be overwhelming and time consuming.  While not every book the site recommended to me looks like something I would enjoy, it suggested quite a few that I'd forgotten I wanted to read, and many others that do look enjoyable.  And since the site saves my list of "To Reads" and "Recommendations", anytime I find myself in need of a recommendation I can just log in to my account and find something that appeals to me, and is available at the library.


I'm so excited to find this site.  So excited.  And while it will never be as good as, or as thoughtful as recommendations from friends and family that know me, this will be a wonderful tool when I'm in a pinch, and an even better tool for keeping my "to read" list organized.

Woohoo!  Bring on the books!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Oh...Christmas Tree

Well, I'm almost embarrassed to post a picture of our Christmas Tree.  But, because it's soooo ridiculous, I'm going to go ahead and share.

As always, we are trying to pinch pennies this holiday, and while I much prefer a live Christmas Tree to a fake one, the prices can be kind of ridiculous.  This year I saw an ad that the Limerick Fire Department was selling trees at a local tree farm, any size for $20.  It appeared to be a cut and carry arrangement, so we decided to give it a go.

As a note, there is a difference between a local tree farm and a local Christmas tree farm.

The trees at this farm were all 20-30 feet tall.  We were told to choose anyone we'd like and they top it and cut it to size and strap it to the car.  Determined to stick to our $20 Christmas tree budget, we decided to make the best of it and see what we could find.

Another note, the tops of trees look different when they are 20 feet in the air.

We picked out a tree top that was relatively straight, had only one tree top, and wasn't filled with pine cones.  The firemen cut it to size and tied it to the roof of our car.  They accidentally tied the doors shut at the same time, so I had to crawl in through the back, but that was minor.

When we got the tree home all we could do was laugh.  It is perhaps the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen.  The addition of lights and ornaments have not helped this poor tree.

So while everyone else is sharing beautiful pictures of their full trees with beautiful lights and decorative ornaments, I can contribute my scraggly, scrawny, unevenly lit, unevenly decorated, Christmas monstrosity.

Fortunately we all have a good sense of humor.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Polar Express!

Choo Choo!!!  Last night we took Ben on the Polar Express at Portland's Narrow Gauge Railroad.  I got the tickets a few weeks ago for 50% off, and was really excited about kicking off the Holiday season with a train ride.  Since this is Ben's first Christmas as a walking, talking, kiddo, I've been eager to get him involved in festive things so he can start to get excited!  And boy was he excited!

We met my mom at the train station and had a few minutes to play on the little wooden train inside.  For a kid who doesn't spend a lot of time around other kids, Ben did a really nice job playing, and didn't kick, punch or push any of the other little kids (phew!).

We boarded the train (coach tickets, we're not classy enough for first class) and found a seat on a not-too-packed car.  The Christmas music was blasting through the speakers and Ben was in heaven.  He had his coat off and was bouncing up and down within minutes.  I asked him if he was excited and he threw his arms in the air and went YAAAAAYYY!!! 

The train started to move but after only a few minutes we had a stop and were boarded by "elves" who brought us chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa.  Yum yum!  The conductors passed through collecting our tickets and gave the kiddos special golden tickets.  After the tickets were punched, the elves moved through with special jingle bells for everyone.  When the train started moving again, Chris Van Allsburg's The Polar Express was read to us through the speakers and we listened and ate and jingled our bells until the train stopped again at the North Pole and was boarded by Santa Claus!

Santa made his way through all the cars giving hugs to all the kids and wishing them a Merry Christmas.  Then Santa said his goodbyes and the train chugged back to the station.

It was short and sweet but very exciting to all the little kids on the train.  For an evening adventure with an almost two year old, it was perfect. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Not Very Crafty...

Plan:  Get Ben up from his nap, trace his hand onto some felt, cut it out, decorate it with googly eyes and ribbon and make a cute Christmas ornament for Auntie Kelsey.

Reality:  Get Ben up from nap, trace his hand onto some felt, discover that scissors can't cut felt, find new scissors, discover Ben would rather eat glue than touch glue, glue the googly eyes myself, discover that glue does not stick to felt, force glue and felt to form an unwholesome chemical bond, watch googly eyes fall off anyway, attach ribbon with glue, watch it fall off, attempt to punch a hole in felt to tie ribbon through, jam hole punch, rip felt ornament trying to un-jam hole punch, throw crafts away.

No, I'm NOT Martha Stewart.