All the Candy

One of my favorite parts of holidays is….the after-holiday sales.

In particular, the post-Valentine’s Day, post-Halloween, and post-Easter sales.

I like to peruse CVS two-three days after the holiday passes. Candy, and some toys or gifts, are usually 50% off. Today, I picked up Hershey’s chocolate eggs, a Russell Stover bunny (already lost his ears, poor guy), Reese’s for M, and a variety bag of chocolate.

But even more exciting – I found a set of 16 eggs that have stickers in them for $2.49 for Little Baby’s Easter next year! Plus, scannin my bonus card gave me $1.00 off, so I could have gotten them for $1.49 if I wasn’t a greedy candy hog.

The after-holiday sales are usually great for stocking stuffers, hang-around gifts, and work gifts. Hang-around gifts are those that you keep handy in case of a last minute birthday. Wine, gag gifts, that sort of thing. The work gifts are for Secret Santas or White Elephants – we like tacky gifts for these.

I also have picked up a lot of my holiday decorations atthese types of sales. Pier 1, Target, and Big Lots have been pretty decent sources. I think the vast majority of our Christmas decorations came from Target the first year we bought our house, and most of our Halloween knick-knacks are PIer 1.

Anyhoo….I like candy. I like saving money. And I like knowing I have something for Baby’s Easter Basket next year, already!

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RHONY!

They’re back!

HURRAY!

I love the Real Housewives franchise on Bravo!, and the New York cast was definitely a top favorite. I wasn’t a fan of the last season or two, when Jill Zarin, Bethanny, and Luann kind of disappeared.

But they’re back! I’m watching tonight, and LuAnn really looks fantastic. I’m thrilled she’s back – sh offered interesting perspectives on things, plus the great Countess-ness. The preview for the season implies she may have gotten a little raunchier since we last saw her.

And hello! Bethanny Frankel has returned. Glory and hallelujah! She should really shake things up. She’s gone through so much in the last couple of years, and I hope she’s not going to be a villain.

You had a Baby, not a Lobotomy

I say this fairly often. Officially “trademarking” the phrase for my future baby book! or something…

Before Baby was here, M and I talked a little about our expectations for our lives after Baby arrived. We both agreed we planned to continue being socially active. Why would we suddenly turn into hermits?

We had a baby, not a lobotomy. Who we are, and what we enjoy, is still fundamentally the same. We like seeing our friends. We like trying new foods and going out for a drink.

So…we still do it. We bring the little one along with us. It was super easy when she was still teeny-tiny. She’d sleep through anything in her car seat. Now that she’s older and more active, it’s definitely more work to keep her happy and safe. But it’s worth it.

Our friends are one of our happy-makers. For me, seeing them, catching up on the happenings, and laughing with our friends recharges my batteries. As a stay-at-home Mom, I also enjoy the experience of speaking real words and sentences to someone who will not respond with “pbbbblth” or “bahmnmamnanana”.

It’s the little things like coherence.

M and I also went to two craft breweries on Saturday. We would have also gone to a winery, but 95 was completely shut down for hours, so we postponed. We went to Rusty Beaver, in Ladysmith, and Center of the Universe near Ashland. M is the beer fan, so he did his tastings while munchkin ate puffs, waved at strangers, and clapped to herself. At COTU, we met up with an old friend I have not seen in 20 years. Munchkin proudly grabbed Friend’s beer glass and dumped it all over Friend. She’s generous and giving in that way….

The trick to going out with babies is to know your child and your own limits. If Lil Miss starts acting up and I suspect a meltdown, I take her for a walk around the room or to a quieter spot and tell M to get the check. We try to leave before she loses it. She usually only loses it if she wants to nurse but is too distracted, or has been fighting naps all day.

M and I also know what we’re comfortable with her doing in public. Chewing on a straw or occasionally squawking? Sure. Screaming, throwing food? No.

We also make sure we communicate ahead of the outing. Who’s driving? How are we going to juggle the meal? I remind him sometimes – if you get X, you need to wash your hands as soon as you’re done eating so you can hold her while I eat. If you get Y, we need to alternate back and forth so we can both eat while the food’s hot.

I’m always befuddled by people who say “Oh, forget having a social life! You’ll never go out again! 18 years before you can have fun!” Really? Why is anyone locking themselves up and becoming a hermit? To each his own, of course. There is no benefit in judging others, but I freely admit I do not understand the logic.

Anyhoo….If you enjoy being social and going out before baby, you can continue to do so afterwards. You just make adjustments. More Happy Hour, less (or no) late nights. More casual locations, less formal restaurants. More 1-2 hour outings, less 4 hour events. Less fabulous sparkly clutches, more big roomy bags capable of holding toys, puffs, and diapers!

It’s a baby, not a lobotomy. You can be Mom and still be You.

I’m jealous

Totally jealous.

One of my dear darling friends is starting a website that I totally wish I had done myself!

http://drinkfxbg.blogspot.com/  – The plan is to review Fredericksburg, VA’s great watering holes. A sort of where’s where of downtown Fred, with thoughts from several contributors who will consider the merits of the locale’s atmosphere, beerosphere, and general sphereosphere.

It’s probably going to be mostly brew-focused, which may leave poor Perky out. Unless I can suddenly muster an enthusiasm for beer? Unlikely. Extremely unlikely.

But I do hope to be a family-friendliness critic! So keep an eye out, follow the page. Drink FXBG is also on Facebook – follow them! I just might pop up with my best tips for diaper changes during happy hour!

Walking Dead

I believe the reason Walking Dead is so popular is because people enjoy envisioning themselves in all of those “what if” scenarios that populate the show’s storyline.

Would you survive? Or how long do you think you’d survive?

What would be your weapon(s) of choice?  What do you actually have available, right now, in your home?

We have samurai swords, daggers, other weird knives. None are sharp, though. We also have guns. And a chainsaw. We’d have to sharpen the blades. We have at least one holster. We’d have to stock up on the ammo.

Would your family members make it with you?   Would you make it without your family members?

I’d like to think they’d survive with me. The baby child and husband would obviously be going with me to the refuge at my parents’ home. My parents’ place offers a lot more protection and refuge, just by its remoteness. The trick would be getting down there through the embattled I-95 that would be grid-locked. M has a crazy jacked up truck…but it would still get stuck in the traffic jams. Maybe we should keep that thing’s 50+ gallon tank loaded at all times…I also need to convince my parents to get solar panels. And we have MREs, thanks to M’s bizarre habit of obtaining things that normal people don’t live with.

In tonight’s episode, you suddenly realize how much Rick’s group has gone without …the things we take for granted. A razor blade to shave. A shower. A haircut. Not to mention running water. The smooth feel of a granite counterotp underneath your hands. A clean, dry, comfortable place to sleep. Or just to sit.

The baby, Lil’ Ass-kicker…growing up with no mom, no warm happy playtimes (that the show features, at least), no cuddly toys and fun finger foods. No playdates.

Carl, way too mature and hardened for his age.

Would you take the view Hershel and his family had, in the earlier days? That these are just ‘sick people’, not monsters? Would you immediately go into that full-fledged fight or flight mode?

‘zine queen

My younger self would be appalled to learn the truth.

That I, at the ripe age of 29, have completely failed to keep up with my magazines.

I grew up reading magazines. Reading them. Page to page, advertisements, little text boxes, every page of the articles. I devoured them.

I remember starting off with Redbook. Then Vanity Fair. Elle. Vogue. Good Housekeeping. People. T Magazine. W. National Geograpic. Forbes. The New Yorker.

I read my parents’ magazines when they were done skimming them. My brother had a subscription to National Geographic kids, and then Dad had National Geographic.

But once I started reading Elle, Vogue, Marie Claire, Cosmo, W….I was hooked on the advertisements. I kept my magazines. At one point, I had a bookshelf full of every Vogue and Elle for 10 years.

Then I realized I needed to pare down. “Who keeps old magazines?” I thought.

So I sat down one week with a trash can, scissors, and my stacks of magazines.

And I went through them, one by one, page by page. It was during a phase of my teenagehood where I was slightly hyper-focused on random things, so I got through it surprisingly quickly.  I cut out every advertisement, outfit, and headline phrases that appealed to me.

Then I kept going. Every magazine I got my hands on, I clipped for some unknown compulsion to store these beautiful images and ideas. I even clipped things from the Delia’s catalogue…

So eventually, when you cut things out, you wind up needing to put them somewhere. I organized my little treasures into collections and categories. The full page ads went in one shoebox, the words in another, then celebrities sorted by blonde, brunette, and other.  The non-person items were sorted into their own bo.

I couldn’t bring myself to do anything with them, for a long time. Then finally I went through and started using them for collages on random things, like the side of my little computer desk in my room. Or bedazzling my trash can with images of jewels – “One man’s trash is another’s treasure”, I chuckled wittily.

Then, last year…I cleared out my office/storage room for my baby child. All those boxes of images and words have moved with me from house to house, year after year. I occasionally add new things, but not half as much as I used to.

And I couldn’t do it. Could not part with them. So I have the boxes stacked in the closet, the binders full of images in the guest room bookshelf. And I still find myself dog-earing pages of magazines occasionally, or tearing out sheets that I will probably just wind up tossing away.

“I can do something with these,” I think occasionally. The Guess campaigns, the Etro spreads, the Ralph Lauren photo spreads. Or maybe I can use the headlines and phrases for inspiration to write novels or blogs.

Or maybe, some day, my daughter will rummage through the boxes and use them for her own sheer joy. Maybe I can sacrifice them for art projects and crafts. Maybe.

I think, perhaps, they represent some lost dreams and hopes, the ability to waste hours and days on these beautiful images and imagining the lifestyles I could live in them myself.

But for now, I’m content to hide my little treasures away in the closet…

Friends

I’ve been thinking a lot about friends and friendship so far this year.   banana

Last year, around New Year’s, I remember telling my husband I did not want any more friends. I meant it. I was pregnant, three of my friends were pregnant, and my ‘main’ social circle already consisted of 20-30 people. That means 20-30 people invited to all the main events, birthdays, etc.

M was mentioning a friend’s friend, who had a ‘rough year’ and I should make an effort to be her new friend. This was someone I’d known casually for years, who had never reached out to me, and was only a topic of conversation because of a friend accidentally invited her to my NYE party. I felt odd about saying that. It was true, but it seems like a terrible thing to admit. “No, I do not want any new friends.”

Now, here in 2015, I can look back at 2014 and realize I actually made several new friends who I really enjoy. One, E, is probably my favorite new friend. She’s single, has a medical-related job that involves travel, is stylish, smart, and always up for an adventure. If I wasn’t married, I would probably demand she be my BFF immediately!

So I am thankful that, even though I wasn’t looking for new friends I have in fact made some new ones.

And, in that same note, I am also …conflicted? about some old friends…

Back in high school, when I was being bullied (and basically prehistoric cyber-bullied, since the internet was still ‘new’), I decided to not pursue one-sided friendships. I reinforced that decision later in college, but added a dose of ‘Love the person for who they are’, meaning some people are worth the extra effort and truly don’t mean to be one-sided in friendships.

But where’s the line on effort? When do you give up? If a friend rejects your attempts to get together 10 times and never bothers to reschedule or get back to you or acknowledge the pattern of cancellations or ignoring…it’s clearly gone beyond the ‘absent-minded forgot to reply’ scenario. But what about the years of friendship, and the intensity the friendship once held? It seems like a tragedy to ‘throw away’ all those memories and adventures and good times. But are they being thrown away, or are they just…The Past now?

learn

I’m glad for the friends I have, in all their different forms. The ones I see every week, sometimes 2 or 3 times a week. The ones I see once a month, or every two months. Those I keep in touch with via email now that distance has separated us. The effort is on both sides, and I like to believe both sides are equally fond of the friendships.

Then there’s the new element of being a parent and watching my daughter grow up. She’s only 8 months old but I find myself wondering about her future. Will she struggle to make and keep friends? Will she be accepted or rejected by her peers? Is she going to become hardened or jaded in the ways that I did during my struggles as a lonely adolescent and young adult?

But

Do these shoes hide my wrinkles?

Time is a much discussed, frequently maligned, nostalgically reminisced, oft anthropomorphized being…

My child is approaching her first birthday.

I have been out of college for almost 8 years.

I have been out of high school for almost 12 years.

The last family pet that knew me in my ‘teens was recently put down.

Does this shirt show my grey hairs?

Do these shoes hide my wrinkles?

Things new moms should know

Random thoughts that have popped into my head lately….

If you have a C-section, have rubbing alcohol, cotton balls and Q-tips at home. It helps when you take off the bandages.

Take the bandages off after a few days. Before they get gross. Your skin is already sealed up, I promise.

Your favorites are going to change.

New favorite feeling? When your baby’s hand slowly rubs along your rib cage while she’s feeding. The first time it happens, you’ll probably check for a tag or hair or even a bug. There’s something about the movement that shows she is relaxed, curious, and happy.

New favorite foods? The ones that can be prepared and eaten one-handed…or quickly. For those times when you are starving, but baby’s about to cry or wake up.

New favorite spa treatment? A long, hot shower. Usually taken when someone else is home with Baby, or when you know she’s going to be content for 15-20 minutes either asleep or entertained by a mobile. Yes, 15-20 minutes is long. Take your showers every day if possible. Close your eyes and stand under the stream and just breathe for a few moments. It’s invigorating, refreshing and reminds you to be a human again. As opposed to a milk machine, a diaper queen, a laundry champ…

And the other thing I have definitely learned from being a Mom, and now a stay-at-home mom, is to keep in touch with your friends. Take those occasional girls’ nights out. Get a lunch, a drink, a dinner. Catch up with other adults and people whose company you enjoy. Go for a walk with your other mom friends (and babies). It’s wonderful to get out of the house and just speak with adults, and our friends shouldn’t be tossed out because of babies.