Sunday, December 30, 2012

We were okay. And that is good.

I just went back through my blog looking for this past year's resolutions and realized that I made none - at least not on this blog - since I took November - March off of posting apparently!

Life happens.

So the good news is, no blown resolutions!

The less good news - no accomplished resolutions. And nothing much checked off the bucketlist.

I gave myself half credit for finishing up  the first half of #12: Learn to take great photos and get a “real” camera - I took a photo workshop in April that was really enlightening if only for showing me the power of a low aperture lens, which did drastically improve my portraits. Unfortunately, since then, my toddler's ability to pose (read: stop moving) for portraits has diminished to almost zilch, so I can't say I've actually produced many "great photos" lately.

I may have accomplished #68 Start an Xmas tradition and carry it on forever, but I'm not sure when I actually get to count that as completed?) I'll update on this soon and you can decide.

And that is really about it. Not that I feel unaccomplished this year. I've actually come pretty far. I am starting to feel relaxed more often, which is fairly foreign to me. I am starting to feel okay when people come to my house and it's covered in goldfish crackers or dishes are stacked in the sink - not that I aspire to live in a pit, but I'm working to be less uptight about having company over in general. I'm more comfortable taking The Cupcake out into the world, more confident that we will have fun adventures and less worried about her melting down or making a scene - again, I'm re-setting my tolerance for being imperfect in public. I'm learning to strike out all the other verbs and just "be."

I'm still not sure what I want to do with my life or as a career, and that still scares me. But I'm doing a much better job of living right now, instead of 4 weeks/months/years down the road. Heck, I can't even tell you what I'll be doing next week (or what day it is today, honestly), so I'm learning to live outside of a schedule pretty well.

I think the biggest thing I've learned this year is that the stay at home mom mantra is true: the days are long, but the years are short.

Some days are very, very long. Most of the days of my pregnancy were full of nausea and heartburn. Much of TC's first year was a haze of sleep deprivation. The second was non-stop action and some days I begged for a nap myself (or just some time to sit), but those long days eventually faded into short years - has it been another one already? Will I have a 2-year-old at the end of the week?

Yes. And we will celebrate with a delightful party, one that is small and manageable but also a reason to splurge and try a few crafts and take a lot of photos. A chance to gather the family and our closest friends around an absurdly big bowl of ice cream, dress TC in a special outfit she will probably only wear that once, and listen to her laugh and try to make everyone around her do the same. I will probably stress about it, and run late, and order too much food - but then I will sit down, and relax, and enjoy the evening as I am just now learning to do.

A lot of mommybloggers say that their kids teach them all sorts of lessons, and I suppose mine does too, but what stands out to me more is what I've learned not from my kid, but from being her mom. Being a mom. I've been humbled. I'm continually struck by how difficult it is to parent, mostly in the tiny little decisions or enduring the situations in which we have no decision, let alone the big scary ones we fret over so much. I'm shocked and surprised at my own reaction to things, and how I never could have anticipated the way I'd feel in any of these situations, or how I'd react, or that I'd even face many of them. I'm then shocked and surprised again that I can realize these changes and step back to look at my whole life, and everyone else's around me, differently. 

There have been few tremendous highs this year, and several terrible lows - we lost family members, including our longtime companion Norm. Illness struck our extended family. Cars broke, stuff wore out, money was tight.

But mostly, it was okay.
We were okay.
We had what we needed, we wanted what we had, and there was a wonderful peace in that. 

I think in 2013 I may not resolve to reach as many heights as I sometimes feel I should. I am often guilty of "letting the perfect be the enemy of the good", and that creates a cycle of stress that is self defeating and not fun. So, instead, maybe I'll just live in the middle for a while, and enjoy the peace between extremes. I'll check some things off my bucketlist if it works out, and I'll keep working towards some more organization, surrounding myself with things and people and tasks that make me happy, but I won't push it. I'll just be.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Should I really give Santa Credit for This Anyways?

The Cupcake visited Santa, and can pick him out of a photo (though sometimes she calls him PaPa), and if you ask her what he says, she will give a hearty "Ho ho ho!" But TC doesn't know what Santa "does" yet.
Thank goodness.
Nor does she have any sense of time, or dates, or holidays. Which is very convenient. I decided to put together her big present, purportedly from Santa, on December 23rd, since it was a lazy Sunday afternoon and we had no obligations, and we'd be out late on Christmas Eve for sure. I had no idea what I was in for. I couldn't even lift the box (which could double as a pauper's coffin with no trouble).
Everything was packed nicely, all 7.5 million pieces in one huge brick...

With 400 pages of IKEA-ish sketched directions.

I called in reinforcements - power tools are one of man's best advancements. Though I could have used some elves too (maybe Santa knows what he's doing?)

The pile of foam wrap, cardboard, and styrofoam was bigger than the original box. The physics are baffling.

But somehow, 3 hours + 6 broke nails later, it was done. And adorable. And sturdy (so far). In fact, this thing is WAY nicer than any of our kitchen cabinets. And since our kid has no concept of Santa, or days of the week, or dates on the calendar, we just let her discover it when she got up from her nap instead of trying to hide it for 2 more days (did I mention it weighs as much as a small car?).

It was a hit! The Cupcake loves her "chicken." Especially the "seenk!" It has a ton of storage, the oven and dishwasher open like cabinets (instead of opening vertically, at which point the kid steps on the door and breaks it immediately after assembly), and even that "tile backsplash" is heavy wood, not just cardboard. She won't leave the shelves in the oven or dishwasher, but otherwise she has been loving it for hours, talking and cooking and amusing herself just as I had hoped.

Definitely loves filling everything from the sink, I'm so glad we got this sturdy set with a heavy duty faucet! The phone has to be her second favorite, and she even points out the big numbers on the "base" of the phone.
I'm not sure what we'll do next year when she has a bit more awareness of the world (probably buy pre-assembled gifts?) but there still seemed to be plenty of Christmas magic this season, even if some of it came a few days early.

P.S. This is the KidCraft Urban Espresso kitchen set via Amazon. It was about $180 (I think) and right now I'm super happy with the choice. While it was a bit of a bear to put together (not necessarily hard, I did it myself in about 2-3 hours, and didn't do anything wrong, it was just a lot of steps), it seems really sturdy, everything is smartly designed for real kids (i.e. the oven door thing), there are no noisy buzzers or sound effects or flashing lights (we have enough toys that yell at me), and I can definitely see this lasting for years to come. It's not terribly huge either, we're going to keep it in the living room for now since that is where we spend most of our time. It says 3&up on the box, but there are no small (removable) parts and my almost 2 year old, while pretty tall for her age, is able to interact with everything just fine.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Ornament Tradition - 2012

One of the holiday traditions we are starting is to pick out an ornament for The Cupcake each year. Something that relates to her life during the year we get it, and once she is all grown up and decorating her own tree we can give her the whole set of memories to begin her own collection of holiday decor (in theory...I'm not necessarily convinced I'll be ready to part with them, but for sure she can have them in the will).
Two years ago, when I was pregnant, we started with this one.
Last year, her first Christmas, I picked out a monkey in a ballerina costume which looked almost identical to the little monkey on her first birthday invitations, and suited our little dancing (and running, and climbing, and wiggling) monkey just fine:
This year I was pretty sure we had to find something that represented her FAVORITE guy in the whole world, and no, it's not Daddy or PaPa...
It's Elmo.
The first thing TC asks for in the morning is Elmo. Sometimes it makes me feel like a massive failure that my almost 2-year old knows a TV character so well, but I swear it was love at first sight - Elmo was one of her earliest words, PaPa P got her a stuffed Elmo doll when she was pretty little, and some days a little Elmo is just the lifesaver we both need to make it through another long day (the years are short, but the days are looooooong). This past week we volunteered at a gift wrap booth for 3 hours a day 4 different days. How, I ask you, does one entertain a toddler in an 8' X 8' space for 3 hours? Elmo makes the impossible possible. Instead of beating myself up over it, I'm going to accept, acknowledge, and heck, even celebrate it. Elmo is a big part of our life right now.

This was the best likeness I could find of the officially licensed ornaments. We wanted to be sure the money went to Sesame Workshop, without whom I could never get dressed or pee during the day. I like the idea of getting a glass ornament each year, while she can't play with them, it will feel like more of an heirloom to hand over eventually.
Here's hoping you're building family traditions of your own today & all year round...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry = yes, bright = not so much...

I was pretty proud of myself after I cheaply replaced our defective Christmas tree lights a few posts ago:

For a very short time. Then the new lights also bit the dust. There are about a dozen out of the two full strings that are still lit. I give up.

I'm not going to even bother trying to figure it out until I undress the tree, so we'll just pretend they're all still flashing away happily for a couple more days. We went pretty light on the holiday decor this year, just the tree and a little garland:

It actually turned out pretty festive though! We have this great archaway between our living and dining room. A few 3M hooks, some wood bead garland, a red ribbon, and some large plastic Christmas bulbs started us off.

As the holidays drew nearer, I punched a hole in each Christmas card we received, threaded it onto a plastic ornament hook, and added them to the garland.

A few glittery candy canes on each end for good measure too :)

With a toddler on the loose I knew I didn't want to deal with the fish-hook style ornament hangers, I know I pretty much step in one each year and have to extract it from my heel, I definitely didn't want to be pulling them out of The Cupcake's gullet - so I was pleased to find these plastic (and more toddler-friendly, though I'd still her rather not acquire any) hooks.

May your days be Merry & Bright - even if your lights are b!tchy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ink Refills - Failed Experiement

One of the things I miss the most about not working is the access to office equipment. I predicted it would be true, and it is.  I loved my copier. I loved scanning things with ease, including long documents or cards for digital scrapbooking. I miss printing. I miss the endless supply of toner/ink/post it notes that arrived to fill my every whim.

Paying for ink blows. I think we all agree, it's a big  expense  that gets put off until you end up in an emergency and you have no choice.

I thought I'd be a little proactive and try out ink refills now that Costco is offering them through their 1 hour photo. I had done some research online and found a few people that had trouble with their printer recognizing the refilled cartridges, but decided  it was worth the gamble.


I really wish I had only refilled one cartridge to try it out, but no, I refilled an XL black and all 3 color cartridges at once. The color ones were out out out, so I loaded them right back up and was pleased that there was no recognition problem. I printed a poster just fine and did a little celebratory dance at my success.

And then I tried to print another poster. And the colored ink got fainter, and fainter, and eventually stopped.

They don't work. 


I have yet to try the black ink, but for sure the colored ones were not worth the gamble. Even if they had worked it was only a few dollars savings per cartridge over new, definitely not worth the hassle. The black was a bigger savings, but I am doubtful it will work any better - though I'll try to remember to update when I try it out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Cupcake meets Santa

We never made it to Santa last year, I had good intentions but froze up whenever I saw the price list for photos, or didn't like the outfit she was wearing, or the mood she was in, or just in general thought I could do better and so I ended up with nothing. This year could have very well been the same, but we took advantage of several happy coincidences and ended up with a sweet snapshot:
I'm not very happy with the low resolution (we bought the file, for $35 or whatever ridiculous amount I paid I should get a good resolution file) but the pics are cute and made for some adorable holiday cards (cropped a bit). We didn't intend to see Santa that day, we were just wandering the mall and admiring the lights when we came across his cottage with no line. And then we realized The Cupcake was wearing a red plaid tunic, and I had the weekend off to work on Xmas cards if we could get it together, and really wouldn't it just be the perfect opportunity...
And then she freaked out when we tried to send her to the big guy, ugly crying and all.
So maybe not...
We took a detour to the food court, ate some fried rice, and I combed her hair with a fork (where my Little Mermaid fans at? Dinglehopper FTW?) and bought a couple quick hair ties and some bows at a Claires.

And with the help of Santa's special bribes (stuffed animals, cookies, patience) we got a few good memories.
And I ordered my Xmas cards that night.
Mom wins. Claim them when you can.

Monday, November 26, 2012


We had a fairly low-key Thanksgiving this year, just a traditional meal at my mom  ("nonnie") 's house. The Cupcake has been hit by a 2nd round of this horrible cold, she had about 2 days of reprieve and has otherwise had a drippy nose and cough for TWO MONTHS. Awful. But she still managed to look pretty cute in the fancy pants Janie & Jack outfit Grandma Deb bought her when she was in town last year - it fit PERFECTLY!

The adorable little tam was tolerated just fine in the car, but flung as soon as we walked into the house. Sigh.

Somehow, after much convincing, she put it on for a few more snapshots:

Food, family, and a few good photos - what more can a mom ask for?

I also had the rest of the weekend open to tackle some holiday projects - Christmas cards are in the mail!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Let there be light, dammit.

I have a loose tradition of putting up Christmas decor the day after Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if I've done it every year, or for how long, but it makes sense and I usually have some free time over that weekend, so it's convenient. This year the hubs had to work but The Cupcake was being semi-accomodating so I was able to sneak downstairs  and wrestle the medium sized tree up the stairs from storage. It's a partially collapsable 6 footer or so, and usually we just leave it set up in the laundry room during the off season. I take off the decorations but not the lights, since that seems like a waste of time just to put them back on again and it they don't fall off like ornaments do.

Last year I used a new set of lights for the first time, some fancy-schmancy LED ones I scored at Target on clearance the day after the prior Xmas. Red & white. I was happy to see that the tree would fit perfectly on top of a desk we have in front of the window right now, keeping more of it up and away from TC and showing off the lights out the window very nicely. I set up a sparkly tablecloth, plugged in the tree and...nothing. Well, 3 of the 4 strings were nothing. Dead.

Guess these weren't the kind that stay lit when one goes out. Sigh.

Next step: unwrap all the stupid lights, and try to keep them untangled.

Worst step: pretend that in jiggling and removing all the bulbs and putting them back in that I will somehow know what is wrong and make them work again. Ha. Ha Ha. Repeat for all 3 strings. Ha.

Actual worst step that I hadn't even anticipated: flinging TC into quarantine in the hallway when she whips one of the dead strings off the table and smashes one of the (apparently glass) bulbs on the floor, sending glass shards everywhere. 20 minutes sweeping and vacuuming ensue. Possible obscenities muttered. All lights end up in the trash anways. Lose 1 day + a few dollars. Spin again.

And the story concludes with a trip to Target for new lights, a pondering of the LED ("greener" but expensive) vs. traditional lights, hubby requesting they blink, and an eventual decision to get the cheap Earth-killing lights (in multi-colored "twinkle" variety) because the rest of the string will stay lit when one goes out, and thus in theory shouldn't need to be replaced for a few years. The LED ones could last longer, but if one goes I'd have to figure out which one or end up in the same place as this year. Also, after winding them on, I found I only needed 2 sets instead of the 4 I used last year, so the whole tree is done for less than the cost of replacing one of the broken LED strings. Works for me. I even found the adaptor so I can use a remote to turn them on and off instead of digging behind the furniture. Super productivity points.

Yet to come: deciding which ornaments to risk with the cupcake...

Friday, November 16, 2012

I like Pork Butts and I Cannot Lie...

I totally cooked something in the crock pot today.

All by myself.

And it was good.

I know millions of people do this all the time, and for some people it is a way of life, but I spent the past 12 years with a crazy food obsessed dog who would stop at nothing to get at a tiny morsel of anything, so a crock pot full of simmering meat was definitely off limits. Norm could leap 2 babygates high with no problem, anything on the counter was always in reach if the mood struck him, and short of putting it on top of the refrigerator (which still might not have deterred him)I just couldn't make a crock pot work. So we never tried it. This is a whole new world for me.

I got a $10 pork butt and threw it in my like new crock pot (I think I used it once for Halloween) with a cup of apple cider and 1/2 cup of water, let it sit on low for 8 hours and it shredded up pretty nicely. We ate it on wheat buns with a little bbq sauce, and there are at least 4 more meals left, so I'm doing AWESOME on my budget with this meal.

Crock pot confidence level: rising.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stuff I'm NOT doing...

-  cutting my hair for a few more inches so I can knock "donate to Locks of Love" off of my bucket list. Not sure if I'll make it, as the urge to chop is pretty strong, but I'm getting really good at the rolled up ponytail I wear every day. I'm also growing out my bangs and remembering why I swore I'd never have bangs again...last time I had half grown-out bangs...

- painting our bedrooms. Despite having $100 in paint cluttering up the kitchen floor, I just can't seem to make time for this project, and I just don't really want to do it. Especially now that it's too cold to leave the windows open. Boo for lack of motivation.

- putting up holiday decorations. I didn't put up a single Halloween or Thanksgiving item. It was weird to have spent MONTHS in previous years on Halloween, and this year there was zero evidence in my house. I used to make whole photo albums of decor! In theory I'm going to try some Xmas goodies this year, but in reality - I guess we'll see.

- crossing stuff off my bucket list. I've hit a dry spell in my progression. Part of it is financial - a big part - seeing as stay at home momming doesn't really leave a lot of discretionary funds for travel, shopping, and babysitters, but part of it is just a differing of priorities right now. I may have to add some "with The Cupcake" things to my list, which are the more urgent goals in my life right now.

- roller skating. I miss it. I kept meaning to go and bring TC in her stroller (one of our area rinks allows it) but their open skate is always during naptime, and she's starting to be able to escape from her stroller too easily, I don't want to be caught on wheels chasing after her or trying to tackle her. So I guess now I wait for her to start skating too? :) Or maybe just for a babysitter?

- reading. I just finished "The Passage" and I can't decide if I liked it. I do enjoy myself some vampire literature, and post-apocalyptic stories, but it was so BLEAK. And every time I got into one storyline, it abandoned it for a new one. So I'm going to wait on the sequel, at least till the cheap paperback comes out. What should I read next? I need something fluffier.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

3....2...1...ZOMG CUTE

 Our final Halloween celebration, that of "actual" Halloween, Wednesday evening the 31st.  We went to the "new zoo" (we have two zoos nearby, the "new" one is at least 20 years old but I've always called it the "new zoo" so it's hard to stop now) for their members-only "HallZOOween." I warn you now, The Cupcake's grand finale costume might be the cutest thing ever to occur on this blog:
Yes, she even wore the "at" (hat)! In fact, we finally took it off of her halfway through the trick or treat stations fearing she was broiling and knowing she kept walking off the path when it bunched up over her eyes, but it was maybe even cuter off, so that's okay.

I didn't make this or anything, I obvs have no time to try creativity lately. I found it on a rack titled "boy costumes" which seemed pretty weird for 2012, but whatever, I wasn't deterred. I knew my little space"man" would be adorable. If I could get her to wear it. We tried a few practice runs ahead of time and it was unclear what would be tolerated, so when she actually seemed delighted (or just distracted enough) on the big day, I was overjoyed.

HallZooWeen was really nice too, it was all indoors (score!), the kids got pretty good treats (cheese its, goldfish crackers, animal print sunglasses, a little fur print coin purse, and a ton more) and it was definitely better than being outside, and the lines weren't long until the end. TC enjoyed seeing a few animals too, and  afterwards we went to dinner and called it a night.

Halloween 2012 is in the books. I still feel like I missed something because I didn't dress up in something grand (I wore my alien hat again with Ms. SpaceMan) but all in all, it was a good time and we accomplished a lot considering I'm STILL battling a cold (this has been weeks).

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Things that go bump (scrape, scratch, whoooo) in the night:

...all the really old mylar balloons wafting through our house on air currents whenever the heat kicks in. They scrape across the ceiling and make a subtle but definitely noticable scratching sound as they cling to life and I forget to put them out of their misery. Right now we have a round blue Chuck E. Cheese and a red heart that have both seen better days, but they seem to be clinging to the sky so I let them hang out. The heart is from  a party store and has to be going on 2 months old. This shocks me since our latex balloons from the State Fair didn't even survive 24 hours, and some of our Dollar Store mylars only had a few days. Guess that extra $0.99 for the  real deal really makes a difference. Lesson learned.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Gold Stars & Gold Boots

I have two baskets of clean laundry sitting on the floor ready to be put away (that the hubby lovingly washed, dried & folded). Scratch that, there are THREE. The final remnants of the the yard sale (2 months ago?) are still on the porch waiting to be dragged back upstairs and sorted. And this weekend I have to find a new place for a bunch of furniture we are inheriting.

But none of that was on my list this morning to accomplish, and what was I totally knocked out of the park, so gold stars and celebratory dances all around!

The moral of this story: set reasonable goals. Today it was mail the bills, make a bank deposit, pick up some jackets my debate kids ordered, and pay the Target bill in-store. It was fairly lengthy considering I had just a few hours and TC in tow, but I was optimistic. When I got in the car I had to add "get gas" somewhere on the list, and later in the day "call the cops on the crazy lady in the semi truck who wouldn't get out of the turn lane and then got out of her truck and yelled at me" (for "being rude" when I honked at her after the 3rd cycle of the light she blocked a whole line of cars from our left turns as she used it for her personal parking lot without her flashers on - "Can you drive this truck?" she yelled, to which I replied "no, and if you can't either, get out of it!")

Anyways, there will always be stuff that doesn't get done. A freaking ton of stuff. And new stuff will show up out of the blue and demand immediate attention. So I triage, and only worry about a few things a day. One day all that was on my list was to refill the soap dispensers. Were there 10,000 other things that should have been done? Absolutely. But I wasn't going to get that many done, especially not while sick and wrangling TC. So I set my sights on one thing, got through it, and everyone survived the day and felt good about it. I'd much prefer that to having all 10K on my list and feeling like a looser every day when I don't make measurable progress.

It also opens up the opportunity for "extra credit" gold stars - I knew eventually The Cupcake needed boots, and I've been putting it off (not on the top of the list yet!) but while at Target we wandered past some and had a moment to try them on and figure it out. TC has yet to let go of her new sparkly gold boots without crying (the poor Target cashier did try her best to get them back quickly) so I think they're a hit. On a related note, kids' boots are ridicuously expensive.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Halloween Morning

While we didn't make it to all of the Halloween events I had wanted to, in hindsight we still did quite a bit. It feels a little anticlimactic that I didn't wear a grand costume for anything, but I had a few minor ones, including one for Halloween Morning.
We were matching monarch butterflies! I found the wings a while back at Joann's, clearanced out well before October, I think they were $9. They were a glitter nightmare but I just waited till I was out of the house to open them up, and they got a little floppy as the day wore on, but the effect was still cute. We made quite a splash at the nursing home we trick-or-treated at Wednesday morning.
It was a really cute event, I'm so glad we went. I'm generally uneasy in nursing homes and at mom-group events, and this was both, but it was pretty fun and low stress.

The Cupcake loved running up and down the wide hallways and there wasn't too much trouble she could get in along the way. At the end of each hallway were a couple of residents handing out candy, and again TC picked up on how to take it and put it in her bucket pretty quickly.  

Afterwards we gathered in a community room for cookies (sugar cookies - the messiest of the cookies, and least toddler-friendly. Oops.). TC sat down to dig through her candy (other than Kit-Kats, I don't think she recognized any of it) and there was one little old lady sitting alone by the TV. TC picked up a little box of pink Nerds and walked over to her slowly, and sheepishly set the candy on the arm of her chair. I melted.

Then she mashed a Crunch bar and a whole bag of M&Ms all over my car, so it's not all rainbows and lollipops.
But it was pretty darned cute.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I am clearly not "Juicy"

I was just perusing the Mall of America website for details of their Halloween event tonight, when this advertisement caught my eye:
Does anyone really walk like this? Has she just been hit by a car and thus her awkward head flip/hair flying/twisted up skirt? Or is she walking along Miami in a hurricane? Perhaps she skipping wildly and braying like a horse?
WTF people?
Who approves these things?
And why would this make me want to shop in Minnesota in the fall?
That is all.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wish Lists - Toddle Along Tuesdays

The Cupcake has enough stuff. That is not even a question. She is easily amused by little things, so if our day feels stale I can just hand her a bowl, spatula, or set of measuring cups and she'd probably be good to go for another hour at least. She has a really nice indoor climbing structure/slide, a basket of stuffed animals, a barely used playhouse, and most recently a huge collection of pots, pans, and play food. She is enamored with all of it.

It's me that gets bored.

I'll admit it, I over-buy for TC because it's more fun to splurge on her than myself these days, and since such a huge percentage of my life involves entertaining her, it's still a treat for me to get new toys and books.

Sometimes it's a mental health necessity.

We sometimes sit down and read through all of the board books we own at least twice in a day. That gets old pretty quick. If you would like me to recite "Oh the thinks you can think" or "Are you my mother?" or pretty much anything by Sandra Boynton, just ask. It's taking up way too much brain space, and I may have ripped a few of the Dr. Seuss books in half and thrown them under the couch when I just couldn't take them any more - and then gone out to buy new, even though we didn't "need" them.

So when looking at this week's Toddle Along Tuesday prompt about your Toddler Wish List, I have to just admit straight away that these are MY wishes. The Cupcake will probably enjoy all of these, or would be just as happy with a few cardboard boxes and a $1.99 balloon.

Currently Coveting:

1. Play Kitchen - I've been looking at these for a long time, and I'm currently leaning towards this one (pictured above). I like that it's wood, and not obnoxious colors. I don't think it makes obnoxious noises either. I was in love with this one for quite a while because it has a bakery case, but some of the reviews say it's not clear enough to see through, and it seems really big, though I'm still waffling. We actually don't let TC into the kitchen (danger + always a disaster area anyways = easier to just gate it off), so she doesn't really understand the functions (I think - though she pointed out a "guitar" to me today at Costco, and I was pretty sure she didn't know that word yet either), so I'm also tempted to go with one of these that could be a fun display or double as storage. In a perfect world I would wait until Christmas/Birthday to buy this big gift, but I'm really itching for it, so we'll see how I do :)

(gorgeous felt cake available here)

2. Play Food - for my (her) play kitchen, obvs. We inherited a big set of plastic stuff from a neighbor which has been really fun - especially now that The Cupcake  is learning to talk and identify the items. We got a couple nice  sets of pots and pans from a JBF Sale, but what I'm really coveting is fancy felt food, like these found on Etsy. And these. And these. And so many more. If you actually click on any of those links  you'll die from the cuteness, or if not that, the price. So I probably won't actually purchase any of this, at least not for The Cupcake to destroy, but it's still on the wish list :)

3. Chuck E. Cheese's Gift Cards - I have been pleasantly surprised by how delightful Chuck E. Cheese's can be on a weekday morning, it's my go-to hot spot right now. There is a lot of great stuff for toddlers, and mostly TC loves to see the other kids. We can kill a morning there on a handful of tokens (again, the tokens keep ME interested, she could care less if the games are working or not). I can trail along behind her drinking a coke, and the food isn't as bad as I remember (the pizza is similar to Little Cesars). With winter coming, it's a great alternative to let her run beyond the free mall play areas/McDonald's Playland (which are both kinda gross) and cheaper than most gyms and paid play areas - but it would still be fun to have a little scratch for tokens and treats, which are not in my normal (nonexistant) budget.

I still haven't decided what our holiday plan will be, what traditions we will build and how to do the whole gifts/Santa aspect of the season, but I am pretty sure we'll be budget friendly and low key at least in these first few years. TC will probably enjoy ripping open a few packages this Christmas, but I could put balloons or Goldfish crackers or a few Cheerios in each one and she'd be just as thrilled as she would with a $45 Hanna Anderson sweater or $100 worth of Melissa and Doug toys.

But will I?


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Zoo Boo

We had a delightful time at ZooBoo 2012, and I'm feeling a little better about my lack of Halloween cheer now that we've gone out a few times to celebrate.
This is how we rock costumes Minnesota style - 2 pairs of pants, long sleeve shirt, sweater, winter coat, hat, wool socks, mittens - plus wings and a tutu, of course :)
Not everyone took this logical approach to the evening, however - I couldn't believe all the little girls in various princess/fairy costumes with bare legs or thin nylons. Very sad. I'm glad we decided to be comfortable.

She had to be pursuaded to wear the mittens, but she carried the cauldron all night without complaint! In fact, we had to pry it from her hands at the end.

This was one of the few costumes that caught my eye - simple, comfortable, and still cute - it's a squirrel!

My little monarch watching the seal swim ("fishy!" according to TC ). She caught on to the trick-or-treating earlier this time and started to raise her bucket at each one. Less candy at this event, but still a lot of stuff - yogurt, oatmeal, coloring books, a pencil, and a few unhealthy (read: good) items thrown in too.

This was as close as I got to wrangling The Cupcake for a photo - and the only proof I exist so far this Halloween.

At the end of the trick-or-treat stations Radio Disney had a little dance and TC was IN LOVE! She jumped and twirled and flung her candy all over (though never let go of the bucket). I think we'll have to take this little bug to a dance sometime soon.
Beautiful walk home through the fall leaves.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


This Halloween is a mega disappointment - the awesome party we attended last year isn't being held, I never found a replacement for an adult event that was not late, loud, & drunk, and to top it all off I'm sick. Boo, and not the good Halloween kind.

I had hoped that this year would be a banner year for celebrations, my first as a stay-at-home mom, meaning I could do some of the extra day events, but it just hasn't  worked out. Cold weather, family loss, and lack of funds haven't exactly helped. In years past I've blogged more in October than any other time of the year - costume ideas, decor, SOMETHING - but not this year. I'm off my game and I'm sad about it. Better luck next year I guess.

It's not a total loss, however, even feeling pretty awful I did drag my sorry self out on Thursday for Byerly's (a local grocery store) Boo Bash.

It was perfect! Indoors, low stress, FREE, and The Cupcake even tolerated her costume! She went as a butterfly ("bye", as she says it) and was - of course - adorable. She wasn't too keen on sitting still for a photo, but I got a few decent ones.

She already had the black leggings & socks. The polka dot bloomers, orange tutu, and black turtleneck were all Goodwill and less than $10 together. The wings were a splurge from the State Fair this summer - after using my 50% off coupon at Fairy Finery they were just $11, so the whole outfit was under $20! She had never before kept the wings on for more than 2 seconds, so my expectations were low, but quickly exceeded. In fact, she twisted and twirled and danced across the living room as soon as she was assembled, it was a hit.

The Boo Blast was perfect for us - TC's a little young yet to understand trick or treating, but she caught on to taking candy from each station, and she liked the attention of the costumed store workers and all the other kids.

We got there towards the end so we missed the photo booth (boo) but the lines were short and we were able to keep moving and keep Cupcake interested.

The only backup was at cookie decorating, so we just skipped it. I was shocked at how much candy she walked away with, I was just looking for an excuse to get her dressed up!

Afterwards we stopped for pizza, and let TC bust into some of the candy. She already could recognize the KitKat bars (coo-kie?) and she tried M&Ms for the first time.

She decided Daddy should eat the M&Ms.

I had hoped to do some more seasonal stuff today, but the cold is winning. I'm not wearing a zombie costume, but I could probably pass for one. This has been dragging on for weeks now, I'm ready to be healthy again! Hopefully I can still make the last few celebrations we have planned, fingers crossed for a Happy Halloween.