Monday, July 30, 2012

The Bright Side

Whew! Sweet relief, home sweet home. I think I shall try not to dwell any longer on the UnexpectedlyTerribleTrip, which has already consumed too much brain space, and instead move on gracefully. I probably will continue to b!@#$ about it later, since I'm definitely one to hold a grudge and dwell and wallow in the devastation of bad decisions, but let's say in theory that I'm working on it.

So instead, let's go back to  the old standby "BROUGHT ME JOY!"

Thank you Hollywood for helping to pass my time away I watched a BUNCH of movies while I was gone:

-Rental movies on iTunes - loaded them on my computer before I left  for the airport, and they occupied most of my flight time! On the way down I watched the last Twilight movie finally, and on the way back I tried 21 Jump Street. I actually really liked them both!

-The cable package at the hotel was pretty weak, but I did get to watch a couple old but good movies, Simon Burch  (Based on a Prayer for Owen Meany) and Funny People (I think that is what it was called? Adam Sandler & Seth Rogan, Sandler is a comedian with cancer). Watched both of these in a king size cushy bed with the AC blasting and room service (which was mediocre, but still feels decadent) and Papa John's (which was better and cheaper than the room service) in my lap.

-Halfway through my trip the hotel added in-room movies, and while they were a ridiculous price ($18.99!?!?) they were cheaper than taking a cab anywhere, and in the end they were NOT ADDED TO MY BILL! I even stopped to bring it to their attention, not wanting to deal with any fallout if the crappy camp was charged for my entertainment, and I was told all was well, gratis! SUPER SCORE!
(I watched Hunger Games, which I had been wanting to see forever, and liked for the most part, and then Friends With Kids which was just okay, but passed the time.)

-At the Florida airport (during my 12 hour stay) I was really excited to have free WiFi, and even more ecstatic it was fast enough to stream video! I don't go to HBOGO that often, I really should do it more - after I'd exhausted my Hulu queue I watched Contaigon which was really good (if not totally creepy and too possible) and In Time which I also quite enjoyed.

I tried to read and work on my scrapbooking, but I was so frustrated and out of whack that I had a hard time relaxing unless I turned my brain over to TV. That happens to me a lot. I'll never be a hipster, because I like TV and movies, and I'm not embarassed to admit it. I need the escapism that media provides me. Thanks for the few hours of peace you helped me achieve, hope to see you again someday movies. You're much harder to spend time with these days, but we'll meet again in another time and find our happy place again.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Scenes from an airport

I woke up somewhere around 6am (5am central) and lept out of bed, full of hope. I was ready to flee this town, state, terrible trip. I raced to the airport, eager to get on an earlier flight.

None available.

But no, that can't be possible, I must be able to at least stand by for something else?



...and then I cried. Yeah, haven't solved that disappointment issue overnight.

And now here I sit, in a small airport, for 9 or so hours. One positive happening is the availability of WiFi, which is actually even a better signal than at the hotel and I've been able to watch some Hulu to pass time. I've also snagged a seat near an outlet, so I can keep my computer charged as I wither away the day.  I even killed a few minutes watching a bird hop along the carpet happily.

Unfortunately, the services here are pretty bare bones, a few grab and go cafes, no full service restaurant to sit down at, not much open this early, and a single overpriced store. At least at MSP there are miles of stores and restaurants to wander through, but of course I never get stuck there :)

There is one douchey guy next to me talking much too loud on his blue tooth, but I have good headphones and can mostly drown him out. Mostly.

I also don't want to get up to grab anything to eat and risk losing my spot (outlet). Oh goodie, people already coming to hone in on it.

I'll be home in 12 hours (if all goes according to plan). Wish me luck.


OMG! There are TWO birds! That's like 7 or 8 more minutes of entertainment.

Oh no, they came and swept up all the crumbs, now the birds are sad and aimless. And yes, they can fly, which is startling, but when they just hop around they seem less menacing.

Also, more douchey business guys talking too loud on phones.

Update Deux:
Sister called and asked if I was still sitting next to douche bags prattling on loud phone calls, and if I wanted to outshout them. Apparently I did, because Blue tooth moved to another section. Bwa ha ha ha.

HBOGO! Yay for watching movies, that will pass my time! What an excellent idea!

Uh oh, maybe watching Contaigon in an airport is like watching Titanic on a cruise ship...

Update Troix:
I got up at exactly the wrong time and had to wait in a giant line for the bathroom. And of course I lost my seat/outlet IMMEDIATELY, but now I've found another. Would you believe the guy sitting by it wasn't even using it? That's like a rule of society now days, power is king. So I'm sitting on the floor next to it, and after watching Contaigon half of me is creeped out about germs and the other half feels it is so inevitable there's not much practicality to worrying. So anyways, now I'm watching "In Time" and watching a couple toddlers chase the birds. I'm pretty sure they will end up sitting right next to me, because that is how my luck is running, so I hope they just run themselves right down to empty and maybe they will sleep on the trip. Also, pray they have seats, because sitting next to lap babies is brutal.

Also, Sbarro at the airport is awful. Not that Sbarro is ever really that good, but it is fairly reliable in the food court. Here I think someone just found the Sbarro logo on google images and stuck it on their microwave pizza stand. Blah.

Also, I kind of like Justin Timberlake as an actor. Not sure why I feel embarassed about that.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How do you deal with disappointment?

And now for some rambling...

Two months in to "staying at home" and I'm on my second full week AWAY. I didn't travel this much before we had The Cupcake, but the stars have aligned and in 2 months I've had 2 big trips.I'm  still on the road, actually, but I can't wait to get back home and am counting the hours.

On my first excursion I was chaperoning 7 teenagers and had a very full schedule, and I felt like I was doing something important for them, that they had earned, and it was important that I go. That trip went pretty well, and while I was getting a bit frazzled by the end, I was able to enjoy my down time and put it to use effectively - I went to a movie, which was a huge indulgence and really hard to do in my normal life, I got my hair cut, I shopped alone and bought a dress I can wear to our summer weddings.

This trip feels nothing like that trip.

This trip was more "for me," and that's probably where the problem starts. I got an opportunity to go to a training camp for my part time job/activity I coach. Half of the bill was scholarshipped, but I still had to pay some hefty lodging & travel. I didn't know that when I applied for the scholarship, so I hesitated to accept, but in the end (which was after I'd decided to stay home but prior to the start of staying home) I went for it. A week in Fort Lauderdale, training in an activity I really enjoy, opportunity to sleep through the night, should have been a blast.

It's not working out that way. First I have a hard time doing something of this magnitude for myself, and that started bothering me right away. The money, especially now that things are even tighter, but also abdicating responsibilities at home during that time. The Husband was encouraging, but I still wrestle with it internally. That tends to set the bar higher, I need the experience I'm sacrificing for to be even more worthwhile to offset the money and icky guilt feelings. Unfortunately, the camp is a mess, falling far below my expectations and most of the other attendees as well. There was a great gnashing of teeth, some mild confrontation, and other unhappiness that resulted in small changes, but not enough to really salvage the experience.

It would cost $200 to change my return flight, if even that were possible (I'm using a reward flight from credit card miles) and I won't get any of the lodging money I spent back, so I tried to make the best of it, but I'm not good at dealing with disappointment. This is a growing realization, to the point I should probably work on it a bit. After a few days of trying to go with the flow, I finally just bailed on the camp and decided to enjoy my time in Ft. Lauderdale - make lemonade out of these lemons. That went okay - yesterday I slept in, watched TV, and headed to the beach to sit in a cabana most of the afternoon. I read my Kindle and listened to my iPod and swam in the ocean, and it was okay.

It was nice.

If I had just been here on vacation, it would have probably been a pretty good day, but because I was already doing it as a clear "2nd place" to redeem the experience I was hoping for, it still felt a little substandard. And to get a little meta, during my beach trip (which was meant to redeem my whole trip) I sat down for lunch on the beach and ordered a pina colada. It was melted and overly sweet. Disappointment. Then my lunch came, and there were unexpected condiments (which I don't like) on the sandwich. Disappointment. I almost cried.

Stepping back, this probably sounds nuts. I was on the beach! Alone with no obligations! Send the sandwich back! But in general, I'm just not good at dealing with disappointment, and it tears me up for a long time. I kick myself over and over. I hold a grudge internally. You can tell me to "not worry about it" but I do, and I don't really think anyone can choose what bothers them, it's a visceral gut reaction. And disappointment does me in.

I order the same thing at restaurants every time I go, because I'd rather have something I know is good than risk the disappointment of not liking something. Same with destinations or vacations. I'd go to a "proven" experience over a new one most times. "wasting" my money hurts. "wasting" the opportunity haunts me.

Is this a problem? I am not sure. Who says I HAVE to try new things? Who says I'm not making the smarter, more logical, practical and efficient choice?

How do you deal with disappointment?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Outside the Box

I spent the weekend toiling away up in the "witch's tower" (formerly my craft room, AKA our finished attic) while Hubby and Grandpa entertained The Cupcake. I'm STILL working on organizing a yard sale (probably for August) and holy crap do I have...well, crap. I sincerely hope this isn't just a massive waste of time, it would be delightful to make a little money off all of my former treasures as I let them go. It will also be good to make a little space and organization though too.

Remember when I read Discardia and I was talking about the things I don't get bogged down with? I recently discovered something that I have a ridiculously hard time parting with that takes up TONS of space:

Okay, this isn't really my attic, but it might as well be. I have boxes of all shapes and sizes stashed up there, filling the eaves, piled up to the ceiling. I think I know why I save them - they're useful, they're free (all repurposed), it's green living, and having moved a few times I know what a pain it is to collect boxes and how nice it is to have good ones. But I'm not moving any time soon, and though it is convenient to be able to grab a box for anything I need to ship or giftwrap, it's not convenient to have to shuffle around 200 of them in order to access anything else, or even find the size I'm looking for. So I've come to a decision, the boxes are gonna go. I broke down a half dozen or so this weekend (I didn't say I was GOOD at getting rid of them yet, just that I decided to), and am using many more to organize sale stuff - boxes that will go with the "customer" who purchases each box load of goodies for a tidy sum that will fund many adventures for TC and I (hopefully). Recycling is picked up tomorrow, so maybe I'll commit to a few more before then.

And I'm somewhere around 18 rubbermade totes stacked full of priced yard sale merch, not including the clothing which I have yet to dig through. It is ridiculously hot up there, despite our "central air" and the fact that the attic is technically our 3rd bedroom, the HVAC is seriously flawed up there and it's really uncomfortable most of the year. We have a dedicated AC unit I could plug in if I made enough space, but that seems like a lot of work to do just to do more work, and working in short bursts is most effective for me anyways, so I just go till I'm dripping with sweat and then take a break to cool off and recharge. I'm seriously scaling back on Halloween and Christmas decor, craft supplies, kitchen tools, and who knows what else, I don't even remember what I've sorted through. Let's hope it cools off so shoppers flock to my yard and neither I nor my illustrious wares melt across the frown lawn.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Today we had TC's 18 month appointment. No shots, which was a pleasant surprise, and yes, she continues to be Amazonian in stature (35.25 inches, roughly the size of an average 3 year old).

I look down on you from my towering stature.

This is a very dour face for someone with such absurd hair.

After that adventure we shared a McDonald's Big Breakfast, and for the first time in 2 weeks TC willingly ate a meal and then some, it was quite exciting. We had PlayPlace all to ourselves, and though I find them disgusting and vomit a little in my mouth if I look too closely at anything, I tried to pretend they had just bleached it all last night and we were the first people to set foot in there so there were no germs. We all need something to believe in. So with that fairytale in mind, I let TC toddle up and down a few levels until she got too bold and I was afraid I'd have to climb up through the tubes to rescue her (or just to get her to leave) and I'm mildly claustrophobic, so we were on to another destination, which on the spur of the moment I decided would be IKEA! TC is not quite big enough to explore smaland (3/4" to go, though you also have to be potty trained - so my guess is they are looking for a much older crowd than my little giant), so we just strolled the aisles and picked up a few little goodies, then headed home for naptime.

Minor problem: watching a lot of HGTV + perusing IKEA makes you want to formulate ludicrous plans for your home. Luckily I have terrible follow through and no funding, so I'm not in any real danger.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Bar None

HUGE progress on the new playroom over the weekend! Whoo hoo, triumph! This is the area that used to be a big built-in wet bar - see the first part of the transformation post here. After dragging out the project for months, it was exciting to finally get it moving. Saturday night we bribed a friend with BBQ to help lug the base cabinet down the stairs, and Sunday my parents came over to help the real work...7 hours later, it didn't look half bad! I didn't have the right lens on my camera to get a great shot, but you can at least get the idea:

Ta-dah! Old bar completely gone, new base cabinet in, new countertop on, and the only remnant of the old bar, the sink, is re-installed and functional! It took 3 (or maybe 4) trips to the hardware store, 2 different saws, a couple of close calls, and a healthy dose of blood & sweat (no tears! celebrate!).

I still need to paint one side and some touch ups, finish the countertop ends, decide on hardware, and figure out the flooring situation, but the immediate concerns have been met, the main tasks are done and the room is ready for some playing!

The playhouse is assembled and ready for business! So far The Cupcake loves opening and closing the door & shutters, as well as ringing the doorbell, but she is just as interested (if not more) in all of the other non-toy things she can scavenge in the basement. So I guess we have some more Cupcake-proofing to do before it will really be an effective play area, but it's getting close. I set up some shelves and brought down some toys, and we spent a few hours telling her "no-no" and prying unintended items out of her hands (seriously, what is the allure of paper towels?).

All in all, it is a much more useful space - the new "bar" can still be used as a prep area, if we ever do sell the house we'll probably stage it as a wine bar with bottle racks & maybe a wine fridge to one side, storage below for glasses, etc. There is no real need for seating in that area, since most people would just gather around the TV. It could be used as a serving area or buffet too. As much as I complained about the terrible paint job, and the few other mishaps we had in assembly, the overall finished project looks better than I would have thought it could have - especially considering my lack of attention span, money, and skill in all areas required to pull this off! :) Thanks to everyone who helped out. We had no idea what we were getting into, but we've really opened up the whole lower level with this project (and the accompanying laundry room clean out) and it feels great! Can't wait to enjoy some play time with TC now!

Saturday, July 07, 2012


I won't even pretend at this point that I get new toys to please The Cupcake, it's definitely more about keeping ME from falling into doldrums. She's just as happy with an empty milk jug, or her current favorite: a random package of diapers and my shoes:

So yeah, despite the meager budget I whine about frequently, after a couple weeks of being home I dropped $60 I really didn't have on new children's books at Barnes & Noble. I justify it because to delay any further would cost us much more - we have crappy medical insurance and I was certain to stick a fork in my eye sooner or later. We read at least 20 books a day 'round here, and our selection was getting pretty old. We stick to board books right now, and even then TC will sometimes just randomly take a few bites out of one, who knows what is going on there. I already have the new ones memorized too. Seriously...hubby has quizzed me and I've proven it. I've unintentionally memorized the entire Sandra Boynton Line. May I suggest Hippos Go Beserk or Nigh Night Little Pookie? I'd also say to avoid any of the "Touch and Feel" books, TC is enamored with a Puppies & Kitties one that I have thrown behind the couch, under the chair, down the garbage keeps finding it's way hardly even has words, but they infuriate me. And I digress..

We got a new toy!

It's not really assembled here, in the middle of the living room, since it will be going downstairs into the new playroom next week, but I couldn't resist trying it out tentatively (without any of the screws) just to see what it would be like. The kid loved it instantly and played for quite a while before she randomly decided to challenge the walls and we had a minor cave in, but I'm super happy with it. The very best part is the tiny cell phone it came with, which makes real but unobnoxious noises and is the perfect size to drag with us everywhere we go. I'm thinking of calling to order a 2nd/replacement one right away before they stop making them. It also has a working doorbell and a mailslot, as well as a little Dutch door.

I'm excited to have something big and fun to entertain TC in the basement, meaning I might be able to work on laundry or watch the actual big screen TV with cable while she plays (in the living room we only have a tiny TV with the local digital channels, which is probably good because I still feel guilty and awful when she watches TV. I think that will go away when she turns 2 and the AAP warnings go away). She also seems to play a little more independently with this, entertaining herself a little more, which would be nice as far as getting things done around the house. Right now whenever I sit down at the table to work on a project, she climbs my legs and the chair immediately and demands to be included. Thus, I get nothing done :)

Yay for new toys!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Ready to ship:

I love how the rainbow of beads looks - this was a fun one!

#2: Jumperoo seat - I Contacted Fisher Price about the broken part on our Jumperoo:

Poor sad duckie. They didn't have replacement parts available, but said they would send us a refund! I was shocked. And pleased. Especially since I was just getting ready to pack it away and emailed on a whim (I planned to save it for a while, but sell it eventually - those suckers are expensive!) I have to return the seat in order to prove I'm not just still using it, and I got it packed up today. That'll be a big task off the list (and a big item out of the basement!).  

#3: newspaper article for a friend whose daughter was featured that I've been meaning to send since May. Time to go!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

This is how we roll...

Partying like rock stars, trashing hotel rooms - just another day in our creative life.

Except this is our living room, and we don't have the rock star budget to pay some poor housekeeping staff to clean up after us, so it is slightly less glamorous. Not awful though. Our house is actually acclimating to toddlerhood quite nicely. We spend most of our days in the combined living/dining room, using two handy baby gates to block off the kitchen and the hallway to the bedrooms & bathroom. That pretty much makes this room a nice big playpen and it's been resonably childproofed (though these little suckers can find a way to make even the most benign seeming scenario turn perilous in the blink of an eye). We have a nice plastic storage unit on one side of the couch, scored for $4.99 at Goodwill, and all of the stuffed animals live in a big plastic baby tub that is easy to move out of Norm's reach when we leave. The large foam pieces are an awesome play structure we splurged on for TC's first birthday from The Childrens Factory, when it is assembled it has steps, a slide, and a tunnel to crawl through. It was a big purchase, but it is "daycare quality" so it should last forever, and has been totally worth it so far.

About 3-4X a day TC dumps out every single toy she has and whatever else she has scored to play with into a giant heap. Case in point - can you find the ceramic strainer, kitchen tongs, and 50 orange post-it notes hidden in the picture? The kid has plenty of objects to focus her attention on :)

Luckily, it takes under 5 minutes to dump everything BACK into its proper homes, half that if the kid isn't following behind me undoing all my good work :) I usually try to reassemble the house before we leave for our "morning adventure," while TC is napping, when the hubby gets home from work, and while she is having her nightly bath. I have it down to a pretty sweet routine.

So party on, Cupcake. Crank that crazy "Sammy the Spider" CD :)

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Future's so bright she has to wear shades...

It shouldn't be a surprise I can't get my toddler to sit still, I was never able to train my dog to do a darned thing either. So we're in blurry photo territory for a few years I'm afraid. Here's the best of my attempts to document The Cupcake's fantastic swimsuit from Hanna Andersson, courtesy of Grandma Deb:


I love it! It's SO practical for my lilly-white babe, the best coverage I've seen but still lightweight and comfy. It's easy enough to get on and off, WAY easier than strappy suits, and I don't have to spend a bunch of time digging it out of her butt or hiking straps up on her shoulders, which might be my favorite part - it always looks cute, not just the moment you put it on. Last week we went to a playdate through a mommy-group I'm considering joining and while most of the kids were typical pale Minnesotans (including THREE redheads!) mine was the only one in a full coverage suit, there wasn't even anyone in a rashguard top! I was really surprised. We were all arms deep in sunscreen, but I had much less to worry about covering, and that makes a huge difference when wrestling a toddler in public.  

Also, love the full coverage butt as far as sitting on potentially hot pool decks or what-not.  Unfortunately, the kid is already Amazonian and shows no signs of slowing her growth any time soon, so we'll be lucky if she makes it through the summer in this thing. My almost 18-month-old is currently rolling in 24 month clothes and size 6.5 shoes!

Monday, July 02, 2012

And then I Imploded the Basement...

About 1/2 of our basement is finished, including a 3/4 bath and two "rooms" that make up our family room area. The larger "room" has our tv, a wall of bookshelves, and a couch that pulls out into a guest bed, but the other room was pretty much consumed by a huge retro wetbar. In theory it was cute, but in practice it was terribly impractical. It was a cute feature for parties:

But the other 364 days a year (and ALL of tem nowadays) it was just a huge dumping ground and a waste of space.  Never did we gather around the bar on a Tuesday night and stare at the blank wall while we sipped a cold one. If we lounged in the basement, we did it sitting on the couch (more comfortable) in front of the TV (more entertaining). Now that The Cupcake is around, space is at a bit more of a premium, and it was time to clean up the hazardous pile that room had become, so after one last look, I decided to remove the bar and turn the area into a playroom:


And I had absolutely NO IDEA what I was getting into. My dad and the husband did all the work while I was out, heavy emphasis on WORK. While I had plans to remove and re-sell the bar to cover the costs of the mini renovation, it soon became clear that would not be happening. It had been assembled piece by piece in place by a mega perfectionist, so it ended up coming out piece by piece with almost nothing salvagable - there is ONE piece left that is more than 2'. And a huge crater left behind:

GROAN. What a mess. I did manage to call the electricians and have them sort out the electrical mess, mostly since I'm terrified of that stuff, but it was an ordeal anyways (MULTIPLE blown appointment times, massive over charges, dealing with that mythical "customer service" element that has gone the way of the Unicorns) so after that trauma, I let it sit like that for quite a while before I started to form any real plan. I figured it was easier to hook the water back up to another sink than to deal with capping it off properly, so my thought was to put back in a modified wet bar against one section of wall as a purely serving/prep area, rather than a seated bar. Something we could stage as sort of a wine bar when we eventually went to sell the house again, so it wouldn't seem terribly out of place. With a SEVERELY limited budget it took me a while to get started, but I was lucky to stumble upon the PERFECT sink cabinet on clearance at Lowes:

It required some creative driving to fit it in their SUV which was about 8" short of what we needed, but apparently my Dad can drive just fine with his knees shoved in the dashboard, and we made it across town just fine.
And then it sat on my porch for 2-3 months before I finally got around to working on it again this week. Partially because it's not possible to paint with tiny hands clamoring at you all the time, but also because (as I now remember) I suck at/seriously detest painting. And because paint is expensive and I didn't really know what I needed. But I'd been watching too much HGTV and thought I'd give it a go. Round 1: Primer:

I'm not a fan of primer. Pretty sure this is first our meeting, but I'm confident we won't be spending a lot of time together. Also I don't want to paint the inside of stuff. Also, HGTV and Pinterest are douche bags acting like painting is so much fun. Painting sucks. It's messy and I'm bad at it. Mostly the latter.

Round 2: first coat of paint:

Sherwin Williams did an AWESOME job matching the paint to a board I ripped off the basement wall (the part that used to hold the bartender "door" up, so it was okay to take down. I'm pretty sure),. The idea is that this will blend right in with the painted paneling on the lower half of the basement walls, and I can use the extra to patch up the mess AND paint the wall behind the TV that the previous owners ignored because the TV stand mostly covered it (but our TV didn't fit inside the hutch, so we took the top off, and thus exposed a huge span of unpainted paneling that looks ridiculous). But I digress.

Round 3: More painting, still not good at it.

Round 4: more painting, enjoying it less and less.

Round 5: It still looks pretty patchy and crappy, but the lighting is terrible downstairs anyways, so I'm calling it good enough.

Next step, sure to be the MOST fun yet, is to carry this sucker down the stairs, navigate it around a post that is conveniently placed at the bottom of the stairway (thank goodness for IKEA furniture or we'd be sitting on air mattresses down there). If I keep going on this project at the same pace, that'll happen sometime in the next 3 years, followed eventually by putting on the countertop and reinstalling the sink.

I'm not even going to acknowledge the flooring until then.