Thursday, May 24, 2012


I like to think of myself as a tough chick. I mean, I was in the Army for crying out loud. When some dude tried to assault me on the street, I chased his ass down and caught him. I have tattoos (well, one tattoo) and have had multiple parts of my body pierced that are not my ears. But there is one thing that can reduce me to a whimpering ball of jelly in 5 seconds flat, and that thing is the dentist.

Maybe it's because I had janky teeth as a kid and there was lots of drilling and pulling. Maybe I was murdered by a dentist in a previous life. Maybe I just don't like people digging around in my mouth with sharp, medieval-looking instruments. Whatever the reason, I try to minimize my time in the ole dentist's chair. I brush twice a day and floss EVERY DAY (except Sunday, which is my Dirty Day- another post for another day, friends). The net result of all this dental hygiene is relatively quick, painless cleanings twice a year.

After a few experiences with sketchy dental "professionals" I finally found Karen. She's the hygienist who has been cleaning and polishing my pearly whites for the past six+ years. Karen is thorough but gentle, doesn't talk my ear off, and gets in and out without messing around. I don't love the dentist yet, but every six months like clockwork I plop myself in her chair for a half an hour like a grown up, and all is well.

Except when I went in on Monday morning. Due to the dumbass NATO summit a bunch of dumbasses couldn't get to work in the city, so the dentist's office had to "consolidate the schedule." Dumbasses! Suddenly I'm sitting in the chair while some chatty Cathy yammers on about her husband and her cat, and Karen is off with some other chick who came in 5 minutes after me! wtf! I tried to smile and said, "Um, sorry, excuse me, great story - but I'm supposed to have Karen." And Chatty McChatterson was all "Don't worry, I have 15 years of experience!" And I was like, "But I don't think you understand, I made my appointment for Karen. I really need Karen." And she was like "Bummer. Let's get started!" And I was like "Okay, no prob!" No, not really. Instead I started crying and tried to leave.

I know. I know. I didn't expect that to happen either, but the thought of some STRANGER digging around in my gums with sharp scrapers for 30 minutes while she yakked on and on about her dumbass CAT just sent me right over the edge. I couldn't stop shaking and the tears just kept sliding down my cheeks. What a wimp! But I was only like 3% embarrassed. The other 97% was NOT HAVING IT.

Chatty Cathy was pretty offended that I would rather peace out than open my mouth for her, but after a brief pow-wow with the dentist they agreed to move some things around and I finally got my Karen. She looked a little confused but was really nice about the whole thing. She even tried to act like it happens all the time. Sure! Lots of people show up at the dentist and cry if they can't get their regular hygienist! But she cleaned my teeth without a peep, gave me a free toothbrush, and promised to see me again in 6 months.

Let's hope she never decides to move to Zimbabwe, because it would be awkward to live in a country where I don't speak the language. But I would. Oh, I would.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The View Outside

Last summer, we decided not to do much landscaping in the front yard. I planted a few annuals and called it a day, waiting to see what (if anything) was already growing there. The answer is two stupid bushes and a bunch of stupid hostas. Not a good look.

This spring, we pulled everything out and started from scratch, enlarging the main flowerbed a little bit. One of the bushes - I think it's a rhododendron - was moved to the back yard to replace a rose that wasn't getting enough sun. The other bush was dying/dead so we tossed it. Boring green hostas got relocated to keep our baby pear tree company. I decided to keep the hostas with the pretty leaves and purple flowers and just replant them to a different location. Since the two rose of sharon bushes in the front are the only mature landscaping we have (thanks to the City of Chicago!) we kept them, even though I think they are horrible and would much rather have hydrangeas or lilacs or a snowball bush or anything else. But they also flower purple, so I decided to run with the color theme and work around them. 

We hit up Home Depot over a couple of weekends and picked up about $200 worth of perrienials, including anemones (planted in the sole shady patch), violets, pansies, salvia, and columbines. I have a variety of heights and shapes going on too, I think it will look really great when they come in. I like the purple up against the gray house, with the yellow door. Some of the flowers have yellow in them too. We'll add a planter up by the door if I can ever find one I like, and pop some annuals in it. 

Well, it looks sad NOW but have faith!
Lil pear tree gets some hosta friends

It doesn't look like much now but I hope the hostas survive and everything starts growing in as summer goes on. 

In the backyard, the knockout roses we planted last year are growing like gangbusters. The weird hot spring weather never really gave us a chance to prune them back like we wanted, so they look a little wild and crazy. I pulled out the little guy who had too much shade and put him in a pot. The little tree was in a pot on our closed porch when we bought the place. It looked dead as hell but we replanted it in the yard and it's been resurrected! Josh has started some planters for a container garden - we'll have three, and they will all get matching blue stain once the last one is built. The grill area is going to be covered with pavers. 

Last summer 
This summer
Last summer
This summer
Grill area that will be paved - planter on the right has herbs in it
Planter Josh made - we're staining this blue
a matching planter will go on the other side for zucchini! 
Porch in need of some curtains and flowers
For the porch, I'm going to install budgety DIY curtains made from drop cloths. The sun that comes in the kitchen at 6-7 PM is killer. Not to mention how sick I am of staring at the junkers' collection of washing machines and windows. Josh pulled the oogly metal roofing off the porch ceiling, so I can move the lights to accomodate curtains. I'm looking for an outdoor chandy to go above the table, and some comfy couches at Jubilee or on CL. Money's a little tight right now but I think we can do it on the cheap. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Elliot is 18 Months Old

At 18 months, my little Elliot seems more like a kid than a baby. Sometimes I watch him run down the sidewalk on the way to Miss Jenn's, in his little Converse All-Stars and red sunglasses, and I wonder where the time went. How is this my little baby?!

For the last FOUR nights, Elliot has slept straight through, all night long. If you had told me a year ago that it would take this long for him to start sleeping, I would have cut you. Then I would have cried. I can't believe what a bad sleeper this kid has been, but fingers crossed that we're finally coming out the other side.

Little man's number one favorite thing to do is read stories. His faves are Moo Baa La La La, My Dad Loves Me, My Mom Loves Me, Quiet Loud, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He could spend hours looking up at airplanes, or pushing his cars around on the floor. He loves stuffies, especially Roo and Clifford. He also loves real dogs and is completely unafraid of them, even really big ones. I guess that comes from having a thundering herd of black lab constantly swirling through our house. He still takes a paci, but we try to make it mostly a nighttime and naptime thing. I'd like to have it gone in the next six months.

On any given day, you'll find Elliot standing on his little bench in the living room and watching the world go by. He is fascinated by cars and buses and trucks. "Truck" is one of his newest words. He still doesn't watch TV. He loves to hide behind the couch cushions, the pillows on our bed, and even his hands. It tickles him to pieces when we say "Where's Elliot? Where did my Elliot go?" And then he pops out with the hugest grin on his face. He's so stinking cute.

He is also underweight. Like, a lot. Today he weighed in at a mere 21.7 pounds. Apparently when I was worried about him not talking I should have been worried about him not eating. The doctor told us that he's dropped into the 6th (!) percentile for weight... down from 15th last time, and 24th the time before that. So we have to do a bunch of tests to make sure it's not his thryoid, or hormonal, or celiac disease. That sounds scary, but honestly I think the kid drinks too much milk and doesn't eat enough food. So we'll cut back on the cow juice, and I think he'll start eating more food. I thought he would just eat if he's hungry, so I wasn't pushing food on him too hard, but I guess we need to. He doesn't look super skinny, but he's still in 12 month size pants and I know that's not right. Time to fatten him up.

The other big thing that happened today was that we went to tour his new daycare! After a year and a half on the wait list, a spot finally opened up... and none too soon. We lose Miss Jenn in less than 4 weeks. She's going back for another degree, which is amazing. She's so smart. Of course I'm sad because Elliot loves her like another mama, but I could not be more grateful for the year and 2+ months that she took such wonderful care of my baby. We were so lucky to have her for that long. Now he's moving to a daycare that's a few blocks from our house - it's actually the same daycare my other kids went to, just a different campus. I was starting to have a little panic about what we would do, but everything just fell into place this week. Whew.

More pics of Mr. E...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Word Up

Is it worrisome that my 18 month old doesn't talk? I mean, he has a few words. Kitty, key (which actually may or may not be the same word), airplane, ball, snack. But he hasn't and doesn't say mama and dada. He doesn't really call us anything at all. Mostly he just makes this long, drawn out whiny noise that makes you want to pierce your eardrums with a pair of barbeque tongs. Or else he just grunts. Or screams. He understands plenty. If you hand him something and tell him to throw it away, he will. (Side note: he will also throw away many things you don't want him to, including phones, work badges, and car keys.) If you tell him to go get you a certain book, he comes running with it. He'll bring you his shoes, or come take a bath, or look for his paci. He just won't comment on it. My friend Julie says babies learn 10 new words a day, and that he's probably just storing it up and it will all come pouring out at once. Possibly in complete sentences. I just hope he's not 12 when that happens. In the meantime, I will continue to answer to uuuuunnnngggghhhhh!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I have seen the future. And it is named Kyle.

Last weekend, Josh and I took the little guy to Target. He doesn’t sit in the cart anymore, preferring instead to toddle around the aisles, push the elevator buttons, touch everything, and be a general nuisance. Taking him to Target is a two person job these days. Josh was in charge of following him around and plying him with fruit snacks while I tried to pick out a gift for a wedding shower. As I was perusing the wine, a three year old curly-haired, carrot-topped tornado came whipping around the corner. “This is NOT an aisle for you, Kyle!” screeched his poor mother, in hot pursuit. But Kyle was already running full speed down the aisle, one arm stretched out towards the glass bottles lining the shelves while he laughed manically. I gazed at this little ginger ball of energy, and then up at his mother. She looked exhausted and avoided my eyes, deftly grabbing a bottle off the shelves as she herded him towards less-breakable waters. “I’ll be needing this,” she muttered to herself. Then they were off again. I could hear her yelling warnings to other shoppers as Kyle darted in front of carts a few aisles away. Josh walked up holding Elliot, a look of amusement-slash-terror on his face. “Oh my god,” he said. “That is going to be us.

Yes. Yes, it is.

Better stock up on wine.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Hey, remember when I said that getting my computer fixed would lead to more frequent blog posts? That was funny.

Enjoy some random photos!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Playing Favorites

Little Elliot is going through a phase. I call it Mommy Doesn't Exist if Daddy is in the Room but other names are Daddy Rules and Mommy Drools, Mommy is Hot Lava - I Can't Let Her Touch Me, and also, Mommy Who? He's so excited to see me every afternoon when I pick him up from Jenn's. We come home and have a little snack and get dinner going. All is well. But the second Josh walks through the door, I don't exist. All he wants is for his dad to hold him, and too bad if said dad has to go to the bathroom or change his clothes or slice a tomato. Daddy Holds Elliot. END OF STORY.

It's kind of hard not to take it personally when your baby doesn't like you. But on the upside, both of my hands are usually free. I'm really killing it on DrawSomething.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Anatomy of an Art Wall

UPDATED: 9/6/13 Almost done!

Pictures of my parents as babies, my mom at camp as a teenager, her senior photo, my great grandmother and her baby (both passed away of an illness), my grandparents in the 50's, my grandparents in the 90's, Elliot, Elliot's silhouette, my dad's older brother and sister, the wood plaque of the man who built our house in 1893, a ghost baby we don't know (big frame) and some older people we don't know (top right frame) plus a wedding pic.

Oh hi, Ozzy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

By the Book

Baby O's co-ed build-a-library shower was a hit!

Cute decor? Check!
Yummy food? Check!
Lots of books? Check!
Happy parents-to-be? Check check!

My plan - and I do recommend it if you go the DIY baby shower route - was to do the decorations a little at a time in the weeks leading up to the big day. I enlisted the help of a few friends with the food, and my sweet hubby helped with shopping and getting everything set up. We decorated on Friday, I baked the cake and cleaned on Saturday, so all I had to do on Sunday AM was a little cooking and final touches. And wrangle the world's crankiest baby, who threw a huge tantrum and then proceeded to sleep through most of the party.

A word to the wise. If you are having dudes at your party, it does not matter that it is a baby shower and it does not matter that it is in the morning, BUY BEER. Lots and lots of beer. Boys don't care about mimosas, and if they are going to sit around and listen to chicks compare labor stories and watch someone open a million little outfits, they are damn well going to have a beer while they do it. I learned this lesson the hard way, in which guests threatened to run to Target for brewskis mid-party. Dangit!

Other than that, I would say everything went off without a hitch. I didn't remember to take many photos, but here is one of the party room (aka my dining room).

Luckily the daddy-to-be happens to be an amazing photographer and he got some good pics.

How To's

Wish cards: Instead of games, guests filled out these wish cards for the O's baby book. Minus the one that someone answered all porn-y. Dudes! I swear! Free wish card download here, lots of color options. Print on cardstock and trim to size. 

Book page banners: cut triangles from old thrifted book, hot glue onto 18ft ribbon (repeat for each banner)

Book character onesies: Wash onesies without bleach or fabric softener. Find images on internet of favorite children's books (yes they are copyrighted but if you are not selling them and it's for personal use, it's okay!). REVERSE IMAGES in a program like PowerPoint (click Flip Horizontal). Use an inkjet printer to print onto iron-on tranfer paper - be sure to get the transfer paper meant for white fabric. Trim to size, iron on, admire. 

For extra cuteness, iron a co-ordinating decal onto the butt.

Book page mobile: I freestyled mine based on this photo but there is a tutorial here.

Rose cake frosting: tutorial here and recipe here - I added 2 tsp of meringue powder to help the frosting hold its shape.

Book wreath: There are a hundred and five of these on Pinterest but I'm not gonna lie, they were all too hard. This one was the easiest and I liked how it looked. Tutorial here. TIP: Be methodical about putting your leaves on. Do the inside leaves first, then outside, then center. Willy-nilly is not the way.

Book page roses: tutorial here. These are kind of hard and take a while, but they look rad. 

Bookmarks: Inspired by this image I found on Pinterest, I made bookmarks as party favors. I used PowerPoint to make a template, then found some great quotes about reading and paired each one with an image. They are printed on heavy-duty cover weight stock and trimmed to size. I couldn't find stupid mini-tassels so I just used ribbons on the top, whatever. 

See...easy! Ish.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hacked Off

It started last night. I was lying on the couch with a glass of wine, wondering what happened to Mariska Hargitay. She used to be so pretty but now her face is like a puffy orange mask. It scares me. Step away from the botox, Detective! During a commercial, I flipped open the old iPad to check my email. But it wouldn't let me log in. Password changed 1 hour ago. What? I did not change my password an hour ago. Weird. But I reset my password and thought nothing more of it.

Until this morning, when there was an email from ebay in my inbox thanking me for changing my password. Oh crap. I reset the passwords in both of my gmails but almost as soon I changed them, they were changed again. It was a full on hijack.

I changed all the passwords on my credit card accounts, but one had already been compromised and one was locked out due to attempts. Damn! Damn damn!

This little dance of changing passwords has continued throughout the day, pissing me off more and more. I change a password. They change a password. I made a new gmail account. They hacked it in under 3 minutes. ARGH!

Finally I wised up and signed up for the two-step verification on both my gmails. It disables all computers from using your accounts - until you enter a special code. They will only send this code to my cell phone, so hopefully this does the trick and KEEPS them out. I also changed all my email recovery questions and answers, and made a hotmail account just for recovery emails. There are some more things to check and recheck, and I think I will go back and change the passwords again on my credit card accounts, just to be safe.

Moral of the story: it might be easier to have your password be the same on all accounts, but if some Indonesian a-hole gets a hold of one, you're in a world of hurt.

Stupid internet.

UPDATE: I read this great article on what to do if you're hacked, and lo and behold, the spammer was having my emails forwarded to his yahoo account. So THAT'S how he was changing my passwords. If you're hacked, check the Forwards setting to make sure the hacker hasn't added his email to it, or just disable forwarding.

The question is, now that I have his email, what should I do with it? Something evil.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Welcome Back, Mac

First the good news: Apple was able to save the data off my old, dying hard drive and put a shiny new hard drive into my iMac, for just over $200. I picked it up yesterday and it runs like a dream.

The bad news? Oops, they never transferred the data to the new hard drive and, oops, they forgot to give me back my external hard drive that they had backed up the data on. I called as soon as I got home and realized I still didn't have the stuff I was originally trying to save (ie, every picture of Elliot's life for the first year). "Yeah, oops, your external hard drive is right here! You're gonna have to come back and get it," said the dumb kid who answered the phone at the Apple store. Annoying! And I had no intention of dragging buns allllll the way back to the Apple store to deal with traffic and parking and customer service, just because they forgot to give me my stuff. So I made them Fed Ex it to me instead. (I have the original hard drive with everything, just in case.)

Fun fact: the fools at Apple sent me a survey about their customer service while I was on the phone arguing with them. Bad idea, dudes.

Net-net: hopefully more frequent blog posts now that the Mac is back. Typing on an iPad was a royal pain in the keister.

It's 8AM on Sunday and the house is totally quiet. Josh took the baby to the grocery store, god bless him, and the teenagers are of course still snoozing. I can't decide if I should go back to bed, do a project for the book shower next weekend, or sit and read the paper with a cup of coffee. It's like Sophie's Choice!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bye Bye Ba-Ba

When we switched E from formula to whole milk, it was a bit more traumatic than we expected. That kid L-O-V-E-D formula and resisted the change with every fiber of his little being. So we abandoned the plan to also switch him to a sippee cup at the same time and let him have his bottle a while longer.

He's been doing so great with cups though that we decided it was time ditch the bottle this weekend. Cold turkey. We waited til Saturday since he had to get shots on Friday, poor man. That's enough for one little buster to handle in one day. But when he woke up on Saturday morning, we handed him a sip cup of milk instead of a bottle and said "We drink milk from cups now!" And waited for the meltdown. Except... it never came. He acted like he has been drinking from a cup his whole life, like what the heck is a bottle, who cares. And although there were a couple of cranky minutes over the weekend, he never did have a tantrum. That's that!

Pacifier, I've got my eye on you.

Thrift Score
Yesterday was some kind of holiday, which means there were sales in every store in America - including thrift stores. They were all half off, so I took the chance to look for some glasses and plates for the party. Why buy paper plates and cups when you can get china and glasses for the same price? And boy did I. I collect ironstone in my kitchen hutch, so when I saw a stack of these plates for 90 cents each I snatched them up. 

[photo courtesy of etsy]
Ebay tells me they are worth around $100 for a set of 8, maybe more since they are in PERFECT condition. Nice! 

I also picked up this pitcher for $1.45. 

[photo courtesy of]
It's impressed with Greenwood China Trenton NJ on the bottom, and according to it could date from 1886! Wowser, I bet it's worth more than $1. Yay, thrifting!

btw if you ever see this ugly thing, GRAB IT. 

Make It
In honor of not going to work, I made these blueberry muffins yesterday morning. They are like blueberry crack.

Because you asked nicely, here is the recipe (adapted from Makes 8, and just TRY not to eat half of them by yourself.


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

  • Crumb Topping
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp butter, cubed
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners (liners all the way).
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder (I sift the flour, salt and baking powder into the sugar). Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture, just until combined. Do not overmix. Fold in clean, dry blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together brown sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon. Mix with fork (or fingers), and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.