Sunday, September 30, 2012

Memory (Writing Prompt from Pugs & Pics)

Memory is an antique record player, hidden in a gray suitcase. A woman boards a train, holding it at her side, walking hand in hand with an old friend, a box of dreams, fears, guilt, love, loss.

She steps off the platform, walks down unfamiliar streets, into an unfamiliar building. It feels cold, smells sterile, and death sinks in, black clothing, black roses, cold earth. Blocks of rooms, numbered doors, her door. She unlocks it, enters quickly, and closes herself inside. She sets her case on the table, opens it, and drops a disc on the player.

Warmth fills the room, fire by the friction of major and minor chords. She settles in a chair, closes her eyes, and watches. In the in-between, he's there, smiling, laughing, reaching out for her hand.

Writing prompt suggested by Kim of! And in case it isn't obvious, I hate hotels. Ha!

Wow, I Did Something!


Ever since my counselor suggested I may have bipolar/ADHD tendencies, I've been researching ways to make my life easier and more productive. I'm the queen of unfinished projects. I can destroy a house in 4 hours with no recollection of having torn it apart. It's so frustrating!

So, the last few weeks, I've been doing what I can -- sticking to the cleaning schedule the best I can and earning stars to reward myself with some me time. It's not a perfect system, but it is working, and the house has become less disastrous and more livable. That's something!

One of the things my counselor suggested was better managing my "ups" instead of wallowing in or trying to fix the "downs." Having a baby helps with this, because I can't tackle a random project (say refinishing a book shelf) for hours at a time and burn myself out to the point that I don't want to do any regular chores for the rest of the week. I also have more time to think about which projects I want to undertake, time to ask myself, "Is this a project that will contribute to household harmony or just look pretty in a corner?" I'm proud of myself for doing that, but I hadn't really seen it pay off much until this weekend.

I was looking around my bedroom thinking how messy it was and feeling guilty about not having it done. I stopped and told myself that it could wait... that the other rooms (E's and kitchen) were more important. I went to pick them up and found they weren't that messy. I went to tackle the living room instead and found that the worst thing in there was a pile of clean, unfolded laundry on the couch. I decided to take some 8-month-old pictures of E instead, and I found that I had already taken some 2 weeks ago (above)!

Could it be? Am I starting to be (almost) organized enough to complete (almost) everything I want to do? I could settle for the "almosts" right now -- that's progress!

I used my time instead to, first, pay some bills, do some freelance work, and now I will baby proof the living room! I feel good completing these tasks and feel that I'm putting a reasonable amount of energy into each one. In hoarding this energy and spreading it out evenly across the week, I'm having fewer "down" moments.

I also have an idea for making the living room more baby safe that I'm really excited to try! Will take pictures as long as all goes as planned!

Quote of the Day
E: Booo?? Boooo? Aboodah...? Hahahahahaha!!!
(I think she's asking me to put on Blues Clues.)

Listening to
Blues Clues & Sesame Street

Weather in VT
Cold and cloudy!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

How to be Creepy...

Just when I convinced myself it was safe to get out of the car (in the movie theater parking lot tonight), that no one would bother me, kidnap me, or steal my purse (been watching too much Investigation Discovery), this guy pulls up in a black SUV with tinted windows and comes to a screeching halt and rolls down his window when he sees me get out of my car.

Him: Hi, how are you?
Me: Fine.
Him: Can I park here?
Me: I think so... I don't think you have to feed the meter, after hours...
Him: Well, what did you do?
Me: I just parked here...
Him: Well, I'll do whatever you tell me to do... (big grin)

[Oh, good grief.... then I tell you to drive into oncoming traffic.]
Me: I think it's fine to park here...

And I walked away. 5 minutes later he's walking up the sidewalk with his daughter to take her to the theater to see Finding Nemo 3D and runs right into me.
Him: I, uh... (nervous laugh) um, you know, if I get a ticket from parking there, it's coming out of her college fund.
Me: Same for me and my daughter's...
Him: OH.... Ok.

[By the surprised look on his face, I can only assume that he finally realized he was kind of being a douche.]

After the movie, I got a text from Mark that E was acting really tired and wouldn't eat her dinner. I kind of panicked and rushed home to everyone being 100% fine. Never quite got to enjoy my relaxing dinner & a movie time. Ugh. Will try another time...

Oh, and I saw Looper. I liked it, but it has some cheesy parts... it's no Inception, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a great job, as usual! I give it one time-traveling thumb up! Aka, no thumb.

Quote of the Day
Blues Clues: Here's the mail, it never fails, it makes me wanna wag my tail! When it comes, I wanna wail... Maiiiiillll!!!
Mark (singing along): When you get older, it's not that fun to get Maiiillll!!!

Listening to
Sanguine, The Avett Brothers

Weather in VT
Cold and drizzly... nice cuddly day!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Baby Power!!

Today Mark asked me to do a simple task for him -- go to the IRS office in Montpelier and drop off our tax payment. "OK," I thought, "this should be easy." Mark interjected some other instructions and said that I should have everything I need in terms of paperwork. "Not to worry," I said, "I should be fine, and I have baby power if anyone gives me any trouble."

Baby power is amazing. When E grows up, I'm not sure what I'll do without it. Everyone is nice to me all the time, smiling at the baby, cooing at her. Meanwhile, I could be robbing the grocery store, and no one would notice or care. If I don't have proper paperwork when I go somewhere, it's "no big deal" as the workers grin at E. If I'm late for an event, the baby obviously delayed me, which is "totally fine." Doors are opened for me, aisles clear at the supermarket. You get the picture.

I got to Montpelier and parked on the street. As usual, I got out of the car, and E's adoring public gathered. Three elderly women stopped as I pulled E out of her carseat. "Oh, what a beautiful baby you have... and look at those eyes. She is sooo cute," one said. As if on cue, E waved and smiled, and a soft round of "awwws" erupted from the women and passersby.

I looked in my purse as I bundled E up in my arms. My wallet wasn't in there. "That's strange," I thought. Then I remembered, E has been on a purse-raiding spree lately. As soon as we get in the door at home, I drop my purse on the floor, put E down, and she crawls as fast as she can to it and pulls my wallet out. It has a little, irresistible, lime-green zipper pull on it. I realized she must have taken my wallet out, and in my rush to get out the door, I had scooped up my purse not noticing it was missing.

"Oh well," I told E, "I doubt I'll need my wallet. Besides, we have baby power!" I walked to the crosswalk watching the busy street, prepared to wait awhile for a break in the late-afternoon traffic. Prior to having a baby, my passive waiting stance and non-curve-accentuating clothing rarely stopped traffic, even when I was waiting expectantly at the crosswalk. But, behold, the power of baby! Traffic came to a complete halt before I even got to the corner. I crossed quickly, and halfway across the street, I held E's hand up in triumph and whispered, "Baby power!!" in her ear. She giggled at my excitement.

I walked through the large glass door into an extremely sterile, cold, and unfriendly environment. Behind me, now on the other side of the glass, was the glow of late-fall in Vermont, reflecting orange foliage, birds singing, bees buzzing, old ladies giggling at my girl.

Now I was face to face with a very solemn-looking guard in full uniform. And the first thing he said to me was, "ID?"

"Um... what do you mean?" I choked.
"Ma'am, we need to see a photo ID to let you in the building."
"What? I, um," I stuttered innocently, "I don't have my ID."
He just shook his head "no."

Okay, baby power... come on.

"Sir, you see..." (nervous laugh) "my baby has been taking my wallet out of my purse. It's really quite cute, but I didn't realize until I got here that she had taken it out, and now I'm in Montpelier and can't go all the way back home for my wallet... and..."

"Ma'am. I'm sorry," he said with finality.

I glanced at his guard partner on the other side of the door. He just looked at me sympathetically over his bi-focals.

What? ... But? ... No baby power...? Apparently government officials are immune to the effects of E's smile.

I went out to the car to call Mark and admit my defeat. The payment had to be in today, so he had to leave work and drive to Montpelier, get the paperwork from me and, using his ID, go inside to leave it off. E and I were left to wait while he was on his way. By this point, I was downright pissed off! I was mad at Mark for putting me in charge of a task I was obviously incapable of doing with a baby (irrational anger, I know). I was mad that I hadn't gotten a chance to eat lunch, that I brought E out at her nap time, and she was not getting a nap in, meaning cranky baby later who I would have to deal with.

After 3 walks around the capital building, I was even more exhausted and angry. Mark showed up, and though we were civil to each other, we were both mad. He went in the building to pay the bill while I took E off to the toy shop.

It was at that point that she decided she was done with the stroller and started wailing. I picked her up and carried her an entire block in my arms while pushing her stroller. Ugh. Luckily, she loved the wall of stuffed animals at the toy store and cooed happily at them until I got a text message from Mark telling me he was done with the payment, and I walked her back to the car where we met up.

He was upset, feeling guilty for putting me through this task and 2-hour wait with a baby and for having to leave work in the middle of the day unexpectedly which meant working late into the evening tonight. Then E chose this moment of angry parents colliding to fill her diaper, to the brim.

I had to do another back-seat diaper change (2 in one week!), arms flailing, feet hitting me in the face. She always manages to escape down onto the floor behind the passenger seat, and without fail, poop ends up somewhere it shouldn't be -- like my sweatshirt! Ugh.

I finally picked her up and lifted her out of the car to go around to the other side and put her in her car seat. Mark was standing in front of her door. When she saw him so close to her, she yelled, "Da-da!!!" and lunged for him, almost knocking me over. Instead of leaping into his arms, though, she grabbed his shirt and pulled him close to us. She grabbed onto my shirt too and pulled me closer. Mark and I crashed into each other with her in the middle. I slipped my arm around his waist, and snuggled my family. We looked up at each other and smiled.

Baby power...

Quote of the Day
Me: (cough) (cough)
E: (hysterical laughter)

Listening To
Stand By Me, Otis Redding version

Weather in VT
Sunny, cool, perfect!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Uneventful Day

Wow, I bet the title of this post just brought 10 more readers to my blog... Anyhoo, it was a pretty uneventful day. No poop explosions, no crock pots croaking, no moon-size comets crashing into Earth.

E's afternoon routine went smoothly: day care pick up, play time, snack, nap, dinner, bath time, bed. I got lots of cleaning done while she napped today.

She struggled a little bit falling asleep before her nap, so I worked on a new rhyme for her. She loves fabric so I've always thrown her blanket over her, played peek-a-boo and gently ran the material over her skin which always resulted in a fit of giggles. I then like to pretend it's her shawl, a skirt, a head-dress, a scarf blowing in the wind, a sail on a ship out on the ocean. I sing songs of beaches and deep sea breezes and let the waves of the blankie wash over her. It inspired me to start a new little book for her. I can't wait to work on it more and maybe someday find someone to illustrate it! Andrea Joseph, please?!

Quote(s) of the Day
Me: Did you notice I cleaned the entire kitchen and dining room? Or were you not saying anything because last time I told you to not make such a big deal out of me *actually* cleaning something?
Mark: Oh, um, yeah... that's why I didn't say anything. Exactly...

Listening To
Random radio pick: Carry on my Wayward Son... Kansas.
Appropriate, because saying, "We're not in Kansas any more..." would suggest that something exciting actually happened today.

Weather in VT
Sunny, warm... bring on the rain!

Monday, September 24, 2012


Sometimes I feel like Keanu Reeves in Speed... "You pick up a baby from day care. As you're walking to the car, you smell something strange wafting out of her diaper. You feel a wet sensation on your arm. You're now in the middle of nowhere, with one wipe left, and no change of clothes. WHAT DO YOU DO?"

In this case, I changed her on the back seat, left her a tad poopy, but got a fresh diaper on her. I heated up the car a bit, took her out of her poopy onesie and put her in just her coat for the drive home. Her pants weren't too poopy, so I kept those on her for warmth. It was not easy... She's almost as long as the entire backseat. There were arms and legs flailing, and when I finally got her back in her carseat, I realized there was poop on the back seat. She got very upset that I took the time to clean it, so I had to explain to her that if we ever wanted to sell this car some day, we better keep it as poop-free as possible. Shit smeared into the faux-suede seats will not up the resale value.

Made it home to a pretty normal afternoon and evening with the fam, but I'm still exhausted.

E went down on her own (with pink bunny) tonight ... It was so sweet!

Quote of the Day
"Everyone feeling safe over here?" (huge grin) -Safety-Audit Sam at work today.
Me: What is this a 1950s public service announcement? I wish I had brought a flamethrower to work today just so he had something to write down in his little notebook.

Listening To
The Mountains Win Again, Blues Traveler

Weather in VT
Sunny, cold!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Holy Crap. I'm a Mom.

Tried to save some money by doing our weekly shopping at Hannaford today. I'm pretty sure we spent half as much as we usually do at Shaws and got lots of food!

It was busy there today, but E's shrieks cleared the aisles for us! I finally had Mark take her so that I could get more shopping done on my own. He walked around the store with her and let her pick whatever she wanted from the shelves. When they found me again, she was holding English muffins and a 2-alarm chili kit. Hmm... I decided to stick to chicken and biscuits which I will make in my crock pot tomorrow.

I never followed up on my crock pot disaster from last week... when I had a cheery plan to make chicken and biscuits, a nice, comforting, fall meal. I put all my ingredients in the crock pot, turned it on, and awaited the smell of sweet and salty chicken gravy. Four hours later, when all I could smell in the air was the stale stench of dirty diapers, it occurred to me that there may be a problem -- the crock pot had never fired up! It just... fizzled out. I tried everything short of jumper cables to get it going again... but no luck (and didn't want to eat chicken that had been sitting out for 4 hours anyway). [Sidenote: My in-laws called the pizza place in town that night and ordered me dinner. How blessed am I?! Very!]

Today, after buying a new crock pot (which cost me $20 and 20 minutes of my time talking to some guy about how he opened every single crock pot box in the store to see which one wasn't dented and how he recommended the Hamilton Beach one, except you can't get the HB brand in red. You can only get the Crock Pot brand in red, and the Hamilton Beach ones were all silver, and only one of the silver ones wasn't dented. The only red HB one that wasn't dented was, well, the one that he was going to buy, so I was shit-outta-luck if I wanted a red one by Hamilton Beach that was $4 cheaper than the Crock Pot brand). I settled on the red Crock Pot one -- not because it was red, because it was HUGE.

But.. I got home and realized (after my magic bullet blender wasn't working either) that the problem was not my crock pot at all -- it was the outlet! The old crock pot works fine, and I have no reason to keep this new one other than the fact that it's... pretty, new, red, and holds 7-quarts (enough to feed 8+ people aka my in-laws and us!). I decided I may just have to keep it...

And suddenly it occurred to me... I am no longer a college student, a graphic designer, an artist, a musician, a Production Specialist; nor am I a quirky kid, a goofball, a sister, a daughter.

I'm a woman who cares an awful lot about crock pots and who thinks it's adorable that an 8-month old wanted to buy a 2-alarm chili kit... and who loved shopping with her family on a Sunday afternoon. I'm a wife. I'm a mom. Weird!

P.S. Ben & Jerry's did NOT have their Cannoli ice cream today! Ugh! They said maybe tomorrow. "That's okay," I said with a sigh... "I'll have one scoop of Milk and Cookies ice cream with hot fudge, 2 scoops of Coconut 7-Layer Bar ice cream... and I'll be back tomorrow for that Cannoli!" YOLO, as the kids are saying... I think.

Quote(s) of the Day
(In the parking lot at the grocery store after someone stole the parking spot we were waiting for)
Mark: Swiper, no swiping!!
Me: Been watching some Dora the Explorer have we?

Me: Why does our bathroom still smell like poop?
Mark: I don't know... Did you put a dirty diaper in the trash?
Me: I don't think so...
Mark: Maybe somebody took an upper decker.
Me: ...? Yeah, because we live in a frat house.

Listening To
E singing in the grocery store.

Weather in VT
Sunny, quite cool! Planes overhead, blue skies, and seagulls. E loves the seagulls.

E undoing all my folding today. Me not minding.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Project Life - Week 29

Forgot to put labels on the pics but I may not... just due to being tired. :-)

Ocho Loco!

Had a fun Saturday hanging out with my super cool family. E and I are finally getting rid of this congestion. I'm so happy! If I feel like I can actually taste food again tomorrow, I'm heading right to Ben & Jerry's for Cannoli ice cream!

We went out this afternoon to get bagels for lunch then visited a little gift shop where E charmed the store owner, customers, and customers' dogs. She was so cute! She loved the Halloween decorations.

She was a little fussy when we got home, so I attempted to entertain her by pulling the number 8 out of her floor mat and using it as a superhero mask. Mark named me "Ocho Loco" which I think is quite fitting and... hilarious. He says it in a Mexican accent with the fear of digesting Mexican chili in his voice.

E has gone to bed early tonight and I feel like I have to get at least 1 Project Life page done this weekend! I'm so far behind. So, enough writing, more Project Lifing!

Quote(s) of the Day
Me: Let's leave the stroller outside the store.
Mark: I don't like this idea.
Me: I'm trying to be more trusting of people living in Vermont. It's not easy for me. Don't make it harder. Now just take everything in with you that you don't want to get stolen.
Mark: Like the stroller?

Me: I have a hankering for steak. A stankering!
Mark: That doesn't sound right...

Listening To
Finding Nemo and the rain!

Weather in VT
Sunny and warm, then raining like mad tonight.

Ocho Loco!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Notes

Passed out in the kitchen today while making scrambled eggs... The excitement of both making eggs and scrambling them seemed to overwhelm me enough to make me fall over. I felt the familiar rush of blood to my ears, and the room started to spin, so I moved to a chair where I blacked out and woke up in a cold sweat. I called Mark and had him come home to take me to the doctor. Turns out I have a bad cold and developing sinus infection. Antibiotics for me unless I feel better tomorrow (fingers crossed)!

E seems to be doing okay, just some congestion. It was nice to have Mark home today. He got to spend some quality time with us, and I felt relaxed for the first time in awhile. I think God has a way of making us take a time-out occasionally. Turns out this miserable cold is just what I needed.

Mark taught E this cute little pat-a-cake game where he has her clap her hands, then hold her hand to her heart and say "I love you" and point. She does the clapping and pointing and is content thinking she has the entire routine memorized. She concentrates so hard, it's precious!

In other news, being sick has helped me advance in the literary sense! I have finished the classic work by E L James, Fifty Shades of Grey. Dickens would be proud. Seriously, though, what a terrible, awful, wonderful series. We could all use a good dose of not-too-poorly written smut once in awhile. I admit, I enjoyed following the lives of Christian and Anastasia. I just wish there was a little more flogging and a little less "I love you, Christian." "No, I love you Anastasia." "I know you do." Finally, he knows. "How do you know?" "I just do." I love you, Anastasia." "And I love you, Christian." Blech, I get it... you're both in love with each other...

Quote of the Day
As Ellie rolled over and leaned her head against Mark's chest:
Mark: I think she likes me.

Listening To
Tomorrow Will Be Kinder, The Secret Sisters.

Weather in VT
Sunny and warm today! At about 8:35pm tonight, Mark saw a huge meteor(?) fall out of the sky. He said it looked like the size of the moon. Other reports are coming in from around VT from others who saw it. A friend in Northfield said it stopped traffic on the road to I89.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday Notes

E and I are both fighting these awful colds. I have a fever now and am shivering in bed with chills. Ugh! Mark came home and sent me right to bed, God love him!

He doesn't like to cuddle me when I'm sick, though he will if I whine enough. Ha! Today when I felt my worst sitting next to her coughing, E used my shoulder to pull herself up and throw her arms around my neck. I got some cheek kisses too. Did she know I needed some snuggles? I couldn't help but tear up a bit. It was just what I needed -- hugs are the best medicine! Love her!

And it was a big change from yesterday when she tried to put her pacifier in my mouth and put me down for a nap so she could go play!

Quote of the Day
Coworker covering for me while I'm out sick: This is kinda fun! In a sick, sad, sad way...

Listening To
The Backyardigans theme song... It was a veg-in-front-of-the-TV-with-baby day.

Weather in VT
Sunny but cold! Here comes fall!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Notes

Ugh. Ellie and I have colds. Finally got her to sleep, but not without a call to 9-1-1 after she gave us a good scare -- a whole lot of vomiting and choking sounds. The 9-1-1 operator heard her over the phone and said I was right to have called with her doing that... But when the paramedics arrived and gathered around her, she calmly looked up at these big, intimidating, uniformed men, and said, "I did it!!" with a huge, Ellie grin. The one guy laughed and said, "Yes, you did! You gave us all a good scare and now have everyone's attention!"

I'm supposed to have them come back if she does it again. So far, so good. She's just a little extra clingy with me tonight but hanging in there...

I never imagined the emotional stuff to be the most challenging part of being a mom! I'm just glad the amazing moments outnumber the scary ones.

Quote of the Day
I think it's only fair that I give this one to Ellie for her impeccable timing and quick wit: "I did it!"

Listening To
Santeria, Sublime.
I don't know why... Just because, I guess.

Weather in VT
Sunny but chilly today! High of 57.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Notes

Rewriting History
So, we know that Pearl loved brownies when she was pregnant. I don't know any pregnant woman who wouldn't. And until I get in touch with Grandma Betty's brother, Cleo, or her Aunt Margaret (who I hope is still alive), that will probably be all I ever know.

In the meantime, I think I'll bypass my mom and see if Grandma has any more information. They both tend to breeze over things that they think aren't important... I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out Pearl had lead troops into some major battle in WWI, but that eating a pan of brownies became the legend told 'round the campfire for generations to come. Such is the Strange family!

Mom also shared some facts about Betty's father, Michael Kelly. She said, "Michael's father died when he was 14 years old." After spending 5 whole minutes trying to figure out how Michael's father had 5 kids before the age of 14, I realized that she actually meant: Michael's father died when Michael was 14 years old.

It was at this point that I almost dropped the investigation. I thought, "We're rewriting a strange history here... Maybe we ought to let bygones be bygones." But, instead, I erased my errors and moved on...

When Michael's father died, Michael took his job as a miner and continued to support his family in his father's absence. Grandma claims he was a good man. He also encouraged all of his brothers and sisters to pursue a college education and paid for each of them to go.

He died in 1957, when Grandma was 25. My mom was born 3 years later, but I wonder if her older siblings remember their grandfather or have any stories about him. I'll add that investigation task to my list...

Mom said that Grandma Betty's brother, Cleo, would be my best resource, but since their sister, Gen, passed away over the weekend, I may want to wait a little while before reaching out to the family. I'll try to wait patiently!

Ellie is having a hard time napping today, except when she's in my lap. We have a strong storm coming up the coast bringing possible tornado warnings in the southern part of the state. We're just getting lots of rain and wind here in central VT. Perfect cuddle weather! So, I gave in to her for the last half hour of her nap and am enjoying some good snuggles with my snuggle-bunny!

Mark will be home late tonight, so I'm making chicken and biscuits in the crockpot with squash and peas.

I was surprised to find this squash on the table when I got home from work. At first, Mark denied putting it there before he left for work in the morning. So, I conducted a Facebook investigation to see who had broken into my house and put a squash on my table. Because, if someone breaks into your house in Vermont, 9 times out of 10, it's to leave some garden-harvested vegetables on your table. Turns out he did leave it here this morning -- it was from his coworker's garden. I'm from New York originally, so my first thought was, "Oh God, the terrorists are making bombs disguised as vegetables now."

Nope, just a squash, soon to be enjoyed with dinner!

Quote of the Day
Mark: What squash?!
Me: The yellow one! On our table!

Listening To
The rain & singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow (skies are blue)!

Weather in VT
Rain! ("Dibble dibble dibble dibble dopp dopp dopp!" as Dr. Seuss would say!)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Notes

Experimenting with a new format...

They lost power at Mark's company today, so he had to work the afternoon from home. It was nice to have him here! Had a nice dinner together -- meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and brussel sprouts! Yum!

The report from Ellie's day care is that she spent a good portion of the day running her hand through her hair and giggling. My response: (nervous laugh) (runs hand through hair) I don't know where she picked up that habit... Heh heh...

Caught up with mom some more about Great Grandma Pearl (see previous post). She had more information about Great Grandpa Michael (will update later), but confirmed that Grandma Pearl once prepared and ate an entire pan of brownies while she was pregnant. Mom "now knows where I get my appetite." Thank you, Mother. I'm sure that's how Pearl would want to be remembered. And just for the record, I have not eaten an entire pan of brownies in one sitting... Love, Fatty.

Going in for a hug before bed... Mark: Wait, is that poop on your shirt?! Me: No, it's squash. Mark: Did that squash pass through Ellie's digestive system?

Listening To
The Lisa Loeb children's song: Jenny Jenkins.

Weather in VT
Chilly morning, sunny all day, high of 73!


My Great Aunt Gen passed away this weekend. I didn't know her well. She was the half-sister of my maternal grandmother, Betty, who I'm very close with. It made me realize that our time with Grandma Betty is getting shorter. Not only do I want to spend quality time with her, but her memory is still so sharp, and she has valuable information about our family history that could be lost when she passes away.

Due to some fantastic record keeping on my father's side of the family, we can trace our lineage back to the 1600s. I love scouring these records, reading Great Great Grandpa's letters and Great Great Grandma's letters and poems. I see glimpses of me in them, and it helps me better understand who I am and who I want to be.

I feel this bond closer with the women in my family, and consequently more so with my Mom's side.

The problem is, we have a bit of a history-mystery on that side of the family -- all trails lead to Pearl.

Pearl was Grandma Betty's mother. She was forbidden to marry Michael Kelly (Grandma Betty's father), but they married anyway. According to Grandma, the family then disowned Pearl.

Unfortunately she died giving birth to Grandma at 18 years old, and Michael would later forbid Grandma to ever contact Pearl's family. Grandma respected his wishes and never reached out to them.

Michael remarried a wonderful woman who loved and raised Grandma Betty as her own daughter. Grandma went on to marry and raise 6 children of her own -- my mother was the second youngest.

Last night Mom and I were talking about Pearl, and I decided to sign up for a free trial at to see if I could find out more about her. Luckily she had a fairly unique name, and I quickly located her in a 1930s Census record -- along with her parents, John and Mary, and brothers: Lawerence, George, and Francis. I could find no further info about them but will continue my search tonight.

Surprisingly, Michael Kelly was hardest to find. If Grandma Betty hadn't remembered his birth date, I may not have found him at all. His World War I draft card confirmed his identification. I saw that he was linked to his second wife, but there was no connection to Pearl or Grandma, his first daughter. I quickly linked them and filled in Pearl's date of death -- the same as Grandma's birthday.

It was a few clicks, a few typed words and numbers, but it felt so significant -- to link this woman to us, to give her an official place in our family tree.

Last night Ellie was up from 1am to 3am, and instead of moping over lost hours of sleep, I made sure to hold her extra close. I said a special prayer for Pearl and asked her to share in my joy of holding my daughter. I told her how sorry I was that she didn't have this experience, and I thanked her for giving my grandmother life, my mom, me, and E, in sacrificing her own.

I took a new look at my writing, too, and thought about what I would want to read about Pearl if she had a diary. I wouldn't need to know if she was involved in some major historical event, if she had tried to save the world, or if she had done anything at all very extraordinary. I'd just want to know: What was the weather like each day? Were you happy? In love? Were you excited about the baby's arrival? Afraid?

I'm going to try to blog more often -- a little each day about... just, life. I'm inspired by my sister-in-law who is writing so many wonderful life stories over at!

And hopefully I'll have more to share about our dear Pearl soon!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Today's FMS photo of the day theme on Instagram is "Table."

I decided to get clever, find an image of a modern table with items on it, and Photoshop the table out of the image.

I called it #table #notable, as in no-table. It didn't occur to me that the word "notable," would be a frequently-used tag. I clicked the link, and a variety of notable (or shall I say noteworthy) images appeared, including this one.

[Original photo from]

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Life - Under Construction

Today when I was driving E to day care, I passed an old farm house that's been in need of new paint for a long time. It's a post-card-worthy scene --
white house with black shutters, wrap-around porch, mountains rising behind it, a bright red barn, and cows roaming in the pasture.

Except, today, they had hired painters. Well, that's what I assumed at first. A paint-speckled tarp was spread across the porch roof, and a rickety ladder stretched to the highest eave.

I didn't see any painters, and it occurred to me that the homeowners may have just put the tarp and ladder out to make people think they were finally painting the house. Suddenly, it was OK that their home was falling apart, simply because the ladder was there -- a promise of home repair!

I thought I would adopt this practice in my own home, in my own life. Sink full of dirty dishes? Fill it with soap and water. Grimy floor? Put out the mop and bucket when company comes over.

However, these all seem like very temporary solutions. I think I should just get one of those Under Construction signs for my front door. I'm pretty sure they make Under Construction t-shirts too...

But anyway, the point is that my life really is in need of a new paint job right now... But I have the tarp out and the ladder up!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Star Chart

Sorry, I cannot change the size of the font in this post, and I have no idea why. :-)

So, I wanted to make my mid-week blog entry about anything I wanted to talk about -- be that art, a funny story about how Ellie is into (and trying to eat) everything in sight (including her Children's Bible -- yikes!), or how much I love the Beach Boys Pandora station (Best 50s/60s mix ever! The Ronettes?! No way, right?! Yes, way!!).

Instead, I'm obsessing over the cleaning star chart which I've renamed, "The 'Forget It' Chart".

My sneaky husband is spending every waking minute either trying to avoid making the system work or trying to take complete advantage of it!

On Monday morning, when I first presented the plan, Mark was all, "Oh good GOD, nooo..." + huge eye-roll + dramatic sigh. He claimed he would need at least 12 hours to think about this plan and make his decision. I'm convinced that he thought this was the exact amount of time it would take ME to forget about the plan and move onto some other shiny, distracting task.

This angered me on multiple levels, as I have ADHD tendencies and felt he was taking full advantage of my vulnerabilities. Ugh.

I told him that if he needed 12 hours to come up with a reward system for cleaning, he must be an idiot... We're two intelligent adults and should be able to quickly come up with a plan that works for us. We came to an agreement (per my previous post) -- we would do the star chart and earn stars that could be cashed in for time to ourselves or money to buy a small luxury item (a book, etc.)

On Monday evening, I shared this idea with Mark's sister, Kim. Through careful analysis of our plan (and knowing her brother better than I do), she was able to reveal the first of several loopholes in our system... Mark thought that he could hoard stars! In his crazy star chart world, he could choose to not spend stars... saving up hours of star time and cashing them in for, what?! A European vacation? Hold on...

First amendment to Star Chart:

Each Sunday, you must clear any unused stars and start over.

On Tuesday, I cleaned the entire kitchen and did 2 loads of laundry. (Kitchen + Laundry = 2 Stars) I happily updated my chart! I had 3 total after a maintenance kitchen/dining room clean on Monday!

On Wednesday, Mark's row had 5 stars! How did he get 2 more stars than I had? I questioned him when he got home from work. Answer: He had done a grocery shopping after work on Tuesday. In his mind, a grocery shopping was "clearly" worth "at least" 4 stars. Plus, he had done 1 load of laundry. Hold on...

Second Amendment to Star Chart:

I am the one who decides how much each chore is worth in stars.

I admit, this one hurts on multiple levels. Part of me was hoping that this would be a visual representation of how much work I do around the house... so he could see how much time and energy I put into housework. I never (in a million years) thought I would see more stars on his chart. Which leads to...

Third Amendment (suggested by Kim on Tuesday... that I thought I had covered in Amendment 1.):

You can only earn a max of 8 stars per week (equal to 2 hours of personal time or 8 "star bucks" to spend on a luxury item).

This morning, Thursday, I was surprised to discover that the drain was leaking under the kitchen sink. The good thing: It had leaked into a dish pan I had under the sink with cleaning supplies in it and not into the cupboard. The bad thing: That dish pan was f*cking nasty! It was full of disgusting, mildewy, black water. I told Mark that I was taking Ellie off to day care, and if he could just kindly remove that "little" pan of goo, I would love him forever and grant him 4 stars.

I sent him a text once I arrived at work:

Me: How'd it go??

Mark: That was probably the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in my life. I'm pretty sure there were things in there that would have boggled scientists for years. And I can't be certain, but I had the strangest feeling that it was staring at me... Like it had some sort of malevolent intelligence. I think I've just witnessed the doom of mankind, and it began in our kitchen. This is worth more than 4 stars.

Fourth Amendment to Star Chart (in conjunction with Second Amendment):

Big messes equal more points (but no more than 4!).

I know that... none of this really matters. The entire point for him is to throw more obstacles and distractions at me on the path to household harmony (though he completely denies that), so that I give up and keep things the way they are, which I believe, to him, is safe, cozy, secure, consistent.

But I'm determined to make our lives better, cleaner, happier, more organized, to be a better person and a better example for Ellie. And, the more obstacles he presents, the more amendments I will write!

I really sympathize with our forefathers. I wonder how Thomas Jefferson felt when the "Mark" of the Constitution framers was all, "'We the People??'... hmm... that just doesn't sound right. How about, 'We People...' or maybe just 'The People...' Wow, how long have we been at this? Better call it a day."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday - Housekeeping Advice Needed!

Mark and I had a long discussion this morning about how we can be better about housework.

We both grew up in homes with amazing parents who did most the household chores for us. The only problem is that we have no idea how to take care of a home ourselves. We realized that most of the chores we did growing up were to please our parents or to avoid their wrath if we made a mess.

The result: The act of doing chores becomes an emotional battlefield. They should be done to please someone or out of fear of making someone angry. Add my mood swings to the mix, and the house gets messy, confusing, and nothing gets done.

My mom would say, "Just suck it up, and do the work" to which I would reply, "but what's my reward?" Her answer: "A clean house."

I wish that was enough, but growing up, it was an allowance, or ice cream, or just time -- time to play outside, to go in the pool, to go to a friend's house.

Why do I still need that extra reward? Am I just lazy? Should I really just suck it up and do it? There are some days I just can't -- I can't deal with the emotions that come with cleaning.

So, we decided to implement a reward system for cleaning. I'm 100% certain that we're too old for this (me being 29, him 35), but I'm willing to try it if it means we at least temporarily replace the emotional reactions with positive reinforcement. It may be good for Ellie to see too.

We decided our reward system would be similar to (okay, exactly like) the grade school star chart. Each "gold star" equals 15 minutes of time for us to use how we wish on the weekends. We can go to a movie, read, draw, etc. Meanwhile, the other person gets to spend time with Ellie.

This should work well with our cleaning schedule: We both work, so weekdays should be only maintenance chores -- every day we pick up our assigned rooms. I'm kitchen/dining room. He's living room. Weekends we: pick up bedrooms, clean the bathroom, and do the floors (mop/vacuum).

The cleaning schedule has worked pretty well so far, considering we were gone most weekends this summer and the apartment didn't get too out of control. But I wonder if we'll do even more adding the reward system.

What about you? How do you manage your house/cleaning schedule? Is it more a matter of just doing what needs to be done, or do you have a specific system? In need of tips!