Monday, November 30, 2009

Something about Mondays

Ever since I became a mom, I've discovered a new love for Mondays. Yes, it marks the end of a weekend full of family and fun. Yes, it is a dreaded workday for the husband. Yes, it is a quiet day as people return to their routines.

Despite it all, I love Mondays. It is a calm transition into the routine that I have grown to love. It is quiet and without demands. Rarely do we venture out on this day. Instead, we wear pajamas well into the afternoon. We have leisurely naps and leisurely meals. We wrap up some chores and enjoy the stillness of the house.

Monday marks the beginning of a new week of opportunities. We check the playgroup schedules, the vet schedules, the doctor schedules, and the bill schedules. We prepare ourselves for a week of duties and dates. We select our priorities and make our lists. All in all, it is our secret getaway...our FREE getaway. And they don't get any better than that!

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's time to grow up...apparently.

So, I thought getting married was akin to "growing up." Then, I thought having a job would be the milestone that marked "growing up." Having a baby? Closer. Unfortunately, it appears as though EVENTS in my life are not the catalysts I had thought. Instead, it *will be* my actions. And I'm a mom now, so it's time, right? I didn't really get that memo until I was looking at some pictures of myself from Saturday.

Flashback to Saturday: Baby B and I went out for an evening playdate. Unbeknownst to me, one of the moms there was in charge of taking photographs of the event. No problem, right? Wrong.

The pictures were posted, and I eagerly scrolled through them to view the photos of B and his friends. Then it happened. The very FIRST photo was of ME! Side view. NOT pretty. Aside from realizing that my beloved fleece sweater isn't so flattering, I was gobsmacked with the reality that it's time to grow up. You know, have a grown-up hairstyle. I didn't realize that throwing my hair up in a ponytail everyday made me look so adolescent. I looked like a college student...except fatter. (Note that my concern is about the hair, not the fatness...that's a whole other post.)

Yes, of course, I go to the salon and have them work their magic with my hair. Of course, well, that's only when I keep my appointments. I have a nice cut, but you'd never know it. I'm a sucker for the wash, air dry, and tie-it-up routine. Well, Jennifer, my dear, you're a bit OLD for that. Frankly, bless your heart (southern for "I'm about to say something tacky,") you look like a slob.

OUCH! But it's true. My friends, you'll be happy to know that today I spent a whole twenty minutes styling my hair. Now, if I could only get rid of this old raggedy sweatshirt I'm wearing...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bras...yes, bras...

I've got a little story for ya' Ags! (as in "Aggies" for those of you not in touch with the A&M lingo...)

A while back I decided that I was finally going to get properly fitted for a bra. Everywhere I turn the media seem to be telling me that VERY VERY few women have a proper fit. Why would I be any different, right? So, off I go, ready to bare it all. I had my game face on.

In I walk to the specialty bra store. I grabbed a few samples that I thought might be my correct size, and I crept towards the fitting room. Then, I did it. I told the saleslady that I wanted her to help fit me, please. She was probably younger than I was, and she was definitely shorter than I was. (That was hard since I'm only 5'4".) Frankly, she looked a bit upset to have been bothered at all. I decided that to reduce the awkward nature of the whole ordeal, I'd be on my best behavior. No jokes, no small talk, and no impatience. So much for that plan.

Here's how she "properly fitted" me. (Please keep in mind that the store advertises itself as the bra experts.)

First, she asked, "What size are you wearing?"

I answered, "34-B"

She asked, "How's that working for you?"

I answered, "Ummmm, alright I guess."

She asked, "Why don't you try on another one and see how that feels?"

I answered, "Ummmm, okay." I thought, "Ummmm, this is NOT going well..."

After I put on the second bra...

She asked, "How does that feel?"

I answered, "Uhhh, fine."

She declared, "Whatever you want should work just fine."

Please notice that there was NEVER a discussion about sizes. She never even suggested a different style. I concluded that this whole experiment was a big flop.

Moral of the story: as long as you're not flopping around, spilling over, or leaving a vacancy, "Whatever you want should work just fine."


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Party Hosting

I love to have people come to our home. I adore cooking for them and visiting with them. I believe that opening our home to people is akin to opening our hearts to them. It's a way of giving everything we have to our relationship with our guests. I look forward to these events for weeks leading up to them.

Having said that, our house is not large, and it is sometimes challenging to accommodate everyone comfortably. I'm sure there is a "rule of thumb" regarding space and number of guests, but I've not yet stumbled upon it. For now, we are left to dream up possible seating arrangements and flow spaces...yet we always come up with a deficit. My immediate reaction is, "THIS is why we need a bigger home!" Truth be told, however, that we don't entertain large parties frequently enough to justify rolling into a new home to better suit them. A more creative and practical approach leads us to discover creative uses of space.

While our home is not huge, our lot is quite sizable. It's over a quarter of an acre, large by Houston standards. Thus, it would be possible to set up seating outdoors. This fall and winter, as we invite people to our home, we will be grateful for our ability to use a space that has, until now, been used as a dog run.

Back when we were looking, one of Ryan's standards for purchasing a house was that it must have a small yard. He loathes yard work. Well, my dear, we might finally be making use of that extra space I strong-armed you into! And it might even save you money in the long run!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


How trite. Of course I want to simplify. Every time I find myself walking up to the house with an arm full of shopping bags I wonder, "What in the world could I possibly be bringing into this house that we actually NEED?" I suppose the answer is, "Very little."

Our house is just over twenty-four hundred square feet large. But somehow it feels like it's just over twenty-four hundred square feet too small. How in the world could this be? We are a small family: myself, Ryan, and Baby B. To tell you the truth, we barely even USE half of the house...probably more. Having said that, we do have that excess packed to the brim with STUFF. I'm so sick of STUFF! We're drowning in an addiction to which we still play the slave. I'm not sure where to find the cure.

SO, folks, I've turned to the Super-Moms of the world, and I am desperately seeking tricks, secrets, and strategies to SIMPLIFY our lives. Well, truth be told, I've been seeking these tips for about two months. I'm not sure I've made much progress, but I have kicked about five monstrous trash bags full of clothes to the curb...or, Goodwill. I've also blown through my kitchen and removed MOST of the tools I never use. I even relegated many of the infant items to the garage. Nevertheless, you would never know any progress had been made.

Somehow, I have loads and loads of homeless STUFF. Little ornaments and statues and crystal. I have so much that means so much, but we haven't the proper places to house them. I suppose that the answer is to kiss them good-bye and carefully pack them away so that we might find a way to enjoy them in our next home.

I'm also finding that we could clothe an army of beds with the blankets we have. I'm left convinced that if I just continue to hang onto these things, I'll find relief when the unanticipated need arises.

And, oh, the toys! I am totally overwhelmed with the toy situation. Our living room looks like a daycare center. While we have the space to create a playroom, I have to believe that Baby B will always prefer (and need) to be in close proximity to me while he plays. I don't foresee spending our days in the confines of one room, even if it is a child's Heaven.

It will be my mission in 2010 to organize this house. I'll work away the clutter room by room, and I'm quite sure...very sure...ummm...yeah...that by 2011 I will be a new woman! And, I'll fit into my size four clothing again! (Hey, while we're dreaming...)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Frisked! Again!

Last Thursday, Ryan and I left for a mini-vacation in Colorado. Despite having to make a 6am flight, we sported two positive attitudes and timely arrivals at IAH. And then "security" entered the picture. Scene:

Only one lane of "security" was open despite it being such a busy time for business travel. The line must have been about thirty feet long just to pass the first identification verification. Shortly after joining the other patient travelers, there arose a verbal battle between the "security" agent and a group of foreign travelers. I believe their accent was Russian, but I can't be sure. Clearly, they did not understand the American concept of standing in line. Their confusion sent the intolerant and abrasive "security" agent into a tailspin of lectures to all of the surrounding travelers. She stopped the line several times to shake her finger at us all. The alleged Russians breezed through the x-ray machine and metal detectors without further issue.

I, however, the short, plump, blond(?,) all-American, young woman who never confuses the verbs to "lay" and to "lie," was pulled to the side for a pat down. Oh, no, my friends. They didn't use a wand. I was felt up and down and too close to personal bits. Did I mention it was a show for all of the other travelers to watch? It's good to know that I am just as likely to be perceived as a terrorist as, well... people that cause noticeable distractions in the security lines. No, I don't suggest that there was anything suspicious about the Russian travelers. I have to believe, however, that there are endless ways in which they MORE closely fit the profile of someone to watch.

You might be surprised to know that I was barely fazed by the event. Why? Oh, my friends, I've had MUCH more humiliating experiences at the hands of "security" officers.

Flashback about four years to the Baltimore airport. Mom and I had been visiting family in DC, but it was time to go home. It must have been a slow time or date to fly because the airport was quiet. "Security" must have been bored. After walking through the metal detector, I was pulled aside for further investigation. Ahhhhhh...lovely. There I was without my shoes, without my jacket. I stood there stripped down to a sleeveless shirt and a loose pair of black pants. The agent began to swipe me with the metal detector wand. It kept detecting metal on my body. I had to pull up my pant legs one by one. No metal. The agents were confused. I did tell them that I had metal in my knee from a post-ski surgery I had years earlier. Then, it happened.

They wanted a closer look at my mid-section. I had to pull up my shirt, not to the point of exposing my undergarments, but high enough to show my mid-drift. My other arm out to the side like a scarecrow, I stood there feeling increasingly upset as...wait for it...AN ENTIRE UNIT OF SERVICEMEN WALKED PAST ME ENJOYING THE FREE "WELCOME HOME" SHOW!

Eventually, of course, the "security" agents were confused enough to give up. (Good to know they're so committed, right?)

Thus, I sit here today, twice frisked by airport agents. It's not fun, folks. Perhaps next time I'll have a meltdown in line waiting to shove my bags through the metal detector. Then, I will look like an average, disgruntled passenger calling just enough attention to myself to be perceived as "normal."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Money Person

I am the "money person" in this house. I pay the bills, collect the receipts, and manage the accounts. This year I have committed to consolidating some of these accounts. Although many of them APPEAR to be held at the same financial institutions you'd be AMAZED at the paperwork, phone calls, and appearances this feat requires.

In the last three weeks I've been desperately tackling a custodial account and my Teacher Retirement System account. The idea is to move the funds into Roth IRAs. Despite all of my efforts, the monies still have not been moved. (Ironically, however, I had to OPEN a NEW account in the process of said transfers.) Maybe, just maybe, if I work on it EVERY DAY by the end of 2010 I might finally have a reasonable number of accounts to manage.

The lesson is twofold. First of all, don't let your accounts multiply. Rather, when you need to change ownership make the time to go to the institution and make the changes in person. (Although that whole "in person" thing hasn't gotten me very far in the past few days.) Secondly, persistence is key. Put your banks' customer service lines on speed dial, and have a daily chat!