Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Please Don't Cry

Before I begin . . . Look how cool my blog is!!! Nap Warden dedicated her time and talents to making me look awfully pretty. My blog looks so great that tears are beginning to fall . . . Check her out at NW Designs and get her to jazz up your blog. She's awesome!!!

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This all might be a bit random, but since I didn't get a chance to blog much over the weekend, thoughts started adding up. Scary thing to be left with your thoughts . . .

First off. I am a sad, emotional, teary-eyed, sap. I admit it. I cry. A lot. I wasn't much of a crier pre-J, but now. Forget it. I stumbled upon a post about a young boy (a baby really) who recently passed away from cancer. That sent me into orbit. I then ALMOST watched the story about the young mother who left her nine-month-old in the car (it was only 66 degrees, but it doesn't take much). Through tears I struggled to find the remote and turn off the TV. I know what you are saying . . . that it makes sense to cry over horrible situations such as these. But, the tears don't stop there.

I know crying is s'pose to be all refreshing and therapeutic, but I HATE it. What have I cried over? Commercials. Some of 'em aren't even SAD! They might have some sweet music, a cute puppy, a bubbly baby, a harried mom . . . doesn't matter. The tears start flowing. Oh, and those CHEESY Lifetime movies. Many of them are really ridiculous and over the top. But, that doesn't stop the tear brigade from moving right along! Oh, and anything on the Hallmark Channel, Animal Planet (especially Emergency Vets) or Ty and his home makeovers--just pack me up in a tissue box.

Magazine ads make my eyes well up. An adorably sweet image of a mother with her newborn in the countless number of parenting magazines will have me sniffling like a baby. Oh, and don't even get me started when OTHER people cry. My heart breaks and I don't even know what the heck they are crying for! It could be a woman crying on Trading Spaces because someone finally painted her kitchen and gave her new curtains. Doesn't matter . . . I'm tearing up for her. My husband used to get all concerned when I would cry because it was very infrequent. Then, when I started these crying jags he would bring me a tissue or ask if I was OK. Now, he rolls his eyes and leaves the room. Then I cry even harder (just kidding--actually, maybe I do cry harder!)

I AM NOT a sap. I just have leaky eye syndrome. Yup. LES. That's me. I'm currently collecting donations so that we can find a cure. Quickly before another Hallmark commercial comes on.

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I have to mention this! Girlymom over at The Red Door is hosting a fun challenge. Are you down in the dumps or stuck in a rut? Do you just need something fun to do? Then you have to head over there and take her 100 Things Challenge. It isn't a lot of work and it is sure to lift your spirits. When can't we all use a little spirit lifting??? I love the idea!

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In case any of you haven't heard . . . there are primaries going on. You have to be living under a rock, but wow is it getting interesting. McCain . . . no, Romney. Clinton . . . no, Obama. What a race. Is it wrong to find this all entertaining? I mean, it is politics . . .

The Writer's Round-About: New Design Launch Contest

There is a New Design Launch Contest over at Writer's Round-About! Fabulous blogger, award-winning poet, freelance writer, and novelist Rebecca Laffar-Smith is hosting this contest to help introduce people to her new blog design for WRA. Rebecca offers tips, strategies, advice, and inspiration for the writer and aspiring writer. Learn more by subscribing to Writer's Round-About's RSS Feed.

As for the fantastic contest, you need to quickly head on over and enter! You can win a gift certificate to Amazon for $25 (3rd place), $50 (2nd place) and $100 (first place)! There are some specific rules you need to follow in order to qualify:

  • Must write a post on their blog that introduces the contest.
  • Must invite others to participate in the contest.
  • Must mention the contest prizes, rules, and deadline.
  • Must include a short review of The Writer’s Round-About.
  • Must be a separate and distinct post (not plugged at the end of a regular post).
  • Must be unique, original, and at least 200 words long.
  • Must include a link to the contest with the contest title.
  • Must include a link to The Writer’s Round-About home page.
  • Must include a link to rebeccalaffarsmith.com with my name, Rebecca Laffar-Smith.
  • Must include link to The Writer’s Round-About RSS feed.
  • Must leave a comment on the original contest post sharing a link to your post.
Rebecca has really come up with a great idea by encouraging her readers to review and promote her site through a contest. She's making you work for it, but who doesn't love prizes? It's worth it! Hurry and enter. The deadline is January 31st, 2008 at 11:59PM EST!

Here's my take on the new redesign--

Strengths:
The site has a simple yet sharp header that clearly describes the site. The menu above the header makes for easy navigation. The colors are appealing and do not distract from the purpose of the site or the content of the posts. The pages are fairly easy enough to navigate and read. Content is really key here and Rebecca does a great job showcasing her topics by highlighting the titles with a white text on top of a deep blue background. Because it is a blog, it is hard to not include blog widgets and ads. Rebecca does a nice job keeping them well organized and to the right of the posts which helps with overall readability.

Challenges:
I think Rebecca's header might even be more appealing if the font was changed to something with a little more impact. I am certain that ads are necessary for generating revenue, but I might consider limiting the sponsors and affiliates (maybe rotate them?) to avoid clutter. Although a lovely photo, I would love to see an author photo of Rebecca that is similar to those on the back of dust jackets, or of her writing, or of her in a business setting to help promote her services. For menus, my eye is normally drawn to just below the header or to the right of the page. For improved usability, I might drop the menu to below the header.

Overall, nicely done! I hope you take a look at Rebecca's blog, give her a review, and be entered for a chance to win an Amazon gift certificate! Hurry up! Time is almost up!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Family Feuds and Daily Drama

I have a fairly simple and drama-free life. I eat non-gourmet meals, I sleep on a standard queen mattress, drive an average car, have an uncomplicated hairstyle (I have a pretty simple "beauty routine"), my house boasts rather basic decor, I don't freak out about parenting issues (though I try my best to stay informed), I seldom if ever fight, much less even argue with others (be it stranger, friend, or T), I love to have fun, but you probably won't catch me jumping out of planes or climbing mountains. Things get exciting, but nothing over the top by any stretch of the imagination. There are few surprises in my life--and I'm OK with that.For the most part I love to live life simply.

Unfortunately, once you throw my family into the mix--all HELL breaks loose.

This passed weekend I went home to visit my family (they are about 400 miles away and have been about that distance--and at times farther-- away since I've been married) to see my little brother's new baby girl. Seems undrama-like enough, right? Yeah, right. Totally wrong. There were hang ups (as in someone hanging up the phone on someone else in anger--and it wasn't me doing the hanging up--I HATE when people do that), there was anger, shouts, tears, accusations and then the real "fight" began!

Without going through all the details, I led a rather unconventional life growing up. There were plenty of story lines in my life that would easily fit into the Lifetime Movie formula. I'm betting that a bunch of you feel the same way about your childhood.

Well, nothing has changed except my geographic location.

I go home and I instantly revert to my childhood self. Don't get me wrong, I think I am still a happy, caring, positive person . . . but other things creep back in. The frustrations. The anger. The hurt. The battered self-esteem. It all comes bubbling to the surface. I lived (and my husband would argue that I still do) for my family--my siblings especially. Ugh. Boo hoo, me. Poor me. I hate feeling sorry for myself. HATE IT!

When the drama happens in my family I am deeply impacted, as is my little sister, (we'll call her B). Unfortunately, other family members can pour on the drama, but minutes later act as if nothing has happened. Meanwhile B and me are tucked in a corner, folded in the fetal position, crying our eyes out. OK, that was an exaggeration (but really, not all that far off), but I'm sure you get what I mean.

I've been trying to "grow up" and "let go" for YEARS. I have these crazy dreams about having a family that just has a hint of normal. But, as I am quickly figuring out, normal just might not exist. So in the meantime I've decided to love on little J and pray that I can give him the childhood that I had always hoped to have. Simple. Drama-free. Full of love.

J is looking and laughing at me now . . . I just read him my post . I think he just rolled his eyes as if to say, "Let go and let God." Good advice my little man. Good advice.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Terrific Tuesday Tour

I'm going overboard with the alliteration, aren't I? Oh well . . .

About a week ago I posted about all the baby toys/activities I had going on in my living room--it was a Wonderful Wednesday! Well, today I thought it might be fun on this Terrific Tuesday to give you a tour of said room.

First, take note that I do not actually have "stations"--really, J just has so much stuff (stuff that I pledged not to go overboard and buy--but clearly that pledge FAILED) that I make an effort to have him play with all of it. He usually ends up on on the floor getting tons of kisses or tickles or on mommy's knees and eventually lifted into the air as Super Baby. I'd like to think I am his favorite toy at the moment. Let me tell you, he is NOT the one all tuckered out at the end. I am the one reaching for a heating pad and a shot . . . of . . . hot chocolate. Yeah, hot chocolate :)

Anyway, forgive the video quality and the super speed in which I am talking (I was trying to keep the video as close to two minutes as possible). For many of you this will be one of those, "Oh boy do I remember those days." For others, "Hey, that looks like my living room." And then for others, "Dear Lord . . . is that what it is really like?"

Thanks for visiting! Oh, and take note of the stream of drool at the end of the video.




Have a TERRIFIC TUESDAY!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday Meme! All About Me . . .

Lindsey tagged me for this fun little survey. I added a few more in hopes to learn more about you (and let you learn a little more about me, of course). Love these . . .

4 jobs I've had:

1. Mommy (my most recent endeavor)
2. Teacher (high school English--I know . . . I just thought EVERYONE liked English. )
3. Technology/Marketing Exec
4. Subway Employee (I am so good at cutting those subs the PERFECT way so that all the stuff fits)

4 movies watched over and over:

1. Sound of Music
2. Office Space
3. My Cousin Vinny
4. When Harry Met Sally
* I own all of these, but I will stop everything and watch then when they come on TV.

4 places I've lived:

1. Detroit, MI (north burbs)
2. Chicago, IL (west burbs)
3. Columbus, GA
4. Parkersburg, WV

4 shows I watch:

1. Grey's Anatomy
2. Ugly Betty
3. House
4. American Idol (I know . . . I went a little overboard on that post)
*Oh, I also have a strange addiction to House Hunters

4 places I've been:

1. Orlando/Clearwater/Tampa/Daytona (um, Daytona in the OFF season--it was awesome, I was one of the hottest chicks around, I was also the youngest by about 30 years. Still counts. )
2. Boston/Plymouth/Salem/Walden Lake!!! (for all those English teachers)
3. Washington, D.C.
4. Atlanta

4 people who e-mail me regularly:

1. Rebecca (my sis)
2. Amy
3. Terri
4. Kelly

4 favorite things to eat:

1. Chocolate (I'm really into dark--not the crazy icky, bitter dark--Hershey's Special Dark, but any will do)
2. Super fresh, plump, perfectly ripened fruit
3. Chicken Tetrazinni (the artery-clogging kind)
4. Swedish Fish (I have an ADDICTION)

4 places I'd rather be:

1. Closer to a city--Chicago would be awesome
2. Near the ocean
3. Wherever I would have a wonderful view of the mountains (I'm really into scenery)
4. Someplace new and exotic, exciting, filled with culture . . .

4 things I look forward to this year:

1. Watching little J learn and grow *sniff*
2. Taking a few vacations (yes, I said A FEW)
3. Spending time with family and friends
4. Getting and staying mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy! Tall order, but why not!?!

4 clothing/accessory items you wouldn't be caught dead in:

1. Anything with a butterfly collar. I have pictures of myself as a little girl in a butterfly shirt with a butterfly color. It sends shivers up my spine . . . what was my mother thinking?
2. Leather pants. I always think of the Friends episode where Ross wore leather pants, started to sweat and couldn't get them off (he tried powder and lotion--a MESS).
3. A thong in public. I don't care where I am or how buff my body is (which it isn't), it ain't happening--ever.
4. Any tight t-shirt with words like the following: cutie, honey, baby girl/bad girl, kiss (or any variation), sexy . . . Besides, most of these words are on my son's outfits or my niece's (not sexy, of course--ewww!).

4 things that really annoy you:

1. Purposely rude and inconsiderate people.
2. Alarm clocks that refuse to shut off.
3. Incessant complaining (including my own!)
4. Clothing that looked good in the store but looks horrid at home.

4 hobbies you have/had:

1. Writing
2. Reading
3. Crocheting (tons and tons of awesome pot holders)
4. Running

4 things you would rather NOT be without (products/items):

1. My DVR!!! (which also means my TV). I'd love to say that I have such a busy and important life that I don't have time for TV, but I can't, so, I won't.
2. My Bare Minerals make-up--light and great coverage!
3. J's cradle swing--he can't nap without it and his white noise machine
4. The Magic Bullet--this thing can do anything! Sauces, shakes, drinks (Margaritas! . . . eventually, baby food
*How could I miss this??? MY COMPUTER W/ INTERNET access!!!

4 most important qualities you look for in a friend:

1. Honesty
2. A good listener
3. Loyalty
4. Compassion/true kindness

Instead of tagging . . . I leave it up to you as to whether you'd like to answer these yourself. Just be sure to let me know you're answering so I can be sure to stop by and learn more about you!

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Funny video for those of you with a sick hubby. . . I found this on Lindsey's site--Hilarious!!!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sorta Sensational Sunday

Movies and Moody Mornings
First, this weekend we watched two movies--yes, two. J was a little ornery, but we finally were able to ship him off to dreamland at around 10. We watched 3:10 to Yuma, which was really good. I'm not one for Western-type flicks, but I enjoyed this one. Christian Bale is GOOD. Period.
After J went to sleep in the co-sleeper, we curled up in bed, sound machine on, portable DVD player ready to go, and watched Mr. Brooks with Kevin Costner. It was an unconventional thriller that wasn't all that bad (I had low expectations, I can't lie). All I can say is that I wish Dane Cook would stick with comedy. I just couldn't get into him in this role.

J woke up at 5:30 AM (he had also woken up at midnight and then again at 3. We were so excited to be up that early on a Sunday. It was glorious. I am LYING. We tried everything just to get the little critter to sleep. Rocking, singing, feeding, sucking, swaying, shushing. In the end he was UP--bright eyed, babbling, drooling--and ready to conquer the world.

Thankfully, I had a bit of a reprieve. It was mom's day out! A friend and I headed for lunch and then the movie theater! Yes, another movie. I swear, my ability and availability to watch movies at all comes in spurts--a couple of weeks ago it took me nearly a dozen tries to watch one lousy movie! Anyway, we saw 27 Dresses. Although somewhat formulaic, it was really cute. James Marsden was oh so cute! What wasn't cute, all those dang bridesmaid dresses! A comment uttered by a couple of the brides in the film was "And the great thing is that you can shorten it and wear it again." THIS IS A LIE.

Tangent time . . . I have four bridesmaid's dresses and they are not fit to make curtains out of. Maybe a cute tote, but that is about it! One of them was dark purple velvet with sparkles, and puffy shiny short sleeves. I have another that is a pale pink. Not a big deal except for the fact that the woman doing alterations thought I was a Barbie doll. I had to stuff my bra with damn near anything I could find. We won't even discuss how much my stomach ached after having had to suck it in all night to avoid ripping my back seem any further (yes, it already had a rip--one big inhale or an extra slice of cake and I was a goner). And my sage green dress, nice. Nice for the guy I walked with since it offered front row viewing of my, well, of my assets . The "girls" were in all their glory. He drooled more than Baby J! And trust me, back then I really didn't have much to drool over.

OK, back to the film. It was good . . . go see it.

A few random things . . .
After the movie, my friend, we'll call her A, and I talked about hairstyles--looking for THE hairstyle, why it is so hard to find the perfect hairstylist, why we pay so darned much for a good cut and color. Some of us spend a lifetime not only looking for a great hairstyle, but the perfect shade of lipstick, the most long-lasting mascara, a natural looking foundation . . . it got me to thinking about appearances in general. All a guy has to do is wake up in the morning . . . jealous.

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Along the line of appearances . . . There is this Seinfeld episode where Jerry dates a girl that he thinks is attractive, but in darker lighting she is clearly unattractive. I can relate to this girl! I swear I leave the house and my hair and face are OK--suitable for human viewing. But man, I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror at the store or my reflection is a window and WHOA . . .what the heck happened when I left home? Was I caught in the ugly storm and didn't know it? Oh well . . . that's what staying home in your PJs is for :)

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Election news! Yeah, you heard it . . .it is a toss up in many ways. Hill or Obama? Who will win? McCain, Huckabee, Romney . . . even Guilaini and Thompson may not yet be out of the race. It also appears that the media is a little less inclined to predict front runners as they once were. Good--this means that WE might all have a say in this madness. Two big primaries are coming up . . . South Carolina's Democratic Primary and the Florida Primaries. Could be a make or break . . . we'll soon see!

A Roar for Powerful Words

I'm a little late with this one . . . I've been tagged by Beth, Wicked Flower Girl, for this meme. Here are the rules:


*Link back to the person who tagged you.
*List three things that you believe are necessary to make writing good and powerful.
*Tag five others and comment at their blog informing them that they’ve been tagged with this award

So, three things that make writing good and powerful.....

1. Truth: Write what you know and know what you write!

2. Clarity and Simplicity (kudos to WFG--I totally agree!): Make each word mean something. I used to tell students, pretend each word you use in an essay/paper costs a dollar. How much do you really want to spend? Don't ramble, don't use three words when one will do, don't use words to show off your expansive vocabulary when simple words will suffice (this isn't a Scrabble tournament).

3. SHOW vs Tell. Exciting, riveting writing recreates experiences and pulls the reader in. Use vibrant nouns and action verbs (don't just pepper your writing with adverbs and adjectives--too much can be word clutter).

BONUS. Practice, practice, practice! From writing blogs and composing e-mails to writing short stories and journaling, write and write a lot. Keep your skills and creativity active. Practice using correct grammar, playing with different styles, and revising previously written work.

I tag:
RJTrue at What a Girl's Got To Do
Kat at A Thoughtful Life
Allie at Allie's Musings
Stephanie at Manic Mommy
Aliki2006 at World of One Thousand Different Things

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wonderful Wednesday

No rhyming titles. We'll try alliteration instead (that's for you Lindsey!).

J and I had quite a day. Our living room (AKA Baby War Room, Romper Room, The Play, Jump, Roll, and Drool Room) was filled with every imaginable toy that J owns. At approximately 8:30 this morning I devised a little routine for my little man. We began with the swing. He had some quality foot time while in there--the grabbing and playing with his amazing feet is new for him.

Next, we moved to his Jumperoo. I proceeded to act like a nut (jumping, dancing, making funny faces) each time his baby-activated music would play. He figured this out quickly (he's a genius!) and proceeded to activate the music as often as possible (he wanted to torture me).

Next, we moved on to the play mat. Since J began rolling over (back to belly), he gets really frustrated when he has his tummy time because he can't quite figure out how to roll from belly to back. Well, that all ended today. With the help of his Exersaucer, which was nearby, I watched as he pushed on the saucer, hoisted himself up, and did a flip-roll from belly to back. YEEEEAAAAHHHH. Two seconds later he rolled again to his belly. Two seconds after that he forgot how to roll at all and proceeded to cry. I eventually put him on a blanket and we played with this hangy toy thing (I have no idea what it is called . . . ). Notice he isn't wearing any clothes in this pic . . . by then, the amount of drool had already cost us two outfits (not including pajamas) at least three bibs, and a vast number of cloth diapers/burp cloths. I had given up . . . the drool was just too much.

We continued with the Exersaucer. He's still trying to figure this thing out. Right now he picks up his legs and sways back and forth. He likes the rocking motion. Just today he figured out that the seat swivels around. He had fun with that! We played with his doggy and looked at some picture books while he was in there. Actually, I played with the doggy and looked at the picture books. J looked at me and drooled. He's a genius, I tell ya!

Next, I put him in his Rainforest Bouncer and we ate some rice cereal. I should actually say that he "ate" it and I ended up with most of it on me. I was the one in need of a bib. *This isn't a picture from today, but this is his bouncer and it was just so darned cute I had to put it in.

Finally, we moved to the Nature's Touch Papasan Cradle Swing. He snuggled in and within moments he was sleeping. Rinse. Repeat.


What a day . . . and by this time it was only 8:45 am (just kidding . . . more like 11 am).

Just a glimpse into my glamorous life . . . Oh, and please note that I took a shower, brushed my teeth, and got out of my PJs just long enough to get into some fresh ones. Yup, that kind of day!

100% Organic Wednesday

In the news . . .
I don't want to eat cloned meat or drink milk from a cloned cow - - - even if the FDA says it is safe (because you know, they are always right) or even if it is from the offspring and not the actual cloned animal (like that makes a big difference). This really bothers me.

Not to jump on the "freak out" train, but as a new mom I am concerned about what is in our environment, our food, that may impact growing bodies (or bodies in general). Again, I didn't throw out all my milk and meat or not get J his vaccinations upon reading/listening to all the hype about the connections to diseases,syndromes,conditions,illnesses... (again, the media really goes nuts with this stuff), but logic dictates that there may be some level of concern. I realize that the rise in certain conditions (such as Autism/Autism Spectrum) might just be coincidental or linked to professionals becoming more proficient in diagnosing such conditions, but can we say that for absolute, 100% certainty? I'm not so sure.

As an average everyday person and a mom, I want to take it all in, research it, think about it, let it marinate a little, and then make a decision. I don't jump on any bandwagons, nor do I out and out dismiss anything.

Did you know that if your processed foods (which is a huge portion of what we eat) contain corn or soy beans then it is highly likely that it is genetically modified?!? Maybe I knew this, but never really thought (or allowed myself to think) about it. I mean, I guess genetically modified corn or soy beans seems less harmful than genetically modified cows, but it still bothers me. Again, authorities say it is safe . . . well, they know everything, don't they? How do you avoid it--100% organic.

It seems every day life gets a little more complicated . . . and all I want is a darned hamburger, with cheese, some fries, and a Coke. A veggie burger, some carrot sticks, and a purified bottle of water just don't cut it . . .

So, what do you think?

Monday, January 14, 2008

And The Truth Shall Set You Free . . .

Michigan's primary is only about a day away and Super Tuesday is looming. Need a great place to get informed on the candidates? Check out this site. There are many, many more, but I liked how this one laid out the information. I was talking to a friend tonight and I was shocked by the misinformation that is out there. Regardless of which candidate I choose to vote for, I need the truth (if that is even possible these days). I need to do my due diligence and find out who these people are--I'm simply not so sure that the debates are telling me much. One thing is for certain, you CAN'T trust the media. Sure, you can listen to it . . . but you can't rely on it as your only source of information. The whole idea of truth seems relative in the political and media worlds . . . I don't think the truth should be relative (as in "Dependent on or interconnected with something else; not absolute".) I think it should be absolute. If it isn't, then we can bend it, color it, massage it, beat it, mold it, coat it, wrap it . . . until it is really just a big lump of fiction.

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This whole concept of truth is important even with something like, well, say those overabundant forwarded e-mails about sick children that I need to donate money to, those stories about underarm deodorant and other seemingly innocuous items that cause cancer, the crazy story of the man who folded himself in a shoe box and mailed himself to his mother (OK, I made that one up, but someone might believe it), those chain mails that that promise death and destruction if you don't forward to at least 20 people and then proceed to tell you how people have fallen ill or worse when they neglected to forward (I HATE these!), or those e-mails that tell you Bill Gates or some other zillionaire or big company is giving stuff away if you just do XYZ. Whatever it is, it drives me bonkers that I am still getting these e-mails--they are a major pet peeve of mine. Now, they are usually from those I love (my Great Aunt Alice or my little cousin John) and not meant to clog my in box or irritate the beejeebies out of me, but they do.

So, what do I do when I get them? I go to SNOPES and check out their validity. From what is REALLY in Coke to Obama's actual religious background, Snopes is great at uncovering the truth. Now, I am not paid for this endorsement of Snopes (though it would be so cool if I was because I tell just about everyone about them), but what I am is hopeful that it will decrease the number of "Read this, it is true" e-mails I get from Great Aunt Alice. One can only hope . . .

What is the most ridiculous forward you have ever gotten? I hate getting them, but I love hearing about them!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hillary's Tears and New Baby Fears

Look! I made a rhyme.
*I have to say that I wrote this post a couple days ago and then when I was ready to post my Internet connection was LOST. I sat there looking at the blank screen and felt so alone . . . actually, it gave me a great reason to catch up on all my DVRd shows and my reading!

Anyway, a lot has happened in the world of politics (elections, specifically) since I first wrote this--Fred Thompson has risen from the "dead." I didn't catch the debates, but did catch the pundits talking about it. In summary--There is no clear front runner. Wow, the media is genius! Finally, let's not hold the elections IN the media--maybe they have now learned that predicting our new president this early is like predicting the winning numbers of a mega million lottery.

OK, here's the start of the post I wrote a couple days ago . . .

Let's get Hillary's tears out of the way first. Did you hear? Apparently, the woman, Marianne Pernold, who asked Hillary the question that prompted the tearful moment, the moment that may have very well won her the NH primary, didn't vote for Hillary--she voted for Obama. Want to know why? I can't help to think that once again the media jumped the gun on this one. Right after Hillary's tearful comment she went right back to "the Hillary we all know" and began her assault on Obama. Pernold was so turned off by Hillary's tone and rhetoric and impressed to tears with Obama that she decided to vote for him instead. Had everyone been able to see the few seconds after the tears then this vote might have turned out differently. I guess this is why we have to stick with the facts. What are their positions? What are their track records (not just in politics, but in life)? What are the foundations of their character? The tears, the savvy speeches, the cutesy jokes, the bashing, the sucking up will tell us very little as it is all just an illusion. I have to do this, but "Just the facts, ma'am." Sorry for the Dragnet line, but I couldn't help it.

Can't wait for next Tuesday!

*Click here to learn more about Hillary's tears and the woman who voted for Obama.
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My baby brother and his wife just had their first baby--Baby L, I'll call her. She was born with a mass or curly dark hair (which is so odd because J was born looking like a little blond, wrinkly monkey--who at times resembled Donald Trump--yikes!), 7 lbs, and 20 inches. She was well done (mine was a month early). Baby L and J are cousins--the first ones! They are only five months apart (almost to the day--missed it by five minutes). New baby--woo hoo. My little bro has no idea what he is in for--and a girl to boot!

I explained the sleepless nights. The constant smell of sour milk. The drool that seems never ending and at times stretches for so long you'd swear there was rubber in it. The diapers . . . oh the diapers. He didn't believe me when I told him how many diapers we went through (I think it was close to 100--though I could be exaggerating). Hee Hee!!! (rubs hands together gleefully) And if you read my last post--wait until she becomes bipolar! In all truth, as we all know, you just can't imagine it all until it happens to you. During the last phone conversation he was nearly incoherent. "I want to sleep so bad," he moaned. (I laughed a little inside--I can't lie). "I wish it were 198 . . .when I was little. I'd climb into my bunk bed, under my rainbow sheets and go to sleep." Awwww. "Then, I'd wake up and watch cartoons." Bingo! "Well," I replied, "You'll get to do that, at least, eventually . . . if you're awake enough." He responded with another moan, or maybe it was a groan, and then a thump . . . not really, but I swear I thought he was going to doze off right there on the phone. One day down and about 6575 days to go (yes, I did calculate that)!!!

All that aside, there is something more important I need to talk about. I'd give my left arm to have my little brother back as that little baby he once was. I miss him. I miss his cheeks, his smile, his hair, his toes. I miss him. I was seven years old when he was born. I had no idea what a sweet little baby he was. When my two sisters came along, I still had no idea. Yet today, as I hold little J in my arms, I'd give anything to just have those moments back. I just want one more day to . . .
play airplane with them high on my feet, flying through the air.
tickle their toes, their sides, and blow on their bellies
run after them and swoop them in my arms
carry "Little Bro" around on my back until I could barely stand
watch them as they slept peacefully in their beds (me, putting a hand on their bellies to make sure they were still breathing--I was a worrier--as was my little sis)
cuddle up to "Angel Baby" (little sis) as she went down for a nap
show "Sugar Baby" (baby sis) around the house after my mom had just given birth to her (home birth--I was there!)
brush and put up their hair
scrub them in the tub
sing them songs
act like a goof ball and get them to do the same
play school with them--I was always the teacher
kiss them everywhere when they were just J's age
hug them . . . and now, I wouldn't ever let go . . .

I know I am "just" their sister, but I can't help but wish to have those moments back. Those little babies . . . Although it is sad to think that those days are gone, they gave me one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive. I thank them for teaching me how to appreciate every single moment with J, from his cries and tears to his smiles and giggles. I will take each moment and breath it in and hold it in my memory. I will soak in his babbles, his attempts to roll over, the way he waves his arms, the smile that creeps across his face when he sees me coming. I won't let a moment pass me by. And most of all, I will hug and kiss him until I can't stand it anymore because I know it won't last . . . Thank you Sugar Baby, Angel Baby, and Little Bro. You all mean everything to me and I can't imagine a life without you. I miss your "little-ness," but am so thankful to have you in my life today.

Sorry for the sappy post. I'm hormonal.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Crazy Primaries and a Bipolar Baby

First, let's tackle the New Hampshire Primary. If you're like me, you've already heard plenty about it . . . Hillary surprised 'em all . . . McCain's back from the dead . . . Romney's in serious trouble . . . Obama actually DOESN'T have it in the bag. Um. Duh. TWO STATES. Let me repeat . . . two states does not an election make. I am no political pundit, but good grief, even I can figure out that it ain't over until it's over! The culprit in all this--the MEDIA!

The media can make a villain or a hero out of you--they are that powerful. However, what seems to have been proven in New Hampshire is that people catch on quickly and make up their own minds. Or do they? I'd like to believe they do, but there is a lot more that can account for the "upsets" we saw yesterday.

First, Hillary cried. Yeah, it was all over the news. I saw that clip at least a dozen times. The first time I saw it I was thinking--wow, this woman has feelings. The song "Feelings" played in my head for at least a few hours. I hate when that happens. The All-knowing, All-powerful media had her pegged and weak, falling apart, losing it . . . nope, didn't happen that way, did it? Was it a calculated move on her part? Who knows. Whatever it was, it sure seems like people may have very well responded when they headed for the voting booth.

Next, Romney is still just a little too slick and McCain is a survivor. A couple of the news channels played these candidate montages that showcased where the candidates came from, what hardships they endured, how they survived it all, and what it was that had gotten them to this point. McCain's, by far, was the most compelling. Who cares about his position on the issues, this man survived a war camp for five years! He even chose to remain even when he had the opportunity to leave because he would NOT leave his fellow soldiers. WOW. Cue patriotic music! Romney was in a really bad car crash. Um. Hmmm. Nice juxtaposition. OK, they didn't exactly put them together that way, but it is hard to ignore the such a disparity in survivorship.
I won't bother mentioning the others. Not because I count them out of the race (though the media did and is now holding back a bit considering their crummy record in making predictions thus far), but because I'm sure there will be more surprises in store (I can't lie, I hope there are--this is getting fun!) and I don't want to waste all my words here. PLUS, I'm betting that some of you can't stand talking about politics. So, I make a pledge to you . . . If I talk about politics (which I am sure to do here and there), I'll include a "No Politics" post--Lord knows I have plenty to talk about.

In the spirit of the above promise, I bring you . . . BIPOLAR BABY!

OK. He really isn't bipolar, I don't think anyway. However, he is sure exhibiting some of the signs/symptoms I saw in a "If you think you or someone you love is bipolar" commercial.

J went from one extreme to another all day today. Boy, does he keep life exciting. We are waiting (and at this time we still are) for a call from my little brother about the birth of his first baby. It could be any minute now! Anyway, J was all smiles this morning. He's was cooing and very, very alert. I hesitate to put him on the play mat for long because he rolls over one way. Hasn't quite gotten the roll from belly to back yet. He's not a fan of being on his belly, but it getting better and better everyday. After being on his belly for a bit he gets frustrated and buries his head in the blanket or mat and then starts to cry, and I mean CRY. I try to let him work it out for a minute or two, but seeing his little face buries in a pile of drool makes me worried he may drowned--yes, it is that much drool. Anyway, two seconds later--laughing as if nothing happened.

J plays in his jumper and has a good time, but I try not to keep him in it that long. Wait, that makes me sound like actually have a plan when I put him in. The simple truth is that I hope he'll stay in long enough so that I can brush my teeth or maybe grab a bite to eat. Unfortunately, after a few rounds of the most grating music ever, he's ready to come out. After avoiding a near meltdown, he plays on my knees--it is Super Baby time! He has fun with that, but mommy sort of wears out (and has to go to the bathroom). Next, we try the bouncy seat. He loves to watch the "waterfall" and animals peer about. He grabs at the hanging rings and has a bunch of fun. That lasts just about long enough for me to realize he's in desperate need of a diaper change. Scream. Cry. Poop. Laugh. Giggle. Cry . . .

Next, we sit in the high chair. He looks so, so small it it. I think he realizes he's small, but he likes being "tall." That works for a bit. But, I find myself dancing like a miserable reject from "So You Think You Can Dance" in order to keep him entertained. Again, let's be honest, I spend most of the day making a complete fool of myself in order to keep him entertained. Curses! (Yes, I said "curses") Will J expect this of me for the rest of my life? Will I me making a fool of myself for his sake here on out? Nah . . . I have hope I'll figure it all out in the long run.

As the day progresses, J's mood diminishes. I call it the "witching hour"--actually, I read it in one of my numerous baby books. He goes from this happy baby, all smiles and a giggle here and there to a neglected (which he is not), starving (he was just fed), screaming (my ears still hurt) infant that you would swear was having his limbs cut off (we were so NOT doing that) in a matter of what seems like seconds. When he did this at first I would strip him down and look for whatever it was that must be scratching, stabbing, slicing, biting, pinching, possessing (devil possession did cross my mind on occasion--thankfully there were not 6s carved in his scalp--I checked) him. I mean, it had to be something.

It is clearly bed time, so husband T and I soldiered on. We did the bath. We did the final feeding. We did the singing (which is a hoot when neither of you can even think enough to remember the words to songs). We did the reading. Bed time. Nope. Not to be. It was Happy Baby time! Smiles, giggles. Back in the jumper he went. Us. We crashed on the sofa and stared in disbelief.

Bipolar? Probably not. Baby. Definitely. And on to month five . . .

Want a giggle (and and example of my bipolar baby)? Check out this cutie (not mine, but very well could be!): Bipolar Baby

Have a happy day!

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Moment

I read the sweetest post about the innocence of a child and the fleeting of time today over at World of One Thousand Different Things. I had already posted two other times today (I guess I'm a little anxious today), but her lovely words prompted me to write.

Today, after getting the approval from our pediatrician, we decided to introduce J to solids. He is just shy of his fifth month. Although I was adamant that he not start solids until six months, I couldn't deny his enthusiasm as he watched me eat. He would ooh and ahh. He smiled and giggled as each morsel entered my mouth. I took to entertaining him with a soft, gleeful growl as I munched on the food. He recently started to reach out for my hand, then the fork or spoon, and then my mouth, as if he could catch the food before it went down. I felt like an Olympic Athlete performing the most amazing feat when he watched me eat. I was amazing in his eyes. So, I knew it was time . . .

I mixed the rice cereal with my milk and daddy and I set the stage. Knees together, bib in place, bowl in my lap, J is his daddy's lap, spoon in hand, we began. The first bite was near perfection. There was no thrusting action by his tongue as the watery cereal went cleanly down. Another spoonful and a little dribbled down his chin. I caught it and returned it to his open mouth. He wasn't smiling. He wasn't giggling. He WAS amazed. He got a little restless as we started the next bite. Daddy and I began the gleeful growl that usually results in an ear-to-ear grin. He took another bite--more dribble. Then . . . the lip. Next . . . the tears.

Within moments J had fallen into a complete meltdown. T (husband) wanted to try just one more bite. Deep inside I knew what was wrong and knew another bite simply would not calm him. I took him into my arms and handed the food to T. J furiously clawed at my top. He looked up at me with tears streaming down his face and the milky cereal collecting at the corners of his mouth. The cries were hard and silent as he tried to catch his breath. I knew. Within moments he latched on. I looked down at his little face. His eyes, still tear-filled, stared back at me as if to say, "Why?" His body relaxed and as it did it spoke volumes. "Will I ever get my milk again?" That spoon. That bowl. That cereal. It was all so new to him. He had no idea what it meant--was this his new food source? Would this be it? No more Mommy Milk? I felt his little hands clasp my shirt and his body curl around mine. His eyes never left my face.

This was all so new for him. I often forget, and I thank Aliki2006 for reminding me, that each and every experience is so new for J. He has no idea what it is, will it last, will it happen again, will I come back, where I went . . . no idea. He's learning fast, but at the same time it is often a scary, amazing, happy, terrifying, sad, upsetting time for him. It makes me cherish each moment--because each moment is just that, a moment. A moment that will only happen once in his lifetime and once in mine.

Debating--AGAIN!

Well, I guess we'll (or they) will be debating for a long time here on out . . .

Last night Fox held a round of Republican debates. I guess there were no real surprises there, except for the fact that Ron Paul was not invited to come. I understand the logic--he's a long shot and they wanted to reserve the time for real contenders. It still irks me that he wasn't given a platform. If anything his message, his comments, questions may spur something in the other candidates. He is a doctor, a "maverick" some say and his presence would have been beneficial and FAIR. AND, right now he is favored higher than Thompson in New Hampshire.

Moving on. There were no big surprises at the debate. But there were a few notable observations:
1. Giuliani and Thompson never seemed to get a great grip on the debates. They had a few comments here and there. Thompson was long-winded (maybe he needed a script) and Giuliani just lacked the enthusiasm that I really expected from a one-time front runner.

2. Huckabee was evasive and defensive, especially when questioned about taxes by Romney.

3. Romney was much smoother today. His answers were specific and actionable. He seemed confident and didn't let the barbs (there were only a few this time) shake him up.

4. McCain threw fewer barbs at Romney and instead focused more on his experience and the positive changes he has enacted. He also made mention of his military leadership which helped to remind voters that this is a decorated war hero we are listening to.

Overall, I'm eager to see what happens next. As for the Democrats, it really seems that Hillary is going to have a rough going. From what I heard today she is really starting to appear desperate.

What puzzles me most is that regardless of what happened in Iowa and what happens in New Hampshire, this race is far from over (the fact is many have lost and still gotten the nomination and visa versa. However, the media really puts some crazy spins on just how the candidates are doing. It seems that the media can easily influence voters when they declare that a candidate is in trouble, is doing fantastic, is in a do or die situation. The thing is, we just don't really know yet. We are all still getting an idea of who these candidates are and what they stand for. I just hope the media backs off and lets it all soak in.

Tomorrow will be interesting!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

New Hampshire Debates

In an attempt to remain as unbiased as I possibly can, I wish to discuss the debates. Am I political. Yes. I am. I claim to be a FLAMING MODERATE. . In past elections I've been MODERATELY interested in the candidates, usually revealing a keen interest in their stance on issues as election day rolled around. However, this year is different. I'm addicted. I was so disappointed when I came home and found I missed the first 45 minutes of the Republican debate. I was fortunate enough to hear some of the commentary (what is with the FACEBOOK thing--UGH, who cares!?! First it was the YouTube debates and now this. Enough already! What's next? The Google debates? The Yahoo debates? The Blogger debates--now that might be interesting . . . )

First off, my general feelings--there were a lot of empty platitudes-- Obama is an excellent talker. That isn't a knock on him, he is just well spoken and it shows. He has a powerful presence and I'm sure that irritates the heck out of Hillary. The word "change" must have been uttered a few hundred times. I'm certain someone counted--how could you not. It was like an annoying teenager saying "like" every other word. I get it already--you want change, you are the change, we need change. Giuliani addressed this when he said that change is great, but what kind are you talking about? What do you mean by CHANGE? Good one. I wished they would have discussed the economy more--I felt they didn't address this enough and when they did, they were all very vague--must be a tough topic to tackle. They also didn't say BOO about education. One mention about how we need to get rid of NCLB, but that was about all I heard. They talked about the war, they skirted the issue of big biz making huge profits on gasoline, they hopped all over immigration--most off all, they tackled and hopped all over each other. I think there are some sore losers in the room after the Iowa results. My hope is that with each debate they reveal more and more of themselves. The simple fact is they have to crack open sooner or later. I just want to be there when they do.

Now I could go on and on about how they stand on the issues, but you can read all about that just about anywhere on the net. I am more interested in their overall presence. Are they honest (or have the appearance of being so)? Do they seem sincere? Passionate? Motivated? Are they PRESIDENTIAL? My poor husband asked me what I thought after watching the debates. He thought it was safe--I was peacefully sitting nursing J. He thought wrong. An hour later I'm certain he wished he'd not said a word. So, I share my thoughts with you. I'll keep it brief. Actually, I'll "bullet" my thoughts as best as I can. I've also included a performance score from 1-10 (1 being poor and 10 being excellent):

Republicans (I only caught the last 45 minutes--so my review is a little limited here)

Giuliani: Seemed reserved through much of the debate that I saw. His responses were calm and he was extremely well-spoken. He seemed confident, but not in an arrogant way. I was drawn to his head. It seemed, well, it seemed large. It could have been because it had no dimension. I'm sure the matte makeup had something to do with that. Overall Performance: 7

Huckabee: I've only recently taken notice of Huckabee. It could have been that night he was on with Jay Leno (earlier in the week). Tonight he and Guiliani seemed very similar in their overall composure. Huckabee seems self-assured (which could be a result of his win in Iowa). I'm concerned about his name--Huckabee. I can hear the goofy songs on morning radio, the brow-raising jokes on late-night TV already. I am already making up a funny rhyme in my head. Overall Performance: 7

Thompson: It seemed like he came alive today, in an understated sort of way. He had a few quick barbs aimed primarily at Romney (actually, who didn't have barbs aimed at Romney tonight?). He seemed much more on his game than in his earlier debate. He seemed rather presidential--a "take-no-crap" sorta guy. Overall Performance: 8

McCain: He was the McCain from years ago tonight. He has that same enthusiasm I remember seeing when he ran against Bush. He finally feels like a true contender. For some reason Romney thinks he can win by "beating" on McCain. I think McCain, who often works together successfully with both parties, is very well respected and I'm not so sure that people take kindly to this war veteran being bashed. Overall Performance: 8

Romney: No one liked this guy tonight. He came across as a slick city lawyer. From the hair to the facial expressions, Romney seemed almost calculating in his responses. He was out to take jabs and I felt that this deterred from digging into the issues. The other candidates clearly made him a major target. Overall Performance: 4 (you get 2 points from me just by showing up.)

Paul: He looks like the priest of the Catholic church just down the road from us. He seems incredibly sincere, like a sweet old grandfather. I keep waiting for him to offer someone a Werther's Original candy. Moth balls and checked pants aside, he appeared incredibly sincere in his responses. I really believed him. The question is whether or not he'll appear strong enough when he faces other world leaders. Overall Performance: 7

Democrats

Clinton: She was on fire--not necessarily in a good way. It was clear that her tone has changed since she had such a poor showing (for her, anyway) in Iowa. She was on the attack. She is desperate to knock Obama from his perch--I just don't know if she can do it, even with all her experience. Clearly Obama has proven by his win in Iowa that experience does not equal a clear path to the nomination. She raised a good point about the changes she made and she seemed human when she confessed (if it really was a confession) that the fact that the New Hampshire voters appeared to like Obama better hurt her feelings. Up until then I think a lot of people wondered if she had any feelings that could be hurt. Overall Performance: 6

Richardson: This is another candidate I did not know before the elections started. He actually made some rather insightful comments. He even took the high road and encouraged his counterparts to do the same. He reminded everyone that he was a governor quite a few times, so clearly he has an advantage in terms of experience. Overall Performance: 7

Edwards: Wow. Edwards obviously knows where his bread will be buttered best. I see him aligning himself with Obama. He seemed the most passionate and energetic (his hair looked great and so did his pearly whites). As with Romney, I just feel Edwards is a bit TOO neat, TOO slick. He is a lawyer and no matter how he spins it, he did win huge settlements, but at what expense and at what gain (for him, of course). Overall Performance: 8

Obama: The man of the hour. Boy was he in a tough spot. All eyes were on this top dog and he did OK. The talking heads said he pulled his weight, but like I mentioned earlier, I still don't feel he gave SOLID responses--there was little substance. But boy is he one hell of an orator. I felt he also knew the perfect time to steal Edwards' thunder when Edwards went on an on about how he takes all this personally and started his teary-eyed speech about his family history. Obama was slick to move in on his moment like that. Obama also was rather repetitious as Hillary kept trying to knock him down--he knows he doesn't have the experience and was doing his best to leverage what he does have. Sadly, his defense kept me from learning more about the man behind the bid. Overall Performance: 7/8 (better than Hillary, but not quite as solid as Edwards).

I'm eager to see what happens on Tuesday. The madness of politics continues . . .

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Baby J, Tryolutions, A Giveaway, and The Debates!

Wow . . . so much to say and so little time!

* * *

Baby J will be turning five months in just a matter of days. I can't believe it! I look at his little face and I am amazed at how much he has already changed. I know that parents always say this--they also always feel the need to warn you to enjoy each and every moment since they fly by so fast. I understand this and am soaking in each and every moment. More on J in a few days. I'm sure I'll have plenty to gush about.

* * *

Tryolutions. T (hubby) and I headed for the store with J. It is our form of major Saturday night excitement. We went to Walmart. Say what you will about Walmart, but it is the only place you can go with a screaming infant and no one will look at you funny . . .

Anyway, in the car on the ride home T and I started to discuss my moods. I've been OK lately, but at the same time I have a lot on my mind. I think about having a job. I know, I know--staying home and raising J is a job--my most important one. BUT, as someone who has had a job or been going to school since she was in kindergarten, it is hard for me not to be either studying, working, or both. Plus, in only a matter of months I must decide if I will return to my teaching position. After our discussion, I decided on a tryolution . . .

I am going to TRY to find a way to work from home. I desperately would like to use that English degree (B.A.) or the education (teaching) degree (M.Ed.) to pull in some extra $$$. Good grief . . . who wouldn't? Since I've started this blog I've realized that there are many, many women who want the same things. From money-making widgets, ad space, novel writing, advertising/reviewing, and much, much more--there seem to be a plethora (ugh, wasn't supposed to use that word--Tryolution #18) of opportunities. My tryolution is to find the right one for me. Any creative ideas would be welcome!

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Speaking of cool ways to make money on your blog (or at least win stuff by visiting blogs) FlipFlopMama is hosting a diaper bag giveaway. Check it out and enter today!

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I had intended to write about the debates next . . . I think I'll save that monster for later.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

* * * My New Year Tryolutions * * *

Happy New Year!

Is it? Will it be? Who knows?!?!

I am trying to be optimistic. After a cranky eve, I'm revved up for a fulfilling 2008. We spent the past week or so with family--both mine and my husbands. It was an odd holiday in many ways. In a way, it was incredibly sad and surprisingly happy . . . here's why:

First, I have this "tradition" with my sisters. We go shopping on Christmas Eve (actually, it begins late on the 23rd and ends very early the 24th). We shop for last minute gifts for extended family members, pick up some odds and ends, and end up at a 24-hour restaurant for a late, late dinner or early breakfast. It is a goofy, fun, eventful time. We've been doing it for years and years. This year I had little J, so I had to head out a little late. We headed for Meijer's and started to shop. Everything started out great, but unfortunately, it didn't last. Without boring you with details or irritating myself with having to painstakingly go through them, I'll just say that times are changing. Priorities and responsibilities are shifting. I can fault anyone. I guess my thoughts are that I have a husband, a new baby, and I traveled a few hundred miles (as did one of my sisters) all the while looking forward to this night with my sisters. I get downright giddy at the thought of being with them--but it didn't turn out the way I expected, or should I say, hoped for. I just need to suck it up and expect that things will change.

Moving on, the other side of the family it dealing with the loss of its patriarch. Although he died just before Christmas last year, my father-in-law's death still looms over the family as this will be the first full holiday where we aren't all numb--we definitely feel--bitter. The SWEET part is that little J is a new addition. His presence took the sting out of seeing my father-in-law's empty stocking hanging off the fireplace mantle. I look into his little blue (I hope they stay that way) eyes and I see his grandpa. Life goes on in more ways than one.

Coming home was a treat. I have no idea what is wrong with me, but within moments of stepping in the door I wanted to tear all the Christmas stuff down. Only days ago I was so excited to turn on the lights, light the cinnamon scented candles, bake the Christmas cookies, listen to holiday music---now, I wish it would just pack itself up and head to the basement. Ugh. What is wrong with me? I guess there is just nothing sadder than Christmas decorations--the tree, the lights, the wrapping paper, the stockings . . . --up after the big ball has fallen in Time's Square. I'm a pessimist. Gosh, and I used to be so positive. Maybe post-holiday blues?

The good news! I'm not making any New Year's resolutions. Why? Because I won't disappoint myself when I break them. What will I do? I will make New Year's TRYolutions. I will TRY to be more positive, happy, organized, optimistic, healthy, wise. . .

There is so much I want to do . . . so, instead of being all resolute about it, I will just TRY . . . a little harder.

So, any TRYolutions for you?

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Two Peas

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