This blog is on hiatus while Doug, Carter, and I are spending a year traveling around the world! You can follow our adventures on our travel blog here. :-)
I think it's probably not a coincidence that I've had this burst of reorganization energy at the same time as I've been getting myself healthy. I have so much more energy than I did a few months ago, and it makes me want to get things done.

I've been watching what I eat and exercising at least three times a week for 6 weeks now, and I'm down 16 pounds! My fairly lofty goal was to lose 20 pounds by Halloween, and now that's looking like it will probably happen! When I started this I was a size 20 and even those were getting tight. I'm now in an 18, and those are loose. Yesterday I put on several pairs of size 16 pants just for the heck of it, and I could definitely get them all on, though they were way too tight to actually wear. But another 10 pounds and I will definitely be wearing those pants. That's exciting, and incredibly motivating. I have a long way to go, though. I want to lose a total of 60 pounds, which would get me back down to the weight I was when we started TTC. Infertility put 60 pounds on me, and I'm really ready to put that part of my life behind me! I'm 25% of the way there.

Okay, on to the garage. This was something I've been wanting to do for a long time, and when it finally got a little cooler a few weeks ago, it seemed like a good time to start this project. It took us two weekends to get it done (really two days spread over two weekends). Here are the before pictures. )

So we bought some shelving at Lowe's, went through boxes, threw a bunch of stuff away and hauled several carloads of stuff to Goodwill. Getting the shelves up turned out to be a harder task than we'd anticipated. Carter played while we worked and generally stayed out of the way.

The results! )
Carter will be 4 in January, something that kind of blows my mind. He's very much a little boy now, not remotely a baby or a toddler. And so we've been slowly taking down some of the barriers we put up when he became mobile.

One of the things I really wanted to do when he was a baby was to create a safe space he could play in and explore, without me having to constantly hover or police him or tell him "no". That worked really well for us, though it definitely made the house less than stylish, heh. I've seen so many HGTV shows where a team of designers goes in to re-style a house on the market, and they remove all the things that were so clearly put there to protect toddlers, often tsk-tsking at the poor homeowners utter lack of taste. I always think, "Well they don't have kids, do they?"

Anyway, one day last week we realized that Carter could open all the remaining baby gates in the house and was already going through them whenever he pleased, so keeping them up seemed sort of pointless. I took them down, and then realized that I wanted to reclaim another space in our house that had been bothering me for a while: the Foyer.

Before pictures under here )

I had a budget of about $150 to work with, so I couldn't do much. I basically rearranged furniture and re-purposed some things. I spent a little money at IKEA and Target, and will hopefully have met my $150 budget once the items I put on Craigslist sell.

Here are the after pictures )

I've really been in a de-cluttering frame of mind lately, and I'm looking forward to doing even more around here. The next big project is the garage, but that has to wait for it to get cooler. :-P
I have totally neglected this journal for a long time. I'm mostly on FB, and that's been really dissatisfying for me for a while now. I feel like I need a space to write about things I'm thinking about (parenting-wise and otherwise) in more than a few hundred characters, so I'm going to try to use this again.

A handful of updates. )
This is a recipe I've used for years, one I sort of made up and sort of copied from somewhere else. It works for almost every kind of veggie, and it's pretty straightforward to use. I made it yesterday with pumpkin, and on a whim took a bunch of pictures of the process. I thought I would post them here. :-)

Roasted veggie soup recipe, illustrated. )
Because I tend to set my goals by the semester:

1. Go back on diet. Lose 20 pounds by Christmas. This is a subgoal of "Lose 40 pounds before my 40th birthday".

2. Go to the gym more. Three times a week would be awesome. Weekly yoga class would be very cool as well.

3. Get the kitchen and bathrooms painted. Explore options at Lowes/Home Depot for cool new vessel sink for the downstairs bathroom.

4. Sort through all of Carter's baby stuff, give to Goodwill or sell on CL/eBay. *sniffle*

5. Clean everything out of storage room and redesign it as a playroom for Carter!

6. Reorganize the DVD collection in the home theater room; install new shelving units.

7. Plant herb garden when it cools off enough, and think about doing a lettuce garden in the fall.

8. Acquire patio furniture for the deck. Something comfy and outdoor-living-roomish.

9. Get pedicures more regularly.

10. When it cools off enough, explore greenbelt hiking trails with Carter. (Now that he's old enough to actually go for walks!)


Aug. 19th, 2010 04:23 pm
In case you've wondered where I've been the last few weeks (or even if you haven't!), we just got back from a trip to Chile and Argentina. If you're interested, I kept a detailed account of the trip (with lots of photos) on Carter's blog here.
I've been mulling over a series of posts on my parenting philosophy, and now that my summer school class is over, I think I'll start. This is partly for record-keeping and partly for discussion. I want to remember what I was thinking at this point in my parenting experience when I look back. :-)

First, a few caveats: I have one child, who is currently 2.5 years old. What I write here clearly only applies to me and my family, and I don't mean to imply that anyone who does things differently is doing it wrong. I freely admit that I might be doing things wrong here, and I may look back and regret some of the choices I've made. However, as a Slacker Mom, I also feel pretty strongly that children are pretty resilient, and it's unlikely that I'm doing any real damage. On top of this, I only work part time, and I have no idea how things would be different if I worked full time.

With that out of the way, one of the first things I want to write about is Sleep. It's one of the biggest issues on every parenting board, and it seems to be the first question people ask when they see someone with a newborn: "Is he sleeping through the night yet?"

And the answer to this question, IMO, should be... )


Jul. 12th, 2010 09:45 pm
I posted this to FB, but I have to post it again here.

Carter: "Carter has a penis. Mommy has a 'gina."
Me: "That's right. Carter is a boy, and Mommy is a girl. Boys have penises, and girls have vaginas."
Carter: "Daddy has a penis too!"
Me: "That's right!"
Carter: "Mimi [his nanny] has a 'gina." [pause] "And a Civic."
Me: ROFL!!

I swear, little kids are THE BEST!!! I love how Mimi having a vagina and driving a Honda Civic are on the same level of interest!
I've been a menstrual cup user for a couple of years now, ever since Carter was born. I really like it and find it SO much easier to deal with than tampons.

This month AF came a few days early and caught me unprepared at work, so I bought a vending machine tampon out of desperation. (It was either that or do the old folded-up toilet paper trick.) By the time I got home a few hours later, I had terrible cramps -- for the first time in years. I used to have cramps a lot, but I hadn't realized that I no longer have them cramps until today.

As soon as I got home, I put the cup in, and less than 5 minutes later the cramps were gone! I've heard other cup users say that the cup helped with their cramps, but I'd never really experienced it for myself until today. :-)
And that's actually pretty sad. I spent 14 years of my life in Arizona, and for the first time since I moved to Texas, I'm glad I left. :-(

As always, Stewart and Colbert say it best.

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I'm working at home today, writing up lecture notes, commenting on students' lesson plans, and trying to get calc exams graded. Michelle is taking care of Carter for 5 hours today, and there is no way I would be able to get any work done without her here.

I'm upstairs in the office, and when Carter woke up from his nap I could hear him and Michelle talking, and I wanted so badly to run down there and hug him and talk to him too. It sounded like she fed him a snack, and then they went to the park to go play. I'm grateful that he has such a wonderful nanny who does with him the things I would do if I weren't working, but sometimes I feel incredibly guilty that it isn't me doing those things with him.

Even though two days a week, it IS me. Heck, I took him to his swimming lesson this morning, and then we went to Stay n' Play (Austin area moms, check it out, because it's really awesome!), where we played with 3-foot-tall Easter bunnies for a while before Michelle came, at which point I left them to play while I went home to get some work done. Again, *sigh*, Mommy guilt.

But you know, it's not guilt so much as jealousy, really. I love my job, and I love that I can work part time and bring in a little money and keep active in my field and still have 2.5 days a week to be a SAHM and be with Carter. But I still find myself jealous of full time SAHMs. I think about how cool it would be to be able to spend every day with Carter, to just wake up every morning and say, "What should we do today?" It would be cool to be able to take him to playgroups and local parenting meetups that happen on days other than Monday or Friday (which most don't -- it's all Tuesday and Thursday, it seems). It would be nice to be able to relax on the days he doesn't take a nap because I don't have several hours of work hanging over my head, that will now have to be done late at night. Hell, I might even be able to knit again! Or keep up with blogging. Or write that novel...

Any full-time working moms reading this are probably rolling their eyes right now, heh. I suppose the grass is always greener, eh?

Now I'd better get back to those vector calc lecture notes...

Car update

Mar. 25th, 2010 07:36 pm
Thanks for all the suggestions and comments on my last post!

So, everything has changed now. We spent an entire day test driving cars about a week ago, and almost bought a Hyundai Santa Fe. We took a car seat with us and stuck it behind the driver's seat of at least 20 different vehicles, to make sure a RF car seat would fit behind me while I drive. Very few vehicles passed that test. Well, very few that weren't huge SUVs or minivans.

Anyway, we were sitting there in the Hyundai dealership, having made an offer on that Santa Fe (the car seat didn't fit in the Tucson), and I suddenly realized with a bolt of anxiety that this was not the car I wanted. It's a perfectly nice vehicle, but it's not for me, not right now. So when the sales guy came back with a counter-offer, we said "no thanks!" and walked out. And I never regretted it, not at all.

What I really want is, well, the car I have now. But a little bigger, and newer, and with some nicer interior features. So we went to the BMW dealership to see what they had to offer. We drove an X3 and a gorgeous used X5 (both SUVs), but they still didn't feel right. So there it was, no SUV -- not even a BMW one.

And you know, I really don't want a huge SUV or a minivan. I will likely end up with a minivan at some point, but I just don't need that much space yet. At the moment, we have one child. We might have another, and we might not. I don't know yet what's going to happen there, and though I want to make sure my new car choice can accommodate that infant car seat, I don't want to be limited by it, KWIM? It's sort of pointless to buy a vehicle based on a hypothetical second child. Not to mention potentially depressing, if it never happens.

We started looking at the 5-series sedans then, and the moment I got behind the wheel of one, I was all, "YEAH, BABY." I can even get one the exact same color as my 3-series sedan so really, it looks like I'm going to get my car, only bigger and newer and a little fancier. And yes, a RFing car seat does indeed fit behind the driver's seat with me sitting in it, just in case. :-)

We're going to go back this weekend and see if we can make a deal. They have a great selection of used cars, and the new 528i models are on sale at a good price. So maybe on Saturday, I'll get a new car.

I think this is the right choice, I really do. It's been surprisingly hard, but I learned that I'm really not an SUV person -- despite trying it on for a few weeks. This made Doug extremely happy, as he hates SUVs and thinks they should be banned from the planet. The thought of possibly buying one was really hard for him to contemplate, though he was gracious about letting me make the decision about the car I wanted. And I learned that I love my BMW, heh. I'll let y'all know what happens on Saturday!
jenn_unplugged: (Resistance is futile)
My trusty little BMW 330 is now 7 years old, and still running really well. I always knew that if we had another child, I'd have to get something bigger, and I've been in no hurry to do that. But Doug wants to park his car (a '99 Porsche with almost 60K miles now) and start driving mine, and get me something bigger, so we've been doing our research.

I've bought several new cars in my adult life, and until now, it was fairly easy. My list of criteria involved things like color and "cuteness", and there were certain interior features I wanted, and a good warranty -- and that wasn't hard to find in my price range. But now, it's SO much more complicated, OMG.

The two most important features of this car are that it be in the price range we want (around $25K, no more than $30K) and that we can fit a rear-facing car seat behind one of the seats and have the person sitting in front of it be reasonably comfortable. With one child, we could put the rear-facing set in the middle, but with two, that's not an option. I've done a lot of measuring and searching, and it's almost impossible to do this in a car that is not an SUV. And I'm talking about a smallish convertible seat -- not one of the kinds with the infant carrier that snaps in and out.

So here's where it gets complicated. The other items that are very high on my list are:
(A) Good gas mileage: at least 20 in the city, which is where I do most of my driving. My commute to campus is 50 miles round trip, so this one is important to me.
(B) A decent amount of cargo/trunk space: enough that we could take one car to the airport with four of us traveling. We can barely do that now in my car with just three of us.
(C) I reeeeally want to keep my satellite radio, and I'd like an iPod jack. Luckily, these things are more and more standard.
(D) I prefer leather seats for the easy cleaning (children, you know), and I have wanted heated seats for a long, long time. I could continue to live without that, but it's something I'd love to have.

I don't need:
(1) A navigation system. Those typically add $2000 to the price of the car, and I could buy a Garmin for $150 bucks. Sure, they come with other cool features like back-up cameras, but it's not worth $2000 to me.
(2) integrated DVD players for kids. I would prefer to install my own for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it'll be a lot cheaper that way.
(3) Seating for more than 4-5. This one could possibly come back to bite me in the ass (we're doing IVF, after all), but I'll risk it for now.
(4) A huge honkin' vehicle that goes off-road and chews up puppies with its tires and such. I may end up in a minivan one day, but I really don't want something that I can't reasonably park in the garage at work.

That narrows down the list of possibilities a hell of a lot. What makes it even more complicated is that car dealers tend to have in stock the basic and the fancy versions of each model -- not the ones priced in the middle. So for example, one car I was really interested in was the Toyota Venza, but the dealers in the central TX area either have the very basic version (which has none of the interior features I want), or the tricked out version (which is $36K).

At this point, it's looking like it'll either be a Toyota Rav4 or a Hyundai Tucson. Those are the only two vehicles I've found in my extensive searching that even come close to meeting all the criteria. We ruled out so many things I thought would be perfect, like a Toyota Prius (fails B) and a VW Jetta TDI wagon (fails B and a RF car seat won't fit).

We're going to go try to drive some cars this week. I'm just amazed at how hard this has turned out to be. I'll let you know what we decide... :-P
Doug and I will be on Sirius/XM's On Broadway channel cohosting with Seth Rudetsky tomorrow (Saturday) at noon EST/9:00PST. We'll be talking about emerging Broadway musical writers we love! You can listen online if you don't have satellite radio. Go to and sign up for a guest account! Listen to us be all geeky!!!


Feb. 17th, 2010 02:45 pm
We went to our monthly toddler LLL meeting this morning, which meets on the campus of one of the local mega-churches. I took Carter to the bathroom to change his diaper, and there were two women in the bathroom, obviously friends, who were chatting and touching up their hair and make-up.

At one point one of the women said to the other, "You have a big black smudge on your forehead, by the way. You might want to wipe that off before we go back to the sanctuary." The other woman stopped what she was doing, turned to look at her, and said, "It's Ash Wednesday."

That really cracked me up, for some reason. ;-)
This is one of the most brilliant segments I've ever seen him do.

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Can I get a Meg Ryan style "YES, YES, YES!!!" to that? :-D
Does that even make sense? I've gone back and forth about putting Carter in preschool, and every time I decide it's not time yet. For one thing, we have an AMAZING nanny, and I want to hang on to her as long as possible. This semester, I'm organizing my schedule so that I work two days a week (all day, 7-5) and then spend the other three days at home with Carter.

I'm a strong believer in unstructured play-based learning for little ones, so I'm not really even sure that there is a point here. Carter knows a lot already, and he's learned it all just from play. He can identify the entire alphabet and is starting to be able to tell me what letter a word starts with just by sound. He can count to 12. He can identify at least 10 different geometric shapes. He can identify many, different animals and can replicate the sounds they make. He knows all the standard (10 or so) colors. He loves books and drawing and coloring and sign language. He's just starting to get into imaginative play. Et cetera.

So that tells me that what we're already doing is working fine, and that I don't need to worry about changing it up or adding any structure. And that's the whole point of unschooling, that kids can learn everything they need to know just by playing, and that adults should watch for opportunities to build on children's natural curiosity rather than impose artificial structures and concepts on them. We go to Gymboree play and music classes every week, and Carter has a swimming lesson once a week. He gets lots of time to explore and play outside, and has plenty of toys and books to play with inside. I try to go out somewhere with him most days, so he gets lots of stimulation.

But then I look at fantastic blogs like No Time For Flashcards and I think about all the cool things I could do with Carter to enhance his learning. But then, he's learning just fine already. You know? I have no idea what to do. My instinct is to lean towards unschooling approaches, but there is something in my mind that keeps suggesting I start making it more formal, like doing a "Letter of the Week" kind of thing.

Wisdom/validation from other moms would be appreciated. :-)

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