Ramona

I cradle you to my chest, holding a sippy cup to your lips, pretending that you are a baby.  Your long, tan legs curled up on my lap, telling me what my next move should be in your version of baby talk.  You haven’t been jealous of your new baby brother, not really, but occasionally you want to act the part of the baby, and of course I let you.  You don’t understand that you will always be my baby, no matter your age.

I want to protect you.  From scraped knees, from hurt feelings, from the boogie man, from your frenemy on the bus who pinches you, yet you still adore. My heart breaks when yours does. I hope you always know I am here, despite our tantrums (yours AND mine) and stand offs.  You- so solidly four, a know it all, a free spirit, a comedian, a sweetheart- and me, who has been all of those things at one point or another.  We are so, so much alike, and there is another thing I want to protect you from.  I want you to be the best parts of me, and learn from my mistakes.  I don’t want you to suffer from low self esteem, negative body image, anxiety, obnoxiousness.  I want you to be forever as confident as you are now, the outgoing life of the party, and never not do something because you don’t think you can, or because people will make fun of you, or because the thought of putting yourself out there, letting people see you try, is too scary.  Please don’t ever feel you need to be aloof because trying is for nerds.  Don’t hide your light under a bushel. You are gorgeous, inside and out.

I hope you’ll never need to see this letter to you, my sweet, sweet babe, but it’s here if you do.  And so am I.

I’m becoming a hippie

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Or crunchy.  Or whatever.  I have rid my home of all paper products (except tp and feminine hygiene stuff).  We no longer use paper towels.  We no longer use dryer sheets.  We no longer use paper napkins.  We no longer use kleenex.  We use cloth diapers.  We use cloth baby wipes.  It’s awesome. The paper towels was the hardest adjustment, but I just made some ‘unpaper towels’ by cutting up old flannel receiving blankets, and I think they will do the trick.  The reason paper towels has been difficult is for food prep.  I don’t want to wrap a brick of tofu (see? Total hippie) in a rag that might have cleaning solution on it.

My favorite, favorite of this transition is going to cloth diapers.  There is something satisfying about it that I can’t quite put my finger on.  I LOVE doing the laundry, I love folding them, I love the whole thing.  Is it because they are cute?  Probably.  But I also feel like I am accomplishing something.  And that gel in disposables scares me.  Plus this. 10468638_10152353714692830_5139602587678404257_n

 

(I plan on having a post/posts about all the different kinds of diapers soon, it’s so overwhelming. I am still confused and I have a good friend who has explained everything over and over again.)

In addition to our paperless world, we have an awesome garden in our new yard, we’ve been composting, have two rain barrels, and are currently trying to research going solar (if anyone has any companies they recommend or advice, please let me know!).

Have you been doing anything to make yourself more green/eco/crunchy/earth friendly? Let me know!

 

On Going Back To Work

This is my last week home with the kids before I return to work.  I am so sad I don’t get to stay home with them longer.  Don’t get me wrong, I love everything about my job, it has nothing to do with that.  It’s just that this has been THEEE MOST FUN SUMMER of my entire life. We’ve gone to the beach, family reunions, the most amazing 4th of July Celebration, gardened, house stuff, but most importantly, we got to know our new little guy, Felix and spend time with the old baby, Ramona.  It’s been truly wonderful.

I keep having these fears that I am going to be missing out on his life.  I didn’t feel that way when I went back to work with Ramona.  Maybe because her first few months were much more traumatic, maybe because she wasn’t quite as easy as Felix (though she was a very easy baby). I don’t feel like she was any worse for wear by me going back to work.  I have to keep reminding myself of this.

The crazy cost of daycare for two is another stressor. I’m paying nearly my whole paycheck for someone else to spend all day with my kids, it’s like paying someone else to go shopping for me, or something.  They get to do the fun part, and I have to pay for it.  But we can’t afford for me not to be working right now.  It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.  We’re going to have to budget heavily til Ramona starts kindergarten in fall of 2015.  I’m kind of excited about trying out dried beans. <not kidding. Total nerd.

So anyway, how did YOU deal with this?  Help a sister out with some coping skillz.

Anyway, wish me luck. Sigh.  Here’s some pics of our awesome summer so far.

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I’m Baaaaaaaaack!

Geez, I suck at blogging.  But one of my New Years Resolutions is to blog at least once a week, so I am trying to get back on the horse.  I wrote that sentence on New Years Day, 6 months ago…Clearly that was one resolution* I didn’t keep.

We’ve had so much going on in our household, two major things in general, and it really effected my blogability.  In the hopes that there is at least one reader that is not a friend or family, I’m going to pretend you all don’t know this stuff already.

1. We bought and moved into a new house in a new town.  It’s been an extremely stressful transition, mainly because the new house was a piece of shit. Why did we leave our cute tiny bungalow to move to a shithole? Better schools, bigger house, bigger bedrooms, bigger yard, and two bathrooms. It’s much better now, thanks to my increasingly handy husband, but everything in the world was wrong with this place.  After a new roof, new walls (Termites!), new washer/dryer, new electrical, new furnace, new ac, fixed gas leaks, fixed water leaks, and several mental breakdowns on my part, the house is livable, even comfortable.  Still lots to do (for instance, the bathrooms look like an Olive Garden threw up, we need a new garage, etc) but all the emergency MUST BE DONE NOW stuff is done.

So, that was a major hurdle that we had going on at the end of 2013, in addition to getting our bungalow ready to be rented out (successfully!).  And I wasn’t a huge help during all this because of Major Reason #2.

2. I was pregnant.  And it hit me hard.  I was exhausted all the time and spent the entire pregnancy laying on the couch, or at least that was how I felt.  But we welcomed a bouncing baby boy named Felix at the end of April.  He’s truly the bee’s knees.  So mellow and happy. Love his guts.  I’ve had so much energy since having him, I think I am ready to blog again.  I have plans, man.  So many plans.  I can’t wait to implement them.  So please, stick around while I get it together.

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*My other resolutions: 1. Get out of credit card debt (I say this every year, but this is going to be the year, I can feel it). 2. blog more, like say once a week. 3. stick to my austerity budget for the first quarter of the year, or longer. 4. try to purchase as much organic items- food and body- as I can. 5. Make my kid do more chores. 6. read 52 books (Half resolution: once baby is born, start jogging again) 1. Nope  2. Nope  3. Nope  4. Nope 5. Not really 6. HELL YEAH! I have read 132 books this year! like two since Felix was born. 6.5 YES! Not daily, but I’ve been jogging at least once a week.

Feminism and the Toddler

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a feminist.  My parents raised me and my siblings (2 sisters and a brother) to believe we can be whatever we want regardless of gender and to me, that is the perfect definition of feminism- just straight up equality.

Even these days, when things seem more equal and there are very few frontiers that have yet to be crossed by some female pioneer, it’s hard not to cringe around the toddler set.  Watching classic Disney movies (holy shit, have you seen Peter Pan lately?!!?), shopping at a toy store where the sections are defined as ‘boy’ or ‘girl’, even innocent comments from other parents or toddlers (“Boys will be boys”), there is still so much stuff that I don’t want involved in my child’s brain.  I think of her as a child first, and a girl second.  She loves her dolls, she loves her weird toy motorcycle that screams “NINJA WHEELIE TIME!” with a background of hard riffin’ guitar (I mean, who wouldn’t?). She’s a kid.  She just wants to play.

That said, when she was first born, I was TERRIFIED I was going to have a Princess girl on my hands.  What was I, the artist formerly known as “Boy Norah” (the kids in my town growing up were not that creative), going to do with a sparkly tutu wearer?  While Ramona likes to dress up once in a while, she’s not really that kid.  But what if she was?  If I had a son who wanted to wear a sparkly tutu, I would NEVER tell him he couldn’t.  But my first instinct in this fictional scenario would be to gently nudge her towards less…”girly” clothes.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a year, partially based on conversations had with a friend who’s house is currently under attack from my little ponys and rainbows and unicorns and sparkles. It was her biggest nightmare too, but it’s just who her daughter is, and why would she stifle that, especially because in the long run, who really cares. As she put so eloquently on facebook “I am a convert to the idea that sparkles and feminism can coexist.”  But what actually prompted me to write this post today, other than a bout of insomnia, will be the subject of my next blog post… that catchy Goldiblocks commercial.

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: Not 5 minutes after I published this post, my daughter said, as I was dressing her, “I am a pretty princess. I want to be a pretty princess forever.  No one will know where my castle is, except my neighbor princesses.”

 

Belated Halloween and everything post

Hi, remember me?  I used to blog here?  Norah? Remember?   Sorry about that.  I promise I won’t leave you again.  So much has been going on in our lives plus my site was down, but we’re back in action and I’m ready to tell you every minute detail again.  Aren’t you lucky?

Like I said, there is a lot of stuff going on, but I’m going to save that for another post.  I absolutely HAD to get this post about Halloween up today.  It’s really pushing the envelope as far as timeliness, but this year was the best incarnation of the white suit, so I HAD to record it for posterity.

Without further ado, I present Lil’ Colonel Sanders and her pet chicken.

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Seriously, the eyebrows are killing me.

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My costume is pretty low rent, however.

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Much better picture taken by Senoa Morgan, not me. Which is why it’s better.

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Pinata! Also by Senoa Morgan

On ACTUAL Halloween, we (me) didn’t really want to deal with the white hair, because we had to go after work, so I made a second costume.  Luckily I did, because it was raining like crazy, and it would have been a nightmare.  She loved this simple costume and did a cute penguin waddle at every house.

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It was a bummer that it was raining because she was REALLY into it this year.  She still had a blast, and still got too much candy, but only got to hit up about ten houses.  I think people felt bad for a soaking wet penguin, cause girlfriend got HANDFULS.  Looking forward to next year, when I have to come up with something NOT involving a white suit.

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Ramona’s Three!

Every year for Ramona’s birthday, we have a big party themed around a particular country. I’m hoping to keep it up as long as she lets me (much like her Halloween costumes). Her first year was a Mexican fiesta, last year was a French bistro, and this year we did a Bavarian theme.

While I never got around to making a wooden goat to hang out on our roof eating astroturf (a girl can dream), we had some fun decorations.  Paul gave me a Silhouette machine for Christmas and he spent a whole day using it to make this amazing cuckoo clock wall. It’s still up.  I want it up forever. Isn’t it awesome?

I'm Cuckoo for Cuckoo Clocks!

Even the moose got in on the act.

I gotta say I am totally over this paint color. That's it, I'm painting today.

And what is a party without food?  Due to the ‘open house’ style of the party, we always try to have some kind of ‘bar’. Quesadilla bar, crepe bar, and this year we did a pretzel bar.  I had initially planned on making homemade pretzels, but all the recipes took two hours and yielded 8 pretzels. We needed a lot more than 8, so we bought all the SuperPretzels in a 5 mile radius.  We raided Gene’s Sausage Shop in Lincoln Square (Chicago’s Germantown) and had all sorts of mustards, plus a variety of other toppings like Nutella.  But most people just went for mustard or the nacho cheese.

As you look at this next picture, please know that buying large quantities of mustard is basically my version of a fantasy shopping spree.  My dream is to someday own a store called Kondiment Korner, which sells a large variety of mustards, hot sauces, and various other condiments.  Any financial backers out there?  Oh, the buying trips would be so fun. A girl can dream.

And because we like to keep it real, we had some gen-u-ine Gummi Bears too.

I also made a vegan German potato salad, had brats and veggie sausages, and, of course, sauerkraut.  I wanted to have Bavarian Cream pie but instead we had yet another amazing cake by my amazing sister Sarah.  For year one, she made a sombrero cake, last years was a truly hard to beat Eiffel Tower, and this year was the cutest darn cuckoo clock you’ve ever seen.  Plus she did it with a newborn baby at home! I sure am lucky to have my own personal baker on retainer.

In my personal opinion, the Peep was a stroke of genius. That was a clock pun. Get it?

Lastly, the outfits.  Oh, the outfits! Dirndls and lederhosen were strongly encouraged.  But we had some loaner gear for those who showed up without.  We had everything from authentic Bavarian sweaters to David Hasselhoff tee shirts to my brother’s family dressed liked Dieter from Sprockets.

My sister just a few weeks after giving birth. I hate her. Just kidding, hahahagrumble.

Baby Claire even got in on the act.

What did we do before Etsy?

Daddy in his ‘hillbilly’ Alpine wear.

And the whole family.

My dirndl was too short, too tight, too booblicious, plus the zipper broke. Didn't last long.

And finally, the star of the show!

It was a great way to usher in year three, which we are majorly enjoying so far.  Danke for reading!

February Budgeting….

I am so far behind on this recap post, I don’t even feel like doing it.  I have receipts flying out of my ears, but haven’t had the time to tally stuff up for you, dear reader(s). And I am not doing it at this moment because I’m just about to run out the door to work.

We are still making progress on the credit cards, but sadly, all our savings (NOT all our savings but all that I have accrued in the last two months for the goal of 3k) has had to be spent on stupid car stuff.  One of us, I won’t say who (wasn’t me)(or Ramona) got into a fender bender with my car, so that was $500 deductible, then we realized the brakes on my car were super crappy to the max (I realized this before but every time I took them in, the dude said they were fine.  They weren’t.), so that was $700.  It’s frustrating in a way, but also….we had the cash! That’s great!  We didn’t have to charge it!  Is this what normal people’s lives are like?

So, major minor set back, but I feel ok about it.  I am probably just going to scrap the ‘receipt accountability’ stuff for February and resume in March.  Deal with it.

Into The Deep End

Disclaimer: There are so many parenting fails located within, you don’t have to point them out, mmmkay? THANKS!!!!

This morning, Ramona picked up a bottle of pills and was shaking it. I said “Ok, don’t take any of those pills. If you take too many, you’ll get sick and die.” As I said it, I thought “CRAP! I don’t want to have this conversation this morning.” And yet, I couldn’t help myself… Ramona replied “Ooooh! I like that!” “What!? You want to get sick and die?!” “YEAH! FUN!” “Ramona, do you know what dying is?” “YES!” “What is it?” “When you go into the sea and swim with fishies!” “Oh. That’s diving. Not…nevermind. Look! I see Dora!” I didn’t. But we stopped talking about it.

Don’t judge me.

February Budgeting Y’all

One of my resolutions is to stick to $100 a week in cash (spending money/groceries/gas/etc only- real bills are paid out of our checking account) budget for the first quarter of the year (ideally, the entire year, but, hey, one step at a time).  Every Friday, we take $100 out of our checking account and split it between us.  Any money we have left from the previous week goes into a pile and we burn it.  Just kidding.  We are saving it and it will either be deposited into savings or used for Rj’s bday party in March.  Probably the latter.  Additionally, I am writing down everything we spend and sharing it with you on Friday evenings at some point in the weekend.  Unless it’s super boring. Then forget it.  Also, part of why I am doing this is to get feedback on what we can do to save money- which is why I am telling you about da bills.  Tell me what to do, Internet People! ALSO ALSO, I want, nay, NEEEEED to add $3000 to our savings account this quarter and pay off $3666 (a third) of my credit card debt this quarter which is going to require me to sell things on ebay, etc. Wish me luck!

Last week was a blur.  I can’t tell you why (not because it was a secret, but because I have no idea why) but we managed to have some free fun visiting cousins, friends, and a free show at Saki Records.  Here’s what we spent.

From Checking:

  1. Amazon (A face mask for running) $15.31
  2. Target   (almost all groceries with a cheap jaunt into the Valentine’s supplies aisle)$146.19
  3. Walgreens (medicine) $32.53
  4. Costco (stamps and birthday invites) $79.12
  5. Oktoberfesthaus $69.12 (budget leiderhosen and party supplies for RJ’s bday party)

Total Checking Bling: $342.27

Cash Money Spent Y’all:

  1. Potbelly (a moment of weakness) $5.23
  2. Bar Louie $12 (worth every penny to hang with my homie)
  3. Dunkin Donuts $3.33 (coffee was worth it but not the bagel that RJ had two bits of)
  4. Gas $31

Total Cash Spent  $51.56: I honestly have nothing to say.

Extra cash Earned:

  1. I worked at waitressing shift and made $177. Wheeeee.
  2. Paul screen printed shirts for a friend and made $44.

Total extra bling bling- $221

Where I am at on paying off the credit card? I put $200 up in there.

Where am I at amassing 3k into savings? We currently have $727.31 towards our goal of $3000 by the end of March.

State of the Union of My Brain and Emotions: I feel pretty good so far.  We had a big chunk of change this week go to the deductible for car repairs (I didn’t write it in our spending, because it wasn’t something we could help or spend less on- I am still figuring out the rules for what I put in the blog, I guess), coupled with mortgage week, so I didn’t get to put as much into savings or extra cc payments as I would have liked.

Inspirational reading: I don’t have any this week, HOWEVER, we just realized that Bank Of America, shitbags that they are, are still charging us PMI on our mortgage that should have come off months ago.  So, READ YOUR BILLS!  They are sending us a check though, so yay.