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. 

January Budgeting Recap

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!

WELP, I pretty much screwed the pooch at the end of this month.  A perfect storm of me being out of town, us all being sick (Ramona four times this month, Paul two very lengthy colds, and me two times), a car accident, a broken shower faucet, and needing to buy dog and cat food and litter all kind of ended up with us not only blowing the budget, but also not really writing anything down.  Excuses, excuses, I know, but on the other hand, I got VERY close to my goal for the month, so really, who cares? I will try to be better for February, though I just spent a bunch of money at Target on various cold medicines and groceries, so….we’ll see.  But I’m trying very hard to not beat myself up about slipping up, and really, spending too much on groceries is more forgivable than blowing my budget on a new pair of boots, right?  IN FACT, I put back the cutest pair of boots for Ramona at Target today.  They were only $7.50! BUT level heads prevailed.

From Checking:

  1. Car Payment $276.14 (once I get my credit cards paid off, I’m focusing on this)
  2. Post office $21.23
  3. Trader Joe’s $134.12
  4. ATM $43 (KILL ME)

Total Checking Bling: $474.49

Cash Money Spent Y’all:

  1. Soup and Bread $14 (a great charity! And great soup!)

Total Cash Spent  $14: Again, I KNOW this is not accurate.  I just was terrible at keeping track.  Seriously bros. I will be better.

Extra cash Earned:

  1. Sold a few more Sheriff Peanut shirts $31

Total extra bling bling- $31

Where I am at on paying off the credit card? My goal for this quarter is $3666.  So far I have paid $1000 of that, leaving $2666 to go. I was $222 behind for the month.

Where am I at amassing 3k into savings? Though we’ve put a lot of money in savings, we had to take $500 out as I mentioned in my last update.  So I am comfortable saying we put in $677 this month, when the goal was a thousand a month.  $323 off.

State of the Union of My Brain and Emotions: While I’m frustrated that I didn’t stay on track or write things down for the last week and a half, I am not feeling as ‘beat uppy’ as I normally would. Most of our overages were necessary and while we could have cut back on some of the groceries, as long as we eat them all, I’m cool with that.  I can tell you know that as we ramp up for RJ’s bday party, I will be spending some money on supplies.  Hopefully, knowing I have to tell the world what I spent on Oktoberfest hats and pretzels will help me make smart decisions.

I’m not super worried about not making my goal for this quarter, especially since we’ll get a tax refund during it.  Not sure how much it will be but it will really help.

Inspirational reading: Paid off 24k in debt in 15 months! WOW! http://andthenwesaved.com/about-the-spending-fast/

Welcome Claire!!!!!

Ramona welcomed a new cousin nearly two weeks ago, the long awaited, much anticipated Baby Claire! She’s as cute as a bug, and tiny as tiny can be (5 lbs 7 oz- which is kind of freaking Paul and I out- when RJ was finally allowed to leave the NICU, she was somewhere around there and she did NOT feel that tiny!).  We are so happy to have her in our lives and so happy for my sister and brother in law as well.

Along with this happy news, there is some terrible news as well.  You may remember that my sister had been expecting twins, a boy and a girl.  When she got to the hospital,  the boy baby, William,  didn’t have a heartbeat.  My sister and her husband (and the rest of our family) are, of course, devastated, but everyone is trying to focus on the positive, that healthy little peanut, Claire.

I felt/still feel conflicted posting about William.  After all, it isn’t my tragedy to broadcast.  But he is loved and missed, without us ever having met him, and to pretend he didn’t exist feels fake, wrong, disrespectful.  I fully intend to post five million pics of Claire, and it just doesn’t feel right to not acknowledge William as well.  So, sweet babe, know we all love you and wish we got to meet you.  And Miss Claire, I hope you like annoying aunts, because you’re stuck with me.

So- here are the first of several bajillion pics of this sweet little thing I like to call Miss Chicken Legs.

I am not trying to hit her.

I forgot how tiny newborns can be!

Seriously dude. Melted heart.

I remember when this guy was terrified of babies.

The last five months have been extremely shitty for my family- we’ve lost my Aunt, my Grandma, and now my nephew, but if there is a silver lining to all this loss it is that it strengthens the fact that we are so lucky to have the family we have, and to have had time with those that have passed.  Not everyone gets that, the opportunity to get to know such funny and smart and kind people, and it just reinforces it in me that I, and my family, have been so fortunate to have the family we do.

Budgeting Update

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!

From Checking:

  1. Nicor $137.77 (trying to be more miserly with the heat, but I think the bigger issue is our old ass windows).
  2. Dentist $100

Cash Money Spent Y’all:

  1. Target $9.08 (I was out of town on biznezz and I forgot my hairbrush. I seriously looked like Tiny Tim and NEEDED to buy one.  I got the cheapest hairbrush and a package of qtips. My beauty regime is very important to me, clearly.)
  2. Post Office $10.80 (still shipping out discounted sheriff peanut shirts)
  3. Airport shop $2.29 (Twizzlers. I don’t know, man. The siren song of those cherry red lips got me. Plus I was bored.  It was cheaper than the beer, which is what I really wanted.)
  4. Dunkin Donuts $5.27 (I know, I know.  But the coffee machine at work is now officially hooked up.)
  5. Target $14.93 (A new shower curtain liner and coffee)
  6. Habanero 7.16 (lunch. Argh)
  7. Da Jewels $58 (groceries)
  8. Marion Street Cheese Market $7 (I met some friends there but I wasn’t eating and was over caffeinated already, so I had a bloody mary.)
  9. Thai food $35 (Paul’s mom was visiting and we were too tired to cook and and and)
  10. Gas $40 (guessing. Paul got the gas and didn’t tell me how much)

Total Cash Spent  $189.53- Argh.  We are still getting in the groove.  Last time we did this, we didn’t include gas in the budget and I think that is kind of screwing us up here.  And the thai food, but SPECIAL OCCASION! Last time we did this, we also stocked up on staples, so all we were buying was fresh produce here and there.  This time our cupboards are boarding on bare.

Extra cash Earned:

  1. Sold a ton of Sheriff Peanut tee shirts at a discount $85
  2. Refund check from insurance $25
  3. Payment for records I sold $30

Total extra bling bling- $140. Used some of this on our overage this week. Still need to get stuff up on ebay, but concentrating on getting rid of the remainder of the Sheriff Peanut stuff has been keeping me busy.  Want any?

Where I am at on paying off the credit card? My goal for this quarter is $3666.  So far I have paid $900 of that, leaving $2766 to go. I am $322 behind for the month, which is somewhat worrisome. However, the extra cash/paypal I have earned hasn’t really been applied anywhere yet.  So…

Where am I at amassing 3k into savings? We’ve put $1080 in savings this month…however, we had to take $500 out due to a miscalculation between Paul and I both paying bills on the same pay period and not having enough.  We are still getting used to getting paid weekly, and keep forgetting and saving up the bulk of the bills for the 15th, when we really should be paying whatever bills came in the mail that week.  So, we would have been right on target, but that chunk of change really set us back. Oh and we earned 3 cents in interest. THANKS CHASE!

State of the Union of My Brain and Emotions: Currently, I am feeling pretty ok with the project.  I am embarrassed about certain stuff, mainly restaurant/coffee stuff, but I think we are SO MUCH BETTER THAN WE WERE.  I should say I. Paul has one bad habit that he spends money on, which I will not get into here (ok, it’s heroin), but other than that, I think it’s like….coffee, mostly.  So, I think we are on the right track. I hate that I’m not perfect at this right off the bat, and I feel like my explanations sound like defensive excuses, but LAY OFF. Just kidding. I am still uncomfortable talking about this stuff and I am like…mentally refusing to tell you guys how much was in our savings acct to begin with for some reason. It’s like embarrassment mixed with fear of looking like I am bragging, not that there is anything to brag about up in there.

As mentioned above, I feel guilty/embarrassed when I spend money on food instead of eating at home.  Last week was and this weekend will be a flurry of dinners and cab rides because I had/have two business trips.  I didn’t include them in the budget because I am reimbursed for the expenses and I don’t really have any control over them, but I still FELT like I was cheating while eating at restaurants in Minneapolis.

Inspirational reading: This woman paid off $90000 in debt in three years, without winning the lottery.
http://www.learnvest.com/2013/01/i-paid-off-90000-of-debt-in-just-three-years/

Daddy’s Girl

Makin' Puppets With Daddy (not pictured)

I was going along at a good clip there, blog wise. But I have been out of town for work, and had some family stuff going on, and I just couldn’t get around to blogging.  Last night I sat down at the computer to try to form one of the ideas I have had swirling in my head into an actual post, but I got nothin’. I was going to try to force out a post about how Ramona is totally a Daddy’s Girl and that once in a while, I feel left out. But it didn’t flow, and it’s only partially true.  We had a rough weekend two weeks ago, where Ramona was super mean to me (for her) and excluded me from everything they were doing “No, not YOU, Mom!” “Get OUT, Mom! It’s me and Daddy!” but it actually DIDN’T bother me that much, and then she puked everywhere and became her super sweet self again. So either she wasn’t feeling well or she was exorcised.

Truth be told, I LOVE watching the relationship between them, it’s so sweet (I mentioned it before here). Paul is a solitary guy, very quiet, and before Ramona was born, he was very uncertain of his parenting skillz and/or his ability to be a dad.  The SECOND he saw her, though, Proud Papa Paul took over. They do art projects together, Daddy always puts her to bed with lots of stories, most of the time he does bathtime…they just have a good time together.  He’s a great dad, she’s a great kid. Match made in heaven. She loves me and likes to be with me too. I’m just not DADDY, you know?

And they both need this relationship. She’s honestly the most social child on the planet, and she brings out the best in him.  I work, and I have to travel for it sometimes (twice this month), so it’s easier on everyone to know that she’ll be perfectly happy as long as Daddy is around.

So, I went to bed last night with those thoughts swirling in my head. This morning, in a ludicrous attempt to sleep in, Paul brought Ramona into bed with us when she woke up, hoping she’d fall back asleep (NEVER WORKS). During a two minute break from her jumping on the bed and whining about wanting to watch tv, Ramona, laying down, turned to Paul and put her arms around him. “Paul?” she said. “Yes?” She paused. “Paul?” she said again. “Yes, Ramona?” “You…are the best daddy ever.”    It was the goddamned sweetest, most honest thing that I ever heard, and how can I be jealous of THAT?

Makin' Parachutes