Thursday, January 31, 2013

Get Your Read On

For my avid readers, you know I don't make it a habit to get on here to pimp products. Although if you work for the company that makes life-size cardboard cut-outs of Jason Statham, I would totally be willing to make an exception and test the durability of one and write about it.
Since I don't make a habit of this, you totally know I really mean it when I tell you that you should check something out. One of my best friends, who guest posted awhile back about her near-death hiking experience HERE, has released a book. Yup... she's an author. I'm hopeful some of her awesomeness will rub off on me.
Actually, it already has. She is the reason I blog. Way back in 8th grade, I decided to write her a "note" and used an entire legal pad. It was all about what was going on in my life, the boys I liked, etc. And I've not stopped writing since. I have probably 70+ handwritten journals and 15+ binders of single-spaced typed blog entries from my private blog. That doesn't even count anything I've posted here! So yes, one writer has inspired another!
Right... so the book... It's called The Undesirable and you can get it HERE on Amazon. Here's the rundown...
From Amazon:
*This book is Mature YA/ New Adult. It is recommended for readers 14 and over.

What if everything you knew turned out to be a lie?

Charlotte Walker knows how to live under the rule of The Party. She has managed for 18 years. She helps out her drunken mother and keeps life going at a familiar, steady pace. She doesn’t ask questions, even though she has many of them in her heart.

Fostino Sanchez knows how to live under the rule of The Party, too. For 19 years, he’s worked to be the perfect Party member. He knows what must be done to keep Maxwell Cooper in power, and how find the The Undesirables that threaten to take away everything that matters.

I fully intend to write a review of it. Ya know, once Bimmer decides she's going to let Mommy have four seconds to herself. But in the meantime, for a dollar (seriously guys... you can buy an ebook for a dollar) you definitely need to check it out. Rumor has it there may be sequels in the works. Or at least that's what I gather from her Facebook posts.
Time to jump on this bandwagon at the beginning!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Get Your Cruise On

I had promised months ago to start doing more travel inspired posts, but I've been a slacker. I know if you keep coming back, you give a hoot about our day-to-day activities and Bimmer's weekly milestones. But my inspiration has been lacking lately and it's time to find a new groove.
Let's get crusin'!!!
My first cruise was back in April 2005 (yes, just 8 months before a whirlwind trip to New Zealand) with Rach and Kimhead to Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas.
(I was trying not to burn my burns in this photo!)
My second cruise was in November 2008 and was dubbed the "Lesbian Extravaganza" when Meg accompanied me after The Ex and I broke up and I wasn't sure enough about Puff yet to invite him. We hit up Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maartan, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados!
(Getting my zip on with Roger the Tour Guide in St. Lucia)
Puff and I then booked a cruise for May 2010 to knock off Haiti, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Mexico. We turned it into our honeymoon trip when he proposed 5 months beforehand.
(Because nothing says romantic honeymoon like cows on a hill)
And our last go-round in the world of cruising was our Scandinavian adventure (starts HERE) for our first anniversary in May 2011. We embarked from Denmark and went through Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden.
(My whole heart loves Tallinn)
So... what do I have to say about all of this? Well, just a few pointers I've learned over these few adventures...
#1 - Don't sail with Norwegian. Our experience was horrible. I never thought cruise ship food could be shitty, but they proved it possible. Maybe because it was an older boat. Maybe it was because we were in the Baltic and not the Caribbean. Either way, they will never get my business again. Royal Caribbean has treated us the best with the most up-to-date ships and the most comparable clientele
#2 - Unless you're in a crazy scenic locale (say, Alaska) or you just have money to burn, go with an inside room. I've always done it and they're not as bad as you think. Just be smart about it. Unpack your stuff, stow your suitcases under the bed, and make sure you like your bunkmates. It's saved me hundreds of dollars on a window I would never gaze out. The reality is, you're in your room to sleep and shower. And maybe to make babies.
#3 - Do your research ahead of time. I can't stress this enough! Just because you're on the cruise doesn't mean you're bound to their excursions in the ports. A lot of places a savvy traveler can go on their own and fare wonderfully. And save tons of money! Hail a cab and find the best beach on your own... no need to pay the cruise line $59 a person for the same thing. Plus, you can probably get away from the crowds easier this way and feel like you're in your own private paradise!
#4 - Do your research ahead of time. If you are in a place where you're unsure about your safety (Antigua) or the visa process is marked by lots of red tape (Russia) then know when it's best to just line up with a group leader with a yellow umbrella. But do your research within their tours as well. We specifically booked one in Russia that allowed for a few hours of free time. It was the *only* tour in all of their options that allowed this. We were able to see a few key sites, get a tour of the museum, and check out some places on our own. Which is how we prefer to travel.
#5 - Sometimes, travel is involved in getting to your port. Make the sacrifice if you can. When we went to the Bahamas, we left from Jacksonville, Florida. And we spent the entire last day at sea getting tossed around like Bimmer's ducky in her bath. The open Atlantic is no fun! Plus... you're going to waste days at sea staring at nothingness while you could have booked a trip that left from San Juan versus Miami and picked up another country.
So... where will we go next? I'm not entirely sure. But I know I will choose to go on a cruise again sometime. They're often times the most affordable way to pick up a lot of locations in a short amount of time. No, you don't necessarily get to immerse yourself in the culture or find all the hidden gems, but sometimes, that's not necessarily the point of a trip. If I were forced to pick? There is a Royal Caribbean itinerary that leaves from San Juan that hits St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Aruba, and Curacao. Which would mean three new countries for me. And we all know that's the best reason to cruise in the Caribbean, right?
Til next time... happy travels!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Project 52 - Week 35

If there were ever a week to label Bimmer a "Mommy's Girl," this was it.

She's always sorta leaned that way, but it seemed to be much more prevalent this week. Probably because the poor girl was sick off and on all week and just wanted her Mommy.

She fell asleep sitting in my lap on the floor one day. There were lots of sitting still in my lap on the couch, which never happens. There was lots of crawling after me whenever I put her down and grabbing at my pants. If I was on the couch and she was on the ground, she would stand herself up to reach me. (Yes, she has officially mastered that.) And in one very scary incident where I caught her right before she fell off her changing pad from the top of the dresser, she said a very audible "Ma Ma."

She got sent home from school on Thursday afternoon with a fever, but it was gone by the time we got home. However, that meant she had to stay home on Friday... for the second week in a row. I'm starting to think she's doing it on purpose to get long weekends! Earlier in the week, she did start to cry each morning as we walked up to school to get dropped off, instead of waiting until I put her down in her classroom. Yup... this kid is too smart for her own good sometimes!

And we have officially graduated to being able to eat some crackers too. Still working on not swallowing goldfish whole, but my little girl is a gooooood eater!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Business Trippin'

Not long after I started my new job, I got word that I would be sent to Charleston in January for a conference.

I was pretty stoked. The last "conference" I attended was my senior year of high school when we went to a statewide weekend for members of the Future Homemakers of America club. ::Rock star::


We stayed at a decent hotel downtown and I could see the water from my room. No complaints here.

The first night included lots of alcohol, and a lobster-crab gratin with parmesan mashed potatoes and hush puppies from a cool place called Coast. On the company's dime. ::winning::

Don't worry - we did some good too! We did a community service project at a children's home. After the you're-at-a-conference-mandatory-boxed-lunch, I headed down to the market to do a quick shopping spree for a few souvenirs. I snagged Puff some pralines and Bimmer a cute little t-shirt. (Gosh darnit - why are even cheesy tourist t-shirts so much cuter in baby sizes?!?)


After a little bit of lounging, we all got dolled up for a cocktail reception and surf & turf dinner. (Probably wondering where the "conference" part of this was at this point. Yeah, me too. Again... not complaining!) Our team did awesome. I'm still dreaming about the little goat cheese and rosemary tart that came with our salad.
There was some drinking and dancing that night before the next day, when we finally got around to getting down to some business. Let's just say that sitting through sessions isn't really my idea of a good time. Nor are team building events with people I've never met before. I got called out in the very first session as they were describing how to read people to know how to sell to them. He said that I looked like someone he would trust to do his taxes because I was organized, have their act together kind of person. I'd say he's a pretty good judge of character! He nailed it right on the head!
Our team building event was cake decorating, which turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected. A low country boil, a few hours at the hotel bar with new friends, and one last night solo in bed rounded us toward home in the last day. Oh, that last day was rough with classes that seemed never-ending. But getting on the road and getting home to my baby before her bed time? That was priceless! And it definitely made me realize that I'm just not ready for travel without Bimmer. Maybe when she's older and being a brat. But not now. Nope... this kid is totally going with me everywhere I can possibly take her!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Party Like it's Your Birthday

Go ahead, call me Ms. Gripey-Pants.

Turning 31 sucked.

And no, it didn't have anything to do with the actual number. It had everything to do with the horrible day.
Here's where I delete the paragraphs that followed that statement and just start over. The day of my actual birthday was just a series of small, frustrating moments that added up to a giant blow-up at the end of the night. There wasn't any fighting or drama. Just things that didn't go right, a fussy baby, and a bit of self-pity. Instead, I'll focus on the weekend that followed my actual birthday and the stuff that went right.
It started off with Puff giving me a talking David Hasselhof birthday card. You can tell by Bimmer's face that she was totally digging it.
"Don't forget about my card Mommy! I got you one too!"
Puff gave me a USC hoodie, a USC t-shirt, and a gift card for a massage at a local swanky spa. I definitely need it. Not necessarily because of stress. More so because I'm old and falling apart and if I sleep wrong at night, my neck and shoulders will be sore for 3 days. I love the look Bimmer has in that picture. She's totally jealous.
At the end of the weekend, The Nanny came back by for a few hours to keep Bimmer while Puff and I had a dinner date to get some hibachi. It was super yummy and it was good to have some adult time together. Turning 31 didn't turn out to suck so bad after all.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Project 52 - Week 34

A little list this week...
* I put my fingers in my mouth after every bite when I eat. Yes, still.
* I am getting my two top front teeth. There's a little gap between them. It's adorable.
* I am obsessed with Daddy's flip flops and can sniff them out from any room in the house. I just want to get them in my mouth!
* I babble a lot (like always) but when I get upset, I definitely make sounds that are very close to "Ma Ma."
* I am content to play by myself now sometimes. Just dump out a truckload of toys on the living room floor and let me go!
* I dance now to music or when Mommy and Daddy sing to me. I just bounce up and down. I got the moves.
* I am working on figuring out that darn sippy cup. I just can't quite get my head tilted back far enough to get much out. But I'm trying!
* I had to get my flu shot booster this week. I just giggled. I'm a rockstar.
* I also had my first fever this week, following that flu booster. We're not sure if it was because of the shot or because of my double ear infection.
* I have figured out how to pull myself up to stand. Watch out world!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Marry Me and Get Stuff

Puff and I have been married for just over two and a half years. We've lived together for 3 1/2 years. It's amazing what happens when you mix and match and mash up together your collective STUFF. (That would be why our living room looks nothing like anything I would ever live in, but the rest of the house is slowly becoming more my style.)

Anyhoo... over on YHL, a few months back, they posted about the top things they use and don't use from their wedding registry. As my friends Lisa & Abby are the next on the list to tie the knot (both in 2013) I thought I would revisit those days of trolling the aisles of Bed, Bath, & Beyond and trying to wrestle the gun away from Puff at Macy's.

My unsolicited wedding registry advice and random chatter...

(1) People will insist you register at multiple stores. I don't know why we bothered because we got almost nothing from our Macy's registry and we had registered there for stuff we didn't really like all that much anyway. Although if you get something in the mail to register at Target and get a free gift card just for registering, go for it. I did it online and then deleted it after we got the free card!

(2) Take inventory before you go of what you really need. The "suggestion lists" and the sales people will try to steer you toward expensive china and silver. We're not china and silver people. We also have a small kitchen in The Bungalow, so lots of big fancy gadgets were a no-go. If you don't bake now, you probably won't bake after the wedding. That big fancy stand mixer I just had to have? I've used it twice.
(3) Think for the long haul. Don't go too trendy. Plain white dishes are the way to go. I remember my parent's had dishes that had a nice 70s rust-colored ring around the edge. And glassware with birds and flowers on them. We also went with khaki and brown solid colored towels, beige rugs for the bathroom, and stainless steel pots & pans.
(4) Be sure to register for a wide range of price points. Some people will want to get you a few spatulas and dish towels, while others will splurge on a fancy set of sheets. I grew up with whatever sheets were cute and affordable. I actually never knew there was a real honest difference in thread count until after we got married. Puff had insisted on expensive sheets and we got both sets we registered for. And they are wonderful!
(5) Whatever you do, don't go to register on a weekend. Aim for a Monday or Tuesday evening, after work. Trust me on this... it will be much less crowded and therefore, much less stressful!
So, with all that being said, what do we get the most use out of that we registered for? Well... probably all the super practical things like towels and bathroom rugs and those white dishes and plain everyday drinking glasses. What should we have skipped? That stand mixer for sure, although maybe when Bimmer is older we'll have some fun baking cookies from scratch together. Also, anything party or serving related. We should have known better... lots of serving dishes and fancy lasagna servers and chip-dip trays were a waste. They haven't been used. Although, I have hope that eventually we'll have a bigger house that is more condusive to entertaining.
In the meantime, I will just sit back and enjoy my stainless steel toaster and bamboo paper towel holder. And be thankful for all the gifts we received and for the fact that we were able to use those gifts (our favorite gift being cash, of course!!!) to make The Bungalow feel like home.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bimmer's First School

Our 2013 started off with a major life change... Bimmer started daycare!
It was so sad to say goodbye to our nanny. She had become a part of our family over the 3 1/2 months she was with us. Don't worry... I went over the financial situation 92,703 times trying to figure out a way to keep her and make it work. But alas, getting Bimmer into a nursery was the right move. Just a tough one.
So... on January 2nd, Puff and I woke her up at 7am and sat her straight up in bed to get ready for her big day. She immediately slumped back over. ::sigh:: Can't wait til middle school! Then when I asked her if she was excited about daycare, she glanced at me with a glazed-over look and gave me a fake cough. Drama queen!
Dropping her off went smoother than I had expected. Puff went with me, since he thought I would cry. (I'm proud to say I didn't!) Bimmer didn't cry when we left her, but I found out she had a bit of a rough morning. Apparently she calmed down once they gave her a blanket to play with. She has loved peek-a-boo since she was about 3 months old. (Yup... my little over-achiever!)
The second day, two other little girls were already there when I dropped Bimmer off. Both wearing Ralph Lauren. ::insert eye roll:: Bimmer jumped right in to the giant pile of toys and promptly snatched a toy straight from another girl's hands! Yikes! Here's hoping Bimmer doesn't turn into the class bully. But she was so enthralled in the toy keys and Winnie the Pooh car they had (yeah, she's Puff's daughter) that she didn't even notice me leaving the room. When I picked her up that second day, the teacher was holding her and she was fussing. She was just super hungry. Can't blame the girl! The whole figuring out what she needs to eat at "school" is difficult, since she was never on a schedule at home. But seeing as she had about 15 ounces of formula in the 3 hours once she got home that night? Yeah, time to rethink what she's getting during the day!
After two weeks at "school" - yes, that's what we call it - she was definitely on a schedule. Morning bottle, lunch with a bottle, and afternoon snack. She was also getting better on napping, which makes the nights a heck of a lot better! I know she is learning things too from being around other kids... like feeding herself finger foods and waving. We still have a ways to go on the whole morning drop-off routine, but it will come in time. Just gotta look at the exciting parts of her being in school. Like the fact that she will get spring school pictures!
And this first piece of artwork is making my uterus hurt!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Project 52 - Week 33

Short and sweet this week. Mommy was away at a conference the whole week, so I missed 4 whole days with this little snuggle-butt. Puff kept me updated with lots of photos of him feeding her... probably proof that she's still alive and getting proper nourishment.

I missed her like nothing ever before in my entire life. I always thought Puff and I would want to do romantic getaways without the kids all the time, and maybe that will come with time and age, but right now? I want to be with Bimmer every possible second. I feel like I missed an entire week of growth and development and fun and excitement.

I'm probably going to be a little clingy this week. I hope Bimmer will be too.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Our Bucket List

Now that the holidays are behind us, it's time to start prepping for all the fun ahead of us in 2013!

To keep us on track, I thought we needed a list. You know me and my lists! OK... so a Family Fun Bucket List was a necessity for this year. I'm not including all the stuff we normally do anyway... hikes/nature walks, BMW Auto Show, Coon Dog Days, State Fair, trips to The Fort to visit family, and fun times with friends. No, this time, it's all about the things we haven't done, have been wanting to do, and putting off for way too long. Including those things we were purposely holding off until Bimmer was old enough to enjoy them with us!

What will your family be doing this year?!?
  • Visit Upcountry History Museum
  • Take Bimmer to the zoo
  • Buy a kiddie pool to go swimming in the backyard
  • Family vacation to the beach (Update: The first 2 nights of this have been booked. Now to figure out where to go for the rest of the trip!)
  • Family vacation to the mountains
  • Hollywild and/or Riverbanks Zoo Xmas lights
  • Trip to Sassafras Mountain (the highest peak in SC)
  • Drive part of the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Visit the NC Arboretum
  • Make a craft project with Bimmer

P.S. I asked Puff what he wanted to add to this list. His first suggestions were "Less blogging" and "More fun, less lists." Pardon me while I stick my tongue out at him and ask him if he wants me to put "less time pointlessly looking up cars I won't buy for at least the next 5 years" on here. He's no fun!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year - A Week Late

From our family to yours, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season! Wishing you all the best, happiness, health, and love in 2013!

We spent the day cleaning the floors...

Napping on Mommy...

Here's where I would insert a pic of that, but Puff never takes photos of us sleeping together, so what can I do?

And staying up until almost 10pm!


I promise this is the last of the holiday updates and we'll get back to your regularly scheduled nonsense and rushing around of our normal lives! Thanks for sticking it out with us for another crazy year in our lives!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Project 52 - Week 32

Even though Bimmer hasn't even existed for a whole year yet, she got to celebrate her first new year's eve!

Or well, she got to sleep through the neighbors insane amount of fireworks and snuggle with Mommy. Best. NYE. Ever.

She started daycare this week, but there will be a separate post all about that.

So what milestones did we reach this week? Well... she has started sleeping much better through the night. (Although not in the crib yet. I'm being so selfish and loving our nightly cuddles.) And we have upgraded to the size 3 diapers. (Which should have happened weeks ago based on weight. I didn't want to waste them!) She also has grown leaps and bounds in picking up food and feeding herself. I still break the yogurt bites in half though since they're pretty big. Oh yeah, and she learned how to shake her head "no" at daycare too. Of course, she has no idea what it means, but that's her new trick!

Really, that's about it. Just a week full of cuddles, giggles, gurgles, and gaining speed in the crawling department!

Friday, January 4, 2013

One Last Celebration

Since we knew the extended family would go overboard on gifts for Bimmer, we decided to keep our gifts to her relatively low key. In fact, we kept gifts to all of us low key this year. There was just one bag for Puff and one bag for me under the tree as well. We waited until the weekend after the holiday, so the chaos would calm down and maybe Bimmer would forget about all the other toys she had gotten and enjoy opening these new things just as much.


And yes, Bimmer decided she was so excited about her jungle car toy that she would pull herself up to almost stand on it!


Since I know you all wanted to see what kind of boxers Puff rocks, here are some of his new ones. One pair has gnomes. Who could resist?


And the reason there was only one bag for me under the tree should be pretty clear... it was a Coach purse! I am the antithesis of the girly-girl who likes to go shoe and purse shopping. So I typically grab up some reasonably decent looking $30 bag about every 18 months and carry it until it's literally falling to pieces. Puff convinced me it was time to upgrade to something more reliable, so I helped pick out a nice, neutral Coach purse. From the outlet, of course. I couldn't justify the retail prices at the store in the mall!!!

We opened our stockings too. I started the tradition of Bimmer getting an ornament each year that will get boxed up for when she moves out and has her own tree. I would say she likes this idea.


Puff got a Starbucks card and some candy while I got a Green Day CD and Little Debbie Christmas tree cakes! No argument from me!

As much fun as this Christmas was, I am definitely happy it's over. Now I can get my house back in order and get on with our normal routine. Stay tuned for a future entry, I'm sure, about the massive panic attack this pile is causing...


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Guest Blogging

For all my regular readers, head on over to Julie & Martin this morning to read the first post in their guest blogging series... by me! And posted on my birthday, no less!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Family Holiday Overload

Hope everyone had a safe and fun new year's eve. I promise to wrap up these holiday updates by next week so we can get back to our regularly scheduled chaos.

It was just another year in The Fort for Christmas. Except this time, we had Bimmer in tow!
It was basically a lesson in Murphy's Law the entire trip. If something could go wrong, it did. Need some examples?
Sick baby, lost power, cancelled plans, massive fight (to which I have still yet to get an apology), bitter cold temperatures, and too much more to elaborate.
I need a drink just thinking about it. Anyone got any leftover bourbon slush anywhere?
But the reason for the season was this...
Even though Bimmer was battling a runny nose, cough, congestion, pain, tummy problems, and an ear infection, she was still a trooper. She smiled for family photos, visited friends and family, went out to eat, and tried to lick every last piece of wrapping paper she could find!
Puff and I are so lucky. Our car was so full of stuff we had to leave some of it behind! (Perhaps the family will listen to me next time when we tell them not to buy so many big things for Bimmer! Ahem...) But we were definitely happy to get home to our own house, in our own town, in our own space. We were able to get Bimmer in to see her own pediatrician, versus the ER doc who barely looked at her. (I guess it serves them right that she peed on their floor!)
Sometimes being away just puts things into perspective. We have a pretty awesome life in South Carolina. Bimmer and Puff are my world. They are my focus. They are my life. I hate that was questioned and seen as "selfish" during my visit, but I am trying so hard not to let that fact ruin the best parts of the holiday.
Bimmer crawled.
Bimmer opened gifts.
Bimmer got lots of love and hugs and kisses.
And we don't have to do it again for another 12 months!