Funcle

Everyone should have an uncle Will. My little brother (not that little, 6’5″) was made to be an uncle. He’s got every cartoon voice down to an art, he has unlimited energy and he’s built for rough-housing. Caroline loves him. Next to Grandma, he’s her favorite baby sitter.

I had a work party last night, so Will came to spend a few hours with C. In anticipation of his visit, Caroline announced, “I really like Will!” She then proceeded to color a picture, which she wanted prominently displayed next to our wedding photo (I mean it’s good kid, but not that good) so Will would see it.

By the time we returned home, every room in our house was covered in toys. Caroline had chocolate smeared all over her face. Will was sprawled out on the floor, exhausted. And then Caroline happily announced, “Mom, want to see me dunk?” Will taught her how to put her stool in front of the basketball hoop, jump off of it, and slam it home. “She only hit her head once,” Will told us. Right, I bet.

After he was gone, we put C to bed. I checked on her a few minutes later and she looked like she had stumbled home drunk and just face-planted onto her bed. She was laying the wrong direction with her legs dangling off the side, passed out cold. And that right there, is what uncles are for.

 

Heart Melter

My kiddo is the real Sweet Caroline. She’s just full of love. At Christmas, she said to my parents and siblings, after big hugs for everyone, “I really love you guys.” And she means it. She sometimes just wakes me up by gently stroking my cheek or my hair. She cares about other people at a level that is inspiring. I slammed my finger in the bathroom door last weekend and she asked me if I needed a Band-Aid for three straight days. She’s also been smuggling Milkbones in her pocket to share with the daycare dog, Toby. There’s so much love to go around.

I’ll keep the sappy post short, but how awesome are kids? In the sales world I’m exposed to so many sleazeballs. I’m happy to come home to someone who just says, “I like you, Mom,” instead of, “Don’t call here anymore.” It’s a nice change of pace.

I’ve had lots and lots of parenting fails. Caroline probably watches too much TV and doesn’t eat enough vegetables. She’s a little bossy and still has a pacifier. But in today’s world, the fact that she is kind feels like a huge win for me. I hope that’s something she never grows out of and that I can continue to nurture. We could all use a few more Sweet Carolines in our lives.

Ice Ice Baby

The most challenging part of this pregnancy has been trying not to fall down. January sucks on its own—all the parties are over, it’s freezing, there are no holidays off of work, everyone is sick. It’s a big time bummer. But this year, God was like, “You know, that Sara girl looks a little extra uncoordinated with that big ol’ belly, I think I’ll just make every outdoor surface into a SKATING RINK! That’ll be fun!” Honestly, I’d take a foot of snow every day over our current weather situation. Last week I went to the gas station and my gas cap was frozen shut. I looked like a maniac out there with my ice scraper, trying to chip it open. Today, muscles I didn’t even know I had are hurting, all from trying to brace myself as I do really exciting things like take out the garbage and get the mail. I’m probably a little bitter because last Christmas I went for a run with my sister in similar conditions. I had sprained my ankle a month prior and we were just chatting about how it was feeling pretty good…and then we turned the corner into my parents’ driveway. I slipped, of course, and got the worst sprained ankle of my life. I mean, I’ve had my share of sprains (basketball games and an unfortunate event at Ripley’s Believe it or Not, don’t ask) but this one took the cake. Photo evidence below. If you need help identifying, that’s a foot and those are toes. Hard to tell, I know.

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Luckily, this hasn’t happened this year (knocks on wood), but I’ve had a few close calls. Being top-heavy isn’t helping.
Caroline has been really into Happy Feet lately (thank you, Amazon Prime) and I feel like it’s very telling of our current life. We’re all just waddling around, singing Prince songs. Thankfully this egg isn’t due to hatch until May when no one has to look like Yukon Cornelius at the gas pump.

 

How to avoid Craigslist weirdos (and other helpful tips)

I am a skilled Craigslister. I’ve successfully talked my way into some incredible sales, but more importantly, I’ve avoided being murdered. I even have a friend who runs her Craigslist buys past me before purchasing (Craigslist Consultant, potential career?). Here are some tips for when you’re shopping. I’m sharing because I like you and would prefer you get a good deal and live to tell about it.

  1. Avoid the bad spellers. If I inquire about an item and I get an incomplete sentence, that one’s out. Wrong there/their/they’re? See ya. I prefer to buy from relatively educated people. If they take the time to spell check, they’ve usually taken the time to care for the item they’re selling. See what I did there? A+ for me. You can officially buy my stuff.
  2. Stay away from stock images. It’s 2017, if you don’t have a phone or camera to take a picture of what you’re selling, something is fishy. I know your house doesn’t look like the staging area for Target.com.
  3. Clean house = clean items. For real, you didn’t have time to pick up your laundry before you took that picture? Come on. Pass.
  4. Email always. I use a separate email account for Craigslist transactions and never give out my cell. Just a little extra precaution to safeguard against the tech-savvy Craigslist creeper.
  5. No price flexibility. Putting “price is firm” in your post immediately makes me think you’re an asshole. It’s one thing if you later deny my offer for a lower price, but advertising your rigidity up front rubs me the wrong way. Do you want to sell your stuff or not?

I’m not going to list the no-brainers (avoid the weird email addresses, don’t meet anyone without telling someone first, wear shoes you can run in if need-be). Craigslist gets a bad rap (thanks a lot, Lifetime) but as a mom on a budget, it’s saved me lots of cash over the years. Need proof? Here are a couple of my Craigslist successes:

  • I once bought a 1978 Honda Hobbit pedal-start moped for $200 on Craigslist (see photo above). It was awesome. I rode it around town for the two years right after college and then sold it again for $180, also on Craigslist. $20 invested? I’d call that a win.
  • I’ve purchased two BOB strollers, which if you’re a mom who runs, are the cream of the crop. I mean I think these things have better suspension than my SUV. They were both less than half of their retail price and have great resell value. This baby’s got a few miles on her, but still looks great.

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  • Another running score, I bought a barely-used Garmin watch for $50. It still works after about five years of use. And I’m really sweaty, so that’s saying something.
  • About 75% of Caroline and MJ’s baby gear was Craigslisted. A high chair, Bumbo, Diaper Genie, swing, walker, Kelty and car seats with multiple bases, to name a few. If a tiny human needs it, another tiny human’s caretaker is selling it. Plus used stuff requires less stress about spit up, destructive toddlers and the usual wear and tear.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to start buying my underwear on Craigslist. There’s definitely a time and place for using it. And generally I only buy things I can disinfect, because you know, eww.

In closing, use your spell check, stop watching Lifetime movies and call me if you have a pedal-start moped for sale. I think I could probably get a baby seat on the back…

Confessions of a White Girl: I Have a Beyoncé Problem

This is my coffee mug. I’m drinking out of it right now, posted up…flawless.

I’ve always loved the Queen Bey. I mean, Destiny’s Child? Pshhh. Best girl group ever. Totally hooked. Drunk in love, if you will.

Then came some bomb ass albums in the last 10 years. Artists don’t make albums anymore. Bey does. And she makes visual albums. I haven’t watched a music video since MTV Spring Break was a thing. But I watch these. If you haven’t, do it.

Do I have a girl crush? Definitely. Has it evolved into a bit of a problem? Meh. Decide for yourself.

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Two pieces of evidence to consider:

First, when Caroline was in utero, I called her “Baby Beyoncé.” She was a very active baby, so I told people she was dancing in there. In my defense, Beyoncé had just done the Superbowl halftime show, so she was still on the brain.

Second, last night I had a dream that I was at some kind of sip and paint, creative canvas, girls drinking wine and pretending to make art place. For whatever reason, we were all contributing to a group canvas and we were supposed to add things that were “inspirational to women.” When it was my turn, I just took my paintbrush and wrote:

#beckywiththegoodhair

Why in the world my subconscious thinks that Jay-Z’s side piece is inspirational to women is beyond me. Also, I’m hash-tagging in my dreams. I may need a break from my phone for a while.

Until someone tells me that my Beyoncé problem has negatively impacted their life in the following ways, I’m riding the wave. Keep the jams (and the dreams) coming. And Jay-Z, I’m watching you, bro.

I Can’t Cut Pizza

I feel like I need to preface this post by saying my husband is incredibly hard-working, and I’m not just saying that because I married the guy. He is ALWAYS busting his ass for his family, working extra hours, taking on extra projects. I totally love him for it. He’s also the apple of Caroline’s eye. He’s an active participant in parenting his daughter, which has been particularly evident while I’ve been pregnant (I have a pretty serious napping schedule to adhere to). I’ve never ever stressed about leaving him in charge. I mean, sometimes he even takes Caroline with him to the grocery store ON A WEEKEND…BY HIMSELF. Like, whoa. The dude is  a champ.

That being said, long hours for Andy equals an extreme demand for mom. Most days I can hack it. Caroline, as far as toddlers go, is a pretty easy kiddo. She’s wonderful at being independent and playing by herself. But when we’ve gone a stretch of a few weekends in a row with minimal dad time, she seems to forget that Andy is also capable of getting her more milk, or opening her fruit snacks, or putting on her hat and mittens. Apparently you must have special mom powers to do this stuff.

In my short time as a parent, I’ve learned that your kid reaches a point where they go from a cuddly little lump to a full-fledged human. And like everything else, it happens overnight. We passed this point a while ago, but now we’ve seemed to reach a new tier, which appears to be classified as “tiny human with the ability to mimic regular-sized-human qualities/tendencies/mannerisms.” Case and point: this weekend Caroline, while cutting me a piece of pretend pizza, said, “Mom, I can’t do it. I’m really frustrated!” This kid is 2 years, 9 months old. And she just used “frustrated” perfectly in a sentence. Say whaaat?

The takeaway for me from this interaction was that although I’m glad C’s vocabulary is rapidly growing, I might need a new approach to solo-parenting. I’ve probably vocalized my frustration a little too frequently and now it’s influencing her ability to cut pizza. I mean, if you’ve ever seen me try to use a pizza cutter, you’d understand my concern. For real, I have to use a scissors (much to Andy’s amusement) so that I don’t maul the whole thing. It’s more likely that I can adopt a better attitude about being the go-to parent than I can the skill required to cut a pizza. And if I don’t teach this kid to do it for me, I’m doomed. I can handle a little more mom demand if it means I can prepare pizza without adult supervision. #worthit

A Tale of Two Gators

I have a four-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer named Zoey. She’s your typical bird dog, full of energy and quick as a whip. She’s also the reason I had to ask Home Depot if they have any carpet that can double as a racetrack. Zoey is the best running partner/pace setter I’ve ever had. Her and I have logged many miles together. We’ve logged an equal amount of time napping together on the couch. Andy and I affectionately refer to her as “the Velcro dog” because of her incessant need to be touching one of us. We love this girl and she loves us. Life is good for Zoey.

Zoey isn’t big on toys (outside of a deflated football she’s lovingly carried around the yard for years), but she does have a preference for her stuffed gator. Andy found this thing on clearance at Target one day and she’s treated it like a baby ever since. Then one day the gator mysteriously disappeared. In all honesty, Andy and I kind of blamed Caroline. She’d been fighting Zoey for it for months, claiming it as her own. We figured she stashed it somewhere, never to be found.

Fast-forward to Christmas 2016. I’m on a last-minute Target run and I spot a new gator out of the corner of my eye. It wasn’t on clearance anymore, of course, and now it was $17. A sucker for the holidays, I threw it in the cart as Zoey’s Christmas present. Of course she attacked my shopping bags when I returned home and forced me to give to her early. Many joyous laps with gator #2 ensued and gator #1 was all but forgotten.

Fast-forward again to two nights ago. A long weekend had left all of us dragging through an unbearable Tuesday. We were tired, out of our routine and long hours of solo parenting meant that I was ready to check out the minute Caroline went to bed. I put her to sleep and immediately went to work making myself a milkshake. Yes, this is a stereotypical pregnant lady snack, but no, this is not out of the norm for me, regardless of my reproductive state.

I took my milkshake to my bed (STOP JUDGING) so I could watch one non-animated show before I conked out. But of course, I could not find the remote for the TV. Someone, who shall remain nameless, was watching Fwozen in there just an hour earlier.I became frantic. This mom just wanted a break, people. I was overcome with the fear that my beloved milkshake would melt before I could enjoy it (also if you haven’t noticed, I’m the bomb.com at being irrational). I am also the worst at looking for things, so I called for Andy’s help. We tore apart the entire bedroom, which included Andy searching in the opening under our dresser. When I heard him start laughing I could feel my irrational anger start to rise. “That better be the funniest damn remote you’ve ever seen,” I said. He responded by holding up a dusty gator #1 like a cast member of Swamp People who just bagged the ultimate trophy. I was about ready to choot ’em.

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Zoey quickly inserted herself in the commotion and was pleased to see that her long-lost buddy had survived a sabbatical under the dresser. The remote was located shortly after, buried in a basket of laundry, and the Velcro dog was happy as a clam, curled up in the spot in which I had planned to eat my milkshake—accompanied by two gators.

 

Just Call Me JoJo

For our anniversary in December, Andy gave me The Magnolia Story  by Chip and Joanna Gaines and Mark Dagostino. Somehow I’ve given up Fixer Upper and HGTV for a cable-free life (the ultimate sacrifice, I know) so he felt it was safe to indulge my inner JoJo. He was wrong. Not only have I been on a decluttering kick for a week straight, I’ve also concluded that my life has the potential to be a mirror image of Joanna Gaines’. Just to clarify,  I haven’t brought home any rusted fences to hang on the wall and I have yet to suggest shiplap for MJ’s nursery. Instead I’ve found inspiration in Joanna’s journey as a mom. There is a point in her story where (spoiler alert) she decides to close up her shop and focus on being a mom. Our family has recently been tossing the idea of me staying home with our girls. I’m super freaked out about it from a monetary standpoint and also from a social perspective. But Joanna just dropped everything, right at the peak of her success, and raised her babies. And look how things turned out for her! I mean, I realize that if I take a hiatus from the working world for a while, HGTV is not going to come calling (I’d have to wash my hair on a more consistent basis and we all know that’s not happening). But her faith in the fact that all would work out in the end amazes me. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I often lie awake at night, overcome with mom thoughts. I wish I could just make a decision, feel confident in it and trust that all will be fine. I’m not sure I have the cojones to take it to the Joanna Gaines level, but I’m going to give it a shot. And until then, maybe I’ll refurbish a piece of furniture or install some subway tile, that should tide me over for now.

That’s Good! That’s Bad! 2016 Edition

In true Step Brothers fashion, 2016 made me want to stand up in a crowd and yell, “This year is horse shit!” I do exercise some restraint though, believe it or not, and I’ve basically saved the drama for my mama (and my husband and my co-workers and my closest friends, sorry guys). There was a lot of heartache and hardship, but looking back, a few really great things happened, too. Here is a recap of my year, as inspired by the Margery Cuyler book I loved as a kid, That’s Good! That’s Bad! It’s the story of a little boy’s adventures—some good, some bad—at the zoo. If you’ve never shared this with your kids, you should put it on your 2017 reading list. It’s a little bit scary, but in a “let’s talk about why we don’t crawl into a gorilla exhibit” way. Lord knows we don’t need another Harambe.

That’s Bad! 2016 was the year of the dead appliances. Our washing machine, water heater and microwave all crapped out.
That’s Good! We’re enjoying the benefits of cleaner clothes, warmer baths and a brand new surface on which to splatter uncovered leftovers.

That’s Bad! Andy and I sadly lost a baby in May due to a partial mole. It was the most heartbreaking thing that’s ever happened to our little family and it was a tough go for a few months as I endured weekly blood work and follow-up appointments.
That’s Good! Ultimately, I became much more in tune with what my friends are experiencing because, let’s face it, more people than not are struggling with infertility. I’ve grown more sensitive and realistic and hopefully a little more helpful to the people who need it.

That’s Bad! Donald Trump.
That’s Good! Maybe he’ll get a new hair stylist now.

That’s Good! Our miscarriage broke our hearts, but our faith was restored when we received news of a healthy pregnancy only a short time after our ordeal. Since then we’ve had several wonderful ultrasounds where we’ve been able to check on our baby girl, whom I’ll refer to by her initials, MJ. In an awesome turn of events, MJ is due on Mother’s Day, only two short days after the one year anniversary of my D&C. Everything happens for a reason, right?
That’s Bad! Nothing to report! We’re so excited!

That’s Good! We upgraded to a king-sized bed to accommodate the extra bodies (both human and animal) that share the space with Andy and I.
That’s Bad! Somehow, my square footage did not increase. Everyone else seems to be getting a little more leg room except for the mom with the growing belly.

That’s Bad! What I thought was going to be an amazing career opportunity fizzled out after significant time and effort spent.
That’s Good! I learned an important lesson about getting everything in writing. I also learned that my brain is still capable of learning new things, which is reassuring as I assess what my next career move will be.

Cheap Entertainment

I used to know a lot about movies. For many years I worked as copywriter at a DVD distribution company, so writing film synopses was my jam. I was up on the Oscar® nominees, went to see big new releases and could tell you when something was coming out on DVD. Since I had Caroline, I’m so behind the times. I’m sure this happens to every parent, but when did I swap knowing the casts of summer blockbusters for knowing the theme song to every show on PBS? I went to two movies in the theater in 2016, The Secret Life of Pets and Bad Moms. One was to appease my kid, the other to escape her. So that’s probably a wash.

The reality of my decreasing entertainment knowledge hit me hard last night as I sat down for my first viewing of Finding Dory with Caroline. Somehow this is the best movie I’ve seen in six months. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved it. But I’m 28 years old, how is a movie about a separated fish family the top-ranking movie in my recent memory? Also, when did I become such a softy? Sweet Dory loses everyone (spoiler: it’s only temporary) and I totally lost my shit. The only movies I couldn’t really watch before I had kids were comedies about divorce (probably the least funny thing I can think of). Now apparently I can’t handle undersea adventures. After baby #2 I’ll probably have to stop watching PBS, too. The educational value will likely bring me to tears.