Random Sunday bits

* Diet/exercise update: I’ve been doing pretty well so far. Trying not to eat at night has been about as difficult as I expected, which is to say, VERY. I’m drinking a lot more water, although I’m probably still drinking too much Diet Coke. One step at a time, people. For me, Diet Coke is more addiction than habit, so that one’s a little tougher.

My sister talked me into trying out The Daily Plate to track my calories, and I guess I should’ve expected to be appalled by the amount of junk I was eating, but it still caught me by surprise. The website has its pros & cons: it doesn’t strike me as the most user-friendly, but on the plus side, it does have pretty much every food item imaginable in the database (even menus at chain restaurants). My main gripe with it, or any type of food journal, is that it’s just tedious to keep a log of every single food item you put in your mouth. (Of course, I also see the benefit, that it makes you think twice about it when you know you’re going to have to see the calories on the screen right in your face later.) I’m still debating on whether or not I’ll use it long-term.

I’ve worked out the last three days in a row. On Friday, I did pilates. Saturday, I did the first couch-to-5K workout (which was hard, but I survived), and then today I did the Biggest Loser Weight-Loss Yoga. Tomorrow it’s back to the couch-to-5K, and so on & so forth.

* We went to Target today and it was insane. We shop there all the time, so I didn’t account for the traffic increase on Sunday afternoon. That’s a mistake I won’t be repeating. But listen, I get that it’s August in North Carolina and it’s insanely hot outside, but y’all: wearing a teeny-tiny swimsuit cover-up and a pair of flip-flops (and nothing else) is not appropriate shopping attire. What happens if you have to bend over to pick up that 12-pack of soda? Lord help us all. And I’m not talking about one person, there were many women that I thought, “oh wow, she really should’ve put on a bra before leaving the house.” I saw lots of kids running around the store barefoot too, which, eww. Yuck. Seriously? Really, really not ok. I think we needed the fashion police up at Target today, is what I’m saying.

* Catie continues to be almost 100% successful at peeing in the potty (she had an accident in her Pull-Up at Target today, but it was her first mistake in 5 days, & she was distracted by the toy aisle, so I’m overlooking it). Still no poops in the potty, but I think she’ll get to it soon. I’ve been shaking her Pull-Ups into the potty so she’ll have the visual “this is where it’s supposed to go” clue. And she’s been acting out scenes in which one of her toys poops its diaper and she tells it, “no no, poop goes in da potty!” (my favorite was when Molly, one of her Thomas the Tank Engine trains, pooped her diaper; I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how that’d work).

* Random kid funny: Last night Beaumont climbed across Catie, trying to get within head-scratching distance of me. Somehow part of his giant cat self ended up on Catie’s foot, which made her irate. She screamed at him, “No, Bun-bun! It’s MY foot! It’s Catie’s!” I can’t explain why that made me laugh for the next 10 minutes, but god, it really did.

Under Contract

About the house thing. We made an offer on house #2. To help jog your memory, it’s this one:

House #2

This is the house that while I was walking around looking at it, I felt a lump in my throat and I almost started to cry. It’s perfect. It feels like home to me. And unlike every other house we’d seen up to that point, I couldn’t find a single thing that I didn’t like about this house.

Plus, there’s the kitchen. Oh man, let me tell y’all about the kitchen. This kitchen basically sold the house, as far as I’m concerned.

kitchen

The photo is a little blurry and doesn’t really do it justice, but that kitchen is amazing. It’s freaking enormous. I can imagine us having huge dinner parties with our friends in this house. It’s so beautiful and open and inviting. I opened the (double!) doors to the pantry, and Dave said the look on my face was as though I was suddenly bathed in a warm soft light while a chorus of angels started to sing. It’s fantastic. I want to make sweet love to that kitchen. (And no, I don’t know how the mechanics of that would work. Shut up. Don’t crush my dream.)

And look! It even has a little built-in workstation.

kitchen workstation (and Catie)
Cute toddler (who apparently has a mouthful of animal crackers) sold separately. Weird shadow brought to you courtesy of Cindy’s Crap Photography Skills. Get your thumb away from the lens, moron. Jeez.

There’s also the backyard, which is perfect for us: it’s flat, it’s shady, and it’s big enough for a playset. And besides the deck, it’s also got a really nice little patio area underneath a cluster of trees in the yard.

backyard

Love it. It’s just so pretty.

So we made a pretty low-ball offer, and they gave us a fair counter-offer (they met us more than halfway). We agreed, signed the paperwork, and we’re now officially under contract.

The sad part is that the house is being sold because of a divorce. The first time we saw the house, it was obvious that there was only one guy living there, so we wondered if maybe he was gay. (For the stereotypical reasons: the place was immaculately decorated and absolutely spotless.) But then our realtor noticed some wedding china in the dining room, and when Dave opened a cabinet, he saw several “how to save your marriage” self-help books. Sure enough, when our realtor talked to the other agent, the house belongs to a (currently, but not for much longer) married couple. So it’s sad, but it doesn’t appear that they have any kids, which I guess makes it slightly less tragic. And they’re obviously working together on selling the house, because they got back to us REALLY fast when we made our offer.

My sister suggested that I need to burn some sage in the house when we move in, to get rid of all of the bad karma floating around in there due to the divorce. I have no idea how to burn sage or what you’re supposed to do to get rid of bad marriage juju in a house, but I’ll look into it. Isn’t there some religion where they’ll bless your home? I can’t remember if that’s a Catholic thing or if it’s Hindu. (Because, you know, the two religions are so very similar, it makes total sense that I’d get their customs confused. Er?)

I am completely scared, and I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it’s because we’re voluntarily putting ourselves in debt – even though we got a really good deal on the house because of the economy. Maybe it’s because this is the first time I’ve ever been involved in a house-purchasing decision. (Dave already owned our house in Washington when he and I first met.) I think it’s also because this house is so beautiful, and so perfect, and I’m afraid this is all too good to be true, so I’m waiting for something to come along and blow up in our faces. But I really, really hope I’m wrong about that last one.

Stay tuned for my next series of posts, tentatively titled “OMFG are you kidding me I have to pack again, why didn’t we just leave our crap in boxes for the past year?!?!!”

(To be fair, quite a bit of our crap is, in fact, still in boxes. Laziness and procrastination FTW!)

real estate update

I’ll write more about our weekend later (because man, it’s been a fun one), but forgive me here while I talk about buying a house and hopefully don’t bore anyone to tears.

Last week, Dave and I went house-hunting with our realtor again. I was trying not to panic, but it was looking like we were going to be homeless after July 31st unless we magically found our dream house. On Thursday, Dave had to work, so it was just me and Cara (our realtor friend) looking at houses, and pretty much everything we saw, I hated. A few of them were nice enough houses, but it just wouldn’t have been a good fit for us. Either they were too small, or they didn’t have any trees around (a pet peeve of mine; I hate it when neighborhoods are built and all of the natural foliage is cut down), or there wasn’t a place that we could’ve turned into an office for Dave, or the driveway was too hilly (visions of Catie in a few years learning to ride a bike and wiping out in the street = no thank you). There was always something that made it a no-go. So I was starting to get a little discouraged.

All of us (including Catie) went out house-hunting again on Friday morning. Aaaand now, it looks at though we’ve found not one but two houses that we really, really love. One house is in the perfect neighborhood and location, the yard is gorgeous, but the house itself has a couple of (really minor) features that I’m not crazy about (i.e., the pantry in the kitchen is really small). The second house is absolutely, 100% perfect, but I’m not totally in love with the neighborhood. I mean, it’s really nice, and it has a lot of great features (neighborhood greenway, pool, playground, etc.), the neighborhood just isn’t as aesthetically pretty as the first one. So, hmm, which to choose? Oh, and both houses are pretty much exactly the same price. Way to make the decision even harder.

Want to see them to get a better perspective of what I’m talking about? Of course you do.

This is house number one:
House #1

And this is house number two:
House #2

I know, right? They’re both really, really pretty.

So, this afternoon we’re meeting up with our realtor again to look at both houses and try to do a side-by-side comparison of them. And as much as I hate making decisions, I’m feeling pretty good about this one, because I’m pretty sure that we’d be happy in either place. So I’m trying to relax and trust that God or the universe or whatever will make sure that we end up exactly where we’re supposed to be. Cross your fingers for us. I’d really like this decision to be made so I can start planning our next steps (like, you know, the actual move).

looking for my party dress

I’ve got a bunch of stuff swirling around my head right now, but most of it is not really all that interesting. I doubt any of y’all really want to hear about:
* This chapter I’m writing, which is due on Friday, and has got me all sorts of stressed out. Oh, and how yesterday I drew the most awesome diagram of an Active Directory-integrated DNS zone in the entire history of diagrams of DNS zones. Yeah, baby.
* The fact that my house is a mess (because of the aforementioned book deadline) and it’s starting to gross me out. I’m already making a mental list of which tasks I’m going to tackle as soon as I’m done writing.
* House-hunting and my ridiculously long list of criteria, and how we sort of like this one new development, but there are a whole bunch of risks associated with new developments these days, and oh my god, how am I supposed to make a decision like this? Whine whine, woe is me and my privileged little life. People are losing their dream homes left and right and I’m debating over whether to buy resale or have a house custom-built for us. Yeah. Poor me, I know. Shut up, Cindy. God.

So instead, let’s talk about BlogHer. Because I’m going.

BlogHer '09 In Real Life

It’s next month, and I’m already getting a little nervous. As it turns out, when you go to BlogHer, it’s not just the conference itself (which is on Friday and Saturday), but there are also a bunch of parties. So, I’m flying in on Thursday evening, and I’ve already RSVP’ed to two different parties that night. And that’s just Thursday! Before the conference has even officially started!

”The

And I’m also going to the Room 704 party that night (alas, their badges aren’t working).

The parties are at different times, so that’s fine, I should be able to attend both. But here’s the thing: everyone dresses up for these events. And my wardrobe consists mostly of jeans and hoodies. Seriously, you should see the shoes that some people plan on wearing. (Hi, Heather!) It’s crazy. I’m definitely feeling the pressure to cute-ify myself up a bit. (Yes, I just used cute as a verb. Shush.)

So I’m now shopping online for dresses that I can wear on the plane, so I can arrive at the hotel looking gorgeous and ready to party. It’s only an hour and a half direct flight, but you know, it’ll be July. So the sweatiness (and ensuing shiny forehead) is a concern. And I need a dress with at least a little bit of sleeve. Because as much as I might act like my flabby upper arms don’t bother me and I’m fine and “yeah, I’m cool with my size 12-ness” in person, I also know people will be taking pictures at these parties. And if I see photos of my flabby upper arms, my whole self-acceptance facade will fly out the window, and I will cry and beg people to delete the pictures of me. So that’s no good. But it does make it harder to shop, since it seems that most dresses are sleeveless.

I did, however, manage to find these online (thank you, Macys.com – now if you’d only make linking easier so I don’t have to copy & paste everything):

black & white dress
I think this one is my favorite. It’s so pretty and looks like it would be very flattering.

black & white patterned dress
I honestly can’t tell if this is flattering or not because of that ridiculous pose the model is doing. But I think I might like it? Maybe?

brown dress with cap sleeves
I’m not sure what I think about the brown, but it also comes in black. It meets my two requirements as far as covering a little bit of arm and not being too clingy on my tummy area. And if worn with the right bra, it might actually give the illusion that I have boobs. Hmm.

black & white print dress
I don’t usually like all-over prints on me, but something about this dress really appeals to me. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s cute.

little black dress
This one might work, since I know I won’t look nearly as severe and dead-behind-the-eyes as the model. I probably won’t lean on walls like that either.

What do y’all think? Votes?

As for the shoes, I think I’m going to have to find some cute ballet flats or something, because I refuse to be That Woman who wears heels through the airport. Maybe I’ll toss something cuter in my bag to change into once I get to the party, but I haven’t figured that part out yet.

the big-girl bed

Sometime back in April, we bought Catie a big-girl bed. She was really getting too big for her crib; she hadn’t attempted climbing out, but she easily could have if she’d tried. Mainly it was just becoming obvious that she was uncomfortable. She’d roll over and bump into the rails, she’d get her feet stuck through the slats, etc. Most of the time it would lead to her waking up in the middle of the night and demanding to come sleep in our bed, and Mommy was more than a little tired of that particular routine. So I found a mattress store that had a good sale going, picked out a cute girly headboard to go with the twin mattress set, and figured it was done. The sales guy told me we’d have the bed in two to three weeks.

In May, I called to find out where our bed was; by that point, it had been over a month since we bought it. The guy on the phone said, oh, I don’t know why he told you 2-3 weeks, that headboard was a custom order (WTF? I just picked it out of their catalog, maybe everything that’s not a floor model is a “custom order”?), so it’s actually more like 4-6 weeks. I was annoyed, but ok. What can you do?

Now it’s June and still we had no bed. So I called them after a very bad night’s sleep for Catie (and hence us too) and asked them where the eff my bed was. The guy said there was a problem with the headboard, and it’d take at least another 3 weeks. I basically went ballistic and he offered to go ahead & bring out the bed itself without the headboard, and then they’ll deliver the headboard when it arrives. FINE.

So, we got the bed. And Catie? Freaking. Loves. It.

First she had to give it a bounce test.

she immediately started bouncing on her new bed

Then we told her, no jumping on the bed. And I got this look.

this was the look she gave me when I told her not to jump on the bed

But seriously? I think she’s sold on the whole big-girl bed thing.

I think she likes it

Even her little fleece baby blankets, that she has slept with since she was itty-bitty because she likes to soothe herself to sleep by sticking her finger through the washing instructions tag? Yeah, she is officially shunning her baby blankets now, because she adores her bright-colored bedspread with the butterflies and flowers all over it.

So far she’s had two bedtimes and one nap in the new bed, and she’s going down without a fight. (And last night she slept through the night for the first time in, um, a while. So YAY for that!) She even seems excited to go to bed. I know this will pass, the novelty of the new bed will wear off. But hot damn, this is awesome, and I’m planning to enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

P.S. Don’t shop at Mattress Warehouse. For real. Gah.

milk money

With the economy being the way it is – or rather, the way the media is portraying it every time I turn on the news – I’ve been thinking about ways to scrimp and save here and there. We’re pretty good about not spending money on frivolous things. We usually rent movies rather than go to the theater, we very rarely eat out, Dave and I haven’t bought clothes for ourselves in ages, etc. The main monthly expense that might have some wiggle room is food. I honestly couldn’t tell you how much we spend on groceries a month. It seems like I’m at the supermarket every few days, so I’d have to gather all of my receipts and add them up, because I really have no clue. But I know it’s a lot.

So, I’m trying to figure out ways that we can save money on our monthly grocery bill. There are a few things that I won’t compromise on:
* Milk – I have to drink the lactose-free milk, which is expensive. And for Catie’s milk, I will only buy her the organic stuff with no hormones or antibiotics. Call me crazy, but I’d like to do everything I can to prevent her from hitting puberty at 9 years old, or having an increased risk of breast cancer (or any other type of cancer).
* Cheese. I buy the store-brand generic stuff, and it’s still pricey. But you know, I like cheese, and I’m not switching to Velveeta just because it’s cheaper.
* A few other things that I’m very brand-specific about: Diet Coke, my specific type of whole-wheat bread, Pampers for Catie, etc. There’s not very many things that I feel that strongly about, but for those few things, I’m stubborn and have absolutely no wiggle room.

As for the things I’m already doing to save money:
* That stuff I just mentioned that I’m brand-specific about? I wait for it to go on sale and then I stock up and buy tons of it, so I think that helps.
* Buying the cheaper/store brand versions of everything else.
* Choosing canned/frozen fruits and veggies instead of fresh. I’m sure it probably loses a bit of its nutritional value in the process, but it does save quite a bit of money.
* Cheap lunches. Dave works from home, and Catie & I are here too, so I usually have to come up with something for all of us to eat for lunch every day. Lately, soup has been very popular in our house. (I have the weirdest toddler in the world, she loves both split pea and vegetable beef soup. I KNOW!) Two cans of Campbell’s soup for 88 cents? Why yes, thank you. I think we can budget that.

Stuff I still need to work on:
* Coupons. I should clip coupons. I know I should. The problem is, every time I’ve done it, I’ve forgotten that the coupons were in my purse when I was checking out. So I need some sort of system that will prevent me from having a total brain fart when I go to pay for my stuff. If any of you have suggestions, let me have them.
* Making a list. I think this would keep me from wandering the store trying to remember all the things I needed, which usually leads me to picking up a few things that we really don’t need.
* For the fruits and veggies that I do buy fresh, I need to try to restrict myself to buying things that are local and in season. Kind of hard to do when your child is demanding grapes, and you can’t buy canned grapes (can you? I’ve never seen them, other than in fruit cocktail), and she isn’t going to wait until grape season rolls around.
* Choosing cheaper meats. It’s not like I’m buying us filet mignon every day or anything like that; we eat chicken more than anything else, really. But for example, when we want seafood, I could maybe make a tuna casserole instead of grilled salmon, and it would be an awful lot cheaper.

Is there anything I’m forgetting? Are you doing anything special to try to save money these days?

the hot shirt

You want to see the shirt, right? Well, here you go:

the hot shirt

This is the not the most flattering angle, it looks better in person. Also, please ignore the fact that I look slightly panicked and crazy. I am working on a SERIOUS case of nerves, since I’m leaving for my girls’ night in about five minutes.

More pics tomorrow, I’m sure.