Monday, December 31, 2012

The calendar conundrum (a giveaway)

I'm a paper calendar kind of girl. I tried to go digital years ago (Palm Pilot, what!), but it just didn't work for me. I've had a day planner-type thing every year for ages. My problem is I'm having trouble finding a planner that organizes work appointment and deadlines, B's schedule, the kids' appointments, and my "social obligations" AND meets my OCD-esque formatting needs.

For a long time, I used planners similar to the At-A-Glance one I had work buy me this year. At this stage in my life, this planner isn't ideal, but it's cheap and mostly works for me (and, uh, was in the work calendar catalog, so I didn't actually have to buy my own planner for 2013). It's a good "I settled" planner.

Botanique planner. Image from ataglance.com.

Then last year, I discovered the Life Planner from Erin Condren.

Image from erincondren.com.

I had this design, except with my name and initials (obviously) and in purple and black. I adore this planner. The calendar layout is exactly what I want. It was a fabulous way to keep track of myself in 2012. The Life Planner has two downsides. First, it's monstrous. It's 7 x 9-ish and weighs at least a pound (ok, probably not...I'm terrible at that sort of thing, but it is heavy and adds lots of weight to my purse). The second is the price. With shipping, it costs almost $59. I know, right? I got my 2012 planner for half that (which is still on the very high end of what I'll play for a planner) with a voucher through some Groupon-like website (I don't remember which one any more), but that didn't seem to be an option for 2013. I didn't see many EC vouchers this year, and when I did, they all specified that they weren't valid for Life Planners. So I sadly kissed my dreams of a 2013 Life Planner goodbye.

[Aside to anyone from Erin Condren who happens to read this post. Have you ever considered a Life Planner Mini or Light or something that isn't as thick and heavy? Cut out the note pages, the info pages - pretty much everything except the calendar pages and the folder - and sell it for less? I'd be more than willing to test that out for you!]

In an attempt to replace the Life Planner, I bought a momAgenda. I've heard good things about them floating around the internet, and found their products much more reasonably priced than the EC ones. Based on the pictures of the pages, I thought the format would work for me. I feel bad saying it because the owner of MA seems so nice on Twitter (stupid, right?), but I hate the momAgenda. Hate it. The format just does not work for me, and format of the calendar pages is HUGE on my list of planner requirements. I tried to use it for about two weeks earlier this month, and I just couldn't.

My failed momAgenda. Image from momagenda.com

But here is where I'm going to let one of my dear readers benefit from my inability to purchase a planner that meets my strict OCD standards. I want to give one of you my momAgenda. It's the 2012-2013 spiral refill with added pocket folders (I don't know how I lived without a folder in my planner until this year). (I'm such a nerd.)

I'll send the winner the pink momAgenda above with the momEssentials pamphlet (reusable booklet for phone numbers, kids' info, etc.), plus pocket folders, minus a couple of weeks of December 2012 that I'll rip out so you don't have to deal with my chaotic attempts to use this planner.

To enter, leave a comment. That's it. If your e-mail address isn't in your profile, make sure you put it in your comment so I can let you know if you win. I'll close the giveaway at 12:01 a.m. EST on January 6. Good luck!

No, I was not compensated in any way for this post. It's entirely sponsored by me and my anal retentive ways. I really just don't want to throw away a perfectly good planner that I can't make myself use.

And the winner is....
Congrats, Carrie! Check your e-mail.

Monday, December 24, 2012

An insomniac's parenting-related ramblings

It's 3:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve and I've spent the last couple of hours tossing and turning while trying not to wake the four-year-old I'm sharing a bed with tonight. So rather than continuing my futile quest for sleep, I thought I'd bitch about my in-laws for a bit.

B and I grew up with very different parenting styles. My parents were fairly permissive, as far as letting kids be kids by playing and exploring. B's were far more rigid, as far as I can tell. Naturally, this has carried over into our own parenting styles. I don't mind if the boys run around, climb on things, race cars through the house, make messes, and just generally act like little kids - within reason, of course. B has far less patience and tolerance for those sorts of things. He's not terribly far removed from the "children should be seen and not heard" mentality. I think he'll enjoy the kids more when they're a little older and can be useful to him and/or are more reliably obedient. His older sister and her husband, while not quite as inflexible as B, have a much more uptight parenting style than I do.

As a general rule, when my children and I are guests in someone else's house, I try to respect their views on what is and is not acceptable for kids to be doing. That's just common courtesy. For example, a couple of years ago W was playing with the magnets on my mother-in-law's refrigerator and was scolded by both MIL and older SIL. I personally have no problem with a kid playing with magnets that aren't safety hazards, but they weren't my magnets, so I respected MIL's rules. What I'm really curious about is when it's appropriate to push back against other people's parenting ideas, particularly when you're a guest in their home or at their function.

I really have an issue with the way my in-laws handle W. My sweet, sweet W is a *ahem* highly-spirited boy, but he's also very, very sensitive. As much as that child's spirit drives me crazy, I don't want to crush it and I do my best to let him be W (again, within reason). The general view from the in-laws (and B, too, sometimes) seems to be that W needs to change to fit in their mold of "good kid."

Take dinner last night. I was getting the boys' plates ready and had to take R and leave the table when he decided that the red sippy cup wasn't good enough for him. He absolutely lost it when he didn't get the green sippy cup (never mind that he'd been drinking from the red sippy all day...). While I was gone, I think W mistook R's plate for his and ate R's chicken nuggets while leaving his nuggets untouched. I walked back in as W was reaching for the serving plate of nuggets to grab some more. My brother-in-law smacked his hand and said in a rather gruff voice, "Get out of there! You have plenty of nuggets on your plate!" W's face fell and he almost started sobbing. Before a second child of mine had an epic meltdown at the table, I was able to explain that the plate that still had nuggets on it was his and he could eat those. But BIL really pissed me off. First, there was no reason to smack my kid; I'm the one who gets to decide if and when any sort of physical punishment is used on him. Telling him no or moving the plate out of his reach would have been sufficient, in my mind. Second, yelling at him was uncalled for when explaining to him that he still had food on his plate would probably have had the desired effect. I bit my tongue (literally) and didn't say anything because I didn't want to cause a family war at dinner, but I feel like I should have. I don't like my kid being treated like that.

The other thing that bugged me today was W coming up to me several times to ask me if he could suck his thumb. Now, this child has never one asked for permission to suck his thumb. I'm pretty sure that my father-in-law told him he wasn't allowed to suck his thumb, so when he needed that comfort, he came to me to ask if it was ok.

I HATE that he's chastised for doing things that are fairly harmless when we're around them. They do it to R, too, but it has less of an impact on him because he's not as sensitive and doesn't seek adults' approval like W does. I get that my in-laws entitled to parent as they see (or saw) fit, but I'm entitled to that, too. My kid, my rules, right? I mean, as long as he's not hurting a person or property.

I'm being too sensitive about this, aren't I? What would you do (or do you do) when you have to spend time with people who parent very differently from you and have some authority to quasi-parent your kids? Do you suck it up and let them do their thing, or do you say something?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On aging

As I enter the final day of my 20s, one thought consumes my mind:  I am too young to be this decrepit.

Everyone tells you that your body falls apart as you age, but I really didn't expect that to happen before I even turned 30. In just the past year-ish (14 months, if we're being technical), I've had a tailbone removed because of chronic pain, sprained a tendon in my ankle and spent a month in a boot, got a cyst on my wrist that required a (em effing) cortisone shot, and threw out my back sitting up.

Oh yeah. I threw out my back this morning. I was sitting on the floor getting R dressed, and leaned forward to grab his hands to help him up. As I started to sit back up, I felt something pop in my back and felt searing pain. Luckily, it seems to just be a sprain - albeit a painful one. It got me some good drugs and will more or less put me out of commission for the next few days. Which is going to make finishing Christmas prep more or less impossible. Looks like daycare is getting "Happy 2013!" gifts instead of "Merry Christmas!" gifts and the work potluck is getting a store-bought dish. Balls.

Anyway, I'm getting old and falling apart. Even though I'm far too young to be falling apart like this. Here's to the 30s being a less deteriorating decade!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

And the Christmas panic hits

It hit me, out of nowhere, late Sunday night that Christmas was a week away. One week. I then realized that I need to have all of the daycare and work gifts and foods ready for Friday. This includes a batch of monster cookies, which takes something like eight hours start to finish (to help you grasp this, the recipe measures things in pounds instead of cups and makes around 14 dozen cookies), and six to ten sets of magnets for the boys' teachers.. The plan was to go shopping for cookie ingredients and mix up the batter on Sunday and bake a few batches every night between now and Thursday. I'd also buy the magnet supplies Monday at lunch, paint Monday night, and do the finishing on Tuesday and Wednesday. Easy peasy.

But my plans very rarely work out. I did go shopping on Sunday, but I couldn't find the recipe, so I didn't get the batter mixed up. I pushed that back to Monday night, and thought I'd still be reasonably on schedule. At lunch today, I got the magnet supplies (I also went to four stores on two opposite ends of town in less than an hour. Booyah!). And then my hearing that was supposed to start at 2:30 and be short didn't start until almost 4:00. It also included an hour-long taped confession we had to listen to in open court. And so I was stuck at work until 6:00. The silver lining to that was I got to go to the local bar association Christmas party, since I no longer had to worry about getting the kids. That also meant I didn't get home until 7:30 (a.k.a. bedtime), and a clingy baby at bedtime meant I was occupied until 8:30. I'm not staying up for two hours to get the dough made, so I have to push it off another day. Oh! Also! I can't find the paint marker I need to the magnets ANYWHERE. I was going to buy a new one today for just this reason, but the store was out of black ones, so I end up screwed in this department as well.

The plan for Tuesday is getting my mom to come wrangle children while I make cookie dough and get at least a few batches baked, and get the names and dates written on all the magnets (after I acquire another paint marker). If I get lucky, the writing will dry quickly and I can have Mom start the boys on the first phase of magnet painting.

Wednesday is going to include a detour to the zoo to see their Christmas lights, I think. So nothing will get done. Maybe I'll be able to do phase two of the magnet painting. Or finish wrapping the presents.

Thursday is crunch time. I have to finish baking all cookies, pack up cookies for daycare and the work potluck, glue magnets together and possibly package them if I start them early enough in the evening, finish wrapping everything, pack up cards and gifts for the co-workers, and get the boys to sign the cards for their daycare teachers.

Friday will be a day for remembering to take everything I've prepared to wherever it needs to go, general holiday merriment, and a dentist appointment for the little one. Santa is coming to our house on Saturday morning, so Friday night will be spent gearing up for that.

Saturday is Christmas at our house and dinner out with some of my friends.

And on Sunday, we head to the ancestral homeland for four or five days, and the real fun begins.

Anyone else in Christmas panic mode yet? Or is it just me.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fekkai for the holidays



I have curly hair and seem to be on a constant quest to find hair products that keep my mane under control. Enter Fekkai Glossing Cream.

Fekkai Glossing Cream - 4 oz
Image from the P&G eStore.

I got a tube of this stuff in a beauty box I bought a year or so ago, and I LOVE it. It's heavy enough to keep my frizz under control, but light enough that it doesn't weigh my curls down. It smells great (coming from me, that means something. I have the world's most sensitive nose and hate the way a lot of hair products smell) and gives my hair lots of shine, too.

Fekkai hair products were developed by renowned style-maker Frederic Fekkai to meet the particular needs of different hair types. Each product is tested by Frederic and his staff at the Frederic Fekkai Salon and incorporates luxurious textures and invigorating scents. The line is divided into families, including Advanced Care, Color Care, Curl Care Glossing, Repair, Styling, and Styling Tools.

The Fekkai website also has a really cool tool that lets you consult Frederic to find your personal Fekkai style. My product family is Perfectly Luscious Curls. This collection "features advanced technology to accentuate ringlets with shine while controlling frizz. Made with our defining curls complex and enhanced with grape seed extract and Moroccan rose, this collection will leave you with perfectly curvy curls that last." I'm excited to give the Perfectly Luscious Curls products a try. I'm all for anything that makes my curls behave themselves better!

Right now, Fekkai is offering a great holiday deal. When you make a purchase of $50 of more at the Fekkai website, you get 10% off your order and a cute, beaded holiday headband. Use coupon code HEADBAND to get this deal.

Take a look around Fekkai.com and get some of your shopping done. Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

My word for 2013

It's a little early, but this is the second night in a row that sleep has eluded me (not because of 9:00 PM Starbucks tonight, though), so I've been thinking about my word for next year.

I struggled with this because there are so very, very many crappy character traits I need to work on. I thought about thankful or grateful because I have a real problem with being thankful for all that I have; as a naturally pessimistic person, I tend to focus on what I don't have, rather than acknowledging and appreciating what I do. I thoguht about revisiting my prior words of peace or freedom because I didn't really get where I wanted to with either one. I thought about faith and patience because I need some of both. I thought about organize because my life is a freaking mess at the moment - literally and figuratively - and could use a good organizing. I rejected all of these, but organize led me to simplify, which has as a synonym refine.
Refine verb \ri-ˈfīn\ :  to free from impurities or moral imperfection; to improve or perfect by pruning or polishing; to free from what is coarse, vulgar, or uncouth; to become pure or perfected; to make improvement by introducing subtleties or distinctions.
I think that fits pretty well with what I need and want to do with my life over the next year. I need to improve my life and myself by pruning some things and people that aren't helping me be a good person. I need to introduce some subtle changes to make my life better. I need to get rid of some "impurities" in my life. Become perfected. That's always the ultimate goal, isn't it?

So. There it is. 2013 shall be the year of Refine.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My grown-up Christmas list

I've had the hardest time coming up with gift ideas for the boys in my life this year, but that has not been the case for myself. Oh, no. I've got gift ideas coming out of my ears.

1. Garner's Modern American Usage by Bryan Garner - I'm a language nerd and this book is basically the language nerd's Bible. No further explanation needed.

From Amazon (with special thanks to Swistle for teaching me how to get rid of the arrow).

2. Aquolina Pink Sugar perfume - I can't normally wear perfumes, but I got a sample of this months ago, and I like it. It doesn't give me headaches and it smells pretty (if slightly on the old lady side).

From Amazon.


3. New bakeware - B pretty much destroyed all of the baking pans we got for our wedding, and I want new ones that aren't completely coated with nasty, permanent, greasy residue. I also want a couple more insulated cookie sheets.

Wilton Indulgence® Professional 6-Piece Bakeware Set
I think this Wilton set is what we got for our wedding. And I like them. From Bed Bath & Beyond.


4. Olive Bungalow birthstone stacking rings - I've loved these from afar for years, so I'm finally asking for them. My set would have two 2mm wide hammered sterling silver rings, one with a 3mm round white topaz (the cheapest version of R's diamond birthstone) and one with a 3mm round opal (it's my favorite of the three options for W's birthstone), and band 6 with a 4mm square London blue topaz (my favorite of the options for my birthstone). All in size 6.75. Just in case Santa is reading. *Ahem*
Random stack of rings from Olive Bungalow. The bottom ring is band 6, and the other two bands will look similar to the one with the M (but will be a little textured). The top stone is also the same size (but slightly lighter color) blue topaz I want.

5. Nice sheets for my bed. We're down to two sets, and one of those is getting holes. I don't have it in me to wash one set of sheets that often.

6. Amazon gift cards - I want to buy booooooks! My Kindle makes me read voraciously, but my budget makes me stick to the crappy-ass free Kindle books most of the time. And they are painful. I want good books. I would also accept real books in lieu of electronic ones.

7. Brown dress pants - I have several work-type shirts that would really look best with dark brown pants, but do not own said pants. I would like that to be remedied.

8. Boots - I bought myself a cute pair, but they don't fit and I haven't found a good replacement yet. With my feet always threatening to fall off of my body these days, I need to buy decent quality boots, which tend to also be ugly. If Santa can find me a pair that balances support with cute, I'll take them.

9. Plane tickets - I have places I want to go, but don't have a spare kidney to sell for tickets to fly to these places. So I ask for plane tickets. I never get them, but I ask.

10. New bras and undies - Mine are all so OLD and ill-fitting (sorry for that visual). I need new.

11. A sound cord thingy (technical term) that has headphone jack connections on both ends - I have no idea what one of these cords might be called - or if they even actually exist, though I feel like they should - but I want one so I can connect my phone to the neat little jack in my car and play my music through the speakers. I tend to listen to music on my phone far more often than I do the radio and wouldn't mind a simple fix that would vastly improve the sound quality.
I'm sure I've got more stuff that I'll think of between now and Christmas. Even though I know I won't be getting much (if anything) off my Birthmas* list, I had so much fun coming up with it.

* In case you may have forgotten:  Birthmas (\ˈbərth-məs\) – 1: noun – the phrase I coined specifically to describe the yearly time of joy that is the period between my birthday and Christmas. 2: adjective – description of something done or given as a combined celebration of my birthday and Christmas. E.g. a Birthmas gift.

Monday, December 3, 2012

This year's Christmas card

I wasn't planning to do cards quite yet, but CardStore pushed me into it. (All their (normally $2.29) cards were $.49!). The deal was only good today - of course - and I - of course - haven't taken the boys anywhere to get pictures done yet. Being the moron good mother than I am, I scheduled an impromptu photo session after baths tonight.

Not surprisingly, it didn't go well. W was having a rough night, so having to put real pants on (after bath time! The horror!) was a major problem. There were tears. So I gave up on my dream of their cute sweaters and moved on to their Christmas PJs. W wanted to wear the striped PJs from last night. There were more tears. I promised candy after we got done with pictures, which finally broke through the sensie fit.

So we sat the boys in front of our (scrawny, sad, little) tree and went to town. What follows are some of the results.

A weepy W and me. In my sweats. Surrounded by toys. *Sigh*

Pretty sure W shoved R over while this shot was in progress.
"Cheeeeeeese!"
Wait, wait. We might have something here!
Nope, nope. Never mind. At least R looks cute (if slightly possessed).
This is about where I wanted to throw the camera across the room and say screw Christmas cards this year.
Then, about 60 shots after we started, we finally got a good one (keeping in mind that "good" is a picture where they're both mostly smiling and mostly looking at the camera).

And here's the final card choice. The irony of these two being on the nice list was just too delicious for us to resist.


Now we wait to see if I actually get these things mailed out by Christmas...