Obsessing Over…

To give just a glimpse into my ridiculously easy days right now, this is what I’m obsessing over at the moment:

The Naked Bee Orange Blossom Honey Hand & Body Lotion
The Naked BeeI would love to give you a link to this, well, because it is the bee’s knees, but it appears to only be sold by retailers and is not available or purchase directly from the company. I have eczema on my hand. Call it an occupational hazard that comes from years of harsh sanitizers, surgical scrubs for the NICU, and washing one’s hands a gazillion times a day. I have seen my family doctor and a dermatologist. I’ve tried prescriptions and over-the-counter lotions, creams, and cleansers. Some of these have been really expensive, too. Some have improved it a little, but none have really worked. So one day, having taken my lotion home from work (I usually buy a bottle to keep in my locker) to try on Zach, who also has bad eczema, I was kinda stuck. I had found this stuff the week before because a coworker was using it and it smelled so nice, prompting me to buy my own bottle in the hospital gift shop for $15.99 for an 8-ounce pump bottle.  So I tried it on my hand that one lotion-less night. Holy Cow! It worked. I’ve been using it ever since. All that is left of my eczema on my hand is a scar on my middle knuckle. If I don’t use this for a night of work, it comes back, So tonight, I couldn’t find Zach’s lotion (dye-free, unscented). If we do not slather him with lotion before putting his pajamas on, his whole body is red and itchy in the morning. So I took a chance and tried this on him. A couple of hours later, his skin is already looking better.

I googled the stuff and discovered they make a whole line of skincare products. Soaps, lotions, creams, hand sanitizers. Mind you, the stuff isn’t inexpensive, but if it works? Pshhh. So now I am going to desperately search for the body bar and hand sanitizer. I’m curious to see how it works.

Chipotle’s Adventurrito.
993926_10151685938204253_1600249411_nYep. I know, it’s cheesy. Well, here lately, with only enough cheese to taste. Ha! This is some clever marketing. I love Chipotle. And if I use a little restraint, John and I can eat here without feeling like we’ve wrecked our lives or clogged John’s newly-stented arteries. The beauty is that they give you enough food in one serving for 2 whole meals, so I either split my buttito bowl with Zach or save half for another meal. My bowl consists of chicken, fresh tomato salsa, corn salsa, romaine, brown rice, and just a teensy bit of cheese. If I’m feeling extra naughty, I’ll get a tortilla on the side and roll my own tiny burritos with it, as it is one huge tortilla. John, after the heart incident, gets a meatless bowl with 2 types of beans, brown rice, romaine, and all three of their salsas. No tortilla for him. So this meal, other than a veggie sub with no dressing at Subway, is the only quick-service meal he can eat.

So Chipotle is giving away free burritos? Hell, yes, I’m down with that. The grand prize is 20 years’ worth of free burritos (one per week, I am assuming). Other winners can win free burritos for one year. You are entered when you play the online game, whether you win or lose. To win the grand prize, you have to get all 20 of the puzzles correct. I think there might be a drawing or something for those people. These puzzles are little riddles posted online at 20:20. The 4 they have had so far have been kind of challenging. For example, the above picture is of their basket liner they are using for their anniversary, The answers to one of the riddles involved all of the integers on the liner. They didn’t tell you that, though. Instead, in the clue, they mentioned one should ponder it over a burrito or taco. Of course it was in the middle of the night and Chipotle was closed, but I happened to remember that they posted the above pic on their Facebook page, and Score! I got the puzzle correct. So now I am all geeked out over this little contest because, hey, Fatty loves her burritos!

Bailey’s Mudslide coffee creamer
0004410010766_500X500Because I realized the calorie content of my venti Mocha at the ‘Bucks. And I cannot give up on coffee. I tried the nonfat versions. I tried the soy. I tried every-damned-thing, including black coffee. I decided I am not grown up enough for black coffee. And so a splash of this. I can handle that. So long as I remember to log the calories in my little calorie counter app, I’m good. Thanks for keeping me sane, Bailey’s Creamer.

Barefoot Moscato

barefootmuscatosparklingI’m not even gonna talk about a bouquet or that other crap. I know nothing about wine, but I wanted to start learning. I’m sure that, at the whopping $13.00 I paid for the bottle of this wine, it is most definitely not high-brow. Yeah, whatevs. I mentioned to some of my wine-drinking coworkers that I wanted to learn to appreciate wine, and this was what was recommended to start with. Because though I am all women-power/ fight the patriarchy, I enjoy some good frou-frou sweet booze. And I was told this would fit the bill. And they were correct. The plan is to start here and get a little more sophisticated over time. With different wine types and vineyards.  I would like to be able to have conversations about it eventually. Because I have been elected to the board of directors for the association of women MBA’s at my university, and our introductory meeting is at a wine tasting in a few weeks. I’ve also been told that I would probably like Beringer and rieslings.  If this is your area of expertise, please leave any suggestions you may have for me.

Laughing Cow Smooth Sensations Cream Cheese Spread
Smooth_Sensations_Cream_Cheese_Spread_Classic_Cream_One_Third_Less_Fat

Ummmmm. I love this stuff. I love that there are only 45 calories in a wedge and a whole english muffin (whole wheat, thanks) only takes me about half a wedge. The same can be said for a whole wheat frozen waffle, toasted with this and a little organic strawberry preserves–tastes delicious and only 100 calories total. I love that it travels well, so I can easily pack it for lunches or snacks at work or for trips to the park with my offspring. I love that it comes in a gazillion flavors, though I haven’t tried them yet. Hey Laughing Cow people, if you would like more free marketing, feel free to send me some free stuff and I will be glad to offer up my opinion of your fabulous products. Wink, wink. Because I am a struggling grad student and I am currently slathering this stuff on everything.

“Whodunnit” on ABC

Whodunnit_ABCI cannot look away when this show is on. Part Survivor, part Big Brother, part Clue (yeah, the Milton Bradley board game–the old version, not the new-fangled stupid stuff). Because in my mind, I am playing along, trying to guess, getting aggravated when the contestants can’t get it right.

If you haven’t watched the show, it is like a murder mystery. They get clues. Each week, another guest gets the ax, and the remaining guests have to use clues to determine how it happened. The “killer” is among them. The more wrong/ less correct they are, the more at risk they are to be the next “victim”. Some of them have resorted to tears in fear, leaving me to wonder if they are really that dumb and think ABC is going to have them murdered on set on national network television. But still, it’s entertaining, and I am all about that these days when I have no class to worry about. Even soon-to-be MBA’s don’t want to think about marketing or finance or accounting all of the time.

Devou Park Backcountry Trails- Covington, KY

devouAbout a 2-song drive from my house (it’s that close that I have no idea how many miles or minutes–I can listen to two normal-length songs!). Pack a little cooler bag of water. Some yoga pants and good shoes. All-terrain stroller in the back of the SUV. Off we go. The way the trail is designed, we can hike/ speed-walk as much or as little as we want. It’s peaceful. It’s cleansing. You can pass anyone from the elderly out getting their exercise, to young families, to serious athletes out for a trail run or bike. When it is raining, or has recently rained, the trails are closed for their own preservation, but at the same park, there is a lovely paved trail as well. We’ve walked in a light rain before, on the paved trail, only turning back when it turned into a thunderstorm. We have had days where it was too hot and we had to stop halfway find a spot to relax in the shade. We also park next to one of the playgrounds so Zach can get some playtime in before we head home. I have pulled a muscle somehow and this have been resting this week, and so I miss this. We had been going everyday, walking briskly enough to work up a sweat. Love it.

So that’s my life right now. Or a little bit of it, anyway. Until next time.

Why the am I Getting a Call From a Liquor Store at 10 AM?

So today, I am figuring bills, and just like every late-November/ December, there never seems to be enough money. The car needs new tires. My last car, a little compact, took about $300 to do this. My car now? Well, the cheapest estimate is $775. And then there is Christmas presents. Evan wants an iPod Touch, and music seems to soothe him, and he really uses the El-Cheapo mp3 player he has now, so he shall get what he wants. And he needs a new bike. And scooter. And anything else I can give him to get him active. In other words, we are long-removed from the days where several $20-toys satisfied him. And John broke the artificial tree the last year that we put one up–years ago. I know, I know. I’m a horrible mom. But those are expensive, and I really wanted to put one up this year…..

I was just about to have a mini Andi meltdown when the phone rang this morning. John had left to fill a prescription. And it was the landline, which never rings anymore. “Deters Liquors” said the caller ID. W….T….F?????? It was 10 AM.

And I answer. It’s John. My eyes immediately diverted to the desk, where his cell was wedged in between the modem, printer, and laptop. And then my next reaction: HE HAS ZACH WITH HIM! AT A FUCKING LIQUOR STORE! Parenting at its best, right there. And then my next thought, “This has got to be bad.” We don’t drink. Not wine, not beer. Once every few years, I will have a Grey Goose and tonic on New Years’ when I am not working. Every. Few. Years. Why is my husband at a liquor store that isn’t even on the way to the pharmacy, with my toddler in tow?

“Ummmm, Andrea?”

WHAT THE….”

” I’m gonna be a little longer. I got held up.”

“Whaddya mean, ‘held up’? You have Zach with you. At a liquor store, Dude.”

“Well……I-know-you-hate-when-I-play-the-lottery-and-say-it’s-a-total-waste, but…….”

“BUT WHAT?!?!”

“I bought a $3 ticket and…….I kinda won. Well, no, I did win. A thousand dollars. I’m waiting for them to cash it now, but she had to call her manager to get into the safe to get it.”

I couldn’t really be mad anymore, could I? Though I was still pondering the liquor store. And having visions of my husband having a secret problem that I didn’t know about. Hittin’ the bottle in the wee hours while I’m at work or something. But I should’ve known that that was never John’s style. He had a little incident while drunk in his Marine Corps days that turned him off a long time ago. That and cheating are the two things I never have to worry about with John.

It turned out the story was really innocent. He had stopped to get gas and bought the ticket at a gas station. The place was packed, with really skeevy-looking people. And while John isn’t afraid of anyone, he had enough sense to know that he did not want to get mugged with Zachy in his arms. He had the $1K, plus a substantial sum of my pay on his person, which equated to a pretty healthy sum. He was being protective. And smart. And he went to the liquor store that I used to stop at on the way anywhere to get a Diet Coke. They knew us there, because we would stop because they were never crowded. And he knew this. And so he drove a little out of the way to cash the ticket in where there weren’t skeevy eyes watching him fold the wad of bills into his wallet. I find it all incredibly cute, actually.

So the moral of the story is that we had $997 more than we had when he went to the pharmacy. I felt like I had to do something with the money, so we took a trunk-full of diapers to a local charity for single parents who said they were in desperate need of size 3 diapers. You know—Karma and all. And I replaced the Christmas tree. And paid some bills, all with free money.

If I were a religious person, I would’ve said someone was looking out for me.

If It Weren’t For Nuns, My Child Would Starve

IF YOU CAN’T TOLERATE THE F-BOMB, JUST FUCKING MOVE ALONG ON THIS ONE.

As if we didn’t have enough drama in this house…

It doesn’t matter what I do. I send Evan in with lunch money to be put on his account. Or I can pack his lunch. Whatever. We still get cafeteria bills. In general, it costs about $100 per month to feed Evan school lunches. Remember when we were kids and it took like 75 cents per day? And an extra quarter got you an extra helping on pizza day? Those days are gone. They went bye-bye along with the little rubber squeezy change holders that held your lunch money daily. Now my kid has a name badge thay he swipes like a debit card, and we have to add money to it.

Sometimes, in the craziness that is my household, I forget. And sometimes I don’t. Regardless, we get the bill.

Two days ago, we got hate mail from the cafeteria lady. Evan has a bill. Again. And it needs to be paid. So I went to get money out and discovered that instead of deducting my normal monthly car insurance premium, Geico took enough to cover the entire policy. Oops. When I renewed, I forget to opt for the monthly payments. My fault. But oh, shit, we have no money! So I tried to call the cafeteria lady and got no answer. Since I had no cash, and Evan has to have lunch, I sent him in with enough to cover one day’s worth. There! Evan gets lunch until my payroll hit this morning.

Yesterday, when Evan returned from school, he had more hatemail. Another copy of his bill, and in black marker and block letters at the bottom, the cafeteria lady basically stated that I am the scumofthefuckingearth and sending Evan in with enough to cover one lunch was NOT ACCEPTABLE–her emphasis, not mine–and that we owed a bill. Again, we tried to call and got no answer.

This morning, I sent Evan to school as normal. I told him to let them know that we would go to an ATM and bring money in for his cafeteria bill and to tell whoever this information. John overslept and didn’t have time to stop at an ATM on the way, so he would have to bring the money back to the school. So what happened?

My kid calls me, crying, from the office. “Mommy, they said you have to bring me a sandwich or s-s-s-s-something for lunch, that I cannot go h-h-h-h-hungry. I told them what you told me to tell them, but they still made me call you!”

To which my response was to make Evan put an adult on the damned phone. Basically, the nun that answered told me that they are concerned for Evan, that he has to eat and how did I plan on feeding him. Blah blah blah. How their only concern was Evan.

Are you serious? MY  only concern is Evan. I will ensure that he eats. We are bringing in money, for God’s sake. We are not trying to starve our kid. His bill is thirteen fucking dollars and we are acting like it is a federal crisis and poor Evan is going to go hungry and never eat again. And for the record, I would have packed Evan a lunch today and just sent the money in with Evan tomorrow, but I was out of fucking bread for a God-forsaken PB&J and Evan refused an Uncrustable in place of his fucking PB&J-with-the-fucking-crusts-cut-off. So ta-daaaaa. You have to wait for me to get one of us to an ATM. And while we on the topic of my failure to feed my kid, John would have had time to stop at an ATM before school had Evan not nibbled on his breakfast, insisting on eating one fucking Cheerio at a time, citing that too big a bite is a fucking choking hazard. What 10-year-old speaks of choking hazards, anyway? Mine, that’s who!

Maybe I should just revert to my passive aggressive bitchiness and really prove my point. I wonder if that five-star place around the corner caters school lunches!?!? Better yet, how would the nuns react to the waiter showing up with a silver platter and tucking the linen napkin neatly onto Evan’s lap for him?

What’s the Deal with the Kindle, Already?

*Sigh* I don’t own a Kindle.

I have wanted a Kindle for as long as they have been out. Since their shiny newness was cutting-edge technocrap. I have blogged before that, damnit, I was going to buy myself a Kindle.

I still haven’t bought a damned Kindle. Even though their prices continue to drop and you can now get a decent one, a highly purposeful one, for like somewhere less than $100.

What is my problem? I have no problem thunking down money for a oy for one of the boys. For a meal out. For nice perfume or gym shoes for work. Why don’t I have a Kindle?

And now, after some heavy self-psychologizing, I know.

I’m old. That’s my theory. I am old and set in my ways. I resist technology. Exhibit A? The length of time it took me to buy a cell phone. But when I did, I bought an Android smartphone and now I would rather cut off my arm than live without it, and want an even better, more advanced smartphone that can do even more. Exhibit B? The fact that my courses this session didn’t come with books, but E-Books! Which I’m fairly certain are less books and more data files, no less. I just about had a meltdown. I was seriously pissed, and promptly wasted trees and killed the environment by printing out all of the chapters listed in the syllabi, spent the time with the 3-hole punch and arranging the chapters into binders. Essentially, I made my own damned books and didn’t look back.

Here’s the thing: (And you will probably attempt to have me committed after reading this) I love books. Books. I love the glossy cover and crisp pages of a new book. I love spending time pouring over shelves at a massive bookstore trying to find the next great read by that new auhor who may even become my favorite. I love that little sound the spine of a new book makes when you really get into the pages for the first time. (Though, just a bit of Bitchypants trivia for you, my biggest pet peeve is a broken spine on a book. They just never look the same on the shelf again.) I love the smell of new books.

Yeah, yeah, the Kindle is handy and I still want one. I realize I could potentially carry my entire library in my purse if I just bought the damned thing. But has anyone ever truly been out in public and thought to themselves, “Self, I really wish you had your entirefuckinglibrary in your purse right now because this line at the bank is horrifically long and you could spend this time reading your entirefuckinglibrary?” I doubt this has ever happened. To anyone.I am perfectly content with one book in my bag. If things get really crazy, I may even have a couple of books in my backpack.

I’ll buy the Kindle eventually because I know it will travel well and I am the girl who always has a book of some kind on her person. But now I know why I have resisted for so long: I am a closeted book purist.

From a Different Place

Something funny happened over the past 24 hours. It started from the dark place of yesterday’s post. That was prompted by my discovery that I had miscalculated my pay for this payday. So this morning, I went to the bank. I was worried about an education loan that reaches maturity in 2 weeks and has a balloon payment due. And I was talking to the manager.

“I’m just tired,” I said. “I’m tired of working this hard and making the money I do, and having nothing to show for it at the end of the day.”

And he did something I didn’t expect. He pivoted his computer screen around so I could see it from my side of his desk.

“Not for nothing, Andrea. This check right here? Well, it was written to a school. A certain elementary school. And the memo says ‘tuition-Evan’.”

“And this right here? It tells me that you have a very late-model car that is over halfway paid off. And this line? That line shows me that your husband has a motorcycle-a toy– worth more than that late model car. And here is your personal loan. And the beauty of it all is in these columns right here,” he said as he pointed to 2 columns of zeros. One being days past due, and one being balance owed today. Zeros all the way down the screen. My bills are paid. Not completely paid off, but paid.

And this morning, as I was trying to figure how to squeeze bill payments out of a smaller than expected paycheck, I began to look into stuff. Turns out it is November, the next to last month in the year. And I have accrued a bunch of vacation time that has to be used by December 31st. No vacays for me, but I can cash it out and have it added to my next payceck. Plus, according to the bank manager, I am allowed to skip one month of each loan. In all of the years I have been doing business with this bank, I never knew this. It’s a sort of freebie thing they do. So no more car or motorcycle payments for November, which frees up about $700. And last night, I got called into work. You know what I make in one overtime shift? About $580. In one fucking day of work. So just like that, with a little mental power, I came up with an extra $2700 for this month’s budget. Just like that.

The bank manager is so right.

I have no reason to bitch. Tonight, we went to the grocery store. I was able to buy an entire case of diapers for Zach. Not generic ones, but Pampers Cruisers, which are the most expensive diapers I have found. (Those are the only ones that don’t break him out.) There are parents all over this country who can’t buy enough diapers for the day, let alone for the month. We bought food. Granted I was a little more frugal–I bought the veggies that were on sale instead of just grabbing what I always buy. We bought the cereal we like, but instead of the snacky cereal we usually buy for Zach, we bought the gigantic bag that is cheaper. I bought the pasta sauce that was on sale and store-brand coffee creamer. But I left with a cart full of food and was able to fill the fridge and freezer with food while only going one dollar over my budget. And tonight, we are going to eat dinner on a table that is only a couple months old. In a house that is warm and has electricity. While dinner is cooking, I am blogging this on a month-old laptop with my highspeed internet access. My beautiful, healthy ten-year old, who was never even supposed to make it into this world, is sitting on a newer sofa watching our digital cable on a tv that may not be the latest technology, but is more than adequate. My husband is laying on the living room floor completing a homework assignment for the math class that I paid for. And when he gets stumped on a problem, I am able to help him. After dinner, when the beautiful, healthy toddler , who also shouldn’t have made it into this world, gets his bath and dressed in pajamas, he will give me the big Zachy smile and sloppy baby goodnight kiss before he is tucked into bed. And then I can complete the homework for the businesses classes I paid for and are going to be my ticket to a better tomorrow. And then I will study with a 5-inch thick book that says “GMAT” on the cover, which will be my ticket to an even better better tomorrow. And tomorrow morning, I will walk to the park with my beautiful baby and we will spend my day off laughing and giggling while Daddy and Bubby are both at school.

The moral of the story? I don’t have a damned thing to bitch about. I have everything to be grateful for tonight. That’s what this month is supposed to be, right? To pause and give thanks?

No, I don’t have a huge balance in the bank account. But it’s in the black for right now. And I have this life that is so…full. And I did it. I did it all.

I’m not wealthy. But I sure am rich as hell.

(Thanks to Mary for the inspiration. Something about her words today just drove home what I have been thinking all day.)

 

Fall is in the Air

This? This is my absolute favorite season by far. Spring brings allergies, winter brings icy roads, and summer brings oppressive heat that makes me feel as if my fat cells are melting. But fall? Is there anything bad about fall? The perfect temperature for my favorite attire: a good ol’ hoodie and jeans. Leaves crunching underfoot. The smell of firewood burning from a neighboring chimney. College football rivalries and perfect cool nights for a good cup of coffee. Halloween and the fun of picking out costumes for the kiddos. You can walk around the block without dripping with sweat. I. Love. Fall.

Today, John is in class and Evan is at school. Since I am feeling a little bit better, Zach and I headed outside for some fresh air. It would seem Zachy loves fall as much as I do. He had a ball exploring and I giggled as I watched all of his cuteness toddling around, amazed at things we all take for granted: a bright orange leaf that had fluttered to the ground, the crisp green of shrubs, the chirping of nearby birds. Of course it only took about 45 minutes before he discovered that the sidewalk seemed to go on forever and he could run, run, run! And then he discovered the street, so after about 15 gazillion times of stopping him from running out in front of a moving vehicle, Mommy was worn out and we ended our excursion.

But not before I got some cute photos.



PS: I totally did not realize that I dressed him like the Lennox Air Conditioning man until I viewed these photos!

Happy Fall, Everyone!