Friday, December 31, 2010

In and Out for 2011

There are some things that I hate, that just irritate me to my very core, and yet I can't stop subjecting myself to them. Like the idiotic comments that people make on news articles and on Yahoo's Shine page. Seriously, many of those comments make me worry for the future of the human race.

More specifically, and the point of this post, is that I'm addicted to lists that come out around New Year's that talk about the "Best Of" the year we're finishing up or things that were "in" in the year that is closing that are now "out" and things that will be "in" for the upcoming year. I guess the "Best Of" lists don't really bother me that much. Sometimes I'll read them and wonder why a certain thing or event was included or left out, but for the most part the don't stir up much of a reaction. It's the "In and Out" lists that drive me nuts.

I think my main problem with these lists is that I really resent the implication that I need some faceless (and often nameless) writer telling me what is cool or not cool, like I'm supposed to immediately discard anything on the "out" list and promptly adorn my life with everything on the "in" list.

There was a feature insert in the paper from today that included one such list. I could give a sarcastic and snarky response to every single item on the list, but there was something like 40 comparisons and I think it would just end up getting redundant. So here are the highlights.

In: Jeggings Out: Bell bottoms/flares - Ok first of all, I don't think bell bottoms have truly been "in" since I was in junior high, and even then, not so much. Second of all, don't even start with the jeggings. They look good on maybe 2 people in the whole world, and I don't care how "in" they are - no one wants to see my flat, wide mommy butt in jeggings. (You see, newspaper author, one of the keys to writing a good piece is knowing your audience. You might want to work on that.) Finally, don't try to tell me that flared leg pants are out. A tastefully flared leg is going to do way more for my body than an airtight jegging ever will, and I will rock my flares even if you think I'm "out". So there.

In: Cell Phone Cameras Out: Digital Cameras - Seriously? Digital cameras are out? I'm going to take a wildly uneducated leap here and say that I'm pretty sure the cameras on our phones are digital, so strike one for lack of accuracy. Strike two is because there is no way I will ever believe that a camera phone can take as good a photo as a real camera. And strike three for the sheer idiocy of this statement.

In: Neighborhood Bistros Out: Chain Restaurants - I am ALL for buying local, supporting local entrepreneurs, keeping the money in the neighborhood, etc. But try to tell me that it is "out" to eat at Olive Garden and you're looking at a punch in the nose.

In: Teen Designated Drivers Out: Drunks - This must be the one that Captain Obvious wrote. And also, Captain Vague. (Is it possible to be obvious and vague at the same time? I didn't think so, but this one proved me wrong.) Are they trying to tell me that if I want to go out and get drunk (which, believe me, I do. I want to get drunk real bad but I've been pregnant for the better part of my recent life and it's just not possible right now.) that I should get a teenager to be my designated driver? Is it saying that if teens are going to get drunk, they should have a designated driver? Either way, I'm thinking they're saying that drunk driving is out. To that, I'll offer a big, fat DUH!

In: Purple and Jewel-toned Cookware Out: Matte Gray Cookware - Oh yeah, I forgot that part about me being rich and having the luxury of buying new cookware every season in the latest trendy colors. For some reason, I thought I was the opposite of rich and I also forgot that the cookware I do have is total crap and that I've wanted new cookware since I first pulled the crappy cookware out of the box after I got married. So I've been using the same crappy cookware for over 3 years, but yeah, this brilliant list has inspired me to go out and buy purple pots and pans. I mean, not that I wouldn't buy purple pots and pans, but what I'm trying to say is that this one is just stupid.

In: Red Bull with anything Out: Four Loko, aka "Blackout in a Can" - Hello, List? The nineties called, they want their reference back. Something tells me that the author just wanted to say that Four Loko is out and they really couldn't come up with something comparable to put as the "in". I love how they are telling me to drink Red Bull with anything, as if Red Bull is the latest and greatest earth-shattering invention in the drink market. And honestly, I could just drink four beers then down a couple Red Bulls and it would have the same effect as a Four Loko, so I just beat you at your own game, List. And you won't have anything to say about it because you told me that Red Bull with anything is "in".

In: Cork Wine Pub Out: Detroit's Breakfast House and Seldom Blues - I've never been to either of these restaurants, so it's not like I have a pre-existing loyalty or anything. But seriously, how pissed would you be if you were Detroit's Breakfast House and Seldom Blues?

In: Tax Breaks for the Rich Out: Empathy for the Poor - In fairness, I'm sure this was meant to be sarcastic and/or tongue in cheek. But it's already difficult to translate sarcasm in print, and the fewer words you have to work with, the more likely you will be taken seriously. So this just makes the author sound like an a-hole.

In: Velvet Out: Corduroy - Crap, there goes my entire summer wardrobe.

Well, there you have it. The worst of a really bad list. But I've got to run, it's time for me to go drink a Red Bull and buy velvet jeggings in purple and jewel tones. Don't worry, I'll be sure to take a picture for you all with my phone's camera while I'm eating at the Cork Wine Pub.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas is coming and my eyes are beginning to twitch

Right around Thanksgiving every year, I get all giddy and little-girl excited for the holidays. Since my extended family is so large and since there are so many other people who are far more capable than I, I never have to live in the fear and stress of actually hosting Thanksgiving. Therefore, I'm able to happily bring the rolls and enjoy not having to deep-clean a house in preparation for dinner for 30. Also, I don't have to make a turkey. Which is good for everyone.

Pretty much every Thanksgiving of my married life has been the same. I eat, I visit, I enjoy. And I bask in the delight of the coming Christmas season. In theory, Christmas is my favorite time of year. I like the colder weather because I can wear cute sweaters and pants that hide my ever-expanding butt. (Side note: Having been pregnant in both summer and fall/winter, I vastly prefer winter so far because it's a lot easier to look chic and polished when you're working with pants, rather than capris and skirts that show off your pregnancy-induced cankles and varicose veins.)

I love the lights and the snow and the hot cups of apple cider. I love buying gifts for the people in my life, and I especially love searching for the gift that I just know will make their day. I love the wrapping. I love the baked goods (refer back to expanding butt). I love the music. I love the decorating and the parties and the friends. I love, love, love it.

In theory.

But sadly, theory and reality don't often seem to match up. Need an example? Ok, in theory, laying out clothes for the day for myself and L the night before saves time. Simple, right? In reality, morning comes and I dress myself and L in the clothes I've laid out the night before. Then I give L his banana and sippy cup of milk. L turns his sippy cup upside down and pounds the spout on his highchair tray until pools of milk form. When he reaches across the tray for his banana, he soaks his sleeve in said milk pools. Then, he mashes the banana in his hand, puts it in his mouth and smears it in his hair and on his face.

In reality, instead of being 5 or 10 minutes ahead because I've pre-selected his outfit, I'm actually 15 minutes behind because I have to once again wrangle his squirmy, uncooperative body, take off the now dirty clothes, mourn the fact that those perfectly clean clothes are now relegated back to the overflowing laundry basket, search for new clothes (which, depending on how long ago laundry was done, can take a significant amount of time - thus the PURPOSE of setting out clothes the night before) and somehow put them on L's person. And if I'm being honest, reality also includes hastily smearing a wet paper towel over his face, hands and hair and combing his mysteriously golden locks over the places where the banana was a bit more stubborn.

So there's just one example of how "theory" and "reality" don't even out. Back to the point.

Around Thanksgiving, I get all swept away by the "theory" of December. In theory, I'll have endless evenings where I can sit with D, warming my hands on a mug full of hot, delicious cider, talking and cuddling and watching Christmas movies by the glow of the fire and Christmas lights (aka my definition of bliss). In reality, every second of every day seems to be booked to the gills, leaving no time for fire gazing and cider drinking.

This year is particularly mind-boggling. I know it seems obvious why I would be much busier this year - I have a one year old. But really, I can't blame it on L. D and I made a commitment to each other that we would not get carried away with the unnecessary hullaballoo of the season, especially since L won't remember it. We aren't going berserk buying him tons of gifts. I saw this little rhyme someplace online - "Something to play with, something to read, something to wear, something you need" - and D and I agreed that it was a great way to keep ourselves in check. So we bought L one thing to fall under each category and that was that.

And even still, this year seems to be nothing short of pure madness. D and I don't buy each other a ton for Christmas, and we try very hard to stick to a feasible budget. (Actually, we kick butt at sticking to our Christmas budget, and I had to throw that out there because it's just about the only budget we somehow manage to stick to and I want to pat myself on the back a little.) And every year seems to follow a pattern. Right around Thanksgiving, when all the sales start showing up, D will usually decide that he never buys himself anything and that right before Christmas is the perfect time to go out and get himself a few things he wants. Right before Christmas. Right when I want him to give me a list of things he wants so I can buy them for him as presents. Knowing this about my husband, I usually can just go out and buy him whatever I want him to have, since he seems to think that it's a-ok that he is his own Santa.

This year, I finally saw fruits from all the nagging and teasing I subjected D to about his habit of buying himself presents at an extremely inopportune time. D has not bought himself a single thing. But not really because he listened to me; more-so because he couldn't commit to wanting anything specific. So instead of doing what I usually do and making my money stretch as far as possible at my annual outlet shopping trip with my mom, I waited until he could tell me what he wanted, thinking it would be a bigger gift that would use most of his budget.

And do you know what he wants? A wallet. That's it. A wallet. That's all he could come up with. So now I'm scrambling to not only figure out what else to get him, but also find the time in which to do it. No small task. I literally had to pull out my calendar this morning, grab some paper and do a good deal of creative planning. And basically what I could come up with was shopping on the 3 lunch breaks I have between now and Christmas that do not have meetings or appointments or work lunches scheduled. Now if I could get those 3 hours in one chunk, it might be productive, but having them spread out over 3 different days? Not so much.

And the decorating the house and putting up the tree? Unfortunately, it's become something my mom and I are trying desperately to "squeeze in". We both had to come together and enforce an iron-clad blocking off of this Sunday afternoon (in addition to the baking I need to do in lieu of gifts for my bosses and co-workers) because if we don't do it then, we seriously doubt it will happen at all.

Which makes me sad, because decorating for Christmas has always been one of my most favorite things to do. So I'm vowing to myself that it will be a cheerful, enjoyable time. I'm going to make sure there's Christmas music playing and a ban on any Grinchy moods will be enacted. No irritation, frustration or general unhappiness allowed. And of course, hot cider will be made. We will have fun decorating the house for Christmas if it kills us.

Then there are the Christmas cards. I actually really wanted to do Christmas cards this year, but the universe seems to be working against me in this one as well. I had planned to do a photo card with a printed message on it so that I didn't have to do anything but stick the card in the envelope and address it.

But that means there has to be a good, holiday-ish photo to use, and since there was no way in the world I would ever get D to agree to professional holiday pictures, it would be up to us (us = me) to come up with something. Unfortunately, our camera is one small step up from a rock, and the quality of pictures it takes is not so good. Further unfortunately, we don't have the $600 it would take to buy a semi-decent SLR camera that takes better pictures. And perhaps most unfortunate of all, I can't even find the crappy camera that we already own. Needless to say, all of this combined with the fact that it's already December 7 means it's not looking good for the Christmas cards this year.

This morning at work, I realized just how stupid I've been rendered by all the hustle and bustle (and I mean "stupid" as literally as possible). I have a new boss (and I know I'm not allowed to talk about work because I don't want to lose my job, but I have to say - you know those distant "Hallelujah" choruses you've been hearing and you can't figure out where they're coming from? Yeah, it's me.) and it's been a little crazy for me trying to help him get settled into our office.

One thing I had to do was order him a wall clock. So the clock comes this morning and I'm taking it out of the package and getting the time set and everything. And I get it to the right time but the hands aren't moving. And I'm looking all over the clock, trying to figure out why the heck it's not working, and I'm reading the little pamphlet that came in the box, trying to see if there's a special tab I have to pull or some magic words I have to say to get it ticking. And I'm getting pissed off that the pamphlet doesn't have any instructions on how to set it or how to get it going, because it's not like it's common sense or anything.

Want to know why the stupid clock wasn't working? It didn't have a battery in it. I. Am. An. Idiot.

I am going to make a conscious effort to take it a little bit easier and not put so much pressure on myself to get everything done. What gets done gets done, what doesn't, doesn't. This is usually the attitude I adopt approximately 2 or 3 days away from whatever event is stressing me out, when I'm completely fried and my brain is on overload and I'm ready to burst into tears at the smallest thing. But I'm going to adopt it early and give myself a break.

I want to enjoy Christmas this year, and every year in the future. I don't want to be the scary mommy who yells and self-medicates with cheap wine from Kroger. (Well, I don't want to be the scary mommy who yells, anyway.) So I'm resolving to be more go-with-the-flow, less crazy lady from the Target commercials.

We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The one in which I explode celeb gossip everywhere

Ok, I know this is not a celebrity gossip blog. It's supposed to be a blog about how I work and I'm a mom and I write memos and all that.

Unfortunately for you all, you are a captive audience (if the word "captive" means that you could literally click the 'x' in the right-hand corner at any time and stop reading the words I write that occasionally form sentences and make sense). Further unfortunately for you all, I suffer from a severe shortage of people in my daily life who care as much as I do about celebrity gossip. Scratch that, I suffer from a severe shortage of people in my life in general who care as much as I do about celebrity gossip. And reality t.v.

So because of this shortage, you are now going to suffer. Because I'm having lots of thoughts about lots of celebrity gossip right now and D literally could not care less and anyone that might care a little, tiny bit is working right now or otherwise unavailable. Or they don't exist. You decide which. Either way, this post is going to be a big, old jumble of what I think about current celeb gossip. Merry Christmas early!

Jake Gyllenhaal and Taylor Swift: I am calling BS and blowing this shiz wide open. This is huge for me. Normally, I tend to be very trusting of relationships with evidential proof (such as canoodling caught on camera and run on the cover of US Weekly). I'm not so trusting that I'll believe what Star Magazine prints, but I assume it's only a matter of time. Anyway, despite my very trusting nature, I can't bring myself to believe all these shenanigans about this alleged relationship between Jake (29) and Taylor (20).

For one thing, though I don't know him personally, I feel like Jake is something of an intellectual. Not saying that Taylor is not, but there's a huge difference between an intellectual 29 year old and an intellectual 20 year old. And I can't really imagine what they talk about.

For another thing, Jake's last girlfriend was Reese Witherspoon, a 34 year old, divorced mother of two. They were together for a long time (long according to Hollywood standards, anyway - like 2 or 3 years, I think). Taylor's last boyfriend was Taylor Lautner, the 18 year old guy from Twilight who makes grown women feel guilty for being attracted to a kid who could still technically be attending high school. I don't even think I need to expound further on this one, it speaks for itself.

Finally, Taylor's new album just dropped and Jake has a new movie that either just came out or is coming out this weekend. Nothing like the free publicity a "relationship" can give. Bam. Case closed.

Mariah Carey is Pregnant: Ok, so maybe I'm stretching it on the "current" part, since this is relatively old news. But even though I'm not a super huge fan of Mariah Carey, I am happy for her. I know she's struggled with fertility issues and miscarriages and has been talking for years about how she wants to have a baby. Having been there myself, I found myself really pulling for her to get her wish and get pregnant.

And when she was photographed stepping out in a dress from A Pea in the Pod this summer (yet still denying she was pregnant), I knew she must be pregnant because when you've been trying and trying to get pregnant and have had miscarriages and all that, you try not to even look at - let alone wear - maternity clothes. I was happy when she finally confirmed the rumors that had been swirling for months, and am happy for her still.

And lucky for her, if anyone tries to pull any of the "just wait till the baby is here" crap on her to rain on her parade, she can laugh in their faces and introduce them to the 3 or 4 baby nurses she's hired to help her so she can still get her beauty sleep. And even further in that train of thought, she probably pays people to only say nice, happy, positive things to her, so she probably doesn't even have to deal with those "friendly" warnings.

Kim Zolciak is Pregnant: Ugh. Someone please stab me with a pencil. If you don't know who Kim Zolciak is, I am both sorry and happy for you. She's a Real Housewife of Atlanta, and a big, hot mess. (Also, I realize that my writing about her here gives her credit as a "celebrity", but please know that even I am aware that labeling her as such is a huge stretch.) She already has two daughters who are something like 13 and 8, and they are both SPOILED with a capital SPOILED. Kim is a train wreck who is so clearly a gold digger that she's about 2 seconds away from getting a custom neon sign to hang over head that reads "Sugar Daddies Welcome".

Her latest victim is a 25 year old NFL-er whom she met while filming an episode of Real Housewives. Kim claims she is 32 (I'd like to see some ID, please), so it's not a huge age difference, but still. You gotta feel a little bad for this guy. He's young, obviously naieve, and most of all, an idiot. Judging from the fact that she's managed to stay un-pregnant during her years-long relationship with her mysterious married boyfriend, I'm willing to bet at least $5 that Kim got pregnant by this football dude on purpose. Maybe even $10. Bottom line: she is icky.

Two of Kate Gosselin's Kids May or May Not Be Expelled from School: This whole situation just makes me sad. I've tried to watch Kate Plus 8 a few times, and all it did was make me want to punch Kate in the solar plexus (yes, I had to look up how to spell "solar plexus") so I had to stop. Watching her flirt with the guys who were power washing the siding on her house while simultaneously ignoring her children (or yell at them when they tried to talk to her) was too strong a trigger for my vomit reflex.

The thing with Kate is that I really feel for her sometimes. If you go back to the original episodes of Jon & Kate+8, she really was a different person back then. She was harried to be sure, but she seemed much happier. She was slightly more easy-going, a little bit fatter and decidedly more badly dressed. Jon was less of a douchelord robot back then, too, so I'm sure that helped matters. But it seemed like once she got her free tummy tuck, everything started going to her head. And we, the American people, witnessed the crumbling of her marriage from our couches.
So yeah, maybe she shouldn't have put her kids on tv like that, but I am not sure I wouldn't have done the same thing if put in her place. I mean, probably not, but still. If someone from TLC came up to me and told me that they wanted to film my life and pay me lots of money that would ensure a certain amount of financial security for my suddenly huge family, I might have a hard time saying no to that.

Anyway, in addition to getting long-winded, I'm also getting away from the point of all this. Her children are acting up in school. It is painfully obvious that they don't even know what to do with themselves in all this backlash and hoopla about their parents' divorce and the fact that their entire lives have been viewed by millions and are organized into episodes rather than years. And what does Kate do? She runs to Entertainment Tonight to give them an interview about all the details.

I think it would be better for those kids if Kate would just pull the plug on all this TLC business, take her kids out of the limelight, and go back to being a nurse. Meanwhile, she should milk douchetastic Jon for as much child support as she can get. Will this mean a significant cut in their standard of living? Absolutely. But I'm pretty sure Jon is a walking billboard for Ed Hardy, so that has to generate some type of solid revenue. And anyway, I personally know lots of families who have more children and waaaaay less money, and they do just fine for themselves. In fact, their annual income is probably about what Kate spends on tanning and personal trainers. You know, the real bare necessities of life. Clearly, I could keep going on this one. I could probably dedicate an entire series of posts to what I think about the Gosselins, but I am going to force myself to stop here on this one.

The Kardashians in General: What can I say? I love them. I know you probably think a lot less of me now. I'm sorry. They are famous for being famous, and I have to respect that about them. They're not annoyingly famous for being famous like Heidi and Spencer (both of whom I hate down to the very core of my cold, bitter heart). They are entertainingly famous for being famous. They have created a huge empire out of just being who they are. I watch their show (yeah, I admitted it!) and I love it (so there!). They make me wish I had sisters.

I am obsessed with them. I want Kourtney to drop Scott once and for all and move on with her adorable son Mason before it's too late and Scott raises Mason to be just like him. I love Khloe and Lamar and want them to have lots of babies and stay married forever. I want Kim to find some hot star of some type and settle down and be happy. Ideally, she'd settle down with Reggie Bush because, for some reason, I just like the two of them together.

Jessica Simpson is Engaged: This makes me happy. I like her. I loved Newlyweds and was truly sad when she and Nick called it quits. Jess has endured some hard knocks from the media about her weight, and that automatically endears her to me. Finally, a celebrity who ACTUALLY struggles with her weight. Not like those annoying waif biotches who are all like, "Oh my gosh, I eat soooooo much all the time, I just have a high metabolism." Whatever.

Whenever Jess would get into a relationship (I suspect her of being a serial monogamist), I'd hope against hope that it would work out for her. And whenever the relationship would inevitably go kaput, I'd be sad for her. So even though I also strongly suspect the timing of this engagement (since Nick Lachey coincidentally also got engaged the week before), I will push those concerns from my mind and just be happy that she is hopefully happy and in love.

And that's all I've got right now. I hope you weren't too bored. I promise not to make this a regular occurrence, but out of consideration for my dear husband, I decided it would be best for our marriage if I got all this out to the dark abyss that is the internet instead of subjecting him to my thoughts and being met with a disappointing, "I. DON'T. CAAAAAAAARE."

I can't promise I won't do this again, though, so every time you stop by my blog, it will be like Russian Roulette. Will you get a blank or will you get a bullet? There's only one way to find out.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First Birthday Parties......Again

I've officially earned my Girl Scout badge in throwing 1st birthday parties. And it's not even over yet. I'm earning another one this weekend because it's L's First Birthday: The Sequel on Saturday. And even though The Sequel has not happened yet, I already feel like it's taught me so much about what I did wrong the first time around.

Let's briefly recap, and you, too, can learn from my experiences. (Unless otherwise stated, it can be assumed that everything in the "wrong" category was done for First Birthday: The Original. Everything "right" will be done/has been done for First Birthday: The Sequel.)

Wrong: Stress out about decorations. Spend hours scouring the internet (with special attention paid to Etsy) looking for cute, unique themes that no one in your circle of family/friends has recently used and then torture yourself by trying to figure out ways you can duplicate the adorable and professional-looking decorations yourself for cheaper.

Right: Order 1 dozen balloons from Party City in a specific color scheme, buy streamers that match and call it a day.

Wrong: Research every cake bakery in a 30-mile radius to try to find the one that can best-match the vision in your head. It's helpful if the people at the bakery can also read minds, since you'll likely have great difficulty communicating the vision in your head. Try unsuccessfully to convince your husband that it is not uncommon, immoral or just plain wrong to spend $200 on a birthday cake for a one year old. Drag out the entire process for so long that you eventually realize you don't even have time to commission a professional cake and resign yourself to making cupcakes. But promise yourself that you'll decorate them with your fancy piping gun and envision how impressed everyone will be that you made those delicious, professional-looking cupcakes.

Have an emotional breakdown the night before the party when the frosting is too thick for the piping gun so you'll just have to spread it on in the old boring fashion but the cupcakes are still a little crumby on top so you just end up ruining half of them and they look like hell. Half-heartedly select the least-terrible looking cupcakes to display in the cupcake trees and put the remaining cupcakes on a tray out of sight.

Right: Plan to make cupcakes from the start. Realize in advance that homemade cream cheese frosting will be too thick for the piping gun and let yourself off the hook by purchasing store-bought whipped frosting. Assume that they will come out looking terrible and be happy and surprised when they don't look that bad after all.

Wrong: Convince yourself that, because you are punking out and not serving an actual meal, you need to make some kickass appetizers that both look incredibly impressive and taste like little morsels of heaven. Comb every recipe and cooking website you can think of for said appetizers, and try not to think about the fact that you are spending your monthly grocery budget on ingredients for party snacks. Get stressed out by the thought of trying to prepare all these appetizers and the worry of "what if they aren't good?" and cope by ignoring the food entirely.

Have a panic attack three days before the party when you realize that you were ultimately successful in your mission to passive-aggressively forget about the food and frantically go back online to re-find all those recipes. Get 100% overwhelmed and defiantly relay a mental message to your guests that they'll be getting cupcakes and taco dip and they'll like it, and if they don't they can leave. Still manage to be crabby and surly and stressed beyond definition the day of the party as you prepare the significantly narrowed-down menu. Be mean and snappy to your husband, mom and brother as they simultaneously try to help you and not set you off like the minefield that you are.

Right: Ask your mother-in-law what she thinks we should do regarding food for the party. Happily and heartily agree with her when she suggests ordering in party subs. Do not prepare any other food, in the realization that people love subs and no one will ask to your face why there was not more food. Further realize that no one will likely ask why there was not more food behind your back, either. Enjoy the knowledge that the hours before the party can be spent relaxing and sucking a bit of weekend out of your Saturday morning instead of running around like the proverbial headless chicken.

So just a little bit of my hard-won wisdom for you today. It should come as no shock that I'm feeling much more at ease and relaxed about The Sequel than I felt about The Original. I might actually be able to enjoy it rather than having to race to the bathroom to practice deep breathing, tone down my crazy eyes and paste a happy smile on my face.

And to my family, who put up with my psycho-ness and didn't even say a word about it after the party was over: thanks. I can't imagine how psycho I would have been if you hadn't been around.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What moms are really thankful for

Ok, I confess - I stole the title of this post from an article I saw on Yahoo. I was hoping for a light article about the little things that make us mommies happy, but it turned out to be more serious things about being happy for a husband whose cancer is in remission and coming to terms with/loving your postpartum body.

So I thought I would take it upon myself to write about the more trivial things that makes this mommy of a one year old (!!!) and a half-baked bun in the oven happy.

Toddler-safe items that keep your kid occupied for longer than 30 seconds - Up until very recently, this item for L was an empty Quaker Oats container. L looooved that thing. He would put anything that would fit into it (including but not limited to: my cell phone, my shoe and the remote to the tv), then try to put the lid back on.

He also loved to chew on the lid, which is what ultimately what led to the demise of the good old Quaker Oats container. Though sturdier than I initially thought, the cardboard in it was not designed to withstand hours of baby gumming. And once the lid was gone, L was no longer interested. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we'll be able to replace it any time soon because I'm pretty sure I could eat oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for two weeks and still not finish an entire container of Quaker Oats.

Diaper/clothing changes that don't require the SWAT team - I'm not talking about the contents of the diapers (since I'm pretty sure we'd need a HazMat team instead of the SWAT team for that). I'm talking about the physical process of changing my child. It has quickly and easily become one of my least favorite things ever. Despite any and all attempts to distract L with toys, songs, games, whatever I can think of, he hates being pinned down. And he protests by screaming as if being tarred and feathered, in addition to flopping all over the place and acquiring Hulk-like strength out of nowhere. So when I can change his diaper and/or clothes without having to call for back-up, it's that kind of simple pleasure that can completely turn around a bad day.

The random sleep-in - This is especially glorious when it falls on a weekend day (read: almost never). That Saturday morning when I wake up with the sun streaming through my window, listening to the sound of silence. I roll over to peer at the clock and see that it's 8:15. The angels burst into a joyful chorus as my well-rested head flops back on my pillow and I bask in the peaceful world of half-sleeping/half-awake until I hear L start to stir in his crib. And then I just lay there and listen to him babble and play, seeing how long I can wait him out until he starts crying. That, my friends, is the dream.

The reality: The random sleep-in occurs on a Tuesday morning. I've slept through both my alarms and I wake with a jolt to see that I should be arriving at daycare to drop L off at that very minute. L, my alarm who will not be ignored, is passed out cold in his crib, and I curse the fact that I have a job that requires me to arrive at a certain time, thus further requiring me to go against old wives everywhere and wake a sleeping baby. These are the days that I'm not so thankful for the random sleep-in. But we'll file it under the thankful category anyway.

The smiles and good mood when there should be a melt-down - This happened to us recently, at L's birthday party. I had been running around like a bat out of hell for two days trying to get everything ready for the party that I promised I wouldn't stress about. I had reached and surpassed my breaking point and was snapping at everyone in sight (and maybe picked a humongous fight with D, which possibly was so loud that my mom and brother turned on the football game at top volume so they wouldn't hear us). L had only napped for 45 minutes, and even though he was in an ok mood, it looked like all systems were gearing up for Mr. Cranky-Pants who cries and fusses whenever the slightest thing does not go his way.

But it turns out, my kid loves attention. I already kind-of knew this, but I don't think I knew the extent. Once everyone arrived, he was in his element - smiling, waving, clapping, dancing. I'm sure it didn't hurt that we let him eat his weight in cake. It was an enormously pleasant surprise, because I'd already been mentally preparing the apologetic way I'd say to our guests, "I'm so sorry for the tantrums. Someone didn't get a good nap today. And neither did L."

Note: This scenario especially applies for places like church and restaurants. When your kid is on his best behavior in these kinds of settings, it's nothing short of awesome.

When all the socks from the dryer have a mate - I'm sure people other than moms enjoy when this happens. Socks have got to be the most annoying piece of clothing in the world to wash, especially baby socks. They are tiny and seem to get lost far more frequently than adult socks. I hate them. So it's no small thing for me when I am folding a load of laundry and do not have a single baby sock unmatched. I think this has happened a total of one time so far. No small thing, indeed.

Offering new food and having it be accepted - In the latest "my kid is my husband's clone" news, L is turning out to be a rather picky eater. Just like D, he has a limited repertoire of preferred foods, and he seems to be hellbent on sticking to them. It's actually really easy to remember: if it's a carb or if it's cheese, it's all good. Bonus points if it's a cheesy carb, a la mac and cheese. Also accepted are sweets, but that is so obvious that I almost didn't put it here, and it doesn't count because we don't give him much in the way of sweets anyway.

This kid confuses the heck out of me. He literally one day ate almost an entire can of spaghetti-o's on his own, then the next day took one bite of spaghetti-o's and gave me the "OHMYGAWD WHAT IS THIS CRAP?" face. Color me confounded.

So when I can get him to eat something outside his norm, it's a feeling of victory that is hard to describe. This past weekend, I offered him chicken at dinner. And this was some good chicken. Like, the best. Juicy and grilled to perfection. Yum. I pretty much proposed to the grill master on the spot, but since he's my bff's husband, it just wasn't meant to be. But since it did not pass the checklist of approved foods (the opposite of a carb, nary a speck of cheese to be found, and no sugar in sight), L wouldn't even touch it. So mama started wrapping his chicken in garlic bread. And wouldn't you know, it is possible to outsmart that kid every once in a while. He ate like 10 bites of chicken. Score one for the good guys.

Figuring out how some crazy baby gear contraption works - Parenthood in general comes with a huge array of crap that needs to be unfolded, folded down, put together, taken apart, etc. ad nauseum. And every single thing claims to be "easy". You know what I did this weekend? I had to put L's high chair in the van fully upright because I could not figure out how to fold it down. Even though I've folded it down before, more than once. Even though I'm the one who successfully assembled it in the first place. And my friend couldn't figure it out either. So we just loaded it up as it was. And when my friend's husband was able to fold it down for us before we left their house, it was disproportionately exciting for me. I shouldn't have been so happy that we were able to get that highchair folded down, but I was.

So really, with parenthood, it's the little things that we are thankful for. The small victories and sloppy graham cracker kisses and hysterical baby laughter are what gets us through the public meltdowns and tantrums in church. Sure, there's the deeper stuff to be thankful for too, but that stuff happens less frequently. My day-to-day energy tank is filled up by the little things.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pregnancy Brain

I guess it's time for me to face the music. Pregnancy makes me a complete and utter idiot.

There are things - old wives' tales, if you will - about pregnancy that I used to believe were either total myths or, at best, self-fulfilling prophecies. Sure, I am hungrier when I am pregnant, but that makes sense. I am growing a person who has nutritional needs of their own, plus I'm burning calories by actually growing said person. But I'm not really "eating for two" as everyone likes to say. And last time, when I followed that old adage, the evidence of my "eating for two" remained on my jiggly, wobbly body long after L was born.

Slightly related are pregnancy cravings. I can only speak to my own experiences on this one. I will admit that there is some truth to the belief that you crave certain things when you're pregnant. For me, at least, it was more of a "wow, this particular food item sounds really good to me and I've never liked it before now", instead of a "if I don't get a pickle in 5 minutes I will spontaneously combust".

So yeah, I'd have to say that many of the wives' tales regarding pregnancy are more myth than fact.

Except for pregnancy brain. Pregnancy brain is very, very real. Pregnancy brain turns me into the stoopidest person alive.

With pregnancy brain, I am clumsy, forgetful and just a moron in general.

Case in point. In the middle of writing this post, I get a feeling of deja vu, as if I had written something along these lines before. But I couldn't exactly remember, so I went back and tried to find a similar post because I didn't want to write this post if it had essentially already been written. But then I got sidetracked reading all my old stuff and forgot what I was looking for. So if this is a redundant post, please forgive me.

Other reasons I am an idiot:

I am in the middle of coordinating an awards banquet for work. It's a pretty decent sized event, and by far my favorite part of my job. One of my responsibilities is to send out 3,000+ save the date flyers to everyone we are inviting. So I designed this really nice autumn-themed save the date flyer and was really happy with it. We print off a few in color to hand out at meetings and such, but the majority of the flyers are printed in grey scale.

Today, my boss comes up to me with a flyer in hand and says, "We have a bit of a problem with the save the dates." My heart dropped because I was afraid there was some sort of spelling error or something, and I'd be seriously pissed because I proofread the stupid flyer to within an inch of its life.

But no, it wasn't a spelling or grammatical error. Instead, she pointed to the rather large graphic of the maple leaf that was in the lower right-hand corner. On the color flyers, it was obviously a maple leaf. On the grey scale flyers, however, it was a big, fat marijuana leaf. So 3,000+ people now think I'm a pothead.


Then, yesterday I was leaving a work-related message for someone. I briefly outlined what it was I needed, and then I started my usual message wrap-up spiel.

"If you could give me a call back when you get the chance, I'd appreciate it. You can reach me, this is embarrassing, I can't seem to remember my office phone number right now. It's um.....well, hopefully you have it. If I don't hear from you by this afternoon, I'll call you back. Thanks so much! Bye."

Yeah, she never called me back.

The other day, I was zoned out at my desk, trying to figure out some relatively simple math when the phone rang. I picked it up on auto-pilot and didn't start tuning in to what was going on in the conversation till about half-way through. By that point, I didn't really understand what the guy was saying so I just "mm-hmm-ed" and "yep-ed" my way until he mercifully seemed satisfied enough to end the conversation.

The next day, I got a call from some lady named Amy. Amy informed me that I had spoken with her colleague Dave the previous day, and he had put me down as the contact person for my order.

I was like, "Umm...what?" And then she was like, "Oh yes, he told me to contact you with any issues about your toner order and I just needed to confirm your shipping address."

"Uh....I don't recall ordering any toner. I am not usually the contact person for that type of thing, are you sure he spoke to me?" I said, desperately trying to remember what she could be talking about.

Then suddenly, it dawned on me that my space cadet moment from the day before might have landed me in some trouble. So I asked her to recap the order and she said, "Yes, you very wisely were able to lock in last year's price for toner. We have you down for 12 boxes at the discounted rate of $365 per box, instead of the current rate, which is $424!"

I tried not to keel over dead as my brain exploded from trying to mentally calculate how much 12 boxes of toner times $365 per box would cost. I frantically and very ineloquently explained to her that some sort of mistake had been made, I was confused when I spoke with Dave, and we decidedly did not want 12 boxes of toner. Thankfully, I think Amy was not a salesperson because she managed a confused, "Umm.....ok, then. Thanks." and let me off the hook. Dave would likely have tried a lot harder to save the sale, thus furthering my discomfort and embarrassment.

It's really unfortunate that all my idiot moments seem to happen at work. Work is the place where I'm supposed to appear together and competent. I get enough of the falling apart and appearing incompetent as a mom! And as a mom, I generally don't have a huge audience to witness my failures. (L, my one constant witness, so far is luckily not saying anything to anyone, either. A good reason to appreciate the fact that he's still not really talking much yet.)

At work, though, there's plenty of people around at all times to see me fall on my face in one way or another. And why does it always seem to be the same people? Although now that I think about it, it's probably best that a small handful of people repeatedly witness me playing the idiot than a bunch of random people every time. At least it stays contained this way.

Shockingly, I can't remember if pregnancy brain goes away after the baby is born. Which is likely due to my current bout of pregnancy brain. Here's hoping, I guess.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

One year ago today

I have been trying and trying all week to get a post up about eating at restaurants with a very active toddler, but I just can't do it! I started writing it on Monday, and have literally returned to it each day since then, trying to add to it and get it finished and posted. And it's not even because it's bad (which is usually why a post would get the fatal categorization of "draft", never to be heard from again) . There's actually some semi-decent stuff there.

For Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I have no excuse. For today, I actually do have an excuse. How can I write about eating out when today, all I can think about is the fact that one year ago today (currently, it is 11:40 a.m.), I was blissfully unaware that I was thisclose to embarking upon 13 hours of pain, agony and exhaustion that would open up a whole new world of pain, agony and exhaustion (well, ok, maybe not pain and agony but definitely the exhaustion part).

One year ago today, I was almost at my doctor's appointment. The 39 week check-up at which my water would break after my doctor told me I was 2 centimeters dilated and right on track to deliver on schedule.

One year ago right now, I was waddling as fast as I could all over my office, trying to get a huge rush job finished before the work day was over.

One year ago 35 minutes from now, my doctor would laugh and tell me no, I couldn't go back to work, that I had to go to the hospital because I was in labor and was going to have a baby.

One year ago 45 minutes from now, I'd stop at the receptionist's desk on the way out of my doctor's office, pale as a ghost with a stricken look on my face as the receptionist excitedly congratulated me on reaching the end zone of pregnancy.

One year ago 50 minutes from now, I'd call D, telling him I was in labor and on my way home and that we needed to get to the hospital.

One year ago 52 minutes from now, I'd call my mom and break into panicked sobs that I don't know what I was thinking getting pregnant and that I was scared and that I couldn't believe I was about to have a baby.

You get the picture.

How can I focus on a post about L screaming in restaurants when all I can think about are my incredibly vivid memories of the day that changed my life forever?

Compared to all my big life moments, I'd have to say that having a baby was the most life-altering. Yeah, moving out of state for college was pretty life-altering. Sure, getting married was definitely life-altering. But having a baby? It changes things in ways that can never be undone.

In so many ways, I can't believe it's been a year since L made his debut in the outside world. The time has gone by so quickly, all in a blur.

In other ways, I can barely remember my life without him, as though he's been here forever. Well, I take that back. I can remember my life without him, but it's almost as if someone else entirely was the one that lived that life.

And now, my guy is almost one year old. Tonight, I'll put him down to bed a baby, as I have done for the last year (ok, more like the last 9 months or so, after he was sleep trained and could actually be put down to bed for the night). Then, at 1:42 a.m. while the whole house sleeps (and while D works), my baby will turn into a little boy.

And it seems fitting that this morning, when I dropped him off at daycare, he took his first real walk by making it 10 consecutive steps without falling down. I am so happy I was able to see him reach that milestone, as it seems I miss so many while I'm at work.

Tomorrow morning I'll officially be the mother of a toddler.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The one where I'm a sell-out

Over the span of my blogging career (a whole 9 months), I’ve slowly shaped and formed my blog, trying to decide what I wanted it to be. 

When I first got started, I got super carried away in the blogging game.  I wanted to be a “famous” blogger who had double-digit comments on each post and advertisers contacting me about wanting to promote their companies and products on my blog. 

Then I realized how exhausting and time/labor-intensive that whole game was.  After doing a few giveaways, I quickly lost interest in all those shenanigans.  And as honored as I am to have so many followers that I didn’t know personally, the only thing I could think of when I would consider doing product reviews and giveaways was the people that I do know who read my blog.  My friends and family don’t come to my blog to win stuff or to hear my opinions on baby products, unless those baby products were the catalyst in an amusing anecdote. 

Plus, in order to establish yourself as a true “mommy blogger”, you have to really make an effort to reach out to other mommy bloggers and try to get yourself ingratiated into one blogging community or another.  And since I’m working and mommying and pretty much just trying to keep my head above water, I don’t really have time or energy to spend hours each day reading and commenting on other blogs in the hopes that a few of their authors will take notice of my comment and pop over to my blog.  If I’m going to read a blog, I want to read it and comment on it because I enjoy it and because it strikes a chord with me. 

My point in all this is that I decided to make my blog a place where I write.  I decided that it was ok if the only people reading my blog were my friends and family.  I have consciously stayed away from product reviews and giveaways, and have turned many offers down because I didn’t want my blog to become a marketing tool.

But.  I am only human.  And when eShakti, an online clothing retailer, contacted me about doing a product review, I couldn’t say no.  I had seen a few reviews of their site on other blogs, and I was totally taken in by their novel approach to online clothing shopping.  I’m sure we can all agree that it is always a little difficult to buy clothes online because you’re just not sure if it will fit you properly, no matter how familiar you are with the brand you’re purchasing.  The super-cool thing about eShakti is that they will customize anything you order to your specifications.  They even provide instructions on their website about how to take your measurements if you’re a novice like me. 

I’ll admit, the initial motivation for doing this review was totally selfish; I wanted something free from their site!  I wasn’t thinking about how awesome it would be if I could help this company spread the word to my readers and I wasn’t thinking about how I would really be helping my readers out by telling them about this site.  So I responded to the email offer with a “heck yes!” and went to work picking out my free item. 

Small problem, though.  I’m pregnant.  Duh.  What was I thinking?  I figured it was karmic retribution for my selfishness.  I started scanning their website, looking at the absolutely adorable and chic dresses that I won’t fit into for another 4+ months, and I got sad.  But after a few minutes, I stumbled upon this jacket.  (I'm sure there is some way for me to post a picture of it here, but the website won't let me copy a picture and my camera is dead with the batter charger MIA, so I can't take a picture of myself in it.  Though I am wearing it today so if you know me you can use your imagination and picture how awesome I look today.)

It seemed perfect because its only closure was a tie belt, which I could easily loop above my belly.  But I wanted to be thorough, so I perused the rest of the site.  I kept going back to that jacket, and couldn’t get it out of my mind.  And I’ll be honest, I actually took a break browsing because I wanted to be sure that I was making the right decision.  When you're getting something for free, you are a lot more discerning and thorough in making your choice.   

But I couldn’t get that jacket out of my mind.  So I took my belly measurements and requested that they put a little extra fabric in the front so it would cover my belly if I wanted it to.  Then I placed the order and began my eager and impatient waiting. 

They didn’t keep me waiting long, and the jacket arrived in under a week, which is even more impressive when you consider the fact that it’s a custom order.  I fell in love immediately.  The jacket is chic and comfy and sophisticated all in one.  I can dress it down with jeans (or even downer with yoga pants), or I can wear it to work.  And I’ve gotten so many compliments on it.  And I embarrassingly admit that I’ve probably worn it an average of 2 times a week since I received it.  I love it.  We’re involved. 

If you’d like to check their site out, head over to and browse their adorable (and extensive) collection.  And if you find something you like (which I’m pretty sure you will), you can use the code KaYGSP to get 15% off your order.

(I promise not to start doing a million product reviews now.  Also, I have just proven that I can be bought if the price is right.  Give me free stuff with sufficient value and I’m yours.)  

Monday, October 25, 2010

Crustaceans and Freak Outs

If I've learned anything about being a mom, I've learned that there is no shortage of things to freak out about. You have to freak out about your precious little prince's (or princess's, as the case may be) diet.

(Side note, I am regretting ever naming my child a name that ends in an "s" because I've got absolutely no clue how to make it possessive, and it's made me question how to make any word ending in "s" possessive. All my journalism training is right out the window on this one. My adviser would be so disappointed.)

I never dreamed it would be so difficult to feed Junior. I figured, hey basically you feed your kid the fruit of your boob for as long as that holds out, then you possibly move to formula, then voila, they are little people and they eat whatever you eat. Who knew there were all these scary danger red-zone things that babies under one year of age should not eat? Want to make your kiddo a peanut butter and jelly for lunch? Nope, sorry, kiddo could develop a peanut allergy so peanuts must be avoided AT ALL COSTS (but by the time your little precious reaches one year, you will have spent so much time and energy avoiding peanuts that you will be convinced that giving your child peanut butter is like giving them poison and you will watch in fear as they eat their first peanut butter sandwich, expecting them to keel over before your very eyes).

In fact, in writing this post, I decided I would meander on over to my old pal Google and ask him what babies under age 1 should not eat. And you know what? Google is kind-of an a-hole. And judgmental. He came back with all these websites talking about "forbidden foods for baby" and "if you feed your child this, you are abusive and deserve to be stoned to death in a public forum". It's like, Google, how can you tell me not to feed L crustaceans? This could be the only time in his life when he is not particularly attached to crustaceans. Once he sees The Little Mermaid, he's going to be all like, "I don't want to eat Sebastian!" and then it'll be all over. And who the heck are you to ask me how often we really serve crustacean in this house? That is entirely beside the point.

Freaking out about what to feed my kid? Check.

Then there's the whole vaccination shenanigans which I refuse to even go into here because I don't want to start a bloody brawl. And also because I really don't have an opinion on this. Except I do and I'm on the verge of whipping out my soapbox so away from this topic we go.

Anyway, there is plenty to freak out about. Food, shots, babyproofing, blah, blah, blah, GAHHHHHHHH.

And that's just the crap that can primarily be kept between you, your baby and your pediatrician. The stuff that is in the public arena is even more nerve wracking because you have people observing and judging.

Let's take, for instance, the first birthday party. (The fact that I, myself, will be embarking upon the great journey of The First Birthday Party in two weeks is purely coincidental, I assure you.) In my family, birthday parties consist essentially of phone calls all around, telling people to come for ice cream and cake on such a date at such a time. There are no themes, there are no favors, there is generally no alcohol, and people certainly don't come expecting decorations and meals.

But oh, wait a minute. That's an adult birthday "party". Apparently a child's birthday party is an entirely different beast. Apparently, for a child's birthday party, you have to transform into Money Bags McGee and Martha Stewart simultaneously.

I am not kidding. If you dare, return to Google and plug in "first birthday party ideas". Then, if you happen to also be a first-time mom with a first birthday party coming up, grab a paper bag and either throw up into it or practice taking soothing breaths.

It is absolutely insane what some people do for first birthdays. Things that I never would have even considered are at the forefront of these people's minds (and nervous breakdowns). Bouncy houses? Favor bags? Pony rides? An open bar???

To each his own (really, I mean that), but let me tell you a few things about these other people. Well, one thing really. The main and entirely overwhelming factor that makes me different from these people: I am married to D.

When I asked D what our budget would be for L's party, he looked at me like I had just invented the word "budget" and he was like, "Um...$5? Isn't that how much cake mix and frosting costs? Even if you get the really good kind?"

When I asked him if it would be possible to negotiate that budget, he said, "Seriously, what could you possibly need for his birthday?" And then I started to list all the things that Google told me.

"We need snacks, drinks, a professionally done cake and smash cake, invitations, decorations, L's party outfit, thank you cards..."

And he cut me off and said (in his "patient" voice that he uses when he thinks I've gone off the deep end and he's relishing being the sane person in our relationship), "Katie. Listen to me. He. won't. even. remember. it."

And I laughed maniacally and said, "Oh babe, you are so silly. There you go thinking that this party is about him."

But as the party day draws closer, I have to confess that I am much more prone to be taking his point of view on this one.

The other night, I suddenly realized that the party is actually not that far away, and I started to freak out because I had not given it a whole lot of thought. I mean, I had thought about it, but it always seemed super far away so I didn't spend too much energy on actual execution of those thoughts.

Like a madwoman, I got out paper and a pen and tried desperately to brainstorm cute and unique decorations that all my...I mean L's...guests would adore and compliment. I gathered some thoughts and ideas, then went to talk them over with my mom to see if she could offer further inspiration.

As I was talking a blue streak, an amused look crossed over her face. I stopped in mid-sentence and said, "This won't even matter in the end, will it?"

The amused look changed to one of "Ah, she's got it!" and my mom said, "No, it really won't." It was an epiphany, if you will.

So here's what's going to happen. There will be no professional cakes. I am making some killer cupcakes and using my fun Pampered Chef decorating gun that I haven't gotten to try yet. L will have a small smash cake that is also homemade. I am going to decorate a little here and there, and L has a onesie from Kohl's that says, "My First Birthday". That's it.

No ponies, no favors, no 4-course meals, no Martha Stewart-worthy table displays. It's just too much for me. We don't have the money, and as D said, L won't even remember it.

Instead, I've decided to savor these years where we'll be able to get away from a birthday party relatively unscathed financially. (This also includes Christmas presents.) Soon enough, L will be wanting to invite 15 of his closest friends to a Mom and Dad sponsored hullaballoo at Chuck E. Cheese, and then the real trouble will start. (And he'll still be too young to understand the reasoning that we could get way better pizza for way cheaper somewhere else and just go play in the McDonald's play place instead.)

I'm going to live it up now while the living is good, and simply take strategic pictures so I can look back with L years from now and be like, "Wow, wasn't that 1st birthday party great? You had so much fun. Oh, you don't remember? Believe me. It was awesome." And he'll believe me because he'll have no other option.

So strike "1st Birthday Party" off the list of things to freak out about. I refuse to give in to the urge to go psycho about this. Why waste the energy, when other things like eagerly awaiting the day when I can give L his first crustacean clearly need more of my mental time?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

7 TV shows I just don't get

You can call me a lot of things, but when it comes to my tv watching habits, "discerning" would not be an appropriate word. I will watch just about anything. House Hunters? Yes, please. The Real Housewives? Any day, any time. Teen Mom? Oh heck yes. Top Chef? A double helping of that one, if you don't mind.

But believe it or not, there are some shows that I simply can't get into. Some shows have even received my concerted effort, but to no avail. See below.

1. Dancing With the Stars - This one is a total anomaly. I should LOVE this show. It has everything I normally enjoy in a reality show: "celebrities", competition and the chance to judge others' performance in a field of which I know absolutely nothing. And yet, without fail, I find myself totally bored 5 or 10 minutes into any given episode. I initially tried to get into DWTS last season when Kate Gosselin was competing.

I tried to watch one episode live, but the producers at the show were smart and kept Kate's performance till last because they knew everyone was tuning in to watch her fall on her face and to see if we could pick up on any of the much-rumored drama between her and her dancing pro. It didn't take me long to realize that nothing in the world was worth sitting through the entire show to wait for her performance.

I tried again this season because my mom likes the show and I figured that it would be something we could get into and watch together. We already both watch Project Runway, but this season is almost over and I wanted to have something waiting in the wings. Even with my mom fast forwarding through most of the show (except the actual dancing and judging), I had my laptop out in like 8 minutes because I was so bored. I'm pretty sure it was the first time since L was born that I have been able to use the word "bored" to describe myself, and I didn't like it because it wasn't even the fun "bored" like when you have the whole day with nothing scheduled and no ideas as to what to do. And these days, that qualifies as heaven instead of bored in my book.

2. The Bachelor/Bachelorette - I watched the entire last season of The Bachelorette because my BFF Barb (who lives in another state) asked me to so we could watch it apart then text about it the next day. And the warm, fuzzy feelings I have for her were just about the only things that got me through to the end. Call me old-fashioned, but I still have a really hard time not seeing a girl who makes out with and/or sleeps with different guys every single day as a slut. The same would go for The Bachelor with his harem of women, except then he'd be a douche and a skeeze.

Plus, I like to watch competition shows where I actually believe that the people competing are there because they desperately want the end reward. On Top Chef, these people really love cooking and are mostly there to further their cooking careers. But I just couldn't believe that the dudes on Bachelorette were really there to find true love. It would be more realistic if it was a show about who could be the first to give Ali an STD.

3. Seinfeld - It's not really fair of me to add this show to my list since it's not around anymore to defend itself. But this is like the all-time pinnacle of shows I just don't get. I know TONS of people who totally dig Seinfeld, and when I ask why they are like, "It's funny!" I am either way over-thinking this show or I'm too stupid and it all goes over my head. But since so many people I know feel so passionately about this show, I don't want to offend them by dissecting why I hate it so much. So I'll just say that I don't like it and we'll leave it at that.

4. Mad Men - D and I had heard so much hype about this show that we decided to Netflix the 1st season and watch it together. This was before our current favorite shows (Parenthood and Sons of Anarchy) had come around, so we were looking for something we could both enjoy. We had pretty high hopes, I'll admit, which usually leads to disappointment. Like finally going to see that movie that everyone said is the funniest movie they've ever seen, only to walk out going "Did I miss the funny when I got up to go to the bathroom?"

This one had such potential. It takes place in a time period that I'm very interested in, I love the clothes the characters wear, and it seemed to have story lines that were complex enough to keep you on the edge of your seat and made you want to watch 4 episodes in a row. Sadly, no dice. Quite the opposite. I still love the era and the clothes, but the story lines were mostly snoozers. D got bored before I did, but soon even I couldn't bring myself to finish the season.

5. Entourage - Pretty much the same as Mad Men. Too much hype, not enough substance to keep me interested past the first episode.

6. Lost - I confess, I've never actually watched an episode of this show. So this isn't a fair evaluation. But I get the distinct impression that I would not understand 75% of the story lines in this show. I also have gathered that the series finale was extremely unsatisfying, which seals the deal for me. I don't want to invest a ton of time and interest into a show that doesn't even explain everything in the end. If a show is going to confuse me, it better deliver all the explanations in the end so I can be like, "Best show ever!" and feel really super smart after watching it, even though I was telling myself that I hated it and was confused the entire time I was watching.

7. Any show about little people (aka half of TLC) - I am currently at a loss for what the name of that one show is about the family who have dwarfs as parents and one dwarf and two average-sized children, and I'm too lazy to google it. But I hate that show. Maybe it's the actual family that is the problem, since the mom seems like a real biznatch and the dad is pretty much a buffoon. So blame it on them that I am completely turned off to any show about little people.

I'm sure I could probably find a lot more shows that I don't like or get, but 7 seems like a great place to stop for now. So without further ado, I'm going to end this post abruptly.