October 2009

Documenting the scene

File under: Halloween


Happy Halloween!

I just thought I'd document the exact moment Greta contracted the flu. (I am kidding. I hope! And I'm sure if/when we all get the flu this season it will be from one of her lovely day care friends.)

For those of you not familiar with this tradition, you tie a doughnut to a string, and then some lucky person has to eat the doughnut off the string without using his or her hands.

In other news, I had a great birthday earlier this week. Pat planned to have some friends surprise me at a hibachi dinner. Thanks to illness, most people were not able to attend. My good friend Rebecca was able to attend, though, and it was really great having her there. I haven't had a surprise birthday event since my best friend from the 7th grade, Kristen, threw me a surprise birthday party! Oh, man, that makes me want to scan and post this one funny picture from that party...but where is my scanner?

This is a good segue into the fact that I had been feeling very high and mighty about how organized we were during our move and how quickly I got the majority of our junk unpacked. But I think I hit a wall. Productivity has been at a standstill. I'm hoping to get some stuff taken care of at the old house today, which will either get me motivated again or will possibly put me in a coma - or somewhere inbetween those two things. Wish me luck!



Dying to Get Out

File under: CYOB

Welcome to my portion of the Fall 2009 CYOB Spooktacular!

You are either a regular reader; you did a Google search for mustache patterns, mustache pattern, paper mustache patterns, moustache pattern, or moustache patterns, etc; or you came from The Modern Gal by clicking

You think Kate and Julie should try to open the trunk.

If you fall in one of the first two categories, I highly suggest you start at the beginning.

Julie said, "Okay fine. If we open the trunk, and, like, 5 billion spiders come out and eat us alive I am totally not talking to you at school on Monday." Julie's voice wasn't even wavering. If she had any fear, she had seemingly conquered it.

Kate picked up the key, and Julie snatched it from her hand. Without a second thought, Julie positioned the key in the keyhole of the trunk and turned it one-quarter turn to the right. Julie opened the lid as Kate sort of squinted her eyes to brace herself for the unveiling of the trunk's contents.

Julie chuckled while Kate fully opened her eyes. "See, it's just full of some old clothes and a bunch of mothballs," Julie proclaimed. "And just think, I was sort of freaked out by that Facebook quiz I took the other day that said if I were in a horror movie I wouldn't make it through the first 5 minutes. Cue hockey-mask guy and his instrument of death..."

With that, a demonstrative figure seemed to glide in the room, hands up in the air, while emitting a noise like a growl. He came upon the girls quickly. Kate bolted out of the room with a whimper while Julie said, "And 'Rarrrr!' to you too, big guy. Jazz hands!" She flashed a smile and displayed her best set of jazz hands. The figure then plunged its hands downward, causing Julie to fall to the floor like a rag doll and killing her instantly.

Kate was running and hyperventilating. Disoriented, she ran deeper into the house rather than running in the direction away from it. Suddenly she found herself in what appeared to be her long-deceased grandparents' basement, or at least some bizzaro version of it. There was the bar, the pool table, the gaudy decorations, the beaded lamp, and the orange and black tile, but there were also hundreds and hundreds of mattresses with pale, waif-like people lying on them, some struggling to beckon to Kate, others apparently incapacitated. Kate ran and ran, trying to get past the seemingly never-ending expanse of mattresses and at least find a place to hide and catch her breath. But then Kate caught a glimpse of something else familiar in that basement: Annelise.

Kate stopped and exclaimed, "Annelise!" as if she actually knew the girl, and as if finding her might provide some sort of way out of there. Kate tried to gather her breath to talk to Annelise, yet she stumbled. "Annelise, What is this? Why are we here?" Kate asked. Annelise replied, "This is your home now. You live here with us. Anyone who opens the trunk has to be punished."

Kate said, "But I didn't! I didn't open the trunk. I was just there when Julie did it!­" "Julie was punished too," said Annelise. "This is your punishment." A little girl, who didn't look older than 5, came over, looked directly at Kate with her almost black eyes and said, "You are going to wish you were where Julie is now. Welcome to hell on earth."

"Kate. Kate! KATE! Stay with us, Kate," said a blurry figure in a starchy, white shirt. Kate blinked hard. She struggled to get an oxygen mask off her face and ask, "What happened?" but the words never came. "Kate, I'm sorry, there's been a big carbon monoxide leak at your house. Trick or Treaters came to your door and found, um, your family. Then they called us...you're the only one who made it. We're gonna get you all fixed up, okay?"


Happy Halloween, fools!


Choose Your Own Blogventure...Tomorrow

File under: CYOB

Hey Cats and Kittens!
You may remember Choose Your Own Blogventure, which my friend Nancy Pearl Wannabe organized. I didn't participate in the first one, but I did follow along and thought it was great fun. I did participate in the second one, which had a sci-fi theme. NPW has organized a third CYOB, which is due to "drop" this Friday at 10 AM. With Halloween coming up, the third CYOB has a spooky theme. I have one of the end pieces, so I'll be sure to post links to the starting piece and the one that leads to mine. Please stop by and check it out!

Move update


So, we're all moved! Moving day was Thursday, and it was probably the most productive day of my life - well, with help from Pat and 4 big, strong movers. There were some dicey moments, and I was very much on edge the entire time things were being moved, but all and all things went very smoothly. Almost everything is unpacked now, and it appears that not a single thing broke!

I unpacked Greta's room first so it would be all settled for her when she got home from school. The look on her face was priceless. I really wish I captured it on film. I hope to get pictures of the room itself in the next day or two, and I'll post them. I always find it challenging to find a place that works will for everything, but I've been spending pretty much every free moment getting settled. So far so good. We really love being here. In some ways it feels more like home than the last house ever did (have I mentioned I love this house??), and in others ways I feel a little like we're squatters here (I have been hand washing all of the dishes and haven't used the dishwasher yet - it just feels like it doesn't belong to us).

The first night Pat and I were overcome by how quiet and dark it was. When we turned off the lights in the bedroom it was pitch black. Having a street lamp outside of our window for the last 5 years, even with heavy curtains, it was never completely dark in our room. It was amazing not to hear a sound other than the house noises. The first night it was a bit unsettling, but now I love it.

Friday we worked, which was actually sort of a good thing. I knew if I stayed home I would overdo it, so being at work actually felt like a break. Friday night, when I got home from work, I saw 8 turkeys in my next-door neighbor's yard. When I pulled into the driveway they skittered across the street. That definitely wouldn't have happened at the old house.

What else? The Reeds came to see the house this weekend. We also took a break from the unpacking today to go apple picking. I also spent a few hours at the old house last night to do some cleaning, which was so utterly and completely not fun but very necessary. There were definitely some drawers that hadn't been cleaned in 5 years, as well as areas of floor/wall that hadn't seen the light of day (or the vacuum) - gross.

Cleaning at the old house was definitely the lowlight of the weekend, and when I came home (about 11:15 PM!) I was in such a bad mood. Pat had great news for me, though. The cable guy had come on Thursday (we get basic cable), and we really hadn't had much time to sit down and watch TV yet, but last night Pat discovered that the cable guy totally hooked us up. We have way more channels than usual, including the guilty pleasure channels that I love oh-so much. Thank you, cable guy!

So, I'm sort of rambling and I still have lots to do, so I'll leave it at this and post some photos from apple picking.

Running around in the teepee.

Jumping off the hay bails.

Helping Greta jump off the hay bails.

We had a hard time getting her to leave the play area.

Finally we picked and ate some apples.


Putting the boo (hiss) in ZooBoo

File under: nada mucho


Things have been sort of unfun around here lately, while we prepare for our move (which is Thursday - woot!), and Pat and I wanted to do something fun with Greta today. We ended up going to the zoo for their anual ZooBoo. The weather was great, and of course everybody else decided to go to the zoo too. It was totally packed, which sort of sucked the fun out of it for me, but Greta had lots of fun. I think she might have gotten a bit of my low tolerance for BS, though. When I was sorting through photos I found this one, where she is clearly flipping someone off.

That's my girl. Heh.

Also annoyed by the crowds were the tigers, one of whom ran up and decided to spray some zoo-goers. (A quick and unscientific search on the Internet tells me the spray is a mix of urine and anal gland secretions!) Thankfully we witnessed it from afar. Double heh.


Let me get on my all-natural soapbox for a minute

File under: soapbox

I'm not at all eloquent at talking about this sort of thing, but it's been on my mind for a while and I wanted to get some of this stuff out there. So, I've always been sort of a what-I-don't-know-can't-hurt-me type person (read: apathetic), but once I know something to be true, I tend to get a little compulsive about fixing/avoiding/etc it. In the past I sort of just assumed that companies did the research and made sure consumers (products for babies in particular) were safe. Since having a child and just becoming more of an advocate for my own safety, I've started reading more and educating myself about different chemicals in the things people commonly use everyday (eg, the vessels we drink out of, the beauty products we smear on ourselves). Many of you remember hearing about bisphenol A (BPA) in the news a lot last year. This is the chemical additive that makes very hard, nearly shatter-proof, clear plastics. Some studies came out saying, in a nutshell, that BPA is supposedly carcinogenic, can cause neurological and reproductive issues, as well as other potential problems. Further, the effects are most negative in early development (ie, children younger than 2). Surprisingly to me at the time, the bottles Greta was using - and had been using since she had her first bottle at age 4 months - were made by Avent (a very popular brand name) and contained BPA. I remember feeling very angry and feeling like I wouldn't take things at face value anymore. I blamed manufacturers who used this chemical additive they knew was probably unsafe (in something for babies no less!), but I also blamed myself.
I've been trying to keep an eye on things in the news and change my habits when I hear rumblings about things being potentially hazardous rather than waiting. (It sounds dumb, but I remember hearing, "BPA is probably bad, but, blah, blah, blah..." way before the big study came out in 2008 showing how bad it was, yet I waited to throw out Greta's bottles and other #7 plastics at the house until I heard definitively. Yes, I could kick myself.) I've also been keeping up with some of big websites that help keep me informed of ingredients to look out for, like the Cosmetics Ingredient Review, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and Skin Deep Database. I've also bought (and started to read) the book Not Just a Pretty Face by Stacy Malkan. While it is work looking into these types of things (when I would love to instead be reading about Dave Letterman's affairs, for example), and while it's sort of like these people are the bearers of bad news - and we don't like bad news - it's important.
We've all heard of the Food and Drug Administration, and I think a lot of us assume that many things are regulated that actually are not. Cosmetics, for example, are not regulated. While some substances are banned for use is cosmetics, the US has loose guidelines. (To put things in perspective, the US bans only eight substances for use in cosmetics, while Europe bans more than a thousand. Hello!) Even the biggest maker of baby shampoo, who purport their products to be "pure and gentle" contain chemicals suspected to cause cancer. Read this. J&J's response, essentially, is that there are trace amounts of these chemicals in the products, and even smaller (tracer??) amounts are actually absorbed into the body. Okay, maybe so, but do we want even a tiny bit of this stuff in us and our children? And do we want it going down the drain?? Other companies are making similar products without carcinogens. And while they likely don't suds up like we are used to, and they probably don't have as long of a shelf life, I think it's worth the switch.
I am feeling a little hypocritical at this point because my family is still using plenty of products I know contain some of the ingredients on, for lack of a better name, my No-No List: 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, sodium lauryl sulfate, diethanolamine, and until recently, dibutyl phthalate - and no doubt others I'm not even aware of as being on the No-No List. But the point is I'm trying, and I'm being a more thoughtful consumer. I have heard that people use on average 10 cosmetics a day. I added up my list of everyday items and figured out I was using about 21 a day. Holy crap! Apparently it takes a lot of product to maintain my low-maintenance look. So I have started replacing some of my necessary items (shampoo, conditioner, soap, lip balm) and have ditched a bunch of the products that I don't actually need (stuff my hair dresser guilted me into buying, stuff that looked super sexy on the shelf and beckoned for me to buy it, promising my hair would be fuller, shinier, etc). I was using five (five!) different products in my hair every day, and sometimes more, which, in retrospect seems a little ridiculous. I am down to using 2 (well, sort of 2 1/2 - shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner), and honestly I think my hair looks exactly the same.
So, if you've read this far or even skimmed this far, consider using fewer products, and be more thoughtful about what you put on yourselves and your loved ones. Try to keep a list of ingredients and become label readers. You have to be your own advocate because the alarmist in me is telling you no one else will. Oh, and don't just go by buzz words used on packaging: natural, hypoallergenic, and even organic are all merely marketing speak that have no federal standards governing the use of these terms, and the FDA does not require manufactures to substantiate these claims (in cosmetics at least).
This is sort of a hodgepodge of things on my mind and things I've gleaned here and there. While I haven't said this very eloquently and I may be mistaken in some of my information, I believe all of what I've said to be true, and I encourage you to find out for yourselves.

A beautiful sight

File under: house stuff


Photo courtesy of Mary Shelsby.


Visit to Powers

File under: weekend update


We went to Powers Farm Market today with our good friend Amy. We went early enough in the day/season that it wasn't completely mobbed, which was a bonus.

Of course we fed the animals.

And perused the pumpkins.

And had doughnuts and cider.

And went in the huge tepees.

It was all fun and games until Pat took Greta on the hayride, which was too scary for little girl. Here is a before shot, while she was still excited.

It was a perfect fall morning, aside from the tears from the hayride.


I Hate the 80s

File under: weekend update


Many of you should know this because I have brought the topic up previously, but I hate the 80s. (Ha! After I wrote this I found that I titled two other posts "I hate the 80s." Here and here. I'm nothing if not consistent.) I did not like the 80s at the time, and while I have been desensitized by seeing so many skinny jeans in the last 5 years or so and have seriously been considering buying a pair, I DON'T like 80s throwbacks or the honoring of the 80s in any way. [Deep breath.] BUT our friend and neighbor Sara threw an 80s theme party, and I admit I had fun shopping at Goodwill for our outfits, and I did have lots of fun at the party. I will say there is nothing like 80s clothing/hair/make-up to make me feel like an awkward little tween again, though.

Greta had a BLAST at the party, and I took a lot of photos of her and Pat dancing. There was a strobe light and I did some slow exposures.

Still, my favorite picture is this one, using a flash.

I am hesitant to post this one because, like I said, the 80s do not look good on me, but I appreciate that Sara set up a prom-style background for photos, and we did take one all-fam shot.

(You're welcome.) I will say I am pretty proud my outfit cost a total of $9 (silver high heels included) - woot! But you can be sure it will be going right back to Goodwill.



File under: house stuff


So, we got an offer on the house! I won't give too many details because I can be very superstitious and don't want to hem anything up by saying too much, but things are good! And I dare say I had a good feeling about this from the start. Score 1 for positive thinking.

To celebrate, we wore carrot mustaches. It's an old Reed family tradition (not really).


What else? Ahhh, the new house. We (as in my friend Dottie and I) cleaned the house top to bottom, getting rid of any potential other-people cooties. Pat and I still need to do a ton of painting, and I think our experience painting with Greta a couple weeks ago enforced that we need to paint without Greta in the future. She's cute and all, but her painting skills really suck.

I can't think of anything else notable, so I guess that's it for now. If this post has left you with an empty feeling inside, I suggest you look at the CNN t-shirt about the monster egg again. Or perhaps you could make some Microsoft Paint art and send it to me and I'll post it here.