Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Honk With Caution

Driving home from dropping Laura off at preschool is usually a pleasant drive. It's mostly just driving down one long road with minimal traffic. Today was no different. Until, up ahead, I spotted him. The crazy driver that seems to be appearing with more and more frequency in my town. This time it was a big black SUV, tailgating a work truck in the right lane. I was in the left lane and caught up quickly since he was driving much slower. Just as I was about to pass, I realized with absolute certainty that he was going to get into my lane, no matter what. Who cares that there was a lady in a cute little VW to his left? He was going to do it.

Me, wanting my VW to stay cute and intact, braked as he whipped into my lane. And as my father and husband have taught me, I honked. Not a long honk, just a "hey, dude, you almost hit me" honk. That was obviously the wrong thing to do. He slammed on his brakes and proceeded to flip me off.

Well fine. Whatever. Laura wasn't with me, I knew I was in the right, and it wasn't my eternal soul being jeopardized by the bad language. But this guy was pissed. He was flipping me off so vigorously (I realized he was turned around in his seat while doing it) that his car started to go off the road. Now this was getting exciting! Eventually he swerved back into his lane, and nearly hit the person next to him. But he wasn't done. Now the hand came out the window. Now it was back in the car and he was turned around again. Then he changed into the lane next to me in the hopes of driving along beside me.

Luckily for me, a red light stopped us with him farther behind with him back behind the work truck he wanted to pass to start with! When the light turned green, I used my raw German power to get the heck out of there. Naturally he caught up, honking and flipping me off some more. Serious issues, that guy. Finally he turned off the road. I had the presence of mind enough to get his plate number and called the police (who were so much more helpful this time!) but the most they are able to do is patrol the area where he was driving to look for him. I wish I had called while it was all going on, but I was also concentrating on not getting hit.

So a fun morning. I'm off to run and hopefully not be subjected to any more middle fingers for the rest of the day.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Zombies And Jane Austen, Together At Last

Guess what book I ordered on Saturday? Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! It was my friend Kim who first alerted me that such a book was even being written. It is essentially the Jane Austen classic with some good zombie gore thrown in. I read one of the lines from the book, and thought it was so hysterical that I just had to share.

“Mr. Darcy cut the two zombies with savage yet dignified movements. He then made quick work of beheading the slaughtered staff, upon which Mr. Bingley politely vomited into his hands.”

That is just awesome. They were sold out at the bookstore when I went on Saturday, so it is on order and will hopefully arrive in a week. I will give my review once I read it, but everything I’ve read has been very positive. I can’t wait!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

3 Months Later

I know I just wrote about Moxie, but it was brought to my attention that today is our 3 month anniversary of having brought her home. 3 months doesn’t seem that long at all, yet as anyone who adopts a pet or has a baby can attest, 3 months is also a loooong time. We’ve spent that time getting used to having a dog in the house, figuring out her personality and quirks, and trying to bend her to our will as much as possible. So far that is going mediocre at best. Moxie is a stubborn dog, and fits right in at our house with that sort of personality. But she is also adorable, gentle, funny, and sweet (most of the time). I know some people don’t understand the joy that having a pet can bring, but for us, having Moxie in our lives has really brought increased happiness to our home.

As we gear up for the Army Man being gone here and there over the next few months, I find myself even more grateful for her presence. There is such a feeling of added security and companionship by having a dog in the house. When Laura goes to bed at night, it doesn’t feel quite so lonely. Scary noises aren’t quite so scary if Moxie is there to protect me (although the Army Man and I still can’t decide how much actual protecting she would do). These days, Laura will actually go play in the backyard with Moxie for a bit, essentially giving us a third party in the home to break of the monotony of just Laura and me all day long. And although Moxie causes me grief on a daily basis (like how she is now so obsessed with the animals behind the house that she has to be forced to go to the bathroom), I can’t imagine not having her in our lives. Sure, I can remember what life was before we had her, but I don’t mourn that past.

And to prove what some love, exercise, and good food can do for a dog, I present Moxie from December, and Moxie from a few days ago. The Army Man and I are a little unclear on why we thought she was so cute in the beginning, but we figured we saw what we needed to see to convince us to adopt her.
The current picture of Moxie (which was taken by Laura, by the way) really doesn't do justice to just how different she looks. Her fur has grown with a vengeance and now she has a mane of sorts. Her tail is so fluffy compared to that pathetic little thing she used to have. She has gained at least 8 pounds, which on a dog her size, is pretty significant. She just looks and acts so much happier. It's hard having a rescued dog, because I think aspects of her past will haunt her for the rest of her life. Dropping her off for a bath has become a heart-wrenching ordeal. Each time she resists so strongly that I am convinced she must think I am abandoning her. When I arrive to pick her up, she is so hysterical that she can barely control herself, and has knocked me over more than once. I cringe to imagine what it will be like when we have to board her this summer.

Sometimes Moxie almost seems to have flashbacks to her past, because if she is not listening and we become more stern with her, she turns into this pathetic, scared creature who runs and hides, flops on her back in supplication, or worse case scenario, pees inside. It's much worse if it is the Army Man who is the one trying to get her to do something. She acts terrified of him which is just ridiculous-he would never hurt her. But somewhere in her past, those sort of situations obviously resulted in physical abuse for her, and she can't forget about it. I can only hope that the longer she lives with us, the more she comes to understand that she will always be safe at our house.

So here's to many more years of happiness with Moxie, and I'd better refer back to this post frequently to remind me that I do in fact love her, because so help me, it's 9:19 in the morning and she has already dug a hole in the backyard.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Moxie The Bird And Squirrel Destroyer

Darn Spring, arriving with its chirping birds and chattering squirrels, all seemingly on the same mission-to torture my dog. The Army Man and I could tell from day one that Moxie is a bird dog. It’s obviously in her blood, and according to her, birds are the most exciting thing on the planet. If we’re on a run and she spots one in a yard a few houses up, well you’d better just pick up the pace, because she will literally drag you to that house in an attempt to capture the bird. And if the bird only flies to the next house in its escape attempt, then yep, you’ll be dragged to that next house too. Have I mentioned before that running with Moxie isn’t always that pleasant?

Since Moxie came home with us in the dead of winter, we didn’t really see right away just how hell-bent on capturing a bird she is. Now that the birds are out with gusto, she can think of nothing else. We have a small patch of woods behind our house which is now teeming with wildlife. The birds and squirrels are all so grateful to use our bird feeder, and this has created an unpleasant situation for everyone.

Moxie the bird and squirrel destroyer CANNOT allow any animal to linger in her backyard. They must be chased off, or preferably, caught. If Moxie is not allowed to be outside defending her property, then the only position she can be in is at the back door, looking out menacingly. Every time someone walks anywhere near her, she is sure to go into full body convulsions of excitement, thinking she is about to be let out the back. If she is not let out the back, she starts weeping. When she is out the back, it’s amazing to see her instincts at work. She hides, she low crawls, she sneaks. She is determined. Yesterday she hid on the deck behind the grill and when a bird finally landed, she catapulted herself off the deck through a small opening. She walks on her back legs attempting to see over the back of the fence. She is starting to worry me. She never wants to come inside anymore, something which used to be so thrilling to her that she would wiggle while sitting. Her one-track mind is not allowing her to enjoy life anymore. Normally during the day she would take some naps, look out the front window, play with her toys, and get petted excessively. Now she is obsessed and cannot relax when she is inside.

Today I thought perhaps if I closed the blinds on the backdoor she would forget about everything in the backyard and just lay down. Nope. That actually brought out the whining and pacing. So finally I gave in and let her out the back. I should have had my camera ready, because this time there were TWO squirrels on the premises and she actually threw herself against the fence in her attempts to capture them. When we adopted Moxie, the story they told us about her leaping the four foot fence and returning with dead squirrels to feed her puppies made me tear up at the thought of her being such a devoted mother. In fact, that was even part of the inspiration for her name. Now I know, that just like a used car, every positive attribute of hers is just disguising a negative one. She’s so devoted to her puppies really meant she is so obsessed with wildlife that you will never again have a pleasant day until the winter comes again.

I know what you’re all saying-the backyard is fenced, so just let her stay outside all day if that’s what she wants. But therein lies the rub. Moxie is also a digger. There are creatures underground that require her attention too! Lately she has been so obsessed with the birds and squirrels that she ignores her digging responsibilities for about 20 minutes. That’s a long time for this dog who used to start digging after being outside alone for about 3 minutes. But I can never be quite sure-will this be the time she digs or doesn’t dig? Yesterday she dug up the one lone tree in our backyard, digging so deep that the roots were damaged. She sure is a champion digger, our dog. We’re so proud! I really don’t enjoy going to check on her every 10 minutes to make sure that she isn’t digging. I’d rather she was inside, where I can keep my eye on her. Inside, where she will be at the back door, freaking out.

The Army Man is convinced that soon she will actually attempt to jump our six foot fence. I’m starting to consider injuring a squirrel and putting it in the backyard for Moxie. This afternoon I took the bold and unpopular step of completely removing the bird feeder from the backyard. Moxie the Bird and Squirrel Destroyer is not placated or deceived. She will keep at her post no matter what. Last night she lay there in the dark for about 30 minutes, in a perfectly crouched position, waiting for the kill that will never come.

I would feel bad for her if the whole situation wasn’t so annoying.
Moxie guarding the bird feeder, in one of her more relaxed moments

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I’m excited to finally announce the opening of my shop, Laurora. So far it’s not quite as full as I’d like, so know that there is more to come! I have another quilt in the works and I’m also going to make some simple dresses, hopefully in the next week or two. I’m selling through Etsy, which bills itself as “Your place to buy & sell all things handmade”. It’s a giant website with thousands of crafters selling their wares, and you may find yourself never shopping anywhere else again. When I first discovered Etsy, I spent hours on it, searching through all the wonderful things for sale. I really think Etsy is a wonderful idea-it gives people like me a chance to place things up for sale, and it has also connected me with so many talented sellers that I never would have found on my own.

You do have to create an account to buy something, but it’s just like creating an account to buy anything else online (name and address, essentially). I will warn you-it asks you to pick a name for your profile and your name can’t be changed, so if you ever plan on selling anything on Etsy, choose your name carefully! Most sellers accept payment through PayPal, which is very easy to use. Don’t be intimidated! If you have any questions about Etsy or PayPal, let me know or just visit their websites. There is plenty of explanation offered at both places.

Now, let’s get onto the details about my store. First, I know you’re wondering about the name. It’s a combination of Laura (who else?) and Aurora, also known as Sleeping Beauty. For a long time, Princess Aurora was Laura’s favorite princess and Sleeping Beauty was her favorite movie. Laura once told me she wished she had been named Aurora, and when I was on the spot to think up a name back when I started shopping on Etsy, Laurora was what I came up with. So like I said, your name sticks with you. I actually like it, since I’m not the type to name things something like Claire’s Crafty Creations. Laurora is unique yet sweet. And since I’m the owner, I get to say how it’s pronounced (La-roar-uh).

What I sell is not necessarily unique to Etsy. There are lots of women already selling bibs and blankets, but I think me just being me is what will allow me to be competitive. Simply put-I'm a perfectionist. It’s good for my buyers, since I am so hard on myself and have only offered up things for sale that meet my strict criteria. You won’t see me trying to sell something with crooked stitching, stray strings, or lumpy spots. At the same time, this perfectionism is bad for me since for everything you see for sale, there are probably 3 others I have deemed just not good enough. The Army Man has tried to convince me that everything in my reject pile is just fine, but I think he’s just trying to be nice to me.

But I leave it up to you to decide for yourself if I’ve done a good job. Take a look at what I have to offer. Since I’m still so new to this, I completely welcome any suggestions about my products or the way my “store” is set up. And if you know someone who is looking to buy something for their baby or needs to buy a gift for someone else, I’d appreciate you mentioning my store to them. I’d appreciate the heck out of it. So much so that I will lavish gifts upon you as a way of saying thanks! Just tell your friends to be sure to mention your name in the “notes to seller” section if they purchase from me. Three referrals and a small gift will be in the mail to you!

The link is up at the very top of this post-just click the pink "Laurora". I also have a small little section over on the right which will take you right to my shop if you click on it. Or just use this address:


Monday, March 23, 2009

Inspiration Through Visual Torture

Back in September I decided to face facts. My child had been out of the womb for close to 4 years, and I still looked like I had just given birth. I had not been taking care of myself, and wasn’t setting a good example for Laura. Inspired by my friend Angela, I started running on September 29th, 2008. I followed the Couch to 5K running plan. It’s so simple, and starts out so slowly (60 seconds of jogging followed by 90 seconds of walking) that even I could handle it. In 9 weeks you are supposed to be able to run your first 5K. I did my first one on December 5th. But even with all the running, I wasn’t really losing any weight, and I didn’t feel much healthier. So at the end of December, I stopped buying Pepsi for the house.

Now if you know me, you know I love to drink pop (soda for all of you who are confused and don’t call it by the right name). I especially love Pepsi and was usually drinking a can with lunch, and sometimes another can for a snack. So once I finished that last can in December, that was it. I haven’t bought it for the house since. Of course I always have some if I go out to eat, because I think complete deprivation is both cruel and unrealistic. It was so hard at first. Every day at lunch I missed it terribly. But about 5-6 weeks later, I realized I had stopped thinking about it so much. These days I couldn’t even imagine having it at lunch.

On top of that, I stopped eating out so much, and stopped buying candy for the house all the time (horrors!). And guess what? Six long months later, I finally notice a difference. I’ve shed a few pounds. One of my pairs of jeans is too loose to wear and still look respectable. And the absolute best thing is that the Army Man stated he thinks I definitely look skinner.

I’ll be honest-when I bend over, there’s still plenty of skin bending over the top of my pants with me. I imagine, thanks in part to having been pregnant and in part to my own laziness, that will always be there. I haven’t dropped any sizes in clothing. There is no six-pack, four-pack, or even ½ pack appearing on my stomach. My thighs still slap together when I run (my father-in-law’s wisdom is that the noise one hears while running is people clapping for you, which I wholeheartedly agree with).

But I will let the Internet be my judge. I am about to share two pictures with you, both of which are horrifying and embarrassing. They are my “before and after” pictures, in a sense. I hope that in a few more months I’ll be able to share another “after” picture with you, when that six-pack finally makes its appearance. For now though, you’ll just have to settle for me in all my glory.

The first picture is from May 2007. I debated for a while about whether to share it, because it’s usually preferable not to embarrass one’s self in view of the entire world, and even worse, in view of one’s parents and in-laws. But I hope that everyone (including myself) understands why I’m sharing it. I’m sharing it to show how far I’ve come, to remind other mothers that most normal people don’t lose the baby weight in 6 weeks, and that sometimes, once you’re a mom, you never get back to how you used to be.

So anyway, this picture. Laura is about 2 ½ and me? I look horrible. Yes I know I’m sitting in this picture, and I’m slouching too (sorry Dad!) but you can’t deny that I don’t look all that healthy. This is actually pretty much my most hated picture of myself, and when I first saw it back in 2007 I almost deleted it off of the computer. I’m not sure why I kept it, but I guess I’m glad I did. I only share it with you know because it’s late and my good sense has gone out the window. Please turn away if you are faint of heart.Now, to erase that memory from your mind, my newer self. I also look pretty silly here-odd smile, pale white stomach, weird hair-basically your typical Claire picture. But a definite improvement, right?Is there anyone else out there who needed a little push in the right direction? Did my pictures help? Or are you now throwing up in the bathroom? If you survived this post, check out the Couch to 5K link; it’s really easy to follow and can turn anyone into a runner. Just remember, it took me almost 6 months to really notice a difference. I made a few food related changes as well, but nothing too serious. My overall goal was to have made a noticeable difference in my life in one year, and I think I’m on the right track. If I can do it, you can too! Seriously.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sometimes Cheesiness Is A Good Thing

A few days after my recent post about my unread books, I decided it was high time to actually tackle some of the books on the list. It was late at night and I didn't think it was the right time for something like Jane Eyre, so I picked up The Other Boleyn Girl. I had been promised cheesiness, and that's exactly what I got. And I enjoyed every decadent moment of that delicious cheese.

I majored in history in college, and have always enjoyed historical fiction (insert mandatory shout-out to The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett). One of my most treasured childhood books was about King Alexander III of Scotland and his granddaughter, the Maid of Norway. I used to wish that time travel was possible so that I could go back in time to all of my favorite time periods and witness everything firsthand. So while The Other Boleyn Girl was silly, fluffy, and probably not all that accurate, I had a great time while reading it and got quite caught up in it. I rushed through it in two days and experienced that all too common feeling of euphoria and sadness that one experiences when they finish a book quickly.

Soon after I finished the book, the Army Man brought home the movie version for me to watch (he's sweet that way). We watched it 2 nights ago, and I barfed in my mouth a little while I watched it. It was one of the worst. movies. ever. I love (love!) Natalie Portman and do not care for Scarlett Johansson one bit, but none of that matters since it was horrible. Horrible. Bad acting, not true to the book (which I'm sure the Army Man got tired of hearing me say), and overall it just wasn't a compelling story. It managed to be pretty engaging on the page, but not so much on the screen (I'm tempted to insert a "lost in translation" joke here. Whoops, I guess I pretty much just did).

I'm sad I subjected my eyes to that movie, and I'm bitter because it is threatening to take away the enjoyment I received from reading the book. So I post this in the hopes that I can save even one person from a similar fate. If I can, then I will not have suffered in vain.

While we're on the subject, will I ruin the glory that is Atonement if I watch the movie?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Complain, Complain, Complain

I know nobody likes to listen to other people complain, but hey, I’m Claire. I’d complain to a wall if it would listen. Today has been one of those days, and I figured I’d share with you a few highlights.

--Moxie attempted to tunnel to China today while in the backyard unsupervised. Instead of China, all she got was a foot deep hole and a whole lot of trouble. I had to wash her front paws off since she was covered in mud, and let me tell you, that dog hates getting wet. She flipped out and ran off, through the conveniently open door and into the kitchen, leaving behind perfectly formed muddy paw prints. I felt like I was in a paper towel commercial or something. Thankfully my screaming stopped her from going on the carpeting, but it didn’t prevent her from soaking me with muddy water when she ran back outside.
--Speaking of mud, Laura decided to play in her mud patch while wearing her brand new shoes. They may never recover.
--A cavity that I have had filled 3 (count them!) different times woke me up last night and I’ve been in pain ever since.
--Along the same line, I was standing in the kitchen, minding my own business, when my knee decided that my day wasn’t bad enough and did whatever it is that knees do to reduce their humans into excruciating pain. I honestly was just standing there, contemplating my horrible photography skills, when I nearly collapsed from the pain. Interestingly, it only hurts when I stand around, not when I walk.
--In the past 48 hours I have driven 152 miles doing nothing but small, local errands.

And that is the official end of my complaining. None of those are actually that big of a deal, but you know how it is when everything seems to pile up on the same day. Several other small, annoying things happened as well which probably contributed to me feeling so overwhelmed. Hopefully I will be feeling much better once I watch LOST tonight and eat a whole bunch of SweeTart Chicks & Bunnies.

In other news, if I could learn how to take a decent picture, my Etsy store should be opening in just a few days. If you don't hear from me for a day or two, it's either because I'm working like crazy to get everything ready, or because I jumped up and down on my camera and have gone on the lam rather than explain to the Army Man why I broke the camera we bought to replace the other one I broke a few months ago.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

We wanted to wish everyone a very happy St. Patrick's Day! If you're not wearing green, consider yourself pinched. Laura was very excited this morning to wear the shirt that Nana sent, so of course we had to take a picture. I'm about half Irish, so I know Laura has some in there somewhere. She definitely looked the part today. The Army Man always teases me about taking this day so seriously, but the joke's on him since he is wearing his uniform today, and it's basically entirely green!Moxie got in on the action too, although not very willingly. In the end I just draped a pair of Laura's green dress-up shorts on her. She looked very Irish to me, especially since she seems to be kind of a red head.And I have to share my favorite St. Patrick's Day picture ever, from 3 years ago. This is my sweet baby girl when she was about 17 months old.I hope you all have a great day! It's still so cold and dreary here that I might be tempted to celebrate with some Baileys and coffee tonight.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March Madness

In this particular instance, March Madness does not refer to how mad I am that it has been raining for 4 days straight, or how mad I am that Moxie rolled in the wet grass right after getting a bath, or how mad I am that I spent $235 at the grocery store today. I am talking about NCAA basketball, the legitimate March Madness in which college basketball teams play against each other in the hopes of moving closer and closer to the finals and being the eventual champion. I have no idea what they get if they are the champion. A trophy, I assume. Perhaps a title that declares to the world that they are the NCAA champions and will remain as such until next year when another team takes the title away from them.

You may have caught on that I am not all that knowledgeable about college basketball. But that doesn't matter, because the Army Man's big brother took a chance on me and has given me an opportunity I've never received before-a chance to pick the winners and possibly win the big bucks if I'm the one to correctly predict the most outcomes. That's right, he invited me (the one who doesn't even know what these teams are playing for!) to join his tournament and I'm honored to do so. Too bad I have to pay the $10 to enter-I guess being the Army Man's wife is of no benefit to me in this case.

So today I received my bracket to fill out and send back to him, and I have to admit-it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I certainly didn't want to only pick the top ranked teams. That would make me look lazy, not to mention elitist. You know there are going to be a few good underdogs in the group, and won't I look good if I pick them? There's also team loyalties to take into consideration. I'm sorry to report that I didn't give my alma mater the time of day and left them right where they started, #15 in the West. Sorry CSUN. I moved the Army Man's alma mater pretty far ahead, but in the end, I had to pick Wake Forest over them. Everyone knows that USC is a football college. Or at least, that's what I think.

In the end, I was a lot more loyal to my adopted state of North Carolina than I intended to be. I just can't deny how good our teams are. And my eventual champion was picked because that's where I really, really want Laura to go to school one day. I hope that when it comes time for her to apply, I can mail in a copy of my bracket from this year, and maybe from future years (if Jeremy will allow to play again!), and say, look, I always picked you guys to win. Surely that has to count for something, right? Right? Hello?
[Click to Enlarge]

Nobody better steal my picks, because I researched each team thoroughly, and I know I have predicted every game correctly.

And thanks to Jeremy, for planning and coordinating this entire tournament, and for being so nice as to allow us to play from across the country!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

We Love Math Jokes In Our Family

Yesterday, the Army Man ate pie on Pi Day. I laughed when he told me that and I don't know whether to be proud or embarrassed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Your First Step Following A Car Accident

While driving home today, Laura informed me that after a car accident, first you go to the bank, then you go straight to the doctor. Apparently she saw a commercial for our local chiropractor. I was laughing so hard that I almost crashed the car.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

One Nice Weekend

This past weekend was ridiculously beautiful and warm, and after all of our cold weather and snow, we were more than ready. After a long walk on Saturday morning, the Army Man washed my car (isn't he nice!) and Laura played in a patch of dirt that is awaiting sod. The water from the car washing started to run into her dirt, and before we knew it, she was splashing around in the mud. She had so much fun, and if she was happy about getting dirty, I wasn't going to stop her. Even better, it distracted her from her recently acquired skinned knees, which due to the copious bleeding, did actually merit Band-Aids. All of the heat and exercise was too much for Moxie, who spent most of the weekend in this spot, stealing all of the air conditioning. And for your enjoyment and personal edification, I have some of Laura's early morning teachings to share. On the way to school, she told me:

Trees and bushes are living things, and they live outside. Humans are living things, and they live inside houses. If humans don't want to live in a house, they buy a tent.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Girl And Her Books

I love books. I love reading them and collecting them. I remember reading once that people in the Army should not collect books, since when you move they take up valuable space and weight (you are given a certain weight allowance by the military). I say take the weight that would have been used by all of my non-existent kitchen stuff and transfer it over to my books. I’ve noticed though over the last year or two that I’ve bought and have been given quite a few books that I have yet to read. It’s weird, because I consider myself such a voracious reader, yet I haven’t read a lot over the last few years. I really don’t know why that is.

When Laura was little I used to read a lot and when I worked at the library I was reading all the time. As a child I used to sneak a book into my desk and read it while my teacher was teaching. My sister and I kept books under our pillows to read at night by flashlight. I remember when my Mom found all the books, she kept laughing and said she didn’t understand how we could sleep like that; it must have been so uncomfortable. I don’t remember it being uncomfortable at all; I just remember our batteries in our flashlights running out and us not wanting to ask for new batteries because surely our parents would figure us out!

So obviously, I love to read. Yet the total number of unread books on my bookcase is 13. I really don’t like having books on my bookcase that I haven’t read, so I guess the only solution is to read them or get rid of them. And asking me to get rid of books is like asking me to leave Laura by the side of the road. Well, not quite that dramatic, but almost. So I’ve photographed my unread books (yes, I’m a nerd) in the hopes that I will be spurred into action by this public shame. And I know you all are going to gasp that I haven’t read THAT book yet, or wait, not THAT book either? Shocking!! I know, I know. Obviously I own them because I want to and feel I should. I just haven’t gotten there yet. Please note the bookmarks in some of the books. I have started some of them! I’m boycotting Jane Eyre though, because upon reading the introduction (which I was always drilled to do by my English teachers); the ending was spoiled for me! How rude is that?Which book should I tackle first? Any in my stack that are particular favorites of yours? The most recent one I have been reading is the Emily Post biography. It’s really interesting and well-written, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in good non-fiction. I heard rumors that the purchaser was reluctant to buy it for me, but I’m glad she did because I really like it. If only I could finish it. Or any of them!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Have I Got A Story For You

I apologize for the length of this post. I know I tend to write a lot just in general, but there's a lot to this story, so bear with me. The Army Man said he can never finish my posts because they are so long, but too bad for him. He lived today's post, so he doesn't need to read about it anyway.

So today started like any other Saturday. I took Laura downstairs, got her started on breakfast, and went into the dining room to check my email. Our dining room is at the front of the house (and ironically enough, does not house a dining table) so I typically hear plenty of street noise when sitting at the computer. This morning was no different. I heard what sounded like banging and scratching, but I couldn't figure out what it was. After a little while it was time to face facts. There was an animal somewhere in the house. A quick scan of the dining room revealed nothing except a mess and Moxie. So it wasn't anything inside the house, which was a relief as last year a lizard broke into the dining room and did not want to leave.

I didn't really have time to worry about it though since we were all heading out soon thereafter for a walk/run at the local walking trail. There is so much more to the story that I can't even begin to go into, so I will just jump straight to the exciting part. Once we returned home, the noise was still so intermittent that we just couldn't figure out where exactly the noise was coming from, or what kind of animal it was. Finally we figured out that it was a bird, and it was stuck in the gutter-our totally awesome gutters that are buried underground and provide fantastic drainage during storms. This particular gutter stretches from the very top of our two story house all the way down into the ground, so apparently the poor creature fell in at the very top of the house, went all the way to the bottom, and all the noise we heard was it flapping, trying to fly back to the top.

When we first started hearing the noise, the Army Man said he would try to take the gutter apart tomorrow and check things out. It quickly became apparent that an emergency search and rescue was necessary. He unscrewed all of the handy screws, prepped the gutter for removal, and-nothing. It wouldn't budge. As we were trying to figure out what to do, the bird started going insane! The noise and flapping were horrible and I almost started crying (I know, I'm a dork) at the thought of the poor thing trapped in there. We figured our best bet was to dig up the ground, remove the end of the gutter, and let it fly out.

Too bad the person who owned the house before us was so awesome and laid a really, really long pipe leading away from the gutter. We would have had to dig for several feet to remove it all. I gave to official command-cut the pipe. We had to get that bird out! A cut pipe would have been cheaper than dead bird removal anyway. Just as the Army Man was about to cut, he noticed that if we dug some more, he would be able to separate the drainage pipe from the gutter. After some frantic digging, viola! It was apart and the bird was free to go.

But no bird appeared. We debated what to do. The Army Man wanted to flush the bird out with water. I didn't know about that, so I sent Laura to retrieve the flashlight so we could look in. Maybe it was in there, but injured. The Army Man went inside to wash his hands and get the camera in case the bird ever appeared. We all stood around waiting for a few minutes. The Army Man decided to snap a picture of our work, and just as he was turning on the camera, a yellow beak appeared. We all gasped, and a surprisingly large black bird emerged and flew away, just like that. The camera (which we hate) was still deciding if it wanted to take pictures or not, and thus no picture of the bird was taken.

We were surprised that the bird was so big and that it emerged from the underground pipe and not the gutter. It must have really been far down! I think we were all feeling pretty good-the bird was saved and obviously not hurt, no damage to the house or gutter other than a small section of yard dug up, and Laura got to help in the rescue mission. As we stood there, discussing the incident, ANOTHER BIRD FLEW OUT OF THE PIPE!!!!

I had to use all capitals, because words simply cannot describe our shock. I am pleased to report that everyone's reactions were appropriate-Laura squealed, the Army Man loudly and deeply said, "Whoa!" and I screamed like a girl. It was so shocking, so funny, so weird. These were good sized birds. How did they fit down there? How did TWO of them manage to fall or fly down the gutter? And what exactly were they doing down there?? I'm concerned that they were trying to start a family and we'll soon find all sorts of baby birds in our gutter.

For now, we left the gutter and pipe open and separate in case anything else decides it needs to vacate the area.

Just a picture of our handy work, so you can visualize everything. We searched the internet for clues to the indentity of our visitor, and the best we came up with was the European Starling which do live in North America, despite what the name implies. Go check out the picture so you can get a good idea of what it was like to see a bird that size fly out of our gutter pipe-twice!

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Winner!!

You want to know something really funny? THIS post is actually my 100th post. Blogger told me I had done 100 of them as of yesterday, but it turns out one of them was a draft that I never actually posted. I guess it really doesn’t matter but I was amused when I figured that out last night. But I’m guessing you all really want to know who the winner of the contest was, not if I’m not smart enough to count to 100. So, without further ado, the winner is:


Congratulations!!! Email me at soldierprincessandme@gmail.com with your address so I can mail out your package. And Dawn gave me the great idea yesterday to sell my fortune cookies in my store when it opens, so if you ever find yourself in need of some, you can find them there.

Proof of my winner:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2009-03-06 14:20:06 UTC

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The 100th

So here is the momentous 100th post. I feel like I should become all philosophical, talking about why I love blogging, what it means to me, and all the joy it has brought to my life. I won’t embarrass myself by doing all that, but I will say that this blog has turned into something very special to me. I guess I will go so far as to embarrass myself by saying that! I started it as simply a way to keep Laura’s grandparents in the loop on her life, and it became something that allowed me to pipe up with my tiny little voice and let the world (or at least a few people!) know what I’m thinking. I enjoy writing and have never had the opportunity to reach any audience beyond my college professors, so knowing that even 2 or 3 people read what I write is very exhilarating. I keep thinking that writing professionally is what I want to do when I grow up, and I still hope that becomes a reality for me. But at the same time, my reality right now is being a Mommy and a wife. That life keeps me very busy and this blog gives me the chance to feel like a grown up every so often, even if all I’m writing about are Laura’s antics.

To my family and friends who were my very first readers, I thank you for humoring me and telling me that you enjoyed what I had to say. To those how came along later and aren’t related to me, I thank you for not running away screaming. To those who leave me comments, thank for making me not to feel like I’m talking to a wall. I talk to myself enough already so I really don’t need any more of that in my life.

And so, as promised, I’m doing a giveaway to celebrate this somewhat momentous occasion. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment (one per person!) on this post, no later than midnight Pacific Time, and you’re entered. The comment can be as simple as “I’d like to be entered in the drawing” or as lengthy as a 3 page essay on why my blog is so important to you. The comments that fall in the latter category will be remembered when I win the lottery. And I’m leaving this giveaway open to my family members, because that’s who I started this blog for, and I also get to make all the rules. There will be only one winner (sorry!) but if this contest goes smoothly I anticipate doing it again someday, so don’t leave me in disgust if you don’t win.

Just what are you entering to win? A few little things that I have picked up here and there for just such an occasion! Let’s start out with the two adorable pink bowls from Pier 1 Imports, perfect for candy or ice cream, or even as a trash can on your craft table. Next up is a handy gift wrap cutter which makes wrapping presents a bit easier. Don’t forget the cute little flower clothes pins, also from Pier 1. If you’re feeling really crafty, you could glue a magnet to the back and use them on the fridge to hold pictures. And the icing on the cake: a fabric fortune cookie handmade by me! It is completely useless, but so cute. I’d like to say this will all arrive beautifully gift wrapped, but I’m not very good at that, so please keep your expectations to everything arriving in one piece. I will announce the winner tomorrow after I use the handy website http://www.random.org/ to pick the winner!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sneak Peek!

I’m getting very excited about my Etsy store that will be opening soon, and I wanted to give all of you a sneak peek at some of the goods. I got really pumped last night when I finished a little quilt, perfect for a baby or toddler. Mind you, only the quilt top is done, but I thought it turned out very nicely. This is the first quilt I’ve made without following a pattern, so that made it even more triumphant for me. I even drew a little diagram (complete with measurements!) before I started, and that made me feel like a total pro. I hope I’ll still feel like a pro after I quilt it!
I also have a few bibs done, and here’s an example. I just love this fabric! I’m kind of kicking myself now for not doing all this when Laura was little because she would have been so stylish. But I consoled myself by making a little blanket for her dolls, and the hugs I got for that more than made up for Laura not having cute bibs to wear as a baby.So I hope you enjoyed that very special little peek at what I’ve been working on. If I have a few more productive days, I should be having my grand opening in about a week or two. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Where Were YOU Last Night Around Midnight?

I guess I never really need to worry about running out of material for this blog, because my life always seems to provide something. Today my material comes from a call I placed to the Sheriff's office. Sometime overnight some absolute idiot thought it would be great fun to drive through our neighborhood and drive into every single stop sign and street sign, knocking them to the ground. We live in a pretty good sized neighborhood with at least 200 houses, so it's not like it only took this person 2 minutes to do all these misdeeds. And the direction the stop signs are knocked over at show that he (I'm just assuming here, although for all I know it was a woman who just couldn't take her 4 year old barking like a puppy for one more minute) had to turn around a few times to make sure he got everything. If you happened to live near a stop sign, your mailbox was taken down too. Perhaps your house was for sale? Then he drove into your yard and ran over the for sale sign. Clearly, this person was on something.

So anyway, being the socially responsible person I was raised to be, I called the non-emergency number for our Sheriff's department. After much confusion over who I should talk to, I got a lady on the line and told her that I wanted to report some knocked over stop signs in my neighborhood so they could be repaired right away. Over the next 10 minutes, she proceeded to ask me all sort of questions-about me. I'm not one to give a uniformed officer any attitude, so I dutifully told her everything she wanted to know-full name, address, DOB, sex, etc. Finally when she asked me what race I was, I asked her why she needed to know all this. She informed me they are required to get all of this information from every caller. Fine, whatever. I will comply.

Finally she got to the last question and asked what property of mine was damaged. My frustration level rising, I told her (again!) that none of MY property was damaged, I was just calling to make sure that the appropriate people were informed of the incident so everything could be repaired. I seemed to stun her with that news. "So you're not calling to report your property damaged?" she said. I replied once again that no, nothing of mine was damaged. "Then why did you call to file a police report?" she asked. I told her that I didn't want to file a police report (which it turns out is what I had been unknowingly doing the entire time), I just wanted to let someone know. She was quite incredulous that I would call in this information as I did not have property damaged. Finally, once she collected her wits, she informed me that several homeowners had already filed reports about their damaged property and that it was being taken care of. Why couldn't she have told me that when I first called?

It was a frustrating call, but I was happy to see when I pulled back into the neighborhood just 2 hours later that all the stop signs were already put back up (although most of them looked a little worse for the wear). The bad part is that unless someone sees someone driving in the neighborhood with a smashed in front bumper with paint all over it, the perpetrator will probably never be found. Luckily both the Army Man and I have alibis.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Moxie Knows It All

In addition to Moxie knowing when she's about to go on a run, I think she has figured out when the Army Man is about to return home. The Army Man is a very considerate husband in that he calls me when he leaves work. It's for the best that I receive that call, because once I do, I'm a flurry of action. Things I should have been doing during the day are all tackled in a short 30 minute stretch. Dirty dishes are loaded into the dishwasher, counters are cleared off, the remains of lunch are disposed of, dinner is started. All that's left for me to do is to put on my pearls and lipstick, but I never seem to get around to that.

So where does Moxie figure in to all this? Once she seems me moving around the house, she gets excited. Really excited, the kind of excited that involves wriggling around. I'm sure some of that can be contributed to my bustling around, but it doesn't explain why she usually lays by the front door while I work, watching it intently.

Today, as she threw herself at the Army Man the moment he opened the door, I realized that she was on to my little routine. And I guess now the Army Man will be too.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Ban On Band-Aids

As a toddler, Laura was terrified of Band-Aids and refused to allow me to place one anywhere near her body. I recall her actually bleeding somewhat profusely one time she fell and her screaming in horror as I got out the Band-Aids. Never mind the actual injury; the Band-Aid was surely going to cause her great harm. Somewhere along the line though, something clicked and she fell in love. Scratch that. She became obsessed. Anything remotely painful started to require a Band-Aid. And the moment that Band-Aid became worn or started to pull off, Laura would get a new one to replace it. Sometimes even the original Band-Aid was found to be misapplied, and that always merited a new one.

New Band-Aids were usually required at night before bed, and often after taking off tights too (because everyone knows that tights and Band-Aids do not mix). And I have to admit, I let this happen. You all know by now how dramatic Laura is, and it was often just easier to let her put a Band-Aid on, if that would stop all the wailing. Not to mention that there’s something so heavenly about your child retreating upstairs for minutes at a time, giving you a chance to recover, or at the very least, go to the bathroom with the door closed. If Laura wanted to goof off with Band-Aids, I wasn’t going to complain. Santa gave her some at Christmas, and Grandma sent some too. We were flush with Band-Aids at our house, 4 boxes deep. Excessive Band-Aid use didn’t seem like a concern.

I realized something was wrong several weeks ago when Laura informed me that we were out of Band-Aids. In less than 2 months, she went through 4 boxes! And at the same time, we started to realize that just about any injury, real or perceived, had been receiving Band-Aids. Yesterday was the last straw. A review of Laura found 3 Band-Aids on her right foot, one on her left, and one on her right hand. There was one legitimate blister on her right foot, but beyond that, the rest of the “injuries” would have healed nicely with just a kiss from Mommy. Then, at a birthday party last night, Laura came to me with a boo-boo on her hand. I really looked, but didn’t see anything. But she was determined, and started screaming that she needed a Band-Aid. I guess I should know by now to carry some with me, but I didn’t have any. That did not fly with her, needless to say. So when we got home last night, and I told the Army Man the whole story, he took a bold stand and confiscated all of Laura’s Band-Aids.

The Band-Aids now reside in our bathroom, and she has been given the explicit instructions that she will only receive a Band-Aid if there is blood involved, and only Mommy or Daddy is allowed to apply the Band-Aid. Our point was made this morning when I quizzed Laura on what injuries lay beneath her various Band-Aids. She couldn’t tell me.