Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fail, Fail, Fail ... And FINALLY a Win

Last night the skies open up and shit upon us here in Michigan. Driving home from teaching my night class, which takes 40 minutes tops if I get stuck behind idiots, took an HOUR AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES. I couldn't go any faster than 30 miles an hour the entire 20 miles I spent on the expressway. I saw more than twenty cars and three semis in ditches. As I pulled up the little hill of my driveway ... I got stuck.

After this horrible, horrible night, of course I was happy to be home, safe, and alive, but the real thing on my mind was that I NEVER BOUGHT ANY G-D SNOW BOOTS FOR JOSEPHINE. First snowfall? Sorry kid, we're not going to play in it. Major mother fail.

So we got up this morning, and she saw this in the backyard:

And I was like, okay, let's get dressed and go outside, but WAIT, we can't go explore that awesome white stuff that you are technically seeing for the first time since you were 4 months old last winter -- instead, let's get in the car and drive to a stupid store.

Except, EXCEPT ... you need some form of currency to buy things. After we got all dressed and ready, I opened my wallet to find NO DEBIT CARD. IT happens all the time because I am harried and leave it in pockets and Josephine steals it. Crap. And of course, no cash, because that's just how I roll. There was also my credit card, but I have pledged I would not use it (Jeremy is really into us being a cash-only family as part of our debt-reduction plan, and I try to honor that even though I lose my stupid debit card all the time).

Crap. So I called Jeremy to see if he had seen it around the house. He had not, but said we could meet for lunch and he would give me his. Done and done. 

We had a lovely lunch, I drove to the store, and ... Jeremy gave me his pin number, but not his debit card.

Home, meltdown, short nap, Jeremy came home and we went straight to the freakin' store. There, I saw a glorious sign: "Buy one pair of youth boots, get a pair for a dollar." 

So we got these beauties:

And these little cuties (I'm picturing her pink sweater dress I made her, white tights, and these. CUTE.):

Long story short (too late), they rang up regular price (the sale was on "fashion boots" and snow boots don't fall under that category). However, the cashier knew I wasn't messing around, and he gave me the sale price. AND I had a 20% off general merchandise coupon, so I got 20% off of that. OH YEAH.

Then we got home and rushed straight out to get the last half hour of light left in the day. And we finally got pictures, GLORIOUS pictures of the first play in the snow.

A few things:
1. YES, I'm aware that her snowpants don't match her coat even a little. The coat was a gift and the snowpants were on sale. You do what you gotta do.

2. Yes, she spent a good deal of time eating snow (you'll see a few sourpuss pictures because the snow is so cold -- but she just kept going back!), and YEAH, I let her eat snow. Get over it.
3. She is pretty cute, huh? :)

Even though I hate snow more than ... pretty much everything ever in the entire world ... Josephine cried when we brought her in the house, so it's a little harder to hate something that the bean loves so much. 

You win this time snow, but if the next kid hates snow, I'm back to hating you.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

We also ate a ton of food and she wore a turkey shirt. Some things are just universal.

Yes, it's the obligatory "here's what we did for Thanksgiving" post. This one, however, is classy and awesome because I will be telling you all the things we did that probably made our Thanksgiving unique. Off we go:

1. Josephine greeted people by running up to them at the door and staring up at them.
Okay, she only did it once, but it was pretty funny.

2. We had special balloon time.
 Very special.

4. Josephine got a pink cowboy hat. 
It's a special "Thanksgiving pink cowboy hat" -- you don't have one? Huh.

5. We had access to THREE dollhouses. 

And now she's back to her dollhouse-less home. So sad.

5. Josephine learned the time-honored tradition of putting olives on your fingers then eating them off.

Olives FTW!

It's exciting time we live in, people. I hope you had a lovely holiday and have time to properly recuperate (Jeremy and I are currently on the couch working on exactly that). 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Magical Meatloaf

Before we get to the magical recipe of goodness, two things:

1) NO, Jeremy did not bring me food from the event. He said it was "all packed up" by the time he got a break from swiping credit cards for the silent auction. Likely story. BUT, he DID see inside a local celebrity's wallet and saw he has a Kroger Plus card, so ... now we know he shops at Kroger instead of Meijer. Good to know. Good to know. (Jess and Loe'l -- if either of you are reading this, it was J. C. from the news ... if you can crack that code, you still love him as much as you used to).

2) I HAD to update the 2011 Holiday Giving Guide, Vol. II (for the Wee Ones). There were some things I forgot and I decided to add a few things we already got for Josephine, so if you are still shopping for little ones, check it out. I also added a few previously unpublished Josie pics, so ... yeah.

And now ... a meatloaf I liked!!! GASP! I have NEVER been a fan of meatloaf and seriously thought it was just ketchup mashed onto meat and baked until dry. However, I know Jeremy loves it, and he is nice enough to never request things I don't like or never make, but I came across a new healthier recipe (spoiler alert: there is neither beef nor ketchup in this recipe!) and decided to give it a whirl.

I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. I thought there was a chance I would like it okay, but I did not plan on loving it. This will definitely be a recipe I make often.

Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf 
adapted from

1 20-ounce package of ground turkey
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion
I large clove garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 additional teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon water


1. Bring quinoa and water to boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed (about 15 minutes).

A note on quinoa (pronounced keen-WAH ... I'm fairly certain) -- if you haven't used it before, do not fear the quinoa! It is a super grain and can stand alone as a protein and has all kinds of other magical healthy things, but does NOT taste like butt like some other healthy things. I found mine in with the rice/barley/cous cous. (It is also wheat and gluten free, FYI)

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

3.  Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook until softened and translucent (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and cook another minute (being careful not to burn); remove both from heat and set aside to cool.

Another side note regarding one of my favorite new "tricks": If you have a recipe that calls for only using part of on a onion, chop up the whole onion, use as much as you need to, then put the remainder in a ziploc baggy and toss in the freezer. Pull out next time you need diced onion and toss in your recipe. Super-convenient for all those recipes I make that start with ground turkey, onion, and garlic. I have no idea why I never thought of this before. I would always leave part of the onion unchopped in the fridge, promising to use it the next day ... then I would find it a week later and have to throw it away. Wasteful!

4.  Stir the turkey, cooked quinoa, onions, tomato paste, hot sauce, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined. Mixture should be very moist.

Gross, I know. I dislike meat, and dislike raw meat even more. If you remember the deep level of my hatred, you will realize just how much I love that husband of mine. I would include Josephine in that, but if she ever isn't into dinner, there are always vegetables and rice and cottage cheese ready for her. This raw meat adventure was just for Jeremy.

5. Shape into a loaf on a foil lined baking sheet.

I went for a circle because I figured it would have some sort of magical advantage over a loaf. Do whatever you want.

6.  In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire, and 1 teaspoon water. The directions say to rub this "paste" over the top of the meatloaf. I made this TWICE, and both times it was the same consistency as water, so I just dumped it on. It worked just fine that way, too.

7.  Bake at 350 for about 50 minutes or until no longer pink. Internal temperature should read at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Then you have ...

Yes, my slices are pretty small, but they were DEE-lish. It was pretty strange that Jeremy, who likes regular meatloaf, loved this as much as I, who HATES regular meatloaf. Strange but awesome.

If you try it and make the loaf taller, let me know if the meat comes out moist or dry. Perhaps I will experiment with size. Also, maybe the next loaf will be in the shape of a heart. ROMANCE. RAW MEAT ROMANCE. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Seven Things

I have a few little housekeeping things to tend to, and why not do it on a Saturday night, like the cool kids do? 

1. If you follow me on twitter, you have heard the wailing all day, but those of you who haven't, here is the sadness: Another Saturday, another Saturday with Jeremy at work. You would think I might be used to it by now, or I could at least put forth an effort, since it is a permanent part of his job for the foresable future, but DAMMIT, it's a SATURDAY, and we have both had long weeks, and ... it's a SATURDAY. This is why I do stupid things on Saturdays, like leave the house RIGHT AS A MICHIGAN STATE FOOTBALL GAME IS ENDING (stupid!), because I FORGET it is a Saturday. I mean, it's not a Saturday to us. 

2. Today was extra-bad for a few reasons. One of those if Jeremy worked from 8:00 AM until 3:30 PM, then came home, then LEFT AGAIN at 5:45 and will not be back until 11 or 12 because tonight is the museum's big fundraiser, and Jeremy is helping raise money blah blah BLAH. That's a long day for him, and a long day for me, because ...

3. The other reason this Saturday was extra-bad is Josephine is taking this teething thing a little too seriously. Remember how in her 15-month update I was crying about her working on three molars at once? Well, her incisors decided to join the party, and now she is trying to push SEVEN teeth through her sweet, delicate gums. So now it looks a little like this:

Seriously, evolution? Why haven't you solved this problem yet? Couldn't we just do like one solid week of total agony and get them all pushed through at once? I think that's a bit more reasonable, if you ask me.

4. During one of my whiny tweets today, I seem to have inadvertently caused a bit of a stir. All I said was this:

My husband's cousin tweeted that she liked the spelling of Josephine's nickname, and I immediately got a few private messages that basically said "... Ummm? ... We thought we knew you. We were wrong." No offense to anyone who has a common name that is spelled in an uncommon way, but that is not what we are up to around here. That is a WHOLE big thing, and I'm not about to get into that controversy here (Danielle vs. Danyell, Cassandra vs. KaSaundra, Kimberly vs. Kymberleigh ... I don't have the energy to talk about that whole thing right now, okay?).

In calling her "Joze," I am not spelling "Josie" in a "unique" way, I am spelling a nickname phonetically - Joze, short for Josie. Rhymes with "doze." Not like Jo-zee. Sorry to get your hopes up if that's what you thought I was going forALSO, if we were going to go for a Jay-Z-like spelling for Josie, I'm pretty sure we would go with JoZ, Jo-Z, or Jo.Z, but I haven't consulted Jeremy on this. I'll get back to you.

5. Thank you to all who have commented on my diaper situation. I am still more than happy to hear your thoughts, so feel free to leave them on this post, the original, on my facebook page, in an e-mail, or a tweet. Products have been ordered (Rockin Green Cloth Diaper and Laundry Detergent Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer for a super soak and Charlie's Soap for a new detergent to try), and I am currently in the midst of a "natural" stripping of the diapers. Basically, I am washing eight at a time, on the largest load for the longest wash length, on the hottest temperature -- over and over. I did the first set of eight five times, and they came out smelling a little better already, so I am optimistic.

I am guessing from all the comments and all the reading I did before and after your comments, that either a build-up of detergent, or a build-up of just ammonia, or a slight build-up of detergent acted to collect the ammonia has wedged itself in the cracks of my microfiber liners and the PUL lining. No matter how you slice it, I have a serious case of the funk, and after trying my battle plan, I will be sure to provide all the gory details. 

So, look forward to that, am I right?

6. When Jeremy left for this black-tie fundraiser tonight, I told him to take along a thermos and some ziploc bags and come home with the thermos filled with gin and tonic and the bags with hors d'oeuvres. Get this. First of all, he thought I was joking. Not one little bit. Then, THEN, he just shook his head at me like I was ridiculous.

7. This is JUST like when I was in labor, and STARVING (Hello, I hadn't eaten for 24 hours ... how the HELL do you think a person is supposed to have enough energy to push a baby out at that point? Seriously.), and I told Jeremy as he was leaving to get some stuff from home "Don't come back without a bean and cheese burrito." He was shocked. First he wanted to know if I was serious. YES. Then he wanted to know where to get one. OUR FREEZER. Then he wanted to know how to sneak it in. WARM, WRAP IN PAPER TOWEL, PUT IN POCKET, GIMME. Then he said he "thought it might not be the best idea." I told the nurse to lock the door when he left, but they don't even have locks on their doors. Stupid.

This is Jeremy's chance to make up for the burrito/labor error. Will he emerge victorious? I'll let you know. In the meantime, leaving a comment with your guess as to whether or not he smuggled me home some food would be appreciated and enjoyed.

Friday, November 18, 2011

HELP ME, Cloth-diapering Community! You're My Only Hope!

THIS IS AN URGENT MESSAGE TO ALL CLOTH-DIAPERING PARENTS: I am thisclose to never using a cloth diaper again, and I need your advice to fix all my problems. If I can't fix them, these diapers are getting packed away and I will contribute to the landfills.

I have MULTIPLE issues at the moment, but I believe they come back to this:

The diapers REEK. They have in the past, and I have tried to remedy the problem with extra washes, stripping the diapers, leaving outside in the sun, and even adding bleach to the hot wash cycle, with some success, but now they are not responding to ANYTHING.

I believe that all my excessive washing (I am running them through the washer a minimum of FOUR times before I'm like "Meh. They don't smell good, but they smell better.") and adding more and more detergent has led to 1) my diapers breaking down prematurely (I had 12 bumGenius 4.0s replaced by cotton babies because the velcro no longer worked, and I have 12 bumGenius 3.0s that were NOT purchased from cotton babies and have no warranty, but are literally FALLING APART. I will not be able to use them much longer at all), and I hate to admit, 2) A god-awful rash on Josephine's bum the other day. 

Using more detergent (I use Nellie's All Natural Laundry soda  which the cotton babies representative told me was in their top five "best" recommended detergents to use) seemed to be helping with the odor a  bit, but I could never get them completely clean and smelling good. This wasn't a problem early on, but has been happening for a few months now. I stripped and bleached once, and they were back to good as new, but then a month later they were so bad that nothing has been helping anymore.

Here is my routine (which is basically the manufacturer's suggested care):

1. I wash the diapers every other day
2. I do a cold spin and rinse or an entire cold wash cycle, without detergent
3. I follow that with a hot wash cycle with 1/4 the recommended amount of detergent, then an extra hot rinse
3. I dry the inserts on medium and hang the shells to dry

And now, because this no longer works, I have been adding wash cycle after wash cycle after wash cycle, and even stripping and bleaching the diapers, to no avail.

FYI, because J's poo is solid, we just dump it in the toilet, so there is no poo residue being added to the washer. Just in case you thought it might be that. The smell is undeniably urine, and I am fed up.

When Josephine got her rash, which I thought could be from detergent build-up, but the doctor thought that was unlikely, I bought 30 disposable diapers. Unlike when she was young, I found I really liked them, and I liked how dry Josie's bum was, where in her cloth diapers she is ALWAYS wet. We went back to cloth for a week, but this morning when I was washing a load for the bazillionth time and I could smell my kid's diaper even though it was dry, I just gave up and went to the store and bought a big box. I told Jeremy we are disposable diaper people until I find a solution, and that means I need your help!

It will still end up having saved money if we only used the diapers this long (the cost of the cloth diapers is much less than if we were buying disposables for the past year), so if we are over cloth diapers, it was still a win, but I want to keep this going. I like the obvious benefits of cloth diapers, but at this point we are using a LOT of water to wash these things, and I spend ALL day EVERY day just to try to get like ten diapers washed -- that's a huge waste of time and energy, no matter what your opinion is on what my time is worth. However, I feel a sense of duty to make these things last until she is potty trained, like I originally intended, since almost every single diaper I own was a gift from my mother or mother-in-law.

Help me, CD experts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I implore you!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Funny Stuff My Husband Says, Vol. XVII: Death Becomes Her

Veronica: Jeremy, I am not even kidding, I really feel like I am dying.

Jeremy: Okay, well ... is there something I can do help you?

Veronica: Yes, you can rub my lower back, since that is where all the pain is concentrated.

Jeremy: Rubbing your back is going to stop you from dying?

Veronica: Yes.

Jeremy: See, I find that hard to believe.

Veronica: Jeremy ... 

Jeremy: Seriously. Do you think there has EVER been a situation where a paramedic arrived on the scene and said, "This person is DYING! If we just apply some BACKRUBBING, I think we can save her!"?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

2011 Holiday Giving Guide, Vol. II (For the Wee Ones)

Every mom knows that the easiest age to buy for is the age of your own child or .... oh, roughly two months younger. I scoured my memory for toys Josephine adored when she was little and gave you the heads-up on her current favorites. You're welcome. If you have a child under the age of two on your list this year, you are good to go!

These are listed roughly in age order, starting with the wee-est of wee ones. Here we go:

They have changed the design of this little ipod doo-daddy since we bought ours, and I happen to think ours is cuter, but the way this thing looks really has nothing to do with the magic it contains. This thing obviously plays music (which babies flip for), BUT that screen has little flashing lights that bounce around on the screen -- this will hypnotize ANY baby, guaranteed. I originally bought this as something to have for music on the go, but when I saw her eyes fix on those lights, I started taking this whenever we left the house. Whenever she would get fussy or overwhelmed, BAM! Hypnotized! I promise, this is magical.

This is one of the first toys that "did stuff" that Josephine "got." When she figured out she could push buttons and they made noise because of HER ... mind freak. She loved the heck out of this thing. It has multiple modes, so it keeps doing new things all day.

We had a few stackers, but this was Josie's favorite. It makes all kinds of sounds and plays all kinds of music, and lights up like magic, and when you take that star off the top, there is a teeny-tiny button you can push to make music. When Josephine was able to push that button herself with the tip of a single tiny finger, she was SO proud of herself.

This thing is the absolute bee's knees. It took Josephine all of ten seconds to figure out how to press the button that makes it go, and once that crazy music started and balls started shooting in the air, she was in hog heaven. She got it for her first birthday and has played with it every single day since then. In fact, the batteries died today, and we only had THREE D batteries ... she cried. (Important note: requires FOUR D batteries). Comes in "boy" colors, too.

Bright Builders - Best Classic Toys 2003 Winner by Discovery Toys

We have these from when my mom was a Discovery Toys seller (I can't think of the real word for it now; it'll come to me), and Josephine loves these. She carries one of these around in her hand about 50% of the time. She doesn't know how to build things yet, but she loves them already.

This is another Discovery Toy, and we have the "classic" version that looks a little different, but stacking cups are a MUST. She plays with these every single day, and she has finally moved past the phase where I have to stack them over and over and over while she knocks them down and laughs, and has begun to stack them herself (SQUEE!)

Little People. Back in my day they looked like this:

Nowadays, they look a little different, but my GOD do they make kids happy. I have taken to taking a zebra, elephant, and polar bear with us whenever we leave the house. Pull one of those suckers out when she starts spazzing in line at a store, and she is happy as a clam. 

Some of the favorites around here include:

Which is the old version of:

And I'm guessing she would adore this one:

Josephine is also ape over a farm set my mom scored at a mom-to-mom sale. It's not available anymore (that I know of), but it is very similar to this one:


If you know of a child who does not have this book yet, BUY IT FOR THEM. They will love it, I swear. Also, if you kind of want to drive their parents crazy, this meets that need too, because I guarantee they will be reading this book over and over and over and OVER. AND OVER.

Josephine stares at these pictures as if in a trance. There are only like four words per page, which is great for those phases when they just want to turn pages, but she always stops the page-flipping when we pull out this classic.

This is another book Josephine brings over and hands to us roughly SEVEN HUNDRED times a day. It can drive an adult a little mad, but she loses her mind every time she opens a flap and there is a baby animal behind it. She is now also VERY close to being able to say "Meow" and "Grrr" thanks to this book.

The touch-the-art series is fantastic. Pieces of art with "feels" on every page? BRILLIANT! Josephine has felt the heck out of the two that she owns (Catch Picasso's Rooster and Brush Mon Lisa's Hair).

There are a ton of other books in this series, too:

And now I must stop because the post has become long AND looking things up on Amazon has led me to want to buy many many more things. Good luck with the holiday shopping for your littlest of rugrats!

UPDATE: I thought of a few other things, and I couldn't help myself but add more to this list. :)

Okay, any kid over the age of 6 months should probably have some sort of giant stuffed animal. Josephine is lucky enough to have a few, including a giant teddy like this one:

Melissa & Doug 24" Plush Big Henderson Bear

She also loves her Pillow Pet ...

My Pillow Pet Dolphin

... and her Squishable:
Squishable / 14" Octopus

Squishable Octopus

That Squishable? It is LOVED. Check it:

Another favorite book is the Old MacDonald book

Josephine got this book from her Granny and Gramps (Jeremy's parents), and she has become more and more obsessed with it with every passing day. I seriously read/sing this book to her about twenty times a day, and she laughs and dances and just thinks it's the greatest thing. Those animals are tabs at the top of each page, and they are also fuzzy (bonus!). Definitely a favorite book.

Lullaby Gloworm Girl

How could I have forgotten the Gloworm the first time around? She liked it right away when she was little and still loves it to this day. Some toys seem to get outgrown quickly, this is one that still makes her smile, and seeing her hug and cuddle it? MELT.

Same thing with the soothing seahorse.

Ocean Wonders Soothe and Glow Seahorse

She loves hugging the thing!

We also have a few things we are giving Josephine for Christmas that I am REALLY excited about, and I wasn't going to post them, but then I thought to myself ... Josephine doesn't read your blog. Your secret is safe.

Josephine saw this in a store a little while ago, and she about LOST HER MIND trying to break into the packaging and play with it, so I thought, sure. But in a few months. I'm so mean.

My mom taught Nursery school (among other things), and had a huge, awesome tunnel at school that we got to take home over summer vacation (!) and it was the best. I can't wait for my little bean to play in this tunnel!

Little Tikes DiscoverSounds Camera Blue 6+ Months/yellow with blue trim

Josephine is OBSESSED with my camera, and I've been looking for one that will seem "real" enough, but every toy camera looks like a toy. HOWEVER, this one has a "viewfinder" and you can see all the way through, and it makes great sounds when you push the button. I think this one is going to do the trick!

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!

We also got Josephine some of Mo Willems' books, specifically three of his pigeon books. We have gotten them from the library and love them. We think these will be books she will love even more as she gets older, too.

Disney's Beauty And The Beast Belle Talking Tea Set

I know not EVERY little girl needs a tea set, and the old me would be saying "No! Too feminine!" but ... I love it! And I love Beauty and the Beast! And Josephine loves cups and dishes and pouring and pushing buttons. She's gonna love it.

I know Christmas isn't JUST about material things, and these guides kind of make it seem like that, but come on -- presents are a part of it, and I love to give ones that people will REALLY love and cherish, not just some random thing in the price bracket. Enjoy shopping for your loved ones, and I hope you get to see some excited faces opening presents this year! 
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