Monday, February 13, 2012

Brand new or retro?

Last weekend, I cleaned our closets. Summer clothes went in boxes and out came sweatshirts and snowpants. Somehow, Anika came across an old tape player. 

I haven't seen or used a tape player in years, but there it was. Anika's world looks a lot different than mine did at her age. At 2 years old, she has never seen such a device as a tape player. She still gets frustrated at the play phone with a cord. 
After the big find, I immediately went into the basement to unearth an old cardboard  box of tapes my husband has been begging me to get rid of for years. I could never do it, though. It was too much a part of my youth.

In grade school, my best friend Brandy and I made a radio station: WGGN. WGGN "aired"  songs, commercials, soap operas, movie clips and infomercials. There were dozens of WGGN tapes, but to my knowledge only one exists today. 

Not that long ago, an old friend emailed me to ask if I remembered taping  Michael Jackson's Thriller album for her. I didn't, but she reminded me that her dad wouldn't let her have the album, so I played my RECORD into the phone receiver, which she taped on the other end. 

In high school, all my friends were in bands, who made tapes to promote their music. In college, I spent all my free time in dark basements throughout the Midwest listening to any kind of indie music that would end up in the basement scene. 

Give up the tapes? Never. Much of this music never made it to a CD, even though some of it evolved into bands that actually got popular. This stuff is priceless to me. 

So when my girls unearthed my old prized possession, I couldn't wait to share my music with them. Unfortunately, my box of tapes was smaller than I remembered. Maybe there's another one in the depths of the basement, but that's a project for another day. 

When I looked through the selection, I didn't find many that would be appropriate for my little girls' ears. They'll find that on their own when they are older. But I did find a few tapes that I deemed family-friendly. 

So their favorite brand new toy turns out to be my old favorite thing — something I didn't even think would work anymore. They think it's hysterical to flip a tape to the other side, and press the buttons that don't produce a digital readout. Each morning, the first thing Anika goes to is the tape player. And each time she hears a tape "click" at the end, she gives it a skeptical look, like next it just might explode. 

Even with just a few tapes, it seems like a new excitement for them each time they put one on, bounce around and giggle like it's their secret toy. But when that excitement  runs out, you'll find me in the tape aisles at the thrift stores looking for more.

NOTE: I like to keep organized, so I'm reposting my blogs in one spot. This one originally ran on November 4, 2009.

Organizing the organizers

People who know me may say I am organized. People who know me really well will know it’s one of my biggest struggles to stay that way.

 Right now, my purse houses a few mini-organizers. It’s also overflowing with papers. 

One is a weekly calendar where I log birthdays, work meetings, doctor appointments, school functions and day-to-day activities. My next calendar is a monthly calendar in which I write down all our bills and account information. Then I have a checkbook billfold and a wallet. These are the four things I need to have with me at any given moment.

 At home I have the kitchen wall calendar, in which I write just about everything on my personal calendar, but my husband also contributes to this one, albeit occasionally. Then I have a smaller hanging calendar (of bill information), a kitchen notebook (of house info) and numerous file folders (of more house info) in my desk.

 The funny thing is that all those calendars keep me less organized. I’m always scrambling from one calendar to another, noting something on one, but not the other. My friends tell me I need a Blackberry or an iPhone. But I really just need one, perfect organizer to write on, not type on. I decided it was time for me to merge my calendars, grow up and get more organized.

 I began the hunt for one comprehensive organizer, with all the info I need, weekly and monthly views, no address book (too bulky), and wallet slots and checkbook insert. And it had to be compact, because I didn’t want to buy a new purse, too. And it wouldn’t hurt if it was cuter than a standard black or brown. After all, I do have to carry this around for a year.

 I was firm in my decision to get one immediately. I found a black and white spotted booklet with that met my standards. It was medium-sized, but not packed with extra information I won’t use. And it was under $20. Perfect.

 I bought it, sat down and started thinking how I was going to transfer information. I did have concern that the fabric cover wouldn’t last 16 months through kids, dogs, or the open lipstick in my purse. But since it matched every other particular detail I outlined for myself, I let it slide.

 Then I realized the calendar went from August 2009 to July 2010 - a college calendar. I started feeling anxiety that I’d have to find a new personal calendar considerably sooner than usual, and possibly not be ready for “the switch.” My year doesn’t involve summer break anymore, so I need a calendar for all of 2010.

 I told myself to get over it, not to be so concerned about every minor detail and make the best of my new a organizer. But I couldn’t.

I returned it, and defaulted to my 4-calendar purse system. I haven't given up hope that my perfect organizer is out there, but I did give up hope on finding it in one day. 

NOTE: I like to keep organized, so I'm reposting my blogs in one spot. This one originally ran on September 1, 2009.

Something i never thought would happen

My new office is so close to home, I've taken to riding my bike every day. Our previous office was about a 15 minute drive and it was near a Target. I frequently picked up huge boxes of diapers on my lunch break. Diapers, diaper cream, baby soap, toddler toothpaste, you name it - it was right there. 

While I think not being next to Target saves me money, I miss the convenience of it. 

Last night, something happened I thought could never happen to me: I ran out of diapers. Completely out. I didn't even realize how low we were. How is this possible? I've been buying diapers in semi-bulk for almost two years and all of sudden there are none left? Not a one?

My first thought, as I diapered Anika with the very last diaper, was that this lone diaper could be out of commission in the blink of an eye. 

It was late and we were all in pajamas; but we had to take action and move fast. We all put on tennis shoes and dragged/walked over to the nearest convenient store for a tiny box of diapers at a higher price.

All in all, we averted any diaper crisis. So there it is - something I thought I'd never have to worry about: running out of diapers. Never again will I let the diaper stash out of my radar. And I'm going to find more excuses to shop at Target more frequently.

NOTE: I like to keep organized, so I'm reposting my blogs in one spot. This one originally ran on August 11, 2009.

a mom's child-challenged wardrobe

I try to keep up the appearance of being relatively put-together and professional at the office. Some days, I pull it off. Other days, it’s questionable. Most days, I’m happy if my clothes are free of baby drool or the imprint of messy toddler hands. 

Now I’ve recently changed up my wardrobe routine a little. Since my office moved downtown, I’ve started biking to work. It takes a little extra preparation, but it’s coming along nicely. Each morning, I put on an old T-shirt and pack a work-appropriate outfit in my backpack. My morning routine instantly became more care-free. First of all, it’s stopped me from changing my clothes more than once in the morning because I’ve decided it doesn’t look right, fit right or feel right.

More importantly, in the almost two years I’ve been back to work since my daughter was born, I’ve never escaped the house in an outfit that looked at all like it did when I took it out of the closet. But with my work clothes packed away, I worry less about the messy obstacles in between me and the door.

If my daughter grabs me with hands full of oatmeal and banana I don’t care as much. (In fact, some days I don’t even change the shirt.) If my she puts stickers on my clothes, it’s OK. If my shedding dog rubs up against my legs, I can lean down and pet her without concern. If I spill coffee on myself, I don’t have to bring my clothes to a dry cleaner.
I thought I hit the wardrobe jackpot. Each day, after my energizing bike ride to the office, I change into my clean work clothes. Sometimes I even remember a change of shoes.

Today as I changed into my clothes, I took a quick look in the mirror to see a huge glob of something on my pant leg. A closer look revealed it was peanut butter. Peanut butter?! Anika had apples with peanut butter for breakfast. I suspect she looked through my folded outfit before it reached the backpack.  

I wiped it off with soap and water, but there is still a substantial light brown mark on my black pants. Turns out the routine isn’t fool-proof after all (I did walk around with a suit and tennis shoes last week). But it seems it going to be even harder to get it baby-proofed.

On the way out of the bathroom, feeling slightly defeated by sticky baby hands, my co-worker said, “Good morning, you look great today!”

So maybe I’m not as wardrobe-challenged as I thought. Or at least I can fake it well enough to make it look that way. 

NOTE: I like to keep organized, so I'm reposting my blogs in one spot. This one originally ran on July 7, 2009.

Don't challenge a 5-year-old's intellect

I was playing a letter game with Kyle, my nephew. We started with the letter A and went back and forth naming things that start with that letter. When someone was stumped, we went to the next letter. You get the idea.

After Zebra, Zinc, Zipper, Zoo, Zit .... Kyle was stumped. He paused, then said "Zicky!"

Zicky? Yes, zicky. I asked him to repeat it. Zicky. I asked what zicky was. He replied: "a word."

I asked him to use it in a sentence. He said, "Sometimes I use the word zicky."

He answered all my questions, so I had to accept it. Skeptically, I did and the game went on as we made up more words.

On the off chance it really was an obscure word, I referred to my Webster's dictionary. I thought it would be a great punch line to this blog to end with the definition of zicky.

But it wasn't there, so I have to end with this:

Zicky (zick-ee) n.: A word Kyle sometimes uses.

NOTE: I like to keep organized, so I'm reposting my blogs in one spot. This one originally ran on June 17, 2009.

Princess manners

Our friends live two blocks away from us, so when they invited us over for a get-together we responded with an enthusiastic yes.

Generally, I talk about our expectations when we leave the house: what’s going to happen when we get there, what we’ll be doing before and after, and the behavior I expect to see at said function.

I used to talk about “Restaurant Manners” with Anika. Then I'd would implement Restaurant Manners at home. That worked for a little while, but what’s really stuck was teaching “Princess Manners.” She loves to “play” royalty, so I followed their lead.

On our walk to our friend’s house, I told her that I would insist on her best Princess Manners. Then I asked her for examples of Princess Manners.

“Hmmmm….. I can say, ‘ Will you be my friend?’”

Not a bad start. I requested some more examples. 

“ I can say 'please' and 'thank you' and 'may I ' and …”

I was glowing at her responses, until ...

“ ... and I can say ‘I’m sorry I kicked you in the leg.’”

My glow came to a screeching halt. While it’s nice to apologize, even when it's an accident, I asked her if we could agree NOT kick anyone in the leg at the party. She smiled, shrugged her shoulders, said OK, and skipped off down the block to our friend's house.

While we were there, I am proud to say I heard some May I's and Pleases and Thank Yous and even a Bless You after the host sneezed. I'm also proud to report no one got kicked in the leg.

NOTE: I like to keep organized, so I'm reposting my blogs in one spot. This one originally ran on May 28, 2009.

My first not-so relaxing day off

Any regular reader of my column is well aware that amy normal relaxed self become a little Type A before we travel with the family.

So, as we are approaching our first road trip of the season, I'm trying something new: relaxing. I'm just going to do it, no matter how hard I fight myself to do otherwise.

I took a full day off work before my vacation, so I can have eight child-free hours to clean my house, find the kids' swimsuits, pack our bags and run any last minute errands.

The morning was perfect. I slept in a little and then watched my little angel, Anika, sleeping peacefully.

When she woke, we played some games and shared lots of giggles. Then dressing her was the battle of all battles. Her little voice yelled, "NO! NO! NONONONO..." for almost a half-hour. All she wanted was her pajamas (which were the chosen boycottelast night).

After changing her diaper , I decided I was completely OK with losing this battle. I put on her shoes and hat , brought her to daycare in her pajamas and hoped for the best.

But before we got to the daycare,  I couldn't get her buckled in her carseat. She just wouldn't let me. And this is one battle I won't lose.As I'm reaching my limit, I see a friend walking down our block. He came over to the car, gave Anika a hug and buckled her in with not even a flinch from the screaming thrashing Anika I saw just moments ago.

At daycare, it was another screaming fit to UNBUCKLE her. Excuse me, Anika, but isn't this the buckle you DIDN'T want five minutes ago?

Well, I got her unbuckled ... sloooowly .... dropped her off ..... slowly...... and went shopping for a new pair of flip flops and sunscreen. It felt like it took an hour to find the sunscreen, don't ask how it's possible because I don't know.

So, hours later than I expected, I'm starting to clean the house and pack for everyone - as minimally as possible. I just made a super-strong pot of coffee and I'm going to try again. I'm going to relax (no matter what!), pack (for everyone) and  try not to feel bad about how many times I've called the office on my day off.

NOTE: I like to keep organized, so I'm reposting my old blogs in one spot. This one originally ran on May 21, 2009.