Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A salad for people who don’t like salads

I’m not a big fan of salad.

I realize that this is quite unfortunate (and ironic) for a person who has spent several years of her life as a vegetarian.

But I have recently discovered a salad that I not only will eat, but also look forward to eating. And, consequently, I feel it is my duty to share this recipe in the interest of improving the health of anti-salad folk everywhere. It’s called Sunny Avocado Citrus Salad, and if you like avocado, grapefruit or oranges, and onions, then read on.

If, however, the mere mention of the aforementioned ingredients makes you want to toss your cookies, then you should probably bow out now...

This recipe hails from a weekly coupon packet that is delivered to our home from our local grocer. I followed it verbatim, (save for the grapefruit, which I’ll explain a little later in this post). The thing that distinguishes this salad from most others is that it’s just…different. The honey lends a sweetness that nicely compliments the heat of the jalapeno peppers, and, similarly, the avocado gels with the red onion. This salad is just plain good. Honestly, it is unlike any that I have ever tasted.

Here’s what you do:

1 cup cucumber, julienned
½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 large grapefruit, sectioned (juice reserved)*
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. honey
4 ½ tsp. jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
¼ tsp. salt
2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced
4–8 Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped (depending on size of salad desired)
*As soon as I returned home from the market with all of my ingredients, only then did I realize that I had neglected to buy a grapefruit. (Dammit!) So I used the next best thing: about five or so of Scotty’s Halo tangerines.

Combine cucumber and onion in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons grapefruit (or tangerine) juice, oil, honey, peppers and salt until well blended. Pour mixture over cucumber and onions and toss. Add grapefruit and avocado and gently toss again. Divide chopped Romaine lettuce evenly on 4 plates. Top each with an equal portion of salad mixture. Refrigerate any leftovers. Serves 4. Or, if you literally inhale this salad like I do, then it will only serve one.

Let me know what you think, should you make this. I’d love to know…

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Monday, April 28, 2014

NFL by the Numbers: 1994

The 1994 NFL season marked the 75th regular season of the National Football League. 

And in celebration of this special anniversary, a commemorative patch was designed by the NFL for each player to wear on their jerseys throughout that season. The league also honored its 75th birthday by having each team wear “throwback” uniforms during selected games. “Throwbacks” are uniforms that are styled to resemble uniforms that a team wore in the past. For example, the Detroit Lions almost always wear throwbacks during our time-honored game on Thanksgiving Day – and I quite like our throwbacks. Kennedy (sitting in her Bumbo seat) is wearing Scott’s throwback jersey – with the 75th anniversary patch – in the photo above.

Many of the football jerseys that Scott wore on the field have been professionally cleaned, framed, and are on display in our home. But a few are tucked away in drawers so that we can pull them out and wear them on game day. The one on Kennedy is by far my favorite of all of Scott’s jerseys, and I keep it hanging in my closet.

For a not-so-great example of a throwback, click here. (I deeply apologize to any Pittsburgh Steelers fans, but I think these throwbacks look like Halloween costumes, in my bumble – er – humble opinion.)

Aside from a helmet and shoulder pads, a player’s jersey is arguably the most important piece of a football player’s ensemble. (Scott and I debate this from time to time, and he actually says it’s the shoulder pads because when you’re tackling and bringing down 300-plus-pound men, your shoulder pads can make all the difference.)

At first glance, one might think that there is little difference between an authentic jersey that a player wears and a decent replica jersey worn by a fan – they’re the same color and don the same name and number, right? But in fact, they are pretty dissimilar. And here’s how:

Fit
Unlike replica football jerseys which tend to fit loosely, the jerseys that players perform in are contoured to hug their body and are quite form-fitting. The reason for this is two-fold: The jersey has to allow enough room for a player’s pads (which are why the arm holes and hem are lined with elastic), but it also has to cling to a player’s body so that his opponent can’t grab onto his jersey and hold him back.

Material
The authentic football jerseys are made of heavyweight mesh and polyester. (The one pictured above is hot as hell to wear), while replica jerseys are made of 100% nylon.

Names and numbers
The numbers and names are screen-printed into replica jerseys, whereas the names and numbers on authentic jerseys are made of a heavy-duty, high-quality fabric and are individually sewn on.

Most sports fanatics wear jerseys on game day, and we, of course, are no different. However, Scott and I have also found another way to incorporate his jerseys into documenting the growth of our children, Scotty and Kennedy: On every birthday, we photograph Scotty in the same football jersey so that we can one day look back and see just how far he’s come, size-wise. I first did this when he was one, I did it last September when he turned two, I’ll do it again this year when he turns three, and I’ll continue to until he turns 18. We will also do the same with Kennedy…so we’ll put her back in this jersey in an official capacity in September when she turns one.

Do you own a football jersey? If yes, do you wear it often?


If you'd like to read more of my NFL-themed posts, you can find them by clicking on NFL on my list of post categories on the right side of this page.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

10 things I love about New Jersey

Well, we’re back.

The floor of our truck has been relegated to a cemetery of fossilized French fries, but we survived the 1,200-mile round-trip voyage to New Jersey. (The trek was surprisingly stress-free, thanks in part to this post.) Not one meltdown was suffered by either Thing One or Thing Two, not one expletive was stifled by Scott or me, and nary an item (a sock, teething toy, my sanity) was lost.

I’d say this trip was a success.

While I went into this afraid of what the road trip might bring, I knew that when we got there, we’d have a blast. Because Scott is from Jersey – born and bred – I have since adopted the state as my second home and truly love it there. And here are 10 of the reasons why:

1. The Jersey Shore
Boardwalks, salt water taffy, the Atlantic Ocean: What’s not to like about this state treasure? My favorite spots in the summer include Point Pleasant, Long Branch, and Wildwood. It was too cold last week, however, to don swimwear, pack a cooler, and make a day of it. But I still needed my fix and Scotty had never seen the ocean in person before, so we stopped at the shore in Asbury Park because it is a stone’s throw from Freehold. We parked between the tribute to Tillie and The Stone Pony, the bar where Springsteen got his start, and Scotty and I played on the jungle gym, right there on the beach.

2. Wawa
My devotion to Wawa hinges on this: A 20-ounce coffee for $1.79. And not just regular and decaf coffee, either – I’m talking pure Kona, Caramel, Hazelnut, Columbian, and other delectable flavors – and all the trimmings you could possibly want: Splenda, reduced fat half-and-half, you name it. Even their iced coffee (pictured) is The Bomb. Wawa, I bow to thee.

3. No pumping gas for drivers
Drivers cannot pump their own gas in New Jersey. It’s state law. So while us Michiganders are sweating like a whore in church to fill up our tanks in the summertime, or risking the loss of a digit from frostbite to do the same in the winter, Jersey folk sit idly by in the comfort of their automobiles while their tanks are filled by a gas station attendant. Because, again, it’s the law. Um, excuse me, elected officials here in Michigan, are you reading this?

4. The Radisson Hotel in Freehold
We needed a crib for Kennedy, so we notified the front desk and they delivered one ASAP. Then we needed a microwave to make Scotty’s macaroni and cheese, and, again, the staff was Johnny on the Spot. Their room service is awesome, as is the complimentary fresh lemon water in the lobby. (Unfortunately, there was nothing the hotel could do to keep Scotty from kneeing me in the back at night while I slept, however.)

5. No sales tax on clothes
For this very reason, I waited until we arrived in Jersey so that I could stock up on all the kids’ essentials: undershirts, socks, pajamas, etc. at the Carter’s store inside the Jersey Shore Premium outlets in Tinton Falls. With stores like Brooks Brothers, Theory, and Columbia, I could have easily blown a whole day – or seven – at that outlet. No sales tax on clothes: What a glorious concept. Oh, and again, Michigan elected officials, are you reading this? 

6. iPlay America Indoor Theme Park
This is the childhood equivalent to a clothing outlet inside a state with no sales tax on clothes. With amusement rides, a bowling alley, bumper cars, and a ginormous jungle gym all under one roof, Scotty let off so much steam with his cousins that I burned calories just watching him. (In the photos above with the nets, that's Scotty and his awesome big cousin, Jordan, in the jungle gym.) It’s a good thing he was dog tired when we left, otherwise Scott and I would have had to drag him out in a straightjacket. (We went on Good Friday – when the place was teeming with kids – and it was still tolerable for us parents.)

7. The eats
Authentic pizza pie from Trevi’s, Stefano’s, or Federici’s. A burger and waffle fries from Court Jester. A submarine sandwich from Sorrento’s: You simply can’t find this kind of heaven on a plate anywhere else.

8. The treats
Jersey Freeze is how soft serve ice cream was meant to taste. My go-to is a small cup of vanilla with cookie dough, rainbow sprinkles, and whipped cream. Yeah, you could say I am obsessed. And then there’s Old Monmouth Candies, which houses every confection imaginable. Ever have espresso peanut brittle? Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.

9. The People
Some people characterize New Jerseyans as rude and mean. I’ve also heard that they are about big hair, big boobs, and Bon Jovi. My take is that they are just plain real. Ironically, while reading an US Weekly on the drive to Jersey, I read a quote about Jersey folk by one of their own, Wendy Williams. I can’t remember the quote verbatim, but she said something to the effect that people from New Jersey are messy – “but in a good way.” I take her comment to mean that they are no-holds-barred and let it all hang out. What you see is what you get. People in Jersey may not have a filter, but they do have a heart. And, in that regard, there’s nothing bad about that. (And oh my Gawd, how I love their accent!)

10. My man
On September 27, 1968 in the shore town of Neptune, New Jersey, Scott Conover was born. He was a precocious little boy, creating make-shift science experiments out of mouthwash, shampoo, and pennies. He would go on to graduate from Purdue University and, later, play in the NFL. But his greatest accomplishment would come in the form of a son and daughter. Simply put, if it weren’t for him, there would be no us. Here we are at a Jersey State Park on the day before Easter:

Thanks for the memories, New Jersey! 

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Easy, creamy pasta


Do you whip up a bowl of pasta by boiling said pasta and then pouring heated spaghetti sauce – straight from the jar – on top? If you raised your hand, then you are my people.

You see, this method has worked for me – and Scotty – for quite some time. Hell, I’m not picky; back in my bachelorette days, Cheerios and a green apple constituted dinner, so even today, I’ll eat pretty much anything.

Scotty was okay with this, too, until seemingly overnight, he turned into Mr. Fancy Pants and his palette became more sophisticated. (I knew Scott should not have introduced him to shrimp cocktail.) Last night, I poured spaghetti sauce over boiled pasta for Scotty and he looked at me like I was feeding him Alpo. I stared back at him with an expression that read What do you want from me, kid? Eat.

So this is why – for more reasons I can count – it is beneficial to marry a chef. Scott flies in to save dinner by incorporating two ingredients that most of us already have in the fridge, even before grocery day:

He simply added garlic paste to the cooked pasta, then added the spaghetti sauce (which had been simmering on the stove), and he topped the whole thing off by mixing in a healthy dollop of sour cream. VoilĂ .  It instantly became a more appetizing dish.

Dear God, I hope Scotty doesn’t expect this kind of transformation with his Eggo waffles tomorrow morning because I got nothin’.

Disclaimer: If you have the pleasure of dining with toddlers, the sauce from this dish will still make clean-up a real PITA. You’ll do well by taking the advice I dispense here.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

10 SIGNS MOTHERHOOD HAS SUNK IN*


1.       When in the midst of deep sleep, a large aircraft could land on the roof, and you wouldn’t hear a thing. Yet, when a faint (read: barely audible) “eh” filters through the intercom, you awake with a start, and, as if on auto-pilot, begin to make your way to the nursery.

2.       A quick jaunt to the grocery store alone is so rare that when it does happen, it feels strangely liberating.

3.       Although an evening out sans kids is badly needed, the prospect of pumping a bottle, packing a diaper bag, and rounding up a sitter will seem like more trouble than it’s worth. So you'll gladly settle for a bottle of wine, a spot on the couch, and DVR'ed programming.

4.       Your sleep deprivation has reached an all-time high, and there’s no end in sight to this vicious cycle. It is your hope that your sleep pattern will recalibrate itself by 2027.

5.       Gone are the days when you could get away with doing the wash once a week. Now you’re left wondering where the hell all this dirty laundry is coming from. It seems to be multiplying at the rate of wet gremlins.

6.       Nothing you do in the bathroom is private anymore. Nothing.

7.       You’ve developed surprising upper body strength and dexterity which allows you to hold a thirty-plus-pound toddler and a pouch of pureed applesauce with one hand and fetch the broom and dustpan from the closet with the other.

8.       It becomes abundantly clear that you may never again do one thing at a time.

9.       You never thought your dance party playlist would include songs from Yo Gabba Gabba!, but it does, and guess what? You kind of like it.

10.   In the quiet of the night while you’re rocking your baby to sleep, or when your toddler – with wet, sticky hands and all – doles out a hug and a kiss when you need it the most but least expect it, you realize that you have never, ever known a love like this.


*This photo was not staged. I left my shoes by the door, and, unbeknownst to me, Scotty had retreated into his room with my precious Jimmy Choos so that he could use them as a slide for his Little People, which actually served as the catalyst for this post



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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

ROAD TRIP DECONSTRUCTED

La Familia Conover will soon embark on our annual voyage-by-car to the great state of New Jersey. And after much consideration – including playing out a myriad of “what if” scenarios in my mind, these are the exact items we’ll have on board so as to evade any meltdowns or mishaps. That said, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being a bit nervous about this adventure. Yes, I think I’ve got all the bases covered. But, still, God help us…

1.       Diono Radian RXT Daytona Convertible Car Seat: A bit pricy, yes, but I believe this to be the best run for your money, considering a child can go through at least two car seat stages during childhood. This seat goes from rear-facing, to forward-facing, to booster, and is a cinch to install. It is the only car seat our kids will ever need. albeebaby.com; $269.00

2.       100% Cashmere Pullover: You know how I feel about my cashmere sweaters. We’ll be driving through the night and I find these sweaters to be more versatile and comfortable than a jacket. I’ve ordered a few more just to take on this trip – inexpensive ones from eBay so that if they incur a few snarls or snags along the way, I won’t be too upset. I bought this one by Charter Club new with tags for under $20 from a New York clothing wholesaler. eBay; $16.99

3.       Saucony Hattori Running Shoe: The lightest running shoe I’ve ever worn. (They wash well in the machine, too.) Plus, they are slip-ons with an easy-peasy Velcro closure, so I’ll be able to take them off easily when I get in the car, and then put them back on again with ease when we make pit stops. If you care to order a pair, just know that they run small. amazon.com; $69.95

4.       Sleep mask: I can’t get shut-eye – in a bed or a car – without it. Marshalls; $4.99

5.       Sony Portable DVD player: I bought this dinosaur back in 2007 as a wedding present for Scott. But since it’s still ticking, we’ll be taking it with us. Best Buy

6.       Dr. Seuss - How the Grinch Stole Christmas DVD (1966): Scotty watches it All. Year. Round. It’s the gift that keeps on giving in this house. And no disrespect to Jim Carey, but only the original will do. amazon.com; $11.67

7.       Infantino Rory the Loveable Lion Linkable Toy: This is Kennedy’s homegirl. walmart.com; $13.99

8.       Zoo Animal Character Bubble Bottles: The best cheapo bubbles around – and the fact that they are the size of a box of Tic-Tacs makes this a genius invention. orientaltrading.com; $5 per dozen                                                              

9.       Super WHY! – Jack and the Beanstalk (in paperback): Because morning is not morning without Super WHY!. amazon.com; $7.99

10.   Louis Vuitton Batignolles Horizontal: I used to carry this bag during my suit-and-heels career days. Now it is stuffed with broken crayons and miniature canisters of Play-Doh. It is one of the most functional totes Louis Vuitton ever made. Too bad it has since been discontinued. Louis Vuitton; $795

11.   Oakley Gascan Sunglasses: Only the best for Scott, our trip’s captain. zappos.com; $100

12.   Mind Power by John Kehoe: Perhaps the book that has had the most influence on my adult life. I re-read it at least once every year. amazon.com; $10.68

13.   Vogue: Maybe if I skim through this before we stop off at McDonald’s, I’ll have the necessary willpower to not order a large fry. Where magazines are sold; $4.99

14.   Peekaboo Bedtime by Rachel Isadora: The kids and I love anything by Rachel Isadora, and this is one of her best works. amazon.com; $5.99

15.   Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits CD: An obvious choice, seeing as though Scott and The Boss Man share the same hometown and attended the same high school. amazon.com; $9.99

16.   Double-sided Fleece Tie Blanket: With a University of Michigan print on one side, and a Purdue University print on the other, this blanket represents both Scott and my alma maters and was made by hand by one of my yoga students in celebration of Kennedy’s birth. (Thank you, Lisa!)

17.   Yo Gabba Gabba Music Is Awesome CD: 21 earworms. On one CD. amazon.com; $12.09

18.   Rapper’s Delight by SugarHill Gang (1979) CD: The holy grail of clean, classic rap. amazon.com; $10.39

19.   Twizzlers Strawberry Twists: These will be gone by the time we hit the Ohio Turnpike. walmart.com; $3.48

20.   Michigan apples: To mitigate the damage (at least somewhat) of #19.

21.   Fuhu Nabi Jr. (Not pictured): I can’t believe I neglected to include this in the collage above because This Little Tablet That Could has the ability to soothe the savage beast that is a tired and irritable two-year-old. Scotty loves this thing. (Thanks, Grandma!) amazon.com; $149.99





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Monday, April 14, 2014

My Kids’ Hair Care Regimen

I may spend hours beating my curly locks into submission by wielding a hot-as-fire blow dryer and flat iron, but I certainly don’t inflict such cruelty on my children’s hair. I take their hair health extremely seriously, and I think one of the best ways I can achieve this is by doing as little to their hair as possible; the old adage that less is more certainly applies here. In fact, Scotty hasn’t even had his hair cut professionally by a barber yet – I still cut his hair while he’s playing in the bathtub. Similarly, baby Kennedy hasn’t had anything done to her hair – save for washing, a trend that I plan to continue well into her childhood. (I haven’t quite determined when I will teach her the art of the masterful blowout, but I can tell you that I’m no rush to apply heat in any form to her hair.)

I’m all about keeping their hair moisturized and allowing their beautiful curls to just be. Here’s what I use on their hair:

Step #1: Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns
This shampoo is my jam. I can’t sing its praises enough. I started using this on Scotty when he was just two months old because he had a crazy case of cradle cap. (Something he no doubt inherited from yours truly, what with my eczema-prone skin.) After a few washes, it all but disappeared, but I’ve continued to use this shampoo on him because it is gentle and smells wonderful. I use this on Kennedy, too, and my method is the same for both children: wash their hair with this while they’re in the bathtub. And I love that a little goes a long way. Three pumps per wash are enough. Amazon.com, $9.90

Step #2: Skala Avocado Leave-In Styling Cream
I am so enamored with this product that I would consider buying stock in it – even though it’s not available here in the United States. Here’s the quick and dirty: I became aware of Skala while combing the aisles of my local Big Lots one afternoon when I was eight-months-pregnant with Scotty. The fact that I’m a hair product junkie + this cost only a dollar per bottle = a no-brainer sale. I get home, try it out, and fall in love. Then, much to my dismay, I learn that this product is from Brazil and is hard as hell to find. So I went back and bought all the remaining bottles. Yes, All. Of. Them. Then I stored them in a bathroom cabinet I rarely open and forgot all about my $30-worth of product. On a whim one day, I decided to try it out on Scotty and Kennedy, and, much to my delight, it works beautifully and really defines their curls, while leaving them soft and manageable. A little goes a long way, so I only apply a nickel-sized dollop after I rinse out the Mustela. For the life of me, I don’t know what I’m going to do after my stash runs out: I can’t find this product anywhere anymore – I may have to plan a trip to Brazil. Although Amazon carries an array of Skala products, sadly, my beloved avocado leave-in isn’t one of them.

Step #3: Mixed Chicks Deep Conditioner & Argan Magic Intensive Hair Oil
Now, this is where Scotty and Kennedy’s regimen differs: If I need a styling aid to polish up and tame Scotty’s curls, say, first thing in the morning after his hair has air-dried overnight, I wet his hair and apply a dime-sized amount of Mixed Chicks Deep Conditioner, and he’s good to go. (Although this is not designed to be a leave-in, I use it as such with wonderful results.) For Kennedy, though, whose curls are a bit looser than Scotty’s, Argan Magic Intensive Hair Oil is a far better choice. I actually apply a few drops of this right after I apply the Skala to her hair, and I’ll re-apply just the oil in the morning, if needed. It smells divine and does wonders for curl definition (but it does absolutely nothing for Scotty’s hair.) 
Mixed Chicks Deep Conditioner; Target, $13.99.               
Argan Magic Intensive Hair Oil; Marshalls, $9.99

Here they both are with their new coiffures after "bathy":
While Scotty and Kennedy’s hair looks nearly identical wet (tight ringlets), their hair texture is quite different. Scotty’s hair remains tightly curled even after it has dried, while Kennedy’s curls actually relax and become larger and softer as her hair dries.

If you have further questions about my children’s hair regimen, chances are, you’re not the only one! Please type your questions in the comment section below this post, and I will post my reply there in hopes that I can help other readers, too. Thank You!

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Friday, April 11, 2014

THE COPY CAT: FRIEND OR FOE?

We’re all adults here, but I want to know what you think about a relatively elementary concept: Copy cats.

How do you perceive them?

Do they bother you?

Or do they barely register on your Richter scale of consciousness?

And what really constitutes an act of coping, anyway?

I mean, if someone were to, say, invent and patent a waterproof device that would enable us to shave our legs while we condition and detangle our hair in the shower, and if I went out and reproduced the exact same thing, then that is, of course, a textbook example of copying at work.

But I’m not talking about that.

I’m talking about murkier cases; cases when you know that what the other person has/is doing/is wearing is a direct reflection of something they saw you having/doing/wearing.

I have a younger cousin who, when we were children, used to copy virtually everything I did…right down to the way I crossed my legs when we’d ride in the backseat of my mother’s car together. She would also want to eat what I ate; wear what I wore, etc.

And. It. Drove. Me insane.

It is because of this aforementioned experience that I sat up and took notice of something Carole Radziwill of The Real Housewives of New York said during a recent episode that blared in the background while I unloaded the dishwasher:

"Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. Flattery is the sincerest form of flattery."

I tend to agree. But to be sure, I tried this theory on for size by way of a hypothetical scenario:

If you read this blog even somewhat regularly, you know that I review products – many of them I’ve purchased on my own accord and write about because I ultimately want you to experience them as well.

Posts like my Diaper Bag Deconstructed and The. Best. Winter. Boots. Ever. are perfect examples. Let’s say you went out and bought the same nylon Longchamp tote to use as a diaper bag, followed by the exact same pair of Bog boots, and then you e-mailed me to inform me of this.

My verdict?

I’d think that’s awesome! Really, I would. And I'd be – for lack of a better word – flattered.

But let’s say that one of my close friends did the exact same thing.

I’m not going to lie: I’d think it was...weird.

Let’s say, one day while grabbing coffee with said friend, I waxed poetic about the merits of Patagonia fleece, and then the next thing I know, her daughter has on the exact same bunting suit I bought for Kennedy.

Let's say that I wasn't trying to sell my friend on Patagonia fleece. I was just talking about how much I liked it.

Would that be weird?

Hell-to-the-yeah. (Go ahead, flame away and call me shallow; I can take it.)

It wouldn’t set me off or anything, but I would definitely characterize the behavior as mildly irritating. And, frankly, I would wonder what’s next: I would wonder if my friend would, in the words of another Bravo Real Housewife, “want to skin me and wear me like last season’s Versace.”

But, let me flip the script for a moment.

While I wouldn’t buy the exact item one of my close friends owns, I wholeheartedly admit to having bought my navy blue Birkenstock Gizehs because I saw them on Julia Roberts first.

Furthermore, I've taken heed to advice doled out by my bloggy friends with regard to products, recipes, and more.

So is the act of copying ultimately defined by whether the other person knows he or she is being copied, or better yet, encourages it?

I feel like, on the one hand, society tells us to "keep up with the Joneses," (which I believe is totally bullsh!t); but, yet, we're somehow deemed less than if we copy.

So which is it? 

And furthermore, what, if anything, does gender have to do with it?

I asked The Hubs for his take on the matter, and he wouldn’t be bothered in the slightest if one of his friends, say, bought a sweater identical to his or a replica of our dining room table.

Does the estrogen coursing through my veins inherently make me more insecure?

To a certain degree, aren’t we all just collecting inspiration and filing away images from each other as we meander through life?

But, really.

Is imitation really the sincerest form of flattery?


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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tag! Get to Know Me!

Before we delve into my questions and answers, I owe a huge thank you to my girl Louida, who blogs over at Product Review Mom for selecting me to participate in this game of tag. 

Okay, here we go...

1. Are you named after someone?
 Yes, I share my middle name, Jane, with my mother's twin, whose middle name is also Jane. (Jane is my daughter Kennedy's middle name, too.)

2. When was the last time you cried?
I can't recall. But I did feel profound sadness a few nights ago when The Hubs and I were watching HBO's The Wire, and on this particular episode, there were kids fending for themselves as their parents ran amok, completely strung out on drugs. No child should ever have to live like that.

3. Do you have kiddos?
 Sure do. A son, Scotty, Jr. (2.5 years old) and a daughter, Kennedy (6 months old): 


4. If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?
 For the most part, yes. But I wholeheartedly admit to being a real pain in the ass when I'm hungry or frustrated. I'm working on that.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?
 Bravo TV, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and champagne after the kids are tucked at night. (Although, I don't really feel all that guilty about the champagne; and it’s not every night, either.)

6. Do you like your handwriting?
I abhor my handwriting – and it has only gotten even worse due to my constant typing and texting.

7. What’s your favorite cereal?
 Nature's Path granola

8. What’s the first thing you notice about people?
 First, their eye contact. The energy they give off is a close second.

9. What is your eye color?
Dark Brown

10. Scary movie or happy endings?
It's a toss up. It depends.

11. Favorite TV show?
Although I don’t watch a lot of TV, I have several shows that I enjoy. But I think I’m going to have to go with Sex and the City.

12. Summer or Winter?
Neither. I prefer spring or fall.

13. Hugs or Kisses?
With my family? Tons of both!

14. What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?
Europe.

15. Do you have any special talents?
I studied Spanish, German, and Arabic in college and, in some cases, can still get by; I can play the flute; I can cry just like a newborn baby; and I can find a yellow needle in a haystack on eBay. I'm the jack of all trades, master of none.

16. Where were you born?
Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Go Blue!)

17. What are your hobbies?
Blogging, teaching and practicing yoga, writing, traveling, and reading.

18. Do you have any pets?
No. But I love my mother's Bichon Frise, Sir Meister, like a little brother. He has quite the collection of Halloween get-ups:


19. Favorite movie?
Casino

20. What color is your car?
Maroon

21. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I’ll do work that is fun and helpful; I’ll become a successful lifestyle expert and New York Times bestselling author; and I’d like to be interviewed by Oprah. Yeah, I dream big. (Hey, if I don’t believe in me, why should anyone else?)

This game is like the gift that keeps on giving because I've tagged the following awesome bloggers:

This Old Guy’s Musings                 
       Second Chances Girl                       
                         Erin and Sandra, the fabulous sisters of It’s TidyTime                                
Dina’s Days                         
British Mum USA              
Lexa Cain                             

I can't wait to read their responses! And if anyone else would like to join in on the fun, feel free! Simply provide a link to your blog in the comments below, and I'll be sure to swing by for a visit!
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Coming out of the closet

It’s really more like throwing it out of the closet.

I generally give my closet a good, thorough purging at least once a year, but since I didn’t complete this ritual at all in 2013, it is long overdue. Our daughter, Kennedy, was conceived in January of last year, and by all accounts, it looked as if I began gaining weight with her as soon as the sperm reached my egg. And trust me, it is extremely difficult to find the motivation to go through, fold, and rearrange all the cute clothing that you simply won’t be wearing for the foreseeable future. Seemingly overnight, my cute cardigan sweaters, skinny jeans, and Be Present yoga gear became sartorial relics of my former self.

So I just did nothing and let it pile up.

But since I have regained some semblance of what I was size-wise, the time has come to dive back in and reorganize. Here’s my rule of thumb: Set out to create three piles – one pile is for stuff that you know right off the bat you want to discard; the second pile is for stuff you are fairly certain you want to keep; and then there is the maybe pile. You know, what I’m talking about, the stuff you know damn well you’ll probably never wear again, but, for some unknown reason you can’t let go of. Take this pile of emotional baggage and set it somewhere in your house where you rarely go. (If you’re like me, that would be the oven.) Put the pile in that area, shut the door, and go about your life. If three months go by and you do not return to that area to retrieve something, then you know that you can live without it. Toss it. Get rid of everything in that pile.

You won’t wear it anyway.

You will be okay.

So the photo on the right is what remains. Easter Seals is coming bright and early tomorrow, and I’ve already got my bags by the garage door so that I can run them out to the curb before the sun comes up, at which point there will be no turning back. Which reminds me…I have to clean out the closet by the back door. The other day I opened it up and got pummeled by an avalanche of baseball caps and stray mittens.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Delivery Differences: Baby #1 vs. Baby #2

Our children, Scotty and Kennedy, were born 2 years and 17 days apart. Both were born by way of a run-of-the-mill, uncomplicated vaginal birth with the blessed assistance of an epidural.

Beyond that, though, their labors and deliveries were night and day. For starters, Scotty’s total labor and delivery time was nine hours, while Kennedy’s was just shy of four. Here’s how they stack up when compared to each other:

The Water Factor
Baby #1: With Scotty, my water had to be broken.
Baby #2: While sweeping the floor one morning at 10:20 a.m., I felt a trickle down below, followed by the clichĂ©-ish description that “I felt like I was peeing on myself.” An hour or so later, when I lowered my big butt onto the wheelchair at the hospital’s valet drop-off, the levy broke. Big time.
There. Was. Water. Everywhere.

The Hair Factor
Baby #1: I was induced for Scotty; Scott and I inked the date a week before it happened. Therefore, I had ample time to do everything – including take care of the hair situation in the southern hemisphere.
Baby #2: It was a jungle down there. My husband joked that our daughter just might come out with a safari hat on.

The Ick Factor
Baby #1: After tending to my lady bits, I was free to luxuriate in what I – no lie – remember to be a 40-minute shower before heading to the hospital for the induction. I was clean as a whistle.
Baby #2: No shower. Kennedy’s labor felt as if I was being shot out of a canon. I had little time to even process what was happening. And before you say that I should have already showered by 10: 20 a.m., I was nine months pregnant, with an ass the size of Texas, and moving at the rate of a sedated moose.
I was lucky to have even made it out of the house properly clothed.

The Push Factor
Baby #1: After nearly four hours of Pitocin, Scotty’s push time clocked in at 2 hours and 41 minutes – you could say he was a biggin at 8 pounds, 11 ounces. While The Juice minimized the discomfort somewhat, pushing Scotty out still required the presence of a rope – yes, a rope, which the nurse held at one end as I pulled and yanked on the other. Oh, and TMI alert: I built a log cabin right there on the table.
Baby #2: No rope. No embarrassing defecation (thank God). I pushed for not even 30 minutes with Kennedy, who was 6 pounds, 14 ounces. (After the path Scotty had cleared, I’m sure she thought she was coming down a slide.)

The Milk Maid Factor
Baby #1: Nursing was easy-peasy. From the very first latch to my last suckle 17 months later, it was pure bliss.
Baby #2: There were times when chewing and swallowing glass would have been preferable. The first two weeks were hell: Cracked, bleeding nipples, the sensation of someone grinding a Scotch-Brite pad against my breast…the works. At one point, I thought it was her and scheduled an appointment with her pediatrician to have her frenulum clipped. When that wasn’t necessary, I thought it must be me and cried out to just about every lactation consultant within a 20-mile radius of our home. Guess what? It was neither. The problem eventually worked itself out, and it’s thankfully been smooth sailing ever since.

And you know what? If I had to do it all again, I wouldn't change one thing.

What differences/surprises did you encounter during your pregnancy(ies)?

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