Friday, February 26, 2010

A Blogging Identity Crisis.

When I started this blog, I had no real idea what I was going to do with it. I had this domain name, and needed to find something to write about. So I  began chronicling my pregnancy and told friends and family where to find me.

For many, many moons, they were the only ones who read it. But then something happened. I started getting into this whole blogging thing in a serious way.  I loved having my own personal soapbox. I loved feeling like I was connected to a larger community of women. Blogging became less of a "want to" and more of a "have to for my sanity's sake."

And now? Well, obviously, this here blog is still pretty tiny in the big scheme of things. But it's getting bigger, and being read by people from all over the darned place. And when you google "amber page?"  This is the first listing that comes up.

All that is perfectly awesome, of course. being out here like this, writing on a blog called "Amber Page Writes," is making my family nervous. Because that means they're all out there too. I mean, I try to be careful about what I say. The general rule is, if I don't want my mom or my boss to read it, I don't put it out there.

But what I consider over sharing and what the rest of my family considers over sharing are sometimes two very different things. Two very, very different things.

So, I'm toying with the idea of changing my name.

I've got a domain purchased and everything—it's "Adventures of a Clueless Mom."

The question is, should I? Or is this something I should have thought about six months ago? Would I be shooting myself in the foot? I really want your advice. What do you guys think?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Life of a Goddess (minus all the perks).

Today, I am leading a life of leisure. For the first time since Tori was born, I spent the entire day in bed. Yes, folks. The entire day.

I have a jug of ice water at my side. A plethora of magazines and books for my reading pleasure. A variety of snacks available to soothe my delicate hunger pains. And of course, my iPod, trusty computer and TV remote control.

I am laying on 400 thread count sheets. A ceiling fan is blowing a gentle breeze on my face. The sun shines through my window, sparkling beautifully on the dust bunnies that live in my corners.

Even better, the house is silent. The hub is at work, and the babe is at daycare. My only companions are of the furred variety, and their demands are much simpler (and more easily ignored).

The cost of this day of (ahem) bliss? A belly fully of incisions that weep pink blood every time I move. Also, pain that has me whimpering into my pillow, controllable only with the precious vial of little white pills that sits on my nightstand. And, of course, a stomach so bloated that I look like I am six months pregnant once again (and I really wasn't missing that particular look).

Yes, ladies, heaven has its price. And its name is Abdominal Surgery. Be jealous of me if you will, but remember, if your body is fucked up enough, you too can join me in my pillowed paradise.

And this is what will have to pass for a pithy post today (as I mentioned, I may be a bit high on painkillers).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yo Gabba Gabba: I'm Not Drinking the Koolaid.

Okay, guys. I admit it. I'm still relatively new to this whole parenting thing, and so may not fully appreciate the wonder that is a television show that holds a rug rat's interest for a whole thirty minutes. But Yo Gabba Gabba? Creeps me the heck out.

I mean, dudes, those characters are scary. Just look at 'em:


Tell me how Muno, the six-foot tall dildo, is supposed to make me feel warm and fuzzy inside? If you ask me, Brobee looks like something straight out of a technicolor nightmare, as does Toodee. The only one who gets any cute points at all, in my humble opinion, is Foofa, and from what I've seen, she doesn't get as much screen time as some of the others.

And as for DJ Lance? Well, picking on him is just too easy. So I won't. Besides, you've got to respect a grown man who isn't afraid to run around in an orange jumpsuit.  

Now, I've heard that the music is what makes the show so attractive to young and old alike, but for the most part, the songs they sing make me want to shoot myself in the ear so I never have to hear them again. Especially this one:

After I watch this, there's no party in my tummy. Maybe a little vomit in my mouth, but that's not the same thing. And sure, it is pretty catchy (I'm sure I'll be singing it until I want to bash my head in), but that's not always a good thing.

Nope, for shows featuring culturally relevant music, I think my house is going to rely on good old Sesame Street.

How can you not laugh at that?

I'm sure I've outraged a good number of you (this Yo Gabba Gabba thing seems to have achieved crazy cult status), and maybe have even tempted a few of you to hit the un-follow button, but I hope we can still be friends.

Who knows. Maybe a few months from now, someone will have forced the magic koolaid down my throat, and I'll be wanting Muno to be my daughter's first boyfriend. But for now? I'd like to keep them as far from me and mine as humanly possible.

I won't lose my official Mommy Card for that, will I?

Monday, February 22, 2010

A First Birthday Dilemma.

In six short weeks, Tori will celebrate her first birthday, crossing the boundary from babyhood into toddlerhood. She, of course, will have no idea that she celebrating such a momentous occasion, but I? I will know.

And I think that milestone sounds like a fantastic reason to get falling down drunk. I mean, come on. After surviving childbirth, six months without a single good night's sleep, and all the assorted trials, tribulations and nasty surprises the first year had to offer (projectile poop, anyone?), I think mama deserves to let her hair down a little, don't you?

But since that's not a socially acceptable way to spend a child's first birthday, the real dilemma centers around how big of a party to throw. And where.

See, we live many, many miles away from our nearest and dearest, including all Tori's aunts, uncles (biological and honorary) and grandparents. So while we could invite them all down here for her birthday party, chances are no one but the grandparents would show. I could also bully my friends here into coming, but I've attended far too many painfully boring children's parties to force that particular fate on anyone.

In other words, if I insist on having her birthday here, it will be a quiet celebration. Which isn't a bad thing. In fact, until very recently, that's what I thought I wanted. Just me, Brian, Tori and a big old cake to smash all over her face.

But now? That seems kind of lonely. Truth is, after a long winter completely free of family obligations, I kind of miss them. Okay, I really miss them.

Which makes our other option—that of turning her first birthday into a weekend-long road trip to Michigan—seem like a halfway decent idea. Except for the fact that on our last trip  home, her screams did permanent damage to our ear drums. She, to put it lightly, is not a fan of her car seat.

So is it fair to subject her to 14 hours of car seat-induced torture, just so I can have the first birthday party I want for her? I don't know.

Plus, I know if I do bring the party to the people, the grandmas will take over, most likely not letting me pay for much and exhausting themselves in the attempt to throw the perfect party. And that's not really fair to them, is it?

I also worry that my assorted relatives would think all this is just a ploy to get more presents for her.  Which it isn't (or wouldn't be). That girl has more toys than any baby needs—especially since her favorite play things are currently a bungee cord and my old electronic piano synthesizer thing.

I really don't know what to do. So Internet, I'm asking you. Am I worrying too much about all this? Should I just have a quiet party at home, and let the relatives come down when it's convenient for them? Or should I drag my little family to Motown and make it an occasion to remember?

Or, should I go for option three and just go buy myself a giant bottle of champagne and obliterate my memories of her first year in a sea of bubbles? I do love champagne...

Tell me what to do.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Screw the Baby Belly: I'm Celebrating Over Here.

Six weeks ago, I thought I was dying. I was suffering from a white hot pain so excruciating that I was absolutely convinced my appendix was rupturing. Was, in fact, minutes from exploding and sending me off to meet my maker.

One four hour ER visit and $5000 later, I found out that I couldn't be more wrong. Nope, the source of all that ridiculous pain was just my ovary's new little friend - a tiny little cyst that had claimed squatting rights on its side.

For a moment, I was relieved. After all, a cyst sounds pretty harmless, right?  But then my doctors had to go and ruin it by telling me that my ovary's friend could be cancerous.

Yep, that's right. They put the word cancer out into the universe. They were almost absolutely certain that it was most likely nothing to be worried about - but they were worried, nonetheless.

So they sent me for blood tests. Blood tests to find out if I had cancer. Blood tests that, when they came back, were frighteningly inconclusive. I most likely didn't have cancer, but then again, I might. But, my doctors assured me, I shouldn't be worried. I should just forget I'd ever heard the word cancer, because I probably didn't have it.

Which is, of course, exactly what I did.

I forgot that my body was possibly under attack. That my ovary’s little friend could have invited its entire family to move in. That, depending on what the next round of tests turned up, my life could be turned upside down, filled with surgery and chemo and bone-chilling fear.

Yep. That’s exactly what I did.

I certainly didn't lie awake at night, wondering what it feels like to die. I didn't wonder if it was too late to get religion - and if the powers that be would forgive me for my transgressions.

I didn't worry about what would happen to my family if I died. I didn't think about my baby girl growing up without me, or about Brian having to cope with single parenthood, or about my mom and dad having to bury their youngest child.

Nope, I didn't worry. Not one little bit.

So, because I wasn't the least bit concerned, I didn't get half-drunk on Thursday night, just so I wouldn't have to think about the next day's appointment. I didn't wake up feeling sick to my stomach, or down half a bottle of pepto bismol for breakfast.  I certainly didn't spend my working hours staring vacantly at my computer screen, sending up half-formed prayers.

I didn't hold my breath all through the ultrasound, or almost break down sobbing when the test revealed what I already knew - that my ovary's friend was still there. I didn't almost puke when I was sent back out to the lobby to wait for the doctor's verdict.

And when my doctor told me that it wasn't cancer? That it was just a weird cyst that had to come out - but a decidedly non-malignant one? I didn't make him repeat himself ten times, or have to pinch myself to resist the urge to jump off the table (half naked or no) and hug him.

Nope, that wasn't me. And if you believe all that? I've got some directions to a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow somewhere to the left of sunrise...

I don't have cancer. I do have to have surgery, but I don't have cancer. The idea of surgery, which would normally scare the shit out of me, has never sounded less worrisome than it does right at this moment. Because I don't have cancer. You hear that? I don't have cancer (if I repeat that enough, I'm sure I'll start to believe it).

And because I don't have cancer? I'm not getting anywhere near the scale this week. I. Just. Don't. Care. My body isn't killing me. So it can be just as fat as it wants to.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go hug my baby  (the one I get to see grow up) and kiss my husband (the one I get to see all old and wrinkly) another time or five hundred.

But don't worry. The regularly scheduled weigh-ins will resume next week. After all, my skinny jeans are waiting to celebrate my cancer-free status with me.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Writer's Workshop: You Know You Live in a Small Town When...

It was a busy Friday afternoon at a popular downtown cafe. Brian and I were enjoying a leisurely, baby-free lunch, eavesdropping on the people around us (as we like to do), when the grad student-type person sitting next to us got up and walked away.

BRIAN: Amber, check this out.

ME: Oh, don't worry. I already saw the sorority sluts. And no, I am not going to get a pair of stiletto whore boots like those.

BRIAN:  They are pretty hot, but that's not what I'm talking about. Look at the table next to us.

ME: What? What am I supposed to be looking at?

BRIAN: Open your eyes, woman. Don't you see the computer? And the iPhone?

ME: Yeah, so?

BRIAN: So that guy just got up and left that stuff there.

ME: Well, maybe he really had to pee or something. He has been drinking a lot of coffee.

BRIAN: Yeah, but that's an iPhone. Anyone could steal it!

ME: Shhhh. He's coming back.

We quickly looked away, trying to pretend we hadn't been staring at his stuff.

ME (LOUDER): Yeah, so I thought maybe we could go see that movie this afternoon.

BRIAN: Movie??? But I thought you wanted to furniture shop...

ME: I dunno. We should keep our options open...wait, is he leaving again?

He was. And this time, he left more stuff out on the table.

BRIAN: Want to go rob his house? He left his keys for us this time.

ME: Who needs a key? He probably left the door open for us.

BRIAN: Right. Although if this is the way he treats his stuff, there's probably not much left to steal, anyway.

ME: No kidding. I mean, I know this is a small town and all, but it's not like we live in Mr. Roger's neighborhood or something. People take shit.

BRIAN: Shhhhh.

Brian started picking at his dessert while I fumbled for something in my purse, sure our neighbor must know we had been talking about him.

BRIAN: This cupcake is nasty.

ME: So don't eat it.

BRIAN: I paid five bucks for this thing. I'm damn well going to...

This time, we both openly stared as Mr. Dumbass got up, put on his beret and stepped outside, leaving his stuff where it was.

BRIAN: Okay, maybe this is like one of those Dateline things.

ME: What, like To Catch a Predator?

BRIAN: Yeah. Except instead of child molesters, they're trying to get petty thieves.

ME: Could be. I'm guessing he's just a little too trusting, though. Either that, or he's a major pothead, and has fried all the brain cells that should be reminding him to pick up his stuff.

BRIAN: Well, are you ready to get out of here? I can't stand to watch this anymore.

ME: I kind of feel like we should stay and guard his stuff...

BRIAN: Oh, come on. Don't be such a girl scout. We've only got four hours till we have to pick up the kidoodle.

ME: Okay, fine. You're right. I hope no one takes anything, though.

BRIAN: Well, he has only himself to blame if they do.

So we left. But I'm still wondering if we were being filmed for a Public Access TV version of Dateline... I'll keep you posted. Now head over to Mama Kat's to see what the other Workshoppers did this week.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: How Does Your Garden Grow?

Oh, February. For gardeners like me, it's probably the most agonizing month of the year. Why? Well, because it's been ages since we've been able to get our hands dirty.

Months since we've seen anything green growing in our gardens.

And far too long since we've been able to dig down deep and savagely rip those pesky little weeds out by their roots (which we may or may not be pretending are the throats of the people who make us mad).

But it's not quite time to start hoping for spring and the pale green shoots that accompany it. Almost, but not quite. So what's a gardening fool supposed to do? Peruse gardening porn, errr, plant catalogs, of course.

That's just what I did last night. I had a big stack of glossy magazines, which I reverently opened one by one, reveling in the riot of color that greeted my flower-starved gaze on every page. By the time I was done, I had mentally spent about $567483902.

In actuality, of course, I didn't spend a thing. But here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few of my favorite theoretical acquisitions from White Flower Farm.


This is a Baja Lily. Isn't it scrumptious? 

These are Belladonna delphiniums. I've always had a soft spot for these beauties—even though they're ridiculously difficult to grow. 

Check out these Hot Papaya coneflowers. I must have them for the name alone.


I've never traveled down Route 66, but if it looks anything like these Route 66 coreopsis, I think I should.

 Banana Cream shasta daisies just sound delicious, don't they?

And that will conclude the flower porn edition of Wordful Wednesday. Be sure to head over to Seven Clown Circus to see what the other participants have to offer.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seventeen Years of Discovering the World Together.

Seventeen years ago today, my husband and I went on our first date. He had called that morning, out of the blue, to see if I might be free, then sheepishly admitted I'd have to pick him up—his car was out of commission.

Giggling, I agreed, not quite believing the turn my life was taking. I'd certainly never imagined Brian would ask me out. He was just the funny (but attached) guy who sat next to me in class every day, cracking me up for the whole two hour period.

I couldn't tell you exactly what I wore, but I know I agonized over my outfit for hours. I'm sure my jeans were pegged to perfection, and that my lipstick was applied crookedly (I still hadn't gotten the hang of the whole makeup thing).

It was a cold winter's night, much like this one, and I shivered as I waited in his driveway, strangely jittery. After all, this was Brian—someone I already considered a dear friend. There was no reason to be nervous!

The proof that he already knew me well was in the movie he picked. We went to see Aladdin, the newest Disney flick (I did and still do enjoy a good Disney romp). Afterward, we enjoyed a romantic dinner at Burger King, where I sipped on a strawberry shake and munched on french fries long after they had gone cold and clammy.

We talked and laughed for hours— ignoring the nasty stares the staff gave us as they swept around our table, clearly trying to close for the night. I vividly remember the feeling of wonder that overtook me about halfway through the evening when I realized I really liked this guy. As in, liked him liked him.

At long last, curfew grew close and so we headed for home. I think we had our first kiss that night (although, since we went out four nights in a row, my memory's a little foggy as to which one it was). I know I arrived home with a smile in my heart and laughter in my eyes, suddenly excited to see what the rest of my senior year would bring.

And if you had told me then that I'd found my soul mate on that cold February night? Although I wouldn't have admitted it, somewhere way down deep inside I would have known you were telling the truth.

Here's to a lifetime spent discovering how wonderful the world can be when you have someone to share it with.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Valentine Done Good.

Internet, I have a confession to make. I may be just a little evil. Why, you ask? Well, because when I wrote Thursday's post—you know, the one full of Valentine's Day dos and don'ts? I had a feeling it might make for a slightly more valentine-y Valentine's Day around here.

And I was right.

In our house, Valentine's Day started on February 12, and continued on right through the weekend. The hub and I both took Friday off (but sent the munchkin to daycare), giving us eight whole hours of free time. And you know what we did?

Get your minds out of the gutter! My mom reads this blog...

We went furniture shopping. That's right. My determined-to-be-romantic husband said we could do whatever I darn well pleased, and I dragged him through every furniture store in town. Every. Single. One. In my defense, this is impossible to do with a baby in tow, but I do recognize that I could maybe use some romance lessons of my own.

On Saturday, the wooing continued. He took over baby duties for the afternoon so I could take some time out for myself. He probably hoped I'd visit Victoria's Secret, or go get my legs waxed or something. So you know what I did?

I took a nap. That's right. A two hour nap (I'm not helping my case here, am I).

Later he went out and got us some takeout...from Olive Garden. I know, it seems like an odd choice, but that restaurant holds a lot of fond memories for us. So anyway, he got what I ordered, and as a surprise, even splurged for a bottle of my favorite wine and some tiramisu (the tiramisu was what made me swoon).

He didn't even complain when I fell asleep on his shoulder at 11:15 (yes, after the two hour nap. Disgraceful, I know).

To cap it all off, yesterday, I came downstairs to find a dozen red roses with a card nestled in their blooms. And in the card? Was a gift certificate for a massage.

In short, my baby done good. So, Internet, I owe him an apology. It turns out, he does a romantic bone or two. I'm thinking next year I might loudly complain about the lack of tropical vacations in my life. Think that'll have the same effect?

Don't answer that.

The Anatomy of a Sick Day.

It's cold outside. Cold and snowy. We've got six inches of snow on the ground, and more is falling. Normally, this would make for an awful start to a Monday morning. Normally I'd be out there scraping off my car, and negotiating un-plowed roads, and dealing with drivers, who despite living in a region where snow falls fairly regularly, still cannot manage to steer their cars in a straight line.

But my body had other ideas this morning. It decided to declare a revolt. It decided that I really didn't need to be going anywhere today. So here I sit, aching and tired, on my couch.

Aching and tired, but not cold. Or soggy. Or enraged because of what the idiot in front of me just did. Nope, I'm just sick.

And so I sit, watching the fire crackle and the twitter stream go by. I listen to the wind howl, glad that for the moment, while my daughter naps, the house is silent around me. I sip my hot tea and re-arrange my blanket around my toes, snuggling a little deeper into the cushions.

I consider doing some dishes, but my body protests, so I don't. I think about taking a nap. My body thinks that sounds like a good idea, so my eyes drift closed, heading toward dreamland.

But what's that I hear? The monster is up from her nap. Reluctantly, I pull myself up from my cozy nest, wondering if it's too soon to take some more Advil. Because while I might be sick enough to declare this a day off of work, there's no such thing as a sick day for mommies.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Banishing the Baby Belly Round 2: Week 5

This week, the scale gave me a Valentine's Day present - it told me I'm down a pound. Which, considering the amount of food I consumed last weekend, I'm calling a major victory.

Generally speaking, I had a pretty good week (after the weekend, that is). I only ate one meal of junk food (sometimes, a craving for Penn Station can not be denied). And before indulging, I checked Calorie King  for a healthy (okay, healthier) option. So, I think I can pat myself on the back for that one.

As a side note, have I mentioned how much I love my iPod Touch? That little doodad has an app for everything - calorie counting, nutrition values, you name it. The only thing better would be an iPhone, but until Verizon has one, my iPod will have to do.

Anywho, now that I'm making progress with the food thing, it's time to get serious about exercise. So, as I mentioned on Wednesday, I signed up for a 5K. If that doesn't get me motivated, nothing will. Well that, and the knowledge that I've got a beach vacation scheduled. I'd like to be able to rock something like this:


Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Do's and Don'ts of Valentine's Day (for the hopelessly unromantic).

My husband is a wonderful man. He's kind, generous and wickedly funny. He's unafraid to help around the house—but is no slouch when it comes to tasks that involve power tools. Even better, he's just as quick to change a stinky diaper as he is to kill the menacing spider that sent me screaming from the room. In short, he's a fantastic husband (and that concludes the sucking up portion of this post).

His one fault (at least, that we're going to talk about today)? He doesn't have a romantic bone in his body. Not one. Seriously. As you can imagine, this has led to more than a few tears over the years—and the establishment of a few ground rules:

First, don't believe your Valentine when she says she doesn't want anything. This is a lie. It doesn't have to be anything big (small velvet boxes are always welcome), but she does want to know you thought of her.

Do spend some quality time at Hallmark picking out a card you know she'll enjoy. Just do it—even if you have to bring a vomit bag to sop up the results of all that force-fed saccharine.

Don't underestimate the power of flowers. Specifically, flowers delivered to the office by a professional paid to do just that. Yes, they're ridiculously overpriced. But that overpriced floral arrangement will make her the envy of every woman around her (and you the knight in shining armor).

Do take her on a date. I don't care how many years you've been together or how many kids are underfoot. Take her somewhere special. Not necessarily anywhere expensive (I believe one year we went to Burger King)—any place you can focus on the two of you will do.

Don't forget that sometimes it really is the thought that counts. When it comes to Valentine's Day presents, the best gifts are often the ones that cost the least. On one of our first Valentine's Days together, my husband made me a mix tape. That's it. Just a mix tape of special songs, like the one he sang for me at our Senior All Night Party. But you know what? I still have it (and yes, I'm aware I just dated myself).

Do think beyond the lingerie department. Now I happen to have a thing for pretty underthings, so it's okay in our house. But most women?  Would rather get a box of chocolate covered cockroaches than see that distinctive Vicky's Secret box.

Don't be afraid to think outside of the traditional Valentine's Day box.  Sometimes the best gifts are things that your Valentine really needs, but would never think to ask for (just ask the Existential Waitress).

Do surprise her every once in a while. Chocolates, flowers and fancy dinners are great. But if you really want to make her starry-eyed? Do something completely unexpected (check out this post by Mommy Melee for inspiration).

Don't forget to tell her you love her.  And that you think she's sexy. And that she's most the beautiful woman in the world.  And not just on Valentine's Day. She needs to know she's special every single day of the year. Because, you know what? She thinks you're pretty awesome too.

But before you hit the mall, head over to Mama Kat's and see what the other workshoppers have to say.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Are You Sure I Can't Take the Couch With Me?

For months, I've been saying I'm going to get back into the habit of going to the gym. I've been looking at my jiggly thighs and flabby arms and thinking, "damn, I  really need to do something about that."

The weight loss efforts (now that they're actually happening) are helping, but no amount of point counting and calorie watching is going to firm up those triceps or rid me of my cellulite.

Nope, to make that happen, I'm going to actually have to move my butt. Away from the couch (and preferably in the direction of the gym).

I've started a few times, but something always comes up. A sickness. Or a deadline. Or a convenient snowstorm. Or a good TV show. You know. Stuff.

So I just went and signed up for a 5K (sorry, mom).

Now, I have bad knees. Make that horrendous knees. Running is probably the very last activity I should be engaging in. But you know what? I love running. I'm not very good at it (in fact, I suck rather badly), but there's nothing quite like the feeling of freedom that sets in about halfway through (in between the I-really-don't-want-to-do-this and the oh-my-god-is-it-over-yet phase).

So I'm going to try again. I'm going to get through that whole dang Couch to 5K app that I downloaded for my iPod if it kills me (and it might). I know I can do it - especially since I just told you guys I'm going to.

So, on  Saturday, May 1, you'll be able to find me at the starting line of the Coach Hep  Cancer Challenge.

And if I don't make it? Well, then, I just made a $35 donation to a good cause. That's not so bad, is it?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Top Ten Reasons Winter Blows.

It's no secret that I hate winter. I know that I whine about it, ad nauseum. But have you ever wondered why I hate winter so much? Well, I'm here to tell you.

The whole soggy foot situation. I’m sure a real grown up remembers to put on her boots and thermal socks before leaving the house, but I have yet to reach that status. Instead, I’m forced to sit at my desk with the snow melting into ice-cold puddles in the bottom of my shoes. And when my feet are cold? There’s no hope for the rest of me.

The necessity of gloves. I am a rather scatter brained person. I forget things. Frequently. I lose them even more often than that. So keeping track of a pair of gloves for the entire winter? Impossible. I inevitably end up sporting horribly mismatched gloves, feeling like a fool every time I pull them on.

The cracked, bleeding hands. Because I do so often lose my hand coverings, I’m frequently out in the elements without them. Which leads to old lady hands with cracked, bleeding knuckles. Attractive, no?

The de-icing of the windshield. As a solidly entrenched member of suburbia, I do, in fact, own a two-car garage. Where, in theory, I could park my vehicle. But it is bursting at the seams with random crap, and so I still have to park in my driveway. Which also means I have to spend a solid ten minutes every morning chipping away at the ice and snow. Ten minutes which could otherwise be devoted to drinking coffee…or picking my nose.

The constant runny nose. Once the temperature drops below freezing, I tend to come down with a case of the sniffles that lasts until spring. By February, the redness of my nose gives me a striking resemblance to Rudolph, except without the benefit of having an actual light in there. Obviously, I’m quite the catch.

The snarling people. Have you ever noticed how much less happy people are when it’s cold and nasty and gray outside? No one holds doors, or smiles unless it’s absolutely necessary. And around the office? Well, let’s just say it’s a wonder no one’s come to blows yet.

The stupid ass drivers. Oh no! There’s a quarter inch of snow on the ground! Of course we should drive at 15 miles an hour, and begin stopping a half-mile before the light. Otherwise all those satan’s little helpers driving SUVs won’t have anything to swerve around at 55 miles an hour…right before landing in a ditch.

The necessity of a gym. When it’s warm outside, a world of fitness opportunities lies just outside your door. But when it’s cold? You’ve got to head to the gym, where you’re inevitably trapped on a treadmill next to that guy who just finished hacking up his left lung yesterday, and is working on his right one today.

Oh, the itching. Blame it on the cold weather. Or on the dry heat the furnace gives out. Or the sheer number of layers I’m forced to wear. But somewhere about the middle of January, my whole body starts itching, and no amount of moisturizer helps.

The bone chilling cold.
This is by far the worst part of winter. No matter how hard I try to stay warm, my core remains slightly icy, and five seconds after getting out of bed, I’m shivering again. Brrrrrrr.

So, yeah. Those are my top ten whines for today. How about you guys? Is there anything that bugs you about this season?

Also, if you'd like to read some more (probably far less whiny) Top Ten goodness, head over to Oh Amanda.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Birth of a Family Vacation.

Summer Vacation. Growing up, that phrase was never uttered without the capital letters. Because in our house? Summer Vacation was a Very Big Deal.

Once a year, my parents would pack the whole family up (including the St. Bernard, and yes, even Fuzzer the cat), and we'd hit the road. And these were no short jaunts we embarked on. Nope. The average trip was 18 hours or more, over giant bridges and through towering mountains, all on traffic-clogged, construction barrel-littered highways.

I'd spend the trip getting slobbered on by our 180-pound dog while my mom cleaned up Fuzzer's repeated bilious protests (she vomited so much we called her Faucet Face) and my dad swore at the traffic.

By the time we arrived, I'd be so carsick I could no longer stand up straight. My dad would be snarling at the world. I'm not sure what my brother was doing (by this point, we usually weren't talking), but my mom would be cheerfully assembling sandwiches and snacks, sure that once we had food in our stomachs, everything would take a turn for the better.

And you know what? She was right.

A lot of my fondest childhood memories stem from Summer Vacation. I remember cannon-balling off my dad's shoulders, shrieking with joy. I remember playing in the surf with my mom, laughing as yet another wave threatened to tip us over. I remember watching the fireflies dance, and playing Yahtzee, and chasing down pelicans.

For that week, my brother and I were always the best of friends. We'd spend hours playing in the waves together, catching hermit crabs, and making sand castles on the beach. At night, we'd take turns roasting marshmallows, and at bedtime, we'd giggle together in our sleeping bags until my dad threatened to make someone sleep in the car.

Every vacation had its share of mishaps (for instance, there was the year our cat got kidnapped by raccoons), but in my mind, those memories are surrounded by a soft golden glow. They're also accompanied by the smell of salt, the feeling of sand between my toes and the sound of waves crashing on the beach.

Because our Summer Vacation? Wasn't a vacation at all unless it found us playing on an ocean beach.

So now that I have my own little family, I'm dying to have a Summer Vacation of our own. One that involves an ocean, a car trip, and maybe even a little swearing.

My husband is trying to talk sense into me. There's no need for a 14-hour trip down I-65, he says. After all, we'd probably pass about 12325475824 perfectly good lakes on the way. Lakes where we could swim, build sand castles and make memories.

After all, he points out, she's still too young to really remember a vacation. And our last car trip? The one home at Christmastime? Was made 1,000 times longer by the soundtrack of screams that issued from the backseat.

These are all good points. Points I really can't argue with. But my desire for an ocean-oriented vacation has nothing to do with common sense. It's a hunger that comes from somewhere way down deep in my soul.

In the depths of this endless Indiana winter, I need something to look forward to. I need to know that sometime soon, I'll hear the ocean's rhythm again. I need to believe I'll see the pelicans circling again. I need to be able to daydream about showing Tori how to make a sand castle, snuggling on the beach with my honey and watching the dolphins dance in the surf.

I need to know there's a Summer Vacation in our future. Is that so much to ask?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

BBB Round 2: Week 4

Remember how excited I was about my weight loss accomplishments last week? Yeah. That was nice.

Apparently, I jinxed myself because this week I didn't lose anything. Nothing. Nada. Not even .1 pound.  Of course, that might have something to do with the plethora of restaurant meals I ate. Wendy's. Penn Station. And let's not forget Cracker Barrel and its biscuit topped pot pie.

All wonderfully healthy options, wouldn't you agree?

What can I say? When the deadlines stack up and the stress piles on, it gets hard to eat well. Especially when you live in the backwaters of America, as I do, on the side of town where the populace seems to live on fast food and not much else (I am often horrified by the carts in Kroger. Who knew there was that much frozen fried food out there?).

What's that, you say? Enough with the excuses? Okay.

I'll just resolve to do better. Starting tomorrow. Right now, the in-laws are in town, which means another Search for More Food. I'm trying to make good choices, but those choices are still being made in bulk.

Wish me luck.

Now it's your turn. Who has good news...or a confession to make?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Follow Fun.

Friday Follow

Hi everybody. My name is Amber and I'm a blogging addict. As such, I  love to see that little follower count over there on the left go up (I'm maybe a little vain), so if you're here from Friday Follow, welcome! And, of course, thank you for taking the time to check me out.

To get you up to speed, here's a few of the many ramblings I've posted over the last year or so.

Where it all began.

When it got serious.

Pondering my role as role model (heh).

Airing my dirty laundry in public.

Just being silly.

And my ongoing struggle with those post-pregnancy pounds (fellow sufferers welcome).

There's more. Oh so much more. But I'm sure you've got more surfing to do, so I'll stop yammering at you. I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: Ten Months.

My little Tori is ten months old today. Ten months. That means she's been out of my belly longer than she was baking inside it. In two more months, she'll be a whole year (look at me, I can do math!). It seems unbelievable...

She's not real big on posing for pictures anymore.


She'd rather stand and play with her toys.

In fact, you almost have to trap her to get her to sit still.

But every once in a while, you can still catch one that makes it worth the trouble.

Here's to ten months of adventure. Who knows what the next ten months will bring?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Top Ten Ways to Procrastinate.

Procrastination, I've often said, is an under-appreciated art form. Sure, anybody can do it. But some are more skilled at it than others. Those of us in creative industries, like advertising? We probably spend more time procrastinating than anybody else on the planet.

So here, for your reading enjoyment, are my top ten ways to procrastinate (which I may or may not be writing while ignoring an imminent deadline):

1. Twitter, twitter, twitter till you can't tweet no more. Check in with your favorite tweeps. Check out the trending topics. Stalk those who did you wrong—and random folks you've never met.

2. Explore alternate career paths. What would it take to become a long-distance trucker?  How much do bartenders at Coyote Ugly make? Could you survive on a barrista's salary? Well, there's only one way to find out...

3. Facebook stalk...anybody. Old high school buddies, ex-coworkers, the bitchy supermom down the street...hours of entertainment can be had.

4. Do you speak Etsy? You should. There's a world of handmade goods out there, just waiting to be discovered.  Purses, jewelry, clothes, even tutus (yes, tutus).

5. Plan an escape. When dealing with writer's block, nothing sounds better than abandoning ship and heading for warmer climes. So I plan mythical vacations. Cruises, safaris, glacier treks - no adventure is too far fetched.

6. Explore the wonders of YouTube. What can't you find on YouTube? Laughing babies, sneezing pandas, stupid human entire universe of procrastination goodness lies before you.

7. Find the answers to random trivia. Who played Inigo Montoya? Why do cats have more than one set of eyelids? Is Keith Richards really a vampire? If you search long enough, the Internet will probably supply the answers.

8. Plan elaborate meals I will never actually cook. So what if I can hardly boil water? For all google knows, I could be the next Julia Child. So why shouldn't I plan a menu including Beef Wellington, goat cheese souffle and molten lava cake? After all, my husband can always make it for me.

9. Games, games and more games. Have you discovered Bejeweled? Or ever participated in a Tetris tournament? If not, then you haven't really lived (or procrastinated).

10. Read blogs, of course. Right now, my reader says I have 820 entries to catch up on. Yep, that could keep me busy for a while.

But right now, I have an ad to write. And a baby to put to bed. And most importantly, Lost to watch. So why don't you tell me what your favorite ways to procrastinate are?