Sunday, September 18, 2011

My New Favorite Author

When I was a kid, I loved "Ann M. Martin".  For some of you, that name may mean nothing.  For others, you instantly think of those pastel paper-back books with the little blocks spelling "The Babysitter's Club" across the top.  She was my go-to favorite author.  I loved most of her books, and liked all of them.  Before her, I was addicted to Beverly Cleary--and read every single one of her books. As I grew up, other authors were added to the list--authors I could always count on to deliver a good read.  Names like Christopher Pike, VC Andrews, Mary Higgins Clark, Jody Piccult, and of course, JK Rowling. 

I LOVE TO READ.  Of course, I wish I had more time to sit and read--but I've begun to take advantage of audio books and try to carve a little night reading into each evening before bed.  In 2008, Mason gave me this new contraption called a "kindle" for our 1st anniversary.  "Paper" is the traditional 1st year anniversary gift, and he reasoned that books are made from paper and someday, most people will read books on something like this "kindle".  Nobody that I knew had ever heard of a kindle--and honestly, i thought it sounded kind of stupid.  Why pay for books when I can go to the library?  But after figuring out how to use it, I began to love my Kindle--and now it's a regular piece of me--usually found on my nightstand, the ottoman, the kitchen counter, or in my purse. 

Anyway, after finishing "The Hunger Games" trilogy, I was in need of something to read.  I didn't have time to run to the library, and found a book on my Kindle that I downloaded a long time ago.  The book was titled, "The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes" by Diane Chamberlain.  I didn't think it sounded great, but I was out of options and started to read. 

Once I began that book, I'm pretty sure I neglected most of my daily chores and activities.  It was one of those great stories--the kind of book that is hard to put down at night and makes you feel like some kind of a drug addict as you crave your next fix--another chapter--or maybe two as soon as possible! Although there were parts of the book that I wasn't crazy about, I loved the way the author made me care about her characters, and I loved her style of writing.  I read books for entertainment and for the story-- I hate when authors get caught up in the details of things and the history of those details.  Chamberlain is fantastic at weaving together a well thought out story--that keeps you turning pages until the end.  I'm so glad I stumbled across this book--it's always great to have another author you can always count on!




You can find more about her here: http://www.dianechamberlain.com/

PS:  I just HAD to read her latest book, "The Midwife's Confession" which was also wonderful.  I don't think it was as great as Cee Cee, but still pretty dang good. 

What a Fair Day!

Last weekend I took my family to Spencer to:
a. see the grandparents and great-grandma
b. visit the Clay County Fair

Now apparently, the Clay County Fair is the "Greatest County Fair on Earty"--or it used to be.  I think it was the largest county fair for a few days, but I'm sure that's not the case now.  It is a big fair, but I grew up with the CCF practically in our backyard so I never considered it much of a treat to witness.  If I remember correctly, the fair became especially appealing around 5th or 6th grade when my parents allowed me to hang out with some friends at the fair for a few hours... un-chaperoned!  (Then the fair seemed really cool)  In high school, I don't really remember hanging out at the fair--except for maybe doing a few midway rides here & there.  (I'm thinking there may have been some really romantic carnival induced memories that slipped through the cracks in my memory vault--thank god)

Because the CCF takes place in September (as opposed to the grueling summer months of most county fairs), I don't think I took part in it after my senior year.  Honestly, I had no desire to really hang out there again.  (Although, fair food sure is enticing!) But isn't it funny how you view gross things like county fairs with different lenses when you are constantly looking for toddler entertainment?  Suddenly, this smelly, greasy, boring, fat-people haven becomes an educational, fun, exciting, opportunity!

As we strolled through the fairgrounds, C was all eyes and pointing out everything to us.  He especially loved wandering through the barns, petting the baby animals, drinking his first lemonade, looking at the trains, and climbing on the big tractors.  The weather was gorgeous--although a tad on the hot side as the mercury rose to the high 80's.  After three exciting hours, we were all ready to take a nap, but had to gobble up a few Tom Thumb Donuts & Kiwanas Ice Cream before leaving the grounds. 

Teaching Grandpa about the Ag Careers at the Extension Building

Posing for a quick pic with Grandma

Looking a t a baby goat-- I think they were 4 weeks old

And a 2 week old piglet.  Sooooo cute! 

"Toooo-Tooos!"  ---scrambling to get a little taller to look in the window.

Perhaps the favorite part of the fair--a balloon!

Charlie thought we should buy this camper.  It was quite comfy!

Sneaking a little lemonade behind the stroller.

You gotta love a shoulder ride!

Monday, September 5, 2011

How Do You Take Your Coffee?

It's a simple question--but now, in the Starbucks age, there are literally hundreds of answers to this question.  (My personal favorite Starbucks order is: Grande iced, white chocolate mocha, skim, zebra style, with no whip)  But at home I just drink coffee.  With a lot of milk.  Actually, some might argue that I drink milk with a splash of coffee--which is probably more accurate. 

His & Hers morning coffee.
 Anyway, as Mason made the coffee this morning, I asked myself, "What does coffee mean to people?"  There are so many things about it that I love--aside from the taste and the little jolt that keeps my caffeine headaches at bay.  Words that instantly come to mind:

Warm
Comfort
Home
Safe
Peaceful
Promise
Productive
Energizing
Relaxing

I grew up in a house where coffee was made every morning.  It signaled the beginning of a new day.  The sound of the percolating, the smell of the brewing, the sight of the hot caraf filling with steamy black liquid--all meant one thing--it's time to start the day!  There is something promising about a morning-- so many things on a to-do list, so much productivity that is yet to be accomplished.  And it's weird because when a coffee pot is on, it's just part of this equation.  Yet, coffee is also a relaxing thing too. As a kid, I witnessed the grownups in my life drinking coffee after supper--especially when birthday cake & ice cream were involved.  It was a part of sleepy Sunday mornings, and leisure snow days--where we would all stay in our jammies until we absolutely had to get dressed.  My parents even drank coffee out of little blue mugs when we went camping--although I have no memory of what they used to brew it. 

Both sets of my grandparents (minus my Grandpa Bernie--who much preferred juice or ice water) were also coffee drinkers.  Mornings at my Keninger grandparents were spent with coffee and donuts.  And I'm pretty sure that every meal ended with a cup of coffee as well.  Mornings at my Bomgaars grandparents were spent with coffee and crossword puzzles.  I also remember them drinking evening coffee while visiting with the grownups (and probably listening to an Iowa game on the radio).  

So it makes sense that now, when Mason & I drink coffee in the mornings, I feel so....grownup and at home.  And when C points to my mug and says, "Acky? Hot!" I realize that his life will also be influenced by the sights and smells of this hot black beverage. 

C's first taste of Starbucks....Strawberry/Cream Frappuccino ---He was very impressed! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Day of Dipes... (my on-again, off-again relationship with cloth diapers)



Before C was born, I promised myself that we would at least try to use cloth diapers.  I had tons of reasons for doing so-- but at the top of the list was my crunchy inability to cope with throwing so much plastic into our landfills.  I also hated the idea of poopy diapers lingering around in our house (I don't know of any "diaper geenie" that actually wisks the dirty diapers out of your house) and thought maybe we could save some $$ by using cloth as well.

Now 18 months later, we've used both disposables and cloth and there are definite pros and cons to both.  Surprisingly, flushing the poop from the cloth is really not an issue at all.  (And for any exclusively nursing mamas out there, it's EASIER than disposables as you don't even flush them--just drop the poopy ones right in the washer.  Crazy easy.)

We use cloth about 50% of the time.  C uses sposies at daycare, and I try to keep him in cloth at home.  (Sometimes I still like him to nap in sposies as he tends to wake up when he wets his cloth dipe)  Depending on the type of cloth, I take them on short outings (like heading into CF for the morning or for dinner) but have learned that disposables are much easier to use when traveling  (simply take up less space if nothing else).  However, since my mom doesn't mind using cloth, we usually bring cloth to Spencer.

I've used a TON of different brands--and they have tended to serve us well for different stages.  C's chunky body makes finding a good fit difficult but we've finally found some that we like.  He is also a VERY heavy wetter, so finding something that is absorbent enough has been a challenge too.  Right now, we have a stock of GroVia AI2's (all in two's), and a bunch of gdiapers (with AWESOME cloth inserts) that we love.  And there is nothing cuter than those trim little gdiapers.

(you can be the judge of the cuteness--would have liked to take the pic on the table each time, but this guy is just too wiggly now to hang out that long in one place!)

Tots Bots Easy Fit
GroVia AI2 (Seaside Stripes)

Size Med gDiaper  (oh my gosh, these are sooo cute!!)

And if you're on the fence or think some of us CD moms are totally nuts, here are some of my personal pros and cons to the whole CD issue:

Among the things I love about cloth:
* They are stinking CUTE-- oh my gosh, C runs around in a diaper without pants just because I love his fluffy cloth butt.  Nothing cuter.  Period.

* They always are on hand.  We never run out!

* There is never poop sitting around in a garbage (or "diaper geenie") in our house.

* You can never "waste" one-- (if he soils it right away it's no big deal--just toss it in the wash!)

* They really are easy now--most go on just like a disposable and with a diaper sprayer, taking care of poop is a cinch.

* Cloth wipes--LOVE them.  They are soft, grippy, and don't ever make things messier.  Love them.

Things I don't love about cloth.
* The red marks.  They never seem to bother C, but having elastic around your thighs & waist tends to leave marks, even if it's not tight.  Especially if you have....a'hem.... a chunky body.

* The smell.  We've come up with a routine to toss the used dipes (in a cloth diaper bag) to the laundry room until they can get laundered.  They don't smell until you put them in the wash-- and it's not the poop smell that's strong--it's the other.  But hey, it lasts about 5 seconds as they are tossed in the wash so not really a big deal.

* The addiction to buying them.  I'm always looking for more soft, cute, diapers and trying new ones.  Thus, using cloth has probably not saved us a penny--but I'll argue that they have saved a few plastics from going into the ground.