Fairy Princess Ball 2015

If there’s one thing Ava and I like to do together, it’s get fancy.  If there’s ever an excuse to put in a little extra effort, we’ll take it.  Ava has been wearing my necklaces to school lately… because she likes to be a little fancy.  I love pulling out the napkin rings and candle sticks and plate chargers… because I like to be a little fancy.  So whenever there’s an event where we get to be fancy, we’re all over it.

Yesterday Ava and I went to the Fairy Princess Ball, a mother/daughter event that is put on for the benefit of the Children’s Cancer Center at Essentia Health.  And it’s right up our alley.

Half the fun of going to these events is the ‘getting ready’ time.  I love getting ready for fancy parties.  Basically, every thing about being a girl, I love; and because Ava watches me, she loves it too.  Our prep time started out with hair and make-up.  As Ava watched me put on foundation and blush, I knew what was coming.

“Mama, can I put on some makeup too??”

I know she very badly wanted to do this.  My mom had a pretty strict no-make-up-until-you’re-16 rule growing up, so I always have a hesitancy in the back of my head.

“Well Ava, little girls don’t need make up.  They are just beautiful without it.”

“Yeah, but mama’s are beautiful without it too.”

To-shay, Ava, To-shay.  “Yes, you’re right.  Mama’s don’t really need make-up either.  But it’s just fun to wear isn’t it.”

And then I gave in.  I showed her three eye shadows she could choose from (she chose the golden pearl “because it’s golden and sparkly”), swept the blush brush over her cheeks and helped her put on a little lip gloss.  The truth is, you’d never know she was wearing any make up at all, but it made her feel special and extra pretty and I think deep down, that’s what every girl likes and wants to feel.  We curled our hair, Ava put up with the hair spray, and we went to get dressed.

Now, the night before, I pulled every fancy dress I have out of my closet, which is a whooping two and a half… “half” because I’m not sure how fancy one of them really is.  My baby belly ruled out two and I was super thankful to even have one that would mostly work.  You can’t go to a fancy ball without somewhat of a fancy dress.

As I started to get dressed, I searched through my drawers for a pair of pantyhose.  I used to own what seemed like 100’s of pairs of pantyhose when I worked… but that’s starting to be a long, long time ago now and as I searched, I realized I don’t own a single pair of nylons anymore.  And as I thought about it, I couldn’t remember the last time I had actually worn a pair of nylons.  Geez!

Running to CVS for pantyhose was not in the plan.  And standing in the pantyhose aisle for 10 minutes trying to remember what brand I used to love wasn’t the plan either.  I finally decided to go with the one whose box boldly stated “RUN RESISTANT”  Because getting a run in your pantyhose is just the worst.  Seriously.  So if you’re “RUN RESISTANT” than you’re what I’m looking for.

So pantyhose procured, dress on, I emerge from the bedroom to my waiting audience of Ava and Oakley.  They give me the once over.  “Ooooo, Mommy, you look so pretty!”  Then “Are you wearing a sweater with that?  People are going to be able to see your shoulders… and your chest… and… everything!”

Well, now.  I didn’t actually think my dress was that scandalous and I knew compared to other dresses that would be there, it would probably be pretty modest.  While it was strapless, the neckline was pretty high and the hemline was to my knees.  But we’ve had lots of talks about a certain Barbie who ended up in the trash can because her top was too low and her skirt was too high and her make up too…everything.  So if my kids thought I wasn’t covered enough then that was a problem and I wasn’t about to un-teach any modesty lessons just because I liked my dress the way it was.

I don’t have a sweater that would match, but how about a shawl?”  They thought this was an ok idea.

Again, I had to dig deep into the bowels of my closet because this stuff doesn’t come out very often.  I found the shawl I was looking for and put it on.  Ava and Oakley confirmed I was appropriately covered and it was time to go.  The truth is, I felt better with the shawl on too.  Good fashion advice Ava and Oakley!

IMG_6563Ready for the Ball!IMG_6565IMG_6566

 Probably the only belly pic that will happen with #4.  18 weeks!

The ball itself was so much fun.  Whoever plans this event does such a fantastic job every year and they really go all out.  This year there was a live jazz band and two (what seemed to be) professional singers.  They had craft stations for painting and picture frame making, a photo booth, face painting, and a caricature artist.  The sit down dinner was delicious, Ava was excited to be able to drink out of a fancy glass (ie stemware) and declared the punch was “so delicious… I LOVE it!  We sat with fun friends and really had the best time.

IMG_6580This year Ava was not so silly in the photo booth, but she still loved it enough to go back twice.

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IMG_6568How is this beauty mine?!!?  Getting ready for our fancy dinner with “fancy glasses” (ie: stemware)

Then came the dancing.  This DJ knew his audience.  He played everything from Disney theme songs, to Taylor Swift, to Backstreet Boys.  I’m telling you, when the Backstreet Boys came on, it was like I was 17 and at prom all over again.  Except this was way better than any prom I’d ever been to, mostly because by the time you’re 35, you don’t care how you look when you dance, you just bust it out.  And when you’re 5, you don’t care how you look when you dance, you just bust it out.  Me and Ava were dancing fools.

We left that party two happy campers and on the drive home were already talking about how much we’re looking forward to next year.

I love being able to do these things with Ava.  I love having a little girl and I hope that as she grows up, she’ll still like doing this stuff with me too.

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The Day the Music Died

It’s been a while since I’ve chronicled the latest sagas of the Yota.  (Previous post HERE.)  Our 1992, mouse gray, Toyota Camry keeps on ticking.  I think the thing I like the most about our car is that I care jack squat about it.  It’s one less thing that vies for my heart’s affection that has no business having a place in my heart’s affections.  That’s what THINGS do to us, isn’t it?  That’s what things do to me anyway.  Nice things are… nice.  And there’s probably nothing wrong with nice things.  But big expensive nice things can make me crazy and I could go for a little bit less crazy most days.  Which is why I have a love hate relationship with our Yota.  Wish it was nicer, but glad I don’t care.  Case in point:

A few months ago, the whole family was coming home from a trip to Home Depot in Jeff’s truck.  Why we had a big huge 2×4 sticking out the back, I don’t remember… but there it was, red flag and everything.  As we pull into the alley, Jeff decides it would be a good idea to back into the driveway… I’m convinced boys always think it’s a good idea to back in.  I NEVER reverse in… anywhere… ever.  For one, I usually don’t see any advantage to backing into a space.  For two, I couldn’t do it if my life depended on it.  It would take me FOREVER, multiple tries, and unnecessary stress.  But Jeff is always backing into places.  Anyway, he starts backing up the driveway.  “Hey, don’t hit the Toyota” I half tease.  Ten seconds later…. CRUNCH!  What?!?!?!  That totally didn’t just happen.  I look at Jeff with huge eyes.  “Don’t even say it…” is his reply.  I keep my mouth shut, but inside I’m dying!  I can’t believe he just hit the car!  Getting out, sure enough, the red flagged 2×4 has smashed the rear tail lights of the Toyota.  That was a pretty big bummer.  But heck, I don’t really care… it’s the Yota.

The Toyota has survived the Minnesota winters… for the most part.  We were skeptical considering its lived it’s whole life in New Orleans.  But it starts when it’s cold and gets us from A to B.  There have been a few mishaps this year.  Three weeks ago, we had a play date with some friends.  It was about 1* outside.  When it came time to go home, I loaded everyone into the car.  What the heck?!?!?  The front passenger side door won’t close!  I slam it shut no less than 10 times, hoping it’s user error.  Nope.  Inside I go to sheepishly ask my friend Kristen for some duct tape… because really?  What else can you do?  I take three pieces and head back out.  That should do it.  I back up, turn to go forward and the door flies open like nobody’s business.  Uhhhh, guess I need more duct tape.  Back inside I go.  Fifteen pieces of duct tape later, we are good to go.

Check it

Check it

It doesn’t get much cooler than that people.  Need a piece of humble pie?  Try driving around with your door duct taped shut.  That will do it for you.

A few weeks ago, the alternator on the Yota went out.  It had unfortunate timing.  After Jeff’s Dad’s funeral, Jeff drove his mom home and I followed in our car.  As he was unloading her car in the frigid -20* weather, Ava, Oakley and I waited in our running car for him.  Hmmmm, why is the battery light on?  I don’t know.  “Hey Jeff!!”  I yell out the door.  He doesn’t hear me and it’s freaking cold outside.   Guess I’ll ask him when he’s done.  5 minutes later… hmmm, are the dash board lights dimming?  That’s weird.  5 mintues later… hmmm, what?!?!?  There are no more lights!!!  “Hey Jeff! I think there is something wrong with the car….”    I literally get those words out of my mouth and the car dies.  Great.  After replacing the alternator the next day… hallelujah! our car radio is working again.  That thing hasn’t worked for at least 2 years.  Getting in the car on Friday to head to an appointment, what?!!?  No radio!  And that was close to the last straw for me.  Can we just get a working radio?!?!!?

In conclusion, here is my list of requirements for our next car, in no particular order:

– working radio.  I guess I care a little bit if it has a CD player.  An MP3 player would be nice, but not required.

– keyless entry.  I don’t even care if it has a remote start, I just want to be able to unlock the DOORS with a remote.

– 4 windows that roll down… all the way.

– it must be manufactured in this millennium… which isn’t asking for much, it’s 2013 people.

That’s it.  That’s my list.  I’m not hard to please here.  But in the mean time, I’m still thankful for the Yota, that it runs like a clock… and that I don’t care a stitch about it.

Taken Out By the Monitor

The Continuation: Will the second trip to Babies-R-Us treat us more kindly??

With Consumer Reports in hand, we head back to Babies-R-Us for a second go-round.  Having had a good 10 days to reflect on our mistakes and experiences from the first visit, we’ve decided to tackle the task of baby registry.  However, I’m not completely convinced that this visit will be any more productive than our last.  Memories of the wedding registry are playing in my mind.  It took us 4 hours to pick out a place setting at Bed, Bath and Beyond… and I at least know something about place settings!

The registry lady gets us all set up.  At least Babies-R-Us has a good system to work in.  They give you a whole check list to get you started.  And the lady gave us a few inside pointers… 1.) don’t ever come on a Saturday morning or afternoon.  Hundreds of people from all over Louisiana and Mississippi flock to the store as it’s the only one in the surrounding area.  Hundreds of women with big bellies trying to push shopping carts down the isles; un-enthused husbands reluctantly flowing along; crying children.  Got it… avoid Saturday.  2.) All this work can be done on-line.  Hmmm, that’s only helpful if you know what you need, which we don’t.

We set off with the checklist and scanner gun in hand.  Since we’ve actually done research on car seats, we decide to start there this time.  Consumer Reports has given us two options that they say are the best.  Babies-R-Us has both, but in not very exciting colors.  While we want to purchase neutral items, black does not really count as a fun neutral baby color.  My first thought… boring.  We spend another 15 minutes debating on what to do and finally just scan one.  Check that sucker off the list and back to the Infant section we head.

We avoid the massive baby bottle wall and stick to something more simple.  Nursing pillows.  Fortunately, there is only one kind to choose from, but in so many different patterns!  Being a girl myself, of course I’m drawn to the cute, pink, girly ones.  Jeff is skeptical.  Apparently, down the road, he does not want a son being nursed on a pink nursing pillow.  Good grief!  We compromise on getting the non-covered pillow and I pick out a pillow cover I like.  If we get a boy later, I’ll just get a boy cover.  Personally, I don’t think it will scar the boy child for life to lay on a pink pillow while he eats, but Jeff’s the guy, guess he would know.  We have now scanned a total of three items and have only been in the store for a half hour.  Seems like we’re doing…. uhhh ok?

We move on.  The check list has thermometers.  Easy enough until you realize there are 12 different kinds to choose from.  I immediately refuse any that have “rectum” in the title.  Better to stick with something safe, like the “under arm” variety.  However, there is a debate over which one to get and we end up scanning two different ones.  We scan a few other baby grooming type things and turn the corner.  Ahhh, monitors.

One wouldn’t think baby monitors to be that complicated until you realize, as with everything else, there are 30 to choose from.  Did you know they now make video monitors?  Yes, it’s true.  Also High Def.  Apparently you should choose wisely because you can get interference due to your cell phone, cordless phone, wireless internet, coffee pot and curling iron.  Here is where things start going down hill… quickly.  The baby monitors have derailed us.  The vein in Jeff’s neck is starting to make another appearance.  I’m getting a head ache.  We decide to call it a night.

We have scanned a total of eight items.  Hmmm, not sure if I would call that a success.

In conclusion, the moral of this story is:  If you decide you want to buy our little sweet one a gift in preparation for her birth, and you actually have kids, work with kids, know anything about kids, purchase based on your experience, not the gift registry!

Welcome Aboard…Babies-R-Us

One night a few weeks ago, Jeff and I decided that since we’re having a baby, perhaps it would be a good idea to become acclimated with the items a baby requires.  Where else would we find such items but Babies-R-Us.  So we hop in our very baby-unfriendly Mini Cooper and to Babies-R-Us we go.

We pull into the parking lot with great anticipation.  We’re sure cute and cuddly things await us.  If we had only known…

As we enter we pause a moment to decide which direction to go.  Wouldn’t it be a good idea to just make a big loop around the store? I suggest.  One would think so, so we take a right and enter the Infant section.  A great starting point since all babies start out as an infant anyway, right?  However, the Infant section begins with a whole wall, floor to ceiling, of bottles and bottle paraphernalia.  There are bottles of every shape, size and color.  Some are BHA free, some touting other “Free Of” properties.  I don’t even know what BHA is, but obviously it must be something terrible that could possibly make your baby grow a third eye.  We notice 8 different types of bottle brushes, 12 diffent nipple tops… on and on it goes.    I see Jeff swallow hard.  A vein is beginning to stick out in his neck.  “Do babies in China need all this stuff??”  Uhhh, I don’t think so.  I can tell Jeff is becoming quickly overwhelmed.  He gets cranky when he’s overwhelmed.   A cranky husband in Babies-R-Us is not good.  Lets move on.

After a quick perusal of the remaining Infant section we move onto Strollers.  Holy smokes, who knew there were so many types.  Big ones with every bell and whistle imaginable, medium size ones and little tiny ones.  Some even have cup holders!  I notice prices.  Geez luise, some of these things are like buying a used car!  It’s now my turn to become overwhelmed.  I’m trying to imagine pushing some of these monstrocities through a crowded festival or the mall.  Or even the task of getting it out of the trunk and setting it up.

Car Seat section is next and the process repeats itself.  As we continue through the store we are quickly realizing three things.  One: we have no idea what we’re doing; two: we have no idea what one does with half of the things in this store; and three: we definitely have not allocated enough money to purchase the said items that we’re not sure we need anyway.  By the time we make it out the door, we’re exhausted, cranky and irritable.

Upon further reflection, having never been to Babies-R-Us before, perhaps we should have taken a veteran-ed Babies-R-Us shopper with us….

Thinking we had learned our lesson, we return to Babies-R-Us a couple weeks later.  This time we are armed with Consumer Reports found at the library and a plan.  Will the second time around treat us better??

Tune in again to find out….

One of Those Days…Part 1

Monday started out with anticipation right from the get-go.  You know the kind… you wake up with little butterflies in your stomach itching for the day to progress.  To set the scene, I have just gotten back to New Orleans from my three week Christmas vacation to the “North”; it’s my first day in my new role of being semi-unemployed… and still living in a camper.  (Spending the whole day in a 200 sq ft space is not my idea of an exciting life).

It was also the day of our big ultrasound… the one where you find out the sex of the baby and if it’s developing as it should.   As this pregnancy was not something I was expecting, it’s taken a while for me to become intrigued with the idea of being a parent, so finding out if I will be the mother of a boy or girl was a big deal.  Perhaps it will help me bond with the baby is my thought.

If you have never had the opportunity to visit an OBGYN office while pregnant, here’s the biggest thing to remember… you have to pee in a cup EVERY TIME.  I hate peeing in a cup.  The pressure to preform like that on demand just gets to me; I freeze up and I can’t go.  And what if you miss?   It’s not like you can really see what’s going on down there.  Sample gone, literally down the toilet, not be be recovered for some unknown period of time.  And then the humiliation of having to come out empty handed.  It’s enough to cause someone a stress ulcer.  Anyway, all this I learned after the first visit, during which I wasn’t aware of the peeing-in-the-cup requirement.  I had dutifully used the restroom prior to the appointment and as such, had nothing left to give.  Sitting in the restroom trying to convince yourself to go when you can’t is no fun… especially when you know they are waiting for you on the other side.  That, I decided, would never happen again.  At each proceeding appointment, I’ve made it a point to drink 1 whole bottle of water immediately before the appointment so I’ll be good and ready when the time comes.  This process has worked well thus far.  Until Monday.

I have dutifully finished my bottle of water and am waiting for my name to be called.  “Hirschoff!”… Uhh, usually they call “Janell” so I’m thrown off for a minute but then realize, Hey, that’s me!  I head through the door anticipating the request for the said sample.  But no… alas they have changed things up on me.  Instead of heading to the standard exam room, they are going to do the ultrasound first.  Oh no is my thought.  I have a bladder full of sample that I’m not about to give up without request.  So off to the ultrasound we go, full bladder and all.

Again, if you’ve never been through this experience, here’s the deal.  They like to get good pictures of all the parts of the baby.  Which means that if the baby isn’t positioned well, they poke and prod at it to get it to move.  Unfortunately, my little tike apparently doesn’t like to have it’s picture taken because there was lots of poking and proding going on.  Geez people!  My bladder has already been squished down to the size of a walnut because of a growing baby and now there’s poking going on.  Walnut sized bladders, 1 whole bottle of water, a wiggly baby and poking do not mix well together.  I’m trying to focus on what the lady is saying but most of my concentration is taken up with focusing on keeping my bladder contents in place.  Besides, nothing on the screen resembles anything recognizable to me.  “Here’s the liver”  “Here’s the kidney”  “Here’s it’s legs”.  I see nothing but gray and black blobs that look nothing like legs, arms or kidneys.  Had she scanned a bit more to the left, I’m fairly certain she would have seen my bladder bursting at the seams, about to explode.  Alarms would have gone off and she would have had some mercy on me.   Not the case, but apparently though everything is fine with the baby.  It’s perfect they tell us.

The ultra sound ends and it’s off the the routine exam room.  Finally, relief is in sight.  At this point I could probably give five samples if I’d been asked.  Only one is required, but I use the restroom 3 times before leaving the office.  How embarrassing.

Thus the start of my day.

And in case you’re wondering… they say it’s a girl 🙂

To Catch A…

I’m Irish; although I’m also several other things, I’m still Irish. And as such I feel it important to celebrate that heritage with the one holiday a year that actually acknowledges this fact- St. Patricks Day. Enter the fact that I live in New Orleans. People down here know how to celebrate! Actually, from what I’ve figured out, they only celebrate in one way- have a parade.

Now, where I’m from, a parade means hooking a flatbed trailer up to a pick-up truck, throw some cardboard and tissue paper together in some fashion, get a bucket of candy to toss to the kids and your good. Not so in the Big Easy. Forget the pickup, they use 18 wheelers. A little flatbed will now not do. They construct these huge… I don’t even know how to describe them. They’re like these two story creations covered with sequence and anything shiny. Some have huge wooden statues on the front. I’m fairly convinced they use the same float for every event and just nail new paraphenalia to the sides depending on the holiday. They are loaded with at a minimum 15 people who toss things to you. That’s where it gets interesting.

Instead of candy, people here throw strands of beads. Just cheap plastic beads. When you think about if from a detached viewpoint, you wonder- what’s the deal with the beads? What the heck do you do with them when you get home?? But in the moment, it’s like a whole other story. It’s like The Lord of the Rings and Smeagal with the ring. The beads turn into my precious. People get fanatical.

Upon first arrival, I thought I would just be a spectator… but you get sucked in. Before you know it, I’ve got several strands of beads around my neck. And then I start to get picky. I don’t want just any old strand of beads, I’ve noticed they have several varieties. I now only want the big chunky beads. And I’m sucessful in getting a few strands of those. Then I see the motherload of all beads… a strand of beads the size of christmas tree ball ornaments. And I haveto have that. Enter Jeff. Jeff is really good at getting people to give him things. He barters with everyone. And he likes to have a mission. So I send him on Operation Big Bead. After several attempts, I now have monster beads around my neck. And then I notice the boas. I’m no longer satisfied with beads… they’ve got feathers to be had!! Again, Jeff is sent on a mission. The boas are the hardest item to procure. He walks along the floats as they go by yelling “Feathers! Throw me the feathers!” That in itself was worth the afternoon. And then the moment comes. Some guy tosses Jeff a boa… and it’s like he’s made the prize kill. He returns to me triumphant and I’m elated… over a $2 strand of green feathers that I’ll never ever wear again.

We return at the end of the day with a huge satchel of beads… the fruits of our labors. After the emotional high has worn off we’re left wondering- what the heck do you do with all these beads?!

Camper Living

So I live in a camper. Yes, that’s right, a camper. And not just any camper, it’s a fifth wheel…with pop-outs. Whoa. In the world of campers, that’s a big deal. Remember fourth grade when you spent recess playing MASH… and every little girl always hoped for the mansion and dreaded getting the shack? Well, fate has it that I ended up one step up from the shack… I got a camper. Now I’m sure you’re wondering, so I’ll just say it, “camper living isn’t that bad”. Let me make my case. For example, if I left a book I wanted to read in the living room and I’m already in bed, it’s only 5 steps to retrieve the desired item. Cleaning takes 10 minutes. Everything is built in. This brings me to my second point, campers really are a designing masterpiece. Take 200 square feet and try to fit in a kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom and bathroom… it’s amazing. It reminds me of a project I had to do in college… if only I had thought to study the amazing specimen that is a camper. These things have storage in the most interesting spots- under seats, under beds, above everything… I mean, really, how many of you actually have a dining room table that can convert to a bed?? That’s what I thought. How many of you actually WANT a dining room table that converts to a bed is another question. I will say the one down side of camper living is the shower. Try taking a shower in a 2’x2′ plastic cube. Not fun. Do I miss living in a real house? Some times. But for now, I look at it as a good story I can tell in 25 years.