Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bizarre Behavior

Our new neighbors seem to be fairly thoughtless.

Our list of grievances:

  • Their dog (or friends' dogs) get left out in the yard while they are gone. They bark, and bark, and bark, and bark.
  • While they were painting their house, with a sprayer, on a windy day, the paint flew all over our car. And the side of our house. This, I can forgive a little more readily, as perhaps they did not realize what was happening. The paint, because of its mist-like consistency, rubs off - thankfully.

and the kicker:

  • Their friend just came and parked in our driveway (it's the only one on the block). Its tail is in the street, the mid-section in the sidewalk, and worst of all, it is boxing our car in. We are trapped! No - worst of all, they all left for the night (with the car still in the drive).

Monday, May 29, 2006

PB & J

Our 85 year old friend, Wilburn, came over today. We went on a walk, ate nuts and drank 7up on a blanket, waded in the Minnehaha Creek, then went back to our house for dinner. While we were eating, Wilburn said, "I was reading the other day about a woman who suggested a very healthy and interesting thing to eat."

Expecting the unexpected, we said, "Oh yes?"

"Yes," he said, "She said that she ate peanut butter, and jelly, on bread."


"Do you mean, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?" we asked.

"No, peanut butter with jelly, on bread."

It went back and forth like this for a little bit, until we said, "You've never heard of that...eating peanut butter and jelly together?" and he said, "No, I've eaten jelly and I've eaten peanut butter, but I've never had peanut butter and jelly together."

"Weird," we said. We were both raised eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; Squeeze even piped in with, "and I eat them at least once a week".

Wilburn said, "Yes, I'll be very interested to try that. It sounds good!"

Learning to be Thankful

There are a few things about where we live that I thought I could never appreciate.

To start off, we live in Minneapolis: the South Side, fairly close to the airport. Our house is situated on a busy street; we don't have the pleasure of a tree-lined boulevard. In addition, we live right on a bus line, so we get to listen to the buses roar by every 20-30 minutes. We also live across the street from an apartment: never good, because of the high turnover rate for renters.

It is our first house, the 1920's bungalow that is so prevalent in South Minneapolis: one and a half stories, cute, with cedar shakes, and a yard that we've been able to beautify with Squeeze's intense interest in gardening. We've learned a lot about what we're looking for in our next house. Requirements include: a quiet street, mature trees, an enclosed front porch (which we have now), and a lot of big windows.

But for now, let's move to my list of Things in Which I've Found Good (that I didn't realize existed before 7.30.05):

  • First and foremost, living on a busy street. I've disliked that immensely - it gets stressful to have large numbers of cars streaming by, often speeding towards the inevitable red light. But Baby Cake, that is - Starbeans, loves it. He finds great pleasure in staring at the loud boxes on wheels that ha-rumph down the street in front of our house. Because he likes it, I like it (or, at least a little bit).
  • Secondly, living on a bus line. Again, Baby Cake loves to stare at the even louder, even larger, giant boxes on wheels braowowow-ing down the street. Loves it. He will crank his entire body around just to see it. Because he likes it, I like it (or, at least a little bit).
  • Finally, living near an International Airport. Our little darling munchkin loves to stare up into the sky to see the large, long tubes with wings kwaowaowaow-ing their way to and from the airport. He'll stop what he's doing and stare with an open mouth, just to see it. Because he likes it, I like it (or, at least a little bit).

And for Squeeze and me, we at least get to watch all the hub-bub and drama happening over at The Apartment. As intrusive as it can be, it is also very entertaining. The old bag who says, "Hurry up - you're walking too slow!" to her meandering husband. The extended Somali family coming and going, speaking their guttural language (the only word I understand is Hooyo - Mother), and the women with their beautiful, flowing scarves. Mixed in, for a dash of excitement, a loud domestic brawl now and then. Oh yes, we've seen it - and we've certainly heard it. We actually have a pretty good group of people in there right now: families and working people, all fairly quiet. Yes, The Apartment has seen worse days.

I like the way it feels to find good in things that I don't like. It makes me feel less stressed, more optimistic, and appreciative of what we have. When the time comes for change, I'll gladly welcome it; but for now, I'm content where we are.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

5 Interesting Things (foot related)

  • I hate wearing shoes or socks once the thermometer hits 50. You couldn't pay me to put on socks and shoes in the summer!
  • I wiggle my toes while I wake up in the morning.
  • I have a U-shaped scar on my left pointer-toe. I have no idea where it came from; I used to tell people it marked me as a princess, not unlike Elora Danan.
  • I've bitten my toe-nails before (during some point in elementary school). I guess I needed more nails to chew on than my fingers could offer.
  • A guy I went to high school with, who was well-known for his foot fetish, took a picture of my feet without me knowing it. He posed me on a picnic table, legs straight out, feet facing forward. When I said that I thought I had blinked for the picture and he said, "Oh, that doesn't matter" is the moment I realized, "Errrr...he just took a picture of my feet!"

Monday, May 22, 2006

Halloween Conundrum

Hmmm...I'm already planning ahead, and I just can't figure out what Starbeans will be for Halloween this year.
It's quite a conundrum.

Grand Royale

Within the last few months, a group of mid-20's single Mexican guys moved into the house across the street and to the left. I would say there are 3-4 guys. The woman who lived there before was very quiet, but loved to spy on people out her front window.

The new guys love to play their Musica. Loud.

At 2:00 am this morning, I was awakened by the noise of Musica; so loud that it was like I was listening to it on my own stereo, only our doors and windows were tightly shut. I got up, looked through the blinds and saw 2 of our neighbors, standing by their car, admiring it. The car doors were wide open. Remember, this was at 2:00 am. I groped through my closet, pulled on a dress, and marched out into the street barefoot. By this time, they were sitting in the car with the windows rolled up.

I walked up to their car (the driver turned to see me just as I arrived) and rapped on the driver's side window as loudly as I could; partly so they could hear me, partly so they knew I was serious. He meekly began to open the door, which I so generously helped him open to the widest possible position, and continued to rip him a new one.

I assertively, but not aggressively, expounded on how I had been sleeping, how they so rudely woke me up, and the music needed to be turned DOWN. I finished by saying repeatedly, "I was asleep. I was asleep. I was sleeping." and for a little extra umph, I said, " I was sleeping with my baby." He looked a little ashamed (which he should be) and said, "I know" to which I replied, "Please" in a plaintive tone, and then "Thank you".

Then I marched home.

They went inside.

I must say, I enjoy conflict when I am so clearly in the right. It's fun to get a little heinous on a pesky rascal's anus. But still, let's hope it doesn't happen again.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Get 'er done

Tulipgirl had a great post a few days ago about reducing unwanted telemarketing calls, junk mail, and junk email. Check it out!

I can't stand the stuff. As if we aren't already bombarded enough already! I've had a couple interesting tangles with telemarketers before apathy zapped me.

In the first instance, I said to the guy, "You know, you must be miserable - you have one of the suckiest jobs out there", to which he agreed wholeheartedly. We spent the next couple of minutes kvetching about what a crapper of a job he had. The only reason why he worked there, he said, was because he couldn't find anything else. If that message was "recorded to serve you better", he probably got The Can.

The second call was with a guy from Qwest who tried to talk me into fancy-shmancy this-and-that full-service phone package. I countered his every attack until he conceded defeat. He finally said, "You're right, you've got a better thing going on" and hung up. Yesssss. Amongst other things, why pay 7 dollars a month for voicemail when you could simply use a digital answering machine? It has all the same capabilities.

I'm most excited about the National Do Not Call Registry. I despise phone calls (family and friends excluded).

More Poop

Starbeans pooped in the bowl again this morning!!
I was very proud.

Monday, May 15, 2006

My Spring Ritual

Since graduating from college in 2000, without fail, Spring Fever hits me like a cyclone. For better or worse, it has sent me into a tail-spin that leaves me with a new 'do. As in, Hair-do.

I blame many things: abysmally long and colorless Minnesota winters, less distraction from the socially-charged atmosphere of school, too close examination in the bathroom mirror under bright lights, etc.

Historically, Spring Fever hits me in April, but the last two years, it has been May. Can you guess what I did last weekend? It turned out all right, considering. The uneven bits aren't even noticeable from a distance. Once, I took shears - yes, hair-clippers - to my pony-tail, which left me looking like a lopped-off brown dandelion. That was Spring Fever at its worst. Another time, I cut my hair so beautifully that, at work, people from all over the building were coming to view my masterpiece. That was Spring Fever at its best.

Every year has concluded with a call to my friend, Jeana, who obligingly fixes my car-crash of a hair-cut. The only exception was the Year of the Masterpiece, but she was still involved; I called her frantically, begging for her to come over and do it, before I wreaked havoc on my own head. She couldn't, but gave me exact instructions on how to do it well - patience, one layer at a time, keep the hair wet, use a hand-mirror, etc. Her advice may seem obvious, but it was a revelation to me. Patience? Use a mirror??

I followed her direction; it worked well. And while I haven't had as golden of a hair-cut since the Masterpiece of 2003, it has been good enough for me. Errr, once Jeana fixes it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Importance of Water

Surprisingly, water is the one basic need that is most often over-looked when setting up a backyard birding habitat.

The Backyard Bird Watcher
George H. Harrison

We installed our sweet little bird bath in our side garden 3 years ago. The first year, no birds came near and it served more as a decorative addition to our then barely-fledged garden. Last year, a few braves robins bathed themselves; we were jealous over who got to see them ("What?? You got to see the robin?!"). This year, it has been the central attraction a plethora of neighborhood birds. It is so thrilling to see them drinking from the water and bathing in it. This weekend, there was 4-5 birds in queue, fluttering around it - impatiently awaiting their turn. The robins seemed to be the bossiest.

Today, I saw the male cardinal shaking his little tushy in the bird bath, in that funny bird-bathing way. Over the weekend, we saw rosy finches, robins, and chikadees shaking their little tushies too (that little rascal, the house finch, was using it as well). We always stop by the window and watch - transfixed. Aside from the simple pleasure of observing their behavior and beauty, I like knowing that they're enjoying something that we specifically set out for them.

If only babies and birds knew the pleasure they bring to me.

I think the reason that we are finally getting some traffic is that our plants have grown up enough to provide some protective covering for them, so they feel a little more safe. Harrison says, "Bird bathes work well and certainly are an asset to any yard without water. They work best, however, near cover where birds can quickly escape from predators." In our meager 3 year experience, we have definitely found this to be true.

Happy birding!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cloth Diapering: Part II

The best way to buy cloth diapers is through an online company. They have a large selection; there is a lot to choose from. Unless you live near a specialty baby shop, you are not going to find many options at the colossus chains. From my friend Nelly's advice, I bought our diapers off of I like our diaper package, but I found Green Mountain Diapers more helpful in exploring options (I ran into this site after the fact). They provide more information about differences in the of choices of diapers & accessories as well as pictures of the diapers on real babies. Another good site is Julie's Stuff.

From my experience, I've created a list of what is needed for a cloth diapering system. Once again, I would like to re-iterate how economical, earth-friendly, and easy it is. People who aren't exploring this option are missing out.

Everything you need to diaper your baby:

Pre-fold diapers: This is your standard diaper, sewn together so you don't have to do any fancy "folds" before you put it on baby. The package I bought has 48 newborn and 36 large sizes (to fit up to 30 lbs). This has been more than sufficient.

Snappis: Instead of pins, use Snappis! They are so easy, quick, and there is no risk of poking baby (or yourself). They hold the diapers with small claws on each end - kind of like an ace bandage.

Bummi Super-Whisper Wraps: These are not the plastic pants of yester-year. They have velcro (or snaps) and go on like a disposable diaper. So handy! Having 6-8 of each size (newborn, small, medium) is sufficient.

Flannel Wipes: I like these so much - they are very gentle on little bottoms. Just wash them with your diapers. I keep them in a basket near the Wipe Solution. It feels good not to throw them away! I have 2 sets of 15.

Wipe Solution: 1 cup distilled water to 3 drops lavender oil & 3 drops tea tree oil. An olfactory delight! Use distilled water; it is void of impurities and doesn't get stinky as it ages.

1-2 squeeze bottles: Use them for the wipe solution. Keeping the wipes wet is silly and putting the solution in a spray bottle is even sillier (oh, your aching wrists!). Just wet your wipes right before you use them.

2 Bummi Water-proof Totes: 1 small tote for the diaper bag, 1 large tote for the diaper pail. Just pull out the tote and bring it down to your washing machine; it's as easy as that. Instead of cleaning out dirty diaper pails, wash the totes with your diapers.

1 diaper pail: Scented disks are not necessary.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cloth Diapering: Part I

Using cloth diapers was a no-brainer for me. However, I wasn't really up-to-code on cloth diapers when I had to start thinking about it (last spring). Because what seemed like no one used them, I didn't really have a clue where to start. I looked around at the local colossus chains, but they didn't have much - it left me wondering if my options were extremely limited.

Now, some of you might be saying to yourselves, "Why didn't this dipstick just look online?" And you're right - why on earth didn't I look online? The answer: I didn't have a computer at home at the time, and I didn't feel comfortable spending time online at work researching it. I could have gone to the library. But...

Fortunately, I had one friend who was using cloth diapers. It was unbeknownst to me, because 1) she lives in Indiana and 2) at the time, I wasn't interested in discussing diapers, poop, bath time, and other baby things. (These are some of my favorite subjects now!) So, my pal, Nelly, gave me the low-down on everything I needed to know about cloth diapering. Before I talked to her, I was even prepared to use *gasp* diaper pins. I'm telling you - I was really out of the loop. I found that my options weren't limited at all, in fact - I had a lot to choose from.

Today, with $300 in supplies and a little bit of time to wash diapers every other day - we will have saved thousands just this first year alone. Multiply that by the number of children I might have: remember, they can be re-used! Over the stretch of our child-rearing days, we will have saved a load of $$. Not only are they economical, but they are the superior choice environmentally, as well. Yes: we will have used water and gas and soap to wash them, but how much less of a strain is that to our world than all the energy, materials, and landfill space that disposable diapers use? Again, a no-brainer.

Many people argue that disposable diapers are easier, more convenient. I just can't see that. When we are in public, instead of looking for a trash can to toss a diaper, I just slip it into the water-proof tote. We've never had to make an emergency trip to the store to pick up more diapers: if we're running low, we just wash them. Washing them, by the way, isn't a big deal at all. Throughout the course of the day, it is: soak, rinse, wash, hang. Cake.

One last note: We line-dry our diapers year round. Outside in the summer, inside in the winter.

Please see my next post: Cloth Diapering: Part II

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

10 Things Total: Another List

5 things I like:
  1. Hearing the wind blow through the cottonwood tree on our street
  2. The way my baby smells
  3. Reading something that strikes a cord
  4. Avocado and tomato slices on a toasted bagel (num)
  5. Squeeze's endless stream of nicknames

5 things I dislike:

  1. Following up a Like List with a Dislike List - yuck, talk about ruining the moment
  2. Over-stressing about problems I can't fix - i.e. hatred, bigotry, abuse, neglect, nasty behavior, hurtful actions, and so on and so forth
  3. Gossip
  4. Feeling like I wasn't true to myself - in moments of potential fakeness
  5. Knowing I've offended someone or hurt their feelings

Sweet Darling

My Little Comedian

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Baffling, Baffling Baffler!

Are there any puzzle fans out there? How about sculpture fans? I found something you'll really like: they're called Baffler!s, made by a guy out of Colorado - Chris Yates.

He also has an amusing comic strip than runs on Mon, Wed, and Fri.

I am very drawn to the Baffler! - interesting, pretty, and they come in a 1-10 Scale of Difficulty. I think I'd better start with easy, but my most favorite Baffler! (the Triceratops up there) is 3: Kinda Tricky!

Scale of Difficulty:
1: Easy
2: Not Bad
3: Kinda Tricky
4: Challenging
5: Tough
6: Difficult
7: Quite Complex
8: Just Plain Mean
9: Experts Only!
10: Impossible