Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quite Possibly The Least Sexy I Have Ever Been

Yes. The least sexy I have ever been. Do you have any idea how unsexy that's got to be? I should have been escorted out of the grocery store. GROCERY STORE. The bar is LOW at the grocery store and yet still.

Oh, where do I even start with this one?

Okay, so. You know how I'm all going gangbusters about losing weight finally for real I swear?

(And then you know how I haven't written anything about it in a couple weeks? Because it turns out that after I lost almost 10 lbs right away EVERYTHING stopped and I'm in the No Man's Land of weight loss. More on this later.)

Today's point is that I lost my holiday weight, thank God, because I have ONE pair of jeans that fit me with my holiday weight and I hate wearing them and now they are too big. Which is good.

Except yesterday as I was trying to figure out what to wear to storytime at the library, I realized (with dismay) that they are the only jeans I have that fit super comfortably and -- more importantly -- are the only jeans I have that are clean.

Thus, the First Element contributing to my Explosion of Unsexiness: wearing giant, unflattering jeans that are a little too big.

Moving on, we have the fact that it's that time of the month. This takes any general feeling of unsexy I may have had and multiplies it by about nine hundred thousand million. Especially because, whatever, I wear underpants I don't really care about and that aren't attractive.

And that don't, it turns out, fit.

But in this case, it's not that the underpants don't fit because they're too big. They are too small for my achey, bloaty body.

The Second Element in the Explosion of Unsexiness: wearing giant, unflattering underwears that are a little too small.

In this get-up, I go to the library with Eve, and then make the disastrous decision of going to the grocery store.

Let me just say that most things about being a mom are still completely puzzling to me. I see parents all the time who have the exact same carrier/carseat that we have who manage to set the seat in shopping carts as though they were designed with this use in mind. And yet 9 out of 10 times that I try to "pop" the seat in the front of the cart, it doesn't fit even a little, and I'm left standing at the cart, in the parking lot, balancing an ever-increasingly heavy baby and carrier, trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with me. It's mortifying.

I gave up trying this entirely for a while. I either just popped the carrier into the stroller and then had to buy less (as much as I could fit in a shopping basket) or use the built-in baby seat they have on the carts at Whole Foods. But all my shopping needs are not met at Whole Foods.

Last week I decided to attempt the carrier-in-cart again at Safeway and it fit perfectly and I had no idea why. But you can bet your ass that I sashayed around the store like a smug know-it-all mom.

Yesterday, I assumed I'd have no problem again -- HAHA -- and that is why I ended up lumbering around the Safeway parking lot for 20 minutes, carrying Eve in her 800-lb carrier, trying to find another magic cart that would fit her again. I tried at least 8 different carts in three different locations around the store, until I finally gave up and decided I had hallucinated my entire smug shopping trip from the week before and reverted to using the goddamned stroller.

Except I had a week's worth of shopping to do.

So now, I am frustrated and sweaty and exhausted at the start of my shopping expedition. That's Element Three of the Explosion of Unsexiness.

About 30 minutes of aimless grocery shopping go by. I try to pick up only the "necessities" for the week, as determined by what will fit in the handheld basket. Eventually the basket gets way heavy and I decide to balance it on the top of the stroller's handle bar. Now I'm no longer walking like a lopsided caveman dragging a giant stone up a hill, but I do still have to keep one hand on the heavy and unsecured basket. This also means I can no longer see Eve in the stroller below, and she cannot see me.

This makes Eve a little uncomfortable, so I periodically have to make soothing sounds, which -- I can't help it -- tend to be very sing-song-y.

And now the stage is set.

Imagine, if you will:

I am heading, finally, tragically, defeatedly, from the produce aisle toward the check-out. My basket is balanced precariously on the stroller, overflowing with "a week"'s worth of groceries for the family. As I scootch along slowly, SINGING inane baby songs, I realize that my jeans are kind of sliding off.

Yes, off.

I have to hold the basket AND stroller with one hand, careful not to let any of the oh-so-delicately balanced food items fall onto my infant or crash onto the store floor while CASUALLY reaching down to grab the waistline of my jeans so that I don't moon all of Safeway.

THEN? At the EXACT SAME TIME -- I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING A LITTLE BIT -- I feel my too-small underwear gently rolling downward.

Rolling. Literally rolling. Roll. Ing. The elastic has given up on my mighty belly, and is rolling down...down...down...

Down until the "waistline" of my underwear is now actually lower than my crotch.

And the crotch? Is only being held in place by my jeans. Which, as you may recall from like 4 lines ago, are sliding off of me.

And while I'm still SINGING to my child, I realize: my one hand desperately clinging to my jeans' waistline is all that separates me from being a crazy woman blogging this story and the crazy mother who flashed Napa her cooch WHILE SHE HAD HER PERIOD.

(You wouldn't even believe me if I told you that I made it to the check-out and yet had to stand there forEVER while the couple in front of me accidentally broke a beer bottle and then everything came to a standstill so I couldn't even put my basket on the conveyer belt -- to allow myself the two-handed underpant-hoisting I needed -- for several loooooong minutes. But it's totally true.)

Frankly, I don't know one recovers from this unsexifying experience.

Do you? Like, ever?




Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What You Need To Have For When The Baby Comes Home



When I was seven+ months pregnant, I was kind of a lot freaked out. I had no idea what I "really" needed to have at home for the baby. I consulted the internet and books, and the more I read the more freaked out I became.

I thought, even if I GET this stuff, how will I know what to USE? And WHEN to use it?

Well. It turns out, I needed a lot less than I thought, and things just sort of worked themselves out. (I swear.)

BUT! At the time, I was freaked. And I remembered being freaked. And I remember saying, when this part is all over, I'm going to write about it so other people might freak less.

Thus. This post. Compiled from having asked you, having asked friends, having asked my sisters, and having consulted the end-all, be-all book on the subject (GET THIS BOOK): Baby Bargains.

(Note: this book isn't just about buying stuff affordably/saving money. It is an up-to-date list of the exact products you need, which ones you don't, and includes detailed consumer reporting about which are the best, safest, most durable, etc. for the money. If you are pregnant and shopping, this should be your bible. I am grateful to my BFF for giving me a copy!)

But because I know that a 1000 page reference guide is kind of daunting, here is my personal list, crystallized for you. I hope it proves useful!

Note: This list is based SOLELY on my own experience. Your mileage may vary. Also, this is for what you need when you bring the baby home and to get you through the first few weeks.

* * * * * * * * *
My List Of Things I Actually Used In The First Month (Explanations Below)

- A bassinet in our room, next to our bed for Eve to sleep in at night
- Onesies (long and short sleeved; with and without legs/feet) in size "newborn"; socks and hats
- Lots of burp cloths
- Nursing pillow (God Bless the Boppy)
- Blankets, all different sizes and shapes, especially ones for swaddling
- Car seat
- Stroller (we did the combo car seat/stroller and love it)
- Something for baby-wearing (sling, pouch, wrap, Ergo, Bjorn, whatever)
- A couple sleep sacks
- Fully loaded diaper bag
- Diapers, wipes
- Baby "toiletries" including: hypo-allergenic shampoo/body wash; moisturizer; diaper cream
- Baby medicines and baby first aid kit (at least a rectal thermometer and nose bulb) and nail clippers. We also needed/used baby Tylenol, Mylicon, and gripe water.
- A playmat
- Small (4 oz) bottles and formula to have on-hand
- Diaper Champ
- Pacifiers
- Hand sanitizer
- Breast pump
- Nipple cream (Lansinoh! Miracle worker!)
- Quick reference guides: What To Expect The First Year, Happiest Baby On The Block, Nursing Mother's Companion


My List Of Things I Thought I'd Use In The First Month But Didn't (Explanations Below)

- Baby tub
- Baby washcloths and towels
- Bouncer*
- Swing*
- Breastmilk freezer bags*
- Toys, books, stuffed animals*
- Baby monitors*

*All of these things we use now, we just didn't need them in the first month.

Thing We Spent A Lot Of Money On But Didn't REALLY Need:

- Pack-n-Play

* * * * * * * * * *
EQUIPMENT

Where will the baby sleep?

There are about a million options here, and this was by far the most confusing aspect of baby-shopping.

We knew that we wanted Eve in our room with us at the beginning. We considered getting a co-sleeper (the thing that attaches to the bed so the baby's sort of in bed with you but you can't roll over on her), but -- for lots of reasons -- decided that having a bassinet RIGHT next to the bed would be a good compromise. When she got bigger, we moved her to her crib in her room.

I know of people who put the crib in their bedroom instead of buying/getting a separate bassinet, and then just moved the crib to the baby's room eventually.

I know LOTS of people who just put the baby in the crib in the baby's room right off the bat.

It's totally up to you.


Where will the baby be changed?

We bought a fancy Pack-n-Play *with changing station* for downstairs. We decided that this made sense because it would serve as her changing station during the day, as well as her daytime napping station.

In actuality, we could have just as easily changed her on the sofa, the floor, an armchair, wherever. Newborns need to be changed a million times and yet they take up like, no space. The Pack-n-Play's changing station was awesome height-wise and convenience-wise. HOWEVER? Eve still all but refuses to sleep in it. (For the first several weeks, Eve would nap in my arms or on the Boppy pillow on my lap.)


Now the P-n-P is still a changing station, and is doubling as a toy chest. We only just recently actually "packed" it and brought it with us for a weekend trip, and she did sleep in it, but with protest. And that's after 7 months.

My point is: it's a useful thing, sort of. It does come in handy, and I know of older babies who use it as a playpen. It's just not the all-in-one Godsend I had hoped it would be.


Will the baby need a swing? A bouncer seat? A jumper?

Some people SWEAR by having a baby swing. I've read my fair share of parenting confessions about how they've let their otherwise fussy baby just hang out in the swing for hours (hey, whatever works!). Eve, however, was not a fussy baby, and never much cared for the swing. In fact, we've NEVER successfully had her in it for longer than 15 minutes that I can remember.

She also HATED the bouncer seat for the first month.


(Of note: Eve eventually learned to love the seat, and this was a lifesaver. If I needed to actually do SOMETHING, I could set her in the seat in front of a Baby Einstein DVD and she'd be happy as a clam. It's the only reason I got anything wrapped this past Christmas.)

Same with the jumperoo: these aren't even recommended for babies who can't support themselves, so unnecessary at the beginning.


What about the baby carrier? And carseat? And stroller?

I am not an expert, and entire giant manuals have been written about strollers alone. So here's my best advice:

- Go to the store and try these out. Look at them and decide on what carrier and stroller makes sense for you and your lifestyle.

- We loved the Graco SnugRide that is also a baby carrier for a few reasons:





1) It snaps in and out of its base in the car, meaning if baby's sleeping, she can stay asleep while you transport her
2) The carrier also snaps into all kinds of stroller bases (some very affordable, like the Snap-n-Go) which is awesome and has held up to all kind of abuse by us. So far, it's been the only stroller we've needed
3) The carrier part rests easily and fairly securely into the base of high chairs at restaurants (you flip the high chairs over). We eat out all the time, so having a comfy place for the baby to "go" was key. The carriers also fit into a lot of shopping carts.



CLOTHING

For the first few weeks of her life -- and even now, seven months later -- Eve lives in onesies. I was told you can never have too many of these, and I agree. With caveats.

Do Get/Have:
  • A mix of short-sleeved and long-sleeved creepers. (These are onesies without legs.) Sometimes it gets hot, sometimes it gets cold. Use creepers as the under-layer instead of "shirts" which are practically not even sold for newborns. So a typical newborn "outfit" is a creeper, a pair of pants, and a sweater/coat over the top if needed.
  • A bunch of "footies," too. These are the long-legged onesies with feet. If it's chilly in your house, this is a nice way to keep the baby warm during the day. Also great for wearing under swaddling at night for sleeping.
  • Fleece footies in particular. Personally, we LOVE the fleece. It's warm, and it's less likely to get soaking wet when there's drool/spit-up, which there always is. If you clean up the spit-up fast enough on fleece, it won't penetrate the surface and you don't have to change the baby's clothes.
  • Socks. They won't stay on unless you get fancy ones, and then those won't stay on, either. But you should try to cover baby's feet when you're going out.
  • Or just buy the Zutano booties. They're expensive if you think of them as socks. But ONE pair of these suckers is worth every other sock you'll ever own because they stay on. I cannot recommend highly enough.
You Do NOT Have to Get:
  • 80 million hundred onesies in size "newborn." Well, I mean, you can -- I wish we had -- but you're safer to get the 3-6 month, or at least 0-3 month size. Because, duh, some babies are born big and outgrow "newborn" sized clothes quickly. My nephew fit in newborns for about two weeks, and we assumed we'd have this same issue. Instead, we had the opposite problem. When Eve was born, we had about two items in size "newborn" and a handful in 0-3 mos. which were too big for her! Eve continued to wear newborn and 0-3 size clothing until she was about four-and-a-half months old. So, yeah.
  • Anything in the order of "outfits" or much in the way of "outerwear." I mean, not right away. (Obviously some outerwear is needed if you live in a cold place and it's winter.) But newborns don't need to be put in complex outfits or stuffed into coats. Mostly they sleep, and like sleeping in your arms and against your body. A cozy onesie, a sling, and a blanket should be good for a long time. And don't underestimate the use of blankets when the baby's in a stroller.
  • Shoes. Those come later. At this stage, they're purely decorative. (See Zutano booties above!)

BATH STUFF

Here's what happened in my experience: I hated the baby tub we bought because it felt really awkward. I think a flat plastic box-like thing (shaped like a litter box) (sorry, the only thing I could think of) would have worked far better than the angled tub with all the bells and whistles. If I'd had a sink in our home that was sized well enough, I would have just bathed her in that. Ultimately, I gave up and just took her in the shower with me for the first couple weeks. (I'm not necessarily recommending this, I'm just saying that's what I did and it worked.) Once she got a little bigger than "tiny," Ish or I began sitting in the tub WITH her, and that's worked out well for all of us.

However you choose to bathe the baby, you do NOT need to buy fancy/baby-specific washcloths or towels. The ones we grabbed at Target sucked. Soft normal people towels or super soft (and expensive) baby towels work better.

We do like having some container next to the tub to help rinse her with.

Helpful but not necessary: thermometer to make sure the water isn't too hot.


SLEEPING THINGS

We swaddled Eve and she loved it. We loved it. So lots of swaddling blankets. The ones we liked best were a little large and stretchy, like this Ladybug swaddler with cute little cap (they make one in a cow pattern, too!) The give in the fabric helps keep it tight.

Or just buy "swaddlers" (velcro) -- you don't have to worry about doing it right.

If you don't swaddle in the beginning, I would still highly recommend sleep sacks. They're great to throw on over creepers, great for naptime, and easy to put on. Eve still sleeps in them.

Tip: since we can't use blankets these days, zipping Eve into a sleepsack for daytime naps is a great way to let her know it's time for sleep. The second I start slipping her into one, she starts yawning.



DIAPERS
We did not go the environmentally friendly route. You may mock and shun us. But we used Pampers Swaddlers in Newborn, and they were amazing.



CREAMS, PHARMACEUTICALS, TOILETRIES &TC.

Let me start off by saying that Lansinoh Nipple cream is the best stuff on earth even if you AREN'T breastfeeding. If you are breastfeeding, it doesn't just sooth dry skin, it actually makes the whole boob feel better, from deep within, for no reason that I can understand. But who cares?

It's also gentle enough to sooth any of baby's dry skin anywhere.

Likewise, Aquaphor -- specifically as a diaper cream but also as a baby moisturizer -- is fantastic. It is clear and it is scent-free. Score!

There is some controversy (shock!) about using gas-relief drops (Mylicon by brand name). Apparently, if you are feeding your baby properly and burping her properly and massaging her tummy properly, digestion and gas shouldn't be an issue. But just say that it is? I don't know -- a couple drops of this stuff came to our immediate mid-night, mid-screaming rescue.

If you want to go the more natural route, try Gripe Water, too. It's an herbal thing (Target carries it) and soothes sore tums. Awesome.

Have Baby Tylenol on hand just because that's the go-to fever reducer, and you don't want to be without it when you need it most.

I still don't understand the difference between all the washing stuff out there, and there are entire websites devoted to the evils of baby creams manufactured by some very reputable companies. So, I will just suggest you opt for organic stuff (like California Baby). For what it's worth, we LOVE the smell of the Burt's Bees products.


FEEDING THE BABY

I was so confused about all the breastfeeding/bottle stuff. I knew I wanted to BF, but I didn't know if it would work. Or if I needed a pump. Or if I needed milk storage. Or, really, anything at all.

Here's my advice:

- If you plan to breastfeed, chances are it will go just fine and that will be that. You won't immediately need bottles or a pump or storage bags or anything. (Except maybe some nipple cream.)

- I, however, had two issues. My milk took a while to come in, so I was super sore. I also got a clogged duct almost immediately. Nothing (including bf'ing) was helping, so Ish ran to the hospital to rent a hospital-grade breast pump. That helped a LOT. After that clog, however, I didn't really need the pump again for a few weeks.

- Regardless of whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding, you will probably come home with samples of formula from the hospital, and probably a couple bottles just in case. Those could be all you need to get started.

- We had extra formula on hand, and a few extra bottles. (We got the Dr. Brown's in 4 oz size.)

- A word about formula: it's about a thousand times easier to prepare than it used to be, from what I remember of my mom preparing my little sister's bottles. Now you just plop the formula into the bottle, add water, and mix. Et voila. Eve never cared for her formula heated.

- A LOT more could be said on the topic, but starting at about three months, we started supplementing breastfeeding with formula. I continued to breastfeed until Eve was five months. I would have continued, but she lost all interest, and I decided not to fight it.

- After I was able and willing to leave the house while I was breastfeeding, I learned that I HATED HATED HATED doing it in public. I decided instead to pump ahead of time, and just bring the bottles full of breastmilk. That's when the bottles and pump (and storage bags) came in handy -- but that wasn't until Eve was about 6 weeks.



"PLAYING"

Baby toys baffle me. Since you're not supposed to put anything in the crib with them, and the baby can't really "play" (they can't really do anything except stare at stuff for the first couple weeks), having a crapload of toys in advance of the baby is really pretty useless. Makes for a cute nursery, sure. But otherwise, you don't "need" any of these things when you first arrive home.

The only "playtime" thing we used almost immediately was the "baby gym" -- the mat with overhanging arches with dangling toys. We just set this in our bathroom so she would have something to do while we showered. We also used it for tummy time.



* * * * * * * * * *

So that's all I can think of. What did I forget? What did you have that you needed?

And for you expecting moms: Does anything here need more explanation?

Please, chime in!






Monday, February 22, 2010

Even Better Than Celebrity Apprentice

Nah, who'm I kidding? Could anything be better than watching Cyndi Lauper, Sinbad, and Blago make "business" decisions for The Donald? I'm not sure that it could.

But guess what I did anyway? I mean, just in case watching reality television gets boring (by which I mean you can't do it while you're at work).

I decided to launch a website. Today!

All your prom photos gave me an idea, and I decided to run with it. And I hope it will be successful and fun and something that makes us all happy.

It's called Promtacular!


And, well, that's precisely what it is.

I'm really hoping it will be well received, and as enjoyable to folks outside this blog community as it's been to those of us around these parts.

I'd be ever-so-grateful if you'd pass it along, let others know and -- of course -- let me know if something's not working or if you hate it or whatever.

I also need to say thank you **THANK YOU** to all the brave folks who submitted their photos and allowed me to use them for the site before it was live (and before it even had a name). I owe you each a cocktail or 47.

Oh, and? If this does become successful and I can justify having a party? You're all invited and YOU BET YOUR SWEET PATOOT IT'LL BE PROM-THEMED.

Get the Aquanet and crimper ready.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Prom Finale!

Sorry, sorry, sorry. I got a little distracted by my "other" prom project, and then my in-laws came to town and it's not like I have a lot of "spare" time with this whole baby thing and all.

Anyway!

I am happy to announce that in the Prom Contest below, Amanda, #26, Mullet-Dress, "Howling At The Moon" is the clear winner. She gets a $50 gift card (from me) to the store of her choosing.

The randomly selected winner (thanks, Random.org!), is #7, Kate, The Incredible Shrinking Prom-Bride! Kate gets a $25 gift card (also from me, but which she can feel free to redeem in wine, seeing as she lives nearby).

Thanks for all your support, and I can't wait to announce the OTHER prom goodness coming soon.

In the meantime, here's yet another sampling of my own prom history...


This would be my Junior Year of high school, our winter formal:
This dance elicited the most intense high-schoolish drama EVER, since (I think?) it was the kind of dance where the girls were supposed to invite the boys. Oh, the ridiculousness that ensued, and the threethousandteen phone calls.

By the time the dance came around, I was a little over it. I decided just to wear the same dress I'd worn to my junior high school graduation (but pair it with black stuff so it would be winter-y). I honestly didn't think anyone would remember or recognize it from three years prior, but EVERYONE DID. So, score one for convenience, but I get a big ole FAIL for fashion. (It would not be the last time in my life I'd fail on the fashion front.)

The guy, by the way, was a friend-of-a-friend who lived several towns over and went to an entirely different high school. For how exotic that made him, he may as well have been from a different planet. I believe we "dated" for a grand total of about a month, which included maaaaaybe three real-life meetings. One of which was this dance.

Following the dance, we and another few couples went rollerblading at night in a newly constructed parking lot.

Because that's how wild and crazy I was at 16.


Later that year, I started dating the aforementioned, afore-photoed Jim. (Who commented -- did you see?)

I believe we can ascertain a few things from this photo:
  • I was a fan of floral prints.
  • I was a fan of chokers (although this one was constructed from purple pantyhose, since I couldn't find a purple choker anywhere else).
  • Speaking of chokers? This one matched the scrunchie. Sigh.
  • Jim could rock a purple jacket.

I thought this photo (for which I was faux-posing) was SCANDALOUS and kept it hidden. Again, because I was so wild and crazy.


Ahhh, yes. This last photo is amazing. I was a freshman, and my date, Jamie, was a senior at a high school in New York City. He was super nerdy, and super smart. (And a Catholic. And a Republican.) He was my first real teenaged love, though, and what can you do?


His prom was at The Plaza Hotel in 1990. I found this dress sort-of by accident, and almost didn't try it on because it was so huge and so pink. But I did try it on, and then I had to have it.

Hot pink sequins, satin, bow and all.
Of special note in this photo:
  • Jamie broke out on his chin JUST IN TIME FOR HIS PROM.
  • You can't see it here, but I had no idea how to put a boutonniere on a guy, so my mom did it. In the process, she jabbed him with the pin, causing him to bleed ever-so-slightly. The dots of blood were only visible when he took his jacket off, but still. Blood.

Upon closer inspection, I also realized that this is the EXACT SAME DRESS that Swistle wore in the contest below, except hers is in blue. (She's the one under the umbrella.) Amazing, no?

No?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Win Some, Lose Some

Reminder: Prom Photo Contest Winners will be announced on Valentine's Day! Vote now!

OOOOH! Didn't get your photo in on time but would still like to participate? I have a NEW prom-project in the works!!! Please email me your photos if you'd like to join in the fun!



I love checking my blog stats (when I remember to) for the express purpose of seeing what keywords drew people here.

Sometimes I understand it:


I mean, no. I don't think that my story of accidentally smooshing my boobs into a plate of mashed potatoes is what the person searching for "boobs on a plate" actually wanted to find, but you know what? Let's pretend that it is. Because any OTHER forms of "boobs on a plate" is odd at best, disturbing at worst, and la la laaaaaaaa. So, right. Mashed potatoes.

On the other hand, sometimes I don't know how my blog managed to come up in people's bizarre internet searches.


Besides which, and I know I really shouldn't be splitting hairs here, but "male sperm farms"? Is this needed to differentiate from all the female sperm farms out there?





Saturday, February 06, 2010

Prom Picture Round-Up: Vote For Your Favoritest!

Prom, prom, prom. Everything about it is uncomfortable and silly and wonderful for so many reasons. The planning, the nine hundred million phone calls, the months of scouring teenage magazines for hair and makeup ideas. It's my personal belief that were it not for proms, curling irons would have gone the way of the crimp.

For no reason at all (it's not prom season, I don't know any teenagers, no one is even discussing prom), I asked you to send me your prom pictures. For the sole purpose of posting them here for us to laugh at.

Huh? What's that? Laugh with? With. Oh yes, laugh with.

Every single entry is special in its own way. I've categorized them just for fun, not for any official reason. I invite you to peruse, enjoy, and comment on your favoritest photo. (Of course, it can be your favorite for any reason: ridiculousness, attractiveness, amount of hair spray...it's up to you.)

Also, while I am adding "color" commentary, please do not take my comments personally. They are intended kindly and in good humor. Because seriously.

I'll leave the voting open through Valentine's Day. The winner of the most votes for favoritest will receive a $50 gift card from yours truly. One random entrant will receive a $25 gift card, also from me. Just because this is so much fun.

Thanks to all who entered.

And now I invite you to sit back, relax, get a cup of coffee, and enjoy!


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In the category of: FAMILY FIRST

I have also decided to kick this off with some photos of my sisters. Without their consent. Because if I'm going to dredge up photos and reminisce about our teen years, doing stuff to annoy my sisters seems perfectly fitting.


1. Wow! Look at Those SMILES!

This is my younger sister, Healy -- a freshman -- preparing to head to MY SENIOR PROM with one of my classmates who she may or may not have been dating. She was very secretive about the whole dating-Kevin/not-dating-Kevin thing. Can't imagine why -- look how happy and comfortable they both look!

No, no, no need to hold my hand or put your arm around me. Upper-arm bumping is plenty intimate, thanks.


2. Another Happy Couple!

A few years later, Healy went to a different prom at a different school with a different guy she also wouldn't admit to dating. I won't comment on that -- although I'd feel remiss if I didn't direct you to his website -- but my point is that these factors combine to make her wearing the same dress to a second prom okay.


3. Why They Don't Have Sofas in the Dressing Room

This is mostly a sweet picture, and I think my sister, Sam, looks gorgeous AND slim. But no one should ever take a picture of a woman in her prom dress while she's sitting.

Remember how much fun that was? Discovering that you could either breathe or ride in the limo, but not both? Nothing says elegant like turning blue in a rented-by-the-hour moving vehicle. Careful, the turns are tricky!


In the category of: GOING TO THE CHAPEL?

4. Always a Bridesmaid

I love this photo for two reasons.
#1 This is really a prom, not my sister's bff's wedding; and
#2 Not one but TWO of the guys here were gay-but-not-out yet.

Ah, high school. Such a magical time of hairspray and repression.


5. Cake Topper

Mendy writes: ...being that it's from 1988, there's a 4-bone hoop underneath it, and yes, that is a white lace overlay. I just wish I had a picture of the back. It was a spectacular mess of iridescent white ruffles. The 80s...they were not kind.

Oh, Mendy. It's okay...though it does look like someone took a giant-sized pastry bag and frosted the shit out of you and your wedding dress. And when they were putting the finishing touches on the cream-puff sleeves, they dripped some into your hair.

I mean this in the kindest way possible. I sincerely love that you have a Prom Scrunchie. That should count for something. And blaming the 80s is entirely appropriate. Blaming Princess Di would be even better.


RELATED: At this point I'm tempted to start a contest for Tackiest Prom Backdrop, except I don't know how we could ever pick a winner. They are all so bad. (Mine, which I'll post separately, are exceptional.)


6. Heeeeeere's...the Mother of the Bride?

Cathy writes: ...[this] is me at Junior Prom in Memphis in the 80's. Dig the entire bush of baby's breath in my hair that I totally kept in my hair for school the next day.

I think this is a beautiful dress (on a beautiful woman, clearly), but even for the 80s it's a bit...white? Sophisticated? Long?

My favorite part about this photo, though, is that both of these prom-goers are looking left and raising their arms in what looks to be a sweeping motion(?). Like game show hostesses about to display a lifetime supply of soup.

And the soup? Is making them miserable.


7. The Incredible Shrinking Prom-Bride

Kate writes: It's not really that hideous or tacky, though I really could have used a bra. And my god, the permed hair. I blame my mother.

While this prom picture is awesome in many, many ways, my favorite aspect of it is, well, the aspect of it. Most fake wood paneling I've seen is maybe 4" to 6" wide. These GIANT panels (set off by the lovely lily-pad green carpeting, I should add) make Kate look like she's the size of a leprechaun. Or a prom-bride-fairy.

A prom-bride-fairy with a perm.


7-and-3/4. Don't Ask, Don't Tell.


I am sorely remiss in posting this AWESOME contribution a little late (added 2/6 at about 9 p.m.) First of all, Willie/Bill is the only male who entered the contest, and he should be lauded for that alone. Secondofly, this photo is the kind that makes my entire insides happy.

The wallpaper alone would make this an outstanding entrant. Especially when you look closely...is that carpet blue?

Then there's the standard stuff...the date who looks like she's going to her wedding, her corsage which is notably larger than her breasts, Bill's bowtie that is -- quite noticeably -- larger than his face. It's all so good.

But it's the look in his eye paired with his suggestive lean that makes this photo great. And then? Then you read his email and it escalates into other-worldliness.

Bill/Willie writes: I was a virgin but hoping to get lucky (and sending out the wooden signals ...) I got nothing but a goodnight peck, so I went gay! Haven't looked back.



In the category of: BRUISED? NO, I'M JUST BLACK AND BLUE


8. Before There Was a Prius, There Was the 90s

Swistle writes: ...picture from 1990. We are, yes, UNDER A GIANT UMBRELLA. Also, my dress had sequins, PURPLE sequins, and a huge purple rose-like thing which emphasized my lack of problem going braless.

Swistle, I'm not arguing that the dress is purple, it just didn't photograph that way. Also, I am not clear as to whether the umbrella was because of rain or because the 80s were looming over you and your date like some great fashion challenge.

The hair bow is pretty spectacular. I especially like how you weren't committing to wearing your bangs down OR sprayed up, but sported the early 90s bangs-hybrid.


9. Violet! You're Turning Violet, Violet!

Paloma writes: In my quest to find the "perfect" dress for my Senior Prom I came up empty-handed. So I chose to have my Mom make my dress. I picked out the pattern, the material, and told her what parts to alter to my taste. Fourteen years later I can see that I looked like a giant blueberry.

Only a little.

Loooooooove the backdrop here. First you have the shimmery, mirrored floor (um, good thing you weren't wearing a short dress?). Then there's the inexplicable bunched-up gauze with fake flowers strewn about to resemble...I honestly have no idea what. A wedding cake? A snow bank? WHO'S TO SAY? But once you have mirrors and non-snow, I think it's only fitting that you add a pillar(?) and a giant starchy piece of fabric with glued-on stars, and then have it glow. Red.


10. It Was So Nice Of The Cullens To Let You Use Their Home for Photos, Part I

Megan writes: This is from 1986 and, from the dress to the date, it is 80s all the way.

I...the color...and the pinwheel...and the haircut...I mean, on both of you...it's...words... You kind of grabbed 1986 by the balls and said, "YES. I'M WITH YOU."

11. It Was So Nice Of The Cullens To Let You Use Their Home for Photos, Part II

This is Megan again, two years later (at Homecoming). She writes: This is 1988 and I am wearing the largest, widest shoulder pads ever created out of black velvet.

But the football team would have looked smashing in them.


12. Drama Queen

Liz writes: It was 1989, and if I remember correctly, I borrowed the hat from my drama teacher. What you can't see are the black masks on one ankle of my stockings. Don't worry, I saved that in my scrapbook, too.

Because with the hat.

Exhibit 12a:

Would it come as a surprise to you if I said that Liz is a director in her post-prom life? No?


In the category of: EVEN THE NORMAL PICTURES BRING A LITTLE BIT OF AWESOMENESS TO THE TABLE


13. Now That You're Graduating, Show Us Yer Tits!

Sahara writes: This photo is from Prom in spring of 1995, I was 16 (date was 17). Prom theme was "Mardi Gras" (show yer boobs and get smashed, what?). I was apparently going for the "luxe sofa" look, what with the black and white brocade. And fake pearls that didn't lie straight, but were all crooked and kinked. Rad.

There is really nothing wrong with Sahara's look here. I do enjoy that her date has been posed to suggest that he is very, very, very, very comfortable wearing a tux. What? I was just standing here in front of these giant multicolored masks like always.

But the Mardi Gras theme is what makes this picture precious. Absolutely nothing I know about Mardi Gras makes it an appropriate theme for a prom. I mean, is the rest of your life supposed to be like Lent? Or are you just supposed to flash your boobs, win some tacky beads, drink hurricanes the size of your geometry text book and then puke in the street? Because either way, Sahara and her date are not dressed for it.


14. Aw, You Know You Wish You'd Been Around for the 80s

AmyB and her date look adorable and while the backdrop leaves a lot to be desired (where are the stars? The strewn flowers?? The pillars???), I wouldn't have much to make fun of here.

Lucky for me, I don't have to.

AmyB writes: ...after dragging my poor, single mother around to a hundred stores, I finally convinced her to let me have my senior prom dress made. I totally designed the whole thing - a red, brocade halter style dress - which was a clear indicator that I did NOT have a future in design. Please allow me to point out my favorite parts of this (PROFESSIONAL!) photo: My dyeable shoes in complementary color; my nose, which I eventually grew into; my 'First Lady' circa 1965 hair-do; and my caterpillar friends, Hairy and Belafonte, both of whom can be seen hanging out above my googly eyes. Hey, at least my date was cute!


15. Is It Me, Or Are Teenagers Getting Younger Every Year?

Remember our lovely friend, Mother of the Bride above? Well, she's actually the mother of this prom-goer. Cathy writes: [picture is of] my daughter, Sarah's prom in Knoxville last year. Hard-headed teen REFUSED to wear a long dress.

Again, I'd be hard-pressed to point out any ridiculousness here -- although the date's hair is maybe just a few degrees TOO windswept -- but again, I'm rescued. Cathy adds: Her hair cost more than twice as much as the dress and shoes together.

It's tough being a girl.


16. White Shoes Don't, Actually, Go With Everything

This is quite a lovely photo of the contest entrant, SassyMonkey. She's the one in the center, looking stunning. If, you know, ever so slightly cold.

But I want to draw your attention to the lady in red. With the white shoes.

See, along with white dresses being verboten, my mother never allowed me to pair white shoes with colored dresses. She claimed that to do so would make me look like a Doublemint Twin. (I didn't know what this meant then, and I still don't. But it doesn't sound good.)

So a few years after my prom, when I was in college and not beholden to my mother's rules, I found myself invited to a Valentine's Day Ball at the US Naval Academy. I took myself shopping, and without my mother's input, bought myself a dress I thought looked smashing. (She hated it.) Of course, I can see now how incredibly ill-fitting a dress it was (was I wearing a bra, even?), but that's not even the point. The point is, I couldn't shake my mom's voice, telling me not to succumb to the allure of buying white shoes.

So I did NOT buy white shoes.


I bought white gloves.

(Do you hear that? It's me cringing, audibly.) (Also, I look about as happy as my sister in that first picture. Turns out? AWKWARD DOESN'T END WITH HIGH SCHOOL.)


17.
Alyssa writes: This was pretty much exactly five years ago. I love my dress but hate my hair! Seventeen magazine did it to me, not my fault.

Perhaps Seventeen magazine thought that if they encouraged teenagers to look like they'd taken a tumble between the sheets before prom, they'd be less likely to actually have sex afterward.

I'm just guessing here.


In the category of: SHINE, SHINE ON

18. U-wohn Day Yooer Een, Da Next Day Yooer Aut

Melissa here is just cute as a button. She and her date have the same amount of hair floof going on -- too much floof for these days, but rather controlled given that it was 1987 and bangs were known to escalate into the second layer of the atmosphere in such trying times.

But that dress? That is some shine. That is the kind of shine that gets your ass kicked off of Project Runway for even thinking about using. That is the kind of shine that if you're not careful, will be mistaken for one of the iridescent balloons adoring this prom backdrop.

Even better, though? I measured. And the Bow of Shine is bigger than Melissa's head INCLUDING her floofy hair. That gets extra points.

Ha, and speaking of extra points...
...I snagged this second photo of Melissa from her Facebook photos: Rotary phone with the twirly cord PRE-PROM, FTW!!!

"Why, yes, Mr. Floofy Hair, I AM ready, and I will outshine those balloons with the power of a thousand bows!...Uh-huh...uh-huh...wait, what do you mean 'What color is my dress'? I TOLD you it's pink-purple-blue-silver. Why would-- no, I don't understand. How exactly is a red cummerbund 'the same thing'? Uh-huh...no, absolutely not! I don't--[sigh]. Just be here in 20 minutes."


19. And He Melted

Melissa writes: This is my prom picture from 1988. I picked out a really cool black satin dress with spider web lace on the bottom, but my mother said black was not a prom-like colour. I got this -- yellow is close to black, right? Notice that the ruffle on one arm looks like it was added later? It was the result of a clothing malfunction from another formal dance at our school, when a young lady wore a strapless dress and "put her hands in the air and shook it like she don't care" and the cafeteria had a view of boobs. No strapless dresses at prom!

I don't want to seem biased in any way -- and I assure you I'm not -- but I love this prom picture a lot. A LOT A LOT. The shiny AND lace is everything a prom should be, and yet it's only the tip of the iceberg. Even with the matching? non-matching? shoes.

Because if anything cracks me up about formal affairs it's how the affair-goers are inevitably surrounded by those who are not attending. So you have all these super fancy-dressed people milling around -- always -- by people in street clothes. And (personally) I always think this makes the ridiculousness of it all the more pronounced.

The people behind Melissa are going to a backyard barbecue? The grocery store? IS THAT MAN (the one to the right of Melissa in the photo, wearing white socks and black sneakers and pegged(?) pants) SHIRTLESS???

But even aside from the color-- excuse me, this is Nova Scotia -- colourful people behind you guys, well.

Melissa, your hair. It is high. It is reaching toward the Sun. It is Icarus-like. What's better is that your date SHARES in your hair's aspirations. In fact, you could almost Photoshop your hair onto his head OR VICE VERSA and it would work! That's FANTASTIC. I mean, some couples share limo rides, share dances, share special moments at prom, but only the very special could share Photoshopped hair.

Um, and I am no whiz at Photoshop (it scares me), but I can clunk around Microsoft Word (yes, I said Word) like a word processing fool, and so here is what I was able to produce. Behold!:

I would not call this photo editing job well done, but you get the idea.

Anyway, as with the shiny Melissa above you, I love very much that your date somehow decided to "match" you by wearing a color entirely different from yours. "Gold" is not "silver." Not even in high school. Not even to Icarus.


20. a2 + b2 = c2

Sara has a lot to say about this very special prom look, and I think the least we can do is let her explain any of this: ...[this photo] was taken in my mom's kitchen, but I can't find my pic with the lucky dude. Also, we had proms in junior high so this is from 7th grade (around 1991 I think) as you can tell by my lack of boobs (ha! I thought I was fat then). We had these faux sororities/debutant clubs...I think it shows some pretty '90s awesome - baby pink, silver lace, sheer gloves, big puffy sleeves, matching Claire's accessories. Plus the big purple glasses. I wish you could see my dyed-to-match shoes.

There are many things that make this photo special. The shine, the bows, the lace, the gloves (good lord, the gloves). But I think for me it's the action above the neck that I love the most. The pouffy hair fashioned into a 'do that makes the whole head look like a giant triangle, made all the more pronounced by giant (purple, you say?) glasses...that's just perfect. In fact, it kind of makes the triangularity of the whole look more pronounced. Like um...
Like so.


In the category of: NOTHING ABOUT THIS MAKES SENSE

21. Anything Except Print In Color

Okay, so here is what Gina told me: the girl in the picture [bottom right] isn't me, it's my next door neighbor. The year I graduated (1997) I was first on the waiting list (!!!) to borrow this dress, and wear it I did - belee'dat. Unfortunately, every single picture of me wearing the dress was ruined when my mom's house flooded years ago. I scanned this from my friend's yearbook since I felt it was too splendid a frock to be left out of this contest, seeing as THE WHOLE DAMN TOP OF IT LOOKS LIKE A COFFEE TABLE DOILY. In case you're wondering, the rest of it was eggplant-colored and made of crushed velvet.

And so while I do believe that Gina's wait-listed grandmother's tablecloth dress embodies everything this contest about, that barely warrants a mention among this AMAZING YEARBOOK SPREAD. Perhaps it's because it's from Canada(?), but I don't understand a single thing about it.

Why four pictures? Why THESE four? Why "We Can Do Anything"? What does that even mean, and what does that have to do with sitting in front of a fake moon? Why are three of the women wearing dresses inspired by table settings? Why does the couple in the lower left look like they're from a different decade entirely? Why does the man in the top right look old enough to be everyone's father? (Everyone's very ANGRY father, I might add.)

I am guessing this is meant to be inspirational, but let's be honest. This is an inspire FAIL.

Unless WE CAN DO ANYTHING is referring to the people who put the yearbook together.


In the Category of: WE GOT BETTER WITH AGE

22. Lady

Laurie is one of my favorite people in the blogosphere. She's one of those people who is a writer first, which is all too rare around these parts. She's also just sweet and funny and super smart AND super cute.

When she sent me this photo, the subject line said "Prom p0Rn" and her entire message read: He wore Stryper t-shirts and big old high tops most of the time. Fabulous.

And yes, it truly is fabulous. Nothing says Stryper fan like a girlfriend in a black lace overlay prom dress. With glasses. And curlicue bangs. To Hell With The Devil indeed.


For those of us still playing along in the subcategory of Tackiest Prom Backdrop, I submit this photo for consideration. This isn't just tacky -- although did the photographer want everyone to think you went to prom in the sky? -- it's kind of ghetto. Where are the stars? The flowers? The wedding themed accouterments? The Mardi Gras masks? There's no glowing red starched paper. There isn't even a goddamned balloon. Just you, the purple carpet, and the sky.

Oh, and a plant. Because nothing says "congratulations for graduating high school" like a plant shoved into the corner.


23. Prom on the Dairy Farm

Julie writes: Here is my prom photo, from 1987. I think the best descriptor would be "Poodle Cinderella." Or maybe "Bo Peep with a Perm." ...my date is Brian. Brian and I are still friends even though I made the poor guy wear a pink cummerbund. I posted the photo a while back on my blog here - all about my hair over the years.

Note that the white gloves look slightly less ridiculous when your date is in white.

Um, Julie? This is outstanding. I don't know what words could possibly make this more outstanding. I can't even identify what makes this so great. The hair on both of you? The slight flare in your date's pant legs? The pink? The white? The pink and white? The tans? The hair bow? The garden growing out of your left breast?


24. Like Something Off The Set Of "The Magic Garden"

Darling, long-time IIF Carolyn writes: Here I am in my my plain white polyester gown that I felt so HAWT in. I can't believe I went somewhere without a bra, ever. But back then, gravity hadn't been such a bitch to me yet. ;o) Year is 1978 - Copiah Academy in Gallman, Miss. The fellow is my then-boyfriend, Travis Lindenmuth, and it was his senior prom; I was a junior.

If you can be objective, Carolyn and Travis are a fine-looking couple. But it's really tough to be objective about 1978, what with its gifts of the curling iron and Aquanet, flowy-sheathy dresses, and bralessness.

Obviously, the swing is the best part of this photo. I don't know what Travis is angry about -- his unfortunate middle-part, perhaps? -- but he looks to be taking it out via death grip on the swing's rope.

Tackiest Backdrop might just have a winner here.


25. The Punch Was Actually Kool-Aid

Jennifer writes: This is in 1975, OH MY GOD, check out my date's HAIR. And he was in a brown tux with a ruffly shirt! Ahhh, memories. My dress is a homemade number, nothing sequiny, just *puffy.*

I had trouble categorizing this one. Obviously, Jennifer's dress (and presumably Jennifer herself) did get better with age, seeing as we have photographic evidence of that fact. But I would have otherwise put this in the Going to the Chapel category because it is very, very wedding-y. In fact, the more I look at this image, the more it looks like a sweet and innocent young Jennifer is about to be married off to a cult leader.

I hope wherever Mr. Cult Leader is now, he's got a photo of him from this era on display.

For further reference:
Jennifer adds: On the right is the same dress, altered to become a Halloween costume nearly 30 years later. I chopped the sleeves and neckline, added pink lace, a couple pillows at the hip, and some material left over from some old curtains, and voila... Marie Antoinette, complete with a guillotine slash on the neck and a piece of cake on a plate.

Let this be a lesson to you, ladies. It may take 30 years, but you will find a way to repurpose even the most embarrassing dresses in your closet.


In the category of: AND SOME SIMPLY COULDN'T GET ANY BETTER


26. Howling At The Moon

Amanda, God bless her, writes: Well, after receiving two emails this a.m. enjoining me to enter your contest, I'm succumbing to peer pressure (so 1989 of me).

This was my senior year prom, and year two of mullet-dress look (short in front, long in back.) Although as you can see, this number certainly had some party going on in the front too.

In judging my photo(s), I hope folks consider how the silhouette of my hair complemented the fanning silhouette of my dress, the entire context of the photo(s) -- Camaro, white van, Payless shoes, date's knock-off Ray Bans...


...mom's boyfriend's trucker hat (pre-Ashton Kutcher) [ed note: !!!!!!!!!!!], the Lee Press On Nails perfectly matching that pink and that devil-may-care look on my face. ( I knew my date had a fake ID). If you do decide to only use one, and use the one of me seated, please make sure folks know that's not my date.

The moment this email arrived in my inbox, I thanked the heavens for Al Gore. Because if he hadn't been born, he couldn't have invented the internet, without which I -- nay, all of us -- would have missed the opportunity to feast upon this glorious work of beauty.

Amanda. These photos could only be improved if they were set against a canvas of black velvet. And maybe not even then. This is...this is stupendous. It's basically the prom equivalent of the three wolves t-shirt.

And that is saying something.



27. I Hear Jersey Shore Needs A Sixth?

Kris, aka TheWino, aka the woman I introduced myself to at my first BlogHer Conference when I realized that she'd brought the three giant glasses of wine back from the bar all for herself, writes: I'm pretty sure both the dress and the face I'm making defy explanation. It was Jersey in 1991. Enough said.

When I received this email and LOLed all over the place, I immediately turned to Ish and said, "You need to see the prom picture of Kris, it's awesome!" So he did, but his reaction wasn't what I was expecting.

"It's not a very good picture," he said.

"What are you talking about? IT'S INCREDIBLE!"

"Well, it's funny, but there's all that white stuff in the way. Is that a table?"

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And that, my dearest invisible internet friends, is the prom-dress round-up. These photos absolutely tickle me; I hope you've delighted in their glory as well.

But which is your favorite?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Neglect-O-Bounce (Plus A Weight-Loss Update)

I'm sick.

I'm not a lot sick, but I have a cold and so does Eve, and I'm not sure who gave it to whom, and all this is to say OH GOODIE! Because now I can cross "using a bulb syringe to suck snot out of my baby's head" off my list of Awesome Things I Get To Do As A New Mom. (Other highlights of the list include wiping puke out of my cleavage and using a rectal thermometer to stimulate a poo.) I declared on Twitter that I believe this makes me my daughter's official Booger Concierge.

In case you're wondering? "Booger Concierge" is not in the index of What to Expect The First Year. This is why all parenting books are bullshit and I am going to have to write my own. (Sure, it will be brief, because I don't actually know anything, but I'm pretty sure a chapter called "Booger Concierge" practically writes itself.)

This morning I had to wake myself up out of a Nyquil-induced semi-coma, and it was no easy feat. I thought I was doing fine -- Ish had gone to work and Eve was bouncing madly in her jumperoo while Baby Einstein was tinkling on the TV. I was "supervising" and reading email and drinking coffee, trying to jump-start my brain. But, well. I guess I should blame it on my cold as opposed to my HORRIBLE PARENTING SKILLS, but one second Eve was happily bobbing along, and the next second I look up and find this:


Oops.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

LOSING WEIGHT IS A BITCH.

There. That's how I want to start this entry. Because you know what? Things are going fine. I don't feel starved, I haven't modified my diet so much that I hate everyone and everything and feel hungry all the time and can't wait for the "diet" part to be over (since, if I do this right, it will never actually be "over" just modified here and there to be an ongoing situation). But so the good news is that I'm sticking to this weird hybrid diet thing I have going on...

...but God. It's slow. SLOW. I know this is how it is. Especially when I'm NOT starving myself and NOT working out every day and all that. But man.

So here's how things are:

Background
I started January 3. I kicked off this dietwhateverthing by basically cutting out carbs for two weeks. I guess you could consider it Atkins, but it's also Phase I of the South Beach Diet. (Though South Beach worries itself with how lean your proteins are and what percentage of skim your dairy is, and Atkins doesn't. Turns out, neither do I!) Also cutting out alcohol for the most part.

After two weeks, I was not feeling like I'd done enough (especially with a couple off-wagon meals), so I decided to continue for two more weeks.

And here we are.

After four weeks, I have lost 8 pounds.


Good News - Bad News
8 pounds is nothing to sneeze at and I'm not disappointed. 2 pounds a week is perfectly acceptable. HOWEVER, I'm a bit scared that it won't maintain this pace. Usually my first few weeks see more dramatic results, then they slow down. So I really hope that doesn't happen now. I had also kind of hoped that I'd drop 10 pounds in the first month, because that would be a nice, round number. Eh.


What I'm Eating Now
So here is my plan. If we have to call it something, I'm basically doing a modified South Beach Diet (Phase II). Mostly I'm just cutting out sugar, and the easiest way for me to monitor that is to watch my carb intake. I am also trying to eat entirely whole foods, too, but -- and this may come as a surprise to you -- I mostly already was. I am not a processed foods glutton by any means.

But I'm not counting anything. I'm not counting calories and I'm not really counting carbs -- I'm just trying to keep 'em low.

So again, here's my "plan" such as it is:
  • I am not eating carbs unless they are whole grains or have a low glycemic index thing, and only in small portions and only once a day (if at all).

  • I'm not overly concerned with eating only lean proteins. I will eat whatever proteins I want. If I want bacon, I will have bacon. Just not, you know, every day. If I want a handful of nuts, I'm not going to count them individually and only allow myself, say, 15. That sort of thing makes me crazy.

  • I'm likewise not worrying about only consuming skim dairy. I have found that whole dairy fills me up very quickly and leaves me satisfied for a long time. A lot of the (non-SBD) low-carb recipes use a ton of cream and milk and cheese and butter, so with those, I either don't make them or I eat them in very small portions.

  • I'm experimenting a lot with almond flour. It's almost carb-less, since it's just ground almonds, and is a great base for some interesting things. I've tried fried chicken, "pizza" crust, and crackers, and the results have been pretty good. Best thing EVER? Almond flour pancakes.

  • I'm also experimenting with different sweeteners. I use Splenda, but it kind of scares me and I don't want to consume too much of it. I have two different Stevia products I haven't tried yet. And then there's agave nectar. The jury seems to be out on whether agave is any better for us than sugar, so I'm not sure it's the way to go, but if I want a little natural sweetness and don't want to overload the GI, then I think a dash of agave is a good way to go.

  • I still take days/meals off here and there. This is key, I think, to saving my sanity -- having a particular date or meal in mind where I know I can eat what I want. Ideally these off-meals would take place once a month, or even once every two weeks. For now, they're event-specific. (For this reason, I am really looking forward to the Superbowl and Valentine's Day.)

  • I've cut out alcohol a lot. Red wine (in moderation) is okay on SBD, but that's because of its healthful properties, and not because it has fewer calories or less of an effect on blood sugar. So basically, I think the idea is: try not to drink at all. If you're going to drink, don't have anything that adds lots of calories (like non-diet soda or juice). After looking into it some, I actually think the best route is low-calorie beer.

  • Portion control is another big deal. I'm trying to eat more throughout the day, and avoid my usual trap of going too long between meals, then eating TONS for lunch and dinner.

And that's the exciting report. One month in, eight pounds down, one goal reached (i.e., holiday weight is gone).

This month's goal is to lose at least another eight pounds and to get into going to the gym again. My back is much better, so as soon as I beat this cold, I'm there.

Assuming that Eve won't spend the whole time demonstrating how well she's learned her new trick of Separation Anxiety. Oh, it's super-cute.

How are you guys doing?




Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Interview With Crazy Aunt Purl!

Reminder: You Can win a copy of Crazy Aunt Purl's book here!
Prom contest pictures coming Friday!


So as I mentioned earlier, I got to interview Laurie as part of this whole Virtual Book Tour thingy. Which is cool, but hard. Because when you've been reading someone's blog for as long as I've been reading hers, there's all these weird issues that crop up.

Like, probably I should ask questions that pertain at least somewhat to the book, right?

And also, I should not come across as a scary stalker person and ask intricate details about a random blog post Laurie wrote like, four years ago. Even if I am curious. Instead, I need to ask broader questions that will appeal to a broader (read: less stalky) audience. I think.


* * * * * * * * * *
Well, so here is what I asked her and here is what she said (and that may have just been the absolute most boringest and useless thing to ever preface an interview in the history of the world, but oh well) -- in the form of 9 (why? no idea) randomish-but-not-too-stalkery questions:


1) My first question is both a selfish and a broad one (though I suspect I'm not the only one in this boat, so maybe it won't seem quite as selfish!): HOW did you go from having all this blog material to making it into a book? I don't mean about the actual getting published part, but about how you go from, "Okay, I have eleventeen million blog entries that span all sorts of material and ages and points of view," to whittling it down into a coherent "book." I'm both curious about your process and about what kind of advice you'd give someone like me. And was the second time around easier?

I don't really have a process, especially not since I quit smoking. I didn't realize that smoking was such an integral part of writing until I sat down to write book #2 with a stick of gum. Mostly I just procrastinate until I am three days from my deadline and then I write like I am on fire, it seems to work but it's pretty stressful. I probably need a new plan.


2) What are some of the most unexpected reactions you've gotten to your book(s) from readers?

You never know if you've written anything useful until someone reads it and says, "Yes! I get that! That happened to me, too!" I think the most unexpected reactions were from men, because who would have thought guys read ladybooks? Surprise!


3) What was the best part about writing this "sequel"?

The money.

(Ed note: That's sarcasm, folks. Aunt Purl is many things, but losing sleep over what she'll be naming her yacht is not one of them. Yet.)


4) How do you get over/around/under/through that stupid inner-critic? Honestly, I go back and read some of my old posts and cringe at the very sight of them. How do you get past your fears enough to complete a full manuscript?

Being a fairly bad reporter cured me of that. Back when people used to still read newspapers, reporters had to move up the food chain job by job. You started at a podunk daily and worked your way up to a bigger market, or from lifestyle to metro. None of my newspaper clips are that good, but no one cared -- the point was to show you were able to write about tomato blight or spring plumbing trends or whatever, and get better with each assignment. There was no time to go back in the past and re-read stuff. The only thing that mattered now was tomorrow's story.

If I sat around worrying about everything I've written I'd never write anything again. So I don't go back and re-read things I wrote even a week ago. I'm not hung up on being the best or the greatest. I just like to write. What's the worst that can happen? People hate it? People hate
Shakespeare, you know?

I think what I am trying to say is that we're all so afraid to do anything because someone might not like it, we might not be great at it, we might be panned at our attempts to achieve success. But even the greatest writers in human history had critics. As long as people are alive to breathe and do, there will be people critiquing what you breathe and do. It's not a reason to hold back.



5) What's the worst thing you've ever written?
The expose on tomato blight in Polk County. Scintillating.


6) What is one skill you don't have that you wish you did. (Like, hands-on skill. I wish I knew graphic/web design, for example.) And whatever it is, do you plan to tackle this thing in the future, or is it the kind of thing you'll just accept you don't do?

I wish I could sing. Everyone says, "Oh you can sing!" and then they hear me and say, "Oh, now I see what you mean." I have no intention of becoming a better singer. I think it's a good litmus test for friendships, especially when I sing in the car.


7) Speaking of skills, you seem to be a sometimes-very-talented cook. :) If you could learn to be amazing at cooking one thing, anything in the world, what would it be?

I think it would nice to know more about spices and seasonings. I tend to cook everything with some combination of garlic, salt and pepper and lemon juice. After a while, everything I make tastes the same.


8) I don't know why I care, but I do, and rather deeply: what is your favorite ice cream flavor, and what is your favorite kind of cake?

Chocolate ice cream. Rocky road. Or chocolate with chocolate-covered stuff mixed in. As for cake, my favorite is lemon.


9) If someone you didn't know came up to you at a cocktail party and said, "Oh! I hear you've just come out with a book. What is it about?" how would you (or DO you) answer?

I describe my books as "Biographical nonfiction." It shuts down the conversation pretty quickly! I'd rather talk about something else at a party. This is L.A., everyone has a book or a screenplay, listening to people talk about their writing is conversational Valium. It's more fun to talk about TV or traffic, which everyone feels passionate about.

* * * * * * * * * * *

And there you have it! I hope the questions satisfied some of your curiosities -- they certainly did mine. And best of all, I just love how Laurie is Laurie, in any context.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

And There It Is. I Am Old And Pa Is Hot.

Reminder: Win a Crazy Aunt Purl book here.
My interview with her will be posted tomorrow.
Prom contest pictures coming Friday!


I know 34 isn't actually old. I just also know it isn't exactly young, either; at least, it certainly isn't young the way this is young:



But at some point in my being at home(!) with my baby(!) while watching The Hallmark Channel(!) and not changing the channel from when the Golden Girls* episode ended to when The Little House on the Prairie(!) episode began, and I looked up to see Pa Ingalls digging or hammering or lifting or something involving him being sweaty and dirty and muscular and thought, "Whoa. He was HOT."

Now. Every time I watched episodes of Little House when I was younger, Laura was her cutesy half-pint self and I was her age. And I related to her (because all of us wanted to relate to her), even though technically I should have related to Mary because she was the oldest of three girls and so was I. But no one wanted to be like Mary, pretty though she was, not because she went blind -- although that was one of the more traumatic turning points of my childhood, to be sure -- but because Mary was boring and perfect and frankly, a stick-in-the-mud.

The point is, Pa was Pa. He was an old man. My love interests were limited to the likes of Willie (who was an asshole) and like, Almanzo who was too old for Laura and I both. But Pa? Absolutely not. Especially after he went on to be an angel on Highway to Heaven and then, well, died.

That's not the sort of thing that my age bracket of hot guys did.

Whoa!

Not only was I in love with Michael J. Fox, I was in love with Alex P. Keaton.
I'd like to say that was the last time I was infatuated with a Republican, but there was the whole issue of my high-school boyfriend (pre-Jim) and that is just another blog post and prom picture entirely.


ANYWAY. Pa. Dude.


Okay, so you don't see the sweaty, dirty, exposed pecs here, but that is because there are about 4 stock photos of Michael Landon from his Little House days and they're all proper and family-friendly and that's not at all what I'm talking about. (Even though he is giving a little sexy smirk here that only a man very secure in his sexiness could give through all that goddamned feathered hair.)

And you know? I thought about pausing my DVR on a scene where Pa is looking particularly beefyhot, but then I'd be the crazy blogger lady who is taking pictures OF HER TELEVISION for the express purpose of defending her claim that an old, dead tv actor was hot once.

(Ooo-weee! No wonder my blog brings all the boys to the yard. By which I mean two. And one of them is my cousin and the other is my husband.)

Whatever. This entry isn't a total loss, though, because I did find this in my Google image search:
One damn fine Michael Landon.

So, see?

I mean, well, what was my point? Who's old? What?






*I'm not giving you a ! there, because Golden Girls is underrated and hilarious, and that doesn't make me old, that just indicates that I have very particular taste in television.