Media Storage Solutions? Please?

Last night we watched American Idol – it was Broadway night and a few contestants did Phantom of the Opera songs (okay by a few, I mean two, and by two I mean the David’s a.k.a. basically our favorites and by favorites I mean last night we were biased by our love of Phantom…) We are also big fans of Carly and Sayesha (I’m probably spelling both names wrong, my apologies) but that has nothing to do with my post at all. The point is that after hearing the performances I really felt it was time to buy Phantom of the Opera once and for all – we’ve almost done it several times but refrained for monetary reasoning. But it’s time.

Now I’m looking at our once tiny DVD collection and seeing that we need a storage change. I don’t like those DVD / CD cases where you take all the DVDs out of their original storage – it’s a nice idea but then I can’t look and see them all at a glance and thus never watch them – so I want something that we’d put all the DVD cases in – preferably something visible but not reachable for MLM. Maybe something that hangs on the wall, like this… or maybe something we’d put on top of a shelf like this.

Right now we have everything precariously stacked on top of the TV and in the cabinet under the TV… and we’re running out of room. So we’ll definitely need to do something so we can get Phantom of the Opera… My husband would say we should get a MythTV and burn all of our movies onto the hard drive…

What do you use to store movies and music?

Riding a Tricycle, Feeling So Free…

This weekend we took my son to Target, just to look for new key rings for our key chains which have seen better days; and on our way through the store we stumbled across… tricycles. Now dh and I are incredibly excited about tricycles but had no idea that MLM would even know how amazing they are until all of a sudden, he’d climbed onto one and began walking it through the store! Who taught him how to do that? At just a week past the two year mark, I had not expected him to pick up on the idea so quickly!

We were so proud, we barely noticed that he’d hopped onto a pink sparkle-covered bike that was WAY too big for him despite being training wheel endowed. We tried to show him a handsome masculine Radio Flyer in the next aisle, but it just wasn’t as pretty. But, shut up, hello, who cares! The point is, I officially want to buy him a tricycle like crazy now! If only things like money and a place to put and use said tricycle weren’t factors to consider…

They Say Home Is Where Your Heart Is, But…

My husband’s company has been talking about relocating in a couple of years, assuming that a few things take off for them the way that they anticipate. I have my worries about this and don’t like the idea of moving so far away from my family and friends, my father and I moved a lot when I was young and I have an animosity towards it now, wanting to put down some roots now and be close to my ancestry somewhat I guess. I like being near all of our family, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, etc. and I know my husband feels the same way.

But then I did a few web searches of the areas in particular and saw house values of like $80,000-$150,000 – for the same kinds of places we’d pay $250,000-$350,000 for here. Now some of them looked a little slummy, but let’s face it, some of our $250,000 houses look a little slummy, too. And some neighborhoods had houses for WAY less than $80,000 – like I’m talking $20,000-$50,000 – I could buy a car for that price! Or should I say, for the price of some cars, I could now apparently buy a friggin house! It irks me that I’ve been getting by in this state where we all know housing is way too expensive and so many people leave the state so they can afford to buy a house, but I guess it didn’t dawn on me what our options could ACTUALLY be like if we’d just leave the state – and I’m not even talking a cross country move, we’re talking states that actually touch our state. Not really that far away at all.

Happy Birthday: Gift Wrap On My Mind

So this Saturday was my son’s 2nd birthday party (his birthday is actually today) – we had a great time, especially after I made the executive decision the night before to purchase an ice cream cake at the grocery store, rather than attempting to bake 2 cakes on top of all the other cleaning and preparation we had to do for our 25 guests. The cake was delicious and I only felt a little bit of guilt.

He got a ton of great new toys, like a fantastic work bench from his aunt, a musical sit’n’spin, play dough, cool new clothes, a golf set, and god, I could go on… When the party was over and I found myself cleaning up that night, throwing away all the trash from the event, my heart kind of fell into my stomach. Apart from the trash that got thrown into our recycling bins (including pizza and other nasty things that made me opt to just throw it all out, rather than try to sort out the debris) and the dozen paper plates and cups that I purchased to avoid a night of dishes, there was the gift wrap and bags.

In the past I would keep all gift bags I received with the intention to reuse them – but there’s a problem with that – one, I never manage to store them very well, so they get wrinkled and ugly and totally un-presentable for a new present. Two, the ones I use for hauling my own belongings inevitably get torn and worn and have broken in my husband’s hands, making him the opposite of a fan of reused gift bags. There has to be a better way. Shopping for gift wrap can be an annoyance anyway – the prices are sky rocket high and it often seems you have to make a compromise to get something within your budget that looks how you want. And so much of it is absurdly cheap in quality – I’ve purchased numerous rolls that are literally transparent – so I have to wrap the gift twice so it’s contents aren’t immediately visible.

This weekend I talked to my husband about the idea of buying packaging paper (you know the chic brown paper that comes in big rolls) and then using fancy yarns and ribbons and our son (and other future children)’s drawing skills to decorate. For bags, I’d try to purchase a similar style of plain brown bag. It would have that timeless look that I love and be much easier to pick out and find. And if it’s plain paper it should be fairly good at decomposing even if it does end up in a landfill. I know this wouldn’t solve my problem of having to throw away gift bags from other people, but at least I’d be setting a good example, knowing I’d done my part.

Hands down, the gift wrap winner this year was my good friend Amanda, whose gift came in a black canvas bag – now there’s a bag I can reuse without my husband cringing! That is another idea I may take as my own, depending on the gift / recipient / and my budget that month. I love the idea of the packaging being reusable, but it would definitely be a slightly more expensive method.

What do you guys look for in gift wrap? Any ideas that you love? Any thoughts on my efforts to be slightly more eco savvy where gift wrap (or even life in general) are concerned? I know, I know – the paper plates and thrown out recyclables were a pretty bad idea – but sometimes sanity needs to be sought out first, right? Much like a diet, you can’t be 100% good every day. But if you are 75% good most days, it will be a pretty good start, right?

So, About That Next Baby Thing…

So DH and I have been talking for awhile now about “the next baby” and when we should have our next wee little one (and how she should be a girl, unless he’s a boy, and what will he or she be like and where should we all go on vacation next year and…). Lately we are liking the idea of an early summer birth (with fall as a plan b) for several reasons:

1) I would get to be big and pregnant during the winter, when all that extra body weight could be put to use, making me warmer in our cold apartment!

2) The months of May and June are relatively calm for us so far, so having a birth and then birthdays then would be better than say April or July and August.

3) Warmer temperatures – nice for the wee little one and their little body temperature, etc. Not quite as severe bundling needed (which might mean pretty summer dresses and rompers – did I mention I’m secretly hoping for a little girl?). Also, more chances to take the kids to the playground instead of being cooped indoors.

4) NEXT fall we may be able to put MLM in preschool which would be nice for everyone I think. (If this doesn’t happen though, it’s not a big deal)

I really don’t want to wait too long – I’d like them relatively close in age, and MLM will be three by then. That seems pretty decent. He’s already starting to be a “little helper” and I’m sure by next year that will be even better. I may even be able to potty train him by then which would be sweet. I also know DH will be wanting some father / son bonding time soon, so then I’d also have another child to occupy my time while they are doing boring guy stuff like camping and forts and stuff. And I can enjoy infancy again while DH has a little tyke around to amuse him.

I know it won’t all be sunshine and roses like that, but there are TWO of us and only one MLM at the moment. I also know that MLM can get pretty shy in some social situations (don’t let him fool you!) and might REALLY like to have a built in friendship – something I never got to have growing up and really want for him. Plus, in three years he’ll be starting kindergarten, so this way he gets two years of time with said sibling before going off to bigger things.

Hmm so yes, the timing feels right. We’ll surely keep thinking about it until the end of August or so, at which point we will likely start “trying.” Wish us luck!

Happy First Day of April!

So this morning is the 1st of April which means a few things to me:

(one) the rent is due. This is never a happy thought – but knowing we have more than enough money to pay the rent IS a slightly happy thought – for a few months now we’ve been feeling a bit tight in the checkbook so things evening out is a very nice sight indeed!

(two) MLM is turning 2 in just SIX more days! That means I need to wrap presents, clean the apartment and make a final decision on what kind of cake I am making – plain old cake or cupcakes, teenie tiny Elmo face cupcakes, gigantic Elmo Face cake, a Lego Cake? Can I do all of the above, but magically have it all done in an hour or so? Can I have the kitchen of my dreams that has all spices, frosting, sprinkles, and zest I could ever need, a built in cooling rack system, several ovens, plenty of counter space and a spiffy decor? This kitchen of course will never get dirty or need cleaning because all messes made will magically evaporate into thin air as they hit the surfaces of this dreamy dream kitchen. Two will also mean getting ready for things like potty training, thinking about toddler beds, lots of new words, ABC’s, him getting smarter than I could ever imagine, and this Fall, me trying to have a second baby… what, oh yeah. That’s right. More on that later though. Moving on…

(three) I also have a baby shower to throw VERY soon AND a good friend moving back to the state after moving away for quite some time. The circumstances surrounding the move may not be happy, but having her back for awhile will be happy-making indeed!

(four) And yes, yes, it’s April Fools. Which means I’ll be reading tons of bogus blogs and news articles and frequently find myself saying, “Huh? Wha…oh right. April Fools… whatev…” Maybe my sense of humor needs some oiling, but this day has never felt terribly funny to me – the only time it was ever that big of a deal was in college when the newspaper I ran would do a big April Fools issue which was always fantastically fun to put together. But now it’s just me and my two year old who has no idea that it’s a Big Prank Day (thank god, I may be in serious trouble in a few years when he catches on).

Anyway, Happy April Fools Day to everyone who likes that kind of thing, and for the rest of us, don’t worry, only 13 more hours to go, then it can just be “Yay, it’s April, now maybe the weather will get better!!!”

How Have I NOT Read the Nancy Drew series yet??

Somehow despite my big appetite for books, there are always those classics that seem to evade me. While I was busy reading The Babysitters Club books, I somehow managed to avoid ever reading the Nancy Drew or Hardy Boy series – perhaps they weren’t as colorful and current, I don’t know, but I missed out, and years went by and it just never happened. But I’ve always been curious about this series and after seeing the new Nancy Drew movie, now I’m convinced – I need to read these books. I need to be in on this!

The movie, by the way, was fantasic – far exceeding my expectations. I assumed it would be cute and probably funny, but didn’t think it would be so well made – I loved every little detail, the storyline, the acting, the script – all was REALLY good. I love how they give a new kind of depth to each character that I suspect wasn’t necessarily present during the books. Especially the “mother angle” – Nancy’s mother died when she was little and you come to realize how big of an effect this has had on her life and how it partially explains her obsession with sleuthing. Being one of the many children out there who grew up without a mother, this is something I can get behind. It was very authentic and realistic, and yet it also had situations that were absurd and hilarious. Even the little love plot between Nancy and Ned was adorable. Um, hello, “Can you tell when a girl looks at you and is thinking how much she likes you and is wondering if you like her and thinking how important it is for you to say how you feel before she says anything more about how she feels about you or anyone else they might be jealous of because she’s already said how she feels how she’s said in her own way?” Seriously.

And now I want to know moooooore. I want to read them all. I want to go to the library right now and check out every single Nancy Drew book EVER. But maybe I should finish reading the other three books I’ve already checked out first? 🙂

When Cleaning Sprees Go Crazy

What is it about visits from in-laws that send normally sane women into cleaning frenzies? Last minute frantic scrubbing in the bathroom to eliminate any sign that someone may have recently used the bathroom. Vacuuming the kitchen of any recent crumbs – going above and beyond the every day call of duty so that nobody can suspect that one might actually live there.

I assure you, I don’t put in this much effort before my father visits – and I love him a lot – and sure, there is the fact that my dad might not notice as much as my germaphobic mother in law would – but it still seems silly. I’ve just in the last hour repeated all the same chores I just did on Wednesday, even though they normally wouldn’t be done again for an entire week. I even put real clothes on, because nobody should know that I live in my pajamas most days.

I know this is probably normal, but it still struck me as mildly ridiculous as I did it.

I Know You’ve Been Waiting, But I’ve Been Off…

making babies buying a new hamster and um, learning every little thing about them and how to take care of them. I am the epitome of a new mom, reading up on the history of hamsters and every way they can be harmed, scared, or stressed in any way. Feel free to express condolences to my husband – I’m sure he needs it.

So, no pictures of the new guy yet, if only because I don’t want to scare the [expletive] out of him with the camera. But, soon, I promise. His name, obviously, is Freddy. As if there was any doubt. He’s a cute little Dwarf Hamster and has taken a serious liking to DH and is slowly warming up to me and my son.

Anyway, I  am certain this post is boring you all to tears, but I figured I’d wrap up my last entry and confirm that we did indeed purchase a hamster, we’re all still alive, and no, I don’t have anything better to blog about. But don’t lose hope, I’m sure this break in creative energy can only last so long.

A Golden Hamster for a Golden Child?

So maybe years of reading about Stephanie Plum’s great relationship with her pet hamster, Rex, combined with recently reading an adorable kid’s book I, Freddy – told from the perspective of a golden hamster, lead up to this moment, but regardless, this morning I heard myself saying the words, “I want a pet hamster.” Maybe I lied and said that MLM needs a pet hamster, but truthfully, this is all about me. I want a hamster. My husband was enthusiastic about the idea and so we began reading online and went to a pet store to scope the scene on what hamsters go for and what our options are, and moreover, how big of a commitment this could become.

It seems to me that the Dwarf Hamsters are actually where it is at – from ten minutes in Petco spent observing, the Dwarf Hamsters were rowdy and rambunctious and ah-dorable, much like MLM. Now, Syrian Hamsters in general are nocturnal so perhaps I should take that into account, but if my son and I are considering spending our days oohing and ahhing over cuteness, cuteness that does cute things seems appropriate. But according to the websites, a dwarf hamster will not exactly, um, like young children – go figure, they are teenie tiny and little kids are clumsy and not at all gentle. Something to think about. But seriously, MLM is just barely two – he’s not “handling” this hamster at all for quite some time.I’m not a sadist.

Then there is the question of security – I want our little Rex or Freddy-to-be to feel safe and secure, which means a nice sturdy side table that MLM can’t tip over or climb on top of. The location is secured, but there is a serious lack of said side table to go in that corner and we are CHEAP man – so it’s gotta come at a steal, free being the best price out there, but like $30 or less being the ideal – because we’ll still need to buy the hamster, the cage, the wheel, the feeding supplies and food and all that other stuff. But still, it seems kind of worth it – it would add an extra element to our days that I feel would be useful – take care of hamster time, play with hamster time, etc.

Besides this, I have almost always had a pet in the house growing up, and I miss having that but living in an apartment makes dogs or cats a complete deal buster. Fish and I don’t get along. Mice are, um, mice. Hamsters, however, are cuuuuuuuuuuuuute and seem totally my speed. Being active at night, means I can put it in one of those cute hamster balls after MLM is asleep and let it run loose during tv time with the hubby. And hey, maybe it will wake up occasionally while MLM is awake and run in it’s wheel for a bit. That’d be fun. I should also be able to do feeding and cleaning without the boy in my hair – another plus.

But this is all still speculation. Anyone out there own or have owned a hamster that wants to bestow some advice or tips would be super appreciated!