This is What Happens When a Man Watches TLC

I’d originally considered starting an entirely different blog to focus on the journey I’m about to embark on, but the beauty of Being Kate is that, well, Being Kate is multi-faceted. I try my best to manage the different hats that I wear; wife, daughter, home to a strange life form that has taken over my body, employee of the tax payer, and my new role: extreme saver of money. Mircea and I have some plans for the future that involve a pretty hefty pay cut but we’ve got some time before this goes into effect. In that time, we’re teaching ourselves how to live on one income. So far, so good.  Basically because although that one income looks fabulous on paper and gets us taxed out the butt (that’s a technical term, the IRS literally steals money from your hind end) we have enough living expenses that we need to pinch some pennies really really hard to make ends meet. Oh yeah and we’re having a money leaching pooh factory sweet little bundle of joy in a few months so we’ll have the added expense of daycare to boot. So what are we doing so we can save money now for much leaner times in the future? All kinds of fun things like couponing, canning, and switching to off or cheaper brands of everything, including cat food, which is seriously pissing Yukon off. He looks at his bowl with disgust every morning, but let’s be honest; Poodle could stand to lose a couple hundred pounds.

So this first post will be about the couponing. Like all harebrained schemes in our house, this began with Mircea being influenced by the television. While my friend Nikki was visiting this summer, we all lazily sat down on a Sunday night for some good old fashioned television. What was on? Why, Extreme Couponing of course. (Followed by Hoarding: Buried Alive, which I still think is basically the same show as Extreme Couponing) As most people know, Extreme Couponing is a show where people who have a lot more time than me buy all kinds of stuff at the store whether they are using it or not so that they can pay 80-90% less than the average chump at the checkout stand. I can’t make fun of the fact that they buy cat food when they don’t have a cat-most of them are then donating these unused items to charities, but the part that makes me think the show is “Hoarders” is the stockpile that they all have at their home. Apocalyptic proportions people. Enough Chef Boyardee to last until 2024, that is, if it lasts that long. I agree with the idea of spending very little money on groceries but the idea of eating spaghetti from a can is just not something I’m willing to do. Mircea is on board with eating this “food” so I guess we’ll be eating different meals again. I’ll eat Ramen, but there is no chance in hell I’m eating a spaghetti o. NO CHANCE.

So like any good impressionable American, Mircea is on the coupon bandwagon. As we watched the show he had all of these great ideas about how WE can save money and how HE is going to organize the coupons, shop the sales, etc. Do you see where this story is going? Yes, I am on my second week of couponing and I painstakingly organized our coupon binder and I, yes I, spent about 2 hours on Saturday morning while watching Law and Order clipping, sorting and running different sales + coupon scenarios out on paper. And I think I’ve got a pretty good plan for this week. By no means am I saving 80-90%, but so far, these first two weeks that I’ve been a coupon Nazi psycho clipper we’ve saved about 50% on our products and have started a nice little stockpile of toiletries to get us through the hard times that are inevitably ahead. So watch out world, as I get slightly better at this I’ll start sharing some of my finds, but at this point I’m still a fairly reluctant domestic as I was happy to just go on an extreme diet or start hunting foxes and squirrels in our back yard for meat. And if anyone has any tips for me, I’m open for suggestions. I’ve found that Southern Maryland doesn’t seem to be the best place for extreme deals and bargain basement finds.

As a side note, Mircea has actually been fairly committed to this, driving me crazy at all hours of the night while he thinks up other things to hoard and other things to can. (Canning is my next post by the way) But he’s not all selfish. When I told him that I was having some trouble with the coupons for deodorant he said “I’ll use ladies deodorant, that’s fine. I don’t care what I smell like as long as it’s cheap”. That’s commitment.

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I’m Back

I recently received an adorable card from a friend, congratulating me on my pregnancy and providing me with a smile. At the end of her note, she said “I’m surprised you aren’t blogging more”. Well fair readers, so am I. The blog hiatus started when I had nothing to do but complain about how sick I was; that is, if I could sit up at my computer long enough to do so. The reason I haven’t been blogging so much these days is that I feel all my blogs would share with the world just how anxious I really am about pregnancy. I have a tendency to overreact to things (who, me?) and over analyze all the tiny minutiae of the day, but pregnancy puts me in a whole new category. If the baby doesn’t move constantly I’m 100% positive that I’ve miscarried. In fact, until I actually give birth to our daughter, I will not believe that it’s happened…and then the worrying starts for SIDS and other associated things, but I’m trying SOOO hard not to focus on that. It took EVERY ounce of my being to even purchase a crib, let alone set it up and allow myself to be a tiny bit excited about the prospect of laying my little baby daughter down to sleep on in her girly, butterfly laden crib. After a little scare earlier this week, I’ve vowed that I’ve just got to let things go. So far, other than morning sickness, I’ve had an uneventful, low risk pregnancy. I’ve managed to keep hydrated, not gain way too much weight, and somehow, by the grace of God, pass my glucose tolerance test. I know that anxiety isn’t good for our little one, so even though I’m feeling a little crazy right now that she isn’t kicking as much as she was two days ago (yesterday was also a fairly lazy day) that she is ok. And if she isn’t ok, well, let’s be honest, I have little or no control over that, so it’s time I put it in God’s hands. Usually I don’t like that phrase, I think people often use it as a cop-out or a crutch when they fear failure, but many, like myself, need God to take some of the fear away sometimes. Believing that there is someone out/up there who can provide peace when the going gets tough is what Faith is all about (to me). So I’m trying my best to put this in God’s hands and know that I am certainly not in control of anything going on right now. I have the power to not drink or smoke (check!), to not skydive (no problem there) but I can’t control any of the spontaneous science that has a tendency to rear its head in the womb. So say it with me, peace peace peace. And happy snuggly infant dreams.

Getting Things in Order

I had a great visit with Nikki this past week.  It was a much needed vacation, but I’ll tell you, I am ready for more time off work.  Though my next days off will be consumed by a squalling infant, I still think it’s preferable to sitting at a desk wishing that I was at home and not dealing with the normal office b.s.

Although I need to write another post about Philly since Nikki and I finally saw the U2 concert, I just have to share the awesomeness that was her last day in town with me.  We went off to Annapolis, ready to tour around the city and make mayhem.  Instead, while watching a homeless man play with a bit of wire, we saw a consignment shop and decided we’d walk into it’s air conditioned glory.  I’m so glad that we did.  Although they weren’t selling anything that we were interested in, when we asked about baby clothes and other things we were handed a Moonlight Madness Sale flyer, that had the names and addresses of about 15 other consignment shops in the area that were all having a 20% off sale.  A sale on already inexpensive items?  Why yes, and it was fantastic!!

Although the first stop was really far away and pretty much in a cornfield (where I began doubting that Nikki had put the correct address in the GPS) it was a GOLDMINE.  Blooming Deals and Babies in Bloom was essentially a two store-front shop that was filled with treasures.  This wasn’t the crappy, Southern Maryland thrift store of junk and unwanted items; no no, this was a shop where a person could do some real damage.  From designer purses to clothes for women, children and babies (heck there might have been men’s clothes, but I wasn’t looking at that) this place was stacked with awesome stuff.  They had a TON of stuff for kids.  Gently used toys, baby seats, and again, did I mention the clothes.  Nikki and I were in Heaven.  Nikki generously purchased some items for the baby (oops, I almost typed her name, that is not yet ripe for official announcement!)  that she couldn’t pass up, including the cutest little jacket on the planet.  I bought some onesies that were all less than a dollar a piece, and most of them still had the tags on them.  I even bought her two little bathing suits for next summer because no matter how hard I tried, my hands would not move to put them back.  Come on people, there was a little duckie with an umbrella on one of them.  What would you have done?

Although it was lunchtime, for once, the baby was cooperating and I wasn’t overcome by the need to eat, and Nikki was as high on shopping as I was.  As we made our way back towards Annapolis, we stopped in Stevensville at Twice is Nice Consignment Boutique.   I actually felt a little bad when we left because we got such great deals on our haul.  When I first walked in, I found a baby swing that I that I thought would work great at my in-laws house.  I had no intention of having one at home, but for the price, it was going to work great at the in-laws.  ($33 after savings) After grabbing a bunch of 99cent onesies (that were seriously so cute I could puke) I happened upon a bag sitting by the back door of the shop.  The contents of the bag was a very girly (but very cute) crib bedding set.  I asked for a price and the owner said it had just come in and she’d have to price it out.  I’d seen this brand of bedding online and it was usually pretty pricey, so I was thinking it wouldn’t be in the range I was willing to pay for a bedset that wasn’t my first choice.  (and my first choice was so darned cute!)  After a few minutes she comes back with a price…$66 (with discount).  I almost shouted “Sold!” but managed to contain myself as she bagged up the 14 pieces (including 3 fitted sheets, a mattress pad, a lamp and a rug) Although not really my style, it looks AMAZING in the room with the dark crib.  Here’s the link, but remember, I don’t like a ton of matching stuff and this room looks like a Cocalo Sugar Plum bomb went off in it.

So the day was a success.  For under $150, I have a bag of clothes, a swing, an adorable-ish bedding set, and, the best part, I know how to get back to these places when our little girl gets older and I don’t have to spend a fortune dressing her.  I was downright giddy by the time we left and at the end of the day, with my beloved Jimmy Johns in hand, it was really hard to say good-bye to Nikki; my partner in good deals crime.

First Thoughts on Our Daughter

**Apparently I didn’t post this and it was sitting in my drafts folder.  Not sure it was really done, but I’m posting it anyway.**

Hearing “It’s a girl” yesterday just threw me for a loop.  Although my first thought was that my baby was a girl, I had convinced myself that we were having a boy because we didn’t like any boy names.  (Though after careful consideration, we have chosen our boy name-Christian-but that won’t apply for awhile if ever).  Finding out that we would have a daughter brought me so much joy and knowing that this baby growing inside me is a little girl just makes the whole experience seem more real.

Mother’s and daughters often have interesting relationships, and my only fear is that when my daughter is 16 she’ll scream at me the way I once screamed to my Mother in a fit of hormones and rage.  It’s not that I didn’t love my mother, I did, there is just some sort of crazy relationship that we had that seemed to feed off of estrogen.  I pray that I don’t allow history to repeat itself and that my daughter and I can have a relationship where we only raise our voices to cheer for the Colts.  (because what child of mine would like the Eagles?)  I pray that my daughter can trust me with anything and I vow to always keep an open mind when she asks me questions that scare me to death.

Book Review: I Know This Much is True

I Know this Much is True: Wally Lamb  4 1/2 stars…maybe 5 but I’m not feeling generous this AM.

I usually avoid Oprah’s Book Club like the plague.  First of all (gasp!) I don’t care for Oprah, and while I appreciate that she gets the masses reading, I just don’t feel confident in her picks.  I’m probably being unfair, again, not feeling generous this morning.

I Know This Much is True is definitely an exception to my rule of thinking Oprah sucks at books.   Although very long, the book was definitely a smooth read and I felt compelled to knock out at least 100 pages a day (oh what will I do once I have the baby?!)  I’ll start with my criticism to get it out of the way so we can focus on the goodness of this book.  My two criticisms are as follows:  Wally Lamb is wordy to a fault, but it doesn’t distract from the story.  Also, the ending was terribly predictable…I didn’t read 900 pages to go “oh yeah, that’s pretty much how I saw that going”.  Having said that, the story along the way was fantastic.

The protagonist is Dominick Birdsey, one half of a set of very different twins.  His brother Thomas is a schizophrenic and the book basically chronicles that dichotomy between the inseparable nature of twins and Dominick’s insatiable desire to separate from his “weaker” brother.  The story flashes back between the twins’ youth, teen years and the present day when they are in their early 40’s.  This book has love, sex, confusion, politics; the whole gamut.  Dominick has continually struggled with who he is: raised by his subservient mother and abusive stepfather, he has always wondered where he came from and who he really is.  He felt so different from his sweeter, gentler, weaker brother that he tried so hard to be the strong one; and that strength often turned into anger that alienated those around him.  In his quest to find himself he discovers a memoir written by his Grandfather and he submerses himself in understanding all that made his Grandfather tick, and how those ticks affected Dominick’s upbringing by his mother.

I definitely suggest this book to people who enjoy reading about the inner frustrations of a man who isn’t sure who he really is because he isn’t sure where he came from, but I wouldn’t recommend this book if you’re more into your standard, easy read novel.

This might be my worst book review ever, but the reality is, I hate telling people too much about a story-I think those who know me know that I have fairly decent taste in books and that if I liked it, there’s a good chance it’s worth reading.  (I’ve gotten worse lately-if I don’t like the book at all after 100 pages, it goes back to the library. There are just too many good books out there to waste on a crappy one)

A Moment of Psychosis

My life is simply consumed by my pregnancy.  It’s so funny how this tiny being inside me is already a constant presence in my life.  While I thought I felt the baby move, I must not have because I never felt it again, but I should start to feel him/her moving in the next couple of weeks.  Despite being sick all the time, there is no reason my life should revolve around the baby yet.  Shouldn’t I be selfish and enjoy the next 5 months of alone time that I have?  I already know the answer to this-from the minute I knew there was a human being growing inside me, I ceased to be just Kate.  I’m responsible for the life of this innocent creature that I have yet to meet.  Every breath I take affects this child and every bite of food I put in my mouth leaches into the belly of my tiny baby.

I feel obsessed.  I feel like my only thoughts are about this baby and if I’m doing the right things now to have a healthy child and if once the baby is born, I’ll do all the right things to sustain this healthy child.  It’s terrifying people, terrifying.  I know that I’m not the first person to go through this, but I admit I feel so alone at times.  The thoughts that race through my head just scare me-how can I do this?  The messiest person on the planet; the person who has no routine in her life whatsoever?  How can I keep a child healthy and safe when I usually drive at least 10 miles over the speed limit with one hand on the wheel?  How can I pay for this child to go to college when I’m still paying off my student loan?  What if my child doesn’t want to go to school?  What if my child doesn’t really have the aptitude to go to school-will I be disappointed that my child isn’t cerebral or will I be proud of him/her no matter what?  In an effort to get myself excited about the baby, I started looking at décor for the nursery.  But I don’t really care about that stuff-I just care that everything is going to be ok.  I don’t know how you Moms do it…how you can sleep at night and not worry that something is going to happen to your baby, your 6 year old, your 20 year old; I just don’t know how to handle it and it scares me to death.

Book Review: Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go: Kazuo Ishigaro

This book got great reviews on Amazon, Good Reads and was the feature book in Time Magazine. Just like my friend Sarah though, I was highly underwhelmed by this book. The book just sort of…was. I was reading it and for most of the time it seemed like the author was trying to keep this big secret from me and I had to keep reading to understand what the heck was going on in the book. I’ve always found that to be a bit of a dirty trick; cryptic writing just hides that fact that you don’t have a better way to spin the tale you wish to spin.

This book is touted as a coming-of-age-missing-childhood kind of story. However, after slogging through the first 100 pages or so, it turns out this book is sort of a sci-fi, conspiracy story; falling painfully short of 1984, Brave New World, and the movie The Island. It’s sort of a strange conglomerate of all of these stories told from the point of view of the not terribly loveable Kathy H. and her experiences at Hailsham, which is essentially a boarding school for gifted art students (or so you think). The two people closest to her are Ruth and Tommy and the reader basically slowly reads through the intricacies of their late teen years as they leave Hailsham and venture off into the world. Only their world is very different from the world we live in.
Here’s the deal; I’ll tell anyone who wants to know the total plot of this story, but I won’t put a spoiler in this post. The moral of the story is, this book is stupid and I read a review where someone said it seemed like a meeting occured with the author. “Hey Kazuo, we need you to churn out another book, it doesn’t matter if it sucks” And this is that book.

I might be curious enough to watch the movie, mostly since I lay in bed all the time.

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