My Convertible Life

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday's Five: The Beach

In keeping with this week's theme and the fact that we're leaving this afternoon for the beach (hooray!!), here are five beaches that hold fond memories for me, each in a different way.
  1. Holden Beach: We went to this N.C. beach for our honeymoon and have gone back nearly every year since. It's where we first dipped our babies' toes in the Atlantic, beach-baptizing them into our family. There's nothing much to do, other than play in the sand, visit with friends and eat shrimp. Simply perfect.

  2. Edisto Island: We have the good fortune to be invited to stay with my parents each year during their vacation on this S.C. island, which is tucked in south of Charleston. Between the shaded bike trails, the fresh watermelon stands, and the gentle water, it's a great place for families. My husband is just waiting for his chance to take the kids to the Serpentarium.

  3. South Beach: My husband and I took our last "just us" vacation at this Miami beach, a few months before I got pregnant with Junius. It's where I discovered the joys of mojitos, latin jazz and art deco at the beach. It's also a topless-optional beach. Since my parents read this blog I won't tell you if I did or didn't, but I will say I was careful to use plenty of sunscreen.

  4. Zakynthos Island: The summer after I completed my post-graduate diploma in Wales, my friend and I went "on holiday" to the Greek Isles. No offense, but it was a much better option than going to Myrtle Beach after graduation -- those Europeans have it figured out. Gorgeous sandy beaches with crystal clear water, plus all the feta cheese and tzatziki sauce you can stand.

  5. Buckroe Beach: Part of my childhood summers were spent in my grandparents' house at this Virginia beach on the Chesapeake Bay. It might not make your list of vacation destinations, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. Whether we were pulling in crab traps off the pier, lounging in the hammock or taking a ride on the rickety old roller coaster, it was time well spent for this little girl, her brother and her cousins.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ready or Not, Here Comes the Swim Suit

Did I mention we're going to the beach this weekend? Can you tell I'm excited? It's going to be a lovely time, even if it means dealing with my body-image issues around swim wear.

That's fodder for a longer post when I have time to write about it, but suffice it to say that (like a lot of women) I'm less than confident about how I look in a swim suit -- especially after two babies. It's not that I think I look terrible, but there are plenty of things I would change.

One thought that helps me feel better is this photo. It was taken this same weekend beach trip four years ago. I was 35 weeks pregnant with Junius and could no longer wear my wedding bands or fit in a booth at a restaurant (no really, we had to wait until a regular table opened up). People up and down the beach were setting 911 on their phones because I was so huge it looked like I might go into labor at any moment. As it turned out, I stayed pregnant another seven weeks. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

Truthfully, being pregnant in a swim suit was strangely liberating. I love the big, round maternity belly -- it made me feel powerful ("I'm constructing an entire human being -- what are YOU doing?"). Plus it was the only time I didn't feel compelled to suck in my belly. In fact, I wore a bikini at the beach when I was (4 months) pregnant with Pippi and felt nearly exotic.

But given that I'm not pregnant this year, I'm dealing with the body I have. And no matter how many nips and tucks I'd like to take before heading out on the beach, at least I know I'm about 50 pounds lighter now than I was in that picture.

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Music Monday: The Beach

My husband loves beach music. When we were planning our wedding, I think we spent as much time in shag lessons (the Southern dance version, not the Austin Powers British slang version) as we did in our marriage prep class -- and we looked awesome at the reception.

So given that today is a holiday and we're heading to the beach this weekend, it seemed appropriate to let him pick out today's new music. He calls this "Lookin' for Love - Beach music to move your feet, stir your soul and get you in the spirit of summertime." His only disclaimer is that there are few "pure beach music" albums, so the list is primarily compilations of R&B/beach music CDs. Of course, he also says that a compilation is just a professional mix tape, so that's not a bad thing.
Now I think I might have to go add Shag: The Movie to my Netflix list.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday's Five: Baby Things

When I was pregnant with Junius, I made the obligatory trip to Babies 'R Us to set up a gift registry. I walked in, scanned the store from the doorway, turned around and walked back to my car. Totally overwhelmed. A few weeks later I went back with my neighbor (and mom of two, at the time), who kindly held my hand and showed me what I really needed and what to ignore.

And believe me, there's a LOT of stuff to ignore. But here are five things I wish I'd had when Juni was a baby -- some of them I discovered with Pippi, others I never got, and the list is probably different for every mommy.
  1. Ergo carrier: I used the Baby Bjorn with both of mine, which was great, but they got too big too quickly. This carrier (which I borrowed from a friend to use with Pip) is awesome. Goes on the front or back and holds up to 40 lbs (not that you'd want to be wearing anyone that heavy for very long). For several months, it was the only way I could get Pippi to take a nap, but it worked like a charm.

  2. Mally bibs: Invented by a mom (of course), these bibs are made of the same soft leather as Robeez-style shoes. You wipe it off, so no need for laundry -- and the clip is a magnet, so you just stick it on the fridge to dry. Genius and cute (see photo).

  3. Bumbo seat: I always saw these in stores and wondered about them, but never had one. Then my mom got one to use at her house and I was so sorry I hadn't bought one earlier. It's a great way to help a baby sit up when she can hold up her own head, but doesn't yet have the balance to sit on her own. Particularly nice to have for a second baby.

  4. Snap-in stroller frame: The "travel system" with the big stroller and infant car seat seemed like such a good idea, and I certainly got a lot of use out of mine. But in retrospect, I wish I'd gotten the lightweight stroller frame to use with the infant seat instead. Then, when your baby outgrows the infant seat, just get a nice umbrella-style stroller (I like this one) that is easier to use and takes up less space in the trunk.

  5. Pacie clips: I cannot count the number of times we lost Juni's pacifier. If only I had thought to get something to clip to his shirt. Thank goodness a friend sent an adorable pacie clip for Pippi when she was born. We used it so much it literally fell apart, so I ordered some new ones off Etsy -- whatever your style, someone makes a clip to match.
Note: As usual, no incentives were sent to entice me to write about these products. Apparently, despite the fact that *you* are reading my blog, the mommy-marketers haven't found me yet.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Life (2003-2008, Abridged)

Here's my attempt to edit five years into 50 words:

Four years after falling in love with our first house and our Raleigh neighbors, my husband, son and I moved away for a job.

Eleven months later, we moved back, with a new baby.

When our friends appeared as the moving truck arrived, we knew we'd made the right decision.

Now it's your turn.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Prescription for What Ails You

Somehow it's less satisfying to hear the pediatrician say, "It's good that you brought her in," when it's your baby girl's second round of ear infections in less than two weeks.

Second verse, same as the first. Here's hoping the augmentin does the trick this time without giving her a vicious diaper rash.

Given that we've been making lots of trips to the pharmacy lately (Junius also had conjunctivitis over the weekend), I'm grateful that the people at the Hayes-Barton Pharmacy are so sweet and lovely. They help my children feel better by getting the medicine ready quickly, and they help me feel better by making it easy to patronize a local business. Plus Pippi likes the personal attention and Junius likes sitting near the counter to munch a bag of chips while we wait -- a small treat that goes a long way.

My father-in-law was a retail pharmacist for more than 40 years, and he sets a high standard for me in how I expect to be treated at the pharmacy. These days it's easy to drive through whatever Walgreens/Rite-Aid/CVS/Kerr drug store is on the nearest corner and never actually see your pharmacist. But at Hayes-Barton Pharmacy, it's worth the walk inside to meet the pharmacists and assistants, to wander the small aisles and have someone know us by name. I figure they are as important to my children's health as their pediatricians -- and goodness knows we spend plenty of time in that office, too.

Note: I have received no compensation from Hayes-Barton Pharmacy for this post, although they did give us a bag of chips for a discount one time because we didn't have enough change. But I don't think that counts as a bribe since they probably don't actually know my blog exists.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Music Monday

Got a little off track this morning because I had a meeting out of the "office" (a.k.a. my house). But I'm back now and trying to get some new music in the CD player before I pick up my kids from preschool. If I don't do it now, we'll end up listening to what's already in there or to kids' music -- and there's nothing wrong with that, but preschool ends on Wednesday (gasp!), so I'm not ready to go totally over to their world just yet. I still have two more days to work first.

Here's the line-up of music that's fun for me -- and hopefully good for the whole family, too:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

That's My Girl

Let me be clear that I have no doubt that Pippi is my daughter. After 9+ months of ginormous pregnancy, I actually maintained consciousness during her c-section delivery (unlike with my first c) and got to see her straight away. And although she doesn't look much like me, she resembles her brother so much it's scary sometimes.

But just in case I ever had any questions about whether or not she belongs to me, two recent discoveries made it quite obvious.

  1. At our recent group swim class, I spent the lessons in the pool with Pippi while Juni was with his instructor. The whole time we were in the pool, Pippi flirted shamelessly with the lifeguards -- so much so that one of the guards commented that she was the cutest baby he'd ever seen. Of course, Pip flirted with the male and female guards, but she is already following in her mother's footsteps of summers spent making eyes at all the cute boys up in the stand. And I still like to flirt with my favorite lifeguard, who happens also to be Pippi's dad.

  2. My girl loves some mashed potatoes, as illustrated in the photo above. Mashed potatoes are one of my all-time favorite foods (thank goodness Bob Evans and Country Crock make such a tasty prepared version). At my first Thanksgiving with my future in-laws, I embarrassed myself by declaring them my favorite holiday food, then noticing that there were none on the table. Based on her diligent efforts to lick the spoon (and her fingers) clean, Pippi seems to be on the same path.

As they say, the nut seldom falls far from the tree.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Friday's Five: Farmer's Market

One of my favorite things about living in Raleigh is having easy access to the State Farmer's Market. Lots of communities have local markets, but the one here is big and open seven days a week. You can find all sorts of things there, from flowers to fruit to framing to flags, and everything inbetween (whatever that might be).

I like to go on Sunday mornings after church -- it's not too crowded yet, although not all the vendors are open then either. If you've got time to spend, you can shop for veggies, wander through the crafts and then eat at one of the restaurants (our favorite is the seafood market -- get the shrimp sandwich and a side of fries).

The Farmer's Market is great year-round (and not just for pumpkins and Christmas trees), but here are five of my favorite foods you can get now (or at least soon):
  1. Strawberries -- Go ahead and buy the big basket. Eat some now (yogurt and granola, anyone?) and freeze some for later (perfect in smoothies).
  2. Peach salsa -- They also sell pineapple salsa and other tasty flavors, but the peach is the best and it's not too spicy.
  3. Sweet potatoes -- The state vegetable (what? you didn't know?) is so much better here than in stores. Wonderful flavor and beautiful orange color.
  4. Collards -- Good for you and taste good, too. Just don't boil them into oblivion. Slice them into strips with a little salt, water and olive oil, and cook until they're not crunchy but not soggy either (about 20 minutes).
  5. Peaches -- Not in yet, but they are oh-so-yummy. Ask for samples, but be sure to bring the wipes with you. You and your kids will be sticky.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

And what random object are you, sir?

I predict that all the millions of random Facebook quizzes are going to become the new Myers-Briggs test. Never mind that most of them don't make any sense and seem to be written by people for whom English is a second (or maybe third) language. Clearly these quizzes must provide the answers to questions about ourselves that we always wondered, but never knew how to ask.

I can see it now -- at your next staff development retreat, instead of finding out whether you're an ENFJ or an ISTP, the consultant will ask which famous painting, Muppet, Spice Girl and color you are. Maybe Facebook could even merge with and begin connecting people with their quiz match for dates.

In case you're wondering, I am (among other things)...
  • Mona Lisa
  • Marilyn Monroe (in a past life)
  • Miss Piggy
  • Posh Spice
  • Yellow aura
  • Shelby (from Steel Magnolias)
  • American cheese
  • Rachel (from Friends)
  • Say Anything
  • Gold (which fits nicely for Posh and Piggy)
Now the real questions is: why can't we stop ourselves from taking all these quizzes?

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Music Monday: Singing with the Rain

It's another rainy Monday. Another work day when there's much to be done. But I think today I'm going to go with the rain instead of fighting against it. Brewing some chai tea and settling into the day.

Here are five women I've listened to over the years, most of whom are in my collection thanks to other wonderful women I know. If you have any of these discs, feel free to sing along:
image from

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Better Than Being a Millionaire

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't seen Slumdog Millionaire and don't want to know anything about it, skip this post -- although I'm not really giving much away. Go read my debut post at Triangle Mamas instead.

Last night I watched Slumdog Millionaire, winner of four Golden Globes, seven BAFTA Awards, eight Oscars and scores of other awards. I realize I'm behind the times, but having two small children means we don't get out to the movies much and we're often too tired at the end of the day to watch movies at home.

I understand why the film won so much praise, but I think I would have enjoyed it more about five years ago. Now that I'm a mother, I find it almost unbearable to watch stories where children suffer. The fact that the movie has a (somewhat) happy ending didn't make it any less painful.

As I watched young Jamal's childhood unfold, I kept thinking that he and his brother and their friends were about the same age as Junius. I thought about what it would be like for Juni to be poor, orphaned, alone, hungry and afraid. I thought about how I would feel if I couldn't protect him, keep him safe, keep him clean and fed.

And it is even more painful knowing that, although this story is fiction, children around the world are living (and dying) under these same conditions every day. It is simply too much to bear -- and so I force myself to stop thinking about it because I feel powerless to change it. Somehow, I don't think my daily click on The Hunger Site or The Child Health Site is going to make much of a difference.

After the movie ended, I went upstairs to check on my sweet, beautiful, healthy, happy sleeping children. I brushed Pippi's hair out of her eyes, tucked her Lulu a little closer and said a quiet prayer. Then I covered Junius with his blanket, kissed him on the forehead and started to cry. I considered scooping him up and taking him into our bed for the night, just to be sure he was close and safe -- but I knew no one would really sleep well that way.

Finally, I collapsed into my own bed, exhausted and grateful to have millions of blessings on the eve of Mother's Day.

Image from

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Friday's Five: Baby Gifts

Right now I have four friends who are pregnant (that I know of) and three more with newborns, so I've got baby gifts on the brain. What new mommies need most would be some prepared meals, time to sleep and a chance to take an uninterrupted shower -- not necessarily in that order.

But if you're not close enough to your friend to help with those things, here are five of my favorite gifts to give to new babies (and their mamas) to celebrate their births:
  1. Robeez: These shoes, which come in a million adorable designs and colors, are a great alternative to socks for the first year. And unlike socks, they actually stay on babies' feet. If you order them here, you get free shipping (and free socks with some orders). Other cute options are Bobux, Pediped, Treadders, and Pedoodles. I usually give them in a 6-12 month size so that they fit a little longer.

  2. Hooter Hiders: These nursing covers are also sold under the brand Bebe au Lait, but I think Hooter Hiders is much funnier. They come in lots of beautiful fabrics and are even sold at my local Target. This cover allowed me to comfortably nurse Pippi in nearly every restaurant in Greensboro when she was a newborn (since I wasn't doing much cooking). A wonderful gift for the nursing mom, it can also be used as a sunshade for a baby in a front carrier.

  3. Kids Music CD: You already know about the kids music I like best (go Big Bang Boom!), so check that list for ideas -- it's particularly good for second (or third or fourth) babies because their older siblings can join in the dance party. If you're looking for lullabies, I recommend "It's a Big World" by Renee and Jeremy. Junius listens to it nearly every night, but Daddy and I love it too -- simple, sweet and beautiful.

  4. Angel Dear Blankie: Babies love something soft to snuggle with at bedtime. And if it can't be mommy (and please, sometimes mommy just needs a break), it ought to be one of these super soft loveys. We have "Max" (puppy) and "Lulu" (pink bunny) at our house, and my kids love them so much that we ended up getting a back-up version of each in case we lost one. If we had a third (and we're not, by the way), I'd get the blue hippo and name him "Clive."

  5. Aveeno BabyCare: Sometimes the best gifts are the most practical ones, especially when it's for a family that already has clothes and things handed down from an older sibling. I love the Aveeno lotions and bathwashes -- the lavender products smell lovely and they're great for sensitive skin (or babies with mild eczema, like mine). If you order them along with some diapers, Tylenol or Mylicon from, you can get free shipping direct to the house.

One Smart Mommy

"You were smart to bring her in."

YES! I am Genius Mommy. My trophy will be arriving in the mail any day now.*

Of course, I realize I shouldn't be celebrating the fact that Pippi got her first ear infection yesterday (in both ears, no less). But it was so lovely to hear the pediatrician say those words to me, that I'm going to write them down again: "You were smart to bring her in."

Given the number of times I've taken my kids to the doctor only to be told that they have a cold and that there's nothing to do, I was more than a little pleased that I was right to take her in yesterday. She cried through most of the night before and was so fussy at preschool that morning that her teacher called me to see if I wanted to pick her up early. It was so out of character for her that I almost hoped she had an ear infection -- at least that was something we can fix (unlike, say, Early-Onset Twoish Terribilius).

Now, through the magic of amoxicillin, she's already doing better. And I'll be waiting at the mailbox for my award.

*Note: Trophy may be rescinded when the Committee finds out I let my children watch all of Toy Story 2 for the past two days while I fixed dinner, fed them and got them ready for bed so that I didn't have to listen to them whine.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Donate for Super Dylan

One of Junius's favorite buddies is Dylan -- a feisty, funny, adorable little boy in our neighborhood. That's him on the left, rockin' out with Junius last fall. He may be smaller than Juni, but he's the same age and packs a serious punch in his little body. And it's a good thing he's got some fight in him because he's wrestling every day with cystic fibrosis.

This year is our third tour on the Super Dylan Team for the Great Strides walk to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF).
Your gift will be used efficiently and effectively, as nearly 90 cents of every dollar of revenue raised is available for investment in vital CF programs to support research, care and education.

Making a donation is easy and secure! Any amount you can donate is greatly appreciated -- just go here and give what you can.

With treatments and medicines, Dylan is usually a healthy boy. But it takes a lot of effort by his parents to keep him that way. CF is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, thanks to advances in research and medical treatments, many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond. But that's not enough for us -- we need a cure for Dylan.

Thanks in advance for your help -- and please visit CFF online for more information.

Monday, May 4, 2009

National Teacher Day

In addition to being Cinco de Mayo (in case you needed an excuse for a Corona), Tuesday is also National Teacher Day and part of Teacher Appreciation Week. As a community service message for my former colleagues, I'd like to take this opportunity to say two things:
  1. You really don't have to buy anything for your teachers (most of them don't need another apple-shaped coffee mug, unless it comes loaded with a Starbucks gift card). But bringing in some flowers from your yard or a container of cookies is always a nice idea.

  2. Teaching is a rough job, and it's really easy for a teacher to get overwhelmed by the bad things and forget about the good things. If there's a teacher in your life -- past or present -- who had a positive impact, take a few minutes today to let him or her know.
I was a high school teacher for four years -- it was, in some ways, as exhausting and incredible as being a parent. Now that I've been out of teaching for nearly a decade (where does the time go?!), I have special memories (and occasional nightmares) of my time in the classroom. I also still have treasured notes from former students and their parents (including my signed yearbooks) that remind me of the good things I did while I was there.

So for National Teacher Day 2009, give a teacher a good memory instead of a mug.

New Music Monday: Jazzy Work Day

With only six working days left until preschool is over for the summer (because Pippi only goes two days a week), it's time to get in the groove on this project. Hoping that maybe some jazzy rhythms will do the trick.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oh, what a night

Dinner at trendy new downtown Lebanese restaurant: $22

Signature cocktail at trendy new downtown bar: $8

Downtown parking deck: free

Neighborhood ladies night out with wonderful friends (including rockin' minivan soundtrack, witty conversation, getting carded, getting hit on by some random guy and staying up WAY past my bedtime), and then coming home to my beautiful family all sweetly sleeping and snuggling up with my husband: priceless