My Convertible Life

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday's Five: Halloween Candy to Share with Mommy

In honor of the holiday weekend (and because my kids are out of school today, so no time for a more researched list), here are my five favorite Halloween candies that I'll be sneaking out of my kids' bags after trick-or-treating:

  1. Candy corn: Apparently a lot of people (at least those on the Internet) really hate candy corn, but I love it. And so does my husband, who will have to wrestle me for it.
  2. 3 Musketeers: The best candy bar ever. I like to eat the outside first, then the fluffy inside last. I don't know why, but I always have.
  3. Reese's cups: Since Junius is allergic to peanuts, I'm really just protecting him by eating these before he does. I know, I'm such a great mom.
  4. Kit Kat: These are tasty as-is, but even better when my husband crumbles them onto chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup.
  5. Peppermint patties: So refreshing, yet still dessert-y. A lovely combination.
Note to my neighborhood readers: I am not handing out all of these at my house (duh, I'm hoarding them for myself), so don't be disappointed if you get something else.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

First of Many

Marking milestones with Junius when he was a baby is what got me through that first year of craziness -- first smile, first food, first word, first steps and so on. In the early months, time seemed to move so slowly and I remember wondering if we would ever get to a point where he didn't need me every second of the day.

Now it seems like there's a milestone every week, and he's growing up so fast that there are days he doesn't need me at all. It's exciting and sad and amazing -- and although I know I'm not the first mom to feel this way, it's my first time and it sometimes makes me lose my breath.

Since his first camping trip at the end of the summer, Junius has tackled several more "firsts" that I want to document here:
  • First time riding his bike to school... This actually made me cry a little bit as he was literally and metaphorically pedaling away from me. He was crazy proud of himself (and I was, too). It's about a mile from our house to his preschool, with several very big (up) hills. He needed a push now and then, but he made it the whole way. Now he rides to school (while I push Pippi in the stroller) at least three times a week.
  • First football game... My cousin and brother-in-law will be proud to know that Junius's first time attending football game was at N.C. State's Carter-Finley Stadium. He had fun, but (as you can see from the photo) was a little sensitive about all the noise. Pippi, however, was not the least bit bothered -- she's definitely our party girl.
  • First UNC football game... As a double Tar Heel, I couldn't let that NCSU game be the end of it, so we took the kids to their first UNC game in Kenan Stadium. Amazingly, the Heels won, but I think Junius's favorite part was watching the trombone players in the band.
  • First movie in the theater... Watching Junius take in his first movie theater experience was almost as big a deal as watching him ride his bike to school. We couldn't have asked for a better set-up -- a limited release of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 (double-header with a 10-minute intermission) in 3-D. My husband took the afternoon off from work (shhh, don't tell), we left Pippi with a sitter, and went to the noon show. We were the only people in the theater. Literally. Popcorn, sippy cup and your choice of any seat in the house -- it just doesn't get any better than that.
Next week's milestone? As the ring-bearer in a wedding, Junius will sport his first tuxedo. Mommy will be bringing her camera -- and lots of tissues.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Third Quarter Meal Report

Project Meal-Planning is at 39 weeks and counting! Still eating frozen pizza (5 nights), frozen skillet meals (5 nights) and hot dogs (3 nights), but also lots of other meals. I'm quite proud of myself, but need to clarify something before I get too big for my apron. Based on comments I've received on past posts, I seem to have created the illusion that my children are also eating all these different meals that I've been making. Let me assure you that when my husband and I are eating pad thai or pineapple pork tenderloin, my kids are having chicken nuggets or Easy Mac.

Out of the third 13 weeks of 2009, we were out of town 13 nights (including a week at the beach), had dinner out 13 nights (beach restaurants, date night, CFA, football games, etc.), and got dinner from our meal-trade four nights. Of the remaining dinners, here's a sampling of what we had during Q3:
  • 21 different dinners
  • 16 nights of leftovers (a.k.a. good planning)
  • 10 dishes involving chicken in various formats (crockpot, grill, pasta, pad thai)
  • 6 nights of variations on pork tenderloin (kabobs, grill, crockpot)
  • 5 nights of tilapia with veggies
  • 3 nights of French toast with turkey sausage and fruit
  • and assorted other dinners
My goal for Q4 is to find some new recipes to add to the mix -- now that I'm cooking more, the old stand-bys are getting over-used. Would really love some recommendations for crockpot soup recipes to get us through the winter -- anyone?

For earlier meal reports, go to Q1 and Q2.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday's Five: Motherhood is Hard

Today's Friday's Five takes a different approach -- not favorites this time, but still a list of five things you might need to hear. Or that I, at least, need to get off my conscience.

A friend called me a few weeks ago and I knew the minute I heard her voice that something was wrong. Long story short, her 1-year-old daughter had fallen down the stairs, she was panicked about what to do and immediately called me. Why me? I'm not a nurse, pediatrician or doctor of any sort -- but I am a mom who had done something we moms don't do often enough. I had admitted to my friend, about a year ago, that Pippi had fallen down our stairs -- so I was the first person my friend thought to call.

In our ongoing efforts to be Super Mom (and Super Wife, Super Friend, Super Daughter, Super Sister and Super Employee, all rolled into one), I think we often forget (or are afraid) to confess our disasters to friends who need to know that we're not as perfect as we're trying to be. But the truth is, none of us is alone in these failings -- and it's so much easier to bear when we know that.

So when Pippi fell down the stairs that day -- after she had stopped crying and I had recovered from the agony of watching her tumble and bounce 14 times onto the (faux) wood floor, racing behind her but unable to catch her -- I called my friend, told her the story, and said, "One day, this, or something like it, is going to happen to you and Baby L. And you will cry and gnash your teeth and think that you are a bad mother. And then you will remember this conversation, you will remember that it happened to me, and you will know that babies with very good mommies still sometimes get bumps and bruises."

It turned out that Baby L, just like Pippi, was fine -- and it took both of us moms much longer to recover than it did our daughters. But after the fact, Baby L's mom reminded me what an important gift of friendship it was to know we are not alone in our less-stellar parenting moments.

And now, in the spirit of friendship, five failings in my 4+ years of motherhood so that maybe you'll feel less alone in yours:
  1. Pippi fell down the stairs: I think we've covered that story, but it was totally my fault and I can still see her face as she fell. Thank goodness she has such a hard head.
  2. Junius fell off the bed: He was probably about 18 months, jumping on my bed. I reached to grab him, he thought we were playing chase and tumbled off the side, hitting his head on the table on his way down. A heart-breaking sound.
  3. Pippi fell off the couch: She was less than 6 weeks old. I don't know how she wiggled off, but she did. Face plant on the hardwood floors. Even as a second-time mom, I was terrified that I had broken her forever.
  4. Junius rode in the car unbuckled: He was a few months old, riding in his infant car seat snapped into the stroller through the mall. I unbuckled him to nurse while we were shopping, then put him back in. When we got home, I realized I never clipped the seat belt back and had driven home that way. The "what-ifs" nearly drowned me.
  5. Pippi ran into the parking lot: We were at the N.C. Farmer's Market with friends, all four kids playing so nicely. Suddenly, my friend shouts Pippi's name and I realize she's somehow about to step into traffic. Don't know how she got there, but I nearly broke my ankle racing to snatch her out of the road. Took hours for my heart rate to slow back to normal.
I am so thankful that all of these disasters had happy endings. I'm touching, knocking and pressing on wood now in hopes that I haven't jinxed myself. Feel free to leave comments of your own moments to share, but find solace in knowing you're not alone.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Would Like to Thank the Academy...

I started this blog on a whim and kept going simply because I enjoy it. But truth be told, I also really like knowing that other people are reading it and enjoying it, too.

So imagine my delight when I received this Honest Scrap Award, along with one of the nicest compliments ever, from a fellow blogger and high school classmate (who I probably haven't seen since the ol' GHS days). I don't actually know why it's called the Honest Scrap Award, but these days I'll take the kudos wherever I can get them.

Here's how it works:

1) Say thanks and give a link to the presenter of the award.
Thanks, Dobbygirl! You should all check out her Spry on the Wall blog to learn WAY more about the hottest fashion, coolest hotels and other textile-related gems than you'll ever learn here at Juni&Pip. Plus you might get a glimpse of her sweet red-headed baby as a bonus.

2) Share "10 Honest Things" about myself.
Brace yourselves.

3) Present this award to 7 others whose blogs I find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged me. See list at the end of this post.

4) Tell those 7 people they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving. Check your latest post for a comment from me, fellow bloggy friends.

Now for the 10 Honest Things:
  1. I have never been to a Nascar race. I don't really want to go to one, but feel that it's a gap in my Southern Girl pedigree (which includes eating barbecue and knowing how to dance the shag).
  2. I read the funnies every day in the newspaper. I skip "Family Circus," "Wizard of Id," "Hagar the Horrible," "Beetle Bailey," "Curtis" and "B.C." because I just don't think they're funny. Life is too short to waste on bad comics.
  3. In high school, I totaled my mother's Volvo by accidentally running a red light. It really was an accident and I really was on my way home from volunteering at the homeless shelter. I still think about it every time I drive through that intersection and remember that I'm lucky to be here.
  4. My husband has no sense of smell (seriously), so I can fart quietly at home and he never knows it.
  5. I find extreme pleasure in peeling the little clear clingy covers off of electronic gadget screens.
  6. Before I go to the Harris Teeter at our fancy-schmancy neighborhood shopping center, I feel compelled to put on lipstick. I do not have the same urge when I go to Costco, Food Lion or Kroger.
  7. I am not good at walking in high heels, so I don't own them. This makes me sad because I think they're sexy and my husband probably does, too (on me, not him, just to be clear).
  8. I had mono when I was 30. And no, I did not get it from kissing. But lost a lot of weight and strangely enjoyed being super thin.
  9. I love to eat hot dogs and drink Diet Coke at football games. I do not think about what is in either one -- it's better that way.
  10. Although I should be old enough to know better, I still get insecure from time to time about whether or not my friends really like me.
TMI? Well, if you need something else to read now, check out these bloggers and newest recipients of the Honest Scrap Award (in no particular order):
  • Canape at Don't Take the Repeats - My friend who inspired me to start this blog. I get to live across the street from her (thanks for not moving away!), but you can pretend you do too if you read her fantastic blog.
  • Abby at My Sweet Babboo - Fellow Triangle Mama blogger and super crafty (in a cool, not-obnoxious way) smart mom. If you're stuck on a rainy day with your kids, you want tips from Abby's blog.
  • Kristy at Le Petit Blog - I was her babysitter when I was 13. Now she's a grown-up graphic designer offering recipes, decorating tips and pop culture news on her stylish blog. I figure she needs to come redecorate at my house as payback for letting her stay up past bedtime when she was 8.
  • Stella at So Beautiful and So Ordinary - My long-lost high school friend, delightfully rediscovered on FB, she writes honestly about teaching, parenting and living in San Franciso.
  • Stephanie at Figments - One of the first bloggers I didn't know in real life who started reading and commenting on my blog (thank you!). Like me, she writes about parenting, work, life, and whatever catches her mind -- good stuff and a lovely design.
  • Postmark Here - Reading this blog, by a friend from my British-grad-school days (and former L.A. Times reporter), is like getting digital postcards in your blog reader. You'll enjoy the peeks into her travels, whether overseas or just to the corner bar. And her masthead is perfect.
  • Damon at Little Circostas' Media Grab - Another neighborhood blogger, this is the only blog in my reader written by a dad. He's funny, clever -- and his son is adorable. His wife also has a great blog, but you have to know the secret handshake to get in.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Musiciancarnation: The Edge

In my next life, if I could come back as a member of U2, I'd be The Edge.

Thanks to my awesome husband, who splurged on two tickets for us, we got to see U2 perform on earlier this month at Carter-Finley Stadium (thankfully, we actually made it through the traffic, unlike some very disappointed fans). The band, which I first listened to in the mid-80s, thanks to my much cooler (and younger) brother, put on an amazing musical spectacle for a solid two hours. I don't know how they do it, night after night and year after year, but they really pulled it off.

I don't even need a Facebook quiz (I'm sure there is one) to tell me that I'd definitely want to be the guitarist/keyboardist/back-up vocalist, born David Howell Evans. So why, you're asking (I know you are), would you want to be The Edge? I'll tell you:
  • He never has a bad hair day thanks to that hat (and apparently he doesn't have much hair left anyway).
  • He plays guitar AND plays keyboard AND sings. Triple threat with a sexy guitar stance.
  • He's been credited as defining the "U2 sound," even more so than Bono.
  • He has the coolest stage name around, involving an article no less.
  • He gets to run around stage, having a blast with his best friends from high school -- and he gets paid for it.
  • He ate Cooper's BBQ after the Raleigh show. Okay, so they all did -- but I still think that is awesome.
So, who would you be if you were in U2?

Past "Musiciancarnation" posts:
China Forbes

Tift Merritt

Image from

Sunday, October 18, 2009

When Junius Grows Up...

One of my favorite books to read with Junius is I Want to Go to UNC by Ripley Rand and Jorin Garguilo. Although I didn't grow up wanting to go to Carolina (in fact, it was my last choice -- but that's another story), it's never too early to get Juni on board with the Heels -- particularly given his track record of supporting, ahem, other ACC schools. I like the book because it introduces him to important places in Chapel Hill; he likes it because it rhymes, has fun illustrations and references lots of career and college options.

Tonight while we were reading, he kept pausing on each page (a ploy, no doubt, to put off the inevitable and impending bedtime) to discuss what he might want to be when he grows up. It was the first time I'd heard him discuss what's on his list, so I was curious to know what he was thinking about. Keep in mind that the options were inspired by the careers in the story, but I just wanted to take a moment to capture them now in case he actually becomes one of them later on:
  • jet pilot
  • dentist
  • pediatric nurse
  • car mechanic
  • tuba player ("For when I'm bery, bery growed up, Mommy.")
I think it's a great list -- surprisingly technical and medical, two areas in which I was never interested. My guess is he's probably thinking more about having cool tools than about solid career paths. Can't fault the kid for liking the accessories

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday's Five: Musical Kids Books

You've missed me, haven't you? I know you have -- I can hear you calling for me. Or maybe that's my children begging for some attention. Hard to say.

For the past two weeks, while I haven't been blogging, I've been furiously writing my next (paying) project -- one that usually takes about two months, but is on the fast track this year. Between that deadline and some IT difficulties, the blog has been seriously neglected. For what it's worth, I've missed you, too.

My list of topics to post about is quite long, so it might take some time to get caught up and clear my head -- hoping to be back to regular posting next week. In the meantime, here are five good music-related books Junius and I have been enjoying this week:
  1. Olivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer
  2. Dooby Dooby Moo by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
  3. Pecorino's First Concert by Alan Madison and AnnaLaura Cantone
  4. Tap-Dance Fever by Pat Brisson and Nancy Cote
  5. Ella Elephant Scats Like That by Andy Blackman Hurwitz and Andrew Cunningham

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday's Five: Baby Stuff to Borrow

Now that we've committed to not having any more children, I've started giving away our baby things. It was hard at first -- every little thing is packed with so many memories of my sweet Juni and Pip -- but then it starts to feel good to free up some space in the house. It's also fun to know that the newest babies in the neighborhood will be enjoying the same clothes and toys that my little ones did when they were babies.

There are some things that it's nice to buy new when you have a baby -- things that get a lot of use like high chairs and cribs (although truthfully you could probably get everything used and be just fine). But there are plenty of things that should be borrowed or bought on consignment -- either because you just don't use them very long or because you never know if your child will actually like them, or both.

Here are five things you should definitely try to borrow if you can:
  1. Infant swing: My kids liked the swing (and was sometimes the only way to get them to take a nap), but not all kids do. And it only lasts for a few months before they're too heavy or too wiggly to fit into it.

  2. Jumpster: This one saved my life (my kids are jumpers -- see photo of Pippi) and was the only way I was able to shower for several months. But it's also a personal preference item, so best to borrow to be sure your baby will enjoy it.

  3. Bumbo seat: I didn't have one of these until Pippi was 5 months old, but wish I'd had one earlier. Her chunky thighs didn't fit into it for very long, but it would have been handy in those early months.

  4. Exersaucer: See #2, but bigger and clunkier.

  5. Infant stroller: The whole stroller-for-every-activity-at-every-stage thing is such a racket. Save your money for a nice stroller that will meet your needs for the long-term and borrow one of those infant stroller frames that you can snap your car seat into and go.
Mommy-readers... what are your other recommendations or favorite consignment items for newbies?