Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nice Sheets

When we moved to our new home last month, Peter requested that we get new sheets for our bed. We've had the same sheets for the past few years and I love how they feel after all those washings--so soft and cozy. But he was ready to move on. Peter rarely asks for or cares about things like that for the house, so I put new sheets on the list of things to get (way down at the bottom), but I thought it was a little ridiculous--not only did he want new sheets, he wanted 600 thread-count sheets. I was skeptical about just how much softer and better they could actually be. He told me that he and his boss had had a discussion about it and his boss loves his 600 thread-count sheets. (The things men talk about at work!)

So, to make Peter happy and to impress his boss, I looked for 600 thread-count sheets the next time I was at the store. I bought a set of 500 thread-count sheets instead because I liked the color, design, and brand better than the 600 thread-count ones. I folded up our old sheets and put them in the closet; they were now consigned to be the understudies (sigh). When I put the new sheets on the bed I had to admit that they looked invitingly good. They were 100% supima cotton and had a nice sheen to them. But they felt too crisp the first few nights of sleeping on them, even though I'd pre-washed them. The old sheets were better.

After those first few nights, however, the new sheets got really comfortable. I'm not sure what happened, but I guess the magic of high thread-count sheets kicked in. Now I understand better what the big deal is. I fall asleep faster at night because they feel wonderful bundled up all softly around me. Still, they've proven to be a bit of a liability--even with a solid 7-8 hours of sleep, it's harder to get up in the morning because the bed feels way too comfortable and cozy. But that is a liability that I think I can live with!

Brody approves of the new sheets too. I found him like this the day after we got them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fun With Boxes. And Paper!

When we moved to Iowa four weeks ago, my time was entirely taken up by unpacking and trying to get the house under control and organized. With two little ones underfoot, it wasn't easy. Fortunately, Sam had recently started crawling and was content to crawl around and explore his new surroundings and shut his fingers in cabinet doors and do fun things like that. John had a blast with the moving boxes and paper, turning them into opportunities for climbing, hibernating, picnicking, and anything else he could think up. I'm glad that my neglect of my children helped them expand their horizons and develop their creativity. I'm such an awesome mom.
Eating lunch. Who needs a table anyway?

Lunchtime again, this time on a big stack of boxes. Cool!


If we'd known that boxes and paper could keep a kid so happy then we'd probably have a lot less toys.

Hiding in a cave. That's Peter they're sitting on.

He's such a fast little crawler that I didn't get a good picture of him in action. He liked having some nice soft carpet to crawl on. 

Obviously I didn't completely neglect them. They were dressed, fed, and photographed. All the important things!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Backyard

We've been in our new house for about four weeks now. The interior of the house is not yet worthy of having its pictures taken and posted. Most of the unpacking is done, but not all of it; our pictures are all propped against a wall (we still can't find the hammer and nails); there's furniture that needs to be delivered; and overall it just isn't "home" yet. Not until I can sink my decorating teeth into it, for better or for worse.

I can, however, post pictures of our yard. The yard doesn't need much work (although the landscaping company says otherwise). I love this yard and the way our house is situated in the woods and the neighborhood. At night, it sounds like a nature CD right outside the windows because of the symphony that nature, insects, and occasionally hooting owls create. This is one of the reasons we bought this house--a spacious, mostly private yard in a natural setting that isn't bordered by other houses all around. It makes me feel like I'm back in New England. I love it!

(I spy the boys!)

 Look closely on the far right to see some of our fine landscaping work...

Isn't it lovely? I'm thinking of planting flowers around the base.
This toilet has been enjoying lots of fresh air after years of being cooped up in a bathroom, of all places.
It's been benefitting from our ignorance of how to get rid of
bulky trash.

 This is the view at the back of the yard. 
Just this evening John and I watched a mother deer and her 
fawns playing in the field and running around in the yard.

There are my boys again, sitting in the shadow of a tree.
It's been a very humid August in Iowa.

We like the spacious yard!

P.S. Creating this post was the ultimate test of my patience (a test which I sadly failed a few times when my Irish temper got the better of me. Yes, I blame it on the Irish in me--my temper tantrums are not my fault!). Anyway...Blogger has this new format for creating blog posts. While there are some good things about it, there are also some extremely annoying features that make no sense and are driving me nuts!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Review: Summer at Tiffany

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! It was so enjoyable to read. It's the author's memoir about the summer of 1945 when she and her friend take off from the University of Iowa (which I now live just minutes away from!) and go to New York City, where they end up getting summer jobs at Tiffany, of all places. They were the first women to ever work on the floor there. Her writing brings that time and place to life vividly. Among many other experiences, Judy Garland came into Tiffany for a shopping trip while they were working there, and they were in Times Square when the end of WWII was announced. This is my favorite way to read about history, through the perspective of people who actually lived it. She wrote this for her children and grandchildren but anyone would benefit from reading this very nicely written memoir.

*My favorite quote from the book, since I'm an "Easterner" now living in Iowa, so I've had the fun of putting up with my fellow Easterner's jokes about Iowa:

"Besides the wild 'Iowa-ho-ha' lines the Easterners fed us, now we weren't even on the map! Wait till Marty hears this one. She had vowed that the next time Iowa was put down, she'd say, 'Do you know which state has the highest literacy rate?' We had a heyday dreaming up comebacks."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Road Trip!

There are few things that will bond a family together like a road trip! It took two days for us to drive from Connecticut to Iowa: we left in the afternoon on Friday, July 23rd and arrived on Sunday afternoon. 1200 miles and 18 hours of pure fun! Right. Peter, Sam, and I drove in our car with the two cats, and my mother drove in her car with John. The kids were surprisingly very good, and luckily the trip went well with no big mishaps.

It was fun to see different parts of the country. Pennsylvania is stunningly beautiful. For many reasons it will always be one of my favorite states. I was also impressed with Indiana, which was full of green rolling hills and well-kept farms and some nice-looking malls. Ohio and Illinois were pretty bland, at least from the highway. Iowa, of course, was and is beautiful!

We spent Friday night near Scranton, Pennsylvania (The Office!) at a Marriott Residence Inn. Check out the swanky digs:

This kitchen is nicer than the kitchen in our new house!

There's Brody on the bedside table. The cats were happy to get out of their cage and explore.

HOT TUB! So nice after hours of driving.

We didn't make great time the next day and failed to meet our goal of reaching Indiana. So we spent the night in Ohio. The nearest Residence Inn was booked, and the other nice hotels were either full or didn't allow pets. So we had to settle for a Super 8. I'm not putting down motels, but after you've stayed in a nice place, any place less nice feels worse than it actually is. And since we'd stayed at a very nice place the night before, it felt like we were staying in a dive. It wasn't helped by the fact that the view out of the window of our room was this:

It's the Residence Inn, in the exact same layout as the other one we'd stayed at. It felt like a slap in the face to look out the window and see that!

Needless to say, the Super 8 didn't have a pool. I didn't take any pictures, except for these when we were leaving the next morning:

Getting ready to hit the road again!

I liked the way the clouds filled up the sky above the fields. I love the trees and forests of New England but I also like the open sky of the Midwest.

During the trip, there were a number of times when I wished we could stop and take pictures of the beautiful scenery, especially in Pennsylvania. It was impractical to do it this time, but I did manage to get one shot in the little town of Brookville, PA, when we stopped for lunch on Saturday. This was great...look closely!
It's an adult entertainment store with a big sign in the lot next door that says "Pornography Pollutes Body Soul Mind." Obviously the residents of town weren't too happy about this store setting up shop. Good for them! And it's true too, what the sign says, although unfortunately it didn't deter the drivers of those pick-up trucks from patronizing the place. Anyway, that was my golden shot of the whole trip!

When we drove into Iowa on Sunday afternoon, it felt good to arrive. It was a beautiful day with a bright blue sky and puffy white clouds, and the rolling farmland and green hills and fields seemed to rise up to greet us. It almost felt like we were coming home, which was an unexpected surprise. I'd been worried that I'd be feeling homesick by that point, but I wasn't.

Brody and Bentwood were especially happy to arrive. Poor cats!

We drove to our house to show it to my mother and the boys before going up to Cedar Rapids to stay in Peter's temporary apartment for the next two nights. The movers were coming the next day to move our things in. I liked the house just as much as I remembered liking it, my mother definitely approved, and John loved it!

The boys together at their new home for the first time. Home sweet home!

It was a good trip! Especially because I got away without having to drive at all!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why I'm the Family Photographer

When we were celebrating my birthday last week I asked Peter to take some pictures of me with my boys. This is what I got:

Apparently I'm a one-eyed mom with a creepy shadow thing clinging to me

This time both eyes made it but the forehead got cut

Finally my whole face is there, but it's not looking too pretty because I'm annoyed!

This one is the best of the bunch. Maybe he has some potential.

He did manage to get a perfect shot of the cake that he and John baked. Priorities, priorities.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. But this is why I'm the family photographer the vast majority of the time!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Roaring Twenties

When I was 20 I got engaged to a wonderful guy.

When I was 21 I graduated from Penn, got married, and moved to New Jersey, where we became first-time homeowners of a little condo that I still miss to this day.

When I was 22, after a number of somewhat depressing temp agency stints, I got my first real job with annual salary and benefits. I was a bona fide editor at a bona fide publishing company.

When I was 23 I got pregnant and was the sickest and most exhausted I've ever been. I gave up a very good job opportunity at one of the big publishing houses in Manhattan to become a full-time stay-at-home mother because that's what I wanted to do more.

When I was 24 I became a mom, which is what I always wanted to be and do the most in life. When my sweet baby John was born, life was much more complete; it changed forever and for the better.

When I was 25 I moved to Connecticut and into our first house.

When I was 26 I successfully convinced my husband to let us buy a timeshare. Hello, travel opportunities!

When I was 27 we took John to the Cayman Islands. This was the first time I ever needed a passport (sadly). Paradise found.

When I was 28 I got pregnant again, endured oral surgery without the significant benefit of being unconscious during it for the safety of my baby (OUCH), and went to the Bahamas for my anniversary. I deserved it.

When I was 29 I gave birth to my second son Sam, which was the most difficult thing I've ever done. 18 hours of labor, over three hours of pushing...but the end result was a beautiful perfect baby boy who is an absolute delight every day of my life.

When I was 30...I moved to Iowa, away from the Northeast and from my family, friends, and the comfortable familiarity of life there. It's fitting that such a big new beginning happens at the start of a new decade.

In my thirties I'd like to have one or two more kids, return to work part-time as they grow older, maybe get a Master's degree, do a lot of traveling, get our own house on Cape Cod, read lots of books, grow into myself more, live joyfully, age well. I loved my twenties, but I'm looking forward to my thirties. I think they'll be even better. Bring 'em on!