Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Book Review


I really admire those who can plow through multiple books in a month.  Some of my favorite bloggers like Princess Nebraska read crazy amounts of books! I'm so impressed!

These days I try to get a little reading in before bed . .  . but what often happens is that I read for a page or two and get so tired I can't go on!  I love to read, I really do, but it's a very slow process for me. That's why I've made it my goal to try and just read 20 books in 2013.  For me, that will be a stretch!

This month I did complete one book: The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp

The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old: Revised Edition

This is the thing about parenting books: as a first-time mom, I can't help myself.  I devour them.  I like to feel as informed as possible about things I don't know much about and as a first-time parent with very little baby experience (never baby-sat tiny kids, I was the youngest in my family and my extended family), I really needed to feel more confident about what to "expect" if you will.

But the problem is that after my daughter was born, I became really frustrated when so few of the methods or expertise really worked. 

When my daughter was first born she was such a howler. I just remember hours and hours and hours of crying.  And she resisted all methods of sleep-training.  I was one strung-out, exhausted momma.  I later realized that I had to let all of the "expert advice" go and parent the child I had - not the perfect textbook child written about in all of these self-help parenting books.

The only books that I really found any value in was The Happiest Baby on the Block (also by Harvey Karp) and The Baby Book by William Sears. That's why I decided to delve back into the genre again with The Happiest Toddler now that my 17-month-old is starting to act a lot like a sassy 17-year-old.

In his book, a lot of Karp's advice made sense and aligned with what we already try to do to prevent tantrums in the first place (keeping our daughter well fed with frequent small meals . . . ensuring she is well-rested or that we can accommodate her need for rest when we are out and about. . . frequent "time-ins" with mom and dad) but I think what really appealed to me the most was everything he wrote having to do with parents playing the "ambassador" role and how to better communicate so that the toddler feels heard and understood. I realized that I tend to talk/reason with my daughter as if she is much older. I've started using "toddlerese" and getting down on her level, particularly when there is a melt down happening and she has actually stopped in her tracks! However, I have to admit that I feel like a goon using it in public.

Other things I've tried and had good results with are his techniques having to do with patience stretching and kind ignoring (at first I wasn't really sure about it and still I use it only very sparingly).

I really like that Karp takes a positive, confidence building approach to parenting toddlers and I'm appreciative that he acknowledges just how hard it is to be a modern parent. . . but I have to say that I’m doubtful about time-outs as discipline, particularly at this stage in my daughter's development. However, I'm willing to consider it as an option when she's slightly older.

Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Have you read any good parenting books recently?  Any that you'd recommend to me? 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Oh, How Pinteresting!

I thought I would start participating in "Oh, How Pinteresting" Wednesdays.  I love to browse Pinterest - mostly from my phone - during those occasional down moments. Here are some of my favorite pins this week with an organization theme because I'm really feeling the need to get organized and spring clean!
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I just reorganized my husband's t-shirt drawer using this method and I keep my daughter's drawers organized this way too.  It's amazing how much more efficient and organized it is to store clothes this way!
Pinned Image
I give my daughter baths in my bathroom so whenever I shower I'm dodging rubber ducks and plastic water toys.  This would be a great way to store the toys when not in use!
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Easy Change Art Work Frames would be an easy and relatively inexpensive way of displaying and storing my daughter's artwork!  Currently all of her art is stacked in a reusable shopping bag hanging on corner of a chair in my dining room.  It's not exactly working for me.
Pinned Image 
This is my end goal and organization mission statement.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

House Hunting - What I've learned so far...


Yesterday we received wonderful news: Hubby and I are pre-approved to purchase our first home!  Hopefully it will be at least slightly larger than this charming garden cottage!

This is very exciting as it's something I have dreamed of for many years but wondered if it would ever be a reality for a variety of reasons including: the high cost of housing in San Diego and my credit-worthiness (I spent my early twenties wrecking absolute havoc on my credit. As a result I have spent the better part of my mid to late twenties and early thirties doing major damage control.

Late last year the hubs and I started really thinking about this and decided it was a step we were ready to make. During the months of November and December we drove around the neighborhoods we'd like to purchase in, visited open houses and toured "new construction" models.

In fact we found a model townhome that we really liked. We decided to apply for lender financing through the builder's mortgage company and were approved. And then things took a turn . . . we found out that because we did not have a realtor representing us when we first toured the property that we couldn't have anyone represent us through the negotiation and paperwork signing process. We learned that the builder was REALLY SHADY about not wanting to tell us up front how much flooring and other upgrades were. In fact, we wouldn't find out any of that until after we signed our purchase agreement and handed over our earnest money (earnest money is a deposit that the buyer provides to the seller which says, "hey, I'm really serious about this and this cash proves it). In the end, it started to feel wrong. We were getting pressured to come in and sign and we wanted to have more time to review documents and figure out exactly how much the townhome would cost us. In the end, it just didn't feel right anymore and we backed out.  

Subsequently, we decided we really needed a professional to help us. Luckily, one of our close couple friends bought a house last summer. They used a realtor another couple friend of ours used.  So we asked them for the referral and met the agent over coffee to discuss our needs.  It seemed like a good fit so we are now working with him.  It's nice to know that we are working with a "tried and true" realtor with two sets of happy clients.

Last week, we prepared all of our paperwork again and submitted a loan application to a loan officer that our realtor works frequently with. And as I just mentioned, we found out yesterday that we can OFFICIALLY move forward.

I check Redfin and Zillow several times a day looking for updates on homes that have gone on the market. There isn't a lot of inventory in our price range in the locations we want.  I admit, we have some pretty strict parameters - and I imagine over time those may get loosened up a bit. To be honest, I'm willing to be flexible on most of our parameters except price, of course (don't want to spend more than we can afford!). It's Hubby who is fairly selective. 

This is what I've learned in the very short time that we have been looking:

-It is a really competitive market place.  There seems to be a lot of other buyers and investors out there and not a lot of inventory.

- As a result of the above, we have to be prepared to make a decision very fast. I always thought there would be more time to mull it over but no . . . this is NOT your average HGTV House Hunters episode (I love that show even though it is completely staged!)

- This may take some time.  I feel frustrated at the moment because I'm not really seeing the perfect fit. We are slated to view two homes this weekend but we are sort of "eh" on the location. I think I need to prepare myself to see a lot of houses and even wait a few months until the right thing comes around.

Anybody out there have any tips for us or recent home buying experiences to share?  I'd love to hear them!

Friday, January 11, 2013


Happy Birthday to me!
Image Credit

I turned 33 on Monday.  It's kind of a strange thing to grow older, isn't it?  I think it's true - every year seems to go by faster than the one before it.  And now I'm solidly in the thirties.  You could describe me as "30-something" and be completely accurate.

The girl that I've been going to (so far only three times but it's becoming a "thing") to get waxed asked me how old I was and she assured me that I don't look a day over 27.  Sometimes I still feel like I'm 27 . . . if you were to ask my age I might just say "27" because in my mind, that's how old I feel.  This is probably because that was a really good year: I reconnected with my old boyfriend (now he is my husband) after about six years apart, I landed the job that led to the job that I have now, I moved back to my hometown after being away about 10 years, and in general just had a lot of fun.  But, in actuality, even though I THINK I'm 27 I'm really totally cool with being 33. 33 feels solid.  33 feels like it has its shit together.

I had an unusual amount of time over the weekend (thanks to a sick day and a vacation day - because I don't believe one should have to go to work on their birthday - it's a personal philosophy that I live by) to watch the HBO show "Girls" on demand. I watched about six episodes of season one over a four-day time period and I have to say this is now one of my favorite shows.  I really appreciate the candidness of the four primary characters - all in their mid-twenties, single and living in New York. I love the way Hannah just says what's on her mind - it's so zany but also really heartfelt and relateable. My inner 24-year-old relates so hard to her. Watching the show has made me think back to my own early-to-mid twenties and what a huge pile of crazy I was . . . how I felt so confused and misdirected and misunderstood.  I'm really glad that I'm not 24 anymore.  In fact, I'm really really glad to be 33.  This is going to be an awesome year.


Tonight we are going to the hospital to meet the newborn baby of our dear friends. I'm really excited about holding a newborn again. I haven't held a newborn since my own daughter (now 17 months old TODAY) was in my arms. God, sometimes I really miss those times.  I loved having a newborn.  But I also love the chirpy, giggly, adorable still-not-sleeping-through-the-night toddler I have today. If my ovaries could have their way I'd be pregnant again as of yesterday . . . but fortunately my (very tired) brain and my (also very tired) husband can talk sense.  I really want to have another child but it's all planned out for the future: get pregnant in the summer of 2014, have baby in 2015.  I'll be 35 - which I think is perfect. And because things always go according to plan, this should work out just as I want it to, right? Right.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013



Hello World! Welcome to my new blog.

I really like to write but I don't make much time for it in my personal life. Professionally, it's what I do (press releases, "news" articles, white papers and case statements among a plethora of other things) but I have long given up journaling my inner thoughts or recording my day to day activities. But I really love to read other people's blogs: cooking blogs, crafting blogs, "mommy" blogs, photography blogs . . . blogs about graphic design, home decor, organizing, personal finance and everything in between! That's why it was one of my 2013 resolutions (yes, I am a New Year's resolution type of person) to start - and maintain - a blog.

I'm not sure how "out there" I want to be or how much I want to share.  Some of my favorite bloggers are completely open about who they are while others are more reserved and private.  I'll figure out what's best for me and my family as I go along, erring on the side of caution. 

I'm working on my list of 2013 goals/resolutions.  Here's my list so far . . .

1. Organize and minimize the "stuff" in my life. I have to admit, I tend to be a bit of a slob and I grow attached to things.  My poor husband, R, is the COMPLETE opposite.  He is neat and organized and appreciates orderly places and people. He doesn't really accumulate stuff like I do. How we wound up together is sometimes a mystery - but he inspires me to be better in this regard! So some of my goals are to organize and clean - on a regular basis - some of my problem areas: my car, my closet, my bathroom . . . and then help maintain and organize the areas of our home that sometimes get out of control: our daughter's room, our living room, our dining room and kitchen.

2. Become better with money - eliminate debt, save for the future. Over the last year I've been doing a lot of reading about personal finance. There are a lot of things we do right . . . and a lot of things we could be doing much better.  Namely, this year I'd like to eliminate all of the balances on my credit cards and pay off my car. In addition, with the money saved from eliminating debt, I'd like to up our retirement and savings contributions.

3. Spend more time being creative. As a full-time employee AND as a mother of an almost 17-month old, this is a tough one for me.  I miss spending time crafting, baking, and getting creative in general. This year I want to: complete 12 knitting projects, read 20 books, make six crafts and try six new recipes. I think this is do-able if I just make the time!

4. Take better care of my body. Pre-motherhood, this was yet another thing that came much easier. I was able to go to a studio for yoga a couple of times a week - and I loved it!  I trained and completed a half marathon. I did spinning! And these days the only exercise I get is toting around my 25 lb toddler . . . admittedly, that's often feels like quite the calorie burner! So, my goal is to figure out how I can fit in some exercise just a couple of days a week. I figure if I start small I can accomplish it! In addition, I'd like to do some improvements in the types of food I consume - less processed and more whole foods.

5. Buy a house. This is THE BIG goal for 2013.  My husband and I feel that we are ready for home ownership - we just need to get the ball rolling.  We have a meeting with a realtor this weekend!  We'll see what happens!

So, there you have it - my 2013 goals and resolutions. It's going to be a good year!