Friday, October 28, 2011

My Dream Home--Kitchen Part I

(It is high time to get blogging again!  I have about eight almost completed posts just waiting to be put out for all the world to see.  Here's the first one!)

I loved being a homeowner and I cannot wait to own again!  I suppose renting has some advantages; when we had a mold issue maintenance came and replaced the drywall and painted--free of charge and we don't have to mow the lawn, but I am incredibly eager to move on.

My dream home is a fixer-uper.  I love watching shows on HGTV and the DIY network.  I enjoy wandering around Home Depot and Lowes as much as any mall or clothing store.  It might sound silly, but I am really hoping that when we are in a position to buy again it won't make sense to buy a new or recently remodeled house.

I recently discovered the Lowe's virtual room designer tool--and I've been having fun with it!  Of course, for whatever reason, it keeps crashing in Chrome, so I have to switch to Firefox.


Today I am going to focus on my dream kitchen.  Here are some of the things that caught my eye while perusing the virtual aisles of Lowe's:

I love the look of granite.  I generally like the darker shades.  I think that these three look really sharp:

I also want to have a fun back-splash.  I want it to add something to the overall room.  Maybe color, maybe texture, maybe depth, maybe something like these:

Of course, I also like these:

It is going to be so hard to decide when the time comes.  Of course, I am sure Peter will (and does) have plenty of opinions as well!

We will undoubtedly have strict budgetary guidelines, but my husband (and his family) have a knack for finding amazing deals--so who knows, my dream kitchen could just become my reality.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two Thumbs Up for Delta and TSA

It seems like almost all customer service stories that I hear these days are horror stories, especially when it comes to air travel, so I would like to highlight some excellent service I recently received.

Catherine (not quite 16 months) and I flew from Baltimore (BWI) to Cincinnati (CVG) for a long weekend to visit my parents.  We used Orbitz to score good airfare on a direct Delta flight.  I was a little nervous, because it was going to be Catherine's first flight.  

Online check-in was a breeze, once I arrived at the airport I just had to find the correct gate--which only took a minute.  I had been dreading the security screening--I had my carry on bag, the diaper bag (with bottles of milk), the carseat and stroller travel system, and a curious toddler.  I just wasn't sure how it would go.  Would the TSA people hate me?  Would other travelers hate me?  Would I be holding up the line?  Would Catherine be friendly or screaming?   Would the milk have to go through extra testing?  How was I going to get the stroller and carseat up on the conveyor belt without letting Catherine loose?  The guy who did my screening at BWI was super nice.  He patiently waited for me to get all the bags up and then said that he would hand check the stroller and carseat--which was much easier for me!  Our hands were swabbed (for possible contraband?); and the milk went through without any issue.  Once at the gate the Delta agent helped me "pink tag" the stroller, carseat, and my bag.  He gave me the option of boarding first or last--I opted for first since I knew that I had the row to myself and that would give me time to get situated.  He even helped me detach the carseat and fold up the stroller.  

The flight itself was painless.  The stewardess was very kind.  I was extremely lucky and Catherine fell asleep before the plane even leveled off!  (I didn't give her the bottle until we were seated on the plane and while we were waiting in the terminal we went for lots of walks.)  She woke up as we landed.

The return flight experience was fairly similar.  The TSA agent in CVG did want the stroller and carseat to go through the main  machine, but he kindly helped to lift them onto the belt.  They did do extra testing on the milk, but it only took a second and they did not need to open any of the bottles--they just swabbed the outside and put it in a machine.  Catherine was a bit more fussy while waiting to board, and way more adventurous in wanting to explore the airport.  The gate agent switched my seat so that no one was sitting next to me and helped me board first.  

Once again, Catherine napped during the flight and the stewardess was very accommodating.

Overall, I had a very pleasant travel experience.  The TSA and Delta employees did a few simple things that really helped me.  The TSA people were patient and helpful--hand checking the stroller and carseat in BWI was much easier for me, and at CVG it was very helpful of the gentleman to get them onto the belt.  The Delta folks getting me seats by myself was fantastic, assisting me with the valet tagging, getting me on board first, and their just general helpfulness made the whole trip easily manageable with a toddler.  

No one person did anything major or surprising, but all of the small things added up to a great trip and I feel that I received top notch service, and for that I am very thankful.

Blogging, How I Have Missed Thee!

I have been seriously negligent in posting lately.  I am not sure what happened to my three times a week goal.  Anyways, I am going to be better now!  I have a bunch of drafts and ton of things I'd like to write about floating around in my head.  I just got back from a trip and my wonderful husband has cleaned the house--so I have a little more "free" time this week!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What/How To Teach a Toddler?

I wrote this post three months ago, and--for some strange reason--never got around to posting it.  


My sweet little girl is getting so big!  I honestly can't believe how fast she is growing up.  This of course presents me with new challenges; with one of the greatest being how to begin her education.

Yes, she is only 15 months old, but I believe it is important to cultivate an early love of learning.

There are so many books, articles, internet forums, etc. dedicated to helping you to help your child learn.  However, it is incredibly hard to weed through them and find any black and white guidelines.  And, as everything regarding child raising, what to teach/how to teach/when to teach your child is highly controversial.

So what's a Mommy to do?

For now I try to fit "learning time" in throughout the day.  We do flashcards with colors, numbers, first words, and shapes.  We sing songs.  We say prayers.  We play the Naming Game (I hold Catherine and we dance around the apartment and name everything--seriously, everything--from the couch to the Progresso can of French Onion Soup).  We read books.  I try to narrate everything I do--"Mommy is washing a cup with a sponge and soap and hot water..."

But I can't help wondering sometimes, is this enough?  Should I be doing more?  If so, what?

We don't color or draw yet--she still would rather eat the crayons.  I don't do programs such as Your Baby Can Read--I'm certainly not against it, but it is a little expensive and has mixed reviews.  I don't have many Montessori approved toys--although I do need to do more research into this method of teaching/learning.  I don't do baby signing--I got some books and dvds from the library and tried it for a little while but for whatever reason it was short lived.

Like every Mommy out there, I just want the best for my little girl!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Boo to Recap Episodes

There are some things in life that are just plain annoying.  One of the (smaller and doesn't really matter at all in the grand scheme of things) things that I find aggravating are recap episodes to t.v. shows.

You know the ones that I'm talking about.  They are a montage of previous scenes mashed together--some better than others--in an effort to "catch the viewer up" with anything that he might have missed.  However, there is little to no progress in the show's story arcs.

Personally, I find them insulting.  If I care enough about the show to be watching it in the first place I already know the back story.  I don't need an entire episode to remind me.  Maybe a brief "last time on" at the beginning of an episode could be helpful if there is a particular tricky or pivotal plot development.  (Shows that I have found a brief recap helpful on include, but are not limited to: Battlestar Galactica, DS9, and Lost.)

I currently watch most of my t.v. shows from Hulu or Netflix, so when there is a recap episode I normally just skip it. Or read a book, clean, cook, etc. with the television on in the background.  With the shows that I watch weekly (such as The Office) it would be immensely disappointing to tune in to a recap.  All that anticipation would be for nothing.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wow, October Already?

Man, time sure flies these days.

I can remember when the days were long, weeks took a while, months took forever, and a year was equal to an eternity.

Now, I feel like a day passes by in a blink, a week is gone before you know it, a month could easily pass before I get to item #5 on my to do list, and a year is short.

(I recently read this brief article about the time moving faster phenomenon; I agree with the idea that it has a lot to do with "firsts".  The more unique an experience the more lasting the impression.  However, that still doesn't explain how the little baby I just gave birth to will be 15 months old on the 3rd!)

Anyways . . .

It's October.

October has always been one of my favorite months.  My birthday is in October.  The weather is generally pleasant--not too hot and not too cold.  (Of course, there are always exceptions--like the year there was a blizzard the day after my birthday!)  I love the autumnal palate of reds, oranges, and yellows.  The academic routine (always a part of my life) has settled down and become normal once again.  I love the crunch of leaves.  I love that it isn't too hot to wear jeans.  I love that it is the month of the Holy Rosary.

And, of course, one of the best things about October?  Halloween candy.