Thursday, March 26, 2009

And the Party Moves UP

First cruising, then walking... and today THIS:

Isn't 11 months waaaaay too young to be CLIMBING?!?

I guess he doesn't think so. In fact, he's quite thrilled with his new trick.

Anderson's first word pretty much sums up how I feel about today's development:


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

These People...

They're coming.

In May.

I'm SO excited.

Friday, March 20, 2009

"Everything's Amazing, Nobody's Happy"

My husband loves technology. I like technology a lot. (I may not be the first on the block to jump on it, but that doesn't mean I'm not appreciating that it's out there.) It's incredible to look at the ways phones, cameras, computers, transportation, etc. have improved over the last 20, 10, even 5 years. The changes are so clear when you watch children. Anderson loves cell phones. He only knows cell phones. We don't have a land line. He may never know a land line. When you take a picture of a child, the child immediately wants to see the picture on the camera. To them, there is no such thing as waiting to finish the roll, getting it developed and seeing prints days, sometimes weeks, later. I love thinking about what used to be, where we are and where we are going. So does writer and comedian Louis CK. He's just much funnier than I am when he talks about it.

I dedicate this clip to my dad. The man who walked 10 miles to school, up hill, both ways, in the snow, every day, with no shoes... and believes my generation is spoiled. Happy Birthday Week Dad!

The best video version cannot be embedded. I embedded the mediocre version below. If you want the best, go directly to YouTube here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Three Things That Make My Life Easier: Chapter 2

1. Peapod

Our family of three requires a good amount of groceries. Harley and I do not like grocery shopping. Our neighborhood grocery stores are pretty sketchy. (Police officers guarding the front door=red flag.) Worst of all, we live on the third floor. There is no elevator. Just stairs. When we (read I, because let's be honest, grocery shopping is a mid-day-while-Harley-is-away activity) grocery shop, it involves schlepping heavy bags of food across the parking lot and up three flights of stairs, grappling for keys, unlocking two doors -- one of which has two locks... oh and clutching a 20+ pound baby and a 20+ pound diaper bag. After a trip to the grocery store, you will find me draggin' my cookies (literally) out, over, through and up multiple areas, multiple times. Once I bring in the first load Anderson must be put someplace where he is safe and can't destroy anything (crib, exersaucer -- which he doesn't love after he's been cooped up in the grocery cart, then carseat) while I go back down the stairs, unlock, then lock again, each set of doors, re-enter my ghetto 'hood to struggle back and forth with subsequent loads. Oh, and don't forget I'm clubbing my car during this process. That adds one more step to the exhausting, ridiculous, Dear-Harley-When-Do-We-Get-a-House-with-a-Garage process that is grocery shopping. I'm tired just describing it.

Enter Peapod. (Cue choirs of angels singing.)

At you order your groceries online. They are delivered to your home. No more sloppy, cryptic grocery lists taped to the fridge. When I think of something I need, I hop online and add it to my list. When my list is ready, I checkout and choose a delivery time. Within 24 hours (usually), a careful Peapod shopper has done all the legwork (at Giant, which happens to be our favorite grocer), a friendly Peapod driver has navigated through my ghetto and most importantly, schlepped my bags up all three flights and set them inside my front door! No wandering aisles, no tired, over-shopped baby (save his shopping cooperation for fun shopping -- hello!), no impulse buying, no dragging bags, no danger!

The Peapod website is super organized. You can shop by brand, category, "aisle, " and my favorite: previous lists. I pull up everything I have ever purchased on one big "jumbo list" and reselect as needed. Then (if needed) I shop for new items.

I know what you're thinking: money. Such excellent service comes at a price, right? Delivery costs $6.95 when you order more than $100 (easy) of food. You can knock off $1 if you select an extended delivery window (say 4:30pm-9:30pm rather than 5pm-7pm). I have personalized my Peapod account to sort items by price. When I'm shopping, I know right away if I'm selecting an item that costs more than the generic or sale item. This means I usually end up selecting the cheaper or cheapest item. I can't say the same is true while shopping in person. I just don't price compare like I should when I'm in the store. Mostly because the store isn't organized by price, and I'm in a hurry. So in that big way, Peapod saves me money. The best part? When you sign up, Peapod gives you $5 off your first three orders. The secret? Those coupons keep coming, even after your first three orders! They come in the mail, online, with my groceries, etc. I've been doing this for six months, and I've never purchased without a $5 off coupon. The coupons say they expire, but they don't. Are you doing the math? We're getting groceries shopped and delivered for NINETY-FIVE CENTS! Totally worth my time, gas and schlep. There is the issue of tipping. According to Peapod's website it's "never expected but always appreciated." We tip. So throw in a few extra bucks (only if you want) and it's still totally worth it.

We limit ourselves to using Peapod twice a month. That way we stay organized and for sure have $100 worth of grocery needs. Of course there are a few things (milk, bread) that you need on a weekly basis. On the off weeks I pick up those items at Costco or Target, places I find myself weekly anyway.

I'm sure once we are settled in a house with a garage, near a safe, nice grocery store (and, um, once I learn to cook) I'll do real, old-school grocery shopping. But for now, Peapod sure does make my poor and ghetto (but fabulous) life easier.

Wanna try Peapod? Let me know, and I'll get you $10 off your first order! Suddenly you're making money with Peapod!

2. Stroll'r Swivl'rs

These gems also save me in the schlep department. They hook securely onto your stroller and hold your diaper bag, shopping (the fun kind) bags, etc. Strap baby into stroller, set bags on swivl'rs and wa-lah! You are carrying nothing! No back ache. No sore shoulder. Just push. Sally Diva sent me Stroll'r Swivl'rs as part of her "Mommy Must Haves" gift package. I broke both a few months ago. (They are sturdy... I just loaded them up with waaay too much.) I loved them so much, I immediately went out and bought another set of two. Buying the same product even after it broke? Now that is product love. And a life made easier.

Sold in a 2 pack at Babies R Us for $5.49

Loaded and ready for serious travel. I usually use one Stroll'r Swivl'r at a time, but in the case of The Great Schlep of '08 two were a must.

3. Google Reader

I know many of you already use and love this. But some of you don't. I was in the latter group for a long time. Too long. I follow some 80 blogs. I used to monitor them one by one by listing and regularly reviewing them on my iGoogle (also fabulous) page. I know, "what?" Why?! Why did I make my life so hard? Now Google Reader does the work for me. Like an email inbox, it tells me how many blog entries are new and bolds them until I've read them. I divide mine into categories: Family, Divas, Team, Friends, Other. Right now, Google Reader is telling me I have 8 (1 Team, 4 Friends, 3 Other) unread entries. Perfect! I will dine with those 8 bloggers over lunch.

Google Reader can stream more than just blogs. Add your magazine subscriptions, online journals, cool websites, etc.

My one complaint about Reader is since it presents the entries into one quick-read format, you're not actually on your peep's blog. This means if you want to comment, you have to go to the blog. If you want to see the blogger's ever-changing, fun sidebars (like my Fabulous Right Now), you have to go to the blog. But it's not that big of a deal, since a visit to the actual blog is just one easy click away. I have my favorite bloggers whose blogs I bring full every time, so I can see their extras, backgrounds, comments, etc. But other people, I just want to read in a quick, skim format. With Reader, I hit everyone. I don't miss an entry, and it's so much faster. So much easier.

One more thing. Private blogs can't be read in Google Reader. That's high maintenance. But private blogs are high maintenance anyway. (No offense, I still read you, just not as efficiently and therefore, not as regularly.) No matter what, you have to take the extra time to go directly to a private blog. There's no way around it, so we can't really ding Reader for not feeding it. I manage this by listing private blogs on my blog (see "So Fabulous They're Private") which reminds me to click over and visit my private friends periodically.

Give me delivery! Give me free hands! Give me blog organization!
Give me ease and fabulous!

P.S. In my next life I want to be really, really brave and do this. In this life that wouldn't so much make my life easier, as it would just make my life very terrifying.

***UPDATE! Google Reader has made it possible to comment on shared items! The day after I wrote this entry, Google announced it was adding a comment feature. How did I find out? Harley shared the article with me on... Google Reader! So far, it seems to only apply when someone shares something on Reader (so it still doesn't work for personal blogs you feed to Reader), but I know Google will only improve it from here. Thanks Google, you make my life so much easier. I heart you!!***

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Photography 101

One of my New Year's resolutions is to learn how to use my fancy camera. I'm taking a photography class at the University of Maryland and loving it. Here are my favorites from my first homework assignment.

And my most favorite of them all: