November 24, 2016

Frozen Bedtime Story for Kids


Does your child ask you to tell them the story of Frozen every night? Mine does. I got tired of making up the story every night, so I wrote it out to cut down on the brain power I had to use after a long day of child-rearing. If you can get some use out of it, here it is.

[Update: Here are links to my Beauty and the Beast StoryMoana StoryCinderella, Little Mermaid, Mulan and Rapunzel too!]

Once upon a time, there were two princesses named Anna and Elsa. They were sisters, and the best of friends. Elsa was born with magic ice powers, and the sisters loved building snowmen and playing on the ice Elsa made. One day, while playing, Elsa slipped and accidentally struck Anna in the head with her ice magic. She started to get very cold and weak, so their parents took her to the trolls, who had their own magic.

October 28, 2016

Support Indie Authors Free and Discounted Books



Do you like books?

Of course you do, you're not a monster. (Halloween pun? Anybody?)

Well then, check this out: From Friday October 28 through Monday October 31, choose from over 75 books written by indie authors in different genres either discounted or totally 100% free!









You're welcome.


October 17, 2016

How to Get a Free Dog Sitter or House Sitter

Don't pay to kennel your dogs when they'll just come back smelly and anxious. Get someone to come to your house to feed them, cuddle them, and water your plants!

It's easy: Services such as MindMyHouse.com and TrustedHouseSitter.com connect those who need a house/pet sitter with those who enjoy travel. Some people charge a fee, but many people do it free, just for a place to stay in a new city.

On many of these sites it's free for home owners to post a job, and the site charges the potential house/pet sitter to contact you.

We used MindMyHouse, posted an ad with the details and had three applicants in a week or so. The young woman we chose was just moving out to the Denver area from New York and didn't have a place to stay. She was couch surfing with her friends, but wanted some time in a place to herself.

We had her come over to the house for an interview, to meet the dogs and so we could make sure she wasn't actually a serial killer. She was super nice and great with the boys, so we set it up.

The house was kept in good order, the dogs were fed, and the night we returned from our trip, she even stayed an extra night and babysat Babs so we could go out to a concert! It was an excellent, mutually beneficial deal.

And this house sitting swap makes me think about being on the other end of the service as a traveller. What a great way to see the country, and the world! Get a free place to stay in exchange for feeding and cuddling with some animals? Sounds pretty good doesn't it?

October 11, 2016

Cloth Diapers and Potty Training

It's so easy to just wrap up a turd in a diaper and throw the whole thing away that it's tempting to forget what happens next: It goes to a landfill, where it sits for up to several hundred years until it decomposes. Yuck.

Not to mention they cost an average of 30 cents apiece (Pampers large pack on Amazon Subscribe & Save). Double-yuck.

Which brings me to:

1. Cloth Diapers

I was scared of even talking about cloth diapers. I was a new mom, still trying to figure out what to feed my child and how to get her to sleep so I could get some goddamn sleep myself and now you want me to wash the shit out of her drawers?? No, thank you.

But the truth is, cloth diapers are easy. If I had been open to it and allowed for a few days of learning curve, I would have understood that. But that's me for ya. Uncooperative. (Cue Mr. Go emphatically nodding in the background.)

There are a plethora of "diapering systems" available, which try to sell you on all sorts of shit you don't need, so here's the skinny: the cheapest we could find were Alva Baby. And they work just fine. People tell you to try several different brands to find which fits your baby the best, blah, blah. You're already going to have to wash shit out in the sink, I don't want this to be any harder on you.

Buy the Alva Baby diapers. If you get excessive leakage, maybe they don't fit right and you should try something else. But the diaper shells have a zillion snaps on them so you can customize the fit. It's probs gonna work out just fine for you.


The solid color are the cheapest, at $4.79. Get those, and you can choose what insert you want. (The inserts are the absorbent pads that soak up all the pee, which you tuck inside the colorful outer shell.) They come automatically with a 3-layer pad, which was always good for about 1 hour of wear for my 2 year old. You can choose to increase the pad to a 3-layer plus bamboo, 4-layer, 4-layer plus charcoal (which increases absorbency), 5-layer, or 5-layer plus charcoal, for $1-$1.20 extra.

Buy 5 diapers. Get 3 of them with regular pads, get one with a 4-layer pad, and get one with a 5-layer pad. 

We still put disposables on her for bedtime because she always seemed to leak. A friend of mine doubled up the pads in her cloth diapers for nap times, and even wrapped the doubled-up pads in absorbent burp cloths for safety. Her kid looked like a bumble bee with a gigantic bubble butt. But it worked.

Try them on your kid to figure out which snaps fit best. For Babs, we snapped with 2 snaps left in the middle. Snap all three of the snaps on the tabs.



Wash everything before you use them. It helps increase absorbency in bamboo. Don't ask me how. (Max absorbency is after 8 washes. Just throw them in with your laundry for a few loads. I only did it like 3 times before starting to use them.)

Washing Cloth Diapers

For pee-dirty diapers, toss them in a little bucket or a plastic bag until the end of the day.

For poopy diapers, roll the turd into the toilet if you can. If it's a real squishy raisin shit, you may have to scrape it off with a paper towel, or even rinse it in the sink a bit first. Then toss it in a little bucket or plastic bag until the end of the day.

At the end of the day, remove the pads from the shells and throw everything in the washer. Use a pre-wash or soak cycle with cold water first, then wash with the hottest water available. (Most instructions outside the U.S. say to wash them in cold water. Some people wash in warm. Honestly, whatever you do, it'll get the shit off and it'll be fine.)

Use laundry detergent free of dyes and perfumes. Do not use fabric softener. Hang to dry. Or throw the pads in the dryer on delicate if they're still wet; it won't hurt them.

If you buy more than 5 you may not need to wash every day. You may only need to wash every other day, which is great.

We only used ours for 4 months, so they barely stained and didn't smell at all after washing, but I hear sometimes that happens. Google it, there will be tips.

If you're still overwhelmed, get someone else to figure that shit out for you (literally). Your husband, your mom, your mother-in-law, a very good friend. It's ok to hand it off.

Next up is:

2. Potty Training

Babs is potty trained! She still needs help wiping, and still wears diapers for bedtime, but we've gotten away with only minor accidents.

Here's how we did it:

First, decide on a reward. Some use a chart with star stickers. Some just use a nice crisp high five. We used chocolate candy. Bribery? Possibly, but oh well.

Then, just take the diaper off. Put the diapers out of view. Let her run bare-assed through the house. (Stay home for the first day or so.) Ask her frequently if she has to potty and reinforce that big kids (and mom and dad) go pee and poop on the big potty.

Get super excited when she puts something in the potty, even if it's just a toot. Hopefully she will start wanting to sit on it. When she was getting one M&M for pee in the potty and two for poops, she figured out pretty quick that she could sit and pee a little bit, get a treat, then sit again 30 seconds later and try to con us out of another treat. So we had to get a little more restrictive with the treats.

When she started going poop without much fuss, we gave her a new pair of underwear for each successful turd. Fun colors and prints! Big kid undies! Even better than M&Ms!

She was ready for this step, and she didn't like the feeling of pee in her underwear so it was a pretty easy transition. If, after two or three days, you're still getting a lot of accidents, wait a couple weeks and try again.

Remember that in new surroundings and distracting situations, she may forget, so ask frequently. Even if she says no, take her to the potty at every opportunity.

There's nothing like the freedom and fear of taking a diaper-less kid to the grocery store for the first time. What exhilaration! She's becoming a small adult!

I miss some things about her being a little nugget, but in terms of cleaning up poop, this is one area I'm glad she's grown up.

September 27, 2016

My Next Book

My second novel, working title: Lesser Evils, is happening! I've got a lot of work done on the book and I want to share it with you as I'm writing.

The first chapter is available for download below and future updates will be available on my shiny new writing blog, N.L. Writes. I'll continue to release chapters as they're edited and listen to any of your feedback. I'll also post other writing updates, free e-book days and self-publishing notes on the blog.

Here is a synopsis of Lesser Evils:
"On the run from her past, Abby is in deep trouble when she’s saved from the desert by a stranger. But the mysterious rancher has secrets of his own, which may endanger Abby in more ways than one. 
Dalton is on a dark mission when he falls upon Abby, half-dead and handcuffed in the Texas desert. He helps her because she needs it, but his motives might not truly be as pure as he claims."
Intrigue, adventure, romance! 

Get the first chapter here and don't forget to tell me what you think. Anything that doesn't work? Annoying word over-usage? Use the comments section below and tell it to me!

I hope you'll join me on this adventure!

September 25, 2016

How to Cold Brew Choffy

Choffy is 100% cacao. Brewed like coffee, it's a caffeine-alternative with a light chocolatey taste.

"Choffy naturally contains a gentle yet long lasting stimulant called Theobromine. This healthy stimulant provides you with an energy lift by dilating the cardiovascular system, making the heart’s job easier and delivers energy without a crash or the other negative effects of caffeine."

I wouldn't choose Choffy over coffee to brew hot (if I wasn't pregnant and couldn't have caffeine), but cold brewed Choffy hits the spot on a hot summer afternoon when I want a little something sweet and chocolatey. 


It's way better brewed cold than hot, and since it's impossible to brew it in the Keurig, cold-brewed Choffy is the way to go. 

Cold Brew Choffy
  • 1/2 cup Choffy grounds
  • Roughly 24 ounces of cold water

1. Dump everything together in a French press. 
2. Stir the bejesus out of it.


It'll look like there's some sitting on the top dry, so really get in there as best you can. You won't be able to get it all mixed in. But you can depress the plunger on the French press a tiny bit, just to make sure all the grounds are submerged.

this is fine 
3. Let it sit for 20 hours or so in a cool, dark place. 


Drink it straight or with a couple ice cubes for a tasty afternoon pick-me-up. 

September 21, 2016

I Can Do Anything (And You Can Too): Adventuring With a Toddler

If you've ever thought you can't do something or go somewhere because you have a kiddo, I have news for you: You can. And you should.

Traveling with a toddler isn't easy. Sometimes it's not fun.

But more often, it is. And when it's good, it's magical. All it takes is a little pre-planning and preparation, some adjusting of expectations and you can go anywhere and do anything, toting that kiddo right along.

Dora Babs the Explorer and Mom in Moab, Utah
We camped for 5 days in the desert outside of Moab, Utah, next to the climbing rock face called Sunshine Wall. Our first outdoor climbing experience, we were led by our dear friend Nay, and accompanied by his friend Rachel.

giving my mother a heart attack, one adventure at a time
(What did we do with the dogs while we were away? Got a homeless person to stay at our house and care for them, of course. That's it's own post: How to Find a Free Dog Sitter, coming soon.)

Babs packing list for the desert:
Sunscreen
Sun hat
Closed-toe shoes
Sandals
Socks
3 pair shorts
4 T-shirts
2 long-sleeves
Sweater
2 pants
1 sweatpants
5 undies
Potty chair

Babs was on week 2 of potty training, so we toted her potty chair on our day trips. She def peed in a public parking lot a time or three. Who cares. If people had kids they'll probably understand. If not, Whatever.

It was hotter than... something really hot, and our campsite had zero shade after 8 a.m., so naps were tough, considering our tent bakes like an oven when the sun hits it. Naps were taken in the air conditioned truck driving to/from day-climbing destinations.


Once, she napped in the hammock with me as my compatriots climbed in the La Sal mountains. (A 20 degree difference from our campsite to climbing site in the mountains meant for a warm, snuggly swing in the hammock with my sleeping girl. A better time was never had.)

What Toys to Bring Traveling?

Keep it simple. Go for the biggest bang for your buck. A little rubber ducky gets old in ten minutes, but two barbie dolls can provide hours of entertainment. We brought a small tote of toys because we had the space, but mostly, she played with a bucket, two cups, a spoon and an empty spice container. (Lots of playing in the sand.)

Pro tip: Make a game out of burying 'treasure' in the sand for her to dig up. It doesn't matter what the treasure is.

Books for reading before sleep were essential. Bring as much as you can to keep their routines the same as at home. But the deviation from routine isn't going to make a child go berserk, either. Prep the kiddo by telling them, "We're going camping (or x, y or z), so you're not going to have "favorite toy x" for a few days. But it'll be home waiting for you when we get back."

If you're unsure about the adventure with the kid, try not to let it show. They're little sponges, they soak up voice inflection and facial cues. Be excited about it: "We're going CAMPING! Oh my gosh this is so amazing! I can't wait! Are you excited Babs? It's going to be so much FUN!"

Odds are your can-do, flexible attitude will be infectious.

Toddler Foods While Traveling

Frozen sausage (the more natural the better: hold the nitrates, please.)
Pumpkin pie (make one beforehand and pack it in Tupperware.)
String Cheese
Lunch meat
Canned Vegetables (carrots, green beans, corn, whatever greens your kid will eat)
Pouches (having a few on hand is a good idea when you're in the middle of nowhere)
Cereal (or other snacks such as granola and raisins)

Oh, and don't forget the marshmallows!

The Benefits of Community

A rock climbing trip would not have been possible with only 2 people and a kid, since one person is climbing and the other is belaying and there's no one around to make sure Babs doesn't fall onto a cactus.

Having 1-2 more people along was essential for this trip, and indeed would make any trip with a kid easier, provided the people are semi-helpful.

Babs and Rachel looking at the cows that were just...hanging out...everywhere
Our 1-2 people were amazingly helpful in keeping Babs entertained, happy and cactus-free for these 5 days. Traveling with friends, family, or another group who has children is a huge benefit and I highly recommend it.

Nay helping Babs 'Climb rock like Mommy'
Babs had so much fun waking up (at the ass crack of dawn: "Sun's awake!") to a new adventure every day. We took her on short hikes, threw her in the pack and hiked in to climbing spots, checked out Arches National Park, and basically just toted her wherever we wanted to go.

Mind, we hadn't showered for 3-4 days at this point
I always had a backpack pre-loaded with whatever she may require: sunscreen, chapstick, water, snacks (cheerios, raisins, pouches), some toys, some books, extra clothes. I usually had a small cooler packed with cold foods, too. But as long as she had someone to engage with, look at the new surroundings, and make up stories, she was a happy camper.



Hell, I even took her into a hostel shower. That sounds a tiny bit irresponsible, but it was actually totally cool. We escaped the 95 degree heat at our campsite, wind that blew sand into our eyes (and everywhere else) and incessant black flies, for a day trip into Moab, where we checked out a cool rock shop, had dinner and yes, stopped off for a quick $3 shower at a hostel.

"Babs, put your hands on your head and don't touch anything!" She did really well, and it was incredibly refreshing.

The view from the top of a climb. Photo courtesy of Nay, as I was too busy not dying to take any pics at this point


Mr. Go rappelling, which is even more fun than it looks
I'm so thankful we didn't miss out on this amazing trip because we were too scared to try traveling with our ever-changing, unreasonable Terrible 2-year-old. The scenery was breathtaking, falling asleep under the desert sky, bright with stars was an incomparable experience.

And now that we've done it, I realize how easy it is (not "easy easy" but do-able and enjoyable).

Any adventure truly is possible, kid and all.

September 12, 2016

Save Money and Help the Environment, Vol. 2: Around the House

Mrs. Tell is growing her very own Money Mustache.

Mr. Go is working hard toward an early retirement and a Happy Life in general with the guidance of Mr. Money Mustache, and part of that is breaking free of the addictive cycle of consumerism. (Do I sound like a hippie yet? Just wait.)

To be less dependent on material goods, I've taken it upon myself to save here and there by implementing some DIY projects. These ideas actually came to me when brainstorming how to create less garbage, and I realized they have the added bonus of keeping money in our pockets (or bank accounts, as it were).

1. Reusable K-Cup

My soul died a little every time I threw that little plastic cup in the garbage, and so I rejoiced to use this little guy. Less waste even than traditional drip coffee makers that use disposable filters. Plus, the Keurig uses less energy by heating a smaller amount of water at a time. Every penny counts, people. Every. Penny.

2. Reusable Feminine Sanitary Products

Listen, this freaked me out at first too. But this is how ladies did it for thousands of years until Kotex realized they could make money off us. Here's a good resource for reusable pad tutorials. For those days I can get away with it, a batting or flannel-lined pad is the way to go. When my current tampon stash runs dry, the tampon-alternative Moon Cup is on my Amazon Wish List.

3. Reusable Water Bottle

I've been carrying around a Klean Kanteen for five or six years. I lost one in Kansas City so I'm actually on my second one. It's a 20 oz piece of crap that I've dropped so many times it leaks if it lays horizontal, but it's an insulator so my water stays the perfectly chill drinking temperature.

Plus, I never have to waste my money buying water like a schmuck or heaven forbid throw away a plastic bottle like an even bigger schmuck.

4. Buy Products with Less Packaging

Those packages of raisins that come pre-packed in tiny little boxes make me irrationally angry. If I ever happen to see someone putting one of those in their cart at the grocery store I'll probably...well I'll probably just judge them really hard in my head and give them the stink-eye, but only if they're not looking at me.

Instead, buy a bulk pack (or even better, get them bulk at Whole Foods and then use the plastic bag to pick up dog poop) and divvy them out in reusable snack bags (see #8) in your kids' lunches.

This one is more of a Help the Environment tip, but a lot of times bulk packs are less expensive. Just make sure you look at the per ounce price on the label, not the total price, or get out your phone and do a calculation.

5. Stop Your Junk Mail

Get yourself on the National Do Not Mail List and end those annoying credit card offers and L.L. Bean catalogs.

6. Reusable Grocery Bags

Hello, my name is Captain Obvious, nice to meet you. But even I, preaching these things to you, didn't start using reusable grocery bags until this very year. For shame, Mrs. Tell, for shame.

While many grocery stores have those bins you can bring your plastic bag full of plastic bags back to for recycling, I have a suspicious nature and don't trust that they actually recycle them. Best to avoid the plastic altogether.

7. Reusable Snack Bags

I saw a tutorial for these when I was young and carefree and thought 'why would anyone do this?' And then I had Babs, and having hidden stashes of raisins, cereal, bread and other carbs in my purse, car and jacket pockets at all times became a necessity. I found myself throwing away plastic bags left and right. And then I realized...ohhhhh, that's why people make their own snack bags.

Anyway, here's a tutorial for one.

8. Second Hand Clothing

I hesitate to even put this on here, because chances are you don't need more clothes at all. But if you find yourself in need of a rad original costume, be it Halloween or comic-con, or something fly for that special meeting, check your local Goodwill, ARC or independent thrift store, or Craigslist for garage sales.

Odds are you won't get a plastic hangar to throw away, and it should be a fraction of the cost of new, if you do it right. And before you go making a face, you can absolutely find trendy stylish clothes second hand. Bonus for it being unique and maybe even vintage.

9. Reusable Diapers

I drug my feet on this one so long that we only used our re-usable diapers for a few months before Babs was potty trained. But we still saved a pile of money, and avoided sending hundreds of non-biodegradable Pampers to a landfill. It's incredible how much room diapers take up in the garbage. And how heavy they get.

The vast array of options for reusable diapers is astounding, but I'll make it simple for you. Order 5 Alva Baby shells and 5 inserts. Get 2 of the inserts with thicker layers. Then purchase more if needed. They're actually cheaper to purchase on their website than on Amazon. (More on reusable diapers in an upcoming Potty Training post.)

10. DIY Baby Wipes

With soap and witch hazel, these are actually antibacterial, whereas Pampers wipes are not; they just wipe off the poop, they don't sanitize.

Get the tutorial here. 

I did not use Grapeseed Oil or Olive oil, but everything else was the same.

Tip: Use the Viva paper towels without the indent-marks. The smooth texture is better for baby butt. Don't get the kind that has the "Choose a Size" option. You want the full sheet size.

A large Folgers tub is great for storing! Or a gallon size Ziploc bag. Make up a big batch; it lasts a long time. It won't go bad for a year or so. Just tip the jug up and down a few times (don't shake it or it'll get bubbly) to distribute the oil before you pour it over your paper towels.

Things You Think You Need But Actually Don't

This is a whole separate list of things you can replace/reuse with other things, or just stop buying altogether.

1. Diaper Disposal Bags

Look, everybody shits. Babies do it like four times a day. If you're worried about people smelling it in your garbage, throw it in the outside bin.

2. Trendy Storage Bins from Target

Use a shoebox. Or an empty mason jar, or the box your Amazon package came in. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

This list could go on ad infinitum, but instead I advise that when you're thinking about a purchase, ask yourself, "Do I need it?" Odds are you don't, but if you still think you do, ask yourself what you could use instead.

Captain Planet would be so proud.

September 8, 2016

How to Make the Highest Impact with the Least Effort

Do you ever feel like you're spinning your wheels? Like you have so many plates to juggle that when you add one more they all come crashing down?

In Essentialism by Greg McKeown, he outlines tenets of the lifestyle he calls 'Essentialism'. Much of it is geared toward the business world, but 95% of it also applied to me as a stay-at-home-mom.

It really was an engaging read, but if you don't have the time to sit down and read a book, I'll Cliff Notes it for you in a hopefully easily-digestible way.

CHOOSE

If you feel like you have a million different projects going at once, and are being pulled in a thousand different directions, stop and consider what is really important. List your priorities, and choose one or two big items/ideas to pursue.
this image from Essentialism illustrates the concept pretty effectively

Indecision is often as bad as saying yes to everything. If you do not choose your own direction and set boundaries for yourself by design, others will do it for you. Set priorities and know your core purpose, or you may find yourself saddled with nonessential tasks/clutter/responsibilities.

SAHM: Boil everything down to keeping the child alive. What is best for Babs? Don't try to get fancy with dinners, if the floor doesn't get vacuumed this week no one will die. Just have fun and connect with your daughter.

CLARIFY


Once you define a concrete Essential Intent, it allows you to Eliminate the Nonessential. For me part of that was my office job.

Anything that doesn't fit in with your purpose, say no to, or get rid of. Lighten your load so you can get to your goal faster and easier.

This doesn't only mean drains on your time, but physical things as well. For me, a big part was my closet packed full of clothes that just weighed me down. Having physical clutter around you is distracting. Put things away or better yet, just get rid of them.

LIMIT

When faced with a decision - an invitation for a new project or even an invitation to a social outing - don't feel obligated to say yes immediately. Your main obligation is to yourself, not anyone else. Reserve the right to say, "Let me think about it and I'll get back to you."

This gives you time to weigh the cost/benefit of an extra box on your list vs. not doing the thing and having more time either to yourself, or to do other possibly more essential things.

The fear of missing out can factor in here, but ask yourself this, "If I didn't do this thing, would it really impact my level of long-term happiness?" The answer is probably no.

ESCAPE

As a SAHM this is extra important. McKeown writes it more as an escape from work, i.e. putting your phone away and not checking email, since the minute you answer an email on a Saturday, it will be expected of you in the future. Don't encroach on your personal time.

Disconnecting from technology is an excellent idea that I myself am terrible at putting into practice. But when I do, it feels amazing. Leave your phone in a different room. Once the opportunity for constant fleeting entertainment is removed, you find yourself present in the moment, noticing your surroundings and creating your own entertainment, which will probably consist of your spouse or children. Win.

For the SAHM: Make Time for Yourself. When you are able to temporarily leave behind all your responsibilities, you can find the time and space to explore different opportunities, or examine your current responsibilities for possible cutbacks.

For me, it's taking a break from having my brain full of my daughter's needs to examine my own, or to visualize and fully plan the next day/activity so that everything goes smoothly.

Many people (hi! me!) get caught in the trap of work, work, work. Work harder, work more to do better. But taking a break to escape, breathe, relax and play rejuvenates you so you're not just throwing your energy around like a wrecking ball, but can focus it and ultimately do more while working less.

This ties in nicely with our next point:

PROTECT THE ASSET

In the rat race we often rush from one thing to the next, sacrificing sleep and fun and play in effort to prepare for the next big thing or to get ahead.

But if we take a step back and look at the big picture, you must realize you are at the center of it. It doesn't work without you.

So take care of yourself. Protect the asset: you.

Sleep is one of the most crucial factors in being our best selves, both in efficient work and fulfilling personal life. If you're running at 50%, everything you do will suffer. Not to mention you'll probably not have fun doing it.

It's tempting once the baby goes to bed to read for an hour, or watch T.V. or clean, or any number of things it seems there's no time to do with kids running around. But do yourself a favor and make yourself go to bed at a decent time. Future-You will thank you.

UNCOMMIT

"No" is a complete sentence. -Annie Lamott

It took me a long time to learn how to Say No Gracefully. It's still difficult for me to decline anything- what if I disappoint someone? What if I'm missing out? But when you start learning how to say No to opportunities (some of which might even be great opportunities, but might not fit with your Essential Intent), you make room for the truly essential, and that's way more rewarding.

Once I've taken on a project and it starts to drain more time than it's worth, it's hard to let go. You've already sunk this much time into it, it feels like giving up if you scrap it. But admitting you made a mistake is only admitting that you are now wiser than you once were, and there's no shame in that.

Along the same vein, we sometimes find it difficult to abandon a project or habit simply because it is what we have always done. This Status Quo Bias is dangerous and can be cured by applying some Zero-Based Budgeting.

Take a good hard look at the way you do things, and all the habits and commitments in your life, and justify them to yourself. If 'because I've always done it that way' is the only reason you can come up with, perhaps there's a better way of doing it. Or perhaps it's better to eliminate it altogether.

EDIT

Use deliberate subtraction to edit your life. This kind of subtraction actually adds value by increasing your focus on the things that truly matter.

Having a clear overarching intent allows you to check yourself and compare activities and behaviors to real intent. Continually correct course, checking in and making minor edits. Don't wait until it becomes overwhelming and emotions force you to cut something you may regret.

On the other side of the spectrum: Be Selective in your Edits. The best surgeon isn't the one who makes the most incisions. Instead of going all-in and slashing away at your life, wait. Observe. Use restraint. Gather intel, see how things develop, then make an informed decision on whether it should stay or go.

FOCUS

To operate at the highest level of contribution requires deliberately tuning in to what's important in the here and now.

Multitasking is great sometimes, but in my life more often than not, it does more harm than good. I'm only using a fraction of my brain for each task, and each tasks suffers for it.

I imagine it like this: You have a sippy cup in one hand and a basket of laundry in the other. You're on your way to the washing machine when you notice a toy on the ground that needs to be picked up. But you're all out of hands. You need to put something down first. You need to finish one task before moving on to the next. (This is an actual thing that happens to me fairly regularly.)

Even if it means running all over the house five times, I actually find I get more done by focusing on one thing at a time than trying to multitask.

IN CONCLUSION

Boil everything down to the one or two really important objectives/tasks/people in your life.

Take care of yourself. None of it works without you.

September 5, 2016

Mrs. Tell Is a TV Star

I mean, kind of.

Well, not really.

It's hard to think of myself as an Expert, because I know the inner workings of my own mind and WTF flashes across my brain on the daily. But I actually do know a lot more on a certain subject than many others, and have been solicited to impart that knowledge in several different avenues.

First, as a freelance writer for Sew News, a nationally-distributed how-to magazine. And secondly, taping a project-based how-to video and doing Live Q&A for National Sewing Circle, a web-based sewing resource.

Here's my YouTube debut:


And the latest installment:


What excellent frames to freeze on. Thanks YouTube.

I just so happened to have the connections to acquire these freelance opportunities from when I worked full time. Maybe this work will build up my 'brand' as Mr. Go likes to call it, and lead to more opportunities, or maybe it'll just amount to a few extra bucks and a creative fix. Either way, it's fun. Plus I like the sound of my own voice (said no one ever).

So here I am, being touted as an Expert in my field, which makes part of me wildly uncomfortable, but I have to come to terms with the fact that yes, I actually am an expert at something. Especially considering my last performance, where I screwed up my time zones and only realized we were going Live with 20 minutes prep-time instead of 1 hour and 20 minutes, as I had so carefully 'planned.' And it went great, because I had the knowledge to back me up (and no extra time to psych myself out).

Tim Ferris says to be an 'Expert' you just have to know more on your subject than 80% of the people out there. Tim has all sorts of hacks and tricks for building yourself up as an 'Expert', but I just worked in my field for a while and Expertise just sorta happened. I came across some good opportunities to build up impressive-sounding experiences, such as being a guest on Sew it All TV on PBS.

It wasn't my goal to become sewing teacher/celebrity (or sew-lebrity, as they say in the biz. ha. ha.) so I've been pretty chill about it, but Mr. Go, in stellar Mr. Go fashion, urges me to run with it.

Anyway my point here is: anyone can be an expert. It's not some lofty goal. Not to undermine my success or anything, but if I can be an Expert, as I'm running around flailing in this zoo that is my life, you can do it too. Read some books. Work a while in your industry; pay attention; use every mistake as a lesson and soak up the knowledge, sponge-like. Expertise will probably sneak up on you. 

July 25, 2016

The Great American Road Trip aka 5,804 miles in 14 days


We recently packed up Flotsam, Jetsam, Babs and ourselves for a minimum month-long open-ended vacation to Michigan.

Crazy? Maybe. But it’s been a helluva lot of fun.

It’s built around my family’s week-long camping reunion, and since we'd have grandparents around, (*cough* babysitters *cough*) we planned some activities for Mr. Go and I.

Even though it added another 900 miles to our trip, taking Babs to G&G’s first was totally worth it, because she probably had more fun than we did while we were away. And Grandmas and Grandpas had even more fun than her.

look at that. so presh

Suddenly 1,300 miles doesn’t seem that significant, especially considering that life is about the journey, not the destination.

The dogs were angels in the car from CO to MI, except for Flotsam jumping into the front seat every single time we got out of the car. Babs is old enough she can articulate her wants, and understand us when we say, “We’ll stop in a few minutes.” Honestly, she ate a lot of chocolate cereal and watched a lot of T.V. but what can you do.

So it went like this: Get up at 3 a.m. Shove the kids in the car. (Honestly it wasn’t terrible because Babs fell back asleep and we got to watch the sun come up.) Drive all g.d. day. (1,050 miles). We stopped in Wisconsin and stayed with a friend for playtime with their 2 girls and a couple hours of sleep.


We arrived in Michigan, stayed for a day, and were on the road again, this time sans the baggage kids. We repacked the car with only the things we would need for one night on the road and headed back to Wisconsin for a Dead & Company concert at Alpine Valley. (Which, incidentally, looks a lot like the Phish crowd +40 years, except the music was more like the John Mayer Show feat. Bobby Weir.)

See all those construction markers? lol, yeah
After the show, we drove 15 miles up the road and slept in a Wal Mart parking lot. Which leads me into:

Where to Sleep on the Road

We consulted this post from Fresh Off the Grid for a guide to free camping/sleeping while mobile.

Now, you know us; we’re not sketchy. This is probably the sketchiest thing we’ve ever done, but as with anything, the more you do it, the more normal it seems. 

A) it’s free, don’t judge me. B) it’s not like we were creeping around the Wally World lot. Overnight parking is a service Wal Mart offers, including for RVs and large trucks. We even called ahead to check if it was ok with the manager. Check this website to find the Wal Marts that DON’T allow overnight parking, since that list is shorter than the 800+ locations that DO allow overnight parking.

This was the first time we’d done so, as a proof of concept for our longer upcoming cross-country trip. When we woke in the morning, there were about 3 more cars in the lot, who had obviously also just been to the concert and had the same idea as us.

It’s important to note: while I hate Wal Mart in general and disagree with their company policies and basically everything they stand for, they’re nice enough to offer this service, so if you plan to take them up on it as well, be respectful. Be discreet. Throw your garbage in the trash cans and just don’t be a dick, which is good life advice anyway.

Converting Subey from driving machine to sleep palace takes about 2 minutes: We moved our bags out of the back seats, laid them down flat, rolled out sleeping mats and sleeping bags and crashed out in the Wally World parking lot.

Six hours later, we used their bathrooms in the morning and drove home. Unpacked and re-packed the car and 2 days later set off on our BIG trip, to Washington state for 2 nights of Phish at the Gorge in George, WA.

1,858 miles ONE WAY
The first night on the road, we got into the Wal Mart around midnight, did a little shopping for Gorge camping supplies before bedding down, saw the same clerk the next morning, the poor soul, when we went in to use the facilities. The second night we stayed at a HoJo in Missoula, MT, so we could shower and get a good night’s sleep before the raging festivities began.

We enjoyed taking Hwy 2 and seeing all the houses and little towns along the way. Hwy 200 through Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota was much the same; pretty and scenic. Until Montana. God, that road is long. And flat. And cell service was real spotty. Going up over the rolling hills gave Mr. Go palpitations; he’s always imagining some a-hole driver flying up the other side and smashing into us. (For the return journey we took 90 until Fargo then hopped back on 2.)

FYI, crossing through the Rockies in Idaho was some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen. The pine tree mountains and winding rivers, gosh it was amazing.



On a lonely stretch of Montana, running low on gas, we stopped at a tiny, run-down looking Post Office/gas station/store with two old-style gas pumps. Did they even run? How do you work these things?

I went inside and the clerk flipped a switch to turn on the pump and Mr. Go paid inside. Lining the walls were several shelves of free paperback novels, handmade goods and vintage items for sale, and ice cream shakes. The clerk made us each shakes using an old-fashioned shake maker and real ice cream. The shake didn’t go all the way to the top of the cup, so she gave us .50 off each. It was our favorite stop on the road.

Camping 3 nights at the Gorge was peaceful, beautiful and wonderful in general. We swam in the Columbia River, jammed out in one of the most beautiful amphitheaters in the world and connected not only with nature but with humanity. 

If you think you’ve had a better time you’ve obviously never seen Phish at the Gorge.

Waking up with the sun coming up, shining over the River with the plains stretching out for miles, lit up with pinks and golds was breathtaking. Sunsets were just as astonishing, the purple and red colors reflecting on the water below and the clouds above.

Mr. Go had the brilliant idea of buying a puzzle at a Goodwill along the way to WA. We worked on it for a while with our camp (which included 3 friends and our 2 neighbors who were engulfed by us and integrated into our group) then set the puzzle out on the table for passersby to try their hand.
I’m not exaggerating when I say it was the best .50c purchase Mr. Go has ever made in the whole of his life. The communal collective effort was astounding.

Now first, let me say, the Phish fans are some of the most accepting, chill people I’ve ever met. Sure, there’s an odd dick here and there, but you get that anywhere. On the whole, they’re the freakiest freaks out there and no matter how weird you are, they’re not gonna judge you. Nay, they will love you for your individuality.

So anyway, tons of people paused at the table to help us work on the puzzle. We were hanging out, cooking or playing cards and we’d look over and there’d be someone standing there.

“You gotta put in a piece before you go,” we’d yell. The sense of accomplishment when you found a connection is like getting a tiny hug, Hubert, a Phish fan who spent several hours sitting at our table puzzling, said to me. It brought people together for a common goal, and that’s one of the most beautiful things there is.

GO TEAM

Needless to say, there will be puzzles at every subsequent Phish show we attend. Check @puzzle_ftr on Twitter or @puzzlefromtheroad on Instagram for updates.


Sunday morning, after 2 nights of shows, we woke, broke down camp and got the hell out of dodge. We were so wore out from our adventures so far we were a tiny bit crabby and stayed at a nasty Western Inn in Billings, MT, for 10 solid hours of sleep and a shower. After that, we felt much better.

The next night we shot for camping in the Chippewa National Forest near Walker, MN, but it didn’t quite pan out. It was dark by the time we rolled up and we were both freaked out by different aspects of the venture: Mr. Go by police telling us we actually can’t camp there and also bugs. Me by a random psychopath finding our tent and stringing us up in the trees like in that one scary story someone told me when I was 7, and also bears.

So we pulled the plug and drove up the road to the Northern Lights Casino, where Mr. Go broke his inhuman non-spending streak by losing $100 in about 15 minutes. Then we chilled in the car for a bit, drinking the boxed wine from the back out of our leftover Solo cups.

Maybe it was the lingering feeling of togetherness from the Phish shows, but hanging out in the car with Mr. Go after a cross-country trip, I just felt so thankful for where we are in life. The clarity of purpose we’re discovering and the stellar prioritization that’s giving us so much happiness and peace.

Then we tipped the front seats back and slept for about 5 hours before the mosquitos squeezing in through our cracked windows woke Mr. Go and he took off around 5:30 a.m. while a confused Mrs. Go tried to determine why her bed was now moving.

What to do in the car for 100 hours

Yes, over the course of 14 days we spent roughly 100 hours in the car. Together. That’s almost 4 solid days. Together. And we haven’t even called any divorce lawyers yet! That's the biggest accomplishment of the venture, to be honest.

Something amazing happens when you’re trapped in an enclosed space with a person for a solid chunk of time. Especially when cell service goes out. You get bored enough that you actually have to resort to talking to each other. Just kidding. For us it was more like: we actually had the time to talk. And we didn’t have the opportunity to multi-task or try checking things off our to-do list like we do at home after Babs goes to bed. All we had to do was talk. We’ve had some of the best conversations we’ve had in a while, and were able to truly connect.

When we needed a break, we listened to podcasts. Some of our favorites are Tim Ferriss’ audio compilation of the Tao of Seneca, a stoic thinker and philosopher who lived about 2,000 years ago. The audio recordings are of his letters to a friend and offer many little nuggets of wisdom that resonate strongly even today. They’re short, around 15 minutes, and are great for sparking conversation. Topics covered include: poverty and riches, the shortness of life, how to live in the moment and how to avoid the busy trap.

Mr. Go also believes in staying up to date on the news and enjoys checking in with conservative radio, just to see what’s going on. It’s a little bit like looking through plexiglass at the zoo: “What are the crazy people doing today?” I can’t handle much of it; Mr. Go’s tolerance is only slightly higher.

The RNC was happening, so we listened to a Bill Maher podcast and the radio coverage of the convention for a while.

I drove for a couple stretches, but it was mostly Mr. Go behind the wheel. I served as the co-pilot, giving bad directions and getting things out of the cooler.

Speaking of which:

Eating on the Road

We realized in a previous post that only chumps stop to eat while trekking across the country. Just kidding, mostly. We stopped to eat a couple times, and getting a break to stretch our legs was super nice. But mostly we just took our meals in the car.


As a general rule, we don’t buy things, but we purchased this Iceless cooler before leaving Colorado and packed it up with asparagus, sliced ham, string cheese and hard-boiled eggs for the road. We were slightly less prepared with food for our trek to Washington and had to stop for lunch and dinner on the first day of driving. Ugh, greasy fast food burgers.

Of course, you can stop and take the time to have decent meals on the road, but we were going for speed, since a massive storm in Wisconsin and Minnesota the night before we left detoured the shit out of our route and lost us about 3 hours. So we were pushing the pace.



(Of course, before we even got in the car, it was three weeks of scrubbing the house top to bottom and lining up cleaning, lawn mowing and care while we’re away to make sure everything was taken care of for Airbnb guests.

Including: setting up mail forwarding to our parents house, talking to neighbors re: checking our mail for things that slip through and also just keeping an eye on things in general.)

What We Learned From 5,804 miles
  • Don’t try to find your campsites in the dark.
  • Don’t be lazy; pack your food in the car.
  • Bring something mesh to cover the window cracks so bugs don’t get in at night.
  • Never play Pok√©mon go. We witnessed a family nearly leave their daughter at a rest area because she was so buried in her cell phone she literally had no awareness of her surroundings. Don’t worry, once they backed out of their parking spot they stopped, Dad rolled down the window heroically and shouted for his offspring several times until she heard him and strolled leisurely to the car, nose buried in her phone the entire time. Ah, American family vacations.
  • Slow it down. We saw an accident in North Dakota, a car’s front end all smashed up, police cars and ambulance. All it takes is one split second, just one moment to ruin everything. Going a few extra mph faster will get you to your destination a few minutes earlier, but is the risk really worth it? Plus, when you slow down, appreciate the journey rather than the destination, you’re not trying to pass people and road frustration decreases exponentially.
Along the way, we saw a lot of RVs and big-ass campers on the road, towed by similarly big-ass vehicles. Mr. Go and I had to wonder: What do people even keep in there? What do they need to bring camping that they require 7 metric shit-tons of space?

Because once we ditched the kids and all their baggage, the Subaru Impreza felt like a palace. Subey and the Thule car-top carrier held everything we would need to live for months, with room for 2 adult humans to stretch out.

Of course, we've realized how little a person actually needs, and it's lightened up our lives tremendously. And it makes packing a breeze.

April 28, 2016

Save Money, Help the Environment and Improve Your Health, Vol. 1: In the Kitchen

The Go Family's ongoing journey toward health has had myriad positive side effects. One of which has been the mind-blowing expansion of my at-home cooking knowledge. Another has been saving a boatload of money by doing said at-home cooking.

Did you know you're allowed to make your own condiments? It's true! And it's not even hard.

The following are all so stupid easy to make that even seeing the prices on them in the grocery store makes me pull a lemon face. In no particular order, here are some of the staples in our kitchen that are not only free of hidden additives, but save you money, help the environment by creating less waste and make you sound really cool by going full-on DIY:

1. Salad Dressing

Look at the ingredients list on the back of the salad dressings at the grocery store. I dare you to find one without added sugar. Ok, there's probably one or two for $6/bottle, but why waste your money and then have garbage to throw away at the end when you can make your own in the old pickle jar you have sitting on the top shelf of your pantry?

Here are some easy, yummy vinaigrette recipes for literally a fraction of the cost of store-bought. We've been on a Ranch Dressing Bender that has the added bonus of being high in fat (see #4 below). Extra credit for growing your own dill on your windowsill.

basil, dill and cilantro

2. Salsa

Canned salsa has a different taste than fresh, but I'm not at the canning stage yet and fresh is so easy to make and tastes so good that I see no reason to stray. 

I use this recipe but in a batch with 3 tomatoes instead of 6. Throw your ingredients in a food processor and that's literally all there is to it.



Compare $2 per fresh, delicious batch (roughly 16 oz) with the price of jarred salsa at your grocery store, and then start questioning all of the purchases in your cart.

3. Almond Butter

Prepackaged almond butters at the store are so expensive it hurts my eyes to look at. Our Whole Foods does fresh-grind for $8.99/lb, but you can get $6.88/lb raw almonds on Amazon Prime Subscribe & Save (or $8.08/lb for a one-time purchase). (I could do a whole post on the virtues of Amazon Prime but I'll condense it down to say on S&S you get 20% off the things you buy on a monthly basis.)

Toast the almonds for 10 minutes at 350 and then food process the hell out of them. Honestly just let it go for like 10 minutes, scraping down the sides intermittently, until the oils release and you get creamy dreamy almond butter of a consistency to your liking.

If you want a step by step, Google 'easy almond butter' or just go here.

4. Mayonnaise

The mayonnaises are suspiciously never refrigerated in the store so I had no idea the ingredients include raw egg. But lo, combine an egg with light olive (or sesame) oil and you get delicious, additive-free mayo! 

I use a combination of this recipe and this recipe from my bro, Sarah Fragoso. Mustard and cayenne in your mayo is most excellent and highly recommended. Use an immersion blender for maximum impact and minimal time investment. 

Use your homemade mayo and windowsill herbs in your ranch dressing to impress your dinner guests.

A Note About Supplies

The only thing you might not already have to make most of these is a food processor. We bought this Cuisinart in 2011 and still use it on the reg. (Side note: make your own smoothies in this bad boy. Half a frozen banana, a couple frozen strawberries and some milk. Throw a spinach leaf in there for the baby, she'll never even know. DO NOT go to Jamba Juice for this shit or I will disown you.)

This Cuisinart immersion blender is also pretty rad. It's almost worth it just for the mayo alone, but I've used it to make mashed potatoes and other creams as well.

Honorable Mentions:

5. Pizza/Pasta Sauce

While not a staple, I make it once every couple months or so and it's so crazy easy I can't even walk down the sauce aisle anymore without having a fit.

Don't pay upwards of $3/jar (for comparable quality) when you can get a can of tomato sauce and tomato paste, throw it together with an onion and some spices for less money, and not have to deal with another glass jar floating around in your pantry.

I use Sarah's recipe from this book that I use allllll the time, but you can Google 'paleo pasta sauce' and get some ideas.

6. Gluten-Free Bread

While not a condiment, Babs loves a good ole Almond Butter and Jelly sandwich, and you can't make those without bread. You can get fancy with it, just like you can with anything, but the Gluten-Free (Paleo) bread recipes I use have about 5 ingredients. They usually require a lot of eggs and mine never seem to rise to a traditional bread shape; they're more like biscotti. But it's mainly a vehicle for almond butter anyway so it doesn't matter.

it's so flat. maybe my bread pan is too big??

This one was Babs' favorite for a few weeks, until she moved on to the 'nothing but smoothies and pie' phase we're currently on.

7. Sauerkraut

There's not huge cost savings here, since you can get a can of Kraut for .79 and a head of cabbage for .69, roughly. But Mr. Go claims to like homemade better, so I do my best not to get cuts on my fingers before I make a batch. Learn How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut in a Mason jar here.

The Extra Bonus: When you make these things yourself, you not only save your hard-earned money for better things like retirement, you also have a reason to reuse your old mason jars instead of paying for packaging and then throwing that packaging away.

Live Green and Save Green. 

April 21, 2016

Why I Want my Daughter to be Like Me

Please don't misunderstand my last post; I'm awesome. Self-love and confidence are very important. There are way more ways I want my daughter to be like me than not. I do my best to really play up my good qualities for her, since she is a little sponge and soaks up absolutely everything I do and say.

a happy little sponge
1. Kindness (Generosity/Empathy/Selflessness)

These are all connected; one runs into the other in a cycle of goodwill and harmony. You see someone in need, you understand how you would feel in their position, you help them.

I get a thrill when I help someone. The other day a guy dropped some money on the ground and I helped him catch it as the wind blew it around. He was so appreciative; it made my day. I want my daughter to know this feeling; the most harmless (indeed, beneficial) high there is.

2. The Power of Choice

When I get crabby and Mr. Go asks, "What's wrong?" My response more often these days (rather than "you did x, y and z!") is, "I just need to get over it." We can't possibly control all situations or, heaven forbid, other people. What we can control are our reactions and our emotions.

Really, that's the biggest win of all. Someone acts like a jerk? They must've had a bad morning, or they're lacking the inner light you possess. The winds of life blow them around like a cloud. Poor them, it must be so exhausting. Take a moment to pity them, then carry on with your day; you are a mountain, steady and strong, Master of Your Own Emotions.

3. Adventurousness

This is a relatively new quality of mine that could use some more cultivating, but it's growing all the time. Going to a restaurant by myself, joining Meetup groups, talking to People: even tame things like these can make me uncomfortable, but I get such joy out of it at the end that it's worth it. And the more you do something, the easier it gets. I want this to always be a part of my daughter's life, so she doesn't have to struggle to learn it later, like her mom.

Explore, Babs, the world is your clam, or some other type of shellfish.

4. Chill

As high strung as I am about some things, I'm a pretty laid-back person in general. I go with the flow, I'm usually up for most of the adventures Mr. Go proposes and it's pretty hard to offend me. Life is easier and more enjoyable if you're not digging your heels in, riding the brakes and trying to make everything to go your way.

This has the bonus side effect of Self-Love and Confidence: Ever notice how much easier it is to be happy with yourself when you stop caring what other people think of you? When the only standard you have to live up to is your own? I used to only get there when I was too exhausted to overthink; now I'm a frequent visitor to this state of mind, if not a permanent resident.


Really, I could go on and on about my admirable qualities, but it's starting to get a little self-congratulatory.

Point is, if you want your children to grow up to be generous, contributing members of society, it starts with you. They want to be like you, for better or worse; use a big spoon like mommy, swipe at a cell phone like mommy.

And if they're going to parrot you anyway, you might as well give them something good to imitate.


April 17, 2016

Why I Don't Want My Daughter to be Like Me


As parents, our job is to make as many mistakes as possible, so we can learn from them and pass that knowledge on to our offspring.

We want the best for our kids, and sometimes that means knowing what in ourselves we don't want them to be.

When I can, I try to ask myself this question before taking an action: Would I want my daughter doing this? Kids learn by example. You can tell them "do as I say not as I do" until you're blue in the face but they're clever. If mom can do it, why can't I?

In the 2 years since Babs has come to be, I've identified several more traits than I thought I'd be able to that I don't want her exhibiting.

1. Woefully Inadequate Anger Management

Note to self: next time I want to slap some sense into Mr. Go, take a breath and ask: would I want my daughter feeling and acting this way?

2. Oblivious Accidental Selfishness

Stay present in each moment, Babs. Whatever's got you wrapped up in your head isn't as important as the here and the who in the now.

3. Serious Face

Not only do I have a literal Serious Face that shows up when I'm lost in my head-- squinting, brows down, lips tight-- I take myself way too seriously. You only live once; it'll be loads more fun if you can laugh at yourself and your mistakes. Because there will be a lot of them.

4. Get Out Of Your Basket

When something is new and different, historically I haven't been terribly open to it. I'm a recovering Excusahol. Life will be richer and more exciting if you take chances, have experiences and get out of that safe, comfortable basket.

It's easier to give this advice than to live it, but if there's anyone I could do it for, it's my daughter. Yeah, you should want to better yourself for yourself, but sometimes that's not enough. And I've found that having a kid is the strongest motivator there is.

You've gotta start somewhere, and there's no better time than the present.

April 1, 2016

Babs Turns 2

Throwing a toddler birthday party doesn't have to be a wild affair. I know, you only turn 2 once, and she gets SO excited by NEW things.


But on the other hand, a $1 package of balloons and a visit from Gamma is all this girl would've needed to have had the best day of her life so far.

So maybe we overdid it a little.



Someday we'll learn. You don't need a gigantic pile of birthday presents wrapped in wasteful (albeit festive) Disney Princess paper to have a good time. Alas, today was not that day.

But it sure was FUN! (Probably just as much, if not more, fun for us to watch her as for her to open gifts and play.)

Gamma and Gampa, Babs' former Nanny and her Fiancee and two honorary Uncles were there to celebrate 2 years of sleepless terror joyful life. We had snacks, visited, watched Babs open presents and then play with them. I FaceTimed in my folks (who had to miss the event due to my mom's cracked tibia). We sang Happy Birthday (now Babs' favorite song) and Mom helped her blow out her 2 candles.


These Paleo Cupcakes were DE-licious. I added literally one drop of red food coloring to the frosting (ivory from the coconut sugar) and it turned out a pretty dusty pink. I was pleased. Mr. Go and I were still easing out of our Ketogenic diet cycle, so it was the best thing I had ever tasted in my whole life ever.

We'd created an Amazon wish list for the Grandparents so we could carefully curate Babs' toy stock. It didn't help much. My mom loves wrapping lots of tiny things, so we still got clothes and such. Which is fine, since Christmas taught Babs the joy of tearing off paper to reveal something new.

Here are the items that were on our wish list:

Rad Batman Quad
Swing (or as Babs calls it, Pinger. Why? No fricken clue, but I laugh every time.)
Tunnel
Corduroy Bear
Bubbles

Those specific bubbles were not purchased for us, but I wanted them SO bad, and let me tell you why. The library uses them at the end of every story time and the bubbles hang in the air FOREVER. A+ bubbles are hard to find.

Pinger, mama. Pinger.
A good time was had by all, especially my girl. The day was a thorough and wild success, and I'm already looking forward to the next one, while at the same time hoping it never comes.

Stay little, my sweet girl. But also grow up so you can wipe your own ass, 'cause that one's getting a bit tired.