Wednesday, April 25, 2012

24 Weeks


If I am doing my math right, that means I am 6 months pregnant.  I must not be doing my math right, because WHAAAAT?  (The whole weeks to month conversion thing does throw me off a little...)  Anyways, regardless of whether I am 24 weeks or 6 months or carrying-a-baby-the-size-of-a-rutabaga, I am amazed that I am this far along in my pregnancy.  It is going fast.

And my doctor told me not to say this too loudly lest I tempt fate and piss off friends, but it's been wonderfully easy and dare I say, enjoyable so far.  For the most part, I'm not consistently uncomfortable.  My biggest complaints are either from eating too much - something entirely avoidable - and sitting too long.  Unfortunately, my job makes the sitting too long unavoidable but with the help of the most fantastic massage therapist ever and having my coworker fuss at me every time she sees me slouching or leaning to one side of my arm rest, I'm working through that.

Knowing it's a boy and having a nickname we call him has made him feel much more real to us - as has the large unassembled crib crowding our front hallway. (Crib fairies come assemble those things, right?) And I'm starting to feel more kicks and flutters throughout the day, which are a nice reminder that he's in there.

It's also nice to finally really look pregnant and yet not be uncomfortably pregnant yet.  In fact, I know this may sound strange but I really feel better about my body now than I have in probably the last 14 years.  I mean, in general I tend to be pretty comfortable in my body...but I think every woman has moments where they're consciously aware of how they look or think they look with regards to particular "trouble zones."  Mine has always been my stomach and well, there's no worrying about how that looks.  It's a bump!  It's cute!  Moving on!  It's the first time in 14 years I've worn a bathing suit or a form-fitting shirt and not thought once about how I looked in it.  I might feel differently 10 weeks from now when it's the middle of July and I'm in ready-to-pop stage, but right now this is the most accepting I've ever felt about my body.  Booyah.

The whole reality of having a baby has not really sunk in yet.  I'm assuming that happens on the drive home from the hospital when you realize that yup, it's official, you're in charge of a tiny dependent squawking little human.  I've been reading a good handful of books recommended to me by friends (Baby Whisperer, Babywise, Happiest Baby on the Block, Sippy Cups are Not For Chardonnay, etc) but I kind of have a feeling the whole experience is going to be a bit like when I went to Spain after studying Spanish for 6 years and was rudely awakened to the fact that no amount of books can prepare you for a full immersion experience.  Sink or swim, baby. Aye, dios mio, no estoy preparando para esto.

So! That's week 24.  I had every intention of writing an update weekly but I've been busy eating breakfast twice a day, shopping for more leggings and combing yard sales for a good deal on a Fisher-Price Baby Coma-Inducer aka the Snugabug swing.  Oh and getting 8 hours of sleep - figured I better get that in while I still can.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yard Sale Season

With the early warm weather we’ve been having, I think people have gotten into the yard sale mood early around here.  The last few weekends I’ve been driving around and seeing the bright signs pointing me into neighborhoods and compelling me to take a peek.  (I love yard sales.)

I’ve done quite well getting a head start on Baby Boy Cline’s wardrobe with some of these sales.  I promise not to continually post pictures of every outfit I purchase for this kiddo but considering this is my first foray into all things baby, I can’t get over how cute little tiny socks and itty bitty swim trunks are.  So I can’t help myself to share a few of my finds…


I scored a bunch of basics at one house that literally had tubs and tubs and tables fully of baby boy clothes.  It was pretty easy to pick through and find things in good conditions – half of these white onesies looked like they had never even been worn.  I really want to do some freezer paper stencil onesies (in my abundance of free time before BBC arrives) so I’ll hopefully use these for that project.


I got another batch of clothes the next weekend another sale – the Paul Frank swim trunks were my favorite.  I know it’s bit of gamble to guess if he’ll really be the appropriate month size that he should be next summer, but for 50 cent – I can take that gamble.


Just stop with the cuteness right there, please.


Oh and I may have picked up a little something for myself…. I love this dress.  The bad news is that I have no idea if it’s going to fit me (it’s definitely a post-pregnancy dress, there is no room for a bump in it) but again, it was a $3 gamble I was willing to make.  It looked very anthropologie-esque and I couldn’t help but bring it home.  If it doesn’t fit me, I will just have to bequeath it to one of my skinnier friends.

My true labor of love in all this thrifting has been piecing together my stroller.  This wasn’t exactly done by yard sale, but by patiently stalking Craiglist and eBay.  I don’t know how I got it in my head that I wanted this particular stroller – some combination of the Baby Bargains book, Babble reviews and pregnancy hormones – but once I did, I was on a mission.  I just didn’t want to pay full price for it.  I started off with a frame I found on Craiglist and made my poor sister go pick up, because it was down in Charlotte.  Then I was able to find a new fabric swap kit and the front wheels on eBay.  I eventually caved on my eBay stalking and bought the back wheels and underneath basket/sunshade as replacement parts from the Uppababy website – and found out they have the nicest customer service people ever.  I didn’t get end up getting the bassinet although there’s a handful on eBay, because I figured a car seat adapter would serve the same function for me.  In the end (sans bassinet), I paid about 1/3rd of what it cost retails.  I’m giving myself a high five right now, in case you’re wondering.


And voila, I now have a stroller!


Matt has nicknamed it “the big wheels” or “the power wheels.”  The back wheels are rather large.  We are clearly ready for some all-terrain trekking.  Hopefully he will appreciate that the reviews said it was the ideal stroller for men taller than 6 feet.

The good news is that after doing all this yard sale and eBay shopping, I had a chance to recoup some of my losses with some yard sale selling of my own.  Jamie graciously opened up her yard for the second year in a row since she has an amazing location and 4 others of us dumped our junk on our her driveway and welcomed Winston-Salem’s finest to come and pick through it.  I know I’ve mentioned it every time I post about hosting sales on this blog, but oh man I just love hosting them.  I am utterly fascinated by the things people will take home to their house – and pay you money for! – after you have decided you no longer want them.  The kicker this year?  A can of dog food. 

Yup, a can of dog food.

We had to switch Buddy to soft food for a few weeks after the poor guy had to have six teeth extracted.  I had an order of soft food coming from my subscribe & save account, but it hadn’t arrived yet so I ran over to Food Lion and bought the cheapest canned stuff they had on the shelf.  I’m just going to gently say it didn’t “agree” with the Spuds, so I couldn’t bring myself to use up the final can when his real food finally arrived.

So I put it in the yard sale.

And someone bought it. 

I’m telling you – price it right and anything will sell.

Anyways, we were mobbed at Jamie’s house.  She had said “no early birds” in her ad because the 4 of us had to set up that morning, but the sale started at 8 and people were showing up at 7:15.  It’s pretty obvious that “no early birds” means to most people “You don’t want other people to show up early, but you’ll be okay if I show up early, right?”

I have no problem being the jerk that tells people – nicely with a sweet little smile of course! – to go get back in their car and wait but by 7:50 we had a line of people waiting not so patiently at the end of Jamie’s driveway.  At 8:00 we told them to have at and you would have thought it was the opening of Apple store the way the crowd rushed us.

Not that I’m complaining.  I mean, they bought my dog food. 


It was steady all morning and we all ended up doing pretty well with clearing our clutter and making some extra cash.  We were all also very pleased with Jamie’s brilliant suggestion that we host the sale in April this year instead of July.  Much, much better.  And of course, just like last year, half the fun is just spending the morning with your friends and having the opportunity to do some serious people watching right in your own driveway. 

Yard sale successes, on both sides of the table… and the season is just getting started!


Related: Yard Sale adventures from 2011 & 2010

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cook Once, Eat All Week–Recipe Review

After boasting about my kitchen adventures and fully stocked fridge, I thought it only fair that I give full disclosure how each of the recipes turned out after a week of eating.

First I have to say that I think cooking them all and putting them in the fridge sort of backfired.  I thought it would make it easier for Matt to come home from working his 3-11pm shifts and have a plethora of choices for dinners instead of having only one or two things ready and then freezing the rest to prepare as the week went on.  You know how sometimes when you’re standing in the cereal aisle with too many choices all you do is reach for the ol’ stand by of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and call it a day?

No, really, we actually both ate cereal for dinner at least once by the end of the week because we were just so over all the choices.  Note to self: too many choices all at once is not a good thing.  I think it would have worked better to have one or two options ready at a time, use those up and move to the next.  Live and learn.

But more importantly, how did they taste?

Spicy Thai Shrimp Soup


Seriously, that is an unattractive looking bowl of soup.  It looks lumpy and weird colored.

Fortunately, it was delicious.  The texture was perfect and the shrimp and sweet potatoes flavors were awesome together.  I could leave the peas out next time because that threw things off for me.  The only bad thing I’d say about this soup is that after 2 days, it freaked me out to reheat something with fish in it… so it never made it past day 2.  But, on days 1 and 2 it was delicious.  (So again, maybe not cooking all at once – this is probably the dish I would start with.)

Mini Meatloaves


The hands down favorite dish for flavor and reheat ease.  I took these for lunch and Matt ate them at night.  This would be an easy dish to recreate and freeze or to tailor by adding in other veggies or using other ground meats.  This was my favorite of all the recipes and I think it was Matt’s favorite too.  (It’d be a good dish to make for a new mom or someone who is sick too, because you can just reheat a few at a time.)

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie


Again, this is a really ugly dish.  I’ve never made any type of Shepherd’s Pie before and I don’t really know what’s supposed to be happening here – meat with potatoes on top I guess?  Well, fortunately it turned out that this tasted really good too – it was kind of like Thanksgiving dinner all stirred up together.  If you could get past how weird looking it was, it was quite good.  I took it to lunch for 3 days in a row but I don’t think Matt ate any.  Possibly because I ate it all.



“Why did the enchiladas have broccoli in them?” 

This is the question Matt texted me after eating this, and listen Self Magazine, why did the enchiladas have broccoli in them?  This dish was not a household favorite.  In fact, I threw more than half of it.  (Yup, sad story.)   I don’t really like enchiladas but Matt usually does, so I figured he’d eat them.  He wasn’t a huge fan of these.  But, I think you could keep them in this rotation if you left the broccoli out (which means cooking it separate from the red peppers or leaving the red peppers out too) and I’d probably add some shredded chicken to it (easily added by poaching and shredding while others cook.)

Vegetable & Chickpea Ragout with Penne


“It was like vegetable soup pasta sauce.”

Again, review from the peanut gallery.  And I had to agree.  This one I’ll chalk up to operator error – I didn’t follow the recipe exactly because I thought we’d rather have a saucier pasta sauce.  Maybe the actual recipe is delicious but my version of it?  Eh, not so much.  I ended up tossing the pasta sauce half way through the week, pouring the penne into a casserole dish and added a can of boring old Ragu and a few spoonful's of Ricotta cheese, sprinkling with mozzarella and turning it into baked ziti…. to which the peanut gallery proclaimed, “Now, this is the kind of Italian I can get on board with.”  So, we salvaged that one.

Some hits, some misses and some learning experiences.  I do intend to try and do this a little more often because it was great to have an entire week without any weeknight cooking duties yet still have homemade meals available.  I don’t know if I’ll revisit this rotation for awhile, simply because there were so many other recipe collections I found like when I was searching.  Let me know if you try this one set of recipes (or any other one) – I’ll be curious to know how other people fare with them!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Buddy went in for a "routine" dental scaling yesterday and ended up having to have 6 (!!!) teeth extracted. Someone is feeling extra pitiful now...


I think he feels better today, but he is sure taking advantage of the opportunity for extra snuggles. Not that I'm complaining either...


Seeing a dog in pain is the worst because you can't explain to them it'll be over soon and they can't tell you how they are feeling. Thank goodness for doggy pain pills smothered in peanut butter...they seem to be doing the trick.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Prompts & Weekend Update

Prompts from my page-a-day calendar this morning. My first appointment didn't answer today so I did some quick scribbling to answer these questions.


List 5 things you do for fun. In the last six months, how much time have you spent doing these activities?
1. Wine tastings/visiting vineyards: Clearly, not much. But I think we know why and I think I'll return to this hobby in a few months.
2. Reading fiction: I've read a handful of fiction books lately but I've also been reading some baby books and some other nonfiction (Steve Jobs bio). I read a lot before bed and I listen to a lot of audiobooks on my commute - I probably read/listen to about 2-3 books a month. So… I’d say, plenty. :)
3. Doing crafts: Thanks to Anne's Pinterest party, I got a good fix recently. Can we do this again soon please? My "crafty" board is calling my name.
4. Dancing: A year or so ago, I wouldn't have been able to say I did this very much anymore. Thanks to dance trance, I get my dancing fix at least once a week and sometimes 2-3x/wk.
5. Traveling to new places: San Fran, check. Nashville, check. Palm Springs, check. Upcoming: Nashville again and Emerald Isle. Matt and I are pretty good about making travel a priority - I'm lucky I married someone who loves it as much as me.

I think I'm actually pretty good at including "fun" in my life these days. When I went to coach training back in 2007, they had us do this exercise called "the Wheel of Life." You rated your satisfaction with different aspects of your life (family, health, career, money, etc) on a scale of 1-10 and looked at how balanced your "wheel" was. “Fun” was my lowest then - I gave it a 5, while everything else was a 7-9. I don't think I've really consciously cultivated more fun in my life, but I guess I have made it a point to do things that aren't just simply productive or work related. Yay me! If I was doing the wheel of life exercise today, I'd probably give myself an 8 in that category.

Incidentally, it's something I ask a lot of people about when I'm doing stress management coaching and I have concluded that very few people do things for fun anymore. And I'm not just talking about people who have kids or work longer hours and have less free time than I do. I think a lot of people don't know (or remember) what they like to do for fun, and don't make an effort to include it.) An easy way to figure out what you like to do for fun is to think about what you did as a kid in your free time. With the exception of wine tasting, I loved doing all those things as a little kid and still do.

Okay, off my fun soapbox/coaching moment and off to the next prompt....

Is there a quote, book or scene from a movie that makes you happy?
The first thing that came to mind for me with this prompt was that the other night I saw someone on Twitter mention going to the musical Newsies and it made me go look up some of my favorite scenes from what was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I watched the clip of "Carrying the Banner" about 3 times in a row on Youtube - I had forgotten how happy that scene had made me to watch. So I guess that's what this prompt is going after. The other movie scene that I remember loving - from a movie I probably watched a dozen times in high school - is the "Sugar High" scene from Empire Records.

What 3 subjects fascinate you?
For this one I tried to think about what blogs I am drawn to or books I peruse in book stores - and I purposefully left weight management/nutrition off since that's my job and it kinda felt like an obvious. I came up with:
- home renovations (older homes being redone, like the blog Young House Love)
- money management, savings, financial psychology (I love the blog Get Rich Slowly and the Dave Ramsey books)
- positive thinking/psychology/self-development

These were interesting prompts. I'm not totally sure what the theme was, but I think it was in general to get you thinking about things that interest you, pique your curiosity or make you happy. That's what I got out of it and it was nice to do this exercise following a weekend that was very "productive" - garage sale prep, cooking, laundry, swapping out my closet (summer clothes AND taking out the heaps of clothes that no longer fit me now), etc.

It was definitely a much needed productive weekend, sandwiched in between last week's beach trip and a bunch of upcoming travel though. And it wasn't all work, no play.

I did go to dance on Sat morning and then got caught up on some blogging and photo editing in the afternoon. We had dinner with the Forsey's Saturday night - a comfortable sit on the deck kind of night - and I got to get my snuggle on with this sweet girl.


She is the cutest. Sigh.

Sunday after my cooking marathon and closet swap out, I decided to skip my usual body pump/dance trance and do a long walk outside with Buddy to take advantage of the warm spring weather. Then I eeked out the last bit of Sunday night light on the porch with my feet propped up, a coconut popsicle and a magazine.


It was a good balanced weekend, although I still felt a little sad that the alarm went off and Monday showed up yet again. In fact, I kinda wished I could join this guy and spend the rest of the morning right here:


Somehow I turned this into a two-for-one blog post...prompts from my calendar digressed into a weekend update. Oh well, I'm running with it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cook Once, Eat All Week–Round 2

When I sat down to meal plan this week, I realized it was going to be one of those weeks where Matt and I wouldn’t cross paths for dinner one single time night this week between our work schedules.  We’re also about to be traveling out of a town a bunch over the next couple weekends and I wanted to try and minimize eating out while we were actually at home, so I decided to fall back on the ol’ cook-once-eat-all-week plan.  I’ve only done it one other time, despite the fact that when I first switched to working 4-10 hour days I swore it was going to be my weekly ritual.  And actually like doing it – it really only takes about half a day to do and then you’re set for the whole week, but it seems to require a lot of prep and mental gearing myself up to do it so I just hadn’t returned to it again.

Here’s the recipes from the first time around I did – they are very chicken-centric but they worked out well as far as using a lot of the same ingredients together.  This time I was lazier – I didn’t want to brainstorm 5 overlapping recipes so I just did a google search to see who had already done this I could just copy.  There were so many options out there – not recreating the wheel was DEFINITELY the way to go and makes me more inclined to continue doing this.

I ended up using a link from Self Magazine.  Here’s the link to the recipes – I won’t retype them here but I’ll just add a few pointers from my experience today in case you {or future me} wants to recreate this.

Here’s what the meal plan includes {and note how little my food actually looks like the photos from the recipes.  Ha.)

Adobo Chipotle Mini Meatloaves – to be served w/ a side green salad or quick bag of steamer veggies


Spicy Thai Soup with Lime Shrimp


Cheesy Beans & Shrimp Enchiladas


Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie (Definitely looks nothing like the photo…in fact, I really hope this one tastes better than it looks.)


Vegetable & Chickpea Ragout w/ Penne*

*I purposefully made this one more saucy because I knew Matt would rather have a pasta-sauce type dish than a dish that looked more like pasta and veggies.  I didn’t combine them either b/c I didn’t know at one point during the week would eat them, but I did cook the noodles ahead of time.  (Also, I had to google “ragout” – apparently it is french for stew.  Who knew!)


I can’t speak to how anything tastes yet except the shrimp soup which was very yummy.  My fingers are crossed that the rest turned out as good!  But either way, it beats Lean Cuisines or pick up.

Some pointers:

Start with a clean kitchen and an empty dishwasher.  Get everything out on the counter to start with, including the bowls you’ll need and dishes you’ll put the final dish in.  Clean as you go.  I cannot highlight that step strongly enough!


I know it’s not green but I print the recipes out before hand – it’s just easier for me to have physical pieces of paper when my hands get messy instead of using my iPad to look at the recipes.  I also read through each of them before I started cooking so I had an idea in my mind what I was going to be doing at each step.

I love listening to an audiobook when I’ve got a long task to do like any housework or long cooking prep.  Right now I’m listening to Steve Job’s biography which could seriously last me through cooking about 6 weeks worth of dishes.  Listening seems to make the time go faster and tasks feel less chore-like.  (Oh and the dog treat was to keep Buddy out of my way while I cooked.  It only lasted for about 5 minutes.)

(And in case it’s not obvious, that is water in my wine glass.)


The nice thing about these recipes was the included grocery list and the directions included what order to cook things in.  When I did this the last time I was using my own recipes, so a pre-cooking step was (obviously) to write down all the groceries ahead of time and also to write down the order to cook things in.  There are lots of times when a sauce is simmering or a dish is the oven that you can start it on the next dish.

These dishes also had directions for how to freeze if you weren’t going to use right away.  I just cooked them all and put them in the fridge, because Matt’s more likely to microwave something than put it in the oven when he gets off a shift at midnight.  (Understandably so.)

The whole thing from start to finish only took me three hours.  Really!  And because I forced myself to stick to the clean-as-you-go rule, it was three hours from start to really and truly finished.  This is what my kitchen looked like when the last timer went off.


Hurrah!  And now we have meals for the week.  I’ll try to remember to update as we taste test just in case something doesn’t make the cut – but considering these were published in a magazine, I’m guessing if anything goes wrong it’s operator error.

I must admit though – even though it only took half the morning, it’s still a tiring process.  Even my assistant was wiped out!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Beach

Oh how I love the beach.  I love any beach, any time of year but I especially love my family’s annual April beach trip to Garden City Beach, SC.  Last year, Matt and I were able to join our family for the whole week at the beach but this year because of work schedules we had to make the most of our too-short 3.5 days there!  We managed to fit it all in…

Saturday night we celebrated my mom’s upcoming retirement from her career as a elementary school teacher with champagne and cupcakes!  The cupcakes were made by my super talented friend Abbie (the same one who made Matt’s birthday cake a few months ago.)  Not only are they adorable, but they taste so good. 

Congrats Mom!!  My mom keeps telling everyone she got accepted for a new job position she applied for five years ago – Grandma.  (I appreciate the gentle reminder we’ve kept her waiting a whole five years and like to tell my sister that that means now she’s married the clock is ON.) 


We had GORGEOUS weather this week.  April can be hit or miss weather at the beach – but that will never stop a bunch of Yankees from spreading their towels out and claiming the sun.  It makes me laugh to look up and down the beach and see the scores of people splashing in the freezing ocean – you can tell immediately who has traveled down from NY, NJ and Ontario for their spring breaks.

Fortunately we didn’t have to wear our Yankees tough skin on the beach this week {since I don’t have mine anymore} – each day was warmer then the next and we got plenty of time in the sun.  Even Buddy was totally content curled up on a blanket under an umbrella.



Speaking of Buddy, one of the “perks” of bringing your dog to the beach is getting to wake up at sunrise every day to take him out!  He usually gets up around 6:30 or so to go out, and at home I just let him out the back door and if it’s not time for me to get up, we head back to bed.  But here the back door was a wooden staircases that led straight to a wide open beach, so I thought it in my best interest to actually put the leash on and walk him.  It turned out to be one of my favorite moments of each day.  There is nothing so beautiful as the sun coming up on an almost-empty beach.  One morning we were out just as it was literally coming up over the water, and we plopped down in the sand to watch the sun climb higher and higher in the sky from dawn to full morning daylight. 








I am okay with this version of 6:30.  Sure beats an alarm clock and fumbling to the kitchen to mash the Keurig button.


Ok, so maybe you still need the mash the Keurig button.

We also, of course, had our favorite Claffey family beach tradition – buttery rubber bands! 






Katie and Drew posed for this picture while we were waiting for our last rounds of clams to come up and I’m pretty sure it looks like it belongs in a church directory.  Awkward is their specialty.

It was a condensed version of our usual beach trip, but expert beach goers that we are, we managed in everything that makes a Claffey beach trip great: surf, sand, hot dogs, clams, golf, walks, family time, beer.  Ok ix-nay on that last one for me…. maybe next year.  I don’t think Baby C would take too kindly to that! 


See you next year, beach!


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Family Photo Session

A picture perfect day in the park, a darling family, and a sweet 8 month old boy who hammed it up for the camera and only protested when we said “Hey sweet boy, walk barefoot back and forth in the cold wet grass for a few minutes!” 

This was such a fun photo session to do.  This is my friend Lauren, her husband Josh and little boy Jeffery.  These are just a handful of my favorites.  Isn’t he the cutest?