Tag Archives: random

Dear Winter: FIX IT!

affiliate links pic Dear Winter: FIX IT!Now that we’re deep in the throes of winter cold and snow and chill and have a good while to go before we can pack away our coats for the season, I would like to address a number of winter grievances I have. Some of these problems have solutions, but others are desperately needed. And since they cover a wide range of issues I’ve just decided to go straight to the biggest player involved: winter itself. So winter. Listen up, okay?

#1: Earmuffs

 Dear Winter: FIX IT! Dear Winter: FIX IT!The first thing I went looking for this year was earmuffs. My hair rarely does well with a hat but covering ears is a must when you commute on the bus and the train. But I struck out constantly. No one sells earmuffs anymore. Instead they sell these guys: 180s, which are earmuffs that go around the back of your head. Sounds good in theory, right? In practice, not so much.

I have a big head. Ladies hats rarely fit me well. So I was worried they’d be too small. But never fear. They are not too small. Rather they are too big. They work for a walk from my house to the bus stop and earmuffs Dear Winter: FIX IT!they do fold up awfully nice in my purse. But they are not made for the long haul. Here is an expertly made diagram that illustrates why:

Yes, I have tightened them. It doesn’t really make much difference. I cannot imagine what would happen if I had a normal-sized head instead of my gargantuan one.

I am also irked because these claim not to mess up your hair, but they do. I have to put them under my hair or over my hair if it’s down and it would actually be much easier on my hair to use the typical over-the-top-of-your-head-seriously-what-is-so-wrong-with-that earmuffs.

#2: Puffy Coats

I hate the puffy coats. Why do we have the puffy coats? For the kids they mean they’re unsafe in their car seats due to all the extra puffiness separating them from the straps. 

And then there’s walking down a street wearing your puffy coat and skinny jeans and catching a glimpse of yourself in a store window to see you look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on top teetering on toothpick legs. Not attractive.

Finally there’s a big issue for ladies: wearing your purse. If I am carrying a baby and toting my purse, it is basically a given that the purse will not stay on my shoulder for more than a few steps. The big puffy shoulder just lets the purse straps slide right off because it cannot make any contact with my actual shoulder for me to keep it on. 

No more puffy coats, winter. Bring me something thin and sleek and super cute, ok?

#3 Pants

When it comes to bundling up, I’ve got my top half covered. Between the aforementioned coat, sweaters, tees and tanks I can layer like nobody’s business. But for my bottom half it’s not so fun. My kids get fleece- and jersey-lined pants to keep their legs toasty. I once found out that LL Bean sells some jeans for women with flannel lining and I was super pumped and then I tried them on and they were such mom jeans I suspect they were worn in that old SNL sketch.

But after consulting with some friends I have FOUND a solution. They are called fleece-lined leggings and they are awesome. I have worn them under my jeans for the past few cold days and they are comfy and warm and I still look like a normal person in my jeans. (I have not worn them under the skinny jeans, but fortunately I only have one pair of those.)

I got mine on Zulily, but you can also find a bunch on Amazon Dear Winter: FIX IT!.

#4: Gloves Are Worse Than Socks

I have a tough time keeping track of socks in our house. But gloves and mittens are so much worse. We don’t have enough of them so that I can just grab another when I can’t find the second one in a pair. I hereby request winter start selling gloves in 3-pair packs and 5-pair packs just like you do with socks because seriously it is making me crazy.

#5: Heating Vents

Outlets are always in the worst places. Except scratch that. They’re not. Heating vents are in worse places. They are inevitably behind a bed or the television or somewhere. I cannot find a way to arrange any room in my house so that it’s adequately heated. 

I have no idea who to take this up with, winter, so I’m just going straight to you.

#6: Snow Removal

I have snow removal now and it is awesome. Though I still have to shovel the dredges that are left around my car to get it out. But really, I feel sympathy for my friends with the giant driveways and sidewalks who are not so lucky. So, winter, I suggest that everyone is entitled to one of these puppies:

 resource.ashx?guid=a4977c330a004e9682095d442c4240bf&w=600&h=600&p=10&x=SJ322P Dear Winter: FIX IT!
So teeny. And not a snow blower but a snow THROWER, which I find kind of adorable. Looks like it takes up about as much space as my shovel. Let’s do this.

Oh, and also for the next blizzard that comes after freezing rain and takes out all our power:
resource.ashx?guid=a1c75757d1ea496bacc8fda399323ef2&w=600&h=600&p=10&x=SPS 1220W Dear Winter: FIX IT!
You get a generator! You get a generator! Everybody gets a generator!

So winter. These are my problems. I would like you take care of these for me immediately, please.

Best wishes,


Awesome Amazon Alternatives

affiliate links pic Awesome Amazon AlternativesI don’t know about you guys, but I’m not much of a Black Friday shopper. I like my shopping low-key and crowd-free. I am a big fan of two other things, though: Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Online holiday shopping is great, but one thing that makes me kind of stabby about it is Amazon. Like Facebook and Google, Amazon is one of those internet behemoths that I kind of love and kind of hate. I love all the books, their Kindles, their super saver shipping, the way they’ve rattled the publishing industry and every other industry they’ve taken on.

I hate… a lot of other things. Especially their holiday shopping insanity. Deals! More deals! Flash sales! It’s open! You missed it! Too much, too crazy, just blech.

Similarly, searching for gifts there is ridiculous. It’s such a vast marketplace that you can’t really find anything unless you already know what you want to get. The first time it really made me crazy was when I was pregnant with Graham and looking for baby gear and bedding. I would spend forever looking and researching and make virtually no progress. Oh, and then there’s the issue of some of the sellers who are lackluster at best. Not all Amazon sellers are created equal. Not by a long shot.

Luckily there are some other internet retailers out there that are making the online shopping process easier and still offering cool stuff and good prices.

Uncommon Goods Awesome Amazon Alternatives

22244 lg1 Awesome Amazon Alternatives Awesome Amazon AlternativesUncommon Goods is cool for a few reasons. They focus on creative merchandise, offer handmade items and feature green goods. They pay their workers well and support artists, plus they support several non-profits including RAINN and American Forests. Awesome, no?  Their toys for kids are creative rather than the popular item of the moment. Because of their environmental commitments you can also find lots of great wooden and natural fabric toys there. There’s a fab marketplace of artisan jewelry for ladies. I know mugs and glasses aren’t a super cool present, but I want pretty much all the ones they carry. Their gifts “for him” are really unique, too. This is definitely one to bookmark if you’ve got someone who’s tough to buy for or who loves unusual and handmade gifts. 

Jess’s picks: Smartphone Film Scanner Awesome Amazon Alternatives (convert film negatives into pics on your phone); Braille & Sign Language Blocks Awesome Amazon Alternatives; Personalized Whiskey Barrel Awesome Amazon Alternatives. Pictured: Major Scale Musical Wine Glasses – Set of 2 Awesome Amazon Alternatives.

VM Innovations

resource.ashx?guid=42fee74c0b8749799d70809203fef2a2&w=600&h=600&p=10&x=65086 Awesome Amazon AlternativesThis is probably one of those sites you’ve never heard of. They’re like a mini-Amazon but with a much smaller selection.  The big pluses: always free shipping, and they can get almost anywhere in the US in 2 days. Tons of LEGO stuff, great baby gear. The real winner? If you’re looking for a dollhouse. A-freaking-mazing dollhouses of all kinds here and they’re cheaper than Amazon. Kidkraft is one of their biggest brands.

Jess’s picks: KidKraft Fun Explorers Rocket Ship Play Set / 63213, KidKraft Everyday Heroes Police & Fire Set, all their wooden kitchen sets.  Pictured: Glitz & Glitter Dream Wood Dollhouse


 Awesome Amazon AlternativesWhat’s impressive about Modnique is how varied their stuff is. They focus on apparel (men, women and kids) and accessories (watches, handbags, shoes, jewelry, makeup). Their model means that they will have a $10 bracelet next to a $15,000 bracelet. You can find something for basically any budget. And you’ll find big huge designer labels at big markdowns. 

My review from last week gave me the opportunity to peruse the site and see what I thought. This is another situation where a limited selection is not a drawback. While I found the women’s apparel section not quite as strong, in the accessories they’ve got some great stuff. If you’re looking to snag a great gift at a lower price, they’re worth a shot. They have a great daily deal element, too. My products came quickly (order processing took a few days but shipping was fast) and I’m very pleased with my orders. For a limited time get $5 off orders over $50 sitewide – use coupon code Modnique5off50 Awesome Amazon Alternatives

My picks: Purses, Shoes, Watches, Jewelry. It’s new stuff every day but it’s pretty great.


I think I’ve decided what I want on my gravestone.

rip Brave

That’s right. On Tuesday, while I was going to work, I helped a woman who’d fallen on to the subway tracks. It was a surreal experience, the kind of thing where you don’t know how you would react until it happens. 

This just doesn’t happen very often. It’s pretty gravestone-worthy as far as life events go. I feel like someone would walk by that tombstone, see the inscription and think, “Wow. That’s amazing.”

The truth of it is, I don’t feel like I deserve any particular accolades. And I’m not just saying that to be humble. I acted without thinking.

I’ve never considered myself particularly brave. There are some things I am not scared of that scare other people (mostly stuff like public speaking and tests) but none of them are particularly dangerous. I tend to default to staying in my house, avoiding trouble, avoiding controversy, avoiding danger. I’m not strong, I’m not fast, I’m just a person. A kind of small-ish person at that. 

But yesterday, out of nowhere, this small-ish person was in a not-so-small situation.

I was transferring over to the red line. (Honestly, being trapped on the tracks of the red line is one of my greatest fears. That train goes fast and the tracks are very deep.) I saw a train pulling away before I could get there. And because I’m one of those subway nerds who knows just how far I need to go down the platform so that when I get off I’ll be right by the place I need to go next, I was heading down to the other end. 

Because a train had just left the platform wasn’t too busy. As I was walking, I heard a voice that wasn’t coming from the platform around me. I looked to see if it was coming from the other side of the tracks. I saw a man near me looking as well. We didn’t see anything. The voice kept calling, soft and grating, “Help, help.” We walked towards the edge of the tracks and saw her. You couldn’t see her unless you came to the very edge of the tracks, she was close to the side but it’s just so deep. 

When I saw her I was shocked. I was thinking to myself that this couldn’t be really happening. But at the same time I was immediately getting down to help and so was the other man. She wasn’t on her feet, I couldn’t tell if she was hurt. She was grabbing around her for her things. She seemed out of sorts. To help her, I told her to give me her things. She did, and then we started trying to pull her up. But she was too heavy. You can’t get any leverage when you’re reaching down so low. And there’s nothing to grab on to. 

I yelled. I yelled so many times. “Help!” It was all I could think to do. I wanted to say, “Help, please! I am just a small person. I’m not strong. I can’t lift her. Please, someone who is bigger and stronger than me, come and help!” But, of course, I couldn’t get that kind of thought out. I just yelled.

Another person came. We pulled her arms and couldn’t get her up. 

I couldn’t think what to do. A train was coming in 2 minutes. I was confident we could get her out in time, but I wasn’t sure. 

I saw a man in an MBTA uniform. I called out for help. He told me they could stop the train from coming into the station. That’s how he put it. He didn’t say they had stopped it, but that they could. And he stayed where he was.

I yelled. There were more people on the platform now, even though most of them were on the other end, having made the same transfer that I just had. But I saw them, I saw them looking at me, I knew they heard me. And they didn’t move. And I just wanted to make them all come and help.

Another man came. We couldn’t pull her up just by her arms, so we had her lift up her leg and had the last man grab it. It took some trying, but we got her up. She got to her feet. I couldn’t tell if she was alright. I asked her if she was hurt, she still seemed out of it and unsure of what was happening. A police officer came and I finally relaxed. He started to ask the woman if she’d fallen, if she’d hit her head and I could step back and let him take over. 

A minute or so later the train came. I got on. I finished my commute.

But the adrenaline. My hands were shaking. I was on the verge of tears. 

For the next two or three hours I felt like I’d just finished sobbing hysterically.

And when I got to work, no one was there. It was just me trying to make sense of what had just happened. I tweeted it because I had to say something and put down the events. And because part of me was still brimming with rage that I’d had to yell for help so many times. 

I thought about how glad I was that the kids weren’t with me. I can’t leave Graham’s side in a public place or he gets hysterical. I thought that I know nothing about this woman, not even her name. I didn’t see her fall. I have no idea what happened to her. And I don’t know anything about the man who found her with me. 

And now I wonder what would’ve happened if I hadn’t been the first one down the platform. What if I’d been the bystander? Would I have stepped forward? My gut, after this morning, tells me I would’ve. And that is a comforting thing to learn about yourself.

I don’t know that I ever would have called myself “brave.” It’s not the kind of word I would think to use. But I’ve seen people using it to describe how I acted and I can’t really disagree. It is nice to know I can be brave even if I never thought I would be.

Update: The MBTA posted video from the platform. You can clearly see me in the brown sweater. It’s so strange to watch this and see how fast it happened. To me it seemed like ages. I was so in the moment I never even took off my really heavy bag!

Stuff I Love Right Now

This post is all about things I love. Some of them I got for free. It doesn’t affect my love for them. There are plenty of things I get for free that I don’t tell you about. Promise. Disclosures will come when appropriate.

Little things are the theme of the week, apparently. 

These little things are making my life a little nicer. Appreciating the little things definitely helps with the big things, doesn’t it?

 Stuff I Love Right Now*Freebie* My friends at Bruegger’s now have a wonderful, spicy Sriracha Egg Sandwich that makes me feel totally legit about ordering a breakfast sandwich for lunch. Bruegger’s is the only place where I have bagel sandwiches, elsewhere the bagels are too hard to eat. This one has not only the sriracha hot sauce, but some lovely crispy red pepper. (Some may prefer roasted, but I like the bite of the raw here.)

They also have a new bagel, the Morning Glory, which has carrots, raisins, sunflower seeds and apple butter. It’s hearty and yet still summery. Have it with the Honey Walnut Cream Cheese.


Food trucks. Food trucks! E and I are splitting the sublet for another 6 weeks or so. While I’m there I’m thrilled to be finally able to eat from food trucks, as there’s usually one at Cleveland Circle on the weekends. So far I have enjoyed Roxy’s Grilled Cheese (guacamole, bacon, muenster: fab) and Fugu (bi bim bap: fab). One of the highlights of my weekend is checking the Food Truck Schedule. 


My Trish Hampton key chain. Yes, I know this sounds silly. But I won this and it was exactly what I needed. Technically you’re supposed to snap it to something, which is genius. But I snap on the key ring E and I pass back and forth without having to deal with two sets of keys. It’s excellent.  *Technically this is a freebie, but I won it. So unrelated.*


All the entertainment. Before Midnight just came out. Mad Men is on. Gillian Anderson is back on TV in The Fall. I am almost done with the new season of Arrested Development. I have a kindle chock full of books to review. I have an absolutely awesome calendar coming up for Red Letter Reads. I am not really a superhero movie kind of gal, but there’s plenty for my snobby self to enjoy.


fault in our stars 194x300 Stuff I Love Right NowI signed up for Audible again. (affiliate link, yes, but not a freebie) Depending on how my life is going I will sign up and then take a break and then get back in. With my time on the T alone on the weekends, my ipod is my friend and audiobooks are an even better friend. 

I have gone through two John Green books, The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska both of which I highly recommend in audio or print. 


*Freebie* Getting back to TV, I am a big fan of Aereo, which I’m previewing right now before they open wide in Boston. (They’re currently available in NYC.) The laptop is all I have on weekends, so being able to watch live TV is pretty sweet. If you’re a no-cable household but still want to catch the occasional something, I recommend it. It has a surprising amount of DVR space, too.

The kids have only ever watched Netflix or DVDs we have uploaded so when I let them watch PBS in the morning it was like magic. The television will decide what’s coming on next! Can you believe it??


traveling sprinkler 195x300 Stuff I Love Right NowSomehow I’ve been in a very serious literary mood lately, which is weird. Usually when I’m troubled I like fluff I can read in one sitting, but I keep finding myself getting lost in rather heavier books. There was the surreal and lovely The Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable. And the simple and elegant story of race and country in Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A twist on the college novel in My Education by one of my favorites, Susan Choi. And I’m currently utterly absorbed in Nicholson Baker’s follow-up to The Anthologist: Traveling Sprinkler. Plus I’m in the middle of the novel of North Korea The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson.  I keep expecting to go for a thriller but can’t really get into them. I guess I shouldn’t complain, huh?


Sleeping alone. 

It has to be said. Sure, it’s depressing, but I am waking up refreshed for the first time since before I was pregnant. I am a seriously light sleeper and I’ve grown so accustomed to getting whacked during the night by a flailing limb that I didn’t even notice anymore. But now the kids are sleeping through the night, there’s nothing between me and actually deep sleep. 

I’m waking up refreshed. It’s awesome.



I am stuck. 

There are reasons for it. Some are obvious: it’s spring break, business keeps me busy, E is working a lot, blah blah blah. Maybe I should blame the fact that my only source of inspiration this week has been episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine. But there are other reasons, stuff I’m not quite ready to write about yet. At least, I assume these are all reasons. It could just be something that happens. I don’t know.

But I have several posts working with sponsors and reviewing stuff that need to go up soon but haven’t yet because I want to do my work well and I haven’t been able to. 

So instead of trying to craft a post around some kind of theme or event I’m just going to write about random stuff.

Deal with it.

Tessa has started sleeping through the night. FINALLY. After 14 months of her insanity and several months of pregnancy insomnia, my body doesn’t know what to do with itself. A couple nights this week she woke up for a drink in the middle of the night and I could not get back to sleep afterwards even though I used to do it multiple times a night just a few weeks ago. 

I have totally cheated when it comes to spring break. My last day is today. Tomorrow I’m going down to Philly with Charlene for Type A Advanced. I won’t get back until Sunday afternoon and Graham goes back to school on Monday. BAM. Killed it.

As today is my last day of spring break, we’re sitting around the house doing nothing. Graham is still in his pajamas. But hey, laundry is getting done. Dishes are getting washed. I got a shower. These are not guarantees, so I’m feeling okay.

I am the lamest cast member of Listen To Your Mother ever. I haven’t submitted anything that I’m supposed to. I haven’t made my final edit on my piece. I blame the funk. I took it upon myself to give myself some inspirational memes to help me get it together.

hey girl Mother funker


hey girl 2 Mother funker


But I have to admit, I prefer this one:

hey girl 3 Mother funker hey girl 3 Mother funker


That’s right. Instead of doing stuff, I make memes about how I’m not doing stuff. I have a problem.

Man, I could go for a nap.

Tonight I’m going to Taste of the Nation in cocktail party clothes to eat fantastic food and sample a wide variety of adult beverages. Hoping that and the Philly trip will be funk-breaking. 


Blue and Pink

When you spend a lot of time online you inevitably run into stupid articles with stupid headlines about stupid issues trying to make them into something not-so-stupid for the sake of pageviews. Stuff like, “Is Email Dead?” Because no, it’s not. No matter how popular texting is. Don’t be stupid.

One issue that comes up a lot in the world of parenting online is toys and gender. There are people who take it too seriously. There are people who think it’s not worth talking about. But every parent has an opinion on it and it seems like there’s a new article going around every week.

E and I were talking about it recently. He’d read an article and was telling me how it fell into the Stupid category. I told him, “To an extent, I agree. Gender and toys isn’t an important issue the way economic policy is. But you never go to the toy store. You don’t know what it’s like there. Trust me.”

I doubt I convinced him but he didn’t argue with me.

And then he ended up needing to make a stop at the toy store. When he came home he admitted I’d been right. Nearly every aisle was pre-programmed as Girl or Boy. “I didn’t want to go down the pink aisle,” he admitted.

We’re lucky that Graham is too young to understand gender expectations. He likes what he likes. Cars, trucks and trains are big. He has stuffed animals. Recently two of his favorite shows to watch are Mater’s Tall Tales and Angelina Ballerina.

Sure, it’s not world peace. But I do worry about the society of the playground where kids get teased for liking the wrong toy or wearing the wrong clothes. The smaller toy stores are doing a better job of having toys of all kinds all together and avoiding brands that are pushing the gender issue too hard.

I’m hopeful Graham has inherited some of the “Whatever” attitude his parents have about such things. We weren’t exactly the kids on the playground who always had the right toy or the right clothes. And we didn’t really care much.

Maybe it’s not the most important battle I’ll fight as a parent, but I’m still putting some effort into it.

What about you? Do you think the boy/girl toy issue is something people make too much of or is it your rallying cry?