Thursday, October 30, 2008

Selling and Saving

I'm excited today about two things. Firstly after dealing with many weird and annoying potential buyers of my brand new Tiffany-style lamp on craigslist, I FINALLY sold it last night to a completely reasonable person who just happened to be one of my neighbors. She got a great deal on a beautiful lamp and I got most of my money back on a lamp I just didn't love from the moment I took it out of the box. Hurray!

And thank god, I no longer have to deal with weirdos like the guy last week who kept making appointments to come and see the lamp, then kept canceling and then emailed me to say that he decided not to buy my lamp because I didn't offer enough color options. Hello? I'm not a freaking furniture or online retailer, dude. I'm just a lady who bought one lamp that doesn't match my decor (which I spelled out in my ad). I don't have a garage full of Tiffany-style torchieres in a wide variety of colors and styles. People sure are weird sometimes!

Secondly, I almost peed my pants with delight this past weekend on seeing in the K-Mart Sunday sales flyer that they are offering double coupons this week. DOUBLE COUPONS!!!!

Now my friend who lives in a small town in Ohio swears by double coupon day at the supermarket to save on groceries. But when you live in the city like I do, double coupon days just do not exist. Never. Nowhere.

So, I was thrilled about the prospect of saving big bucks on stuff I don't need at the moment, but will need in the weeks and months to come (cleaning products, hair color, batteries, kitty litter, hair conditioner, paper towels). I went through my coupons last night to plan my shopping attack with an aim to double every $2 and $1 coupon I have to my name and save a boatload of cash.

Here I come, K-Mart. Get ready to bow to my couponing prowess!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Limp Wristed Milk Maker, That's Me!

It is confirmed.

So, even though I have had no consulting jobs in months that require long hours of typing nor have I taken to jackhammering concrete to make ends meet, I still have carpal tunnel in both of my hands. And it's really quite annoying.

The nurse practitioner at the doctor's office assured me that it's just due to pregnancy fluid retention and should go away after delivery. Likewise, my need to arise hours before dawn and my new and frequent hot flashes are all a result of hormonal fluctuations since my body may start making milk any time soon.

Milk!?! I've been called a cow before (by a not-so-nice person) but I guess I really never imagined the day when I would be a source of dairy goodness. This pregnancy thing keeps getting weirder and weirder! Though, looking on the bright side, if the hot flashes keep up, we'll definitely be able to save on the home heating bill this winter.

Armed with the news of my milk-making abilities and new carpal tunnel diagnosis, I left the doctor's and high-tailed it over to Target to stock up on dog food, toilet paper and wrist splints which I now get to wear as part of my nightly boudoir attire (which already includes the most ginormous, stretchy and frequently mismatched PJ ensembles I could cobble together from stuff I already own. Need I remind you, "frugal" is, of late, my middle name).

Oh yeah, people. . .I'm getting sexier and sexier. . .

Feeling Tingly, Sleep Deprived and Flashy

This third trimester where I currently find myself is rife with weird symptoms and anxiety-causing complaints. Firstly, my hands. In the past five days, my finger tips are constantly numb and tingly. It's weird and worrying.

I'm headed to the doctor's today for my 2-week pregnancy check in and was seriously worrying that I might have developed some kind of terrible ailment. Then I read on Web Md this morning that carpal tunnel syndrome is common in the third trimester due to fluid retention (and yours truly gave up wearing her wedding and engagement rings about a month ago). This did put my mind at rest somewhat, but it's still so bothersome to feel pins and needles in your fingertips 24/7.

The other thing that's out of whack is my sleep.

Now, I should start off by saying that I LOVE to sleep. I am a good sleeper who can typically sleep anywhere and through almost anything (in college, I slept through a tornado touching down outside my dorm room window). But aside from my 4, 5 and even 6 nightly trips to the bathroom, in the past week, I've just been waking up at 3, 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning and been wide awake. So, after going to bed at my usual midnight to 1 am, I get up with only a couple to a few minuscule hours of sleep.

Needless to say, by mid morning to lunch time, I'm really grumpy and feel rung out (or as my mother used to say, I feel like I've been "drug through a hedge backwards." Which now that I write it sounds confusing, but seems to sum up the feeling nonetheless).

Last but not least, while it's gotten very chilly here in Chicago (in the 20's last night), I swear I keep having hot flashes. This is so unlike me who is routinely freezing from October through April. This 43-year-old wants to know, can you start menopause at the same time you've got a bun in the oven? Truly bizarre.

On the positive side, my little baby is a busy boy who keeps kicking and wriggling around and reminding me that he's getting ready to make his way into this big, wide world. I find his movements reassuring.

And the house is in much better shape--thank goodness. The guest room is pretty much complete (and our first overnight guest was already here yesterday). Still more work to be done in the baby's room and a love seat to be sold on craigslist, but it's little stuff now and the rest of the house is back in better, more pleasing order.

Craze and I had a Come-to-Jesus set-to last week about his continuing accumulation of stuff (and, more importantly, the fact that I realized that while I've been economizing like a miser most of this year, he's still been buying CDs, DVDs and the like to add to his already overwhelming collections and spending money we just can't afford). The result is that he has sworn off any new purchases and has really made an effort to try and organize his stuff in the past days. He's even going to try and sell some of it to make some extra money.

So, while the whole set-to wasn't a pleasant experience, I think it made my shopaholic husband finally realize that he has more pressing financial and family responsibilities that don't require regular trips to Best Buy and FYE. And as tingly, tired and hot flashy as I may feel these days, knowing he's finally getting it makes me feel all the better.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Preparing for D-Day

This past Sunday, Craze and I went to our all-day baby delivery class. It was a long day and after a while, I was having real problems sitting in the same chair for eight hours. That said, it really was very informative and interesting. Craze said he learned a lot and we even took a tour of all the rooms we'll be staying in once I go into labor and arrive at the hospital.

It actually was quite reassuring and I have to say that I'm not really too scared about the whole labor and delivery process. I may even opt out of getting an epidural, especially in the earlier stages of labor, as I like the idea of being able to get up and move around (obviously once you have an epidural, you're in bed for the duration). I guess we'll see how painful it is and get the drugs if I feel I really need them. I do really like the idea of mobility and being able to go take a warm shower during labor though.

Other than that, we're still in the middle of the Great House Upheaval 2008--making room for baby. We got a LOT of stuff done this past Saturday, so it's not such a mess but still a mess. The reality is, we have so much unsorted junk and clutter. Paperwork that needs to be filed, shredded or just plain thrown into the recycling bin and out of the house. Likewise, we have non-paper stuff that just needs to be gone. My husband is a pack rat who never purges anything (just moves stuff around instead of doing any actual sorting) which makes the whole process that much more time-consuming and frustrating. He even hoards old newspapers as he claims he's actually going to read them one day and/or cut out the crossword puzzles to do. I can't tell you how many times I've found 2-foot piles of old newspapers hidden in his closet, in the car trunk, in the garage, basement, even under the outside deck. I swear, I really need an intervention with that one!

I just tell him that I hope he likes this house a lot, because we're never moving until he gets his act together and has a serious purge/sorting session. Otherwise, we'll be here 'til we die. I refuse to move all his unsorted stuff again like I did when we moved into this house seven years ago. It was a real nightmare that went a month or more beyond the actual moving date (just getting the stuff out of his apartment, never mind the putting of stuff away in the new house). Never again... Never. Again.

All that said, the baby's room is almost done. Just need to buy a shelf or a small wardrobe (I've got my eye on a red bookcase from Ikea) and wash and put away a few more baby clothes. I still need to sew the valance and curtains, but that should be pretty easy.

The guest room is coming together and just more sorting of old office paper work needed to clear the bed of junk. Once the bed is made, we'll be ready for guests.

Still have the old love seat (that was in the office) turned upside down in the living room which I need to list on craigslist at an almost give-away price asap.

They'll always be more stuff to do in our cluttered home, but once all the above is complete, we'll be in really good shape. And with exactly two months to go from D-Day (Due Date, Delivery Day, whatever you want to call it), I'm confident we'll get it all together in the next couple of weeks. . .

Fingers crossed. . .

Friday, October 17, 2008

Top Three Pregnancy Surprises

I was musing this morning about things that I've found kind of amazing about being pregnant. They basically fall into three categories: 1) the on-going wonderment that I'm even pregnant to begin with; 2) teeth (you'll see why in a minute) and 3) clothing (and, more specifically, how many of my non-maternity clothes still fit just fine even though I am as big as a battleship!).

First up, I do just have to pinch myself often that I am pregnant in the first place and, with the exception of a couple worrying weeks back in the first trimester, I am doing great. Putting this in perspective, I was under the assumption much of my life that even if I wanted to get pregnant, it wouldn't be easy. My periods were always totally erratic and I'd often go six months or more without having one. A doctor once told me that I just didn't ovulate very often. Hence my conclusion that getting pregnant would be problematic. Add to this that my husband and I didn't even start trying 'til I was almost 43 AND I'm a plus size lady to begin with and the convoluted pregnancy equation seems to get even more complex and unlikely.

When I hear all the stories of random people and family members who are much younger than me, thinner than me, who have tried for years without success to get pregnant, it really reiterates what a miracle the whole thing is. We tried for five months and BINGO! It's really quite astonishing.

OK, amazing thing about being pregnant number two: teeth. "Teeth?" you say? Yes, indeed my friend, teeth. All my life, I've had one baby tooth that never fell out. When I was seventeen, the dentist was sure it was coming out and said I'd get braces after my new tooth came in, but it never happened. Just a couple of years ago, my former dentist would routinely warn me that I needed to have my now 40-year-old baby tooth removed and cough up $6,000+ for a dental implant or one day I'd be sorry (i.e. after eating pizza, caramel or something else, the tooth would fall out and this young, urban professional would end up looking like a gap-toothed hillbilly for a while). I never followed his advice because I thought the whole process sounded really painful and way too expensive.

Fast forward to a pregnant Maggie sitting on the sofa watching TV after dinner a couple of months ago. I thought I had something stuck between my teeth, got up and went to the bathroom to floss, looked in the mirror and saw the unbelievable. Rather than finding the remnants of a stringy nectarine, I instead found the tiny tip of a brand new tooth poking through my gum line! Yes, people, at 43, I'm getting my grown up teeth!

I went to the dentist who said he's never seen anything like it. My baby tooth is still holding on for dear life, but may get pushed aside in the coming months as my adult tooth has finally decided to make an appearance. Oh, yeah. . .and after I deliver the baby, the dentist has advised me that I'm still gonna have to get those braces as my new tooth is coming in sideways. Oh, hurray. . . 44 years old with a new-born baby and braces. Oh brother. . .

Finally, in getting dressed on this unusually cold Fall morning (in the 30's here in Chicago!), I realized how amazing it is that so many of my pre-pregnancy clothes still fit my more than seven-months-pregnant frame. Underwear? Still good. Long-sleeved winter t-shirts? Yep, A-OK. Black polyester dress pants I bought for last year's job interviews? Their stretchiness seems to know no bounds.

Now, as a larger woman, I've always enjoyed well-fitting clothes with a tasteful touch of spandex. The kind that help you look slimmer and sleeker without revealing every lump and bump or making you look like some woefully under-dressed Jerry Springer hoochie mama.

That said, I'm amazed and somewhat delighted that these clothes still fit and I haven't had to fork out big bucks to replace everything in my wardrobe for only nine months. Conversely, it has also made me realize that just because something still fits doesn't mean I'm not getting fatter. This is a key learning that I need to keep in mind once I'm back in my non-pregnant state. No relying on these clothes as an indicator of my healthfulness or weight loss. I'll need to stick to the scale and my jeans (which stopped fitting me at least four or five months ago) for a real barometer of my shifting (and hopefully down-shifting) size.

All in all, this whole pregnancy thing has been sort of surreal so far. I can't say I've really enjoyed being pregnant but I'm wholeheartedly looking forward to the outcome. I'm excited to meet this new little person who is half me, half Craze and 100% himself.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Love-Hate Relationship with Hair Color

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have pesky gray hair. In fact at 43, I bet I'm at least 50% gray or more if truth be told. Especially around my face where my roots grow in, not gray at all, but WHITE. Like platinum white. It all started when I was a young twenty and by the time I graduated from college I had a white streak on the right side of my head. At the time, I thought it looked cool--like some punkish highlight I paid to have done. But within two years, the white had spread significantly beyond the streak and I was hitting the hair color section of wal-mart with annoying regularity.

Back in the days when I had a regular salary, I dutifully went to the salon every four weeks to get my roots done. Fast forward to more frugal times and I've been coloring my own hair now for at least two years. Sometimes it comes out a little darker than I'd like, but I always find that about a week post coloring, it's about the perfect shade of medium golden brown. And at a difference of $6-$8 bucks per coloring versus my previous $100 per month charge (and even that was cheap for a Chicago salon), I can put up with a slightly imperfect color for seven days.

But I just hate that last week when I'm trying to eek out another week before a coloring session (especially now that I'm pregnant and am trying to further stretch time between colorings to avoid the chemicals). I have to refrain from pulling my hair back in a pony tail or headband as it totally accentuates my white, face-framing roots and makes me look tired, haggard, washed out and just plain OLD, no matter how I'm really feeling.

On those bad roots days, it depresses me even to look in the mirror as no amount of skillfully applied make-up, nice clothes or anything can overcome the aging power of those nasty white roots. It makes me feel like my mother at fifty. It makes me feel a good ten years older than my younger husband (who, in reality, is only a mere 18 months younger than me). It makes me feel like a real frump.

This morning, planning to wait another two days to color, I was about to jump in the shower when I glanced in the mirror and could take it no more. I grabbed that box of ten-minute root touch-up I keep on hand for color emergencies and went to town.

Emerging from the shower and looking at my wet-haired reflection in the bathroom mirror, I immediately felt better. Revitalized. More myself.

Aah hair color, how I hate and love you at the same time. I resent your expense and smell, the time you make me sit in the bathroom covered in your goo and the way you'll stain my forehead if I'm not careful. But not wanting to sport some kind of Barbara Bush or George Washington "do," I also have to love you. Love, love, love that ten minutes can have me feeling instantly better, more alive, more who I really am.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Getting Over Financial Freak-Outs, Babies and Bargains

I talked to my financial advisor lady last week and she talked me off the ledge. Thankfully, on her advise, I didn't sell anything on the stock market's worst day of trading ever and I'm less worried about ending up homeless and destitute with a tiny baby and four pets!

Yes, I've calmed down.

In the meantime, the baby's room is coming along and is at least 80% done. Just some storage and decorating things to resolve/install. My former office, i.e. the new guest room,is also making headway. At least there's a bed in there now! I'm re-purposing a lot of stuff that we already had for everything (old waterfall desk is now changing table, old bookcase + cheap, new plastic baskets = clothing storage for baby, stealing from Craze's antique Disney collection for wall decor) and it's coming along nicely. I also picked up a few great bargains, like a perfect lamp shade for the baby's room for $3 instead of $13. It looks great on my basement find lamp from Craze's old apartment. And I'm proud of my home-made custom framing of a couple cute space ship/rocket prints I ordered online for $10 (instead of the $100+ they wanted for the two pix framed and matted!). I used cheap acrylic box frames ($2.99 each) and a red plastic pocket folder as the bright red matte/background (44 cents!) instead. It took me all of 10-15 mins to frame both prints and they look GREAT in the baby's room with our mod rocket-themed crib set ($31 from!). I'm also using the cute crib bumper as a curtain valance instead of in the crib and re-using the old white sheers from our bedroom that I took down last year. All this is completed with a bright red and white polka dot Ikea rug I stole from Craze's CD storage room (where you can't really see the floor anyway, cause there's so much stuff!).

In an increasingly industrious mood, Craze even got out and finished painting the front porch over the past weekend. Shocking!

I'm still in super frugality mode, but it's working out ok. I did break down and buy a baby sweater at Target I've been wanting for ages--but thankfully, it went on sale, so hurray for bargains!

Today I'm off to the baby doc for my 30-week check up. The babe is squirming around like crazy and I'm feeling good, so things are looking sunny.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Taking Stock and Freaking Out a Little

I'm up at an unusually early hour for me. All this financial turmoil has me freaking out just a little and I can't sleep.

My consulting work has still been abysmal and yesterday I realized that my retirement savings account has lost $12,000 in under a week. Normally, I'd just ride with it but given the fact that I have no money coming in and am more than seven months pregnant, I may need to dip into my retirement accounts in the coming months and they are simply slipping away at an alarming rate like the rest of the stock market.

Craze is still working, thank god, but we can't cover our monthly mortgage and expenses with his check alone, even on a good commission month. I'm still in my super frugality mode but I'm really just worried about how we're going to pay our bills over the next year.

I'm worried about me, my new baby, my pets, my husband. I'm just plain old worried, probably like most Americans.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Get-Up-And-Go. . .Take-A-Nap!

Much painting was done this weekend in the soon-to-be baby's room. Craze and I spent the better part of Saturday and Sunday, painting the dark green guest room walls and ceiling (yes, thank you former owners for that little design jewel) bright yellow and white respectively.

It's amazing how much brighter it looks and how much higher the ceiling appears now that it's white versus olive drab. Still a few touch-ups to do and more work to be done overall (our house is a giant mess since the contents of the guest room are now everywhere else and my office, which will be the new guest room, is still full of office stuff). . .

I got some really great and not-too-expensive bright blue and yellow stackable plastic crates in various sizes at Target the other day that will fit nicely on an existing bookcase. They will be great for clothing and toy storage and so much cheaper than buying additional/new furniture. I'm all about using what we have to save money.

The crib needs to be put together and I'm hemming and haaing about whether I can tackle that by myself today. I guess I can give it a shot. But first, more painter's tape to remove and a few little final paint touch ups.

That said, I think all the weekend painting has robbed me of my get-up-and-go. I feel more like get-up-and-go-take-a-nap!

Friday, October 03, 2008

My Expanded Fur Family

I'm sitting here at the computer just outside my bedroom door, readying myself to go run errands. I peak over in the bedroom and what do I see? My expanded little fur family taking it easy and staying close by as usual. The Bug and the Alley Cat are stretched out on the bed as always, the Now-Officially-Adopted-Formerly-Stinky- Big-Headed-Foster Dog curled up on the sheepskin rug at the foot of the bed just below them.

The Grey is the outsider even though she came to live here before both of the dogs, the only one missing from this little canine/cat pack. I'm sure she's downstairs curled up by the back door in the sun or in some other cozy cat spot somewhere.

There was a time, back in May, when Bear, the foster, was about to be adopted by another family. And I couldn't wait for him to go. When it all fell through, I was annoyed but just a little bit relieved all at the same time. After almost six months as our foster, he is now officially ours and I'm happy he's here.

Sometimes I think I must have lost my mind just a little. Two cats and two dogs with a baby on the way. What was I thinking? I'm sort of a crazy cat/pet lady I guess.

But even in these tough financial times, I'm glad we could make room for one more even if he was smelly, sick and wounded when we got him. A cast-off that someone else didn't want anymore who was going to be put to sleep at an Indiana shelter because of his heartworm and hip dysplasia. Not quite five, the Bear is now heartworm free, has shed his entire smelly coat and grown a glorious new one the color of caramel and limps a lot less due to twice daily doses of asparin and glucosamine. He's learned to sit and stay, lay down and come when he's called. His stubby little Aussie Shepard tail wags like crazy when you say his name or even just look in his direction. Every morning when I open my eyes, there he sits at the side of the bed, patiently waiting for me to get up, always excited to start his day here in his new home.

I guess you could say all of our rescued creatures really lucked out. But, if truth be told, I feel lucky every day that they found me.