Sunday, August 31, 2008

Jogging Stroller Please

So, I'm thinking I need a jogging stroller.

Mary Ellen loves to go for walks - or rides - around the neighborhood in her stroller, but it's not really made for "Ann-Marie-pace" walking. I mean, if I could just be normal and go for a normal stroll, the stroller we have would be perfecto. But I'm not normal and I never understood why I have to walk fast. I just do. I read in Health magazine one time that it is healthy for your mind and also a great stress reliever to just stroll - to take your time and slowly walk around the streets, breathing in the fresh air and noticing the birds chirping and the breeze blowing.


I wanna walk and I wanna walk fast. I've tried talking myself into walking at a nice, even pace, but less than halfway into the stroll I'm looking like a rabbit running from a fox. My toothpick legs look like a pair of scrapbooker's scissors and I'm breakin' a sweat. Which brings me back to the stroller. This baby seat on wheels is not made for off-roading or even on-roading. It's made for mall walking. You know what type of stroller I'm talking about. It has the small plastic wheels that creak and squeak when they turn and if a pebble gets in the way, look out. Mary Ellen may go flying out of there!

One time I had to run because it started to rain on us mid-walk (and heaven for bid I get wet, because, it's like... icky). I'm sure that was quite a sight. I can see the neighbors peering out their windows:

"There goes that girl again. You know, the one who walks real goofy and fast. You know, the one with the baby stroller. There's no baby in it because she fell out a few yards back. Yeah, that girl. I think she's running now, if that's what you call that. She needs a jogging stroller," said the nosy neighbor.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE my stroller. It's a part of a traveling system that allowed me to simply snap Mary Ellen's infant seat into it when she was itty bitty. It's great and has served us well. It's just simply not made for outside terrain. I think it was Brannon's sister, Bronwyn, who asked me how many miles I put on that thing!

"The wheels have definitely seen better days," she had said.

We haven't purchased a jogging stroller to date because I can't seem to part with a couple hundred dollars for a stroller. I mean, come on! Does it really cost that much to make a sling-shot on wheels?

So, if anyone out there in Dothan knows of a used jogging stroller for sale, I would love to know about it. Maybe then I won't have to stop mid-walk and scoop Mary Ellen up from falling out, or stop to pick up her pacifiers that pop out of her mouth after hitting a pebble.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Stuff, Stuff & more Stuff

This post was written by my mom, Judy, on her blog. I thought I would post it here for my friends because I know we can all relate. Plus, my mom is awesome, so read on :)

I'm never moving again.I mean it.I am going to die in this house.Anything to avoid moving again.I am bone tired. My arms and legs are so bruised from carrying containers and banging against corners of furniture and door jams, they look like rotten bananas. I've climbed more steps than what's inside the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument combined that my joints need 3-in-1 oil. I've perspired like a woman who used to be a man. I've smelled worse than roadkill in the noonday sun. I've pinched enough fingers; dropped too many things on my foot; hammered my thumbs one too many times; and stepped on enough carpet tacks.It's over, I tell you! The only thing my friends and family will have to carry out of my new home in the years to come is my dead body.Then I'll be free.

No more packing up stuff in cardboard boxes that bear labels from the last move a year ago.The "bathroom" box was packed with coffee mugs; the "living room" box was filled with pots and pans; the "dining room" box was filled with shoes. The "kitchen" boxes carried my books.Hey! How on earth did I accumulate so many books in a year's time? I sold and/or gave away practically an entire library before I left Pennsylvania last August! And shoes...where did all these shoes come from? And shampoos and conditioners and make up and jewelry and other accessories? Did they evolve somehow from the dust under my bed?

I'm embarrassed that I spent money on so much useless crap.I let myself down.When I hoofed it south last summer, I swore that I was going to live more simply. I had become a widow; and all I had was myself and Jesus, I said. I was going to get by on less.So I sold almost all of my furniture; gave away three-fourths of my wardrobe (shoes included, although it pained me); had a massive four-day "moving sale" where I unloaded a couple decades of Christmas decorations, dinnerware, kitchen things, knick knacks, small appliances.If I heard "are you sure you want to"... take your pick: sell, trash or give away something ... once, I heard it a hundred times. Yes. Yes. Yes. Get rid of it all. None of it has eternal value, I preached. What a know it all. Ha. How I deceive myself.

Sadly, what I sold last summer were items that I had purchased or lugged with me two years earlier when my husband and I "downsized" into an apartment.What is it about me and stuff? My husband, Jeff, and I used to marvel at U-Store-It units that were popping up throughout the landscape like kudzu. Imagine renting someone else's space to store your stuff. Stuff that won't fit in your house because it's filled with other stuff.Well, I've come to realize (albeit years too late) that, although I haven't rented a stranger's closet space, I am addicted to acquiring. "Admire, don't acquire" was the advice of my former pastor, Tommy Stoudt. I say it a lot now. But I don't always listen to myself.To give me a break, I can confidently say that I don't shop till I drop anymore. I have gotten better at tossing away sales fliers and catalogs before I read them, fearing I'll give in to temptation and get lost again in consumer hell. I have improved at "counting the cost."But I have a ways to go.

Shopping is still therapy.Every now and then, when I'm feeling stressed out or overwhelmed with "official" business, it does me good to go to the mall and put together outfits. I can't count the number of times I've pulled together an adorable ensemble only to put it all back. Nothing to show for my time except a sense of satisfaction that I can still mix and match with the best of them.Anyway, I digress...I am going to get even more strict with myself and only buy what I truly need. I want to build up a savings account; I want to learn to live with less; I want fewer things to dust, to wash, to stack and to iron. Less stuff to move.

And, oh, did I mention that I'm never moving again?

By: Judy Strausbaugh

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Mary Ellen loves Noggin. Well, Mommy loves Noggin. Mary Ellen doesn't have a choice. Noggin is a preschool channel that airs uninterrupted television shows, cartoons, etc., for little ones 24 hours a day. It's really a great station and on at our house all the time. We subscribe to Time Warner and it airs on channel 22. Most parents with small children know what Noggin is.

My sister, Molly, laughs at us because whenever she visits, my living room sounds like the backstage of a Backyardigans concert - or Barney, or (substitute the name of a singing dinosaur or large puppet here). Worse is that Mommy and Daddy THINK they are backstage at a Backyardigans concert and HAVE to sing every song and dance every move. We can't help it. The songs are so catchy, and on Noggin the producers air a different theme every month with a feature song to go along with that month. For example, July's theme was "Beside the Seaside" and that song was awesome! We still sing it. Last month was "Going on a Trip" and the theme song was just as catchy. I'm singing it now,

"We're going on a trip, we're going on a trip...are we there yet, are we there yet? My excitement is getting stronger. Are we there yet, are we there yet? I really can't wait much longer."

I bet many of you are now singing this song. You can thank me later.

There could be worse things to be hooked on, you might say. Or that at least this addiction has positive benefits for Mary Ellen.

Not so fast.

Many of the shows require viewer participation where the child is expected to give answers to puzzles, questions, memory games, etc. Some of these shows include Blues Clues, Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go (mommy's favorite...the songs are fun, especially Rescue Pack). The host of the entire network is Moose A. Moose, a bright yellow character who Mary Ellen smiles at everytime he appears. Whomever illustrated Moose A. Moose is a genius. Children are drawn to him like sticky on an ice cream cone.

Moose A. Moose, along with his pal Zee (who Brannon and I can't figure out is a girl or a boy - it's really weird), also involve the viewers.

Here's the problem - Brannon and I can't help but shout out the answers. If Mary Ellen could speak, she wouldn't have a chance. No matter how hard we try to suppress it, we just have to say the answer. Worse, we shout out all the incorrect answers. We can't help it. The questions are so simple and their answers are so obvious, that we find it hilarious for some reason to say the wrong answer. Not only will Mary Ellen grow not thinking for herself, she'll grow up horribly misinformed about the world around her. She'll think a square is a circle and a dog is a bird. Conversations with her will sound a little like this:

You, "Mary Ellen, isn't that tree full of leaves beautiful?"
Mary Ellen, "Duh, trees don't have leaves. They have wheels and my Daddy walks it to work everyday."

Brannon also likes to replace words in the songs, usually to change the meaning or point of the song from something positive and educational to something negative. For example, the show "Yo Gabba Gabba" has a song about waiting your turn in line:

"You gotta stand in's only fair to wait right there..."

Brannon's version is, "You gotta cut in's only fair to butt in line..."

Another song includes the lyrics, "It's fun to wash your hands, it's fun to wash your hands."

Brannon's version is, "Dirty hands are fun, dirty hands are fun. We don't want to wash our hands because dirty hands are fun."

One more. This song includes the lyrics, "Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose...It's nice to win, but it's okay to lose."

Brannon's version is, "We always win. We never lose. You better win because we don't lose."

Not only are we raising Mary Ellen to be misinformed, but to also be rude, crude and to walk around with dirty hands. Authorities should not allow people like us to raise children. We should be arrested.


I wonder what they are deep in thought about!

Sweet Baby

Sweet Baby
Mary Ellen wore this dress for Baby Dedication. She also wore this the day she came home from the hospital.