Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

How many things are wrong with this picture?


This picture just disturbs me.  Not because she is expressing milk – I understand that is a necessary thing.  But this looks like a torture device and she is smiling, talking on her cell phone, and writing in her appointment book.


posted under humor | 39 Comments »



Last week it was the exesaucer, this week the high chair has been retired. Sabrina is now sitting full time in her booster seat. I’m not completely thrilled simply because it means her sticky, slimy, icky hands are now all over my dining room table chair instead of her high chair but I think she was ready for the move. She had been bracing her hands on the arms of her high chair and trying to stand up and rocking the chair really hard to the point I was concerned she might flip it.



And more good news from yesterday – I won a giveaway from Ms. Fussypants!  I’m so excited to get one of her great photo necklaces!  She is way more talented with the jewelry design than I am.  I decided to use my favorite photo from my fostering days in the necklace:


posted under family | 9 Comments »

Getting the monkey off our back


Hallelujah!!!!!  The house is sold.  We are still losing money on it but our low ball list price has 2 buyers interested.  The first set that I talked about yesterday and a new offer this afternoon.

We finally reached an agreement with the couple from yesterday – we met 1/2 way in our price difference and despite the fact they wouldn’t agree to buy the house as is, they completely understood that there wouldn’t be one red cent in credits no matter what the home inspection found.   They actually didn’t have the paperwork signed when the second offer came in and my realtor said we weren’t legally bound to abide by the verbal agreement.  Steve and I both immediately said we had an agreement and weren’t going to go back on it because a couple of Ts aren’t crossed.

The second offer is a tiny bit higher but they have their own agent so we have to pay full commission to our realtor – basically it doesn’t make any difference which buyer gets the house, the numbers play out the same on our end.  The first couple gets 24 hours to remove the contingency and sign the contract of sale or walk away.  They wanted 60 days to close and the new buyers want 30 days.  That means by the end of February or the end of March we will only be paying for one roof and one heating bill.

The sale certainly didn’t turn out as we hoped.  We would have liked to have sold more quickly and walk away with a little bit of money to put toward another house.  But life doesn’t turn out they way we want sometimes.  At least that financial issue is resolved and we can stop straddling 2 states.  TN is home now. And I hope whoever ends up with our house, they have a happy life there.

And speaking of monkeys, I am trying to find something other than boxes for Sabrina to carry her treasures around in.  I bought her a little straw purse for a dollar at the consignment sale last week.  I’m not sure if it will completely replace her box fetish (you can see one behind her in the photo) but at least it is progress.


posted under Misc. | 25 Comments »

A little depressed, thanks for asking*


*Warning…really long and likely rather boring post ahead unless you really want to know about the minutia of our housing situation.  I’ve avoided talking about it for the most part because there has been so little to say so I saved up all of the whining for one post.

I started the weekend with high hopes.  Our realtor called on Friday afternoon to give us a heads up that a couple would be making an offer on Sunday.  The couple has visited our house 6 times in the past 6 months.  Their main hesitation is the lack of a bathroom on the first floor (there is one upstairs and one in the basement) – they have 2 small children to potty train.  They also want an updated kitchen.  The house is over 100 years old (as are many houses in the city) so you are trading some of the newer amenities for charm and space.  Our house has a good bit of space and a nice sized yard and is in the second best school system in the area.  We didn’t purchase the house with an eye toward resale.  We bought it because we loved it and thought we would live there forever.  Life doesn’t always work out the way you plan it.

We have cut the price numerous times in the 7 months it has been on the market.  We are now at $30K less than we started and $20K less than we paid.  We will not even be break even on this deal – we are losing money – it is going to cost us money to sell the house and we have made this clear to our realtor.  There is no wiggle room in our listing price.  We are at rock bottom.  I’m not happy about it but the market isn’t any thing close to what it was when we purchased the house.  We aren’t willing to rent it out for several reasons.  First and foremost, we don’t want to be long distance landlords.  Second, in the current market, we would be lucky to get enough rent to cover our mortgage but there are also fees for someone to manage the property and lawn maintenance and who knows what else.  Third, with an old house like that, maintenance could turn into a nightmare and end up costing us a pretty penny.  We treated the house kindly because we owned it and loved it – renters wouldn’t necessarily be so gentle.   Renting it out is a last resort for us right now.

I will admit I was a little excited when I saw my realtor was calling this afternoon.  My heart quickly sunk.  She gave us their offer – it was $12K less than we have it listed.  They are also making the offer contingent on the sale of their home (in a neighborhood that I can’t imagine they will have an easy time selling).  We countered that we couldn’t wiggle on the price.  We told her we would come down $1K, which was really only because she would acting as dual agent and we would be saving $1K on her fee as a result.  And the contingency was fine as long as it wasn’t noted as being under contract in any way in the MLS listing.  So basically the house would continue to be marketed but they would get first dibs for 24 hours to go ahead regardless of the sale of their house if someone else makes an offer.

Their counter was only meeting us 1/2 way on the price.  In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t a lot of money but it is money that has to come out of our pocket that we don’t have.  We played with the numbers and finally said that the only way we could consider it is if they agreed to take the house as is – meaning no matter what the house inspection shows, it is their responsibility to fix it or walk away.  We would offer no credits or assistance any way.  They said no so the deal is off the table.

I’m sad.  I don’t mind renting.  Our apartment is nice and I like the community we are living in.  Yes, I am a bit anxious to begin putting down some roots.  I find it a little harder to rent when I want to start some family traditions for Sabrina but such is life.  We anticipate renting for a year beyond the sale of the house to rebuild our cash reserves since paying rent and mortgage as well as having to make up the difference in the sale price of the house is sucking us dry.  I was fine staying right where we are until the pregnancy.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to fit a second crib and more baby stuff into the second bedroom here and no matter how I configure things it doesn’t work.  We’ve agreed we will have to move again when our lease is up to a larger rental.  I think we will likely try to move to one of the communities we are considering buying in so that we can get a feel for it and be sure that is where we want to settle.  After doing some research, it looks like we should be able to rent a 3 bedroom single family home for pretty close to what we are paying for our 2 bedroom apartment (giving up the amenities of 2 pools, 2 tennis courts, the workout room, and 7 miles from downtown makes up the difference).  I know it will be better for our family and the dog but I hate the thought of moving again – especially when I will be 7 months pregnant.  But again, life doesn’t always go as we expect it to so we’ve got to roll with the punches.  Some days being a grown up really sucks.

posted under Misc. | 16 Comments »

Momma Bear


Sabrina woke up this morning convinced that if she wasn’t physically attached to my leg or in my arms, she would surely not be long for this world. So every time I moved, I saw this face, accompanied by much whining and an occasional sob:


Because I was starting to question how much damage would some booze really do to a fetus, I decided it was time to pack us up and head to the mall play area. While at the mall, we stumbled upon a consignment sale and scored some deals for Sabrina’s summer wardrobe: 15 outfits, 2 bathing suits, 2 books, and some fisher price farm toys. I love bargains! Although I think some people need to be a little more realistic when pricing their items for consignment sales. I saw an awful lot of $10 – that seems a little high for that kind of sale. And the cribs were priced at $350+. Seriously, I paid less than that for Sabrina’s brand new crib. Our loot:


Sabrina was surprisingly pleasant while I shopped so after we finished shopping, we headed to the play area. She is a big fan of it now that she can walk and run with the other kids. Finally! Some smiles from my little one:


Going to the play area brings out some weird mommy impulses. First, I thought it was hysterical that at almost 17 months old, Sabrina is already chasing boys. There was a little boy who she would not leave alone and chased around until he left.

Second, I wanted to yell at someone else’s kid. I’m really not an uptight momma. As long as other parents are paying attention, I pretty much let the kids work things out for themselves. But there was a little girl who was probably 3 who was being mean to my little girl and I wanted to yell at her until she cried a little. She kept following Sabrina. Where ever Sabrina went to play, this little girl went. She would then nudge Sabrina out of the way and take over that area. So Sabrina would move on and the little girl would do it again. The little girl’s mom was reading a book and not paying attention. I was just about to ask the mom to ask her little girl to not knock Sabrina down again (I figured this was better mom etiquette than making her cry) when her mom announced it was time to go.


posted under family | 21 Comments »

Comcast sucks


We finally got rid of our cable internet connection and got DSL again.  I can’t even begin to tell you how awful our internet connection was with Comcast – it would often drop every 2 minutes.  We had Comcast come out to fix the problem 4 times.  Each time they blamed our equipment and said there was nothing wrong with the signal.  This last time they insisted it was our router.  I told the guy this was our 3rd router since we moved here but he refused to listen.  The signal was perfect – it was our fault.  I might be a relative idiot about all things technological but Steve is a geek of the first degree.  It wasn’t our equipment.  We’ve had DSL for 2 days and I can actually play games on line again when Sabrina is asleep – it is lovely!

Sabrina’s mood has improved greatly in the past 2 days.  She is still testing but at least she isn’t screaming and whining 24/7 while testing.  Her newest trick is that she learned to crawl up on the couch.  So now she wants to spend all day long climbing up and climbing back down.  She is also fascinated with tormenting the dog.  She wants to pull his tail, squeeze his paws, stick her finger in his eye, or sit or walk on him.  Thankfully he is very patient and usually doesn’t react at all.  If he does react, it is simply to move away from her – but of course she follows.

I don’t encourage this but I accidentally caught it on the camera and it made me laugh.  I know it is gross – don’t email me about how it is child abuse.  I always tell the dog to stop when he licks her and honestly I’ve seen her lick things that are likely less clean.


Showing off the big empty corner where the exesaucer used to be:


Showing off her other new skill (although hard to tell in a still photo) – running:


posted under family | 11 Comments »

I love my child


“I love my child.  She isn’t trying to make me insane.”

This has been my personal mantra for the past 2 days.  Sabrina has pushed every button I possess and tested every bit of patience and jumped on every last nerve.  Yesterday, it started the moment she woke up.  She started whining and crying at that moment.  She continued right up until bed time.  Today she had a happy morning but she has been crying almost non-stop since she woke up from her nap.

On top of her mood, she has recently begun testing her limits.  Up until a week or so ago, if we said “no”, she immediately stopped what she was doing.  Now, if we are saying “no” to her trying to play with the remote, she will stop actively playing with it but will keep her hand on it then look at us to see what we are going to do about it.  She won’t take her hand away until we get up to remove it.  She also used to come to us when we called her.  If she left the living room and I called her name, she would turn around and come right back in.  Now, she will completely ignore us until we get up to go get her.

She is a very willful and stubborn child.  I think the ages of 2 and 3 are going to be ugly.  (I can’t think of how ugly 12 and 13 will be or I might run away from home.)  As I tell Steve after a long mommy day, it is a good thing that she is cute!

posted under parenting | 24 Comments »

Not Just a Monday


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

(Excerpt from Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech)

posted under Misc. | 5 Comments »

Just Monday


I’m a little bit sad today. I finally put away Sabrina’s exesaucer. She admittedly hasn’t used it for several months but it has been a part of our living room since we came home. I guess I would be more sad if I was putting it away without any idea of when or if we might need it again – I’m happy knowing that in a little more than a year I will be able to get it out again. So now we have this big empty space in the corner of our living room…I’m sure she has some other toys that can fill it – no worries.


My sister is gleefully waiting for me to get as big as a house. (I think she is also secretly disappointed that I haven’t tossed my cookies.) I might have poked a little bit of fun at her during her last month or 2 of pregnancy but it was 14 years ago – who remembers? She was begging me to post a full length photo of myself when I said that I didn’t have a pregnant belly yet but that I swear I am getting wider. When I refused, she then said I could just send it to her. I reminded her that it has only been a month since she has seen me, I am still wearing the same clothes I did then, and the difference is probably only really noticeable to me at this point. She agreed to drop the subject for now…but I know I will be hearing the request again.


Someone emailed me and asked if I was having any weird food cravings. I get on weird kicks with food any old time so it is hard to tell what is pregnancy related and what is just a normal obsession craving. But for the past 5 or 6 weeks I have been obsessed with ethnic food – mostly Mediterranean. About once a week, I call Steve and ask him to meet us at a place near his office for falafel and gyros. (The best falafels ever! They put them on some hummus and top them with some tabbouleh. Yum!) When I can’t get my hands on decent falafel (because some places make awful falafel), I’m also quite happy with Mexican and Chinese. And Publix deli makes this organic Moroccan chickpea and lentil soup that I ate for lunch 3 days in a row last week. Heavenly! I found a recipe on the web for something similar so I will share if it turns out well.

And my non-ethnic food obsession at the moment is fresh ground honey roasted peanut butter on seeded spelt crackers – both from Whole Foods.


I got a call this morning from my senior year college roommate! I love hearing from old friends. We haven’t talked much in recent years (mostly cards and email here and there) – she has 2 kids, I’ve been doing my thing – life gets in the way sometimes. But I’m so glad to have reconnected – we both promised to make the effort to try and stay in closer contact.

Speaking of college, another old friend who I met in my first class on my first day checks in from time to time (when her children and job give her a minute) – Hi Jen!

posted under Pregnancy | 4 Comments »

Anyone want to buy a house?


First off, thanks guys!  You’ve made the cyber shower for Matt and Jenny a great success!  You can keep donating – the button remains in the post below.  I get all warm and fuzzy when I see all of the bloggy land love out there!

Steve and I have spent the last couple of weekends driving around different areas to see where we might want to buy a house because we have this wild hope that our house in Pittsburgh might sell someday (it is currently listed for significantly less than we paid for it which I find very depressing).  Today, I think we found the place and a house that we would like to live in.  The town is far enough from the city that it has a small town, kind of rural feel.  The rural feel probably won’t last long – they are building a lot of things around it (like a Super Target – woohoo!).  But we liked it – it felt like a place we could call home.  And after an in depth tour of a house that turned out to be almost 1/2 a million (ummm…not in our price range), we stumbled upon a new housing development.  There was one model that we loved.  It wasn’t huge (we really don’t want more space than we would live in – it was actually the smallest of the 3 models they have built) – it flowed well and felt like home.  They build the homes after purchase so we could choose the cabinets, flooring, counter tops, etc.  But, we have that pesky issue of a mortgage on an empty house in Pittsburgh that prevents us from doing anything other than drooling for now.  I’m losing hope that the house will ever sell.  We did a search of homes in our area of Pittsburgh in our price range and there were over 100.  Doesn’t bode well.

On another note, tomorrow I supposedly officially hit the 12 week mark.  So many people have told me how I will magically start to feel fabulous at the 12 week mark so I am giving you all until noon tomorrow for the crankiness and other annoyances to disappear and then I’m going to come looking for you all.

posted under Misc. | 11 Comments »
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