Thursday, November 20, 2008

Well, I used to have standards.

Dear maternity designers,

Why do you hate the pregnant women of the world?

I'm serious. What did we ever do to you? Did a pregnant woman push you down some stairs? Yell at you in a hormonal rage? Did your mother force you to listen to Rush Limbaugh in utero?

Whatever happened, it must have been awful. Scarring, even. Because I can think of no other reason for you to design such hideous and ill-fitting maternity wear. It's pretty clear you're out for revenge.

I'm a girly-girl. I like clothes. A lot. And I am very particular about them. This is not to say I have an amazing wardrobe — I've certainly made my share of unfortunate purchases. However, I have standards. Standards which should be adhered to, even when sporting a stomach the size of a watermelon.

While my standards extend to most everything (For example, sweaters should always be fitted and hit mid-hip. There is nothing worse than a short, boxy sweater.), they are most important when it comes to jeans.

Jeans need to be cute, comfortable, versatile, and long enough to wear with heels. They have to be at least 95% cotton. Jeans with too much stretch hug all the wrong places, and make you look like a trashy teenage girl. They also become misshapen after about 20 minutes of wear. A perfect pair of jeans is dark wash, with a straight or slightly flared leg, and a trouser-y look to them. They can be dressed up for work or dressed down for play.

Unfortunately, jeans like this do not exist in maternity wear.

Okay, that's not entirely true. I could buy a pair of designer maternity jeans for $150-$250. But that's not going to happen. I'm not spending tons of money on a pair of jeans I can only wear for six months. I would need some type of written guarantee that the style would still be appropriate years from now when I decide to have another child — or that they can be easily converted into regular jeans post-delivery. And even then, I'd still be hesitant to spend that kind of money on pants. I did that once, on a pair of 7 for all Mankind jeans, and almost immediately gained weight and couldn't wear them anymore. I considered that a very important, very expensive shopping lesson. (It could also be considered a very important eating less and exercising more lesson, but let's not get technical.)

I am finally to the point where regular pants no longer fit (I've been walking around the office with my zipper down, totally professional-like), so I dragged myself to the Mall of America on Monday night. I figured the MOA was my best shot at finding jeans — especially since i have the added bonus of needing long length.


The Gap and Old Navy don't carry long lengths in their store. You can order them online (which I tried to do from the Gap - but ended up with a pair that was too big and a pair that fit but was mislabeled "long" when it should have been "ankle"). So I ventured over to Motherhood Maternity, the store my friend Jo calls "the weird store." And she's right, it's totally weird. Kind of like a cross between Walmart and JC Penney. Crowded, unorganized...just bizarre. And of course they don't carry long lengths in the store either. The sales girl said they carry them online, but they must be sold out, because I can't find them.

I ended up trying on jeans there despite the length issue, because short pants are better than unbuttoned pants. And I found two pairs that work. I use the word "work" loosely, because they are stretchy, not particularly attractive, and I can't wear heels with them. But the stomach (secret fit belly, which came highly recommended by my girlfriends) is big and stretchy and soooo comfortable. And at some point, comfort and the ability to keep your underwear hidden from coworkers becomes more important than personal standards.

Which is probably what those bitter maternity designers are betting on. They think we're so desperate for pants we'll take any ugly old thing they're selling.

They are mostly right.

However, no amount of desperation could have convinced me to purchase the Liz Lange for Target jeans I tried on last night. They looked normal on the rack, but to my surprise and dismay, they were skinny jeans.

Skinny jeans with a pregnant belly? You have got to be kidding me, Liz. I don't care what horrific thing happened to you at the hands of a pregnant woman. You probably deserved it, given those terrifying pants.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Here we go...

I love my dog.

Love, love, love her. I look at Mattie's cute little face, and I get all melty inside. I love when she climbs on my lap to chomp on her bone, and I really love when she gets in our bed and wiggles her way under the blanket to curl up next to me. I love when she prances around with two toys in her mouth (she is a very talented puppy), and when she plays "soccer" — batting a ball around with her little white paws, always with another toy in her mouth. I love how excited she gets when I come home from work, and how she leaps and spins around in delighted circles while waiting for me to feed her dinner. I love how she gives me the stare-down with those big brown eyes whenever I'm eating anything — she's smart, and I'm an easy target.

Mattie has brought so much happiness to our home — Nate and I both adore her, and neither of us can imagine our life without her. She's badly behaved (they could have easily called the book "Mattie and Me" instead of "Marley and Me") and she's spoiled rotten, but she's ours. We are madly in love with her.

Which is why I'm a little concerned about how much we are both going to freak out come May 24, the anticipated arrival of baby Breyer.

If I love my dog that much — a dog who has chewed on our woodwork, eaten my underwear, barfed chocolate cupcakes all over the interior of my car, left hair on every surface of my house, dug holes in our yard, chewed up two pairs of my shoes and cost us many dollars in unnecessary vet visits — how much am I going to love my child?

This scares me.

I didn't even like dogs a year and a half ago. And now I sob every time I see that Sarah McLachlan save the dogs infomercial.

We are in for it, big time. That little baby is going to turn us both into huge piles of mush and I am going to become sappy and overprotective and annoying.

I'll be a mom.

And I can't wait.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A new era.

No, this is not about Obama's win on Tuesday night.

It's about flying. And how I have long despised Northwest Airlines.

The people who work for Northwest are unhappy. The people flying on Northwest are unhappy.

It is a generally unhappy experience for everyone involved.

Unfortunately, it is essentially the only experience available to those of us living in Minneapolis. Despite having a truly great hometown airline, Sun Country (which is now in trouble, thanks to local businessman/sleazeball Tom Petters), Northwest has the corner on air travel to and from Minneapolis.

Of course it's not the only airline you can choose to fly, but the others — American, United, Continental — are always significantly more expensive. Northwest is our hub, and therefore the primary source of escape for Minnesotans.

Which, to put it bluntly, sucks.

Having traveled back and forth to Midway about a million times since I moved here 10 years ago, I am a seasoned NWA traveler. While the flights were never pleasant (one time I received a cup of warm water in a container just like those little ice cream sundae cups you used to get as a kid — a tiny plastic cup with a paper lid you pull off by a tab!), they were affordable. Until this year, I'd never spent more than $175 for a flight from Minneapolis to Chicago. And I would have considered $175 to be on the expensive side. Heck, when my dad first moved to Minnesota and had to fly back and forth on weekends to see us in IL, he got tickets for $99.

Minneapolis to Chicago is a 90-minute, 400 mile flight. There is no reason for it to cost more than $175. Which I know isn't that much, but Nate and I have flown to MEXICO for $160 round trip. Yes, that was a one-off...but still. It happened! And it doesn't seem fair to pay just as much to travel a significantly shorter distance.

So, imagine my delight when AirTran entered the Minnesota travel market. AirTran, a discount airline based in Atlanta, offered travelers incredibly inexpensive flights, great flight times, and friendly service (although my parents were actually removed from a flight coming to Minneapolis after an AirTran ticket agent snapped at my mom and she called him out on his behavior. Luckily the Chicago police only detained them for a short period of time and they made it on their scheduled flight. Mom, if you are reading this, I'm sorry — you will never live this down. You got kicked off a plane!).

I loved flying AirTran. And they kept Northwest's rates competitive. Which didn't really matter to me, because I would never choose Northwest over AirTran. Even if the NWA flight was a teensy bit cheaper, I would always book with AirTran. Who wouldn't choose comfort and friendliness over squished seating and cranky flight attendants?

Alas, my happily-ever-after with AirTran was not meant to be. For some reason, the airline dismissed all flights between Minneapolis and Chicago earlier this year.

So where did that leave me? Purchasing a $350 plane ticket on Northwest one weekend (which my mom and sister kindly split with me), and driving back and forth at nearly $4.00 a gallon multiple times throughout the summer and fall.


Earlier this week, I heard that Northwest was offering discounted fares on holiday travel, so I got all excited and searched for flights around Christmas...only to be sorely disappointed. Last I checked, $340 is not a discounted fare.

Luckily, help is on the way in the form of another discount carrier. Southwest Airlines recently announced that they will begin service between Minneapolis and Midway in March. This makes me happy for many reasons, but one of them is that my dad has miles. Which means regular visits from my parents...or possibly regular visits to my parents, paid for by my Dad (this may be wishful thinking, but we'll see).

Additionally, Southwest provided their fares to and from Chicago — $69 each way! Which, according to my expert calculations (using a calculator, of course), adds up to $138. A whopping TWO HUNDRED dollars cheaper than stupid Northwest is charging right now.

Northwest will, of course, match Southwest's fares on this route. Which I'm sure doesn't mean they've been screwing us over for the past few months. No, I'm guessing there will be a magical drop in expenses related to this route come March, and they will lower their prices because it's the right thing to do for their beloved customers, and not because Southwest forced them to do it.

I politely request that Northwest take its little ice cream cup of water and shove it.

Yay for Southwest!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Forgot to post the pictures from the decorating class.

See, kind of bleary-eyed (bleary-brained?) today.

These are really only to show the magnitude of this woman's creativity. She went through each and every thing on this table and told us how she did it.

What the heck.

Busy having fun.

I have been slacking, big time.

Not just on the blog, on everything. My house is a mess, my fall decorations are still in boxes, and I am out of clean clothes. I owe about 20 people cards or gifts celebrating babies, weddings, showers, new jobs, new houses, etc. (Sorry, everyone.)

I blame much of this on my current state, which is general exhaustion. But some of the blame must be assigned to my (once again) hectic schedule.

Nate and I make waaaaay too many plans. And I have severe problems with over-committing. I'm working on both of these things. The good news is, all of our plans have been a lot of fun.

I have yet to post about my sister Jill's wedding, which took place in Illinois the weekend before last. It was beautiful, and my sister looked amazing. Of course I was busy with matron of honor duties, so I took very few pictures. I'm patiently waiting for other people to send me theirs. Until then, I will just say it was a ton of fun. More details to come once I have photos to share with you.

In the meantime, I will share some photos from this past weekend. Nate and I went back to McCormick House in Hayward, Wisconsin for the weekend — this time with our friends Eric and Lisa Hall.

Nate and Eric practically grew up together — their families spent every summer vacationing at the lake together. Eric has two sisters, Laura and Julie, and our two families are still incredibly close. We celebrate every Thanksgiving together, make the annual trek to Dave Matthews at Alpine Valley, and spend a week in Mexico together every January. We even have a nickname for our group — The Brall (Breyer + Hall = Brall. Aren't we clever?). Eric and Lisa are dear friends of ours, and since they live five hours away in Appleton, Wisconsin, we decided to meet in the middle (not really, it was a 4.5 hour drive for them, and only a 2.5 hour drive for us) for a weekend of fun.

Per usual, we didn't really do much while we were there. Friday night we went to a local brew pub for dinner, and hit the hay pretty early. Saturday we each had an hour-long massage, and spent most of the day lounging around. We did get in a rousing game of croquet, as well as a brief walk into town (stopping only to stock up on Laffy Taffy and gummy strawberries at the candy store). We went out for pizza (at Coop's, home of strange stuffed beasts and viking paintings), came back and played what was quite possibly the funniest game of scattergories ever, and ended the evening in the hot tub.

Sunday morning we had a delicious breakfast headed back home. Nate and I had to get home early because I took a holiday decorating class with my mother-in-law, Mary, and my sister-in-law, Mary (yes, there are two ladies named Mary Breyer in our family). The class was awesome. It focused on table settings for the holidays, from Thanksgiving through Christmas, and offered a TON of inspiration. I actually started to get kind of cranky toward the end of the class, only because I can't believe any one person could be so creative. I felt simultaneously inspired and overwhelmed. But it was still incredible and really good. I took some photos, which I will post below.

Following the class, we celebrated my father-in-law's birthday (a few weeks late, of course, because we're hard to schedule). A pile of spaghetti and two delicious desserts later (don't judge me, everyone ate some of both), we made our way home.

It was a fantastic weekend, but I am a little bleary-eyed today.

Next up: a weekend-long holiday shopping trip to Galena, IL with my mom, Nate's mom, my sister-in-law, and her mom. We leave on Thursday, so I'm sure I'll have plenty to share next week!

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