Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Obligatory New Year's Ramblings

Here we are at the end of 2009. The end of another year. Another decade. Whew.

I think back to where I was in 1999. That crazy moment when everyone thought the world would end. It didn't. But, oh my the changes I've gone through in these 10 years. Changing career. Twice. Meeting and marrying the man of my dreams. Moving from the city to the 'burbs. Giving birth to the sweetest, most beautiful little girl. Joining a gym and actually going. Yep, big changes.

Meanwhile, there are those that say the decade isn't ending at all, that it doesn't end until 2010. Because there is no zero year. Except that there is. We don't start at 1 year old. It takes a year to get there. Wouldn't the same be true of our calendar? And anyways, symbolically the new decade starts when you change that third digit. So I'm going with it's a new decade.

We'll be celebrating the new year with some of Neil's oldest friends. People that have come to be very special to me as well. We've been up since 5am when Sophie woke us quite unpleasantly with a coughing fit (The same cough that has been plaguing her, and therefore us, for six weeks now - we've been to the doctor three times. Sigh.), so there's a chance we won't make it all the way to midnight. Lame. But that's the life of a parent of young children. I've had more than my share of over the top new year's eves so I'm allowed to coast on a few of these.

No new resolutions. I have the 101 in 1001 that I began last year. I'm doing okay on that. There are a lot of things I need to work on. And I will. I see that as almost more of a new approach to life than a resolution.

Happy new year to each and every one of you. Be safe. Have fun.

See you in 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Ten Books of 2009

It's no secret that I love to read. I am an avid reader. Have been since I was a wee lass. In fact, I have a hard time going to sleep if I don't read at least a few pages after I lay down each night. I just love the way a good book can suck you down into its world. I suppose I am an escapist.

I do believe in the transformative power of literature. Of it's ability to lift us up, transport us, transfix us. To scare us silly. And perhaps most importantly, to bring us joy.

The following books were those that most inspired me in 2009.

1. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak: Told from the perspective of Death, this is the wonderful, sad story of a young girl in WWII Germany. I loved this book. I cried, happy and sad tears.

2. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman: (genre: Supernatural) After he saves a young woman, Richard Mayhew finds himself thrust into a fantastic world under London. In a mad chase to find the murderers of the young woman's family, he finds himself as well. I loved this book! LOVED. IT.

3. Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen: (genre: Fiction) Great book. When I checked it out, the librarian said I would cry. Well, I didn't, but I can see why he (I know, right?!) would say that. It was touching and vivid, a taste of circus life in the 30s. As well as the sadness and frustration of an old man living in a retirement home.

4. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins: (genre: Young Adult/Fiction) The sequel to The Hunger Games. I loved that book and this one did not let me down. It kept me riveted from the get go, wondering what was going to happen and surprised at plot twists. Now, the torture of waiting for the third (and I hope final) book to come out. Check out my full review at Blissfully Domestic.

5. The Guernsay Literary and Potato Peel Society - Mary Ann Shafer: (genre: Historical Fiction) A truly wonderful book. Told through letters, this book is engaging and emotional. I was reading it on the treadmill when I got to a certain part (when you read it, you'll know where I'm talking about) and I started crying. At the gym. It's that good.

6. The Motion of the Ocean - Janna Cawrse Esarey: (genre: Non-fiction/Memoire) A couple makes a trans-pacific journey on their sailboat discovering more than just how to navigate an ocean. An engrossing and beautifully written book. Check out my full review at Blissfully Domestic.

7. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman: (genre: Young Adult) The tale of a young boy who after being orphaned as a toddler is raised by the ghostly inhabitants of a local graveyard. A beautiful and well written tale.

8. This Is Where I Leave You - Jonathon Tropper: (genre: Fiction) Shortly after separating from his wife, Judd Foxman's father dies. As a last wish, his father requested that his wife and four children sit shiva, a Jewish tradition where the family stays in the family home to mourn the dead for seven days. Not an easy task given just how dysfunctional the Foxman family is. At times painfully graphic, this novel is intelligent and heartbreaking and real.

9. The Maze Runner - James Dashner: (genre: Fiction, Young Adult) When he awakens at the bottom of a black hole with faces looking down at him from the only opening at the top, Thomas has no idea what has happened or what to expect. What he finds is that he has been placed among a group of boys living in a compound at the center of a maze and all he wants is out.

10. How I Became a Famous Novelist - Steve Hely: (genre: Fiction) After being fired from his shady job writing college entrance essays, Pete decides he'll find fame and fortune by writing a novel. A charming faux-memoire that kept me thoroughly entertained and questioning my own thoughts on popular fiction.

11. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon: (genre: Fiction, Supernatural, Mystery) Daniel finds a book written by an unknown author when he is 10. As he grows older, a search for the author leads him on the chase of a decades old love story.

12. At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream - Wade Rouse: (genre: Memoire, Comedy) Fabulous gay man drags his equally fabulous boyfriend to a remote Michigan cabin to find his inner Thoreau. Funny, touching, and insightful.

13. Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer: (genre: Young Adult) The diary of a young girl's experience after the moon is struck by a meteor, causing massive environmental backlash on Earth. I loved this book!

Alright, so not all of these were published in 2009. But that is when I read them, and since this is my blog, they're the top books of 2009. Also, there are 13 books on my list. Cause I couldn't narrow it down to 10. Bite me.

Friday, December 25, 2009

From Our Family To Yours


















Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sleepnanigans

For the last year or so, naptimes and bedtimes have been a breeze. Sophie happily climbed into bed and went right to sleep and then slept either for a full 2-3 hour nap or through the night. I contend that this easiness is to make up for the absolute hell that were sleepytimes for the first 15 months of her life.

But things haven't been so great lately. Thanks to a nasty cough and a subsequent ear/sinus infection, Sophie hasn't been sleeping well. More significantly, though, she hasn't been going to sleep well. She cries and screams. Generally, I leave her in her room and within a few minutes she will tire herself out and fall asleep. Unfortunately, she rarely falls asleep in her bed. Her favorite spot is on the glider. It's where I nursed her for 20 months and it is where I read to her now.

Most days, once I am sure she is asleep, I will creep into her room and as delicately as possible move her to her bed. I don't have empirical proof that she will not sleep as long or as well in the chair, but I hate to think of her contorted into strange positions, so I risk waking her to transfer her to her bed. The good news is that nowadays she is a whole lot harder to wake than she used to be and generally sleeps through the maneuver.

So today, when she went down for her nap easily, I was grateful and optimistic that it was the beginning of a return towards her old ways. I put her down in her bed, read Goodnight Moon, tucked her in and left the room. I watched her on the monitor as she rolled around on her bed for a minute and then got out. After this I couldn't see her anymore, but I could hear her puttering around her room. At one point the radio on the clock was turned on, but turned off after a minute or two and soon all other sounds quieted. A short time later, I crept up to her room, prepared to find her in the glider.

I got a surprise when I opened the door.

She wasn't in the glider. Nor was she in the bed. Or the floor. Or the changing table. All spots she occasionally curls up. I started to get a little panicky as I looked around the room. Could she have gotten out?















But just when I was about to totally freak out, I spotted her. She had found a cozy new spot.






















My sweet little laundry bean.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Complications

So after all of my hard work. Selecting and editing the photos. Creating multiple versions of each potential card. Agonizing over which one to use. Fine tuning tiny elements that will go completely unnoticed by 99.9% of the people who receive them. Vacillating on the old Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas debate. After all this, now, NOW, there is a major setback.

My goldfrapping printer isn't working. Every time I try to print one on the fancy schmancy photo greeting card paper, she jams up.

I am muy frustrado.*

I have decided in the interest of my sanity, not ruining a bunch of expensive paper and the distinct possibility that I will throw the printer out in the yard, I will hold off on attacking the problem until tomorrow when I have had what I hope will be a good night's sleep. Something that hasn't happened in several days thanks to a sickly toddler who refused to sleep anywhere but in my bed. Which anyone who has ever slept with a toddler knows that means she was the only one getting any sleep. But after more than a little consternation on her part, we got her to sleep in her bed.

Tomorrow. That printer better work.

*Sometimes I am amazed by how much Spanish I know. One drunken night, I spoke nothing but Spanish all night. Apparently having a full conversation with a lovely Mexican woman. Normally, I don't speak it all that well. In fact, I would say that I don't speak it at all. But then I pull out words like this. Where from, she says?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

Husband and daughter are asleep together in the recliner. Scenes like that touch me in a way that a hundred posed situations never could.

Meanwhile, I'm laboring to finish our holiday cards. I am the ultimate last minute Lucy, nothing gets my creative juices flowing like an impossibly close deadline. I've been trying to come up with our card for weeks. For reasons I can't explain, I just can't order one of the perfectly adorable cards a la Tiny Prints, I need to create a unique and personal Christmas card.

It's not a foundation in graphics or the arts. I was an economics major, people. Which isn't to say I don't have my creative tendencies, but I have always gravitated towards the sciences and math.

So here I am, racing to get this thing done and mailed in time to arrive before Christmas. While just a few days ago, I sat in front of the computer, staring at a blank screen, now the ideas are pouring out. The burden now is to select the one that best represents our little family.

Decisions, decisions.

Neil picked his favorite. Went right to it from the dozen or so choices and proclaimed it the absolute best. Do I agree? Not 100% sure yet. They're all my babies and I love each one for different reasons.

I'll print out a tester and sleep on it.

Speaking of, I think I'll go join my family for a snooze in front of a football game we care nothing about.

PS - We got our tree up and mostly decorated today. I think I'm FINALLY getting some of that Christmas spirit I've been hearing so much about.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Cuteness
















It's almost too much for me to take.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

When It Rains...

So yeah, today was one of those days.

First off, Sophie got up at the arsecrack of dawn. Again. And since I was insomnia-bound again last night, waking up every few hours worried that I was sleeping through her hacking cough, I didn't exactly bounce out of bed well rested. She's had a phlegmy, nasty cough the last week or so that has gotten progressively worse. I finally took her to the doctor yesterday, only to be told that there was really nothing they could do. The good news was that evidently I had been doing all the right things. Honey, chamomile tea, Vaporub, humidifier.

When we came downstairs this morning, the ceiling in the living room was leaking. We have a cape cod and one of the dormer windows is right over the living room. This happened a month or so ago and Neil went out and cleaned the gutters and it seemed to fix the problem. We thought it might be backing up in under the flashing. But that did not fix it today. Which means that it is a much bigger problem. And bigger problems with roofs mean $$.

Finally, as my twitter and FB friends know, our big tv died last week. It's a 62" rear projection tv and the bulb blew up. Like, BLEW. UP. Loud noise. Shattered glass. While this is not great, it wasn't completely unexpected. These tv's need new bulbs every so often. So we ordered a new bulb. Which is not cheap, but a whole heck of a lot cheaper than a new tv. And since this tv is not even three years old, we're not ready for a new one. We ordered two bulbs, figuring that it would be nice to have an extra one, plus it saves on shipping. We got it the next day and Neil popped the new bulb right in. Fixed.

Wrong.

The next day it went black. No picture. We called a tv repairman and he came out that afternoon. He charged us $60 to open and close the tv panel and somehow it worked again. For about a day. And then the bulb blew up. AGAIN. So, thinking, foolishly it now seems, that something must have been wrong with the first bulb, we put in our last bulb. Fixed.

Wrong.

The next day, that bulb blew, too. So that's $400 worth of bulbs in two days. We called out the repairman. Again. He came out this morning and once he opened up the tv, he found that something was wrong with the ballast, which I guess is the power supply for the lamp unit. The guy was Russian (da!), quite odiferous (nyet!) and more than a little difficult to understand. Not that he didn't do a great job, it just meant that communication was challenging. So $500 later, we have a new ballast, a new bulb and a very stinky tv room.

So that's $900 on our tv and god only knows how much the roof is going to wind up costing. Not to mention we had to fix my car a couple of weeks ago. All this right before Christmas.

I need to get the lead out of my ass and get our tree up so I can get some holiday spirit. Because as of right now? I am NOT feeling it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Kickin' It With Some Friends

Busy, busy, busy around here the last week. We hosted not one, but TWO play dates and took a day trip to New York City to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. Not to mention all of the other regular busy stuff like my photography class, the gym and, you know, life with a toddler.















My not especially successful attempt to take a photo of the Rockettes. They're the blobs on the stage. It looked a lot better in real life. Also, it looks like we were a thousand miles away, but it didn't feel that way.

I wasn't sure what to expect of the show, would it be terribly hokey? Full of tourists? Boring? I'm happy to say that it was neither hokey nor boring, although it is very likely that a large percentage of the people in attendance were not locals. Honestly, I really enjoyed it. I've been to the ballet before. We had close seats and I spent the whole time laughing because all I could hear was the clomping of the dancers as the jumped around the stage. Hard to think about how graceful they are when they sound like a herd of elephants.

But our seats at Radio City were decidedly NOT close. So all we could hear was the music and the tapping, when appropriate. I am so excited to take Sophie there in a couple years. It is very much aimed at a young audience, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. For one of the scenes, the dancers were dressed as stuffed bears. LOVED IT. My recommendation to anyone considering going: get seats in one of the mezzanines. You can see the formations the dancers make perfectly without all of that stomping.

I wish I had some pictures to show you, but it snowed, sleeted and rained the whole time we were there, so all outdoor pictures, what few we took, are not great. And pretty much all of the inside ones are of my friends, who probably wouldn't love me posting their pictures. So you'll just have to take my word for it that we had a great time. And since there are no pictures to prove otherwise, that I looked freaking amazing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quattro

Twenty-five years ago, this little girl






















hadn't even really begun to think about what her Mr. Right would look like. She was too busy climbing trees, stomping in puddles and beating up little boys. Far too busy to waste a moment, even for a picture, to comb her hair.

Had she been thinking though, she would have known that he was looking like this at about the same time.






















That is the unbelievably wide collar, perfectly trimmed pageboy and slightly stunned face of her true love.

They just didn't know it yet.

Fast forward many years. The girl learned how to brush her hair and the boy ditched the page boy and thanks to the wonders of modern technology (ahem, Match.com), these two found each other. Many, many phone calls and emails later, they finally decided to meet in person. Their first date was not the great success they had hoped for, but the girl felt there was something there and called the boy for a second date.

On this date, all of the things that went wrong on the first date, went right. At the end of the evening, the boy kissed the girl. And when she opened her eyes, she saw a shooting star and KNEW.

After this, things progressed, as they do. There was a period of dating, and then moving in together, and then one day, the boy arrived with a beautiful ring and a question. One the girl was delighted to answer.

Because these two couldn't do anything the normal way, they had not one, but two weddings. Today is the first of their anniversaries. Their FIRST fourth anniversary.

Each year is better than the last, my love.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bubbles

When I was making dinner for the Bean and I tonight, she came into the kitchen with one of the little bottles of bubbles leftover from her birthday party. She squatted down next to me and worked on the bottle, removing the decorative ribbon and stickers before beginning her assault on the lid. It's tight and tough to get off, especially for little hands.

I watched her doing this while I chopped sweet potatoes. I was making sweet potato fries, one of her, and my, favorites. When I had finished with the fries, tossing them in oil, evenly laying them out on a cookie sheet and throwing sea salt over them, I put them in the oven and turned my attention fully to my daughter.

She was getting frustrated. Unable to open the bottle, her toddlerness was showing itself. She squealed, not the happy kind, and handed the bottle to me. I opened the bottle and brought the lid to my mouth, blowing out a stream of bubbles. Delighted, she danced around, my little imp, catching and popping the bubbles. Laughing.

I watched and counted the bubbles. There are two kinds. Heavy ones that fall and pop quickly, and light ones that seem to defy gravity as they dangle endlessly in the air.

A couple of weeks ago, my mom called me up, worried. I had written a post that said to her that I was not okay. It wasn't so much the words, but the way I had phrased things. Subtleties. It had gotten her mommy sense tingling. My mom worries. Not without reason. My family is not short on crazy. We wallow in it. Rub it in to our skin.

But that is not, was not, the problem. I was just frustrated. I was having one of those days you have with toddlers. Too little sleep, too much screaming, not enough caffeine. I was cranky, and rueful, and angry, and heavy. There are just days like that.

But that day passed and with it the heaviness. We are back to our usual buoyant selves. Today, we are laughing and joyful and light. Sophie and I and the bubbles. We could float all night.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gobble Gobble

Trying desperately not to succumb to the tryptophan after a fabulous Thanksgiving meal.















Failing.

Hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cleaning House

Not enough brain power to do a real post, so just some thoughts banging around in the old warehouse.

- I'm sick. Again. I started feeling icky Sunday, it got worse over the course of a couple of hours and by 3am was bad enough to send Neil to the guest bedroom because I was keeping him up with my snorting and snuffling and nose blowing. All day yesterday was spent laying in bed, blowing my nose about a gajillion times. Starting to feel human again this morning.

- Because I can't smell, I got a HOLY COW surprise when I opened up Sophie's diaper this morning. Even when you can't smell it, you really have to prepare yourself for one of those. Note to self: ALWAYS look first.

- Saw New Moon this weekend. While I had a few beefs (the sparkly business was still wrong), I generally really enjoyed it. Especially Jacob. All those months in the gym really paid off for Taylor.

- Due to "the ick" and being generally busy, I'm way behind on blog reading. I haven't even browsed through People of Walmart in days. (Which I know is mean-spirited and all, but my goodness it's funny, and they leave the house like that, so tough noogies.) Seriously, though, my apologies if I haven't been by to see you in a few days. I'm hoping to get caught up soon.

- Also way behind on my TV watching. Our dvr is 85% full. Considering it can hold like 400 hours, that's a LOT of programming. The good news is that as all of these shows go on their winter hiatus we'll still have new shows to watch.

- I inadvertently bought sweetened condensed milk rather than evaporated milk in preparation to make Lula's famous Pumpkin Crisp, which, btw, is CRAZY GOOD. Although I briefly contemplated attempting to adapt the recipe to use it, everything I read said DO NOT DO IT, so now I have three cans of the stuff. I'm charged with making a dessert for Thanksgiving, so this might be an opportunity to use it. Any suggestions?

So there you go. Blah. I read somewhere that you should never post anything but your A-game, top shelf stuff. That is, if you want to attract and retain readers. Meh. I'll have to work on that tomorrow.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some Girls...

Sleep with a stuffed bear. Or a cuddly little rabbit. Or maybe a silky blankie.

Not my girl.






















Obviously, she has her priorities in line.

*Of course you wouldn't know it from that crazy hair. That's genetics, though. Someday I'll post my 3rd grade picture and you'll see she comes by it honestly.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Estrogen Extravaganza 2009

Still coming down off of an amazing weekend with some great ladies. It was a meeting of 13 blog friends. Some had known each other IRL for years, but for many, it was the first time meeting. I was among the latter group. It was everything I had hoped for it to be. And more. Each and every one of them was as beautiful and warm and funny in real life as they are on their blogs.

I can't even tell you how much we laughed. So much that we scared off a table of elderly folks at the famous Apple Barn restaurant. Shelley has THE best laugh. We actually overheard them say that they hoped our food arrived soon so we would SHUT UP. Then they got up and stomped off. Which just goes to prove that old age and nice aren't necessarily companions.

And there were screams. We went to see Paranormal Activity. While Lula cowered behind her pillow (YES, she brought a pillow to the theater), I hid my face in Brandy's shoulder, who in turn hid her eyes under her shirt, all while Heather giggled at us fraidy cats. That movie is just about the scariest thing I've ever seen. It got my heart pounding almost as much as Lula's driving*. Needless to say, I slept with the light on the rest of our stay there. Sorry, Jane!

And we ate SO much. Between the crack bars Denise brought and the caramel popcorn Lizzy Beth brought (please, please, please post the recipes, ladies!) and the vast quantities of food we all brought and prepared, I all but waddled home. Which would probably have gotten me home faster considering Tennessee is now officially the worst state in the country for traffic. Seriously. People told me it was bad, but I thought, whatever, it's Tennessee, for crying out loud, how bad can it be. Yeah. It's bad.

And there was a raucous game of 80's Scene It, during which we all showed our age and passion for pop culture trivia. Kat might just be one of the smartest people around. Followed by a viewing of Space Camp, only one of the best movies ever. Made back when Jaoquin was still a Leaf and John Locke had hair.

And there was a lively discussion and demonstration about "crescent rolls" led by Melissa. That girl really knows her stuff.

And there was horseback riding. Where I had to go and admit that I had ridden before so they gave me the "stubborn" one. Which I think is code for "you don't know ridin', yankee" because that horse went on to be the biggest pain in the butt and I spent half of the hour long ride with the trail guide holding my reins, like a little kid.

There are so many more stories, but the best part was just getting to be face to face with women that I have been talking to for so long. Thanks Shannon and Angie for making it happen. Is it too early to start planning next year?

Now it's back to the grind, right Angela?

*No lie. That woman took those mountain curves like Mario Andretti. Love you, girl!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Next Stop, Tennessee!

I am mere minutes, 60 of them, from departure for a long weekend with girlfriends. We're heading to the mountains of Tennessee for a much needed respite from the grinds of every day life. For some laughter and relaxation. And maybe a scare or two.*

I'm leaving my husband and daughter for four days. I've left copious instructions; schedules and preferences. They'll be fine. They'll be fine. It almost galls me to say that, because a tiny part of me doesn't want them to be fine without me. I kind of want it to all go to hell in a handbasket, just to prove the enormous value of my presence. They are my life, those two, and it feels good to be needed. But it feels just as good to take a break.

This is the first long road trip I've been on in years and years. The first in at least a decade now. How does so much time go by? There was a time when long road trips were not at all unusual. These days, you could draw a circle around Baltimore with a compass delineating the three hour mark and that is as far as I ever get. I can count a half dozen trips in recent years that just touch on that boundary. Any further and it merits a plane ticket.

Of course, traveling with a child makes all the difference in the world. I don't even make spontaneous trips to the grocery store any more, I'm sure as heck not going to hop in my car to drive 9 hours with her. Much as I love her. Neil and I talk about taking these trips all the time, but somehow it just never happens.

But this trip is. And while I'm taking my laptop, I'm going to try not to spend too much time on it. With 13 women, friends and sisters of my heart, around to keep me company, I'm betting you won't see much of me on this here internet.

So with that, I'm off. Wish me safe travels and I'll see you next week!

Now, where's my Thelma and Louise soundtrack?

Road Pictures, Images and Photos

*We're going to see Paranormal Activity on Friday. Hold me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Funday















Despite the fact that the thermometer said 65, I bundled us up for some play outside on this glorious sunshiney Sunday afternoon, because it's November forcryingoutloud. But the sun, she was beating down. Within minutes, red-faced and sweaty, we threw off our jackets as we got down to the business of playing in the vast piles of leaves that have accumulated in our yard. For more than an hour, Sophie ran and burrowed and cavorted and dug and hopped. And laughed and giggled and squealed.

This? Is just one of the many reasons I love Fall so much.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Fancies

- I had my first photography class last night. I got an SLR last Christmas and I barely know how to use it, so one of my girlfriends and I are taking an intro class at community college. I was actually kind of nervous going in, but I really enjoyed it. Even if I did get the stink eye from the teacher for talking during class.

- Daylight savings continues to kick my butt. Sophie, despite going to bed at her normal time, has been getting up an hour early all week. If I take a nap in the afternoon, I have trouble going to sleep at night, but if I don't take a nap, I'm run down from lack of sleep and still can't get to sleep until midnight. This girl needs to sleep in.

- I just bought Happiest Toddler On The Block. I had kind of decided that I was done with parenting books, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I had to put Sophie in time-out no less than 10 times yesterday. Including once at Old Navy. And that's not counting the 3 times the ladies gave her while at gym childcare. I liked the Happiest Baby book and this one came recommended by a good friend, so hopefully we can make some positive changes. Before this kid drives me to drink. More.

- Am I the only woman that looks at other women's behinds and wonders how mine compares to it? Ie, is it bigger or smaller? Not in criticism of the other women, but just wondering how mine looks to the world. As an aside, the other day a girlfriend of mine told me what she weighed and I about fell off my chair. I thought we were close to the same size, turns out she's FORTY pounds lighter. Clearly my perception of myself is WAY off.

- Sophie loves the movie Cars. We start it all the time, but never finish it because we'll stop it to go, you know, DO SOMETHING. So yesterday was the first time I have seen the end since I first saw it several years ago. When Lightening pushed Mr. The King over the finish line? Waterworks. I'm such a sap.

- I'm going away for a girls' weekend next week to the mountains of Tennessee. It's only the second time in her life that I will be leaving Sophie. Teensy bit nervous, but so excited for this little vacay. Mama needs a break.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wake Up Call

One of the real saviors for me has been the gym. You wouldn't know it to look at me, but I'm actually in pretty good shape. I bust gluteus five days a week. I spend 50-60 minutes on the elliptical/treadmill/arc trainer and 15 minutes or so strength training. The truth is I really don't enjoy working out. I hear people all the time talking about how much they love it, but I am not one of them. Nine months in, it is definitely a habit, but not a pleasurable one. The real reason I go? The gym day care. For that hour and 15 minutes, it is all about me. Some days it is the slender thread that holds me to my sanity. And that's no exaggeration, folks.

Yesterday, after a couple of particularly rough days, I was feeling all run down and frustrated and squingy. (Daylight savings is no friend of mine.) The morning had not been especially pleasant, punctuated by a huge fight to get Sophie in clothes and a diaper because my girl is all about going au naturel these days. I was in bad need of a workout, so off to the gym we went.

When we walked into the childcare room, there was another mommy at the desk checking her kids out. She turned around as we approached and noticed Sophie at my side. Her face lit up and she said "HI SOPHIE!!" I was taken aback a little. I know my daughter is a friendly sort, but I hadn't really expected her to be on a first name basis with other members of the gym that I didn't even know. Then the woman tells me that her kids love Sophie and they talk about her all the time. How disappointed they're going to be for missing her.

Isn't that always the way.

Just when I'm settling in for a good wallow, that girl of mine has to puff me up with pride and make me all smiley.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Blindfolded.

My daughter doesn't listen to me. At all. She runs when I say NO. She continues when I say STOP. I'm doing way too much yelling these days and I am not enjoying it one bit. When I'm out on play dates, my daughter is the only one screaming and running and generally causing trouble.

What am I doing wrong, people?

I know that the toddler years are difficult. I know that they are opinionated, obstinate, mouthy, 25 pound producers of messes of all kinds. But. But.

Knowing this doesn't change how I feel. I feel lost. I feel like I'm doing all the wrong things. Watching too much tv. Not spending enough time working on colors and numbers and letters. Even though I do try to minimize the former and maximize the latter. I don't know what I'm doing here. They don't come with manuals. There is no right and wrong. It's walking blindfolded through a maze. It's reading a book upside down.

Sophie's attention span is about fourteen seconds. Every day I go through the whole range of activities: coloring, puzzles, reading, Mr/Mrs Potatohead, playdoh, singing, wrastlin', tickling, banging on pots, running around, playing outside (if it's nice), trying on mommy's shoes, chasing the cat, being chased by the cat and so on. All of this takes up about a half an hour.

Then we have 11 hours of the day left to kill.

I'm not looking for people to tell me I'm a good mother. I AM a good mother. I have a healthy, happy little girl. What I do want is for you to tell me what the hell to do all day. And how not to go crazy while I'm at it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!















May the treats be plentiful!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cover Yourself, Madame!

This afternoon, as I was getting out of the shower, Sophie came running into the bathroom. Not unusual. We have started a routine where she comes in and hands me my towel as I am climbing out of the tub. It's nice to have a little valet. Most days, she goes back to the towel bar and mimics drying her face just as I do it.

However today, after handing me my towel, she just stood there watching me. Then, she pointed at my chest and said, quite clearly,"boobies!" There was a time when I was worried that boobie would be one of her first words. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. It is not a word I say all that often these days, though, so I'm a little surprised that this is one she would have picked up on.

As I finished drying off, she climbed up on the toilet and grabbed the bra I had brought in and handed it to me. I put everything in place and did the clasps, she smiled and said to me "good girl!"

I know the ladies aren't everything they used to be, but when even my two year old daughter is congratulating me for covering them up, I think it's time to consider a tune-up.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Farmer Soph















It took a crow bar to get her off that tractor. Is two too young to get her started mowing the yard? I mean, LOOK at that enthusiasm?! And with that sort of thing, you really have to strike while the iron is hot.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Party Hardy Said The Lady

I know you've all been on the edge of your seat wondering how the party went. The short answer is it went well. What I saw of it. I spent the majority of my time between the kitchen and the dining room trying to keep everyone in food and drinks. Occasionally, I poked my head into other rooms and chatted briefly with friends or located my daughter to make sure she wasn't causing too much trouble. I worked on the theory that with all of the other parents and family in the house, not to mention her father, she was probably pretty safe. And she was.

The rain, of course, came. And came. And came. In between monsoons, we got about four minutes out in the back yard on the playgrand before we had to drag the kids back inside. Not the end of the world, but it sure would have been nice to have most everyone in one place, the backyard, rather than spread out all over the house.

Oh yeah, and the cookies? Turned out kind of okay. I never actually ate one, but they all got eaten and people spoke highly of them. It might be because they knew of my angst and were just being nice, but I prefer to think they actually did enjoy them. I wish I had a photo for you, but while they may have tasted good, they did not look good. On the other hand, the cupcakes that I made came out pretty well, if I do say so myself. Of course, Neil asked me what they were. So no one else is confused: they are EYEBALLS. (The orange ones are spider webs.)

So as usual, much of my anxiety was unnecessary. A huge thank you to Katie and Chris for helping me out! Hugs don't even cover how much I appreciate your help. And to everyone that came, bringing smiles and gifts, each and every one is cherished. We are very fortunate, indeed. Our friends and family are such amazing people. They are generous and kind and an awful lot of fun.

Grazi. Gracias. Merci. Danke. Thank you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The One Where I Rant

I should be working on party stuff right now, or cleaning, or figuring out what I need to buy at the grocery store tomorrow but my brain is just fried.

My big project for this afternoon was to make the sugar cookies so I could then fancily ice and decorate them. I have never made rolled cookies before. (According to Neil, recipe that I made tastes doughy and not sugary. Since these are SUGAR cookies, that seems like a major fault. Am quite certain I used correct measurements according to Allrecipes.com recipe, so what. the. hell?) Nor have I ever fancily iced anything. That's not so hard, right? Wrong. Add in that my oven hates me. It takes twice as long to cook everything and then it goes from raw to holy frijoles burnt in about 14 seconds. Plus, my cookie sheets are crap. Note to self: add to list of things to buy tomorrow.















I had planned to bake when Sophie napped, but thanks to a bout of insomnia last night, I really needed to nap when she did. Which meant I had to find ways to keep her out of my hair while I baked. I made my first attempt at homemade playdoh, figuring this would be a nice way to keep her occupied. It wasn't. But the piles of stuff on the dining table, aka Party Prep Command Central, were quite entertaining. Much to my chagrin. Which is how she wound up with the hat I am contemplating wearing for the party. It was good for a smile, at least, distracting me from the mess she had made of the gift bags.















We're kind of, sort of, not really, maybe, a little, working on potty training right now. Our half-assed effort has mainly consisted of putting her on her little potty each night before bath/bed. Twice in the past week, she has peed! Tonight, after washing up, we stripped her down and she ran over to her potty and sat there looking at us with big, round, imabouttodosumpin eyes. And she peed. While Neil and I watched, listened and then clap, clap, clapped and cheered. What an existence that pissing is worthy of applause. Really, though, it made me crazy happy.

Oh yeah, and if anyone has any pull with Mother Nature, can you see about bringing some good weather to the Baltimore area on Saturday? I would really, REALLY like to let the kids play outside during Sophie's birthday party and right now they're calling for thunderstorms. Which obviously is not the best weather for a bunch of toddlers to run around in, especially fully costumed toddlers.

90% chance of rain on Saturday. Not good. Can't we just move Sunday's weather up a day?









There's a boatload more running around in my head, but I'm trying not to be too much of a downer going into the weekend, because who wants a downer on Friday. Not me. Which is why it always seemed wrong to fire people on Friday. Do it on Monday, they're not coming in the next day anyway, and then at least they have a nice weekend under their belt before having their ass handed to them. Also the same reason that I always say when I'm going on a trip that if the plane crashes, please just let it be on the way home, so I got to have my vacation first. How's that for seeing the positive?

So, to sum up:
1: Screwed up oven
3: Successful pees in the potty
4: Hours cooking
5: Curse words in this post (1 Hell, 3 Asses and 1 Piss)
48: Probably unusable cookies
90: Percent likelihood Mother Nature will totally screw me

Have a great weekend!

Agreements

This afternoon as I walked in through the open garage door, I happened to catch sight of a large, black, many-legged insect between the track for the door and the frame of the garage. For some reason, I bent down to get a closer look. In a horror movie, you'd be screaming NO, NO, DON'T GET CLOSER, YOU DOLT! But I thought it might be one of those big crickets that are everywhere around here.

It. Was. No. Cricket.

It was one of the biggest spiders I have seen outside of a glass case. Tucked into a nice little spot off to the side, it looked at me and I looked at him, er, her. And then I backed away. Slowly.

I have a love/hate relationship with spiders. I know they eat all the bugs that I really hate: mosquitoes, gnats, flies, etc. But they are super-duper creepy. It's all those legs and they're so fast and their EYES. Whenever I see one, I think of that giant spider from the Lord of the Rings, with it's lightening fast stinger. Gives me the willies.

As a young girl, my attitude was smush first, ask questions later. But when I was 17, after years of unprovoked abuse, the spiders hit back. One of the wee beasties took a nibble on the back of my leg. It. was. bad. I took the high ground, though. Instead of firing back, I decided a truce must be called.

Since then, I like to think we have an agreement, the spiders and I, like the one we have with pigeons. You know, we look the other way when they poop on statues and they get out of the road when we need to drive on it. I (mostly) look the other way when they create little webs in the corners of rooms and they don't touch me. Ever.

The monster in our garage has been a quiet and respectful tenant. As long as s/he follows the rules, the status quo is fine with me. But the minute, s/he steps over the line? Truce OVER.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Wonderings

- Thanks to being sick for the last four days (I'm much better now) I am now hugely behind on prep for Sophie's big 2nd birthday party this weekend. I'm getting a little panicky.

- The good thing about being sick? Five pounds, baby! Don't worry, I'll gain it right back this weekend in Halloween candy and cupcakes.

- It looks like Sophie's illness is just side effects of the Flu Mist vaccine she got on Friday. Which I would have known if I read the info sheet they gave me. Nope, I had to call the doctor's office for them to tell me. Parenting Fail.

- Mike Rowe is just so darned cute. Did I ever tell y'all that he went to my husband's high school? Graduated with my sister-in-law. She doesn't remember him. Crazy, right?

- I think being a stay at home mom would definitely qualify as a dirty job. Just the amount of shadoobie I have to deal with on a daily basis should be enough to merit that title.

- I went to the Halloween store yesterday. Why are all women's costumes so slutty? And the little girl's costumes? Not much better. Seriously, people, that is just all kinds of wrong.

- I really don't love open toed boots. They just seem wrong. I mean, boots are for cold, open toes for warm. It's like when I see the girlies wearing Uggs. In July. In LA. Imagine how sweaty their feet get. Blech. I think I'm too practical to be truly stylish.

- That movie The Men Who Stare At Goats actually looks kind of funny. Will I be the only person in the movie theater?

- I went to Big Lots today and spent ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS! I didn't know that was even possible. On the upside, I am now the proud owner of a Halloween lawn sign and hurricane candle, an angel costume for Sophie, four plastic cauldrons and a case of water, among about 8 other bags of probably unnecessary sundries. My mom will be so proud. For real.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rainy Days

While I've been laying in bed for the last two days, suffering with a cold/flu/plague, the bean and dad have been staying busy in the basement.









I miss them.

Updated 9pm:
Yeah. So. The bean is sick now, too. We've officially entered the fifth ring of hell. Mercifully, Neil has so far escaped the virulence, so at least we have one person left who can care for us. It's rough going, though.

Updated 12:30pm Tues: Still sick, but on the road to recovery after a visit to the doctor for antibiotics yesterday. Sophie is officially sick now, we have a call into her ped to get it diagnosed and fixed so we can all enjoy her birthday party on Saturday. Neil is now sick, too. We're all laying around acting like invalids. It's fun.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Infamous

I know you are all like, sweet mother of mercy, enough already with the Mobbies. But indulge me one last time. This was in the Baltimore Sun today (page 6 if you still have it and want to save a copy, you know, for posterity):






















That's me! I feel like when I was a kid and I did something good and the teacher put my work up on the bulletin board for everyone to see. Embarrassed pride.

Okay, now I will resume my normal blah blah blah. Carry on.

Dos, Due, Deux...TWO!

Yesterday was a pretty big day in the Land of Bean. Our little girl turned TWO! At every milestone I say the same thing: where has the time gone. I'll admit, some days it feels like time is creeping by, but in the bigger picture, it's flying. Today was her day and I tried to give her as good of a time as I could.

We began the day with some blueberry pancakes and bacon. I think she gets the bacon gene from her father, they are both fanatical about it.















Followed by a little lounging around, watching some telly. Her lounging skills? From the cats.















We spent the rest of the day doing our normal things: playing, going to the gym, napping (her, not me), cleaning (me, not her), playing, some light shopping to finish up my outfit for the Mobbie shindig, playing, dinner (Qdoba, mmm). And then we had to get ready for the par-tay.

Before we left, Sophie opened a few of her presents. We're having a big birthday bash for her next weekend, but she needed at least a couple of treats on her big day. She got a personalized buffy (butterfly) puzzle from her great aunt Randee and great uncle Steve (and they are great in every sense of the word!) and a rockin' guitar from her Mammom and Grandy, who were kind enough to stay with her while Neil and I abandoned her on her birthday, heartless parents that we are.
















Clearly, she can wail.















That's me and the hubs in a rare photo of the two of us. Neil is doing his let's get this show on the road grimace. He has a really great smile and yet in half of the pictures of him he is making this face. You'd think he was a grump. (He's not.) The award ceremony was fine. Of course, I agonized over what to wear for nothing. There were people there in all manner of dress. I could have gone in jeans. I wouldn't have, but I could've. We were home by nine. We even stopped at McDonald's on the way home to get hot fudge sundaes. Yeah, we're party animals.

PS - Neil sent me an email this morning asking if she looked different now that she's two. I laughed when I read that, but you know what, she does a little.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Yay and Nay

I finally got confirmation that I WON the Mobbie for Best Family Blog!! AND I came in 6th in the Best Overall, which is pretty freaking awesome considering there were over 200 blogs in the running. So a great big

THANK YOU!!!

to everyone that voted for me. Now, we have the awards party tomorrow night and I can't figure out what to wear. The invite says "mobster attire is optional" and I've decided that optional for me means no, but I don't know what to wear.
It's in a gallery, so do I go casual or business casual or dressy or WHAT?

I went shopping both yesterday and today. I must have tried on 20 dresses. A couple fit okay but just didn't feel right. Some felt too dressy. Or not dressy enough. I hate this. I hate that my body is so different. I hate that my tastes these days seem to be more nursing home chic than Vogue.

I'll probably wind up in my old standby of black slacks and a sweater. Boring. I need a personal stylist. Who works for free. And if they didn't mind doing some light cleaning, that would be super awesome, too. Anyone looking for a position?

On a lighter and much happier note, the Bean peed in her potty for the first time ever tonight!! I harbor no delusions that she will be completely potty trained any time soon, but this is a pretty big first step, n'est-ce pas? It happened while I was out shopping, but Neil was kind enough to save the peed-in potty for my viewing pleasure. Isn't that sweet?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hail Mary

After two weeks of hawking votes from my friends, family and readers, the final day is HERE!

Click here to vote for my blog ... early and often

Voting for the Baltimore Sun Maryland Outstanding Blog Awards finishes today at 5pm. So please take a moment to head on over there and cast your vote for the Best Family category. Don't forget to also vote for Best Overall. (You do NOT have to live in Maryland, or even the US for that matter, to vote!)

Top Ten Reasons to Vote For the Land of Bean:

1. LoB could also stand for Lots o' Bacon. And who can't get behind that?!

2. I can recite every word from every single Mel Brooks movie ever made. Holy underpants!

3. I always use turn signals.

4. My hair is silky, silky soft.

5. I use excellent punctuation..

6. If I win, I pledge to improve the food in the cafeteria. Wait, this isn't the campaign for senior class president?

7. I never pick my nose in public. Well, not often. Okay, sometimes...but I'm discreet.

8. I prefer using polysyllabic words whenever possible. Onomatopoeia! Bam!

9. I make a mean bowl of chili. Which in turn makes a mean bowl of indigestion, but it's totally worth it.

10. Because this face:
















Will become this face*, if I don't win:















Thanks for all of your support!

*These photos were taken approximately 1.7 seconds apart.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

No Excuses For Me

A couple of weeks ago I got a notice in the mail that I was being summoned for jury duty. It included a form that I had to fill out asking about my occupation, if I could serve on a jury of 10 days or more, how many kids I cared for, and so on. I promptly completely the form and mailed it off and arranged childcare for Sophie on the day that I was required to show.

Yesterday I received a notice that I had been excused from duty. I hadn't even asked for it. They didn't give a reason, but I suspect it was because I am the primary caregiver for our daughter.

The only other time I have been summoned was about 8 years ago, when I lived down in the city. Actually, saying I was summoned overstates it. The first notice I got was a card saying I had missed Jury Duty and I had to pay a $150 fine. To which I said "WHAAAAT!?" called them up and got the situation corrected. No fine. And I was never summoned again.

I'll tell you a secret, I've actually always wanted to serve. I know it won't be like A Few Good Men or Law and Order, there most likely won't be shouting and histrionics, but maybe, just maybe, I'll get an interesting case.

The day I got my summons, I talked with a friend of mine about one time she served as a juror. It was the trial of a man accused of raping his 12 year old niece. She conveyed some of the drama and how good she felt when they convicted the guy. It kind of got me psyched to do my civic duty.

With people always trying to get out of jury duty, I wonder what they would do if I called up and said that I wanted in.

PS - I've been nominated for a (M)aryland (O)utstanding (B)log Award or Mobbie! You can vote once a day for one blog in each category (I'm nominated as a Family Blog) as well as for Best Overall Blog so please vote as often as you can. Voting finishes tomorrow and we need a fourth quarter push! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why So Serious?

I am not ticklish. In fact, I love having my feet tickled, I enjoy the sensation of it, but it doesn't make me laugh. I think I would love it if there were a sure fire way to make me laugh. My husband is crazy ticklish and he absolutely hates to be tickled. Which I just don't understand. Isn't laughter one of the most amazing things there is? It makes you feel so good all over.

I love tickling Sophie and she loves being tickled. She'll lay down and I'll give her a good once over, goosing her thighs, ribcage and under her arms, and when she stops laughing, she'll look up at me eyes wide and full of anticipation, waiting for me to tickle her some more.

I am happy to oblige because there is not a thing in this world that makes me happier than her laughter. Maybe Dr. Pepper. But it's a close call.

They say the average child laughs 300 times a day while the average adult a paltry 17. At what point do we lose the love for uncontrolled elation? Laughter produces hormones that help reduce stress and are beneficial in improving the immune system. Not to mention what a good hard laugh does for the muscles. Children laugh with abandon while adults must search out the funny. I've even heard of humor clinics where people force laughter for therapeutic effect.

Why is it so hard when we're older?

Maybe we just need more tickling.

PS - I've been nominated for a (M)aryland (O)utstanding (B)log Award or Mobbie! You can vote once a day for one blog in each category (I'm nominated as a Family Blog) as well as for Best Overall Blog so please vote as often as you can. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Monday, October 5, 2009

To Hug Or Not To Hug

I am not a hugger. Which isn't to say that I am not an affectionate person, or that I am uncomfortable with being touched. But I have always felt awkward hugging and kissing people I don't know well.

I used to know this girl, we'll call her a frequaintance, because we were somewhere in between the two. Not quite friends, but calling her an acquaintances isn't quite right either. Every time I saw her, she gave me a great big hug and kiss, like real lips to skin kiss, and every time it felt weird. It might have something to do with the fact that I didn't especially like her, so the forced affection felt just that, forced. But I think it is more than that.

I don't want all of my friends to think I shrink from their embrace, because I don't. There are lots of people that I am okay with hugging, in fact initiate it. But it just doesn't always feel natural to me. I very often feel quite awkward. Is it a confidence thing? Is it cultural? Are there just some people who are huggers?

I wish I could do the man hug. Now that I would be comfortable with.

PS - I've been nominated for a (M)aryland (O)utstanding (B)log Award or Mobbie! You can vote once a day for one blog in each category (I'm nominated as a Family Blog) as well as for Best Overall Blog so please vote as often as you can. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall(ing)















"I haven't been feeling so great the last couple of days. I've really been making mommy's life hell. Getting up in the wee hours. Being cranky and clingy. Fighting whenever she tried to give me medicine.

Now, just as I'm feeling better, she's starting to feel sick. My evil plan is coming together. Mwa ha ha ha ha."


PS - I've been nominated for a Mobbie! You can vote once a day for one blog in each category (I'm nominated as a Family Blog) as well as for Best Overall Blog so please vote as often as you can.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Never A Dull Moment

"You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance." ~Franklin P. Jones

As we approach the two year mark as parents, it would not be untrue to say that we learn a little something new every day. Just a few of the lessons we've stumbled upon in recent months:

- Drool doesn't evaporate off of hard surfaces, it just hardens.

- No matter what I make for dinner, she will not want it, even if the day before she ate it like it was manna from heaven.

- My shoulder is her favorite spot to wipe her boogery nose.

- Toddler fingernails grow faster than it would seem humanly possible and are sharper than pterodactyl claws.

- Daylight Savings sure doesn't save me sleep.

- The activities I encourage will occupy her for approximately 14 seconds, ie coloring, puzzles, reading. Those I don't will entertain her endlessly: stacking coins, splashing in the cats' water bowl, pulling books off the shelf.

- If a tail is presented, it can be sure to be pulled. With the expected hissing and growling results.

- A toddler simply can't resist hopping out of the car cart for an impromptu dance to the grocery store muzak version of Can't Touch This.

- The full sized playground equipment is scary as hell for the mother of an adventurous toddler.

- An adult butt does not fit especially well down the kids' slide.

- Bathtime is an invitation to pee in the tub.

- If she's grunting, good things are not coming.

PS - I've been nominated for a Mobbie! You can vote once a day for one blog in each category (I'm nominated as a Family Blog) as well as for Best Overall Blog so please vote as often as you can.

Also, please vote for my friend John Waire in the Photography category. He is a super cool guy and his photos are absolutely gorgeous.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nice Place To Visit

I wrote the other day about my struggle with the decision of whether or not to have more children. In the intervening week, I've thought about it on more than one occasion (okay, all the time) and I've come to a realization. I think my increasing awareness of all the babies is less about my possible desire for another child than it is about wanting my current kid back as a baby. It is nostalgia for those early, new days. The awe and wonder every moment brought.

I mean, seriously, how freaking cute is this kid?

















However, as much as I want to revisit those days, I do NOT want to live there again. Strangely, the allure of mood swings, bloody nipples and sleep deprivation so intense I was concerned I might start hallucinating just aren't enough to suck me back in. I know, I'm crazy like that.

PS - I've been nominated for a Mobbie! You can vote once a day for one blog in each category (I'm nominated as a Family Blog) as well as for Best Overall Blog so please vote as often as you can.

Also, please vote for my friend John Waire in the Photography category. He is a super cool guy and his photos are absolutely gorgeous.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shampoo

I laid in bed last night and wrote a post in my head about how maybe I just don't have the "mommy gene." I do this a lot. In fact, if you could hear my thoughts on any given day, what you would hear is me creating posts, the vast majority of which will never see the light of day either because I forget about them or they just don't have the juice. When I woke up this morning, a good night's sleep under my belt, I was still rolling the words around in my head. Thinking about my mommyness.

I kept ruminating on our trip to the zoo yesterday with a friend of mine and her son, who is just a few months younger than Sophie. While he sat peacefully in his stroller, pointing and commenting about the animals, Sophie spent the entire day racing around while I followed her with the empty stroller, screeching, "NO, Get Back Here, Stop, Get Down From There, Get OUT of the WATER, Do NOT Touch That, DO NOT CLIMB INTO THE CAGE!" Lather, rinse, repeat.

There were a lot of times where I just let her go. Where I allowed her to run off. Where I didn't say anything because I was just so tired of saying no.

And then there were all the times where MY daughter ran up to my friend and put her arms up to be held or reached for my friend's hand, so she could walk along side her. Neither of these things she did to me. All day.

All of which left me feeling a little OFF. Left me wondering if I'm missing some critical "mom" element. The rest of the day didn't really open the door on that one. I'm not even talking about the bigger, more abstract question of whether to have more children, but the far more immediate and scary question of am I enough to be a good mom to the one I have? I laid in bed staring at the lights on the ceiling thinking about this while I waited for sleep to come.

But then I woke up this morning, and my first thought was of my daughter. She was downstairs with Neil. Ever so faintly I could hear her voice. The high pitched squeals of her laughter. I longed for her. I wanted nothing more than for her to wrap her arms around me and give me one of her big, open-mouthed, wet kisses. And I thought that maybe I do have what it takes. That being a good mom isn't an always ON thing. That some days I will look at the pint sized being that has taken up residence in our house and not have the first idea what to do with or about her.

Despite that, I will do what needs done. I will make mistakes. Sometimes big ones. But I will keep on doing.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

PS - See that widget up in the top right there? Scroll up. Yes, that one. I've been nominated for a Mobbie, so can you be a dear and go vote for me? Every day between now and October 9? Hey, thanks!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Funny Word Verification 2

And the hits just keep on coming! My beloved (snark!) word verification has given me a whole new round of fun words to play with.

Zatenat - (at the buffet) I want zatenat but nunuvat.

Boido - It's like Playdo, only it's made of boys. OR A young hobbit.

Paltrog - If Gwyneth and a toad made a baby.

Antless - Something our kitchen is maddeningly NOT for at least four weeks at the beginning of every summer.

Throusi - (on the golf course) Do you mind if we just play throusi?

Debackin -I wish I could wear those jeans, but I just can't fit debackin.

Sherfie - The heavily clothed little men that lead you up the mountain?

Kringlasm - I won't get too dirty here, but it's something that happens at the North Pole when Santa and the missus are feeling frisky.

Shots - Yes, please!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Freedom

We've crossed into dangerous territory in the Land of Bean.

This morning, Sophie began banging on her door at the unholy hour of 5:30am. This is at least an hour earlier than her usual, which was in itself a half an hour earlier than we had gotten used to. And I am no morning person. I would prefer waterboarding to being awakened before the sun. The last thing I wanted to do was pry myself out of the warm, soft embrace of my 500 thread counts, but when your kid is banging on their door with all their might, you get up.

So just as I was finally dragging myself out of bed, I heard the click of her door and the pounding of little feet as Sophie freed herself from the confines of her room and came running into our room. We knew that she could open some of the other doors in the house, but so far the antique-y ones on the bedrooms were beyond her capabilities. I thought it might be a one time thing, though, that I hadn't latched the door all the way the night before.

Wrong.

Tonight, when I put her down, she waited until I walked out before climbing up onto the end of her bed, from which she dangled herself off in just such a way as to get a couple of fingers on the doorknob and open the door. And just like that, she was free. I saw all of this on the crib cam, while I stood just outside her door, after which I pounced into her room with an "AHA!", catching her in the act. I called out to Neil and after a brief discussion, we got one of the doorknob cover thingies from another door to put on her inside knob.

We're both a little weirded out about essentially locking her in there, but the possibility of waking up to mini-me climbing on my head, or worse, the havoc she could wreak on other parts of the house overpowers any concerns we might have.

I'm going out to buy more doorknob covers today.

*She can scale every gate we've brought into the house, so putting one at her door isn't really an option.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm a Suburban Housewife

Oh my, this is funny.

Make sure the sound is on and there are no little ears around.



And for the record, this suburban housewife is totally not like that.

I'm more of a vodka gal.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reproduction

Everywhere I look these days, it seems someone we know is having a baby. One of my play group moms just had a baby a month ago (in her car, no less!), another one is due in three weeks, and yet another one just told us she is expecting her second in March. Add to this, one of my husband's oldest friends and his wife are expecting their second any day now* AND another one of my mom friends is expecting their second in January. Not to mention several blog friends. I guess it kind of makes sense. When we had Sophie, it seemed like we were surrounded by people who were also having kids, but this time we're not sharing in the agony glory.

Neil and I talk about having another kid. All. the. time. Mostly it's him saying, HEY, ARE YOU READY FOR ME TO KNOCK YOU UP YET?? and me covering my ears with my hands and saying nananananana, I can't hear you. Because I am so, so, so not ready yet. What's funny is that I always thought that two years apart was perfect, it's the age difference between my sister and I, and clearly a lot of other people think it is perfect, too. If I were to get pregnant tonight, not that that is going to happen, but if I were, our kids would be 32 months apart. Which even when I write that it seems like a good number.

But here's the thing. I am not ready. No way. No how.

There was a long time in my life where I thought I didn't want kids at all. Like from the time I can remember until I was about 30. When someone came into my life that actually made me think that reproducing wasn't the worst thing that could happen. Where I began to wonder what it would be like to create a new life with someone. But making that realization and actually deciding to follow through with it took me several years more. It was on our first wedding anniversary that I finally said, okay, let's take the goalie out and see what happens. And almost exactly nine months later, we had Sophie. Maybe we got pregnant too fast. Which is a ridiculous thing to say, especially when there are so many people who struggle and suffer so much to get pregnant. But I didn't have the time to adjust to the idea of getting pregnant before BAM, I was pregnant. Which is what I'm afraid will happen again.

Pregnancy was so unpleasant for me, and delivery was SOO not fun and life with Sophie has been, well, challenging. All of which makes me not super excited to jump on that merry-go-round again.

So here we are.

One kid. Would it be weird to only have one? The upsides: only have to pay for one kid's college, never have to deal with fighting, can have a three bedroom house and still have a guest room. The downsides: will never be able to split a pizza evenly, no live-in playmates, can't pretend that both/all kids are my favorite.

People, this is the hardest decision I've ever made.

*Just heard from them that today might in fact be the day!! They're heading to the hospital as I type. What a strange and wonderful coincidence!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

You Asked For It

I swear on all things good and tasty that yesterday's post was not meant to illicit compliments. Not that anyone accused me of such, but after all of your kind comments, I got to feeling like maybe I had inadvertently gone on a fishing expedition. That by talking about the lack of compliments in my world these days, I was in fact asking for them. Not the case. Yesterday.

Today, on the other hand, is a horse of a different color. Today, feel free to lay it on thick. This is more pictures than I have posted of myself in the last year, TOTAL, and I'm feeling a little exposed. So hyperbolic waxing on the vastness of my beauty and the sheer perfection that is my haircut are in no way discouraged.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I can live for two months on a good compliment - Mark Twain

I went to see a good friend a couple of days ago, we were planning to see a movie and do some shopping. When I got to her house, she commented that my hair looked shorter, to which I responded, YES, I just had it cut. She just looked at me and that was pretty much the end of the conversation. She didn't tell me I looked bad, but she didn't say I looked good either, so my assumption is that this hairdo is a don't. Which is too bad, because I'm actually kind of happy with it. Whatever.

But that got me thinking. When I worked, I got daily affirmations about my appearance. And if I got a haircut, well then ratchet the compliments up a couple of notches. Because that is what women do. Even if we're not being 100% honest, and to be fair, that is sometimes the case. Women can be snippy and backstabbing and cliquish but we are also incredibly supportive. I don't think I realized just how much I thrived on that until I didn't have it. Sure, my husband compliments me (when prodded), but it isn't the same. He has to tell me I look beautiful.

I really do miss it. I miss people complimenting my shoes or my purse or my clothes or my hair or WHATEVER. Just complimenting me. I hadn't realized what a big part of my self-confidence relied on those little pearls. They were a barometer for how I gauged myself.

Perhaps in some ways this is good. I don't look to external sources to measure my self-worth. These days, I alone am responsible for boosting myself up. It is only my reflection that compliments me on a regular basis. Which isn't the worst thing in the world, I suppose. But I have to tell you, that bitch is kind of stingy with the praise.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cousteau She's Not















We went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore on Friday for Sophie's first visit to see the fishies. We met some old friends and their beautiful daughter there. While it was lovely to spend an afternoon with people I don't see nearly often enough these days and enjoying some (mostly) adult conversation, Sophie was a little less than cooperative for most of the visit. I wish I could say that my little bean went from one amazing underwater view to the next, oohing and aahing over the countless aqautic wonders, but the truth is that she spent the entire time pulling me/racing towards the escalators and moving sidewalks that transport visitors between the levels in the multi-storied building.






















Next time, I'm just gonna take her to the mall and save the $25.

*Just so you don't think I'm a terrible mother, during the photographing of this picture is the only time I let go of her on the escalator. Looking at this picture now, my mind goes to some pretty gruesome places involving fingers smushed in the stairs. Shudder.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Harmonica Slim

video

1. She might have been distracted by the crazy syncopation of my snapping.

2. She was definitely offended distracted by my singing, the quality of which we will blame on low video quality.

3. It's hard to hold a camera still when you're snapping and singing.

4. Watch the eyebrows.

5. She's not much for big finishes.