Thursday, July 30, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For...

Just last night I was racking my brain trying to think of a good blog post. I read through the dozen or so drafts that I have started and nothing really resonated with me. None of them were funny enough or touching enough to really make the cut. I left them all there, though, because sometimes those blah ideas turn into something. I will be laying in bed or driving down the road and I'll think of just the right punchline to pull it all together.

But that wasn't the case last night and today. I was suffering from a singularly uninteresting couple of days. We'd gone to the gym and to the park. We watched some TV and we danced in the rain. We ate, drank and slept. Not bad days, just, you know, regular days.

This morning we had a playdate at a friend's house. It was a mini-reunion of several of us that had taken Mommy and Me swim classes together last year as well as other moms that have joined the fold over the months. My friend has a pool and it was to be an afternoon of mom talk and kid play, all of whom are within months of each other.

Sophie went into high gear the moment we arrived. As is necessary with my little daredevil, I kept a fairly close eye on her, but mostly contained as she was within the confines of the deck and the fenced-in yard, I truly didn't worry too much. Famous last words.

About twenty minutes after we arrived, I sat at the patio table talking to my friends while Sophie tooled around the patio on one of those little four-wheeled riding things. This one happened to be a fire engine. At some point, the son of the person who's house we were at started pushing Sophie on the fire engine. We all smiled and thought it was cute. Sophie beamed.

It was right about then that several of us realized how close they were to the stairs. Just as I stood up from my chair to go redirect them, Sophie went over the edge. In slow motion, I watched her go ass over teakettle on that blasted fire engine down the stairs. It was only three steps, but it was enough for Sophie to do one full revolution and come down square on her face on the concrete step at the bottom.

She lay on the ground, NOT MOVING, as I ran over to her. I was terrified she had broken her neck, but it was quickly apparent that the only real damage was to her face. She cried, but not frantically, and I took her inside to clean her up. After a few dabs with a wet paper towel and an attempt to hold a cool pack to her forehead, she was squirming and pointing outside.

She spent the rest of the afternoon running, climbing, playing and generally having a good time.

Me? My heart still hasn't slowed down to a normal rate.

Next time I'll just be satisfied with my boring day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What Would Life Be Without A Little Controversy?

I had pretty much resigned myself to not writing another post about Blogher. I went and I'm actually starting to get Blogher burnout*. But a topic keeps coming up and I find I can't resist putting in my two cents.


I have now read several posts and countless tweets about all of the nasty behavior surrounding the procurement of swag and frankly, y'all, I'm tired of it. I never once saw someone push someone to get at the swag. Never once did I hear someone say they were only there for the swag. Never once did I see someone be rude to one of the vendors or people handing out swag at parties.

Am I unobservant? I don't think so. I was at a number of the parties, attended all sessions and visited the expo hall. Did I see people crowded around swag tables? Yes. But from everything I could see, it was a generally well-mannered group of women. Perhaps the reason I didn't see any of this stuff is because I myself did not run to the swag tables. Or because I didn't surround myself with people who were "only there for the swag."

I suspect that these stories, like so many, are more urban myth than fact. A victim of the telephone game wherein a story (maybe even a true one) takes on mythic proportions by its hundredth retelling. I heard from soandso that her friend saw someone run over a litter of kittens and then use their dead carcasses as projectiles to get other attendees away from the table, just to get a kiwi spoon. Do I think that there were a few bad apples among us? Of course. It would be unreasonable to think otherwise in a group as large as that, but if you take nothing else away from my post, take this: that behavior in NO WAY defines my experience in Chicago.

Here is what I did see at Blogher:
- Women (and a few men) squealing and hugging.
- Excited conversations as friendships were made or renewed.
- The clinking of glasses. (Maybe too much.)
- Ogling the big bloggers, wishing you had the nerve to go up and talk to them, not because you were afraid they would be mean but because you were afraid you wouldn't be able to form a coherent sentence.
- Actually going up and talking to your blog idols. Knees knocking and hands shaking and finding that they were as kind and friendly in person as they were on the computer screen.
- Many, many, many photos taken.
- So much laughter. It was a cacophony and it was glorious.

Was Blogher perfect? No way. I have my complaints and they are substantive. Will I be back? I don't know. But believe me when I tell you, that decision has NOTHING to do with the swag.

*Unless, of course, you write complimentary posts or post flattering pictures of me. In which case, keep 'em coming!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dear Blogher Organizers,

First, I would like to thank you for putting together an enjoyable experience. The sessions were interesting (if a tad overcrowded), the parties were fab (although can we talk about the $9 drinks?) and don’t even get me started on the swag. Let’s just say my suitcase weighed 20 pounds on the way out and 50 on the way back.

But I have one issue that I would like to address. Something that was near criminal in the level of irresponsible planning required. What I’m referring to, of course, is the amount of beans you foisted on us during luncheons and cocktail parties. While I am an ardent bean lover, in fact, have a hard time resisting the little beauties, they are not such lovers of my digestive system.

When meeting hundreds of new people for the first time, concentrating on clenching your cheeks for fear of an errant SBD, or worse, a full-on butt trumpet, is seriously prohibitive in the creation of a comfortable dialogue. Sadly, ever since my daughter came barreling down the birth canal (my husband actually said, “Holy cats, nice catch Doc!”), this sort of control is not what it used to be, Kegels and an excellent obstetric surgeon aside.

Additionally, the magical fruit, as it is often called, has a savage impact on my otherwise regular constitution. The less said about this aspect the better, but suffice it to say that my normally pampered posterior was subjected to many, MANY visits to hotel and restaurant bathrooms and the rough toilet paper they provide. Is it really so much to ask for some two-ply?

In conclusion, I would like to kindly request that for future conferences, you consider the impact of the food choices you offer. Might I even recommend offering a little cheese? Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Greetings from the Windy City!

I made it in yesterday with little fanfare. The flight was okay. We hit a bunch of turbulence the last half hour or so and I spent the entire time breathing deeply, swallowing spit and trying to locate a barf bag, just in case. The good news is that I did not throw up, the plane landed just fine and I emerged to meet MEP, who had graciously come to pick me up.

Once E... arrived (she had driven in from City C), we went downtown and checked in for the conference. With our conference badges in hand, we decided to grab a quick bite before the parties. After a bit of wandering around downtown Chicago, we settled on PJ Clarke's, where we dined al fresco and watched people. I saw four much older men wearing brightly colored tie dyed shirts, individually, not together, and one wearing a pink sequined jacket, not to mention what I'm pretty sure was the Village People. And that was a Thursday night. Imagine what I could have seen on a weekend!

Then we headed back to the hotel for the parties. The parties. I was crazy nervous about the parties. I was afraid that I would be the ultimate wallflower. Even without a slew of drinks in me, it turns out I'm not so much.

A few notes:

- I saw Black Hockey Jesus and Stephanie Wilder-Taylor in conversation and somehow managed to walk my knocking knees over to them to say hello. Honest to blog, I was completely flushed and shaking while I was talking to them. Like a complete boob. They were very kind though and did not give me the cold shoulder even though they are blog elite and I am, you know, not. Stephanie even gave me a hug. Did I mention I love her?

- Jen Lancaster was at the second party we went to. I saw her standing alone at the bar and I pounced. I gushed out in one long breath that I loved her blog and her books and how all around wonderful I thought she was. I was about to run off but she engaged me in conversation. Of course, then she pretty much walked off in the middle of said conversation, so I felt a little weird about it. But still. Squee! Jen Lancaster!

- It turns out I am mostly deaf. I could only hear about every fifth word in any conversation because of the enormous noise from the din of a 1000 people all talking at once. It's tough to be witty when you're having completely different conversations.

- Every time I see one of the "big" bloggers, I am surprised when they are normal sized. It's like I'm expecting them to be super tall just because they are well known in the blog world. Turns out they're just people. Who knew.

- I actually saw a ton of blog friends. There were lots of hugs. I felt the love.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Anxiety, Part 67

We are at t-minus one day until my departure for Chicage for that thing that everyone is sick to death of reading about. Unless you're going, in which case you gobble up every word you can find about it. Especially if you're a first timer like me. Because you don't know exactly what to expect and you're nervous and afraid that no one will know you or want to know you. That everyone will be so caught up in Bloggess sightings that they'll be like, "Cara who? You write a blog about vegetables*? Greeeaat. Oh, you're a mommy blogger. How original." If it weren't for a couple of fabulous ladies, I would probably be approaching hyperventilating anxiety at this point.

When I was in high school, my sister told me that people thought I was a priss. Which is so not me. I mean, sure, I'm a tad uptight about sex and I'm kind of puritanical when it comes to my clothing and yes, I'm a conservative. (gasp!) But I'm totally not a priss. What's that? Textbook definition of priss, you say? Bah. I think it had more to do with the fact that when I'm not smiling, my face falls into a sort of puckery look. So to my blog friends who are going, please don't let my lemonface turn you away, I really am quite friendly.

(See how friendly this face is! It's not really, is it? Damn it.)

Anyhoo, I'll probably be scarce for the next couple of days, although I'll try to check in from time to time.

I would also like to take a moment to thank my sponsor, Dad, for making this trip possible. And Johnson and Johnson, for the amazing prize! (Although I haven't seen the money yet, so it is possible that I just went out and stimulated** the economy to the tune of $400 in clothes and such and I will never see a penny of it back.)

See you on the other side of Chicago.

*You know, because of the name. Bean. Get it?

**Ha ha, I said stimulated.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Final Frontier

There has been talk about commercial space flights for years. Until now, it was really more science fiction than reality. But those dreams are finally coming to reality. Virgin Galactic*, a division of Virgin Atlantic, will offer sub-orbital space flight as soon as the end of this year, for the bargain price of $200,000.

I love the idea of outer space. I dream of fantastic worlds millions and millions of light years away. What would they look like? Purple skies, orange seas, six moons? In movies, aliens are always humanoids, but if there are intelligent lifeforms, and with all of the possible worlds out there it seems likely there are, isn't it realistic to think they could be completely different from anything we could possibly even imagine?

Sadly, I think I am more intrigued by the fantasy than the reality. A theme in my life, to be sure. The learnin' and schoolin' to get in to NASA is more than I could commit to, so the idea of a flight that anyone can take is very appealing. You can bet that if I had a spare $200k laying around that I would be on that ship. Of course, I would request a black spacesuit because the white? Does nothing for my hips.

Would you go?

*How much do I love this name?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Watchit Now Watchit

The other day I left Sophie in the living room, happily coloring on the coffee table, and went in to the powder room to, you know, powder my nose. I was mere steps away. As I sat there, I heard the distinctive sound of something heavy being dragged across the hardwood floor. I quickly finished up my business and skeedaddled back into the living room, whereupon I found this:

She had dragged the side table across the room up to the shelves, climbed up and turned on the stereo. My girl loves to shake a tail feather. What can I say, she just can't resist the classics.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shampoo and Cilantro

- Almost every time I take a shower, when I reach for the conditioner, I forget whether I have shampooed or not. To be sure, I shampoo before moving on to the conditioner. I'm pretty sure that I wash my hair twice at least half of the time. I must because I go through A LOT of shampoo.

- Sophie always has bruises all over her body. I am puzzled by this until I look down at my own body and realize that I, too, am covered in black and blue spots. Clearly, we are a graceful family.

- I just discovered, after six years together, that my husband doesn't like cilantro, which is one of my favorite things in the world. That pretty much closes off the list of my favorite things: artichoke hearts, capers, asparagus and olives. Sigh.

- I ordered something to be delivered "Ground." Does that mean they actually truck it across the country? Why would that be cheaper? It takes four days (at least) to get from coast to coast and uses a crapload of gas. If that isn't right, then what does it mean and why do they call it that?

- I might be becoming an Ebay junkie. There's just so much stuff. I am powerless to resist. This could be bad.

- I'm starting to feel like I can't leave the house with the Bean anymore. Every outing is disastrous. Even to the park. What. the. hell? She has become BEANZILLA.

- Only one week to Blogher! I have so much to do. I'm getting my eyebrows threaded tomorrow. I need to get a mani/pedi at some point and I still need to figure out exactly what I'm wearing, which might require some more shopping. Darn it. (That was sarcasm, btw.)

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nightime Rituals

I love sleeping with my husband. No this isn't that post. I don't mean in that sexy, sexy way. I love curling up next to his body. We aren't cuddlers, but some part of our bodies is almost always touching. A hand to a shoulder, a foot to a calf. Having this nighttime companion is one of the true blessings of marriage. The last thing we do every single night before we settle down to sleep is kiss and say I LOVE YOU. Even when we're mad. It is our ritual. Then we each roll to our sides of the bed. Neil puts on his eye mask and I settle in for some reading.

I am a troublesome sleeper. Nighttime is not the right time for me. I much prefer to get my z's during daylight hours. Unfortunately, my lifestyle (read: a morning person toddler. Why me, god, why?) does not permit this, so I attempt to conform. This means that while I lay down at the same time as my husband, it is usually hours before I fall asleep. The upside to this is that I get in some good reading time. The downside is that no matter what time I go to bed, the child is up at 6:30, raring to go. Most of the time, despite my nocturnal tendencies, I get by. There are often naps involved, but whatever it takes to get through the day, I always say.

Last night, I was awakened at 3am by my bladder, because if it's not the child, it's gotta be something. After a dark trip to the bathroom, I returned to bed and lay there. And lay there. And lay there. Sleep would not find me.

This went on for at least an hour, during which time I wished like anything that I could just turn on the light and read. But Neil is a light sleeper, hence the eye mask when I am reading at bedtime. If I were to turn the light on it would wake him up, something I am loathe to do, because if I am a bad morning person, he is a bad woken-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night person. So I lay there. And composed blog posts in my head. A frustrating activity because in that moment I am creating the blog version of War and Peace but when I attempt to recreate it the next day I cannot reconstruct the perfect phrasings that flowed so easily the night before.

It is these times that I miss the single lifestyle. I miss not worrying about waking anyone up when I can't sleep. I miss being able to roam about the entire bed. I miss being able to wrap myself up in all of the covers. Or conversely to sleep on top of them.

But the truth is that these moments of nostalgia are fleeting. Even as I wished I could turn on the light, my eyes were getting heavy. I stretched my leg out and hooked my foot over Neil's ankle. Asleep, as when we are awake, we are connected. I'll trade a few dark, sleepless hours for that any day.

Monday, July 13, 2009

An End To The Suspense

Some time ago, I entered a contest through Blogher sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. Called Pay The Way To Blogher '09, twenty lucky attendees would be given $1200 dollars that could be used to pay for Blogher conference expenses.

I entered the contest, thinking as I always do that I would not win, but I figured what the hell. I certainly don't have anything to lose and with 20 prizes, the odds were miles better than my chances of winning the lottery.

As it turns out, fate was smiling on me because I WON $1200!

While Neil keeps telling me that I shouldn't spend anything until the check is in my hot little hands (which he thinks will come in the form of a giant check at a lavish ceremony at Blogher a la Publisher's Clearing House) I was unable to control myself and bought four outfits and three pairs of shoes, using up 25% of the money before I even have it. Let it not be said that I wasn't true to the spirit of my mad money.

Chicago here I come!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sometimes Doing Chores Isn't So Bad

I'm going to a Blogher pre-party tonight. As expected, I'm a bundle of nerves. I've tried on twelve different outfits. I feel like I'm going on a blind date. With someone who cares what shoes I'm wearing. I'm always so jittery about these sorts of networking events. It was tough when I was doing it for a company and even more so when I'm doing it for me.

I just have to remember that everyone is nervous, and if they're not, they're psychotic.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Little Mystery

So I got an email last night that had some really amazing news, but ever the skeptic, I doubted.

And then I was like, ein minuten bitte, could this be real?

And then I got confirmation, and I was like ohmygod!ohmygod!ohmygod!weeeeeeeeeeeee!

And just as soon as I am 100%, no questions, for sure for sure, I will tell you all what it is.

What? Waiting never killed anyone. Or at least that's what my mom always said. I'm pretty sure it has taken down someone, somewhere, though, so I won't keep you in suspense for too long.

*No, I am NOT pregnant.

**No spilling the beans, MEP!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday Wonderings

- I cut up three jalapeno peppers and my hands are still on fire, like 10 hours later. Does anyone have any tips for preventing/fixing this?

- I'm having a helluva time sleeping lately. Not sure what the deal is, but I am not liking it. Update: Sophie let me sleep in this morning until almost 9am!! That is unheard of around these parts. She is normally up before the sun. Of course she was necked and covered in pee when I went in there, but it was a lot easier to tolerate after a good night's sleep.

- I really love it when it cools down enough at night to open up the windows.

- There is a lady at my gym who is there every time I am and she is always chewing her gum with a big open mouth (even though there is a gym rule against gum). She looks like a cow with her cud. It's disgusting.

- My allergies are going crazy right now. I touched my raw nose with my jalapeno hands. HUGE mistake.

- I believe my daughter might be a cheerioaholic.

- I can't decide what to do with my hair. I have an appointment this weekend and I don't know if I want to start growing it out or clip it back up short. Decisions, decisions.

- Just two weeks until Blogher. Squeeeeeal!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Roller Baby

Have y'all seen this? It's awfully darn cute.

My kid could totally do that.

Also, you must head over to Jori's and watch her Musical Monday video. It is flipping awesome!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fall River

When I was growing up, we spent many Fourths of July at my grandparents' lakehouse. Situated in a cluster of other houses, and some distance from the water's edge, it was among a tidy little community of summer dwellers.

My grandparents' lakehouse was basically one large room that was divided into living areas through the strategic placement of furniture. It had a style that was unique and eclectic, part nautical, part British, part garage sale. My grandparents, to be frugal and creative, had carpeted the entire space in samples. I'm not sure if there were two squares that were the same color, something my sister and I delighted in exploring. The place was never anything but spotless, but it had the air of a space that wasn't used often. It's been twenty years since I last set foot in there and I can smell it still.

Each year, everyone from their little lake community would throw in some money or fireworks and they would put on a big display. Unrestricted by city ordinances, they shot them off right in the middle of everything. Probably not the safest, but it made for one hell of a show. As we sat on lawn chairs or blankets, oohing and aahing at the bursts of light, the smoke would wash over us, filling our noses with that sulfuric odor.

Before we went to bed, we would all lay out on lawn chairs and look up at the sky. Removed from the city, under that big Kansas sky, you could see galaxy after galaxy full of stars. We would search for satellites, those slow moving pinpricks of light, bringing up conversations of the vastness of space and our little place in it.

To this day, when I think of my childhood Fourths of July, it is those experiences that call to me. It is because of them that I love fireworks. The big booms that come seconds after the explosion, the little pops, the zingers, the whistles, the hisses, and of course that smoky smell.

We introduced Sophie to the little ones this year. Just the stuff that we could legally (I think) fire off in our backyard. I had worried that she would be scared by the sounds and smell but at the end of our little fireworks show, she clapped. Spontaneously and unprovoked. Watching her renewed my own sense of awe at these wonders.

I hope that we can build on the emotion of those old traditions to create our own.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Step One

Hello. My name is Cara and I'm an addict. I don't have a problem with drugs or alcohol, although I do enjoy a glass of wine from time to time. My problem is shoes. I love them. No, more than that, I LOOOVE THEM. High heels, flats, sandals, boots, brown ones, black ones, Jimmy, Christian, Steve. They all have a special place in my heart.

It is not an exaggeration to say that I have a hundred pairs of shoes. It's the truth. The sad fact is that of those, I only wear a half dozen or so with any regularity. The rest sit in my closet or on one of the shoe racks that don't fit in my wee closet, wearing tiny little sad faces, begging me to put them on. Periodically, I go through them and make the painful but necessary decision to clear them out. Because the plumber needed to get into my closet to access the pipes for the tub*, today was an opportune time to do a little thinning of the shoe herd. The purge consists of three types of shoes:

1. The Fashion Victim. Those shoes that were so darling and hip that I just couldn't resist them in the store, yet when I got them home discovered that wearing them was so painful that I never actually make it out of the house in them. They are all in pristine condition.

(I love these shoes, but they are so unbelievably tall that I can't actually walk in them. A friend of mine fell and broke her ankle while trying to walk in a pair just like them. True story.)

2. The Impulse Buy. Quirky shoes that were purchased either because they were on sale or for a particular outfit and now they just don't work with anything I currently wear. Typically in close to pristine condition. Slight wear and tear.

(These went with a formal gown I bought a few years back. They are a gorgeous deep red color and aren't terribly uncomfortable but I just don't know what to wear them with. They seem a little much for jeans.)

3. Tired Old Soles. Shoes that I have legitimately worn out. This is a small number, but it does happen. These are in embarrassing condition. For a middle class American chick. My standards of worn out are probably not the same as a kid in the slums of India.

(These old dogs saw me through many a day. I'm sad to see them go, but go they must. I should probably just throw them away, but I just. can't. do. it.)

All of these shoes, and quite a few of their friends, will get bagged up and trundled down to the neighborhood Good Will store in hopes that some financially challenged shoe fashionista will take them home and love them. While there are some that might think I only do this to make room for new additions, I prefer to think of myself as a philanthropist. That's right, folks, I'm a giver.

Do you suppose it is too early to apply for sainthood?

*Sophie threw a string of mardi gras beads into the tub as it emptied. Before I could snatch them, they had zipped down the drain, where they caused mayhem on our 60 year old pipes. $325 later, the tub drains and we have a sparkly new drain cover to prevent such accidents from happening again.