Thursday, April 30, 2009


My mom called with fabulous news yesterday.

She wants to come out here. (Nice news, but not fabulous.)

To watch Gracie. (Good news, but not fabulous.)

So Matt and I can escape for a weekend without her! (Yes, that is the fabulous part.)

Ahh. Vacation....

But then we started to flip through calender. The soonest this can happen, between her weekends off and Matt's triathlons is the end of June. The weekend after we were already had already made tentative plans to take a quick weekend trip as a family.

Now the conundrum - and what a wonderful one it is to have-

Do we still go on the family trip? (If so, it greatly reduces our ability to spend money the week after.)

Do Matt and I just go on a trip by ourselves? (And will we feel guilty?)

Do we say screw it all and just spend money we don't have like wildfire?? (Tempting, but not practical.)

Hmm. Like I said - what a wonderful problem to have.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sunny Days and New Words

When we arrived home last night, Matt was mowing.

In 95 degree weather.

(Not that the temperature makes any difference to this story, I just wanted to say how freaking hot it is here. In APRIL. 95 degrees. When I got into my car after work the thermometer said 105 degrees. IN APRIL FOLKS!)

Anyway, I digress....

As I was saying, when we arrived home last night, Matt was mowing and I set about getting dinner ready.

In true Gracie fashion, as soon as my hands were covered with the juices of raw meat she wanted to be picked up.

Down! Down! Doowwwwnn! (Because while she knows both up and down, she seems to get confused about which one is which.)

Knowing full well that Matt was outside, I decided to buy myself some time.

Gracie - Where is daddy? Go find daddy!!

Off she went, but I wasn't prepared for her response.

I had hoped she would wander into the other room and become sidetracked with toys, book, castle or all of the above. Instead she spent the next ten minutes wandering the house calling for him in the most forlorn voice I've ever heard out of her.

Daddy! Daddy? Daddy! Where you daddy? Daddy where you?

After I got over my initial shock that she knows the phrase "where you" I started to feel really guilty. How many parents send their kids on wild goose chases to occupy them?

I have vague memories of an Uncle constantly suggesting to me and my brother to go find "the snipes" in the back yard when we were children. I don't remember being upset about trying to search out a mythical bird he had created for his entertainment and our preoccupation though.

I guess in the end though it is all about keeping your sanity. And it is never a good thing to let sanity slip away while coated in potential salmonella and holding a butcher knife.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Strangers End

Yesterday I saw my first dead body.

OK, not really the first. I’ve been to wakes and funerals. I’ve forced myself to walk up to the casket and peer in. But yesterday – yesterday I saw my first REAL dead body. Well, a body covered with a big white sheet and boots sticking out.

On my way to work, traffic came to a halt. I flicked on the traffic channel and they said there was a fatal accident at 29 & 198, with Northbound 29 closed to traffic.

When I got closer to the scene, I saw what was causing the delay. For the first time ever I understood gapers delay. There was no wreckage. No mangled cars. No sirens. Just 6 police cars, an ambulance and 10 officers talking around.

And a body in the middle of the road. Just laying there.

The news said the accident happened around 4am. Why on earth is the guy still laying there?

I said a quick Our Father, as I always do when I see an accident - or even an ambulance going out on a call - and sped away from the scene.

On the way home I kept my eyes open for the spot.

It was horrible.

You could see skid marks all over the place. The police marked them with florescent paint. They circled points in the road. They made arrows showing the sequence of events. They recreated the man's last moments in a spray of hot pink, green and yellow.

At the end of the rainbow there was a big dark patch. I keep trying to tell myself that it was probably oil, but I know better. I’ve seen plenty of deer on the side of the road. It was blood. It is blood. A lot of it. And it will stay there until we have another big storm.

This is the news story.

Odd, huh?

I was so glad that Gracie didn’t know what was going on. It was just a traffic jam to her- a regular occurrence. I’m sure she was looking across the median. I’m sure her eyes fixated on the flashing lights. She’s not old enough to ask questions or to realize that there was a person under the white cover.

I dread the day that I will have to explain death to her and I’m so glad that day didn’t come in this context.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dirty, Dirty

You know the world is spinning a little off kilter when your husband comes in and says:

"Just talked to Shawn. We're going to have a sausage fest tomorrow. He has 16 Italians that he's bringing over. You just need to get some buns. Paul's bringing the beer."


Friday, April 17, 2009

Going on Safari

Today, I christen thee Spring. I wish I had a bottle of champagne to smash, or drink – whatever, to fully embrace today.

After a few weeks of teasing temperatures, I think that we can fully declare springtime in our nation’s capitol. It’s going to be 70+ degrees today, with the same promising warmth and sunshine tomorrow. In lieu of booze, we will be celebrating by taking Grace to the zoo tomorrow.

Some of my best childhood memories are from spending days, which probably added up to months over 15-ish years of childhood, strolling around Brookfield Zoo. It is funny, how even now, I know the layout of that zoo like tweens know the layout of malls. I have stories about statues and exhibits; I have memories of benches and stalls; I have smells forever engrained on my psyche; I have photos of hugs and laughter.

As a parent, I can’t wait to make our first trip to our new zoo, The National Zoo, and relive those memories through Gracie’s eyes.

This will be her first time to hear actual animals make noises instead of me and Matt. Sure she know the call and response to cow, horse, monkey, snake, lion, donkey, duck and more, but I want to see the excitement on her face when she gets to see a real live monkey hanging from a tree.

So stay tuned. We are charging the camera batteries tonight and there will be a full pictorial issue of our adventure coming shortly.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Here. Now.

The world of Mommy Bloggers is so sad right now.

I don’t know these people. I read their lives anonymously via the Internet, just as I suspect one or two people may read mine. I lurk around and read their stories – good times and bad – and feel more complete and justified with my life.

The choices I make. The choices I don’t make. The problems I just ignore and put back on the shelf until I feel like I can deal with them again.

To read these stories in a circumspect way makes me not feel so alone in the joy and woe of being a parent. It makes me feel connected to them and to this web-based world.

Then night fell on what I thought was a huge, monstrous web of people, and I am realizing how small and close knit Mommy Bloggers really are, which I suppose is part of the success of it.

I don’t know Maddie. I don’t know her family. To be honest, I had never read The Sphors are Multiplying. But all of a sudden the world went purple. People that I had never connected to in the world of Mommy Blogging all turned their Twitter avatars purple to show their sorrow over the loss of Maddie.

My favorite bloggers all wrote soul crushing posts about her loss. Their own loss.

And I cried.

Then another blogger lost their son.

Now another blogger, one that I adore, has a child in the hospital.

So I cried.

Parent’s don’t want to think about the death as it applies to children, especially their own children. It shakes me to my core to even fathom the idea, so I push it from my head.

And I cried.

I know there is a chance I will have to face challenges with Grace. I pray constantly that I won’t have to teach her about carbs, how to give shots, how to check her blood sugar.

But those challenges would be embraced with open arms over not have the opportunity to teach her anything ever again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Welcome Pooh Bears

For all my whimpering of Babyhood vs. Toddlerdom on this blog, Grace has made the official transition at school.

Yeah, sure it's 6 months late, but her move from the baby (Bunny) room to the toddler (Pooh Bear) room is huge. She is once again the little kid, but I know she can hold her own.

She now can run in manic circles, which is what she was doing when I picked up yesterday, willy-nilly without worry of crushing small, helpless hands resting on the floor. She is now in an atmosphere of straw cups instead of bottles. She eats at a miniature table with her friends instead of being strapped into a highchair. She sleeps on a little cot instead of pinned down in a swing.

Most of all, she gets new teachers. For the most part, I think her infant room protectors did a fantastic job. For the most part. I know they've loved her with all their heart. I know they are sad to see her go.

BUT. But....

Now, she get Mrs. Hagi. All of my daycare mama friends got to know Mrs. Hagi under freer circumstances 3 years ago. Grace and I only got her love for a few months before the Director decided to put her in the toddler room. In those couple of months though, I quickly learned why Hagi is so beloved.

Mrs. Hagi is one of the most beautiful people I have ever known. She is a practicing Muslim, who dresses conservatively and wears a hijab, so I don't really think about her physical appearance when I think of her beauty. (Although she certainly is beautiful without a lick of makeup.)

Hagi emits an inner glow. A warmth and compassion you can see from a mile away. She loves instantly with her whole heart and without pretence. She is the type who cries herself when she sees the tears of another.

And now Gracie gets her.

While I know Grace will have few memories from this time in her life, I hope she remembers Hagi. I hope she remembers a teacher that does not think twice about lying on the floor next to a tiny cot, during the few minutes she gets to herself during the day, to help a child sleep comfortably. I hope she remembers a teacher that lights up around her students and never tires of their antics. I hope she remembers all the hugs she will receive in the coming months.

I know I will.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Highlights and Lowlights

Hope you all had a lovely holiday.

While this weekend was both painfully long and exasperatingly short, due to Grace's new round of congestion, there were some definite highlights.

- Saturday
In an attempt to get Grace to take a nap, we drove to Virginia. We had one destination in mind- Trader Joe's and their Two Buck Chuck. Well, $3.49 on the east coast, but still, how do you complain about that.There is nothing like walking out of a store with a case and a half of wine, no matter what the price.

I could, however; complain about the fact that despite the 3 hours in the car Grace REFUSED to sleep more than 10 minutes, but what's the point of that.

- Sunday
We took Grace to mass again Easter morning.

(Yes, I said again. She and I went Palm Sunday too. Two weeks in a row, we are on a roll...)

Unlike last week, she was fussy from the moment we sat down. And unlike last week, 8am mass was full which gave less wiggle room.

Just as mass was beginning, the cross and processional making its way down the center isle, Grace let out the loudest, rip-roaring belch I have ever heard come out of that small body. The 15 year old boy, stuffed into a suit in front of us, turned around chuckling and said, "That was AWESOME! Way to go kid!"

Matt and I just looked at each other. Holding in our own laughter. I made some comment about the things that 18 month old kids do. Lucking the mass started moments later.

She was also the first screamer of the day.

Last week her outbursts were cute, in her baby babble she continued singing after songs ended. She was mesmerized by the music and singing and entertained by her book and purse full of Cheerios in between.

Yesterday, she was pissed.

She wanted to rip apart collection envelopes, dump her purse of snacks on the floor and pull / shred Kleenex. None of these (obviously) were acceptable. Timing herself well, she let out the first rappel of "No, No, No, NO!" shrieks during the first moment of silence she could grab onto. That's when she and Matt made their first, of several, trips out to the vestibule.

Leave it to Grace to feel the need to compete with the smell of Easter Lilies and organ music bouncing off the rafters.

Leaving the church though, EVERY. SINGLE. passerby comments how beautiful she was. Grace is a sucker for compliments, so she (and her attitude) became brighter with each complement.

Back home, she was thrilled with her Easter basket. A pop-up book, bathtub crayons, bunny ears, and eggs full of Nilla Wafers, yogurt bites and Cheerios.

What could be better? Matt's basket with Starbust jelly beans apparently.

We keep forgetting that her reach is extending. I put both baskets up on the sideboard in the dining room. During the first chance she got, Grace snagged an egg full of beans and popped it open.

I'm sure (I'm hoping) that the dog ate the majority of them, but she still had her mouth packed full when we found her.

Jelly beans are not like most other candies. They are all sugar and food dye.

Ever hold one too long or get it wet? Yeah, the color immediately runs off.

Now imagine 15 multicolored beans in a child's mouth. Way too many to chew, so they all just sit there in an expanding pool of saliva until she realizes they need to be spit out in a rainbow of drool that now covers the floor along with her shirt, hands and chin.

One more year until we do it all again.

Friday, April 10, 2009

ABC's & 123's

As you can see by her list of words, Gracie's knowledge and understanding of things is exploding. (Sometimes literally, in the form of temper tantrums, when she can't do something by herself.)

Her latest kick? Alphabet reciting and counting.

She's been dancing to the Alphabet Song for months now. Whether the song is via a dancing dog, refrigerator Leap-Frog toy, or my off key voice, the entire world stops and she sways to the song.

She knows key parts. The Alphabet Song, in her voice is sung: A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H. I. C. D. C. D. C. O. P. C. D. C. T. U. C. C. C. Z.

It WAS a similar phenomenon with counting 1-10.

One. TWO. Two. Two. Two. SIX. Six. EIGHT. Six. TEN. Yeah! (Always followed with a cheer of Yeah!)

Last night however, we hit a new milestone. If we count with her, she can fill in the blanks and do every other number. (Sort of.)

Me: One. Grace: TWO! Me: Three. Grace: Whore. Me (after giggling): Five. Grace: Sits. Me: Seven. Grace: EIGHT! Me: Nine. Grace: TEN! Yeah!

As annoying as it is after the 100th time, it would be annoying counting to ten 100 times correctly too. Eventually she will get it, and while I know I am biased, I think it is amazing that at 18 months she can ALMOST count to ten.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sea of Yellow

Everyday I drive past a little section of town that is really only used during the summer months for festivals and the Apple Butter markets.

Desolate right now without the tents and balloons, the town plans for decoration via spring flowers. Along the road there are fantastic patches of daffodils which have come up in full force in this wonderfully mild Mid-Atlantic spring.

This past Sunday we went down to that patch and took Grace's 18 month / Easter photos to send out to family.

It was a family event.

- I crouched with my back against the rail snapping photos and cursing the delay in my camera click.
- Matt did his best to wrangle Grace and return her to the flower patch every few minutes in her attempts to run out of my specified photo locations.
- Grace ran and looped her way through waist high patches of bright yellow flowers, pausing occasionally to explore, caress and then destroy.

A great time was had by all.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Forget Me Not

We hit another first yesterday.

It was more my milestone in motherhood and parenting, or lack there of, though. Yesterday, I FORGOT Gracie at daycare.

Not for very long. It's not like I left her at the airport or anything.

She spent an extra 3 minutes in the classroom that she loves so much, but I know she spent it waiting for me. She knows the schedule. She knows sometime around 3:45pm my face will come around the corner.

My excuse for forgetting her? She's been sick (no pickup duty) and I am easily distracted.

We arrived a little at daycare a little later than normal, which means I signed into work a little later than normal. Which means we will get home a little later than normal. Which means I was thinking about what we were going to have for dinner that could be created in half an hour's time.

My mind was going through freezer and pantry items, lists of work that needed to be completed before the weekend, plans for the weekend, plans for the month of April.... and zip.

Right by the daycare.

Right onto the the road.

I didn't get far.

I realized my mistake as I was turning out onto the main road and was quickly able to do a U turn and head right back in. I was only home in my head when I realized that there was no head bobbing along to Pink and Lady GaGa in the backseat.

Not before I got a disapproving snuff from a security guard though.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Technology. Great.

I am mobile again. My new cell phone came yesterday, in its shiny splendor, so now the three people who ever call my cell can dial once again.

This is the one I picked.

It is so sleek (read: smudges every time I touch it) and it is has so many features (read: I have no idea how to work it) and given this, it is making me feel REALLY old.

It will totally figure out how to use it this weekend and will probably love it come Monday, but right now it is just a little too fancy. It was the least fancy one they had though….

When did 30, OK closer to 31 than 30, but when did 30 become old?