Sunday, May 31, 2009
Over the last few weeks though, one has been building. It is generic. It is to any and all Baa's. Ironic, huh?
This weekend the lovey was solidified. She spent all weekend dolling out hugs and making replica whale noises.
Luckily, it is her Sleep Sheep and can easily be replaced when the time comes.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I’ve gone through these interview and reviews for years. They have never been more than a slight inconvenience. Until this last review.
I assume the investigator never found any issues with my past behavior as I still have my job, but she really did try to find something. She asked me the same questions over and over and over again, during interview after interview after interview. Finally I grew terse with her in a post 5 pm Friday phone call, which for me is as good as yelling.
I never did hear from her again after that call.
The one of questions she kept asking me was, “How come you don't have any friends that knew you before you moved to Maryland?”
This has stuck with me and keeps bouncing around in my head. (Obviously)
I see this as a (perceived) accusation that there is something wrong with me for not having 40 phone numbers programmed into my cell phone and a Facebook page full of people that I don’t know in real life. I kept wanting to defend myself with long explanations, but told myself that it was none of her business. Keep my answers short, she doesn’t need to know WHY I can count the people that I would call my friends on one hand.
Yet, I keep writing this post and then deleting it.
How much information is enough? How much is too much? Is it my right to air my memories of final acts in a forum that they would never be able to respond? Is it my right to air their hurt?
I don’t know. But I am writing this blog for Grace. For my family to know things about me that I might not be able to say to their face. So they can understand me better.
So here I go:
My friends, my true friends, know that I love them. I call them. I smile at them. I talk to them. I include them in my life. I have no secrets from them.
I decided long ago that this would be my mantra.
I believed that friends that drifted away weren’t really friends. I know that friends that would intentionally speak ill of me are not my friends. I have a one strike – maybe two – policy. Any hurt after that will be done to someone else.
- K was my best friend from infancy to grade school. She developed breasts early, which made her popular. I did not, which made me not cool enough for her and the other brassiere wearing legions to hang out with.
o Her final act was convincing me to talk to the most popular boy in school on the playground because he had a crush on me. She made sure everyone stopped to watch and orchestrated a wave of laughter.
- E was my best friend in junior high. She was a new girl from California and had no bias like the rest of the school that I had been with for the last 7 years. In the final weeks of 8th grade, the high school activities recruiters came around. We decided to be band geeks together and she wanted to talk to the cheer squads too. Once we were in high school the social cliques pulled us apart.
o Her final act was telling me that she had to go straight home after school on a half day instead of having lunch with me. So I went out with my dad. She was sitting in the restaurant with a group of girls who whispered when they say me. I knew E felt bad, but she said nothing. They laughed as I walked out.
- D was best friend for the next 3 years in high school. I spent the rest of my freshman year alone. I could never imagine my life without her in it. We did everything together. When I went to college we were still in contact and I gave her a list of friends for her to lean on at her University the following year. She took my advice and went on a date with B on my recommendation.
o My final act was doing nothing. She called me the next night in tears, because she needed someone to talk to. B had assaulted her. No, she didn’t want to call the police. She didn’t want anyone to know. She just needed to talk. So I talked, but I did nothing. She stopped calling me after that and part of me was grateful because I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t make it right. I had hurt her and she had every right to quit me.
- L was my best friend in college. We, again, did everything together. Maybe we did to much together because I never realized what she was doing. I knew she resented that two of her ex-boyfriends asked me on dates after breaking up with her. I always said no, and never told her. I tried to pretend like it never happened, but I knew on some level that she knew.
o Her final act was my realization of the rumors she spread about me. When Matt and I started dating seriously, I questioned him as to why he hadn’t asked me out earlier. He said L told everyone who listened that I was a slut that slept with anyone with a pulse. I asked every. single. mutual friend we had and they all told me the same story.
So that, dear investigator, is why I don’t have tons of friends.
I am cautious of who I let into my life and don’t feel the need to keep friends that don’t make me feel good about myself. I married the one person who has known me the longest and he has never let me down.
The glorious women I have in my life now are solid. You have their names and numbers. Talk to them, they know everything important that there is to know.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
OK, hate is a little bit dramatic.
What I've always mocked.
Even after Grace was born, I still stuck by the notion that parents who listen to kiddie music and watch Elmo were suckers. I still believe that, I'm just slowly sinking into the sucker category.
At home the TV is always on. I know, I should have principals against that, but I don't. I like the noise and I'm lazy. However, the TV is on SportsCenter or Style - NOT - kiddie programing.
Monday I broke though. Grace decided that the 3 hour naps she took on Saturday and Sunday meant that she didn't need to sleep on Monday. About 4 hours into the meltdowns I turned on Noggin's Little Bear in the hopes she would at least lay down and snuggle for a few minutes. You know, take a quick break from smacking her head on sharp corners. We made it through one 15 minute episode. Then she was done.
The kiddie music though, oh, I have definitely failed that one.
No, we don't listen to CD's really. At least not kiddie ones. In a pinch, I turn on the CD with her ever present favorite song, I'm Yours. (Yeah, it quickly over took Pink.)
But the singing. The singing!
The child cannot get enough of The Wheels on the Bus. This is amplified by the sudden connection of what a bus is AND the fact that we pass 40 of them on the way to work. (The hazard of working at the junction of two counties and a heavy Metrobus route.)
So now, NOW, we HAVE TO, sing The Wheels on the Bus for at least half an hour each way. If nothing else, there is a quick declaration of 'All two toouwwwm.'
And I comply.
How can I not? It makes her so happy, which makes me happy.
Like I said, I am officially a sucker.
Friday, May 22, 2009
My father is not one for flowers or presents in general, for that matter. As far back as I can remember, either I bought gifts for him to give to my mom, he gave her a horrible one he picked out himself (ehem - can you say roadside emergency kit?) or he just doesn't buy her anything at all. I am 100 precent sure he has never bought a single gift for me himself.
Except for one.
When I was born though, he came to the hospital with roses. As mom tells the story, two dozen perfect yellow roses. One for me and one for her. I have an affinity for yellow roses. In my mind, yellow symbolizes love a million times more than boring old red roses.
Today, a rose bloomed in my back yard.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
So this is a big weekend for us. We are building a deck around the pool and we are indeed planning, controlling and freaking out.
Sure, we had contractors come out and give estimates, but they wanted SO much money to do it. We got $7,000 estimates for something that is costing us about $1,500 in materials. Combine the price difference with the fact that we have just enough handyman talent to be dangerous, and look out.
Of course, when I am saying 'we' through all this, I mean Matt. Matt is the one with the handyman talent.
My brother loves to (semi) joke that our dad thinks anything can be fixed / created with a screwdriver, hammer and a monkey wrench. When he hung a ceiling fan for them a few years ago, my dad presented him with a screwdriver, hammer and monkey wrench to get the job done. When he (tried) installing a door for them last year, my dad once again gave him said screwdriver, hammer and monkey wrench. The ceiling fan went fine (after a hunt for more tools) while my mom had to purchase another door and hire someone to install it.
Given all this, how am I expected to actually know how to fix anything?
What I lack in technical skills though, I make up for with creativity and vision. I am thinking about doing multiple tones on the deck, which I haven't informed Matt of yet because I know he will think I am crazy and say no, but I guess I just told him - so honey - I am using multiple colors on the deck. It will be pretty. You'll see.
We are building a deck. The materials are being delivered Friday morning. Construction starts 48 hours-ish later. Neighbors beware. There is a racket coming this weekend, and it's a long weekend too, so be prepared for three days of racket (with stoppages from noon to 2pm so our child can sleep).
But don't worry, come August when it is so humid you can't breathe, you now have friends with a deck that will be able to endue hurricane force winds and stain application that looks like something out of a home decorating magazine.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
It IS a big deal in our house though.
You should see her face when presented with new shoes. She gets so happy. Last night's presentation of the new shoes was greeting with shrieks of Yay! and happy feet stomping, followed by demands to immediately wear them. So long Abigail's.
Not to even mention the amount of time I spent obsessing about this pair, her first real pair of big girl shoes.
No more soft bottoms for Gracie.
In fact, the purchase of these new pretties was moved up by the fact that she had torn a hole in the bottom of her shoes, presumable from the vigorous outdoor play. Franky, I wouldn't want to be running on wood chips wearing slippers anyway, so I had been feeling a little bad that she was doing just that.
So I present the new Pedipeds - the Janines.
Grace has already fallen about a dozen times this morning. Presumably due to the new concept of actual grippers on the bottom of her shoes.
Plus, in keeping with her tradition of taking off her shoes and socks anytime we are in the car, she has also realized that these have removable cushion inserts too. Now, not only do I have to put socks and shoes back on while she kicks at me, I must cram 4 inserts back into the shoes too.
Good times, good times.
Monday, May 18, 2009
It it seems like so long ago, and really for all Matt's effort it was.
All of his training for bigger and better triathlons left him with a lot of wiggle room during this one.
Of course he was tired.
A 1.5K swim (about 0.9 miles), 40K bike ride (25.5 miles) and 10K run (6.2 miles) will do that to you. He pushed through through the rain and wind - but - he also admitted later that he knew he was doing really well during the run and was tempted to slack off a little.
He powered through and still ran 9 minute miles with energy to spare at the finish line. He shaved 45 minutes off his time from last year. I guess shave isn't the right word. Amputate seems much more appropriate. He chopped it off.
Again, I am so proud. I know how hard he's worked for this. Sure, having spent a little extra money on nicer gear helps, but it isn't anywhere near the top of the line products, and he still has to push through himself. The nice bike doesn't get up to do a 5 am swim, a 12 pm run and a 3 pm bike for him.
It was a winning event for me too.
I found easy in and out parking. I changed a diaper on the ground and in a slight drizzle with little damage. I only ALMOST sent Grace careening down a slick hill into a pit of weeds. (ALMOST, reflexes like a cat.) With Jen's enduring friendship (because it does take a great friend to get up at 5:30 am on the weekend to sit outside in 50 degree rain with you) I / we were able to entertain Grace for 3 hours.
This is the beginning of what I know will be a great summer.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I've been thinking about beauty on and off today. Matt tells me that I'm beautiful all the time, but I guess you become slightly immune to your husband saying it. While I know he means every syllable of the word, the cynic in me doubts them.
Why is it, as women, we seem to be programed to look for flaws, picking away at our own warped body perceptions and dismiss contrary declarations as obligation?
Today, I also WANTED to tell someone they were beautiful.
I held back.
I thought / knew that marching up to someone I had just meet 30 seconds earlier in a workplace environment and declaring their beauty would be poorly received. But lord she was beautiful. She had the most exotic, striking face I've ever seen. And I'm sure she looks in the mirror and picks herself apart for it.
When I was about 7 months pregnant with Grace, I was stopped by a stranger outside of the hospital I went to for checkups. As she neared me, I she made direct eye contact with me and smiled. I just have to tell you, she said, you look so beautiful.
I was shocked. I blinked and said thank you. She kept walking in her direction and I in mine.
That comment got me through the next two months with my head held high. Today's comment will get me through the next few months with my head held high again.
I keep thinking about this though. If I don't believe in myself, if I don't think I'm beautiful, what kind of a role model will I be for Grace? If I don't take a compliment from Matt without a sarcastic grunt, why should Grace believe me when I say it to her in the coming years?
So I will start saying it out loud. To myself and others. I believe in karma and I am going to pay this one forward.
For others who need to hear it.
For Grace, so she is never surprised to hear the words You Are Beautiful. So she isn't shocked by them. So she believes them.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
My friend David and his wife just had their first child.
As cubicle neighbors, he spent a lot of time asking overwhelmed, not sure what to expect, first time daddy questions to me. I also spent a lot of time listening to his quasi-private conversations about the baby with his wife. (Because really, if we normally talk through a half wall he must have full knowledge that I can hear every word spoken when its not directed towards me. And frankly the conversations are more interesting than the work infront of me.)
The baby was born last Monday, three weeks early. I knew they weren't prepared. I didn't know that the baby shower had been the day before, but I knew HE wasn't prepared.
Today is David's first day back and he stopped by to show me pictures first thing. His little girl is beautiful. We all look forward to welcoming her into the folds of our little daycare community.
This is where the wisdom comes from.
The ability to look at the red bleary eyes and understand. Truly understand as someone who is not so far removed from those days themselves can only understand. To be able to offer sage advice as someone who has been there and done that. To assure him that taking a nap at your desk on your first day back is perfectly OK.
While in the end I can offer little useful advice since everyone has to feel their way out of the darkness themselves, I can offer my wisdom. My silence. My knowing smile. My friendship.
Congratulations David and welcome Anna.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Maybe it's just me, but I kind of come at it like birthdays and Valentine's Day. If you don't expect anything, it's a nice surprise when you get something. (Yeah, I know. There is a lot of childhood trauma wrapped up in that statement.)
It is now 8:03 PM. I wondered today - out loud - why we ever wanted children. Until approximately 6:45 pm tonight. Grace is just shy of 19 months old. She doesn't know today from any other day in the year, except for the fact that Daddy made the pancakes this morning. (Which I swear she did raise an eyebrow to - as in Hey, what are you doing to my pancakes? :)
Grace was a basket case today. We are chalking it up to an ear infection - she's been tugging on her ears for days. Then, as always, 5 pm on Friday hits and she started running a temperature. Still, she was horrible today.
Today consisted of:
Crying for no reason.
Begging to be picked up and then insisting upon being put back down. Then demanding to be picked up again.
Refusing to have a diaper change and then rolling around and smearing the poo everywhere as soon as said diaper was unfastened.
Not wanting milk and then screaming when you put it back in the fridge.
Similarly, screaming for food and then feeding it to the dog when presented.
It was a brilliant day.
Then we opened a bottle of wine and for whatever reason, it suddenly got better. I did feel sad, knowing in the moment of the wine cork pop, that I would not be calling a fellow Mama for post-dinner drinks tonight, but c'est la vie. The wine turned all of our moods around. That was worth the sacrafice.
Suddenly Grace was gigging. Sure it was because Matt was punting her Pedipeds over her like in make shift football form, but so what.
She was happy. I was happy. WE WERE HAPPY.
Now tonight, Mother's Day 2.0 is closing with a bang. I will suck down the rest of my wine, and drift off to dreams of a teenager who tells me "I love you mom. What can I do to make this day better for you?"
I know it is a dream, but it is my wine and my dream - so I can do with it as I wish.
Friday, May 8, 2009
I keep obsessing about our June trip. We made a decision. New York. I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Plus, there really is an added bonus of it being a family trip. It is giving and selfish all at the same time. We’ve talked about bringing my mom to NYC several times since we moved to the East Coast. It has never materialized though.
With this trip, we get to expose Holly and Grace to Central Park, the Zoo, 5th Avenue shopping, museums, iconic restaurants – all the things that I adore about the city – with the added bonus of Matt and I being able to escape at night for continued New York saturation.
That trip is at the end of June. Our calendar is filled until then.
This weekend was supposed to kick off Matt’s triathlon season, with a little local 5K run.
It was going to be momentous because not only was it the first 5K he ever ran, now two years later he had a decent chance of winning his age group. Not the race – some high school track kid was sure to kick his butt - but he would have been a solid contender for his age group. Sadly, it was cancelled last weekend.
We will not be bored though. In the upcoming weekends we (by we I mean HE, but I will be there cheering so it is my time suck too) will:
~start building our pool deck
~the Columbia Triathlon
~continue building the deck
~the Pocomoke Triathlon (which is really a fun family trip to the Eastern Shore, but still another event)
~hopefully finish building the deck
~the Eagleman Triathlon
~have one weekend off (maybe a pool party?)
~trip to New York
~4th of July weekend (with the possibility of another pool party?!? – because hey – the deck was a lot of time and money. People should come appreciate it!).
Whew. I get tired just thinking about it.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
In fact, we’ve had 3 dogs, 5 cats, 1 bird, 2 turtles, 1 alligator (Jerry’s but I’ll still count it) and billions of fish. So I am rarely surprised by pet antics.
Our 2nd dog, Scooter, used to go on what we titled his “spring walk-a-bouts”. Every year when the nice weather hit after a long Chicago winter, Scoot would take off once or twice. Besides the obvious problem of a dog running around in traffic, we also had concern for the fact that he terrified most people. He was a BIG dog, gentle as a lamb, but BIG. A Shepard-Collie-Malamute mix that was easily over 100 pounds. When he stood on his hind legs, he could put his feet on my shoulder. I’m 5’10”.
We don’t have those issues with Little Rick. He is a pure breed Corgi and a little pork sausage of a dog. For the most part he was impeccably trained by his previous owners, despite the fact that he doesn’t respond to the fun dog tricks people expect like, ‘paw’, ‘roll over’ or even ‘sit’.
Over the last few weeks though, he seems to have had a late onset of Scoots walk-a-bout fever. He escaped from our fenced in back yard at least a dozen times in April. This prompted a round of spring maintenance (e.g. gluing the crappy plastic picket posts back onto its crappy plastic frame) but that dog is resourceful. Tricky. He was not about to be outdone. With the posts back in place, he is now squeezing his little body through the pickets.
So what do we do about his?
Rick is dumb. We don’t trust him to go pee on someone else’s yard and then come trotting back. He has no idea where he lives (but I guess that isn’t entirely his fault – we don’t walk him nearly enough and all the houses look similar in our neighborhood.)
Maybe with the upcoming summer we will need to start going for walks after dinner to get it out of his system … or place an add in the paper for a free Corgi to a good home.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Did you go to the Sheep and Wool Festival? How was it? He inquired.
My response? Horrible.
Grace loves making animal noises, so I figured why not go see some sheep. The festival was free and minutes away from my house.
It was pouring rain, but I was prepared for that.
I dressed in capri’s and my super cute donkey boots and outfitted Grace with the knock-off Crocs I bought for the upcoming summer. Neither one of us own a proper rain coat, but we’d be fine with an umbrella. Most of the exhibits are in pavilions anyway.
I was shocked at how many cars there were in the mud filled parking lot. Given the crowds and the aforementioned mud, I decided to skip the stroller.
About ¾ of the way to the first pavilion filled with sheep, my lower back started to spasm. Grace in my left arm, the umbrella being held over us with my right and my spine in an unnatural position sloshing though puddles.
The sanctuary of our first pavilion didn’t last long. Grace was excited about the sheep for about 10 seconds.
Then one looked at her and Baa-ed.
She started backing away from the animals, finger out wiggling back and forth, with a trail of shrill No No No’s to go with it.
Up Mama. Up. No No No. All Done. No Mama. Up up.
Silly me. I thought she would be excited over the animals.
So we wound our way through craft pavilions filled with yarns in every imaginable hue and texture. It was beautiful, except for the fact that my back was spasming again because Grace refused to walk - in fear of the sheep that are now 100 feet away, not to mention caged and leashed.
Why didn’t I bring the front-pack baby carrier that we’ve only used 2 or 3 times?
After two pavilions, Grace starts to relax and wants to walk.
Except she no longer wants to be picked up for transport between the pavilions or hold my hand in the crowds. After several smiles from strangers and declarations of her beauty, she has a melt down right in the middle of an entrance.
I can see the smiles melt off strangers faces and she proceeds to have her first official toddleresque lay-down-on-the-ground-screaming-and-flailing-in-a-public-place tantrum ever.
I could care less about the strangers faces, but have you picked up on the fact that we are in an agricultural environment? Her back was now coated in the filth of rainy days and barnyard animals. Which then transferred to me when I hoisted her off the ground.
On the way back to the car she started to do the arching pissed-off baby yoga in my aching arms and I gave in. I put her down on the ground. I crouched down, trying to keep her head dry with my umbrella (and getting poured on myself) while she happily splashed in puddles and got admiring coos from passerbys. (The knitting crowd is an easy target.)
Anyway, in the middle of all the splashing and cooing - splat - down she went. Thankfully it was right before a big puddle, but the shins of her pants are soaked and covered with mud. I gave up on the umbrella and collapsed it for the next portion of the adventure.
Picking up a pissed-off, muddy, wet child who is screaming, doing baby yoga and kicking me in the stomach for my efforts.
We dash through the rain back to our car in the crowded parking lot. It was kind of like being at the mall. I was stalked by and SUV looking for a closer parking spot.
So I'm trying to make a pissed-off, muddy, wet child who is in full blown snot-filled hysterics, sit still so I can buckle her into her car seat - with a car humming and eyes boring holes into the back of my head watching this whole scene take place.
I really did think about just letting her lie on the floor for the 12 minute car ride home.
*Did Not Make Mistake #6*
I wanted to, but I didn't. I held her down until she relaxed enough to snap the belts closed. Then spent 3 more minutes trying to peel off my coat - sweat soaked on the inside and rain soaked on the outside.
And that - dear coworker - was my hour at the Sheep and Wool Festival.
No, no I don't think we'll be going back next year.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
At the time I was slightly concerned about the beads - the strangulation hazard of it and all - but I humored her and brought it all back to Maryland with me.
The beads sat unnoticed by Grace until about a week ago. It was like some sort of girly light in her head went off, and she fell in love with them. When at home, she wears them non-stop, as you can see by this photo (in case you didn't them past all the paint).
Then a little light went off in my head.
The first trip Matt and I ever took together was to New Orleans. No, not for Marti Gras, but on Bourbon street bead vending is always in season. In fact, it was one of our most memorable trips, because we took Amtrak from Southern Illinois to New Orleans - and it was horrible. Once we got past Paducah, Kentucky (What? You've never heard of Paducah? :) we were sick as dogs. The train rocked like it was on the high seas during a hurricane - with the supplement of bad cafeteria food wafting out of the snack station.
Anyway, we left New Orleans with sever hang overs (who know a Mint Julip wans't smiliar to a Grasshopper?) and quite a collection of beads. The have been also been supplemented over the years with beads from the sky show at the Rio in Las Vegas and the necklace that comes with a Lobsterita at Red Lobster. (Classy, I know.)
I've never wanted to part with the beads, even though I've had no use for them for the past 10 years. They've been collecting dust in a box in our basement.
Thank you my colorful friends. You'll be living up to your full potential now.
Friday, May 1, 2009
I think they are using our children as slave labor to recreate a toddler version of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
And despite the teacher's reassurance that the paint is all washable, we have now run that outfit through the washer 3 times.
Everyone is talking about this. A lot people are panicking about this. My head wants to explode. IT’S THE FLU!
How is this any different from flu season during the year?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that “about 36,ooo people die from flu-related causes” every year.
When this scare of H1N1 reaches thoses levels then we can talk.
We’ve all had our flu shots this year. I try to wash my hand reguarly for the predescribed “20 seconds with hot water and soap”. I do fail in the “avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth” category – I always have my hands on my face, but that is just another reason why I try to wash my hands often.
So far, the CDC is reporting that there have been 109 cases in the US and 1 death. One. And he was a little boy – not that the death of a child is ever OK, but it is the very young, very old and chronically ill that make up the 36,000 deaths number. As of today, the World Health Organization is reporting 330 cases in the ENTIRE WORLD.
I feel like I am writing a book report of a high school social sciences class right now, but I can’t help it. Maybe Grace will find this interesting in 10 years and laugh about how silly people were. Maybe I am wrong and the whole world is going to fall on this Influenza Plauge, but I don’t think so. And I am beside myself with the hype and media coverage over the flu.