While he was complaining about feeling bloated and irritable:
"I think I have my period. Only there's no blood coming out of my gash."
Discussing junkmail with my stepdad:
"I never throw it away without opening it. Because I might be a winner."
After I freaked out about the price of a medium popcorn and drink at the movie theater:
"If this was a first date, this is when I'd excuse myself to go to the bathroom ... and not come back."
Sunday, November 30, 2008
While he was complaining about feeling bloated and irritable:
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Searching for THE PERFECT GIFT for that special someone?
Your online homepage, ad fliers clogging your mailbox and every commercial you see, restaurant you eat out at, magazine you read, billboard you pass and store you enter will be screaming suggestions for the next 27 days.
An end table lamp at your local dollar store: THE PERFECT GIFT! A bedazzling sweater vest: THE PERFECT GIFT! A gift certificate to Hog-Tied Family Barbecue: THE PERFECT GIFT!
But are they really? Are those things really the perfect gift for anyone? Every time I see a suggestion like that, instead of trying to think which recipient on my list might legitimately want the item, I like to think to myself whether I would even enjoy it, let alone consider it the pinnacle of my Christmas morning.
And chances are pretty good that the answer is almost always a resounding no.
To further test my theory that items billed as THE PERFECT GIFT are actually far from it, I like to look at present ideas geared toward my demographic -- you know, desperate brothers, boyfriends or husbands trying to glean ideas. It seems magazines and online shopping networks always offer a top 10 for "the guy," "the gal" and "the furry friend" on your list.
So I like to see what they suggest for me.
Here is an actual list from Gifts.com:
1. Rudolf appetiser plates. Great. I'll pile them on top of the matching set I got as a wedding gift. And the Asian-inspired ones I got last year. And the pastel striped ones I got for my birthday. Do they come with extra cupboard space?
2. Reusable grocery bags. First of all, nothing says eco-friendly like putting a "green" bag in a cardboard box and covering it with yards of wrapping paper. And although this is an item I would enjoy, a reminder that I have to get groceries the next morning is not something I want on Christmas.
3. Wine-holder party plates. An appetizer tray with a slot for a wine glass. Ingenious. Now instead of breaking one or the other, the entire thing can go down in a blaze of glory when a toddler rips it from an unsuspecting parent's hand in effort to get at that last piece of cheese.
4. Voice-activated grocery list maker. If my husband spends $99.95 on something, it better freakin' sparkle.
5. Hurricane votive holders. I'll concede this one has potential. But the specific item suggested is covered in wrought iron in the shape of what looks like deer antlers. I do not live in a rustic log cabin. Nor do I want to.
6. Flower vase. Perfect for all those fresh roses I clip from my back yard in December.
7. Sweet dreams silk eye mask. I have a baby. The last thing I need is assistance in the sleep department. Frankly, I don't even need a pillow. Or a bed.
8. Diamond flower white gold necklace. Can't go wrong with jewelry, right? Except when it's so ugly you'd want to hide it under a turtleneck.
9. Membership to a wine of the month club. Because I'm sure no one can think of a better way to spend $407.40 right now. Frankly, they'd need a year's supply of alcohol to recover from the sticker shock.
10. Liqueur glasses. Judging by these suggestions, you'd think my sole purpose in life was throwing parties. And the few that I do host every year? I stick with paper cups for easy cleanup, thank you.
So pardon me if I get a little cynical over ads for THE PERFECT GIFT, but if they're that far off base for me, they must be pretty inaccurate for most of the other people I want to buy for too. I'll just do my best to ignore all the hyped-up gadgets and stick to giving personal items from the heart.
It's got to be better than taking the suggestion from my post office bulletin board.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
- The fact that groundhogs are hibernating right now.
- Officials at eBay for being awesome.
- Buy-one, get-one-free deals at the grocery store.
- Grandma Ople's Apple Pie recipe.
- Not having to recover from childbirth this Thanksgiving.
- Toby for being the best footwarmer ever.
- Deodorant. (Forget to put it on one day and you'll remember why you love it.)
- Jerry for walking around in a sleep-induced coma with his pajama pants around his knees after going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and collapsing back into bed with his bare ass in the air.
- The batteries for dying in at least three of Allison's obnoxious toys.
- Oh yeah, and my wonderful family who loves me despite my quirks and foul mouth, my friends who let me vent and tell me everything's going to be alright, my amazing husband who shows me every day what love is, and my daughter who is the only living being I would clean up that much poop for.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
It just keeps getting better.
Remember how I ordered Allison's birthday present from eBay? And even though I paid for it more than three weeks before the big day I found myself hoping above all hopes that the damn thing would arrive on our porch in the middle of her party?
The gift was an overstuffed little kid's chair. Since Alli loves playing with pillows, I figured crawling around on a soft chair would be the pinnacle of entertainment for her. Not to mention it would be something she could use for years to come while reading books, watching movies or just hanging out in her room.
Eventually I came around to the fact that it wasn't going to arrive on time, but the biggest disappointment was that I wouldn't have pictures of her sitting on the chair opening her presents. I had wanted to make it a birthday tradition for as long as her little butt fit into it.
The chair comes in two parts at Pottery Barn Kids -- a slipcover in a variety of fun colors and patterns and inserts to fill it. I had my mom pick up the cover at the store, but decided to save a few bucks on the insert and order on eBay. I picked a reputable dealer, or so I thought, who had 100 percent positive feedback.
The package arrived four days late, but I was thrilled when I saw it. It came just in time for Allison's nap, so I put her in bed and got to work assembling it.
But when I opened the package, it contained four pieces of raw foam. No cotton cover. No contouring and labeling like the illustration on my slipcover directions showed. No tags. Nothing that even remotely looked passable as a Pottery Barn product.
Bitch played me.
And dozens of others who didn't know any better apparently.
I could've bought this foam for 8 bucks at a craft store. Instead I paid $66 from someone who didn't think I'd notice the difference. And I waited all that time. And I was furious.
Every time I passed the chair for the next few days, I flipped it off. I have officially declared my hatred for the entire state of Texas because the seller lives there. And I even went so far as saying I'd like to take a jackhammer to her entire fake invantory.
The only bright spot? I got to leave my first-ever negative feedback. In all caps. Warning other potential buyers that the product is not as described.
And you know what?
Ever since I've gotten delightfully nasty hatemail from the seller.
Because eBay suspended her.
And suddenly the chair is a little more tolerable.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
So I found this ridiculously adorable dress at Baby Gap and decided I should probably get professional portraits taken of Allison at least once before she's old enough to get mad about it and throw a fit.
I'm not sure what I expected, but the price of some of the packages were so staggering, it was tough not to immediately quit my job, invest in some light stands and transform my finished third floor into a studio.
Instead I'll probably just keep going back once a year.
Because despite all the hassle of wriggling Allison into tights and ironing an itty-bitty dress, I can't wait to pick up the pictures we purchased in a few weeks. Here are the six shots she stayed still long enough to capture:
And to think the photographer suggested a muti-colored pastel background. I'm surprised I refrained from vomiting all over it.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
We counted down the days leading up to my daughter's first birthday party on a magnetic dry erase board on our fridge. Every morning we wiped it clean and wrote in a new number.
As the digits got lower, my stress level got higher.
I had spent weeks worrying about invitations, deciding what food to serve, picking a theme, getting decorations, making sure she had a pretty dress to wear and shoes to match. I made numerous trips to a variety of craft stores to prepare activities for the kids. And because I need my house to be spotless for guests, I moved furniture to vacuum underneath, cleaned windows and even dusted the baseboards.
To top it off, my husband and I were in the middle of an ongoing argument about my decision to purchase our daughter's gift on eBay. For a savings of $20, I will now have to admit I was wrong every time he feels the itch to retell the story. The present arrived four days late.
The party came and went in a flurry of wrapping paper and frosting. I have a few home videos and a bunch of photos to commemorate it, but the most memorable moment was something I never could've anticipated.
I had just made myself a plate of food, and as I took the first bite, my mom came up to me in a panic telling me to call 911.
My grandmother had opted to lie down before guests started arriving, but I hadn't thought much of it. I guess we figured she would tell us if something was seriously wrong. Now I know I should never underestimate her fortitude and stubbornness -- two traits that have served her well over the years, but apparently not always a winning combination.
I ran upstairs, dialed the numbers and provided my address.
Time unfolded as if in slow motion.
Within minutes, the paramedics arrived. My husband removed the baby gates so they could get the stretcher through. My parents accompanied her to the hospital, and I was left with a house full of people expecting a good time -- and a daughter who deserved it.
But all I wanted to do was cry.
It was only a few hours, I told myself. So I managed to go through the motions. With enough distraction, it wasn't too difficult.
But as soon as the last guest left, I raced to the emergency room. That night, my grandmother underwent surgery for a ruptured hernia below her stomach and spent the following three days in intensive care, then a few more in a regular recovery room.
I'd be lying if I said the event didn't change me in some way. The night before the party, I remember feeling overwhelmed that this would be something we have to do every single year. And if we have more kids, more birthdays. More streamers. More menus to plan.
But now I know they’re so much more than that. They're celebrations of life. A reason to gather loved ones and a great excuse to eat cake. The festivities are much less important than family and friends.
Next year when we use our dry erase board to count down the days before the party, I won’t be concentrating so much on the remaining tasks.
I’ll be looking forward to a full house and celebrating the milestone with my grandma.
The executive editor of a mom blogging community recently e-mailed me asking if she could feature some of my posts on their site in effort to provide more in-depth content.
Although my entries will be familiar to regular readers here, I think it's a site many of you might enjoy, so I thought I'd provide the link.
Check it out here.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
While driving past an advertisement for a local insurance agent:
"A face like that does NOT belong on a billboard."
After I said I didn't understand the license plate on the car in front of us that read BUG EYEZ:
"I can only hope it's referring to a facial disformity."
After taking Alli to get her first professional portraits taken:
"I can't believe how good they turned out! Especially because they were taken by someone I wouldn't have let come anywhere near our daughter under any other circumstance."
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
We took a ton of photos during Allison's birthday party, but the ones I love most are the cake pictures. So, I've decided to dedicate an entire post to the sweet stuff.
My family has a "cake guy." He has helped us celebrate many things
over the years. And for many generations. We won't let him retire.
Dad! FINALLY! Bring on the cake!
I think I'm more excited than she is. She squished it between
her fingers for a good few minutes before ever taking a bite.
But once she did?
She shared her bounty with Toby.
Once cake turns to a semi-liquid, it permeates every surface.
If you watch closely, Jerry totally steals a bite.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I won't have regular nightly access to my computer because my mom is staying in our guest room in effort to help my grandmother through her likely weeklong recovery at the hospital.
The good news is that she'll probably be out of intensive care soon. Oh yeah, AND MY MOM HAS VOLUNTEERED TO WATCH ALLISON IN THE MORNING SO I CAN SLEEP!
Anyway, when I visited my grandma this afternoon, one of the first things out of her mouth was dictating how to handle the work she has to do for planning the New York State Music Association's annual winter conference.
I just laughed.
It's nice knowing at least some of my neuroses are part of my genetic makeup.
Last night before bed, I silently prayed for Allison's chair to come in the mail.
Tonight I'll be praying for my grandma to make a fast recovery from her emergency surgery.
I guess sometimes life has a way of putting into perspective what a complete and total stupid shit you're being.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Happy birthday, little girl! How is it possible that you're 1? I've been scratching my head all week wondering where the time went.
But when we're in the guest room and the computer goes to screen-saver mode and starts scrolling through all your photos, I realize just how much you've changed. We sit there together, talk about "baby Allison" and marvel at how different you looked each month.
I just hope I cherished all of those moments enough.
A few days ago, I was standing in line at the deli while getting our groceries for the week and the man in front of me was telling the woman behind the counter all about his new little girl. He was rattling off her birth stats and I couldn't help but smile. Never one to shy away from a conversation, I congratulated him and told him he was in for one of the most interesting years of his life.
But after his order was filled and he walked away, I couldn't help but think there is no way to convey to someone with a new baby what lies ahead. All of the adjectives in every language on the planet couldn't describe all of the ways you developed and grew and affixed yourself to my life and my heart and my being.
Just by being you.
As usual, the changes abounded this month. The most exciting thing is that you've developed a sense of humor. You now know what it means to be funny, and apparently you've inherited your father's desire to make people laugh.
I'm not exactly sure how it started, but I was holding you in my arms one afternoon and we spent a good five minutes taking turns sticking our tongues out at each other. You would do it, I would laugh, then I would do it and you would laugh. It continued for so long that, by the end, we were both laughing so hard and loud that we had to stop and catch our breath.
I can honestly say that I have never laughed so freely and genuinely at something so simple.
You also started initiating peek-a-boo this month -- and crack yourself up in the process.
Dad had just gotten home from work and we were all sitting in the hallway, tossing a stuffed carrot to Toby when you crawled into the bathroom and got behind the door to play with the springy doorstopper. When you were out of sight, we asked, "Where's Allison? Where'd she go?"
At once, you peeked into view with a huge grin on your face, laughed and swung the door shut. Dad and I looked at each other expectantly, wondering whether you'd do it again, when we heard another giggle. Then you opened the door and peered out, squealing. And closed the door again.
You constantly remind me to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.
You also started walking this month. Placing one foot in front of the other. On your own.
You have been doing it with assistance for awhile now. I try to encourage it by making you walk from room to room rather than carrying you. You are so excited by your new skills that you screech when I grab both of your hands. Then you take off before I can even point you in the direction we need to go.
When I take one hand away, you continue to walk a little more cautiously, but only with the goal of getting my other hand back. You keep going, arm outstretched, unable to understand why I wouldn't just give it to you.
Believe me, I would like nothing more than to be there to hold your hand forever, figuratively if not literally, but sometimes it means doing what's best to help you grow.
And it paid off last week.
We had just gotten up for the morning and you stood in the center of the guest room amid all your toys, smiled and took three steps toward me in your footed pajamas.
It's a good thing Dad and Toby were still sleeping because I probably would've scared you with the cheer that wanted to erupt out of me. Instead I just clapped and hugged you close. I know someday those steps will be going in the other direction, so I want you to know that I'm reveling in the fact that your first ones were motivated by your desire to get closer to me.
We also started attending a weekly play group at the library. You are by far the youngest one there, but you don't seem to notice or care.
The very first day you crawled out of my lap, went up to another little girl and handed her the toy you had been playing with. One of the other moms, whose son is the next youngest, kept remarking how outgoing and social you are. I had been worried that lack of interaction with other kids would inhibit your social skills, but like many things already, you've proven me wrong.
Most of the other kids stick close to their grandma or mom, but you crawl freely around the room, inspecting things, using other people's legs to stand up, handing toys to the big kids, patting heads and sharing your smile.
Everyone remarks what a happy little girl you are.
I'd like to think that I had something to do with it, but most of that is just you, Alli. You seem to have a very special gift -- a caring and constantly sunny disposition. Even if you lose it on occasion, I hope you're always able to summon it when you need it most.
You also attended your first concert this month. I know, it sounds absolutely crazy. And, believe me, we questioned whether or not you'd even understand what was going on, let alone enjoy it. But when Dad got free box seat tickets to see the Wiggles, well, we couldn't resist.
After all, you're crazy about music.
So we put you in the car and hoped for the best. The box had all sorts of fresh fruit, so we knew we'd have a fallback if anything went horribly awry. If there's anything you love more than music, it's melon.
But when the Wiggles took the stage, you were completely enamored. So much so that I was able to ignore the fact that I've traded concerts by Grammy Award-winning artists for creepy, overly enthusiastic middle-aged men singing about their lame-ass car. It was so fun watching you take it all in.
Dad hoisted you on top of the table in front of us and you bopped to the beat, clapping and smiling and otherwise just being completely adorable. Even among all of the older kids in the box who clearly had an understanding of who the Wiggles were, I would bet anything that you enjoyed it the most.
And we didn't even have to shell out 19 bucks for a glowing rainbow wand.
Allison, I've been looking forward to writing this letter all year. It's absolutely unfathomable to me that I was pacing the halls of a hospital one year ago, anxiously awaiting your arrival. There are parts of that day that will forever be ingrained in my memory, but most of all the moment I got to look at your face for the first time.
Anyone who doesn't believe in love at first sight hasn't had a child.
I had no idea what I was in for when you came into our lives, but any expectations I had about what parenthood would be like were far exceeded. You've given me purpose. My life has more meaning than it ever did before. Of all the jobs I've had in the past and even those yet to come, none will be more important than being your mother.
And in exchange, you've allowed me a second chance. An opportunity to experience everything for the first time all over again. What used to be mundane is now something to explore -- textures, sounds, lights, colors and flavors. I'm enjoying things I haven't paid attention to in years.
So, yes, this day is for you. And it always will be. I can't wait to watch you squish cake in your hair and ignore your presents in exchange for eating the wrapping paper. But every year as we sing to you, I won't just be celebrating the day you came into this world. I'll be celebrating having you in my life.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Now I know why parents shell out an exorbitant amount of money to reserve a corner at Happy Fantastic Fun Zone with soggy pizza for their kid's birthday.
I've officially gone over the edge trying to plan for Allison's party on Saturday. I've been obsessing over activities for the little ones, what to put in the treat bags, making food and cleaning my house all while working a seven-day stretch with four or five hours of sleep a night.
I'm completely frazzled.
To top it off, I ordered Allison's gift on eBay almost three weeks ago and IT ISN'T HERE YET. Leaving all of the negative feedback in the world for that seller won't make me feel any better about the situation.
Yes, I know Alli is too young to know that her own parents were the only ones who didn't get her a gift on her birthday if it comes to that. BUT I WILL. And so will Jerry. What upsets me most is that it was all in the name of saving 20 bucks. And, trust me, the stress barometer would've been much more manageable if I had just sucked it up and ordered from the store directly.
I try to stop my head from ticking through everything that needs to be done, but it's impossible. I'm even dreaming about it at this point. I feel the anxiety welling up so much that I'm amazed the acid in my stomach hasn't eaten a hole through my abdominal wall, allowing my intestines to cascade all over the floor.
Maybe it'll happen right as I answer the door for the first guests.
"Excuse my entrails," I'll say. "Help yourself to drinks. I lost sleep over whether to go with Coke or Pepsi products. Coats can go upstairs on our bed. And please note that I neurotically took the time to dust the baseboards. Crafts will start soon for the kids. I made four trips to three different stores to get everything -- just don't ask how many trips to the grocery store I made. Or how many times I forgot the damn rolls. Grab a seat now, space is limited. The payoff will be that the cake is amazing. I spent the entire month trying to teach Allison to blow out a candle, but only succeeded in nearly setting her hair on fire. And, oh, I DON'T HAVE A GIFT FOR MY OWN DAUGHTER. Enjoy the party!"
And, OH MY GOD, do I really have to do this every year?
I think childbirth was easier.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Remember that really awesome groundhog that came into our yard every morning in September to munch on the pears that fell from our tree?
The one I made Toby wait for before I let him outside so he wouldn't disturb the little guy's breakfast?
The one I held Allison up at the kitchen window to see as he ate?
Well, apparently he didn't get his fill gorging on our fruit.
Because the little shit chewed through all of the wires underneath Jerry's car. Important wires. Wires that attach to parts that cost $400.
When all of the indicators on the dashboard of his car started flashing like Christmas lights set to "epilepsy-inducing," we figured it was time to take it to a professional. The technician immediately spotted the problem -- wires that hadn't stood a chance against a gigantic gnawing rodent.
Knowing I wouldn't believe him, Jerry came home holding a little box -- a coffin of sorts -- for his engine's primary and backup oxygen sensors. Sure enough, the wires had three places where it was shredded into a mass of frayed metal.
Of course I don't wish the groundhog harm, but if he comes back next year, I won't be quite so accommodating.
Maybe the pears that fall off the tree will make their way into more pies. Or the trash.
Maybe I'll let Toby go outside whenever he feels like it.
Maybe Allison and I will open the door and step out on the back porch instead of looking out the window.
Or maybe I'll just buy a bear and chain it to Jerry's bumper.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I've had a lot weighing on my mind the past few days that I can't write about, which usually translates into not writing at all. If this can't be my outlet, it's tough to summon the drive to put fluff up instead.
But one of the things miraculously cleared up yesterday when I got my period.
I'm not pregnant!
I'M NOT PREGNANNNT!!!
(Heave huge sigh of relief here.)
Because I was nursing up until about a month ago, I refused any form of hormone-based contraceptives, which leaves very few options, actually. So we stuck with tried-and-true, 99.9 percent accurate condoms.
They've always felt like a very safe barrier. Like having the ultimate bouncer at the door to my very exclusive club. So exclusive, he doesn't let anyone in. No matter how many thousands show up.
Then one broke. Right around the time I ovulate. And it was tough not to panic.
I didn't notice any of the signs I had remembered with Allison. Sure, I was exhausted, but that's because I'm constantly sleep-deprived. Sure, my boobs were sore, but that's because Allison slams into them when she careens into me after taking a few steps. Sure, my eyelashes did look more thick and lustrous ... well, hell, maybe? Oh, shit.
The next few weeks, Jerry tried to convince me it wouldn't be that horrible. Sure we weren't ready. Sure I just got my body back to myself and I wanted to be able to enjoy a glass of wine when I felt like it. Sure taking care of a 1-year-old while being pregnant would be excruciatingly difficult. Yes, it would suck.
But we'd manage.
But I didn't want to manage. I would want to write a three-word entry on my blog with "FUCK" as the title and "I'm pregnant" as the post. I would have to try really hard to come around to the idea of doing all of the last year all over again in another few months -- while teaching Allison how to talk and walk and feed herself.
The panic set in. So, of course, my period was late.
Jerry started to panic a little, too.
I just kept thinking that every baby deserves to be celebrated as much as Allison was. Being pregnant is tough enough when you're elated about it, I couldn't imagine struggling through with a child you hadn't planned and prayed for.
When Jer told his coworker about it on the air, Troy shrugged it off. "You're married," he said. "You're in a relationship that's conducive to having kids. That's what married people are supposed to do -- YOU PROCREATE."
Troy drove the point home by saying how the conversation would have an entirely different feel if he was the one who had experienced a condom malfunction.
"Hey, you know that girl I've been seeing?"
But just because you're in a loving, committed relationship doesn't mean an unplanned child would be any easier. It still means nine months of being pregnant. It still means needing a crib, clothes and tons of other gear. It still means getting up throughout the night for months on end. It still means financially being responsible for another being. And emotionally giving of yourself.
Fortunately for us, it didn't come down to that. I can't remember the last time I was so excited to reach for a tampon.
I have my annual gyno checkup in a few weeks.
And I'm definitely going to talk to my doctor about getting my bouncers some backup.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
- It's better than going to the dentist.
- You'll probably get a sticker.
- It doesn't hurt.
- If you don't like either candidate, you can vote against one of them.
- You can get a free cup of coffee.
- The major parties spent $1 billion collectively to get you there. That's $8 for every vote.
- They make food that's portable if there's a long wait.
- Trevor thinks its important.
- It would be gigantically anticlimactic not to.
- And, you know, because of this.
Monday, November 3, 2008
We had a great weekend at our house.
My mom's sister drove from New York to volunteer with the Obama campaign in Pennsylvania and they assigned her to our hometown, allowing her to stay with us for a few days.
We showed her the house, took her to our favorite local pizza place, made the mandatory stop at the candy store, rented movies, and she even got to check out the annual Halloween parade.
But when the McCain float passed by, complete with a waving Sarah Palin, an adorable unsuspecting little girl made the mistake of trying to hand my aunt a flier. Of all the other people lining the street, she walked directly to the uber liberal.
"No thank you," my aunt said.
But I could tell what she really wanted to say was: "I JUST DROVE FIVE HOURS TO SUPPORT OBAMA AND SPENT ALL AFTERNOON KNOCKING ON DOORS, SO IF YOU THINK I'M GOING TO TAKE THAT PROPAGANDA ... WELL, YOU'D HAVE BETTER LUCK HANDING IT TO OBAMA HIMSELF."
Jerry said we should dig out all of the McCain fliers in our recycle bin and put them on the nightstand next to the guest bed the next time she visits.
You know, as a little welcome package.