Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Monthly Musings: December, 2014

• The man and I have a hot date tonight, so I emptied my purse of extra ballast to travel light. The contents that I removed are as follows: a car charger, a pair of 3T undies, flushable wet wipes, an empty pill sorter, napkins from two different restaurants,  and a small plastic plate. #mombag

• A parenting hack that I read once said, 'when all else fails, put them in water.' I had no idea the same would hold true for getting a kid to poop in the potty. It never fails that 20 minutes into a bath, The Bud will jump up, demanding to go poop in the potty. This, from the kid who will do anything to avoid it any other time. It's working now, but I hope the habit doesn't hold over when he goes to college...

• W has always objected to his nom de plume on my blog. He thinks it's weird, and vaguely political. Typically, my position would be, 'get your own blog, buddy,' but I'm evolving as a person these days, so I listened to him. I never really cared for it either and it bugs me that he rarely reads anything I write, unless I make him. So, in an effort at diplomacy (and to get him to read my freaking blog, already!), I reached out to my buddies on Facebook for some nickname ideas, and got the following list: The Lion, Alice Cooper (taken), Pdaddy, The Artist formerly known as W, and Mr. BEAUjangles. You know. Because he's my beau. One reader even suggested that I go big and actually start calling him "Dubyah," but I have my pride, and frankly don't want it getting around that I'm sleeping with George W. Bush. Gossips, man...

As you can tell, I had a lot of fun with all this. :)

So it is with great fanfare that I now present to you, The Artist Formerly Known as W, or The Artist, for short. Yippee!

• That said, The Artist is getting on my nerves. I love Christmas. I love the wonder and mystery of the anticipation of Jesus' birth. I love dressing up, getting together with family and friends, and eating yummy food. I also love giving presents, but this year, he's cramping my style. All year, this man has been laying down all KINDS of hints for the perfect gifts and stocking stuffers, and I've been feverishly taking notes, cackling with glee in anticipation of his joy when he opens them. Then, when it came time to start shopping for said gifts, what does he do? He buys them himself! Everything, and I mean everything I had planned to get him, he bought for himself in the month of December. I give up. Watching him unravel my holiday planning is turning this cheerful giver into The Grinch, real quick. If he's not careful, all he'll have to open on Christmas morning is some socks and underwear. Oh, wait! Noooo...He already bought those. Grr...#hesgettingalumpofcoal

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Three's A Crowd. Four's What? A Bobsled Team?

So...I have some news. W and I are expanding our family. Yup, I'm knocked up! I can't speak for everybody, but for me, the first trimester is a magical time in my pregnancy where nothing I do has any positive impact on how completely crappy I feel. And since this time around I don't have the awe and wonder of this being my first time experiencing the joy of creation to distract me, nor am I close enough to the end for the oxytocin buzz to kick in, I thought I'd brighten my outlook by making a list of reasons to look on the sunny side of this oh-so-shitty season. If you're currently gestating or haven't yet forgiven your last child for the terror that was your first trimester, this list might be for you, too.

I'm a puss, but less of a puss than I was the first time around. Sort of.
With my first, no one had ever been as anxious, as regimented, as exhausted, and as nauseated as I was. Everything I craved was on the forbidden list. I couldn't control my mood swings, and couldn't sleep enough to feel rested. Every twinge or bulge sent me in a panic to the doctor's phone exchange or to my dog-earred copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting. I was a complete basket case. And guess what? That was all totally ok. Normal, even. This time around, I'm still a basket case, but now I know I can (and will) survive it. Also, instead of fighting it, I take comfort in the knowledge that it's all completely out of my control--the feelings, the cravings, all of it. It's the same for everybody. It'll likely only last a few months, and really it could be worse. I could be having my period.

I know better what's happening to me. 
Part of the anxiety I felt the first time around was because I had no grid for all the physical and emotional changes I was going through, and had always taken new or unusual to mean pathological. Now, I've survived one traumatic birth experience. I'm the mother of a threenager, and I haven't killed him, yet (premeditated or otherwise). And according to the bitches nurses at my OB's office, I'm AMA (of Advanced Maternal Age), so I'm seasoned. I'm a tough old broad, deep in the trenches, with the stripes to prove it. *shrug* Basically, I've accepted the unspecified aches and pains and functional brain death of motherhood for the last 4 years, already. What's a few more symptoms to add to the list?

Daddy has become The Enforcer.
Finally. I've been Bad Cop with The Buddy since he got mobile. Remember Fun Bobby from Friends? That's been W. He's the life of the party who plays ball in the house and lets him have chocolate before dinner. Now, I've been too tired and sick to lay down the law, so W has figured out that if our household isn't to descend into total anarchy, he has to hold down the rules. In The Buddy's eyes, this makes me the favorite. It's a cheap victory, but I'll take it. #rolereversal

The Incredible Increasing Rack.
When I was skinny and stupid, I valued a flat stomach over big jugs. I've since learned that they are basically interchangeable in their effectiveness. And since I'm not a Kardasian, or otherwise genetically predisposed to having them at the same time...pregnancy is my chosen path to top heavy and to the benefits thereof. #dontknocktheknockers

Snack Time.
God love it. Nutritionists have long counseled the health benefits of small, frequent meals, but I'd always done just fine with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Now, the worm has turned. If I don't want to be reduced to a jittery, dizzy, fish oil burpy, hangry mess by 10 am, I must eat breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, an after dinner apertif, and a "little something" before bed. It's a Hobbits life, but somebody's gotta live it. #survival

Oh, man...I am so tired...When I was pregnant with The Bud, the worst it ever got was the day I took a 20 minute nap on the ladies' room floor at work. I was mortified and fretted every time I had to give in to my desperate need for sleep. Now, I see my enforced siestas as radical self-care. And when the alternative is loading the dishwasher or sitting through another episode of Dinosaur Train, a nap you can't fight off can become a blessing in disguise.

I get a lot of good toddler material for the 'ole blog.
When we told The Bud we were expecting a new baby, we asked which kind he wanted, brother or sister? His answer: neither. He wants a bunny. More recently, he accidentally pushed too hard on the belly, and I warned him to be careful, the baby was in there. He put his hand on my shoulder, looked earnestly into my eyes and said, "I sorry, Mama. I don't want it." The baby. He doesn't want the baby. #honesty

Gilmore Girls is streaming on Netflix. 
If I ever needed an excuse for descending into a blubbering mess of tears for no reason, it's now. Binge-watching the lives and times of Rory and Lorrelai has fit the bill quite nicely.

In spite of my complaining, I'm thrilled and hopeful that I will see the light at the end of the tunnel soon. I've already begun to notice some relief from the perpetual nausea ("morning" sickness can suck it), and certain scents are losing their gross-out factor, so things are looking up. Oh, and in another 28 weeks or so, I'll get to cuddle up with a tiny grunter with his/her brother's eyes.

Totally worth it.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Monthly Musings: November 2014

• Can we all agree that getting out of bed sucks, no matter what time of day you do it? #daylightsavings

• Watching my kid try to avoid pooping in the potty by penguin-walking across the room, tiny butt cheeks clenched, each step marked by the staccato of escaping toots, is waaayyy funnier now than I ever would've thought it'd be BC (before children). #laughterthroughtears

• I convinced W not to show our dinosaur-loving three year old the scene in Jurassic Park where the T-Rex attacks an electric car with two kids in it. Two days later, he showed it to him anyway. #emptyvictory #whosthekid #hellsleepwithusforever

• I just left W, a Sunday afternoon beer (the most desperate kind) in one hand and a defiant toddler in the other, to go have coffee with a friend. It felt really good. #HihohihoitsofftoplayIgo

• I wonder why no one has ever thought to use dried oatmeal as an industrial adhesive? 10 minutes in the bottom of a bowl is all it takes to harden into a substance that I truly believe would hold up on atmospheric reentry. #gottacleanthisdump

"There's my favorite red blanket!" she thinks, looking out onto the back patio the day after the torrential downpour. She sighs spitefully, scooping the last of the ice cream onto her plate. #thatllteachhim

• Watching his father break things, crashing and stumbling through his 30's, I wonder if what I've always taken for The Bud's toddler clumsiness "phase" is actually here to stay? #thisiswhywecanthavenicethings

• The Bud has added a new bath toy to his arsenal: a set of Mardi Gras beads made out of pink ducks. With boobs. Oh well...He'll need some reason for therapy.

• Snickers Minis are for chumps. Real women eat Fun Size. #halloweenleftovers

• I just watched my kid walk across the room clutching a Patron shot glass filled with milk, and my only thought was, "Oh good, it's small enough that he can keep a good grip on it and possibly not spill it all over my rug." #igiveup

• There are three types of people: those that prefer that toilet paper come over the top of the roll off the holder (W), those that prefer it come off from under the bottom of the roll, and those who couldn't care less which way it goes, but who take perverse pleasure in putting it on to come off from the bottom because they like to clock how long it'll take Mr. Only Anal About This to notice and change it (Me). If you tell him I said this, I'll call you a dirty liar and deny it to the ground. #youvebeenwarned

• The Bud just ran into the room with one of his cups, asking me to unscrew the top for him. After I did, he thanked me, took the cup and lid, and ran back out of the room. I waited a beat, then followed to find him standing in front of the open refrigerator door, tugging on the 3 gallon water pitcher we keep in there. He had planned to pour his own water (read: make a holy mess in my kitchen). Lesson learned. #askquestions

Sunday, November 16, 2014


On Halloween, W bought a new bass guitar. I wish I'd taken a picture of this thing, because you'd have to see it to believe me when I say that it had a face (and form) that only a mother could love. And love it, he did. In spite of its dime store paint job and cheap looking hardware, when I looked into his eyes, I saw nothing but excitement and pride over this find. To him, it was a prize.

If you know W at all, you'll know that he's a passionate man, and never is his passion more evident than when he's engaged musically. That's why, when he started talking about why on earth he'd bought this lemon, I paid attention. He'd played it, and was pleased with the sound, even with its cheap hardware and shop class paint job. All it needed was some extreme TLC to be a respectable instrument and he was the man to provide it. He was evangelical in his zeal and I bought it like a church lady at a tent revival. Chaaaange! Was on the horizon. He was a man with a vision.

Dr. Frankenbass.

In the two weeks since, he's pored over guitar catalogs and websites, searching for the perfect pick guards and tuners and knobs. He's debated the relative benefits of stain vs. paint, and agonized over color choices. It's worth it to him, all because he believes in the integrity of this instrument and wants its outside to match its insides.

Of course, watching all this go down has me thinking of God and Gungor.

God is the God of the Bible. Creator of heaven and earth, the great instigator of this crazy mishegoss we call life. Gungor is a husband/wife duo who has written several of my favorite worship songs, including one called Beautiful Things. The lyrics go like this:

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Watching W with Frankenbass, I find myself humming this tune over and over again. He's taking that guitar through a pretty rigorous refining process, and I'm starting to see what he sees in it. First, all the hardware had to come off and what was underneath examined for fitness. What worked well and could be salvaged was set safely aside and the rest, discarded. Next, the gnarly paint job was painstakingly sanded and stripped, revealing the bare wood grain beneath. After days of this, a virgin grade of maple was left. Even there, W found broken things--holes, pits, and patched places that cheap, black spray paint had covered. None of those discoveries has stopped him. He has a vision of something beautiful, so he presses on joyfully toward it, even on days when his hands go numb from the sanding, his back aches from bending over for hours, and the paint thinner and wood stain fumes probably cause cancer.

And isn't that so like our refining process with God? If we let him, He takes us through our life's journey, bent over us, stripping away the outer layers and shoddy craftmanship we've built up over time, determined to expose the pristine wood grain underneath. He knows it's there, because He put it there. He knows it's uncomfortable for us. It is for Him too, but He only allows and applies what is absolutely necessary to bring us to a fine polish. He takes joy in the entire process because He sees how gorgeous we are, pits, cracks, patched places and all, and He believes the finished product--once our outsides match our insides--will be breathtaking.

And the balm He will apply after all the sanding and stripping and rubbing is done will be unlike any healing touch we've ever felt.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Conversation Between The Bud and Me, Today

The Bud [watching me clean the kitchen]: "Mommy, what you doing?"

Me: "Sweeping the floor, Bud."

The Bud: "Oh...I see. You vewy tired?"

Me [marveling over how I'm raising the most sensitive and empathetic child on the planet]: "Oh, yes, I'm very tired, Buddy. But the job's gotta be done. Thank you for asking!"

The Bud: "..."

Seconds later, I replayed our interaction and realized my three year old pronounces the word sleep, like sweep, and rarely uses prepositions without prompting. This probably meant that when I'd said "I'm sweeping the floor," he'd translated that to "I'm sleeping on the floor." I dove back in to repair the damage.

Me: "Oh, Buddy, I didn't mean I was going to sleep, I meant I was using the broom to clean the floor. That's called sweeping."

The Bud [turning his attention back to his snack]: "..."

Note to self: pull out my Toddler to English Dictionary before assuming I know what my kid is saying. #languagedevelopment

Monday, October 27, 2014

If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy...

As a mom, a partner who works outside the home, and a fixer, a regular frustration of my daily life is seeing something in myself that needs tweaking, but feeling absolutely unequal to the challenge of doing anything about it. There's always something else that needs to be done to distract me from the hard work of being human. It's one of the reasons this blog is such a gift to me. I can write down my impressions, chew on them for months, and they'll still be there to remind me of my journey when I have the [insert: time/energy/attention span/faith/balls] to deal with them.

Yes, I did say faith-slash-balls. You heard it here, folks. Ya'll come back now, ya hear?!

Anyway, I'm up in the middle of the night to write this because it finally feels important enough that I'm willing to drop a ball (the sleep ball, not one of the aforementioned balls), to get it down. Things to note: this is not Gospel, science, or a panacea for the world's ills. Nor am I the first person ever to have a personal revelation. I hope and pray that nothing I put out here ever comes off as if I think that way. My goal is simply to come to terms with said world and my place in it, in hopes of becoming who I believe God intends me to be on this side of Heaven--fits, starts, warts, forks in the road, and all.

Ok, I'm done laying the ground work. Thank you for waiting so patiently.

As I said, I work outside the home. I'm also a mom, a sister, a friend, a woman with interests and an identity, and a partner to another human being, with his own list of stuff to manage, too. And this shit is hard. Hard, like I didn't even know, hard. On a good day, I feel like I'm constantly playing catch up and serving up leftovers to my entire life. On a bad day? It's takeout all the way, baby.

It rarely feels like I'm giving my best anywhere, but some moments stand out more than others. At one point last week I looked around and discovered that it had been days since W and I had connected in a meaningful way. The Bud was particularly clingy and defiant. I realize at 3 that it's part of his job description to be that way in general, but this was to the level that showed me he wasn't getting enough attention. There were takeout cartons and frozen pizza boxes everywhere, dinosaurs and guitar picks on the floor, and a pair of poopy Justice League undies was soaking in the bathroom sink. For hours? For days? Had we been brushing our teeth with the sink like that??? I don't even care. I had worked late every night and it wasn't safe to walk to the bathroom to pee in the dark. I was pissed about it and looking for something, someone, to blame. And when I found them, heads would roll.

That's when I realized, I'd found my culprit. As per usual, it was me all along. I hadn't practiced any type of self-care so I got overwhelmed by the things that didn't matter. You see, I believe the only important detail in my tale of woe is that my crappy attitude about the hand I was dealt last week had affected the quality of my interaction with my loved ones. I forgot that taking a moment of silence--to regroup, to unwind, and to remember that my family and friends aren't items to check off on my To Do list--is so important. Not just for me, but for them, too. If I haven't decompressed from the rigors of the day, that's going to spill over negatively into my home life. Now, I had my reasons to be on edge all week and yes, they are all valid. Please, oh please, you gorgeous SAHMs, and WAHMs, and WOTHMs (Lord, save us from our acronyms!), and any other blessed female who has ever drunk the you-are-less-than-and-must-try-harder Koolaid, know that I do not judge you if you struggle in this way, too. I believe that you're doing your best, and I'm damned proud of you. You give it all out every day and you do it beautifully. You don't need to be anything more than you are to those who love and need you right now. You are enough. I'm saying, that on this day, on my journey, I need to be careful about what I bring home to my people.

So I did an experiment. I took deep, cleansing breaths on my drive home. I stopped slamming doors and sighing over messes. I led with hugs and kisses, and howwasyourdayImissedyous. I made eye contact and said with those same eyes, "You matter. I'm so lucky to love you, and all this hard work? It's for you." I read twenty thousand stories and tickled and cuddled. I watched Godzilla and A Million Ways to Die in the West (sort of). I went to laugh with friends and to dance at our church picnic. Nothing got done. The house is still a wreck. I have to get back on the hamster wheel tomorrow. But it mattered. We laughed and loved a lot this weekend amid the chaos, and it was so good. Because, like it says in the country song we all know and maybe wish we didn't, and as dirty as it makes me feel to quote it, when mama ain't happy? Ain't nobody happy.

Who I bring home matters. It matters a lot.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Best Gift I Never Wanted

I vaguely remember the day. It was October 6 and I was 5 years old. My bag was packed and I was sent to Grandma's, one of my favorite places to be, for a week. My mom and dad were staying home to enjoy their last night of relative peace and quiet before our new baby was born. I was excited, and a bit nervous. I had seen babies before, but never had one living with me, so this was an adventure. I had ordered a boy. It seemed like a good choice: someone I could run around with, digging up worms and "saving" baby birds, but not having to share clothes or my favorite girly toys. I felt pretty confident that I'd get a brother, too. My mom hadn't specifically promised that she could deliver the goods, but in my experience with her leaving home and coming back with stuff, more often than not she managed to return with, if not specific things I'd requested, at least things that ultimately satisfied me.
The next afternoon, my Aunt Debbie showed up to take me to meet my new sibling. She smiled at me while she loaded me into the car and said, "You have a new baby sister, Mickey-Boom! She's so cute. You'll love her." There's nothing hazy about my recollection of that moment. My memory is crystal clear. I thought, "Wait. A girl??? But, I ASKED for a boy!!" I probably would've cussed if I'd known any bad words at the time.
For most of the next 15 years, she was a royal pain in my ass.
Don't get me wrong, the first few years (before I had any personal responsibility for or to her) were great. She was like a cute new toy that smelled nice, and smiled at me whenever I talked to her. She did all kinds of tricks--rolled over, laughed out loud, sat up, toddled around, talked baby talk, and made this adorable snuffling face when fed something she particularly liked.
But after the New Baby Smell wore off, it was a whole, 'nother story. She cried all the time. She always wanted stuff that belonged to me. She made messes, borrowed my socks without permission, demanded my attention constantly, and always got hurt on my watch. To add insult to injury, my parents started requiring me to act like a Big Sister. They asked me to be a positive influence on the girl and to set a good example for her. To take her places when I went. To take blame when we did something wrong. To protect her from all comers. Me. I hadn't even wanted her, and all of a sudden, I'm responsible for her??? It was categorically unfair, and for years, I fought it.
I fought her attempts to get close to me, to get all up in my space, to get my attention.  To get me to love her, basically. I did love her in that mechanical "because you're family," sort of way, but in all our years together, I never really let myself get to know her, so it was more of a requirement than a choice.
I didn't really learn to appreciate her until I went away to college, when I looked past the years of tattling, clothes stealing, and bed hogging, and was able to see the incredible person she is. Once I actually paid attention to her, I realized how much she had to teach me. In the years since, I've learned so much from my sweet Sissie.
I've learned to choose laughter. My Sissie is hilarious. Anywhere she is, it's usually a party. I used to get annoyed when we'd go places and get stopped 20 times by people who wanted to talk to her, but I've since come to terms with it: she's everybody's favorite, and I get it. It's rare that I spend time with her or talking to her when I don't laugh myself sick, helpless tears streaming down my face. She helps me take my life (and myself) less seriously, and to laugh at the ridiculous I see in every day things.
I've learned to forgive. She has this supple heart with a seemingly unlimited capacity for forgiveness. People who I would've written off years ago, she gives the benefit of the doubt--not just once, but over and over again. I've been on the receiving end more times than I'm proud of, but feel so relieved and lucky each time she lets me off the hook for whatever idiot thing I said or did.
I've learned to pay attention. It's the quiet ones you've gotta watch out for. It took a while for me to catch on, but I know now that she holds all of her pain in her eyes. It's easy to miss it if you get distracted by her humor, her bustle, and her smile, so you've got to watch her closely. I haven't always been very careful with the feelings of others, but learning how to treat her gently and well makes me better.
I've learned to show up for those I love, no matter what. My Sissie is ride-or-die, and not just when it's convenient for her. She's been there for me for every success, failure, and loss. When my heart was broken, she drove 2 hours in the middle of the night to sleep in my bed with me, so I wouldn't be alone. After she went back home, I slept on her side of the bed for days, comforted by her scent that she'd left on the pillow. When my (our) baby boy was born too early and I was so sick in the hospital, she drove that same 2 hours every day for three days to sleep at the foot of my bed, until he was born and she knew we would both be okay. The magnesium sulfate they gave me to keep me from having a stroke had me so blissed out of my mind that I don't remember much of that week in 2011, but her presence I remember very clearly.
I'll always be there for her, not just because she's always been there for me, but because she deserves to feel as loved and as grounded as she's made me feel all these years. No matter how many pairs of my socks she still has.
Happy birthday, Sissie. Here's to another year. Love you!!! xoxo
My Sissie and Me--she's the one with the eyes. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Monthly Musings, The Penis Edition: September 2014

Oh, September, you done me wrong...I'm so happy I don't have to see you again for 11 months. Right now, I'm doing a back handspring into a double "eff you," that's how glad I am to see you go. You were tough on me. I lost a family member, a new friend of mine lost her father, and one of The Bud's new classmates (also 3 years old) lost his Mommy. My own grief, and what I witnessed of the grief of others, brought me face to face with my own mortality. I wasn't ready for all that.You were a month of hard conversations, uncomfortable revelations, confusion, doubt, and the indisputable fact that life is just so hard, sometimes. A lot of the times. Maybe most of the times. I'm over you, you craptastic month.

I started 6 posts in September that I couldn't find the words to finish. The fog is lifting, so I'm hopeful that as I revisit each one, I'll be able to work through what my heart wants to say and that there will be something worth sharing with you all in this shiny, new month of October. The following post from the September archives has no depth or eternal value whatsoever, which is why I'm posting it, first. Enjoy!
Disclosure: This post is almost entirely about penises or people who have them. If you are in any way squeamish about the word penis or discussions thereof, do not read any further. If, out of morbid curiosity, you decide to ignore your better judgement and continue reading, only to find yourself disgusted, repulsed, shocked, and dismayed, remember that I did warn you. You have only yourself to blame for whatever sleep you lose after this moment. Xoxoxo!
• Being a mama to a little boy, I've come to terms with a general penis-fixation in my household. It started with his circumscision and went straight to the gutter from there. We've been either at war with or acting in the direct interest of our son's special purpose since the moment of his birth, when he peed all over the surgical staff in the delivery room. We can't escape it. I've accepted it. He's got us beat. #outnumbered #wheninRome
• The other week, The Bud was playing while wearing only undies, and his penis slipped out of the slit in his shorts. He wouldn't stop talking about it. He demanded that we each look and acknowledge (with as much dignity as we could muster) that yes, it was sticking out, yes, it was "really tall," and YES, the appropriate thing was to push it back into his shorts and commence playing with trains. #dontphasemenone
• Dear God: can we talk about penises and potty training for a sec? Not to criticize Your design or anything, but it seems like having one's favorite minor appendage waving at half mast while you're trying to master pooping in the potty is an unnecessary distraction. My kid certainly can't handle it. Would it be feasible to have their members drop after they've been trained? No need to decide right now. Lemme know later what you think...
• I just survived a mostly solo sick kid weekend when W was working. It was brutal, and culminated in a Sunday night trip to the grocery store that I most emphatically did NOT want to take. When I dragged my downtrodden body home, I was rubbernecked and waved at by two college guys in an F150. That helped. #donthate #istillgotit
• In the checkout line at the grocery store, my checker accidentally rang up a couple items on my bill that belonged to the guy behind me. I noticed one of them was Pedialyte popsicles. In a show of sick-kid solidarity, I half-jokingly offered to pay for them anyway. Poor guy, he was probably as frazzled as I was...Then he informed me that he did not, in fact, have a sick kid at home. He ate them all the time, he said. "They're great for hangovers." #nevermind #youreonyourownskipper
• Was it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "Every father hopes his son grows up to have a bigger penis than his own?" #onlythebestforjunior #thatsjustgoodparenting

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Foiled Again

Recently, I sat W down for what I thought was a much-needed discussion about what would be an equitable division of labor around the house. (Shut up; I didn't use those exact words...)

Going into it, I acknowledged that I had a couple obstacles working against me:

1. The game was on. W is a baseball fan. An insane one. Don’t misunderstand me; I enjoy a good game as much as the next girl. I do live in #CardinalNation, after all. But when I say I like baseball, I mean I like it literally as much as the next girl. W is a baseball fan as only a man can be. I do not understand his single minded determination to bear personal witness to every, single minute of the MLB season, from spring training in April to the World Series in October. That's seven whole months of baseball. You'd think that the sheer number of opportunities to attend and/or watch games, combined with access to a DVR for recording, pausing, and rewinding of key moments, would lessen his anxiety over missing even a single second of action on the field. It does not.

2. I said, "can we talk?" Hell hath no fury like a man forced to have a conversation against his will. No matter that I was smiling when I asked. No matter that we hadn't had an argument in weeks and there were no current peas under our relational mattress, he alway thinks he's in trouble when I ask to talk, and he will fight to the death to avoid a conversation. Especially if there's a game on (see #1).

3. It was a day ending in 'Y.' (See #2).

Anyway, call me naive but I waded in, regardless of the stacked deck. I thought we could have a quick convo about this tiny issue, then he could go back to baseball.  We'd talk it over, pound out a short list of daily and weekly chores that needed to be done, and divide them up like civilized human beings. Equitably. (Shut UP.)

Instead, W interrupted to register his conscientious objection to the word chores. Distracted, I spent 10 minutes arguing with him over WTF other word would be better than chores to describe CHORES (!), until I gave up in disgust and went to fold the laundry. Never did get those chores lined out.

Well played, my rainbeau. Well played.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Monthly Musings, August 2014

The offending ducks. One of them flipped a gang sign right before this picture was taken, I swear.
• The rubber ducky situation around here is starting to make me twitchy. Originally, he had two--snowman duck and yellow duck. Camo (aka: green) duck got added a couple of weeks ago after a sleep over with friends. Tonight, surfer duck showed up at bath time and I swear I've never seen him before. #gaslight #somethingsafoot

• Grooming is an epic struggle and if you ask me, I'm not entirely sure it's worth the drama. If I come near The Bud with soap, a comb, or a set of nail clippers, he looks at me like I'm wearing a leather mask and carrying a chainsaw. And really, at this point in his life I'm only doing this stuff to keep DFS from my doorstep, anyway. It's not like he's prepping for job interviews or anything...#rationalizations
• Happiness is finding one, last ice cream sandwich in the box, and not having to share it with anybody.

• As a new mom, I took bathtime very seriously. I had it all: the infant tub, the tearless soap, the washcloth puppets, the colored soaps, the tiny basketball hoop with the suction cups that are supposed to affix to the shower wall, but never actually do. But did he play with any of that stuff? Nope. He wanted the potato masher, his toothbrush, mommy's cell phone (caught that one in the nick of time), and the takeaway plastic cups with local bar names on them that we collected when we were cute and fun, and capable of staying up past 10 pm. #whocares

• Google is spamming me with emails about improving my erectile dysfunction, and I'll admit, it's hard not to be a tiny bit defensive about it. #missingappendage

• The other night I realized the words 'while' and 'whole' are only one letter apart, but they sound totally different. It's neither noteworthy nor interesting, but it blew my mind. I've gotta take a class or something. 

• I just tucked The Bud in for the night, kissed him, told him I loved him and to sleep well. My sincerity might've been suspect though, considering I was yelling the words at him at the time. #bedtime #mommydearest 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Buckwheat Spice Pancakes

W doesn't read my blog unless I beg, or he can be assured the post is short. Today, I'm giving him both, and making it worth his read by talking about two things near and dear to his heart: food, and quality time with our son. Expect some interjections from the peanut gallery (him) here and there.
About weekly, The Buddy wakes up in the morning requesting to make 'cakes with Daddy. It's the cutest thing ever to watch or listen to, and on top of the cuteness, I get the benefit of the spicy scruptiousness of the pancakes, all without having to lift a finger. I love these boys and I love these 'cakes.
Hope you enjoy them!
2/3 c buckwheat flour
1/3 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon (W: "use more. It's better.")
1 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
*Ground ginger
2 eggs
1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1 cup milk
1 over ripe banana
*A dash to taste. Both spices are optional, but definitely delicious additions.
Mix all dry ingredients together. Then add milk, oil, and eggs. Blend until incorporated. Smash and add the banana. We prefer thinner pancakes, so W adds water by the tablespoon to bring the batter to the desired consistency.
The boys have a few tried and true secrets to success you might want to note. Like, 1) don't use too high of heat. Medium or a bit lower is best, 2) test the griddle with a dab of water. When it sizzles, it's ready, and 3) add a dab of butter to the griddle before cooking each 'cake. (W: "it takes 'em to another level.")
The perfect 'cake at our house is topped with peanut butter, unsweetened applesauce, and a drizzle of maple syrup, but you can be creative with the toppings, too.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Everything We Thought We Knew About Them Is Wrong

The Buddy and I watched “How to Train Your Dragon,” for the first time this past weekend. I know, I know…this movie is 4 years old, and there’s already a sequel, but I wasn’t a parent in 2010 and it’s only been about 6 months since The Bud has had the capacity to sit through a feature film, and…why am I trying to defend myself to you? The point is we both LOVED it. The Bud has asked to watch the “Twain Dragon show” every day since and I finally agreed last night. I even sat down to watch with him again, which I don’t typically do after I’ve already seen one of his shows. That’s how much I liked it.

The premise is this: On the island of Berk, Vikings live under constant threat of dragon raids. They’ve spent generations learning dragon ways so they could resist and defeat them, and there’s no higher mark of honor than to have killed a dragon in the public square. Hiccup, resident klutz and the most un-Viking of Vikings, is also the unfortunate son of Stoik, the village hero and head honcho. They don’t understand each other and rarely see eye-to-eye on anything, except that they both wish Hiccup could be a brawny dragon-killer, like every other male (and several females) in town. Hiccup gets an opportunity to win the villagers’ and his father’s respect by accidentally killing a rare dragon during a night raid. This gives him enough street cred for his father to agree to let him go to dragon-killing school, while unbeknownst to the entire village, Hiccup hasn’t killed the dragon. Instead he takes the opportunity to study the wounded creature, who he names Toothless, gaining his trust and discovering that dragon and human have more in common than he’d been taught to believe. An unlikely friendship is formed. (I should write for IMDB, seriously…)

One night, after school is over, Hiccup goes to the library to review a…dragon killing handbook, for lack of a better description. In it is outlined everything the Vikings have managed to learn about dragons—the different types, their anatomy and physiology, their strengths and weaknesses, their motivations, etc. By now, Hiccup and Toothless are friends and have learned a lot about each other and you can see how his personal relationship with this specific dragon makes reading this book an eye-opening and uncomfortable experience for him. While reading a general description of dragons, he comes across the phrase, “A dragon will always go for the kill.” That sentence was the basis for the Viking School’s “kill, or be killed” mantra. Hiccup has a flashback to his new friend; to the moment when Toothless lay vulnerable in the woods—bound, injured, and unable to defend himself against whatever Hiccup chose to do to him. Hiccup’s empathy for the defenseless creature won’t let him kill him. Instead, he cuts him free. While Hiccup is freeing him, Toothless’ face registers surprise and cunning, seeing his opportunity to kill the idiot human cutting the ropes that tie him. Once free, he lashes out at Hiccup, pinning him to a rock. Their eyes meet, and they finally see each other. They both realize that neither human nor dragon instinct is to kill, but simply to defend against attack. In the other’s eyes, they see no harm, so they can safely put down their defenses and walk away. Back in the school library, Hiccup says, “We’re wrong. Everything we thought we knew about them is wrong.”

I won’t tell you how it all works out, just in case you haven’t seen it and want to, but Hiccup’s revelation in the library really resonated with me, especially in light of what’s been happening in my city this week. I live in St. Louis, and right now, we’re in the national spot light for events that have unfolded over the last 6 days.

On August 9, in the village of Ferguson, Michael Brown, an 18 year old African American male, was shot multiple times by a police officer during an altercation and died on the scene. In the aftermath of the incident, protesters were incited to riot, setting fire to businesses, destroying property, and looting. It’s all we hear about on the radio, it’s all we see on the news and in print media, and it’s pretty much all anybody is talking about around the water cooler.

Reports of how it all happened are conflicting—some say Brown was walking in the middle of the street with a friend, when a twitchy cop insulted him and demanded that he get the f@** on the sidewalk, and grabbed him by the throat. Brown objected to the offense, the cop shot him once, and Brown ran away. The officer gave chase and though Brown stopped and put his hands up, the officer opened fire, shooting him multiple times. Others say Brown was up to no good and was belligerent with the cop when he tried to detain him. He tried to push the officer back into his vehicle and was shot once. He then ran away. When the officer gave chase, Brown reached for the officer’s weapon (clearly intent on harm), and was killed in the struggle over the side arm. The officer acted in self-defense, or the gun was passively discharged in the scuffle—an accidental death from an unfortunate series of bad choices on the part of Brown.

No one disputes that Brown was unarmed. No one disputes that after the shooting, his body was left in the middle of the street for hours, while local law enforcement secured the scene and attempted to control the crowd that gathered. No one disputes the racial tensions in the area, or the bad blood between local law enforcement and the city’s poorer, black contingent. No one disputes that this story is a familiar one, with the majority of Blacks, if not directly affected, “knowing a guy who knows a guy,” who had the very same thing happen to them. No one disputes that most of the damage done over these last 6 days in Ferguson (hell, over the last 300 years in our country) has been done to innocent people. It'll be a while before the real story comes out, and even then, it may never be the whole truth, but where we are now is what counts. On both sides of the fence, basic human dignity has been violated, and people are done.

Since Saturday, I’ve seen things that break my heart. A mother grieving the tragic loss of her son, because a mother's love doesn't ask whether or not a child deserved what he had coming to him. The Quik Trip at Ground Zero burning to the ground, the owners guilty of nothing more than running a business where something tragic happened. Looters slipping through broken windows with items they did not buy, stolen from people who did nothing to deserve the violation. Tear gas being fired into crowds of protestors whose intentions were not to incite riots or to impede traffic, but to speak loudly enough, finally, finally to be heard. Every day, I’ve read posts on social media from friends, family, and concerned citizens, full of sadness, confusion, and fear for our future. Crowds of peaceful protestors and people praying that the madness would stop, questions be answered, and justice served. People keep asking, “What went wrong?” Whose fault is it? What insidious system is to blame and how can we shut it down so this doesn’t happen again?

I say, none of that matters. All that matters is that people are involved. We must start seeing each other as more the same than we are different; each person at his core a divine creation, worthy of dignity, respect and a voice. With our strained racial history, that won’t happen until we're willing to undo everything we thought we knew about the others that we fear. It won’t change until we can look into our enemies’ eyes and see ourselves—that we’re more alike than we are different—to consider that everything you thought you knew about them might be wrong.

For that to happen, we must break through the barriers of fear, distrust, anger, and the bad decisions that are fueled by those feelings, and appeal to each other’s humanity. When a person’s God-given dignity is violated, don’t say, “Why are you mad at me? It wasn’t my fault.” Don’t say, “Well, you/he obviously deserved it and here’s why.” Don’t say, “You’re expressing your feelings about it the wrong way.”

Just say, I’m so very sorry. Tell me how that makes you feel. What can I do to help?

Let’s see what happens when we do that, can we?
I’ve started to see some encouraging reports from Ferguson of people reaching out to each other and successfully bridging the gaps between them and it makes my heart glad. I, for one, can use some more of that type of news! If you have an anecdote, a news article link, etc to share that shows the people of St. Louis putting their best sides forward, please leave it in the comments below. I need some hopeful late-night reading.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review--People I Want to Punch in the Throat, by Jen Mann

Hey, kids! I recently wrote a post, lamenting how little reading I get to do anymore and a fun, new solution I've found to my problem. I'm excited to share with you my first-ever review of a pre-release book I recently read from NetGalley.com.  Hope you like it!

My first read from NetGalley was People I Want to Punch in the Throat, by Jen Mann, and the title alone was worth a look. I'm so glad I picked it up. The book is so funny! It's a compilation of short stories and essays from her blog of the same name. I got a bird's eye view of the life and times of a reluctant suburban housewife/mother/PTA president/real estate agent, who is having some trouble navigating it all. The book touches on a lot--online dating before it was cool, the landmines of interracial coupling, the mommy wars, and holiday parties hosted by coworkers (they are, in a word, weird)--and all of it the snarky view from behind the curtain. Jen, The Hubs, and their kids, Gomer and Adolpha (I'm kind of afraid those really are their names) are just the type of family that I want to live next door to someday, if for no other reason than to make me feel just a tiny bit better about my household.

Jen said all the things I'm just starting to think about this whole parenting-thing and I hope that I can make old yoga pants and store-bought cookies look as graceless and real as she does, someday. At this stage of the mommy game, I need laughter in hard, fast doses. This book delivers.

Releasing from Random House Publishing Group--Ballantine, September 9, 2014

Books, You Guys...


I love to read, always have. Reading opened up new worlds for me as a child. I used to sit alone in my room, laughing, gasping, and crying out loud over the characters' lives in the books I was reading. My mom would check on me, totally confused (freaked out?), when she would hear me emoting from a room away, about nothing that she could put her finger on. If you asked me what book I was reading, I always had at least one that I was excited to talk about.

Then, I became a mom. Now, My List of Reasons I Don't Read is longer than the list of books I've actually read this year...

1. There aren't enough hours in a day to make room for sitting down for an hour of uninterrupted reading. I can't sit in one place for 5 minutes without wiping a nose/bottom, building a train track, riding a beep-beep, making a snack, or answering "Mommy, what are you doing?" for the eleventy-thousandth time.

2. At night, after all of the kid-wrangling is done, I'm tired, so I fall asleep 10 minutes into any book I might pick up, which makes it hard to comprehend a plot, let alone enjoy it. And remembering titles or authors' names? Fuggedaboutit.

3. Since my time is so scarce, I've lost all tolerance for a bad read. Before, when I was reading 10 books or more a year, a couple of turds in there wouldn't phase me. One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, you say? If you only eat three a year, it does! Stinkers piss me clean off these days.  (and the puns just keep on comin...) I've said it before and I'll say it again: Ain't nobody got time for that, son! If I'm going to commit to a 6 to 10 hour time suck over 2 to 4 weeks of my life (low estimates), I want an engraved guarantee that the book I choose will be good! You can imagine how well this is going for me. It's become a vicious, whining cycle of no reading.

4. And finally, a caveat to #3. It's expensive. If you've read my blog before, you already know that I don't buy a whole lot of books. I got to the library, which should be free, but since I'm an airhead now, that's rarely the case for me. Besides, time is money. The act of going to the places where books are to get them takes a certain amount of sweat equity that, frankly, I'm unwilling to invest. I'm just sayin'... 

Thank you for listening, I feel much better. Now that you've been bored by so patiently heard my tale of woe, lemme tell you about the solution I found to my problem!

NetGalley.com. This site is so cool! I discovered it on another blog that I follow and checked it out for myself. What I found was this:
Do you love to discover new books? Do you review and recommend books online, in print, for your bookstore, library patrons, blog readers, or classroom? Then you are what we call a "professional reader," and NetGalley is for you. Registration is FREE, and allows you to request or be invited to read titles, often advance reading copies, on your favorite device.

Yes, yes, and YES! I'm a professional reader! Sign me up! In layman's terms, I created a profile that outlined the type of reader I am, what genres of books I typically enjoy, and my online presence--basically, I told them who and where I would tell about the books they let me read. Now that my profile is complete, I browse titles of galleys  pending release that are recommended to me or that I search out myself, request the ones that look interesting to me, and wait for approval from NetGalley to download the title(s) to my Kindle. After I read a title, I review it on the NetGalley site (and my own social media, as I choose), and mark it as read.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Seriously, this is solving most of my current reading problems.

Hard to find uninterrupted time when I'm not exhausted? There is no time limit to finishing a title I choose, nor am I obligated to do so. I have a smart phone, so my Kindle app is not just on the main device, but also on my phone. I can read a chapter while I sit at the bank, at the DMV, or even pop it up while I'm having lunch at work.

Smell a stinker? Stop reading it, immediately! If I start reading a book that's not doing it for me, I feel no obligation to finish it when I didn't lose any money, time, or effort to find it.

Tired of spending money on books or library late fees for books you rarely finish? This is completely FREE! I can read pre-released books all year and, technically, not spend a dime. The only danger I forsee is that I'll fall in love with a title here and there and decide it must become part of my home library. And by that, I mean hard copy. Kindle and other readers are great and progressive, but nothing beats the smell of ink on paper for me. Love me some books. YIPPEEE!!!

Check back here from time to time for reviews on the fun titles I'm reading.  I'm working on a review right now, and have two, unread titles waiting for me on my digital "shelf." Now I make no promises on the number of regular postings I might make (Remember me? The chick with no time?), but now that I have convenient access to what's new on the literary front, I cannot WAIT to exceed my own expectations.

If you're a social media guru and reader on a time crunch, check out NetGalley.com for yourself. You might like it. 

Happy reading! 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Monthly Musings, July 2014

• Whether Kellogg's Frosted Flakes when I was a kid or granola and raw oatmeal as an adult, a bowl of cereal has always hit the spot. #stonerfoodaintjustforstoners
• Do little girls still smell like wet dogs after their baths, or is it just little boys? Or maybe just my boy? #summertime #iusesoapiswear
• I hate bathing/showering in a tub with a visible dirt ring. By the time The Bud's bath is done and he's tucked into bed, I am convinced that I will die of exhaustion, so I rarely (ok, never) clean the tub before I go to bed. I shower in the morning. The sound of the water running in the tub while I clean it before my shower always wakes him (an hour early), making my morning hustle a bit...hectic. #whenwillilearn #logicfail

• I took the Otter Box cover off my smart phone and found cracker/cookie crumbs, chocolate smears and what appears to be, at first glance, snot. I get it now. THIS is how 7 year olds get their parents to buy them cell phones! It takes years of calculated grossness to make an otherwise intelligent, thrifty adult drop $300 on a consumable electronic device for a person who loses or accidentally throws away his possessions approximately once a week. #hestryingtowearmedown

• White sheets are about my only incentive to wash my face before bed, and even that rarely works. #sad #lazy #wishiwasajetson

• We play a lot of hide and seek these days. Even though he knows it's us, the Bud gets so nervous the moment before we catch him that he gasps, turns and runs toward the chaser and throws out his arms for a hug. That's one way to stop a monster!
• The State of Indiana has a summer travel ad blitz that I've been seeing on billboards lately. It says, "Indiana: named in the top 52 places to go in 2014!" Really? Right up there with the other 49 states, DC and Puerto Rico? #hopeitsajoke #dontthinkitis #hoosiers #NYTpunk
• In the last month, I've caught a guy licking his window glass while watching me put on lipstick at a stoplight and most recently, I looked over to find a man dancing excitedly in his seat and smiling at me. He had noticed me dancing, clapping, and singing along to Pharrell's, Happy, with The Buddy. I'm a magnet for unwanted attention. #stoplights
• I'm thankful for the Jack in the Box on S. Grand. The bathroom is usually vacant and always clean and saves me the indignity of squatting over a tiny toilet at daycare. #postpartumbladder #45mincapacity #isthatathing?

Friday, July 25, 2014

I Give Until It Hurts; It's My Cross to Bear

An old friend, who I just recently discovered is a faithful reader of this here humble blog, and who probably thought he could trust me, posted a tongue-in-cheek request for advice on my Facebook page. He’s father to two of the most adorable little people in the Midwest, which means he’s being manipulated on an hourly basis and is sinking fast under the onslaught of cute. Since I’m always looking for things to write about that take no effort on my part, I thought I’d exploit him here. Besides, he needs my help, and why am I here, if not to bring solace to those in need?

He writes:

Dear Leida (Abby),

I am the father of a child that likes to get up at five every morning for "dad payers". He will go back to sleep but then oversleeps and makes us both late. LOL... As I said, I'm exploiting him, so I choose to take this as a request for advice. You are welcome.

Dear, “P’ayers”:
Ah, yes...the pre-dawn “dad payer” sneak attack. I know it well. And I know you, too.

This little cupie doll has you wrapped around his finger, what with all the eyelashes, and bed head, and cuddles, and “p'aying.” He knows your weak spots and it looks like prayer is one of them. I can relate—my kid knows the only time I will let him play with my phone if he asks to use the Bible app on there. *shrug* #faithfulparenting. Your son knows you haven’t awakened to natural light since he figured out how to pole vault out of his crib. By the time sunlight shines through your windows, your little negotiator has worn you down with a list of inane demands, until he finally lands on one that will win you over.  You run 15 to 30 minutes behind schedule every morning because, after you finally give in and let him stay in your bed, you fall deeply asleep 20 minutes before your alarm is set to go off and sleep through the damned thing, every.single.day. And we all know there is no more satisfying slumber than that of the vanquished. It’s Stockholm Syndrome, for sure, but who cares when it feels so good?

Let’s keep it real. On your own, you don't stand a chance against him, and I can bet your wife is as susceptible to him as you are, so she’s no help. But take heart, I’m here. I’ve developed a tough, outer shell to these tactics and I’m not currently within smelling distance of your child (they smell delicious when they’re all sleep-warm, don’t they?) Ahem, anyway, I’m impervious to his charm. I might be your only hope. Follow these three, tried-and-true tips and you’ll see your way to waking up when your alarm actually goes off in the morning, again. Maybe you’ll even make it to the office in time to get a seat at the conference table for staff meeting, instead of skulking in and sitting in the back corner of the room with the Starbucks you just had to stop for. Crazier things have happened.

Anyway, here’s what I suggest. Medical disclaimer: none of this will work.

1. Kick him out of your bed. It’s not time to wake up, and he needs to respect that.
Why won’t this work? He can’t tell time. He’s been asleep for 9 hours already and is too young (read: selfish) to care that you haven’t. He’s rested; therefore it’s time to party! He also has cunning. Much like a snooze timer, he will let you nod off for 4 ½ minutes, then shock you awake with requests to go pee in the potty, to sit in his high chair and have cereal (that he won’t eat), and the holy grail, a yelp of pain that catapults you out of bed and to his side, where you discover he was actually making that noise to simulate pain in one of his stuffed animals that he was hitting in the head with a train car. This pattern he will repeat until you accept defeat and get up to join him in his pre-dawn shenanigans.

2. Give him what he wants, the first time he asks. Maybe that’ll placate him so you can go back to sleep.
Why won’t this work? You give him an inch, he’ll take a mile. If he can get milk at 5 am on the first try, his pre-frontal cortex will cattle prod the little hamster in there on its wheel (I’m sure that’s how and where decisions are made—do not doubt me), making him wonder, “what else can I get out of this guy right now?” It’s a slippery slope from there. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up giving him your room, where he will relax, in your bed with your wife, eating dry cereal on your pillow, and watching Super Why on your iPad. Meanwhile, you’ll be down the hall, trying to steal a precious few more minutes of sleep in the toddler bed in the nursery.

3. Pull him into bed with you and commence to “p’aying,” in hopes that he’ll fall asleep once you’re done, so you can sleep for another hour.
Why won’t this work? Frankly, you’ve got me stumped. From your letter, it seems you’ve had a degree of success with this tactic, if you can call being late for all the things every day, success. Some of us have not been so lucky. We’ve tried this, only to have our kids wiggle, squirm, and punch in the circle of our arms, turning what was supposed to be a sweet, Gerber-style hour of spooned sleep into torture. It’s not until we can open our eyes all the way and our sensory receptors start to register pain (by 11 am, typically) that we notice the bruises and scratches they’ve left behind. And for our stripes, did we get any more sleep? No, we did not. SO not worth it, IMO...

What’s this all about? What is it they want, you ask? I'm only speculating, but my guess is your bed or your soul. *shrug* Who knows? But there is a bright side! Accept that there’s no way you can win. He gets what he wants and an opportunity for a 2 hour nap after lunch, and you get an excuse to drink in the afternoon.


Thursday, July 10, 2014


I love Throwback Thursdays, but I've never posted one, either on the blog or any other site. My slowness to contribute to the hubbub on social media each week is, in part, practicality. I don't have a scanner to post my 3X5's or 4X7's and I don't have pictures of my pictures sitting in my smart phone gallery to post. The other part, I'll admit, is pure vanity. My throwbacks ain't cute. I rarely pull out a photo of my younger self without a wince, so why would I share those images with you guys? I wouldn't, so don't judge me. Or, if you must, do it quietly.

So, in the spirit of vain self-preservation, I offer you, not a throwback picture, but a throwback memory:

I took three months maternity leave from work after The Buddy was born. Most of my memories of the time are pretty hazy; hospital rooms, doctor's offices, lactation consultants, 2 am feedings, Target. You know, the usual. One thing I did strictly for my own enjoyment was check out books from the library in my neighborhood. The man-cub and I took a weekly stroll there to get some exercise, to enjoy the summer days and to break the new-mom monotony. It was a great time. I love to read, so when I wasn't otherwise occupied, you could often find me with my nose in a book.

A few weeks after I went back to work, I started getting nastygrams from the library, telling me I had four overdue books to return. Each time I got a letter or email, I'd look for the books to return them, not find them, get distracted by something else and forget (again) that I hadn't returned them. This happened every two weeks for two months.

I said, do NOT judge me! I tried to find them, but they were gone! Sheesh!

Anyway, the last letter I got very politely gave me five business days to return the books, or I would be charged a $30 restocking fee plus the maximum late charge ($2) for each book. That's $128, folks. For four books I couldn't find.

And since nothing motivates me like a late fee, I hunkered down, determined to find those books before I could forget again. This was no easy feat since I was still staggering around sleep-deprived, with post partum/working mama brain. I looked high and low for the better part of an hour in all the places that it made sense to me that they could be--the bedroom, on book shelves, under beds, in closets, in drawers--nothing. I gave up, resigning myself to the mother of all late fees and determined never to check out another book from the library. I didn't deserve the privilege and obviously couldn't be trusted.

A week or so later (I know: I learned absolutely nothing), I dug a bunch of The Bud's newborn clothes out of the basement storage to loan to a friend who was about to have a son. I pulled out the first box of 0-3 month sleepers and what did I see? Four library books! Somehow, I'd packed up my library books when I put away the sleepers. It made absolutely no sense and I had no recollection of doing it, but there they were! 

The next day, I stopped after work to drop them off and throw myself on the mercy of the (book) court. I approached a rather unfriendly-looking librarian at the desk, ready to tell my tale. She looked up at me, I took a deep breath and started talking, fast.

"Hi, I have books that are two months overdue to return that I just found in a box of baby clothes in the basement. I know, it makes no sense and I have no idea why I put them there. The only thing I can plead is that I was two months post partum at the time. Is it possible that, since I found the books and I only missed the last call date by a few days, the restocking fee can be waived and I can just pay the late fees?"

I stopped for breath and waited to hear what she would say. Her next move floored me.

She put both of her palms flat on the desktop, leaned in and smiled, saying, deadpan, "sweetie, two-months post partum is the only excuse that makes sense. Because of my kids, I don't remember the 70's!" Then she waived the restocking fee, took my $8, demanded I show her pictures of The Buddy on my phone, and sent me on my way.

I just checked out four, new books there last weekend. I love the library. :)

Happy Thursday! #tbt

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Don't Poke the Sleeping Bear

Last weekend, we converted The Buddy's crib to a toddler bed. The novelty of being able to get up and out whenever he wants is still fresh, so as you can imagine, many hijinks have ensued...
The first night, he climbed into his bed 10 minutes early, with no whining, begging or requests for "more books, pwease?" We congratulated ourselves on our prodigy and broke out the sangria and trash television to celebrate. 15 minutes later, we were reminded that we had a wily toddler on our hands.
He ran out with a delighted-to-be-free smirk on his face, asking to go pee pee in the potty. That was the only legitimate excuse.
10 minutes after that, he needed to poop. False. Back to bed.
5 minutes later, he was thirsty. He knows the no drink after 7:30 rule, so, since he wasn't a kid we'd just met for the first time, we again called false.
5 minutes after that, he cried hungry. He'd eaten a lot (for him) at dinner and the snack he requested was a chocolate Clif Bar, so his pajama-covered butt was marched back to bed, only 45 minutes after his original bedtime. Not bad, we thought, and commenced to drinking sangria. That was Saturday, and each night since has been pretty much the same, with variations in the time lengths and excuses. Not too terrible, really.
The other morning, however, was the proverbial straw. I can suffer many a fool--gladly and at great length--but even I have my limit. He woke up two hours early; while I was still sleeping. Before sunrise. I awoke to his warm, little body draped across mine, where he commenced to wriggle and squirm and kick until I could no longer ignore him and gasped deperately for consciousness to make the torture stop. Needless to say, I was pissed.
Don't get me wrong, I see how it all went down. He probably wakes up at 5 am all the time, but when he was in a crib, he understood he could either stay awake in his cage, bored and lonely, until a parent rescued him at sunup, or go back to sleep. He chose sleep. Now, he wakes up, gets a charge when he realizes he can get out of bed all by himself, and chooses to wander instead of slumber. The only problem with that is that his toddler logic requires a playmate and who better to call on than dear Mama? In case you haven't picked up on it, I find this all completely unacceptable. I had to take drastic measures to insure that it (insert: voice of the guy who growls over the trailers for suspense movies) Never. Happened. Again.
A friend of mine says the only time her children fear her is when she's asleep. This is brilliant and was, in my case, very easy to execute. I already had the melty face (see this post, #3), the crazy hair, the sleep-raspy voice, and, oh yeah, RAGE to fuel my performance and believe me, it was Oscar-worthy. I sat up in bed, hinged at the waist a la Linda Blair, and yelled, "what on Earth do you think you're doing?? Get out of this bed and go back to your room, right now! It's still sleeping time!" I think the skin peeled back from my skull at one point.
He did slump his tiny shoulders and leave the room, but I didn't go back to sleep.
He's only three years old, for crying out loud! What, did you think I'd leave him alone to tear up my house while I slept? No, thank you. Besides, he can't do anything without my help, yet. He'd have come back in there a hundred times asking me for stuff anyway, which would've just pissed me off more. But he won't wake me again without serious, prior consideration.
I hope.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Monthly Musings, June 2014

I pulled a Bobby pin from my hair last night that's made for red hair. I have two redheaded friends close by, neither lives with me, nor do they make a habit of styling their hair while they visit (as far as I know). Sometimes, being a woman sort of feels like being at summer camp. #thataintmine
I take my computer home every night, whether I plan to do work or not. I'm convinced that the day I don't, The Buddy will get sick and I'll be stuck with him, unable to be productive.
I'll admit to feeling slightly guilty for the way my house smells after I boil eggs. #itsnottoots
I need a break from doody duty. Forever.
When I'm sleep deprived, my attitude sucks. Like, REALLY sucks.
Tennessee Motto: The phrase "passing lane" means absolutely nothing to us.
I've been really mad at my Internet provider for a while. Cancelling mad. Today, they sent me a $20 gift card for no reason, but I have to remain a customer for 30 days following my request for the gift card to get it. I can stay a bit longer. #20dollaho

While watching me fold his big-boy underwear, The Bud pointed at them, saying, "Mama, a poopin' diaper!" #pottytrainingfail #dammit
There is a woman who sits on her front stoop, smoking a cigarette and playing on her cell phone every time I pass her house, which I do a minimum of 3 times each day. Tonight, she was there at 10:15 pm. One of us needs a hobby. #itsme

For the last 3 days, I've been telling every person I talk to that The Buddy went poop in the potty, instead of on my floor. Everyone. Friends, relatives, co-workers, the poor lady next to me in line at the grocery store... #cantstopwontstop

The Bud inexplicably started calling shadows (from trees, specifically) 'scary monsters' about a month ago. We soothed him and tell him what they were and talk about why trees were good things, but neither of us knew where the fear came from. Recently, I watched an episode of Carebears with him where one of the characters was afraid of monsters, which turned out to be, you guessed it, shadows from tree limbs. Carebears. What's supposed to be the most un-scary show in the world, is scaring my kid. Really, Carebears? Geez...#whocanyoutrust

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

To-Die-For Grilled Chicken Salad + Paleo Double Dark Chocolate Brownies

I used to be an emotional eater. Not in the sense that I would use food to anesthetize emotions or anything, but rather that my meal planning was dependent on the craving of the moment, which meant multiple trips a week to the grocery store to get whatever it was I wanted that day. When asked, "What do you want to eat for dinner?" my standard response was, "Depends on how I feel."

Phenomenal misappropriation of resources. 

Now that I'm doing all of my cooking one day a week, I have to be more deliberate about meal planning and shopping. Sadly, my cravings no longer have a say in the proceedings. Not so sadly, I'm becoming a more efficient grocery shopper and paying more attention to what we really like. If it's a meal that both of us particularly enjoyed, we put it in the regular rotation, meaning it's on the menu on a weekly or biweekly basis, until we get tired of it. The Buddy's verbal communication isn't quite up to speed yet, but his vote still counts. Whatever he will actually eat shows up every week, regardless of if we like it or not. Thank God we all love spaghetti.

From time to time, I'll share some of my faves here on the ol' blog so that you can partake if you're so inclined, and so I'll remember to put it on a note card for later. (We'll see if that actually happens).

To-Die-For Grilled Chicken Salad
I whipped up this salad to use some leftover chicken that we'd grilled. We loved it so much, it's a on our list as a summer time fave!

Yield: 4 Servings
2 lbs chicken breasts (4 large, 6 or 7 small), grilled and diced
1/2 c Newman's Own Italian Dressing
2 stalks of celery, washed and diced
4 green onions, washed and diced
10 red grapes, seeded and sliced in half or quarters
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4 c crushed cashews

I typically work with leftovers that have been in the fridge overnight, but if you're doing this from scratch, it'll still work fine. Marinate thawed chicken breasts in italian dressing marinade for a minimum of a half hour (the length of time it takes for me to light a fire in the grill and for the fire to calm down to glowing embers). You don't have to use Newman's Own, but we love it. It's delicious, there's no high-fructose corn syrup and they donate the proceeds from their products to charity. Win-Win-Win. But really, it's up to you. I also think a jerk or tabasco marinade would be yummy, too. Spice it up a bit.

For the uninitiated chicken-cooker, grill breasts 3 to 5 minutes on each , then give them a good poke. If it's done, the flesh should give easily. Also, take a look at the fluid that oozes out. If it's clear, they're done and still juicy. That's what you want. If they still ooze a bit pink, flip them again and cook another 2 minutes on each side. Cool them, dice them and set them aside.

Combine chicken with celery, grapes, green onions, mayonnaise, herbs and cashews. Mix, chill if you prefer, and serve. I serve it on a bed of mixed greens, but it's also great on toast, or with tortilla chips.

Paleo Dark Chocolate Brownies (or as I call them, So Good, Your Head Will Explode). To insure that you completely blow your caloric intake for the day, this little ditty I bit off the blog, Civilized Caveman. There's been a lot of talk about paleo cooking/eating lately and while I personally don't have any medical or moral concerns that keep grains and dairy out of my diet, some of the recipes I've seen make it look like a damned tasty option! We love chocolate, so when I saw this recipe I had to try it. Hope you like it, too, but be careful: grain-free or not, these things are NOT good for you, especially if you do what I did and have them with vanilla ice cream (eek!). Not paleo, but oh, so good!

Yield: 18 (or 1, if you're very motivated)

2 cups of almond butter (can use sun-butter, cashew, macadamia nut butter or a mixture to total 2 cups)
3 eggs
1 c raw, organic honey, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 c dark cocoa powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c Enjoy Life chocolate chips, melted (can substitute dark chocolate bar)
1 very ripe banana
Preheat oven to 325 Degrees F. In a standing mixer or large mixing bowl, blend your almond butter and eggs to make a smooth batter. Add the honey and the vanilla and mix well. Add the salt, baking soda, then SLOWLY add in the cocoa powder to avoid getting it all over. Fold in the melted chocolate and banana and mix well. I freeze over-ripe bananas to use in my baking. If you do this, put a frozen banana in a ziplock bag in a bowl of warm water to thaw while you make your mixture. Works well.  
Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish with oil (I use coconut) and bake for 35-40 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.

Monday, June 9, 2014

PWP, Part Deux

I'm now entering the 8th week of my solo-parenting adventure. (yippee!). I haven't been sure if I'd make it at various points but I have, The Buddy is still alive, and W and I are still holding hands. We may be passed out, exhausted at the dinner table while we're doing it, but I still call it success!
Now that I consider myself a war-hardened veteran, I can offer a few more tricks I've learned in the trenches:
#1. Don't start potty training in earnest when one partner is away. In this case, one truly is the loneliest number. You'll spend the week (or whatever your solo interval may be), frustrated, disgusted and repulsed, trying to keep your floors, upholstery and self, dry and poop-free--and your partner, bless them, will not get it. Not because they don't care or aren't invested in the success of this venture, but because they haven't developed the hard, outer shell that you have from all the pee puddles and poop atrocities you've weathered. Nor have they spent hours watching the kid's every move (think guerilla reconnaisance, complete w/camo face paint) getting in tune with what constitutes the kid's "poop face." When they come home, you'll spend as much time training them as you do the toddler. I almost murdered W the time he innocently suggested we put The Bud in a diaper to nap because it would be easier cleanup if he wet the bed. Yeah. And why don't we just undo all the effort I've put in the last two weeks, so you don't have to change one sheet. I've changed all the sheets, buddy. Don't you dare put him in a diaper! Needless to say, he never made that mistake again. It's exhausting and if we hadn't been under the gun to get The Buddy trained by the 1st of August, I never would've attempted it alone.
#2. You can't do all the things. A weekend is only two days long. In our case, Friday or Saturday (or both) will most likely include a gig. Somewhere in there, we have to find time to do house chores, make all our meals for the week, and Sunday is usually packed with church stuff from 7:30 am to 1 pm and we're not even Pentecostal. Maybe we'll sleep and eat in there sometimes, too. For the first few weeks, I planned and fretted over family time and the need to "do something" so I could feel like we were having quality time together. It wore us all out, emotionally and physically. The point of quality time is to make the most of the opportunities you have, not to make the most opportunities, especially when we've got so much other stuff going on. It's better for everyone that I've figured out the difference.
#3. If your situation allows, do all of your cooking for the week at once. I've been doing it for 7 weeks and I might even keep it up after W comes home for good, it's been so helpful. I spend 3 hours making 3 bulk meals--one crockpot, one oven and one stove top--then I let them cool, pack them in single-meal servings and refrigerate or freeze. The only thing I prepare at meal times during the week is a veggie, a salad, fruit or dessert. Dinner is on the table 20 minutes after The Buddy and I get home (the length of one cartoon) and clean up is a cinch.
If that plan doesn't work for you, tweak it as you see fit. Cook an extra couple servings of your favorite meals for a week and freeze them for quick dinners the following week. If you don't care for leftovers, make three meals, then plan a couple of slough meals you don't have to cook, like frozen pizza or takeout if it's in your budget. Try a food swap with a couple other busy friends. Each of you makes a double batch of one easy to freeze meal each week and swaps what you've made with the other two. One set of ingredients, one cooking event, and you get three meals! Or, invest in a crockpot with a timer and start researching yummy meals that require 15 minutes or less of prep, and virtually cook themselves. Food.com has a great section of tried-and-true crock pot meals that you can check out. We try to eat almost completely unprocessed whole-food meals and I've never struggled to find yummy recipes that we all love on there. Just type in the ingredients you want to use and go!
#4. Take people up on it when they offer to help you. I struggle with this one, not entirely because I'm a control freak who doesn't like looking needy. I also tend to have tunnel vision when I'm worn out. When I'm running on fumes and someone offers to lend a hand, I can't imagine that they wouldn't feel as weighted down by whatever part of my burden they've offered to lift, as I do. Truly, I don't want to make someone else's life harder in order to get my breather. What I fail to understand in those moments is that those Good Samaritans' resources aren't tapped out like mine are. That's why they can help. Chasing after my 3 year old for an hour, getting the oil changed in my car or doing a load of my laundry (hint, hint) won't affect them the same way it does me when I'm trying to do all those things at once.
Also note: your partner counts as a helper, too. It may seem easier to do it yourself than to explain to them what needs to be done and I get that, but truly, it's not. Would you rather be passively pissed at the Love of Your Life because (s)he is watching TV, blissfully unaware that you're running around taking care of the to-do list in your head, or spend the extra 20 seconds to share that list with them so everything gets done and you're not the only one doing it? You're thinking, it's the principle of the thing, Leida! They see all the stuff there is to do, why should I have to dictate it to them? You may be right, but that ain't gonna help you rest any sooner or make you like your partner any better. I've discovered that W prioritizes rest better than I do (*cough*he's lazy*cough*), but that he is happy to help, if asked. So, I ask. Principles can wait til I'm sitting down, sipping my first glass of wine.
And finally, #5. Take a day off, if you can. This seems like a no-brainer, so I must have no brain because it just occurred to me this week. I have ample vacation days from work, so it's totally ok to take days off in the middle of a work week, send The Bud to daycare and enjoy a Me Day every once in a while. Yes, I'm talking to you. And to me. To all of us who are running on fumes and think vacation days are only for projectile vomiting. Rest is so important, people and we need it! My goal is to get a Me Day scheduled this week.
Who's with me???