Friday, December 31, 2010

2011: The Year I Finally Sleep? (ControverSunday)

Edit: I was bummed that I had missed yet anotherr ControverSunday when Kathleen over at amoment2think (AKA the new host) suggested that I label this a ControverSunday post since this month's topic is about resolutions. So, same post, new label. Thanks, Kathleen!

I am sitting on my couch, sipping some green tea and blogging. It's a far cry from the champagne and truffles I've been living off this past week while ignoring my blog. Why not just wait till tomorrow? It will be the new year after all. One more day to indulge in my gluttony and laziness.

Normally I would take that day. I have always been big on resolutions, not just for the new year, but also the coming week, or the next day. Tomorrow. Or, next week. I will start to run, put down the remote and pick up a book, write a story. Then, when day after day, week after week, month after month, I fail to accomplish my goals, December rolls around. December with its hectic holiday schedule, abundance of treats, and the built in excuse to put it all off till next year. I may have squandered 2010, but THIS! This is my year!

I have a great deal to look forward to in 2011. My daughter will turn two. My little sister will get married, and we will get to travel to Rhode Island for the wedding. I'm going to BlogHer for the first time and will hopefully get to meet a lot of great people (including Brooke and hopefully Ginger!) My husband and I will celebrate our seventh anniversary. I'm looking forward to this year, and I plan on working at some of my goals.

But, unlike many other years, I don't see 2010 as something to regret. I don't really need a clean slate. Rather, I am looking forward to building on some of my accomplishments this year. I didn't become a mother in 2010, but I did really hit my stride. Which is not to say that I don't have completely off days where I feel like I couldn't possibly be doing this right or days where I feel like I just don't care to do it right. But, for the most part, I have worked hard to develop a beautiful relationship with my daughter, and I am proud of the mother I have become.

This past year I have also been welcomed into a wonderful community of bloggers, all of whom have been inspiring, supportive, intelligent, and, most importantly, hilarious. You guys keep me coming back to this blog when I get lazy or too intimidated to keep writing, because you make me feel like my story and my voice are valuable.

This is the year I discovered my passion for food. The year I made my first pie (and then made lots more.) The year I discovered risotto and how much better it is when I use homemade chicken stock. I baked and cooked, went to farmer's markets, joined a CSA. I got an apron for Christmas. I heard my husband tell me time and time again that I was "such a good cook." I loved every minute of it.

I took baby steps toward learning my guitar. I can play a few chords, and by the end of the year, I resolve to play at least one song (but hopefully more than that!) from the Beatles song book given to me by my father in law, the same person who gave me my guitar.

Many people scoff at New Year's resolutions, but I actually really love the promise of a fresh start. Nothing has actually changed: I am still carrying the weight I gained in 2010, still have empty space in my head where knowledge would be had I read more, Facebooked less. I won't be magically rocking out on my guitar after yet another year of neglecting it. But, there is the promise of change each December as I prepare to ring in the new year on my couch, once again (Seriously, I have never managed to do New Year's Eve right. Having a kid just allows me to pretend it's her fault.)So call it what you will: delusion, cliché, or foolishness, but I resolve to make 2011 a year of productivity, good food, friendship, fitness, learning, empowered parenting, romance,rest, and happiness. It's going to be a great year.

Now, if you'll excuse me I need to make sure I'm stocked up on champagne and more truffles for tonight.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas in Hollywood

Yesterday Chris had to work for a few hours. He was working in Hollywood, and I remembered that when we were there last year around Christmas, there was a big Christmas tree in the fancy shopping center on Hollywood and Highland. Last year we went with Chris's sister and her boyfriend, and everyone convinced me to leave the baby with my in-laws even though I wanted to bring her. They were right; it was bitterly cold, and we would have spent the entire time making sure she was bundled, her ears covered from the wind, etc.

So, I was excited to bring her with me, show her the tree, and let her do some people-watching, a favorite pastime of hers. It was a different experience, and not just because I was pushing a stroller instead of drinking cocktails with my sister-in-law. It was HOT. And, we all know how I feel about unseasonably hot weather, right? And, I feel especially insulted when said weather is ruining the "feel" of a holiday. I don't like it when it's cold on Easter, either. I don't discriminate.

So, we walked in, past the Ralph Lauren and Coach shops, and headed for the restroom. I waited forever for the handicap stall because I had the stupid stroller, and I eventually left without ever getting to use the bathroom. That might seem like an unnecessary and terribly uninteresting detail, but it will be relevant later. Hang in there!

As we made our way to the center of the plaza, I noticed one of those water fountains that kids can run through, where they water comes and goes intermittently, alternating height and intensity. I pointed it out to Charlotte because she loves water, and since there weren't any kids there it wouldn't occur to her to run through it. Except that there was a little girl there who escaped my notice, running around the water spouts, daring herself to sprint across the entirety of the fountain before the geysers came back from their hiding place beneath the ground. At first Charlotte was content just to watch her while I slathered the sunscreen I couldn't believe I needed to apply in December, to her face.

But, ultimately, this is what happened:



At first she mostly ran along the periphery of the fountain, mostly only getting lightly misted by the water. But then she started getting more daring and running across while the water was gone. Until finally she was just running into the water, headfirst and squealing all the while. She was DRENCHED. Water was pouring off of her. When I finally pulled the plug on the water play, I realized I had gotten myself into a tricky situation.

The bathroom wasn't far, but it wasn't close enough for me to walk her there. I would need to put her in the stroller, and I didn't want it to be all soggy for the rest of the day as she would be riding in it. I try to be respectful of Charlotte's body and her as yet undeveloped sense of modesty. I usually take her to another room to change her diaper, even among family. So, I was a little uncomfortable with my own decision to strip her naked right then and there so that I could wrap my sweater (Guess it was good for something that day!) around her and take her to the bathroom.

I've mentioned that I struggle with images and perceptions. I'm trying to let go of my need to look like I have it all together. Because, first of all, I don't. And second of all, none of us do. So instead of putting on a show for one another, I am hoping we can all be honest and vulnerable with one another, and receive support in return. The point is, I struggle with it. And being in the land of beautiful people, whether or not that beauty is chemically and surgically enhanced, and being in the land of the designer-clothing-clad, perfectly coiffed babies, I was already a little on edge. But, I guess pushing a naked and sopping-wet toddler wrapped in a sweater through the crowd is what they call immersion therapy.

I did, in fact, get a lot of stares on our seemingly endless trek to the bathroom. I was able to get into a stall relatively quickly this time, and I began the arduous task of wringing out her clothes, shoes, and socks before putting them in a plastic bag I did not know I had, and I swear was put there by magical elves. Then I got her dressed into the pair of backup clothes that I don't always have, but did today by providence, or perhaps more magical elves. She didn't have shoes the rest of the day, including when we ate lunch in a restaurant, but, hell, she was happy.

I was slightly damp, as well, having been asked by Charlotte to join her in the water fountain romp. I was more cautious than she, choosing my paths carefully, rather than just charging in with reckless abandon, but I did manage to get a little water on me. So, I decided to use my Gap gift card and procured a tank top on clearance. (Side note: I also snagged an adorable summery skirt for sixteen bucks that I would not have been able to afford when it was in season. I win.) I didn't want to go ALL the way back to the bathroom, only to possibly wait another hour for a stall, so I devised a plan in which I took off the tag, walked into an empty elevator, arranged the shirt on top of the stroller in the ideal position for getting it on with ease, and pushed the button. Whereupon the shirt fell from the stroller just as I had taken off my old shirt, causing me to panic and scramble to get the shirt off the ground and onto my body in the length of time it takes to go up one floor, which, in case you were wondering, is not a lot of time. Which is how I ended up topless as the elevator door opened. But since luck was on my side this day, no one was there, and I was able to dress myself discreetly.

And with that, I leave you. I'm off to pick up a Christmas tree, probably clad in a tank top and flip flops. Oh, which reminds me: here's a picture of Charlotte at the Christmas tree display in Hollywood yesterday. Nothing says 'Winter Wonderland" like a barefoot kid in a t-shirt.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Saga Continues

Here is a haiku I wrote about tonight's session of rocking Charlotte to sleep:

Eyes are not closing
The rocking chair is squeaking
Patience is thinning

And here's another:

If you sleep right now
I will buy you a pony
For the love of God


This is what I was thinking about while I was standing in the dark next to Charlotte's crib, trying to ignore the deadening sensation in my arm because the rocking chair was making too much noise for me to sit in it. I didn't want to lose the momentum I'd gained going through the bedtime routine by greasing the chair, so I just proceeded with the rocking while standing. Although, I suppose if my arm had fallen asleep, causing me to drop Charlotte on the floor, I would have been starting from square one anyway. It was a gamble.

Related to this conversation: I heard a little girl outside call for her mom a second ago, and I thought it was Charlotte calling for me. My reaction to that perception can only be described as full-on panic. Holy hell, that was a close one!

So, yeah, it's wearing on me a little. The reluctance to sleep. The fact that I can't, no matter how hard I try, get her into bed much before nine, and usually it's later. The fact that most nights I'm starving because I usually eat dinner after she goes to bed.

But, what are ya' gonna do?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

As It Should Be

Well, I dropped the ball on ControverSunday this month. We had our nieces over for the weekend, and I was having way too much fun eating junk food with them, playing board games, and laughing hysterically at our eight-year-old niece's banter. Seriously, this kid has WIT. And she goes on these bizarre tangents; most recently she was telling us about how Curious George was the fifth Beatle. He is, as I understand, George Harrison's brother, and he made monkey sounds on every one of The Beatles' songs, but you can't hear him because he was never given a mic.

Anyway, I was going to tackle the whole Santa topic in the post I never got around to writing. Chris and I have never had a doubt in our minds that we would do Santa with Charlotte. Believing in Santa is fun, magical, and part of being a kid. But, recently I have read a few blog posts about how lying to our kids about Santa is going to erode their trust in us. I laughed it off at first, but then I started getting nervous. I knew we would still do Santa, but I started stressing about the details. How far will we take it? How will we handle her questions and concerns about Santa? I was going to write a long post, exploring all my feelings on it, until I read this post by Clara over at The Cheeseblog. It's her ControverSunday post, and while the whole thing isn't about Santa, you need to read the whole post because Clara is one of my favorite writers. She is witty, insightful, and says eloquently in two sentences what I couldn't manage to express in two pages. She always makes me realize that things aren't as complicated as I make them out to be. She's like my Zen Master.

So, you have Clara to thank for sparing you my long-winded Santa post. And, what I want to talk about instead is letting go of perceptions, not worrying about what we "should" be doing. This has been on my mind for a couple reasons:

Reason #1-

I have been rocking Charlotte to sleep for every nap and every bedtime for the last two weeks. She will be two in March. Now, I realize this is not advisable due to the quite possibly literal back-breaking nature of the work, what it might mean for her future sleeping habits, and most importantly, what it might mean for the delicate flower that is my sanity.

I'm not thrilled with the current situation. especially because in the months leading up to this development Charlotte was like an Olympic sleeper. A story, a song, a snuggle, and she went happily into her crib, rolled over to hug her bunny, and that was that. So, a process that used to take ten minutes, tops, now takes up to an hour. Also frustrating is that it HAS to be me. I do like that she wants me and that we have our special thing, since as I mentioned, she is something of a Daddy's girl, but it can be frustrating that I'm the only one who can do this particular task right now.

Whenever I mention that I've been rocking her to sleep, I'm a little guarded, ready with some self-deprecation to ensure that everyone knows that *I* know how ridiculous it is. Because I know how we all are. We all have opinions about other people's children, and we all KNOW what is best for them. So, I try to diffuse any judgment that might be headed my way with some quips of my own.

But the truth is, I don't think it's ridiculous. I might regret it later. I might have to do some damage control when she's five and can't fall asleep without me. But, Chris and I have always done what works for us and for Charlotte when it comes to her sleep. We co-slept until it didn't work. We Ferberized until she hit a new stage, and then we adjusted. I've used an Ergo to get her to sleep even though she was old enough to say "No Ergo." And, we enjoyed the fruits of all our labor during her rockstar sleeping phase. Now we're in a rough patch, but I feel it will get better when she's ready for it to get better. So, I have decided not to worry about where or how she "should" be falling asleep. Besides, I am rather enjoying the cuddliness of it all.

Reason #2-

Yesterday we took Charlotte to a free trial at MyGym. It's basically Gymboree, only it's called MyGym. Brightly colored mats, a ball pit, and all sorts of other tumbling paraphernalia. She had a great time, we could see how it would be beneficial for her to have an hour of more structured playtime each week, we liked that it gave her an opportunity to listen to other adults, and of course, we liked that she got to interact with other kids. The park is so hit and miss. Some days there are kids roughly her age, and some days they are interested in playing with her. But, other days, she's on her own, or rather, she and I are on our own, and I desperately want her to interact with more kids. Mostly because she adores other kids. She craves their attention. So, I want to give her that. She was at top of the age group in yesterday's class, and the teachers recommended she try Thursday's class where there will be older kids. So, we're going to try it out because she will probably have a blast.

But, here's the problem: we can't possibly afford to sign her up for this class. I misunderstood the pricing when I agreed to try out the second class, but once I figured it out, I realized this ain't happening. We tried to find an extra 70 bucks in our monthly budget, but there really isn't much else we can cut from our bills.

I'm disappointed because I know Charlotte would love and benefit from this class. But, part of my despondency on the matter is coming from the fact that I feel like I am not keeping up with the other "good mothers" by failing to get her into one of these programs. I have this perception of what it means to be a conscientious mother of a small child, and it includes always having a box of raisins in the diaper bag, taking her to story time at the library, setting up little art projects for her to complete, and going to Gymboree. You know, like they do in the movies.

Well, I fail at story time because I didn't sign up months in advance, which the disdain in the librarian's voice told me is a huge parenting faux paus. I fail at art projects because my organization skills and limited creativity don't allow for much more than throwing a piece of big paper and a tube of finger paint on the kitchen floor, and now I fail at gym class because I don't have a job that would enable me to pay for it. The only thing I can do is the raisins, because how hard is it to carry a box of raisins on you? And sometimes, I fail at that, as well.

I know, I know. This self-doubt and parental anxiety is getting tiresome. But, never fear! I'm actually not whining. Charlotte is a happy kid. She doesn't know that I can't afford to take her to a gym class, and she doesn't care. She is perfectly happy running around at the park. And, maybe we'll join a mom's group so she can meet other kids. Then again, maybe we won't, and she'll just have to wait a week or two to see her cousins, whom she idolizes. And maybe I'll be able to get us ready in time for the bookstore's story time on Monday mornings once in a while. Or maybe we'll make pancakes in our pajamas instead.

Charlotte doesn't know that I don't look like the moms in the movies, and she doesn't care. So, I don't care, either.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Different Kind of Tired

News flash!

Parenthood is exhausting, yo.

That is all.

I kid, I kid. But, seriously, I knew it was going to be tiring, what with all the sleepless nights and the all-too-literal-as-it-turns-out toddler chasing. I'm not exactly surprised by how physically tired I am because it was easy to anticipate how my body would react to less sleep and being on my feet when I'd rather be sitting down sipping on a latte, because my kid is trying to pull merchandise off all the shelves at a coffee shop. I could comprehend exhaustion in those terms before I had Charlotte.

What I wasn't prepared for is the pure mental exhaustion I feel at the end of every day. Exhaustion that, while compounded by the fatigue that radiates to my every limb, is wearying on a much deeper level.

I worried throughout my pregnancy, as most of us do. Having suffered a miscarriage at eight weeks in a previous pregnancy, I was a complete wreck when I discovered I was pregnant. I thought I would feel better after my first ultrasound when we got to see the heartbeat. But, then my poor, unassuming doctor made an off-handed comment about the baby looking smaller than he expected for seven weeks, and I panicked. I was so upset that he agreed to see me in a week to make sure everything looked good. I spent that week preparing to stare in disbelief at another doctor telling me he couldn't find my baby's heartbeat. He was sorry. Happily, our follow-up scan looked good. But, then there was the ER at ten weeks for heavy bleeding. And hours spent with my hand on my stomach, waiting to feel a kick, and fearing the worst. Mystery pains and symptoms I couldn't find in any of my pregnancy books. I just kept holding my breath (and my belly,) feeling like if I could just claw my way out of the woods, make it to the end of this pregnancy, I could catch my breath. I knew I couldn't relax until the baby got here.

You're laughing now, right? Because as excruciating as the fear of losing a pregnancy is, it is a joke to think that you'll feel better once the baby arrives. Sure, she's here, and she's healthy. But is she latching properly? Is she getting any milk? You want to give her a shot? But, she's, like, hours old! You're drawing her blood again? Is she pooping enough? She's not? She's jaundiced? She didn't pass her hearing screening? She needs phototherapy? You're not going to let me take her home?

I think it would be easier to count the minutes and hours I WASN'T crying in the hospital, because to do it the other way around would take you an eternity.

There's this children's book called Wemberley Worried by Kevin Henkes about a little, hand-wringing girl named, well, Wemberley, who worries all day and night about everything that might possibly go wrong in her life. The book has a happy ending, but it makes me very, very sad because that little girl was me. I had severe insomnia when I was eleven because I was so stressed out about what might happen in school the next day. I literally didn't sleep many nights until after heard my dad get up for work, which was around 4:30 A.M. So, many days my mom would keep me home from school because she couldn't bear to send her kid to class on two hours of sleep. In fourth grade I faked sick constantly, effectively missing weeks and weeks of school.

In short, I was a stressed out kid and became a stressed out adult. So, it follows that I would be an especially stressed out parent. I doubt my fears/concerns/worries are unique. That is to say, I know ALL parents worry obsessively about their kids. We are all preoccupied with their safety, health, self-esteem, and general well-being. But those of us with weaker constitutions might just be more prone to collapsing under the pressure.

And, oh, the pressure! Most of it self-inflicted, but then again, some of it does come from the outside. It feels like I spend most of my day downing cocktail after cocktail mixed of guilt, fear, self-doubt, and, yes, worry. And the hangover is a bitch.

If I'm not making sure Charlotte is breathing every hour or checking out symptoms on the internet to rule out every disease and ailment in existence, I'm flogging myself for not noticing her wandering over to the high-power sprinklers at the park while I was chatting with another mother, or for not being patient enough during a tantrum.

And then there's the constant focus and attention required of us as parents. Chris and I spend hours not only recapping the joyous and amusing events of the day, but also discussing our hopes and fears for our daughter. We fine tune our partnership, commiserating and arguing about our philosophies, methods, and styles. There are accusations, irrational hurt feelings (mostly from me,) and reassurances.

Also exhausting is constant journeying back and forth between the extreme highs and lows of parenthood. One minute you're reveling in the bliss of a spontaneous hug and "I wuv you" from your toddler, and the next minute you're pretending not to notice when she responds to your attempt to play with her with "No, Mommy!" I don't want to play the guilt game, so I try to just smile and respect her wishes, letting her come to me when she's ready. But, damn, sometimes I just want to cry. Then I feel silly for letting an almost two-year-old make me cry. More self-doubt.

The highs really and truly do make up for the lows, as we all know. The moments where you're pretty sure you're doing it right, when you're pretty sure your kid loves you and feels safe with you, or just when she's being completely hilarious and you realize you signed up for hours of entertainment along with all the fear and self-loathing, those moments are indescribable. You just feel...whole.

Exhausted, but whole.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

FAIL!

Well, I guess that's that.

I didn't post yesterday, thusly failing at NaBloPoMo. I'm disappointed, but ultimately I feel like it served its purpose. I wanted to get back into blogging. I had been feeling uninspired and listless, and even though I don't feel like I've written anything brilliant these past few weeks, I'm glad I at least got back in the habit of posting.

I've also been enjoying the community aspect of blogging again. It's been great reading and commenting on all of your posts, and feeling the love from you guys over here, as well.

So, I'll keep posting every day until the end of the month, and then hopefully I will maintain the momentum and post regularly after that.

In the meantime, here is a picture of me and my friend, Valeri, last night on her 30th birthday. As I walked through my apartment complex last night after the celebration, I gasped, looked at the time, and realized with dismay that it was 12:20, and I had missed my deadline.




Sadder still is the fact that my night was over by 12:20. I guess we're all getting old.

Friday, November 26, 2010

This is Why We Don't Have Thanksgiving Resolutions

Today was the day.

The day I resolved to get up in the middle of the night to do some Black Friday shopping. I've never done it before because large crowds make me unreasonably angry under normal circumstances, so I can only imagine the violence and vitriol that would ensue in large crowds at 3 A.M.

But, we're pretty strapped for cash, and I was hoping to get everyone presents that don't suck for half the price. Unfortunately, after scrutinizing the ads I couldn't even find anything that caught my eye. And, if you're going Black Friday shopping, especially with the Early Bird specials, you kind of need to know what you're after and make a beeline for it. It's not exactly the time to be wandering aimlessly, what with someone's elbow being in your eye and all.

So, I slept in, instead. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, I was greeted by "No Mommy! Just Daddy." when I came down the stairs, eager to greet my daughter. I try not to let her hurt my feelings, but it can be hard when she basically wants nothing to do with me all morning. And now she's refusing to nap. Again. At least there is pumpkin pie to get me through this very difficult time.

Which reminds me, I also resolved to work out today. Something about going to bed with a gut full of turkey and mashed potatoes, along with the knowledge that this will only be the first of many indulgences this holiday season, made me feel the need to drag my gravy-laden carcass to the treadmill so I can gasp for breath for about half an hour. I'm not completely ruling it out, but I'm about to tuck into a second cup of coffee and a slice of pie. So, prospects are not good.

I could clean my apartment! Yes, that would be a good idea. But, Chris just got the baby down for her nap (miraculously.) So, maybe today would be a good day to watch our first Christmas movie.

I'll just save all that stuff for New Year's day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Randomness

My feet are freezing. You know, I spend all of autumn idealizing a colder climate, a place where it's actually fall, and a place that gets snow in the winter, but the truth is I am SUCH a Californian. I love the cold weather, but, like, California cold. I really don't know what I would do if I had to plan my days around whether or not the roads have been plowed. Still, I am pretty jealous of all the snow talk I've been hearing. Maybe I just need to visit a snowy climate and then come home to wear my flip flops in January.

I didn't take any pictures of our Thanksgiving today. I'm not sure why. So, I made up for it by taking a picture of Charlotte and Chris winding down upon our arrival home. We had a huge meltdown that only Wall-E could fix. Yeah, we're a little ashamed about caving, but we figured we dragged her around all day, she didn't get a nap, she handled the crowds at Chris's rather large family gathering like a champ, and she is exhausted. So...yeah.



The funny thing about watching this movie with Charlotte is that she narrates it with her very limited, toddler vocabulary. So, it's basically a constant stream of "Oh, no, Wall-E! Where's Wall-E? There he is! Silly Wall-E. Silly Eve. Oh, no, Eve! Wall-E sad. Hold hands." And so on. It's very cute, but damn, she talks a lot. Like her mother, I suppose.

Poor Charlotte is so used to me telling her that every article of clothing is too big for her, she now says it every time I get her dressed. She also informed my mom that the red cardigan she purchased for her was too big. It isn't, by the way. Poor, tiny child. Although, she stood on a scale at Chris's aunt's house, and it looks like she's up to 25 pounds.

And now we're in the throes of a bedtime catastrophe, so I'm out.

Five more days, right?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not So Wonderful Wednesday

Okay, guys. I was all set to write my Wonderful Wednesday post for today. I had some good stuff, too: a fabulous haircut, a cuddly toddler sleeping on my shoulder, and more!

But, then I found a letter that came in the mail days ago, telling me that my health insurance has been cancelled, though I can't figure out why. And now I won't know what happened until Monday, and I'm just so tired of worrying about health care, and we want to have another baby...

It just blows. At least Charlotte still has coverage, but Chris and I appear to be screwed.

On top of all this, my kid refuses to sleep, and the internet is down. So, I'm writing this on my phone while she watches Beauty and the Beast. And I don't have an I@hone like y'all, so this is a bit tedious.

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving! Sorry to be such a downer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mommy in Grouchland

I'm writing this while Charlotte watches "Elmo in Grouchland." God, I hate this movie. I love Sesame Street, but this is just painful. We've been on a roll watching Disney movies, which is something we both enjoy. But, today she randomly asked for Elmo. Okay, I do have to admit I love Mandy Patinkin's song and dance number. Makes me wish I could see him on Broadway.

I'm getting a hair cut tonight. My hair is all tangly at the bottom because I haven't had it cut in about two years. I might be seeing the new Harry Potter movie tomorrow, so expect a total cop out post, most likely involving a picture of my hair. Calm down. I know you're excited, but take a valium or something.

I'm ready for November to be over. I'm thrilled that doing NaBloPoMo has gotten me out of my blogging funk, but now the pressure to post every day is mostly just cramping my style because I have bigger posts I want to work on, but they will take more time than I can usually muster in one day to complete. Besides that, I get a text from my mother or one of my friends almost every day alerting me to a typo. Though, that happened before November, too. I'm a lousy proofreader. The worst is when I do things like use "affect" when I mean "effect." Because that looks less like a typo and more like I'm dumb. I swear I'm not!

I also have some design plans for the blog. I'm pretty sure I'm moving to Word Press. And, honestly, I wonder who will be left on Blogger. It seems everyone is moving or has moved. Just today my friend, Lex, was pondering it on Twitter. I'm also considering adding a food section. Like, a place to talk recipes and just generally appease my little foodie heart. Thoughts? Chris will have some time off next month, so hopefully I can find the time to make the changes I want.

Okay, Vanessa Williams is on the screen now with her ridiculous, blue wig. I think it might be time to turn this off and feed the kid some breakfast. We have a play date later, and I think everyone would appreciate me to shower before we arrive, as well.

Oh, and good news! I'm not hungover today.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Out of Practice

I'm hungover.

And, I'm a little embarrassed about it.

Not because of the many tasks I ignored today in favor of hiding under the covers with a bottle of aspirin. Though, perhaps I should be. The bathrooms are still grimy, the laundry unwashed, and not a word is written of a blog post I was hoping to work on during Charlotte's nap time.

No, I'm embarrassed because my hangover was caused by a measly two vodka tonics. Two! That's like, what I used to consider a warm up for the REAL drinking. I drink wine nearly every night, sometimes beer, but apparently my hiatus from the hard liquor consumption has severely hindered my tolerance.

You might wonder why I am taking this so hard. Well, first of all, it's just one more sign of my divorce from my pre-baby self. I mean, even the WAY I got drunk is ridiculous. A hangover is always unpleasant, but it helps to have the memory of dancing on tables or totally killing "Livin' on a Prayer" at the karaoke bar, to remind you of why you got yourself into this mess in the first place.
I wasn't kidding about dancing on tables.

I got drunk by sitting on my couch in sweats, watching some British sketch comedy with Chris. Don't get me wrong, a good night. Just maybe not worth the throbbing head and queasy stomach I've endured today.

The other reason I am ashamed of the effect my imbibing had on my day is that I come from a drinkin' family. And we're not ashamed. My grandma and I will pound chardonnay like no one else. My sister and I can lose track of how many beers we've consumed and feel fine. And then there's my mentor: my mom.

My mom is the one who taught me how to drink Bombay Sapphire martinis (with three olives) and took me to Ireland where we drank pint after pint of Harp lager. She is the wind beneath my alcoholic wings!

And I've let her down, people. I've let her down. This is how our phone conversation went today:

Me: I'm hungover.

Mom: I'm sorry, babe. What'd you do last night?

Me: (laughing) Nothing. Just hung out at home and had a couple vodka tonics.

Mom: That's it? Two vodka tonics?

Me: I know! I'm so ashamed!

Mom: You know you're Irish, right? We taught you better than this.


It was like coming home with a bad report card. Only worse, because I was hungover.

"This is how you pour a martini, grasshopper."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Proof That We Were There (An Hour After Everyone Else)

I'm sitting here wearing my witch's hat from Halloween, as per Charlotte's request. She's running around with some balloons, and Chris is trying to explain to her that she needs to go to sleep so we can eat ice cream and drink liquor. She doesn't seem to care

So, here are a few pictures from our walk yesterday, taken by my very talented friend, Jami. She's the pretty one at the bottom of the page.




Saturday, November 20, 2010

Could We All Just Run on My Schedule? That'd Be GREAT, Thanks!

Okay, I am two years into this motherhood thing, and for some reason, I still have not figured out how to get anywhere on time. I am consistently twenty minutes late to my weekly coffee with my grandma. I am constantly scrambling to get out the door. I'm ridiculous.

Well, today was no exception. Today was the St. Jude walk, and even though my friend was running late, I'm pretty sure we would have been tardy even if she had been here at our designated hour. Because I couldn't get Charlotte to bed at a decent hour last night, I didn't have the heart to wake her up this morning until the absolute last minute. So, more scrambling.

Traffic was a breeze and moved quite quickly despite the fact that it was pouring rain. We found the location and the parking right away, and made our way to the registration desk. We were about an hour late, but I wasn't concerned. At AIDS Walk last month, Chris and I got horribly lost, couldn't find the parking lot, and missed the shuttle to the starting line. I was expecting to see tumbleweeds floating across an empty street when we reached the registration desk. Instead I found pretty much everyone else in Los Angeles, just as late as we were, waiting to check in.

Not the St. Jude walk. These people are prompt. They started when they said they were going to start, dammit! That, coupled with the fact that is is a much shorter and far less crowded walk, meant that everyone was done by the time we got there. I'm not exaggerating. They were all finished. I even got a congratulatory high five from a volunteer mascot. I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd just arrived. How embarrassing...

But we didn't despair. We tried to check in, but there was no one at the registration desk because, why would there be? So, we sidled into the line of accomplished walkers and grabbed our t-shirts before heading out to do the walk all by ourselves.

We looked kind of silly, I imagine. But, the important thing is that we raised the money and honored our commitment. I mean, we're still total asses, but at least we finished the walk!

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Can't Even Pretend to Care Right Now

Okay, look.

It's nine P.M. Charlotte just went to bed. She's been doing this all week. No matter what I do, I cannot get her to bed before nine. It's been a long week.

I haven't eaten dinner. There is a bag of trash I put outside yesterday but was too lazy to take to the dumpster that has now been rained on, so I should probably do something about that. I have the St. Jude walk tomorrow EARLY in the morning. The last thing I want to do right now is write a blog post.

So, call this what you will. You'll either be generous and say that it counts as a post, or you'll be honest and admit that it doesn't. And if you're really out to get me, you might also point out some of the other questionable posts containing nothing more than a picture and a line or two of text, and you'll call me a cheater.

Do what you gotta do. I'm pouring a glass of wine, watching Dexter, and going to bed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Sad People Dream About

I have this fantasy. It doesn't involve riding over a rainbow on a unicorn, or anything like that, but it does seem just as impossible. It goes something like this:

I wake up early in the morning while everyone is still sleeping. I glide out of my bed and into my running shoes. I slap my iPod into one of those arm band holders and cue up a playlist filled with upbeat and motivating, and yet, still GOOD, music. I start the coffee maker so that I am greeted by the aroma of my breakfast blend upon my return, and I head out the door.

I walk out my front door and stretch my legs out for a few minutes before I begin my brisk walk to the gate of my apartment complex. There is a very steep hill that must be surmounted before I reach the jogging trail; I do this with little effort, and it gets my heart rate up.

Once I begin my run, I feel peaceful. The adrenaline and the awesome tunes take over, and I hardly notice my feet pounding the cement or how hard I'm breathing. The endorphins kick in, and I feel...happy.

Here's how it really goes: I don't wake up before everyone else. I wake up at 6:30 to the sound of Charlotte crying for me. I could throw her in the jogging stroller, but we're both pretty cranky, so we usually watch a little "teebee." Then I have to feed her breakfast. So, I eat, too. Okay, NOW I could strap her into the jogging stroller and at least go for a walk, but, well, I just ate, didn't I? And I need to go to the store for pickles. I need pickles right away! No time for a jog. Besides, Charlotte would probably just start demanding Milk! and Raisins! and Binkies! and Bunny! And I would spend so much time hunching over the side of the stroller, I wouldn't get very far.

Now let's say I did get to go for that jog, with or without Charlotte. How it would actually go down is that I would walk up that hill, survey the jogging trail in front of me, remember how good that coffee smelled, turn around, and limp home.

Because, let's face it: I didn't always have a kid waking me up before the sun comes up and whining from her stroller. But, the reasons behind my inability to make this dream a reality go beyond my general laziness and the fact that getting up earlier than I needed to to haul my ass around the neighborhood just seemed like the stupidest idea ever when my alarm was going off.

For some reason, I've always really fancied myself a potential runner. I like the sound of it: "I'm going for a run." I've always wanted to be more athletic than I really am. I enjoy being active, outdoorsy stuff, but my body has never really taken to exercise the way I thought it was supposed to.

I played sports as a kid. Most relevant to this discussion were basketball and soccer. LOTS o' running in those sports. And, even as a healthy kid who played outside, participated in P.E., and partook in the drills and sprints required of me at every practice, I always felt like I was going to die a thousand deaths whenever I had to run for any length of time. Tiny daggers were piercing my lungs over and over again. My mouth would instantly go dry and hot. My legs would feel heavy. And my skin itched all over.

Not much has changed after all these years. And, yes, I know that you want to tell me it will get easier after a while. I have to work my way up to the place where I can run without hyperventilating and passing out. And you would be right. But, getting to that place seems so unattainable most days.

I think I (mostly) have the maturity and drive I need to work on this, but I need a realistic plan. Going without Charlotte is not likely, neither is going first thing in the morning. And, is it messed up to make her sit in a jogging stroller several times a week for a half hour or more? I mean, I'll make sure she gets her exercise, too, but even still. Am I being selfish? I have considered giving the gym one last try before I cancel my membership, but Charlotte has never done very well in the daycare center. Maybe now that she's a bit more social, I'll try again.

I don't know. I don't know why my blog is turning into an advice column starring, YOU! The reader! Apparently I need a place where people can tell me how to run my life. Or, maybe I'm just too tired and mystified by my kid's flat out refusal of bedtime lately to write anything more coherent. But, at least I'm posting every day? Go...me?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: The Nostalgia Edition




It's nights like this one that make me miss the newborn days when all Charlotte did was sleep. She slept constantly! We were all so rested!


...It's possible I'm not remembering this correctly.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Prelude

Today my friend Lisa came down with her brand new baby, Jonah, to visit me and Charlotte. She apologized for not bringing her older son, Isaac, who is right around Charlotte's age. She felt bad about depriving Charlotte a playmate, but she just wasn't up for the task of wrangling a wily toddler and tending to a new baby's needs. I completely understood.

We had a nice, little breakfast. Charlotte sat in her high chair, politely coloring or reading her books (a miracle) and Jonah happily gulped his bottle before settling down enough to let his mommy eat her meal. Charlotte was mildly interested in the baby, asking to see him when we returned from the restroom and offering him her binky when he started fussing.

I was watching her closely, especially when it was my turn to hold Jonah. See, Chris and I want another baby, and I was curious to gauge Charlotte's reaction to such a small one, and one that wasn't just cruising by us in Target, but rather a baby in HER space and in HER mommy's arms.

I was pleasantly surprised by her concern for him, her eagerness to help, and the fact that she liked seeing me with the baby. And, yes, of course I know that it will be completely different when it is a sibling we're talking about. I'm not pretending that the emotional ramifications of having a new baby come live with you forever and the difficulty for a toddler just trying to wrap her poor brain around this change, even remotely compares to an afternoon of patting a baby gently on the arm.

But, she was great. She actually requested that "Mommy hold it," and when I did, she was quick to put the burp cloth on my shoulder and was more than happy to oblige when we asked her to hand me the bottle. We were practicing with her bunny last night, so that helped prepare her. She was in hysterics over me swaddling her precious bedtime pal in a blanket and giving him her sippy cup as a bottle. Now Bunny has an alter ego in "Baby Bunny," and when she isn't in the mood, she just rips his blanket off. Maybe I need to buy this poor child a doll...

Jonah fell asleep in my arms right away (Oh, how I've missed a tiny baby sleeping in my arms!)and I was not about to put him down. This proved difficult when Charlotte climbed down from the booth and started running away from me. See, because when she does that, she doesn't come back. I think Lisa was amused by watching me do the very thing she had so shrewdly avoided: corralling two small children in a public place. She also gave me a little preview of what could be my future someday by letting me steer the double stroller when we took the kids to Target. Man, that thing is a beast! I felt like I needed to upgrade my driver's license to a Class A just to be behind the handlebars.

It was a small glimpse of what could possibly be my life if things go a certain way, but I could tell that even though Lisa has her hands full, she couldn't be happier.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Priorities

This is one of those posts that is really just an excuse to get feedback from you guys. Specifically to assuage my oh-so-typical feelings of inadequacy.

How good are you about keeping your living space clean? Because, I gotta tell you, lately, this apartment is wrecked. ALL the time.

I have always been a pretty average housekeeper. But, I never let it get to the point where you'd need a hazmat suit to enter. We're not talking Hoarders conditions here. And, if it starts to get a little slimy, I suck it up and get the job done. But, even then I pretty much do the bare minimum.

Lately, though, I've been finding myself pushing the cleanliness of our place lower and lower down the priority totem pole. I pretty much do everything else on my list before I will tackle the bathrooms or pull out the vacuum.

The one exception is the kitchen. I have to keep the kitchen clean because I cannot cook in a messy kitchen, and cooking is one of my higher priorities.

I would say my top concern each day is that Charlotte gets to do an activity she really likes. I am fortunate enough to be at home with her, so this usually means we get to go to the park or the bookstore, or any similar activity, every day. If we have a bunch of errands to do, or I have to drag her all over town for some reason, I try to at least squeeze in a walk somewhere (She's particularly fond of the little path at Whole Foods.)

My other priority should be playing with her. This is where I drop the ball sometimes. I complain about Charlotte preferring to play with Chris over me, and it's true that it makes me sad. But, I have to accept responsibility for the fact that I use the time that Chris is playing with her to cook. Sometimes, yes, cooking is a necessity. But, it is also a hobby of mine, and while I think we are all entitled to our hobbies and interests, I have to realize that if I stopped what I was doing more and sat down to play with them more frequently, she might be more interested in playing with me. I also have to gain some of the patience that Chris has to do the same thing over and over, no matter how boring it is getting. I'm working on it, and I think I've made some progress with her over the last couple days.

Then there's my writing and my leisure time. Too often I pick watching television or screwing around on the internet over writing. And reading! I hate the quiet at night, so I'm much more likely to turn the TV on than I am to a book. This bothers me. So, this is another area where my priorities get all jumbled. I want to read and I NEED to write, but in the moment all I ever seem to do is vegetate.

So, you see? Cleaning doesn't even fit into the mix. I really do try every day to clean up the clutter because I know it's good for Charlotte to be in a more organized and less chaotic environment, but as for scrubbing bathtubs and dusting the bookshelves? Only if my mother-in-law is coming over.

I realize this is not entertaining at all. I just needed to get it out of my head. And, I really want to know: What are your priorities? How and when do you manage to keep the house clean? Am I a disgusting pig?

Wait. Don't answer that last one.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Had Nothing to Do With This




This shirt means very little to me, but I'm amused by the reactions it elicits from different people. My father-in-law responded with a, "Yeah, Raiders!" while my mom's husband looked at Chris and said, "You're dead to me."

Football fans, you so crazy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Get Off My Back; It's Saturday

Seriously, why didn't I think about the fact that I would be blogging on the weekend? I guess it wouldn't be a problem, except that I usually overbook our weekends pretty severely. When you take into account that we live in roughly the same area as both our families and most of our friends, you have to figure just about every weekend is going to be someone's birthday or a holiday, or a performance of some kind, specifically, as was the case today, our 16-year-old niece's high school play. She played a nurse, and she was adorable, by the way.

After the hours spent in the car, the play, a mini date involving cupcakes, and hanging out at my in-laws' house, my brain is fried. It was a great day, but a long one. So, you get random tidbits from my day.

1. After picking up our produce box from the CSA, Charlotte and I went to Starbucks to get coffee and read some books we had brought. I told her she could get chocolate milk, and she was very excited. Then I realized they didn't have any of the little boxes of milk they usually keep in their refrigerated section, so I told her she'd have to settle for juice. Some lady reminded me that I could just have them make one for me. I told Charlotte that chocolate milk was back on, and she FLIPPED. "Chockey milk! Woo hoo! Chockey milk!" Then, she drank it, and it was worse. For this chocolate milk was the most chocolatey of all the chocolate milks. I spent the better part of an hour following her around the shopping center as she jumped up and down, squealing. Good lord.

2. Our younger nieces were playing with Nerf darts and a Nerf gun. Tori, the six-year-old walked up to Chris and said, "I have a pocketful of bullets. Fear me."

3. Chris-"Do you want a drink? I can make you a Long Island iced tea. Me-"You know how to do that?" Chris-"No, but I can just make it up. Me-"I think I'll pass."

Okay, I'm out of...everything: words, energy, remotely interesting anecdotes...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cutting it Close

I actually thought about giving up on the NaBloPoMo thing tonight because I am seriously tired. Like the kind of tired where you feel wasted. I really don't sleep enough as it is, and the sleep I do get depends entirely on how well Charlotte is sleeping. Wow, that last sentence is like the most obvious thing a parent has ever said.

See, I haven't said anything about this before because even though I don't believe in "jinxing" things, this was too good to risk losing: Charlotte has been sleeping like a CHAMPION, lately. Like...a sleeping Olympian. She usually goes to bed and down for naps with a couple stories, a song or two, and a goodnight kiss, accompanied by a "See you in the morning," which she says to her stuffed animals when she pretends to put them to sleep. Yeah, it's cute.

If she wakes up in the middle of the night, I can usually get her back down with some binkies, a quick cuddle, and occasionally, another song. But, even then, she's been known to interrupt me (or Chris, but usually me) mid-song, point to her crib, and say "Night-night."

So it was a rude awakening (literally) when she woke up an hour and a half after I had finally fallen asleep and responded to every attempt to put her back down with, "Downstairs? Mommy's bed?" and subsequent wailing when those requests were denied. She did eventually come to bed with me so she could sit up, kick me in the face, and talk to me about her binkies. Chris came home to find us hanging out in bed. Me, half asleep and Charlotte, inexplicably wired. He was able to get her down, but I was on my own the next three times. There was Orajel application, a diaper change, a Tylenol dosage, more repetition of the same Beatles song than should be humanly possible, and a lot of sitting in my rocking chair alternately dozing and thinking, "What the hell am I going to do now?"

On top of all this, she wouldn't nap today. I don't know why she is trying to destroy me, but she is succeeding. Today the combination of sleep-deprivation and the fact that she once again, requested I leave the area in which she and her daddy were playing, resulted in me huddled in a corner of the kitchen, quietly crying.

I'm a pro, I am.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Charlotte's First Haircut

Please indulge me a moment to document this completely clichéd parenting milestone. Today Charlotte got her very first haircut. We had noticed that her hair always looked just awful , and we weren't really sure why. It was constantly in her eyes, and it was just sort of...frizzy. And stringy. I mean, that might just be her hair. Neither Chris nor I have enviable hair. His is pretty, but we are both cursed with really thin locks. I am very pleased with the results, though it is probably too soon to know if it will help with the overall shagginess.

In any case, we decided to get her some bangs to keep the hair out of her eyes. I found one of those places where they have the little cars for the kids to sit on. Bonus! They had a little television at each station, and Lotte's was playing Dora. I was never so happy to hear that shrill, little voice shouting the same phrase over and over again, as when I realized my daughter might actually sit still for this procedure.

In all her shaggy glory


It should be noted that I had to pull Chris away from an old arcade game (FOR THE CHILDREN) to take this picture.

She was doing really well, but a little, autistic boy (a regular of theirs) who does NOT like having his picture taken was yelling, and Charlotte, little empathetic creature that she is, got upset. So, she held my hand.


Bangs!



They gave us a certificate with a lock of her hair fastened to it. Pretty cool.


The cut actually rejuvenated her curls.


A celebratory "pop" in the castle


"Aaaaalll done!"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bang, Bang, Bang, on My Wall, Baby

I am sitting here listening to the most obnoxious hammering. I am also bitching about it on Twitter. But, in case you missed that, let it be known: my neighbor is hammering.

By some miracle, Charlotte hasn't called for me. Might I dare to hope she is sleeping through it this time? When the hammering first started, I had just put her down for a nap, and she cried for me instantly, telling me that it was scary and asking to go downstairs. I complied, gave her something to eat, and only attempted another go at the nap when I was sure the hammering had stopped. Well, I guess my neighbor was just taking a coffee break, because the hammering has resumed with a vengeance. I mean, the walls are shaking. Whatever is going on over there, it's intense. Maybe he or she is building an ark, in which case, I can't complain. It's God's work!

I'm still happy with the move. The location just works better for us in so many ways. But, it's been five months, and I'm still having a hard time getting used to the many noises of apartment living. I get really tense and have to remind myself to breathe with every barking dog, every honking horn, every blaring radio. I'm pretty tightly wound as it is, but when Charlotte is sleeping, I NEED her to stay asleep. Especially after day like yesterday. So, threaten that, and I won't like you very much. I won't DO anything about it. But, I will curse you in my thoughts. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Actually, I did take some action last week, and I've been hiding from my neighbor (not Hammery Joe, a different one) ever since. There was a slight altercation over the fact that he was playing handball with his kids at, like, 11 P.M.right outside everyone's bedroom windows. Why his kids are up that late playing handball on a school night is not my business, but the incessant banging and shouting, is. I had already told him the previous week that it was too loud, and that my daughter was sleeping. So, he was basically just being an asshole. Which, he continued to do throughout our conversation. He questioned whether or not it was really disruptive, and then asked if I just waited around for them to start so I could bust them. I'm sure his kids will grow up to be responsible and respectful citizens with a dad like that.

I know, I know. I sound like an old lady. But, Charlotte is just not someone you want to know when she's cranky. Plus, I just hate rude people. So, maybe I am an old lady.

Well, the hammering is slowly coming to an end, and Charlotte is still sleeping. I think I'll go enjoy the calm before the storm that is brewing in that crib up there, wakes up.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Day Like This Calls for an Extra Glass of Wine

Guys.

GUYS!

Charlotte is driving me ca-razy! The last two days have been like non-stop battles in a war I am becoming more and more convinced I can't win.

Okay, lest I be accused of being dramatic, I will say this: "Yes, I know she is a toddler. I know she is testing her limits. I need to be patient and consistent, and this too shall pass."

Just last week, I was going on and on about how delightful she has been, and how I am having SO much fun with her. Which, is still true. The problem is that (like most kids, I imagine) she goes from being THE BEST EVER! A MARVEL OF TODDLING WONDERMENT! to PLEASE KILL ME NOW! NO, REALLY. NOW.

Okay, no more caps this entire post. Probably.

Today, for example: we went from her stacking and stacking, block after block, as I looked on in pride and admiration, both of us giggling when the blocks would tumble, using imagination, and having a great time...to a two-hour standoff about putting those damn blocks away. I am not exaggerating. Two hours.

I tried to remain calm. I patiently asked her to help me pick up. I tried to make it fun: "We'll sing songs while we clean!" I walked away and read a cookbook, after telling her that we would paint as soon she was ready to start picking up. I pretended to be aloof and uninterested in whether the blocks made it into the bag or not. Like, "Whatev. You do it when you do it, and when you do, we can discuss our next activity." When really inside I was pondering how much Chris would really mind being a single dad. I mean, he's a catch! The chicks would be all over that!

The whole thing ended in a paroxysm of tears and dramatic wailing, (hers, not mine, mercifully) which woke Chris up after he banked about three hours of sleep. He was able to get her to clean them up (See? They don't need me at all. Barbados, here I come!)And, in the end we were able to finger paint and go to the library as I had planned. Though, the library was sort of a disappointment, after all. That trip also ended in tears and the throwing of one's self onto the pavement in a not-so-dignified way. Again, not me. I'm all kinds of dignified when I tantrum myself onto the sidewalk.

I don't know. I hope I'm not screwing her up by not handling this properly. She is such a sweet kid, and I know she isn't a bad seed. I know this is normal. But, holy hell, I am having a hard time.

I'm pretty much used to taking the good with the bad. Like, it is freaking amazing how much she is talking now. I get such a thrill out of hearing her put together three, sometimes four-word sentences. And, I love her little Charlotte-isms and her bizarre syntax. I love how when she wants something she says "Hab it! Hab it pen. Hab it binkies." I find it adorable when she wants out of her stroller or high chair at a restaurant, and knowing she'll need to hold our hands, she asks "Walk hands?"

But, now that she can use her words to assert herself and get her needs met, we need to work on her manners. Like when I reached for the little box of Horizon milk at the cafe, and she looked me in the eye and said, "I want chocolate." I'm sure you do, bossy pants. *I* want you to not squeeze the box and get milk all over your clothes, but I bet that isn't going to happen, is it?

I guess it's okay when I prepare her a meal, and she says, "I don't like it." It's when she plays it fast and loose with the "yucky" adjective that I get a little offended.

To end this on a positive note, I will say that one of my favorite things about my daughter is hearing her sing. Her little made-up songs are just...so goddamn cool. And it's pretty incredible that she is learning to copy bits and pieces of the songs I sing to her. Tonight it was "Eight Days a Week." I sang "Hold me, love me," and she echoed with "Hold me, Mo-mmy."

And that right there, is why I had a kid.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Today

This evening Charlotte sat on the potty for ten minutes. She played with stickers, looked at her books, and did everything except pee. Which is fine because we aren't potty training. We're only using the potty when she expresses interest. So, when she decided she was done I said, "Okay, honey."

Then she peed on my bed.

Aaaaand...scene!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Overshare

Recently, Kathleen over at AMOMENT2THINK took the ControverSunday reins and was on a mission to bring it back from its summer slump. We all voted and commented and agreed that we would post once a month instead of once a week, so as not to feel overwhelmed. Additionally, to minimize the tendency many of us had to rely on the lax posting schedule and decide on Tuesday that everything had already been said so there wasn't any point in participating, posting will need to happen ON Sunday from now on.

Kathleen gave us all gentle reminders. She gave us a month's notice. And this slacker right here somehow still managed to not be ready. While the rest of you are dressed, showered, off to your corporate jobs, writing your ControverSunday posts, I'm sitting on the couch smoking pot and watching cartoons. And I'm all, "Oh, riiiigght. ControverSunday. Can I have an extra day? I just poured a new bowl of Cap'n Crunch and this episode of The Smurfs is my FAVORITE.

Oh, relax. It's a metaphor, people.

In any case, I'm going to give it a go. It is still Sunday, after all.

badges

First of all, you should head over to Kathleen's ControverSunday post and read her post as well as those of the other participants she's linked to. I haven't read them yet because I'll just get intimidated and decide I have nothing of value to offer.

The topic this month is digital privacy. How much of our children's lives is it fair for us to share? Does it creep you out that most children have an online presence before they are two? In what way will this affect them in the future?

Given the outrageous number of times I've plastered Charlotte's bouncy, blonde curls and crooked smile all over this blog, I think you can guess where I come down on this. I have almost no qualms about sharing my life, and consequently, Charlotte's life, on the internet.

Obviously I am not alone. There are plenty of bloggers, all of whom have MUCH higher traffic and exposure than my little blog sharing pictures and embarrassing stories about their children to the delight and dismay of many readers.

Of course, there are just as many parents who keep the anonymity of their children (and themselves) protected. I suspect there are concerns I haven't even considered that prevent many moms and dads from exposing their kids to the big, bad internet. I respect any parent's decision to keep their loved ones away from prying eyes. Maybe you are concerned with safety. Maybe you don't like the idea that some pervert is walking around armed with the knowledge of your kid's likes and dislikes, location, schedule, and all other kinds of information they could use to lure your child into a van.

I get that. I really do. I think, though, that if you want to keep that information private, you need to be insanely diligent about your Facebook. In my mind, all the crazy privacy loopholes on Facebook are more dangerous than a blog by far. But, that isn't the point. The point is that even before all our kids lived on the internet, my mother warned me about strangers. She told me she would never send anyone to pick me up that I didn't know. If she had to, she would personally give me all the information I needed about this person. I was never to take anyone's word for it that they knew my mom, no matter how much information they seemed to have. I realize that social networking and blogging has exponentially increased these dangers, but my point is that teaching your kids lessons like that is essential, no matter what your stance on internet privacy happens to be.

I think, though, that for the most part, people keep their kids' identities a secret to respect their privacy. I'll admit, this one gives me pause occasionally. every once in a while I will be confronted with the admonition, "Your children will read your words one day." And, I'll think about it. I really will. But, I just can't, no matter how hard I try, make myself believe that Charlotte will resent me for telling stories about her keeping me up all night and saying cute toddler things. I don't even see her getting worked up over the occasional poop explosion cautionary tale. At least I don't provide visual evidence.

Parents share stories about their kids. They always have. Granted, these days the audiences are getting wider, but I don't see what I do as any different from swapping stories at the playground with the other moms. The only difference is that now the playground is limitless. The swings are in San Diego or Wisconsin, the slides are over in Canada. There's even some monkey bars in New Zealand! I love the way we can create communities for ourselves now based on common interests and like-mindedness, or even just with those whose opinions we value even when they differ. It's so much more rewarding than being limited to a Mommy and Me group based on nothing more than zip code.

Now, it gets a little different when you're talking about bloggers with celebrity status. Even though I am technically exposing Charlotte to potential haters and making her vulnerable to negative comments, let's face it: it just doesn't happen to me because no one knows about me. So, if you read my blog, it's because you either know me personally or have decided you like me. You don't read it because not reading it would be like missing the latest episode of Project Runway, and you don't want to be out of the loop. I can see the arguments against exposing your kids to the masses. But, I tend to think of it as inevitable. I think some kids have celebrity parents, and their lives are a little different from our kids' lives. And, all you can do is use as much tact and grace and decorum as possible.

I used to think it was arbitrary to stop writing about a child when they turned five or started kindergarten. I mean, they don't just become a person who deserves your discretion one day. They have always been that person. But, the more I think about it, the more I get it. As kids grow, they become more self-possessed. They have a greater understanding of who they are, and their wants and needs get more complex. If Charlotte ever came home from school upset with me because one of her friends made fun of her for an anecdote I shared in my blog, I would feel awful. So, it seems only fair to never share anything Charlotte hasn't expressly approved beforehand.

Is it unfair that she has no idea what I'm sharing now and might not give me permission if she could? Perhaps. But, I am willing to take this risk. I think the odds are in my favor. And as long as I never post a picture of her sitting on her potty, I think I'm golden.



Exploiting my husband AND my child in one fell swoop

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Stupid Computers

Okay, if you're on the east coast, I missed my deadline today. But, I am on the west coast, so technically I still made it.

I'm sort of relying on technicalities today because I am not going to write an actual post, but TECHNICALLY this counts as a post.

We have been out all day. We started the day with a birthday party, which was great. Then we went to Chris's work, which was, well, not more glamorous than it sounds. And currently Charlotte is sleeping in her crib without pants and with unbrushed teeth. Because I'm an awesome mom that way.

Ugh. I was going to post some professional pics we had done by my friend, but I can't get them to upload here, and now I need a drink. So, here's a picture of Charlotte petting a goat.

Whatever.


Friday, November 5, 2010

We Don't Take Our Clothes Off at the Park

See, now I remember why I never blogged. This toddler thing is killing me. We're on, what, day five? Five! And I already feel burnt out. Oh, suck it up, you big baby. Now, I'm talking to myself. Great.

I guess it's just felt like a long day. Up at 6:30, a trip to the park (Okay, this is sounding leisurely, Megan. Try harder...), tearing my kitchen apart to make some pumpkin gnocchi, which turned out only so-so, and blah, blah, blah.

Okay, it was a perfectly fine day. I'm just tired because I didn't get enough sleep. And whose fault is that? Mine!

Be that as it may, I'm pretty beat. Certainly too tired to write a proper post, so here is a list of random things that happened today. Hey, no complaining. You get what you get:

1. On the way to the restrooms at the park, Charlotte spotted a man on a tractor. "Tractor!" she yelled as she approached the maintenance shed in which Tractor Man was having a conversation with another man. They realized they were being watched by a creepy toddler voyeur and stopped talking. "Sorry, she just wants to see the tractor." "Oh, that's okay. Hi! I bet you just want a ride on the tractor, huh?" And this is when Charlotte looked directly at him and pulled her shirt up over her head. Was that a "no"? I couldn't say.

2. I ate two lunches. I sort of didn't realize I was doing it until I was mid-burger. Then I just went with it. The two frozen Reeses were just a bonus.

3. Charlotte and I were watching a little "Beauty and the Beast" this morning to take the sting out of the early morning blues. She called the Beast a lion and Belle, Allison. That's my sister. Yeah, she's pretty enough to be mistaken for Belle and vice versa.

4. I daydreamed about going across the parking lot and punching one of my neighbors in the face. I hate that guy. Actually, this is more of an ongoing thing than a recent event.

5. I left my new commuter mug that was pretty and green and made out of recycled plastic, at the park. I didn't realize it until we pulled into the garage, and it was too late to go get it because if I didn't put Charlotte down for a nap right then? Apocalypse. Now, I'm sad and will have to drink my coffee out of my hands, like a crazy person. Or maybe I'll replace it with one of those beer hats! Things are looking up!

That's all for tonight, folks. Tune in tomorrow for an explanation of how Charlotte's verbal exuberance is getting in the way of my good time.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NOVEMBER!

As promised, here are a few words on the recent heat stroke:

What the crap?

I'm pretty sure my husband is somewhere groaning and rolling his eyes, though he doesn't yet know why. He is sick to death of me constantly pointing out not only the temperature, but the date on the calender as well. It's pretty much some form of "I can't believe it is 90 degrees. It's NOVEMBER!" or "Guess how hot it is. Just guess. And are you aware that it is NOVEMBER?"

He's just as miserable as me. Though, I suspect for very different reasons.

I'm not pleasant in the heat. I can deal for about two months, but by late summer I'm way over it and beginning to look forward to fall. But when you live in the greater Los Angeles area, you can't really count on cooler temperatures until, oh, I don't know, January? This is gravely and just...so very much wrong.

I sometimes wish that we could have stayed in Northern California, specifically the Bay Area because the weather was always cool and perfect, and even when it got hot it was never TOO hot, and it never lasted long. But, then I would have had to listen to my conservative husband complain about all the hippies. Plus his work is here. So, this is all his fault really. Just kidding honey! I love you. You pay my rent. Pet Shop Boys, anyone?

Okay, the heat is clearly making me a crazy-ramble lady. A SWEATY, crazy-ramble lady, so I will stop now.

You're welcome.

P.S. Can you make the heat stop? Because I will make you cookies if you can.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Never Promised You'd Enjoy This

It's day three, and I'm already going to sort of phone it in. I'm very tired, and I have a bottle of Sauvingon Blanc in the freezer calling my name. I think there are some Kit Kats next to it, too...

I'm tired because I'm a total moron who stays up way too late every night. Sometimes it's because I want to finish a movie or watch another episode of Arrested Development (Except now I've seen the whole series. Seriously, what is wrong with you, America, that you couldn't be bothered to keep unadulterated genius programming on the air for more than three seasons? Maybe we should vote on THAT next election.) Do I not have the absolute longest parentheticals you've ever seen? That's probably not something to be proud of.

Other nights I do bizarre things like bake an apple pie at ten o'clock even though I can barely keep my eyes open. Chris says I don't respect sleep, and I suppose that's true. I just don't make it a priority.So, my bedtime has been hovering around midnight for a while now. Some days, it works out okay for me, and other days I'm totally wrecked in the morning, and I sort of get through the three or four hours until nap time with copious amounts of coffee and sometimes with the help of my pals over at Disney. Have I told you about Charlotte's obsession with "Pincess Fog?" So, THEN I take a nap, right?

Not so much. I have, you know, stuff to do. I usually end up spending two straight hours in the kitchen while Charlotte naps. I'm really getting into this food thing, and I just can't resist the temptation to make pumpkin bread, or black bean chili, or risotto,(a serious and alarming addiction for me. Seriously, find me help)or soup, and hopefully soon my own pizza dough with a recipe sent to me by the lovely Kathleen.

Food has sort of become my new hobby/obsession. Which is great except that getting off my ass and exercising has not made the cut. So, in the spirit of making positive changes like writing more, I'm going to do two things: go to bed early tonight and go to the fitness center at my apartment complex during Charlotte's nap tomorrow,(Relax. Chris will be home. Child neglect isn't on my to-do list.)and clock in at least half an hour with the treadmill.

I'd go outside and do something, but it's like a billion degrees out here. IN NOVEMBER. I'll save that rant for tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I Voted...Kinda

However, when it comes time to perform my civic duty, I pull my head out of the sand, get involved, do my research, tentatively wade into discussions to get perspective, and I get the job done before going back to thinking about food and whether or not I should have that second glass of wine (The answer is always "Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!", by the way.)

This time, though, I just didn't get there. I won't make excuses. I just didn't. And, I feel extra, extra shitty about it. I left so many bubbles blank simply because I felt like the only thing worse than not voting is guessing, or just voting with whatever party you happen to align yourself with. The latter is especially impossible for me since I do not align myself with any party and particularly loathe our two-party system and all the "Democrats are evil" and "Republicans are stupid" banter it inspires.

So, I fail as a citizen today. All I can do is try harder in the future, and, as my dad instructed me last night, "Read the news once in a while."

I hear ya', Dad. I hear ya'.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Here Goes Nothing...

I was unaware of this fact last year, but apparently November is National Blog Posting Month, or, NaBloPoMo. Meaning, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to post a blog every day in the month of November.

You may or may not have noticed that I have hit something of a blogging slump. I really can't explain it. I haven't felt motivated to write here (or anywhere, really) in quite some time. I have a nagging feeling that I SHOULD be writing. And whenever something happens to me, something very stereotypically "frazzled mother to a precocious toddler", I'll think to myself, "This is comic gold!" I'll write the post in my head all day, get more and more excited to type it up, then when I finally sit down at my laptop and put fingers to keys, I'm all "Meh."

I suppose it's a combination of my general fatigue, my proclivity for listless apathy, my laziness, and maybe more than anything, my fear of rejection. I've noticed a significant decrease in comment activity on the ol' blog, and rather than just saying "Screw you! " to anyone with whom I may have fallen out of favor or began to bore, I start scrutinizing what I've said, how I've said it, and pretty much begin to lose all confidence that anyone gives a damn about what I write. Once the "Do I complain too much? Did that come off as snobbish? Judgmental? Or am I too wishy washy? Am I telling too many poop stories? Posting too many pictures of Charlotte? Not enough?" questions start flooding my head, I've pretty much shut down, and the chances of getting an authentic post out of me are non-existent.

So, here I go. I will post every day this month (I hope). I can't promise that anything will be worth reading, but since I HAVE to write every day, I hope I will get out of my funk and just write.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Giving Thanks

As some of you may know, I recently participated in AIDS Walk Los Angeles. I've always wanted to do this walk because as a huge supporter of the gay community, this is an issue that is dear to my heart. Especially because when I was four years old I lost my godfather to the disease. My mom lost one of her best friends, my godmother lost her soul mate, and I never got a chance to really know the man who read Shakespeare to me as a baby.

Unfortunately, I didn't raise nearly as much money as I had hoped, and I showed up to the walk on Sunday, not having met my goal of $200. The reason for this is mainly that I was too timid about asking for donations. It's silly, really. It isn't as if I am asking for a handout. The money isn't for me. It's for a good cause. But, I know how awkward it can be to be put on the spot when you can't afford to donate.

So here's the deal. Next month I will be participating in the St. Jude "Give Thanks" walk to raise money for St. Jude's cancer research center. St. Jude treats and researches cancer and other diseases that affect children. No family is denied treatment due to an inability to pay.

So, why am I doing this, especially only a month after I failed miserably at fundraising for AIDS walk? Well, you've seen their commercials, right? Where all the celebrities tell you to "Give thanks for the healthy children in your life," and Jennifer Aniston says "OUR research..." and I'm like, "Really, Jennifer? Have you slapped on a lab coat and hunkered down with a microscope and come cancerous cells?" I didn't think so.

I digress. My point is that since I started blogging and "meeting" so many other parents on the web, I've come across countless heartbreaking stories of babies dying of congenital heart defects, kids succumbing to cancer, horrific accidents that cost people their children. And, it's very, very hard to take all that in sometimes. As a mom, I can keenly feel the potential for that kind of devastation and loss. But, nothing I imagine will ever come close to what those parents must be feeling.

So, I'm giving thanks for the healthy child in my life by doing my damndest to raise as much money as possible for the sake of these kids. Cancer is a horrible, ugly, monster that clearly doesn't discriminate. I don't remember this, but apparently after seeing the St. Jude ad in a movie theater, I started crying, looked at Chris, and said through my tears: "I can't believe kids get cancer!"

It seems a simple and naive thought, but it really is something that boggles my mind. I've witnessed people dedicate their lives, their paychecks, all their free time, and more to fight diseases like this, to raise awareness,and organize fundraisers. A perfect example is Kristine McCormick. Her daughter, Cora, died at 5 days old due to an undetected congenital heart defect. Her condition could have been detected if Cora had received a simple and inexpensive procedure called a pulse oximetry test. Kristine now raises awareness and saves lives by educating mothers about this life saving test. Check out www.corasstory.org for the whole story and to see what you can do to help prevent other parents from suffering the same tragedy. I know I had never heard of this test, and I will definitely make sure any future child of mine receives the pulse oximetry.

Participating in this walk might seem like a small contribution to the sick children in the world, especially when you compare it with some of the more heroic efforts out there. But, it's what I can do right now to show how much I appreciate my beautiful, healthy daughter, and how much I feel for the parents and children out there suffering from cancer, heart problems, and any number of other tragedies.

So, please, if you can spare it, make a donation to my page. Thanks for reading.

Here are some pictures of Chris, Charlotte, and me from AIDS Walk:

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This is a crappy picture. What you might not be able to see is that these assholes were there with signs saying things like "Homo sex is sin." Stay classy, guys.

Our cheerleader at the finish line

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Not-So-Terrible Not-Yet-Twos

Charlotte,

By now you have given up on receiving a letter for every month of your life, and you are wise to do so. It's clearly not happening. The fact is that you keep me so much busier now than you did when you were smaller and less mobile/talkative/playful/willful/bratty.

But, I do promise to write you a letter on each of your birthdays until you are sixteen, and beyond, if you want me to.

Right now you are eighteen months old. The reason I'm writing this letter even though I've just let myself off the hook until your second birthday, is that I need to remember this time in your life. You have never been quite so amazing as you have been in the past month or so. I suppose that's normal. You'll just keep doing more and more awe-inspiring (to me and your dad, at least) things as you grow older. But, there is something about you at this age that just makes your father and I swoon every time we talk about you, which is always.

A couple of days ago my mother, your grandma got married to the man you know as "Pop Pop". You and your cousin, Victoria, were flower girls, and you were both just lovely. The sight of you bravely walking the aisle, grasping Tori's hand, and resolutely climbing the stairs to the altar was incredible. You are fearless. And you're so...sure of yourself. You have a kind of self possession people my age crave. It makes me sad to know that this probably will not always be so. One day you might come home and toss your favorite shirt in the trash after someone at school has made fun of it. You may pretend to like a band you secretly hate because they're popular, and you'd rather blend in with your friends. And I'll insist that you be your wonderful, perfect, self because you're so much better than those other kids, even though I did the same thing when I was that age.

In any case, right now, you know what you want, and when you reached your destination in front of me and the other bridesmaids, what you wanted was Daddy. And, you stomped your little feet and yelled your little yell, until I let you cross the stage and be with your father. For the rest of the night, I graciously accepted all the compliments about how beautiful you looked and how well you performed in the ceremony, while trying not to let on how annoyed I was that you had shunned me.

But, I forgave you a few days later when out of nowhere you called for me while I was pushing you through the mall, and you actually called me "Mommy" instead of what you've been calling me for months, which is "Mom." I was grateful that it wasn't "Mother", at least, but I had always dreamed of hearing my child yell, "Mommy!" when she saw me and I was really afraid you wouldn't ever make the switch. But, you did, and it stuck. And hearing you call me is just as wonderful as I'd hoped it would be.

That's the thing about you: one day you just learn a new word or skill, or you start saying something differently than you used to, and you act like you've been doing it all along. We're cheering for you, and you get this look on your face like, "What? I've always been able to walk down the stairs by myself. You mean you've never seen me feed myself with a spoon? Pssht. Where have you been?"

I've found that watching you grow has me in a constant state of simultaneous bliss and agony. With every new development I'm rejoicing, I also have the burden of mourning the stages long gone, never to return again. Like how you used to say "Das?" instead of "please", and I made fun of you for sounding German, and it was sososo cute. You did it for months. Then after a few days of replacing "das" with the inexplicable "tee-ta", you started saying "Pees?", which is damn near completely accurate and totally awesome, except that now you'll always know how to say these words properly, just like normal kids. You won't be my baby who says things funny forever.

But, honestly, I am loving your brand new communication skills. You can tell me when something is bothering you: "Eyes. Hurt." I mean, that's a VAST improvement on whining and/or crying while I guess what could be ailing you. You are also now able to express your opinions and desires, which is a blessing and a burden. It's great to have you just walk up to me and ask for milk or tell me what toys you would like for us to play with. But, pointing at the risotto I've made for dinner and saying "Yuck!" or responding to me telling you we're going to be eating some broccoli with "No. Noodles.", is not quite as helpful.

It's fascinating to watch your verbal skills blossom. Your dad and I don't do anything differently. We just keep talking to you like you're a grown up, and then one day, you respond like one. Yesterday, you looked at me and said "I'm eating pretzels." My mind was blown. I could sit here and name all the new words and sentences and mastery of pronouns that have had me tempted to alert Harvard and request a spot be held for you, but the list would just go on and on, and I have a very small laundry/cleaning/cooking/screwing around on the internet/watching Dexter (I'll show you when you're older) window of opportunity while you sleep.

One of my favorite things about you is the way you embody all that is precocious and sweet at the same time. One minute you will pretend that you are going to give me a bite of your food, then pull it away at the last second or walk away from me saying "No." when I say it's time to change your diaper, and the next minute you're asking me if I'm okay when I bump my head, or saying "Bless you." when I sneeze or running towards me to give me a "flying hug" as your dad calls it. You are amazingly empathetic. If we tell you one of your stuffed animals is sad (especially your beloved Bunny) you will say "Hug!" and then look them in the face and say "Okay?" If we're reading a book with an animal or character that you happen to like, you will kiss the page of the book on which they appear. You are much more likely to kiss a stuffed animal or book than your own parents. What's up with that?

You love to go to the park and ask me to take you there almost every time we get in the car. You love kids, especially your cousins. Sometimes out of nowhere you will look at me and inquire, "Athena? Tori? Kayla?" I tell you they're at school, and then you'll start to ask about everyone you know: "Gamma? Pop pop? Gigi? (other) Gamma, Poppa?" Depending on the time of day, I will tell you they're at work or school, or that they went night-night. This seems to satisfy you.


A couple weeks ago we took you to Disneyland, even though I always swore I would never take a child as young as you. Predictably, you slept horribly the night before and woke up earlier than you needed to. I steeled myself for a day of tantrums and for the possibility of having to leave early. But, you surprised me. You were incredible. Your dad and I spend so much time marveling about how well-behaved you are and how wonderfully you handle stressful situations, like performing in a wedding or being kept out past your bedtime. (I want you to remember all this praise because from what I hear, in about six to twelve months I'm going to be writing about the lengths I go to every day to not put you in a basket and leave you on a random and more patient stranger's door. Please don't get all evil on me when you turn two, okay? Just...don't.)

Here is a video of you meeting Mickey at Disneyland. We introduced you to him a couple months ago, and in an attempt to imitate his laugh, you call him "Hoo hoo." It really is the cutest thing.




And here you are at the park, totally ditching me on the slide.




Happy eighteen months, bunny. I love you.

Mommy