Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Junkie

It in now officially December which means I can come out of the Christmas closet. See, while the rest of the country has been complaining about how the stores are ALREADY playing Christmas music, I have been humming along, my excitement for the holiday planted firmly in my chest. And, as the trees and garlands were hauled out of storage, dusted off, and put on display, my excitement began to grow. Now that it is socially acceptable to admit it, I am loving the hell out of being bombarded by Christmas.

I will admit that October is a bit early to begin the festivities. I don't like to think about a holiday nearly two months away while I'm still trying to get into the spirit of another. But, I will say that I have been listening to Christmas music since before Thanksgiving. As far as I'm concerned, Thanksgiving is just an extension of Christmas, anyway. It's nice that people tend to express the things they are grateful for during that time, but otherwise, it's just a day where we eat a big meal, and maybe some crazies plan their shopping strategy for the next day (or later that day, apparently. For shame, retail stores of America.) Be honest, you haven't thought about a pilgrim breaking bread with a Native American since you were in school. Thanksgiving is actually a bit of a bullshit holiday, but since there is pie and family involved, I'll take it.

Christmas has always been my favorite. I know it isn't cool to say that. It's cool to love Halloween, and believe me, I've tried. I mean, I like Halloween, but I've just never been very good at it. I never know what costume to wear, I never have anywhere to go, and as much as I try to drum up excitement for it, I usually find myself grudgingly dragged from the house when I'd be just as content to watch scary movies and hand out candy. It's better now that I have a kid. There's no pressure to have a wild night I hardly remember with some zombies and stumble home in my slutty devil costume at 4 A.M. I just put my kid in a cute costume, take her trick-or-treating, and snap lots of pictures. Then watch in horror as she becomes obsessed with candy. No big.

But, Christmas! Christmas has a whole "feeling" attached to it, and that starts about a month before. And in order to maintain the feeling, there is a list of Christmas traditions that need to be completed. There are Christmas movies to watch, cookies to bake, lights to see, eggnog to drink, and of course a tree to pick out and decorate. As kids, my sister and I were sticklers for the Christmas rules. My mom says our mantra was "But, it's tradition!" The tree was only to be decorated with the television off, with eggnog in hand, and with the Time Life Christmas collection on the turntable. We had favorite ornaments, and we took turns hanging them up, alternating each year. We nagged my dad to hang up the lights as soon as we knew we could get away with it. And, we made sure we were chauffeured around town to see all the Christmas lights, preferably with some hot chocolate in our demanding little hands.

Christmas circa 1994

It was the best. Of course, we also wanted certain things for gifts. We wrote wish lists to Santa and had innumerable toy commercials for inspiration. We were excited Christmas eve to open our presents in the morning. But, the season was so much more to us than that, and it has continued to be ever since. Before I wax poetic about how completely magical Christmas is with my own kid, let me just say that I have never stopped doing my favorite Christmas activities in the many years between my childhood and my parenthood. I have never gone one year without a Christmas tree, I bake cookies with my grandma every year, and I have always gone on long drives looking for Christmas lights, only now I have a Starbucks holiday drink in my hand.

And now that I have a kid? The holiday just became exponentially more exciting. When she was a baby, she didn't add too much to the experience. I had her picture taken with Santa (Thankfully, she isn't and has never been afraid of him,) and we bought her one, small gift. The rest of our family, however, doubled her wardrobe and toy collection that year. Last year was better, She sort of understood the concept a bit, she enjoyed looking at lights, and she REALLY enjoyed opening presents.

Charlotte's first Christmas

I can already tell that this year is going to RULE. She "gets" Santa now. She asked me if she could go see Santa while we were in the mall one day, and I asked the adolescent elves if she could just say "Hi" since we weren't exactly picture ready. They had no sooner approved our request and Charlotte was running over to Santa and climbing into his lap. He asked her a few questions, one of them being what she wanted for Christmas. And, it was hilariously awkward because she didn't know how to answer that question. She might see something in a toy aisle and ask me for it, but unless she is looking right at it, she doesn't know that she wants it. So, she looked at him, her smile fading, and started muttering "Um, um..." when Santa jumped in with, "Maybe a baby doll?" He couldn't have known that she has no time for baby dolls, and that this might not be the best time to bring up babies, since Charlotte tells me almost daily that she doesn't want the baby in my tummy to come out. But, she must have been so relieved to be out of the hot seat because she cheerfully agreed that a baby doll would be most good. But, after we left, she looked up at me and said, "Mommy, I want a princess doll."

After a trip to the Disney store where she discovered the princess doll she would like is a "big Rapunzel doll. The soft one." we headed back to Santa for pictures a few days later. This time she was prepared. He asked, she answered. But, it turns out she is a little fuzzy on the Christmas timeline here, because as we walked away the poor child looked genuinely confused as she shrugged her little shoulders, threw up her hands, and asked "Where's my Rapunzel doll?" She seemed satisfied with having to wait until Christmas, but then again, I don't think she realizes how many more Rapunzel-free days are in her future. I may have jumped the gun a little this time. Charlotte with Santa circa now

So, it's been fun. Charlotte knows most of the words to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and we sing that together multiple times a day. She loves Christmas lights, so last night I took the first of what will become many detours on our way home to hunt for lights. She likes the white lights, but when she sees even the simplest strand of multicolored lights, she gasps, "Look, Mom! COLORS!" At a particularly ornate house, she wistfully sighed, "I wish I had a house like that." And it was so freaking cute, that I have now resolved to empty our bank account buying gaudy, light-up Christmas decorations for the lawn so that next year she will indeed have a house like that.

The one thing that I want to work on with our Christmas experience this year and all the years forward is to instill the spirit of generosity in her. I told her yesterday that we were going to buy a toy to give to a kid whose family can't afford to buy him or her any presents, and wouldn't that be nice? "No," was her response. Oh, I'm not worried about it. She's two and therefore necessarily self-centered and incapable of thinking of such broad topics. But, that won't stop me from talking about it with her and getting her involved this year and onward. Eventually, it will sink in, and I hope that giving to the less fortunate will be something she is excited to do each Christmas and throughout the rest of the year. Of course, to ensure that this happens, I have to start walking the walk. Admittedly, I am usually too busy stressing over Christmas presents and trying to cram in all of my Christmas activities to bother with any kind of altruism. But, I guess that's how kids have the ability to make you a better person. When you imagine the kind of person you want them to be, and you realize that YOU are not the kind of person you want them to be, you have to make some changes. So, starting this year, my family and I will participate in a food drive and a toy drive. And, in our future, I envision adding some volunteer work to that, as well.

So, there you have it. I'm a giant nerd who loves Christmas. And, now if you will excuse me, there is some eggnog I need to pour into my coffee. Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Because Cheetos Aren't Dinner

Tomorrow I will be sixteen weeks pregnant, and so far I haven't fully emerged from some of the more unpleasant first trimester symptoms. I still get nauseous in the evenings, and I still need naps most days due to the fatigue. These symptoms are annoying enough, but what is most distressing to me is that they have caused me to completely lose my cooking mojo.

I made a lasagna a few weeks ago, and some pork chops about a week later. And, that's pretty much it for the last three months. I've either been too tired to even fathom chopping and mixing, sauteing and baking, or I've been so nauseous, I can't face the smell of the food I need to prepare. Additionally, I have that stereotypical pregnant woman's relationship to junk food. Maybe it's all in my head, but more often than not, I have to choke down my vegetables in order to earn a spicy chicken sandwich or a metric ton of pork.

This is all a far cry from where I was a year ago. I spent my Saturdays poring over cookbooks, looking up recipes on the internet, hunting down unfamiliar ingredients at Whole Foods, and trying a new recipe at least once a week. Admittedly, my enthusiasm had tapered off a bit by this past summer, right before I got pregnant, but I was chugging along, continuing to provide nutritious meals for my family and still taking pleasure in trying out the occasional new recipe.

I am making a lot of excuses, but truth be told, I could be cooking a lot more than I do. I'm still adjusting to living with my in-laws and trying to figure out how to shop and cook in a two-family home, but I can't blame that learning curve forever. My energy level is not great, but it is a vast improvement over how I was feeling a month ago. And, my nausea and food aversions, while not gone, have abated enough that I can be around most food without gagging.

So, what's my problem? This might sound silly, or even crazy, but it's like I've completely forgotten how to cook. I used to be able to make up a dish based on the sundry ingredients I had lying around the house. Or, I had an idea of what I wanted to make, so I found a recipe. Or, I had the motivation to scour recipes until I found one I wanted to try. But, now? I got nuthin'. I wander around the grocery store aimlessly, buy some yogurt for Charlotte, then go home with nothing that will help me make a meal. I have damaged or misplaced the part of my brain that tells me what the hell to do with rosemary or a shallot.

Here's where you come in. A year ago, maybe? I told you all what ingredients I had in my kitchen and asked for recipes. It was a roaring success. For me, that is. You got nothing out of it, I expect. But, if you would be so kind as to give me some of your favorite recipes, or even just dishes (I can hunt down a recipe)you will be saving my family a lot of money in meals eaten out and sparing my husband from taking a can of soup to work with him for his dinner. I'd like to start out sort of easy, since I've regressed so much, and recipes for things that feed a whole family, like casseroles and stews would be great for our current situation. I also love anything I can throw in a crock pot in the morning and forget about for a few hours.

So, ready? Set? Go!

I promise to return the favor if necessary, just as soon as I get my kitchen legs back.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Second Trimester Limbo

Last Wednesday marked the first day of my second trimester. I knew I should be happy. And, I was. But, the arrival of that day didn't bring the relief I thought it might. Sure, the odds of a miscarriage are significantly lower than they were even a few weeks ago, but I just can't shake the feeling that something either has, or is about to go, terribly wrong.

My last doctor's appointment was exactly a week ago. I waited for that appointment for what seemed like a lifetime. I was in desperate need of some reassurance that the baby was still there, waving and wiggling like the time before. The appointment came and went, and I felt great. For like a day. But, the anxiety came creeping back, and soon enough I was ordering a Doppler to listen to the baby's heartbeat at home. We also used one when I was pregnant with Charlotte, and especially in those few weeks between the disappearance of morning sickness and the beginning of feeling flutters and kicks, it was very reassuring. It is scheduled to arrive Wednesday, and the wait is killing me.

The funny thing is, I still feel like crap. I still get horribly nauseous in the evenings and sometimes during the day. I am still fatigued as hell, and I still live in fear of anything even brushing up against my breasts, causing me to wince in pain. All the symptoms that I tolerated because they let my paranoid brain know I was still pregnant, are still here. But, they just aren't doing it for me anymore. I need more.

It's exhausting, all this stress and worry. I sometimes sit very still, willing myself to be able to feel some fluttering from within. I check the progress of the Doppler using my tracking number about twenty times a day, even though I signed up for alerts to be sent to my phone. Incidentally, it went NOWHERE all day yesterday, and I am very displeased. I count down the days until my next appointment. I analyze my symptoms and check on Twitter if anyone thinks I am hurting my baby by sleeping on my stomach, even though I already asked my doctor, and she assured me I was fine until twenty weeks. I obsess.

I hope this will get better when I'm further along, but I know myself, and I know that I will probably find something to worry about until the baby is here. And then I'll worry about different stuff.

In the meantime, I will do my best to get through this second trimester limbo.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Princess Prerogative

Last week was Halloween,and this year my mom was able to resume her tradition of making Charlotte's costume. Last year my mom got married the month of Halloween, and we all begged her to not try and sew a costume whilst planning a wedding and commuting to her teaching jobs at three different colleges. She grudgingly acquiesced, and instead bought a little fairy princess dress for Charlotte.

As a kid, I knew summer was coming to an end when my mom took my sister and me to the fabric store to pour over Halloween costume pattern books so we could choose a costume. It was exciting seeing our costumes come together, and they were always expertly crafted. My mom is an incredible seamstress. She even made my wedding dress! During my early school years I went through the Disney repertoire, choosing such costumes as Tinkerbell, Cinderella, and Aurora. Later I branched out into other arenas, but I remember my princess and fairy costumes fondly.

See, I LOVE Disney. I love Disneyland, Disney movies, and Disney...well, anything! It is something that connects me to my childhood in a huge way. And, when I found out I was having a little girl, I couldn't wait to share the Disney princess experience with her. I know that this makes me the opposite of progressive and enlightened in the eyes of many, but I really don't care. I have wonderful memories of playing "The Little Mermaid" with my sister any time we were in a pool. I loved my Ariel pencil box and my Belle nightgown. I played dress-up for hours. I imagined fairy tale weddings. And, I swear to god, one day my sister and I put on dresses and fancy hairbands and went outside to sing to some birds, convinced that they would come perch on our shoulders if we just looked beautiful and sang prettily enough. My sister may deny this, but I assure you, it happened.


But you know what? We also drove a tractor at my grandparents' house. We played war games in the desert next to our house with the neighbor boys. We went on archaeological digs in our backyard. We may have played with Barbies (not something I'm dying for Charlotte to find out about, but that's just my personal preference) but we were never limited by them. We were raised to do well in school because we would need our education to make our way in this world. We were taught to respect ourselves. I'm proud of the women my sister and I turned out to be. And, I see no reason why I can't share a part of my childhood with my daughter, a part that we both happen to enjoy together, without fear of pigeonholing her or taking away her power as an individual.

I can teach my daughter that it's okay to twirl around in her nightgown and ask "Do I look so pwetty?" as long as she knows that that won't be enough or all that is expected of her. I do tell Charlotte that she is pretty. I tell her she's beautiful. But, whenever she asks me why I love her or why I wanted her to be my daughter (the "Why?" stage can bite me, by the way) I tell her it's because she is smart and funny and nice. And, we encourage all her interests. Truth be told, she is way more interested in bunnies and cats than she is in princesses. She loves to wear her dragon costume and growl at everyone who passes by. She loves to help her daddy fix stuff around the house. Sure, it'd be great if she saw Mommy fixing stuff around the house, too, but that is unfortunately not my strong suit.

Happily, some of the modern princesses offer a more balanced and stronger role model for little girls. Tiana from "The Princess and the Frog" is fiercely independent, clever, and hardworking. Rapunzel from "Tangled" is admittedly, naive, but also brave and struggling to find her independence. That doesn't mean I will shield Charlotte from the older princesses, like Snow White, who is just AWFUL. Seriously, that chick is useless. But, we can enjoy those movies with a little supplemental education. Long story short, I don't expect Charlotte to spend too much time waiting around for her prince to come, baking pies and sweeping floors to kill time until he rides up on his horse.

So, when my mom offered to make Charlotte's costume this year, we gave her a few choices (though I don't remember what they were,) and in the end she chose her favorite princess, Belle. I kind of love that Belle is her favorite. I guess as a Lit major, I have to appreciate a book lover in a princess. We had a few bumps in the road, such as when she informed us that she would rather be Aurora or that she would like to just wear her dragon costume for Halloween. But, I explained to her that because her grandmother was working really hard on her dress, there was just no alternative. In the end, she loved it. She twirled and practiced her curtsy, and I was in heaven. She also rocked her light-up Belle shoes until her feet started to hurt, and then we changed her into her tennis shoes, which was maybe even more adorable.

Mid twirl

Mid curtsy


Who knows what she will choose next year? Maybe another princess, maybe not. We will, of course, follow her lead and let her choose whatever she wants. But, in case she goes an entirely different direction, I'm just glad I got my princess fix this year. It was definitely everything I hoped for.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Bit of Random

I'm sitting down with the time and (enough) energy to blog, but I'm sort of blocked for topics. So, as is usually the case when this happens, you get some random thoughts. Too bad this never happens on a Tuesday so I can participate in the Random Tuesday meme.

I took my niece to the movies for her birthday last week, and we saw a trailer for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I was delighted to see how many of my favorite actors are featured in the film. And, by "favorite actors" I mean "actors on whom I have enormous crushes." I mean, come on. What cliché of a woman doesn't have a crush on Colin Firth?


Not featured in this picture is the dreamy Irish Ciarán Hinds, whom I fell in love with when I saw the adorable "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day." Seriously, if you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor. Lee Pace of "Pushing Daisies" fame ain't too bad on the eyes, either.


Oh, what the hell? Here's Mr. Hinds in all his glory. He's hot, right? He played Rochester, y'all. What's not to love?

So, here I am, sitting in the theater, getting all worked up about this movie and all the great actors in it. Gary Oldman! Ralph Fiennes! I keep seeing one after the other, and I'm already making a mental note to see this movie. when suddenly it dawns on me: these guys are all REALLY old. Okay, I need to be careful. They're only in their fifties. But, you know, so are my parents. So, it's a little weird. I also think they were aged for the film, or at least made to look more haggard than they normally do. In any case, god help me, it's still working for me. But, then again, this is very typical of me. I married someone six years my senior, I always tried to hang out with my mom and her friends instead of the other kids, and I developed a HUGE obsession with Emma Thompson at the tender age of eleven. What? You were preoccupied with middle-aged British actresses when you were in middle school, weren't you? I thought so.

Changing gears now: I have mentioned that I graduated to maternity clothes a little early this pregnancy. I've heard this is normal for a second pregnancy, so even though it bums me out that I'm ALREADY wearing the pants I will have to wear for the next six months, I wasn't too upset about it. That was until this morning when I happened to see a picture of me about six months pregnant with Charlotte. I was PU-FFY. My face looked like it had been gently inflated with helium. And that was with over three months to spare! So now I'm worried that if I'm bigger than I was at this point, I'm just going to keep getting bigger and bigger until I start getting the "You must be due any day now!" when I'm only five months along, or worse, the "Are you sure there's only one in there?" I'm a little concerned about this because given my already fragile emotional state, I might have to hurt someone if any of these scenarios arise.

I was on the phone with my mom expressing my concern that I'm going to be a cow by the time this pregnancy is over, when Charlotte, overhearing me, asked, "You're going to be a cow for Halloween, Mommy?" I'm pretty sure she's going to be genuinely disappointed when I don't show up as a Guernsey on Monday night.

What else? Oh, I got my eyebrows waxed the other day, and it got me thinking about how I was sitting in a different chair having a different woman try to make casual conversation with me in limited English as she rips tiny hairs out of my face, just a mere few hours before my water broke during my pregnancy with Charlotte. The woman motioned to my enormous belly and asked when I was due. "Today!" I brightly replied. You should have seen the look of sheer horror that swept over her face. It was like she thought that not only was I currently in labor, but I also made a horrible mistake and expected HER to deliver my baby in the waxing chair. Hilarious.

Okay, that's all for now. Maybe next time I'll tell you about how Charlotte tried to convince me that saying "no" to her would make me sick. But, then again, maybe I'll be too busy having an anxiety attack about how my child gets exponentially smarter than me every day. It's pretty terrifying.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Panic in my Uterus

Fair warning: I'm going to be a pain in the ASS for the rest of this pregnancy. I'm something of a hypochondriac, an avid worrier, and I've had three miscarriages. So, every little twitch, pain, or hour spent without pregnancy symptoms results in absolute panic on my part.

Last Wednesday afternoon I was convinced that I had a bladder infection and some foreboding abdominal pain. I spent three hours in urgent care only to be told by the doctor that there was no infection. As for the pain? Well, he didn't know. A simple trip to the lab could have confirmed the lack of infection, but I just HAD to see a doctor about this very minor pain. Since the medical branch in my new area doesn't have an OB on call for urgent care, it was pointless. But, I couldn't not go. What if something was horribly wrong?

I came home tired, frustrated, and also slightly pleased that I was able to finish my book during my long stay in the waiting room. I told myself that since there was no infection and the pain had stopped, I would tough it out until my appointment with my doctor on Monday.

But Thursday, after running around with Charlotte all morning I came home and started feeling the pain again. And, this time it was worse. I panicked. Texted Chris. And then I did what I always do: I complain to L until she offers to Google for me. She is an expert Googler, and this way I don't have to be exposed to all the horrible possibilities Google has to offer. L filters them out for me. Her diagnosis? Round ligament pain. But, we both agreed I should call the doctor just to ease my mind. I did, and miraculously, they were able to fit me in that afternoon! I rushed down there to see my doctor. Her diagnosis?

Round ligament pain.

I felt so stupid. But, then I got to see my little baby on the ultrasound. And the first thing we saw when my doctor focused in on him/her was this:
It took five days to get this stupid picture up, and it STILL isn't rotated the right direction. I blame my crappy PC and lack of access to our Mac.

The baby waved! I mean, look, I'm not an idiot. I know the baby wasn't trying to be all, "What's up, Mom?" but you should have seen it. A tiny arm raised up and then waved back and forth. It was just one of those funny coincidences, but it made my whole day. I drove home grinning.
Here he/she is just hanging out.

I should have known better. I should have remembered that these little aches and pains are normal and just sat tight until my next appointment. But, I may never be able to do that. It's so hard not to portend doom every time something feels different or even a little strange. Sometimes it feels like everything going well until I actually have this baby in my arms is just an impossible dream.

But then my baby waved at me. And kicked and squirmed and showed off its stellar heart rate. And I think that maybe this kid is going to be tough like its sister and go the distance.

Just for fun, here's Charlotte eating a cupcake. Fun for whom, you ask? Me! Especially since I didn't have to clean her up after this took place.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Sister to Be

If I believed in fate, I would be certain that Chris and I were tempting it by deciding to tell Charlotte about the "baby in my belly." We were going to wait until after the twelve-week mark, but after I wrote my blog and came out of the pregnancy closet, as it were, I decided we might as well tell her before someone else mentions it to her.

I'm not necessarily wary of telling children about such news. I do believe in being honest and direct. And, if something were to go wrong, theoretically I see no problem with explaining things to her as clearly as I could. She's young enough that I don't think it would register much on her radar, anyway. But, now that she knows and occasionally asks me if the baby is still there and if she can see it, I just know it would defeat me to have to answer those kinds of questions after yet another loss. So, it was a gamble. And, it could have been a mistake. But, for right now I am glad that she is finally a part of it.

What I find hilarious, however, is how mind-blowing we thought this news would be to her. We had decided one day last week that this would be the day we tell Charlotte. I imagined maybe taking her out for ice cream to break the news, you know, soften the blow in case she wasn't thrilled. And, we did have reason to believe this would be the case. Shortly after we learned I was pregnant, Charlotte, intuitive little creature that she is, asked me if I had a baby in my tummy. I wasn't ready, so I told her no. But, curious, I ventured, "Would you like that? If I had a baby in my tummy?" She responded in the negative. I asked her what she would do if I DID have a baby in my tummy. "I will yell at the baby. Yelling, yelling. No, baby! You can't play with my toys!" Whoa. She seemed to know more about siblings than I realized.

And so we prepared for some emotion, and maybe some yelling. Between meals, naps, and whatever the hell else we do, the day was starting to get away from us. The ice cream plan was no longer possible. Chris was leaving for work within the hour, and we were running out of time. Charlotte was running around the backyard in her dragon costume, growling and hiding in her "cave" (a large box that has yet to be broken down.)We approached her, making sure not to call her by her given name, but instead referring to her as "Dragon." Because to do otherwise would have been a grave mistake, and we were already on thin ice by making the announcement that a baby was about to come play with her toys.

So, we both knelt down, and Chris said, "Dragon. We need to tell you something. Mommy has a baby in her tummy. A real baby!" in the most enthusiastic voice he could muster. We both eagerly watched her face, waiting for some sign of recognition. And, to our surprise, she got this look on her face that we couldn't quite decipher. Was it horror? Wonder? Shock? Her eyes got big, then she sort of furrowed her brow. We held our breath. The moment seemed to last an eternity. Then, suddenly, we had our answer: "Yeah. Come on, Daddy! Let's go in our cave!" The moment was over, and the reaction never came. We laughed at ourselves for expecting anything else. She's TWO for god's sake.



In the past few days, however, I have been trying to bring it up at seemingly opportune times, and I've actually had some encouraging exchanges with her about the baby. The other day she told me she likes babies (she doesn't, but I appreciated the gesture.) I told her she could help me with the baby, and she agreed. She prefers that the baby is a boy. She wants a little "broder." She was fascinated when I told her that one day she would be able to feel the baby kick when she put her hand on my tummy, and she especially loved hearing about how we could feel HER kick when SHE was in my belly.

I'm happy that she is understanding this a little and that we can involve her in the process more now that she's a little older than she was when we first started trying. Silver lining, I guess. I know that it will be hard on her when the theoretical becomes her reality, but I have too many worries about getting to that point to even bother right now. For now I am just proud of my little dragon for accepting the news with grace and her usual dose of humor. I think she's going to make a wonderful big sister.

Monday, October 10, 2011

And, We're Back

Wow. It's been a month since my last post. I think that's probably a new record for me, but then again, it's me, so maybe not.

Since I last left you, Chris and I packed up our two-bedroom townhouse and moved into his parents' house. It was...not fun. Each time we move, I swear that it will be the last time we procrastinate to the point of "Just throw it in a trash bag, and we'll sort it out later," but we never do. And, of course, it was also challenging to move from a two-bedroom townhouse to two rooms, period. We had to pack what we needed separately from what we would be storing. So, it was challenging. Moving is challenging. Moving with a toddler is challenging. Moving while pregnant is challenging.

Like how I just slipped that in there?

In case you missed it, I'm pregnant. I've known I was pregnant for over a month now. Needless to say I was not much of an asset when it came to our move. If I wasn't napping, I was trying not to throw up. Or I was trying to figure out what to eat for my third dinner, because even as I have been nauseous beyond belief, I have also been starving every couple hours. I think in the end, I probably contributed about 30% to the move, which left my poor husband and our families to pick up the slack. And, because I am am very, very lucky, everyone has been really understanding.

Especially if you know my history, you might be wondering how far along I am. Most everyone I have told in person has looked momentarily delighted, then a look of realization sweeps over their face, and they cautiously venture, "How far along are you?" It was harder to answer when I was five or six weeks along, and it is only slightly easier now to tell you that I am just shy of ten weeks pregnant. I am currently further along than I was during any of my miscarriages, so big thumbs up there. But, it would be great to be twelve or fourteen or any of the numbers that are meant to offer you SOME reassurance. Still, we went to our first ultrasound last week, and everything looked really good. I'm still feeling sick and tired, which is hellish, but reassuring.

I know that with every passing week Chris and I feel more at ease, but we're both sort of expecting the worst at any given moment. Or, rather, he is expecting the worst, and I just try to prepare for it. Because I can't say I expect things to go wrong. In fact, I feel almost strangely confident that they won't. I've mostly been really at peace with this pregnancy. Occasionally I am gripped with fear when I let myself wonder how I will deal with another loss, but it's rare. I suppose this Zen-like demeanor is my defense mechanism, and I have to say it has been helpful.

I'm sitting here in Starbucks wearing maternity clothes, which is comically unnecessary, but also stupidly comfortable, of which I am highly in favor. I suppose the maternity shirt is a bit much, but I needed something long enough to cover the tell-tale maternity band, since I don't look pregnant and don't exactly want to advertise my premature proclivity for elastic waistbands. I would like to believe that it's true about showing sooner with subsequent pregnancies, but I have to say I am rather convinced it's the third dinners that are to blame. This is also why you will not be seeing any adorable "belly pictures" from me for a loooooooong time. Not until the girth more closely matches the level of pregnancy, at least.

And now that we've gotten that out of the way, what you might really be dying to know is how we are coping with our new living arrangements. Or maybe you don't care, but I'm going to tell you anyway. I can't speak for my in-laws, but the rest of us are adjusting well. Chris is tired from the extra time on his commute, but otherwise, he has no complaints. Charlotte is in heaven. She literally RUNS all over their large house, which is a vast improvement on running in circles around our tiny couch. She goes in the backyard every day, as many times as she can. And I'm already noticing her getting more comfortable, not just with her grandparents, but with adults in general. My theory is that it is less of a shock to her now to have people other than her parents around. She was pretty isolated before, and I feel like this is already proving to be good for her. Plus, she's sleeping well, is generally happy, and doesn't appear to be struggling with the change at all. In fact, when we left our apartment for the last time, we told her to say goodbye to it. She cheerfully said "Bye!" and then in a different voice she said (as the apartment) "Bye! I hope you don't want me anymore!"

As for me, I am adjusting well, though perhaps the least so of the three of us. I blame my anxiety above all. It's easier for my husband because they are HIS parents, so he's used to pissing them off. I, on the other hand, run around like a crazy person trying to make sure I have cleaned up any trace of my presence there. I am insecure about how I am ALWAYS there because I don't feel well enough to get out of the house much. I try to do little things whenever I see an opportunity, like emptying the dishwasher or finishing laundry that my mother-in-law started, but left the house before finishing. That last one has happened once, and probably won't happen again because Stephanie is like a MASTER housekeeper. She has a full-time job, and still manages to keep her house cleaner than I ever did, even when I was unemployed AND childless. But, it's important for me to note that my anxiety is just that: anxiety. It comes from me. My in-laws have never made me feel anything less than welcome and nothing like a burden, even if that isn't actually how they feel.

It's been a week. Hardly enough time for any major disasters to occur, but it's also hard to imagine any such disaster when you are in the hands of such generous people with whom you get along so well. Does it sound like I'm sucking up? If it does, well, they DO read my blog, you know. And I might be needing some free babysitting soon. Oh! Which reminds me! The babysitting! We've been back in our hometown a week, and have already seen a movie, courtesy of my mom's babysitting and gone out to dinner last night when my mother-in-law spontaneously offered (We were out the door so fast...) This alone makes the transition worth it.

And, with that, I leave you with a picture of my new haircut. It's a crappy cell phone picture which many of you already saw on Twitter. And my hair is flat in it because of the rain, but it's the only one I have. There aren't many picture opportunities when you are lounging around the house all day invading your father-in-law's space after he gets home from a long day of work. Though I suppose I'd have someone to snap the picture...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

No, I Didn't Die

Remember last time we moved? Remember how I sort of fell off the planet for a month? Well, that's pretty much what's been going down lately. It's been a whirlwind of circumstance changes these last few weeks. What started out as us frantically looking for an apartment to rent before our lease ended has turned into us leisurely packing without so much as glancing at an apartment listing.

Chris and his parents have worked out a deal where they buy a house and rent it to us. This is a great deal for us because we don't have to worry about having our rent raised after every lease expiration and because we will be able to live in a nicer place than we could afford otherwise. The only part that is undetermined is whether we will be getting a condo in our current location: about 45 minutes to work for Chris and 45 minutes the other direction to our families, or if we will be returning to our hometown, as it were, in order to have a house with a yard and all that jazz. But, we have some time to work out the pros and cons because in order for this deal to be financially beneficial to my in-laws we have to wait until after the new year to buy. Which means...

We're moving in with my in-laws for a few months!

Needless to say this is going to be a big adjustment for all of us. We are extremely grateful that they are willing to turn their home upside down to accommodate us, especially right as they are in the middle of doing us such a big favor. And, I am personally grateful that I get along great with my husband's parents. I love them and have felt like a part of the family for over a decade now. So, don't expect to relive "Everybody Loves Raymond" through my blog.

However.

It isn't easy to live with anyone, and I feel for them and the loss of their privacy as much as I feel for us. Especially since a precocious toddler will be invading their home. I think she's a great kid, but, you know, she's TWO. So, she lets out an ear-piercing cry when she doesn't get her way. She also likes to do things a certain way, and doesn't like to be corrected. And she's fiercely connected to both me and Chris, but especially me, these days, and that can be a bummer for friends and relatives that were hoping to get a little bonding time with Charlotte, only to be shunned for the opportunity to bury her head in my shoulder. She's at an amazingly fun and sweet age, but it is also an incredibly difficult one, and I feel nervous about bringing such an intense personality into a house with new rules and expectations.

That's the hard part. Chris and I are very comfortable with how we are raising Charlotte, and we have butted heads with both our families at times when it comes to differing philosophies and practices. There are obviously certain things we will not bend on no matter where we are living, such as not spanking and respecting Charlotte's personal space (i.e. She doesn't have to hug or kiss anyone she doesn't want to) but there will probably be different "house rules" and we will have to respect those rules. I mean, despite what some people may think, we really aren't raising a hooligan who gets to do as she pleases. We expect her to be polite, to ask nicely, to clean up after herself (with our help,) to take turns, and so on. But, we also encourage her to express herself, and unfortunately as a two-year-old "expressing herself" translates to "throwing herself on the floor and screaming." It's okay for her to get angry. To say she she's sad about not being allowed to watch a movie or have candy. She can cry, and I will rub her back (unless she's spurned my advancing hand) and tell her I understand she's unhappy, but these are the reasons for my decision. We find it to be very effective, and her tantrums have decreased over time. But, as it's happening, it's..loud. And, I'm worried about disturbing the peace in a house whose owners work hard everyday and deserve some peace and quiet. But, it isn't forever, and with Charlotte being my in-laws' fourth granddaughter, they aren't exactly strangers to the whims of a toddler.

And, I'm hoping that something really great will come out of all this. See, Chris's brother and his wife have three daughters that I absolutely adore. And, Chris and I are very close to all of them. I met Mikala when she was four, and over the years I have been her teacher (admittedly not the best year of our relationship,) taken her out for ice creams and dinners and coffees, and just basically spent a lot of quality time with her. And Athena and Victoria, the younger two, I've known their entire lives. They have stayed many nights at our house, and Chris and I have spent hours playing with them and taking them on little day trips. Chris, especially, has a special place in their hearts for being the one that gets down in the dirt with them, looking at bugs and doing whatever else it is they do while the rest of us grown-ups catch up over a glass of wine. And the girls have an incredibly strong bond with their grandparents as well. They spend many weekends staying at Grandma's house, baking, shopping, and playing games. They are at ease with their grandparents.

But, Charlotte? She has lived 45 minutes from both our families since she was 15 months old. We still go up there most weekends to visit with Chris's family, and I try to get up there once a week, if I can, to have coffee with my mom and grandma. So, it isn't like Charlotte sees her extended family as strangers. But, the fact is that she spends 99% of her time with me and/or Chris. And when a week or more has gone by without seeing someone, to a two-year-old, you aren't exactly starting from scratch, but it takes some coaxing to get to a happy/familiar place. And, even then, the slightest little thing goes wrong, and the two-year-old is running for the nearest parent to soothe her wounded pride or disappointed heart. And that can be a bitter pill to swallow when you're only trying to bond with your loved one. It can even make you a little resentful. I know, because I've been there with other kids in the past.

So, I'm hoping that since we will be spending so much time with our families, that Charlotte will have a chance to strengthen the bond with the people who love her.

Okay, if you have made it this far, you are very patient. I realize this isn't interesting, really. But, these thoughts have been swimming around in my head for days, and I needed to get them out. Since no one pays me to write this blog, I can do whatever I damn well please. But, as a reward (and I use that term loosely) for sticking it out, here are a few anecdotes and a video of the princess herself:

-Charlotte is obsessed with Disney soundtracks right now. We listen to Beauty and the Beast, various princess tracks, and most recently the Tangled soundtrack whenever we are in the car. And, ever since we started this, it has become very clear that Charlotte's favorite track on any soundtrack, is the villain's song. Every time. I have to admit that they are usually the coolest songs, but this seems a bit odd for a tiny kid. Meaning, I LOVE it.
Just a few of Charlotte's heroes.

-She also has a streak of the ol' goth in her. She asks for "sad songs" and "sad moobies." She is constantly asking me and Chris, "What makes you sad, Mommy/Daddy?" And the other day this happened: Charlotte: "I dreamed about ladybugs!" Me: "How nice! What were they doing? Flying? Crawling?" Charlotte: "They were dead." Yikes. Oh, and when she had her face painted at a Greek food festival last Saturday, she wanted a sad face painted on her cheek. I agreed, but at the last minute she changed it to a happy face. Which, thank god, because she was miserable enough that night without a physical manifestation of it on her face.

-She finally initiated a tea party with her tea set! I was thrilled, until I realized only bunnies were invited to this tea party. Then we read a book about a little bunny who wants to go camping with his older brother and sister, but can't. So, Charlotte reached into the book, pretended to pull the bunny out with her hands, and told him he could go camping with HER. So, apparently she can share and show empathy, but only when it comes to bunnies.

Here is a video of Charlotte dancing on the Third Street Promenade recently. Rather, frenetically, I might add.

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video
Yeah, she's got sweet moves.


So, there you have it. I haven't forgotten how to use the computer. I'm just getting ready for some big changes. Hopefully the internet will be waiting for me when I'm settled in.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Typical Day

A year ago Ginger over at Ramble Ramble, wrote this post about her typical day. At the time, she invited us all to play along and share a typical day in our lives. And, I felt like I couldn't do it because our days varied so much from one to another. I knew if I had to get Charlotte off to daycare so I could work that things would run on more of a schedule. I also told myself that maybe when she was older it would be easier to get her on a routine.

Well, Ginger has invited us, a year later, to share a typical day in our lives once again. And, while I do not have the routine I thought I would have by now, I suppose I will give it a go anyway:

Between 6 and 7:30 I generally wake up to use the bathroom. Now that we are trying to have a baby again I need to turn on my Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor at this time. During certain days of the month I turn it on and it tells me what day of my cycle I'm on, then it turns off. Other days I have to insert a test stick into it so it can measure how "fertile" I am that day. It's a pain in the ass. I fumble with the test stick, a Dixie cup, snapping the stick into its place and then waiting the five minutes for the monitor to read it, all while trying to not let myself wake up too much so I can go back to sleep for a bit.

"But, wait!" you say. "You have a two-year-old, and you can go back to sleep after getting up at 7 A.M. to pee in a cup?" Well, yes. Lately Charlotte has been waking up around 9 or 9:30. She goes to bed at 8, so this is a pretty sweet deal. And I know you're jealous, but shut the hell up, and let me enjoy this! It will only last a week or so, and then I'll be back to lying down with her in my bed waiting for her to fall asleep so that I can have the pleasure of her staring down at me at some godawful hour the next morning saying, "Mommy? You wanna go downstairs with me? Yes? Let's go!"

Lately when I do hear her calling for me, I've just fallen back asleep from the whole monitor debacle so I'm a little groggy. I walk into her room to see her standing in her crib holding all of her stuffed animal "fwiends," and she is ready to PLAY. She will immediately hand off one of her bunnies and begin giving me directions on how to hold him, what he should say, if he should be crying (He usually should be.) I'll try to play along for a few minutes before suggesting we go downstairs. She'll agree, and if she's even a little bit tired she will request a "moobie" which is nice because it gives me time to wake up. If she's rested, she'll run straight to a box of toys I was hiding in her closet because I didn't like them or I thought she had outgrown them, and will sit down and get to work. She will ask me to join her, but I will need to change her diaper first. Then I will suggest breakfast.

God, this is not interesting at all. Look, here's the deal. Everything that needs to be done around here is just one more thing that gets in the way of Charlotte's ability to "pway." If she had it her way we would make the bunnies hop and bounce and say "Beeeeeee" (Did you know that bunnies say "Beeeeee?") from the second we woke up until, well, forever. Because who needs sleep, right? She would like for me and Chris to sit on the floor with her all day playing with her princesses or Spiderman, reading her books, and taking the occasional break to run in circles around the couch. Every diaper change, every teeth-brushing, every outfit change, meal, and especially every outing outside the house is just really cramping her style, okay? So, let's just play all day until Mommy's mind is complete mush.

Oh, and the latest development is her asking for me to tell her stories round the clock. It started with a sweet morning on the couch. I sat against the arm of the couch; she sat in my lap leaned against me, her wild curls tickling my nose, and she asked me to tell her a story. A "Pumby Bumby" story, to be precise. Pumby Bumby is the new "Pumpsy," a nonsense word that has somehow been anthropomorphized into a character whose adventures I sometimes chronicle on the couch or during a long car ride. This particular morning, Pumby Bumby had some pretty wild shenanigans, involving playing basketball with bears, napping on clouds, and fighting dragons. Charlotte enjoyed the story so much, apparently, she has decided that me telling her stories should be happening all day. Most times she requests a princess story, so I can just tell her the story of Ariel or Jasmine without having to use my imagination. But, boy does that get tedious. Of course, most of the time, I do it. Because if there's a person who could say no to that little grinning face saying "Mommy,can you tell me a story?" well, I probably wouldn't want to meet that person.

So, we spend the morning doing all of the above, intermittently pausing to do one of the many aforementioned distasteful tasks, all of which result in my trying really hard to keep my temper as Charlotte STALLS HER ASS OFF. Seriously, if she ever did anything the first time I asked, I could die happy. Instead it's a bunch of "Charlotte please come lie down so I can change your diaper. Please come now. Charlotte! Do you want me to come get you? Well, then come here." And god forbid I do have to grab her to get her to do my bidding. Then it's ten minutes of consoling her. Honestly, I don't know how I get anything done.

Oh, that's right! I DON'T.

At some point during the day I will remember that I was supposed to call my grandma. Or, I will walk into the bathroom and see the smudges all over the mirror from when Chris let Charlotte play on the bathroom counter, and she smeared water all over the place. Or, I'll get a little bing on my phone reminding me to pay a bill. And, all of those realizations will go out of my head a second later as I'm pouring yet another cup of milk for Charlotte or trying to soak up some time with my husband while the kid naps or maybe just plays by herself for a minute.

And, there will also be the time of day where I will make the decision to leave the house to write, or stay home and clean, or go to the fitness center for a half-hour on the treadmill, or just catch up on Glee with Chris. And if I choose not to go write, I will feel guilty all day. And then I will vow to write after Charlotte is in bed for the night and Chris is at work, but most times my brain will be too tired, and I will just watch a rerun of Roseanne and go to bed. I will feel guilty about that, too. And, though I will never stop trying to make writing a part of my daily routine, I will try to be kind to myself when it doesn't happen and remind myself that this is the time I carved out in my life to be home with my daughter.

It's dizzying and exhausting and all-consuming right now. But it won't always be like this. And, I will miss the sweetness of her voice as she asks me again and again to play with her or tell her a story. I will miss the way her laugh sounds right now, even though I am sure I will never stop loving her laugh. This is our time. Before school and friends and teachers and boys. I will miss these days of no order and routine.

Though, someday maybe "our" time will involve getting together for margaritas, and that would be pretty nice, too. I probably won't even have to tell her a princess story.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bloggers, Booze, and Bravery: My BlogHer11 Highlights

I got home from BlogHer on Sunday, and I had an incredible time. I would love to tell you that I met a ton of new people, but that is much harder than I thought it would be. However, I did get to know a handful of people really well, and that is a lot better in my book. I walked away feeling like I had new friends. I might not have found a lot of new people to read my blog, but there's always next year!

View from the hotel room

I found a couple of the sessions helpful (and a couple were good just for gawking and/or mockery,) but I probably learned the most just by talking to my roommates, Ginger and Brooke, and a few other people I had the pleasure of chatting with. I have many, many, MANY ideas on how to improve this space, but I will spare you the chatter and work on actually making those changes.

Instead, here are some highlights of my BlogHer experience:


I was in a flash mob (Here's the video. I'm in the back. You can't see me, but I swear I'm there!) I have always wanted to do this, but never actually thought I would get the chance. So, when Ginger signed up with a group of San Diego bloggers trying to put one of these together and asked me if I'd like to join, I immediately said "YES!" It wasn't until I started watching the videos to learn the dance that I started second-guessing my decision. First of all, Theresa, who choreographed and filmed herself doing the dance, is such an amazing dancer, I just couldn't fathom being able to do what she was doing. I was seriously getting cold feet, but Ginger convinced me to stick with it, and I am SO glad I did. I might have messed up a few of the steps, and I might have almost knocked Ginger to the ground by spinning directly into her, but I don't think anyone noticed, and it was a bunch of fun.

I read one of my blog posts in front of a roomful of people. The "Listen To Your Mother" show was holding an open mic night where you could throw your name into a drawing for a chance to read the post of your choice. Heart pounding, I threw my name into the humor section and listened to some wonderful readings, some hilarious, some moving, some both, while simultaneously hoping my name would be called and that it wouldn't. Finally, the suspense ended as my name was called, and I ambled up to the stage to read this post. Luckily, I wasn't the only person reading a post about postpartum sex, so it wasn't as inappropriate as I initially expected. It was a rush to have more people than have probably ever read my blog listening to my words, and it was an even bigger thrill when they laughed at all the right places. Definitely my favorite moment of the weekend.

Photo by Ginger

I met a blogger I really like and respect. I saw Anna of ABDPBT.com at The People's Party Thursday night, and I approached her to tell her how much I like her work. I expected that to be the end of it, so it was a very pleasant surprise when she recognized me from Twitter (or at least pretended to, but either way it was cool) and then chatted with me and Brooke for over an hour. She is hilarious and despite her unfortunate "hater" street cred, is really just a breath of fresh air from all the blind acceptance of all things related to the "blogging community." I'm glad I got a chance to meet her.

All in all, it was worth the cost of admission. The dancing and drinking helped with the missing my child, and the swag wasn't awful. I've heard lots of complaints, but, hey, I got a vibrator and a bottle of wine. In other words, HOT DATE WITH MYSELF. So, thanks for the memories, BlogHer.



Monday, August 1, 2011

The Pre-BlogHer Post...Sort Of

So, let's see. It's been nearly two weeks since my last post. I don't know what to say except I'm sure we're all used to this sort of neglect to my poor blog. Also, I've been in and out of a weird funk these last few weeks. Maybe it's the heat, maybe it's hormones (a woman's most reliable scapegoat,) or maybe it's Chris's new hours at work that have added up to less time with him and LOTS of time alone with Charlotte. I suppose it's probably all of those things that have left me feeling stressed, irritable, and at times, overwhelmed.

Chris has been getting home around 5 A.M. lately which means he needs to sleep until about one or two in the afternoon, depending how poorly he sleeps with all the heat and noise daytime brings. So, Charlotte and I have long mornings together, which have lately been punctuated by measly 30-45 minute naps. When Chris gets up, I catch up on housework, bills, errands, and other such minutiae, while taking breaks to spend as much time with my husband as we can manage between playing dinosaur puppets and doing arts and crafts. Oh, and in case anyone was momentarily impressed by that latter statement, let me inform you that "arts and crafts" with our two-year-old is just a fancy way of saying "paint" and "glue paper to...other paper."

Yeah, yeah, you get it. I'm a mom, and I do mom things. And house things. Get over myself. I just feel lately like I can't breathe until the kid is in bed for the night. So, I'm sort of out of the loop all day when it comes to internet stuff. And, I don't always use my evening alone time to catch up the way I should. I am trying to remedy this now because after I return from BlogHer it's going to be even harder to keep up. I'm sure I will meet lots of people whose blogs I want to read and with whom I would like to correspond. So, I'm working on it.

I'm looking forward to the conference for lots of reasons. You know, meeting lots of new people, parties, maybe getting some inspiration for my writing and blog goals, and, of course, getting a break from my day to day life. But, then again, that is probably the only reason I also don't want to go. My day to day life can be hectic, and I'm exhausted, but I have never been away from my daughter for three whole nights. Never more than one night, in fact, and that's only been a handful of times. I'm nervous about it.

Charlotte is at an amazing age right now. Which is not to say there were times in her life where it would have been easy to leave her for three nights, but it might have been easier. She's just so much fun right now. She's started telling me "When I was a baby" stories. I love how she can just make stuff up on the spot. The other night she was walking up the stairs to go to bed, and she stopped, dropped to the ground, and said "I see a bug!" (No, she didn't.) She continued "When I was a baby, I saw a bug. A fider (spider.) A big fider. And he bit me. And I said "Maaaahhh." A couple days ago she made up a story about how she was petting and riding on whales. And she started riding a little scooter some friends of ours picked up for her at a garage sale. It's the kind with three wheels, so it doesn't tip over, and she just shuffles around on it wearing a little helmet, and OH MAN, is it adorable.

video

Then again...

The whole, stopping on the stairs to make up a story, while heartwarming and hilarious, is also just one of the many ways she drags her feet whenever it's time to do anything she finds even remotely distasteful, such as going to bed or heading up to her room to get dressed. Seriously, what is so hard about getting dressed? I'm doing it FOR you! Just raise your arms and let me dress you in whatever ridiculous outfit I let you choose for yourself. I don't get it. If I happen to suggest something she actually wants to leave the house to do, like the park, for example, she'll be all "Yeah! Let's go!" and start heading out the door in her pajamas. I'll tell her we need to get dressed first, and she'll tug on her shirt and say "How 'bout my jammies?" When I inform her we can't leave the house like that, she'll decide she doesn't want to go to the park after all. Kill me.

And, frankly, I suppose it will be nice to spend three days with people I don't have to ask ONE HUNDRED times to pick up their shoes or come to the table for dinner. And since I can plan on that scenario going on for pretty much the next eighteen years or so, I should probably just enjoy the reprieve while I can get it.

I suppose I should start packing...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Random Thoughts

I realize the whole random thought deal is something many of you do on Tuesdays, but it's all I have the energy for today.I suppose a "Wordless Wednesday" post seems even easier, but see then I would have to walk upstairs to the desktop computer as it is where all of my pictures are stored. Yes, ALL the way upstairs. So, staying on the couch wins.

-Chris and I have this ongoing battle about the bedroom window being open during the night. I like it closed because I am an incredibly delicate sleeper, and I don't like the noise from the freeway, and I hate the sound of chirping birds at 5 A.M. I hissed at Chris for opening it when he got home from work in the middle of the night. Normally, he would concede, knowing how hard it is for me to sleep. But, this time he very firmly told me that since the entire apartment smells like fish, he's keeping it open. Confused, I rolled over and went to sleep. But, when I came downstairs this morning I could smell that he was right. I hunted for the smell in the fridge, the trashcan, and the counters before finding a pan I had used to cook mahi-mahi on...Monday, I think it was? It had been "soaking," and I forgot about it, I guess. Clearly, I am an excellent housekeeper.

-I just found a stray ant crawling on my leg. Fucking summer.

-Why is it so hard to get my child out the door to do anything? Even stuff she claims to really want to do. She'll be all excited about the pool or the library, but the second I start to initiate getting dressed or putting on shoes, or whatever needs to be done to leave, she starts whining about how she wants to stay home. We spend lots of time at home, but if I listened to her every time she claims she wants to stay in, I would never go anywhere, and then I would go crazy and drink even more wine than I already do. She always enjoys herself once we're out, and then she doesn't want to go home. It's more than a little maddening.

-Also maddening? The WHINING. Oh, GOD, THE WHINING! It's her default. She doesn't even try to get what she wants in a reasonable fashion before resorting to the grating and soul-crushing whining.

-My mom and her friend, Lynn, both loaned me a bunch of books because I was complaining about not having the money to buy new books. I have plenty of books on my shelf that I have yet to read, but they are mostly classics, and I realized I need to start reading more contemporary stuff so that I won't get overwhelmed and just stop reading all together like I do when I try to read only dense, period literature. And also because I realized I was missing out on good stuff. So, I'm reading The Help right now. I figured I'd give it a whirl since the movie is coming out soon. I'm liking it. It's not blowing my mind so far, but it's an easy and enjoyable read. And it didn't start out really slow like a lot of books, so I was able to dive right in.

-I'm starting to panic a little about BlogHer next month. I guess when I signed up in January, I figured I'd have my blog together a little more by now. I haven't even picked out my panels and figured out my schedule. I guess I'll just hope to have a good time, meet some new people, and learn what I can. I don't see this being a huge networking opportunity for me since my blog is still so...undefined. And, sporadically updated, too.

-I will be meeting Ginger on Sunday, and I am ridiculously excited about it. Well, there's nothing ridiculous about my excitement. Ginger is awesome.

Okay, that's enough randomness for now. Especially since it is now Thursday morning at 10 A.M. and my kid is still asleep. I could be reading! Or screwing around on Facebook. Whatevs

Monday, July 11, 2011

On Sleep and Summer

First things first: I will update you on the sleeping situation. I decided to try being a little firmer about Charlotte going to sleep in her room by telling her very matter-of-factly that she was going to have to sleep in her room, I loved her, and so on, before walking out even as she was protesting. I knew if she screamed and got really upset, I would come back to her shortly, but if she settled down quickly enough, I wouldn't have to go back in. I was surprised at how well it worked. Sometimes I have to go back in, and other times she gives up and goes to sleep almost right away. It still makes me feel icky to leave her in there when she's crying, but then again, I guess I know her well enough to know when she really needs me, and I always respond to those cries.

Having said all that, if she wakes up in the middle of the night, she is usually upset, and I always take her to my bed at that point. But, I don't really mind that, as long as I get my evenings to myself. I feel comfortable with what I'm doing, but I also don't regret listening to her when she asked me not to leave her for those few weeks. She IS having some separation anxiety, and I'm trying to be as attentive as possible during the day because I think it alleviates some of the tension when it's time to put her to bed.

An example of her separation anxiety: today I was looking at a text from a friend on my phone. Charlotte walked up to me and hugged my legs. because I'm trying to be more attentive, I immediately put the phone down (instead of first finishing the text)and knelt down to hug her. She made a sort of whimper, and I asked her if she was okay. She said "yes," but she didn't seem okay, so I said "What's wrong?" She started bawling. I asked her once or twice what was the matter, but she didn't answer me. So, I just let her cry while I held her, and when she was calm I suggested we have a snack together. Having my full attention cheered her up right away. And bedtime tonight was a breeze. This isn't to say that I won't ever ask her to wait while I finish a conversation or a task, just that I am trying to be more sensitive while she is going through...whatever she's going through.

In other news, it's summer, and we've been enjoying ourselves. We haven't been to the beach yet, but we will hopefully be remedying that soon. We've been taking lots of trips to the pool, playing with bubbles and sidewalk chalk, taking walks, and going on day trips to the zoo and museums. It's funny how summer feels different, more leisurely, even when you aren't getting a break from anything. My life today is, for all intents and purposes, exactly the same as it was three months ago, but I feel like I'm on vacation. I guess it's all the sun.

I went in for the blood tests my doctor ordered after my last miscarriage. I don't remember what all the tests were, but there were ten vials of blood when I left there. Hopefully, I either find out that everything is fine, or we determine the problem and find a way to fix it. I have a lot of thoughts about getting starting to try for another baby, (which won't happen until next month at the earliest) but I guess I'm not quite ready to delve into them yet.

My brain feels like it's on vacation, too. So, instead of a proper closing, here is a picture of Charlotte showing off her haircut and style last week.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Child is Broken. Help Me Fix Her.

This morning, at 10:45 to be precise, I woke up in my bed, stretched my arms, and rolled onto my right side to find that my daughter's brilliant blue eyes were open.She smiled at me, gave me a hug, and we agreed to go downstairs to watch a little Toy Story 3.

Sounds heavenly, right? I'm sure to those of you whose kids wake up with the sun no matter how late they stay up, it sounds downright luxurious. Sleeping in till almost eleven? On a Wednesday? It's a dream come true!

Except it is more of a nightmare. While I am glad that after passing out from sheer exhaustion at 11 P.M. Charlotte didn't decide to greet the day at her usual time of 8 A.M., I am dismayed by the fact that she has been cranky from the moment she woke up and will most likely take a 2-3 hour nap to make up for how poorly she slept, then be up all night once more.

Or, there's the even more dire possibility that she will NOT nap, and STILL be up until all hours. It can go either way with her. And, yes, the nap would save me a lot of sanity (though from the sounds coming from upstairs, I'm not optimistic) but what I really need is for her to be on something resembling a toddler's schedule, as opposed to that of a teenager on summer vacation.

***

Okay, many hours have passed since I started this post. Update: she did not nap. And she was less than pleasant for the remainder of the day. It was quite the debacle. Chris usually has great luck with putting her down for naps and even sometimes for bed. But, lately she has been freaking out if I'm not around, and once I am in the room with her, there is little chance of me leaving it without her.

So, here's what's going on: I take Charlotte up to her room for her vitamin and to have her teeth brushed. We read a couple stories. I sing her a couple songs. We turn out the light, she gives me a big hug, I put her in her crib, tell her "Goodnight" and walk out.

Or, at least that's how it used to happen. The last week or so has gone more like this: Charlotte prolongs story time as long as possible. Even after I tell her the story we are reading is the last one, and she agrees to this, she says "Again?" or "Different book?" as soon as I am done reading. She starts whining about wanting to come to my bed before I even sing her songs. We turn off the light (after much cajoling,) and right as I am about to put her in bed, or right as I am about to leave, she starts crying.

I struggle with this part a lot, but sometimes I walk out anyway. If the crying abates within a minute or two, I don't go back in. I feel guilty for the rest of the night, but I am glad that she's asleep. If, however, the crying doesn't stop and gets more intense as the seconds pass, I go back in.

I hold her. I rock her. I tell her that I know she can go to sleep in her crib. That she's a big girl. It doesn't matter. At this point, I'm basically stalling because she WILL end up coming to my bed. She cries so hard and asks so pitifully, that not only do I end up caving, I also feel like a horrible parent for even trying to get her to sleep in her own bed in the first place. I know. I'm a huge wimp.

But, seriously, the crying is very unsettling. And she says things like, "Don't leave me here!" Or, she'll ask (through sobs) "Can you go get your bed ready?" I know it sounds like I'm being a wimp, but I get the feeling she's going through something. If I'm rocking her to sleep in the rocking chair, which doesn't work anymore, by the way, and she starts to doze off, she will startle herself awake, and her eyes will frantically search for me. Only after she is sure I'm still there will she start to doze again. But, once I try to lay her down in her crib, even if she appears to be asleep, she'll cry and cling to me.

Once I acquiesce and bring her to my bed, a new battle begins. She tries to talk to me and play. I tell her it's time to sleep and try to ignore her. She nudges me with her elbow or drapes her entire body over me. Anything to get my attention. Last night we were in my bed for an hour, after being in HER room for an hour, when I gave up. I know how stupid it is to reward her for not sleeping, but I hadn't eaten dinner, and I needed a break. So, I brought her downstairs and let her watch a little bit of a movie while I ate and tried to psyche myself up for the next round.

By the time we went back upstairs to my room (She started hyperventilating at the very thought of going to her room, so I didn't even try) she was so exhausted that she passed out in five minutes. Then she slept so restlessly that no one really got enough sleep. She talks in her sleep. Sometimes she laughs, but usually she seems upset. She calls for me a lot in her sleep. Sometimes she wakes up and has to find me and be touching me in some way before she will go back to sleep. Once, she woke up, and I was in the bathroom. She SCREAMED.

So, what do you guys think? Am I being a big wimp, or does she really need me? And, in either case, what can I do about this since it is clearly not working? Any and all opinions are welcome.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Miserable Failure

This has been sort of an off week for me. In my life I strive for a balance between doing all the obligatory grown-up things I have to do, such as keeping the house clean(ish), paying bills, grocery shopping, and doing the fun things in life like taking my daughter to the pool or going out with a friend. Writing doesn't fit neatly into either category, but it is also a very big part of the equation.

Basically this week I accomplished the fun stuff with zest and let pretty much everything else slide. I went out and sang karaoke with a friend on Saturday night and maaaaaybe got a little carried away. I sang about a dozen songs, either solo or with a group, and drank three margaritas. So, I spent most of Father's Day hungover. I know, I'm a real catch, right? In my defense, I still made him breakfast and dinner and presented him with gifts. I just did it all with a splitting headache and a general sense of malaise.

I took Charlotte to the zoo this week and to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles where we FINALLY got in to the Noah's Ark exhibit. If you are in the L.A. area and have kids, do this! It's very cool. Everything is made from recycled material, and the kids can touch, play with, and climb on it all. Just don't make the same mistake as I did and wear a skirt. If your child is under four, you will have to accompany them up the rope ladders and crawl around on your hands and knees on suspended wooden planks.


The front of the ark

"The snake is eating my arm!"


In the midst of all this fun, I neglected to...you know what? No. I was going to say that I neglected some of my responsibilities, and then I was going to wrap it all up with a, "Well, maybe I am being too hard on myself" sort of thing. But, I can't do it. I'm done beating myself up. I don't even want to wait until the end of this blog post to stop the flagellating. I sent Chris to work with dinner every night, I did laundry, I baked (twice!), I even managed to go to the gym once. So, maybe I never sent that form to my student loan company, and maybe there are more crumbs on the floor than there are in my vacuum, and maybe I can't even remember the last time I dusted, but I think what I have accomplished is much more important.

I played with my kid. I took her to places that she enjoyed and where she got to spend time with her cousins and her "fwiends." I hung out with my husband during Charlotte's naps. I left the television off at night after she went to bed and actually read a book (Have I mentioned I'm reading Lolita? I've never been so simultaneously impressed and disturbed.) I spent time with friends. I am constantly having to remind myself that just because I'm enjoying my life doesn't mean I'm not doing it right.

The only thing I regret from this week is that I didn't write. Plans were foiled by a power outage, a couple of late naps/messed up bedtimes, and a scary train thundering past our apartment right after I put Charlotte to bed last night, which somehow resulted in her being WIDE awake until 11 P.M. But, hey, there's always next week. And I wrote *this*, right?

I guess I'm not such a miserable failure after all!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Table For...?

If you live in Southern California and have recently noticed a creepy, blonde woman staring at you while you are out with your family, well, I'm sorry about that.

See, ever since all of this went down, and I'm uncertain about the future of our family plans, I've become a little preoccupied with the dynamics of other families. So, I find myself watching families interact to see how people function with one kid, two or more kids, kids a year or two apart, kids who seem to be three or more years apart, and so on. I'm especially interested in what will necessarily be one of the only possible scenarios for us at this point: kids three or more years apart or an only child. I've come to terms with the former option. I've even embraced it. I ask myself frequently if I would really want to have another child right now, and the answer is always "No." Up until recently, I couldn't really imagine Charlotte functioning well with a sibling. Does that mean we wouldn't have been ecstatic to welcome another child into our lives before this point? Of course not. It would have been great. I just think it will be even better in a year or so.

Lately, I've even started wondering if I could be satisfied with having Charlotte be an only child. Or rather, could we possibly choose that path voluntarily? Sometimes I am just so exhausted by the all-consuming fervor of loving and raising this child. She is a FORCE. It can occasionally feel like too much. How could I possibly find the energy to laugh more, love more, worry more, feel more aggravation, more awe, more staggering wonderment at this fiery little creature who loves and needs me?

But, of course, I could. It happens every day. Every day there is a parent worrying about not being able to find room in their heart for another child, and then when the time comes, they do it. And, I want that. I want another child to love this deeply. The prospect is as exhilarating as it is terrifying.

And, maybe I will have that. Maybe in a year. Or two. Or three. I have no way of knowing. So, I study the siblings out there to try and prepare myself for all the possibilities. A few weeks ago I watched a girl of about seven hover over her sister of about two the pool. She was very maternal, very bossy, and very concerned for her little sister. It wasn't the relationship I had always envisioned for Charlotte and her theoretical sibling. I had hoped they would be peers, and that they would play together, tell each other secrets, make each other laugh. But, it was also very sweet to see the adoration in the younger girl's eyes for her big sister and the tender way in which the older girl fussed over her. And who is to say that they don't play and make each other laugh? I think I could get on board with that scenario.

I wish I had a crystal ball that could tell me exactly what the future holds for our family. Because that's really the worst part for me: the not knowing. If I could know that our kids would be exactly 4.5 years apart, I'd say "Great! Can't wait. I will continue to enjoy my life as a family of three until it's time to get knocked up, and then I'll start raising two kids!" I would even welcome the absolute knowledge that Charlotte will be our only child. I would grieve the loss of the family of my dreams, but once I accepted it, I could go on with my life without worrying about getting pregnant and staying that way. I could start solidifying my career plans for when Charlotte starts school. I could start planning international trips for our permanently small family. I could make it work.

But, I don't know what will happen. If I am able to get pregnant again, I won't know that I'll be able to stay that way. I'll worry. I'll panic. I'll assume the worst. If I see even a hint of blood on my toilet paper, I will KNOW that it's all over. It won't matter how common spotting is because experience has taught me that it's the end for my pregnancy. And I will waste no time in rebelling by eating all the lunch meat and sushi I can find, drinking a couple gallons of coffee, a bottle of wine, and snorting coke off a hooker's stomach.

Okay, maybe that's a tad dramatic. I'll skip the coffee. Just in case.

In all seriousness, I am enjoying not trying to get pregnant at the moment. I have been trying to make the most of this stage by going out with friends, planning trips, and arranging date nights. It's freeing to not be obsessing about a potential pregnancy and just enjoying life in the moment. I am looking forward to taking my daughter to the beach and splashing in the waves with her with nothing to distract me. But, it's looming, this unavoidable preoccupation with expanding our family and all the doubt and uncertainty that it entails.

I just hope that these months spent healing will pay off and I'll handle it better than I expect.

I'll drink to that. BECAUSE I CAN RIGHT NOW! There's always a bright side.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What's on YOUR Face?

I'm in a makeup phase right now. I put it on most days before leaving the house. Even if I'm not going anywhere particularly exciting. I have a sort of complicated relationship with makeup. And, I'm telling you this because Clara told me to, and I always do what Clara tells me to do.

Okay, so this is probably the first time Clara has ever told me to do something. And, she didn't so much *tell* me as suggest that I write about my on-again-off-again love affair with the face paint when I alluded to some complicated feelings in the comments of this post.

I don't always wear makeup. At least not the way I have been lately. Sometimes it's just a bit of pressed powder and some lip gloss. Or some eyeliner if I'm feeling particularly crazy. These days I can be found strolling the aisles of Target with a face full of the stuff: foundation, blush, eye shadow, mascara, and my old friend, lip gloss. And by "these days" I mean the last four or five days. In a few more days I'll probably be back to wearing...chapstick. And, I'll continue to go back and forth for probably the rest of my life. I have Multiple Makeup Personality Disorder.

As a little girl I loved dressing up, painting my nails, and those rare occasions I was allowed to play with my mom's or my babysitter's makeup stash. I remember one day my babysitter, Linda, was putting makeup on me, my sister, and her daughter, Jennifer. Jenny and I are blonde, and my sister is brunette. I remember Linda telling us that blondes should wear darker makeup to contrast with our light hair, and girls with dark hair should wear lighter makeup. This pretty much contrasts with my current, though admittedly limited, knowledge of makeup rules. But, hey, it was the eighties! So, somewhere there exists a picture of my sister in a yellow sundress with the most delicate and "barely there" makeup on her face, standing next to what appear to be a couple of underage hookers. It's hilarious. Ah, I miss those days!

I spent most of my adolescence trying to figure out how to wear makeup properly. I endured lectures from my friends on how I wasn't following the curve of my lips with the lipliner. They helped me pick out shades of powder that would supposedly match my skin tone. I can't tell you how many times I have attempted "smokey eyes," only to have to wipe all the shadow off my lids immediately afterwards. Because when I do it, "smokey eyes" translates to "punched in the eyes."

And then there's the nail polish. I don't think I'm alone in this because otherwise we wouldn't have manicures, but I cannot for the life of me paint my own damn nails. And much like the eye shadow, there have been many occasions where I have no sooner put the stuff on when I'm wiping it all off due to a messy application. I once painted my nails black in a hurry to get to a goth nightclub. I hastily painted them while crouching behind the counter of the retail store where I was working. I got in the car before they had even dried, and by the time I arrived, it looked like I had just finished changing the oil in my car. Chris used to be really good at painting my nails neatly, and let's face it, that's pretty much why I married him. But, the other day I handed him some fuchsia polish, and the end result was DISASTER. Clearly grounds for divorce.

After twenty years or so of experimenting, I finally know how to look like a human when I walk out the door in makeup. More specifically, a human NOT dressed as a clown. But, I have found myself so conflicted about it lately. It isn't a feminist thing. I don't worry that shaving my legs and wearing lipstick makes me any less empowered than other women. After all, if we believe the mantra, feminism is about choice. So, there shouldn't be anything wrong with choosing to get dolled up if we feel like it. Of course, one could argue that I only *think* I want to do these things because I have been TRAINED BY SOCIETY, DAMNIT! But let's not swim in those murky waters right now.

I think my struggle comes more from the fact that I tend to gravitate to the more natural side of things. I try to clean with and bathe with as few chemicals as possible, generally. I buy as many natural and plant-based products as I can afford. And sometimes I get a little idealistic about wanting to look authentic and unencumbered by artificial cosmetics. Until I start to really examine my acne scars. Or the red splotches all over my face. Or my teeny, tiny eyelashes. Then I start rethinking how "authentic" I really want to look.

Or else I'll just see someone with really pretty makeup. And, I want some, too. Or I'm confronted with the rainbow of lipgloss shades. Good GOD, do I love a good lip gloss. Or sometimes I'm a five year old, and I just want to cover myself with pink sparkles from head to toe. These are the times my idealism goes out the window, and I start cruising the cosmetics aisle.

I may never commit to one style, one makeup philosophy. I may continue to be as indecisive and impressionable as I am today. But, maybe I'll just continue to hold cute babies next to my face, and no one will ever now the difference.

Right?