Friday, April 30, 2010

On beach shares and mini-vans

This quote of the day came from a very good friend of mine who doesn't have kids. We were talking about a beach share that my family was thinking of doing with some other families. (It all got too complicated and we realize we wouldn't know most of the people there so we decided against it.)

My friend had said that every family has to "do the kids/house rental thing (and buy a mini van) so you might as well take your turn now. (buy the mini van)."*

She ended on this note for the quote of the day:

By the way, I was riding around in a mini van last night. It was like riding in a lounger. Mind you I got out and put on high heels with a cocktail to try and get the kid stench off me ;)

*We've had the "I'm NOT going to buy a mini van" discussion (the one that everyone has before they have a 2nd or 3rd kid each of whom has huge car seats / activities / stuff that makes the mini van ultimately become necessary. But I'm in denial) several times.

So, my thought/question for the day - what have you done that you said you'd NEVER do before kids? And how long did it take you to break down? What are you still holding on to (like we're holding on to the no mini van for now)?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I don’t want you to lie to me. But I want you to lie to me ABOUT THIS. But I don’t want to know that you lied to me. What’s so hard about that?

When I found the first mouse (silent shiver), I mentioned to my husband that it looked like another trap had been chewed a little. He admitted that he’d noticed that too, but he was “sure” the teeth marks were from the trapped mouse. Yeah, right. He also admitted that they’d pulled a dead mouse out when cleaning the HVAC, but he hadn’t told me.

I admit that these are good things NOT to tell me. I don’t want to know. The thing is when you do tell me – even if you’re just confirming something I’ve noticed on my own – it always adds the silent question in my head, so what else have you noticed? You’ve disposed of a dozen other mice, haven’t you? You’ve seen them running around everywhere? You fought one off that was attacking the baby?!?! OK, we have to move. But I’m Irish Catholic, so I am very good at repressing all this. I have years of experience. So I just pretend that none of those thoughts have occurred to me and move on.

Until it comes up again.

Like yesterday.

I went down to the basement to move clothes and noticed the one bug (cum mouse) trap that had some bite marks in it before seemed to have MORE bite marks in it and it had moved. The three mice I’d found on traps before had all been stuck on pretty well – ok, one wasn’t so WELL stuck – he was trying really hard to free himself, but still. And one was dead. I convinced myself that the second mouse we found must have been the one to put the bite marks on the other trap. So I was feeling in the clear. I hadn’t seen any evidence of mice or found one in a few weeks. I was even getting to the point where I was (somewhat) willing to check the far side of the basement (on my own!) to make sure there were no mice on the traps there.

Now in that checking, I’d noticed some of the insulation pulled out on the ground (a pretty clear sign of mice), but I again convinced myself that it was from the original mice and I just hadn’t checked. It was NOT new mice. (No, I didn’t pick it up. If I bend over to get it, the mice might be laying in wait and attack me! Are you kidding?)

But then I saw the trap with the edge all chewed up that had been moved.

I mentioned this to my husband and, with a sigh, he admitted he’d seen it too. And my imagination went into overdrive on what other signs of mice he’d seen and hadn’t told me about! Cause think about it – the traps had caught the three tiny field mice we’d seen. But this one isn’t being caught by the traps! He’s able to “steal” the bugs stuck to the traps for food (so not really “steal,” as these aren’t “baited” with bugs – they’re just bug traps too.) and not get stuck himself. This must be a mouse on steroids! The king of mice! Mighty mouse! … a rat. Oh crap. And I haven’t found it yet…

And thanks for that new set of nightmares.

What still gives you nightmares as an adult? If you have/had mice, how have you gotten rid of them (I’m thinking of just paving over our whole yard and adding booby traps. I just have to think of a way to get the HOA to go for it.)? Or do you have stories about other pesks?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sick day – part 2

I mentioned I took a real day off a few days ago. Well, as it was unplanned and my calendar was open I decided to FINALLY use my spa gift card from Mother’s Day last year. I’d meant to use it earlier, but first we were house hunting. Not only did that take all our spare time, but also – it was so stressful. Why waste the gift card when I was about to get stressed out again?! Then we were living with my in laws (see prior excuse!). Then I was ALMOST done nursing, so why not wait for the facial? (I was a little worried about what I put on my skin when nursing, as apparently that can have a negative impact on the baby. Who knew?) Then we got busy again and then… Well, yesterday I went for it!

It was very nice to have a couple of hours of pampering, but that’s not actually what’s inspiring this blog post. Instead, it’s the magazine I was reading while waiting for my massage. The magazine was a mom’s magazine (I am modern – I think.). This isn’t necessarily what I would have chosen first – I really would have liked some really indulgent brain candy like Glamour or something, but this was what was available. I started looking at their discussions of “Stay at home moms” v. “working moms” and all that. Blah, blah, blah. What caught my attention though, was in the 10 minutes I flipped through the magazine at least 80% (if not more) of the ads were for some sort of plastic surgery – breast augmentation, tummy tucks, etc. – all pictures of before and after baby body pictures. It seemed like every doctor in the area (I guess it’s a regional magazine) had an ad for his services showing how to lose the post baby belly or saddle bags, how to make your breasts perky again, even comparing silicone to saline implants. And as I looked at it all, I couldn’t help but think – seriously, what the hell?

This is the view of motherhood? This is the best type of ad that can go in? I realize that magazines are out there to make a profit and they are going to take the ad dollars that they can get, but it seemed RIDICULOUS. Theoretically this magazine was celebrating and supporting motherhood – whatever way you choose it (there were long articles on the “mommy wars” and how we undermine ourselves on our decisions to work or not, etc.) and peppered throughout these pep talks were unrealistic body images – with the message that your body needs to look like this, you can’t do it on your own and here’s the (expensive) solution. Now I realize I was sitting at a spa, so of course the idea of unrealistic body images is sort of a given – but these weren’t spa ads! This was just a magazine that happened to be there.

Have you experienced something similar - in magazines, the doctors, somewhere else? Where? Did you say/do anything about it? Or are there people in your life who seem to push these unrealistic standards?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New look

Hello all!

You may have noticed that my little face lift has FINALLY happened! Well... is happening... As you can see, the links at the top don't all work yet, but we're getting close. And this is all thanks to Krista at Rocky Run Designs!

Please stop over to check out all her cool work and say hi! And keep coming back to visit me (please!) as we finish the facelift over here!

Disclaimer: I know this has taken about a month since I first said a new design is coming! That is ENTIRELY my fault for being indecisive or even unresponsive on occasion when life got busy. Krista has been great - very patient and great about following up (without being annoying!).

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Minute - 4/26/10

Monday Minute

1 - What drugs have you done in your life?
I'm totally boring and straight on this one. The closest I've come (outside alcohol and my recovery from a SEVERE caffeine addiction) is taking prescription meds that weren't mine. But not even in an abusive way - like taking a "leftover" antibiotic from an unfinished prescription while I wait for a doctor's appointment or taking someone else's allergy meds when I don't have my own.

I admit that I'm generally too much of a wimp and too much of a control freak to want to lose control, but also I don't always have great reactions to the meds I'm supposed to take. For instance, I can't understand how anyone could ever abuse vicadin as the "floaty" feeling was not really a nice one and that was followed by projectile vomiting for a day. (Note - I was actually given the prescription for vicadin over the phone for a sore throat! With doctors like that, why on earth would I need to do any illegal drugs?)

2 - A/S/L?

Is this like DSL? OK fine -
age = 34, sex = (yes, please! Oh, sorry..) Female, location = Northern Virginia

3 - Do you pick your nose?

Ugh... OK, fine. Generally with a tissue or in the shower / by a sink, so I can "clean up" afterward, but yes. With allergies like mine, it's not really optional. (Great - I just admitted to bad allergies and nose picking. Add a band uniform and headgear and I am the belle of this ball!)

4 - What's your favorite childhood cartoon?

Hmm... this probably depends on whether it was "as a child" (and does college count as a child?) or now? If college counts, then Animaniacs. As a kid, The Smurfs ranked pretty high. But I think this was mostly because I wasn't really allowed to watch cartoons (I know - abusive!) so I would beg my parents on Saturday morning (they eventually gave in so that I'd stop bugging them and they could sleep) arguing that The Smurfs were really ok because "there's a moral in every one." yes, really.

5 - List the URL, of what you believe to be the best blog post you've ever done

Oh, man. I'm not sure I have a real "favorite." I like the one on the lies we Moms tell each other, but I've linked to that one a bunch of times.

I won't say this is my best, but it's a recent one I like a lot:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sick day

So I took an actual sick day this week. Like for real. I mean – Mom’s don’t get sick days exactly, right? Because if you’re home with the baby you still need to take care of her regardless (OK, so you can phone it in a little – extra videos / tv time and who says you REALLY have to shower?). I’ve had a few days where I’ve felt crummy in the last 14 months, but the best I’ve done is nap when she naps and go to bed about 5 minutes after her. But not this time! And the best part? I wasn’t actually feeling THAT crummy!

My husband had worked 24, so I was on baby duty the day before. She’d woken up about 12:30 and needed to be cuddled back to sleep (this has gotten more frequent recently – like every night – after weeks of sleeping well. Ugh. Looks like we need to do some cry it out nights. Kill me now.). Then she woke up at 6:30 and even though she was clearly overtired – that was it! No sleep for you! I hadn’t showered yet (hadn’t even gotten up to get ready for work yet!) and was thinking – it’s going to be a long effing day. (I’m not good in the morning.)

So I thought about it. I thought about what needed to get done today and thought – you know, I could call in sick. Really. There’s nothing major that has a deadline today. I can reschedule a meeting. And we have PTO rather than sick time anyway, so it’s not even like “faking” for the day (I’m just using my vacation time). Since I’ve gone to part time, I very rarely even use my vacation time anyway, so I have plenty. Why not? So I did.

And, as it wasn’t my day to the watch the baby, my husband already had plans. He was headed over to his parents to work on their yard and his Mom was going to watch the munchkin. So rather than change that up, we went with it. Well, first we all laid down during her first nap (very early – 8:30 – because she’d gotten up so early!), but then they headed out. And I went back to bed! Of course I couldn’t sleep. It goes without saying. But I did rest. I stayed in bed till 10:30 or 11 (a luxury I have done without far too long!). Then I got up and watched tv while I ate lunch. To quote (or likely misquote) Office Space – “I did nothing. And it was everything I dreamed it would be!”

What about you? When was your last *true* sick day? How did you manage to get it? What do you do when you just need a day off?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This would be cute if it weren't so sad

My daughter is teething (oh is she ever!) and was up a bit last night and then completely awake at 6:30 this morning. My alarm hadn't gone off yet to get up and get ready for work, so I tried to rock her back to sleep, but this tired baby was having NONE of it. My husband was not yet home (he works 24 hour shifts). This should make getting ready interesting...

I fed her some breakfast (and fed the dog breakfast as he kept barking at me) and tried to convince her she wanted to go back to sleep (right....). So I thought - OK, if I want to shower, we're going to have to get creative. Our master bath has a shower with glass doors, so I could watch her (of course, I don't usually use this bathroom because it also seems to have a bit of a mold problem in there at the moment. I don't want to discuss it...). I brought in a few toys and figured she could play and I could shower. In the back of my head, I sort of knew, the whole shower would be spent jumping out to move her away from all the non baby proofed items in that room. I was wrong...

I forgot about the teething clinginess. She spent the entire time standing outside the glass doors and trying to find a way in while howling! She tried to get her little fingers between the doors. She banged on the glass. When I opened the door a sliver to reach out for my towel, she tried to squeeze her little body through (and wound up with a very wet sock).

Oh man - sounds like a good opportunity for a mental health day...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Minute - Today's random musings

Monday Minute

1 - Ever take a shit in the woods?

Yeah, I think I probably have as a kid (sorry it's not more memorable than "probably!"). You know - we took a lot of car trips (or flew someplace and then drove a lot) and sometimes - you just gotta go! My parents were seasoned travelers - they brought along tissues for such occasions.

2 - If you won $1,000, what's the first thing you would do with it besides give me a cut?

After I sent my penny to Ian... ;) Is it sad that $1000 doesn't even feel like enough to make a huge difference in our oh so American level of debt? I want to say I'd do really fun things, but I feel like our rainy day fund (and the college fund and the one day renovation / home expansion fund and ...) really need the help.

But to be more fun in my answer - if it was $1000 gift card that had to be spent (I'm seeing the value of those), I'd really like a very nice camera (so that all my "baby in motion" pictures taken of the munchkin these days could come into focus!) and my husband would really like a very nice chainsaw.

3 - What's your favorite phrase?

Why thank you for that $1000 gift card! I totally know how I'm going to use it!

4 - Fill in the blank - the world would be a better place if ______ left the planet.

I really want to name names here! ;) But I'm going to go with "hate" and I guess ignorance and all the stuff that goes along with that as well.

5 - How do you take your coffee or tea?

Though I love Ian's "Airplane" reference, I'm going to have say with LOTS of milk.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Somewhere around the 37th chorus...

...I start to think I'm getting the words to the alphabet song wrong.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Where am I today? In the gym… well, not really. UPDATED

If you’re looking for my post today, please check out Our Mommyhood for my post in their “in the gym” section. As I note there, “in the gym” is not exactly what you’d call an obvious post topic for me – other than coming up with a list of excuses NOT to go - you can look for some of my best ones there!

Note - it's supposed to be up at 11 Eastern, but it looks like it's not posted yet... Oops... So um, this is just a preview... coming soon... I see there's a good article on surogacy there now... ;)

UPDATED: There was an error in posting. This will be up on Monday.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

And to the weather this year I say, what the $%#$@% ?!?!?!?

Seriously! Record breaking snow falls – multiple storms throwing down more than a foot of snow (yeah, yeah, I know if you’re in Canada, you’re thinking – so what? My senior year in college, Boston broke it’s snow fall record at 90 something inches and my parents laughed because they’d live in Ottawa when they broke their snow fall record at something like 170 that year (long enough ago that I wasn’t born yet and Canada hadn’t fully switched to metric!. But this is Virginia! We don’t do blizzards!). Kids will probably be in school until July – unless schools have to close for the heat because at this point it looks like it may be 127! It’s currently April and we’re already having highs in the 90s!

Now I don’t mean to be so picky. I know I complained about the cold in the winter and here I am already complaining about the heat (this may have something to do with the fact that our AC doesn’t seem to be working and after running all night last week it was still 75 downstairs (and warmer upstairs) – even though the outside temperature had dropped to the 50’s overnight! We didn’t open the windows because everyone’s allergies have been bothering them and we didn’t want all the pollen exposure all night.). It’s just that – well it would have been nice to have just A LITTLE touch of spring in there. You know – more than a weekend of it.

My Mom was here last week (coming back this weekend for another stopover) and when we were driving on Sunday, she noted that some convertibles had their tops down (it was probably in the low 80s). I said – well, it is convertible weather! Then she said what she always says on this topic – the problem with convertibles is in the summer it’s too hot to have the top down, so they have such a limited season. I tried suggesting that if you’re “moving” on a highway, you can have the top down in the summer and the breeze keeps it reasonable. (Keep in mind that on a trip to San Francisco in February or March several years ago, I was not above putting down the top in the freezing cold and just driving with the heat blasting because heck, the sun was out and it was a pretty day and I was sick of winter!) She said it would be too hot if stuck in traffic. But then again, she’s more the type to be worried about her hair getting blown (even with the windows down) and I’m more the type to have forgotten to dry/style/ maybe brush my hair this morning anyway (I wish I could blame this characteristic on the baby, but such a defamation would be a total lie.).

So I made the argument that convertibles work out well in DC because we have these longer shoulder seasons – a nice long spring and fall when you can use them. I can remember recent years where I was still wearing a sweatshirt in June (sadly at the beach) because it just wasn’t warming up here yet. (Note – this is still entirely a possibility here given DC weather. I mean – since it was 90 last week, it could be snowing next week. That would be followed by a monsoon and then a drought…) Anyway, I’d probably just about finished my argument on our long spring when God started laughing at me and it hit 90. And we discovered our AC problems (when you add this to the plumbing, electrical, bug and dry wall issues we’ve thus far had with the house, I am AGAIN praising God for the home warranty. It’s the only thing that keeps me from cursing the sellers…).

As a side note, I wrote this last week, but didn't get to publish. Following writing this, the temperature dropped again. Now it was beautiful in the day - highs in the 60's and 70's, but cold at night (lows in the 40's). This would generally be fine except that the AC problems seem to mean that our heat now won't work either! (When the repair guy came he explained something about leaks and issues and how they're linked and took the fuse... I don't know - I wasn't actually there for this discussion.) The point is the other morning it was 59 in my house (and 40 something outside).

I know, I know - I totally complained that it was 75 in my house the other day and wouldn't cool off and now I'm complaining about the cold. But SERIOUSLY!

Rather than continue to talk about the weather (how long have I been talkign about it now?! ;)), where do you stand on the convertible issue? Would you want one (ok, if you’re worried about kids – how about a Volvo convertible with roll bars?)? Or are you with my Mom that they have such limited use and/or you don’t want your hair blown? (Note – if by some miracle it’s the one day this month that I’ve actually bothered to do something with my hair, I probably want the top up too. But what are the chances of that?)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dating and the married mom, part III

In the first two parts, I talked about my crazy attempt to stalk every Mom I could find who looked like a match, but let’s now go with the more obvious approaches (because why START with the obvious ways to meet people? That’s just silly.) – Moms groups.

I mentioned I was a little scared of Moms’ groups because the only person I knew who was really into hers was… um, I think I’m going with “not my type” here. But I sucked it up and…

It turns out that Moms’ groups are cliquey. Or they FEEL cliquey, damn it! The first one I tried was at our church. Most of the other moms had been going a long time and the kids (and hence the activities) were directed at older kids. Those who had babies, also had a few older kids, so the baby was just being dragged along. I stood in the back and felt weird. It was “last kid picked” in gym class all over again. A few moms tried to reach out – they suggested maybe I’d prefer the women’s bible study in the evening. But here’s the thing – I wasn’t really joining because I was interested in religious fulfillment. I wanted a playgroup for my daughter and some moms I could get along with during that time! What I didn’t want was some event without her on one of the few nights my husband was home so that he was watching her and I was out feeling socially awkward trying to make friends (and trying to remember to watch my language around a church group!). Bible study in our VERY conservative diocese is just not me. (I’m pretty sure I said this before, but I’ll give my husband’s take again. This was on homeschooling, but the principle applies. His view was we can’t homeschool our daughter because she’d be a very opinionated young lady. She’d be the only kid in the conservative Catholic homeschool group going – I think women should be priests!)

After we moved I tried another moms group – this one for a play date. That was probably a bad place to start as all the other moms were really just looking to socialize with their friends. They tried to be friendly and welcoming, but truthfully, I felt like such an outsider. So I tried a meeting with another group. I arrived and who was the first person I saw…?

… That mom who had scared me away from moms’ groups in the first place! Oh God! She’d moved from her old place too and now lived out this way. Luckily, she’s self absorbed enough that she didn’t see me at first, but when they introduced the new people…

The sad thing was that even though they tried, this group started to feel “cliquey” enough that I went over to talk to her more. (How many pathetic points do I get for this?) The reality is that “cliquey” is probably not the right word. It’s just that I’m trying so hard to find things to connect on (other than JUST talking about kids) and so many of these women are already connected to each other in the group.

The other rough thing for me about this group was that I needed to leave the monkey with caregivers upstairs. I’m sure that they were all really nice and all that, but I didn’t know them. And we’d never done that. I had to gulp back my fears on that one and trust. Which is NOT my strong suit.

So, so far the moms’ groups have been a bit of a slow start… but it occurs to me that I’ll never actually FEEL like part of them until I bite the bullet and actually try BECOMING part of them (you know – joining!). I have one more group to try next week, but I think unless it’s awful I will join. And I’ll probably join the group with the crazy mommy too (they will be ending for the year in a couple of weeks, so it didn’t make sense to join this year).

Thank you so much for all your thoughts and advice! At Aging Mommy’s suggestion, I checked out what the library had to offer and it turns out that there are quite a few classes available. I’m also planning to sign the monkey up for swim classes (we’ll see if she’s a sea monkey!). I’ve told the hubby that he needs to come too – a thought that he is WAY less than thrilled with. But I’ve argued that he at least needs to be at the first one to hold the camera. We’ll see…

I guess my prompts on favorite ways to meet Moms are getting old, so… now that you’ve found groups, what are your favorite activities? How would you describe your groups in terms of the Breakfast Club (the princess, the jock, the loner, the criminal – tell me I’m not the only one, people!)? Or find a better 80’s movie reference to put in here (Baby Boom, anyone?)?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Good fences make good neighbors and ditto to you!

Now that the weather is finally getting nice, it’s occurred to us that we need to start doing something about our TOTAL MESS of a yard. Seriously, the couple who owned the house before us were older and really didn’t take care of any outdoor maintenance (the indoor maintenance is somewhat debatable too, but let’s not go there) and there’s a lot of really basic clean up to be done to just begin to be able to see what’s out there. Then we can get into the REALLY expensive stuff…

Thus far we are living with suburban dream… Finding babysitters so my husband can cut down trees (he got to play with a chainsaw – one he borrowed from his Dad. I was thinking, good, now we don’t have to buy one. He was thinking – oh, this just proves I need to buy a more powerful one) and I can rake leaves in that big patch to right that separates us from the neighbors. It’s like trying to rake the forest. (Now, it’s not that big, we’re in Northern VA suburbia – we feel like we have a fiefdom at half an acre. It’s just not been taken care of in YEARS so it’s totally overgrown and hasn’t been raked. It’s bad enough trying to pull out all the downed branches from this winter. I’m pulling out completely rotten branches from the past 5 (10?) winters.) I feel like Sisyphus doing this (you know, you never make progress – you start to think you’ve made progress and it turns out you have to start over), but it has to be done. No, really has to. One neighbor has been complaining to us about this since BEFORE we moved in.

We started a couple of weeks ago and filled 38 bags with leaves from the back. (note – it’s April, right? The leaves are not falling off the trees. This is just the crap that’s been there FOREVER. Also, that was just from the small part of the yard inside the fence. I'm not sure how much beyond the fence is ours. What I used to proudly think was "possibly the whole wooded area!", I now really friggin hope is just a little bit past the fence line...) I started on the front (this actually was raked once in the fall) and so far have 10 bags filled and I don’t know how many loads of branches to go to the dump. The progress here is slower as I haven’t had as much time to devote to it and truly, I’m a wimp. Hubby probably did 30 of the 38 bags (ok, 35). And he’s been in the back trying to cut up the trees that fell and dealing with the dead ones that will fall rather than muscling through this mess.

So Saturday, as we were coming up for air on this project, we ran into our neighbor (the other side this time) and my husband asked her if she had an arborist she’d used to take down trees in the past. She said that there were several who’d worked in the neighborhood, but then said – you’re not taking down LIVING trees are you. Cause you know you’re not allowed to do that? (Great, we live next door to a 1950’s sitcom neighbor.) My husband said (with more than a hint of impatience and sarcasm) – yes, I’ve read the HOA documents. I’m talking about dead trees here. She joked – don’t make me come after you / report you.

Now, my husband was a bit tired given hours of labor outside and a bit overwhelmed with the remaining task and really – just in no mood! So he said – Ditto! And pretty much ended the conversation there.

You could tell she was a bit taken aback – so shortly thereafter she called me over to mention that they had an old baby pool we could use for the munchkin any time we wanted. And she called over to tell us how nice we all looked when we were headed out that evening.

The thing is – it’s not that she really says anything so egregious at any point. She just tends to be so… hmm, forceful. No that’s not the word – really, I mean over the line – in the WAY she says things. (How’s that for me being a girl? It’s not WHAT you said. It’s the WAY you said it!) For instance, instead of saying – hey, let us know if you ever need to borrow a tool, as we may have something . Or even – hey, do you guys happen to have a [insert totally random tool that I have no idea what it does here], as we need one? Instead she said – we should get together sometime and make an inventory of our tools so we each know what the other has (for our master inventory). Umm… OK.

Basically, I just think she should do some Jeopardy training – you know, learn to phrase things in the form of a question.

We certainly don’t want neighbor issues (that’s a headache that’ll last YEARS if you start it), but sometimes it does feel that good fences make good neighbors. Despite our “fiefdom,” our neighbors sometimes do feel too close. Ironically, the neighbor on the other side who WANTS our trees down asked if she could have some removed when she’s having some done on her property. Maybe we should let the two of them negotiate…

How do you negotiate the neighbor minefield? What are the weirdest neighbor requests or comments you’ve gotten? And how the heck does one rake a forest (short of a blow torch, as my husband has suggested this a few times…)?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The world beyond me and things that scare me so much about being a parent

This post has been brewing a little while, but was inspired by the bloggess’s post today on Constance McMillan .

When I was in college, we had to read this book, Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. It’s her journal of her son’s first year (in a book! Because we didn’t have Mom blogs then. Can you imagine?). I’ve pulled a lot of inspiration from this book over the years and would highly recommend it (no, I’m not being paid to say this. I read/bought this book in 1996. If anyone would have considered paying me to say anything, I would have. Hell, it was college – I would have stood on a corner juggling it in a clown suit for money. That was not on the table). I haven’t read it again in a long time, but there’s one thing that stuck out to me at the time that’s been coming back recently.

Lamott’s pregnancy was not planned. She was not married and wasn’t sure how she could support a baby and was very conflicted. But it wasn’t just those issues, she also notes that part of what’s hard about having a baby is KNOWING that that child will one day have to be in the 7th grade. Because the 7th grade is awful. (You can replace junior high on the whole here and possibly high school, but I think you know where I’m going.)

For me personally, she hit it spot on – junior high was that low point. The point where your self esteem is so fragile and where I felt so unpopular and unloved. This was probably true before 7th grade as well (ok, not probably – definitely – I was unpopular!), but I think junior high is probably where you’re really starting to seek more affirmation outside yourself and your family (I don’t know – ask a shrink! I’m guessing.). Oh, was I ever unpopular then. Luckily, my school was discriminatory enough that even with less than 40 of us (we graduated 39 in 8th grade), there was a large unpopular clique(I guess I should say discriminating enough) – at least 6 or 7 girls (because boys and girls didn’t REALLY mix too much yet – a little. With the popular girls.), so we still had some strength in numbers. (There were really 3 groups among the 20 girls, so at 7 (wait – EIGHT – I forgot someone!), we were a full third of the class. Ironically, we weren’t even the smallest group.) Now, to be fair, maybe it would have been possible to transcend my nerd status – some girls did move groups (with difficulty), but I was shy enough to feel like I needed to be invited. I remember at one point, when one of my friends decided she didn’t want to be a nerd and wasn’t going to hang out with us anymore, I decided I could do the same. And I actually did (she never did). I stood on the outside of the popular circle on the playground for two weeks at lunchtime. And, to be fair, no one told me to get lost. They didn’t include me in their plans or really let me play their reindeer games, but they weren’t all that overtly mean. Not the girls anyway. I remember some mean boys. I can remember one day wearing my denim jacket and feeling super cool about it (it was a hand me down from my cousin – this wasn’t the sort of thing my parents were wont to indulge me in. Oh, and it was what? 1987? It was way cooler then – and probably replaced my purple Member’s Only jacket, so there!). I had a hard rock café pin stuck the lapel – to add to my coolness (again, dude, 1987! Really – it wasn’t that cliché yet). Two of the boys noticed the pin (and hadn’t heard of Hard Rock… yet!) and started saying how I wouldn’t know anything about rock (ok, that’s actually totally true… still…) and then said I smelled like shit (that one – not actually true).

Oh man, my inner child is still cringing. Cringing about boys who were stupid. Who knew nothing. Who I wouldn’t recognize if I saw them on the street tomorrow. Who are totally unimportant to my life today or anything about who I am (unless – I hope they’ve maybe made me a better person who learned not to say mean things about people for no reason – the hard way…).

But now I hear the stories that are happening to kids today and mine is absolutely – SO WHAT? Because that is NOTHING compared to what kids are doing to each other now. Maybe part of it is that I got lucky – I went to a girls’ high school where none of my classmates went (so none of my history followed me and honestly – girls are a lot nicer when boys aren’t around). Yes, there were groups and sure there were some mean girls mixed in – but really, there weren’t the same types of cliques. And though I may never have been the most popular girl in high school, I always had people to have lunch with. And I always felt like there were lots of friends around – both in school and through groups outside. And in the end, I haven’t thought about 7th grade in a long time.

But I started thinking about it again when I knew I was having a baby. Because the truth is – I think it’s always hard. Possibly, it always has been. But as I watch the news, it is SO MUCH harder now. I’ve seen these stories about YOUNG kids (11 and 15) committing suicide in Massachusetts due to the beyond excessive bullying. Bullying that schools seem to know about. Hell – there was that story about the girl who was bullied on myspace by her schoolmate’s Mom! I want to say where the hell are the parents? The administrators? But if you look at the Constance McMillan story, they are there – supporting or even instigating the harassment!

How on earth do I begin to protect my child from that?! And most importantly, how do I teach her how wrong it is? I feel like my choices start to become – raise the asshole who bullies the other kids or raise the kid who is bullied to the point of brutality. Because NO ONE is stepping up to stop this stuff. And the truth is – I HATE those choices. (And refuse to go with either one.)

But there is room for me to take heart. And it’s in my husband. My husband has long told me stories of how as a big kid (he’s 6’4 and a fire fighter now, so I think he was the better part of 6’ when he started high school), he didn’t put up with bullying (and he didn’t bully – possibly because his Mom would have kicked his little butt!). There was one time, in defending the small kids, he actually got in a fist fight with a kid a few years older – but much smaller (which the playground guard let happen – probably because he’d been wanting to kick that kid’s butt for awhile too). That kid didn't bully the smaller kids again.

He reminded me just yesterday of why this makes him a good parent. We were out for a walk last night and passed some kids (junior high age). One said something and the other responded –“Nobody cares. Nobody cares about you!” My inner 7th grader cringed again – wanted to go hug (but not in a weird way!) the one who’d been yelled at, but felt helpless. My husband’s inner 7th grader must have said, we don’t have to put up with bull (or maybe it’s just his inner parent)! He stopped and said – “That’s not nice! You shouldn’t say that to people.” As we walked away, we heard one of the kids saying – oh, you just got told!

It all made me realize that I can’t be a part of the “no one” stepping up (because wasn’t that what I did when I didn’t say anything there?). I need to start to be a voice – in all the little ways I can when I hear this stuff. It won’t change the world, but it CAN start to form my daughter into the person I want her to be. The person who does stand up! Who doesn’t go along with the terrible things that other kids may want to do! And, if she does wind up on the wrong end of bullying, a kid who realizes that bullying is WRONG. That it is NOT her fault and there are people to go to / people who will stand up for her and people who love her. Hopefully, she will know that this is true of us, as her parents, regardless. But I’m actually not talking about us here – I’m trying to say that by being an example, she can know that we are just that - ONE example – of lots of possible good in the world.

OK, I know this was long and not my usual style (and a second post today!). But I needed to say it today. Thank you for listening.

Totally weird, but it works…

I went to the dentist in January for my semi-annual (or maybe it’s ah, “semi” (as in sort of ) annual… Actually, just kidding! I was only a few months late this time) visit. We sat and the discussion of dental hygiene started and my answers got shorter and more muffled as went. Something like this:

Doc (ok, hygienist, but it’s shorter) – do you brush your teeth regularly?
Me – (sweet, an easy one) – oh yeah, twice a day with an electric toothbrush.
Doc – anything bothering you today?
Me – no, no issues (I’ve actually never had a cavity in 34 years. Last year there was a spot on my tooth that might have been a stain or might have been a pre-cavity and my hubby teased me (badly) that my “perfect record” would be broken. But still no – so, ha! To him… not you.)
Doc – do you floss?
Me – um… (shouldn’t I be gargling or something? Where’s something else to distract her? Dang..) Well, no… I really don’t. (head hung)
Doc – It’s hard with a little one at home to find time for things
Me – (Yeah, that’s why. The reasons I never did before must have been really good too! But if I had time, flossing would be so high on my list above getting my hair cut (it’d been at least 5 months then), shopping, reading, sleeping…you get the point)
Doc – you know, I was at a conference awhile ago and they had a really odd suggestion, but the more I thought about it, the better it sounded. You might like it.
Me – (don’t I always love things that are the odd suggestion? Great, I’ve been here 5 minutes and she pegged me as a nutjob already)
Doc – You could try flossing in the shower.
Me - ??? (This is the weirdest thing I’ve heard in…)
Doc – I mean, you’re in there anyway and with limited time as a new Mom, you might be happy for an extra few minutes soaking under the hot water.
Me – huh. Well, maybe…

She went on to explain how people who don’t have issues with cavities very often have issues with gingivitis and that might creep up soon (age wise) and how the plaque on your teeth is thought maybe to be linked to the plaque (am I spelling this right?) in your heart, so it could contribute to heart disease.

And those were all compelling and scary arguments. But did those convince me? Nope, not even a little. But three more minutes in the shower in the morning. I am a convert! I’ve been flossing very regularly. Not every day – some days there are urgent calls to move quickly out of the shower. Some days it’s technically possible that maybe I (ahem) don’t shower. But probably 5 times a week and it turns out – yeah, it actually doesn’t take all that long (when I could stand under hot water longer if it did, I can say it’s fast!) and isn’t that hard.

Who’d have thunk it?

Does anyone else have any weird or random tips that have gotten them to put on their big girl pants and do the things you know you should, but just never do?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dating and the married mom, part II

When last we left me, I had done the “pick up line” meeting of moms with somewhat limited success (only one response – but from a really nice woman!).

But before jumping into my Mom version of 8 minute dating – why am I calling all this dating? My inspiration came from a friend of mine, who, as it happens, is single and doesn’t have kids. She said to me awhile ago that female adult friendships feel like trying to ask out the cute guy in high school. They feel a little like a minefield and seem harder than regular dating. She was talking about a neighbor who joked that she’d made a coffee date with this woman she’d recently met and was considering whether to take that further to a dinner date – after she saw how it went. Seriously, though, I totally got what she meant. If you’re single and meet a guy (I’m not saying that’s always easy!) and hit it off, you exchange numbers and often this will be followed up with conversations / actual meetings / etc. It may not become a relationship – you may just be friends. But it seems like there’s a pathway to follow. When you want to make new female friendships, the pathway seems so much more obscured. We’ve hung out at a party, we’ve hit it off – how do I ask for her number? It seems the only way that info is exchanged is if there’s something specific you’ve both mentioned an interest (hey, can you send me the info on where you ordered that [thing that is more complex than clothes because couldn’t you just tell me that now]? Or hey, I’ll find out about that event you mentioned and send you stuff.). It’s really hard to just say – hey, you’re a cool person. I’ve enjoyed talking to you. Maybe we could hang out again sometime. Is it just hard for me?

I don’t know – it’s somehow not in our path. I mean, it’s sometimes awkward in dating situations too, but … I don’t know, I kind of feel like we know where it’s going. If I’ve been talking to a guy at a party all evening – the number exchange is obvious. Society is set up around dating (or the dating concept). OK, the more I say – the more this may just be me. But it still feels like – other moms have their own set up already and may not “need” the friendship the way I do. So it feels awkward to me. As the desperate one.

Anyway, I’ve highlighted my social awkwardness too long. Let’s move on to coworkers. This one works about the same as my church stalking did. There were those women I used to always see in the bathroom at the same time when I was pregnant (because wasn’t I always in the bathroom?!) – we’d chat. How far along are you? What are you having? I was due a few months before my most frequent bathroom buddy (a woman having twins due 3 months after my daughter), so she was out when I came back from maternity leave, but I caught up with her when she came back.

I started with a few casual questions about her kids. Oh, send pictures! Where do you – get their photos done / take them to the doctor / etc.? How was your delivery? And then one day said – you know, we’re always so truncated in these conversations, we should have lunch some time.

So we did. And it was fun. But then… that was that. And the truth is – I don’t really want a weekday lunch buddy. I don’t want to go out too often (for money and calories) and we’ve been really lucky in our recent move that I live extremely close to my office now – so close that I can, in fact, go home and see my little munchkin at lunchtime. And she’s hard to compete with!

Attempt 2 – mostly a bust. A nice person who I really enjoyed having lunch with, but it was unlikely our schedules would ever synch up for ongoing friendships.

Another attempt has been the neighborhood. In our condo, I’d take the dog for walks with the baby in bjorn as often as I could. And one day I saw another mom with twin girls just a few weeks older than my daughter. She and her husband each had a baby in a bjorn and a friend was walking their (very big!) dog. She mentioned that she’d seen me pass her place several times and always wanted to say hi, so we’d get together but always seemed to have AT LEAST one hand full. Well perfect! Someone right in the neighborhood! We didn’t have pens/paper, but we pointed out (generally) where we lived and she promised she’d at least yell out next time she saw me passing.

The dog got more exercise than he had in months! I was a dog walking demon. Stalking the area where I knew her place was every day (it’s a wonder they didn’t take out a restraining order). But nada. Was it because I was the crazy lady who stood outside their door every day (ok, really, I didn’t. I just walked by most days – which I’d pretty much been doing before. Sort of.)? Or had she just found other friends?

Desperation gets 2 points here and dignity a -7.

I’ve had a little more luck in our new neighborhood – sort of. One neighbor with 2 little girls a little older than mine (and a son in school) did pass on her contact info – but then didn’t respond to my email. I’m still debating how far into deficit I should go on dignity points to email her again.

Hmm… well, it looks like I’ll need a part 3 for community events and the mom’s groups 8 minute dating (my peak into mom cliques).

So I guess I’ll leave the prompt as what are your mom dating recommendations and the funniest / most desperate things you did in an attempt to meet other moms? Hopefully my last post will consolidate the list… but I probably shouldn’t make promises!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday Minute: Five Questions

I saw this prompt over at Momma Fargo and thought it was a fun one to do today

Monday Minute

What's wrong with fake breasts?

OK, this wasn't my favorite of the questions, but why not? There's nothing wrong with them if they look reasonable good / natural and are not over the top on size (hello, Barbie, I think you're going to topple over...). That is - there's nothing wrong with them for OTHER people. Personally, I'd look like an idiot. It's not just that my frame isn't meant for "greatness" here - it's that I can't do 'fake' or any real fashion risk without looking like a complete tool - like a kid who tried dressing up in her Mom's clothes.

List your latest run-in with the Carnival of Idiocy.

OK, latest and greatest of today... We bought a house last year, so I was trying to get some liquid funds together for a down payment and therefore sold some stocks that my parents or possible grandparents got me YEARS ago. One check came made out to my Dad as my "custodian." I couldn't cash it (he passed away several years ago), so contacted the company to reissue it. It'd been about a month of jumping through hoops, getting papers signed, etc. and I still hadn't seen anything last week, so I called. After a bunch more hoops, they confirmed that they would reissue it and could send it to our new address. I came this weekend - they got the address right which was nice, but... it was STILL made out to my Dad. Let the phone games begin this morning...

Name one thing you'd like to tell your ten year ago self.

Mostly - don't sweat it. You'll be fine.

What's your favorite word that's not in the dictionary?

Favoritest. This is most often used when describing ice cream - as in, chocolate chocolate chip is my favorite flavor (or most favoritest).

Why do fools fall in love?

We can't NOT fall in love. For the true fool, we fall in love LOTS with lots of things and people and the world - and are happier for it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Speaking from the Crib - guest post

Sorry for the late notice on this! But if you're looking for me today, I am visiting (guest blogging) at Kelly's blog -

Stop by to see me there - and check out Kelly's site while you're over there! She's a very funny blogger with some great posts!