Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Awww, Jeez!

Thanks for hanging in there, Dear Reader. Back to the mommy madness... or, in my case, the mommy monotony. Before I go on I'd like to quote a Michael Buble song that sums up my mood today:

"It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life for me
And I'm feelin' good"

Yeah, I listen to Michael Buble. You wanna make something of it?

Hee, hee.

For the record, I know that was a Nina Simone song first. I love Nina Simone. I love her so much I named my cat Nina Simone.

(The cat has not lived up to the name.)

I just can't get over the memory of the HBO promo for Six Feet Under, where the cast is walking around a grocery store lip-syncing to that song. There's something about the dead father in the frozen vegetable case that gives me the willies. I do like the Nina Simone version of the song better than the Michael Buble version, but nothing Nina sings sounds happy. She could sing "The Hokey Pokey" and still make you feel like you wanted to put your head in the oven.


The Chicky Family is in that glorious stage of babyhood between Needy, Helpless Infant and Insufferable Toddler. The stage where every sound that comes out of the Child's mouth (even the burps) is met with oooh's and aww's. I know this stage doesn't last long so I treasure every happy and relatively quiet moment I have with the Child. My friend, K., is not so lucky. She has a 20 month old daughter who lives up to the (usually incorrect) reputation of red-haired children's temperaments. I have to share a story with you that she told me recently. You can file this under "Your children will embarrass you more than you ever thought possible."

Last week K., her husband and their daughter attended church. Usually, the Girl - we'll call her A. - stays in KinderCare while service is going on. But last week there was some sort of family vote that required all members of the family to be in the sanctuary.

(I think its called the Sanctuary. The Protestant terminology is still fuzzy to me since I was raised Catholic.)

Considering the amount of people in there, its pretty quiet. So there's my friends and their 20 month-old daughter, who has a very impressive vocabulary. They're sitting in a pew next to the Pastor's wife. Did I mention its very quiet in the Church? And then, in her loudest voice, A. says...

"Awww, Jeez! I got bad gas. I pooped!"

I didn't get a chance to ask her what the congregation did after that outburst because I was too busy trying not to fall over with laughter. But then the realization that this was soon going to be my life sobered me up real quick. I'm convinced that this is why parent's of teenagers have no problem embarrassing their children. They're making up for years of moments just like this.

Awww, Jeez... what the hell is in store for me?!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Day 6 - The End

This is the last post that I'm going to write about my Mom's passing. Two years ago today she stopped fighting the horrible disease that had taken over her body and her life - Colon Cancer - and though I don't know where she went because I'm not sure if I believe in an afterlife or heaven, I'd like to think she went to a better place where the sun was always shining, it's always warm, and there's always good music to dance to. Oh, and the Red Sox won the World Series every year.

Instead of telling you about the day she died - because it's really no one else's business besides my family's - I'd rather tell you about some of the better and more humorous things that happened in the following days.

Yes, there were good moments too.

For instance, Mom was so loved and admired that hundreds of people showed up for her wake and funeral. Thankfully it was an unseasonably warm weekend, because people were lined up down the street waiting to get into the funeral home so they could say their last goodbyes and share with us their favorite stories about her. And we had to rent a hall to have the after-funeral lunch so everyone who wanted to attend could. We were touched by the outpouring of love and support.

The most awkward moment came when my ex-husband (yep, I was married before. Another story for another day) showed up at the wake. This was the first time my ex had met the Hubby. There are really no words for how awkward this was, so I'm just going to move along.

My whole family was together a few times that weekend. All of my uncles and aunts and cousins. We looked at old pictures at my Gram's house, we told old stories and we got to know each other again. It wasn't the best reason to have a family reunion, but it was wonderful to see everyone.

And Bill, the love of Mom's life, gave a beautiful speech at her funeral. I don't know how he did it, but he did. For years Bill (a Yankees fan) and Mom (a Red Sox fan) had placed bets with each other over every Yankees-Red Sox meeting. Its amazing the two could live with each other with a rivalry like that (you have to live in New York or New England to truly understand). But during his speech he said that that year, because of my Mom, the Red Sox were finally going to win the World Series and he would be happy about it. And you know what? They did.

God damn, the Red Sox won the f*cking World Series that year.

I can't decide if Mom would be ticked off that she missed it or amused over the irony of it.


Now that its over, I'm glad I wrote this series of posts. It was emotionally draining but spreading it out over a few days took the pressure off of this one day.

On a personal note - my Mom would have made a fantastic Grandmother and not one day goes by that I don't curse the fact that my daughter will never have the chance to really know how wonderful she was. I tell Julia stories of her Grandmother often and there's a picture of Mom in her room.

She was only 51 when she died. She was young and beautiful and loved by many. Its not fair that she was taken from us so soon, but it made me realize that every day you have on this earth must be cherished. Everyday you should tell the one's you love how much they mean to you. And never miss an opportunity to dance.

I love you, Mom, and I miss you.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Day 5 - Stage of Grief

Writer's Note: Read Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4. I promise, I'm almost done with this.


Mom is noticeably worse today so the Nurse has counseled my Sister and I to limit all visitors and only allow those who are the closest to her in the house. That's still a lot of people. Mom's best friends, very graciously, told us they would stay away to allow her to rest. But its still amazing to me the number of random people who call who want to come to the house and say goodbye. People Mom hasn't seen or talked to in years. Where were they weeks, months, years before? Where were they during the Chemo, the Relapses, the countless Doctor's visits?

We all talk in hushed tones - not that Mom can really hear us anyway - and we're all living on Dunkin' Donuts coffee. The Box 'O Joe is a fixture on the kitchen counter. Mom had stopped eating and drinking entirely the day before. She won't touch any of the chocolate milkshakes that have piled up in the refrigerator and they're her favorite. We have to keep her mouth and lips moist with wet swabs and she fusses like a toddler when I put one in her mouth.

The Nurse left a pamphlet on "The Stages of Grief" and I can't bring myself to read it. Screw your Stages of Grief. The sight of the small, blue pamphlet makes me want to throw something. Something a lot harder than a paper pamphlet. It taunts me from the dining room hutch all day. That night I take it to bed with me and read it.

Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
Anger (why is this happening to me?)
Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
Depression (I don't care anymore)
Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)

I have deep feelings of resentment towards this stupid pamphlet. Why isn't that on the list?

I'm so tired. I didn't want to go to bed but there was no room for me to snooze in the living room where Mom is. My Sister had claimed the couch and Bill - who wasn't going anywhere - really needed the comfortable chair. There isn't even much floor room to lie down. I told them to come get me so I could give them a break when they needed one.

I slept without dreaming.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Day 4 - Last Rites

Writer's Note: Read Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 to catch up.
On a personal note, there's something to be said for keeping everything bottled up. I don't think I would ever do something like this again. It's starting to wear me down.


I spent the previous night in my childhood room and I have decided if I ever have a little girl someday I will never buy her a day bed to sleep on. It was uncomfortable as hell.

Work is a distant memory. After calling my boss the day before to let him know I wasn't going to be back for a while I wiped my hands of all other responsibility and got down to the business of full-time nurse and gate keeper to Mom. The people keep coming, and if they don't show up unannounced they call to get updates, so between answering the door and answering the phone I feel like I never get a chance to sit down. Its just as well. Constant activity is going to get me through this. The few times I do get to sit quietly I'm usually paying my Mom's bills and settling affairs with her lawyer.

Its strange how mundane tasks can keep your mind off of what's really happening. I can get so caught up in greeting guests, paying bills, and tidying the house that I can almost lose myself in the monotony. Until the Priest comes to give Last Rites, then it all comes crashing back. Mom, somehow, gathered up what little strength she had to concentrate on what the Priest was saying. She was always a devout Catholic, working for almost two decades as the secretary for the Catholic elementary school that my sister and I attended. Even after all of the scandals that the Church was involved in - the one she belonged to included - she still maintained her Faith. I always admired that.

The Priest leaves and Mom, although exhausted, looks happy and peaceful. This is the last time we'll see any real emotion from her.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Day 3 - The Kit and the "Millionaire"

Writer's Note: If you'd like to know what the hell is going on read Day One and Day Two.


Though I started the day at work I didn't stay there very long. I got a call from my sister telling me that I should come home as soon as possible, so I finished up a bunch of stuff as quickly as I could and high-tailed it out of there.

At home we were told by the Nurse that my Mom was not going to hang on for as long as she had initially thought and the end was coming fast. Like in a matter of days. What the hell happened to weeks, almost a month? After 7 years of fighting, it seems Mom has decided that enough is enough.

The Nurse gives us the "kit" before she leaves. In this plain, cardboard box was all the medication my Mom needed to keep her as comfortable as possible in her last days. In other words, lots of morphine. The task of administering it to her was left to us. I don't remember ever taking pre-med courses, but apparently it didn't matter in this situation. We were now completely responsible for all of my Mom's medications. Bill took on the task of calling a priest to come to the house to give Mom last rites, while my Sister and I set about trying to figure out which medication to give at what time. I've never felt so under-qualified in all my life.

People are coming and going. Too many people. I don't know if I should stop them from coming, since Mom still seems to enjoy them being there. But they tire her out. I'm now responsible for my Mom's well-being. The irony of the switch in the Mother-Daughter role is not lost on me.

The television is constantly on, tuned to the Game Show Network. She loves that channel. If I have to watch "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" one more time I'm going to scream. Mom zones out to the television while people are there visiting. Nobody seems to mind. It fills the silence.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

So you won't want to slit your wrists...

Yeah, I know the last two posts (and the next 5) have been a little - what's the word I'm looking for? Depressing as bloody hell. Sorry about that. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Blogging is cheaper than Therapy. So I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate you sticking in there with me, Dear Reader. I really, really, Reeeally appreciate it. I know that you try to escape your daily lives by reading other people's blogs. I do too, lots of them.

One might say too many.

Anyway, back to my point. I know that by reading my recent posts you may feel like throwing yourself off the roof of the nearest Toys 'R Us, so I wanted to throw you a bit of good news...

First of all I have Pink Eye in both eyes. Yeah, that's not good. But it is funny to see people's reaction when they see my face and then try to avoid me like the plague. Of course they try to act nonchalant about it which makes it even more obvious. Its even funnier to see employees at drive-thrus try to take my money with two finger tips (like whatever I'm handing them is going to immediately infect them) and then practically throw my food and drink at me to get me the hell out of there as quickly as possible. High Comedy. I won't even need anything but yet I'm compelled to pull up to a Dunkin' Donuts just to go through the Drive Thru.

Is that evil of me?

Second, for my doggie lovin' friends... Fisher, my sweet yellow lab finally got his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) award the other night. He passed it so easily it was almost embarrassing, if I hadn't been so proud. The damn dog is almost 4 years old but I haven't gotten of my ass to do this with him until now. Have you heard the saying "Doctor, heal thyself" or "Plumbers have the worst pipes"? Well, never judge a dog trainer by their dog. We're usually too busy helping everyone else with their dogs to help our own.

There you go - two things that don't have to do with death.

I feel better. How 'bout you?

Day 2 - Hospice

Writer's note: For the next week I will be writing about the days leading up to my Mother's death as a way to help myself through this difficult time - the 2nd anniversary of her passing. Sometimes I switch between present and past tense, so, my apologies to you, Dear Reader. I've decided that grammar and punctuation can suffer in this instance.
You can read Day One here.


Since my sister is taking some time off to look after Mom - its good to have your own business - I've decided to go to work today and take some time mid-day to run home, check in, and then drive back to finish the work day and teach my evening classes. Its not a perfect plan, but being unsure about how long we have with her I think it might be better to work as long as I can, until its absolutely necessary to take an extended leave of absence. I desperately want to spend each day with her and my sister, but the reality is I need this job and can't afford to lose it. I know Mom understands. Even through all her pain she worked up until a month ago herself.

12:30pm - I hop in my car and make the almost hour long drive back home to see Mom. When I arrive I see that a hospital bed has been set up in her living room. During phone calls with my sister that morning it was decided, with the counsel of the visiting nurse, that Hospice was necessary. In this case "Hospice" means that the end is very near and we need to set things up for my Mom to make her the most comfortable in her remaining days. The nurse seems to think Mom has 2 weeks left, at the most a month. Thankfully, with the Nurse's help, we can keep Mom at home. This is one small blessing.

3pm - I have to leave to return to work. This kills me. I think I'll have to tell my boss that by the end of the week I'll be taking some vacation time. Mom and I have just had "the talk". I hated to do it but I had to find out what her wishes were for her funeral and burial. Her mother, my Grandmother, had offered us a space in her family plot and since my Mom and Dad are divorced, this seems like the best plan. She'll be with two of her brothers and her Mom and Step-Dad. My Sister and I like the idea of her being with family and Mom likes the idea too. But I really think she doesn't want to burden us with more decisions and financial responsibility.

As I leave to go, in a moment of total clarity (which also seems to be her last, in hindsight), my Mom holds my face in one hand and smiles at me for what seems like eternity. She doesn't say anything, she just smiles at me. I have to break the gaze because I start to cry and I need to be strong through this, I need to be strong for her and strong for my Sister. The memory of her look and the feel of her hand on my cheek, sure and strong, linger long after I have left. I remember it still.

The rest of the day passes in a blur. It really is amazing what you can accomplish when you're running on auto-pilot. I have multiple phone conversations throughout the rest of the day with my Sister, my Aunts, my Grandmother, Mom's Boyfriend Bill, the Nurse. Conversations about Morphine and other Medications. Mom won't eat, she'll only drink chocolate milkshakes. Who can blame her? There have been many visitors since I've left - my Mom was one of 11 children - family and friends, more people than she can really handle but she greets them all with a smile before drifting off to that semi-conscious place. I feel better that she's with people and I vow to spend more time with her tomorrow.

Sleep does not come easily. The Hubby holds me while I cry.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Build-Up - Day 1

The second anniversary of my Mom's death is coming up in a few days. Why am I telling you this, Dear Reader? I need to get it out there so it doesn't stew inside of me and then erupt when the day comes. Last year I did that. I thought about it and thought about it and put so much emphasis on that day that when it finally came it was both a pinnacle of grief and a huge letdown. I know that doesn't make much sense so let me explain.

I'm not the type of person who cries much. It takes a lot to make me shed a tear. With that said, I loved my Mom tremendously and I cried like a baby before, during, and after her passing. And I don't really have to tell you that I cried on the first anniversary - what kind of person would that make me if I didn't - but I didn't expect that I was going to cry so much. I hadn't had a good crying jag for a few months. Then that day came and, wham, tears upon tears. I cried so much I was exhausted, just drained physically and emotionally.

On the other hand, it was just a day. Sure, it had been exactly one year since I said goodbye to my Mom, but it was 365 days later (actually 366 because it was a leap year the year before). So what? Day 1 was horrible. Day 47 was horrible. Day 118 was a bit better. Day 263 was better still. Day 364 was okay. Then Day 365 (366) comes and its just like Day 1 all over again. Why? I didn't need a reason to mourn her all over. When it was all over it was like Day 364 again, not great but okay. I'm probably not making myself clear, but its hard to explain the feeling unless you've been there. And I hope you haven't and you won't have to for a long time.

To help myself come to terms with things so when The Day comes I won't freak out, I'm going to purge myself here. I'm going to talk about what I was doing two years ago on this day, sort of a countdown.

I should preface this by telling you that my Mom died of metastisized Colon Cancer. It had spread first through her intestines, her reproductive organs, then to her lungs and, finally, to her liver. In the final days it had probably gone much farther, though we (her family) don't know for sure. She was first diagnosed in 1997 at the age of 44. She was misdiagnosed multiple times before her doctors found out for sure what it was because she was well below the age when they start testing for Colon Cancer. She fought for a long time. Far longer than anyone would have thought.

Here goes nothing.



I spent the weekend driving back and forth to Mom's house to spend time with her. Her last, very aggressive treatment had affected her mind. She would fade in and out of consciousness for long periods of time, but she was awake the whole time. I would be talking to her, thinking she was with me, then I would look at her and realize she hadn't heard a thing I said. She was confused and slightly delusional. There are no words to describe how hard it is for a child to see her mother like that. Since she he was tired and agitated at me being there I didn't stay long. I called later that night to talk to Bill, her boyfriend, about her decline. Apparently she slept, fitfully, after I left and had been asleep, off and on, since. He sounded completely defeated and not really up for having a big discussion so I cut it short. I had paperwork to take care of anyway. We knew the end was coming soon so I was given power of attorney over her finances and property.
Its hard to think about finances when you know your Mom is going to die soon.

Poor pookie wookie is sicky wicky - suck it up

Four days is too long to spend with anyone in the same house while you're both sick. Four days is an interminable span of time when that other person is the man you have pledged your life and never-ending love to.

Everyone in the Chicky Household was sick this weekend. (It could have something to do with this.) Even the Hubby, who is never sick, ever, was suffering. He's a fantastic carrier of germs, but those same germs never seem to affect him. Until last Friday when he started to feel ill and I knew we were all in trouble. The Child and I came down with mild colds - "mild" being a relative term since each time I get a cold I'm down for the count for at least 5 days and Julia has been sick off and on all winter - and we're pretty much over them. But the Hubby? He should have known all that sickness was going to catch up with him eventually. The lyrics from "Instant Karma" have never been so apropos...

"Instant Karma's gonna get you, Gonna knock you right on the head..."

(I have known him for 7 years and he hasn't been genuinely sick in all those years, so maybe the word "instant" doesn't really apply. But the karma part is spot on.)

Men should not be allowed to get sick. They just can't handle it. They especially should not be able to get sick when they have access to WebMD. He apparently has Strep Throat, Mono, and Polio.

Okay, I made one of those up. You guess which one.

He really is sick so I don't want to pick on him too much. He could have been a much bigger baby about the whole ordeal, but he wasn't and I appreciate that. One needy baby at a time is enough. By the end of four sick days together, however, I didn't care if his leg was falling off he needed to leave the house.

"You better get yourself together, Pretty soon you're gonna be dead"

He went back to work today, leaving a trail of used tissues in his wake. And I don't even care that he left his mess for me to clean up at least he's not here making more.

I really do hope he will get better soon - or have a substantial reason for being sick, like leprosy - because he's my Superman. He's lifts really heavy objects and rubs my shoulders when I ache. Its a little disconcerting to see him hurting.

But not so much that I want him to stay home from work for another day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Channeling my inner Gypsy

After reading Christina's meme at A Mommy Story about her 80's alter-ego (which she got from Motherhood Uncensored - funny stuff) I was inspired to post my own. I am, after all, a FREAK for the 80's.

Or, more to the point, a freak from the 80's.

Anyhoo. I desperately wanted to be this woman with all of my permed hair-lovin' soul. I wanted the hair, the clothes, the drama. I wanted to sing songs like "Rhiannon" for a living, instead of just in the shower. I tried and I failed. Miserably.

Oh God, she is sooo cool. I still want to be her. Maybe I'll start a movement to bring chiffon, velvet capes and platform boots back into style.

It could happen.

Desperate Measures

We've been experiencing some chilly temperatures up here in the northeast for the past few days so the Hubby, the Child, and I have been hunkered down in the Chicky Household, waiting for spring. Or for 40 degrees, whichever comes first.

This would all be fine and good except for a few minor problems. We can't have a fire in the fireplace - because we like our Child having skin on her hands, thank you very much - and the cold is creeping into our home because it was built in that dark, construction era, called the 80's. The previous owners of our house cut so many corners while they were building it. The windows are not really insulated. You can see gaps between the front door and the door frame. They removed some baseboard heaters so they could make room for their entertainment center. We're trying to fix a lot of these problems, but the more we fix the more we find needs to be completely overhauled.

And, no, we didn't notice these things when we were buying it. These are not the things you look for when you're a new couple looking for your first home together. Square footage, garage space, room for the big screen TV. These are the things you're looking for. Quality construction? Not so much.

So what's a parent to do? Besides cranking up the heat - because apparently we have so much money coming out of our asses that we need to throw it at the oil company - to keep the Child from turning into a babe-sicle this is what we've had to resort to...

I need to put winter clothes on my baby to feed her breakfast. They should revoke my Mommy membership card.

Monday, February 20, 2006


The Hubby and I were watching PBS this morning with the Child(Could have been afternoon. Its a holiday so the whole day is a blur) . I love most of the PBS for Children programs like "Sesame Street" and "Its a Big, Big World" (a stoner Giant Sloth - Ha!). Having grown up on PBS as a kid I am 100% behind their programming. One program does trouble me, however. Boobah. What the hell is this? We sat there, slack-jawed, watching the brightly colored "Boobahs" dance their little Boobah dance - side, side, across. side, side, up. side, side, across. side, side, up.

(I'm sorry, but to me they look a bit like un-circumcised penises. I know its wrong to think that way, but at least I'm not accusing them of being gay.)

I can handle Teletubies, but I cannot handle this show. The problem: the Child loves it. Loves with a capital L-O-V-E. There is much pointing and smiling on her part when its on while I grimace in pain. Hell, thy name is Boobah.

So if she's going to continue to watch this show - and being the informed parent that I like to think I am - I went to the PBS for Kids website to find out what all the fuss is about. Apparently there is much thought behind this show. Who knew? On the Boobah parents and teachers page they've outlined, quite nicely in fact, the philosophy and the secret of learning with Boobah. I'm sorry I ever doubted PBS. They wouldn't put anything on their channel that wasn't in my child's best interest. I haven't gone through all of the links just yet, but I plan on it. If I'm going to let my kid watch television, especially television that makes me want to gouge my eyes out, I'd like to know what she should be getting out of it. Except the Today show, she can smile at Al Roker all she wants as long as I get my fix of fluffy, morning news.

And, please, if you have a problem with my kid watching television keep it to yourself. But if you, like me, let the television occasionally babysit so you can us the bathroom by yourself, feel free to share!

Its not like I let her watch "Lost".


Sunday, February 19, 2006


I loved this post over at BloggingBaby. Since the Child was born it feels like I live at Target. I'm drawn to it like a crawling baby to a sharp object. I'm almost ashamed to say this but I'm compelled to go there about once a week. I make up reasons to spend what little money I make on things that I've convinced myself I need. The first outing that I made with my girl, 10 days after having her, was to Target. The Hubby and I packed up our new little bundle of (colic-y) joy and off we went to buy baby wipes and Diaper Genie refills. We didn't really need any but I needed an excuse to get out of the house. After that first successful outing I was hooked.

Like that first visit even if I don't really need anything I'll make up an excuse to go just because I like walking around that store. And its a hell of a lot better than staying home alone with a needy infant. There I see other women who, like me, are toting small babies in their red carriages. We smile and nod at each other and sometimes strike up short conversations. We secretly size each other up (c'mon, you know you do it too): our wardrobes, if the other one has done anything more than run a brush through her hair and swiped on some lip-balm, what's in each other's cart. Its more of an affirmation than a competition. I don't care if the woman I'm in the Baby Food aisle with is wearing sweatpants that look like they belong to her husband. Because, chances are, I was out shopping the week before in a very similar outfit. It feels great to find other women, like me, who need that excuse to leave the monotony of their daily routine and find solace in racks of Isaac Mizrahi clothes, the shelves of Pampers, and the pull of cheap books that will never be read.

For months the need for my weekly Target excursion was my dirty, little secret... until it got brought up by another woman at the Mother's Group that I attend that she, too, spent a lot of time there. Soon every woman in the room was fessing up to bringing their kids to the yuppie Mecca of Discount Stores. These mothers went there when their babies wouldn't nap, or in those desperate hours before their Husbands came home from work. It wasn't to get anything they needed, it was for their sanity. How happy I was that I didn't have to hide in shame anymore. It was like attending an AA meeting, except we weren't giving up our addiction. We were celebrating it.

Are you a Target lover?

Friday, February 17, 2006

10 Months

You're 10 months today, Kid. A big day, you've reached double digits. Pretty soon you'll be paying some guy named Louie to make you a kick-ass fake ID so you can hit the bars with the rest of your diaper posse.

You've made some big strides in your development this past month. Not the least of them is your ability to play pat-a-cake, which thrills your Great Nana to no end. Peek-a-Boo is exciting beyond words. I love teaching you to do new things. Its like having a new little puppy to train. I taught you a new one the other day... You'll now throw your hands over your head when I ask "How big is Julia?" and wait for me to say "So Big!".

And you are getting big. You are a long, lean, diaper wetting machine. The problem is your pants are constantly half-way down your butt because if I buy you clothes that fit your height they'll be too big for your tiny tummy. The fact that you've decided that you'll only eat 6 or 7 different foods on a regular basis might have something to do with your shrinking belly. You will now eat yogurt (pretty much any kind), bagels (actually, starches of any kind except pasta), cheese, bananas, cereal, apples and pineapple (on a good day), Gerber Puffs, and of course Cheerios. Some days I can trick you into eating yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash. Green vegetables are out of the question but yet I keep trying and your keep throwing them back at me. You love going out to breakfast with Mama and Dada because you get pancakes or waffles. And the adoration of the waitstaff.

After much trying you will now drink an ounce or two from a sippy cup before throwing it on the floor and demanding your bottle. You love your bottle time when we snuggle together on the couch. I think you might sense that I'm half-heartedly trying to wean you. Even though you can now hold your bottle and feed yourself from it on your own you still prefer me to feed you. But the weaning is going to happen. You're getting more teeth and I'm tired of being used as a chew toy.

You've learned how to push buttons, so now the remote control, my laptop, the television, and my patience have to be put out of your reach or carefully guarded. And, honey, please stop trying to poke the dogs in the eye. They've been so patient with you, let's not push it. Okay?

You're starting to grasp the concept of language. All of that baby sign language that I've been trying to teach you is starting to pay off. You know the signs for "milk", "eat", and "all done". You know what I mean when I say "Would you like some lunch?" or "Do you want to take a nap?" When you don't know what something is you gesture in its direction and say "Dat?" and when I tell you that its, say, a ball or a mitten you smile and say "Dada". Everything is "Dada". Except when you're hungry or tired or you fell and bumped your head, and then its "Mummummummum." That kills me every time.

I'm amazed at how far you've come in a few short weeks. You're growing up so fast. You're getting to be a little person with thoughts and opinions. But you'll always be my itty, bitty babe.

I love you, my Bahbahloo.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

2 days, 15 hours, 38 minutes...

...until Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training!

Its not just about baseball, people. Okay, a lot of my excitement about this has to do with baseball, but it also means that spring is coming. And in New England that is a very good thing indeed.

Pitchers and Catchers in two days!! Hee, hee.

I'm giddy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Responsible Dog Show Viewing

As I write this there are hundreds of dogs being appraised for their various attributes at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in NYC. I am just enough of a dog geek to really enjoy watching this spectacle on television. I love dog shows so much that I even watched one while at the hospital before I delivered the Child. The nurse had to turn off the television so I could start pushing. I think that was the only time that I willingly stopped watching a dog show.

But I have good reasons. I'm especially interested in watching the sporting group due to the fact that I own Labradors but I do try to watch pieces of all of the groups. I find that it helps me reach a better appreciation for the dogs (and their owners) who sign up for my classes. It does amaze me, however, that more and more non-dog people, those who are casual dog lovers and subsequently have no desire to train, breed, groom or show dogs, devote their precious evening hours for these two days to watch this popular dog show along with all the die hard dog "snobs", as I like to affectionately call them.

The thing that I fear the most about this shift in popular culture is the belief that those casual dog lovers that I just mentioned are watching this as they would watch the Home Shopping Network. The dogs who attend the WKC show are the best of the best, the most beautiful, and beautifully bred and trained. I imagine that its hard to resist those cute faces. And if you're even thinking of buying a dog to add to your family what better showcase than this dog show? But a dog is much more than the two or three sentence description that you hear from the disembodied voice on your television. A dog is much more than the pretty face and the elegant (or not, depending on the breed) gait that you see.

Every year it seems that the dog who won that year's Best In Show spikes in popularity. I don't have facts and figures to back this up, unfortunately. This is just my opinion based on observation. Last year's winner, for example, was a gorgeous German Shorthaired Pointer who, after winning, was paraded about Manhattan to various morning television shows where she stood dutifully with her handler. This dog was so well behaved that I just knew that I would be seeing a lot of GS Pointer puppies in my upcoming classes. Try as they might, the WKC does a fair job of letting prospective dog owners know what they're getting into when they buy one of these dog's but not good enough. Here's just a small sample of the WKC description of this breed found on their website.

"Introduced here in the 1920's, the Shorthair quickly earned the respect of serious hunters, who found him athletic, easy to train, and generous in nature. And with enough exercise, he's well suited to family life, too. "

There were a few key words and phrases in that description that should be driven into a prospective Pointer owner's brain. Words like athletic and with enough exercise. But what they ultimately hear is easy to train and well suited to family life. I've talked to a number of people who, since last year's show, went out and bought Pointers because those were the phrases that jumped out at them. These were people with the best of intentions hoping to get an easy to maintain and easy to train dog. What they got was a bundle of athletic, puppy energy. A cute pup who ate their shoes, remote controls, and pillow cushions because these well meaning people led normal, busy lives and didn't have enough time to devote to the pups exercise needs. They had a hard time training these "hyper" dogs and most were convinced they had unwittingly purchased a "dumb dog". They hadn't, but I had a hard time convincing them of that. If they would have done a little bit of homework before they went out to buy a dog these people would have found books and websites devoted to the breed, all with warnings that these animals need exercise and work to keep them, and their human families, happy.

The moral of this story (since this post has gotten Damn Long) in the most simplistic of terms is this... If you watch the WKC dog show, dear reader, and become smitten with the Pug or the Dalmation, for instance, please heed my warning. Do not buy a dog based on his or her looks or the fact that their coat won't take much effort to clean or if they'll accessorize well with your outfit (damn you, Paris Hilton!). Do your homework, find the breed of dog that will best suit your family's lifestyle, buy from a reputable breeder - not from a pet store - or adopt from a local shelter. Both will help you decide if a particular puppy is right for you.

Remember that you're bringing a living, breathing animal with specific needs into your home and you will be responsible for it for at least a decade.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Somehow everything still revolves around my breasts

While I was folding laundry the other day I noticed that my nursing tank-tops are starting to look a little ragged. They've been washed and dried so many times that they're starting to fray at the edges. I really should replace them. But I can't bring myself to buy new ones. I am, after all, thinking about trying to wean the Child soon.

If you would have told me a year ago that I would be still be nursing the her well into her 10th month I would smiled and said "How wonderful!" while I was looking for the phone number of the local psychiatric hospital to have you committed to. But here we are, Julia will be 10 months at the end of this week and we're still going strong. My half-hearted attempts at weaning her are going nowhere and that doesn't really bother me. I can see us nursing on her 1st birthday. Who woulda thunk?

Before the Child was born I had every intention of breastfeeding her. Not that I had much choice since I married into a family of breastfeeding Nazis. Seriously. Those are my husband's and my sister-in-law's words, not mine. My Mother-in-law was a La Leche League leader way back in the early 70's and my Sister-in-law, the Doctor, well there was no question that she was going to breastfeed because she's perfect and does no wrong. The Hubby is pro-nursing all the way even if he does try to jockey for position when the Child is eating from time to time.

You would think that this would make the whole experience easier and enjoyable. I mean, how many women would love to have that much guidance and support from their family? But, noooo. Breastfeeding was a complete nightmare for me for the first four months. You read it right. FOUR MONTHS. There were the usual problems like soreness, cracking, and pain (oh my God the pain). Then there was Colic, the Child's need to eat every hour, and the Great Bottle Strike of 2005 from month 3 to 5 when it was All Mama All The Time and Nothing But Mama. Add to those things the fact that I had at least 5 breast infections, one that required me to miss work (yes, I went back to work for a short period of time. That's another story for another day.) because I felt like Mike Tyson had punched me in the chest and I had a 103 degree fever and a migraine that could have killed a horse. But ultimately it was the "support" that almost did me in.

When you're suffering and ready to give up and you're second-guessing everything you're doing with this new little person the last thing you want is someone telling you that breastfeeding is the most natural and wonderful thing in the world. What you really want, okay what I really wanted, was someone who would tell me that sometimes nursing sucks.

No pun intended.

Well, maybe intended a bit.

It sucks like someone rolling over your foot with their car sucks. Or like hitting your funny bone over and over again sucks. I really wanted to hear, from someone who had gone through it, that even though it was so bad at the time it would eventually get better. I wanted to see that light at the end of the tunnel. But what I got was my Mother-in-law telling me how wonderful it was when she was nursing her two kids (thoughts of the Hubby I didn't want in my head at that time). I got words of advice like "If you're doing it right it shouldn't hurt." When an "expert" tells you this you tend to believe it even though now I think its complete hogwash. The Hubby, unfortunately, made it worse by trying to be my Cheerleader. "You're doing great, honey! Keep it up" are not the words you want to hear at 3am when you're trying to decide which breast to give your screaming infant.

Hmmm, should I go with the cracked one or the cracked and bleeding one? Decisions, decisions.

All these sentiments, though misguided at times, were said with love and the best of intentions. As the months went on I tuned them out and listened to myself. Through sheer stubbornness I got through the tough months and it did get a lot better. Now I can't imagine not nursing the Child and its even harder to imagine giving it up. I gave her life and sustained her. I am the only one who can calm the Savage Beast when she's missed her nap. And there is nothing better than having an excuse to go sit in a warm, dark room with the little person you love most in this world and have her hand reach up and caress your face. We still have our battles but the good far outweighs the bad.

Maybe I should just bite the bullet and buy some new nursing tanks. This could go on for awhile.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bit 'o Grammy

If you haven't done it yet, I highly recommend TiVo-ing award shows and watching them the next day when you can fast forward through all the crap. Like a lot of the music. The performances are usually so scripted and choreographed that you might as well just buy the album and enjoy the over-produced music. Award shows are all about how the stars look anyway. Right?
On to the show's highlights - in my mind, anyway.

Let's just say it - Madonna is still smokin' hot. But did she really need to bring back the curling iron/Feathered hair look?

Kelly Clarkson won 2 Grammys? Holy Crap. She's still going to have to cure cancer to get the respect she deserves. That song rocked hard.

Country music... Blah, Blah, Blah.

U2 and Mary J. Blige? Not sure that one was well thought out.

Gwen Stefani is really cute preggers but the jury is still out on that dress.

If I were a lesbian I would totally go for Ellen Degeneres. Funny and loves animals wins over classically good looking every time.

Has Paul McCartney had work done? If he did, his plastic surgeon did a good job. If not, there's another endorsement for being a vegetarian. And legalized marijuana.

Dear Mariah - You look fabulous, please don't go on some crazy weight loss plan to please your critics. Just cut those extensions (or, horror, your real hair) and you'll lose at least 10 pounds.

What the F*CK was Teri Hatcher wearing?!!

Dave Chapelle is the funniest man not on television anymore.

Okay, the Sly and the Family Stone number... I'm confused. It started out good, so what the hell happened? Oh, they woke Sly Stone from his coma. Or did they?

I'll admit it, I am not a Bruce Springsteen fan. Never have been and never will be. But I do like "Devils and Dust". Now leave me alone.

I'm still not impressed with Kanye West. But the drumline was cool.

Jamie Foxx, Ray Charles called from Heaven. He said he played himself better than you did. Now can you go back to being just Jamie Foxx again?

It's going to take a lot more cleaning up on Christina Aguilera's part to make me forget the
X-tina years.

I met Bonnie Raitt about 10 years ago when I was still working in radio. She is the smallest person - ever. So small you could put her in your pocket. But she seems so much taller on television.

Oh yeah, U2 won a bunch of awards. I loved that album and I really do believe that it deserved all the awards. But at this point I think U2 could record a rock rendition of the ABCs and they would win at least 7 awards.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sorry American Idol

Must we have the Grammys, American Idol, and Lost on television on the same night? Don't the Television Programming Executives know that it could potentially drive people like me into a remote control induced seizure? The Hubby is going to hate me when this night is over.

There's something you must know about me... I am the Queen of the Remote. I love flipping through channels and I challenge any man to do it better than me. Yes the Hubby will say that from time to time I get too involved in a certain program and forget to flip back to the first show I was watching. But, honestly, that does not happen that often.

I wanted to do a commentary on the Grammy's for tomorrow's post 'cause I love me the MoFo Grammy's. I do wish they were a little less stiff and scripted but, from time to time, there's a monumental moment that goes down in Music History. Like Jethro Tull winning Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Performance over Metallica in '89. Helloooo? I'm just glad I was there in front of my television to see the stunned faces of the people in the audience.

Well, Idol is going to lose at least one viewer tonight. But I will not give up my Lost!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Beautiful girl.

The Child and I just had a lovely lunch with my Gram, my Aunt and my Sister at a local Pub. Julia was adored, which she loves more than just about anything, and I had a few minutes to eat a meal without having little fingers poking into it.

Now, when I say she was adored what I really mean is she was adored and admired and kissed and tickled. Strange people played Peek-a-Boo with her. Random waitresses came over to inquire how old she was and marvel over her beautiful, blue eyes, her dimple, and her mega-watt smile. I had to say "Thank You" over and over with food in my mouth. All in all, a good outing.

I know I'm going to really miss this stage in Chicky Baby's life when she enters the Toddler years. I know I will look back at these few months fondly. There are few things better than having people tell you how beautiful your baby is and seem like they really mean it, instead of saying it because you caught them looking at your child and they caught you catching them looking and had to say something. Women (usually over the age of 60) have come from across a crowded mall to fawn over The Child while I, the dutiful Mother, stand smiling and nodding with very little else to say except "Thanks". Its a little uncomfortable when its happening but it always makes me smile a little more when its over.

Now, before I am misunderstood this is not a "My baby is prettier than your Baby" post. Every Mother thinks their baby is the most beautiful child. Ever. Its just nice to have your feelings validated by perfect strangers. Even if they are pinching your baby's cheeks without asking permission first.

The downside of all this adoration is that it takes me hours to go grocery shopping. No, seriously... HOURS. I never get everything I went to the mall to get because we're there for so long that it interferes with Naptime. And eating at restaurants is so difficult because I'm always stopped mid-bite to answer questions about the Child that before I know it my food is cold. It takes me so long to get the most mundane tasks done outside the house that I have to leave Julia with the Hubby and do them by myself. The downside to the solution of the downside is I miss her and all the attention we get. I just can't win.

Is it wrong to think your baby is the cutest thing to ever come out of a woman's uterus? Of course I don't want a kid who grows up to say things like "I'm so pretty! Everybody tells me so all the time!" as she twirls away in her little, pink tutu. But its not damaging her if she can't understand yet. Right?

In case you've never seen the pictures on my blog, this is what all the fuss is about.

And, no, you cannot eat her cheeks. I'm saving them for later.

Monday, February 06, 2006

He is so getting some later

An actual conversation at the Chicky Household while watching the beginning of "Blazing Saddles" (the railroad track scene).

Me: "I remember when I was a kid I was so scared of quicksand but now you never hear about it. I'm beginning to wonder if it still exists."

Hubby: "It does. I've stepped in quicksand."

Me: looking confused "You've actually stepped in quicksand and lived to tell about it? When was this?

Hubby: "When I was on that NOLS trip in college. I've told you this story before."

Me: "No you haven't. You've told me every other story of yours about a million times but you never told me you stepped in quicksand. I would have remember that one."

Hubby: "Oh." pause "I stepped in quicksand."

My Hubby is the coolest person ever.

Friday, February 03, 2006

A shell of my former self

My brain is not working in an effective manner. I can do the mundane, day to day things that take little more than turning on my internal auto-pilot to get them done - making the bed, feeding the Child, vacuuming the floor. But please don't ask me to do something that takes actual thought to reach completion. That includes writing this blog. I'm blocked. Hopelessly, utterly blocked. I've started at least 5 different posts but I have not been able to get through one of them. You should thank me for not wasting your time, because they sucked.

I think my mind has officially turned to mush.

I used to be a functioning, contributing member of society. I held a job where people not only asked me for my opinion, but actually put my advice to use with positive outcomes. There were projects with results and then more projects with more results. And lunches! Remember lunches? At restaurants? With people? Who held conversations with real words? I used to be able to walk into a restaurant without having to worry in advance whether or not they had an infant high chair. And please don't get me started with the memories of going out after work for drinks with colleagues.

Okay, I'm getting off topic.

Now I feed the Child and change the Child, vacuum the floor, load and unload the dishwasher, make the bed, do the laundry, take the dog's toys out of the Child's mouth and take the Child's toys out of the dog's mouth. I do this all without thinking. And I'm getting very, very bored just writing about it.

My apologies, dear Reader.

This is my point - I don't have to do much on a daily basis that requires much creative thought. The reason why other parents tell you to get your baby on a schedule is because it helps you establish a routine that will help you get through the day so that you won't have to be constantly creative. It makes your life EASIER. Easier does not always equal exciting. With the toddler years fast approaching I know I'm going to want to beat myself over the head with my laptop for even writing those words.

Please don't misunderstand the reasoning behind this post. I love my girl with a force that could move mountains. I'm thankful for the opportunity to stay home with her and focus what little energy I have these days on caring for her and raising her. I can take care of my home and the Hubby, where before, when I was working more than full time, I let a lot of things slide. Like sanitary conditions in the kitchen. And dust bunnies that were so big they really should have been called dust llamas. I'm very rarely embarrassed at the state of my home if friends or family stop by unannounced.

I'm hoping that by purging these thoughts I can get back some of the old me, the Me before the Child was even conceived. The Me who didn't always function in survival mode. I'd like to get back a little of the person who had creative thoughts on a daily basis.

With that all said there's always finger painting to look forward to.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Wednesday Wist

I've never done one of these before. But since I'm an ex-DJ I'm intrigued at what I'll find, and a little horrified that my dirty little music secrets will be exposed.

If you decide to participate in The Wednesday Wist (even if its posted on Thursday - Procrastinators unite!) please drop me a comment and let me know. This means you, you lurkers you.

I'm shuffling the ol' iPod. No whammies, no whammies, no whammies. Stop!

Wist 2/1/06

1. Mrs Robinson - The Lemonheads
And here's to you Mrs. Robinson
Jesus loves you more than you will know
God bless you please Mrs. Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray

I very rarely enjoy a cover. Especially a cover of such an iconic song. But The Lemonheads were very big to me during the College Years. This song transcends the hotness of Evan Dando, though. Maybe its the frenetic tempo. Or possibly the coo coo cachoo. I still love this song and I turn the volume way up when I hear it.

2. Pump It Up - Elvis Costello
Down in the pleasure centre,
hell bent or heaven sent,
listen to the propaganda,
listen to the latest slander.
There's nothing underhand
that she wouldn't understand.
Pump it up until you can feel it.
Pump it up when you don't really need it.

Helloooo. Its Elvis Costello. This needs no explanation.

3. Wendy Time - The Cure
you look like you could do with a friend she said
you look like you could use a hand
someone to make you smile she said
someone who can understand
share your trouble
comfort you
hold you close
and i can do all of these
i think you need me here with you

sophomore year in College. The best non-hubby related year I ever had. Hanging out with all my media-geek friends, staying up late at my friend Tony's apartment talking about music and movies and... I can't really remember everything now. Its all a beautiful, warm, pink haze. I do remember listening to Wish over and over and seeing the Cure in the front row at the Worcester Centrum. Robert Smith is a strange little man but his music haunts me to this day.

4. Lets Go Out Tonight - Blue Nile
Where the lights all shine
Like I knew they would
Be mine all mine
Baby I'll be good
Pray for me
Praying for the light
Baby, Baby, let's go out tonight

In the Napster days I was downloading all this music I had never gotten around to buying at a store. Hey, it was free! And when you work in a multi-media department of a computer storage company people think your "artsy" and they leave you alone when you spend time pirating songs. I sort of stumbled upon Blue Nile. Glad I did. This is the most heartbreaking song.

5. Time After Time - Chet Baker
I only know what I know, the passing years will show
You've kept my love so young, so new
And time after time, you'll hear me say that I'm
So lucky to be loving you

Chet Baker Sings. The album I fell in love with my husband to.