Monday, May 29, 2006

Ditzy Chick

I don't know if its my advancing age or the line drive I took to the forehead when I was a 14 year old JV softball pitcher, but I have the memory of a slug. Actually, I bet slugs have very long memories relative to their life span, so maybe I should change that comparison to I have a memory like Leonard from Memento. My ability to retain information is almost nonexistent. I should invest in a Polaroid camera and tattoo notes to myself all over my arms, because these days I can't remember what I had for breakfast - or to even have breakfast. So its no surprise that I am terrible at replying to emails (Hi Kvetch! I'll reply soon.) and returning phone calls. I tend to put things aside, promising myself that I will get back to them later on in the day, only to forget them under the pile of other important tasks to remember. Until a week later when, at 3am, I'm jolted awake with the realization that I'm a terrible human being and someone expected me to provide a recipe or a mutual friend's new address. But do I jump out from my under down comforter and dash off a quick note to myself for the morning?

Nooo. That would make sense, wouldn't it?

When the sun rises and I'm immersed in a new day, my thoughts from just a few hours before soon vanish with the morning fog. I know you're probably thinking that I should put a notepad and pen next to the bed, but you've never seen me at 3 in the morning. I am in no shape to speak, never mind write. I'm barely coherent enough to elbow my husband in the ribs when he snores in my ear. Again.

The things I do remember have no rhyme or reason. I'm horrible with dates, but I can sing all the words to "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant". I can recall in vivid detail sitting on the floor of the spare bedroom of my childhood home when I was 3 years old and my mother telling me that I wouldn't be able to play in that room for very much longer because it was going to be the nursery for my soon-to-be-born sister. But I have trouble remembering my sister's home phone number if I don't have the phone in front of me.

(Okay, to my credit I hardly ever call her at home. I always call her at work. Or I just let her call me. See "laziness" below.)

I remember the exact date when my husband proposed - 10/01/01 - but I frequently forget if my wedding anniversary falls on the 30th or 31st of August*. I know, that's horrible. Thankfully, I had it inscribed inside of my wedding band as my own personal cheat sheet. So its not a matter of importance - my anniversary is very important to me - I honestly don't know why I remember the things I do.

My poor memory made school very difficult for me. I knew, even though I studied, when it came time to take a test most of the information that I tried to cram into my head would vanish into thin air by the time I took my seat. Mnemonic aids never worked for me. Well, that's not entirely true. "Roy G. Biv" and "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge" are ingrained in my memory forever. But I'd really rather forget "Shirley MacLaine Vomits Every Morning, Jimmy Stewart Usually Never Pukes" if it means thinking of Aurora Greenway blowing chunks to remember the order of the planets.

Some, and I stress the word some, of my forgetfulness can be attributed to laziness. Like the thank you notes I've been meaning to write to friends and family for Chicky's birthday presents. Every week I intend to sit down with those damn notes and get them off of my to-do list, but something (blogs) gets in the way and I end up absorbed in (blogs) something else and forget, yet again, to write those thank-you's because I was busy doing other things (blogs). I think my family is considering writing me out of their wills.

I could probably continue on with life in my own airheaded way and get along just fine with only the occasional comment from friends about my ditzyness, but now I'm a Mama. And Mama's are supposed to remember everything. Birthdays, anniversaries, a whole summer of cook-outs and graduation parties. Doctor's appointments, the dogs and cats vaccination schedules, playgroups, presents for major holidays. When to buy new shoes for the baby when she grows out of the old ones (Damn. I've got to go shoe shopping with Chicky today. Shoot. Gotta write that down.), what her favorite foods are and which two vegetables she'll eat. I can barely remember to put on clean underwear but I have to remember to brush my baby's teeth and give her fluoride drops everyday. Its enough to make Wonder Woman cry Uncle! And all she had to do was remember where the hell she parked her invisible plane. Who the hell put me in charge of the family schedule? Fuck a duck, I've got to remember to make a schedule!

If I could just remember where I put my date book.

*I just checked my wedding band - my anniversary is August 31st. Thank God for jewelry!

(Crouton Boy - I didn't forget the Meme you tagged me for! I'll do it in a day or two. Promise.)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Of contests and Relays

The winners for Minti's two tickets to paradise, ahem, Blogher were announced this morning. The lucky women who were picked were Tracey from Maypapers and Heather from Rookie Moms. When you get a chance go on over to their blogs and tell them congrats. They deserve it.

Yes, I entered. Yes, I wanted to go. Yes, I'm a little disappointed that I didn't win, but its for the best. I would have had to sell a kidney to afford the airfare and hotel cost. I was, however, one of the four women picked for the runner-up prize (free Minti schwag) which makes me feel a little like the first runner-up at the Miss America pageant. If Tracey or Heather cannot fulfill their duties and obligations as a woman blogger at the conference I will be ready to step in to take their place. Just as soon as I bring in enough money from the lemonade stand I have set up outside of my house.

If you haven't gotten your fill of giveaways - and really who would? - Mothergoosemouse is having a rockin' contest over at her place. Test your musical knowledge and see if you can correctly name the songs and artists from the small lyric samples she has provided. No cheating, no collaboration and no Googling (damn her!). The gauntlet has been thrown and I welcome the challenge. But, seriously, no Googling?


Now for something completely different.

Some of you are aware that I lost my mother to cancer two years ago. Its not something I write about frequently for a few reasons. One being that even though the thread of my mother's death is tightly woven into the fabric of my being, especially now that I am a mother myself and I never got a chance to tell her from one mother to another how much I was truly thankful for everything she had done for me, its a topic that can bring people down faster than passengers in a defective Zeppelin.

With that said, I feel this is a good time to mention it.

In this part of the Northeast (and many other locations across the United States) this time of year is thought of, by me and many others, as Relay for Life season. The ACS Relay for Life (click the logo for more information), as described on their website, is:

... a fun-filled overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money for research and programs of your American Cancer Society. During the event, teams of people gather at schools, fairgrounds, or parks and take turns walking or running laps. Each team tries to keep at least one team member on the track at all times.

That's what the event is on the surface, but to me its so much more than that. For 7 years, from the time she was diagnosed to the year before she died, my mother, sister and I would make a girl's weekend out of the Relay. We would pack our bags like we were going to an outdoor sleep over, which essentially it was. Junk food - check. Pillows - check. Extra sweatshirts and pants, blankets and sleeping bags - check, check, check and check. Her brother would park his camper on our designated site in the middle of the track and we three ladies, along with other friends and relatives who came and went, would stay there the entire 24 hours and walk, talk, sit in the sun and soak up some rays (I know... Cancer. Her's was
colon so she didn't worry about the sun's harmful effects at that point). We'd eat junk food and play Trivial Pursuit. Someone always brought a few gossip magazines that we would pass around. And many, many stories were told.

The year my mom died our group fell apart. Nobody wanted to take responsibility for putting it all together since my mom was the spirit, if not the manpower, behind it. I attended the event for a couple of hours, but it wasn't the same. My mom was not there to link arms with me and dance (yes, we danced) around the track to the musical theme of the
hour blasting through the loud speakers. The following year, the team was revived but the spirit was still missing. But, again, I attended. This time with my almost 2 month old baby. The Hubby and I brought Chicky Baby up to the local college in my old hometown where the Relay is held every year (which, by the way, is the largest RFL in the Northeast). We showed her off, walked her around the track a bunch of times, and then packed her up in the car for the 45 minute ride back home. My baby, who was colicky for the first 4 months of her life, was a doll for the hour or two that we were there. I'd like to think she was being respectful in her grandmother's honor.

I'm still undecided as to whether or not I will make the drive home to attend this year's Relay, though I know deep down that I probably will. I need to purchase some luminaries and write my mom's name on them. I'll stay for the lighting ceremony. I'll feel like crying, but I probably won't, choosing to save my tears for the ride home. I know, with absolute certainty, that I will run into more than a few people, old friends and acquaintances made on that very track, who will talk about my mom and how much they miss her. Maybe my sister will go with me and we'll reminisce about the years we spent as contributing members of this large family of people walking for a cure.

If you get a chance, I encourage you to visit a local RFL. If you go to the website and type in your zip code you'll find many in your area. It will seem funny at first, a bunch of people walking around a track, but I assure you that if you walk with them, read their team names and slogans, stay for the luminary ceremony or get there early for the survivor's walk, you won't be disappointed. And if you're the least bit emotional and/or know someone who has been affected by cancer, bring your Kleenex.

One more thing, if you decide to go and you are so inclined, spend a couple of bucks on a luminary. If you have no one to honor, feel free to light a candle for my mom. Her name was Brenda. She loved to walk and sing and dance... And she was loved.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Old Standby

If those of you who left comments on how to get through my writer's block were here with me I would open up a couple of bottles of champagne for us to share and I'd toast to your wonderfulness (mmmm... champagne). Since you're not I'll raise a virtual glass to you with gratitude. I now have many ideas for what to write about.

Now I just have to get them out of my damn head.

I've got one or two in the works on dog-related topics with many more to come in the future. I think I might make the dog thing a regular feature (Feature? What the hell is this, an online magazine?). I was also thinking about doing an every other week wine recommendation. Would you guys be interested in that? C'mon, dogs and wine. How can I miss with that combination?

I'm trying to think about how to approach a hometown post and one about how I came up with the name of this blog. But believe me, Mom 101, nobody wants to know about my first kiss. Hell, I'd like to forget it ever happened. Let me just say there was lots of saliva and we'll leave it at that.

Most of you gave me very sound advice to just keep writing and stop over-thinking it (Hellooo... Virgo.) and that's what I'm going to do. To keep those juices flowing I'll follow Liberal Banana's advice and do a Meme that Mrs. Fortune came up with.

(btw, Mrs. F, you have a coon hound. There's really not too much you're going to do about the barking. I recommend citronella collars. They work well and there's no nasty electric shock.)


The Three _____s on a Desert Island Meme

If you were stranded on a desert island (without Ginger and the Professor and all those folks to keep you amused), which three _____s would you bring?

1. Drive: Women's True Stories from the Open Road
- When I need to blow off steam I hop in my car and hit the road. I do my best thinking while driving, which may explain the glaring looks and beeping horns that I get while traveling the highways and backroads of Massachusetts. This book spoke to me. I've read it twice... so far.
2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - My hands down Favorite with a capital F book from my childhood.
3. I honestly can not think of a third. I can't single out another of my beloved books. Can I say the complete library of People Magazine?

Movies (assuming you had some way to watch them)
1. Grosse Point Blank - Not only do I watch this over and over, but each time I find myself wondering what the hell ever happened to Minnie Driver. Maybe she's on the deserted island.
2. Ocean's Eleven (2001) - Why? Oh, let's see... George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon. Did I mention George Clooney?
3. Bull Durham - Its got something for everyone - baseball, sex, baseball, one-liners, sex, baseball, and Tim Robbins pitiful attempt at pitching.

Albums (also assuming you had a way to play them)
1. Crash: Dave Matthews Band - I love me some DMB. I spent months trying to convince the owner of the radio station that I was working at that "Crash Into Me" was going to be a huge hit and he had to get over the whole sex thing.
2. Blood Sugar Sex Magik: Red Hot Chili Peppers - I have no explanation for this. I just like this album.
3. Wish: The Cure - Because I need to have something really depressing to listen to when I'm stranded by myself on an island. You didn't think I was going to say "Margaritaville", did you?

People (
And your spouse/partner and children are NOT eligible here, because that goes without saying. Or at least if it doesn't, that's your problem.)
1. Tom Brady - We could populate that island with some purty babies.
2. Hugh Laurie from House - Because if I got sick on that island he would save me just in the nick of time. And then we would get all nasty under a palm tree. Hellooo... Deserted Island.
3. My sister - But we would have to have an understanding that when we started to drive each other crazy that we would go to opposite sides of the island until we didn't want to kill each other anymore.

There you go. Got writer's block? Do a meme.

***Added content***
I really should have tagged people to do this meme. Gotta keep spreading that love. So I tag... MotherGooseMouse (you asked for it!), Kristin, Carr, and Tori.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Could someone give me a jump?

My battery is dead. Well, not dead exactly. But I sure could use a jump start.

I've been doing this blogging stuff for 7 months. Seven months! Although, technically no one was reading anything I wrote for the first 4 months, but still... That's a long time to commit to something that you're not getting compensated for. Unless I count your comments as compensation, which at this point are worth more to me than the pittance I make at my dog training job. Not that I put all your wonderful comments on the same level as that shitty place I work for. No, you're all much more valuable to me than that...

Aw, damn. I should just quit while I'm ahead.

Anywhoo, the point of all this drivel is after 7 months of coming up with new and exciting ways to write about baby poop and temper tantrums I'm a bit fried. I've got ideas for new entries swirling around my head but I can't get them out of that deep, dark cavern that I call my brain and onto my computer. No matter how hard I pound on the side of my head, trying to dislodge the ideas like one would try to get sea water out of their ear, I can't make them flow. And its pissing me off and frustrating the hell out of me. Think frustrated two year old in the body of a 33 year old woman. Yeah, not pretty.

So I was hoping you could all help a Mama out. Ask me a question, any question. Or give me a topic that you would like to see me write about. It doesn't matter if its funny, silly, or serious (though, I have to warn you about the serious stuff. When I get serious I get reeeallly serious. But I guess that's not so bad every once in a while.)

I'm optimistic that this little exercise will give me just enough juice to get through these dark, uninspired days and kick start my imagination so I can get on with the business at hand. I don't know what that business is exactly, but whatever it is it keeps me going everyday.

Send me an email or leave a comment with your question or topic. And what will you get in return?

A cute baby picture!
Like my shirt?

And! Cute baby and dog picture!

A girl and her dog. Sigh.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Shake what your Mama gave ya

You need to see this. But I have to warn you, its fucking hilarious.

I laughed. I cried. I shook my junk. I was stunned when my husband said "Oh my God, the shopping cart! The lawnmower!"

He doesn't know it yet but after a couple of glasses of wine I'm going to make him perform the running man and the worm.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I am serious, and don't call me Shirley

Where have all the quotable movies gone?

This is the question the Hubby and I asked ourselves the other night. There we were racking our brains to think of any quotable-worthy movies after 1994. Why 1994? you ask. Its really just an arbitrary number that I kinda threw out there. Although, it was the year that I graduated from college. In other words, the year I had to start thinking of becoming an adult and stop wasting my time on watching "Sixteen Candles" on VHS over and over again. So, I guess, in a way I equate that period in time with casting off the frivolities of youth and exchanging it with the need to conform to society's pressure to buckle down and become serious. Yeah, like that might happen.

But back to our exciting evening thinking of movie quotes. We thought and we thought but we could not come up with a movie after 1994 that we could recollect more than one line from that we would use in mixed company. In my mind a quotable movie is one that has at least 3 sentences, phrases, chunks of dialogue, or one-liners that you can be used in everyday life to sum up the feelings of everyone involved in a certain situation. The next criteria that goes hand in hand with the first is this, the person whose company you are using it in must know to what movie you are referring to. In other words, they must be well known movies.

To help me explain it better I will reference a movie (why not?). In You've Got Mail Tom Hanks tells Meg Ryan that all of life's questions can be answered by quotes from The Godfather.

"What should I pack for my summer vacation?

Leave the gun, take the cannoli."

There you go. The Godfather is easily recognizable and the quotes from those movies (the first two, the third didn't happen) are used often and regularly - mainly by men - to sum up life's everyday occurrences. In much the same way that Tom Hanks' character feels that The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom, I feel that I can sum up most of life's events with movies that I love and watch often. For instance:

Someone strikes me dumb with something they've said:

"Inconceivable!" - The Princess Bride, 1987

On a lazy Sunday morning (remember those?) my husband turns to me and asks what I want to do that day:

"The question isn't 'what are we going to do', the question is what aren't we going to do." - Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986

When I'm watching a baseball game and the pitcher throws a wild pitch:

"Juuust a bit outside" - Major League, 1989

When my dogs piss me off:

"You are evil and you must be destroyed." - Steel Magnolias, 1989

Get the picture? I quote from Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, The Princess Bride (often and regularly), Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Caddyshack, The Silence of the Lambs...

(Okay, quick aside. Everytime I'm putting lotion on Chicky Baby's skin after her bath the Hubby and I can't help but say "It puts the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again." And we giggle. Is that sick or what?)

..., Blazing Saddles, Animal House, This is Spinal Tap. I could go on. Maybe its the era in which I grew up, but I can't think of too many movies after the mid 90's that can be referenced as successfully then the ones that I just mentioned. So I'll leave it up to you. Do you have a favorite quote from a movie that was released after 1994? If you're like me and you can't think of one either then share your favorite quote from any movie.

"Quid pro quo. Yes or No?"

Monday, May 15, 2006

Things they don't tell you before you have a baby - #1348

Imagine you're a relatively new mother to a 12 month old daughter. After you've survived the first 5 months of hell things are finally going swimmingly. Naps and nighttime sleeping schedules are met with relative ease (everything being relative when you have a baby). Mealtimes, though not the most pleasant part of the day, almost always culminate with some sort of healthy nourishment being ingested - either by the baby or by you because you hate the idea of throwing away yet another jar of sweet potatoes. The baby's development is progressing exceptionally well according to the medical schedules. And to put the cherry on the sundae, after nursing your child for that magic number of 365 days you've successfully weaned her with little drama or pain, psychological or physical, to either party.

Bolstered by your obvious natural ability for raising above average children you begin to let your guard down. You start to coast. When your child cries you very rarely feel compulsion to twitch, thinking the colic is back. When friends or family call, asking to visit, you can tell them with absolute certainty what the best time of the day would be to come by because you know, down to 10 minutes, when you're child will go down and wake up from her naps. And then...


Karma, first cousin to Fate and Lucy, steps in and pulls the football away just when you were about to kick the game winning field goal. Uh, uh, uuuh, not so fast, she says, your baby is now becoming a toddler. And with that you get:

Attitude to spare. Tantrums. A change in nap schedule (You lose the morning nap and only get one nap a day. If you're lucky.) And, saving the best for last (so far) - Constipation.

Why the hell didn't anyone tell me about this?!

I guess I shouldn't have put away those baby books.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Spreadable Love - Now with Canola Oil

I am a voracious reader. In addition to the stack of books next my bed I also have piles of them next to my couch (on both sides), on the ledge around my bathtub, and in the kitchen. There used to be heaps of them on ottomans, up the stairs and on the floor all over my house but then Chicky Baby learned that the more important the book the more satisfying the noise it made when you ripped the pages and I had to put the kibosh to that sorting method.

Who me?

At any one time I will have at least 5 books that I am in the middle of reading. That number was higher a couple of years ago, but then I got pregnant and lost the ability to concentrate on the Picks and Pans section of a People magazine never mind the latest David Sedaris tome. It was devastating to lose the ability to curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee and while away the time before my baby came. And after I became a mother... Well, most of you are parents so you understand the, ahem, time limitations involved when caring for an infant. Its not like I could pick up a book for two minutes, put it down and come back to it later when the baby was asleep (Ha! Asleep!). Oh, but I tried. In those first horrific months of breastfeeding when my ass was parked firmly on my couch because the badger I had given birth to refused to unlatch herself from my beaten and battered nipples I read a few books. Perused was more like it. I would take my trips to Target or Barnes and Noble and buy books with the hopes of being able to find the time to read between feeding, changing, rocking, crying, rinse, lather, repeat. I had all but given up on ever being able to lose myself in the latest New York Times best seller and had resigned myself to a life of Dr. Seuss and Sandra Boynton.

And then I found blogs.

What better medium to do some reading in five minute intervals? Screw those damn message boards and baby how-to books (uh Dr. Sears? Buh-Bye.), I had found myself knee deep in real mother's and father's accounts of their parenting ups and downs. People like me who willingly admitted they had no idea what they were doing but were willing to share what had worked and didn't work for them. I had found Mommy Blogs! And with that the chorus of angels sang a glorious "hallelujah" and I was hopelessly hooked.

The first blog I found was so amazing to me that I spent a week or two going back to the writer's very first post and read from beginning to the most current entry in chronological order. So candid! So witty! I laughed, I cried, I went off in search of others.

While I was ferreting through sites like the Mom Salon and Crazy Hip Blog Mamas I started my own blog. Poorly written as it was in its early conception I quickly found that the more I read of other's writing the better I became as a blog writer, and I want to thank each and every one of you who inspired me to continue on this long and often tumultuous road of Mom Blogging.*

Bear with me, I kinda suck at this.

First and foremost, I want to thank Christina for being the first person to include me on her blogroll in the days when I was all "What in the Sam Hell is a blogroll and why is my blog on it? Is it anything like a jelly roll? Because if it is then I'm all over it." You probably don't realize it, Christina, but because you included me I continued to blog even though I was about to throw in the towel.

Then I found more women whose writing made me awe-struck. Women who I had so many things in common with, or were just so damn likeable, that I just had to know more about them. Women who I could always count on for a kind word or sympathetic ear. Women who made my head spin from reading their posts, but in a good champagne-buzz kind of way. And all my new blog friends whom I am just starting to get to know and look forward to sharing more stories with. And if you're a doggie mama, then you count too!

Oh God, please tell me I didn't miss anyone.

My blogroll (now that I know what one is) is long and distinguished...

Wow, that sounds like something one of my old boyfriends would have said. But its true. At the risk of sounding all mushy and gushy you're the best internet friends a girl could ask for. I wish you all a Happy Mothers Day and many more to come. May your husbands buy you diamonds and all your children be on their best behavior. Or, at the very least, may you find an hour to yourself to write another blog entry. Because I'm hooked, man, and I gotta have my fix.

*Thanks to HBM for coming up with this wonderful idea. We all need a virtual pat on the back from time to time. I hope you don't mind me borrowing your photo caption idea!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hit parade

On rainy days, such as the ones that Massachusetts is currently experiencing, one of my favorite oh-my-Christ-I'm-desperate-to-get-out-of-the-house destinations is the local Barnes and Noble. There I can drink my Starbucks grande vanilla iced coffee in relative peace while Chicky Baby crawls around the children's section or plays with the elevated train set while sucking on a wooden animal that has been infected with every known bacteria and virus from the last 50 children who have been there. Tuesday was one such day. A monsoon was brewing and my little Chicky is teething, has a diaper rash that looks like a bad case of scabies (its not, btw), and she's decided that two naps a day are for wussies. I had two choices with what to do with a child such as mine, and since trash day isn't until tomorrow off we went to the bookstore.

There I was, coffee in one hand, overpriced magazine in another, unbuckling my child from her stroller with my two extra hands (What, you didn't sprout a couple extra sets of limbs when you were giving birth to your kids?) all ready to settle in for 45 minutes of caffeinated bliss... When Chicky Baby decides she doesn't want to crawl around the filthy floor. She doesn't feel like ripping the strategically placed merchandise off of the low shelves. Does she want to sit in my lap and read some books that we have no intention of buying? No. Does she want to play with the ebola-laced trains? No. Does she want Mama to stick her with pins? No. No. NO! She wants to have a Toddler Tantrum. Oh goodie. So with coffee in one hand, backpack over the other shoulder, magazine discarded in the "Young Adult" section, I start to strap Miss Pussface back into her stroller so we can get the hell out of Dodge before someone calls DSS on me for clearly beating my child - because why else would she be screaming bloody murder - when up walks another Mom and her gorgeous 20-month old son. And, like magic, my 12 month old toddler turns into a giggly 15 year old girl.

This doesn't bode well for the future, but it gives me a respite from the tantrum. We takes what we gets.

Leaving Chicky in her stroller to smile coyly at this stunning child with the most amazing rockstar hair I have ever seen I sit back down, pick up my coffee and start a conversation with the mom. We discuss the weather, how the other large bookstore in the area doesn't have a nice children's area like this one, the merits of Gymboree vs. The Little Gym (I've never been to either but according to my new best friend its the Little Gym all the way). I steal a glance at my child who is now clearly in a love induced coma. Should I take her out to play? Do I dare? Throwing caution to the wind I let her down and she scurried off to steal toys from her new senior prom date. Just imagine the pictures! Is it too early to order a boutonniere?

The incident leading up to what happened next is slightly hazy. I must have called her name, because Chicky turned around to look at me and when she did her tiny boyfriend decided to give her a love tap. WHACK! He smacked her right on the top of her head. Hard. I think you could hear the smack all the way over in the self help section. His mother jumped up as if shot out of a cannon to quickly put a stop to the abuse. And Chicky? She had a look on her face like "Eh. That was nothing."

So I said to the mom, who was mortified, "Eh. That was nothing. She's around other kids all the time... and you should see what our dogs do to her." The poor woman apologized and said how nice and understanding I was and how she was ready to separate our two young lovers (which is always a bad idea. Hadn't she ever read "Romeo and Juliet"?) and leave the store. I assured her that it was fine, they're babies and don't know any better. Sit. Stay. Chat with me awhile longer.

We talked for another 5 minutes but the magic was over. Chicky and I said our goodbyes and sighed over what might have been.

The incident troubled me on the ride home. I got the distinct impression that this had happened to that mother and child before. It seemed to me that she had been in a similar position where she was made to feel badly for her sons exuberant attention-getting skills and subsequently left in shame. Young toddlers hit. Its not usually out of anger or aggression. In this case the boy was just trying to get my daughter's attention. Being the sometimes too laid back mother that I am I wondered (for about a minute) if I should have been more concerned for my kid and run to her. Coddle her. But I grew up in a family whose favorite phrase was "Suck it up" and I don't see myself ever running to her defense in that type of situation. Besides, she hardly even noticed and she wasn't crying and there don't seem to be any lasting effects (except I caught her yesterday trying to scratch the boys name into the back of her hand). So, blog friends, I post this question to you:

As the mother of a young toddler... What would you have done in my position, or the other mother's? What would you do if your toddler was hit by another child or, vice versa, if your child was doing the hitting? Would you be offended or brush it off? Would you feel the need to completely remove your child from the area if he/she was the hitter or the one who was hit?

I'm very interested to hear what your thoughts are on this. But now I have to run. I think I hear Separate Ways coming from Chicky Baby's room. These little girls. They grow up so fast.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Don't do me any favors

The Hubby has decided that since he will soon be leaving to attend a business dinner (complete with gin and tonics, expensive food, and some serious figurative comparing of the amplitude of the Little Bishops over glasses of after-dinner scotch) followed the next day by 18 holes of golf (don't forget your woods, Honey) he would do me a favor and work from home this morning so he could spend some "quality" time with Chicky and me.

So far he has:

...Repeatedly interrupted my blog reading to share stories of Hollywood gossip including how Chicky Baby and K-Fed and Britney's unborn baby may be sharing the same first name.

...Had a conversation with his Outlook. (Helloooo. I'm sitting right here. Don't need a running commentary about your email.)

...Shared with me why he thinks Randy Johnson had such a terrible start in last night's Red Sox-Yankees game, even though I was clearly in the middle of typing something.

...Picked his toe nails.

...On at least two occasions pointed out how stressed-out I seem.

Now, I'm not usually one to look forward to my husband's business trips and I know that he's trying to do a good thing by staying home this morning... But I think this time I may have to load his clubs in his car myself.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Town Crier

When a woman has a child she expects that certain physical and emotional changes will happen as a result. Expanding waistlines and tighter wallets. A new subdivision of spider veins on the road map of her thighs. Breasts to rival those of the saline queens in the pages of men's magazines, which almost inevitably deflate as if an invisible hat pin was used to pop a hole to let some of the liquid drain out. Sleepless nights resulting in a matched set of luggage that doesn't come from Louis Vuitton. The strong Mama Bear emerges but the overtired woman inside begs for mercy - and a couple of minutes alone. Please. Just a couple of minutes.

All of these things happened to me and I was (almost) ready for them. Bring it on. Just make sure I get that cute, wiggly bundle of need as my recompense. I was not, however, ready for one small change in myself.

I became a crier.

A big, weeping bag of tears.

Anyone who knows me well could tell you that I don't cry. Ever. For some, crying comes naturally, it actually makes them feel better. Some even make it look good. But I am not one of those people. Scratch that. I was not one of those people because, apparently, now I am. Although, I still don't look good doing it. I think that when the doctor administered my epidural he must have went in too deep and punctured a tear duct. That's the only way that I can explain it. Yeah, I know what you're going to say - Hormones, blah, blah, blah. If that's the case then these hormones are vindictive sons of bitches because they get me when I'm not looking.

I expected to get a little teary when I saw my baby for the first time after giving birth. I expected to cry when, at 3am, she wouldn't sleep for the 10th night in a row. But I did not expect that when singing "You Are My Sunshine" to my two-day old daughter that I would break down in great racking sobs when I got to "...You'll never know, dear, how much I love you..."

And you can forget about the second verse.

I expected to be deeply touched when watching the evening news and catching another tragic story of a young child who had died. I did not expect that watching two of the last few episodes of Grey's Anatomy would send me into a crying jag. Or any fictional show involving a mother or a child (or, heaven help me, a baby) who is dying.

And I never imagined that the simple act of my 12 month old child giving my husband a big hug, complete with patting of the arms, and a big open-mouthed kiss would move me to tears.

I blame my daughter for turning this once stoic, self-controlled pragmatist into a weepy, blubbering mess of a woman.

And I thank her for it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Daily Affirmations - Or, how I became a Stay at Home Mom and learned to love it

This post has been in the making for quite some time but I've never been able to bring myself to write it. After reading this and this and others like it I've decided now might be the right time. But what really pushed me over the edge was the royal blue foil wrapper that held the Dove chocolate that I was jonesing for the other night. If you haven't yet had one of these little beauties, on the inside of each wrapper is a "Promises Message". Think Stuart Smalley meets a fortune cookie. My message was "Find Your Passion" and it stuck with me for awhile. Silly, I know. Its like looking for the meaning of life in a Bazooka Joe gum wrapper. But stranger things have happened. Newton had his apple, Franklin had his kite. I have my chocolate wrapper. You see, I've found my passion - Twice. I had one taken from me, gained another, but now I want them both. I've been eating a lot of chocolate in the hopes of finding the wrapper that will tell me if that is possible.

To give you some background, a few years ago I was working for a Fortune 500 company (which I will refer to as the Really Big Technology Corporation, or RBT Corp. for short), making the most of my college degree, bringing in some decent money, and dreading every single day I had to go to the office. Most of my days were spent hating that damned job. Heavy emphasis on the word "job" because it was not my calling. I did not love, or even really like, what I was doing because it was not my...

Uh huh...


It was no way to live, but at the time I had no other choice. I had pigeon-holed myself into this small niche in the technology/media sector and there were few places to go except onward and sideways in my current career choice. Then Fate, in her infinite wisdom, stepped in and dropped a bomb on me, as she is want to do from time to time. I received a job offer from an expatriate of the very same "RBT Corp." where I was currently wasting the best years of my life. The offer was to come work for him and his wife in their new business which catered to area pooches and their families. I was to be in charge of the start up and management of a division of this business which would fill a need that wasn't currently being successfully met in our neck of the woods. I was expected (or maybe I expected it of myself) to set the gold standard for canine socialization and I would be paid well, for that industry, for doing so.

(I know I'm being vague, but I have to watch out for the crazy Googlers who could easily stumble upon this blog if I were to spell out exactly what I did. Hang in there with me.)

How could I turn that offer down? Doing that type of work was something I had dreamed of for years and, with the support of my husband, now I had the opportunity to live that dream. It wasn't glamorous and there wasn't much room for advancement. I didn't get to wear Jimmy Choo's to the office. I did, however, go to work in comfortable jeans and a baseball cap. I got wet puppy kisses on a daily basis and played fetch for a living on top of my regular management responsibilities. I helped many an owner get to know their pampered pooch better and answered countless frantic questions on training away bad behaviors. And I saved a few dogs from the pound. That, to me, was worth its weight in designer clothes.

I was damn good at my new career and I helped my bosses build a very successful business. For two years I poured blood, sweat and tears (literally) into my work, fourteen hour days were common even deep into my 9th month of pregnancy. Up until a few days before my mother died - I was at work. During my first trimester of pregnancy when I lost an alarming amount of weight due to morning sickness - I was at work, often running back and forth from the bathroom so I wouldn't lose my breakfast in front of the customers. During the rest of my pregnancy, when I was on medication due to an extreme case of that same morning sickness that lasted all nine months - there I was, still at work against my doctor's gentle urging to slow down. In fact, I only missed one day of work in nine months due to a pregnancy-related sciatica when I couldn't have gotten out of bed if I tried. I ran myself ragged because I was passionate about what I was doing.

When the time came to talk about what was going to happen when I returned from my unpaid maternity leave, I sat my bosses down and told them I would come back part time because I couldn't afford full-time daycare on my salary. I had my portion of the business running so well that my resposibilities could be handled in a shorter amount of time and as a show of good faith I took a slight cut in pay. It was a win/win situation on both sides. I could continue working in a smaller capacity, allowing me time out of the house, and they would, ultimately, end up saving money. I thought we had a deal and I left to have my baby, but not before assuring all my favorite customers that I would, indeed, be back in two months.

Then Fate stepped in again and, in her divine will, shoved me out of my rosy haze. My baby was extremely colicky, she nursed every hour, and could only be soothed by me. When my maternity leave was up I tearfully handed her over to my mother-in-law and went back to work two days a week for 5 hours at a time. I assured my bosses that I would soon be working the agreed upon 20 to 25 hours, but right now no daycare could or would handle my infant and my MIL was already taking two days off from her job to babysit. The next two weeks were horrible. Chicky Baby hated taking a bottle and she cried most of the time I was away. I was forced to pump in the only place available at work - A small bathroom right off the lobby - and I ended up with an extreme case of mastitis that forced me to take time off from work so I could go to the doctor and get antibiotics. I still enjoyed my work, but I was beginning to dread those two days I would be away from my daughter. That's when Miss Fate, who up until that point was still being ignored, started kicking me in the gut while I was down.

After two weeks of working I received my first paycheck and stared upon what I thought was a clerical error. My paycheck was missing about a third of the pay that my bosses and I had agreed upon. Must be a mistake, I thought, so I left notes for my boss to correct it (she was, strangely, absent whenever I was working). The next week, there it wasn't again. After finally catching up with one of them I was told that since I wasn't working in the same capacity that I once was they had decided to cut my pay to reflect the change in job resposibilities.

But my responsibilities were the same, just less hours.

I wasn't informed ahead of time that they would be doing this.

I was being punished for running such a well-organized part of the business.

That amount of money would barely cover daycare.

All of my lawyer friends had the same advice for me, I could sue but it wouldn't get me far and it would cost me money and time. So I took the high road, I told them to enjoy running the business without me and I slinked away with my tail between my legs. After many sleepless nights and tear-filled days spent trying to get the knife out of my back I finally realized that Fate had been right all along. For me, being with my daughter was the place that I was supposed to be. She needed me far more than my back-stabbing bosses did and once I was comfortable with that realization I could finally enjoy my second passion: Being a Mom. And much like my previous career, I'm damn good at this new one. It was a choice that was made for me, but it was the right one - For me and my family.

Now the time has come to think about what's next. Chicky Baby isn't going to need me this much forever, I've got to get the ball rolling on my future and that means:

Starting my own business.

I've got the skills, the knowledge, and the desire... and since I took that high road and have continued to teach a few classes for the people who thought they didn't need me (but my spies on the inside tell me differently) I've got a customer base in the making. Its time to reclaim my passion.

But, this time, Fate can go take a long, needed rest. I'm not going to rely on her this time.

Although, I wonder if she could get me an appointment with her business partner, Luck?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Chicky's first day at the park...

... Started out well. You can't go wrong with a new pair of shades and a smart new hat.

But quickly took a turn for the worse when Little Chicky found out there would be swings involved.

Miss Pussface of Pussinghamshiretonville was so not impressed and soon after this picture was taken demanded to be taken out of this "foul contraption." Her words, not mine.

She did, however, enjoy the tunnel which, she said, reminded her of being in a lovely, warm solarium.

All in all, not a great first outing but a memorable one.