Thursday, December 31, 2009

I totally should have put a Furnunculus curse on that bee-yotch.

I know, I know, it's another link post.

But I would be selfish if I didn't tell you about how I almost got into a fight at the Harry Potter exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science - and how to avoid almost getting into a fight at the Harry Potter exhibition. Because fist fights in front of the kids is just wrong. Deserved, but wrong.

Wand fights are way better.

Regardless, if you were planning on going while it's in Boston or when it comes to your area (Canadians, I'm looking at you. I guess it's headed your way next.) I did all the hard stuff so you wouldn't have to. You're welcome.

And if you're a New Englander and you haven't checked it out yet (Ahem) we have this huge roundup of First Night celebrations from all around New England guaranteed to satisfy all your First Night celebrating needs. Well, not those needs. Sicko.

I do this for you, because I love. I love hard. Not that hard. Sicko.

Seriously? Wow. I'm very disappointed in you. Petrificus Totalus, and stuff.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

All I want for Christmas is...

Some very small physical modifications. That's all. Really.

Oh and world peace.

And maybe universal healthcare everyone can live with. But we probably missed the boat on that one, though.

Anyway. Maybe acceptance is the way to go. Be grateful for what we get, yada yada yada. As Chicky's preschool teachers always say, "You get what you get and you don't get upset." Which, you know, is fine for 4 year olds but always kind of bugged me.


(But Merry Christmas anyway! I hope Santa fills your stockings up good... and I mean that in a totally non-dirty way. Maybe. Ho ho ho!

You dirty ho, you.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Some might call it luck, I call it threats of dismemberment.

Only seven more days until Christmas, and you know what that means...

Um, no. I mean, yes. But no, I'm talking about something else. Try again.

Well yeah, that too. But that's still not what I'm referring to. One more guess.

You've got a point. But no... Let me help you out. What's 4x6, comes in your mailbox and causes me great fits of angina every year?

Right! Holiday cards! You're so smart.

Every year I have a slight (read: HUGE. MASSIVE. EPIC.) hissy fit trying to get the perfect photo for our holiday cards. I don't know why, it's just what I do.

Except this year it was remarkably pain free. On a beautiful warm day in November, Mr. C and I dressed the girls up in matching clothes, brushed and washed them until they sparkled and then propped them up on a rock in our yard in the hope we would get one picture where they weren't pulling each others hair and no one was missing an eyeball. I positioned them, threatened them with bodily harm if they moved and then stood back, screaming "TAKE THE FREAKING PICTURE!!" at my husband while the kids planned their first trips to the therapist in their heads.

And wouldn't you know, the first picture we took was a keeper. Not just a keeper, but suitable for framing. It was the first damn picture we took! We were so ahead of the game, it was spooky.

I know. Where's the drama? Where's the goofy faces? Where's the screaming??

Well, there was screaming but that was coming from me. Come to find out, scaring your kids silly will result in a good holiday card picture.

*jots that down in my "Things to always remember" book*

So without further ado, I give you our family's 2009 Holiday Card.

The bottom is cut off because I wanted to gray out our names but my computer hates me and Photoshop especially hates me today so I just did a hack job on it and... Let's move on before I throw this piece of hardware against the wall.

I know, you're just as disappointed as I am. They actually look happy! They're smiling. No one is trying to kill the other. How am I supposed to be expected to work under these conditions??

It's bad enough that I've become one of those people who dress their kids up in matching outfits, but now I have a decent photo card. Next year I'm sticking them with pins.

I'm sorry Chicklets, if you want holiday drama with a side of conniption fits I suggest you go here first to read our history of the holiday photo session, then try this post, this one, finally ending with this one. I reread them because all of this happy happy made my left eye twitch.

God bless us, everyone. Now where's the nog?


In other news, I'm writing with more regularity. But it's not here. It's there. I'd love to know how you feel about perpetrating the Santa lie myth with your kids because I'm having a little bit of a hard time with that one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WWJD? Probably roll his eyes, turn some water into wine and eat some lobster stew.

An elementary school in Massachusetts is making national news this week because school officials sent home an 8 year old boy after he (allegedly *wink wink*) drew a picture of Jesus on the cross for a (alleged *nudge*) holiday assignment. Being a former Catholic and survivor of seven years of parochial school, of course I had to weigh in. What do you think about all the fuss?

(Oh, and there's an awesome recipe for lobster stew. How bad can that be?)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Like a busy bee with a slight case of ADD *and* OCD

Busy, busy, busy.

Running hither and yon getting my Christmas shopping done; chasing after children who never stop, EVER; solo parenting; finding time to see friends; starting a meat CSA today (glad I waited to see Food, Inc. until this past weekend. Yikes!) and getting the New England Mamas up and running again.... Busy, busy, busy. Like a little bee with ADD. Bzzzz.

Also, by the way, the sound in my head right now. Bzzzzzzzzz....

But even though I'm busy, I took the time to scour Etsy looking for perfect holiday teacher gifts so you won't have to. Because I love you that much. No need to thank me - unless you were planning on sending chocolates. Then you can thank me all you want.

Bzzzzzz...... (also the sound of a sugar high. fact.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It would have been quicker to script, record, and edit my own infomercial, but here you go - my weight loss secrets in two easy (pssh) steps.

(Sorry, it's a long one. Grab a healthy snack and settle in.)

I've had more than a few people ask me what I did to lose twelve pounds in 6 weeks.* I'd like to say it was as "simple" as working out and eating right, but anyone who has ever buckled down and changed their lifestyle dramatically knows it's anything but simple.

Y'all, those six weeks were wicked hard, but it wasn't impossible. Big distinction there. The key to my weight loss came down to the one/two punch of diet and exercise, and by "diet" I mean watching what I ate, not some crazy I'm-only-eating-kiwi-and-I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter-for-six-weeks diet.

Let's start at the beginning:


I really like to eat; I love a well prepared, multiple course meal with a glass of wine (or three) and maybe some warm bread with good olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt... and oh my gawd, my tummy. It is rumbling. But I particularly like to snack. I love chocolate, and Nutella, and salty chips, and Nutella, and cookies... Made with chocolate and Nutella maybe with a side of salty chips and is anyone else hungry right now? Giving up the snack foods was more than I could bear so I compromised - I ate smaller, more frequent meals that were heavier on the protein and fiber and lighter on the carbs so I could have a few pieces of chocolate at the end of the day when I needed it most.

The important part to all of this was that I counted calories obsessively. I kept a food diary and wrote down the approximate calories for each meal and tallied them as the day went on. If I wanted 120 calories worth of chocolate**, for instance, I needed to eat 120 calories less a day than I normally would. Or I would work out harder. More on that later. As the weeks went on I became really good at guessing how many calories were in a particular meal.

For six weeks I kept my calories between 1000 - 1400. If I exercised I could consume closer to 1400 and still lose weight, if I didn't I was stuck to around 1000. Believe me, I exercised.

Okay, a typical day's menu:


Small bowl of Kefir with homemade granola (that way, I knew exactly what went into it. Mine always had almonds in it. Mmm, protein.) and either berries or a few pieces of sliced banana, a cup of coffee with skin milk and a touch of sugar, followed by the first glass of water of the day.

Alternate: Piece of whole grain toast with tiny smear of peanut butter, fruit, coffee, water.

Super busy morning breakfast: Egg and cheese breakfast wrap from Dunkin' Donuts and a small iced coffee with skim milk, no sugar.

Not allowed: Lattes. *sigh*


100 calorie pack of almonds (I almonds on me at all times. They really help with the crashes.), or carrots or celery or fruit. I never want to see a carrot or a piece of celery for as long as I live, or until I need to put some in my Chicky's lunch box.


Usually a spinach salad of some sort. I found lots of ways to eat salad - with fruit or berries, nuts, seeds or a few pieces of chicken breast, touch of vinegar and oil. Done.

Alternate: A turkey burger (no bun) from Trader Joe's, topped with two tablespoons of jarred bruschetta, also from Trader Joe's, or
A portion of a chicken breast with the same bruschetta (I heart Trader Joe's bruschetta and no, they didn't pay me to say that. But if they ever want to send me a lifetime supply of the stuff... Hey Trader Joe's - Call me.) and a side of steamed vegetables.


Very similar to lunch. I was eating a lot of simple foods and since my kids are suspicious of anything that they can't recognize, making dinner was pretty easy. I also made more vegetarian meals and cut out red meat almost entirely. One of my favorite vegetarian meals was this one. So. FREAKING. Good. And no butter or oil needed. Healthy, FTW!

If I was time crunched and needed something substantial to last me a good amount of time - say if I missed lunch and it was 2pm and if I didn't eat something good I'd eat all my kids' snacks, my kids, and then I'd eat dinner - I'd fry one egg in Pam, top it with a half a slice of cheese (or if I wanted to be wild and crazy, a full slice. Somebody stop me!) and put it on a plain whole wheat english muffin (no butter! NO. BUTTER. Can you imagine?). That was roughly around 225 calories and kept me very sated for a long period.

Gratuitous picture of edible baby, eating.

The thing to notice here, chickens, is that I did not eliminate carbs from my diet. Carbs are your friend, but the kind of friend you only like to visit with once and a while. You love them but you know if you spent too much time with them you'd end up passed out, drooling and burping on the floor with your shirt off. Everyone has those friends, right?

Eating out was pretty much out of the question. If I didn't know exactly what went into it and couldn't count the calories, I didn't eat it. That meant I had to shop more (quick aside, why is eating healthy so damn expensive? WHY??) and cook more but overall I'd say the money we saved from not eating out more than outweighed the money we spent on more healthy groceries.

As for alcohol, that was off the menu too. Mr. C and I would split a bottle of wine a week and that was about it. I'm not going to lie, there were a few nights I cried. Instead, I drank water. Much water. So much that I had my own undertow.

The first three weeks were the hardest, after that it got a little easier every week until, toward the end, it got to the point where I simply could not finish a Dunkin' Donuts' egg and cheese breakfast wrap. My body had gotten used to eating small portions it refused to consume more. And because I eliminated the majority of processed foods from my diet, I felt better, my skin looked better, and I was happier. Refined white flour and food additives are the devil. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The bad part of this challenge food-wise was the day, toward the end of week six, when I Googled "How many calories in grapes". I didn't eat the grapes because eating them would have pushed me over my limit for the day. That's just wrong, necessary to do anything I could within my power to win, but wrong. Now I eat smarter; I eat almost anything I want and almost always in moderation. Except for that jar of Nutella I consumed the day after the end of the challenge. And the week of Thanksgiving. And that chocolate orgy I had last night.

I'm back on the wagon now, okay? Moving along...


Speaking of The Devil,

I practically lived on this thing. Or maybe it just felt like that. I was on that elliptical trainer for 30 to 40 minutes pretty much every day. I started slow on the manual setting so I wouldn't hurt anything (I still ended up with sore knees during that first week but nothing three Advil couldn't handle) and gradually worked up to doing intervals on level 5. On my machine that means the lowest setting, when my body was "resting", was actually on level 7 and at the highest it was at level 11. It felt a lot like running on really soft sand. I can't even describe how much that sucked but toward the end I was practically running for 40 minutes while singing basterdized military cadence. Which pretty much came down to me humming "I want to be an airborne ranger" like John Bender in the Breakfast Club (WHY is this video not on the internet somewhere??) while shaking my fist a lot and shouting Hooah! I'm not proud of any of that but, damn, it felt good to go 3 miles without passing out.

After almost dying working out on the elliptical, I would follow up with crunches - many, many crunches - and light weights for my upper body. And that's about that.... Except, I should mention here one thing. It is really difficult to find time to exercise when you have two really demanding little kids and a husband that travels constantly for work. /whining

The trick now is maintaining. I'm sad to say that after last week I am now up 2.5 pounds but I am committed to losing this weight to get back to my lowest and maybe even losing another 2 or 3 pounds. The weight doesn't matter to me, however, as much as toning does. I've never had muscular legs so I'd really like to lose more of the jiggle in my thighs, to say nothing of the junk in my trunk. I'd also like to firm my arms and shoulders and strengthen my core, back and shoulders. And cure cancer, pass the healthcare bill, save the world's starving kittens and help David Hasselhoff kick the booze. I think it can be done.

When I started this challenge I had a terrible pain in the left side of my abdominal muscles that started soon after I had CC and even went as far as having an ultrasound in that area to rule out any internal problems. After week 4, the pain almost entirely went away. Ditto most of my back problems. I have a history of severe back pain so this made me very happy. My physical therapist was right all along - strengthen the core and the pain goes away! I mean, wow, this is revolutionary. Everyone should know about this! I should write a book or something.

Before this, I also had a constant upset stomach unless I ate something. It was a lot like how a lot of women experience morning sickness - if I ate something the nausea would go away but if I didn't eat every two hours I'd get pretty sick, close to vomiting. (Sorry for the visual) I'm going to chalk that up to 18 combined months of severe hyperemesis followed by some pretty spectacularly bad eating habits. It's all but gone now. I've got it under control.

Weight loss and fitting into my skinny jeans was all a wonderful side effect of this challenge but the ultimate victory was getting myself on the road to health. Also a kick ass result? A couple of my girlfriends are competing in a weight loss challenge of their own. These two are too. I'm a mutha-effing role model! Hoo-ah!

*Reading that sentence after watching the Biggest Loser last night really makes me feel like a slacker. They lose 12 pounds in a week. A WEEK. I'm clearly not doing something right. Why are you still reading this?

**Individually wrapped chocolates. They's your friend.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Winning is its greatest reward. Winning, not having to wear spandex AND eating a jar of Nutella the next day is better.

Whoops. I might have missed posting about a little something last week.

That bet I had with Matthew? Ahem... [totally doing my best impression of Elle Woods when she finds out she got the last intern spot] I WON!

Oh yes I did.

I lost 11.5 pounds in six weeks! Boo-freaking-yah.

I went from 139.5 to 128. I'm still in shock that I was able to pull this off, especially - and don't tell Matthew this - since I really effed off during the first week. It was apple cider doughnut season and I refused to go an entire year without partaking of that manna from the heavens that is a fresh from the fryer apple cider doughnut. I have this thing about doughnuts. It's a problem I have no desire to get help for. So during that first week I may have eaten four doughnuts...

Okay, five. Five doughnuts...

Six, I ate a half dozen doughnuts. Are you happy? I was, until I checked the scale and I went up at least half a pound. So actually, I lost 12 pounds.

I don't have any before pictures because I forgot to take them and I don't have any after pictures because every mirror in my house is in a really dark room and I can't take a decent photo. I'm going to try to remember to take my measurements later and compare them to some measurements I took late this summer but my jeans are saying I lost some serious weight. From now until I save some money to buy some new pants, you can call me "Saggy ass" because my booty has gotten so much smaller it swims in pretty much every pair of jeans I own.

But the first thing to go, I'm sorry to say, was my chest. A moment of silence for my breasts please.


That's a cruel twist and especially not fair to those of us who didn't have much in the chesticle region to begin with. I'm really wishing I hadn't thrown away all those Miracle Bras I owned.

However, I fit into my goal jeans now! And most of the time I need to wear a belt with them!

You can't see me but I'm doing my happy dance right now. It looks like a slightly less coordinated seizure.

Our weight loss challenge came right down to the wire and in the end I only beat him by something like .06%. I have to admit there was a small part of me that felt bad when I told Matthew how much I had lost. I know he worked his ass off (pun intended) and I also know I gave him the impression that I was not doing so well. That was not completely intentional. I knew it would mess with his head a little bit but I was totally on the level with him from the beginning. For the longest time I seemed to be stuck at 8 pounds lost. I couldn't lose any more than that damn 8 pounds and normally I'd be fine with that but for the sake of this challenge I had to get over that hurdle. And I did but don't ask me how. It's a mystery.

Then I broke my toe, the same one I broke back in June. But this time I didn't accidentally kick a foot stool. No, this time I accidentally kicked the five pound weights I had left on the living room floor. How's that for irony?

No pictures of me in all my skinny glory but I've got a big picture of my discolored broken toe for you. You're welcome.
But ain't it purdy?

Then I got the head cold from hell. The only bright spot in that last week of the challenge is that, thanks to the cold, I had no desire to eat, which came in handy because I couldn't work out for three days due to the sickness and the toe. But those last few days before our final weigh-in I stuffed my angry toe into my sneakers and I did intervals on my elliptical trainer until I was practically in tears and hacking so badly I needed to sit down or risk passing out. I was NOT going to let him beat me.

Stubborn? Who, me? Why yes, yes I am.

If you haven't done so yet, please go gaze upon Matthew in all of his spandexed glory - that was our bet, after all, loser wears spandex and posts pictures for the world to see - and while you're there tell him what a great job he did because I never could have done this without his motivation.


For more on my love of doughnuts, I have a review up at New England Mamas about a Sweet pastry shop and dessert lounge. If you're a local and love a good pastry, you might want to check it out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Because no one else understands my obsession with Ralph Macchio like she does

My heart hurts today.

I'm going to just cut to the chase - My friend Anissa Mayhew had a stroke yesterday and today she is in the ICU. I am completely devastated by this news. Anissa is a new friend, I only just met her in July at the BlogHer conference, but I feel like I've known her forever. If you know her you probably feel the same, she just has that way about her - instantly likable. As news spread of her condition over Twitter and the internet the outpouring of love from the people who know her, both online and off, was amazing and inspiring. She is truly a loved person.

Anissa is a mother of three, a wife, a fellow blogger, founder of the fabulous community blog Aiming Low, Ralph Macchio's other biggest fan, and the most wonderful person you'd ever hope to meet. Like most, I'm worried for both Anissa and her family. If you feel like I do there are things you can do to help.

First, pray for her. Or if you have a hard time with praying, keep her in your thoughts. I believe in the power of positive thinking in times like these so send her some good juju.

Second, go here. A PO Box has been set up to receive any items you may went to send to the Mayhew family. Gift cards are important right now to help defer the cost of keeping her children occupied and fed. Anyone who has had a loved one in the hospital for an extended stay knows how difficult and disruptive it is for the family, especially small children, and home cooked meals are hard to come by when you're eating on the run. Please consider giving something, even if it's just something that will make her laugh. She loves to laugh.

Anissa is the most magnificent person with a smile that could light up whole cities. Last night was a dark one. I missed seeing her in my Twitter stream desperately.

I love you, Anissa! If anyone is going to make it through this, you are. Ralph Macchio is counting on you!!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Sometimes a cough is just a cough and not the end of days

Flu hysteria is solidly upon us, and by "us" I mean the country. I'm still only mildly concerned, but as the season progresses and more kids get sick (Hello, my town's high school was closed for five days due to an outbreak of what might have been H1N1. Freaking out? Me? Nooo.... Um.), mildly is slowly making its way toward moderately. If I watch another 60 Minutes expose on this flu I may be purchasing child-sized hamster balls dipped in Purell, but for now I'm still walking on the mild side.

In my house, we can't even get the flu shots, whether seasonal or H1N1. I did manage to get the seasonal flu shot for CC last week but as of today there are no boosters. Who knows when they'll get more. We're on the list. I'm starting to resent "the list". I have no faith in it. "Lists" can not be trusted.

As for Chicky, I have had no luck in getting her any flu vaccine. The kids' pediatrician simply does not have any for the 3 year and older group. According to the medical group's website, as of last week they had ordered 40,000 doses of the seasonal flu vaccine but so far have only received 1,400. I check their website regularly hoping for an update and we're on another notify list when the shots become available [*grumble*], but it all comes down to who gets an appointment the quickest. And don't get me started on flu clinics in the area dolling out the H1N1 vaccine. I can't, and won't, stand in line for 4 hours for the slight possibility of getting my kids vaccinated only to be turned away because they ran out.

Normally I don't fall for sickness hype. I'm not the type to watch the news and get freaked out because of the latest flu scare because I am simply too laid back about things like that, and if you got a good look at my carpets you would agree. Germs don't scare me, (some) germs are good. They build up immunity. That's why I let my kids lick the dogs, they're working on their antibodies. Also, I know that despite my best efforts to keep everyone's hands cleaned (which I do now, obsessively) and surfaces properly Lysol'd, we'll probably end up with at least one if not all of us sick this year. I have one child in school and the other who has a strong need to taste the world, no matter how gross and germ infested. I also have a husband who travels extensively, and as everyone knows an airplane is just a flying petri dish rapidly growing new and interesting viruses. Will we get sick this year? Oh, you betcha. At this point I'm hoping we won't get as sick as we possibly could.

But what about other sicknesses not related to any sort of flu virus? Like, say, the common cold?

Mr. C told me about a satirical cartoon he saw in a magazine, where a sign was posted outside of an eating establishment that read, "No shoes, no shirts, no service, no children under 16 with a cough." Or something to that effect. Satire, yes, but this seems to be the prevalent mood in most public spaces since news of the H1N1 virus caught fire. Every major news outlet is running stories on the so called Swine Flu and the devastating effect it can have on a person's body. Vaccinate your kids! Vaccinate yourself! Stay away from sick people! Every time I turn on the TV I see the same thing - Chicken Little in a conservative suit and heavily sprayed hair clucking about the flu.

Maybe I'm exaggerating a little but honestly, I'm surprised there hasn't been a color coded alert created for flu outbreaks posted on the front doors of public spaces.

As parents, where do we draw the line between keeping our kids safe and healthy and making little Timmy cry because he has a runny nose and can't go to playgroup?

Back in late September Chicky had a low grade fever, a cough and was sneezing so I kept her home from school for a couple of days, as I was supposed to do. You just don't mess around with a fever, especially when combined with other symptoms. She was fever free for a couple of days but still had the cough so I continued to keep her home.

After five days of being quarantined I thought it would be safe to send her to her weekly gymnastics class. I waffled since she still had the cough but I had something to do that morning and after discussing it with my mother in law, who was taking Chicky that day, we decided she was definitely well enough to go. When she was brought home later that evening she was very quiet and not herself and it seemed like it had nothing to do with her getting over a cold. It took me awhile but I finally found out that the source of her sour mood was the lecture the entire gymnastics class got about not coming to the gym while sick.

I asked her if any of the other girls were coughing and she said, No. I asked her if her coaches talked to grandma and grandpa and she said, No (My in-laws later confirmed that). I asked her how she felt about what her coaches said to her class and she shrugged without looking at me and said she wanted to go to bed. She clearly knew they were referring to her.

I was livid.

Not then and not since has any of the gymnastics coaches, and there's three of them, talked to the parents directly about when to send the kids to class and when to keep them home due to sickness (or anything else for that matter, but I won't get into that right now). There are printed guidelines that were given out at the beginning of class and I followed them to the letter, and yet my child was made to feel like she was doing something wrong because she had a cough. A cough, I might add, that she still has more than a month later. A cough, I will also add, that her doctor doesn't seem to be all that concerned with because it's just a damn cough. She didn't have any sort of flu, she wasn't even going to pass a banal head cold off to anyone else. And if she did, so what? It's a cold. The sky is not falling. A little bit of clear mucous, yes, but the sky? No.

I don't think we'll be returning to that gymnastics center when this session is over.

So where does the hysteria end? Are we going to start ostracizing kids with a history of sniffles? Hand out masks at play centers and schools and any other place kids might gather? Maybe a velvet rope and a check at the door, a la Studio 54, and turn away those who seem sick and allow only the seemingly well in? Internment camps maybe?

Obviously, I'm a little sore about the whole subject. In my mind, it's a case of common sense versus hysteria. But how do you feel about it? Would you take your kid out of a public space because another child he or she was interacting with was coughing or sneezing? Would you feel resentful of the parent for bringing their child out in public, even if you didn't know for sure how sick the kid was? Or would you just take out the sani-wipes and start spot cleaning everything around you in a twenty foot radius?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


CC and I went to a local children's store today to exchange a hat and mitten set I had bought for Chicky. Despite my insistence she stop growing, she seemed to have had a growth spurt and needed a larger size. We were just going to run in, get the next size up, and leave because I had many more errands to do before we needed to head back to preschool for pickup when a family caught my attention on my way to the hat display.

There was a woman about my age with her two young children, the oldest barely out of infancy and the little one around 4 months old, accompanied by someone I assumed to be the woman's mother. The grandmother was pushing the double stroller, casually picking up whatever full price item she liked and adding them to the already huge pile of clothing hanging from the stroller's handle, while the younger woman looked over the racks of discounted 6 month-sized outfits.

"Do the kids have matching Christmas pajamas yet?" she asked her daughter, and without waiting for an answer she added two more pairs of pajamas to her stack. The daughter, seeing what her mother did, sighed with what seemed to be exasperation and went back to looking at the sales rack, shaking her head. She seemed resigned to her mother's shopping spree.

Try as I might I couldn't stop my throat from constricting and my eyes from tearing up. It was exactly something my mom would have done. I could easily put myself in that woman's place and my mom in her mom's. Mom would have spoiled her granddaughter's silly and would have ignored all my pleas to stop buying them things they didn't need. Secretly, of course, I would have loved every second, knowing how much pleasure she would get from dressing up the girls. She would have bought them little trinkets for no reason other than she saw something they would have liked and they were never far from her mind. It would never be about the purchase but what she could do to make her grandchildren happy. All at once I was overcome with longing for the inevitable bickering between us. Five hundred different emotions hit me all at one time.

I coughed, dabbing at my eyes while I knelt down pretending to look at a satin holiday dress I had no intention of buying, willing myself to not turn into a huge puddle of tears in the middle of the store. Sweat started to pool between my shoulder blades and behind my neck. I was alternately furious at the hand life had dealt us and overcome with loss, both for me and my girls. I had a hard time seeing through my anger at the younger woman. I couldn't think straight because I was too busy imagining myself in her place. Honestly, I wanted to shove her for not seeing how good she had it.

Leaving the store seemed like a very good idea at that moment. In my haste I almost forget to grab the larger hat and I would have if I hadn't snagged the arm of my coat on the rack as I rushed by. With it in hand, I pushed the stroller containing a very tired and cranky CC toward the register and waited for the lone sales associate to ring up the three customers in front of me. While we waited the grandmother and her overflowing stroller got in line behind us and CC, the social creature that she is, waved furiously at the woman.

"Hi!" she called. "Hi!!"

"Hi to you," the grandmother replied with a smile. "What a pretty hat you have. Did your mommy get you that hat?"

"Hi!" CC answered. She put her hands in front of her eyes. "Boo!" She cackled at her own game.

The older woman laughed and returned the gesture. "Peek-a-boo!" CC roared with laughter.

I didn't say anything, just smiled and tried to stop the prickly feeling behind my eyes from coming back. So many things my mom missed.

Finally it was my turn at the register. Beside it was a display of fleecy holiday pajamas. Normally I'm put off by those displays, obviously intended to entice the shoppers in line to put more in their cart, but this time I grabbed two pairs, size 12 months and 4T, and put them on the counter with the hat.

"Did you find everything you were looking for today?" the girl asked me.

You don't have what I need in this store, I wanted to say.

"Yes," I answered. In a shaky hand, I signed my name on the credit card machine.

The grandmother smiled at me as I gathered up the shoe CC had thrown while waiting for me. "She's beautiful," she said. "I bet she'll look really cute in those pajamas."

Tears were threatening again. "Thanks," I mumbled over my shoulder as I turned to leave.

I placed the bag with the Christmas pajamas on the handle of our stroller while CC yelled, "Bye bye!" all the way out the door.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

*Insert voice of an adult in a Peanuts cartoon here*

Okay, I need to address the elephant in the room - Why I'm not writing anymore.

What? You don't see an elephant? It's right there. It's soiling the rug as we speak. It's an abomination! You just see a lumpy, smelly couch in need of replacing? Elephant, old couch. Toe-may-toe, Toe-mah-toe.

Yeah, I'm busy. The kids are kicking my ass. They take up so many more hours than I was prepared to give up and most days I just don't have the time to give to my own creative outlets. Blah, blah, blah.

Honestly, I just don't have the words. I use so many words every day - words to admonish, to soothe, to share, to order, to read countless board books and sing even more songs - but mostly my words seem to bounce back at me, refusing to stick to the intended receiver. It's maddening. So when I sit down to write I find that I have no more left in me to give.

When I started this blog my tagline was something like, Why am I always repeating myself? Or, Doomed to repeat myself. I forget exactly but that's the basic gist. It was a joke and a play on the title of the blog but I could never see how true it would become. As a dog trainer I had taught many people one of the cardinal rules of having a well trained dog was to not repeat things over and over. Give a command, mean it, and follow up if the command is not followed. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. Now as the mother of a four year old, an almost 17 month old, and wife of a man with a taxing job who travels frequently and always seems to be rushing out the door, I'm constantly repeating myself. Just further proof that I'm better with animals. My dogs listen to me but my family? Not so much.

These days I seem to be talking at my family more than I'm talking to them and some days - okay, most days - it gets to the point where I want to throw up my hands and say, What's the point? Usually followed by more than a few expletives but always to myself. Who's listening anyway?

I don't like this feeling of not being heard. As a stay at home mom I'm already in a position of not feeling like a respected member of society, no matter how many times Oprah tells the world how wonderful and necessary we are, so the compounded frustration of talking to people only to be ignored is not sitting well with me. Now I find myself reserving my words and saving them for when I really need them. I could have a great discussion with friends or chat up new people in the checkout line at the grocery store... Or I could save my strength for when I need to get two little people dressed and out the door, buckled in the car seats, sing Wheels on the Bus fifteen times and bark order to Don't Kick the Seat and Stop Annoying Your Sister and I Said No Snacks and NO WE'RE NOT THERE YET for the hundredth time. Lather, rinse, repeat x infinity.

And that's just when we're in the car.

I guess I should take my own advice from the dog world and tweak it just a bit for those of the two-legged variety. Maybe.

These days I feel my words bear no weight and honestly, seeing them here next to the blink, blink of the cursor is not really helping. Do they mean anything? Do they matter?

Come to find out, yes. I guess they do matter.

I took some time to go through my archives and I was surprised by what I found there. Moments I had forgotten, absolutely, and I was so grateful to my earlier self for having the foresight to write them down, but there also were actual pieces that I was proud of. There were posts that made me go, Damn, woman, you hit that one out of the park. Good for you! I was a little pissed off that I don't write like that anymore but still pleased that those words, at least for a period of time, came from me. Proof that I could string to sentences together! I'd like to say I was struck by inspiration and the words flowed like a mighty river from then on... But they didn't. More like a trickle from a leaky faucet, calcified and sort of stagnant, but I'll take what I can get at this point.

I may bitch and moan, it may be repetitive and dull, but they are my words and someday they'll all add up to something. To that point, someday my words will start sinking in with my kids too (Dear sweet Jesus, someday they will, right?) and my husband may look away from his work long enough to acknowledge my pleas for help (That's actually already working - Huzzah!). And my words here on this blog, no matter how trivial, will become precious to me when I look back on them.

And in the meantime, I'll start talking to the dogs more. They're great listeners.

Shit, I just realized this post sounds a lot like the whining from this post. Sorry, I suck. Um... Who wants to teach their dog to balance a treat on their nose?!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I know as their mom I should have warned them their faces would freeze this way

But as the woman who vomited for a combined 18 months while carrying them in my womb, I'll take the silly where I can get it.

This is what happens when I say, "Make a silly face!" Wow.

Friday, October 09, 2009

But if I do lose I'm totally going to rock it Olivia Newton John style.

Apparently, it takes another bet to force me out of hiding and writing on my blog again, but this is so worth it.

But let me back up a bit.

There comes a time in every person's life when they see the handwriting on the wall, where it is written in HUGE BLOCK SCREAMY LETTERS -


I've never been one to pay much mind to HUGE BLOCK SCREAMY LETTERS, especially when they're being insulting, so I kept eating the doughnuts. Lots of them. Because I love them dearly. Mostly the apple cider type because it is apple season around here and, oh my sweet jeebus! Have you ever tasted a fresh out of the fryer apple cider doughnut? Lightly sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar?? That's a little piece of heaven on earth right there, I'll tell ya. Uh huh. A little piece of doughy on the inside, crispy on the outside, fried in lard and covered in sugar heaven...

[Insert picture of me with a thought balloon over my head with a picture of a warm apple cider doughnut and a big goofy grin on my face here]

What I'm trying to say is, I may have partook of the baked goods a little too much lately. I've gained a bit of weight (a small child) and my jeans don't exactly fit anymore (sausage thighs) and after going through all that torture to find jeans that fit, well, that's just not acceptable. Also, I'm cheap and instead of buying new jeans that do fit I'm squeezing myself into jeans that don't fit and it's amazing I make it through the day without passing out at least twice from lack of oxygen.

I wish I could say this was a gradual process and it sort of snuck up on me but the truth of the matter is, most of my weight gain has happened since BlogHer in July. I had lost some weight before the conference (mainly to fit into those new jeans and as not to embarrass myself too much in front of size 0 boutique sales associates named Kimmy) but since I've been home it has been a nonstop baking and gorging extravaganza around here. And also more than a little late night Nutella eating. Straight out of the jar. Maybe a spoon was involved, but probably not. I have no shame.

And did I mention I broke my toe in June which made putting on a pair of sneakers really difficult? It's hard to exercise when you can't put on sneakers. May as well just sit on the couch with a full jar of hazelnut spread and practice my french kissing technique.

(No. Shame.)

I'm not the heaviest I've ever been but I'm close, and this is certainly the saggiest I've ever been. I waved at CC the other day while I was getting ready when I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror. My hand stopped saying hello but my upper arm flab was still flailing enthusiastically. Guess how I dealt with my sorrow.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, But Tania, why don't you stop eating so many cupcakes, and cookies and doughnuts and for heaven's sake take your head out of the Nutella jar and start working out. And to you I say,


I love food and I love to bake, and as strongly as I feel for all things fatty and sugary I have equal hatred for working out. I hate the gym. I loathe everything about it. I lack the inclination and desire to go and honestly that steep monthly price tag for a gym membership is not enough to guilt me into dragging my saggy parts to a facility that smells like body odor to work out on weight machines that are really torture devices in disguise. Torture devices that may or may not have been wiped down after the guy with the back 'fro used it before me.

No, what I need is outside motivation - for instance, a) a team sport or b) a personal trainer who is waiting for me to show up, or c) someone to work out with each and every day who also has the same messed up schedule as I have. Since none of those are readily available since a) Team sports for women of a certain age (ahem) are hard to come by, b) did I mention I was cheap?, and c) okay, that's a possibility but that still requires actually going to a gym. And did I mention my broken toe that isn't broken anymore...? Do I need to continue? I've got a million excuses, none of them good. Bottom line, there is one thing that can properly motivate me to work out and that one thing is my desire to WIN.

And also to fit into these again.

My favorite jeans. I bought these for BlogHer '07. Then I got pregnant and haven't really worn them since. Sigh.

And maybe if I'm really good, maybe these.

Zexy. I'd like to order the ass too. Size small.

What's really not sitting well with me is the fact that I am of a certain age (ahem) and I can't shove cupcake after cookie down my gaping yap while washing it down with a big juicy steak and not expect that it's going to affect me adversely. I've been having some health concerns lately and it's high time I start taking care of myself better so that I can live long enough to be an annoying, pesky, meddling burden on my children.

Which brings me to the bet.

After chatting (okay, bitching) with Matthew from Childsplayx2 about how many pounds we've both gained since BlogHer (My misery! It loves company! Huzzah!) we realized the only thing that was going to motivate us to lose weight was our ultra competitive spirits and threats of public humiliation.

So we made a bet - Who can lose the bigger percentage of weight in six weeks.

Yes I realize I've already made a bet with him recently and I lost but this time the bet is more interesting and the stakes are higher. Much higher, and possibly wider, but without a doubt, more embarrassing.

The wager - The loser has to post a picture of himself (or herself, but let's face it it's going to be him) on their blog wearing spandex. And maybe a neon pink headband.

(Psst, anyone know where I can find a neon pink headband? You can send it directly to Matthew. Heh.)

The threat of not only stuffing my thighs into stretchy shorts but also posting photographic proof of it for the internet and friends and family to see is more than enough motivation to get my ass in gear and get healthy. Skinny jeans are a powerful motivator but fear is BETTER.

We started our bet yesterday, Thursday, October 8. I have until November 19th to lose a higher percentage of weight than Matthew. Since everyone knows men lose weight more easily than women, I'm going to need some help from the internets to keep me focused. I'll take suggestions for weight loss plans (I already know about the Shred. I lasted 3 days. That should tell you something.), diet tips, disgusting pictures to tape to my refrigerator... Anything.

Also, excuse my crankiness. I'm starving.

Wish me luck!


Starting weight as of October 8: 139.5 lbs

Friday, October 02, 2009

It would be cheaper to tape his mouth shut

How to guarantee you'll need a new car:

Sit down with your wife to discuss your finances. Talk about how certain things will be paid off by a certain date as long as your car keeps running well, therefore keeping you both out of a second unnecessary car payment. Specifically point out that there shouldn't be anything to worry about in that department unless "the transmission goes".

Watch your wife visibly cringe because she thinks you jinxed things.

Scoff at your wife's unreasonable jinxing fears.

Maybe make a crack about how she worries too much.

Come home from work one afternoon less than a week later and mention how your car won't go into reverse anymore.

Start making plans to purchase a new car.

How to keep the peace in your marriage:

Start listening to your wife more. Or invest in a lot duct tape.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

[No Title]

I think I may have lost the ability to write.

No, really. It's lost. I swear I just had it but then I went to pour myself a glass of water and now I can't figure out where I put it... A month ago.

Who am I kidding*? Maybe it's been longer than that. A year? More? It's probably with that red sweater I've been looking for forever.

It could be that I'm lacking in inspiration. It's hard to get inspired when all I do is go from preschool drop-off to playgroups to gymnastics class to Mom and Tots music class and back home so my spawn can get rest. Me? I get laundry.

I'm not complaining necessarily - I signed up for all this stuff. Hell, I signed up for this parenting gig. No one forced me into it, no one tricked me, but I'd be lying if I said the redundancy, the mind-numbing monotony wasn't starting to get to me.

(And for the record, I wrote "MOM-otony" before spell check caught it. True story.)

(Uh Tania, there's someone on the phone for you. A Mr. Freud? Oh sorry, Doctor Freud. He'd like to talk to you about your lingerie? Sorry again, your slip.)

Okay maybe I'm complaining a little. I really don't want to be one of those "What About ME???" people but Christ on a cracker... What about ME?????

(It's safe, I'm done. You can come back now.)

The thing about this here blog o' mine is it's supposed to be a true and honest account of my life, both with and without children (and by that I mean, my life beyond children. I always have them because, well, they won't go away.), so if I were following with that theme I would be honest about the fact that life is kicking my heiny these days. So here goes - Life? Is kicking my ass with its size 12 boot. There's tread marks back there that no amount of miracle creams will remove. And by tread marks, I mean cellulite.

So that's why I'm not writing - I'm waiting for inspiration to come back. In the meantime, I will tackle Mount St. Laundry and play chauffeur and be the seemingly happy-go-lucky, iced coffee swilling, kids-overscheduling, yoga pant-wearing, Uber-mom. But without the closet meth habit. And I will write again when inspiration decides to come out of her hiding place among the lost socks and misplaced grocery store cards and single earrings and random My Pretty Ponies. Which at this rate should be right around 2011.

*Really, who am I kidding? It was gin. Water? Pssh.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What's next, life? Kicking kittens?

Hi, internet people. I've missed you.

I wrote a post - really, I did! And then Blogger ate it. Gluttonous bastard.

Two weeks with no posting - TWO WEEKS - and when I finally sit down to write something... Poof! It's gone. Off to the great internet junkyard in the sky. Or something like that. I can't even think of a decent metaphor, that's how ticked off I am.

It was brilliant! And pithy! With lovely descriptive images that would have made Hemingway weep! As far as you know, the damn thing is lost now so I can talk it up if I want to.

I give up. I think I'm going to go eat another leftover birthday cupcake and wallow. Peanut butter frosting is equally good for celebrating 37th birthdays and for wallowing.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Well Rope, it seems we've reached the end.

My daughter and I are at war. All out, nuclear missile, weapons of mass destruction, war. W-A-R, WAR. What is it good for? That's right, absolutely nuthin'.

My heart hurts, my head is pounding and my throat is sore from yelling. And I'm pretty sure my neighbors are wondering who that crazy bitch is who moved in last year, the one who screeches at her kid. I've reached the end of my rope on more than one occasion over the past year and nothing I do seems to make any bit of difference. Not that screaming helps. Nope. That's just to release the frustration so things don't actually get broken. It doesn't work either.

Maybe it's the age? Her personality? My personality? It doesn't start out bad - I'm positive. I'm zen-mother-goddess. I praise, I reward, I praise, I reward, it devolves, I warn, I punish, I punish, I punish, I lose control, I scream. I do everything the experts tell me to do until it becomes clear it's not working and then it turns into a horrible shouting match. Doors are slammed, things are thrown. Everything, and I do mean everything, is a fight.

Hey Chicky, it's daytime!

No! It's not and you can't tell me it is. Hmmph.

But, but, the sun is shining. It's day. Really! Look! It's daytime.

NO!!! *screaming, crying, tantrum, slamming door, The End*

She's four, for Christ's sake. What's going to happen to us in the coming years if we can't get this sorted out now?

We don't have good days and bad days anymore. We have a good ten or twenty minute span followed by a few hours of hell. Or maybe we go a whole hour or two without arguing and I get comfortable and cocky and then she sets me off with her repeated insolence and rude, defiant behavior.

I want to wrap this up nicely with a pretty pink bow but there is nothing pretty or nice about ending the day with the both of us in tears. There are no learning moments, no future seen in soft-focus, only pain and frustration and fear. I fear that I'm failing her and by virtue of that, her sister who witnesses it all. These are essential years and I can't seem to get it right. It doesn't really bode well for the rest of their childhoods, you know?

I'm so tired. I was hoping by writing this I'd get some of this pressure off my chest and I'd feel better. Turns out, no. There's a list of child development specialists on my fridge that I can call, that I should call, so why does it feel like admitting defeat? Like I can't properly parent my child.

I sound like a broken record at this point. Feel free to move on. No humor, no cute stories. Nothing to see here. Move along.

And please ignore the screaming.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains

I am a baseball fan. More to the point, I am a Red Sox fan, but I'll root for any local team even a Little League team. And when one roots for the local team sometimes a wager or two needs to be made in their honor. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, blah blah blah.

Anyway, I lost a bet. To this guy. A Padres fan. You have no idea how much that pains me, but I always make good on my bets.

So I'm over at his blog today. I always pay my dues, but I don't give up that easily. Heh.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bad Mommy Confessional - Part 275,398 in a continuing series

I've made some pretty magnificent fuck ups when it comes to my kids in my four years as a parent. I'm pretty stellar in the fuck up department anyway but when it comes to my kids I try to keep it to a minimum, which only makes each fuck up more of a train wreck.

Also, fuck up.

Take for instance that time two weeks ago when I got Chicky hyped up on the promise of Summer Camp. After being away from it for three weeks due to vacations and trivial things like dwindling bank accounts, she was desperate to go back to her preschool, where summer camp was being held.

For a week I counted down to that damn 3-day camp like it was the end of days, but way funner.

Then when the day finally came we had a spectacularly bad morning where no one (read: Everyone but me.) (Okay, everyone including me but I had to so the choice was taken out of my hands.) wanted to get ready to actually get out of the house and to the summer camp even though everyone (read: Chicky. And me. Please for someone to be taking my child.) so badly wanted to go but apparently not enough to actually get dressed or eat breakfast or willingly have their teeth brushed or anything.

Then the baby slept late. So I had to wake her up in order to get her fed, dressed and out the door.

Let me repeat that - I had to wake up the baby. On purpose.

And then, as we were just about to head out the door - Bowel movements for everyone!

Yes I just went there and I am unrepentant.

So we were late and I was snappy and Chicky was sulky and CC was stinky (Three of the lesser-known dwarfs that were cut when casting the original gang of seven. True story.) and none of this would have been bad or even out of the ordinary if I hadn't messed up my days and brought her to camp ON A WEEK SHE WASN'T SCHEDULED TO BE THERE.

Mother of the Year right here, baby. Now where the hell is my medal?

In front of her friends, their parents, and her teachers - and let's face it, God was probably there to witness it too, judging me. The preschool is in the bottom of a church, of course it is - I had to convince my child, who by now had backed herself in a corner like a frightened doe facing a shotgun, that she had to willingly leave her most favorite place on earth EVER, the place where she gets to run in the sprinklers and do crafts and have snack, to come home with me and her sister to do unfun stuff. Like play in the sprinklers and do crafts and have snack.

Uh uh, she was not going. She wasn't going and nothing anyone could do could convince her otherwise. She's stubborn, that one. Not sure where she gets that from.

So I cajoled - Come on, honey. Please come with Mama? We'll do lots of super fun stuff! We'll watch movies! We'll bake cookies! Anything! Just ask! A pound of flesh? You've got it! Take two, there's plenty where that came from.

And her teacher stood there, giving me that look. You know, that look? That, Aw, this kind of sucks for you, huh? But don't worry, we've all been through it and that alone should make you feel way better about screwing up your child's whole life forever and ever, look?

Okay I may have imagined that last bit. I doubt it, but maybe.

Please baby, Mama loves you. I'll buy you a donut! I'll buy you a toy! I'll buy you a damn pony, just please come with me so I can drown my shame in a chocolate frosted and large iced coffee.

The donut must have been the key because she came with me. And we drove to the nearest Dunkin Donuts while I heard all about how much she wanted to be at summer camp with her friends. How much she really wanted to go to school again. How much she really hated my guts.

Again, maybe I imagined that last part. Maybe?

And as we drove away from the donut shop I handed her the bag that held her precious sugar fix... and she immediately informed me that I had bought the wrong donut. Gee, what are the odds?

That kind of set the tone for the rest of the week. On a scale of one to ten, ten being accidentally mistaking my children for speed bumps and one being not washing a favorite blanket in time for bedtime, this fuck up fell probably around a four. Maybe a five. In the grand scheme it wasn't that bad and I'm sure I'll probably do much worse before my children finally flee the nest. As a matter of fact, I'm positive I will.

This? Was not so bad.

I try to remember the good moments when I'm going through a rough time. Like when I'm missing my mom I try to recall a happy memory and hold on to it because I don't have the real thing. When it comes to my kids, for the sake of this blog anyway, I try to put the good before the bad. This is a sort of diary for them as well as for me and I want them to know that no matter what, I love them fiercely. That's not to say I don't include the ugly bits here. I see no reason to shield anyone from the nasty parts of motherhood and I have always been forthright about this family's low patches.

That being said, things are not easy around here right now. Today was a particularly bad day, and it's not even 3pm. I'm too tired to write about it so I took a reasonably banal moment and documented it with a touch of tongue-in-cheek humor thrown in to make me, if not anyone else, laugh. It's not anything specific, maybe just a case of growing pains, but when people thank me for reminding them that this parenting gig is not so bad most of the time when I'm the one in need of reminding... I don't know. I guess I feel like a bit of a hypocrite.

So quick, quid pro quo - tell me how great this parenting gig really is.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It won't always be this way

We pack the bags, the beach toys, the towels, the snacks, the drinks, the shade tent, and the kids and we head to the beach where we unpack the bags, the beach toys, the towels, the snacks, the drinks, the shade tent, and let the kids have their way with rocks and bits of dead crab parts found while the baby tries to shove great handfuls of sand in her mouth and Chicky complains there's sand in her Goldfish crackers. Soon we're covered in sweat and sand and the rocks have taken their toll on our tender toes and we're tired and wiped out and the kids are cranky and we're cranky and we still have to repack the bags, the beach toys, the towels, the leftover sandy snacks, the bottles with the dregs of warm drinks, the shade tent and the kids and we tell ourselves -

It won't always be this way.

At the ice cream shop, one girl is jumping out of her skin in anticipation, bumping into unsuspecting customers in her excitement, while the other toddles toward the busy parking lot. Ordering takes much longer than it should because we're scolding and admonishing and chasing, we look apologetically toward the college-aged girl behind the counter. Soon both girls are sticky from head to toe with a combination of pink and green ice cream and as a result we're both covered with ice cream too. Over their heads I say to him -

It won't always be this way.

At dinner, CC is not content to sit at the table, she needs to get down and make her own discoveries on the well trodden floor. Chicky whines for her supper. Why is it taking so long? she asks mournfully. The food finally comes and they pick at it like they weren't just starving a moment ago while we devour our food in shifts, first him then me. We leave a pile of discarded napkins and french fries on the floor behind us. As we're buckling both overtired girls in the car he says to me -

It won't always be this way.

It's been a long day and we get the girls undressed and ready for bed. We inhale the scent of their suntanned bodies, the salt in their hair. As we put her in bed, we ask Chicky what her favorite part of the day was. Everything, she answers emphatically, a contented smile on her face. Bedtime stories read, she holds tightly to our necks - I love you Mommy, I love you Daddy. So much.

In the quiet of her room I rock with CC in my arms. I pepper her silky hair and her rosy cheeks with kisses. She sighs contentedly and tucks her arms and legs underneath her while snoozing on my chest. I rub her back before finally, begrudgingly, placing her into her crib. She grabs her lovie and closes her eyes and for a moment I linger, watching the rise and fall of her chest before leaving the stillness of her room. I fall, exhausted, onto the couch next to him and lay my head on his shoulder. I'm quiet while I think about our day, the highs and lows, the difficulties and the triumphs. But most of all, I think about the last few minutes. I think about the love and the need, both theirs and mine. And I say to him with a heavy heart -

It won't always be this way.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Grandma's little helper

While preparing to grind my coffee at Trader Joe's this afternoon a nice older woman approached the adjacent bread section.

"I'm sorry," I said, smiling, moving my cart out of the way. "Let me move this so you can get to those muffins."

"Don't worry about me, honey, nothing's going to stop me from getting to my sweets," she replied with the biggest smile. "What you're doing there is important work. And, ooh! I love that coffee! Good choice."

"Yes, I love this coffee too. I'm kind of addicted to it."

She laughed heartily. "Addicted, yes, I can be that way too. Although, these days I drink more tea. Do you enjoy tea, dear?"

"I do but I have two little ones, so I need my caffeine," I explained with another smile. "These days I seem to drink a ton of it."

"I've been known to overdo it a time or two myself," she confided, chuckling.

She was so likable, so easy to talk to! Such a sweet, grandmotherly type. Wow, I thought, apparently I need to come to Trader Joe's more often. It's the happiest place on earth!

The grinder hummed along.

"How old are your children?"

"Four and fourteen months."

"Ooh, you've got your hands full." Her face was full of understanding. She had been there. Long ago, but she knew where I was coming from. She seemed to be remembering her time as a mother, as she stared off into space for a moment. Okay, a long moment.

"I hope you take care of yourself in other ways," she nicely admonished, snapping back to today. "To keep yourself going? Supplements and, you know, things like that?" She had a curious look on her face.

"I do," I assured her. "I try to take care of myself. Can't keep up with two active kids with just coffee in my system, know what I mean?

"So, where do you get your, um, product?"

"Excuse me?" The grinder was still humming along, and it was fairly loud. Maybe I didn't hear her correctly?"

"You know, your product."

She can't be asking me what I think she's asking me. Can she?

"Uh, that little health food store near the independent book seller?"

"Oh yes, I know the place. There, huh?"

Oh God, what the hell is she getting at? "Yes, they're very nice there. Very helpful. You know, with supplements?" If she is asking me what I think she's asking me, maybe she'll get the hint now. Yeah.

"I'll have to try there, then. Yes, I'll go there now. Right... now. Yes." She turned her head slowly toward the exit.

The coffee machine had run its course and I was standing there, slightly gap jawed.

"Ooo-kay then. Well, nice talking with you."

"Yes," she said, slightly absentmindedly. "Very nice."

And with that she wandered away.

I'm not sure but I think I just send a nice, little old lady to my favorite health food store to ask for drugs. But worse, I'm just sorry I'm not a fly on the wall to see that conversation go down.

Monday, August 10, 2009

But I'm keeping my black shit

Friday afternoon, in the car:

Me: So, you heard John Hughes died, right?

Him: Who?

Me: [head threatening to explode] John Hughes? The man responsible for The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and many, MANY other excellent movies? The man who created Duckie and Bender? And "Blane? His name is Blane? That's a major appliance, that's not a name."? The man responsible for the shaping of our formative years?? THAT John Hughes???

Him: Oh yeah, that guy. Yeah, I think I heard something about that. Too bad, huh?

Me: [Boom]

Me: Yes it is too bad that he died - but kind of ironic in a way. I was just writing a post drawing a connection between a character in The Breakfast Club and personal blogging, more specifically my personal blogging...

Him: Come again?

Me: I know, weird, right? But let me explain. You know Allison, how she's always carrying around that big bag...

Him: Allison?

Me: [Boom again] Ally Sheedy?

Him: Right. Go on.

Me: ... She's got that bag and she keeps it really close to her at all times until that scene with Andrew and Brian - sorry, Emilio Estevez and Anthony Michael Hall - where they compare what's in their wallets with each other...

Him: And Anthony Michael Hall's got the bad fake I.D.?

Me: Right! Very good. You were beginning to make me question this whole relationship of ours.


Me: So, Allison steals Brian's wallet and then gives it back and then the guys start comparing the stuff in their wallets and it's kind of personal and kind of silly but most important - they're connecting on a more intimate level...

Him: High school boys do not connect on an intimate level.

Me: [stink eye] It's a John Hughes movie. The boys are very in touch with their feelings. Kind of. Maybe?

Him: Continue.

Me: Okay, so. Wallets, fake I.D., nudie picture... The whole time Allison is there clutching that bag to her chest like her life depends on it and you can see in her eyes that she wants to share so badly she can hardly stand it but she's been so quiet up until now that she's torn -- Don't give me that look. I've seen the movie so many times, I know that she's torn -- so she asks them, Do you want to see what's in my bag? To which they say, No. Like, emphatically. No. She's weird and there's that whole high school social pecking order thing...

Him: You need to get out more.

Me: [ignoring] Finally she can't take it anymore and she, like, dumps her massive bag out in front of them -- and there is, like, a ton of shit in there. Like, it takes forever to dump everything out of that damn bag of hers - and she has to defend why she carries all that stuff with her at all times while the two guys pick through it with this mixture of disgust and curiosity. And in the end you can tell she's totally relieved that she did it. Like a weight has been lifted off her shoulder. But at the same time she's horrified of what she just did... A woman's bag is a very important, very sacred thing, you know.

Him: Yes, I know.

Me: And in the end it's all worth it. She gets the guy and they kiss and she takes a memento...

Him: That scene always pissed me off. Right, in a fit of superhuman strength she rips the patch off the arm of his jacket? How did she do that? My patches were all sewn on by my mom and there was no way some girl was going to rip those things off with her bare hands.

Me: I think it was ironed on. You're mom really sewed on all your patches? Wow.

Him: Yeah, and you're, like, talking like a teenager, like.


Him: So how is this like your blog exactly?

Me: Dude! The bag is a metaphor for all my feelings and stories! People everywhere are comfortable sharing bits of themselves online. Don't you see? They're opening up their wallets! They're dumping out their bags! And even though I've been blogging for almost FOUR YEARS I still play things pretty close to the vest, you know? I keep the contents of my bag pretty secret. I stick to the fringe. Lay low. Keep my hair in my eyes.

Him: Are we still speaking in metaphors?

Me: Sort of. I can't wait until these damn bangs grow out. Anyway, now that I've been to a few of these blogging conferences, I've seen people who have shared intimate details of themselves building relationships with others who also aren't afraid to show their emergency underwear, so to speak.

Him: Did you ever think maybe not over sharing is a good thing?

Me: Maybe. I guess I wouldn't like strangers poking through my metaphorical tampons.

Him: Exactly.

Me: And then Andrew tells her she has problems.

Him: Yep.

Me: And then there's the thing of her being a pathological liar.

Him: Uh huh.

Me: And I never did understand why she had to get all pretty for the guy to like her.

Him: Mmm hmm.

Me: Why did she have to get a Molly Ringwald makeover? She was the same girl underneath all that black shit. Molly Ringwald should have let her keep the black shit! She liked the black shit! Although, I do believe the headband was an inspired choice.

Him: We're not talking about your blog anymore, are we?

Me: No, I guess not.

Him: Can we drop this subject then?

Me: Yeah, sure. I guess. But I'm totally, like, blogging about it.

Him: I wouldn't expect anything else. Will you warn me if and when you decide to dump out "your bag"?

Me: Like, totally. And for the record, your mom spent way too much time on your high school jacket. It's kind of troubling, actually. If at anytime you'd like to talk about it...

Him: Drop it.

Me: Okay, Sporto.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

BlogHer '10 or 20th high school class reunion? Decisions, decisions.

When BlogHer announced the date and location of next year's conference two things went through my head:

1. Yay! It's closer to home next year. A bunch of us New England bloggers can take the train together and bond over mimosas in the club car and get to know each other better by chatting in our large, comfortable, non-airplane seats. Probably via Twitter but you know, still chatting.


2. Hmm, that date sounds awfully familiar, like I've already planned something for that weekend. But that's silly, I never plan anything that far in advance. It's an entire year away, I don't even know what I'm doing next week. Pshaw. I'm sure it's nothing.

And I swatted that notion away like a pesky fly. Until last night when I was checking my Facebook page.

I don't know what made me check Facebook. I hardly ever check Facebook anymore. I mean occasionally when Twitter is down I'll run to Facebook like a fickle lover. I'll whisper a few sweet nothings and send them out into the ether, just to get my fix. But for the most part, the people I have friended on Facebook are either the people I already chat with in on Twitter, friends I see every week anyway, or high school friends I haven't spoken with in almost 20 years so...

Almost 20 years. Wow. That's a long time.

Twenty years. Twenty years?

Shit, my 20th class reunion is next year. I'm not looking forward to attending that reunion.

My reunion. My reunion? My reunion!

My 20th high school reunion is the same weekend as BlogHer '10.

Okay, that's funny.

It's like the universe is absolving me from having to go to my reunion and mingle with people I didn't really much for when I was a naive 17 year old and will probably really dislike when I'm a much more worldly 37 year old.

Hey, I've had my passport stamped at least twice. Maybe more. That totally counts as being "worldly".

But still, I weighed my options. My 20th reunion should be something I want to go to, right? I have this girlfriend who didn't go to hers, and every once in a while, she gets this really terrible feeling--you know, like something is missing. She checks her purse, and then she checks her keys. She counts her kids, she goes crazy, and then she realizes that nothing is missing. She decided it was side effects from skipping the reunion. No wait, that was prom. And if you get that reference we can friends.

On the one hand, I told myself, I could go for four days to New York City and hang out with people I genuinely want to spend time with. Okay, they're people I met in the computer but as far as I know they're not going to slip me a horse tranquilizer and harvest my vital organs. Although, I do have my doubts about a few...

But on the other hand, maybe I should put aside petty differences and hurt feelings and resentments and all that and bury the hatchet - so to speak because, you know, not literally bury the hatchet, even though I may want to take something sharp to a certain girl who used to be my friend before she stole my boyfriend, bitch - and maybe reconnect with the few people I actually liked in high school.

I gave it a lot of thought (five minutes) and actually came up with a pros and cons list. Ready?

"Should Tania go to the BlogHer '10 conference in NEW YORK FREAKING CITY or go to her 20th high school class reunion and stand in the corner and muse over what happened to that hot boy she had a crush on when she was 16 years old and he never gave her the time of day's hair and probably leave after an hour?"
Going to Blogher -

The Pros:
- It's in New York City and despite being just a few hours away I've never been. And yes, I've just admitted that I'm really that lame on the internet.
- Overwhelming, but in a good way.
- Late night parties, good conversation, and you never know where you're going to end up at 3am.
- SWAAAAAG: The steel cage match. Two people go in, one person comes out with a trial-sized bottle of laundry detergent.
- I like to squee.
- Where else can you gush over someone's business card and mean it?
- Seeing friends I only see once, maybe twice a year. Even the ones who live twenty miles away from me.
- *add something here about cultivating my craft and building business relationships and blah blah blahdee blah*

The Cons:
- The price. Wowza. I think I need my own street corner to pay for next year.
- Overwhelming, but I'm working on my social anxiety. One drink at a time.
- Exhaustion. Come to find out, I'm not twenty anymore. Who knew?
- Four days of squeeing when I'm generally done after two.

Going to my 20th reunion -

The Pros:
- Um.
- I'm sure the food won't be too bad?

The Cons:
- Really? Do I need to write it all down? I have kids to take care of before they go off to college.

So after much soul searching and wringing of hands and rendering of garments, I've decided to go to BlogHer.

Who wants to hit the nightclubs at 3am? Because if I'm going, I'm pretending I'm seventeen years old again... And paying for the after affects for the next year. I'll need the company.