Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Never A Dull Moment

"You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance." ~Franklin P. Jones

As we approach the two year mark as parents, it would not be untrue to say that we learn a little something new every day. Just a few of the lessons we've stumbled upon in recent months:

- Drool doesn't evaporate off of hard surfaces, it just hardens.

- No matter what I make for dinner, she will not want it, even if the day before she ate it like it was manna from heaven.

- My shoulder is her favorite spot to wipe her boogery nose.

- Toddler fingernails grow faster than it would seem humanly possible and are sharper than pterodactyl claws.

- Daylight Savings sure doesn't save me sleep.

- The activities I encourage will occupy her for approximately 14 seconds, ie coloring, puzzles, reading. Those I don't will entertain her endlessly: stacking coins, splashing in the cats' water bowl, pulling books off the shelf.

- If a tail is presented, it can be sure to be pulled. With the expected hissing and growling results.

- A toddler simply can't resist hopping out of the car cart for an impromptu dance to the grocery store muzak version of Can't Touch This.

- The full sized playground equipment is scary as hell for the mother of an adventurous toddler.

- An adult butt does not fit especially well down the kids' slide.

- Bathtime is an invitation to pee in the tub.

- If she's grunting, good things are not coming.

PS - I've been nominated for a Mobbie! You can vote once a day for one blog in each category (I'm nominated as a Family Blog) as well as for Best Overall Blog so please vote as often as you can.

Also, please vote for my friend John Waire in the Photography category. He is a super cool guy and his photos are absolutely gorgeous.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nice Place To Visit

I wrote the other day about my struggle with the decision of whether or not to have more children. In the intervening week, I've thought about it on more than one occasion (okay, all the time) and I've come to a realization. I think my increasing awareness of all the babies is less about my possible desire for another child than it is about wanting my current kid back as a baby. It is nostalgia for those early, new days. The awe and wonder every moment brought.

I mean, seriously, how freaking cute is this kid?

















However, as much as I want to revisit those days, I do NOT want to live there again. Strangely, the allure of mood swings, bloody nipples and sleep deprivation so intense I was concerned I might start hallucinating just aren't enough to suck me back in. I know, I'm crazy like that.

PS - I've been nominated for a Mobbie! You can vote once a day for one blog in each category (I'm nominated as a Family Blog) as well as for Best Overall Blog so please vote as often as you can.

Also, please vote for my friend John Waire in the Photography category. He is a super cool guy and his photos are absolutely gorgeous.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shampoo

I laid in bed last night and wrote a post in my head about how maybe I just don't have the "mommy gene." I do this a lot. In fact, if you could hear my thoughts on any given day, what you would hear is me creating posts, the vast majority of which will never see the light of day either because I forget about them or they just don't have the juice. When I woke up this morning, a good night's sleep under my belt, I was still rolling the words around in my head. Thinking about my mommyness.

I kept ruminating on our trip to the zoo yesterday with a friend of mine and her son, who is just a few months younger than Sophie. While he sat peacefully in his stroller, pointing and commenting about the animals, Sophie spent the entire day racing around while I followed her with the empty stroller, screeching, "NO, Get Back Here, Stop, Get Down From There, Get OUT of the WATER, Do NOT Touch That, DO NOT CLIMB INTO THE CAGE!" Lather, rinse, repeat.

There were a lot of times where I just let her go. Where I allowed her to run off. Where I didn't say anything because I was just so tired of saying no.

And then there were all the times where MY daughter ran up to my friend and put her arms up to be held or reached for my friend's hand, so she could walk along side her. Neither of these things she did to me. All day.

All of which left me feeling a little OFF. Left me wondering if I'm missing some critical "mom" element. The rest of the day didn't really open the door on that one. I'm not even talking about the bigger, more abstract question of whether to have more children, but the far more immediate and scary question of am I enough to be a good mom to the one I have? I laid in bed staring at the lights on the ceiling thinking about this while I waited for sleep to come.

But then I woke up this morning, and my first thought was of my daughter. She was downstairs with Neil. Ever so faintly I could hear her voice. The high pitched squeals of her laughter. I longed for her. I wanted nothing more than for her to wrap her arms around me and give me one of her big, open-mouthed, wet kisses. And I thought that maybe I do have what it takes. That being a good mom isn't an always ON thing. That some days I will look at the pint sized being that has taken up residence in our house and not have the first idea what to do with or about her.

Despite that, I will do what needs done. I will make mistakes. Sometimes big ones. But I will keep on doing.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

PS - See that widget up in the top right there? Scroll up. Yes, that one. I've been nominated for a Mobbie, so can you be a dear and go vote for me? Every day between now and October 9? Hey, thanks!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Funny Word Verification 2

And the hits just keep on coming! My beloved (snark!) word verification has given me a whole new round of fun words to play with.

Zatenat - (at the buffet) I want zatenat but nunuvat.

Boido - It's like Playdo, only it's made of boys. OR A young hobbit.

Paltrog - If Gwyneth and a toad made a baby.

Antless - Something our kitchen is maddeningly NOT for at least four weeks at the beginning of every summer.

Throusi - (on the golf course) Do you mind if we just play throusi?

Debackin -I wish I could wear those jeans, but I just can't fit debackin.

Sherfie - The heavily clothed little men that lead you up the mountain?

Kringlasm - I won't get too dirty here, but it's something that happens at the North Pole when Santa and the missus are feeling frisky.

Shots - Yes, please!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Freedom

We've crossed into dangerous territory in the Land of Bean.

This morning, Sophie began banging on her door at the unholy hour of 5:30am. This is at least an hour earlier than her usual, which was in itself a half an hour earlier than we had gotten used to. And I am no morning person. I would prefer waterboarding to being awakened before the sun. The last thing I wanted to do was pry myself out of the warm, soft embrace of my 500 thread counts, but when your kid is banging on their door with all their might, you get up.

So just as I was finally dragging myself out of bed, I heard the click of her door and the pounding of little feet as Sophie freed herself from the confines of her room and came running into our room. We knew that she could open some of the other doors in the house, but so far the antique-y ones on the bedrooms were beyond her capabilities. I thought it might be a one time thing, though, that I hadn't latched the door all the way the night before.

Wrong.

Tonight, when I put her down, she waited until I walked out before climbing up onto the end of her bed, from which she dangled herself off in just such a way as to get a couple of fingers on the doorknob and open the door. And just like that, she was free. I saw all of this on the crib cam, while I stood just outside her door, after which I pounced into her room with an "AHA!", catching her in the act. I called out to Neil and after a brief discussion, we got one of the doorknob cover thingies from another door to put on her inside knob.

We're both a little weirded out about essentially locking her in there, but the possibility of waking up to mini-me climbing on my head, or worse, the havoc she could wreak on other parts of the house overpowers any concerns we might have.

I'm going out to buy more doorknob covers today.

*She can scale every gate we've brought into the house, so putting one at her door isn't really an option.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm a Suburban Housewife

Oh my, this is funny.

Make sure the sound is on and there are no little ears around.



And for the record, this suburban housewife is totally not like that.

I'm more of a vodka gal.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reproduction

Everywhere I look these days, it seems someone we know is having a baby. One of my play group moms just had a baby a month ago (in her car, no less!), another one is due in three weeks, and yet another one just told us she is expecting her second in March. Add to this, one of my husband's oldest friends and his wife are expecting their second any day now* AND another one of my mom friends is expecting their second in January. Not to mention several blog friends. I guess it kind of makes sense. When we had Sophie, it seemed like we were surrounded by people who were also having kids, but this time we're not sharing in the agony glory.

Neil and I talk about having another kid. All. the. time. Mostly it's him saying, HEY, ARE YOU READY FOR ME TO KNOCK YOU UP YET?? and me covering my ears with my hands and saying nananananana, I can't hear you. Because I am so, so, so not ready yet. What's funny is that I always thought that two years apart was perfect, it's the age difference between my sister and I, and clearly a lot of other people think it is perfect, too. If I were to get pregnant tonight, not that that is going to happen, but if I were, our kids would be 32 months apart. Which even when I write that it seems like a good number.

But here's the thing. I am not ready. No way. No how.

There was a long time in my life where I thought I didn't want kids at all. Like from the time I can remember until I was about 30. When someone came into my life that actually made me think that reproducing wasn't the worst thing that could happen. Where I began to wonder what it would be like to create a new life with someone. But making that realization and actually deciding to follow through with it took me several years more. It was on our first wedding anniversary that I finally said, okay, let's take the goalie out and see what happens. And almost exactly nine months later, we had Sophie. Maybe we got pregnant too fast. Which is a ridiculous thing to say, especially when there are so many people who struggle and suffer so much to get pregnant. But I didn't have the time to adjust to the idea of getting pregnant before BAM, I was pregnant. Which is what I'm afraid will happen again.

Pregnancy was so unpleasant for me, and delivery was SOO not fun and life with Sophie has been, well, challenging. All of which makes me not super excited to jump on that merry-go-round again.

So here we are.

One kid. Would it be weird to only have one? The upsides: only have to pay for one kid's college, never have to deal with fighting, can have a three bedroom house and still have a guest room. The downsides: will never be able to split a pizza evenly, no live-in playmates, can't pretend that both/all kids are my favorite.

People, this is the hardest decision I've ever made.

*Just heard from them that today might in fact be the day!! They're heading to the hospital as I type. What a strange and wonderful coincidence!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

You Asked For It

I swear on all things good and tasty that yesterday's post was not meant to illicit compliments. Not that anyone accused me of such, but after all of your kind comments, I got to feeling like maybe I had inadvertently gone on a fishing expedition. That by talking about the lack of compliments in my world these days, I was in fact asking for them. Not the case. Yesterday.

Today, on the other hand, is a horse of a different color. Today, feel free to lay it on thick. This is more pictures than I have posted of myself in the last year, TOTAL, and I'm feeling a little exposed. So hyperbolic waxing on the vastness of my beauty and the sheer perfection that is my haircut are in no way discouraged.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I can live for two months on a good compliment - Mark Twain

I went to see a good friend a couple of days ago, we were planning to see a movie and do some shopping. When I got to her house, she commented that my hair looked shorter, to which I responded, YES, I just had it cut. She just looked at me and that was pretty much the end of the conversation. She didn't tell me I looked bad, but she didn't say I looked good either, so my assumption is that this hairdo is a don't. Which is too bad, because I'm actually kind of happy with it. Whatever.

But that got me thinking. When I worked, I got daily affirmations about my appearance. And if I got a haircut, well then ratchet the compliments up a couple of notches. Because that is what women do. Even if we're not being 100% honest, and to be fair, that is sometimes the case. Women can be snippy and backstabbing and cliquish but we are also incredibly supportive. I don't think I realized just how much I thrived on that until I didn't have it. Sure, my husband compliments me (when prodded), but it isn't the same. He has to tell me I look beautiful.

I really do miss it. I miss people complimenting my shoes or my purse or my clothes or my hair or WHATEVER. Just complimenting me. I hadn't realized what a big part of my self-confidence relied on those little pearls. They were a barometer for how I gauged myself.

Perhaps in some ways this is good. I don't look to external sources to measure my self-worth. These days, I alone am responsible for boosting myself up. It is only my reflection that compliments me on a regular basis. Which isn't the worst thing in the world, I suppose. But I have to tell you, that bitch is kind of stingy with the praise.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cousteau She's Not















We went to the National Aquarium in Baltimore on Friday for Sophie's first visit to see the fishies. We met some old friends and their beautiful daughter there. While it was lovely to spend an afternoon with people I don't see nearly often enough these days and enjoying some (mostly) adult conversation, Sophie was a little less than cooperative for most of the visit. I wish I could say that my little bean went from one amazing underwater view to the next, oohing and aahing over the countless aqautic wonders, but the truth is that she spent the entire time pulling me/racing towards the escalators and moving sidewalks that transport visitors between the levels in the multi-storied building.






















Next time, I'm just gonna take her to the mall and save the $25.

*Just so you don't think I'm a terrible mother, during the photographing of this picture is the only time I let go of her on the escalator. Looking at this picture now, my mind goes to some pretty gruesome places involving fingers smushed in the stairs. Shudder.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Harmonica Slim

video

1. She might have been distracted by the crazy syncopation of my snapping.

2. She was definitely offended distracted by my singing, the quality of which we will blame on low video quality.

3. It's hard to hold a camera still when you're snapping and singing.

4. Watch the eyebrows.

5. She's not much for big finishes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Best Time Of Day

One of my favorite times of the day is just after Neil gets home from work. Usually by that time, Sophie and I have just about had enough of each other. She is to the point of doing things just to get a rise out of me and I am to the point where I go straight to yell rather than my usual progression of soft instruction, then firmer, then louder, then yell.

I have always enjoyed cooking (which would come as a surprise to my 7th grade Home Ec teacher who gave me a D), but these days, that enjoyment goes to a whole new level, because now it is my time. No grabbing, shouting, running, knocking things down, squealing, crying and in every way distracting toddler to divert my attention. Neil takes Sophie down into the basement family room while I throw on some music and get to work crafting our meal.

It doesn't matter what I'm making, somehow it almost all winds up taking me 30-45 minutes. In the old days, when I typically didn't get home from work until 7pm or later, that would have been a burden. I would most likely have skipped a better, more healthy meal for something quick and easy. There's a reason Hamburger Helper is so successful. I don't want to say we single-handedly kept them in business, but their stock is down these days. You do the math.

Neil would be happy either way, but now that I have to think not just about my expanding waistline but the needs of a growing child, our meals have taken on a new context. Now they must be nutritious and tasty, but not gratuitously fattening, not always an easy balance to keep.

It was always my intent that we institute a family dinner just like I had growing up. Regardless of what was going on, we all sat down to dinner together every. single. night. I just didn't realize that the preparation would become as much a part of the ritual as the meal itself.

Just one more example of the MANY things that I never would have expected prior to having a child.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Top Ten: A Traveling We Will GoGo

To condense our trip down into a palatable selection, the top ten travel tidbits from the Kansas Trip of Aught Nine:

1. On our way to the airport, we saw cops chasing a bad guy. On foot. It happened about five minutes from our house. We live in a NICE suburban neighborhood. Two cop cars had stopped to talk to the guy, he got spooked or whatever and took off running. The two cops ran after him. We were driving by at exactly the right time to see it happen. At one point he was running right next to our car. It was wild.

2. Once again the "Cara Curse" struck. No matter where I go, I bring bad weather. My parents have threatened to hire me out to farmers in need of rain. Despite weather forecasts in the upper 70s/low 80s, it was quite cool the whole time we were there. So cool, in fact that I had to go buy heavier clothes for Sophie and a cardigan for myself. Which is why she was in the baggy clothes during our croquet match. Her 23 month old body just doesn't fill out 18mo clothes.















3. The GoGo Kidz Travelmate is freaking awesome. Seriously. If you're traveling with a toddler any time soon, you MUST get one. They made life so much easier. Sophie even liked riding in her car seat through the airport.

4. Sophie loves riding in my parent's golf cart. Almost as much as my husband likes driving around in it. So it's a win/win. Too bad neither of them like golf.















5. Grandpas are physically incapable of resisting the wiles of a smiling two year old grand-daughter.

6. While she will violently fight being put into one and climb out within minutes, one of her favorite activities at (IN) my parent's house was being pushed around in her stroller.















7. The flight there was pretty painless. The flight back? Not so much. It's amazing how much noise one tiny little body can make and how loud that will seem in a quiet, dark airplane at 9 o'clock at night.















8. A knee walker will keep a toddler occupied for a surprisingly long time. Like four days. A mother will get tired of pushing a toddler around on a knee walker after about 10 minutes.






















9. Amazingly, despite the fact that I ate pretty much everything that came within my reach, including some of the best barbecue anywhere*, I only gained one pound. It seems that vacation calories really don't count. Yay!

10. I have the wingspan of a King Vulture. I'm trying not to read anything into that.
















*Add to the Only in a Small Town file: When the rib joint we got carryout bbq from forgot to pack my sandwich, we called up and they brought it out to us. They do NOT deliver, they're just that nice. That's Kansas courtesy, folks.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Croquet Anyone?

So yeah. We're home. Lots of tales to tell. Not the least of which is why my daughter was playing croquet. In clothes that are at least a size too big. Wearing her new "cheese!" smile.






















But all that will have to wait. I've got to unpack, go to the grocery store, find the puke I am quite confident the cat left for me as a welcome home present, hit the gym to begin the recovery from eating as though there were no tomorrow for the last five days and tidy up the house which we left in a complete disaster. (Not that it's ever far from that state anyways, but it's always shocking to come home to it after an absence.)

Neil's yelling at me now, so I've gotta run, but I'll be back for realz tomorrow. Kisses.