Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Birthdays & Babies & (a) Brontë.

Today is my 28th birthday, which of course means that it's time to quietly contemplate my own mortality and to look back fondly on the salad days when I was blessed with the gift of youth.



Last night we were all in the living room: K was in her cow chair (yep, she has a cow chair) coloring, Bob was in his Man Chair probably using both his laptop and his ipad simultaneously, and I was on the couch alternately trying to get some work done and ogling baby things I can't afford (because I waste my time ogling instead of working, probably), when it hit me: I had three and a half hours left to achieve something truly spectacular and then, well, die, if I wanted to be immortalized in the Forever 27 club. Bob just said, "Please don't," and K kept on ignoring me.

So midnight came and went, and I continued to toil away in relative obscurity. I gave K her morning dose o' drugs for her ear infection. I checked facebook to collect the first round of birthday wall posts. I took out the trash. I did a pregnancy workout that refers to one's ass as "buncakes" and repeats "squeeeeze the buncakes" so often that K starts saying it as soon as I put the DVD in. I did some actual work in between each of these things. I made lunch then realized that all I really wanted was an unlimited supply of baked potatoes and .... ketchup. I put back the non-potato components of my lunch and made myself a second potato. I threw my work manuscript in my purse, grabbed Starbucks (calories don't count on your birthday!) and we hit the playground since it got up to 65 today and it's supposed to maybe snow tomorrow and we wanted to take advantage of the weather. I rented Jane Eyre (um, and the Pooh movie and the new Barbie movie so maaaaybe K will stay in her room watching those long enough for me to get my Brontë on). I "made dishes," as K calls it. I worked some more. I popped open a bottle of sparkling apple-grape juice that I can't get anyone else to drink with me. I spent some time playing the "gas bubbles, or baby kicks?" game. If this is what 28 looks like, you better watch out when I hit 30. Who knows what kind of mayhem I will release upon the world!

Time is moving a lot faster these days. K is three now and has a full schedule that includes preschool and swimming lessons, in addition to her usual yoga and storytime routine. My grandma turned 90 last month. I'm fifteen weeks into this pregnancy and the list of decisions we need to make before the baby gets here is not getting any shorter. We're only 46 days away from Christmas. Christmas! Didn't we just get married on a 95 degree day? How is my car 8,000 miles overdue for an oil change already?

Questions for another day, I suppose. Maybe to be pondered over a nice glass of prune juice, and the early bird special.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tomorrow's forecast: flying monkeys.

Friday was hot.

(How hot was it?)

It was so hot that heading down to the Social Security office seemed like a *good* idea. Free government air conditioning! Cheery atmosphere! Friendly employees! Quality people in the waiting room! Posters of George Takei urging you to do your business online!

OK. I actually like George Takei, and he was the best part of the experience, after the ice-cold air.

Lest you think I'm filing for early retirement (ha!), I'm still in the process of changing my name everywhere. My ID says one thing, my credit cards say another. It feels slightly scandalous when cashiers compare the two. I'm a little embarrassed about how slow I seem to be moving on the post-wedding follow-up work. It feels like we just got back from our mini-moon, and we should still be in the middle of summer, not September. It's totally acceptable to send out thank-you notes eight weeks after the wedding, right? They're all addressed! And sitting on our mantle! That counts, right?

Anyway. Friday. Hot. The heat index was 103 or something absurd (for Michigan) and after Bob got home from work we all took a trip to the beach. (Which was lovely, until another family there decided it would be totally kosher to take their toddler's soiled diaper off and rinse it out IN THE WATER WE WERE ALL SWIMMING IN. Not okay, other family!)

Saturday it stormed. K's pool ended up in the creek. I decided it was more important to run out to the truck for my ipod than to, you know, stay inside and alive. (I like music while I cook!)

Sunday it got cold. K and I headed to the playground for some pre-fireworks cold-tolerance building fun. By the time the show started I had lost feeling in my fingers, and we huddled under a blanket where our thoughts shifted between, "hey, these fireworks are really pretty!" and "enough already, I'm freeeeeezing."

Today it's sweaters and blankets and fleece pajamas for Labor Day. Michigan takes this unofficial end of summer thing very seriously, it seems. (Low 40s tonight!) It's less hot dogs & cold beer and more of a hot tea & pumpkin-based dessert kind of day. I'm not sure I'm ready for that. I'm not sure the weather cares.

Hope you're all staying warm this Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Taking a walk with great-grandma:

...and Cheyenne.

To the fairy ring and the cornfield.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Sometimes you just need a cheeseburger cookie. On a beach. With friends.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Working Mom Syndrome

I'm a stay-at-home-mom in the sense that I don't leave to go to an office. I don't drop K off at daycare (though I did for a while when we had easy access to an absurdly affordable caregiver and only one mortgage to pay).  I don't have to call my boss and explain why I won't be there when K is sick, or spend money on a work wardrobe, or deal with a commute in crappy weather. I do, in fact, stay at home.

But I also work (and not in that "all mothers work" sense, valid as it is). I might be in the same room as K, able to respond to her urgent (urgent!) needs for fruit snacks and chocolate milk, but the majority of our interactions include me grumbling "not now, babe, I'm working." I offer to queue up another episode of Caillou on Netflix. I encourage her to go up to her room to play with her babies. I beg her to FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP JUMPING ON ME AND GO FINISH THE HELLO KITTY COLORING BOOK. I feel like most of the time my mothering style is of the, "hey, don't you have some TV to watch somewhere?" variety. And since I don't have set office hours, my workday can spill over into the evening, or the weekend, or --

On the days when I Absolutely Am Not Opening That Work E-mail Window, I want to make it count. I want to cram in as much quality mother-daughter-family time as I can. I want our time together to be enriching and entertaining and memory-making.

So when things like weather or unexpected crowds or illness or unplanned naps get in the way of whatever I had planned for those special, non-working times, I get a wee bit cranky. Saturday I wanted to take K to the beach and to visit her great-grandma, but she was coughing like a TB patient and I didn't think lake water or exposure to the elderly was a great idea. Sunday we were going to go to a photography exhibit, but when we got there we couldn't even find a parking spot and had to abort the mission, then en-route to our plan B it started raining, and en-route to our plan C K fell asleep in the car. We did end up making a pit stop at a playground to practice bike-riding later in the day, but it felt like a weak substitute. K didn't seem miserable, but I felt like a failure. I want to have a good, impressive answer at the ready when someone asks us what we did over the weekend. This weekend? Um. I don't know. I made some baked oatmeal for breakfast one morning. That was okay.

(Not okay for oatmeal to be the highlight. Not. Okay.)

So, mopey and discouraged, we moved on to plan D. The work-on-Sunday so I can slack off on Monday plan. I hunched over my laptop while Bob took K out for ice cream. I read a work manuscript that left me in tears (mostly in a good way) and kept me so busy that microwaving some hot dogs was about all I could do for Sunday dinner. I even skipped my Sunday night True Blood viewing!

Because Monday? Monday we were going to make up for it. Monday we were going to cram a whole weekend's worth of quality time into a short mother-daughter outing. We were going to go to the zoo, dang it.

(More to come in Working Mom Syndrome Part II, or WHERE ARE THE BEARS?)

Friday, August 5, 2011

And So We Go On.

It's Thursday.

Or it was Thursday, anyway, a few hours ago when all of this was going down.

I work really hard to make Thursday my Friday. In a perfect world, Friday would be devoted to things like lounging in the backyard with a vodka lemonade  cleaning the house (because good Lord, it takes a beating during the week when both Bob and I are working and K is being -- well, when she's being a 2 year old) and taking care of odds & ends that have already been put off too long. On Thursdays I work until dinnertime, then make/do/go out to/etc. dinner, then sink down into the couch with some wine and let Bob put K to bed while I watch me some high-quality television (The Office/Parks & Rec/30 Rock during the fall and winter, and Project Runway now!).

But then, you know, real life creeps in. It's been a busy spring and summer in the Unlikely Origins household. We planned for a wedding. We unplanned (we didn't 'unplan' the marriage itself, but we moved from a 100+ person guestlist to a private courthouse ceremony and back again before finally settling at something in between). We charged a heck of a lot to a credit card for salon services (but hey, I looked decent!). We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning the day of our wedding folding programs and tying ribbons around them. We, eventually, were married. (We're married!!!)

And life goes on. After the wave of cards in the mailbox and unpacking from the honeymoon (with toddler), we went back to work. Clients sent congratulatory e-mails but wanted to get on with things w/r/t their individual projects. I don't get paid vacation time, so -- heck *I* wanted to get on with their projects, too!

Bob returned to his office. Last week I hovered over my computer in one room while K helped out by simultaneously flooding the bathroom. (Other days this week she used a travel sized shampoo as toothpaste, poured plaque revealing gel all over the downstairs, and emptied out a whole tub of salt onto her sweaty toddler self.) Bob tried to mow the post-honeymoon wilderness yard and the riding mower started smoking. He put K to bed and then she woke up with a scary barking cough/cry five minutes before the winner/loser on Project Runway was announced. Hey, real world. How *you* doin'? (Tell me I'm not the only one who secretly still loves Joey. Right? RIGHT?)

Now it's two in the morning and I'm just now finishing up the work-work that I hoped to have done several hours ago.

And that's okay. Not, "I love everything!" okay, because, obviously, I'd rather be doing things other double crossing my T's for the week work-wise at this time on a Friday morning, but okay nonetheless. I'm not thrilled about certain aspects of the day, but yesterday my new driver's license -- with a new last name! -- came in the mail. I'm not happy that K is sick, but instead of the Project Runway interrupting barking cough, she's (thank you God) back to breathing peacefully. And tomorrow will go on, with all of us doing what needs to be done, and then we'll have the weekend. Just like always.

We're returning to life as normal in every sense of the world -- sneezing toddlers, demanding clients, and trying work commutes, and blogging ;-)

Happy Friday, everyone. I hope yours is everything you want it to be, or at least, everything it *should* be ;-)

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Bad Case of the CCABs.

The Unlikely Origins house has been afflicted with a terrible case of the Can't Catch A Breaks lately.

Bob had an especially rotten week at work. (It was not made any better by sleep issues and a malfunctioning alarm clock!) My to-do list was so long that just looking at it made me want to curl up into the fetal position. I didn't get K to bed until after midnight most nights, and then there was still a pile of work manuscripts with quickly approaching deadlines staring at me. A client even offered me extra cash to "work faster," which while I would have found amusing at other times, in this case it nearly sent me over the edge.

But the winner of the CCAB perfect storm award? Ms. K, who simultaneously:

1)Is going through a growth spurt. For her, this always means sleep disruptions and major crankpants issues.
2)Is teething. Again. Hi, new molars!
3)Managed to catch strep throat (or something similar) which necessitated a trip to the doctor and some antibiotics. These antibiotics are supposed to be "orange berry caramel" flavored, and -- yep, taste just as horrible as "orange berry caramel" flavored antibiotics sound. Try selling a syringe-full of that to a cranky toddler twice a day.

By the end of the week, we were all dead tired.

On Saturday mornings I go workout -- but this week there was no class. Normally, I get home around 11 to find everyone still passed out from the night before. This weekend? My "free" weekend? K got up at 7:30. Fine, I thought. Let's make the best of it. We watched the sunrise through the kitchen window and pulled ourselves together and headed to the movie theater. (They show free kids movies on weekend mornings, and I thought it might be fun.) And it was! K loved it. She was attentive to the movie and kept her running commentary down to a moderate volume. She stayed in her seat. She smiled a lot. She inhaled her popcorn.

No, really. She must have literally inhaled her popcorn because about ten minutes before the end of the movie she turned to me with that oh-crap-there's-something-caught-in-my-throat face. The help-I-can't-breathe face that stops parents' hearts.

She did (obviously!) manage to get the offending choking hazard out of her throat, but she had coughed/gagged so hard that, uh -- well, she got *all* the popcorn out of her system. All. Of. It.

Dear Lord. There are some things that the parenting books just fail to cover. What's the protocol for when a toddler vomits in a movie theater? Do you stand up and issue an apology? Do you just discreetly wipe up as much as you can with tissues from your purse and shove them into the popcorn bucket? Do you rush out of there, avoid eye contact, and never show your face again? Do you go tell the 15 year old minimum wage worker at the concession stand that they're probably going to need a mop and some upholstery cleaner? I just . . . I don't know.

As I loaded her up in the truck, both of us with bits of "choke," as K calls it, still on our clothes -- I decided that was it. The weekend was going to get better. (It sort of had to, right?) We went home, changed, and got on with our day. It was gloomy and raining and cold, but we got some flower seeds to start indoors. We picked up a bird feeder for K to paint, and next weekend, assuming winter decides to finally pack its bags (seriously, this morning we had snow and sleet and rain and thunder! ENOUGH!) Bob will help her hang it outside where she can keep an eye on it from the picture window in the living room. We got chocolate in pretty pastel Easter wrapping. (Chocolate would still make me happy even if it were wrapped in the obituary page from the newspaper, to be honest, but all the pinks and yellows and greens of this time of year sure help make it *feel* special, you know?) We're choosing to believe that things will get better.

And if they don't? Well, K has taught us that even if you've got to suffer through the worst case of CCABs ever, you should do it with STYLE: