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Sunday, May 31, 2009

If Crying, Insert Burger

Another Sunday. It would be so very easy, and so very appropriate, and so very safe to wax poetic about the day's surplus of sunshine and smiles. About glittering green grass peppered with quaint picnics and happy people.

But since the whole point of this blog is to inject some organic honesty into this artificially-sweetened world of ours, I am not going to dwell on these things. No, I am going to tell the truth.

I woke up sad.  Very sad. So sad that I deduced that I must of had a terribly sad dream. It didn't help that I was embraced by the aftermath of a baby shower - the nibbled chips and flat bottles of soda and lonely ribbons and 100 sad and deflated balloons dying slow deaths on my hardwood floors.  No, this probably didn't help.

But I wasn't going to just curl up on the couch and watch Diego and eat leftovers and succumb to the nebulous morning sadness. So the four of us headed out into the aforementioned glorious sunshine. And it was glorious. And I immediately felt better when I walked by the flea market and saw signs for jewelry made from street lamps, and wacky magnetic paper dolls, and my absolute favorite: functioning vintage toasters.  The sheer randomness of these items made me smile.

And then we headed to Turtle Pond where Baby took a quick snooze and Toddler found a stick she then used to try to reach Belvedere Castle and her honest efforts to make that stick reach over that pond to that castle made me smile again.  

So the smiles were coming, softly but genuinely, and I thought: there is nothing, there is no emotional ailment, no Sunday sadness, that babies can't cure.  An empowering thought. Because I have babies. Two of them.

And as the morning faded and we headed home for naps, I saw Shake Shack, the wildly popular snack stop new to our neighborhood and I suggested we stop.  Now, this is unlike me. Because I am not a huge burger eater or shake sipper, but I figured a good dose of grease and calories couldn't hurt.  And while we were on line, clinging tight to squirming girls, I saw this onesie. If crying, insert burger. And this made me smile.  Again.  And I looked at the sizes and pondered a purchase for Baby. Because you see it said very clearly in big fat font, Baby Onesies.  Not Mommy Onesies.  But I wanted one for me. If only they sold onesies in size 24-36 years.  If only it were this simple.  If crying. Insert burger. If only.

And as afternoon turned to night, we headed to my Mom's for dinner with the family. We chatted and laughed. And then I got a nice dose of honesty from select sisters. That black and white picture of me on the upper left of this blog? They're not a fan. Apparently, I look strange in that picture. Not like myself. Apparently, they've actually never seen me make that face. 

And then I cried. And went into the other room, my childhood bedroom, and cried some more. And we all knew this wasn't about a few aired opinions and a goofy profile picture. But tears don't come with birth certificates, with explanations, with warnings.  They just come. 

And then I wiped the tears away and ate dinner with my family. And felt okay.

And then I came home and put my darling girls to bed. And then I logged on and added that little caption to my less-than-flattering photo which I will probably change in the next few days because as much as I dream of being a thick-skinned superwoman, I am sensitive and vulnerable and not impervious to the odd stretch of sadness.  And then I wrote this. And it's not short and sweet and sunshiny like today was, but it is very much true. And I might not be a fan of burgers or shakes or that photo I loved until just a few hours ago, but I am a huge fan of truth. Oh, and babies.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Saturday Shower

100 blue balloons.
36 baby bacon quiches.
1 black Bugaboo.
Countless bellinis.
Endless bubbly.
1 blonde boy on his way.

Congrats, C! 

I can happily host your shower, but I can't offer you too much advice. With four sisters and two daughters, I live in a pink, pink world.

Parents of boys out there, can you pass along your baby boy wisdom to my little sis? Pretty please.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Prudent or Purple?

Well, it's Friday again.  And time for my weekly update on the Happy Headache (the untimely-given-the-recession-gut-renovation of our new place).  Anyway, things have slowed. Or, more precisely, stalled.  We are still waiting on an all-important report from the structural engineer.  And Husband and I have some dire decisions to make about replacing rotted joists and installing insulation in ceilings. But for the most part, things are standing still.

Which is just fine because this allows us to focus on the more fun and frivolous stuff. Like what wallpapers we will use or not use. I happen to like this one here for Toddler's room. It's delicate and yet funky. Bold, but feminine. A shred regal. 

Per Professor Wiki, the color purple carries with it the following connotations: royalty, imperialism, nobility, Easter, upper class. Hmmm... 

But here is my real dilemma: will I like this paper five years from now? Ten years from now? And, will Toddler like it? Because at age two, she is already becoming a little lady and if she is anything like her Mom, she is going to sprout a proud personality and maintain a healthy stockpile of opinions. Some strong opinions that will probably make her parents a wee bit crazy.

So, do I play it safe and pick an innocuous paint color? Something nice and neutral? A shade that no one will hate now or later? Or, do I go with my gut and have a bit of imperial funky fun?

My feeling (for now): life is short.  Your home is your sanctuary.  A bit of crazy color, of intelligent impulsivity, of regal risk, is good. Sure, Toddler will one day (gasp) become Teen. Sure, tastes morph and mature. But papers can always be stripped. And moms and kids, apartments and aesthetics, can always be, and perhaps should always be, reinvented.

What do you all think about my admittedly indulgent decor dilemma du jour? Should I be prudent or go purple?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Humbling Hearsay

Yes, I was multi-tasking.  Baby was cradled in my left arm, chewing on a very safe key-chain-thing.  On my right, trusty Laptop was open, feeding me that nutritious morning mix of news and Facebook updates and tweets (yes, I joined! follow me!). Husband was in the kitchen feeding Toddler her equally balanced meal of chocolate milk and peanut butter.  

Well, apparently, Toddler came into the living room to tell me something or show me something or just say hi.  I don't know because I neither saw her nor heard her.

Well, she returned to Husband and reported (and remember this is hearsay-via-Husband):

Daddy, Daddy! Mommy is soooo busy.  She can't hear me!

When Husband told me this, I snapped Laptop shut and got defensive.  She did not come to talk to me. Right? Right? 


Then, presumably to make me feel like an even more delinquent mom, Toddler took Husband to play in her room. Amidst the towers of toys, she found her own toy laptop. She popped a squat on the carpet and pried open the plastic, held up her little hand, and said to Husband:

Daddy, I'm very busy on my puter.  I can't talk to you now!

Great.  Not only am I setting an excellent example, but I am instilling lovely anti-social behavior in my little girl.

But then, in the trademark and torturing throes of doubt and insecurity and guilt, I felt a fierce flash of optimism and then partook in a very un-me moment of looking on the bright side. Sure, zoning out one's progeny is not exactly commendable behavior, but it is my ability to zone out and focus that allows me to write. When I am in "the zone" it doesn't matter whether there is music playing or cars honking or dogs fighting (or, apparently, a Toddler talking). And I am a mom and writer.  And sometimes motherhood and career might clash.  Like, say, on a random Thursday morning. Right? Right?

And then something else made me smile: I imagined sassy little Toddler becoming the world's first baby blogger. Sitting behind her melon-colored computer, brow furrowed with Mom-like concentration, sharing her pint-sized stories about toilet training and tumbling at the playground.  Oh, and being ignored by Mom.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If You're Happy and You Know It...

You would think I could get over the whole graduation thing.  Yes, it was a delightful weekend, but I am home now, swimming once more in a spit-up-seasoned sea of baby toys and diapers.  Miles from New Haven and college life and commencement.  But no.

Another thing that Yale Law dean Harold Koh said, other than eloquently encouraging us to be big trees in the forest of life?  He said (something like): Pursue happiness.  The right to happiness is an inalienable right. You can't sell it. Do not let anything -- the mortgage, the BMW payments, even children -- trap you in a job you don't like.

And, sitting there, anonymously, behind my obnoxiously vast Oliver Peoples shades, a Yale grad, a lawyer of latter day, a rookie writer, a young mom, a perpetually lost soul hungry for morsels of wisdom, I nodded.  Vigorously. 

Happiness. That's it. That's what matters in life.  

But mere moments later, I thought to myself: What is happiness? How can we pursue it if we don't know what it is?

And then, because I have quite the non-linear attention span, I flashed to one of Toddler's Free To Be Under 3 classes where the teacher always leads a riveting rendition of that classic song If You're Happy and You Know It.  Come on. You don't have to have kids to remember this one. If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! (And then there are a bevy of other verses involving stomping feet and tapping heads and air kisses and shouts of hooray.) Anyway, the point is that all of us parents and kiddies sing along each week: If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!  And, sure enough, all the tiny tots clap their tiny hands. They don't even have to think about it.  Imagine that.

And suddenly, I imagined a room full of adults and what they would do with these simple melodic instructions.  And something tells me a few people would probably clap proudly and a bit insistently.  And then a few would probably not clap.  And then a few of us (maybe most of us?) would clap softly or apathetically or uncertainly.  Because this is not an easy question, is it?  In fact, if we are being technical, it is two questions:

(1) Are you happy?


(2) Do you know it?

Patently, each of these questions is a biggie and has kept philosophers and other thinkers and regular people like the rest of us baffled and busy for centuries.  But that doesn't mean we shouldn't ask these questions and try to answer them. But how many of us are brave enough to ask these deceptively simple, childhood questions?

One such brave soul? Fellow Yalie/lawyer/Manhattan mom/writer Gretchen Rubin. Rubin is currently at work on her book THE HAPPINESS PROJECT a memoir of the year she spent "test-driving" tips and theories of happiness from the pedestrian to the profound to the philosophical.  Not only did Rubin press pause on her fast-track life to explore the enigmatic and idiosyncratic concept of human happiness, but she generously documents her experience and findings on her intriguing and insightful daily blog.

So.  Are you happy.  And, if so, do you know it?

Not sure?  I'm right there with you.  But I encourage you to check out Rubin's blog because while soaking up her sage musings, it occurred to me in a mini light-bulb moment that this blog you are reading might be my very own (and very accidental) happiness project.  That hammering away on my keyboard, spewing bits silly and serious and somewhere in between, that fashioning a new sense of authenticity in my own little world, is in fact making me a happier person. Whatever that means.  So maybe blogging is what it will take to get me clapping loudly and proudly?

What will it take to get you clapping?  Because as much as we might want to endorse and live by Koh's astute advice to cling tight to our right to happiness, to pursue happiness full-force, we cannot pursue something we can't recognize, can we?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Biggest Tree

Yale Law's Class of 2009 made an appropriate and affectionate choice for their graduation speaker: Harold Koh.  Koh, an international law professor at Yale since 1985 and its dean since 2004, was nominated this March by President Obama to be Legal Adviser to the State Department.  So, at the behest of his loving students and faculty, Koh returned to Yale from his extended leave to say a few words.  (After his soon-to-be "boss" Hillary Clinton popped by, making a surprise cameo and an energetic exhortation for this year's grads to come to work in the Obama administration.)

And Koh's words were compelling and simple and emotionally-charged, laced with humor and humility and the odd inside joke. One (of the many things) he said that stuck with me: 

The biggest tree gets the wind.

Now, I'd be lying if I said I knew exactly what Koh meant by these words.  But I will give it a shot.  Koh implored the graduates (and all of us) to be big, to live big, to do big things. To make a splash, to leave a mark.  But it also seems that he warned that the biggest tree qua biggest tree is in many ways on its own and necessarily so.  It doesn't blend in with the others.  No, it sticks up and out.  It gets buffeted, knocked around by the elements.  Translation: putting yourself out there means getting knocked around a bit by the world.  But isn't it worth it?

Now I am a sucker for good metaphors, particularly those about the natural world.  So I liked this one. Loved it.

But this Korean proverb also made me laugh.  Why?  See the tree depicted above?  The big one?  That was our view at the Commencement Ceremony on Yale's Old Campus earlier yesterday morning.  Maybe we lingered too long over our hotel eggs benedict, but our seats were not very good.  

And yet we didn't miss a thing.  No, we took it all in.  The Memorial Day air, ripe with music and metaphor. The ubiquity of sun and smiles. The soft and occasional gust of wind tickling that tree and whispering words and wisdom.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Congratulations, C!

Bulldog blues.
Barley blonde.
Bombshell beauty.
Blinding brilliance.
Burgeoning bump.
Baby boy brewing.

If I didn't love you so much, I'd have to hate you.

Your impossibly proud big sis,

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Toasted Blonde

Me this morning: "It's official.  I don't want to go back to college."

Husband: "Well, that's good because you can't go back to college."

But boy did I try last night.  I was all smiles, sipping Pinot like water, chit chatting.  One of our stops along the way?  Bar -- a famous New Haven haunt.  On the beer menu, I pointed to the first beer and laughed.  

Me, giggling: "Toasted Blonde?  I hope that's not what I am by the end of the night."

Husband: "Me too."

And a couple hours later, things got a tad toasty for this blonde.  Calm down. Not too toasty.  Not old school college toasty.  But still.  Toasty enough that I woke up this morning and said those words I'd honestly never thought I'd utter.  Toasty enough that I've repeated them over and over all day.  I do not want to go back to college.

No.  After watching my brilliant sis don that cap and gown and graduate tomorrow, I want to go back to my girls and my cats and my new utterly boring and far less toasted sensibilities.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Going Back to College

I know.  It's Memorial Day weekend and I should take a short sabbatical from the blogosphere.  But I had to share a little something with you: I am going back to college!

Yes, that's right.  Husband and I are headed to New Haven later today for my younger sister's law school graduation. And we are (gasp) leaving the girls home with my In-Laws Grammy and Dad-Dad.  The girls will be absolutely fine. Better than fine. 

But will I be okay?  It will be my very first time away from Baby and I'm mostly dreading it.  BUT. Then I picture college.  The late nights.  The brazen banter.  The impossibly green campus.  I am going back!

And, yes, now that I am a few years older with a couple of kids and a regrettable surplus of worldly wisdom, I know that it will not be the same.  I know late nights will probably mean something past eleven and that any brazen banter will probably be with Husband and my family.  I know that I will probably check my watch every few minutes and imagine what Toddler and Baby are up to.  Whether Toddler used her Eeyore or Big Bird toothbrush. Whether Baby scarfed carrots or sweet potatoes. I know that I will miss them.  But still.  It will be nice to go back and have a little taste of college life, of that wild and wonderful world that was my home before this more ruthless real world.

Would you go back to college given the chance?  And would you bring your maturity with you or leave it at home with the kids?  Would you prefer to revel in the sublime and stupid innocence and ignorance of your college days? 

Friday, May 22, 2009

Should We Let Toddler Decide?

So, we are experiencing a bit of a "built-in delay" on the Happy Headache.  Apparently, demolition exposed some "existing conditions" that needed to be analyzed by a structural engineer and we are waiting on this guy's report to proceed. 

So, in the meantime, Husband and I accompanied our incomparable architect (Gordon Kahn) on a trip to look at hardwood floor options.  We came home with some fun samples which Toddler immediately turned into makeshift hardwood floor skates.  And, unlike her waffling parents, she seems to know what she likes.  As you see, she is leaning toward the darker breeds.  Should we let her decide?  Sure, she's diminutive.  But she's also decisive. But truth be told if we had let her make all tough decisions, we'd probably have a seven-month-old named Dora.

In all seriousness, do you guys like light hardwood floors or darker ones?  I know.  This decision is not going to dictate future levels of happiness, but it seems like a relatively big call. So help me make it. Pretty please.

A Late Realization

Something occurred to me the other night.

This something should have probably occurred to me on New Year's Day 2007 around six in the evening when I gave birth to Toddler.

And then again on October 19, 2008 a little after two in the afternoon when I gave birth to Baby. 

But no.  It took Husband and me sitting side-by-side on folding chairs in the gym of Toddler's future Preschool for new parent orientation for me to realize this something: I am a parent.

The fact that I have babies, two of them, tomboys-in-training, is not a news flash.  Like most other moms, I blabber on and on about them and what they are up to.  On this blog, I share the serious and silly aspects of their development.  I post pictures of them on Facebook.  Yes, I talk about them.  I cannot stop talking about them.  

But I do not spend a lot of time talking about who I am vis-a-vis these babies.  And that someone is (gasp) an adult, a parent, a new kind of being, a different species.  What does it mean to be a parent?  What are our roles and responsibilities?  

Sitting there in a sea of other rookie parents, I felt an invigorating surge of newness.  Of unbridled hope and determination and purpose.  To carve out the best possible futures for my girls.  And, as I looked around at the mosaic of faces -- smiling, but scared -- and as I listened to the wonderful head of school speak candidly about September and separation, I had an electric thought: We are off to a good start.  

And, suddenly, I could picture Toddler running around in this space, making this school her home.  I could picture her painting and singing and laughing with new friends.  I could picture her learning. 

But I could also picture myself.  Letting go of that little hand.  Telling her to have fun.  Forcing that familiar smile as I walked away, leaving her to begin this new life.  Without me.  I could picture myself simultaneously fighting back tears and telling myself that those tears are utterly natural, necessary even.  That they are badges of transition, of change, of love.

And then I could picture my own Mom doing this many years ago.  Dropping me off.  Saying goodbye. Leaving me to become who it was I would become.  Walking away, wondering who she was with me underwing.  And without me.  

Maybe this realization has come so late in the game because it's not an easy one.  Because being a parent is a powerful proposition. A bittersweet blessing. Being a parent is about gaining everything all at once and then losing it slowly, isn't it?

If a preschool orientation has done this to me, I don't even want to know what's going to happen on that first day of school.  Or at the graduations.  Or at the weddings.  Or when my precious girls become parents themselves. Uh oh.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Good for Kris. But What About Katy?

Talk about the American Dream.

In the event that you've been living under a big fat rock, 23-year-old Arkansas cutie Kris Allen (think: Justin Timberlake meets John Mayer) won season 8 of American Idol last night.

And it seems that Kris was just as shocked as the rest of us were.

Yes, his rival, the eyeliner-sporting and sultry Adam Lambert probably deserved to win.  And, yes, this probably says something about our nation's tolerance for the grey tones of sexual ambiguity.  And guyliner.  Oh well.

Anyway, even for the quasi-fans among us, it was genuinely exciting to watch a dream come true.  This skinny college student, this seemingly nice kid, this newlywed, is all of a sudden on top.  You'd think I could just say good for him and get on with the rest of my busy life.  But no.  I turned off the TV and as I was brushing my teeth, I realized I was worried about something.  About someone, actually.  A girl I've never met.  Katy O'Connell Allen.  Kris's wife of less than one year.  

I found myself worrying about what was going on behind this girl's pretty TV smile.  Sure, they will have money and material things, but in my pajamas, I worried about whether her husband will change.  Or already has.  I worried about whether he will move on to those proverbial greener pastures.  Whether this good guy will let his head swell.  Whether his memories of growing up in Conway and playing the viola and ukulele and courting this nice blonde girl will fade into the background as he becomes a national superstar.  I hope not.  And I know it is silly, but I wish they had a little more time, a few years of marriage, before this fairy tale ending.

How's that for insecurity?  I'm not only losing sleep over my own decisions and dreams, but those of perfect strangers.

Congrats, Kris! Hang on, Katy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So Far So Good

Just back from putting Baby down for her first nap and it seems Toddler couldn't decide which Pooh DVD she wanted to view because she shoved both into my laptop causing it to "suffer an error the DVD player cannot recover from."  (Or, more correctly, an error from which it cannot recover.)  And though I am hardly Handy Mommy, I have managed to save the day and nurse the suffering laptop/DVD back to life.  So now that Baby is snoozing and Laptop is breathing and we've gone from zone parenting to the more dependable man-0n-man, it's time to blog. 

Well, in my estimation, this Wednesday morning is already far smoother and far superior to the debacle that was last Wednesday.  Sure, it's still early.  And, yes, there are plenty of elevated surfaces from which Baby might tumble and the fridge and cabinets are stocked with dozens of dairy products she might accidentally sample, but I'm feeling rather good about things.  Allow me this odd surge of optimism.  Please.

The morning was fun. Baby and I sat on her little foam mat thing (to protect that little noggin from those naughty wood floors) and played catch with a (closed!) snack-size bag of Veggie Booty.  Yes, Baby is quite the little smartie at seven months, but, no, she doesn't yet know how to play catch. So, it was more a game where she would bite the bag, slime it with drool, gnaw it some more and then drop it at which point I would give it back.  Crinkle. Drool. Gnaw. Drop.  Repeat.  You get the picture. (Yes, Veggie Booty is a dairy product and an inappropriate snackfood for any infant, but that bag is so sublimely crinkly in character and we are rebellious chez Rowley and couldn’t resist.)  

And it seems that I don't need that Mommy Cam after all for I have Toddler to keep an eye on me.  And maybe she remembers the events of last Wednesday as crisply as I do (and as my Mom does – she just called to see if I need reinforcements) because Toddler seems to be taking this supervisory role quite seriously.  As Baby and I played on the floor, Toddler took a breather from her hearty second breakfast of Smart Puffs and called to me from her little sanctuary on the sectional, "Mommy, be careful with the Baby!"  I looked up at my two-year-old, perched precariously on that ultra-suede pedestal, nodded and said soberly, "I will be."

And as Toddler's admonition echoed in my head, it occurred to me that maybe Baby and I should be playing with some more appropriate old school toys.  But then I had a snack-size epiphany: we parents should not spend one measly cent on baby toys.  Because there we were, Baby and Mommy, surrounded by a rainbow sea of toys and teethers and blocks and books and these are the things (other than the bag of Veggie Booty) that Baby had a blast playing with:

(1) A white feather she finagled from a throw pillow;

(2) White Cat's tail;

(3) The remote control;

(4) A box of baby wipes;

(5) A fistful of my bangs;

(6) Star magazine (Come on.  Don't judge.  How else am I supposed to know that Jessica Simpson is an obese size 4?)

And it occurred to me that this shouldn’t amount to any kind of epiphany, however tiny, because Toddler taught me this lesson long ago.  And keeps teaching me it.  These days, she boasts impressive collections of bendy straws, band-aids, nasal aspirators, and toothbrushes.  And, in case you were wondering, baby food jar tops make perfect hockey pucks.

In case you were worried about my parenting skills and my ability to cease rambling, the point of this post is: it is Wednesday and we are surviving.  

[And, yes, Wednesdays are more Play-Doh than Plato, but don't think I can't multi-task... My latest idea?  Instead of Mitch Albom's TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, it will be ADR's WEDNESDAYS WITH MOMMY.  And the stories will be so delightfully raw and real, full of humor and humility, that Lady Oprah will come a-calling...]

Time to run.  Baby is awake.  Toddler has threaded both arms through the dainty little neck of her peach nightgown and is now sprinkling my laptop with Smart Puff "fairy dust."

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

You Look Great Today

No, really, you do.

I just did something I don't do often enough: I gave a compliment.  

And, no, I'm not being insincere.  No, I can't see you, but I'm sure there is something about you -- your shirt, your casually-curled hair, your heirloom necklace, your taut Michelle Obama arms, your endearingly-crooked smile -- that, well, looks great. 

This is the point: there is always something to compliment.  Things are not hard to find.

Here's the odd thing.  I think compliments all the time.  At the playground and beyond: That is an adorable kid.  That is a fabulous nanny.  That mother seems to really and authentically enjoy her children. Wow, that was a fabulous bowl of soup. She looks like she has been working out.  Those ringlets are the cutest.  That book was genius.  

Danielle LaPorte implores us to join her in A Compliment Revolution, insisting that the world would be a better, indeed fuzzier, place if we doled out simple and sincere compliments. LaPorte argues that compliments are "tiny, but potent form[s] of intimacy."

What do you think? Given that we are all insecure creatures, in constant doubt about how we look and how we love and how we live, it's always nice to get a thumbs up.  And, yes, it does feel good to pay someone else a compliment. But what if we are not used to doing this? What if it doesn't feel natural?  Maybe complimenting people is ultimately a life skill, one that takes practice?

So, join the revolution.  Start practicing now.  Tell me you love this post :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

What Happens on Wednesdays...

I am not a bad mom.  

As much as I like to preach about imperfections and insecurities, I am actually reasonably proud of my parenting skills.  Why? Because my girls are happy and healthy and growing and learning and all those good things.  And, you know what? I have something to do with this, right?  Right?  

Truth be told, there are days when I doubt it all. When I literally think and sometimes even say out loud: I. Am. A. Bad. Mom. And, unsurprisingly, those days are usually Wednesdays. When my dear Nanny has the day off.  I like to stay positive and call these days "girls days" or "adventure days" because, well, they are days with the girls and they are often - to put it mildly - adventures.

Now that I am a few days out from it, I can talk about this past Wednesday.  A day on which I had the following fleeting, but fierce thoughts:

(1) I'm not fit to parent;
(2) I should not be left alone with young children;
(3) I should have a Mommy Cam installed so Nanny and Husband can keep an eye on me;
(4) Blogging endangers babies

I know.  You are sitting there and saying, Calm down, spoiled soul.  It couldn't have been that bad.  Sure, there were probably some tears and tantrums and spills and spit-ups.  There was probably a little too much sugar dispensed and television watched.  But it was just one day.  Calm down.

But I am here to tell you something: IT WAS THAT BAD.  Here is a quick and dirty rundown (in chronological order of course) of what happened:

(1) Baby, an amateur sitter, teetered over and banged her forehead (lightly) on my laptop;

(2) At lunchtime, I fed Toddler "star soup" (organic of course) with my left hand and Baby stage one apples (organic of course) with my right hand.  Then something possessed me to switch it up and feed Baby some "star soup."  Baby has a severe milk allergy and is on prescription formula.  Star soup has dairy.

(3) While Toddler napped, I put Baby in the Exersaucer (a.k.a. "The Office") while I did some blogging.  Well, she was very quiet, so I glanced over at her and SHE WAS EATING A CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE.  My six-month-old baby who just started consuming solids and who HAS A MILK ALLERGY was eating a chocolate chip cookie (that her big sis generously decided to leave on her desk at the Office).  

(4) Toddler woke up from nap.  All three of us girls were having a cuddly moment on the couch. Toddler asked for some water (and said please), so I made sure Baby was scooted way back on the couch and then I hopped up to be a good mom and fetch water for my parched and polite little tyke.  A few seconds later?  Screams.  Baby was face-down on the carpet (note: we have a low profile couch and carpet underneath and Baby was fine in a matter of seconds). In the words of my darling witness Toddler, "She rolled off, Mommy!" And when I asked Toddler if she "helped Baby roll," Toddler smiled big.

Never before have I been so thrilled and relieved to see Husband walk through the door.  And when the girls were asleep for the night, I was able to laugh a bit about it. A bit.  And like a good boy, Husband told me over and over that I am not a bad mom. That I had a bad day, but NO, I am not a bad mom.

The good news is that I think Baby has outgrown her milk allergy because she suffered no adverse reaction to the soup/cookie combo.  The good news is that Wednesdays make up only 14.29% of my girls' lives.  If what happens on Wednesdays stays on Wednesdays, odds are they will be just fine.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I Can't Make This Stuff Up

Everyone is telling me that I shouldn't blog on weekends.  That everyone who is healthy and happy and has a modicum of control over his/her schedule should deem weekends sacred personal/family/non-work time. And, frankly, I'm beginning to see the merits of the argument... But, alas, here I am on what should be a sacred Sunday night, feeling a bit compelled to leave you with just a little something... Feeling a tad lazy and a tad uninspired and a tad curious about the angst of others, I conducted one of my uber-scientific anonymous online polls over at YouBeMom.  This week, I decided to prod the powers and perils of anonymity; to see what people will confess on an online message board, but not in real life. Below you will see the colorful array of responses I received in very short order.  I have inserted some translations for the those who are not tapped into the lingo.

What is the one thing you will admit here (anonymously), but not in real life?

  •  affairs
  • it's weird. i have been coming here for almost 5 years and i am here all the time, but there are still things i won't admit here. or irl (In real life).
  • affair
  • suicidal thoughts
  • my weight
  • that my ds (dear son) is on the spectrum. IRL (in real life), we don't share that information.
  • how much i hate my mil (mother-in-law)
  • that i've been on anti-depressants for the last year
  • that i was sexually abused
  • how worried i am about db (dear baby) and her stupid "milestones"
  • that i fight a lot with dh (dear husband)
  • the true extent of my hairiness
  • my dds (dear daughter's) IQ
  • i think fat people are lazy
Okay, so there you have it.  The upshot?  We all have stuff.  Stuff that we aren't willing to share IRL (in real life).  Stuff that brings us online to chat with complete strangers on the odd Sunday night.  

Insecurities abound.  On Sundays.  On all days.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


If you've ever doubted the power of girls, I have two words/names for you: Rachel Alexandra. In the unfortunate event that you missed the historic Preakness earlier this evening, the only filly in a sea of colts took the grand prize. 

You go, girl!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Baby Steps

In case any of you lost sleep over last week's Happy Headache hiccups, everything is going to be okay.  We have procured proper tax designation and our insurance coverage has been reinstated. Phew.  

Last night, Husband and I made our weekly visit to the site and managed to not set off the temporary alarm system that was installed this week.  The place looks good; an empty shell, a tabula rasa, a box of brick and plywood.  But to my amateur eye, it did not look like much had changed since last week.  Sure, the floors are marked where walls will be and it's nice to know that we will in fact have rooms one day.  Rumor has it that they are about to start "framing walls." I don't know what exactly that means, but it sounds profoundly important. Anyway, we're inching our way there.  

And, on the second attempt, I actually picked plumbing fixtures. This is the faucet the girls will use to wash their grubby little hands.  Not bad, huh?  Baby steps...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Breakfast with the Queen

Queen Latifa, that is.  Oh, and two thousand other women.  And a few odd men.  Including our mayor.  And governor.

Now breakfast for me usually involves a bottomless cup of coffee and a couch and two chirping children, so this was quite the treat.  I got gussied up and headed to midtown with Mom to attend The New York Women's Foundation Celebrating Women 2009 breakfast. Despite the recession, it was a packed house as always.  And the program and performances and speakers didn't disappoint. Women arrived in clusters to the bold and rhythmic beats of Grupo Ginga Capoeira USA.  Award-winners included Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Angelique Kidjo, Lilly Ledbetter, and the Queen herself.  Each of these women spoke with her own voice and vigor about living life as a woman, and about living life as a champion of women.  Each told a different story, but a singular message threaded through: it is as important as ever to help women (and children and families).  And to help women is to help society as a whole.

And as the casts of thousands whipped out checkbooks, I looked around me.  At the many faces from many places.  At the power suits and dreadlocks and ponytails.  At the youth and the experience.  At the grandmothers and mothers and daughters and sisters - literal and figurative.  All gathered in one vast room in the morass of midtown.  

And though I still proudly think of myself as a girl, and I'm used to my magical mornings at home with my girls, for one split second, on this fungible rainy Thursday morning in Manhattan, I felt like a woman.  And in that moment I felt a sense of pride, and power, and pull.  To do something good.  To be something good.  To raise my little girls into women who do good things.  Into women who might come with me to a bold breakfast in midtown a few years down the pike.

Thanks for breakfast, Mom!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Confession: I Breastfeed My Blog

Sure I do.  Because my blog is my baby.  And everyone - the media, the fellow moms, the scientists - keeps telling me that breast is best. That nursing this being is a labor of love and good in the long run.  That if I sacrifice sleep in these early days, that if I invest this time and energy up front, it will pay off.

And, yes, it is still very early.  My beautiful baby blog is a newborn.  A little over four weeks old. A tiny little creature who is new to this world wide web.  For the longest time (okay, only months) she was growing inside of me, a fiery figment of my insistent and indulgent imagination, gaining strength and stature, kicking and punching, prepping for life online. And she is a good baby, quite cooperative, nice enough to look at.  She is meeting her milestones just fine.  She has started smiling which brings me unrivaled joy.  But maybe it is just gas. 

But to be honest the posting-partum hormones are still raging, doing their subversive digital dance.  Sometimes I secretly wonder what I have done. Because before my baby blog was born, I did sublime and silly things like read celebrity magazines and stroll the streets.  Before she was born, I had conversations with Husband about things other than bloggie daycare and search engine sleep schedules.  And sometimes I wonder if she will survive this trying time. And if indeed I will. 

But I will survive this and be stronger for the experience.  This is a unique time.  This baby blog needs me.  All the time, it seems.  And I am her mom, so I must be there.  Ready and waiting to feed her my precious milky mixture of ideas and images and anecdotes and confessions. Because right now no one else can give her just what she needs.  She needs me.

But what if I give a bottle?  Would this nano-being suffer nipple confusion?  What if I pump some milk for later? Draft some stories and sagas for another time? Would this be cheating?  Would she develop properly?  Is frozen thought as good as fresh? And am I producing enough?  Or, too much?  How many ounces of blogmilk does this baby need per day?  Per week? And what if I decide to give some guest-blog-formula?  Will she be okay? 

I know it is controversial, but I'm beginning to think I might need some help.  What if I hired a blog nurse?  Or a digital doula? Yes, she would cost top dollar, but she would be a seasoned soul with sage stories to tell.  She would stand by and keep me sane and tell me (even if it weren't entirely true) how good a job I am doing with my bouncing baby blog.  How I am an absolute natural.  How my maternal and metaphorical instincts are magical.  She would teach me all the technological tricks of the trade.  How to bathe my blog and keep her clean and smelling fresh.  How to burp her code and content and get all of the bubbles out. She would teach me how to sleep at night without obsessively checking my hit-counter-baby-monitor.  

And maybe, just maybe, she would teach me not to worry every moment whether my baby is okay.  Whether she is breathing.  Whether people think she's as cute as I do. Whether my newborn will grow up to be a well-trafficked toddler blog.  Whether she will be in the perfect percentiles among her peers. Whether, ultimately, she will mature into a lovely lady blog, one who is polite but powerful.  A decorous diva who always has something to say.  Whether she will indeed be that philosophical and philanthropic player in the blogosphere, one whom fellow citizens will revere and respect.  Whether, years from now, she will be that humble and honest and happy cyber-soul this mom dreams she will be.

A Good Idea

"Mommy, I have an idea."

"You do?"

"Yes.  I will have a cupcake and watch Dora the Explorer.  Now that is a good idea, Mommy."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Drink, Therefore I Can?

Leave it to NYT's Idea of the Day blog to get those languid brain cells dancing.  Today, the Week in Review Staff asks whether there is A ‘Churchill Gene’ for Creative Drinking? and explores the notion that a lucky (or unlucky) few of us have a gene that helps us turn booze into creativity.

The blog links us to Prospect Magazine's fascinating article I drink, therefore I can.  In this piece, Philip Hunter maintains that many of history's most feted artists and writers and thinkers -- including Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon -- used alcohol as a "fuel for [their] muse," namely as a means to their creative ends.  

Hunter points to contemporary scientific evidence that suggests that as much as 15% of the Caucasian population has a gene -- call it the 'Churchill gene' or the 'creative cocktail gene' or 'the G-variant of the mu-opioid receptor' -- that in fact makes ethanol behave more like an opioid drug, such as morphine, with a more intense than normal effect on mood and behavior.  It has been argued and observed that the gene creates an initial euphoria, followed by prolonged periods of relaxation and enhanced creativity.  It is interesting to note that Hunter also writes that people with this euphoria/creativity producing gene variant also seem more prone to alcoholism. 

What do you think?  Do you think the idea of an alcohol/creativity gene is plausible?  Is this an attempt to defend the historical or contemporary abuse or misuse of alcohol in our culture?  Have you experienced bouts of creative euphoria after knocking back a few? Do tell!

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