Wednesday, August 31, 2005
It's the simple things, really, on one's birthday, that are the coolest. The cards from my family -- actual physical MAIL, in my MAILBOX, that didn't originate from Wilmington, Delaware! -- the phone call I'll get from my parents and brother tonight. The annual, "How can I possibly have a child who is that old!" from my father. The first time my daughter will be able to sing me happy birthday. If she's in the mood, which is never guaranteed.
I had an urge this morning to look up Psalm 139. I highly recommend it for an early-morning birthday read. Feels a lot like a birthday card from God.
And I really don't have to look any farther than New Orleans to see how lucky I am, and how well I have it, today. Well, I don't have to look that far, even. But it's a pretty dramatic example.
I'm just feeling fortunate today in general. Thanks, everyone, for being my family and friends. *bursts into tears, and annoying Barney song*
Not that the family members can help it. But they do admit it, which is all one can ask.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
I've got a question for y'all: What are your thoughts on 'telling stories on' people if they're freaking hilarious, but not very kind? I'm thinking more here of the folks that the people you're telling the stories to don't know, and probably won't ever know. I find a real inner tug-of-war when it comes to the humor inherent in the everyday, but which would definitely come across as cruel to the star of the tale, were it to reach him/her.
I guess the reason I'm asking, really, though it's just a good question, is in relation to this blog. I'm still somewhat pondering what blogs are for, what mine should be all about, etc. The folks who read this one are pretty much positive people who, even when poking fun at something, seem to do so in a kind manner (or at least pick victims who are public figures or something, and I don't much care what public figures think).
We had a startlingly successful attempt at getting to Manassas in time to get the car's oil changed at Jiffy Lube before they closed at 7. I believe we arrived at about 6:47, and they were done by 6:58. And the engine hasn't blown up yet, or anything. Amazing. Beats waiting in line for an hour and a half on a Saturday.
So then we decided we'd stay 'out', grab something semi-healthy to eat at Panera (yummy!), and get wee Liz some fall wardrobey stuff at Old Navy. She's still scratching the bug bites she attracted at the Shire, a week ago. Poor babe. (WHY DID I NOT THINK to take mosquito repellent wipes...) So I want to at least put her in some long pants so it doesn't look like she has a welty disease.
But first, Panera. She orders her oh-so-healthy pb&j Panera meal (she slurped up half of Daddy's mushroom bisque, too, so there was a modicum of balance to the meal), and we got whatever. Soon, because she can't sit down for more than, oh, 147 consecutive seconds, she wanted to go Potty. With Daddy! This was a switch. We figured Panera men's room potties could probably be trusted (I wouldn't say that most places). So off they trot, Daddy and Lizzy. I stuffed a few uninterrupted bites of sandwich in my mouth, then thought, hey! I'll cut next door to CVS to see if they have our apple juice boxes. We are at a point in our development where we CANNOT BE WITHOUT apple (or fruit punch, but NOT berry) juice boxes.
I go. CVS has desired product! I jet back to Panera. I trot to the table, where no one has cleared our half-eaten meals. This is good. I see Matt refilling his drink at the drink bar area, and walk over, expecting to see Lizzy. No Liz. I then realize there's a loud wailing coming from the vicinity of the women's bathroom. Matt looks at me with confusion, then we both gape at each other in horror. Turns out, when Daddy and Lizzy returned to the empty table, Lizzy wanted to go "find" me. Matt thought she'd actually seen me head into the bathroom, somehow, so he opened the door for her. So she was standing in the otherwise empty facility, wailing for me, unable to get back out the heavy door...
*** MOMMY GUILT ***
But a few minutes later, she was making fun of the episode. I think she's okay. And we showered her with an obscene number of clothing items from Old Navy, so I think all has been forgiven. (it was her first time utilizing the dressing room! Boy did she get a kick out of that.)
There's not much that's cuter than wee ones in overalls. Not too much, indeed.
Monday, August 29, 2005
First exciting news: We bought a couch! We bought a couch! A big, comfy sectional for the basement. With a sofabed in it! It's all so exciting. One friend observed that buying a (new) couch is one of those milestones that tells you you're really a grown-up. Hm. I guess, for me, nothing after having a freekin' kid will feel like anything of any significance whatsoever. I'm still getting over the shock and adjustment (awe?) of that one. :) ... Then again, as I observed to Matt, "I still haven't bought a couch." This one's on him.
Hm. I see that above I said "first exciting news." As if there was more. I'm afraid I'll be disappointing you, then. There really wasn't. That's all the excitement you get. (C'mon! A couch! Isn't that enough?)
Saturday evening, I went scrapbooking, or "cropping," as the Creative Memories consultant types call it, at my main CM 'dealer.' I had fun -- we had some major girl talk going on there, much of it having to do with tv shows and laser hair removal -- but I experienced the usual paralyzing scrapbook stress. I get a few hours every now and then (once a month, if I'm lucky, seems like) to work on it, and I have SO MANY PICTURES. A year and a half from living in Europe are untouched, and I'm about seven months of the way through Lizzy's first year. (after that, she's getting tossed in with the general family photo album.) But this time, I took a break from Lizzy to work on a scrapbook of our recent trip to Alaska. The dilemma is, I could take loads of time conceptualizing and doing it, and craft some really exquisite pages. (in theory.) Or I could dive in and get it done, already, though not so beautifully, and move on. This seems to come up a lot in life. Yeah, yeah, always do your best, but let's say you're in college, and you could work your BUTT off for an A, or you could fall off a log and get a B and have more time to do, um, other stuff. (I'm treading into dangerous territory here, as my mother will read this and no doubt start lecturing her computer screen. -- Hi, Mom!) And, yes, she's right. I could've done better than I did, especially toward the end of college. But anyway. Doesn't this theme seem to crop up a lot? With housework, yardwork, creative outlets, the work we get paid to do, etc. Maybe even parenthood, to some extent. It's frustrating, that's my only point. I'm never quite satisfied, yet there's a lot to be said for just getting on to the next thing when you're time is severely limited.
So I didn't get much cropping done. Oh, well. I'll find a way to finish up.
On Sunday, Matt and I did go to the Orioles game. My friend, with whom we were originally going to meet, called and said plans were getting complicated for her, too, so that part went smoothly. And the ticket giver/babysitter and I seem to be getting along again, so that's okay. I guess. We had a good time! Drove from Manassas to Baltimore in not much more than an hour -- no minor miracle -- and met up with my good friend and enjoyed some CHOICE seats. One of the crappier games I have ever seen, but that has its inherent humor. Honestly.
The Orioles looked like a minor-league ensemble there in one of the later innings. Got lit up for, oh, seven runs or something. I think they WALKED IN four runs. The best part was when one of the vendors went off, detailing how 'they should have seen the signs' and how he hasn't seen something this bad since, you know, a billion years ago or something. How the team probably knew of one of its star's impending drug problems, and that took the air out of them. On and on. The lack of response from the few fans around him didn't seem to diminish his enthusiasm. Absolutely hilarious.
My friend, who now lives in Baltimore but has been in and around D.C. for years, was saying she sees colorful folks like that in the city all the time. Folks will talk about anything to complete strangers on buses, on the street, wherever. I have seen some of that in D.C., but it's mostly from, well, homeless folks and stuff. Overall, I love going to Baltimore because IT FEELS LIKE A CITY. As opposed to D.C., which feels like a movie set, and is about as inconvenient. Gads. It's so easy to walk around the touristy parts of Baltimore. And so rewarding! Granted, a great waterfront doesn't hurt. (Must take you there next time you're here, Mom.) And the way the industrial sector meshes with the sporting complexes... Cute AND gritty... And, can it BE? Actual TALL BUILDINGS... Ohhhh. I miss cities. No, the Washington Monument does NOT count.
Don't get me wrong. D.C. has its charms. But, well, yeah. I miss actual CITIES.
Oh yeah. And Geena Davis threw out the first pitch. Ooookay...
And one of the A's used to play for my college team when I was at Washington State! Scott Hatteberg. We had some good times. (no, I didn't actually KNOW him.) Back in the freshman days of yore, when my impossible 'celebrity' crush was dependent upon which sports season it was...
This is the first time I went to the Baltimore waterfront and did NOT eat at the Cheesecake Factory. (yes, it's a sickness.) We skipped out on the 40-minute wait and instead wandered over to the Blue Bamboo, over by the Hard Rock Cafe. Four people in the place. Healthy, cheap Mongolian-style Asian food. YESSSSS.
Oh, and they were doing their version of D.C.'s pandas, and donkeys/elephants. Theirs was crabs. Cute!! I didn't see any signs of major mutilation of them yet, either.
One of the best things about an evening at the harbor is the live music. They generally seem to get a band with wide appeal. Last night's was fronted by a woman lead singer (I like that; Matt doesn't), and three guys doing keyboard, er, trombone?, and drums. She was trying to sing in the style of ... if I knew music, I could say -- the old-timey, big-bandy stuff. She was pulling it off, but you kinda got the sense that it was an act. Anyway, fun to listen to.
And then we drove back (the wrong way 'round the Beltway -- curses!) and cuddled our little girl. Who cried for Grandma for a few minutes before bedtime. GRRRRRR.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Matt and I watched this flick last night. I was going to watch for only a half hour, then hit the hay, but it was such a train wreck I just had to stay up for the entire horrifying experience. No wonder people are afraid of clowns. Yeesh.
There were lots of interesting things about it -- the info given, how the movie was done -- but I won't bore you with all of that. Other than, it obviously wasn't scientific. But even so, raised alarming questions about what this kind of "food" does to us.
In an amusing twist (irony? Nope, I think merely coincidence, right, Brickdude?), I had to hand in a permission slip for Lizzard's class (yes, she's only 2), which is taking a field trip to ... McDonald's.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Getting together with friends I haven't seen in months, or canceling on them and going to an Orioles baseball game... for free... with tickets right behind, and just to the right of, home plate.
I hope it doesn't make me too horrible a person to have chosen the latter. Oh, did I mention, we also have a BABYSITTER? And I almost always get to the Inner Harbor once a summer, and haven't yet? And I can get together with an older friend, whom I also don't get to see much, at the game, too?
My conscience is telling me these things don't really justify canceling plans with someone, just because 'something suddenly came up' that I considered better. Drat.
Did I learn nothing from watching "The Brady Bunch"...
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
It seems to have begun. My daughter, not yet three, is exhibiting initial signs of the downward descent (my perspective) into the Princess Phase. She seems to have resisted, in her own busy tomboy way, so far, but for the past week or two, she's been pretty fixated on Cinderella. She found a Cinderella book on her bookshelf (no idea how it got there!), which has been added to the permanent rotation of nighttime reads. She usually gets three books, and Cinderella's been a fixture for, as I say, about 10 to 12 days now.
Why is this bad, you ask? Well, I definitely don't align myself with the more typical ranty feminist types, but I just hate the idea of my daughter ALREADY being sold the bill of goods about 'life beginning when you get married.' I don't remember being told this explicitly. Maybe it's hard-wired into little girls' psyches to some degree. Nature, or nurture? Or both? Who knows. I don't want my little girl to be anti-marriage, certainly. I hope her mommy and daddy's unmarried stint doesn't warp her perspective on the whole deal later. But I have to try not to gag when I have little mid-book conversations like this one (she's quite a one for the conceptualizing):
"Well, Honey, Cinderella's stepsisters tore her dress."
"Why is she sad?"
"She doesn't have a pretty dress, so now she can't go to the dance."
I mean, REALLY. So WHAT. (full disclosure -- I never went to any of the formal wear/date-required dances in high school. I just wasn't socially ready.)
I keep rooting for Cinderella to buck up, put on her workaday clothes and hoof it to the ball AS IS.
Hey, if that prince really will love her for who she is, who cares if her hair is swept into an up-do? Or if she has glass slippers. (ewww, aren't there breakage possibilities here? Nothing like a shard of glass in the foot to make you hate life.)
And don't even get me started on the whole Fairy Godmother concept.
For now, I guess I'll let my little girl be a little girl, and take whatever she will from it. We can try to repair the damage later.
I have much to learn about parenting. I suspect letting her go, and figure things out for herself, will be my greatest challenge (and failure). I wonder if it's harder, at this stage, when I don't have any solid evidence to work from that my daughter will be a sensible teen and adult -- only fears based on the worst of what I see around me. I take such comfort from folks such as the Lightfamily (I would link to you, but I'm not sure which button that is yet -- most of us know who you are) who obviously have raised healthy, curious, sensible kids who appear fully capable of (and eager to) rationally process things for themselves. I'll keep taking furtive notes on how they achieved this miracle. I suspect no small mountain of prayer was involved, but since they seem like pretty awesome people themselves (Mr. and Mrs. Light), that's gotta be important, too.
One thing that makes me feel a bit better about Cinderella, somehow, was reading Jeffrey Maguire's "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister."
He seems to love to turn these classic fairy tales on their heads -- then again, most of them started out being quite a bit different than Mr. Disney re-imagined them, as it is. So maybe they're veering back to the truth in Maguire's books. She seems like kind of a fluffhead in his book. All looks, not a huge amount of brain. Harmless, but hardly the perfect chica. Whereas Ugly Stepsister No. 2 has tons of brains and sensibility, but is quite plain and possibly ugly. (Stepsis No. 1 is large, ungainly and mentally deficient. but also fairly harmless, as I recall.) I don't recommend his stuff if you're attached to the original story. I keep hearing that "Wicked" is his real masterpiece, but I don't want The Wizard of Oz tainted for me.
Then one evening, Lizzy will want to watch Lilo and Stitch again, and I'll be back to worrying that she'll decide to hide in the dryer someday. :) With me, it's always something, when it comes to Lizzy. And almost always something inconsequential. So I'll keep trying to worry only about today's worries, which are few, and leave tomorrow's worries to themselves. Since they don't often seem to materialize, anyway.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Yes, yes I am. I would love to post this pic in my upper right, permanent blog corner -- as EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD has figured out how to do -- but it requires mastery beyond my comprehension. Help! How do I do it? The cuteness must be preserved.
And, yeah, I read the directions. Got the url into what I believe to be the right spot. Keeps saying I have 'illegal characters' or something, though. (insert highly inappropriate immigrant joke here)
Monday, August 22, 2005
But to end on a positive note: Time with loved ones. And time alone. And, taking NAPS. Hoo-RAY.
I like to catch National Public Radio whenever I'm in the car on the weekend -- make that, whenever I'm in the car and I don't have a wee one issuing a strong preference for kiddie tunes. We've expanded our Veggie Tales collection enough so that we don't go tomato and cuke-crazy listening to the same CD all the time, but it's still nice to listen to "adult" entertainment.
I would prefer to hear Garrison Keillor, but Car Talk is a nice diversion as well.
Sometimes, though, I hear something completely random that is often thought-provoking, and/or completely bizarre. One time it was a collection of voices, all giving their opinion or experience with abortion. Another time, it was the fifty thousandth iteration of something about intolerance toward gays. Oh, and how stupid certain Christians are about it. I'm not going to argue against that point, but it still really irked me to listen to it. The disbelief that ANYONE could be so INTOLERANT. Well, I don't know how I feel about it all, and darnit, I'm going to defend my right NOT to have a strong opinion. But I really, really get annoyed when people tell me what an idiot I must be not to have X opinion. Ooookay.
This weekend, in my four-minute drive to Michael's Arts and Crafts (I hit both lights -- darnit! but they did have the scrapbook stickers and frames that I wanted -- on sale!), the question was posed: What's the statute of limitations on giving away a trick ending? "Can we tell people that Rosebud's a sled?" wondered the editorialist. (oops, I DID spoil that one. But I didn't tell you which movie that's from, so HA.) She apparently got blasted by some viewer ignorant of the plotline of Million Dollar Baby, which she gave away in a previous on-the-air discussion. I was spoiled to that one by our local Express -- that's what I get for reading it.
What do you think?
Well, if you INSIST, I'll give you my opinion: There's really never a reason to give away any twist. Unless there IS a reason. Now, in the case of MDB, the issue at hand is a really controversial one, and NO I WON'T TELL YOU WHAT IT IS. So I can see a lot of interest and discussion being generated. I'm not even super sure how I feel about THE TWIST and THE RESULTING, UTTERLY DEPRESSING LAST ONE-THIRD OF THE MOVIE, though I will say I was pretty steamed when it happened. I wanted to see how things would go for her otherwise! Oh, well. Not my story to tell. And, as the radio lady said, it won last year's Academy Award. It's out on DVD. When is it safe to assume that whoever's interested -- and insistent on being kept in the dark -- has been there, done that?
(funny side note -- when my brother and I were in, oh, junior high or so, my parents took us to the Shakespeare festival in Ashland, Ore. Great time, nice little town. We went to see Romeo and Juliet. My brother didn't know how it ended, and didn't want to know... Weird.)
But I'm the type who loves to spoil myself, anyway. It's almost too excruciating to be on the wild ride of a movie in which you don't know what will happen. I wasn't sure I could handle the last half hour of Cinderella Man, and not because it was a long movie. Because I thought ... well, never mind. I'll leave you unspoiled 'til it comes out on DVD.
Friday, August 19, 2005
It's such a lovely treat, in mid-August, to have a break from the typical D.C. city-sized armpit experience. This morning it felt so great. High clouds, lightish rain, and such an interesting ambient light -- it almost could have been any time of day or evening. Everything seemed soft and clear, like a watercolor. Kind of like the painting in the Art Institute of Chicago that is actually called "Paris Street: Rainy Day,"
but which my parents affectionately referred to as "The Flat-Iron Building" when it came up in our aged version of the Masterpiece board game. (a fun game, if you can get your hands on it.) Luminous. Homey, to me. I feel wrapped in the arms of my childhood, and in all the most interesting places I've been -- all the places that have meant the most to me -- on days like this. And then to enjoy a steaming cup o' Starbucks rocket fuel, AND treat myself to Swiss oatmeal from the Corner Bakery. Aaaaahhhh.
As I waited in the dozen-people-deep line in Starbucks, I grooved to some song or other that is apparently called "Fever," which is probably super super SUPER classic and something I should know all about, and which I have heard before many times, but which now serves to illustrate how very ignorant I am about music in general. This morning, though, I was not only merely enjoying the song, but picking out the various instruments (minimal) and what they brought to the song. Thinking, "Wow! I like the type of drum they used there. A different kind of drum would've changed the whole song." Yes, I realize to probably everyone reading this, that's like saying, "this morning I found myself counting to 10! Impressive!", but for me, it was a different approach than my usual clueless enjoyment or lack thereof. What pleases me about this, aside from the baby step of music appreciation that it represents, is that I know it happened because of the influence of the Significant Other, who is very very musical. (though he did NOT know that "Climb Every Mountain" was from The Sound of Music, which I still find shocking. But, we all blow it every now and then.)
I love how our various interests can, in the best way, infect and inspire others. I love that I'll be a more well-rounded person for having known M. That we all pass things on to each other, and help each other grow, and carry pieces of each other around, absorbing them and making them part of us in the process. It's so very cool. Don't you love it, say, when you're walking through a department store, and you see an outfit, and you think "That's so very so-and-so"? I love the idea that, even when "my people" aren't with me, or have moved away, that I carry them with me.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Random thought o' the day: Whatever happened to Corn nuts? I used to love those things. I see them occasionally, but it's rare. I'd get them on family car trips, which my dad hated, because he said they stunk up the car. Aww, lighten up! Crunchy goodness. Comes in many flavors. I think ranch was my favorite.
Last night, the Lizzard and I had salon appointments with my hair goddess, Cheryl, at Pentagon City Bubbles. If you want a great haircut or color or really anything, go to this lady. But be prepared to pay dearly. She is worth your top Bubbles dollar. Lizzy was very good -- we boosted her seat with some pillows and she sat there, eyeing herself through her dripping wet bangs, and scrunching up her face when water streaked down it. She mostly angled her head when Cheryl told her to, even. She has had previous salon haircuts -- Cheryl does NOT charge top dollar for children, if their mommies or daddies pay top dollar every so often -- but had sat on my lap those times. So this marked her first really, truly big-girl haircut experience.
I had a moment while I was watching her -- a moment that has become familiar to me as a parent. When you notice some new, more mature response or skill, and you think, "Oh, wow. My child is more advanced than I realize." Then you have to do a little mental adjustment to catch up. It's not so extreme now as it used to be -- as I recall, the period from about 18 months to age 2 was the most dramatic in this way. It seemed like she grew and gained new skills and new understanding EVERY DAY. The truth is, she probably still does, but it's less startling now when she has a new vocab word. It's really a trip when they're just starting to do all that.
But still. She's a little girl now. The only babyish thing left is the cheeks, and, frighteningly regularly, the crying jags. But we'll just have to beat that out of her. (hee.)
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Great D.C.-area sighting o' the morning: The guy waiting for his specialized coffee drink at the Starbucks counter. Atop his Segway.
Profound thought o' the day: I guess I'm still stuck in the Seussian "pondering how lucky I am" groove. However, I am dirtying the sanctity of it somewhat by sort of using it to bash others who apparently aren't as enlightened at the moment as I am. For instance: my coworker who insists on whining when she gets handed a bit more work. I want to shout at her, "YOU WORK IN NEWSPAPERS! YOU HAVE A WEEKDAY JOB! AND WHEN YOU GET OFF WORK, YOU CAN GO HOME, POUR YOUR NIGHTLY BOTTLE OF WINE, AND CURL UP NEXT TO YOUR CAT AND WATCH YOUR NIGHTLY DOSE OF TV! Honestly, what do you have to whine about?!" The very same coworker who can't seem to make it into the office before 10:35. And who complains because she's alone and single, yet who doesn't have the 'energy' to meet up with any of her Match.com suitors on any given evening. Or to make it into the office the next day, if she managed to find the energy.
As I type, I realize that what I'm really doing here is venting -- and blasting others -- under the guise of being "grateful." Yet this is where I am today. I guess if I can't be honest here, I shouldn't bother.
Making it all the worse, I know these are the people who, in the given moment, are weaker than I -- the ones I need to hold up in prayer, and encourage. Despite the whininess. I guess the needy ones are the ones who, um, need my help. It's really hard, though, to muster the grace and mercy to help those who seem so ... ungrateful for what they do have. I would kill to read about traveling in Europe all day, which is this woman's job. Mine is only slightly less enviable, to be honest, so I guess there's no killin' necessary right now. But you probably get my point. It seems like, the better off we have it, the less we realize it.
I read that a recent study found that, once people's basic needs were met (food, shelter, etc.), people's rising income levels did not equate to rising happiness. Funny when Jesus' words turn out to be true. I keep thinking about all the sermons I've heard in which it is pointed out that, globally, we ARE the rich people. Yet are we happiest? HA.
The collective household "we" received a three-page diatribe yesterday about how we are not grateful enough to a certain family member. A certain family member who is completely dependent on our goodwill, and, because of said family member's lack of ability to save money or spend wisely, will probably be dependent on our future resources. Perhaps I'm transferring my somewhat-taboo anger toward said extended family member to my coworker, whose issues seem less insane, but similar. I'll have to ponder that one.
As I'm gleefully relaying coworker's issues to M. this morning during our commute, my daughter is singing and bopping along to the Veggie Tales. A song called "Stop and Go with Mercy." I did have the insight to see the incongruity here -- God speaking through my 2-year-old -- but not even the maturity to have moved on by the time I get to work. Argh. God, help me to be more gracious and merciful. As You have been to me.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Okay, when did having people over to celebrate a major (or minor) milestone become such a BIG FREAKING DEAL? I have wondered about this for the past several years, but it's now become frighteningly relevant as my daughter nears the Dueling Parties age. (cue tinkly little kiddie-sounding banjo music)
Once upon a time, in a land that feels far, far away, kids gathered at the Birthday Boy or Girl's house for a couple of hours of harmless, albeit sugar-infused, revelry. Games were played, presents opened, cake and perhaps ice cream consumed, balloons noisily popped. Thus sated, the revelers went their merry ways. All appeared content.
Then -- when? I don't know -- something happened -- I don't know what. Capitalism? Keeping up with the Joneses? Or is this one of those East Coast vs. West Coast deals (my mother's theory)? All I know is, parties now must be done on a Grand Scale. Lizzy and I went to a Build-a-Bear party this past Sunday. For those uninitiated into the Build-a-Bear world (if I could link to things, I would find a link now -- I probably should have called this the Luddite Letters), it's a big, happy, noisy store bursting with overpriced stuffed animal accessories where little ones can pick out their very own plush animal carcasses -- mostly bears, but some bunnies, giraffes and the like, as well (act fast and you can get an Elmo! but it's a limited-time offer), have an adult stuff them, have an adult stitch them up, and have their own parental-type adult buy them and stick aforementioned accessories on them.
So we're at this party, along with eight other munchkins from the Lizzard's day care (which, did I mention, is where Deep Throat and Bob Woodward met? Yeah, I know, I did already mention it, but I still think it's cool). Making nine children. They each constructed a $15 bear, then kitted it out with $15, Disney Princess-themed garb. Actually, Lizzy's was Tinkerbell-themed. Which was foolish and short-sighted, because those mesh wings and that magic wand can possibly poke her in her sleep. But I digress. My point being, nine times thirty bucks. Then we all trooped down to the ice cream store, where we consumed some frozen sugary goodness. (Build-a-Bear apparently cannot accommodate cake at their parties, probably because of "space reasons," though I suspect it's more like "it doesn't put money in our pocket reasons.") Fun party, as 3-year-old parties go. But pricey! Last fall, we went to a 2-year-old party where the parent "rented" the gymnastics folks who come to the day care to give our kiddies lessons on how to jump, hang from a bar, etc. each week. I don't know the price tag there, but I doubt it was far behind ol' Build-a-Bear. Oh, and the other weird thing? At both these parties, the kids of honor did NOT open their presents. Big heap o' presents left there as we departed. And how could I forget to mention the obligatory lovely parting gift? The "goodie bag" we need to pack for the little ones who attend these functions.
I wonder what would happen if, 'round about this November, 7, we did what my parents did for my parties when I was under the age of 8 or so. Which, as far as I can remember, was to play pin the tail on the donkey, and musical chairs, for which the winners got some little token, then eat cake (which Mom decorated for me each year, and was always gorgeous), then open presents.
Related rant: Weddings these days. I do love the receptions that extend into the wee hours, but when a $20,000 price tag is the going rate, what madness is this? We have to have $80-a-head sit-down dinners? And lovely parting gifts for the hundred or more dear friends who, granted, often traveled a long way to attend? (so enjoy that $4 frame with our names embossed on it. We love you!!) Clearly, hospitality is not my gift. And I DO want to have a generous spirit; I think occasionally I even manage it. It's the pointlessness I can't come to terms with.
I'm happy to hear a flip side, a rationale. Please put me in my place. I'd love to hear a REASON that we do all this. For now, it just feels like (for the kids) we exchange $20 or $30. And for the weddings, more like $50 or $100. Especially for these weddings in which "cash only is requested." Ack! Let's just all keep our money and get together and play croquet or something in the backyard. For free. Or at least, for cheap.
Friday, August 12, 2005
When I got to work, I was greeted by one of those forwarded lists in my in-box. (don't we all have at least one of 'those' friends?) Don't get me wrong -- I'm not opposed to the occasional thought-provoking forwarded e-mail. But, aren't some of them just plain dumb? Anyway, I felt this one was worth attaching here, not because it's especially witty, but because it made me feel grateful. I mean, if THESE are our biggest problems of the day -- and most days, they are -- we are some seriously blessed people. (though, it DOES make my blood boil when a few of these things happen...) Just read this and remember all the people who can't really afford to eat chocolate, or buy groceries, or drive a car, or have a job, or go shopping, or use a washing machine ... Hm. Maybe we're TOO privileged, come to think of it.
I'm tempted to come up with my own list of things that legitimately drive me crazy, but it might be a wee bit controversial. (you know -- people thinking the right president will suddenly make the world a utopia; people getting tied up in knots over office politics instead of just doing the jobs they're paid to do; that sort of thing.) And, I'm trying to be less negative. It's an uphill battle.
Things That Drive You Crazy
* There are always one or two ice cubes that won't pop out of the tray.
* You wash a garment with a tissue in the pocket and your entire laundry
comes out covered with lint.
* The car behind you blasts its horn because you let a pedestrian
* A piece of foil candy wrapper makes electrical contact with your
* You set the alarm on your digital clock for 7pm instead of 7am.
* The radio station doesn't tell you who sang that song.
* You rub on hand cream and can't turn the bathroom doorknob to
* People behind you on a supermarket line dash ahead of you to a
counter just opening up.
* You can't look up the correct spelling of a word in the dictionary
because you don't know how to spell it.
* You have to inform five different sales people in the same store
that you're just browsing.
* You had that pen in your hand only a second ago and now you can't
* You reach under the table to pick something off the floor and
smash your head on the way up.
* Getting gas next to 12 people, just as the elevator doors close,
while going to the 39th floor.
* Locking your keys in your car, looking through the window and
realizing the spare is in the wallet right next to it.
* When someone brakes at a yellow light right in front of you just
as your speeding up.
* You get 20 calls from telemarketers and on the 21st call you just
let them have a piece of your mind and its your mother.
* When your mother calls during sex and you pick up the phone out
* Being in a traffic jam when the opposite direction is going 75 miles
* Your girlfriend wants to discuss your relationship during the Superbowl,
in the last minute of the 4th quarter, when the game is tied.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
At the moment, I'm putting together this week's movie review page. Select a movie review, plop in the photo, then read other reviews and take a paragraph or two from them to give a "what others said" flavor to the page. So what, you say? Well, I guess it just feels weird to be reading reviews for "Deuce Bigalo: European Gigolo" and get paid for it. I feel a wee bit dirty. Yet, I'm supposed to be doing it. Maybe like a priest who's conducting confessional?
Any of you have those moments at your job, or during your day? Doing things you're supposed to be doing, but that feel almost, well, wrong? Yet they're not?
The bad: I hesitate to be totally honest here, because you will surely want to wrest my poor child from my incompetent arms and find her a better home. But last night was one of those evenings -- VERY rare these days, VERY frequent during the dreaded colicky months -- when I was tempted -- tempted, mind you -- to fantasize about striking her. Just a good little whack! upside the head to see if that helped calm her down. (doubtful, though I've never tried. Honest!) She was FREAKING OUT, in a way only a 2-year-old can freak out. And why? What a lovely question. One that I kept asking, trying to word it in ways my frantic 2-year-old could process (she doesn't get 'why' yet). She didn't know. She wanted me to pick her up. She didn't want us to sit still, though. She didn't want to walk. She wanted to poop, then she didn't want to get off the pot. (seriously, not metaphorically.) It was ridiculous. There was NOTHING WRONG with her.
Or was there? Because this, you see, is just about my most frustrating parental dilemma: As the mom -- or either parent, perhaps -- I'm supposed to intuit when something is just 2-year-old wrong, and when something is WRONG. She was sitting on the potty, looking down at her, uh, genitals, then she said, "It HURTS!" And it did look really red, in a deep-tissue kinda way. But I'm not real familiar with what she's supposed to look like these days, as we are not potty trained. So am I not wiping enough (easy solution, no big deal)? Is nothing wrong (even better)? Or is there something HORRIBLY AWRY, in which case I need to call the doctor, possibly medicate her in some way, and stress about all night? The same clues could lead to either conclusion. Drives me wild. So, I got on the phone with Kaiser. I was informed "my expected wait time is, twenty-two minutes." I sat. And sat. Then she finally chilled out some. I forget what did it. Dinner being ready? Promise of ice cream afterward? Something that didn't work a half hour before, or a half hour before that. I guess maybe she just ran her course. She claimed she didn't hurt any more. Arghh!
Some evenings, I just wish for NOTHINGNESS. I will even settle for, May I kindly get home, please, from our 45-minute commute, and just sit and open my junk mail? For ninety seconds, perhaps? But as I've noted before, you can't divvy it up like that. I'm quite sure there are great reasons for that, but it sure is frustrating.
How old do I have to get to be a wise, patient person, anyway? Can't I be that NOW? ;)
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
I've hung out with his friends a number of times, but not much since the ... well, the engagement to another guy, the imagined conversations about what a, well, not very nice person I was to do this to M., etc. So I've been a little ginger about spending time with these folks. (I don't have certain evidence of these sentiments, I should stress.)
Also, uh -- they're not totally "my kind" of people. How's that for generosity on my part.
So, the day arrives. M. departs with friend; I am to follow an hour or two later. I get Lizzy down for nap; I take nice, long, leisurely shower, doing all the extras (shaving, whatever) that I often don't bother with because they take too much time. I step out on the bathmat to hear the ringing of the phone. It's M, frantic because ... wait for it ... HE FORGOT THE TUX. He wants me to leave immediately so I'll be able to get it to him in time for him to start ushering folks down the aisle. And the site is at least 45 minutes away, who knows where -- I have directions, but please! -- and, if you had forgotten, I'm wearing A TOWEL.
M. is unconcerned with my "you can't ask a woman to go to a formal occasion without primping!" plight, though, understandably. And so, about 10 minutes later, I rush out the door. Thank the Lord for sunglasses. We can look cool no matter how bare our eyelashes are.
In brief, I get the tux to M. in the nick of time. I manage to get myself pulled together, appearance-wise, at the wedding site. And, a lot of fun is had by all -- even me! At one point, M.'s brother (only sibling) comes up to me -- completely trashed, but still -- and drapes an arm around me and tells me a couple times that he loves me, and we're family, "no matter how much I might not like hearing that." It was about the most touching thing I'd heard in ... gosh, I don't know how long. I had good chats with a couple other of M's friends, too. I'll say this for them. The boyz know how to have a good time! Lotsa dancin', eatin', drinkin', stompin', and whatever else they could think of to do. Which, rumor has it, included some golf-cart stealin' and wheelin' ... thankfully, I had left by then.
Yeah, I left the wedding to make it home to my darling daughter, who, I was convinced, would never be able to survive an overnight without Mommy. She woke up at 4 a.m. or so, crying for grandma, since that's the last person she saw. I go in, all certain that Lizzy will shriek with delight upon seeing she gets Mommy! The grand prize! Not just grandma! She looks at me, says, "WHERE'S GRANDMA?!!" and starts REALLY wailing. Hm. Is there still a golf cart unspoken for?!?
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Well. I'm sorry, Mr. Linus, if I wasn't supposed to talk about this to anyone, but I find it exciting.
I should preface further by saying that M's job is not the most glamorous, or the best-paying. It's an office job, it's respectable, and he seems to think it's the best he can get (I disagree, but that's another story). His dad and I have been trying to convince him just to toss his resume to the four winds and see what comes back, but he says, and of course this is true, that it's been difficult to keep up with everyday tasks, let alone shape up a resume, hunt down the winds and ask them to send messages for him.
So. Yesterday, we meet at the metro, as is our custom, and he says, "My boss wants to move me to another job. But that's good news, and bad news." He drones on about the low ceilings at this other office, the drab interior. Then says he'd be supervising a couple of people, one of whom is rather loopy, etc. I say, "Would the pay change at all?" Yeah. Just a little. He'd be making better than 1 1/2 times what he makes now, as near as he can figure. This doesn't happen immediately -- his boss merely told him that he was her pick to replace a woman who will be retiring sometime before next year. But, WOW.
(side note: I always wonder what the grumpy, silent types on the metro are making of our conversations. Probably wishing we'd shut up. HA!)
It comes at a great time -- when wouldn't be a great time? -- as there are lots of big, LIFE decisions to be made in the next few years. Wedding(s)? Another child? A move to a county with better schools (sorry, Prince William)? These things might soon be possible.
The best part of this story, to me: The night before (THE NIGHT BEFORE!!), we had been kicking around the idea of tithing. I have a confession: I have not been tithing for the past three or so years. Not at all. After a lifetime of being a very faithful tither, I saw single motherhood as the time that it just wouldn't "work." I know, I know. It's not about how much you have... Believe me, I know. Now, M. doesn't really attend church officially, but he's come with me a couple times to the wonderful little church I've been going to for about a month now, and he really likes the people and respects what they're about. He wholeheartedly approves of me tithing there, and actually wants to chip in. Which I find amazing, considering ... well, considering how many "real Christians" probably don't tithe. Yeah, including me, at the moment. So, we have our little conversation. I mention a sermon I heard about a year and a half ago, about Malachi 3:10:
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."
So, we decide, okay. Let's tithe, well, not 10 percent at this point, but X amount. Let's get the ball rolling. And THE NEXT DAY. This job thingie happens.
The sad part is how long it took me to put two and two together. We were all happy last night about this possibility (probability?!), and it's not until this morning that I think about the conversation the previous night. Wow! Some people aren't very expectant, are they?
God's good. That's just about all I can say at this moment. Boy, is He good. And He's good when times are lean, too. But, well ... I'm just full to the brim with gratitude, and awe, at this moment. And had to share.
I've got a funny story from the weekend, too, that I haven't had a chance to "publish" -- we do now have home Internet access, but it's giving us an error or some fool thing, so, hm, actually we kinda don't have it yet. We should, though. Arghh. So I'm having to sneak in some extracurricular typing at work to post. So, stay tuned.
Friday, August 05, 2005
one petting zoo.
95 degrees (or so).
Equals one mama who, for once, is OVERJOYED to get back to her air-conditioned office!
Er, not that I didn't have a blast with my child, and the other 19...
But seriously, we had a pretty good time at the Reston Zoo. Such as it is. It's cool for the six-and-under set, and fairly ideal for a day care-type getaway. Small, contained. Just too HOT.
Reminds me, in a small way, of other field trips, vacations, etc. Other looked-forward-to events. And how much WORK they actually are! Isn't that funny? In a sense, more work than the everyday grind. And yet, I'd venture to guess that most of them are bathed in a golden glow in my memory later on. Looking back, I probably won't remember the humidity that felt like my strength was being sucked out through a straw; I'll remember that, for some reason, Lizzy didn't want to feed the animals. But she DID want to watch me feed the animals. Which I find hilarious, because isn't it supposed to be the other way 'round? She so wants to grow up that I think she wants to mother ME sometimes. And I might remember all the posh, oh-so-healthy meals the other parents packed for their kids, whilst my Lizzy had a peanut butter sandwich, some chips borrowed from her neighbor and a few bites of brownie. (for the record, I DID also pack and apple and yogurt. But those weren't deemed exciting enough. We're mighty low on the produce at the moment.) And the way Lizzy got all the other kids chucking rocks into the pond by her example might stick, as well.
I'm looking forward to our annual trip to Cox Farms (a pumpkin patch, and so much more) in Centreville. It's nice and cold by then, and there's so much to do. I'm hoping she'll want to try a pony ride this year. It's probably the one thing that I can think of right off that Matt and I have done consistently, every year of her life, together, regardless of 'on again' or 'off again' nature of relationship. Which makes it really special.
But, I'm sure those times were also hard work. :) I'm grateful for the forgiving nature of memory. And the optimism with which we look forward to the future. I think it was meant to be that way. Then again, it could just be that I have had a lot of great times! Which I think is also true.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
One of the cool things about being a parent, or about being around little kids a lot, is that you get to see the world through their eyes. Sort of. Sometimes, the Lizzard won't divulge what's going through that peanut brain as we drive along. (other times, say, when we're watching yet another Veggie Tales tv adventure, she'll tell me EVERYTHING she's thinking.)
The other day, though, we had dropped off Daddy at the metro and were winding our way up the street to Lizzard's day care.
by the way -- have I mentioned it's the SAME building as where Deep Throat met with Bob Woodward? Someone suggested we dress Lizzard in a trenchcoat and have her peep out from behind the pillar where they used to meet. HA! Mommy would love to do the scrapbook page, but I don't think Creative Memories has Watergate-themed stickers just yet.
So back to the babe -- we're driving up the street, and she's doing her color association thing. "She has purple on, just like Daddy!" "He has blue on, just like Mommy!" "She has green on, just like me!" And up the street comes a shirtless man, lugging plastic bags and getting plenty sweaty already by 8:45 a.m. in the late-July D.C. heat. Heh. This should be good, I think.
"Hey, Lizzy -- that man has no shirt on!" I say. "He has a belly on!" says the ever-observant Lizzard.
(I laugh as I make a mental note to cover up at least my midsection in future in front of the girl...)
Related thought, that I've been rolling around in my head lately. There isn't really a good way to say this that doesn't sound tremendously egotistical, but it feels SO good to be loved wholly, unconditionally, by another person. More than that person loves anyone else, in this case, though that isn't a necessary aspect. I am the center of this person's universe. Now, normally, this is not so much a good thing -- for one thing, it can be damaging to the person doing the loving, and it's a hard act to live up to for the person being loved. Lots of responsibility there. But that's what being a mommy has been, for me, so far. When I am with my child, she is HAPPY. (well, usually.) When I'm not, she's ... well, she's usually okay, actually. ... Anyway, my theory is, parenting is super intense, in stages, and you have to save it up and remember it later, when that stage is gone. This is not a unique concept, I realize. But it really resonates with me. We can do everything, as women. But not all at once.
I want to remember things like "lellow" instead of "yellow." "hello doctor" instead of "helicopter." The usual.
I have this mental image of a teenage Lizzy, pounding up the stairs, screaming, "I HATE YOU!", and slamming her bedroom door. I think about that sometimes when I get tired of being the only one she wants to be held by, or have nighty-night stories read to her by, etc. When I want ONE MINUTE to myself. When I have -- kid you not -- 3/4 of a page to read before I actually finish a novel (!!!) that I've been working on after Lizzard's plenty late bedtime. But someday soon, Daddy will have his turn, and that will be good. I'll be the 'other woman' in his life, and he'll be teaching her how to do nutmegs (whatever they are) with the soccer ball in the back yard. I know he, and I, in a way, are looking forward to that.
What I don't want to lose sight of, is how this child has shown me another facet of what love is -- by the strength of it in her, and the fierce love I feel as well. I think that was the most, of many, bizarre aspects of her infanthood. Feeling that passion for her grow in me. Even before I identified it as "love." Every day, I would willingly throw myself in front of any train -- and most days, it felt like I had -- for that colicky little fuzzy-headed screamer. But I wasn't even aware that I loved her yet. Or that I wanted her yet. (I've since decided that I very much, absolutely do.)
To sum: It's weird, and kinda cool, sometimes, to be loved so much and so exclusively. But I won't go getting used to it.
Well, okay, in fairness, first, I went to church, where we were 'worshiping by serving' -- cleaning up the coffee house where we meet. Which was fine. It feels good to serve. Even if it means I get all sweaty before my posh event. I'm just lucky to be able to do both, I reason.
Maybe this is some subtle comment from God on the fact that M. should come to church with me. This makes twice, now, that I've gone to church without him, and all plumbing breaks loose while I'm away. Hm... Thankfully, God has a sense of humor but also provides, in the form of a plumber who always seems to be on call (and possibly on crack -- this has yet to be verified, but I assure you is a distinct possibility) and seems to charge at a reasonable rate. This time around, weird stuff (but not sewage, that we could tell) kept bubbling up in the unfinished part of the basement. We had narrowed it to the kitchen sink/dishwasher use, so we thought. Turns out, the problem was a blocked main line leading to the street. Whoops! So R., our plumber, puts his 75-foot snake to work. M. helps him. Suddenly, so I'm told, raw sewage is spraying everywhere. Later, when M. is relaying this story to me, I am picturing one of those hilarious contrast montages wherein someone is basking in utter relaxation and pleasure (me, whiling away time between events, in an overstuffed chair at Starbucks with some easy reading at hand), while M. and R. are dealing with reverse peristalsis of our main pipe. I can even hear the different musical tracks that would be playing at you flash from scene to scene. Heh.
The party -- a baby shower -- was pretty fun. It's kinda cool to pretend to be cultured now and then. And rub elbows with women of all ages, doing the same. And eating scones with jam and clotted cream and drinking frou-frou tea! But the best feeling I had all day was when I got home, heard all that M. had gone through for our family's sake (AND, he paid the plumber -- did I mention that part?), and thought about how much he loves me, and I him.