Friday, July 30, 2010

Guest Blogger

To some this may not be a big deal, but I just submitted my first entry as a guest blogger!


Happy weekend!

The ups and downs of having superb cleavage

Since about junior year of high school, I've had the pain in the ass pleasure of lugging around a rather substantial chest. I've always been more of a tomboy, and getting attention for my figure always freaked me out. In college, they got bigger -- I hit a D cup my freshman year. I struggled with getting fellow students (and professors) to make eye contact in my male-dominated field. I actually had to carefully select bulky sweatshirts on days when I would be teaching one lab because of the oogling that I'd receive from a few choice students. Now, a DD (only because I would rather dislocate my shoulders each morning and sport back fat and quadroboob rather than go to a larger cup...)

For you A-cuppers out there who are thinking "ok, bitch, what a problem to have..." these are the reasons I cringe when people Pam Anderson it up:

  • I've never been able to run. I want to run, but I simply cannot find the proper support. (This has nothing to do with the fact that I run like an elephant and stress each joint in my body with every excruciating step.) I had a roommate who used to insist on wearing a regular bra under a sports bra. This is unacceptable behavior because boob sweat is a level of disgusting that is simply not worth it.
  • I throw my back out if I'm leaning forward and twist. I know that people who are not boob-laden also throw out their backs, but I completely blame being off balance.
  • Since I was 24 years old, I've had THREE hooks on my bra. This makes early morning, pre-coffee dressing a pain in the ass. About 1 in 5 days, I manage to screw up hooking the torpedo bra style hook pad and end up with a lopsided kink. I can't fix it because I've already used up my shoulder power for the day. It sucks.
  • I can't wear t-shirts that fit without looking like I have the style sense of Erin Brockovich. Medium t-shirts pull tight across my chest and Larges hang lifelessly everywhere else.
  • I've never been able to successfully wear spaghetti straps. Strapless bras end up around my midriff and act as nipple holders. No support. Nada. Skip the idea of the cute colored bra strap exposed beside the spaghetti strap since mine are the wide granny straps. Sexxxxy! I did go strapless for my wedding. I had $150 worth of support that included metal bars running down my sides which bruised me and made me cut my reception short so I could get the hell out of my dress.The last 10 months, I've made sure that these knockers paid their dues. They have provided a life source for my babygirl. Not only did they get up and work at all hours of the day and night, provide comfort during colic, and grow two fantastically rolled thighs...they also stocked up 1.4 gallons of frozen breastmilk by the time babygirl was 2 months old because I had to be gone on a business trip! Yeeehaw!!
Now, they are retired. The weaning process is complete. Babygirl in her stubbornness had to go cold turkey onto formula in order to accept it. I tried to do a slow transition, but she'd just rather go without than choke down formula. I had hoped to do mornings only with her for a while, but it is what it is. The twins will never be the same. Perky and cute - gone. Lush and rock hard during pregnancy (and weaning) - gone. Deflated and lifeless - here we come!

I do look forward to going and getting an actual fitting once they droop and settle after the weaning this week. I've never had a REAL bra - one that someone measured me and gives proper support without holding cleavage to my chin (a hot idea, I know).

I'm embracing my new body. No embarrassment here. These girls did their job. I have a happy, healthy baby who breastfed without a drop of formula for over 9 1/2 months! Not too shabby for working full-time, too! (Granted, I worked full-time with her at home with me for 9 months so feeding time was much easier than if I'd been in an office.)

Although I did enjoy nursing, and I was fortunate that nursing came relatively easy for us, I am not going to miss it too terribly. I am finding as my milk dries up that I am grieving the loss of the magic of producing milk. It is an amazing thing. My body never seems to know how to do things quite right in the realm of womanly things - periods are always out of whack, we struggled to get pregnant, my ovaries are stupid and choke on eggs sending me to the hospital with cysts...but this my body knew how to do -- and well.

I can look back now, with teary eyes at the montage of breast feeding memories....(cue sappy music...)

Trying to figure out where the milk came out...what the hell is that yellow stuff...cracked nipples...carrying milk in my armpits...boobs so full babygirl can't feed...waking up in puddles...still not being able to sleep on my stomach after childbirth...leaking...boob diapers...nipple packs...

Screw it. My grief is gone - here's your formula - have a great day! :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

One Hour

You want to know what gets this overworked and underpaid momma hot and bothered (other than Harleys and shirtless men with tool belts)? An unexpected, unplanned, unhinted at, unwhined about HOUR (that's 60 whole minutes!!) of baby-free time in the evening! Yes, ladies - my man knows how to get a girl going!!

Screw flowers, jewelry, or cash - this momma wants a little time to herself!!

What's more is that his offer to take the baby for a trip to the store came after he just walked in the door from working outside all day and then driving four hours home!! What a prince!

So...what to do...hmmmm... I could do dishes using both hands without a baby on my hip. I could vacuum ad nauseum without worrying about cutting a nap short. I COULD win the lottery or pay off my credit cards, but let's be real!!

I am sitting in a bubble bath with a mud mask on.

No, not with my laptop! I may have had a rough couple of weeks, but I don't have a death wish!!

(Plus, there is a video camera on that thing! The government and ghosts can turn it on without my knowledge, and use footage of my tired, saggy breasts against me when I make it big.)

Just a pen, some paper (vintage, low tech!), bubbles, green face, and a smile. One must exfoliate before rewarding her hubs for the perfect gift!!

It's all about positive reinforcement!!

PS - He just came home with a king size pack of Reese's peanut butter cups!! What have I done to deserve this!?!?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Toss me on a hog, and I'll be your girl

Many of my entries are about babies and boobies and cleaning (rather, the lack thereof) and the occasional vampire/werewolf know momma stuff.

This ain't that.

This is about leather and patches and bikes and pot smoking and gun trafficking. Sons of Anarchy is returning for it's 3rd season on September 7! Yes, it's full of badasses and drama and HOGS!

Oh to own a motorcycle...(blank day dreamy gaze).

We live in great bike riding country. Long open highways with sparse traffic. Curves and hills.

Can we get one? NOOOO - we had to go and pay for three college degrees between my husband and me. Oh, and I put our wedding reception on a credit card. (Predatory credit card scams on college students will be a different post...) Needless to say, a motorcycle isn't in our future -yet.

Pay down the mortgage, get the student loans under control, and credit cards paid off and I'll be picking bugs out of my teeth. And humming down the highway behind my husband (take that in whatever way you like).

Granted, I won't be part of a biker gang so the anal-retentive, mother hen part of me spiral out of control - oh and trafficking AKs is probably not a great idea either.

Anyway, come early September I'll be watching the biker gang back at it. It's somewhat hard to follow if you don't know the backstory - but the first two seasons are available on dvd.

This was not a paid endorsement...however, if any at FX would like to chip in a payment to Sallie Mae they are more than welcome.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cleaning house, well not really.

The last few months have been tough.

Tough enough that I need an analogy. Just wait. This one took all day to solidify...

So my brain is a room that looks like it should be videotaped by 4 cameramen for the show Hoarders. The room is void of furniture just piles and piles on the floor. Some good stuff, expensive stuff, 6 years of college and 4 years of professional life kind of stuff. Some fluffy love stuff, glowing golden love for my family, my husband, stepson and babygirl. Some dog toys, some cleaning supplies (ironically dusty of course), some garden tools, some other hobby stuff, the Twilight series books (dogeared and tossed in), lists and lists and lists - written in pencil, faded and smudged. Two gillion empty soda bottles, fast food bags, ATM receipts...oh wait, that's my car.

You get the picture. It's a mess. A MESS!

I can go in and shift stuff into piles, but you can only stack so many work tasks into a pile before they roll off and smother the pile of bottles, diapers, and teeny tiny baby socks. The baby toys are continually scattered. My wedding dress is here somewhere...probably in the mound where my bed used to be. AND WHERE THE HELL ARE MY BLACK SKETCHER MARY JANES? Seriously, I haven't seen those bastards in over a week. I miss my shoes!!

I made a decision about a month ago that I needed to do an overhaul. A major one.
I've begun the organization process. I am starting to categorize. Work. Baby. Husband. Blog. Recreation. So on and so forth. The problem is that no matter how hard I try to organize the piles, the more frustrated I become when they run into one another.

Bring on the TLC working crew - including the snarky super thin woman, over the top gay man, and the buff shirtless handyman wearing the toolbelt a little too loose and lopsided to actually function for anything other than a prop in PlayGirl.

I need a structure to hold these items apart - adjacent, but apart. Shelving. Boxes. Squares. Straight lines.

I am making progress. Starting babygirl in daycare so that I can work when I'm supposed to work and be a mom the rest of the time. Working at keeping the house clean instead of having the "fuckit" attitude that ends up in me being overwhelmed with clutter.

I still have a lot of miscellaneous trash that I keep kicking around. Much of it guilt. Guilt that I can't help everyone every time. I can't be 132 places at once. Doing for everyone. I need a little more help with that. I went today to a counseling session to help me organize into these compartments and not feel bad about not having compartments for each and every person I have ever met. ever. It was a good visit, but rudimentary (don't think for one second that I was able to spell that without spell check). I'm hoping that in a few more visits I'll have a better grasp of what goes where so that I can easily access what I need, when I need it.

...and finally find my flipping sketchers!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weening weenie

(note, I know that I spelled "weaning" wrong in the title, but if I change it all my links will break. I just have to live knowing that I have a promoted typo...*twitch*)


Yesterday, I nursed once. At 10AM.

The day before I nursed 5 or so times.

I woke up yesterday, and I was done nursing. D to the O to the N E - DONE! I was no longer emotionally attached to the action. I no longer felt that was my connection with my babygirl.

Just to backtrack a bit...from day one, I had been nursing and pumping and bottle feeding because I new that when she was 2 months old, I was going to be gone overnight (2 nights!) for work. The goal was to nurse as long as I could stand it, but to share feeding duties with the hubster as much as possible. This worked out well, and allowed me the freedom of girls nights out, a drink or two, pump and dump. We were set. Bottle and breast baby. Until she was three months old - to the day. Then she gave up the bottle. No way no how no bottle.

At first, I treated it like, "oh, she doesn't want a bottle's a boob." Then it was several days. Then I didn't try the bottle because I didn't want to waste the frozen stock of milk. Then I stopped pumping. And then I woke up one day to a baby who can't let me out of her sight for more than 2 hours at a time.

Granted, I was at home and she was at home. It was easy (for the most part), and we just rolled with it.

My goal was to try to breastfeed until she was 3 months old. I figured that was as long as I could stand it. The long shot was to make it until 6 months. When I hit the 6 month mark, and she wouldn't even entertain the idea of a bottle - I began to feel trapped. I felt relegated to breastfeed until she was a teenager...."Mom, I'm headed to prom, how about a nib before I go?"

I know that's exaggerating, but I felt that it wasn't ever going to end. I felt that when I did stay out for a dinner without her, I was being selfish. She would scream and cry, my husband would try to serve a bottle. Rejection, rejection, rejection.

I would come home to a sobbing baby and a frazzled husband. I didn't enjoy my evenings out because I knew what I would return to.

I stayed home. And nursed.

And nursed.

Eventually, I started spreading out the feedings. I had to. I had to get help caring for her, and since I couldn't leave a boob with her, she had to go without. She would nurse in the morning and then not again until noon. Even on days when she wasn't at the sitters or later when she was going to daycare in the mornings. It was working out well.

But the day ahead was looming. The day that we were going to be breaking our bank in order to pay for full-time daycare for a kid that could only go 4 hours at a time. I was offered the opportunity to come to the daycare to nurse, but that just was not a fit for our situation.

She needed to take a bottle.

I had so abandoned the bottle concept that I had returned the breast pump I had been using to my cousin 2,000 miles away. She'd soon need the pump herself, so I left it with her during our vacation last month.

I borrowed a pump. Turned her on. Nothing.

Not a thing.

10 minutes, 20 minutes.


Sore nipples.

2 ounces.

What the hell? I was a pump queen mere months ago. 5 minutes, and I could have 6 ounces! Now this??

I had depleted my stock of frozen milk over the months with failed attempts at tempting babygirl to eat.

So much wasted milk.

At 9.5 months, she's too young to take cow's milk, so my only option was formula. Or nursing until her wedding day.

Formula it is. I purchased the gentle blend in hope that she would take to that better than the regular mix. She gags. A lot. When she eats formula. Awful long, fur ball-type gags. It's terrible.

I'd tried big bottles, little bottles, sippy cups, straw cups, sitting in my lap, sitting in her high chair, me holding the bottle, she holding the bottle. Dr. Seuss could not come up with more combinations of trial and error. and error. and error. and gag.

Then I woke up yesterday, done. I quit. The easing out of nursing wasn't working for us. My sweet babygirl had turned into the boob groping creature that I'd feared when considering the breast/formula options during pregnancy. She had even so much equated "ma ma" with milk. Moo. That was my identity, milk. Yes, comfort and safety, but mostly milk. She's taken to sucking on her blankets (yes, eww, I know) for comfort. She has so equated me with milk that since I've been trying to feed her formula and skip feedings, she hasn't said "ma ma" in over a week. I guess this is good...but it kills me.

She woke up after a long night at 10 AM. She nursed, and then ate breakfast as usual. Then snack. Then lunch. Then snack. Then dinner. All the while, I offered her bottles and bottles of formula. Gag, gag, gag. I reassured her with uber snuggles, much playtime, and full attention for most of the day. I didn't want her feeling like I was abandoning her in any way...although I sort of am.

After fussing trying to go to rock to sleep, I asked my husband to mix one final bottle.


As she lay curled in my lap, holding the bottle on her own, curling and flexing her toes like she did for so many nursing sessions. It was everything I could do to hold my sobs of joy and pride and freedom and excitement and a little sadness from shaking her out of her zone.

She drank 2 ounces.

A lovely, wholesome two ounces.

She fought sleep last night. Partly because of a day of off-schedule sleep, partly because of hunger. I struggled with being a hardass and leaving her it cry it out - knowing that she was probably feeling hungry...and abandoned. I have 3 bottles of formula mixed and ready in the fridge (that, apparently, is how I spend nervous energy while she sobs in her crib between rocking sessions).

After 2 solid hours of rocking, and blanket sucking, and uncomfortable breast pawing she was in her crib.

Now, it is 6 AM. Day 2. My breasts are ROCK HARD and sore. I couldn't squeeze them into a normal bra if my life depended on it. I weighed myself last night - and have over 3 lbs of milk sitting, waiting. Ugh.

She goes to day care in a couple hours. I hope to get a bottle in her before we go. Hope.

She's going to be 10 months next week. I don't at all feel like a failure. We've had a great go of it, but now it is time for us to enter into the next phase of our relationship.

And for her to relearn my name.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The grass is always greener on a pile of poo

Every day, I drive past a small cow pasture on the way to and from babygirl's daycare. They have about a dozen cows. Early this summer, I was actually driving by when one gave birth - like plop, goo, moo.... Such an event would have been neat a year or two ago, but since I've been there myself, it was a much more spiritual experience. I empathized with her. Just think - two shoulders almost tore me completely in half - look at all those knees and elbows and hips AND THAT HEAD! yikes! The little pasture now has 4 calves.

Each day, the little calves are not so little. They stop there mommas in their tracks to nurse (boy, do I know that feeling). At times, the mommas are less than enthusiastic about nursing and they walk on - a calf a step behind mooing and reaching under her for a sip.

This morning, one light brown calf was perched on a tiny hill. A manure hill. A grassy, manure hill. Eating.

Of course, as with all animals, some of the good stuff slips through. It is not uncommon for animals, to sift through other animals' droppings to pick up where another left off. The lush, green grass was well fertilized, and with a little struggle up the softish hill - the calf was eating a dewy, healthy breakfast.

I can relate to that too.

No, I'm not going out and sifting through the dog piles in my yard for a nugget of nutrition.

We, as many these days, have had our belts artificially tightened during this recession. The shirt of income just doesn't quite cover the resulting muffin top of expenses. If you stand just right, and don't move and don't try to see it...we're covered. One twist or turn and there's pale, white skin with stretch marks for the world to see.

Did you follow that analogy? It worked perfectly in my head. If you need a visual, head to Walmart...I guarantee that you won't be past the air blast between the double doors before you get the drift.

Anyway, we have days of bounty and days of thrift. One day, I splurge on a coffee drink from a local cafe - and the next I'm scrounging among discarded ATM receipts, melted gummy bears, and crusty cheerios under the car seats to find coinage to fill my gas tank.

So, kudos to you baby cow for finding green grass on that pile of shit. Now, I'm going to go shake the laundry to see if I can grab me a latte!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Drip, drip - momma sap

Her feet aren't quite as tiny as they were when we met. The weight of her head on my arm puts my hand to sleep. I am not as meticulous about cleaning each finger nail and removing each fleck of dirt or dog hair. She's scuffed up a bit. Bug bites and rug burn.

She's not as shiny as she was out of the box.

Neither are my engagement and wedding rings. The first (official) symbols of the love my husband and I share. They are scratched and need cleaned.

My little one is rounding the corner on 10 months old. She's a dream, wish, and a prayer all answered in one 20 pound bundle. Her gravitational pull on me is indescribable. I'm still as tempted to kiss her sleeping head as I was the day we brought her home -- I've also learned that kissing too soon opens eyes. Prolongs the process. I still want to hover over her crib while she sleeps, but that wakes her and then I have to army crawl out of the room cussing myself for moving the blanket that one last time.

I miss her while she's at daycare, and I pace when her nap runs a few minutes too long.

She's my angel, my clone, my torture, my smile.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My life in the petri dish

As indicated by my day old, empty container of Lofthouse orange flavored cookies (nom nom nom), it has been a rough couple of weeks. First, trailer meets house then nervous breakdown then sending the babygirl to daycare. Craziness.

Life is getting back to normal. Well, normal-ish.

We've had a series of house guests. We love our house guests! Especially the ones that leave the house in a better condition than they found it! We have FANTASTIC house guests.

Knowing that someone is coming (generally) forces me to maintain a tidy house rather than require the oh-shit-they're-pulling-down-the-drive whirlwind. It generally prevents that rabid dog look in my eye when the guests arrive.

Plus we love our house guests - we take them out to enjoy the woods, get a little West Nile with a side of lyme disease, or swim in the creek or just hang out inside without cell reception. It's like roughing it but not. It's like staying at a park lodge without the luxury of turn down service. That is unless you count the two 80 lb dogs laying on your pillow turn down service. We love our company and them being here is relaxing for us. A break from life.


I went to make the bed for my last minute guest family coming on Friday. I had the air mattress all inflated up (we're high class here, ya'll) and ready to go from my mom's visit the weekend before. I quick change of the sheets, and I'd be set.

Tuck, tuck. Hospital corners are a pain in my ass when the mattress is shifting all over hell and creation. Tuck. Tuck, tuck. SQUISH.


Seriously. My shoed food was now wet on top. ON TOP. I had stepped in a puddle in my office - and it SPLASHED. The series of words that I emitted at that point would have made George Carlin blush.

Back track to earlier in the morning.

I'm sitting at my desk...thinking...sniffing...what IS that smell. Take shoe off, sniff shoe. Sniff foot. Nope. Work, work, work. Sniff. Major nostril flare. Sniff. Where is the rotting fruit? I don't eat fruit in here. It smells like rotten fruit. Searching desktop (which is unusually clean and decaying-food free). Sniff. Gag, sniff. Pit check - sniff - shower fresh. Chair spin sniff. Shrug. Work, work. Sniff. FUCK. Sniff, Sniff. Shoe check. Under desk check. Sniff. Screw it, work in living room.

Yes, my friends, I was smelling the smell of 20 year old carpet soaking. FANTASTIC. Apparently the 2.5 inches of rain we received in one hour last week had stopped up our (quality) gutters and sent the water sheeting down the window and into the gap around our air conditioner, down the wall, and into our beloved (snicker) blueberry blue carpet.

Needless to say, our guests did not stay in that room, but bunked in my stepson's much smaller, much more cramped room. Air conditioners, shop vacs, and box fans have been challenging the load on our circuit breaker ever since. I re-entered the room this morning to find dark blotches on the walls near the crime scene.

Audible sigh.

When it rains it pours...and then grows potentially deadly spores 5 feet from where I lay my babygirl to sleep at night.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Shit rolls down hill...along with other things

My house has a driveway DOWN to it. Almost a 40 degree angle drive down the lane to end in a parking area beside the house. Downhill. Like, if you come here and it rains or snows or your tires are'd better have brought jammies and plan on spooning with a dog.

This driveway has given us a ton of problems. None so much as we had the other day.

Fade to flashback.

Our 1979 John Deere lawn tractor has taken a shit. Not a massive one - more like little rabbit pebbles, but enough to make the lawn not get short. It needed a new belt or two - and possibly just a hug from a capable mechanic. Since I can't strap the bastard to the trunk of my Focus and my husband's little toy Sonoma is worthless in truck terms we had the option of borrowing a real truck, ramps and taking it to the shop ourselves OR paying the $30 pick up fee. No brainer. Pay the fee.

The pickup was set, and luckily my husband was home for the exchange - because he honestly would not have believed the events that unfolded that afternoon had he not been there and seen with his own eyes.

I was inside working when I heard the guy come down the drive for the pickup. Quiet. Truck starts back up. Quiet again. All is well - goodbye little tractor, we'll see you soon. Back to work.

An hour later, my husband comes back inside sweating and cussing. "He's gone and torn up the yard and gotten himself stuck." What? He's still here? I head to the window.

Apparently, the company whose charge is to repair farm implements only has 2-wheel drive vehicles and super-weight, exceedingly long trailers. A deadly combination on our property. He had apparently pulled into the yard (soaked from recent rain and runoff from the surrounding land and not drying because of the shade of our woods) to turn the trailer around. For those that have not dealt with such a thing - 2 wheel drive trucks pulling large trailers need to have traction and lots of it. He was stuck. Stupid stuck. Spinning wheels, slinging mud, stuck stuck stuck.

My husband called our neighbor who has a truck identical to the one quickly becoming a lawn ornament. Staying on the gravel pad, he was able to first pull the trailer out of the way and then the truck.

This is what was left:


At this point, the driver was flustered, but not frustrated. He remained amazingly calm through the ordeal. My husband maintained his "good-ol-boy" mode and suggested that the guy call for a 4X4 to get the trailer. The driver insisted on trying to BACK up my driveway. With an 18 foot trailer. And obviously no experience.

Stand clear.

Holding my 9 month old child, I stand at the opposite end of the parking lot watching this inept driver nearly park a $30,000 trailer in the ravine beside my drive. He was skidding and slinging gravel all over to boot. Each time he'd come down to speed up the hill again - my husband would tell him to wait for a 4X4...again and again.

Aside from what every ounce of my being would prefer to do, I allowed my husband to calmly, yet sternly, request that the man stop tearing up the driveway we are constantly fighting to stabilize. I promised myself that if he tries one more time to back up the drive, I'm stepping in.

When he returned down the hill after his third and final near-skid into oblivion. He headed down the hill and took a wide turn in the lot and got the trailer positioned for a forward launch up the hill (mind you, our lawn tractor is still parked beside the garage). He didn't even stop. He shot up the hill. And up. And up.

Then. It. Happened.

Sweetbabyjesus - the. trailer. let. go. of. the. truck.


I had a moment of clarity - like slow motion meets McGyver - holding my infant close. My chainsaw training had not failed me this time. Rule #1 Escape roots should be at a 45 degree angle behind you. I had two options - run toward the woods through weeds or run behind the house. House = structure = road block.

I ran faster than fast. Bionic woman noises could be heard for miles.



I didn't even assess the damage. My husband (who had been standing beside me before I channeled television shows from my childhood) was going to deal with the damage. I ran inside grabbed the cordless phone which the goddamnfuckingidiot had used to call his supervisor when he tore the yard up. He was going down.

The poor soul that answered had a raging lunitic on his hands.

Me (voice shaking in the way it only does as to release the steam that would otherwise make my head explode): "Hello. Listen to me carefully. I don't know what you do there, but I need you to listen to what happened and tell the highest supervisor on duty. I don't have time to wait. You need to send a 4 wheel drive here NOW. Your idiot driver, after destroying my yard, just let a trailer LOOSE and let it come flying down the hill into my house. Now GO GO GO." Response: "ok, um, hold please"

The back door opened and the driver walked into the house and nearly demanded that I give him MY phone. Fuck him, he's busted. I toss him the phone. "Your boss is going to be on the line, it's on hold now."

I may not know exactly what to say all the time and I may stutter when I do know what to say...but in this moment the adrenaline had me covered.

I walk outside to see if there is a trailer half inside my step-son's bedroom - or perhaps the office in which I had been working and my daughter been playing before curiosity got the best of us about an hour before.

What I saw immediately made me realize that with all the events of the day, we are the luckiest people on earth. (This picture was taken after he came back out and attempted - against the urging of my husband to wait - to remove the trailer himself)

Our garden fence, planted securely in packed clay soil, had taken the entire blow of the trailer. The only damage was a couple broken pieces of siding! The point of contact with the house is less than 10 feet from where I had been working. My daughter was sitting between me and that wall.

I was relieved on the inside - and livid on the outside. My calming force, my daughter, was the only reason I didn't try and rip the guy's throat out. Even though, he STILL was calm and collected. Apologizing like "Sorry" was punctuation.

At the suggestion of the driver's supervisor, we called the cops to come file a report. The cop and a supervisor (with a 4 wheel drive truck) arrived. It was agreed that it was the implement company's responsibility to repair the damage. They loaded the lawn tractor onto the oversized and undamaged trailer and headed out.

The driver, a retired banker, no longer has a job. According to the supervisor, the driver said that he "didn't know what the chains on the front of the trailer were for." This had not been his first issue on safety.

The next week, we had a fixed tractor (no charge). The week after, we had a new fence and perfectly matched patch siding. Almost all of our tomato, pepper, and zucchini plants are bearing fruit.

We count ourselves lucky. We were all safe, the damage was minimal, and we had cold beer ready for consumption. It was a rough day, but it could have ended with much worse than a pile of wood and a few muddy ruts.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wrapped with love

My daughter has blankets. Many blankets. Many homemade blankets.

Each was made for her with love. Although it would be fantastic to pass them down to her in pristine condition when she prepares to have a child of her own, I am of the belief that those blankets were made to be used. Lovingly and carefully used.

I'm still pulling blankets from her closet as needs arise (or laundry piles) and introducing her to yet another design and texture. My goal from the get-go was to not get her attached to one, single blanket. This is because her blankets are one-of-a-kind, a dirty or misplaced or (heaven forbid) ruined are not easily cloned by a backup. She has her favorites, but I offer one for only as long as one week before giving her another to snuggle as she sleeps.

The other night, she was given a choice between two blankets. She pulled both up to her cheeks, and selected the softest of the two. The blanket of choice was an afghan nearly as long as I am tall. It is approximately 1/2 inch think. It was 75 degrees in the house with the air conditioner running.

She chose it, so she got to keep it.

We curled up in the recliner as per our bedtime routine. As she nursed, the blanket was wrapped partially around her and mostly draped over me. It is incredibly soft. Made just for her. Every inch of yard woven into a unique, personal hug. The most interesting part of it is that the blanket was made for her over two decades ago.

MY great grandmother had crocheted it - and passed it on to be stored for my baby. The feather soft yarn reminds me of her lose snow white curls, her demeanor, her heart.

My memories of my great grandmother have a sepia patina. I remember her making quilts. I remember her bright blue itchy carpet and her serving Hawaiian punch in juice boxes. My last memory of her is at my grandma's. I stood beside her in a half-hug as she complimented my panda patterned shirt. She asked if she could have it when I out grew it to use in a quilt. I agreed. I remember feeling guilty when I outgrew the shirt because she was no longer alive to cut it into perfect squares to incorporate into one of her signature throws.

I knew nothing of this afghan until my baby shower early last fall. I received it and a card from my grandma. Tears flowed.

I sat, sweating, wrapped in a hug from a woman I adored with my sleeping daughter. Happy. Loved.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The first step is admitting you have a problem...and then bitching about it

I have come to the conclusion that I'm not perfect.

*crowd gasps*

I cannot do it all.

I've spent the last 9 months (after a mere 3 weeks maternity leave) playing the part of full time mom and working full time (=40 hours) from home being a data analyst. What job requires full attention and NOT screaming/crying/spitting up/crawling/getting into everything baby? Data analyst.

Commence series of panic attacks.

I found a babysitter a few months back, and only wanted to partially relinquish my super mom do-it-all duties and have her gone a couple days a week. Well, after 2 months, she's only been to the sitter a handful of times.

Panic panic panic panic.

This week was our first week at daycare. She's only gone in the mornings for 3 days a week.


She's cheery when we get in the car to go.

Heart rate dropping.

She plays and learns to SHARE while I am accomplishing work tasks.

Except when I'm blogging about it... bloody hell.

In all, I'm happier because she's being cared for instead of partially ignored. I tried my best to do it all - but everything was coming out half-baked. I was not doing well at work. The house was constantly trashed. And I felt guilty for having a computer screen between my daughter and I all the time.

Happily opening a new chapter - and I'm not going to feel guilty about having someone else watch my kid.

I'm just not gonna.

Monday, July 5, 2010

lotion versus gel - a much needed clarification

This is a public service announcement to explain the similarities and differences between suntan lotion and after sun relief gel.

Suntan lotion: please help me put it on my back - evenly and streak free, preferably. A little pressure and massaging is a plus. If intentions of said massaging are to lead to action - you'd better offer to apply before I wrestle myself into my bulge restricting girdle suit.

After sun relief gel: An aloe product is helpful at relieving sun burn related discomfort. Please help me apply because I can no longer raise my arms. Added pressure is a no-no (uh, I've got a sunburn...thanks). Not to be used as foreplay - even though I'm a hottie and you've been watching me try to secretly hide leg jiggles and stretch marks in my girdle suit all day with conveniently placed towels, beach bags and children. You should have preemptively struck with suntan lotion earlier in the day.

Happy summer!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Both hands, Daddy, both hands!

Getting kids to have real, tactile experiences is a challenge these days. For God’s sake Lego’s aren’t an open-ended toy of parent-crippling potential anymore. No one is even chipping teeth trying to get the flat pieces unstuck because you can play Lego’s on your video games now. (BTW, these games are SUPER cute, and I love them to death…but seriously Lego’s used to be an expression of art and creativity and ingenuity not the way for one to get in touch with The Dark Side!)
I took my daughter to a State Park that we are fortunate to have just a couple miles down the road from our house. We don’t get there nearly as much as I had hoped, but our annual pass makes visiting spontaneously a cheap and easy option. I decided to take her over there for a quick walk in the stroller, a baby picnic, and to swing on the playground. When we arrived, I discovered much to my chagrin that neither of the two swings on the tiny playground was baby-friendly. One of the traditional black rubber swings was occupied by a boy about 7 years old. His father was pushing him from behind. Since I’m not doing the balance the 9 month old on my lap and swing one-armed routine with a kid beside me demanding to be pushed higher and higher, we strolled around and past the playground on the trail. I wanted to give the man and his son some space. We were in no hurry.
“Both hands, Daddy, use both hands!” the boy exclaimed to his father. I realized that his dad was reading a message on his phone while pushing his son. “Dad, push with both hands!”
The child was begging, nay yelling, for his dad to stop his distraction and pay full attention. The father refused, “I’m doing something on my phone.”
I was heartbroken! They were in the middle of a beautiful park – just the two of them – on a holiday weekend and this boy’s dad couldn’t put down his phone to have a solid moment with his boy. For the record, cell reception blows goats in that area so if he was waiting for his email to receive he’d be waiting a long time.
It can be very hard to unplug. Whether to stop checking work email, updating on Facebook, or accessing the internet to check the radar every 45 seconds. I found it much easier when I ditched internet access on my phone, but for some that simply isn’t an option.
While nonstop internet access has increased the ability to contact hundreds of people from your past that you quite possibly never make contact with again and to work remotely, it’s coincidentally interfering with making the connections with the people in our lives now. Yes, the work/home life struggle is not new, but it is harder to make the decision to turn work “off” and turn our attention to other aspects of life.
Seriously, the world won’t end if you don’t check your email every minute, and the bully from second grade turned social butterfly who friended everyone in our class can wait an hour before she knows that we played on a swingset today.
It is up to us to make the decision to unplug and make a priority of those around us. It’s not enough to kick the kids outside and make them unplug. We must lead by example. If Oprah is so hot and bothered about people texting and driving, she should also pick up the torch against texting and parenting. Steering the kids to keep them safe enough not to get hurt is like saying that steering a car to keep them between the white lines is enough. Kids need to have the full attention of their adults – especially when you are “on vacation.” Marriages need the full attention of both parties.
They need to learn that there is a time for work and a time for play – and that they are worth your time – at least some of that time.
Thank you, little boy on the swingset, I hope you got the 2-handed underdog you wanted so badly.
*Stepping down from my cyber soap box to unplug for the remainder of the weekend.*

I'm in the fondue pot of life

Sometimes the best of us fall down. Hard. So many women are dealing with the struggle to balance work, motherhood, money, love life, housework...and on and on. Just at the moment when you think you've got it under control Mr. Murphy rears his ugly head and knocks you down.

Not always in large ways - lost job, struggling marriage - but in a pile of teeny tiny ways. Overdraft fee here, missed work deadline there, sick baby and sleepless night over here. It's like little pebbles getting dropped in to a pond - one at a time. You can slough off the stress of each pebble as they come - until you look down and see the mound of tiny pebbles that is emerging from the once clear water.

Of course, the mountain is hard to clear away when the simple thought of it makes you want to climb under the covers and hide.

Let's just say that the sun tan lotion isn't the only thing that has been melting down in this house.

My hope for you this holiday weekend is that you each find a way get a moment to do some chipping away at the pile of pebbles before they break the surface of the water. Clear out the bill box, tidy the house before it's trashed, plan a simple playtime with the kids, have a sweet moment with your love during the fireworks this weekend. Commit to one thing - and get it done. Then move on to the next.

Even Super Momma's get blindsided by responsibility. Take a breath - ASK FOR HELP - and get it under control! Do what it takes, ladies!

The world needs you to be OK before you can be a rockstar!!