Tuesday, March 31, 2009

These days, I'm only cuckoo for strawberries

Dear Cocoa Puffs,

It's 1:30 in the morning and I'm sitting here thinking about you instead of sleeping. 

Up until two months ago, I thought I was done with you -- had been for years. You were a part of my youth I'd left behind, gladly, willingly, with no regrets. I hadn't even thought about you since high school. I'd moved on, Cocoa Puffs -- to Special K and Total and Grape-Nuts. I've even had some Shredded Wheat and Fiber One in recent years. I was through with you and all you represented -- Saturday morning kung-fu movies and after-school snacks and such. I lived in a different world than the one we'd shared.  

And then, my youngest brother (who's still in college) shared some of his Cocoa Puffs with me. And -- I'll admit it -- I went a little crazy. 

I bought a box for myself, I'll confess. Every other day or so, I'd have a bowl for breakfast. Boy even got a taste against my better judgment. I've never seen him sign "more, please" so quickly. 

What is it about you? Is it the almost-but-not-quite-perfectly-round shape of your bits and pieces? It's charming the way you can roll around in my bowl, or spoon, or on the table when you bounce out of the box in your eagerness. More likely, it's that deep, chocolate-y burst of sweetness you offer when I crunch a mouthful. You've got more flavor than Cocoa Krispies by far, not that I'm even really comparing you two. Whatever it is, I can't seem to shake you, especially late at night like this. 

I want to say I never should have abandoned you, given up what we'd had. I want to believe we can make this work again. But can we? If I'm honest, I have to tell you that I can't bring you back into my life the same way as before. This time around, I was hiding you in pantries, hoping my in-laws wouldn't catch sight of you. (What would they think of me?) And that's just no way to live. It's not fair to you -- you deserve better. It's certainly not fair to me. Because I've finally come to terms with the fact that you're just not good for me. You're not healthy, and I'M not healthy when I'm with you. Sure, you're dark and sweet -- I'll never forget that, ever. But these days, if you're not 75% dark chocolate, it's just not worth it. I've got a family to think of, now. 

So goodbye, Cocoa Puffs. These last couple months have been fun while they lasted, but please know that this time, I mean it. If we run into each other on the cereal aisle, I can only promise I'll be civil. I can't stop to say hi -- the temptation's too great. 

Don't call me. 

Hanging out with fresh produce.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Within sight of Square One

I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, "A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water."

One of the last times I had occasion to test the strength of my own tea was when boy was two weeks old. Husband had taken the first two weeks off of work to spend time with us, and both of us are so glad that he did. Those two precious first weeks of tiny boy-ness could never have been recaptured, and it was exquisite to have that time together. Anyway, over the course of those couple of weeks, we'd learned that boy would sleep when held. Period. And that when I held him, he definitely thought it was mealtime, and therefore was restless and fidgety. So that meant that husband was the default baby mattress. 

Every day of those fourteen days, I'd say to husband, "What happens when you go back to work? Where will he sleep?" Or husband would ask me the same thing. We didn't have any answers, though, and before I knew it, it was 6 a.m. on husband's first day back at work, and he was handing me a sleeping boy, and I had no idea how I was going to do anything that day, alone. Would he sleep if I held him? Early indications were that no, he would not. Would he sleep if I put him down? Definite no, there. Even if he did sleep in my arms, how would I pee/eat/shower/not get a kink in my back from the constant carrying? No clue. I was wound up as tight as could be over the dilemma. 

Husband left, apologetically, necessarily, unavoidably. I looked down at the sleeping baby and prayed that we would figure it out. I might have cried a little -- I actually don't remember. It doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility. At the very first feeding after husband's car had pulled out of the garage, I got boy started nursing, and within two minutes, he'd had a massive poop blowout all over me, my only nursing nightgown, my (very essential) nursing pillow, himself and the bed linens. And you know what? I was instantly over my fear. Because if I could get myself, the baby, the bed and my nursing gear all cleaned up and still be able to laugh about it, I could handle this being-alone-with-the-baby thing. 

So last February, tea = strong.

More than a year later, I've got water on the boil again. I've been off of Prozac now for about two months, and for the most part it's been going ok. A few things have been conspiring against me, though, and lately it seems I've been living right smack-dab in the middle of a cross-roads of things to worry about or deadlines of some sort.
  • My mom had major surgery to replace a hip. OUCH.
  • Boy has definitely hit separation anxiety, full-on.
  • Husband has traveled out of state the last two weeks out of three.
  • I've been helping my father-in-law with some cover letters for jobs as he searches for a new one, and in some instances, we've been submitting those cover letters and resumes right ON the close date for several job postings.
  • Both my brothers are going through stressful periods at work or school, and my heart aches for them.
  • Over the last two weeks, either husband, boy or myself have been ill at one point or another. 
Taken one at a time, none of those things are major issues of any sort. Separation anxiety? Be patient and it'll pass. Mom's had surgery? Take her some frozen meals, visit her every day, and don't forget the flowers. Husband out of town? Tack on bath duty to the rest of baby-duty throughout the day, and enjoy the time with a drippy-wet one-year-old while you're on deck. 

All at once, though ... well, that's a different story. It's seemed lately that I can't turn around without being behind on something I should have done already. Leaving the grocery store, I'd remember that I should have bought more trash bags. Heading home from mom's house to put boy to bed, I'd realize I never started that load of laundry I'd meant to, for her. Looking at my calendar, I'd clap my hand to my head as I grasped the fact that dad had another two job posting closing in nine hours and I hadn't started reviewing his cover letters yet. 

The timing has sucked, because I'm starting to get really short on patience with everyone I love, and I feel a lot like I did a year ago when I STARTED the Prozac in the first place. I talked to my doctor about it, and we agreed that I'd take another week or two to see if the anxiety lifts at all. If not, he's supplied me with (sigh) a prescription for Prozac, 10 mg. So it may be postpartum depression, take two, and I'm not really all that excited about the possibility of this encore performance. 

So now I'm in this weird limbo, weighing my every mood. Is it just a bad day? Or is it Something Else? The "right" way to look at it is to say that no matter what happens, whether I power through and find that I'm fine without medication, or I realize I need the scrip, I'll find I'm still a strong woman, a good mommy -- that I'm still brewing tea with a punch. And maybe in a few weeks, in hindsight, it'll feel that way. If I'm honest with myself, though, it feels like I should be over it by now. It feels like I shouldn't need the meds anymore, that I should have rebalanced by now and gotten things back into whirring good order upstairs. It feels, in short, like a failure to be even considering the possibility again. 


Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fourteen months already?!

Dear boy,

You may be fourteen months old as of today, and therefore a big boy, but you still sleep like a baby -- with your tushie in the air. Exhibit A:

Instead of chalking up your milestones and such this month, I just wanted to share some pictures. I think they tell the story better than I could. So, Exhibit B is all about your love of books. You LOVE books, kiddo -- more than I could ever have dreamed you would. They are your number-one-favorite thing to drag out and play with. Yay! In fact, you would be happy to have us read to you all day long. The thing about that is, um -- how can I say this delicately? WE DON'T HAVE THE TIME OR PATIENCE TO DO IT FOR HOURS. Sorry. I never thought I'd say that I was tired of reading to you -- and maybe I'm not tired of reading to YOU, but just tired of reading these particular books that we have, so many times each day. (Yeah. That's it.) I can recite "Pat the Bunny," "Ten Little Ladybugs," "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" and about a dozen others now from memory. While you find it charming during car rides, I don't think this is a life skill that will serve me well in any arena but stay-at-home motherhood. Without further ado, then, Exhibit B:

One of the most delightful things that's happened over the last month is that you have deemed it acceptable to cuddle with both your parents. Up until now, cuddling was reserved for your mother only, and even then the rare occurrences smacked of being largely accidental, like in the middle of the night when your head would droop onto my shoulder and you just were too sleepy to move it. Now, however, you've decided that we're worthy of your physical demonstrations of affection. And it makes your daddy SO happy. Exhibit C:

It's actually a really good thing that you've learned to be so snuggly, baby-kins, because honestly? I think you've been in need of the charm points since SEPARATION ANXIETY set in with a vengeance. I've taken to calling you a velcro baby this month, since even my short trips to the restroom cause you to protest vociferously. One such exclamation might sound like this, if you were to use words instead of screaming: "MOM! YOU ARE KILLING ME WITH THE PEEING! HOW CAN YOU NOT SENSE MY UTTER DESOLATION OUT HERE WHILE ... Oh, you're back. Read me this book?" Common sense and logic (and all the baby books) tell me that though it's a frustrating time for all of us, it should be just one more thing to celebrate, since your attachment to me and your dad means that our hard work at earning your trust has paid off, and you'd rather be in our company where you know you're safe, than without us. Intellectually, I get that. Emotionally, I'd like to pull my hair out. But of course it doesn't mean that I love you any less, son -- despite these challenges, you are more than ever my delicious cuddle bug, and you are still at high risk of me eating you up out of the need to consume you, because I love you so much.

This month, we blew bubbles for you for the first time. (What kind of parents are we that we never did this for you before?! Someone call Child Protective Services.) And, um, you kind of liked them. Exhibits D-H:

Finally, it had to happen, and we bit the bullet last weekend and took you for your first-ever haircut. As evidenced by the bubble pictures above, your hair (though soft and silky and adorable) was a little out of control. Last weekend, we headed to a place called "Snip-its" that specializes in kids' cuts, since we knew we'd need some professional assistance in distracting you during the trim. Your stylist was fast and kind, two tremendously important skills in her line of work. And all in all, you did better than we expected -- you only fussed for a minute, until the stylist pointed out a bottle of bubble solution on the counter and I got to work blowing some bubbles your way. Those people are geniuses. Exhibits I-M:

I love the lean you're doing in this one.

My shorn sheep. (Sniff.)

You are definitely rocking your new 'do, my boy. And that's the thing -- this haircut makes you look very much like a little boy now, and not a baby anymore. That's hard for me, son, so I hope you'll forgive me on those days when I look at you and get misty (or downright snortily-weepy, if I'm truthful about it). As I look back on this letter, I feel like I've been recounting more thorns of the last month than blooms, but the truth of it is that every day with you is a veritable garden of roses -- sweet and lovely and soft and dreamy. The thorns are few and far between, baby boy, and I am, as always, burstingly proud of the chatty, mobile, clever and loving child you are.

I love you,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Part wit, part slapstick, all awesome.

When I was in high school, I was your typical nerdy-pants smart kid. I had a circle of friends who had learned to cope with my nerdiness, and who had known me long enough to recognize that my occasional social awkwardness was probably due to the fact that I had never had much of a chance to learn how to be smooth, since I had strict parents who didn't approve of too much non-academic socializing. And when I was accepted to college, I remember thinking that it was a golden opportunity to recreate myself, to start fresh, to be the me I knew was in there, the me who was shy but a hoot to be around once you got to know her. Only one other classmate would be attending the university where I'd be enrolling, and I thought, "Now's my chance. I want to be fun and outgoing and adventuresome and, most of all, FUNNY." I was convinced that being funny was the best way to actually have fun yourself.

I spent a great deal of time as a college undergrad learning how to be me and be funny at the same time. I don't know how successful I was on other people's laugh meters, but to me, I'd done it -- I felt like a more entertaining and interesting version of myself, like I'd grown into my social sneakers, finally. It was actually a lot more work than anyone might have guessed, but it paid off, and I left college happier with who I was than when I left high school.

And so it's ... well, FUNNY to me that after all that time and effort, after all the trial-and-error spent on concepts like flippancy, sarcasm, well-timed comments and quick quips, that now all I have to do is jump out from behind the couch, and my son thinks I am a comic genius. His laughter ennervates me, emboldens me, makes it possible to shed any inhibitions I might have in the space of a blink, and so I find myself going to all kinds of foolish lengths, making myriad ridiculous faces and sounds, dancing in my family room in ways that would socially cripple me in the real world, just to hear him laugh maniacally. "More," he signs, falling over laughing, "Please, more, pleaseMORE." And so I do it again. Whatever it was, I do it again, sometimes long past the point of being able to stand the feeling of my face making THAT FACE one more time, and yet I do it again. Because he laughs. 

I am finally the funny one. And sometimes it's inconvenient, like when I have to spoon-feed him his dinner around the laughter because the thing-that's-funny is the only thing keeping him eating, but it's always precious. 

And I was right. It totally feels good to be the funny one.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Not quite a thousand words, but still, enough.

This may be one of my favorite pictures of my husband and myself, ever.

There's so much in it. We'd just climbed this little rock wall at the neighborhood playground where we'd taken boy, when a friend of ours snapped the pic without our knowing it. And I feel like there's a story in every corner. 

Being married to this man has indeed lifted me to heights I could never have imagined, or experienced alone. Or with anyone else, for that matter. As in everything we do, we climbed that little wall together, with his voice encouraging me whenever I couldn't quite find the next foothold or reach the next grip. And when we got to the top, somehow (but still not quite surprisingly), my hand ended up resting on his as we shared a hold. And ever so slightly, we leaned on one another. Which we do in all things, all the time. Plus, we're grinning. That's something else I do more of now than ever, thanks to him.

I love you, husband. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

They don't call it the magic word for nothing.

I'm convinced that when women say they want to have a baby, what they mean is that they want a 0-8 month-old. You know -- anything from a sleepy, curled-up bean baby who smells deliciously new in the world, to a chunky, just-sitting-up-on-his-own grinning and giggling eight-month-old who smells like Johnson's Baby Shampoo.

What those women probably AREN'T thinking of is a fourteen-month-old who knows his own mind but doesn't have the words to express it -- one who has big-boy wishes but baby limitations -- one who thinks big but has a really underdeveloped sense of self-control when it comes to managing his frustration.

In short, boy has been a toot lately.

Now, before you chide me for slandering the child, let me assure you that I know it's not his fault. I really do. He's just over a year old, for Pete's sake. I know that he's only just entering the age range when we can help him learn to deal with disappointment (like mommy saying "no" to his repeated requests to forego dinner for more time outside). I know that it's probably even more frustrating for him to not be able to tell me what he wants -- all he can communicate reliably is "please," so usually he keeps saying, "uh, uh, uh" and signing "please," and we have to figure out what it is he's asking-for-slash-demanding. Here's a short list of what he uses that sign to request:
  • Please pick me up
  • Please give me a bite of that
  • Please read me this book
  • Please read me another one
  • Please put me down
  • Please give me a bath
  • Please make this toy do that cool thing that I can't get it to do
  • Please can't I nurse just a LITTLE BIT?!
  • Please open this door I just closed
  • Please let me into the kitchen cabinets -- you're standing in front of them and I know you don't want me to get into them but I HAVE TO
  • Please give me the remote to chew on
  • Please turn your iPhone onto that preschool game app you downloaded that makes all the animal noises and does the names of colors and shapes
  • Please do that funny thing you just did again (and again and again)
You see our dilemma. It's a lot of pressure for one little single-syllable word. Clearly, this is the time to teach boy a few more signs, like "eat," "drink," "open," "close," and "iPhone." (You know, the basics of life.) Which means *I* need to learn those signs. I thought we were doing well with "more" and "please," but these days I can tell that there's a gap we could be filling.

I'll be dusting off my edition of "The Joy of Signing" this weekend. (That's what it's called. Really.) Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The chef recommends the green beans and carrots blend, sir.

I used to think when people said, "I just can't get my kid to eat anything," that they weren't trying hard enough.

And now God is laughing at me. 

Boy is not what you'd call a stellar eater. Though his noggin measures in the 80th percentile for his age, and his height is squarely in the 55th, his weight is only ever in the 20th percentile or so. If you don't have kids, you're like, "Sounds like one melon-headed skinny kid." Not exactly, though I DO think he walks like he's top-heavy. If you DO have kids, you know what I'm saying when I admit that I obsess about these numbers in ways that are probably far from healthy. Technically, I know he's not only FINE, but thriving. He's an active, inquisitive, happy and bright little boy, and I just tell people who comment on his lean physique that he's "built for speed." But sometimes those well-meaning people out there will use words like "I'm CONCERNED about his weight" or "Do you think he's getting ENOUGH to eat?" or "He's looking a little SCRAWNY." 

Argh, to say the least.

If you were able to map out my daily mental energy commitments, you'd see that the breakdown goes something like this:
  • Encouraging boy's healthy independent sleeping habits: 30%
  • Preparing healthy, delicious meals of decent variety and getting boy to eat them: 45%
  • Providing stimulating play opportunities for boy: 25%
  • Creating an environment that will nurture boy's spirituality and character: 50%
  • Taking care of the house: 20%
  • Taking care of husband: 25% (luckily for me he's extremely self-reliant and capable)
  • Taking care of myself: Whatever's left when everything else is done (but that's another post)
(And if you're puzzled by the math, remember that mothers grow additional brain capacity once their children arrive. So of COURSE it adds up to more than 100%.)

One of the reasons I'm reluctant to let anyone else feed boy is because the task is a lot like opening a combination lock -- you have to twist and turn everything JUST RIGHT to get it to work. A typical lunch looks like this:
  • I prepare a plate that contains 1) a sippy cup of cold, fresh water, 2) a moistened paper towel for clean-up, 3) a bowl containing boy's main entree, usually a mixture of two veggies and some meat, 4) two to three Gerber's baby food meat sticks, which he actually likes, 5) some other pre-approved food item for a change of texture (such as bits of string cheese, iron-fortified Cheerios, low sodium Goldfish crackers, chunks of ripe banana, etc.). I set this plate down near boy's high chair.
  • I then assemble a collection of food-safe (read: non-stainable) toys and place them within easy reach of the high chair. For me, not boy -- these will be doled out throughout the meal to keep and maintain his interest in the act of eating.
  • Only then do I pick up boy and maneuver him into the high chair. Fifty percent of the time, this is a struggle. He's buckled in and bibbed up. Both of us are, more than likely, already sweating.
  • I prepare for the first-bite blues. For some reason, boy always acts as if the first bite of whatever I offer him is terribly offensive to him. When he sees the spoon coming toward him, he begins not only shaking his head from side to side to keep his mouth in motion, he also starts waving his hands to provide obstacles for the spoon. If I can manage to touch the spoon to his cheek, he gives up. But it's not uncommon for the first food spill of the meal to occur BEFORE he's even eaten anything.
  • Having tasted the first bite (and having realized I am not, indeed, attempting to spoon-feed nuclear waste into his mouth), boy consents to accept a few bites of veggie mixture. 
  • Bite four or five: the first gag takes place. This calls for a change of texture. I pop in a bite of meat, a tiny button-sized morsel. This is chewed for approximately four minutes. If I'm lucky, he'll accept a bite of veggies to help wash it down. 
And so we proceed. Spoon, spoon, gag. Banana. Sip of water. Spoon, spoon, spoon, gag. Meat. Chew for ever. Spoon. Gag. Water. Toys are flung, Cheerios crushed with thumbs against the high chair tray, sippy cups hurled. In between bites, gags and redirects, I also provide puppet play to entertain boy, retrieve dropped toys, wipe up food bits from him, his face, his hands, and his toys, etc. 

The wiser among you are already filled with helpful suggestions. "He's not really hungry," you're thinking. "Don't let him snack between meals. Then he'll eat more readily." Huh. Tried that. The kid went all the way to dinner on just a few Goldfish crackers one day, and I still had to struggle to get him to eat. Others among you are thinking, "Of course he's not eating. Baby food is gross. Let him eat table food." Yep, good idea. Only my kid inherited my ability to gag on a chocolate chip, and without any molars, his tendency to gag is compounded by a real tactical difficulty in chewing food enough to swallow it. A handful of you think that if I made my own baby food, he'd be happy to eat it. You'd be wrong -- there's no difference in his reaction to home-made stuff versus the organic baby food I get at the store. Still others are wishing I'd stop making it a struggle and just go with the flow. And that's the path I've chosen now -- I give him plenty of variety of scenery to amuse him -- we eat not only in the high chair, but also in his Bumbo seat on the floor of the family room, surrounded by books, or we eat in his stroller while out at the mall or a restaurant or elsewhere, or I pull his high chair onto the back patio. It helps a little. I try to give him tasty new options from time to time, to vary his menu. And most of all, I try not to stress about it, or force him to eat if he's really indicating he's done or full. That's the hardest part -- dancing the fine line between encouraging a picky eater to have a necessary meal, and forcing a child to eat when it's not necessary to finish a serving, etc. 

Oh, well. Chalk it up to item number 478 to second-guess myself about. 

(Go hug your mother. Right now. Or call her, and tell her you love her.)


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

As if I needed the reminder.

Dear husband,

You left on your work trip on Monday morning, and you're due back Thursday evening. I know there are couples who go longer without seeing one another. I know there are jobs that could require you to venture even further away than you've gone -- California is not the end of the world. And yet -- all I can think of is how much I miss you.

The baby's growing, love. He's been walking -- WALKING, not toddling -- all over since you left, and now even attempts jogging, as if it's tremendously urgent that he get from point A to point B in as little time as possible. He bellows while he walks, too, and it makes him sound like he's late for an important meeting. "Joyce! JOYCE! Get those documents bound for me while I go down to the copy room to pick up my business cards. HURRY!" Today I thought I heard him say both "Thank you" and "All done" in the midst of his babbling, and I felt those little words hit me full in the chest, like physical blows. How many more major milestones will he approach or meet while you're gone? And when will I ever get used to the sheer astonishment I feel when he does something like that?

I've been at mom's house every day with boy, as you know, hanging out with her while she recovers from surgery. So I haven't been home a lot while you've been away, but even the few waking hours I have here without you are too many. Without you here, the house has lost its vital spark -- the rooms seem to gape with emptiness, and I wish I could hear the click of your mouse from the office, or the sounds of FIFA '09 from the game room upstairs, because it would mean you would be here.

I find myself being super productive these nights. When you're here, I want nothing more than to have the chance to grab a shower after the boy's in bed, then cuddle up with you on the couch to watch "The Office" together, or maybe "Heroes." Sometimes you play PS3 games while I tap away on my laptop or read, and just having our legs entangled on the same couch is enough. I miss, as we've always expressed it, having you within a four-foot radius. 

Please come home. I'm lost without you. I realized that if the modem or server or router or network or whatever-the-hell-we-have crashes, I don't know how to fix it. I don't know where the next book of checks is, or whether the phone bill is due. Tonight I ate bread and feta cheese for dinner, because if you're not here, why cook? (You know I love bread and feta cheese, so it's not like it was a huge sacrifice, but still.) I'm too short to turn off the smoke alarm if the steam from a hot shower sets it off. And if there's a roach -- MY GOD, IF THERE'S A ROACH. I will do what's necessary, but you'd better get back here quick, man.

Most of all, love, I need you here to look at boy with me. Not WATCH him -- LOOK AT him. There's so much of him to soak up that I feel brimmingly full with the doing of it alone. He is perfect and lovely and a little toot and our boy, and I need you here to help me adore him, to help me remember everything, to make sure we don't miss a second of his growing-up that we don't have to. We both have amazing family members who love him dearly, and they're valiantly doing their share this week -- but it's not the same, love, and I need you here to help me catch my breath from the sheer beauty of him. Today, he burst into delighted giggles when I stomped my tennis shoes around on the tile floor of my mom's house, and the sound went straight through me in the purity of its joy. 

I want you to help me bear how happy I am, how perfect he is.

Please hurry home. I love you.

I miss you.

Things no one ever says when they turn on the radio

  1. "Daughtry? SCORE."
  2. "I really wish they'd play that new Britney Spears song more frequently."
  3. "Wait ... when was that car dealership sale again? Turn it up -- I can't hear the announcer."
  4. "Where do you think this DJ gets all his cool sound effects? I'd love to get some of those for ringtones."
  5. "Man, this Nickelback song sounds NOTHING like their other ones."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How to tell if you're married to a nerd

  • He makes up jokes to which the punchlines go something like, "'Entropy?' I said, 'Enthalpy!!'"
  • He mumbles and pretends he's speaking Elvish.
  • He jokes about crackers looking like "lembas bread."
  • When you're kicking around names for your unborn child, he's only half-joking when he suggests Eowyn, if it's a girl. (Note: He's Persian and you're half-Vietnamese. Your child is not going to look like an Eowyn.)
  • Deep in the recesses of your junk drawer, he still has his Dungeons and Dragons dice.
  • He admits to having a back-up calculator at work in case his current calculator breaks.
  • His current calculator is the same one he's used since college.
  • He uses advanced calculus in his job on any given day.
  • He thinks you're sexy when you reference scientific phenomena, such as flash-boiling.
  • Your whole extended family (AND his) use him as IT support.
  • He can tell you the difference between steam, smoke and water vapor.
  • He points out power plants when you travel to new cities together, and can typically tell whether they are coal- or natural gas-burning plants.
  • People call him on the phone to ask him random trivia from the 80s, just because he has a mind like a steel trap and never forgets anything. (This makes for interesting one-sided phone conversations. "Hello? ... Gordon Gatrell. ... Bye.")
  • He started a chemistry club when he was a child (which met outside in his yard, right in front of his window).
  • The first question he can remember asking his mother is, "What state of matter is fire?"
  • He got a little sad during the most recent "Transformers" movie when Bumblebee was captured. (Oh, wait ... that was me.)
  • He has an Optimus Prime impression, which he's convinced sounds exactly like Optimus. (It doesn't.)
How to tell if you, yourself, are also a nerd:
Every single item above is endearing to you, and you wouldn't change a thing about being married to a nerd. (Plus, people are always buying you books for holiday gifts. And you love it.)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Because inspiration is running thin ...

... here's a little something I saw on facebook, called "Me-ology."


What is your salad dressing of choice?
It changes, but I always get it (a la Sally in "When Harry Met Sally") on the side.

What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
Whichever one I can get to for an uninterrupted dinner with my husband. We're fans of Mark's, which is housed in what used to be a church. It makes for a gorgeous dining experience with the woodwork and stained glass windows.

What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
CHOCOLATE. I'm pretty sure I do this now.

What do you like to put on your toast?
Peanut butter. Smooth, please -- crunchy will do in a pinch, but I prefer the toast to bring the crunch to my breakfast, not tiny shards of peanuts.


How many televisions are in your house?
Three, plus one in the garage. I'm serious. It's a very manly garage we have. When the world goes digital, though, that one won't work anymore.

What color is your cell phone?
Black. Then again, it's an iPhone, so the answer really should be, "What color do you want it to be?" Because it can do ANYTHING.


Are you right-handed or left-handed?

Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
Um, a human being. :) He's now 13 months old.

What is the last heavy item you lifted?
See above. He's well over 20 pounds now and while that will seem light in a few months, right now it's a bit of a strain on the old back.

Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
Not quite. I WAS once knocked into a doozy of a concussion. But the only time I've ever passed out was not due to physical trauma, but the psychological battery of observing an operation for a grad-school medical management class. It was a breast biopsy, and I passed out cold. Came to on the floor of the hallway outside the OR. Some kind souls lifted me onto a stretcher and took my pulse and made sure I was ok. If you're going to pass out, a hospital is a good place to do it.


If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
No, thanks.

If you could change your name, what would you pick?
Something more unique than the name I have. I like my nicknames but not my full first name. I think it may have to do with the fact that growing up, there were sometimes as many as SEVEN other girls in my class with the same first name. 

Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1,000?
You have GOT to be kidding.


How many pairs of flip-flops do you own?
There are three in the active rotation currently. Favorite pair: A pair of snakeskin-ish casual flippies I got at Target. I LOVE them.

Last time you had a run-in with the cops?
Hm. Is "pulled over for speeding" the same as a "run-in"? If so, it was only about eight months ago. Got off without a ticket. Having a dad for a police officer is occasionally extremely handy.

Last person you talked to?
My father-in-law, by phone.

Last person you hugged?
Husband. He told me today, randomly, that he loves figuring out how to parent our son along with me. If that didn't deserve a hug, I don't know what does.




Day of the week?
Whatever day I get to spend with my husband and son, so usually Saturday.

Whichever one is the coldest.


Missing someone?
Today would have been my grampa's birthday. Definitely missing him today. 

Sleepy/Slightly anxious.

What are you listening to?
The hum of white noise from the baby monitor, plus the sound of the laundry sloshing away in the washer. This is the soundtrack to most of my evenings. 

My son grow up before my eyes.

Worrying about?
Oh, boy. This could take a while.  ...  1) Being the best possible parent to my amazing child. 2) Balancing being a totally devoted mommy with being the wife my husband deserves. 3) Not slacking off in other important roles like daughter, friend, sister. 4) Finding time for ME. 5) My mom's hip replacement surgery this week -- I just don't want her to be in unnecessary pain. 


First place you went this morning? 
To the kitchen to make boy's breakfast (one multi-grain waffle, some bites of fruit, some Cheerios, and water).

What's the last movie you saw?
In the theater? "The Dark Knight." On TV or in general? Probably "Juno." Seems like it's always on right now.

Do you smile often?
All day.

Sleeping alone tonight?
Who sleeps? When I lie down, I'll share the bed with not only husband, but after the fifth or sixth waking of the night, boy as well. 


Do you always answer your phone?
If I don't recognize the number, I probably won't answer.

It's four in the morning and you get a text message. Who is it?
Youngest brother, texting from college with a question about a paper. The only other person I know who'd be awake at that hour is my mother, but she doesn't text.  :)

If you could change your eye color, what would you pick?
Hm. In some lights, I really like my eye color. The brown is shot through with gold in the right slanted evening light. Most of the time, though, it's just ok. I'd probably wish for something exotic and unforgettable, like silver or grey eyes. 

What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic?
The only flavored drink I order there is a cherry limeade.

Do you own a digital camera?

Have you ever had a pet fish?
Yup. It didn't end well.

Favorite Christmas song?
Sleigh Ride.

What's on your wish list for your birthday?
Nothing. I have everything I could possibly wish for.

Can you do push-ups?
If I absolutely had to.

Can you do chin-ups?
Not if my life depended on it.

Does the future make you more nervous or excited?
Um, both? 

Do you have any saved texts?

Ever been in a car wreck?
Fender-benders, sure. (I was even in one while driving the drivers' ed car, though it wasn't my fault. Nevertheless, this did not endear me to the instructor.) I'm thankful I was never in one that required an ambulance or other emergency medical attention.

Do you have an accent?
No. But I can fake one. 

What is the last song to make you cry?
I heard Sheryl Crow sing "Sweet Child of Mine" and I realized that there's an entirely new subtext to that song for me now. Sniff.

Plans tonight?
Missed "Dancing With the Stars." DVR'd it, so will catch up later. Aside from laundry, a shower and blogging, that's it. (Don't everyone rush at once to emulate my sexy lifestyle, now.)

Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom?
Yes. Looking back, it really wasn't. But there have been several times in my life I thought it was.

Name three things you bought yesterday.
Thumbprint cookies, toddler shoes, and an Antone's sub sandwich.

Have you ever been given roses?
Yes. They were lovely. 

Current hate?
I really don't dig that word, "hate." I do, however, strongly dislike not being at the fitness level I'd like to be.

Met someone who changed your life?
Of course. There were teachers, high school/college friends, guys I dated, a handful of college professors (one in particular, who later served as the master of ceremonies at our renewal of vows), and husband.

How will you ring in the New Year?
In some low-key way that totally represents our new style. Like, by watching a movie with the volume low to keep from waking the baby, while we sip sparkling apple cider, and eventually we'll fall asleep before midnight, only to be awakened by our phones going off at 12 with texts from the people we love.

What song represents you?
Not the TITLE, but the SONG "The Lady is a Tramp" has always been kind of a personal anthem of mine. See, she's a "tramp" because she doesn't do things the way everyone else does. She's real and sincere and vital and fun, and that's what I hope I am to others.

Would you go back in time if you were given the chance?
Depends. To experience a lost era? Maybe. But to relive my own life? Never. 

Have you ever dated someone longer than a year?
You betcha. 

Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
My ears are pierced, twice on the left side and three times on the right. There are earrings in all of them.

Will you be in a relationship four months from now?
"For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, until death do you part." Yeah. I'd say so.

Ever cheated on anyone?

Would you be a pirate?
The English major in me prickles at the way this one's worded. If you're asking if I'd LIKE to be a pirate, then the answer's no. I heart indoor plumbing too much, and my fear of the ocean would probably put a cramp in my professional lifestyle. But if you're asking "would you ever find yourself as a pirate?" then the answer is, if I were a pirate, then of course I would.

What songs do you sing in the shower?
Whatever's stuck in my head. These days, lots of lullabies and children's songs. 

Ever had someone sing to you?

When did you last cry?
Probably today.

Are you afraid of being alone?
Physically, no. I like some solo time to unwind and do my own thing. Relationship-wise, though? I'm no longer myself without my husband. So in that sense, terribly so.

Do you like to cuddle?

Have you held hands with anyone today?
Now that boy's walking, he frequently reaches out for a little mommy-support. Yes.

Who was the last person you took a picture of?
Definitely, without a doubt, boy.

What kind of music did you listen to in elementary school?
I vividly remember running around the gymnasium to a few songs in particular. "Jump" by Van Halen. "Putting on the Ritz" by some band I can't recall. And this awful song called "Swingin'", and I can't remember who did that one either. At home, I listened to whatever my parents were listening to.

Do you believe in staying close with your ex(es)?
I used to. I no longer think it's always possible, though.

Are most of the friends in your life new or old?
New friends with old souls, and old friends with long memories.

Do you like pulpy orange juice?

What is something your friends make fun of you for?
What don't they make fun of me for? Seriously, I have no idea. Probably how I used to look like Winnie Cooper from the Wonder Years TV show.

Do you have a crush on someone/want to be in a relationship with someone?
Just one man. And I'm married to him. Though I will say (and husband knows this) that if I were offered the chance to have lunch with Hugh Jackman or Jon Bon Jovi, I would definitely make sure there was no lipstick on my teeth and that my brows were shaped. (Fanning myself now.)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

He probably thinks this post is about him.

Scene: MOMMY has set up video camera in the family room. She has turned the camera screen such that BABY can view himself in the screen as he stands in front of the camera. BABY, who is munching a small chunk of Girl Scout Cookie (MOMMY wishes she could tell you it was a piece of fruit, but it's not), catches sight of his face in the screen, experiments with how his movements translate onto film, and then decides to strike up a conversation with the good-looking child he can see.

Note the double-take BABY does when he turns to MOMMY and sees that she's finishing up the cookie she'd shared. (What you can't see off-camera is that BABY is signing, "more, please" but is instead forced to sign another sign he knows -- "all gone.")

Maybe next time we'll let him actually PLAY.

Logic puzzle for you:

Two sets of parents and two very cute little boys head to the neighborhood park for an hour. How many digital photos can the parents take of the boys and themselves in that amount of time?

Apparently, the answer is 183.

Here's but a sampling of those. 

The independent walker:


The playground equipment:

The crazy parents:

The family photos:

The slides:

The swings:

If they'd just quit being so friggin' cute, maybe we could bear to leave the camera at home.