Saturday, July 23, 2011

In an old house in Paris

Madeline is a standard in our house. So much so, that on nights when Monkey continues to want stories long after it's time to sleep, she recites it to herself in the dark. Four year old rebellion.

Good thing the lights are already off and she can't see me grinning like a fool.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


After almost seven years in our house, I am finally ready to make something work in our living room. Which you walk right into from the front door, so it's the first-impression maker of the whole house. Unless you count the yard, which I don't count because the idea of tackling it is so overwhelming I've decided to ignore it.

Back to business. When we bought the house, there was a run on older family members downsizing, cleaning out, etc., that ultimately meant we were offered ALL of the stuff they didn't want. And in moving from a one bedroom apartment to a four bedroom house, silly us thought that was great. And I guess it was, for a time. Until we realized none of it went together, wasn't our style to begin with, and trying to get rid of it would be loaded with sentiment for the original giver. Crap.

But I'm obsessed with Young House Love - does anyone else check in every day? It makes me feel empowered to tackle these projects that seem so HARD. They did a post a while back on a gallery wall, which started my dominoes falling about our entire dining room/living room/staircase/upstairs landing zone. And after a few weeks of mulling it over, browsing online, and seriously assessing my own resources - financial and time - I think I have a plan of action that will leave it all actually presentable. I KNOW.

1. Gallery Wall. Our living room already has a deep, colonial blue accent wall around the fireplace, which I love. First step will be to paint the opposing staircase wall the same blue, and then take all of the beloved pictures scattered around the house, put them in white frames, and create a staircase gallery wall. I figure it will provide a double whammy of getting a lot of clutter off our various horizontal surfaces, and remedy this big, blank space our stairs have been since we moved in. I may carry the gallery wall up to the small upstairs landing that is currently nothing more than a clutter magnet. Not sure I'd paint up there, though - might be too dark.

2. Living Room makeover. I'm going to move an antique secretary we currently have to just to the right of the front door and start actually using it as a mail zone. Right now we have a wobbly little table there (bad idea with the Lion) that is covered with PILES of mail. The secretary will help me get in the routine of sorting and throwing away every day, then coming back to bills and other things that need to be handled on a regular basis. How do other people handle this?

We have WAY too much color in the living room right now, what with the deep blue accent wall, light blue inherited sofa, green print chair, and predominately red (but does pull in the other colors) rug. The rug and green chair are getting relocated to other places. I'd like to buy two of these chairs to go across from the light blue sofa, with a small, dark wood cabinet between them.

Then I'd like a neutral rug to tie it all together, make the room brighter than the red rug does, and just generally calm things down. Something with a soft geometric print, maybe. Like this.

3. Dining Room makeover. The dining room is also really dark. There's a big, heavy rug from my Dad, which he says he doesn't care what we do with, but I do. A dilemma yet to be solved. Maybe my brother also cares about it and would like to give it a good home? :)
So I think I'd like something like one of these, so both brighten things up, make it more neutral, and tie into the adjacent living room blues. The rug on the left is probably my preference, but my husband seems to dislike the natural materials (this is jute) category of rugs, so I'm also considering a blue dhurrie like this one, on the right. While I love it, it might be too much to have it be so similar to what I'd like for the living room. Blech.

4. Spare bedroom/office. This place is a total junk room right now. When we had the basement finished, everything that was in it went into this unused spare bedroom on the main floor, and we've never recovered. Now every time he cleans up, dearest husband simply takes everything and puts it in there. Not helpful. My goal is to throw away almost everything in there, move in the living room rug and maybe green chair, and turn it into an office and functioning spare bedroom. Which we need now that our amazing nanny occupies the basement room. It needs to be emptied and painted. The previous owners left it a heinous orange color. I'll also need to take down some 70's era wall shelves. Think Mike Brady's office. Bad juju.

I may also put the green chair on the upstairs landing, if I find another place to store my bulk diaper purchases. And repair my childhood dresser with the drawer fronts hanging off the frame. Yes, I'm serious. It's all glamour here, folks.

So now I need to figure out how all this should start. I think I need to force myself to show some real commitment to this before I buy the chairs or a rug (if I finalize a rug choice), so right now I'm looking for time to paint the staircase where the gallery wall will go. Paint is also so motivating - you really can make a huge impact with not so much work, once you've gotten the hang of it.

Wish me luck, people.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This makes me feel stupid

I just bought one of these. Because I was getting tired of buying ridculous numbers of swim diapers for Lion. And since Monkey is doing "pre-team" (when you're too little for the real swim team - adorable, I know), everyone will be spending a lot of time at the pool this summer. Except me, of course. I'll be working. See yesterday's post about wanting to be my kids' nanny.

Back to the point. It came in the mail yesterday - super fast shipping as always, courtesy of, and I have no idea what to do with it. Do it go over a regular diaper? Stand alone? Serve as a swim trunk? Go under a swim suit?

I got nothing. Anyone know how to use this?

Seriously, people, I have master's degree from a top tier university, but I'm stumped. Maybe if I'd gone for the PhD?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

God grant me the serenity.

How do you wrangle with the green-eyed monster? I need some guidance.

We have a lot. We really do. We have a great house, healthy kids, secure jobs. We earn more than well more than half of this country, and once you think globally... it's not fair. I know this rationally. But there are things we cannot have that I struggle with. It's mostly the non-material things that require financial resources. I'd like another child. But I'd also like the two kids I have to want for nothing... at least nothing important. And we think school choice - which for our area means private schools - is more important that just about anything. And even though our new nanny is a rockstar and I can honestly say I have NO concerns with her, I'd like to be my kids' own nanny. I want her job, and she works for me. There are other things, of course, like world travel and a bigger house, but those are secondary to the things that really make my heart hurt.

How do you talk yourself out of these wants? I feel whiny and ungrateful, and I'm trying to shelve them, but they don't go away.

Counting my blessings...

...and enjoying the ride. That's the title of my next life chapter. With the official start of our new nanny yesterday, me on week five of new job, and summer activities in close to full swing, we're out of transition. Which is good, because I really suck at managing transition.

Monkey did SO much better with the departure of our temporary nanny than I'd expected. Part probably owing to the very conscious gradual start of new nanny, and part to her age and greater realization of the role a nanny will really play in our lives. I really can't blame her. When someone spends 40+ hours a week caring for you and lives in your house, of course they start to seem like a permanent member of the family.

Lion is just fabulous. He's at the sweetest stage, all cuddles and smiles and new words. He's also busy as all get out, and learning how to work the world to his advantage. If you try to take something away from him (remote, diaper cream, phone) that he wants to keep, his first line of defense is to rest his sweet little head on your shoulder and snuggle with you. Manipulative little charmer. How'd he figure that out so fast?

Here he his with his lovie, Rhino. I thought I was super smart and got two new ones for when the first inevitably got grubby, but he caught right on and now has to have all three Rhinos in bed with him. Crap. Does that mean I need another nine in safekeeping? Are all three going to get nasty simultaneously?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Like riding a bike... just jump right back on and start pedaling, right?

Our lives have sustained a huge amount of transition in the past few weeks. As I mentioned earlier, our nanny of seven months left with very little notice in April, leaving us hostage to whatever it took to make child care possible, and sucking up every moment of my time - spare and otherwise - to finding both immediate/temporary and long term child care.

There was yelling. There were tears. There was a significant sleep deficit. There was also my acceptance, for the first time, that as desperately as I want another child, we just may not be able to handle it. If it wasn't for my Dad and mother-in-law, who covered many, many days of care for the kids, I likely would have lost my job. As it was, I exhausted literally every last hour of leave I had painstakingly hoarded back from maternity leave.

And then I left my job. I'd been unhappy there and hunting for a while (read: years), but to no avail. Then I was fidgeting with my iPhone during a meeting and noticed I had a message on LinkedIn. From a recruiter. For a firm I know and respect, but hadn't reached out to on my own. It was job karma. So I did three rounds of interviews and got an offer. An actual good one. With flexibility. Working for... get this... a MOM! Of multiple, young children!

The clouds have parted, people.

So maybe it wouldn't have mattered if I'd lost my job? Just kidding.

So I started here last week, and while I'm still getting my sea legs under me, I'm really happy so far. Fingers crossed for me, ok?

Back to the nanny front, we have temporary coverage in the form of a wonderful college student - also the daughter of Monkey's preschool teacher. So we, Monkey included, already knew and loved her, and she's been a Godsend in getting us through. We have a new live-in nanny starting in the next few weeks, and I think she's going to be a rock star. Again, keep your fingers (and toes!) crossed for us, as I really don't think we can handle another nanny transition. This one has been really, really hard on Monkey, and we're still figuring out how to get her fully back on her spunky little feet. But it has shaken her confidence in the predictability of her life, and that is yet another variable in the neverending self-loathing of a working Mom.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I've been totally MIA. Lots going on here. Working with a temporary nanny, went to the beach for a week, started a new job this week. So my apologies.

And regarding my last post on the Versatile Blogger award thing,

I know. OK? I can count, really I can. I just..... couldn't narrow it down any further. OK?!?!?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You like me! You really like me!

Woot! I didn't think anyone was even reading this. OK, I get hits each day I can't trace back, but I sort of figured they were me. Or someone I know and just can't i.d. But there are real, live, virtual friends out there! Yay!

Never mind. That's an exaggeration, but it is really nice and sort of surprising to finally have proof that this might actually be engaging to people. And to people whose writing I like and respect, even better. So Donna at Wicked Censtable has nominated me, and I'm really excited. Apparently there are rules.

Thank the person who gave you the award. That's sort of already covered, but just to be sure I play by the book. Thank you, Donna! You've really boosted my ego, and validated the time I've been struggling to justify putting into this. It was starting to feel like a really selfish, fruitless endeavor, but I'm so excited to know I might have been wrong.

Tell you seven things about myself.

1. I'm about to change jobs. I'm just incredibly excited. I've been at my current job for almost eight years, and it is high, high time for a change. It'll be my first experience with the private sector, and take me back to my policy roots, which I've been sorely missing. Good stuff.

2. I'm a grammar geek. Not that I claim it will always be perfect here, mostly because I tend to opt for the punctuation that I think will read more like a voice actually talking to you. But those are usually conscious choices. To illustrate my full nerdiness, you should know that I'm boycotting the new rule that you should only put one space after a period. I disagree on principle, and I'm not budging. So there.

3. I live in my home town, essentially. A few blocks away from where both of my parents and my mother-in-law grew up. That probably doesn't seem like a big deal to most of you, but in DC it is really unusual.. This is a damn transitional city, and people are generally surprised to hear I'm a native, not to mention third generation. It's virtually unheard of.

4. In the four years I've been a parent, we've bought six strollers. This is ridiculous, and brings shame and failure to my over-researching ways. They just all had their failures, and I couldn't seem to find one that worked for everything we needed.

5. I'm a no-holds-barred preppy. I'm happy to sport Lilly Pulitizer and Vineyard Vines, although they are often too rich for my blood. J. McLaughlin makes me weak in the knees. It's not that I'm super overt about things in general, or am as social as I think the style generally impliesIt's just that this is the stuff that, well, seems to look right on me.

6. I've suffered twice now from post-partum depression. It was very different each time, and it's in the back of my head as a factor in whether we'll have a third child. I came out of it each time without medication, but both times it had an incredibly debilitating effect on my relationships and this second time on my career, and I'm not sure it's a good idea to put myself and my family through it again. If I do, you can be sure I'll seek out some pre-emptive help.

7. I'm stressed out the privacy implications of blogging. I'm truly grateful that people are connecting with what I'm writing. After all, without that it's just a diary, really. And i never got the point of a diary, although I did try several times. But I'm leaving out the kids names, and crossing my fingers. I'd love other bloggers' (or anyone, for that matter) thoughts on how blogging impacts your personal life, and whether a reader or event related to your blog has ever crossed a line that made you uncomfortable. I feel like it's the blogging elephant in the room, so to speak.

Nominate 15 bloggers of your choice. This is hard, since there are so many I love. Especially since most of them are WAY better read than I am. After all, almost everyone is. :) Here goes nothing.

Kludgy Mom
Bringing Up Bumble
Not Super... Just Mom
Theta Mom

Our Little Baby
Young House Love
Tidbits Parenting
Me as a Mommy
Harper's Happenings
Fordeville Diaries

Thursday, April 14, 2011

And aWAY we go!

Our nanny left this morning. At 4a.m., to be precise. Monkey had a really hard time saying good bye last night at bedtime. There were many, many rounds of hugs, and we indulged lots of extra stories and cuddling and singing to help her get to sleep without being too upset about her friend leaving. I had a knot in my stomach all night long, and I wish I understod why. It's not like I didn't know this was coming! But still, I'm really sad it didn't work out, because while it wasn't perfect, the arrangement did acheive a measure of stability that our family had been lacking. I'm trying to consciously tally what I think we did right and wrong, but that's an imperfect system at best. I did have my first taste of how I feel about people who hurt my children, and it's not pretty. Yes, I know kids are resilient. Yes, I know they'll bounce back and I'm certainly optimistic that our next nanny will stay longer and be a better fit in any number of ways. But still, I would have kept her around and just dealt with all the little problems if it meant keeping Monkey and Lion with someone they liked and had a repartee with. You know?

So we are officially here in limbo land. Lion is spending the day with Granddad, and Daddy picked Monkey up from school. Tomorow will be the same, except that I'll do the picking up. And we're trying very hard to make this seem like a fun vacation and added bonus parent time for them instead of "Holy crap I don't have this much leave to use what the HELL are we going to do?!?!?"

Which is, of course, what we say to each other after they've gone to bed.

And then we have the new nanny debate. Do we hire the one we sort of like who's ready NOW? The one who we think would be 'okay' and save us from limbo? When do we stop holding out for Mary Poppins? 'Cause I've met Mary Poppins, and she's not available until August.

How long do we keep churning and interviewing and background checking before we feel comfortable pulling the trigger?

More importantly, why am I writing this instead of checking someone's references? See ya.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

We're in so much trouble...

Monkey is a smart little cookie. She's been lobbying for a dog for a while, and we keep telling her that we might get one in a few years. Not one to be easily dissuaded, she's got the full court press on her father, who she clearly knows is the easier target. What is it about Dads and daughters? We drove past a woman walking her dog yesterday, and from the backseat of the car comes, "Daddy? Why does that lady have a dog?"

I saw it coming, I swear, but couldn't act fast enough to save him. "Well, Monkey, I guess because she wanted one."

Trap door swings shut on Daddy. Little voice from the backseat pauses, then, with perfect, innocent inflection, comes "But Daddy, I want a dog, and I don't have one."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Guess who can...

...WALK! I totally bribed him to get this on video. I put him down, ran across the room, whipped out the iPhone and said, "Do you want the phone, Lion? You can have it if you walk to me!" Not that I think he understood. But it did work, didn't it.

Shut 'er down!

The blog has been a little heavy on politics lately, but it's been a huge factor in my life. Don't get me wrong, it's impossible to avoid altogether in DC, but it rarely intrudes upon my non-work life and choices. Today, however, could be the last day I'm at work for a while. On the financial front, any shut down would be hard. A long one could be disastrous.

I am looking forward to extra time with the kids, though. Maybe it will even make a transition to a new nanny easier.

It's funny to see people outside DC start paying attention to what's going on in detail. I've had countless conversations with far flung friends about the 24 hour rule, how procedures work in the House, and why this isn't really about the budget any more. If you have questions, throw 'em at me here as well. I can certainly be partisan on certain themes, but on this I think I'm pretty damn objective/analytical.

It'll be interesting to see who gets blamed here. For me, I think it was inevitable. The political parties have so much power, and the climate of 24 hour news focuses on everything as a fight. Every debate is something to be won or lost, and the parties and individual elected officials clearly know that every vote comes with a notch on a belt that their constiuents will be told about repeatedly on FOX, CNN, and MSNBC. What incentive do they have to cooperate and play nicely? Compromise looks like weakness in the press, and you need good press to get re-elected, not to mention have the political capital needed for the next vote.

So we have 536 people who know they'll get ahead by being obstreperous. Duh.

The only question becomes how we change it, and that I just don't know.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Research. Obsessively.

A post at one of my fave Mommy blogs just got my research juices flowing, and I needed to share. I was a psychology major in college, which at the time felt like a huge indulgence. Picking a major because I LIKE it? Shame on me. I should be picking something USEful. So I double majored, and while the Government major probably helped me get jobs and into grad school, the psych has a lot more to do with how I think about policy. A lot more.

Regardless, I'm one of those rare dorky people who actually likes reading published research. I don't mean the executive summaries, people, I mean the 20+ pages in academic journals that detail all of the survey development and sampling methodology that let me decide whether I trust their data for myself.

So when I became a Mom, I started turning this propensity on to researching things for my kids. As I've alluded to before, I had a terrible time breastfeeding and was really incredibly hard on myself about it. If my body couldn't make milk, should I even have been a Mom in the first place? My total devotion to (ok obsession with) this failure landed me straight in post partum depression, until a number of things happened to show me that Monkey needed me to be happy and healthy more than she needed to nurse.

A few good friends smacked me around, verbally speaking, and gave me the strength to figure out that not being able to nurse was not the end of the world. And when I could see a little more clearly, I turned to the research. And you know what? It's not that big a deal! I won't go into it here, 'cause I know it's ridiculously hot button for some people, but it was clear to me that the numbers did not prove any harm would be done to my children by skipping the breastmilk. And the research empowered me to get back to the most important business of caring for my child.

Phew. Didn't mean to go there, actually, but there it is.

Nana na nah. Nana na nah. Hey hey hey...

See ya, Glenn Beck. You won't be missed, although I have a feeling you won't disappear either.

And for those who might read this as a political statement on my part, it isn't. It's more a "DC doesn't need any more irrational partisanship" statement. If there's anything I feel more strongly about that usual as the shut down looms, it's that a propensity to cooperation should a job requirement for public office. Yes, I know he doesn't hold public office (knock on wood), but that sort of fighting for the sake of fighting is seriously un-helpful.

So I say good riddance.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Murphy runs my life

Wikipedia tells me that Murphy's Law means that "Anything that can possibly go wrong, does." I take it a bit farther, because in my life of late it's imbued with some serious irony.

Take today, when it has been nearly certain that the Federal goverment will shut down this Friday at midnght. On one hand, I could use some time off, and since I have no annual leave left, that'll be nice. On the other hand, losing a paycheck for an period of time, and possibly an extended one, is really problematic. It's tax season, people. Bad stuff.

But most folks in the know here in Washington circles don't seem to think we'll be down for very long. Maybe two business days. So, considering that, let's play out the other major life event next week - the departure of our nanny with no replacement. Wednesday is her last day. Starting Thursday we're on our own, and relying on Grandparents (God bless them) or taking time off (refer back to 'I have no leave left' in above paragraph).

Monday: No work, so I can cover childcare. No paycheck. Have nanny; have to pay her. Tuesday: No work; so I can cover childcare. No paycheck. Have nanny; have to pay her.

Wednesday: Same deal as above, depending on how long shut down lasts. No income, only requirement to pay for unneeded service. But wait for it...

Thursday: Work. No nanny; have to lose money to cover childcare.

Friday and for at least several weeks following look the same.

I think the timing is just smashing, don't you? TERR-ific.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I got nothing. Nada.

It's been a long time since I've been this demoralized. We had two great potential nanny replacement candidates. Great. Running background checks (not cheap, btw), checking references, skype interviews, etc. And then one of them emails that she's taken another offer. I thought she loved us! Ugh.

This whole process is SO hard. What is WRONG with us that we can't manage consistent childcare for more than a year!?!? I feel like the only girl at prom not picked to dance. Is there some huge booger on my metaphorical face that everyone can see but me???

[Editor's Note - this week's Grey's Anatomy is bizarre, The singing crap is driving me crazy. And I like musicals, btw. Weird. Icky.]

I have had a knot in the pit of my stomach since I read her email. We have eight days left with a nanny, and then we are officially screwed. I have no leave, and Hubbie could be sacrificing a promotion if he disappears now. Grandparents are willing but not really as physically able as they want to be; as they need to be to chase my Lion around all day.

This is not good, people, not good. Even if the other candidate clears background check, has good references, and accepts our offer, she still can't be here for about a month. I'm not sure we have that much of a safety net. Is this getting too much for a blog? Sorry.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Note to self: Learn to appreciate times when you're special. Monkey appreciated EVERY moment of her birthday to the fullest. I swear she giggled for 24 hours straight, and it was infectious. This is a good lesson in just being plain old happy. Thanks, kiddo.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Monkey

I can't believe my Monkey is four. Somehow, four seems to cross the line into official childhood. She's clearly not a baby, toddler hasn't applied well for a while, and preschooler is too combersome. So what label could apply now other than plain old 'kid'?

How do I have a KID? I'm actually having a hard time with this. I nearly teared up giving her "my last hug as a three-year old" last night. Clearly, she is not struggling with this at all. Full steam ahead, Monkey.

My Monkey is everything. She is all the best, purest parts of me, unblemished by life's ups and downs. I am cowed by the responsibility I have been trusted with in this little person, in who she can become. Someone thinks I won't screw this up? Someone thinks I can do this justice? I sincerely hope I am up to the challenge.

Dear Monkey,

Happy Birthday! I hope you know by now that you are endlessly loved. That just thinking of you makes me smile and swell with pride. That you have endless potential, and that it is Daddy's and my job to make sure any path you want to travel is open to you.

You are strong, and sweet, and full of life. Grammy says you glow, and she's right. You wake every morning and greet the day with happy feist. You are turning into a wonderful friend. You understand the value of taking care with people's feelings, and you are a wonderful big sister to Lion. Do you see how his face lights up when you enter the room? That one laugh from you can make him giggle in his sleep? Keep taking care of that bond and you will have a best friend forever.

As you get ready to turn four, you are in full Princess mode. Your birthday party is going to be outside and not especially girly, but you chose Princess plates, and decorations; mostly because you love Beauty and the Beast. You are my ballerina in training, and you hold lots of ballet (and sometimes tap) classes and performances for us. Often we must dance alongside you. You also love to dress up, and you are developing strong opinions about your clothes. We've had a lot of all-one-color outfit days lately. Monday you wore all blue, including socks, shoes, and bow. You tell us your favorite colors are blue and red, but you added pink to the list this week. While you won't eat meat except as chicken nuggets, you love sushi. My little enigma. You don't know you're little, though. Smallest in your class by far, you regularly tell us you're the biggest.

You are very interested in letters, and you can write your name easily. Your letters are getting neater, and you can make them small now if you want to. You know all of the letters and can figure out the beginning and ending sounds of words. You are starting to sound out and guess at the words you see on paper. You are also starting to turn numbers around in your head, and you will count anything. "Mommy - how many arms are in this car? How many toes are in this car?" You and Daddy started a game taking turns with numbers, and you can get all the way to 100! You are also starting to understand adding and taking away numbers, especially since we've been counting down to your birthday for 23 days now!

You are beautiful, inside and out. People stop us and tell us you're gorgeous, stunning, lovely, and I wish they'd stop. It was fine when you were too little to understand, but that is not what I want you to value about yourself. Please don't pay any attention to them. You are also smart and kind and strong.

You love to give hugs, and we love to get them. At night, we decide on our favorite part of the day, and we do our gratefuls to make sure we remember just how lucky we are. Tonight I will tell you that YOU are my grateful. Truth is, you are my grateful every night, because we are just so, so lucky to have you.

I love you, Monkey.


Monday, March 28, 2011

I have a book problem.

I'm a pretty voracious reader, but when you have two kids under two and a more than full time job, you don't get them time to read that you used to. I used to go through a book or two a week, and reading is a big part of my preferred bedtime routine. These days, though, I get to read maybe once or twice a week.

Hasn't slowed down my rate of acquisition, though. I just grabbed another three books online Friday, and soon they'll arrive to be added to the nightstand pile. It's dominated by books about kids, discipline, and parenting, with a few just for fun fiction books in between. Since the age-oriented parenting books currently dominate my stack, I figure I'll run those down first.

I had a whole slew of pregnancy books. Totally loved Great Expectations (no, not Dickens); totally despised What to Expect When You're Expecting. I've never had a book make me feel so badly about myself so fast; and every time it freaked me out enough to consult my OB, the doctor told me to chill. So I got rid of it. But Great Expectations was really helpful in understanding what was going on with my body and still treating me like a grown-up.

I never really got into a steady relationship with an infant book that tracked milestones. The good ones try hard to caveat every milestone to make sure you don't freak out when your baby seems behind the curve, and I appreciated that. Honestly, the most helpful thing for me at this phase was Gymboree. The teachers there were amazing at tailoring the classes to each child, and I swear Miss Erika is at least partially responsible for pulling me out of PPD by showing me I wasn't a total failure as a mother. The Baby Center weekly email updates were good, too.

In general, though, I thought Happiest Baby on the Block was helpful. Even though an asthmatic could have blown their 'scientific evidence' apart, the ideas themselves still worked, particularly for calming my newborns. I hear the DVD is good, too, but I instinctively devalue any book made into a movie. :)

What has really resonated for me since then is the "Your x Year-Old" series. So far my favorite is "Your Three-Year Old, Friend or Enemy?" Totally dead on description of Monkey at three, especially the fact that three-year olds push back on their Moms more than anyone else, and that it's hard (!) to not lose ground in the relationship by responding to them. The authors totally admitted they had no advice for stopping it, and suggested that you consider cutting your losses and just having someone else look after the child while that behavior continued. Awesome. No, seriously. I love these books.

They're relatively short, and written in this sort of antiquated, lovely language that reminds me of an old, British country pediatrician. ('Cause I've known a lot of those, right?) But they're frank, and do a good job of explaining why certain behaviors are taking root and offering real suggestions about what to do about it. I'm tempted to buy one for every year of age, just to have them on hand. I definitely read them in advance to know what's coming, too.

My latest purchases have been discipline related, but I'm sorry to say I haven't actually read them. I did manage to skim relevant sections of 1-2-3 Magic on the advice of friends, and it seems like it would be sound if I could get it implemented. Working on that, I promise.

Deep thought for the day.

Motherhood... is looking down and realizing that there is a big spot of something on your sweater, and not even being embarrassed. It is also quickly considering putting your jacket on to cover it, but giving up when because there is an even bigger spot on that. It is also not even bothering to tell yourself you'll take them to the dry cleaners, because you well know that just isn't going to happen.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blog Challenge - Day 26.

Day 26. What would you like your Grandchildren to remember about you one day?

These questions are getting intense! Apologies if they're too serious, but I wouldn't be doing them justice if I wasn't sincere. If you've read back the past month or two, you know that we've had a heck of a winter, and I'm not talking about weather. Lots of illness, a few real scares, and a Hubbie working around the clock leaving me to go solo much of the time. I've reoriented quite a few fundamentals of our life, and been pretty pleased with how we've fared. But I had a Eureka! moment about a month ago.

You see, I'm a consensus builder by nature, and I'm always trying to make as many people happy as possible. But consensus building doesn't work when you're hanging by a thread, and there were too many decisions that just couldn't wait until the next time I got to see or even talk to my husband. Much less actually have a long conversation with him.

So I started just acting without consulting, and it dawned on me one night that what this family needed was a Matriarch. A good, old fashioned,'s.done Matriarch. No nonsense, no consensus needed. (That doesn't mean he doesn't have a say, but it means he trusts me to know when he really wants to have input. Funny - turns out he did all along.) Matriarch meaning there are things we do, and things we don't, and that's the end. Not by making it about me personally or what I want, but by sheer force of will.

So of course I want my Grandchildren to think of me as warm, and kind, and involved. As always, always available to them; as a shelter in a storm. But I think I'm going to need that mantle of the lady that held it all together. Although if I'm truly successful, they shouldn't ever know that I had it.

Blog Challenge - Day 24. The home stretch!

Day 24. What is God teaching you presently?

This question is both harder and easier for me than it was a few years ago. Then, I would have told you that I was more of a science kind of girl. My exploration of faith was pretty static, although I've always known there has to be something beyond our understanding. What's outside of our universe? OK, and after that? And after that? What about after that? It all has to end somewhere, right? Right?

You get the picture.

Becoming a parent puts faith in an entirely different light. I look at those two people that came, conceivably, from nothing. Sperm, egg, blah blah blah. Biology doesn't capture the creation of new existence. The sheer, from absolutely nothing, coming to being of a new person. There's no way you can tell me miracles don't exist. No. Way.

We don't make it to church very often, mostly because the kids are not exactly good pew sitters these days. Monkey is old enough for Sunday school this year, but Lion is a ways off, and we aren't comfortable enough with the church nursery to leave him there. But since Monkey was born there's been a kind of peace in just being there. It's a chance to contemplate and be grateful. To focus on what is most important of what we have, or the most fundamental of the struggles around us. I feel better every time I'm there.

But that wasn't the question, you say. Becoming a Mom has created a new awareness of, and surrender to, forces outside my understanding. I've traditionally prided myself on analysis and reason, so that's quite a sea change. Couple that with my traditional strengths of ridiculous multi-tasking and flying by the seat of my pants, and you don't end up with a calm, consistent, confidence-inspiring Mommy. But here's the rub - at the end of the day, I'm entirely and intimately consumed by these kids' every move. That's a pretty loaded way to go through life, and it can make a girl a raw ball of nerves.

So I'm learning; no, I'm teaching myself, to chill. To have a game plan so their little misbehaviors can't push my buttons, or at least so they don't see it. To think long-term, and about the kinds of people I want them to be. To stop teaching them to listen, and start helping them make the right decisions for themselves.

That all sounds good, right? It's really hard. Particularly when I'm tired and stressed. Which is always. But that's what God is teaching me about myself. So there.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Baby Top Ten

The whole fam went to a double baby shower last weekend for two friends of mine from grad school who are pregnant and due within a few days of each other. Yippee!! It's baby #2 for one, but the firstborn for the other. She and I started talking about the ever-present baby 'stuff,' and while I like to tell people that all you really need are diapers and a place for the kid to sleep (empty drawer, people?), I'm just as guilty of over-acquiring stuff as anyone. And baby stuff was no exception.

My first tack was to try and give her all of the baby stuff Lion no longer needs. Swing, bumbo seat, play mat, pack 'n play, etc. I see this as tempting fate about whether we'll have another baby. (Me want, hubbie no, plus no money means Hubbie wins. For now.)

The way my life seems to work, the moment I get rid of all the baby stuff, I'll accidentally get pregnant and have to buy it all again.

But they have a small apartment and really do need to triage their acquisitions, so it did get me thinking about what we actually valued most across two kids. Here's my list.

1. A downstairs changing table. I had two c-sections, so minimizing trips upstairs was key. We used a pack 'n play, which was a little too low and hurt my back bending over for diaper changes. So no specific product recommendation here. We didn't use it for much else, frankly, except occasionally to protect the brand-new Lion from Monkey. They were both able to make clear their displeasure at being caged from a very early age. Prodigies, I know.

2. I called it the "mini mattress," but it's really the "
Close and Secure Sleeper," by the First Years. I think it's intended to protect the baby when you have them in bed with you. Note - it would not have protected anyone from the way my husband sleeps. Would have taken a tank.

But I had read that babies will feel more secure and sleep better if you can mimic the closeness of the womb. And the kids looked so little in the vastness of the crib. So we used this to make their worlds seem a little smaller. It was also a convenient way to elevate their heads slightly - since both of mine had reflux (Lion still does). It was also great to travel with, since it was easy to recreate a familiar environment for them in a new place.

3. A play mat. I didn't think this was a big deal, so when I realized I had loaned Monkey's to a friend, I didn't bother getting it back for Lion. But I was wrong. It was huge to be able to lay him down somewhere with a degree of stimulation. It also helped with the physical therapy we had to do for his torticollis by making his tummy time more palatable. As long as there is some basic sound stimuli on the mat (something that crinkles or squeaks) for when they move, it helps them make the connection that their attempts at movement have outcomes. The arches with things dangling overhead are important once they get to reaching and grabbing, which was also really helpful with the torticollis.

4. Crib. Duh. Both kids got to use the same
Stanley Young America crib. Went with white for gender neutrality, and it has a fixed rail. I wanted a drop side then (I'm only 5'2"), but all of the reviews of drop-side manufacturers were pretty poor. Four years later, drop-side cribs are all but extinct after several recalls, so I'm really glad we ended up this way. And I really didn't have that hard a time picking them up, even from the lowest position. Ours is a convertible crib, so when Monkey started climbing out of it we just took the front off and TA-DA! Toddler bed.

OK, my husband would be angry with my "just took the front off" bit. It took quite a bit of doing, not to mention required finding and buying a modified front with a partial rail. They made it impossible to convert the crib without spending an extra $250, and we were pissed. If you're trying to price compare cribs, be sure to ask and factor that in.

5. Bibs. Vinyl ones (so you can just rinse them clean) that secure with snaps (b/c my kids like to take them off). Lots and lots of them.

6. Diapers. Another Duh. We're Pampers Swaddlers/Cruisers fans, but I have several friends who love Huggies. Some just seem to better fit certain kids, and fit is what determines the likelihood of leaks. Do not do not do not get the ones with Dry Max, though, as whatever crap is in the absorbent section has given babies rashes, not to mention the occasional chemical burn.

7. The next set doesn't really merit long description, so it's more of a list of things to have around. Wipes (we like Pampers sensitive), diaper cream (we use good old-fashioned Desitin, but I know some people mind the smell. It just says 'baby' to me!), orajel swabs (the teething will start sooner than you think), and some sort of anti-fungal cream. Lotrimin or the drug store generic; whatever. The bumpy red diaper rashes are yeast, and they need the anti-fungal cream instead of desitin. A little neosporin never hurt, either.

8. Stroller/carseat. Stroller research is the very bane of my existence. I found the online discussion boards by the Baby Bargains authors to be incredibly helpful for toddler strollers and their various permutations, but for infants it's obvious to me. You get the
Graco carseat, because it's consistently the highest ranked for safety. Then you get the stroller frame/base/basket that connects to it, because it's only $60 or so and the ability to move a sleeping child between the car an the stroller is priceless. I still mourn having to move Lion into a convertible car seat, because it lost me this ability.

I'm not going to make it to ten. Don't get talked into the rest. In particular, don't buy a swing/bouncy seat until your child has been in one and you know they like it. They're expensive, and neither of my kids was ever willing to stay in one for more than 30 seconds. Monkey screamed every time we came near it, from a very tender age. Like I said earlier, they're prodigies.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy stuff!

I have a project! It came to me while I was printing out approximately 30-kajillion emails for aforementioned FOIA. Ickickick.

Ok, it actually came to me while I was destressing by checking out YoungHouseLove and found their gorgeous DIY gallery wall hanging project. I am going to do this. We've been in our house almost seven years, and our stairway is still bare. I've always wanted to hang things there, but never had a vision for it. Now I do.

Plus, it is going to go a long way toward reducing the visual clutter in our house. (Which makes me crazy, b/c we have enough ACTUAL clutter without creating more unnecessarily.) We have tons of pictures of the kids, etc, on console tables and window ledges. This was fine for Monkey, but Lion's climbing tendencies - and total typical boy-ish-ness - make it an issue. Here. I have proof. This is at 10 months old, people. Now imagine what he does to a table with interesting shiny pictures to whack against each other. Not good.

So tonight I am going to wander around the house and make a list of what size frames I need, and then I am going to get online at IKEA and order them ALL. Mwah hahahaha.

Craptastic at work

I just got FOIAed. Anyone else who works in government knows what that means. It means I have to go through all of my emails looking for relevant messages on a particular topic in a specific time frame. And print them ALL out. And make anyone who worked with me on the project do the same thing.

This is going to kill several days that should have been spent on other things. Time I do not have to lose, b/c frankly, I work pretty damn efficiently already. Because I'm a Mom, and I want to go HOME at 6 o'clock, not stay here printing emails. Crapola.

I need to find something upbeat and POSITIVE to blog about, people! Anyone with ideas please let me know post haste. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?


I had a dream last night that, as I was sitting at my office desk, I saw a missile come down and hit the middle of the street immediately in front of my office. It seemed to hit some anti-missile installation, and somehow in my dream I knew it was from Libya.

I got my phone, blackberry, and purse and headed for the stairs, to run down the 10 flights and try to figure out how to get home. I think I must have allowed my psyche to revise my response a few times, since I remember that I was wearing bad shoes for running down stairs, but I also remember teetering in heels (and getting dizzy on the stairs), as well as brilliantly changing into running shoes before heading for the stairs. I also remember a version when I grabbed a bunch of cash in my desk (I'm currently collecting for a big office party!) and brought it with me in case it could prove helpful getting home.

I was calling Hubbie as I went down the stairs, telling him I love him and the kids and I wasn't sure how I'd make it out of downtown, but that I'd head home. And to tell the kids I love them. I was processing through how long it would take to get my car out of the garage, and whether that would allow traffic to build up so much (as everyone else fled the city) that having a car would be worthless anyway. Maybe I should walk?

I think I am feeling under attack lately. Maybe?

So imagine my response when there was an actual 'suspicious vehicle' today at work - on our very corner - and the streets were blocked off as they brought in hazmat. Then no one could enter the building. Then exit. Then those of us with window offices had to stay away from the windows and shut our doors.

Not okay, given the dream of the very night before. Not that I have any track record of ESP, but it was all a bit too much for me. It's going to be a while before the tightness in my chest goes away, I think.

I wanna go home and hug my kids. And move out of DC. To flyover country, where international foes real and imaginary don't care what happens. Like I needed more reasons to not wanna be at work, really!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Funny girl

Monkey's been particularly funny lately. Just look at that smirk... she knows it. This morning she informed me she had slept with a bat and a monkey last night. Apparently the bat was swinging on her window and woke her up, so she let him in so he could get warm. He got in her bed and they snuggled. (Not sure when the monkey showed up.)

Oh, and I'm not allowed to call her Monkey anymore (at least not to her face!). She told me she wanted a new nickname.... Princess. That wasn't OK with me, so we negotiated some and ended up with Princess Monkey. Hey, it's better than Monkey Princess, right?

Yesterday at the grocery store she apparently told the checker that "this is where Mommy comes to buy all of her wine!"

Oh, good. We drink wine at our house MAYBE once a week. MAYBE. But she's apparently paying particular attention to it. Last week she wanted to help me use the corkscrew, so I showed her how to twist the handle and then push the rabbit ears down. The cork came out with a nice satisfying 'Pop!', at which point Monkey looked up at me and asked if she could smell the cork.

Hey, at least if I have a wine-obsessed preschooler she'll be a well-schooled wine-obsessed preschooler!

Last night we went out to eat, 'cause, hey, if Monkey asks for something, Daddy says yes. Wrapped around her little finger, he is. Who cares if we decided to eat out less to save money? Monkey wants sushi.
Yes, sushi. My three-year old, who will not eat meat in any form except chicken nuggets, will eat sushi. I'm not talking about the silly vegetarian kind either. She's hard core. The waitress walked up, and Monkey, clear as day, says "I need an eel-a-cado (translation: eel and avocado) roll and a rainbow roll. Cut small for me. And some maaa-meh (translation: edamame), please? (looking directly at me to make sure I noticed the magic word).

Girl knows her sushi. Last night she tried roe and thought it was fun. Please, please let my child not develop a caviar habit. The budding wine connoisseur thing is bad enough.

Blog challenge - Day 23.

Day 23 - Who's your celebrity look-alike?

I've been told Gillian Anderson (you know, the X-Files chick) and Mena Suvari. Neither of them really resonate with me, but I guess I can see bits and pieces.

That's it. Not very exciting, I know.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My least favorite thing in the world... looking for childcare.

I haven't mentioned anything about this before, because it's really not a very fun topic. But a huge part of why I've been bad about posting lately is that my time has been suddenly and unexpectedly consumed with a new childcare search. Our beloved nanny, who I had fantasies of keeping for years on end, is leaving us. Really, really early. I won't go into why, but all that matters is that she feels pulled elsewhere. Not only do I want to respect that, I also don't want someone caring for my children who doesn't want to be there.

Anyway, there it is, about two weeks later. Maybe I was still in denial until recently? But I started blogging to get these things out in a coherent way and thus maybe allow me to better sort through my thoughts. While I'm sad she's going and frustrated that I have to spend so much time - so soon - on another blasted nanny hunt, I'm most worried about the kids. She's the only person besides family that has ever cared for Lion. And Monkey is very attached to her and routinely lists her as part of our family. So I'm really stressed about finding the right way and time to tell Monkey about this.

Not to mention finding the right person. I'm not only looking for all the traits that I think make a good caregiver, I'm not obsessively trying to gauge how sincere someone is about their willingness to make a longer commitment and how well they really understand what they're getting into as a full-time, live-in nanny. It doesn't help that the first good interview we had turned out to be telling me everything I wanted to hear - which I learned after being alerted she had a drug problem and had stolen from her last family. So now I'm totally second guessing my own instincts.

This whole thing bumps up against all of my insecurities about being a working Mom.

This is three hires in a year and a half - a part-time nanny for a few months before Lion was born, a hire who never ended up coming because of a last minute personal crisis, and our current nanny. I'm exhausted. And losing faith in whether we'll ever be able to find someone that will give the kids the love and stability they deserve.

Blog Challenge - Day 22.

Day 22. What did you do today?

Ha. This is easy compared to other topics this challenge has been throwing at me.

I got up after only two hits of the snooze button. Took a shower and did hair and makeup, all while Lion was starting to make his sweet baby noises in his room. Come get me, please? Drank in the thuds of everything in his crib hitting the ground one-by-one, each followed by a soft little, "Oh-oh."

Checked the blackberry calendar to see if I needed to wear a suit today. Yup. Blech.

Opened the door to Monkey's room so she knew she could get up when she felt like it. The luxury of spring break and not having to rouse her from lazing in bed. Got dressed. Received Miss Sleepyhead as she stumbled out of her room and declared she wanted to get dressed. And that she would be pretending to do ballet today, so she needed a skirt. Got her dressed. Finally responded to Lion's ever more insistent noises and headed downstairs with the both of them. Trailed Monkey to the basement to snag a tutu from the dress-up chest. Convinced her it was okay for our nanny to pour her cereal while I packed up to go. Started coffee.

Stalled. Gave multiple rounds of kisses and I Love You's. Tried to convince Hubby to give me a ride so I didn't have to pay for parking today. Failed.

Retrieved coffee, phone, and blackberry. Gave another few rounds of kisses, and finally left the house. Drove to work.

And that's really the end of the day, at least until I get home tonight. You don't care what happens in between, 'cause it's not the important part.

Blog Challenge - Day 18 on 22.

Day 18. If you could, what would you tell yourself before you had your baby?

It'll be OK. It's going to be harder than you think - a lot - but it will be OK. You're an idiot for thinking that babysitting prepared you for this, by the way. Anyone who thinks they are prepared for their first child is wrong. And seriously naive.

There is no lightning flash of love that strikes you the moment that baby is out in this world. You will be tired and hormonal and just want everyone to leave you alone. You probably won't feel very bonded right away, and that does not make you a bad person or parent. Your body will just have done an amazing thing and it deserves credit and rest. You won't be able to breastfeed, and it isn't your fault. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It doesn't mean you weren't meant to do this.

On other ways, too, things won't go as you envisioned when you were younger. You won't make all the same choices you planned; some because you're wiser, and some because life doesn't always work out that way. That's OK, because, well, it has to be. What's the alternative, really?

You will never be the same, but you will be better. You will be tested in ways you never imagined, and you won't always succeed, and it will be fine. Because your kids need to know that it is OK to fail, as long as you get back on your feet and try again. It's also OK to take care of yourself. Call your friends. One of them will tell you that a happy Mommy makes a happy baby, and those are some really important words. Reach out for help when you need it. You cannot; will not do this alone, and it is vain and proud to try.

Blog Challenge - Day 17 on Day 22.

Day 17. Write about 3 things that make you happy.

It would be really, really eays to just say Monkey, Lion, and Hubbie. Too easy. No point in writing that, really, no matter how true it is.

1. Monkey loves music and using it to tell stories in the same way I do. I was a huge musical theatre geek in school. Went to the
BEST theatre camp EVER and spent most of middle and high school consumed with plays and various choir groups. To this day, I find it very hard not to sing along to musicals, not to mention any old song in the car that resonates with me. And it's become clear this year that Monkey has inherited this love. She puts on performances for me in the living room, and cajoles until someone performs along with her. She shows me dances she's made up to songs they sing at school. I'll try to capture one on video to share here, but my girl doesn't perform on command - the spirit has to move her. She works hard to learn the words of songs, and wants to sing them over and over. We're currently fixated on the Disney musical version of Beauty and the Beast, and I find I still remember the words today. And it makes me smile so hard my face hurts, and I tear up just a little bit, because if she noticed she'd never believe they were happy tears. Even now I'm grinning like a fool just thinking about it.

2. I have a few REALLY good friends. I wish they lived closer, but I'm grateful to have them there to blubber to when I'm down. It's a lucky girl who knows there are at least four people she can honestly call in the middle of the night if something was really wrong. I think there are probably more, and am hopeful of another few in development, but I don't want to take it for granted. These are women I've known for a long, long time and expect to know forever. I'd trust them with anything, even though we are all very different people. I'm not very good at having acquaintances; I really don't know what's expected of me in that dynamic, but I am really, really blessed with s few solid, deep, lasting bonds, and I'd take that over mass popularity any day.

3. As much as I can vent and obsess, the big, important things in my life are good and stable. My kids are both healthy. And about as normal as you get (is anyone really 'normal'?). They are darn cute, brilliant, and well, healthy and normal. And I am thankful for it every day. Monkey and I 'do our gratefuls' every night at bedtime, and I always just want to tell her how grateful I am she and Lion are just healthy. And happy, and here. And that they are both growing big and strong and becoming their amazing own selves. My marriage is good, and we both agree that we will always be working on that. We have very similar life priorities, so ever when we don't communicate so well, we're able to fly by the seat of our pants because we're pretty likely to make the same choice anyway. We are, all four of us, of sound mind and body, and that is not something I take for granted. There's a lot of divorce and addiction in my family, and I feel those challenges so deeply. But our little home is strong and steady, and I will not ever let myself take that for granted. And knowing that makes me happy.

Blog Challenge - Day 15.

Day 15. What do you wish for?

This is easy. I wish for financial flexibility. Not money, by the way. That's very, very different. I don't need to be rich, but I have really struggled with times when I feel like I cannot give the kids something that I feel is right or best for them because of financial reasons. As I think I've mentioned before, I always wanted three kids. I'm the oldest of three, and we're all so different. I simply cannot imagine my life without the youngest, and feel the same way about my own kids. Monkey and Lion are amazing and all-consuming - both emotionally and literally - but I still feel like someone's missing. When we're all snuggling in bed together on weekend mornings, I just feel deep down like there is another little someone who should be there. I don't in any way mean my kids are not enough, but I just don't feel complete right now.

Problem is, children are (duh!) expensive. Especially when you consider how much Hubbie and I care about private schools. We live where we both grew up, and we went to private schools that we are still in awe of and involved with today, and it would be so hard to not give our kids that same experience that is so beloved to us. Whatever you personally think about private vs. public, private is what we know and love, and as a parent that goes a long way, not only to immediate comfort but to knowing how to successfully impact and maneuver your environment to your child's best interest.

It's clear that two kids in private school is going to be really hard, and I know, rationally, that three is all but impossible. And since I refuse to treat one differently than the other, three basically would mean NONE of them would get that experience. So maybe it's selfish of me to want to satisfy my own yearning for a third when it effectively deprives the first two of these amazing places.

The other thing is that I am really overwhelmed right now. I still maintain that the move from no kids to 1 is much harder than from 1 to 2, but 2 has at times exceeded my capacity. It's getting better as Lion gets older, but we've had some really tough times. I've had post partum depression episodes with both kids, and child care arrangements are continuing to be the bane of my existence. (More about that later.) For the first time last week, I found myself wondering if, money notwithstanding, we could handle a third child. I'm sure we couldn't right now. In a year or two? But while I'm not as old as mnay Moms I know, I'm also officially in the high risk pregnancy category of late.

If I could throw more money at a nanny, maybe we could keep one for a really, really long time and minimize the trauma of transitions. Or move to a closer neighborhood that cut time off a commute and increased our time together. Or work part time. Or, frankly, take the pay cut that is implicit in moving back to the work that I love love love or just to a new job with more flexibility, even if it was still full-time. In any case, I know that with a little more income these issues would stop being issues, and it would be about what we want for our family and what is best for the kids. And that's what it should be about; period.

Blog challenge - the make-up issue!

Looks like I've failed the blog challenge, but I've still gotten out of it what I hoped to. I found great things to write about, and I got myself into enough of a routine that I started feeling the need to write here whenever something really struck me.

But in an honest-to-goodness attempt to complete this (please see Challenge Day 9, when I describe how anal I am about fulfilling commitments, even when they impact almost no one), here are the topics I've missed:

Day 14. Style 31. Post an outfit pic!
Day 15. What do you wish for?

Day 16. How old was baby when he started sleeping through the night and how did you do this?

Day 17. Write about 3 things that make you happy.
Day 18. If you could, what would you tell yourself before you had your baby?
Day 19. Write about your significant other.
Day 20. Write about your job and why you love it or hate it.
Day 21. Write about your most vivid childhood memory. Post a picture of you taken over ten years ago.
Day 22.
What did you do today?

I'm going to tackle Days 15, 17, and 22, because I like them. And no one else is telling me what to do, and darn it, I get to choose without considering anyone else's needs. And really, for a Mom, that's a rare, rare thing. So there.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Wonder of a Weekend.

Our friends with older toddlers (older than Lion, that is), talk about having hit the 'sweet spot.' You know, that place where routine reigns over chaos, your head is generally screwed on straight, and everyone sleeps through the night? And where your youngest kid is old enough to actually DO things and take places.

I think we're getting there. It's not official, but we actually had a real, live, fun weekend. We went out (gasp) Saturday night to another couple's joint birthday party (cute idea!) and had fun, even though we did get stuck for a while sitting with some of the most amazingly pretentious people I've ever met. Seriously - who knew those people really existed outside of sitcoms?!

Regardless, we had fun. Even did some pleasant networking (as if such a thing existed!). Then, on Sunday, we went to another family's house and watched basketball. (Oh, and my team won. Woot!) Monkey and her buddy played together the entire time without a peep, and Lion explored the new space without actually damaging anything. Amazing.

It was fabulous, but now it's over. But gives me lasting hope for the future. Lots to look forward to. Yay for getting weekends back!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nononono more blog challenge.

So, I think the blog challenge served it's purpose, just more quickly than expected. I'm still going to do it, at least for a while, but I'm not going to try to make up the upcoming weekend posts. Here are the three topics for today, Saturday, and Sunday. I'm choosing one, and calling a skip on the other two.

Day 11. Post a recipe. Or if you don't cook, try a new recipe and write about how it turned out (pictures please!).
Day 12. Write about what wears you out as a woman.
Day 13. A YouTube video.

Day 13 wins, if only because I have an awesome video to share. iPhone, not YouTube. It's my Monkey, in one of the cutest moments ever, and definitely ever captured on video. Apparently the music moved her. I actually have about five videos of this, since she kept right on dancing and ultimately dance-paraded around most of the store. Yes, around the super-sized wine and beer store. My then-two year old. We're good parents, I swear.

Is that not the cutest thing you've ever seen? It's been over a year and I still giggle/well up over it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blog Challenge - Day 10.

Day 10. What are some of your favorite products, and what foundation/powder do you wear?

This post is sort of a throw away for me. Although I wear makeup everyday and feel sort of naked without it, I don't feel like I have any expertise to share. I sort of wing it, and I change products all the time. Right now I'm using a Revlon undereye concealer, either Trish McEvoy or Maybelline nude shadow, and some drug store brand mascara (it's purple!). There are three products I like enough to know I'll buy them again:

DiorSkin by Christian Dior. Don't even know what I'd call it - some sort of tone evening cream, but nowhere near foundation. Totally the highest end makeup product I've ever bought, but worth it.
MakeUp Forever eye makeup remover. LOVE it. No alcohol and so non-greasy I could put new makeup on the second I finish using it.
Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner. It still smears some, but it's by far the best I've found. Also use their applicator brush. I would adore any recommendations for a liner you can use on the LOWER lid that doesn't smear by the end of the day

Ta-da. That's it. My full font of wisdom. Not much, I know. I am, however, looking forward to reading OTHER people's challenge posts on the topic. :)

Falling off the wagon.

I think I'm falling... jumping?... off the blog challenge wagon. I did it because I loved the ideas of what to write about, and liked the structure I though it would impose. Yes, structure. I've already told you I'm boring. But I don't have time to write about anything else, and of course (of course!) I'm suddenly full of things I want to write about. So maybe the challenge has served it's purpose already?

But really, I hate not finishing something I've started. Makes me feel like a bad egg. A quitter. so I'm arguing with myself. If you can't finish a blog challenge what CAN you commit to?

You'll see what I decide.

In the meantime, my winter routine continues apace. Kid gets sick, kid gets medicine. Kid starts to feel better, someone else gets sick. We've been there nearly constantly since November. I think it started the day before Thanksgiving, actually. Got a new presciption for Monkey yesterday - she has an ear infection. Since Lion had a double last week, I know where it came from. Although it marks the first time he gave something to his sister and not the other way around. Way to go, Lion! I love milestones.

On the up-side, I think we found a new primary doc at the pediatrician's. I've been jumping around to find someone else there since deciding I couldn't depend on the current one. But the woman yesterday was AWEsome. She's new to the practice, so pretty easy to get appointments with, and she was SO good with Monkey. My big girl did the whole exam by herself; followed all the instructions, didn't flinch at a thing. Giggled tons, which is impressive considering how uncomfortable she was. Huge relief to me to have someone I know I can ask for at appointment time. Yay!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blog challenge - Day 9

What virtues do you value in yourself?

Hmmm, this is a hard one for me, because everything I value in myself I can also see as a negative in certain situations.  I'm not particularly romantic about these things, apparently.

Pro:  I have a big heart and I always give people the benefit of the doubt.  I avoid criticizing people at all costs.  I want everyone around me to be happy, even if I end up the only unhappy one.  This is part of my oldest child of divorced parents shtick.  I like to solve people's problems. 

Con:  I get walked all over sometimes.  I also really struggle with giving constructive feedback, and by the time I'm ready to say something that might be construed as negative, I'm probably pretty worked up about it, and that does not make for a productive conversation.  Once my switch is flipped, I'm completely fed up.  No middle ground.  The other con here is that I probably care too much about what other people think in general.

Pro:  I'm very progress-oriented.  My husband, while we were dating, told me that one of the things he admired in me was that I was always trying to improve myself.  It's probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me, and it was one of those moments where I knew he really 'got' me.  I'm always looking for the next step - be it learning about developmental areas for the kids, snapping up off-season bargains on things they'll need next year, considering what family to see over Thanksgiving and how it will impact Christmas and Easter, and so on.  I'm highly planned and always aware of contingencies.  I've been told I would be FABULOUS at emergency management for just this reason.

Con:  It's totally paralyzing.  You can never accommodate every 'what-if' hypothetical, and trying to come up with a strategy to cover them all makes actually pulling the trigger on a big decision torturous.

Pro:  This is probably obvious from the other two, but I really think things through before I do them.  I take my commitments incredibly seriously, from significant promises to friends down to RSVPs.  If I take some action, I will totally own it.  If wasn't willing to talk about it, I wouldn't have done it in the first place.  Maybe this is an offshoot of growing up and working around politics, but I call it the Washington Post rule.  If you aren't willing to have it on the front page of the newspaper, then don't do it!  Maybe that's why I have a high comfort level with blogging.  While I'm a fairly private person unless you know me well, this dynamic makes me very forthcoming.  It's also probably why several people over my lifetime have asked if I want to run for office someday.  To which I say NONONONONONO NONONONONO!  Hell, no.  Ugh.  Shudder.  No.  I should probably take it as a compliment, but I mostly find it very confusing, since I don't consider myself to be remotely like what I know about public office holders in either good or bad ways.  And would NEVER survive that lifestyle.

Con:  I don't take risks lightly.  I've had my wild moments, and definitely done things I regret, but there aren't too many and I know (believe you me!) what they are.  There are only a very few I feel strongly I'd like to take back.   As I get older, though, I sometimes wish I had lived more freely (not loosely, people.  Freely.)  Taken more risks.  Tried  unconventional paths and been more open to new and unusual experiences.  Not been so serious.  Had more fun?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blog Challenge - Day 8.

Have a beauty secret (e.g. hair tip, make up tip)? Share, please!

[Note from the editor - I'm now officially caught up from the weekend!  Yay, me!]

Back to business.  I'm not really a make-up guru.  I do wear it everyday, though, and I do NOT leave the house without it.  But my generally feeling is that if you know I'm wearing makeup, I'm wearing too much.  I'm pretty fair, with light hair and light eyes, and without eye makeup you can't even be certain I have eyes.  At all.  So my morning routine involves under eye concealer (thanks, kids!), neutral shadow, dark liner, and mascara.  Plus light cover up to even out skin tone; otherwise I look like I'm wearing too much blush every day.  Or a circus clown.  No biggie, right? 

That sounds like a lot of makeup to many people, but it's how I feel comfortable presenting myself to the world.  I thought that made me superficial until a good friend cited the old "You look good, you feel good" cliche.  And she's right.  Confidence means so much, and people do treat you differently depending on how you look.  It's not right, on principle, but it's true.  

I use a variety of department and drug store brands, and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear if anyone has a liner that won't smudge.  My eyes tend to water throughout the day, and even though I present the challenge to every makeup counter I find, no one has yet introduced me to a liner that won't make me look like a racoon by 6pm.  I'm tired of traveling with the supplies I need to touch it up.  Truthfully, I have a stash at work, but I only use it if I have somewhere special to go in the evening.  So most days are not pretty by the end.  I'm sure I'm harder on myself and that people don't actually notice, but it has to contribute to making me look tired and unkempt, right?

That doesn't answer the question at all, does it? 

Honestly, my best tip is dry shampoo.  Oscar Blandi.  My personal vanity's cross to bear is that I have very fine and thin hair.  Flat and limp.  Not only does it buy me an extra day between washes, it increases the diameter of each hair, and my hair looks *better* on day 2 than freshly washed.  Amazing.  I've actually thought about using it EVERY day.  Maybe I'll try that tomorrow.