Saturday, June 29, 2013

Preparing Your Toddler for the 4th of July Horrors

I used to be one of those women who saw moms bringing their babies to the parade or fireworks and thought, "Whaaa?? You crazy." There is not one thing at either event that is baby-friendly: loud noises, flashes of light, people screaming. I'm sure that, in their baby minds, it's the apocalypse.

Yet, now that I've had my little one for a full year and a half, I think I finally get it... It's pretty much the only day of the year that it's acceptable to have your kids out past 9pm and therefore, the only night in the past year and half I'll have been out past 9pm. I feel like I'm crawling out from under a rock.

So, today, while I pick up some extra hours at work, Mark will be bringing E to the parade. I showed her these 2 YouTube videos in preparation -- one of a parade (with loud firetrucks) and one of fireworks. There were plenty of videos to choose from, but I tried to find a small-town parade. I thought about going for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day one, but didn't want to get her hopes up.

The fireworks are from a video taken in Kuwait, and they may in fact have given her the idea that this was going to be the most incredible thing she has ever seen in her life. In fact, the video is called: The Biggest Fireworks Display in All of History, or something like that. I turned up the TV volume to simulate the real sound of fireworks. I heard Mark turn on his white-noise machine in the other room. (Happy 4th, Mark!)

Then I went about packing the following things for her:
lunch box cooler (with raisin bagel, ham, cheese, pineapple, and banana)
Mama's special trail mix (Cheerios, Kix, and Cheddar Goldfish)
milk and water
stroller with visor (in lieu of a sunhat)

pepper spray (just in case the parade mascot gets a little rowdy!)
toys/baby-friendly "candy"

They're going to be throwing candy at the parade, so I'm having Mark bring her some baby-friendly snacks to keep her happy when the candy starts flying. Also, I'm quite proud of my thinking when it comes to parade toys. We went to the circus in April where we experienced some serious buyers' remorse after purchasing a cheap, plastic light-up wand (and circus tickets). I found it when I cleaned out E's room a few weeks ago, and I'm having Mark bring it to the parade/fireworks. I realize this may be the first and only year that this works for her... fingers crossed. The only problem I foresee is if they have clowns with balloons. Massive, $10 balloons (sigh).

Most likely Mark will just buy her everything she reaches for anyway. After all, he is the dad that got up at 7:30 this morning to put a new bell on her tricycle, just because he thought she needed it. <3

Friday, June 28, 2013

Etsy Gift Card Giveaway!


Congrats, Jessecca C.! Your Gift Card will be emailed shortly.

Thank you all for participating!


Hi, friends! I'm thrilled to host my first official giveaway! From June 22nd - July 5th, you can enter to win a $25 Etsy Gift Card, via Rafflecopter below! The card will be sent electronically via email to the winner by July 6th.

Thanks for reading and entering to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***This post will stay at the top of my blog until July 5th. New posts will be loaded below this one, on my main page!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

So Shines a Good Deed

I finished my new mini (6x6) print! It's available in my Etsy shop as a digital download.

This is a hand-drawn piece converted to a digital print.

I've also found a printer I'm happy with (finally) and will start offering printed copies of my "quote-ables" hopefully by the end of the week -- stay tuned for some free giveaways, and some more crafty projects soon!

Thanks for following!

Cross Stitch

Friends of ours, Josh and Ali, are a super cool couple! Ali just posted some of her beautiful cross stitch work to: her Instagram page. I love it! When I asked how she got into it, she pointed me to this Etsy shop: Satsuma Street (Paris design pictured here). The designs are beautiful and reasonably priced.

I'm now completely obsessed... I keep dreaming of my first cross stitch project!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Thing That Most Terrifes Me

Today, my dear friend, Melissa, sent me and dear-friend Lisa a photo of some ferrets. God knows why... I think it was intended as a "Oh, hello from a cute, furry, little bunch of animals" sort of email.

No thank you. Though, I grew up with a love of animals and even wanted to be a veterinarian someday (until I realized I'd have to do gross stuff and not just play with dogs all day), I know what a ferret smells like. It's not good. It's not particularly bad, just musty. And I can only assume that 5 of them together would smell 5 times worse than 1.

So, I responded with: "AHHH!!! WTH!! That's almost worse than 'the animal we do not speak of,'" which is, of course, the (whispers) "miniature horse." I included this pic of one in a kitchen. He clearly broke in through a back door intending to murder the homeowners as they slept in their beds.

M's resonse: "OMG! L. LOVES those!!!! I'll just go ahead and take that as a no ROFL."

Then L writes: "I want one!!!"

Oops. I felt the need to explain myself...
L, if you like miniature horses, I think that’s great and wonderful, and I will support you 100% and shower you with miniature pony charms and pendants (spoiler alert: they would just be regular-sized pony charms and pendants).

I cannot explain my fear of miniature horses. I admit it’s irrational and silly. One day, Mark said that he had driven past a farm that had one and I, with my childlike sense of wonder and curiosity, excitedly agreed to let him drive me there to see this spectacle of the equine world.

We drove down long, winding, dirt roads to a small field. Mark pulled over, right next to the fence, where one was feeding. I rolled down the window, took one look at it, and for some strange reason said…


L's response: "Aww, sorry, G. Is it the fact that they're mini, when they're not supposed to be? Like, would you be freaked out if you saw mini giraffes walking around here? Okay, everyone probably would be in that case."

I tried to understand my fear... I wrote:

I’m seriously crying, I’m laughing so hard.

First of all, I love midgets. < I can't even type that without losing it over here.
So, I don’t think it’s the "small" thing.

And, honestly, that mini-horse in the kitchen is pretty cute. If he did the dishes, I’d be signing a marriage certificate as I write this.

I’m really having to delve into my psyche to sort this one out. You know how horses are fast, graceful, and somewhat unpredictable? I think, in my mind, that mini horse had big-horse powers. And, if that was the case, could it not leap into my window? Could it not hoof me in the face or bite me with its miniature-horse teeth!?

M jumped in: Omgggg I’m dyyyyinggggggggggggggg!!

I love you two so effing much……

I think you hit the nail on the head with the big horse prowess in little form… it boggles my senses and intuition… swift as a Clydesdale without the height and intimidation. Which just makes it more intimidating…. ?...

L enters the below image into evidence of equine cuteness:

In response to M and L: Yes, exactly!! It’s like Gandalf became hobbit-sized… a thought which I can’t even begin to entertain with my mortal brain.

Then, take Harry Potter, for example – small frame, huge wizard powers.

That horse is about to get thrown a quarter-mile… But, I admit, it may only be because he’s so overwhelmed by the cuteness. (heart)

The conversation then took a strange turn, to submissive horses (Thanks, M!), and L said, "It was obviously just a mama horse protecting her baby... probably from Gretchin." Guilty as charged.

As I went to transfer this conversation to my blog, I realized that the original image M had actually sent me was of sloths, not ferrets.

So, I wrote: "Wait a minute, those were sloths?? I thought they were ferrets. Nevermind."

And if this story needed a moral, it would be... Mondays aren't so bad. Love you, ladies!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Cutest Thing

Yesterday morning I had a bathroom emergency. Surprised? You shouldn't be. Ha! Until the 'gastro-specialist' can figure out what I'm allergic to, I think I'll be spending a lot more time in there. The good thing: more blog updates!

Yesterday was Saturday and Mark's turn to sleep in, so I had E settled in the recliner with some milk and mesmerized by Gene Wilder singing Pure Imagination.

I thought it was safe to make a quiet Oompa-Loompa-like exit to, uh, cream and sugar the chocolate river, if you will...

I left the door open to listen for E. About 2 minutes later, she yells, "Mama!!!"

"Yeah!?" I said, trying to sound nonchalant.
"Wha doin?"
"I'm in the bathroom. Are you ok?"

A few minutes later, "Mama?!!"
"I get down?"

I dreaded this moment, but more so because she usually just gets down on her own without asking, and last week she just randomly decided to roll out of the chair onto the hard wood floor. It resulted in a bump on the head, lots of tears, and me feeling like a terrible mom.

"Yes, can you get down by yourself?"
"Ok, just be careful!"

I mentally surrounded her with white light and prayed that she'd be okay. I heard the chair rock forward, but then she started whimpering.

"Mama! Down!!"
"I'm so sorry! I can't get you right now. Can you do it yourself?"
"Carefully, ok?"

I heard a sliding sound (cringe) and one foot hit the floor, then the other, then:

"I did it!! I careful!"

Yay! Because she's only 1.5 years old, her speech is riddled with the sweetest of speech impediments. It melts my heart. "Ah deed it! Aye cayfoh!" Especially the bigger words: "majestic" = "so jestick!" and "refreshing" = "feshing!" (happy sigh).

Anyway, she then came barreling into the bathroom ready to create some chaos. Our bathroom door is adjacent to our room where Mark was sleeping, and our bed is about 2 feet from the door.

As she tried to close the toilet lid and unroll the entire roll of toilet paper, I said, "Why don't you go watch your show. I'll be out in a minute."

She cocked her head to one side, curls bouncing, thought for a minute, grinned, then playfully said, "Nooo..."

"Ok, how about you go get your Lego blocks?"

She casually strolled over to our bedroom door and reached for the doorknob, while she giggled a drawn-out, "Nooooo..."

"Hey... Don't you go in there. Dada's sleeping."

She turned the knob, and as she did, her grin got bigger...

I'd like to take a moment to remind you that this is my 1-year-old. Where did my baby go?? Only months ago, I was cradling a little angel in my arms, feeding her bottles, as she cooed up at me, fell asleep snuggling with me, as I sang little lullabies.

It seemed like only 2 days later she started climbing furniture, throwing cups, unraveling anything on a cardboard roll (toilet paper, wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, string!), and screaming like a pterodactyl, "I neeed that!!!"

And, of course, in some way, I love those moments, as I see her little personality develop, as she tests every possible boundary I put in place... BUT it's still a traumatic transition for a mom to go through.

Anyway, back to E at the bedroom door, and me, still a permanent passenger on the porcelain train.

"E, do not open that door. Marky's sleeping."

As she hangs on the doorknob:
"Dada Mah-kee sweep?"
"Yes, that's right."
"I be QUIET!"
"Yes, please don't yell."

If Mark doesn't get his beauty sleep, it's hard to convince him that I deserve my Sunday-morning sleep-in.

Then, she giggles, opens the door, and pokes her head in the room.

She rests her chin on the bed, and says, about 2 inches from Mark's face, rather casually, with a sigh, in a it's-just-another-day sorta way:

"Hey, Mah-kee."

My baby growing up so fast!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Just Us on a Saturday Morning

I finally set up my YouTube channel... And this is my first, little, random post! More shenanigans to come... Also -- I have tried unsuccessfully to fix the video still that's showing before the movie plays... as it looks like Mark and I are making out while E watches, terrified. I assure you, this is not anything scarier than me singing and Mark chasing us around. Haha!

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Facetuned Myself

Yesterday, while doing really important work… on Facebook, I came across an ad for a new app called Facetune. It lets you edit your pics with tools similar to Photoshop’s stamp, blur, and lighten tools. It’s $2.99 but worth it if you have a huge mole or other blemish that you’d prefer to discreetly erase before updating your profile pic. It’d be especially handy for online dating sites, if you wanted to show your best ‘you’ … and if you never planned to meet people face-to-face.

I opened the app and could hardly wait to import my own photo! The only time I get to play on my phone alone is while I’m in the bathroom, so I really put the app to the test with bad bathroom lighting and an awkward, sitting-on-the-toilet pose. I used the “smooth” feature on my porous skin, the “whiten” tool on my Oreo-stained teeth, and the “detail” brush to make my eyes pop. Still, if you don’t have a great photo to start with… the airbrush effect looks a bit out of place and leaves the viewer asking, “How could this not-so-pretty person, who couldn’t afford a light kit  and decent camera, have access to airbrush software?” And the answer would be, “OMGahhhh guyzzz, check out this new app called FACETUNE(zzzz)!!!”

After my first experiment, I really put the app to the test. I asked myself, “But, what if someone had crazy eyes?” I snapped an appropriate pic, then went to work trying to make my eyes look not-so-open. I moved my eyelids every way I could think of, but mainly downward in an attempt to take “psychotic” down a notch to “just really excited about ice cream.” I’m not sure I succeeded, but on a positive note, this confirms something I’ve believed all along: It’s hard to hide crazy. If you “liked” this woman’s profile, you would surely be friends for life and find yourself automatically signed up for a magazine subscription to Miniature Donkey Talk.

Ok, so even though you “can’t disguise those crazy eyes…” which I’m 99% sure is a country song, I was certain that, if I had very few teeth showing and a ridiculously wide grin, I may be able to fix that. I snapped a new pic. Though the app has a “patch” tool that allows you to (hypothetically) paste in some more teeth, it’s difficult to control with your fingers. Also, it doesn’t take a dentist to realize that your two front teeth won’t pass as canines. I decided that Facetune could have saved me some Facetime, if it had a pop-up notification that read: “Don’t even bother.” Since, I saw no other solution, I decided to just make this version of me look really happy.

Final thoughts: I love this app!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

That's Not a Creeper! It's Your Dad.

Hello, friends!

E watching Grandpa do the moonwalk.
I missed a few days writing. I blame my parents. Ha! No, not really… They came across the lake for the weekend, and I feel like we did so much that I’m still recovering. Even though my mom came down with a summer cold/flu before she arrived, we kept busy. They got to our house on Friday evening before E’s bedtime. The hotel where they usually stay was booked for the weekend, so Dad brought two "army-issued" cots to set up in our dining room.

On Saturday morning, we went out for brunch, then stopped at the health food store to try some natural remedies for Mom’s flu symptoms – specifically a bad throat infection. My dad had been on a week-long journey to find balsam pitch. He remembered my great-grandfather using it to soothe a sore throat. He had already scoped out our property for balsam firs hoping to naturally harvest some. No luck, so we bought some Thayers’ lozenges, an all-natural throat spray, and some wellness pills.

We got home and drugged up Mom on everything nature had provided us in lieu of balsam pitch. Then she camped out on her cot for most of the afternoon. Meanwhile, Dad and Mark went to the gun shop to buy rifle ammunition. And I now realize that I’ve composed this post in a way that sounds like my mother was so sick that they were considering having to put her down... No, no, they just like to go do manly things like visit the gun shop while we ladies take our afternoon refreshment.

Mark came back with some new ammo and a present for me – some pepper spray! Ever since I started my physical-therapist-assigned walking routine, I’ve found myself on some back roads with a creeper or two. I was happy to have some protection!

Dad came back with some beef, fresh vegetables, and beef broth. He had stopped at the grocery store and planned to make a stove-top potroast. He must have needed a task to keep busy. He went to work chopping and dicing then set the meal to simmer… for 3+ hours.

Meanwhile, Mom had fallen asleep on her cot. E had woken up from her nap and asked to go for a walk in her “stoller.” I asked Mark and Dad if they wanted to go. Mark got his shoes on, but Dad said he had to watch the roast. Ok! Once outside, I pushed E across our parking lot to a back road that runs behind our building. Mark strolled along beside me, and we chatted. About fifteen minutes later, we were on our way back, and I was thanking Mark for the pepper spray:

“You know, even on this road, there are a lot of homes, but when E and I are out, it’s the middle of the day, and a lot of these people are at work. If anyone had the opportunity to attack, no one would hear me crying for help” (I’ve been watching too much Crime TV).

“No, I agree, it’s good to have it,” Mark said.

“Yeah, I mean, yesterday, I was walking the bike path alone, and this guy just came crawling out of the bushes…”

Mark points off in the distance, “Yeah, take this guy for example…”

I look up and see an older man bent over under the tree line at the back of our parking lot. It looked like he was inspecting tree trunks.

“Exactly!” I said, “I’m out here alone with this guy… I don’t know who he is. What if he attacked me back here?”

Then Mark stopped and said, “Um, wait… I think that’s your dad.”

“What?” I asked, confused. “Uh... That is my dad!” I called out his name and started waving my arms to get his attention.

“Dad, what are you doing!?”

“Looking for balsam pitch!”

As we got closer, he explained that he had walked down our road (in the opposite direction we had walked), out onto the highway, then back up another dirt road, to circle around to the back of the property. He was searching for us and balsam pitch...

“What about the potroast?” I asked.

“It’ll be okay for a bit.”

I hoped he was right, because I had visions of it exploding on the stove and Mom’s cot bursting into flames while she slept peacefully in a cloud of smoke.

We all went down to the pond to feed the fish, then back home to eat dinner and relax for the evening. We told ghost stories and watched some Haunted TV – Dad and I love it – while Mom rested some more.

E woke us up early Sunday morning, and Mom and Dad set off before 9am to get Mom in to see the doctor on their way home. The natural remedies weren't quite kicking the flu out of her system.

It was Father’s Day, so Mark, E, and I went hiking, had a quick breakfast, then spent the evening with Mark’s family.

Not to end on a sad note, but it was also the 3-year anniversary of the loss of my first pregnancy. It’s hard to live in the past when you have a 1-year-old demanding your constant attention in the present, but I think of my first baby every day and took a moment to appreciate my beautiful family (Baby #1 included). I love you guys!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"I Like It!" The British Invasion

I was born in 1983, so my most memorable growing-up years were in the 90s. When I was about 10-years-old, in 5th grade, my bubbly, freckle-faced, red-haired best friend, Kristina handed me a black cassette tape -- sometime after lunch and before recess. "Here, take this home and listen to it. It's great!" I looked at the white label she had stuck on and her familiar handwriting. It read, "Beatles Mix."

I admired Kristina. Her parents were teachers, and she had a dedication to school life and hobbies that I envy to this day. I was a good student, too, but it came easy to her. She was focused. Only now do I really understand the work that she put into recording that tape. Her parents had a record collection, so she must have had to sit and record each of her favorite songs, one at a time. I didn't realize it then, but the songs span all 10+ years of the Beatles' career. The songs start with the early years, from "What You're Doing" to "Lovely Rita" to "Bungalow Bill," and if I remember correctly, a few Abbey Road songs thrown in. She also made her own cardboard tape-insert and diligently listed all the songs as she recorded them.

While she was making this tape for me (which I still have, though the label has started to fall off), I was at home dancing with my little sister to "Dreamlover" by Mariah Carey and a collection of New Kids on the Block tapes, in leggings, a sundress, and a sunflower hat not unlike my idol, Blossom.

The Beatles Mix changed everything. I got lost in the sound, wandered through it, and didn't come out until about 6 years later. My life casually revolved around Beatles music. Birthdays brought t-shirts and, later, CDs. Friends found records at garage sales, my parents found an old player for me to use.

As I grew, I meandered through the Fab Four's career and let it grow with me. Every song is tied to a memory -- the adolescent kind -- awkward, heart-soaring, and heartbreaking memories. And others are just simple -- the easy, up-and-down melody of "What You're Doing," tumbling out of my speakers, as I clean my bedroom. It makes the memories crisper, clearer. Sometimes, too clear.

I've somewhat resisted exposing E to the Beatles, and I can't fully explain or even understand why. Sure, I hummed her a few tunes when I was desperate to get her to sleep or to hush her cries in the car. I sang a few rounds of "Yellow Submarine" in the middle of the night. The majority of my brain's filing cabinet is filled with Beatles songs, so when I search for a song in a panic, it's no surprise I find myself always back at the "B" folder. But still, I resist.

I think it has something to do with the "too clear," not wanting to take on the emotions of my past, while I'm a bit overloaded with the ones of my present, my future. Maybe I just didn't want to force it on her. But yesterday, as E screamed in the car for "crackers" that I didn't have, I all of a sudden broke out into song, letting go of all the stress, all the frustration. And for some reason, it was (the Beatles version of) "Clarabella."

Well, I've.... got a baby!!
(deep breath; pause; E got quiet as I kept driving)
Crazy for me!!!
(gulp; Yeah, I can do this; E waited expectantly)
Yeah, I've got a baby!!

(Then, the main melody -- it falls then rises unexpectedly, raw and beautiful...)
Who won't let me be... Oh, baby, baby... Clarabella, baby, baby!
Clarabella, baby, baby...! Whoa, whoa... yeah.

Ahh, that felt great! E clapped in the back seat, and soon we were home.

And, this morning, back in the car on the way to day care, when the scene repeated itself, I dug into the pocket of the passenger side door for my old CD case. My actual Beatles collection is in storage, but I have a homemade "Beatles For Sale" album kicking around for emergencies. I bravely popped it in the car CD player, ready to face all the dimensions of my life that are literally swimming in these songs.

Maybe it's no coincidence that I've always kept this music, literally, within an arm's reach. It has always been both my permission to let go and my safety net. I know that. But part of me (and is it okay to say the best part of me?) believes that the music somehow takes on a mind of its own -- that it waited for me to come back to it, that it whispered to me to keep it close.

And, is it a coincidence that, it's the same music that lulls E to sleep, makes her kick and laugh in the back seat? Most other songs get a "No, no, no," but, this morning, she gave the Beatles a round of applause and an "I like it!"

"Me too," I said, happily.

Is it just good music? Or, was she born of my heart and my soul?

Probably both.

Anyway, she's hooked, and I'm preparing myself for the British Invasion. Again.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Few New Things

Just a few new blog things... all just FYI stuff:

  • On your left (points), you'll see a new pic of me -- riding on a ferry in the back seat of my car, trying to take pics of me and the lovely E. I'm trying to make her pretend to want to hug me long enough to get a cute pic. She seems more interested in... a raisin stuck to the floormat.
  • My "About Me" blurb and page has been updated, but it's kind of a work in a progress, as usual.
  • Due to craploads of spam, my "Popular Posts" section on the far right was a bit inaccurate. My "Hahaha! *sob*" post, while worth a little chuckle, hardly makes my Top 10 list. It seems that my blog has been listed on a popular "Top Blog Posts" site. I thought this was a good thing, but a quick Google search revealed that it's basically a cyber house of ill-repute. Spammers and other web hobos hang out there and use the list to post their comments on my blog. Every day I have to weed through the list of comments. "Your blog good stuff you write. Visit my site." They could at least read the post... Hahaha! *sob* is about roadkill, and the comment was, "Wow! This post gives great information on the topic that most interests me!" Right.

    Anyway, I created my own Most Popular Posts... Ever list, that actually lists my most-viewed posts (minus giveaways and obviously-spammed articles). I'll update it on my own as other posts climb the charts. :-)

Thanks for reading!

There is No Life I Know

E is known at day care as “the dreamer.” When I pick her up in the afternoon, the teacher, Sarah, always tells me stories like, “We asked her to take off her shoes and get ready for snack time, but you know how she is.” It’s not said in a judgmental way. Sarah chuckles and describes E wandering around with one shoe off, one shoe on, talking about flowers she’s seen or going to the beach. “She’s just, you know, in her own world,” she laughs.

If someone else said that, I’d probably have an Uncle Buck moment… I don't think I want to know a six-year-old who isn't a dreamer, or a silly-heart. And I sure don't want to know one who takes their student career seriously. I don't have a college degree. I don't even have a job. But I know a good kid when I see one. Because they're ALL good kids, until dried-out, brain-dead skags like you drag them down and convince them they're no good. You so much as scowl at my niece, or any other kid in this school, and I hear about it, I'm coming looking for you!

But I laugh and say, “Yep, that’s her.” Her day care is amazing, and I know what Sarah means. E is sometimes “somewhere else.” She has incredible focus and will play at the same activity for as long as 45 minutes, pouring water in cups, putting lids on yogurt containers, but she also has this incredible and early-developed ability to imagine and remember things.

The other morning, after a rough night’s sleep, she woke up really upset and refused to get ready for day care, because she wanted to ride in the stroller. I told her that we couldn’t go, and she had a meltdown. Trying to come up with a quick solution, I put her on my lap and bounced her gently. I said, “Let’s pretend we’re riding in the stroller, while I get you dressed.” I pointed out imaginary scenes, “Hey, it’s the pond! I see a duck!” and “OH, there’s a dog in the park!” I thought she was ignoring me – she had quietly settled into my arms and was groggily staring off into the distance. So, I stopped and focused on getting her dressed. Then she sat up straight, pointed at the ceiling and said, “Mama! The blue sky!!”

It was like her little imagination clicked on. Sarah said that at an early age (I remember at about 9-10 months old), she would put toys together – like put a pig on a car and say, “Pig! Ride!” And yesterday, she was absolutely thrilled to pretend a toy duck was going down a slide from a picture in her truck book. I asked if she wanted to go down the slide too. I thought she might try to climb into the book, to literally get on the tiny slide. She reached for it at first. Then she stopped, put her arms in the air, threw her head back, put her legs up, and said “Weeeeeee!!!!” The bed faded away, replaced by a bright yellow slide under an afternoon sun, wind flying through her hair, blue sky above. I even felt the sudden rush of panic that I get when I have to catch her unexpectedly at the bottom. How fun!

Today, she is 17 months old. How can she imagine so much, being so young? I’m unbelievably proud of her, and I also feel a huge responsibility to develop this ability. Right now, it’s just fun – she takes the blue bucket (the same one we used to give the cricket a ride) and uses it as a hat. She pulls it over her head completely, so she can’t see, and runs around the apartment. I imagine that, in the bucket, pretty blue light bounces around as it shines through the partially-transparent plastic. She’s hypnotized by it as she twirls in wide circles. I laugh and chase after her, trying to prevent disaster – a crash into the table, corner-cupboard, TV stand.

But someday it will save her. It will make her more and more creative – and smart. And when life gets to be too much, she will dream and imagine about how to make it better. And she’ll do it!

Our conversation this morning:
“E, are you beautiful?”
“Are you smart?”
“Can you do anything you want?”

It’s true! And I love you!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Scared of Cricket

So, we're finally getting over the 'weekend of terror.' Long story short, we heard a cricket in E's room on Saturday afternoon. I had unknowingly instilled a cricket phobia in her poor, little baby mind when, earlier in the week a grasshopper surprised me by blessing me with his presence 2 inches from my face on a hand towel, as I was reaching for it after helping E wash her hands before leaving day care. I basically screamed like a victim in a Scream movie, waking up a few napping babies, as the room spun and a feeling of dread washed over my body.

E jumped too, and latched onto my sweatshirt so tightly, she lifted her feet off the ground and attempted to climb me like a tree.

"Oh!! Heh heh! Just a cricket!!" I laughed nervously. Nothing to be scared of! E looked at me skeptically, as I brought her face-to-face with him and said "Hi, buddy!" with a forced smile and shaky voice.

As fate would have it (because fate hates me), an actual cricket somehow got into E's room after the incident. While playing in there on Saturday, I started hearing a loud chirping. My first thought was that one of E's toys was making noise... not unlike the serial killer puppy I had a run-in with last week (see Yoohoo I See You post). No such luck. Mark and my nephew began pulling E's room apart hoping to find the little guy.

Meanwhile, E ran out screaming. They finally tracked the chirping to the corner of E's play area, but he was under the baseboard, out of reach. So, we put E's room back together and went on with our day.

Then nap time -- I put E in her crib and left the room as usual. She sometimes cries when I leave the room then usually falls asleep right after. This time, she let out a blood-curdling scream and a whimpering, weepy, "No, Mama! Scared bug!! Scared cricket! No cricket!" I explained to her that everything was fine, that the "bug" was a funny bug, not scary, cute! Lovable! Yes, the other day, when Mama nearly fainted and screamed like her life was ending... that was because the bug was just so gosh darn cute! She didn't buy it, and nap and bed time became a challenge for the next 2 nights -- sitting with her, talking to her about the bug, cuddling her, telling her bug stories. It didn't help that the cricket set up shop under her crib and serenaded her with loud chirping noises every hour on the hour. It was louder than my alarm clock and woke her up every time.

It broke my heart, because she's had so much exposure to bugs at day care and hasn't been afraid of them yet. I've been so careful not to show my bug-fear around her, too. "Way to go, Mama," I thought.

Then, Monday morning came, and I can only assume that the cricket was as exhausted as we were, listening to E's crying and my long, preachy monologues about bug life. Mark caught him attempting to escape right out the front door. He got a free ride in a bucket to the back porch, where we said our goodbyes.

I also moved E's crib away from the window, so she couldn't hear the outdoor crickets chirping. And, all of a sudden, she's going to bed by herself, sleeping 13+ hours, and not making a peep all night. Next time I'm reaching for the Raid.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

And Stretch!

Awkwardness vent...

Yesterday was my first appointment with the physical therapist. Most people who know me know that I have PTSD from elementary school gym glass. Who doesn't, right? I think my generation still had the gym teachers of yester-year who were part of some kind of Nazi regime (ugh). This one used to get in my face and yell at me as I hid in my t-shirt, balled up in the corner shaking and crying. When the principal came in unexpectedly, she pretended to be comforting me. Who does that? Then middle school brought on the female gym teachers who had something to prove by making gangly girls like me try exercises I could never quite master -- in front of the entire school. Then there was high school, where I had developed enough to catch the eye of the creepy gym teachers. Conclusion: all physical activity = awkward, icky old people touching me and telling me what to do.

So, obviously the idea of going to physical therapy made me super happy... I missed the first appointment, because I was so nervous that I got violently ill in the bathroom for an hour. When I went to the next appointment, I did what I always do and just shut down completely. It's a new defense mechanism I developed (I think during childbirth) that I both love and hate. I simply check out. I let people tell me exactly what to do, I do it, and I shut off my brain.

And it's probably a good thing that I did, because the whole experience was just plain awkward. I went in for some leg spasms I've been having, and the physical therapist connected the problem to my lower back. The solution: do kegels. Seriously? I could buy into that, but couldn't quite get over the awkwardness of having him hold my hips while doing them or the fact that I had to bend over in front of him (in my yoga pants) so that he could (I can only assume) check my spine alignment.

He stretched my body every which way while I thought about... anything but my awkward body. I found myself analyzing him, wondering what his life was like. He was a good looking guy -- probably late 30s. He wore a silky shirt. He was a low-talker, or just didn't want to interrupt the other therapy sessions going on around us. (stretch leg up) "Does it bother?"
"Does it bother?"
"Does it bother!?"
"Oh! No. I thought you were saying, 'Oh, Brother...'"

Then I start laughing too loud while he simply focuses his attention on my other leg.

"What am I doing here?" I think.
He bends over my body and stretches my arm out while twisting my back.

Afterward, he walks me to the front desk and I can't help but sneak a peek at myself as I walk in front of the floor-to-ceiling mirror. "Eh, it's just me," I think. My hair is now a mess, but I leave it. My eyes dart to my 'problem areas' -- baby belly, too-long legs, so my yoga pants don't quite cover my socks. While examining myself, I trip over my gangly legs and almost push an elderly woman's walker out from under her. Ahem.

"Ok, come over here," he said as he grabbed his appointment book. "We'll see you in 2 weeks."

The good news is that... despite my awkwardness, he was very professional. AND he says I can start running, after building up to it by walking a full hour every day over the next 3 weeks (with stretches and crunches to help my leg spasms/back pain). E and I already put in about a half hour each day, and she's really stroller-obsessed right now, so I think we can double that easily. We've done it twice now, and it 'doesn't bother.'  I also made an offer on a $30 used jogging stroller. I hope that works out, so E and I can finally "launch over" that dirt pile (and fly away a-la E.T.!) at the back of the parking lot and start doing some more "off-road" running. These VT dirt 'roads' are brutal!

Oh, and when I got home, applauding myself for getting through it, and told Mark about my awkwardness, he said, "Are you sure the guy works there? Did you have to go down into a basement? Into a janitor's closet? Was there a cardboard sign on the door with handwritten letters that read, 'Massage Therapist?'"

Super helpful. Thanks, Mark.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Yoohoo! I See You!

(shivers) What is it about talking baby toys that makes them so creepy when there's no baby around? My mother-in-law got E this cute, little dog when E was about 6-months-old. She would sit and jabber away at it as it responded with sweet, little phrases like, "I love you!" and "Hello, friend!"

But, the other day when I was home alone sorting baby toys in E’s room, his voice took on a new tone... it was a little less "happy-baby-entertainer" and a lot more "psycho-serial-killer." (gulp)

I threw him into the bottom of a Tupperware bin and began filling it with other stuffed animals as I hurried to get through this one organizational task before the end of my hour lunch break.

Then, a voice: “You’re my friend!

AHH! I jumped, fell back against the wall, and looked for a weapon. Within my reach was a metal bar that once was a support for the canopy over E’s bassinet. I grasped it in my right hand, holding my left over my heart, trying to catch my breath.

Yoohoo… I see you.

I gasped, then looked around me, but no one was there… “Grandpa, is that you?"

Hand! Foot! Ear!

What!? Who is this sicko!? He must be naming off parts he’s going to remove from my body!! Deep breath, deep breath.

When I finally calmed down (and found no evidence of an intruder), I traced the voice to the Tupperware bin and realized that all of Laugh and Learn Puppy’s sensors were being triggered by the stuffed animals piled on top of him.

I moved him to the top of the pile, scolded him for the scare, and quickly locked the tub lid, with padlock and duct tape. Then I put the entire tub into a wooden crate which I secured with nails and 3 more padlocks (just in case).

His reply: “Yay!!!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Church Street Checklist

Over the weekend, we went to Panera's on Church Street in Burlington. We sat at the window and people-watched for a long time.

We saw so many interesting folks that we thought you may have fun spotting them too. During your next visit, see if you can find the following:


Church Street Checklist
  • A guy on crutches dancing
  • A couple walking barefoot
  • 10 women not wearing bras
  • A kid with a green smoothie
  • A woman dancing with her dog
  • Someone climbing a statue
  • A guy doing a handstand on a two-story stack of chairs
  • Anyone talking about eating "only organic" foods
  • A man not wearing pants
  • A man pretending to make love to his Ben & Jerry's ice cream cone
  • 5 people with dreadlocks
  • A severely sunburned woman, eating pizza
  • Someone urinating
  • A couple both wearing socks and sandals
  • Someone picking up dog poop
 Bonus Points Awarded for the Following:
  • A guy falling from a two-story stack of chairs  
  • A boombox
  • Clown glasses
  • An abandoned crepe
  • Champ, the Lake Monster
Thanks to Krista for her help with these!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


So, E is going through the screech phase again... Actually, I'm not sure there are "phases" per se. It never really goes away. It just creeps up when I least expect it... like at check-out in the supermarket.

I don't know if I can quite explain how loud it is, but if you're within 10 feet of her after said screeching, your ears will have that after-concert plugged feeling for at least 5 minutes.

Yesterday, in Shaw's, she screamed so loud that the cashier screamed too, then yelled, "Oh my GOD!! She scared me!!" I never batted an eye as I scanned my card and punched buttons on the keypad, and E grinned, quite content with herself.

I tell the woman that ignoring it works best, but the truth is that I hardly notice it any more, which is probably why E wanted to test it out on a new victim.

Currently Listening To
(You're so Square) But I Don't Care -- Buddy Holly

Weather in VT
Cloudy, chilly! Get the long-sleeves back out!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Go, Go, Go!

Well, "Go, go, go!" is our mantra now. My best friend from high school, Krista, came to visit this weekend. Our goal was to thoroughly haul out E's room. On Friday, I had made two "sort" piles and was happy with my handiwork. Though Krista was willing to help, I soon gave in to the warm weather and sunshine and declared our work done for the weekend. She was staying in town at the Best Western, so, instead of cleaning, E and I took full advantage of the hotel services and spent both Saturday and Sunday morning enjoying the indoor pool.

As soon as E woke up, I could hear her on her monitor from our room, "Mama!!! Go, go, go!?" Of course, I stumble out of bed like a lazy zombie, no bra, hair frizzed out in all directions.
"What?" I mumble.
"Go, go go!! Water!"
"Oh, okay, well we have to get ready first."
 Mark is in the same state as I am, so he does his best to help shuffle us out the door. Diaper bag packed, sandals on. I scrounge around for my jeans I was wearing yesterday and my sunglasses. Before my eyes are completely open, I'm driving to the hotel for a swim.

And, gah! I love it. I used to wake up early with lots of energy and want to get right out the door. Even though she pushes me out a little earlier than I'd like, with hardly any time to get myself ready or a bag packed (I usually forget a few things), I'm so happy to be on the go with her. It was a beautiful weekend.

Last night, Mark insisted we have some time together after E was in bed. I could tell he hadn't quite been himself lately -- off in his own world a bit, sneaking away from the chaos, cherishing his few moments with us, then retreating into his own quiet space. We both have days like that. Though, I was a little concerned when, before E went to bed, I was sitting in her room ready for story time, and he was in the kitchen brushing her teeth. I heard him say, "Ok, go get Mama. She's ready to put you to bed."

E came running into her room chewing on her toothbrush and wielding a candle lighter that I was sure she swiped from the kitchen counter, now more within her reach. She was all smiles and giggles, and I knew Mark was oblivious.
"Mark! Did you see what your daughter has?"

He yelled back, half-heartedly, "Oh yeah. No running with your toothbrush..."
"Um... ok."

I swiped it from her, read her a few stories -- she would only let me read her absolute favorite, "Hooper Humperdink? Not Him!" sang a few songs, and tucked her in.

Then Mark and I played MTG and Parcheesi and chatted, like old times. He said at one point, "You know... we could do this almost every night...!" Haha! Yep, it's amazing what we can do when we take a break from TV/work/the couch. Since E has been born, we crave that relaxation time, but I forgot how much fun it was to reconnect over board games -- and how relaxing it is too.

At one point, he even scolded me for checking Facebook on my phone. He was right. We needed phone-free time. It was nice.

Then Monday came. This morning I caught E wearing her tshirt as pants and saying, "Go, go, go!" I explained that we were going to day care today, but she didn't seem to mind as long as it meant going somewhere. When I tried to get in the shower, she barged in and demanded an explanation of why we weren't go-go-going right away. I told her that I needed to get in the shower first. Mark stood in the doorway, holding her shirt.
"Mama!! Get in shower?"
"Yes, I have to take a shower before we go."
"Luh-luh-luh shower?"
She thought about it a minute longer then closed the door on Mark as if to say, "Mama needs to take a shower... get out," and stood facing me. "There, Mama."
"Wait a minute..." I opened the door and ushered her out too.

She went off to daycare fine, and I enjoyed a relatively quiet morning at work. Now I'm off to work on her room some more before we go go go to the park later.

Currently Listening To
My Girl, by the Temptations

Weather in VT
Sunny, hot, thunderstorms, cool, cloudy, etc.!