Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Back to Work

Yesterday I went back to work. I decided to go back part-time for the remainder of my maternity leave, to avoid going back full time cold turkey. Knowing myself pretty well, I knew it would be stressful for me to go back full time with two kids. It's mostly due to logistics (how will I get them to daycare, both of them, plus myself ready for work by 8:00?!), but also due to "now I know what it's like to stay at home with your kids and I find it nice" stress.

So, if you're wondering how the first day back went... here's what my car looked like:

It took me, no joke, like an hour to prepare the car. I did most of it the night before, and threw in the lunches/refrigerated stuff the morning of. It stressed me out so much, the logistics, that I didn't want to just wing it the first morning back.  How I am going to do this every morning, I haven't a clue. Yesterday was my day home, so I work tomorrow, and I'm already fretting at 8:37 pm the night before about the logistics of the following morning. I am sure that with time, I'll get into a rhythm. But if I'm being honest, timeliness is my worst un-habit. Or, I should say, I am constantly late. And having two chitlins (SP?) only aids in my bad habit.

(Speaking of bad habits... I recently discovered Pocky. I can eat a pack like it's my job. In fact... I just polished off a pack. Ugh. But also: YUM.)

So another facet of my foray back to work: my outfit yesterday was horrendous. I had on the following colors, ALL IN ONE OUTFIT: brown, white, navy, gray, black, green.  I didn't even realize that I looked like a hot mess until I got to work. At least my clothes fit. Had they been ill-fitting, I probably would have gone home on my lunch hour to change, no joke. Since my vanity doesn't allow me to photograph myself looking bad (it's policy), I conjured up this facsimile in Microsoft Paint instead. It's close enough.  Actually, I think this outfit looks better than the real deal. So there's that.



Well I better skedaddle. My lunch-making, pumping, car-packing, outfit-picking-outing, get-the-house-clean-for-the-housecleaner* duties await.

* Yes, I have to clean the house in order for the housecleaner to come. I never understood that either until I actually hired a housecleaner. Also: best money I spend all month. I'd cancel cable TV before getting rid of the housecleaner.

Rounding off this post with a couple of unrelated pictures.
My sweet little angelface Claire. Can you not get enough of this face, SERIOUSLY? This is her "school picture". I continue to pick out the most random outfits for her to wear on picture day. Oh well, one day I will get my act together! :)

Me and my babe child Amelia - 9 weeks old. Her default look is "unimpressed", or sometimes "grumpy". See above. She gets it from her mama.

 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thinking Like A Two Year Old

The mind of a two year old is an amazing thing. Sometimes I forget my daughter is just two years old. She's so smart, yet she's only two. She can reason, bargain, use logic, yet these are some of the things that remind me she is only two...
This morning, she woke up screaming, running out of her room, shrieking that Eli had stolen her shoe. I had to hug her and console her and rub her back and assure her that her jelly shoes are in fact still in her shoe bucket, and that it was just a dream and that Eli didn't really steal her shoes and then run them over with his lawnmower. She was nearly inconsolable over that.
This morning, she also shrieked when she saw my newly inflated exercise ball sitting in my room. As in, she ran away screaming from it. I had an exercise ball that I purchased in anticipation of her birth, and used it for a few hours while I was laboring at home with her. The exercise ball remained in our house over the course of the next two years, until the tornado blew it away (literally). She was always terrified of that thing, and I never really knew why, or explored why.
So when I bought a new one in anticipation of Baby Sister's birth (any day now, OMG, another post) and blew it up last night to see if it could get things going (spoiler: it didn't), she shrieked when she was it this morning and again, I was stumped. This time, however, I tried to figure out why. I have come to realize that trying to empathize with other people's fear, even if you don't fear the thing yourself, goes a long way. Mostly I've learned that as someone with fears herself (as in... other people doing the empathizing with ME), so I thought I'd give it a whirl with Claire.
At first I thought she was afraid to sit on it and bounce on it... I vaguely recollected that she had tried rolling around on it and had fallen off with the last exercise ball. So I held her hands as she sat on it and bounced. That wasn't really the issue, though. She didn't seem to mind that part. So I went about my morning, and was drying my hair when she ran into the bathroom, shrieking. "I pushed the ball down the hall and it bumped into the wall......" Big blue eyes staring back at me, huge, full of fear. If I was feeling lazy, this is where I'd typically say (in my head) "uhhh OKAY" and answer her with a "Uh-huh Honey... okay..."
But this morning I set down the hair dryer and went to investigate with her. She barely wanted to peek her head around the corner, lest she see the scary exercise ball. "See? It's down there, on the wall..." she said. "It's gonna get me."
I started to put two and two together. She had rolled the ball (or kicked it?) down the long hallway, and it bumped into the wall and probably bounced around off the walls, perhaps rolling back towards her. I took the ball and showed her that if you kick the ball into the wall, it bounces back and rolls back toward you. A mini physics lesson, if you will.
I tried showing it to her a couple of times, lightly pushing it into the wall and explaining "See? It's bouncing back now and rolling toward me. But it's just a ball, it's not alive, it's not coming to get me, it's just rolling." And it clicked. All along she thought the ball was coming to get her. Yes, she's crazy smart, and can school me in many different ways, but sometimes I'm reminded that she's only two and she doesn't know everything. And it's a pretty neat feeling to see her learning before your own two eyes.
[Note: this was written a couple months ago, but was sitting as a draft, never published. I'm posting it for posterity's sake.]

Attention to Details: Version Two-Year-Old

Claire wants the most bizarre details when I tell her a story. I understand the want for details; I'm always asking Nick for mundane details when he gets off the phone with someone, or he gets back from an engagement that interests me, or just a regular old work day. It's probably why I also love to read other peoples (strangers) blogs.

Last night I was making up a story for her. I am... not good at making up stories. Here's how this story went:

"Once there were two little girls, Claire and Amelia. They were sisters." She didn't like this.

"I don't want a story about me and Amelia!"

"Okay, two little girls, Margo and Betsy. They wanted to go outside and play, so they asked their Mama if they could."

"What color is the Mama's hair? And her hands?"

After answering the questions and fumbling around some more to add to the admittedly boring story, I mentioned the girls were riding their bike. Claire let me get about two seconds into that foray of the story before stopping me. "What color are their helmets?"

I love her curiosity and attention to details. It just cracks me up. What must be going on in that sweet, smart little head of hers?

Another funny example was this morning when I presented her with a new yogurt. I typically buy a huge container of plain yogurt and sweeten it myself with some jam. In a pinch, or when I'm feeling lazy, I buy the kind that's merchandised for the kiddos. She was instantly enthralled with this new yogurt. I think she especially loves things that are her size.

I opened the fridge to decide what to give her for breakfast, and she instantly spotted the small containers. "What's that orange container?"  (Yes, she called it a container. Her vocabulary is so awesome. End brag.)

"That's some yogurt, would you like it?"

"Yes, please. What color is the top?"

"The top is pink." It was pink with white polka dots. I showed her the top, but only said it was pink.

"Oh. (Long Pause. Serious face. She was thinking.) And what flavor is in the orange container with pink top with white polka dots?"

I don't know what it was about this exchange, but my heart was just beaming with motherly love for this funny, strange, curious, lovely little kiddo. She's just so uniquely herself, and I love her little questions about the most random of details. She really pays attention to things and let me tell you... you can't get ANYTHING past her.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Christmas is fast approaching!  I am one of the types of people that gets excited to see Christmas trees going up in stores on November 1st (or earlier), rather than the type of person who gets irate and cranky-pants over the whole situation. And each year, I proclaim this year to be the year it's not about presents, and more about presence -- spending time with each other, enjoying the company of family and friends, and the abundance of food and camaraderie.

While that's a nice sentiment and all, it never really pans out to skip the gift-giving altogether. Let's face it: Christmas is about commerce. There is some satisfaction in giving (and receiving!) so I should give up on that notion of no-gifts-Christmas and just accept it for what it's worth! (Lots and lots of money, that's what it's worth.)

So, in anticipation of Christmas shopping for loved ones, I am trying to reflect on gifts of past Christmases to try to determine the anatomy of a great gift. Here are my top three gifts I have received in recent years.

Ugg Slippers
I simply asked for slippers, and my sister surprised me when she gifted me with Ugg brand slippers. This was several years ago - maybe four or five? - and we're still going strong, me and my Uggs. Some people have their comfy jeans, worn in just right? I, uh, I have my slippers.

Neti Pot
Yes, it's true. I got a Neti Pot for Christmas one year. In fact, this was a gift I half-jokingly asked for from my boyfriend (now husband). This was the first Christmas that we were a couple. Not including one of our first dates which happened to be my extended family's Christmas party that my parents were hosting at their house. True story. No, that's not fast/forward/awkward to ask a guy you've hardly gone out with twice to come to your family Christmas party, not at all... I digress... (Hey, we're married with two kids now, so, it all worked out just fine, thank you...)

So I asked my boyfriend for a Neti Pot because I have issues with my sinuses. Perhaps some young twenty-somethings exchange sexier gifts, it's entirely possible. ("No, Lindsay, it's entirely certain!" you're thinking.) But think of how many sinus infections I have staved off with that thing! It's the gift that keeps on giving! Still use that thing to this very day. It may be one of my favorite bathroom accessories I use.

Immersion Blender
My MIL gifted me with this kitchen gadget last year. Also known as a 'stick blender', for those none-the-wiser. See, I love to make soups. (Gee, do I sound like an old bitty or what?) Lots of times, soups call for blending in a blender in batches. I am nothing if not a horribly messy cook, using no less than 50% MORE cooking/baking/kitchen tools/gadgets/utensils than necessary. And I am not one of these people who CLEANS UP AS SHE GOES, much to the dismay of my neat-freak husband. Using a blender to blend soups takes up about 3 or 4 more items that require washing (often by hand). An immersion blender only takes the 1 item (the blender itself), so this is a WIN as I loathe washing dishes.

So what is it that makes these gifts so awesome?  For the slippers, it was a case of QUALITY. Don't skimp on gifts. Let's say you decide to spend $75 on someone. Rather than get three $25 gifts, buy one $75 gift, with the caveat that it's a high-quality item, not an inexpensive item you get for a steal. For example, $75 slippers (high-quality item, as slippers don't typically cost that much) vs. diamond necklace (precious jewelry shouldn't be that cheap, it must be poor quality).

For the Neti Pot, it was a case of getting someone something they WANT, even if you can't appreciate it. I asked for this sort of as a joke, but deep down I really wanted it. (Yes, I know these are, like, $12.99 and I could have purchased one for myself at any point in time...) Nick was like "WTF" but he got it for me anyway. And for the record, HE still uses it to this day, as well.

And lastly, the blender was one of those PRACTICAL gifts that, while not necessarily a luxury item, is something I use and love dearly on a regular basis, as it makes my life easier, and who doesn't love that? I mean? Priceless.

So... it's easy to come up with a list of items that fit the bill for yourself. But finding items like these for other people, that's where it's a challenge. Better put on my thinking cap, and get the credit cards out!

'TIS THE SEASON!

I know it's early but you're lying if you say you haven't thought about something you want Santa to bring you. Indulge me, and tell me what it is you want. : )

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Turning Into My Mother

You hear people muse about turning into their own mother. Typically this is said with some, how do I say, chagrin, am I right?

I will be the first to admit... I am turning into my mother. Let me count the ways.

1.) The second my husband gets home from work, he starts foraging in the cupboards for snacks. Wait, I stand corrected. First he gets out of his work clothes into some jeans and a t-shirt. I personally never do this... I'll stay in my work clothes until bedtime. I have come to realize that people who change out of their work clothes after work are passionate about this topic. Nick would rather die a fiery death than stay in his work pants and shirt one minute longer than he has to. Aside over...

The foraging for snacks drives me insaaaaane when I've spent an hour making dinner. This was something my mom used to say all the time during my childhood. (And, ahem, post-college adulthood in which I squatted with them to avoid getting a place of my own and having to pay rent and thus spent my first-job measly paycheck at the local watering hole with my BFF on a weekly basis.) "Stop snacking, dinner will be ready in five minutes." But to that cupboard I'd go, and then sit at the dinner table and eat two bites of her meal. Now the thought of this literally makes me twitch with annoyance, and I have that "Ohhh NOW I GET IT" moment and make a mental note to apologize to my mom for all those years of five-o-clock snacking.

2.)

OK, well, I guess I didn't fully think this post out, as I can't even come up with a number two. I guess there is only one recent example I can think of in which I proclaim "I AM TURNING INTO MY MOTHER!"

Oh wait, I've got another.

2.) DOG HAIR. OH EM GEE, THE DOG HAIR.  When we rebuilt our house this summer, we were presented with several options, one of which was flooring. I mulled over the idea of going with an all-hardwood downstairs. I was afraid of the dog hair, though. Dog hair is insanely visible on hardwood floor. Despite this, I took a crazy pill and decided to go with it. (REGRET CITY!) (Not only dog hair, but rugs are not cheap!) AND LET ME TELL YOU. I am driven bat-shit-crazy-insane by this dog hair. Swiffer gets, like, a B- when it comes to keeping the dog hair under control. I am, quite frankly, too lazy to do anything else (such as research other cleaning options) and simply resort to bitching about it instead. This sums up the last four weeks of my life, by the way. Me pulling out my hair (haha, punny!) about dog hair collecting on every inch of my first floor. So, I guess that's another way I'm becoming more like my mom... the omnipresent grumble about dog hair.

Weak example, I know.

BUT! I've decided that me becoming more like my mom is not a bad thing, not at all.

Did you know that my mom turned 56 years old a couple of weeks ago, and that on her birthday she ran her 30th marathon? Does your 56 year old mother run marathons for fun? Pretty bad-ass, right?  It was also her PR in this particular marathon (her 8th time running it) and her 2nd fastest marathon ever.  My dad and sister made her this awesome sign and my dad held it up for her at various points along the course. (My sister ran the marathon as well.) (My whole family is pretty awesome.)

 
So if I can become more like my mom, I think that's a pretty good thing, don't you?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Amelia Coos!

First up, a Halloween pic that I forgot to post last night. Claire with Aunt Alli and her bucket of three pieces of candy, unbeknownst to her will soon to be doled out to the neighborhood rugrats!

I think she much preferred her spot in the garage. This way, she got to not only have easy access to our candy bowl (hmmm... maybe that's why we ran out so early...), but she got to check out everyone's costume. It was so cute when she recognized a Nemo costume as he was walking up the driveway, and she exclaimed to him, "Nemo! You are Nemo!"


OK, so here's a video of Amelia coo'ing. I started cooing to her recently, just because, cuz what else do you say to a six-week-old other than narrate the news, which is too anxiety-inducing presently. (I am not a fan of extreme weather... here's why.)

I noticed she started mimicking me! It's cute as a six-week-old... this reminds me I need to get a video of CLAIRE mimcking me. While that is funny to watch, it's not so cute. She doesn't mimic me in real-time, but she says the exact same things that I say to her when I'm not happy with something she's doing. So if I go to take her shirt off for bath time and she doesn't want me to, she starts scolding me: "Mama, I do NOT like when you do that, that makes me VERY upset, please stop doing that RIGHT now, I really need you to stop that." All stern-like. It's unreal! Last week, she ended her tirade with, "You're being a turk." (Short for turkey. My moniker of choice.)

ANWAY. Amelia. Coos. SO. DANG. SWEET!
video

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Claire much preferred handing out Halloween candy this year, rather than going house to house. This was A-OK with me, as we set up some folding chairs at the entrance to our garage to meet trick-or-treaters there. The first year in our house, I found it rather annoying to have to go to the front door every knock or ring of the bell, as our foyer is too small for a chair to camp out for trick-or-treaters. We live in a subdivision that brings anywhere between 150-450 trick-or-treaters, no joke, so it's constant -- the candy flinging.

After a half hour of handing out candy, I decided I had to take Claire at least to our neighbors, so I could get an official "first trick-or-treating" photo. We went to three houses and came home. I went inside to warm up the baby, and when I returned to the garage a few minutes later, Claire was standing by the candy bowl and cried "All the candy is gone, Mama!" with sadness in her voice.

My initial thought was, "Oh, she thinks that huge bowl of candy was hers, and she's sad it's gone."  No, I was wrong. My husband had given out CLARIE'S (three pieces of) candy to trick-or-treaters because our candy had run out.

"There were like 20 kids here, waiting for candy!" was his excuse. :)  Me personally, I would have said, "Sorry kids, closing up shop" and left them hanging, rather than give out MY OWN CHILD'S candy. You know, all three pieces of it.

So we ventured out again, because I would not let this high-fructose-corn-syrup experience go by without my two-year-old participating!

She ended up replacing her loot and then some, so Halloween was saved.