Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mrs. Claus?

Last night at supper, I saw all the proof I need that angels walk among us. My mom is out of town and my dad didn’t feel like eating supper alone last night, so he invited Gracie and me out to a local restaurant to grab some grub. I met my dad and Gracie at the restaurant after work, and although upon arrival Gracie seemed to be in a decent mood, things quickly deteriorated into near-meltdown status. Everything seemed to irritate Grace, and even attempts to divert Grace’s attention toward Christmas lights and dancing Santa statues proved futile. She was clearly tired out from her day, and when my usually happy child gets tired, she gets cranky and inconsolable—it never fails. She seemed intent on saying, “No!” to everything and making the evening generally unpleasant.

The food finally arrived (I had ordered a kid’s hamburger and fries for Gracie per her request) and Grace didn’t want anything to do with her meal. She was vehemently opposed to eating anything other than packet after packet of Sweet ‘n’ Low. She was crawling around on the booth, lying on the floor next to the booth, crawling under the table, and basically doing anything she could to avoid eating. Try as we might, my poor dad and I couldn’t get her to sit still and eat. My dad even went so far as to get up from the table, walk Grace all the way over to the other end of the restaurant to find her a new high (and, apparently) better high chair, only to bring it back over to the table and have Gracie decide she didn’t want to sit in it.

I was rapidly reaching the end of my rope and was just about ready to chalk the meal up as a loss and leave the restaurant, when a little, plump old lady walked over to our table. Grace had decided for the moment that the high chair her grandpa sought out for her was fine to sit in, but she wouldn’t put the chair anywhere near the table, where her food was quickly becoming cold. The lady asked Gracie if Santa was coming to her house this year, and much to my surprise, Grace sat right up in her chair and carried on a conversation with this lady all about Santa and how she better eat her fries and hamburger so Santa would bring her lots of presents. Was this my shy and reserved child, carrying on a conversation with a stranger? Immediately, Grace scooted her chair over to the table and started munching happily on her supper. My dad and I stared at her, completely dumbfounded, and I felt almost embarrassed that this little old lady could make my daughter behave when my attempts were a waste of time. How was it that a complete stranger could accomplish what my dad and I clearly couldn’t? After a few minutes of chatting a little more with Gracie, the little old lady said goodbye to all of us and walked away, and Grace cheerfully ate the rest (well, just about the rest) of her supper.

I’m not sure who this little old lady was and I’m sure I’ll never see her again, but if I could, I would give her a big hug and thank her for her much-needed intervention. In a world full of people that often roll their eyes and sigh in annoyance at mothers who are struggling to control their children, it was refreshing to meet someone who was willing to lend a hand.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

She did it! Dr. Sears was right.

When Gracie was an infant, I made a decision to try co-sleeping, or as it is often referred to, a family bed. After doing a substantial amount of research, mostly reading articles on Attachment Parenting by Dr. William Sears, I decided to give this somewhat-controversial approach to sleep a shot. Basically, co-sleeping is a safe way in which a child shares a bed with his or her parents. According to Dr. Sears, this approach strengthens the bond between parent and child and can even help in the prevention of SIDS, as a parent is more aware of their child’s breathing patterns if the child is right there in bed with them. Most of the principles of Attachment Parenting appealed (and still do appeal) to me, mostly because there is a strong focus on the bond between parent and child and it seems like a more peaceful, nurturing way to parent.

Well, naturally, my decision to share a bed with Gracie was met with some raised eyebrows and criticism. Many non-Western cultures have embraced co-sleeping, but for some reason, it is looked down upon here. It is seen as coddling the child and as being unhealthy somehow, and the few parents that I know that have owned up to co-sleeping have seemed ashamed about it. I’ve found myself on the defensive several times when discussing this topic with other people, including close friends. Co-sleeping just seemed like the right option for Gracie and me—after all, it’s just her and me, and I work 9-10 hours per day, so any minute that I can spend with her is precious to me, and co-sleeping allows me to spend tons of extra time with her. It also enables me to respond quickly to her needs during the night, and provides tons of cuddle time with my little one.

Of course, one of my concerns when making this decision was how to bring an end to our co-sleeping arrangement when she grew too old for it. Dr. Sears’ articles say that most children that share a bed with their parents usually grow out of it between ages 2 and 3, and at that point they want to move into their own bed without much of a struggle. I always thought of this as somewhat of a pipe dream—I was certain there would be a struggle as soon as I even brought the idea up to Gracie. (Isn’t most everything a struggle with a toddler?) But I knew it had to be done sooner or later.

So, I moved Gracie’s “big girl” bed into my bedroom a few weeks ago. I started off by just letting her lay on the bed during her waking hours, then I started moving her over into her new bed after she had fallen asleep in my bed. After a few nights, she started to sleep in her big bed for the whole night after I moved her. Last night was a breakthrough for her. She didn’t even ask to lie down in my bed. At bedtime, she gathered up her blankie and her little stuffed bunny and laid down in her bed and fell asleep shortly thereafter. I couldn’t believe it. There was no struggle, no fussing, and no whining. She slept there the whole night, and woke up this morning like nothing had changed.

Who was the person struggling with this? Me! After she fell asleep, I had to fight off every urge I had to pick her up and put her back in my bed, just for one more night. I woke up several times during the night to check on her, only to find her happily sawing logs. Having a bed all to myself suddenly after sharing one with Gracie for two and a half years made me feel incredibly lonely and lost, and very sad. When I woke up this morning, I was surprised at how much I had missed her during the night and I couldn’t wait for her to wake up so I could talk to her and cuddle with her.

I am so, so proud of her, though. I know there will probably be a few relapses, when she will want to come back in bed with me, but she took a big step last night. I talked to my dad (who, incidentally, supported my decision from the beginning), and he was able to remind me that this is just one of many, many big steps that Gracie will be taking from here on out. And, I guess I will just have to get used to having all that sleeping space to myself! Time to invest in some fluffy pillows…

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

With Thanksgiving approaching, I think it’s pretty natural for a person to take inventory of the things in his or her life that are worth giving thanks for. What am I thankful for this year?

-Gracie, for the fact that she is healthy and happy and for all the sheer joy that she brings to my life.
-My parents, for their constant and undying support. Despite our occasional disagreements, they have always been there for me and I know they always will be.
-My sister, for being the best friend I could ever ask for and for being the best auntie in the world!
-Aaron, because he has restored my faith in love and has shown me there are still a few good guys out there (and for all of the good times I have had with him, and also for all of the awesome new music he has introduced me to).
-My job, because without it, I would be penniless and without health insurance!
-My friends, for all of the laughter and good times I have enjoyed because of them.
-My Seinfeld DVD’s, for getting me through those lonely nights after Gracie is in bed and when the house is entirely too quiet.
-MySpace, for reuniting me with old friends I thought were lost forever, and for introducing me to new friends!
-My apartment, because it is so nice to finally have a place for Gracie and me to have all to ourselves.
-My flat iron, for helping me out on those REALLY bad hair days.
-My health—even though I feel totally exhausted most of the time, I am healthy and that has allowed me to be the best mom I can be.
-Moisturizer, because as my mom pointed out, I’m starting to develop wrinkles around my eyes.
-Wine and hot baths and microwave popcorn, for helping me unwind at the end of a long day.

Looks like I’m a lucky girl!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Grass is always greener??

I had to run some errands today at lunch, and included in those errands was a stop at my parents’ house. My parents live on the nicer side of town, and as I was turning the corner onto their street, I spotted two moms that I see often when I run over to that side of town on lunch. I assume they are moms, because every time I see them, they are pushing these oversized strollers and they look to be about my age, which is a good age for having babies. Today as I passed them, walking briskly down the sidewalk, pushing their strollers in unison, wearing their cozy-looking fleece jackets, I felt a twinge of jealousy. No doubt, since I often see them out and about with their kids in the middle of the work day, they are stay-at-home moms. They probably are married to guys that have great jobs and earn enough money so that these women can stay home to raise their children instead of having to go and work outside the home.

I suppose I felt the twinge of jealousy because I have often thought about the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom, and being the single working mom that I am, this is something that just isn’t going to happen for me or for my daughter. I looked at the two other moms, strolling along happily, looking healthy and content, and then I looked at myself and felt tired, hurried, and overworked. I imagined what life as a stay-at-home mom would be like, as I have many times before, and felt a longing to be able to spend my days with Gracie, to be able to take her for a walk in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, and to not have to run in the door at 6:00 at night, already totally worn out from a full day’s work, and rush her through supper, bath time, and bedtime so that we can do it all over again tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be nice to spend all week lounging around, playing with Play dough, reading stories, taking walks, and most of all, spending that precious time with my child?

Then I came back to work. The phone was ringing off the hook, emails had to be answered, instant messages had to be returned, and paperwork had to be completed. I dove into the busy-ness of my job, and I suddenly realized something. I have something that often stay-at-home moms don’t have. I have a stimulating job, full of challenges and opportunities. I have meaningful professional relationships. I have this whole separate identity outside of being a mommy, and I think that helps me be a better mom. When I get home at night after being away from Grace all day, I am so incredibly happy to see her and I have missed her so much during the day that I am immediately and completely focused on her from the moment I step into the apartment until the moment she goes to bed. We have lots to talk about—what happened during her day at “school”, what she saw, what she learned, who she played with. Seeing her refreshes me and reminds me why I work so hard. And, I truly believe that being in day care is a good thing for Grace. She has blossomed into a fun, friendly, smart kid. She’s learning a ton, not the least of which is learning how to interact with others outside her family. And, she squeals with delight when we pull into day care everyday (well, most days), so it warms my heart to see how she truly enjoys her time at school.

Sure, being a single working mom is tough. After Grace goes to bed at night, I’m usually so pooped that all I can do is take a nice hot bath and sprawl out on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch Seinfeld reruns. Some days I barely know if I’m coming or going. But, I have to say that despite the difficulties, at the end of the day, I feel a sense of pride about what I am doing.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cripes, eh...She's a cold one out there, in so?

There was snow on the ground this morning. Snow. And it’s the middle of October. I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me, since autumn in Wisconsin can be full of weird weather, and I guess snow in October isn’t really that foreign after all. I was more than ready for fall—I love the changing leaves and the crisp, fresh air and all of the fun fall activities. I was not ready to see snow on the ground (even though the weather people have been prognosticating about it for days) when I left my apartment this morning. Snow symbolizes the rapid descent into winter, the season of scurrying from building to car to building to avoid the cold and sunsets at 4:30 in the afternoon. The thought of six months of this after just having a wonderful summer was just about enough to suffocate me. I mean, there’s a WIND CHILL FACTOR this morning—the temperature outside is 28 degrees, but it feels like it’s 19!

But, instead of mope about it, I decided to embrace it. Grace was glancing curiously around at this “new” white substance on the ground, and since I have learned that seeing things through her eyes puts a new spin on things for me, I decided to do just that. We ran over to a small patch of snow on the grass and rubbed the snow all over our hands, and Gracie squealed with delight. We talked about sledding, making snowmen, and sliding around on the ice. She had lots and lots to say about this discovery. She may turn me into a winter fan after all.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Heaven is...

…watching your child sleep. Last night, after a chaotic night of fixing supper, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and getting Gracie through her nightly regimen of eating, playing, bathing, calming her down to a point where I could even think about bedtime, watching Baby Einstein, and finally putting her to bed, I decided to take a minute and gaze at this little person in her calmest, most serene state. Perfection. There’s nothing in the world like looking at your child when they’re off in Dreamland, watching them happily snoring away, and realizing what a gift you have been given.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Power of the Snack

Grace and I are moving out of my parents’ house in a few weeks and into a duplex of our own. This is both exciting and a little scary. Probably the thing that is scaring me the most about this whole thing is how Gracie will react to living in a new place. After all, she and I have been living with my parents for the vast majority of Grace’s life, and this is the only real home that Grace knows. So, I am expecting at least some hesitation on her part, and I am hoping that it’s not a disaster.

I decided this morning as I was driving Grace to day care that I had better start introducing the idea of living in a new place to her. Here’s how the conversation went.

Me: “Gracie and Mama are going to have a new house.”

Grace: “New house.”

Me: “And all of Gracie’s toys will be at our new house.”

Grace: (silence)

Me: “And Mommy will be with Gracie.”

Gracie: “Grace and Mommy.”

Me: “Ok?”

Gracie: “Snacks?”

Me: “Yes, there will be snacks at our new house.”

Gracie: (nods head) “Ok.”

So, I guess that’s the key to making the move a smooth transition for Gracie—have plenty of snacks on hand. I can handle that.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


This is irritating.

I was skimming the news headlines today and came across this article. Apparently some folks in the photo department at CBS decided to alter Katie Couric’s file photograph to make her look twenty pounds lighter. I’ve been an occasional viewer of The Today Show over the years, and I think Katie Couric looks fantastic just the way she is, especially for a woman her age that has had children! This is just another illustration of society’s obsession with thinness. Ugh. It just makes me crazy. The photo was probably altered by some overweight, pompous middle-aged man with an inaccurate and unhealthy view of women. And what an insult to Katie Couric herself—as if she’s not beautiful the way she is!

I was slightly comforted, though, when I read Katie Couric’s response to this nonsense. She simply stated that she liked the unaltered photo, because there was more of her to love. Good for her for having a realistic and healthy view of herself!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Expanding Vocabulary: Attack of The Mouth

Ever since the moment Grace was born, I have been excited to hear all of the things she would say one day. I still remember the moment I heard her say her first REAL word--we were eating supper at the kitchen table, Gracie was seated in her high chair, and when she dropped a piece of food on the floor, she looked at me and said, "Uh-oh." I remember the sensation of pure pride and satisfaction that my child had finally uttered her first intelligible expression, and she actually used it in the proper context!

Soon, I became very interested in her quickly expanding vocabulary. I began reading her books and asking her to repeat words after me. We watched countless hours of Baby Einstein flicks, so Grace could get a little more education everyday. I remember going to her monthly doctor's appointments that first year and filling her poor pediatrician with stories of all of Gracie's new words, and eagerly asking him if she was "on track" with her new words. Of course, she always was!

Now, she's speaking in full sentences. Every day it seems like she picks up a new word or phrase and that becomes her latest obsession. It's so wonderful to be able to ask her what she wants for dinner or what she did at day care today, and actually have her answer me. It's a mom's dream come true--my child can finally tell me when something hurts or if she's frightened or hungry or any multitude of things. The guesswork (well, most of it anyway) is taken out of the equation.

Of course, with this newfound treasure comes pitfalls. Grace has also learned to say things like, "Go away!" and "Naughty!" Certainly, in the appropriate situation these words are fitting, but when I go to give Grace a hug or a kiss at the end of a long and stressful day, the last thing I want to hear is, "Go away Mom!" Poor Grandma gets the occasional disappointment of hearing, "No, go away!" when she's trying to help Grace get dressed. Words hurt, don't they? Who knew that along with the excitement and pride I feel, I would also recall with fondness the days when Grace didn't know how to reject me verbally?

Tonight as Grace and I were playing after I got home from work, she gave me a big bear hug for no apparent reason. I closed my eyes and savored the moment and then said, "I love you, Gracie." To my surprise, she shook her little head and said, "I love you, Mama." Maybe I will get used to this whole talking thing after all.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Already Excited About 2008

Imagine my happiness when I saw this on the cover of my brand-spankin' new Time magazine today:

Love her, and I hope she runs. Small-minded conservatives need not apply.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

stuff to do

Someone forwarded this to me and I thought it was a cool idea. Here is a list of random stuff--kind of life's "to do" list. How many have you done? How many have I done? My "done" answers are bolded.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said 'I love you' and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea (when I was on a cruise)
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (go Pack!)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper (countless dirty diapers)
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger (Aaron)
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen an eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 10 provinces or all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country (ah Mexico)
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland (and I wanna go back!)
52. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your cds
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married (ugh)
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced (yay!)
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Dead River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in aisles at Rocky Horror.
96. Raised children. (work in progress)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour (does 2 shows count?)
98. Created and named your own constellation of stars
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over (how bout across the country?)
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an illness that you shouldn't have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistols
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse -- and fell off
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read their books.
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone's life

And you?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Campin' with a kid

Oh, by the way, before I get started, Aaron posted pics from Lollapalooza on his site. Here's the link:

If it looks in the pics like it was freaking hot outside, that's because it was. It was really hot. It looks like it's hot in the pics, but then again I was there, so my perception might be a bit off.

Taking a two year old camping for the first time is an interesting and humbling experience. My daughter is one of these "cautious" kids. She's not the first kid to run out and try something new--she prefers to study things from a distance, think about them, and then do them. (P.S. This is not a bad trait--in fact, I would argue that being cautious can be a positive thing. I have never had to tell Grace to stay away from strangers. It just doesn't occur to her to run up to someone she doesn't know.) So, being that Gracie has a cautious and tentative nature, I was more than a little nervous to take her camping for the first time. My fears were almost confirmed when we pulled into the campsite and she started whimpering, "Go home now."

But, after some gentle coaxing (and the wonderful invention of a portable DVD player and her "Elmo Goes to the Doctor" DVD), I got Gracie out of the car. Aaron did his usual fabulous job of letting Gracie warm up to him and then playing with her at her pace, so by the time bedtime rolled around, Grace trotted into the tent (yep, no pop-up campers here) and fell asleep like she had been doing this all her life. Proud mommy moment #1 for the weekend.

Saturday was...well, interesting. I could tell Gracie was still tired when she woke up at the crack of dawn Saturday morning. (It's hard to sleep in when you're two, apparently.) But, she practically sprinted out of the tent and began the day in earnest. She was fascinated with all of the bugs flying around and began marching around the campsite singing a little song to herself. (This was totally adorable. I could only understand parts of the song, but there was talk of a piano and "mama and Grace" and "Grampa and Grace". I guess she picked the song up at day care. Either way, it was so cute.) "This is going to be a breeze," I thought to myself.

The three of us had to head into town because I totally spaced and forgot pullups for Grace and a chair for myself, so after breakfast, we piled into the car and headed to the nearest town. Things were fine until we got through the checkout line and Grace grabbed a bag of Skittles that we had no intention of buying. Ugh. This is the point at which every parent has an internal argument. Do I cave and buy the damn Skittles so she doesn't have a fit, or do I stick to my guns and make her put them back, and then proceed to carrying a screaming, flailing child out of the store while everyone stares at us? Aaron (bless his heart) made the decision for me and grabbed the Skittles out of Gracie's hand and put them back. Naturally, this sent her into orbit and the screaming and flailing commenced. (I love old people. As I was carrying my sobbing, screaming child out of the store, a little old lady smiled at me and said, "Someone's not happy." Oh yeah, she's been there. Sure beats all of those smug non-parents who stare and roll their eyes and think, "Hmm, I would certainly do a better job". I know this because I used to think that myself.) This shall henceforth be referred to as the Great Skittle Incident of '06, because it took probably 45 minutes to get Grace back to civility--of course, she went from sobbing to napping, so I have a feeling all of the fresh air had already gotten to her.

In the afternoon, we decided to try to take Grace swimming at the lake that was at the campground. Grace was, naturally, a bit hesitant to go in the water at first, but soon she had her shirt off and was splashing Aaron and me and laughing hysterically. We had a blast--some kids had caught some frogs in a pail and Gracie was totally fascinated. At one point, Grace started picking up small stones off the beach and tossing them back into the lake (to set them free, no doubt). Aaron would then gather the stones back up and place them in a little pile on the beach, and the game would begin again. Proud mommy moment #2.

After ample time in the lake, we headed back to the campsite for supper. Grace did just fine until the food was just ready to be served, when she lost it and I decided that it was time for bed. Turns out I was right--Grace fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow. (Almost--it still took some work.)

This morning we devoted quite a bit of time packing up and taking down the tent. Gracie helped as much as she could, picking up stakes and putting them in their bag and sitting on things when they needed to be smushed down. Towards the end of our time there, I asked Grace if she wanted to go home, and much to my surprise, she shook her head "no". Proud mommy moment #3.

So, now we're back home. Gracie is napping, Aaron's back home in Milwaukee and I have had my seven minutes of ecstasy in the form of a hot shower. I'm truly sad that the weekend's over--of course, the Sunday afternoon blues have become a fixture in my life ever since Aaron and I started dating long distance--but this afternoon I'm a little sadder than usual because camping is over, too. My little girl made me very proud this weekend.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Back from Lolla...and other news

I just got home about an hour ago from Lollapalooza in Chicago with Aaron and some friends, and it was a blast. My favorite band at Lolla? It has to be the Violent Femmes. (Pictures will be posted soon.) I'm trying to decide if Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza is my favorite music festival with a crazy name, and the two were so vastly different that I think I would have to say that they're both at the top of the list. Lollapalooza's major advantage was that I had a nice bed to sleep in both nights and I was able to shower daily. And, Lollapalooza's backdrop was downtown Chicago, and you can't beat that. I think the selection of music at Bonnaroo was a little better, though. There were also far more hippies at the 'Roo, which gave the whole festival a very mellow and friendly vibe. Hmmm...maybe I'll have to go again next year to decide which is my favorite. Here is a pic from the Iron and Wine show on Friday:

Of course, the first thing I did when I got home today was cuddle with Gracie. I was so happy to see her that I almost hugged her TOO tight! I got home right around nap time, so I was more than happy to cuddle with her while she had her apple juice and then rub her back until she fell asleep. She stayed awake long enough to tell me about the ducks she saw at the park with Nada and Grampa yesterday, though. The kid amazes me everyday with her expanding vocabulary.

I'm starting my new job tomorrow, which is both exciting and scary. For the first time in over three years, I won't have to think about selling paper, and honestly, I don't think I'll miss it once. Still, my stomach has been doing crazy loop da loops all afternoon thinking about what tomorrow will bring. I have heard that the average person changes jobs seven times during their working years. Not sure if I want to ride the rollercoaster that many times.

So, here I am, passing the time till Gracie wakes up, missing Aaron (my Sunday ritual), and anticipating tomorrow. The only thought I have is, "Wow, it's quiet in here."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Weird nostalgia

I just had a brief moment in which I actually felt a bit sad about leaving my current job. It was very strange. I was in the restroom, doing what people do in restrooms, and I had a flashback to my pregnancy. I was horribly sick for almost my entire pregnancy, and since I spend more than nine hours a day at work, that sickness was bound to run over into my time at work. So, I spent many a morning (or afternoon) during my pregnancy in that restroom, face pressed to the cold concrete floor, trying desperately to somehow alleviate the oppressive nausea I felt. And then I would come out and head back to my cube, and my friend Beth would give me that kind, knowing, sympathetic look and I would feel a little better.

I guess maybe it's not the restroom I'll's the feelings and memories that certain things trigger that are making me feel a little nostalgic. Most of my friends have moved onto new jobs and new opportunities, but part of me longs for those crazy Friday afternoons with Lance telling stories about his childhood or hearing Jack's loud, boisterous laugh from down the hall or laughing at one of Todd's off-color jokes. I have lived through some extraordinary times while working here...I've had a child, tragedy came into my life and then exited, relationships have ended, new relationships have blossomed, and the constant through all of it has been this place. I'm excited for my new opportunity, but at the same time, my life will never be quite the same again.

Friday, July 28, 2006

because i'm bored at a job that i will be leaving in 6 days...

All of the ladies in the world that have been blessed (read: BLESSED) with small chests should be thankful. My huge boobs and I went shopping for a swimsuit today, and it was a horrendous experience. I found a couple of potential winners after sifting through the picked over swimsuits and brought them to the dressing room, hopes high that I would find the perfect one for me.

I was wrong. Out of the three suits I tried on, only one was decent enough for me to wear in public. The two offensive suits fit fine on the bottoms, but my boobs were falling out of the tops and I would surely be arrested if I was to wear them in public. Boobs everywhere. The third suit (which I ended up buying just because it was the best of the three and not because it was perfect) was, admittedly, a little better, but the top pushes my boobs up to my neck and I'm hoping that I'm able to keep "the ladies" under control whilst at the pool this weekend.

Of course, the reason that I needed to go shopping for a swim suit at all is because it's supposed to be, like, 99 degrees here this weekend. The only acceptable outdoor activity will be to swim in the pool at the hotel we will be staying at. Ugh. Well, that and the other swimsuit I own was purchased before my daughter was born, and, frankly, my body has changed so much since then that the swimsuit just looks at me and laughs. Bastard.

Job alert: As I stated in an earlier blog entry, I am leaving my current job next week. I promised myself that I would remain interested and active in my current job until the bitter end, but I find myself breaking that promise. I have spent nearly all afternoon today reading The Onion online and joking around with my coworkers. Truth is, I'm not really interested anymore and I've already mentally checked out. It's going to be a long week next week.

Grace alert: Grace has begun speaking in (nearly) complete sentences, and it's the cutest damn thing. Her latest thing is watching someone do something and then saying, "I'll try." I hope she maintains that positive attitude throughout her life, because I certainly want her to be willing to try new things and experience what's out there. Yay for Gracie!!

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, July 27, 2006


This morning on my way to work, I passed a semi trailer that had a sticker on the back that said, "Beef. It's what's for dinner." As I passed the trailer, I noticed that it was packed to the gills with cows on their way to the slaughter. One cow looked me in the eye as if to say, "You remember me FOREVER." I might rethink the cheeseburger at lunch today.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

See ya SUCKERS!!

There's nothing better than waking up in the morning and knowing that you're going to be resigning from a job that you truly dislike so you can begin a job that you know will be exciting and challenging and fulfilling. Words can't express my happiness and excitement. No more chest pains on the way home from work. No more escaping to the bathroom to cry after a customer yells at me. Sure, I will have rough days at my new job, but I don't have to dread getting up in the morning anymore. Yay for me and for new beginnings.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ah, the randomness of it all...

-"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" was fantastic. I highly recommend it to all. Plenty of hot pirate action, jokes about rum, and Johnny Depp--who could ask for more? I loved it, even though Davy Jones' beard gave me the willies.

-If there was only one food that I could eat for the rest of my life, it would be buttered popcorn. Those who know me well probably would have guessed that I would choose some sort of Mexican dish, as I have an undying love for all Mexican food (even Mole), but I don't want to subject myself to a lifetime of indigestion.

-Men who don't pay child support and yet manage to have the money to buy new cars should be strung up by their balls.

-It's very disappointing when the sky gets all cloudy and dark like there's going to be a big storm, and then all it amounts to is a drop or two of rain. I love thunderstorms.

-Buttered popcorn and a nice tall glass of cold milk make a tasty flavor combination.

-I hate fish but I love sushi. Figure that one out.

-Any parents (or future parents) should read "Happiest Toddler on the Block" by Dr. Harvey Karp. It's brilliant and it will soon become your parenting Bible.

-I shouldn't make comparisons involving really good books and the Bible, because I really don't read the Bible. I probably should do that.

-Job hunting is a pride-swallowing exercise. "Please, tell me about yourself...Ok, that's enough...No really, we'll call you...We're talking with several candidates."

-Did I really eat that whole bag of popcorn?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Shiver me timbers!!

I'm so excited. Tonight my man and I are going to see the second installment of "Pirates of the Caribbean." Mostly, this is what I'm looking forward to:

I'm pretty sure this is what my man is looking forward to:

Shiver me timbers--eye candy for both of us!!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Diet Food

If you're like me, you've been struggling with your weight for most of your adult life. (And, if you're not like me, you should stop reading this and get down on your knees and thank God. Then have a cupcake for the love of Pete.) Being that it's a Monday today and I have been making poor food choices as of late, I decided to start yet another diet today. I grabbed a Healthy Choice french bread pizza this morning when I left for work and was actually getting excited about eating it. Pizza's good, right? Yay for diet pizza!!

Promptly at noon, I popped the pizza into the toaster oven, waited with baited breath for the cheese to get all bubbly and melty, and then promptly inhaled said pizza in roughly 30 seconds. Afterwards, I felt cheated. I'M STILL HUNGRY! Should I run out and grab a little something else to eat? It seems to me that doing that would ruin the good I did by eating the diet pizza. I'm left in quite a pickle. (Ugh! Food reference!!)

My problem is that I LOVE to eat. It's a social experience for me. I love eating and talking to friends and simply enjoying myself. I love and appreciate good food, especially sweets and carbs. I eat when I'm happy, when I'm stressed out, when I'm sad, and when there's nothing better to do.

Seems to me that the only thing diet food does for me is tease my stomach into thinking that more is coming when in fact there's nothing else on the way. I could never get on board with the people that say, "Eat this salad--it's filling." No it's not. It's a salad. Now ice cream with M&M's on the top...that's filling!!

Ah, hell. Maybe I'll give this nectarine a shot and see what it does for me.

Monday, July 10, 2006

College memory

Yesterday, as I was driving home from yet another awesome weekend trip, I was mulling over my career crisis and wondering what it would be like to go back into teaching. Would I be a good teacher? Would I find it fulfilling? As I was thinking about that, a memory from waaayyy back in college popped into my head, and I want to pay tribute to the professor that made this experience memorable for me.

One of the required courses for aspiring educators at UW-Oshkosh is called Educational Psychology. This course had the reputation for being incredibly difficult and, unfortunately, incredibly dull, so when the time came for me to enroll in this course, I was feeling a bit negative about it. The first day of the semester finally came, and I went to Ed Psych, ready to receive my syllabus (everyone knows the first day of class is syllabus day) and then maybe be released early.

In walked very stuffy-looking professor. He was wearing a three-piece suit, his hair was slicked back, and he carried a very ragged and worn brown briefcase. He didn't introduce himself. He proceeded to clear his throat and began to lecture. On the first day of class. He used overheads that were jam-packed with all sorts of terms and statistics, and he went through the overheads at such a feverish pace that I couldn't take notes fast enough. The material he was talking about was difficult to grasp and he was going so quickly that I soon got frustrated and decided to just put my pen down and try and listen as best as I could. As I looked around the room, my fellow students were doing the same thing. We were looking at each other as if to say, "What is this guy doing? I can't keep up!" and "Here's another crappy professor. This is going to be a long semester."

After lecturing in this manner for about five minutes, Dr. Paxton stopped talking. He loosened his tie and shut off the overhead projector. He then said the most powerful and memorable thing to us: "This is how NOT to teach." Brilliant. We were all stunned, and honestly, we were relieved. And, the fact that I remember this moment out of four years worth of moments that I had in college is a testament to how powerful that was. The rest of the semester was a lot like that--full of lightbulb moments and powerful messages.

So, thanks Dr. Paxton. If I do go back into teaching, I will remember you and what you taught me.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pics from Bonnaroo

Aaron was kind enough to put all of our pictures from Bonnaroo up on his website. Check them out. Thankfully, I have been able to take a shower since then.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Bonnaroo 2006 was an absolutely fantastic experience--great live music combined with a wonderfully mellow vibe and all the hippies a person can handle. Here are some interesting statistics from the trip:

-States traversed to get to Manchester, TN: 4
-Hours slept in Nashville on the way: 3.5
-Times car with license plate "M Grant" passed us: 4
-Weird weather phenomena resembling a tornado on a clear day: 1 sighting
-Mornings Aaron made tasty scrambled eggs with salsa: 3
-People that I spotted being carried out of the 'Roo on stretchers: 2
-Bands seen: 10 (Ben Folds, G Love and Special Sauce, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Cat Power, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, My Morning Jacket, Rusted Root, Damian Marley, Beck, Radiohead).
-Bands heard in the distance while listening to other bands: 2 (Umphrey's McGee and Cypress Hill).
-Rings purchased: 2
-Tea kettle "showers" taken: 1

Can't wait till next year. I even started a list of things I learned this year to help me prepare for next year's festival.

-You don't have to be skinny to wear a bikini.
-Don't pack an air mattress that's far too big for the tent you pack.
-Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.
-Don't pack beer--it's too fricking hot to drink it.
-Enjoy the time you have there, because it passes entirely too quickly.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Honky Tonk What?

I don’t understand the song “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Trace Adkins, but for some reason this song just confuses me.

First off, what is a badonkadonk? Judging from the lyrics in the song, I’m guessing he’s referring to a woman’s backside, but do we really know for sure? When I think of the word badonkadonk, I think of an old beater car rumbling over hills and losing its hub caps.

There’s also a rather disturbing line in the song that says, “And ooo wee, shut my mouth, slap your grandma.” What!?!? Slap my grandma??!?! What a horrible thought! And you expect me to listen to the rest of the song? I adore my grandma, and I’m pretty sure that if I slapped her, she’d chase after me and beat me with her cane.

Then, there’s this line: “Lord have mercy, how’d she even get them britches on?” Ok, I’m assuming that this song is an expression of how sexy a woman looks in tight jeans. It’s anything but sexy when I have to struggle to get my pants on—quite the opposite, actually. If I have to stand in the mirror and wonder to myself how I managed to get my britches on, I’m certainly not wearing them out dancing. Maybe it’s just me...

Still, despite this song’s obvious pitfalls, I find myself dancing in my seat and singing along...I’m sick.

Monday, June 05, 2006

What I learned over the weekend

Instead of writing about everything I did this weekend, I decided to make a list of the things I learned over the weekend. It’s a pretty impressive list.

1. Toddlers are inexplicably drawn to the large red shopping carts at Target and become so interested in them that it’s nearly impossible to get the toddler out of the shopping cart.
2. Cheddar cheese and green peppers are fantastic and very tasty additions to bratwurst.
3. Dave Matthews Band songs do not sound good when they are played to a conga beat. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
4. Reenacting the digestion process complete with sound effects will actually bring a toddler’s temper tantrum to a screaming halt.
5. Gel seats for bikes are quite possibly the best invention since sliced bread.
6. Cudahy, WI is rather hilly.
7. The woman that came up with the Baby Einstein idea and subsequent video series is a genius and should be nominated for sainthood.
8. Twenty five miles is kind of a long way if you’re biking.
9. Baking a strawberry rhubarb crisp in a paper bag is the only way to go. Same goes for apple pie, although that’s just a guess as the apple pie is still at Aaron’s house and I haven’t tasted it yet.
10. There are other places to go grocery shopping besides Pick ‘n’ Save and Walmart.
11. Toddlers like Pat McCurdy.
12. A wedding reception just isn’t a wedding reception unless “YMCA” is played at least once.
13. Cast iron skillets have to be seasoned. Alton Brown says so.
14. Sunday nights are no fun, especially when you have say goodbye to someone who is very important to you.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I must be getting old. Everyday on my way to work, I drive past Menasha High School, and I have the opportunity to observe how teens act and dress in today’s world. Today as I was driving to work, I was alarmed and, quite frankly, a bit disgusted to see what types of clothes teenage girls wear to school. I saw all types of skin-baring outfits, ranging from bare-midriff tops to low-cut tops to tube tops and shorts or skirts that leave nothing to the imagination. I felt like jumping out of my car and throwing a blanket over some of these girls. I’m not sure how any hormone-ridden high school boy can even pay attention in class anymore.

When I was in high school, my parents had pretty strict rules about what I could and couldn’t wear to school—no torn jeans, no beer shirts, and certainly nothing revealing. School was treated as my job when I was a teenager and I was expected to dress appropriately. And, I wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing a tube top or something like that to school. I would have been far too embarrassed. Nor did I feel compelled to dress No girls that I went to school with would have dressed so provocatively. (Incidentally, you will NEVER see me in anything where my stomach will show. Pregnancy does some not-so-pretty things to a woman’s body and it apparently takes a while to recover.)

I blame the Britney Spears’ and the Christina Aguilera’s of today’s world and lazy parenting for the slutty dressing phenomenon that seems to have plagued teenage girls. MTV (and for that matter, TV in general) is jam-packed with gyrating women wearing next to nothing who solicit and get all kinds of attention from very attractive men. And these are the role models for our girls? We’re teaching our girls that if they wear trampy outfits and act like sex kittens, they can get any boy they want.

I’m sounding like I’m ultra-conservative and I think all girls should wear turtlenecks and flannel pants to school. That’s not the case. The thing that gets me is that there seems to be a total lack of self-respect among these girls. Has society bashed girls down to such a level that they feel the only way to attract attention is to show some skin? Does a girl these days base her self-worth on how many boys want to “get with” her? Either way, it seems to me that there should be more of a focus on helping girls gain brain power so she can go to college or enter the workforce and become independent.

A girl shouldn’t have to feel like she has to put her body on display to be beautiful. A girl can be beautiful in a t-shirt and jeans if she has an air of confidence about her. She needs to know that there is so much more to her than how her body looks in a tank top. She has so much more to offer than her body. Those of us that are moms need to teach our daughters to respect themselves and to place a high value on what’s inside versus what can be easily seen.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Blister in the Sun

Memorial Day weekend was a blast, although temperatures were in the 90’s and I spent most of the weekend either drenched in sweat or basking in air conditioning. I left work promptly at 4:30 on Friday afternoon ready to start the long weekend, and lo and behold, the first song on the radio after I got in my car was “Freebird”. Yay! I actually said “Freebird, man” out loud in the best stoner voice I could conjure up. The sun was shining and I had the promise of a fantastic weekend ahead of me. What a great way to start the weekend—windows rolled down, blasting some quality Southern rock and feeling on top of the world.

Friday night my mom and I were cooking maniacs, getting all of the food ready for Grace’s big birthday bash on Sunday. Cooking for forty people is quite a daunting task, and unfortunately we didn’t have the foresight to turn on the central air before we started cooking. We did, however, have the foresight to break open a bottle of wine before we started, so the whole experience was quite entertaining. We cooked seven pounds of sloppy joes for the party, which I thought was fitting since Grace was almost seven pounds when she was born. Very symbolic, indeed.

Saturday morning Grace and I played outside on her swing set and rode our bikes (well, she more or less walked with her tricycle) around the neighborhood. It was a fantastic morning, just hanging out with my little girl and enjoying the warm weather. Saturday afternoon, after my parents took Gracie up to the cottage for the evening, I did some power shopping at Old Navy and lounged around a bit, watching one of my top five chick flicks, “You’ve Got Mail.” (Sidebar—you’ve gotta love the chemistry between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I love the scene at the end of “You’ve Got Mail” where Meg Ryan realizes that Tom Hanks, the man she was falling for, was her secret chat room admirer. Her expression of surprise and happiness and realization and longing when she sees him walking through the park to meet her is priceless and makes me cry every time. I’m such a girl.)

Saturday night Aaron took me and a group of the volleyball people to the Ben Folds/Violent Femmes concert at the new and improved Miller Lite Oasis on the Summerfest grounds. What an awesome show. Ben Folds put on yet another wonderful show, but my favorite part of the night was definitely the Violent Femmes’ set. Their music was so high-energy and made everyone in the audience jump up on their seats and dance (and, occasionally, fall off their seats. It happened to me once, I’ll admit it, but it was during “Blister in the Sun” and I couldn’t help myself. The music cast its spell on me.) Not too shabby of a show, especially for a bunch of middle-aged guys!

Sunday was Grace’s second birthday and her party, and it was also quite possibly one of the hottest days that I can remember. Luckily, her party was up at my family cottage on Legend Lake, so if the heat got to be too much, the refreshing lake was fifty feet away. The food was fantastic and Grace made quite a haul with the gifts. I had to fight back the tears of pride as everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to Gracie—it was a bittersweet moment—I was so proud of her, yet a bit sad that she’s growing up so fast. Sunday night Grace and I headed over to Aaron’s parents’ house, took a relaxing sunset ride on the pontoon boat, and fell fast asleep.

Memorial Day was full of the usual summertime-type activities—boating, swimming, and lounging in the sunshine. Aaron’s parents took us all out on the boat—we parked at a sandbar, enjoyed the cool water, and had a tasty picnic lunch. When Gracie and I got home, we took all of Gracie’s new toys out of their packages and tried them all out for the first time. The evening was topped off with a run to Culver’s for some tasty Maple Nut custard.

What a perfect weekend, jam packed with time with loved ones and fun in the outdoors. Makes me wish I was independently wealthy, so I could do it all the time!!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Happy Birthday to Grace! And Happy Anniversary to me!!

Sunday is my daughter’s second birthday. At 3:48 pm on Friday, May 28th 2004, Grace Mackenzie made her debut and has been the center of my life ever since. (Hmm...When I say “made her debut”, it doesn’t really capture the whole experience. There were nine months of morning sickness, four weeks of bed rest, and eight hours of labor {no epidural, thank you very much} involved in the whole process, so it wasn’t exactly effortless.) In the past two years Gracie has evolved from a fragile infant into a vibrant toddler, full of curiosity and wonder and awe. Every day she amazes me with what she’s learning and I am so fortunate to be able to experience life through her eyes.

Sunday is also my second anniversary. At 3:48 pm on Friday, May 28th 2004, I joined the sisterhood that has existed since the beginning of time—the sisterhood of mothers. What an awesome privilege. When I look at my mom and my grandma and all the other moms I know, I feel humbled to be among their ranks.

The moment that Grace was born, I looked at her and realized for the first time what love was. Over the past two years I have also evolved. When Grace was a newborn, I was a first-time mom and I was so frightened that I would do something horribly wrong with her that would scar her for life. I had no clue what I was doing. Now, I’m still learning everyday but I have more confidence and I am actually starting to feel like a “real” mom. I’m a full-fledged member of the sisterhood.

I also have learned how motherhood makes a woman vulnerable. I know the fear that a mother feels when her child screams. The frustration a mother feels when her child is crying and she can’t figure out why. The sheer joy a mother feels when her child smiles at her and gives her a hug. The helplessness a mother feels at 2:00 in the morning when her child wakes up with a high fever. The pride a mother feels when her child crawls for the first time, or walks for the first time, or says their name, or reaches a milestone in their life. Motherhood has exposed me to emotions and feelings that I never thought I had. It amazes me every day how I have this awesome capacity to love this little person, and that love just keeps growing.

I can’t believe how quickly the past two years have flown by. It makes me feel a bit melancholy when I think about it. At the same time, I am so excited to watch Grace grow. Every day with her is something to look forward to.

Happy Birthday, Punker Bear. And Happy Anniversary to me.

I'm out there, Jerry, and I'm lovin' it!!!

So, here's my very first post on my official blog. The delusions of grandeur have kicked into high gear and I really do believe that I am important and influential enough that people will actually read this thing. Here I am. Hello world.