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.