Sunday, December 23, 2007

What a Week...

Was it really a week ago that I posted last? It can't be. Sheesh. I'm apparently slacking in the blogging department.

In the last seven days High Heeled Mama has:

* Gone on a road trip to Asheville to spend some quality time with her high heeled sis and the peanut.

* Built FIRE! Oh yeah, we are strong women who don't need men (ahem, a call to our dad to confirm our fire strategy doesn't count, right?) to build fire and heat a really cold cabin! A special shout out to all those Girl Scout camp counselors - something apparently rubbed off.

* Freaked out at peanut's first really high fever (102!) and proceeded to leave fun road trip with HHM's sister to get him to a doctor's office (note: he's fine. Just a bad cold.).

* Sucked copious amounts of yucky goo from peanut's nose.

* Been to the pediatrician, my OB/GYN (no, not because peanut's getting a special present for Christmas so stop wishing that on me) and my family doctor (for my own infectious nose/throat disease that we're apparently passing around the HHM household) in 36 hours.

* Baked cookies.

* FINALLY finished my Christmas shopping.

* FINALLY sent out my Christmas cards.

* Waffled about 800 times about whether we're making the right decision to spend Christmas at home as a nuclear family and not going back to our home state.

* Realized today that yes, this is the right decision because otherwise I'd be freaking out about everything I haven't done yet (um, like finish one hand made gift and wrap ANYTHING) and we'd more than likely have been in the car right now driving 6 hours to NC and probably irritated about it.

* Discovered that Joseph in our nativity scene is on the lam - seriously, every time we pass the display on the top of the shelf in our "breakfast room," Joseph's in a different place. (The display is in a high-traffic area so I think it's just wiggling and he must be the only figure off balance enough to shimmy around our "stable." But it's still a little freaky!).

So what have you all been up to in preparation for Christmas?

We're looking forward to an evening of decorating cookies, wrapping presents and finishing up that last present I need to make. Although it is bittersweet to not be going home for Christmas Day (could I hear "Home for the Holidays" one more time this season?!), we are really looking forward to a relaxed Christmas morning with our peanut. And, of course, we are looking forward to our extended visit with our families without the pressure of seeing everyone (and trying to squeeze in a 3 hour nap for peanut) all in one day. Instead, we'll have multiple opportunities to see folks and in a more relaxed manner meaning more treasured memories for our little guy (and by memories, I mean the stories we'll tell him when he sees the pictures later in life).

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Separation Anxiety

I admit it. I'm a pretty lucky mom. Peanut is, and always has been, a very laid back kid. As a newborn, we were waking him up for feedings. There are few foods he'll turn his nose up at. He is fairly easily entertained with a book or a stick or a plastic cup or a drawer of spices. And he has never made a peep of complaint when we've left him with a sitter.

Lately, he's been a little more clingy than usual. He'll hang on my legs in new situations and has been slow to warm up to the teacher in this session of our music class. And our visit to Santa this week did not go well (oh, we were so happy in the line. Moms were complimenting me on how well-behaved and happy peanut was while we waited. And then I placed him gently on the lap of the most wonderful looking Santa I've ever seen and peanut let out a scream and a cry of betrayal that is usually only reserved for Nurse Nancy at the pediatrician's office when she gives him his shots. The pictures are priceless.).

So, as we headed out for the hubby's office holiday party last night, I expected a little bit of a battle. We were using a sitter we had not used before and peanut's been fighting a bit of a cold. After chasing the child down to give him a goodbye kiss and hug, peanut followed us to the door. I gave the hubby the 'this could be the night' look and we stepped out into the cold. We turned around to try to wave bravely to the little guy and promise we'd be back soon only to watch our precious peanut close the door on our faces.

I guess I'm the only one with separation issues!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Flush, I mean Plush Dolls

While doing a bit of online browsing for some sort of kick start idea of what to get the hubby for Christmas, I came across this.

Um, what?!

I'm open to peanut playing with dolls. I don't think there is any reason to limit him to gender specific toys. After all, some of my favorite toys growing up were trucks and blocks, as well as my Barbies. But Pee and Poo dolls? Oh goodness. There is so much about parenting I am unprepared for (and so many potty jokes running through my head). How exactly do these help with potty training? Really. The more I think about the possibilities, the grosser it's starting to sound.

The good news: they're sold as a set. Like two pees peas in a poo pod.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...Memorial Day?

How is a gal to get any Christmas shopping and preparations done when it's 77 degrees out in mid-December? Something isn't right about wearing shorts and deciding to grill burgers for dinner because it's too hot to turn the oven on (and I refuse to turn on the A/C in December since our ghetto metal-frame windows are painted shut and won't open) while trying to do some online Christmas shopping. Not to mention the new dilemma of what the peanut should wear for his picture with Santa tomorrow when it's going to feel more like Easter than Christmas.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Fitting Mommy Into a Box

Peanut LOVES boxes. I'm sure this is not unique to my little guy. But give this kid a present and he's much more interested in the box it came in, putting things in the box, taking things out of the box, getting into the box, getting pushed around in the box, climbing out of the box, putting the box on his head, banging on the overturned box, whatever his little mind can conjure up to do with a box. Me, I'm pretty indifferent to boxes, I guess. They're great for storing things. We have a few in our living room right now I'd like to get rid of (hint, hint to the hubby!). But beyond their functional purposes, a box is just a box.

Until I have to put myself into one.

I've been invited by the hubby to join LinkedIn. I've avoided the whole Facebook thing. (I know, I must be the only person NOT on Facebook. I just have a weird thing about it that I can't really explain. Not to mention this.) But LinkedIn sounds more practical - a visual, online representation for business contacts. As a former salesperson, I'm all about who you know (and who who you know knows). And one of these days I'd like to get back into the game - not sure what game I'd like to play yet, but I'm more than confident that the folks I know from jobs and relationships past will be instrumental in getting me started. So I clicked to accept my invitation. Only I'm faced with the following choices:

"I am currently:
-a business owner
-looking for work
-working independently
-a student"

Hmmmm...none of the above? Writing the neighborhood newsletter, coordinating a social gathering once a month and ranting on this blog don't really pay the bills, although they feel like work - work in a good way. Work in the way that is making a connection with people and allows me to write. And I won't even get into how the day-to-day mothering tasks are work, I think we all get that any mom is nurse, teacher, maid, chef and so much more to her family.

But how do I represent that in a box?

And why is this always such a hot-button issue for me? The hubby's office party is coming up and I am already dreading the small talk. Saying I'm a stay-at-home-mom seems so incomplete and can sometimes stop a conversation dead in its tracks. Mom certainly is a large part of who I am, but it doesn't define me. There is an oh so much more complicated answer to that question. Like most labels, they aren't the complete picture.

So I suppose I'll check off working independently (although the peanut would probably disagree since our day-to-day life is totally dependent on his attitude) and start working on building some new boxes. Boxes with lots of compartments.

I might even let the peanut play with them.

Monday, December 3, 2007

How I'm Letting Go This Holiday (aka: Why I let the hubby string the Christmas lights)

I thought giving up our hosting duties at Thanksgiving would give us a more relaxed Christmas. Nope. Instead, I left my parents' house and started panicking that I had made a terrible mistake to spend Christmas two states away in our own home. I have instead spent the last week feeling crappy and therefore wondering how I'll ever have the time to get "everything" done to make this a wonderful, Norman Rockwell holiday for our little nuclear family.

And then, when I got to thinking about it while struggling with how to rearrange our furniture to fit our Christmas tree (small house + toddler means not a lot of realistic options) and fighting with the Christmas lights, I could not define specifically what "everything" was. So I took a deep breath, let the hubby put the lights on the tree, took over the task of feeding peanut his snack and made a commitment to give up all unnecessary tasks. The only things making it through are the ones that allow our family to enjoy this time together.

Let me point out that this is not an easy decision to make. I am an admitted control freak (I can already hear my mom, dad and sister raising their eyebrows and chortling in unison). Letting the hubby put the lights on the Christmas tree was a big deal for me. The lights are my favorite part and I like them done a certain way. After only a few butt-in comments, I can say, he did a great job and I could focus on getting the rest of the decorations out so we could all spend a nice, quiet dinner together.

So I passed my first challenge. The second was deciding to give up the Christmas letter. Our year hasn't been THAT interesting to make a run-of-the-mill letter compelling and so I've decided to not spend the time brainstorming some creative way to share our adventures that will only stress me out and occupy my thoughts day and night. Who knows what the next challenge will be, but I am confident that as long as I keep in mind what I truly want for Christmas (quiet time with my family), I'll make the right choices.

Now if only I could figure out what to get the hubby for Christmas.

Friday, November 30, 2007

One Sick Mommy + One Teething Toddler X Readjusting After a Holiday =

a week where you wonder where it went and how it could be so long all at the same time.

I have the strangest grouping of annoying symptoms that are simply wearing me out. Just when I think I'm better, I'm not. And my strange kid is popping some weird teeth - he's most certainly not following any type of regular teething schedule (unless, of course, they are all about to pop at once and I'm just feeling a few random ones).

So we're all looking forward to a quiet weekend at home where the hubby can chase the peanut around and I can hopefully kick these germs' butts.

Ah...and now I hear the peanut waking up from his nap a good 45 minutes early. Oh, it's going to be a great afternoon.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Whatever Happened to the 12 Days of Christmas?

I know I grew up in the South so I should be used to it. The tree going up the day after Thanksgiving and coming down the day after Christmas. Holiday music starting into the radio rotation on turkey day. Black Friday signifying the start of the holiday mall mayhem.

But what is with people this year? Is it just me or did Christmas start the day after Halloween? And why? The way Thanksgiving fell this year means we have the longest time between pilgrims and Santa that we possibly can and yet driving down the country road to my parents house on the Wednesday afternoon BEFORE Thanksgiving there were multiple houses with their lawn decorations up, trees lit in the windows and there were several holiday music 24/7 stations broadcasting "Holly, Jolly Christmas" and "Feliz Navidad."

Now I'm as excited about the holidays as the next guy. I'm eagerly awaiting the weekend to go pick out our tree and getting all of our Santas and snowmen and candles and garland placed around the house. I've got all my cookie and bread recipes ready to go. I'm lining up babysitters for our holiday hoorahs. But don't we risk holiday burnout by starting too early? Can't there be too much of a good thing? Are we all falling victim to the over commercialization by retailers fearing for their bottom lines in the face of rising gas prices and a declining housing market?

Who knows. All I do know is that it seemed to be starting a bit early this year, even for me.

Too bad with all this extra time I'll still end up not getting everything done I need to until the last minute. And to make it worse, I'll have had "Feliz Navidad" in my head for a month and a half. *shiver*

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Giving Thanks

I am truly blessed. There is always so much to be thankful for that it seems embarrassing that it takes a holiday to remind me.

Of course I am thankful daily for my little peanut. Every time he smiles at me so that his nose crinkles or he kisses the pictures of his grandparents during night-nights or he dances or he stomps in place (a new game I'm not quite clear on, but it's hilarious) or he splashes in the tub or he runs down the hall to give me a hug or any number of other little gestures, I am thankful for the gift of him in my life.

I am thankful for the gift of having this time at home with him, raising him, loving him. I am thankful I have a supportive hubby who loves me unconditionally (and I provide lots of opportunities for conditions!), encourages me and allows me to not only do this stay-at-home mom gig, but who also listens when I'm struggling with all that entails. I am thankful for the opportunity to take some time out of the rat race and really think about what I want from a career and take the time to examine all the different ways to make that happen. I am thankful for the family adding peanut to our marriage created for the hubby and me.

I am thankful for our larger family, for the parents that raised us and provided us a pathway to parenting based on their successful efforts. I am thankful for our siblings who are wonderful aunts and uncles to our little guy. I am particularly thankful for my parents who are there to talk me off my "I'm a horrible mother" ledge when peanut experiences a few bumps and bruises and aren't afraid to share stories from their weak moments. I am thankful for a sister who even though she's on a serious executive fast-track in the corporate world and I'm at home in mommyland still thinks I'm pretty cool to talk to.

I am thankful to have found a home in Atlanta and live in a neighborhood that is truly wonderful (ladies, you are fabulous!). I am thankful for good health and security. I am thankful for sunshine (although a little rain would be nice). I am thankful for not having to plan and cook and clean-up the Big Meal this year (as much as I do miss it). I am thankful for this little corner of the Internet that is all mine. I am thankful to those of you who come and read my words and especially thankful to those of you who comment (either in this forum or when I see you in the "real world") on how you relate to this post or that.

I am, simply, thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving 2007!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How I Know I'm Not Ready for Another

It seems that once your little one hits a year old, you start to get the raised eyebrows, the nudge-nudge-hint-hints and sometimes the uncomfortably direct question about when you're going to provide a sibling for your peanut. I have to admit that as the one-year birthday approached and I was looking back on all the changes our little guy had gone through, I was totally ready to bring another little bundle into the fold. Luckily, the hubby was there to talk some sense into me, that this year might not be the best time.

Last week reiterated the difficulties of the two-party system. I was watching my little peanut and his buddy, who is only two weeks older, while his mama went to get her tresses pampered. Whew. They were both very good boys, to be honest. There was the occasional toy battle, but really they were quite easily entertained. But being there to diffuse any power struggles before they erupted and doing silly dances to keep them laughing and trying to keep two toddlers in the same room had me pooped! After peanut's buddy left, my peanut and I snuggled in a chair to read a story and I thought, how do parents manage two or more ALL THE TIME!?

But it was a blast to see these two together. I always find it interesting to watch how peanut interacts and reacts to other kids. He'll giggle when another baby dances or want to follow another kid and imitate how he played with a particular toy. He actually seemed proud to show his buddy how a few of his toys worked and occasionally even shared a book or two (and a few times, offered the book and just as the other baby would reach for it, he'd take it away. So not cool!). The icing on the cake was this moment:

Oh yeah! That's my little guy giving his buddy a ride on the firetruck. They had a fabulous time "working together" at this game.

I know having a sibling for peanut will be a wonderful addition to our day. For now, I think we'll stick to play dates and babysitting swaps to give peanut the interaction with other kids he needs and his mama the reminder she does!

(And congrats to my gal pals Mama G. and Mama L. and cousin-in-law K. who are all expecting their second babes! You all make being mom to your little ones look so easy I'm sure you'll be an inspiration to the rest of us.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

One Mom's Failed Attempt to Slow Down Father Time

It seemed like everyone told me that the first year of motherhood was the hardest - if you could survive the first year, the rest would just flow in such a beautiful and organic way based on the solid foundations you had built during those first months. In my sleep-deprived, not sure of anything post-partum months, that seemed a logical and comforting argument. After all, I didn't know a thing about caring for a brand new baby. If I could make it through the first 365 days, it appeared anything afterwards would be attainable.

Ha! I think parents tell new parents this same line to make them feel better about the understandable insecurities that come home from the hospital with your new bundle. But in all honesty, newborns are pretty simple to take care of. They make few demands (food, warmth, a cuddle for attention, a new diaper, put me down already so I can sleep in peace) and aren't really getting into much trouble. As I begin to see a foreshadowing of the toddler tantrum months to come in peanut's stomping, pouting and urgent demanding, I realize the first year was nothing! (And I'm sure there are parents of teenagers and grown children (hi mom!) who are sitting back and laughing as they think on the joys of adolescence that await me in a little more than a decade).

Recently, however, I'm beginning to become overwhelmed with some of the changes peanut is making that I feel either unprepared for or completely incompetent to handle. Case in point, yesterday, on peanut's 15-month birthday (WHAT?! Pour me a glass of wine.), we took him for his first haircut. I had been dreading this task for who knows what reason the last couple of weeks as I realized it was time. The little blonde curls peanut was growing in the back melted me every morning (even if they were totally uneven), but the scraggly pieces in the front that just wouldn't stay put were becoming an issue. Finally, this weekend, I bit the bullet and we headed over to Snip-its.

As always, peanut was not intimidated by the situation at all. He sat in the chair by himself, didn't flinch when she put the little drape on him and sat pretty still throughout the entire cut, content to watch the other kids in the shop and completely ignore the cartoons the stylist put on to distract him (although I do think the hubby enjoyed them!). I, however, cried. How embarrassing. I still don't know why this hit me so hard. I can't look at the locks they put in a plastic baggie for me without welling up (because of course I kept them!). It's ridiculous and I know it, but for some reason this particular milestone was difficult - as if cutting his hair was as precious as cutting the cord. Peanut received a certificate of bravery for showing courage during his first haircut and I felt like I should have gotten one, too (seriously, pour me another glass of wine).

On top of the haircut, peanut's enamored with trying to use a fork and spoon when he eats. It doesn't usually go well in terms of getting the food into his mouth, but the effort's there and he's having a blast trying to scoop and stab his dinner. And I'm in pre-school drama land. To send him when he's two (ie, next fall) or not? Where to send him (is there a pre-school directory like a college directory? how about guidance counselors for pre-school?)? What do you mean applications are due soon? (Sheesh. Just give me the bottle and a straw.)

This growing up fast thing is such a cliche and so unforgivably true. I just wish I felt like I was growing at the same rate as my little guy so I could keep up, at the very least. The good news is I'm doing my damnedest to heed the advice of experienced parents to enjoy each moment. The bad news, that doesn't leave a lot of time to figure out pre-school. I suppose there are worse things.

Like realizing that peanut will have to get his hair cut again.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What I Love About Going Home

Watching the leaves change on I85 as we go north (well, more north than where we came from).

Trying to explain to the hubby that I know where I am and where I'm going I just don't know the names of the roads in the town I lived in for 17 years.

Watching peanut play with his cousin and giggle with pure glee when she tosses the magnetic letters off the fridge.

Giving peanut his first taste of barbecue and hush puppies.

Game day in Chapel Hill with the drum cadences and the Bell Tower and the Old Well and one of the most beautiful football stadiums in the country.

Watching peanut follow after Grandpa while he did some yard work.

Seeing the joy and wonder in the eyes of our family as they watch peanut play (and best of all, getting right down on the floor and joining him in his Tupperware band, block architecture or ball tossing).

Seeing old friends, reliving old jokes, meeting new babies and settling into old comforts.

What I'm beginning to realize is that we are now building home for peanut. And that one day, he will hopefully experience the same joys and warmth returning home. Ah, but that implies that I actually let him leave. And for now, I'm enjoying the fact that the farthest he goes from me is across the playground.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Alphabet Club

Where has High Heeled Mama been all week? I wish I knew! I have no good excuse other than the fact that I'm a stay a mom of a toddler and this week has included an attempt to make up sleep lost during the World Series games, Halloween (and all that entails) and a visit by a plumber (a small annoyance that means we are one step closer to having a working tub...don't ask).

So here it is Thursday and I haven't posted since Monday and I feel like I'm letting you all down. Ah, but High Heeled Mama is going public tonight. Sort of.

When I was a working gal, a colleague had the idea to do a networking evening once a month that was ladies only called the Alphabet Club. The idea being that once a month we'd all gather at a different bar, working our way through the alphabet. In the PR field, ladies only really isn't all that exclusive and it was a great way to meet new potential contacts in a non-threatening environment.

Recently, I was thinking how rarely I get together with my mom friends, outside of play dates and other kid-centered activities, but how much fun it is when we actually do. So I've officially borrowed the idea - I mean if anyone is qualified (and entitled) to cocktail her way through the alphabet it's a mom. And so tonight is the first scheduled event. Local bars/restaurants won't know what hit them! I'm excited about the idea and looking forward to knowing that at least one night a month I get to put on some lip gloss and have a gal's night.

Feel free to borrow this idea for your home town, put on a pretty pair of heels and go have a cocktail with a few friends. We all deserve it!


Monday, October 29, 2007

No High Heels Today, Just RED SOX!

Good times never felt so good! (so good, so good, so good!).

Oh yeah, we did it again. For a team that couldn't win a series in our grandparents' lifetimes, to a team that has now done it twice in four years...I'm not quite sure what to do with myself. That and the fact that I'm realizing I'm entirely too old for staying up til after 1AM and then being back up at 7 with my very eager toddler. And we didn't even crack open the champagne like we did last time (although no worries, we probably will tonight!).

So congrats to a team that plays clean with two cancer survivors, two rookies who nearly blew my socks off they played with such poise, a man behind the plate who is simply the best in baseball (and seemingly a really great guy, too), a bullpen who plays their own version of Stomp during the games and a closing pitcher who does a mean Riverdance.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

How I'm Winning the Worst Mom Contest

Why does it always have to come in waves?

Yesterday morning it was raining for the third day in a row. I should NOT be complaining since we're in complete drought crisis mode around here (when the local stations each have their own title and graphic for their drought stories and have no qualms about breaking into prime time programming with their own "Georgia's Water Crisis" specials, and press conferences with the guv'na posturing about suing the federal gov't are a dime a dozen, you know it's bad), but the peanut and I were going a bit stir-crazy. Add in the fact that we've both been fighting the sniffles and have been a bit cranky as a result, I decided we'd bundle up in dry gear and head out for our stroller workout to get some fresh air.

We weren't the only ones desperate for a diversion - the class was decent sized. When we headed out, it was merely misting - that constant mist that you aren't sure if it's actual precipitation or air so humid it's actually wet. About half-way through, it started to really rain. Not a downpour, just a steady rain. Enough to make me question what the heck I was thinking bringing a snuffly toddler out in it. Point against High Heeled Mama #1.

After peanut arose from his afternoon nap, I realized my sinus headache was getting worse. So I quickly reached for the Tylenol Cold & Sinus the hubby had purchased the night before. I saw Tylenol. I saw Cold & Sinus. Honestly, I didn't read beyond that. My head started feeling better, but I became awfully drowsy. Like can't keep my eyes open standing up drowsy. Luckily, peanut was happy to play in his room, so I laid down on the floor to "rest" sprawled across the room so that he couldn't get past me without going over me and, needless to say, dosed for about 20 minutes. And I have to say, that frightened me. When the hubby came home, still feeling ridiculously tired, I laid down on the couch while he made dinner. Come to find out, I had taken the nighttime version of the medicine. I'm still feeling guilt and stupidity about this one. Thankfully nothing required fast action or rational thought during this time or else I would have been up the proverbial creek. Point against HHM #2.

This morning, peanut was occupying himself in our room while I tried to blow dry my hair. I should have known this was a bad idea. Whenever I start to feel like I'm beating the system, the system falls apart. Sure enough, he disappeared into his room. When I went to check on him, he had managed to open his diaper drawer, retrieve the Dreft stain pre-treater and had it with him behind a chair. I have no idea if he ingested any or not. Granted, it would have been difficult for him to get it out of a spray bottle, but still...a call to Poison Control was made. (Long story short: he's fine). Point against HHM #3.

Feeling frazzled by the events of the last 36 hours, I decided errands would be good. We headed to our neighborhood TJ Maxx to get some additional long-sleeved bargains for baby now that the Atlanta weather has finally turned Fall. When we got home, I thought it would be a nice treat for peanut to run around the playground across the street to work our some energy before lunch. Oh, we were having a grand old time. Until he slipped on some acorns on the equipment and took a header into one of the side walls, with a corner, that, of course, found his forehead. Now he's got a very pretty goose egg on his forehead. Point against HHM #4.

Thankfully, he just went down for a nap. I hope that gives me time to wrap the house in bubble wrap.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Well I Love That Dirty Water

Oh...Boston you're my home!

(to explain how Boston, NC and Atlanta are all my home towns would take entirely too much space. Let's just say I have a legitimate and genetic link to Red Sox Nation and despite the sinus congestion peanut and I are both fighting today, we're happy, happy members of said Nation!)


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Alphabet Soup

As if this wasn't bad enough for one year, I finally broke down and headed to the experts for new bras. My poor boobs have been through a lot in the last two years -- pregnancy, nursing and weaning. I didn't have a clue what size I was anymore. All I knew is that the Bs I was wearing before I was pregnant didn't fit anymore, the Fs (oh yeah, you read that right) I wore when nursing certainly didn't fit anymore and the Cs I was wearing while I was pregnant were just plain worn out.

So off I went, dragging the hubby and peanut along for the ride under the guise of other shopping "while we're out."

To be honest, it wasn't all that bad. It was certainly better than bathing suit shopping alone. The saleswoman measured me quickly (the official new me: 32 C, go figure!) and brought back a large selection to try on. We quickly found three I LOVED and I was set. Sure, it was awkward having a total stranger watch me hoist those poor saggy bags into a bra, but I figured that as long as I didn't look at them uncovered in the mirror, she didn't see them either. And IN the new bras, they look fantastic.

Ah, what a relief. Feeling confident, I tackled another female shopping albatross - jeans! The hubby and peanut had given me a gift certificate at Christmas to a local boutique for a pair of designer jeans. I kept putting it off, waiting to be the "right" size. Well, I figured now was the time. Again, thanks to a wonderful saleswoman who simply brought me every jean in the store that met my description of what I was looking for in what she thought would be my size, I left with two pairs of killer jeans. One fits like a glove and the other, after learning everything I know about fashion from Tim Gunn, is at the tailor being cinched in the waist to avoid any unsightly booty gap. But both pairs are definitely cut to be worn with heels! (Note to hubby: I'm ready for date night! Bring it on!)

Good jeans and good bras. What more could a gal ask for? Well, a good bathing suit, I guess?

Hey, two out of three ain't bad.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Brand New Day

Things have been good lately. Not that things have been really "bad," but I admit there was a rough patch. Right around peanut's birthday, I was having a hard time. He was growing up so fast. I could barely seem to remember what it was like to pace the floors, sway him until I thought my hips might pop or my arms would give way, wipe up the inordinate quantities of spit up and drool he trailed EVERYwhere, snuggle with that sweet bundle of contentment.

And, at about the one year mark, I started coming to terms with my decision to stay home. I was suddenly having a hard time being the housewife on top of being mom. I was starting to feel resentful that tasks the hubby and I used to share were slowly becoming my sole responsibility (the laundry, making dinner (and sometimes multiple meals depending on timing or food involved for our novice eater), cleaning). The hubby and I started repeating the same arguments. The peanut started running into things, which I internalized and decided every bump was another physical reminder of what a bad mom I was. I was just feeling a bit frustrated -- what had I chosen for myself and how come I still couldn't seem to get it right?

Somehow, somewhere in the last few weeks, I seem to feel in control again. Well, as in control as I can be when chasing around a toddler. I don't know if it's my hormones FINALLY regaining some sort of balance after nine months of pregnancy, 12 months of nursing and three months of trying to find the right pill to make me whole again (because after 19 months "friend" free, she came back with a vengeance, making up for lost time by visiting 7 times in three months - seriously, who invited her anyway?). I don't know if it's the weekend the hubby and I spent finally HEARING each other. I don't know if it's just feeling good after a week of getting real dinners on the table by 6pm each night so we could eat as a family before peanut went off to bed or hubby went to the gym or I watched my pitiful Sox remind me why there was comfort in the Curse (ah, the days when we could blame our choking in the post-season on the curse of an angry, drunk, fat, dead man, *sigh*). I don't know if it's finally taking ownership of this life I have chosen and therefore spending each moment more wisely.

Whatever it is, I'm going to run with it. I'm going to cherish this time. I'm going to craft away (ah...the Halloween decorating ideas I'm mulling over and the hand-made Christmas gifts I've started), enjoy the Fall weather, read a book and giggle through each weekend "family activity" we come up with. I'm going to own who I am and who I am becoming. I am so lucky to have this time to not only watch peanut grow, but discover myself as well.

And as a tribute, today I wore my heels to Target.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Looks Like this High Heeled Mama Needs a Pair of Cowboy Boots

Why I'll be buying this CD:

* Because breast cancer is just plain stupid and whatever we can do to help those surviving the fight and keep it from affecting one more woman, the better ($10 of each CD sale benefits the Susan G Komen Foundation).

* Because when Garth Brooks performed on Good Morning America on Monday morning, peanut stopped tearing up the newspaper, sat quietly staring at the screen, and at the conclusion of the second chorus turned to me smiling and started clapping. He then returned to watching the rest of the performance. Guess he's a fan!

Although, seriously, if you ever get a chance to see Garth Brooks (although he keeps saying he'll never tour again) or Prince in concert, you just HAVE to go. These two put on the best concerts I've ever seen. The hubby does not like country music (well, except the Dixie Chicks, but I'm not sure his motives are pure) and even he loved the Garth concert we went to years ago. And Prince...who knew such a little guy could pack such a powerful performance punch!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The End of an Era

It came this week. My lovely, delicious Bon Appetit Thanksgiving issue with a delicious plate of lemon-herb turkey with lemon-garlic gravy, cornbread dressing with roasted fall vegetables, balsamic-braised cipolline onions with pomegranate, and cranberry and blood orange relish gracing the cover. And it pains me to even look at it.

After hosting Thanksgiving for our families for the nine years we have been married, the hubby and I have decided to relinquish this holiday tradition in the name of peanut. For as long as we've been married, we have not lived closed to our family homesteads. Since it would be difficult for us to travel for every holiday, we picked Turkey Day to stay home, I would cook and anyone and everyone was welcome. Each year we had a slightly different mix of folks - from parents and siblings to various sibling dates to a few aunts and uncles for good measure. Each year I had a minor meltdown about 11am or 1pm (depending on what time dinner was set), would be handed a glass of wine by the hubby and cook on. Each year we'd try something new and have a table full of tried and true favorites (creamy mashed potatoes, Grandma's pecan pie recipe, mushroom crostini).

But now that we have a family, we want to create some family traditions for peanut. And there is just so much pressure on Christmas day to see everyone and be everywhere, that we just didn't want to put the little guy through that now that he's old enough to get cranky, worn out and annoyed. So we have decided, after debating this literally since we got in the car to drive home after last year's Christmas visits, to stay home on Christmas.

Boy, this still tears me up. This will be my first Christmas morning not waking up in my parents' home and seeing mom, dad and sis first thing. But on the flip side, this will be the hubby and my first Christmas waking up in our own bed, in our own home (which seems crazy to me after 9 years of marriage). And we'll pack up the car and head up to see all the family probably for New Year's anyway. But we at least avoid the pressure of that one day, can spend the day creating new traditions for peanut that will grow with our little clan, and hopefully have more quality time celebrating the holidays with each set of relatives in a more relaxed environment when we visit later in the week.

Ah, but Thanksgiving. I admit to being a foodie wannabe. I loved pouring over my recipe box, each past Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appetit since 1999, every cook book I own and my handwritten "menus" from Thanksgiving past. I loved developing each year's rundown and creating massive shopping lists. It's the only grocery trip I enjoy all year - going from store to store to get the best ingredients for each dish. I loved starting the day before making pies (two pecan because my dad and sis's hubby can polish off one together in five minutes); peeling the fruit and assembling the apple pie with my sister, a bottle of wine and endless girl talk; chopping; grating; timing. The whole thing was a challenge. The only one that was next to impossible was the year I was pregnant and didn't know it -- the smell of mushrooms made me nauseous. I cooked all day and then could barely eat any of it. I thought it was the stress. Ah, but the relief and surprise we discovered the day after everyone left and I worked up the courage to pee on that stick.

So this year, I will swallow my Thanksgiving pride and my mother's turkey (that she hasn't had to make in 9 years!). I will enjoy bringing the wine, being the assistant in the kitchen and helping with the dishes after (something I haven't had to do much of in 9 years thanks to my wonderful family who pitches in with the suds).

And come Christmas, you'll find me overcompensating making any number of chocolate-peppermint cookies, gingerbread, and pouring over those recipes to find the perfect Christmas dinner for our little threesome.

But, mom, there is a killer looking Cranberry-Chocolate Tart with marscapone filling in this issue -- I'd be happy to send you the recipe!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Let's Do Lunch

Working lunch before baby:
Grilled salmon with wasabi mashed potatoes and szechuan green beans or butternut squash tortelli or she crab soup and southern fried chicken or THE best steak, interrupted by business chatter and a pitch for a proposal or (even better) the closing of the deal.

Working lunch after baby:
A plate of mac 'n cheese the peanut and I shared, interrupted by putting the peanut down for a nap, and followed by two chocolate chip cookies and a Diet Coke. Thank goodness I worked out today.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Power of the Guac

I'm not sure what it means that I made chocolate chip cookies from scratch this weekend (not the slice and bake kind that were such a friend to me during pregnancy!), performed "surgery" on my hydrangeas in an effort to rescue it from its near-death status thanks to our historic drought conditions and then wore flats on a date with the hubby Saturday night. It was quite the domestic weekend.

And why is it that on the first night we leave the peanut with an actual babysitter (not a friend or family member we "pay" with food) we are seated next to a table with an adorable infant girl, her mom, dad, grandmas, grandpa, aunt and uncle? Thank goodness for tableside-made guacamole and frozen pomegranate margaritas to help me forget my mommy obligations and remember that I can be a fun date.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Why I Love...

What a week? Where does the time go? I'm not really sure, to be honest. So here are just a few random thoughts on why I love...

  • Target - Really, Target should install a playground and start a regular playgroup. Everyone I know uses Target as an excuse to get out of the house. Today's purchases include a few Halloween decorations, cards, lotion, blanket sleepers for peanut, two long-sleeved polos for peanut, and peanut's first puzzle. Ah, a lovely morning out.
  • The Library - I honestly haven't been in a library since college (well, except for using the Undergrad's restroom on football Saturday's on my way to the stadium, back when we used to go home for football games). Peanut and I went to our local branch this morning to get a library card. Oh how I missed the musty smell of books and those crinkly plastic covers. I'm serious, I LOVE the way a library smells. Going to the library every Saturday morning was one of my favorite trips as a child. And after taking peanut through the children's section, I think he's going to love it just as much. Story time Tuesdays, here we come!
  • Fall - It's FINALLY cooling down (relatively speaking for this southern gal) and it's time to start thinking pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, falling leaves, cinnamon in the air, cider on the stove, throw blankets, hot cocoa, and a holiday season with a peanut who is a year older. I can't wait to watch him this year as he truly experiences the world around him.
  • The Peanut - The kid is plumb ridiculous! He's taken to walking with his arms straight out behind him like Superman. He doesn't do this all the time, just when he's super excited or wants to go faster. Hilarious. He has mastered the slide, loves to play outside, likes to bounce and I swear he tries to make the hubby and I laugh.
  • Will Ferrell - If you haven't seen this yet, you have to check it out (and be sure to check out the outtakes and Good Cop, Baby Cop). Cracks me up EVERY time.
  • TiVo - Oh how I miss my TiVo. I fought the original purchase of it, then fell in love. This summer, however, we had to let it go (long story that includes a switch from satellite to cable and therefore a useless TiVo from DirecTV). I haven't really missed it...until now, until Thursday nights when The Office and Grey's Anatomy are on at the same time. UGH!
  • SitterCity - We did it. I signed up, I posted a job and met a great sitter (who even came over to meet us before I committed). She's coming by this weekend so the hubby and I can have a date night. If you are like me and live far away from family and can only take advantage of your friends so often (most of whom are pregnant or just had babies anyway), it's worth checking it out (thank you for the recommendation).
Enjoy your Thursday!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Attention Readers in the Triangle!

As a public service announcement to those of you who live in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area in NC (shout out to the home town!), I thought I'd let you know about this event via Mojo Mom.

Again, I admit to not having read this book yet, but it is on my to read list (along with a stack of other recommended reads from friends, relatives,, it takes twice/three/ten times as long to finish a book now than pre-baby, doesn't it?) and I've read wonderful, thoughtful reviews about it.

So, I recommend checking out the event. A book reading is an excellent mommy night out activity. I try to take advantage as often as I can here. So gather up the ladies, plan to grab drinks for discussion afterwards and make a night of it. If anyone goes, please feel free to come back and let the rest of us know what you thought.


PS - Elizabeth Edwards will be at the Regulator later in October to read from Saving Graces. I heard her read and speak locally and would recommend checking it out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

You've Got a Friend

I avoided the Blackberry boom when I was a working gal and am proud to say I'm resisting the Facebook phenomenon.

And it has nothing to do with their double standard on free speech as it pertains to breast feeding mothers (which you can read all about here and here and here and here if you haven't already. It's up to you whether you decide to boycott or not, but if you're a breastfeeding mother and Facebook member, you might want to think about making a little noise about it at the very least. We can't be heard if we don't speak up.).

(Pardon me while I step off my soapbox and get back to the post at hand)...

I always felt like the MySpaces and the Facebooks of the world were for younger folks. You know, the ones who knew what email was when they were five. I remember going to college and being assigned an email address and not having the faintest clue what to do with it. I only knew about four other people outside my university with email that I corresponded with and if I wanted to make plans with folks I went to school with, I called them...on a landline. Or stopped by their dorm room and left a pithy message on the white boards hanging on their door.

As email became more and more mainstream, I found myself more and more dependent on it. Sure, it was great for keeping up with my far-flung friends at Notre Dame or the Naval Academy while I was at UNC and later with all my college buds as we scattered to the four corners after graduation. But when I started working and realized how much correspondence was via email and how easy it was to keep in touch with my parents and other relatives through email, it became my conversation medium of choice. A shy person by nature, it was easier and faster to dash off an email to check in or make plans. But I wonder how many friendships died down or acquaintances didn't blossom into friendships because of my dependence on it, because it allowed me an easy way out and wasn't as much work as a phone call or (gasp) a letter.

And now here's Facebook. Allowing people to connect without fear. The hubby recently established an account after much ribbing from his active Facebooking brother. After watching his experience and playing around in his account, I can definitely see some benefits. It would be totally fun to fulfill some of those voyeuristic tendencies we all have -- see whatever happened to those old boyfriends, locate those college friends you lost touch with, see who from high school is still friends with whom. But after satisfying my curiosity, I realized it would be too easy for me to reacquaint myself with some college friends or former colleagues and be "Facebook friends," keeping in touch with them only through Facebook, not making the effort to really regain a friendship with them.

Perhaps I'm just naive or stubborn about it. I refuse to start an account. I don't have anything against it (well, except for the whole breastfeeding thing and the fact that Bill Gates is thinking about getting his hands on it). A lot of people I know, including the hubby, are on it and having a blast with it. But I think I'm going to choose to refresh some Notebook and Phonebook friends. I think I'll send out some real letters this week. Make a few phone calls. Chat with a few folks. Gossip with the neighbors at the playground. Being isolated with a 13 month old all day makes human contact a necessity. As much as the Internet has helped me to find a voice, it doesn't talk back. And sometimes, it helps to hear a friendly voice at the other end of the telephone line.

Call me old fashioned, but until James Taylor revises his classic song to "You've Got a Facebook Friend" or Blondie changes their 80s hit to "Email Me" I'm okay with that.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Tale of Two (or Ten) T-Shirts

I believe I've already established that I'm a reality TV addict. So it will come as no surprise that I would follow my favorite part of Project Runway to his new show Tim Gunn's Guide to Style.

This past week Tim and sidekick Veronica made over a mom with a mommy wardrobe. Now I'll clarify the mommy wardrobe for those non-mommies that might be reading: t-shirts, jeans (worn-in), non-logo-ed t-shirts, khakis, long-sleeve t-shirts, capri pants, t-shirts that we convince ourselves are dress-up-able, and sweat pants. Oh, and did I mention t-shirts?

I felt a sense of superiority when I realized that I have not only a few skirts in my closet, but I actually wear them (because news flash ladies, they cover more than shorts and are just as cool in this hot weather). Then I realized that all I ever really wear with said skirts are t-shirts (shocker) and flip flops. With fall approaching (apparently more on the calendar than in the weather forecast), I have been jonesing to do some shopping. But I have had a horrible time shopping since becoming this mom person.

I can't seem to justify spending a lot of money on a wardrobe that only I and the checkout gal at the grocery store see most days. Or I find a fantastic find that is totally me and I would have bought in a heartbeat to wear to work or out and realize I have no where to wear it now (because seriously, who is going "out"?). Or there's shopping for that special outfit that just doesn't look right on mom-body. I won't even get started on my complete lack of accessories. Or the fact that I am not making the money right now and therefore have a hard time spending it (unless I'm at Target, apparently).

And then I start to wonder, why the heck don't I do it? All of these makeover shows get moms out of the sweats and into day dresses and trousers with kitten heels and they seem so happy. I know I certainly feel better when I look better. When I can blow dry hair, my attitude is totally different. And I know it's not that much more of an effort to put on better clothes. Why don't we moms dress better? Not for our babies or our husbands or whomever, but for us. Because it makes us feel better. Because I've always been taught to dress for the job you want and if mothering is the most important job there is, shouldn't we look good doing it?

Oh, I know it's unrealistic and I'll be pulling out another t-shirt in the morning, but maybe, just maybe I will go shopping this weekend and try some things on that don't qualify for the mommy wardrobe. Maybe I'll be surprised. Or maybe I'll just look good for a hours in a fitting room with outfits on that don't make it home.

Or maybe I'll just buy another pair of shoes. Nothing dresses up a new t-shirt like a pair of heels.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I've Kicked the Bucket

Oh the joys of a sink and dishwasher that drain!! My counters are finally cleaned off - no more drying rack or stack of dishes waiting in reserve for the dishwasher to work again, no more science project bubbling up from the depths of my rotting, cast iron pipes, no more washing my dishes in a bucket.

I just had to share the good news. I hope you all have had a day filled with similar wonder.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

At least Cinderella had the mice to help...

I have not meant to neglect this space for so long. But I've had a bad case of dish-pan hands.

Our ancient cast-iron plumbing is hopelessly clogged in our kitchen so our sink, our dishwasher, our disposal all won't drain. Fun, fun, fun. The plumbers come to rework our kitchen plumbing tomorrow, but I've been washing dishes in a bucket since Saturday, using paper plates and trying to creatively use one pan when cooking. All of this has brought to a head my constant struggle to keep the perfect house while raising a head-strong and accident-prone child.

I swear I'm not as anal as that sounds. Trust me, my house is far from perfect and even on its cleanest days it is still a lived-in house with a stray cobweb probably in the corner, stacks of papers/books/clutter on the desk, floors that probably haven't been washed in the last six months, toys everywhere and please, please don't open my oven.

I struggle with the unrealistic June Cleaver vision of a stay at home mom yet at the same time holding myself to that standard. I mean, sure, I want to emulate June in her ability to care for her family while still looking put together and in heels no less. But that stereotypical "housewife" raises the hair on the back of my neck. So why do I feel like a bad mommy when I realize I've stepped over the same pile of books in the bedroom for three months?

I guess I still feel like because I'm home I should be more "with it" than I am when it comes to household chores. After all, working moms have to handle the cooking and the cleaning and the mothering on top of being at work for most of a day. Maybe it has more to do with the fact that without a job, the status of the house is really the only measuring stick to my daily performance, or so it feels some days.

I'm working on it. I'm learning to accept my imperfections and make friends with the dust bunnies. Luckily, I have a kid who thinks the Swiffer is a toy!

And it's all your fault anyway, dear reader...I probably could have washed a bucket of dishes in the time it took me to write this. Oh well.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sign of the Times

Peanut has figured out shaking his head. I'm not sure if he completely grasps the power of his new gesture (he mostly employs it when he's done eating and wants out of the high chair), but it's entered his arsenal and provided us a glimpse of the terrible toddler "no"-fest to come.

I think I'll enjoy his ignorance while I can. Whoever coined "ignorance is bliss" most definitely was a parent.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Day to Remember

It's hard to know what to write today. I have honestly started this post several times and nothing feels quite right. I could write about what it felt like in Washington, DC that day. How the sky was so blue, how we gathered around the television sets in our offices confused about what was happening in NY, how everything suddenly changed when we realized the Pentagon had been hit, how quiet the bumper-to-bumper traffic was leaving the city - no horns, no cutting people off, just thousands of cars with their windows rolled down all listening to WTOP and watching the huge black plume pour from the Pentagon into the sky over the Potomac - how we cringed at the sound of every military plane overhead when we knew one of the flights was still unaccounted for, how we will always consider the passengers on United Flight 93 heroes because we knew that flight was coming to DC, how quiet the streets and the airports were, how we gathered in churches.

I could write about how our world changed, how fear came home. Or I could write about how, slowly but surely, our lives did get back to normal and it seems surreal that it's been six years.

But I'd much rather write about how there was joy this 9/11 anniversary morning, how I was tickling my 13 month old peanut on our bed listening to his belly laugh and relishing in his four-tooth grin, how we snuggled under a blanket to read a story before his morning nap, how he giggled when we got to a page with frogs on it.

So today, under a similarly clear, blue sky, I remember those who sacrificed their lives in NY, DC, Pennsylvania and subsequently in Afghanistan and Iraq. You are not forgotten. You are present in the safety we no longer take for granted, you are present in the joy we are privileged enough to experience on these anniversaries, and you are present in our prayers. We remember.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Boy in the Bubble Wrap

I'm officially wrapping my child in bubble wrap and keeping him locked in his room. There is just too much danger out there - speeding cars, toys made in China, child predators, coffee tables.

Peanut somehow slipped while banging his drumstick against the coffee table (something we do several times a day) and hit his mouth on the way down. The blood was dark and immediate. He rebounded relatively quickly, but he split that little thing that connects your upper lip to your gum on the inside. The pediatrician took a look and all is well ($15 co-pay, $4 parking fee, 2 minute doctor's visit, mommy's piece of mind...priceless), but I'm still recovering nearly 24 hours later.

I didn't handle the situation well at all. Oh, sure, I was at his side in a heartbeat, paper towel in his mouth to stop the bleeding from going down his throat, trying to get ice on it, murmuring reassuring words and rocking him gently...while I was balling like a child myself. I called the hubby once I knew peanut was not seriously hurt and he said all the right things ("I'm sure he's fine", "Why don't you call the pediatrician's office to be sure"...), but what I really wanted was for him to ditch work and come straight home to take care of it, okay, take care of me. Even at the pediatrician's office this morning, the doc cuddled peanut when really I wanted to ask him to give me a hug instead!

If I'm this much of a wreck now, what happens when he really starts hurting himself at football practice, at camp, on the playground, whatever? Although, I suppose wrapping him in bubble wrap isn't realistic - he'd probably get a rash or the hubby and I would have too much fun popping it. Plus, he's apparently already at risk from the bottles I gave him. And to think I remember learning to ride a bike without a helmet, roller skating down big cement hills with no knee pads and playing for hours in the woods behind our house. It's amazing I survived!

I guess the moral is to just let kids be kids. They're gonna get hurt. I can't wrap him in bubble wrap...

...but I could wrap the coffee table in it!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mommy Metro?

I never thought I'd say this, but I miss my commute. Okay, maybe not the hour drive-to-the-park-
blocks-commute, but 20 minutes of downtime after a day of work...yeah, that would be nice.

What's a stay-at-home-mom to do? We go straight from afternoon playtime to dinner prep to feeding, clean-up, bath and bedtime routine not to mention trying to sneak in a bite ourselves at some point. I realized how much that affects my evening sanity when the hubby came home last night and found me totally frustrated trying to get dinner on the table while attempting to keep a fussy one-year-old occupied and stationary. When he left for the gym after getting peanut in bed at 8, I finally had a chance to breathe, to take a second and regroup...but then I was alone in the house with no one to talk to. Contrast that to the hubby willing to chat when he came home at 5:30, wanting to know about our day and what fun things we did together.

The difference? He had time to turn off part of his day and focus on something new. I was still in the trenches, changing laundry loads after our weekend away and emptying the dishwasher for the second time in 12 hours.

So ladies, how do you make the switch from mom to just you at the end of a long day chasing/playing/cleaning/feeding the little ones? What's your stay-at-home-mom "commute" back to you?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob."

Now that peanut's a year old, it's also been a year away from work from mama. Granted, this time last year I was on maternity leave and struggling with the decision about whether to go back or not. I suppose I always knew I didn't want to go back since I never really seriously researched day care options. My excuse at the time was that I worked from home anyway and would have some buffer time to figure it all out. The truth - I was completely daunted by it and too enamored with the little guy to even contemplate the reality of leaving him for more than five minutes.

Now that I've been away a year, it seems I finally have some clarity of mind to even think about whether I want to work or not (don't even get me started on how the U.S.'s policy of 12 weeks UNPAID leave after the birth of a child is ridiculous on so many levels as it pertains to women in the workforce). And the fact of the matter is, I don't really miss it that much.

I do miss my colleagues. I miss my clients. I see stories on the news and wonder if it's one I would have worked on if I was still at work. I miss the "free" lunches/drinks/dinners. I miss the challenge of finding the right answer to a problem and then watching it implemented to successful results. But the day-to-day grind, the office politics, the dreaded sales goals, the struggle to get ideas heard, the presumption that I needed to be available all day/night every day/night (sorry, I just don't need to feel that important)...can't say that I miss it.

All of which makes me stop to think was I even doing the right job for me after all? PR is a vast field and I think if I could find the right firm with the right clients and the right schedule for me, I'd be all over it. At the same time, I think maybe it's time for a career shift, time to explore different options and outlets for my skills. What a wonderful gift peanut has given me -- not just the honor to be in his presence everyday, but the opportunity to explore the world with him and rediscover parts of myself that I had put aside because I was so busy being a grown-up.

And what a wonderful gift the hubby has given me. Not only by financially supporting our current household arrangement so I can be home with the peanut, but by also encouraging me to find my passions and providing the emotional support I needed (um, still need!) while adjusting to several new roles (and honey, I know this hasn't been easy to do!).

So a year later, I still don't know where I'm headed, but I finally feel mentally and intellectually prepared to actually think about where I might want to go and how to get there. I feel confident that I will return to some sort of work at some point. A year ago, that type of vague comment would have sent me over the edge (as my sister recently pointed out, pre-peanut, I was a lot more high-strung. I'm glad to see he's mellowed me A LOT!) A year later, simply knowing that "someday" is out there is enough.

In the meantime, I've got a pretty fantastic day job to keep me going!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Food for Thought

This has been the week that peanut has decided napping in a normal routine is just too predictable (of course it doesn't help that I keep trying to trick him into napping in the afternoon by taking him to the pool in the morning which, apparently, wears him out to the point of zonking out on the way home and sleeping for about an hour and refusing to nap again later in the afternoon...I really should know better by now) so I haven't had my normal "downtime" to not only write, but to actually think about what to write.

It came to me during lunch, appropriately, that I had several small tidbits floating around in my head that all had to do with food. So consider this my tapas of posts:

  • iMac - What were you thinking? The new super cool, super thin all-in-one iMac computer was recently released. Along with the hardware, their new ad campaign: "The new iMac. You can't be too thin. Or too powerful." The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness was on this quickly and the ad copy has already been changed. Do I think this ad or slogan would have resulted in eating disorders, no. But do I think that it was an appropriate or responsible ad? Nope. It seems that everywhere you turn you hear people lauding the "real" woman physique and yet in magazines and in Hollywood, thin is still in. When it comes to advertising, we're still being sold the same old image...and there are only so many Dove products I can buy. I'm quite frankly surprised that this ad made it out the door - I would think somewhere in the Apple marketing chain a woman would have looked at this ad and had the guts to say, "we might want to think twice about this." But that's just one gal's opinion. What do you think? Was the ad cute/insulting/inconsiderate/stupid/insert own description here?
  • How is it that PB&J with Lay's potato chips tasted SO good after a morning in the pool with the smell of chlorine and sun block still on my skin? Felt like summer - you know, when summer used to mean no responsibility, summer when you were 7. Mmmmm, tasted good.
  • Why did I make myself a PB&J because it was "easy" and then made my child a chicken and cheese quesadilla with sliced avocado on the side. When did I become a diner?
  • My mama friends and I agree that eating food off of our kids' plates should be considered empty calories. We're just trying to instill good eating habits after all by demonstrating how yummy the green bean/noodle/banana/quesadilla is. And sometimes peanut wants to share, and isn't that something I should encourage? Would someone please tell my metabolism that only the PB&J should register, not the "extra" chicken and cheese quesadilla pieces?
  • Peanut could eat dairy all day long - loves milk, loves cheese, loves yogurt. See, all that ice cream I ate when I was pregnant was for a good cause!
Sorry it wasn't a four-course meal of a post, but sometimes a few appetizers make a nice dinner.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

One Day, Two Babies

The everyone-I know-is-having-babies-this-summer club expanded by two members yesterday! Amy Jo and family welcomed little Lucille and Cousin K. couldn't wait until her due date and brought another boy into the family with SeanTyler. CONGRATULATIONS!

I think this is it for babies until November (so Ms. M., you're next!).

Monday, August 20, 2007

"The Gambler" as a Metaphor for Parenthood

As I lay in bed last night with a case of "the Sundays" -- you know, that can't sleep cause another week is starting and it's the end of another weekend. I don't get them nearly as bad as I did when I was working since mamahood usually means every day, whether it's Tuesday or Saturday, look basically the same. But every once in awhile, the Sundays rear their ugly heads at bedtime, holding me captive to some VERY RANDOM thoughts.

Last night's random thought, Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler" really sums up motherhood. Let's take a look, shall we?:

  • You got to know when to hold 'em -- Pretty obvious, but one of the first things we learn as mamas is when certain cries mean feed me, change me or just hold me.
  • Know when to fold 'em -- This is all about laundry for me. If I fold it when I can't put it away, then it's a given that peanut will find the clean laundry and proceed to strew it about the floor, begin chewing on it and hide it (like in the hamper with the dirty clothes so I can't remember what's clean and what isn't). Timing the folding is a science around here.
  • Know when to walk away -- Sometimes you just need to put a fussy baby in a crib and walk away so you can pee, take a breath, grab a cup of coffee after an all-nighter with a fussy baby or call your husband at work proclaiming you're the worst mom ever (or maybe that last one was just me when peanut was still in his first "trimester" on the outside).
  • Know when to run -- Because he's hurt or scared or about to pull down an entire Sunday paper from the coffee table onto his head.
  • You never count your money, when you're sittin' at the table -- Babies are all about budgeting in ways I never imagined before I had one, but typically my budgets are done on the fly as I contemplate how to pay at Target (where I magically spend $100 every time I walk in -- how does this happen? I just went in for a birthday card and shampoo!?!).
  • There'll be time enough for countin', when the dealin's done -- I'm sure you all heard the same mantra from veteran parents that I did that time just flies by and to enjoy each little milestone and moment while you can. So true - and I've only got a year under my belt. But it explains all the nostalgic looking back when your kids are grown and gone and about to have little ones of their own (oh Lord, I need a glass of wine. Peanut's going to leave me one day? Ack!).
So what do you think? What random songs describe parenthood for you?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Be My Little Baby

It's official. Peanut is no longer a baby. I'm devastated and excited by this latest development. In the last week he's decided:
  • Who needs nursing? Milk is where it's at. He's pretty much weaned himself. A few months ago, I was so ready for the whole breastfeeding thing to be over. Now that it seems to be, I'm kind of sad it wasn't my decision...although I know it went a lot easier because he was the one to say "um, mom, it's not you, it's me. I hope we can still be friends -- now hand over the sippy cup!"
  • Walking is way more fun than crawling. Not always faster, but definitely worth trying out...A LOT.
  • Testing mommy's limits is funny!
  • Pointing is a very effective form of communication.
  • Bananas are still my favorite food...unless there is a toaster waffle next to it.
  • Mommy won't let me watch TV yet, but it seriously can't be better than watching the front-load washing machine fill with water and then start spinning. I mean, wow. Who needs hi-def?
So, yes, I miss my snugly little bundle of baby smell. But this little comedian cracks me up so much and fills me with such wonder at each of his little discoveries that it's usually a short-lived wistful 'what happened to my little baby moment?' and then we're off to the next thing. And chances are that thing is something we're not supposed to be playing with anyway (see "testing mommy's limits is funny").

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Celebrating a Milestone

Sorry for the absence. Between peanut's birthday party, the resulting out-of-town family guests and a day playing catch-up on laundry, groceries and mental energy, the week has flown by!

First of all, the party. How is it that I said I wasn't going to make a big deal about it and then there I was, making a big deal about it? I know he won't remember it all, but darned if he didn't have a good time. We did a bug theme with cute little bug cakelets decorated by the family, hung some crafty bug decorations and yes, peanut even wore a little t-shirt with little bugs on it. He loved the decorations and hugging all his little friends. He even showed off his walking skills, getting bolder and bolder in front of all the company. He loved his first taste of cake and behaved through the whole thing!

Some of our artistic bug cakes. Yum!

Keep your fly-swatters in check, these bugs were invited!

Follow the ants...they know where the party's at!

I'm amazed at how easily peanut adjusts to a roomful of people fighting for his attention. He seems to recognize his grandparents and aunts and uncles after awhile. With our family living far away, he only sees them about once every month or two. But it doesn't take him long to warm up to someone -- really, as long as you show interest in him and get down and play, he's all yours. Play with him enough and he'll crawl right on up and give you a great big old hug.

But, of course, I'm bragging on my son a bit too much. With all the attention peanut and therefore the hubby and my parenting skills were getting this weekend, it made me stop and think at age one, how much of peanut's behavior is nature versus nurture?

Peanut is a totally laid back baby. He is great at going with the flow, will eat just about anything I put in front of him, loves people, "behaves." And we get lots of compliments on our parenting skills for having such a great baby. But can I really take credit? Not completely. I know a lot of it is his personality. He was totally nonplussed in the hospital, never really cried much in the early days (only when he was naked) and has always been a flirt.

At the same time, I know the hubby and I work really hard to get him out and about, try to keep to a routine that isn't so strict that he freaks out if we don't keep it, but is structured enough to keep the little guy secure (and this mama's sanity intact). We keep him well fed and play with him and read to him. But don't most parents do the same?

So just when I think that I can take credit for the nurture side, I deduce that I can't and vice versa.

Although...they are my hubby and my genes that make up his personality, so I guess we can take credit no matter whether it's nature or nurture, right? Bonus!

Sweet Baby James

Since I've been keeping track of the bazillion babies arriving this summer to folks I know, I must take a moment to welcome sweet baby James to the world! I hear your mama is just a-glowin', so keep up that chill attitude. Can't wait to meet you. Congrats mama L.

So Ms. Amy Jo, you're next! (Sorry I got your due dates mixed up - my bad!)

Friday, August 10, 2007

525,600 Minutes

At first you measure in hours (30 hours of labor), then days (first doctor's appointment at 4 days old), then weeks (first smile at 6 weeks to the day), then months (first tooth finally arrived at 10 months) and now years.

Today marks peanut's first birthday. 1 year. 12 months. 365 days. 525,600 minutes.

A year ago today I didn't think I'd make it through delivery. I was exhausted and not in control. And then he was there, screaming on my chest, slimy and firm, loud, pouting and absolutely perfect.

In the months that have passed, I am struck by how much he's changed and how much he hasn't. Of course he's grown and acquired new skills. He's eating real food, babbling in sentences, pointing, laughing, walking (sort of). And some days I still feel exhausted and not in control. But he so much resembles the little boy behind the screaming bundle that I first held onto in the delivery room.

It must be how Michelangelo felt when he said he saw his figures in the stone, he just had to chisel away the excess. I feel like peanut becomes more and more of what the hubby and I have always seen in him. He's an active kid with a very mischievous sense of humor and a fabulous giggle. He likes to observe a situation before diving in. He is a wonderful cuddler. He enjoys a bit of roughhousing but could also sit and look at a book for minutes on end (hey, for a 12 month old, that's an eternity). Every day he surprises me and at the same time, he seems so familiar with each new trick.

I can't believe how much and how fast he's changed.

As I've marveled at all this growing in the last few days and played the "a year ago today" game, I wonder how much I've changed.

I've got a new name, mommy. The wardrobe is definitely more casual. The days are most certainly a bit more routine and the pay has taken some getting used to. Priorities have shifted as have my natural circadian rhythms. But strangely, I think I am simply becoming more of myself, just like peanut is. As our family grows, so do its individual members.

Meanwhile, today I will marvel at my little one and continue to fall more and more in love.

Happy Birthday, baby!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

One Year Itch

Maybe it's the years of working and always being on the lookout for the next best thing.

Maybe it's seeing some working moms I know look like rock stars when they balance family and work life.

Or maybe it's so darn hot outside I've gone delirious.

I saw a job opening today that piqued my interest. It fit my qualifications and would certainly take my skills in communications and media relations to the next level.

But then I had to take a step back. I know the organization that's hiring and how bureaucratic it is. I know the travel requirement was a turn-off. I know I'm not ready to go back to work. I don't know that I want to go back to doing what I was doing before. But there it is, gnawing at the back of my brain today.

Of course maybe that's because I spent the better part of a trip to Target trying to get my peanut to stay in the cart (how did he figure out how to stand up in the shopping cart seat WITH the seat belt on? Does this make him a genius, a Houdini or a stunt man?). That adventure made nearly any professional communications job seem easier than trying to communicate with an almost 12-month-old on the importance of safety restraints.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Does Google Maps Provide Directions for the Hood? Toddlerhood, that is.

Peanut's first birthday is a week away and I'm panicked.

Not about the party (that's worthy of a whole other post), but that something is going to go wrong with peanut. It's almost like his warranty is about to run out (because you know as soon as your car/stereo/computer/whatever warranty ends, the damn thing breaks the next day). Every scratch, bruise, heat rash, diaper deposit has been cause for intense inspection this week.

I have applauded myself so far this year for not needing to call the pediatrician all that often. I admit to doing it a few times in the beginning for non-issues. After all, he's my first and they freak you out with all the counting of the poops and pee and temperature taking. But after a few middle of the night moments and reassuring words from the nurse on call, I felt pretty confident that the little peanut was doing okay and learned what the important things were to call about. Oh, what a laid back mom I am. I can totally handle this mom thing.


All of a sudden I'm convinced that everything is an indication of some horrible problem. And it doesn't help that the kid is trying to figure out how to walk and is bumping into things left and right (usually with his head), and his knees are rubbed raw from tearing down the hardwood hallways at warp speed on his knees, or that it's the summer in the South and so of course he has a bit of a heat rash in the folds behind his knees.

I realized I have a problem when I found myself wondering if his feet are too small.


I thought about this for a good half-hour.

I almost wrote it down on the list of questions for the next doctor's appointment. Right behind "tell me straight, doc, am I good mom?"

Because I think that's what it boils down to. The first year is all about survival. I kept him fed, clothed, cuddled, well-rested. He seems to be happy. He smiles a lot. He giggles. He gives great hugs. But all of a sudden, as I realize he's about to enter toddlerhood, I'm as nervous as I was when we brought the peanut home and didn't have a nurse on-hand 24 hours a day.

Soon he'll be talking back and I'll need to make sure he understands concepts like sharing and compassion and empathy and that it's not good to drink the toilet water. What if I stink at this part of mothering? What if he likes the taste of cat food better than my cooking? What if his feet really are too small?

But then I figure I didn't know what the heck I was doing a year ago this time when I was sitting around, eating ice cream and just waiting to go into labor. I've got a whole year of mothering under my belt, a ton of great role model moms with fabulous toddlers and a terrific partner in crime (aka the hubby).

And I'll try to keep in mind that they don't include feet measurements on the growth chart, so peanut's little piggies are probably fine...right?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Welcome to the Club

Another member of the club has arrived. Little Lila joined us yesterday! Welcome to the world and A., welcome to mommyhood.

Our "veteran" member welcoming number two is next with mama-to-be L. not too far behind. Good luck, ladies!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Got Guilt?

I ran across this article on the ever present mommy guilt issue for working moms. I've known enough working moms to know that daycare drop-off can be the worst part of every day and the fear of missing a milestone moment can be demoralizing.

But ladies, the grass isn't always greener. Don't we all have mommy guilt no matter what our work situation? Maybe it's just me, but some days when I'm watching peanut take out his blocks, throw them around the room, then put them back in their basket just to take them out and throw them around the room for the fifth time that hour, I feel guilty. Guilty that I'm bored out of my mind! I mean, I chose this stay-at-home-mom gig and isn't it supposed to be the best job in the world? How could I possibly be bored?

I do love it most of the time, just like I'm sure working moms are probably happy most of the time. But we all have our moments and some days are going to have more moments than others. I just wish that when a woman wants to act on or express a personal need (whether that's the need to work, the need to take a break from the kids, the need to pick up their peanut a little early that day for an extra snuggle, the need to express themselves apart from their families) we didn't have to feel guilty about it.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Finding it Hard to Fill in the Blanks

While filling out the new patient paperwork at a new eye doctor's office today, I came to a halt at "Occupation."

I had a hard enough time writing down "sales" while at my previous position. Technically, that's what I did, but I felt more like a communications consultant. Semantics...maybe. But that's how I approached the job, not by trying to meet a quota. It worked for me and I developed lasting relationships with clients, some of whom are still friendly acquaintances. Regardless of how I felt about the word, "sales" was the best one-word description for what I did.

But today, I didn't know what to write. I could put down mom, but those women who work and have kids certainly don't write down "working mother" or "paralegal and mom." After all, a mother is a mother no matter what she does from 9 to 5.

I guess I'm a big old N/A in the occupation category until someone starts paying me for this mom gig. Any volunteers?!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

One Mom's Opinion

I admit to being a little behind in my reading, so it was only Monday night that I read last week's My Turn column in Newsweek. Tuesday, Mojo Mom reacted to the same piece. Since this kept coming back to mind at random times over the last several days, I felt compelled to offer my two cents.

To begin with, I do have a problem with Ms. Friedman generalizing and stereotyping mothers. Many of her comments only perpetuate a negative image of motherhood that certainly isn't the norm. I know many fabulous moms who are raising great, polite kids while following their passions, working in fantastic jobs, contributing to the community and mixing a mean cocktail. I think it is entirely possible that Ms. Friedman needs to expand her circle of mom friends to include a more balanced cross-section of motherhood.

However, she does hit on an unfortunate truth -- when it comes to kids (having them, naming them, raising them), many people feel the need to impart unwanted advice as absolute truths. Why is it okay in this society to judge women about when/whether they have children and once they do, whether they continue working once they arrive?

While reading this particular column, I was reminded of all the thoughts/reactions/advice I received before and after having peanut about whether I should return to work or stay home.

Before the hubby and I even started trying to get pregnant, someone asked me, "well of course you'll stay home when you have kids, right?" I was so thrown by the question and tone of the subsequent conversation. How could I possibly know what I would do in such a personal situation that comes with so many new experiences that I could not even pretend to imagine how I would react to any of them? Not to mention not knowing what kind of financial situation the hubby and I would be in whenever that moment arrived. But this person seemed adamant that I should stay home and would of course want to, insinuating that if I didn't, something was surely wrong with me.

After I became pregnant, the closer the due date approached, the more people asked. The strange thing, to me, was that my husband was just finishing up grad school and still had not found a job. Of course I was going to return to work after maternity leave -- if I didn't, we were going to have BIG problems.

When the hubby did get a job (ironically receiving the offer the same day as peanut was born), I thought long and hard about whether to stick with my plan to go back to work or to stay home. This was an issue that was also a topic of much discussion in the media this year based on this book and this one and this one (all of which I admit to not reading...YET! They are on my to-do list, I promise.).

Of course not all the voices out there are critical ones. I received the best advice and support from family, friends who have been there and experienced moms who had the benefit of perspective on their own choices.

I do still find myself defending my decision to people in both camps, fearful of being judged. I realize that a lot of this is my own internal conflict as I grow into this new "mom" person while still struggling to hold onto my unique self. But perhaps if as a society we all redirected our questions and judgements to corporate America and our culture, women could grow in a more flexible environment, would have careers to come back to after an absence and wouldn't feel so obligated to choose between career OR family (this certainly only applying to those of us lucky enough to have a choice).

In the meantime, I remind myself that the column is labeled "My Turn" and this is just one woman's opinion and she is entitled to it. I respect her decision to not have children right now, after all, I don't know her. I would hope that she could extend me, and the rest of us moms, the same respect. That, I believe, will create the best role models not only for other new moms but for our children as well.