Monday, January 31, 2011

Top of the muffin, to ya!: Week 3

Stress: I eats it.

The grocery list in my purse on Tuesday included asparagus, collard greens, chickpeas, tofu and a host of other ingredients that would warrant - best case scenario - a side eye from my husband and a furtive glance at the cabinet to make sure we had plenty of cereal in case my concoctions took a turn for the gross.

As I pulled into a parking spot at the grocery store, I chatted on the phone with a friend about something silly.  As soon as we came to a swift conclusion regarding the minutia in my life, she gently and gracefully told me that the previous day, she found out she has cancer.

Rather than explain one of the most horrifying conversations of my life - where we both managed to cry and laugh - I'll just tell you what was in my cart when I left:

chocolate pudding cups
Fruit Roll-ups
canned pasta (spaghetti-o's)
Almond Joy coffee creamer
cookie dough

I'd like to say that I came to my senses when I unloaded the fat grenades from the trunk, but..

Because my friend lives so very far away and I couldn't bake her a casserole or give her a hug or watch her children to give her a break, I did the next most helpful thing:

During Harper's nap, I catatonically sat on the couch - eating pieces of chewy, artificially flavored high fructose corn syrup - and cried the Mom Cry (which is the 5-second boohoo from which you recover as quickly as it started.  Almost like it didn't happen? This generally occurs spontaneously several times over the course of the day so that it equals one good cry, but your mascara doesn't run as much and your eyes don't stay swollen all day.) while reading everything the Internet had to offer on her illness.

A couple of days later, I was trying to get a grip when..

The heavens snowed a foot and the power went out for 36 hours.

Somehow, Toddler + Treacherous Roads + Husband Working Hours Later Than Expected = Wendy's Spicy Chicken sandwich

In this very second, I could tell you 15 things that would render you incapable of ever eating another piece of chicken.

The fog lifted on Friday morning, when I woke to a warm house, an electrified coffee maker and a head full of statistics and hope for my friend.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were filled with fresh fruit, veggies, green tea, water and activity.

Somehow, I managed to shock my body so harshly that I lost 1 pound, which is roughly equivalent to a chair blowing off the deck of a cruise ship.

Next week, I'm back on the horse. Full time. The normal horse, not the crazy horse (not the Native American war leader and especially not the Myrtle Beach variety).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Night Out

After arriving home one night from dinner with Brandon, Harper and a friend, I couldn't recall what I ordered just two hours prior or any topics we might have discussed.

For the entirety of our dining experience, I sat, absorbed in Harper's entertainment, quelling screaming fits before they began, and literally sweating under a hyperactive heating fan as I quickly reached for sippy cups, grabbed breakables from her hands and picked up discarded crayons & cheese quesadillas again and again and again. 

Exhausted mentally and physically, I was completely at peace with swearing off all public appearances until Harper goes to college.

So, as plans were forming to join our friends and their three-month-old baby girl for a dinner out this weekend, I was anxious.
Then, I audibly giggled in relief as I read a text that would baffle young, single revelers, mortify the socially appropriate and delight every parent with a toddler.

"We're trying to keep our baby on a schedule. Can we do dinner at 4:30?"

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Type B Problem of the Week

My new debit card has a 6 digit pin number, which is precisely two more numbers than I can recall when H is about to take a flying leap out of the grocery cart.

Friday, January 28, 2011

We get by with a little help from our friends.

Night before last and yesterday was a chunk of time that I'd just as soon not relive.

After a foot of heavy, tree-snapping, power-line downing snow (thanks, NOAA, for flubbing so catastrophically) and a crisp night spent with no heat or electricity and a child bundled up like Randy from A Christmas Story, we dug out of our driveway and abandoned our house for the day, not knowing when we would return, because..

When you're a kid, it's an adventure.  When you're a young adult, it's annoying.  When you're an adult with a baby in the winter, it's unlivable.

Many hours later, we picked Brandon up from work and returned to what we hoped would be the house on the street that would make environmentalists cringe (generally, when the power comes back on, I'm temporarily blinded because in my mole-like bumblings, I turn on every single light by habit).

When we slipped around the icy corner onto our street, I choked back a sob (dramatic, much?) as I saw the gleaming brick colonial beacon welcoming us home. 

Right in the driveway, Brandon and I both whipped out our phones and began calling and texting the laundry list of friends who had contacted us throughout the day

to make sure we were ok,

to offer their homes for the night and weekend,

to let me and Harper spend the whole day with them & not flinch when H delivered an an award-winning temper tantrum in the car,

to remind me that Harper's white noise machine can be operated on battery power.

Thanks, y'all.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Oh, blind carbon copy.  How I love thee. So rarely are you utilized for mature and businesslike purposes. Since 1977, you've been reducing post-collegiate adults to teenagers, creating mass panic and forging lasting coworker bonds of friendship through the destruction of others. Send one my way, please!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Emersen's Arrival

Today, when Harper's crib acrobatics began, I didn't move immediately.  I snuggled a little deeper and thought of all the things that are happening this morning.

Today, Harp and I have to go to the emissions testing facility to ensure our car is environmentally fit for Maryland roadways.  'Cause you know about those big billowy bombs of smoke that regularly shoot out of a 2008 Honda Accord..?

And we need to drop off a movie at Blockbuster.

And then there's story time at the library if Harper is in the mood.

And we really need milk..

..and Harper needs new socks.

And right now, in this early hour, my friend Tiffany and her husband Linwood are saying hello to their daughter, Emersen Belle, for the very first time. The moment is so fleeting and if you're a parent, you remember every single detail of those first few seconds and minutes. So cruelly, it only happens once, but it's enough to last for the rest of your life.  Congrats Tiffany, Linwood and big sister Danica!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Top of the muffin to ya!: Week 2

Me: "I know absolutely everything about how to lose weight! How come I'm still fat?" 

Brandon: "Haha. Baby, some are meant to play the game.  Others are meant to coach." 

With that, I give you this week's update on my three part approach to reclaiming fitness by May:

1. I did exercise every day.

2. I've relaxed the veganism, as I knew would eventually happen, into snobby vegetarianism. I've realized that I absolutely can't get worked up about the conditions under which organic milk and eggs are produced. If the animals are treated humanely and aren't given antibiotics and hormones, I just can't get worked up.  Call me Type B. Sure, it'll take a little more work on my part to find out where products like this are sold, but it's a small price to pay for being able to eat yogurt, again. Yogurt is good for you. Diatribe over.

3. I drank a gallon of water every single day. And my wedding ring fits over my huge, jammed-way-too-many-times-to-be-healthy knuckle, again. Bliss.


1. The purchase of blood oranges. ..Yeah, they taste pretty much like regular oranges but they're creepy and look like blood and that's fun. I aspire to hook Harper on them, so she can add it to her repertoire of scary things she's able to do to ward off bullies.  I wouldn't have messed with any kid who ate blood oranges for lunch.

2. The persimmons were restocked at our grocery store this week! Have you ever eaten a persimmon? Buy one. They're sweeter than fudge and they're so good for you! They're ripe if they're ugly, have black spots and are so soft that you could poke your finger right into it. Don't eat them until they're like this.

3. A Starbucks Short Latte. It's 8 oz. It's not on the menu. It's cheaper and obviously has less calories. These are good things. Try one!


The low point of the week came yesterday.  Harper was causing a huge ruckus in the back seat so when we stopped at Einstein's, I ordered her a cinnamon raisin bagel.  When I got back to the car, I realized it was a cinnamon sugar bagel and knew immediately I was doomed. Shore nuff, before we got home, I had eaten half of it. You know.. In those little bites that don't have calories. ((Looks around for the vegan police, 'cause it sure wasn't soy butter holding all that stuff on the top of that bagel)). 300 calories. For half.

Result: Down 4 lbs. In your face, players.

Your face will freeze like that!

Like all parents, I worry about how Harper will turn out.  Am I raising her the right way?

I'm lucky enough to worry about things like, "Will I have to force her to grad school does one do that?" "Can common sense be taught? Learned?" "What will the other kids think when she only wants sparkling water on the first day of kindergarten?"

If you ask anyone in my family, the answer is: Utilize the cautionary tale.

Consequently, I grew up to things like:

"Wash your face before bed.  You don't want the cockroaches to have a picnic on it!"

"Don't pick your nose. It'll give you a brain infection."

"Brush your teeth. Have you ever seen Grandpa Lugie's dentures?"

"Don't pop a pimple near your nose. It'll get infected and swell up as big as a golf ball!"

"Don't go into the ocean any deeper than your ankles. Otherwise, the undertow will sweep you out to sea. I should know. It happened to me."

"Don't hold onto the chains of a swing. Your uncle knew a man who got electrocuted in sunny weather because a lightning bolt struck the swing set he was sitting on."  

My favorite is the last one, because I have no idea what I was supposed to do with that information.

It was like an episode of Scared Straight before I had a chance to go crooked.

I use the cockroach line frequently, but it doesn't seem to lessen the blow of the wet paper towel.  So, I'll bide my time until Harper can understand that I'm trying to scare the bejeezus out of her.

I like to think I know an opportunity when I see it, so when I came across this a few days ago, I filed it away.

For generations to come, it will be accepted as fact in our family that if a boy gives you a hickey, you will, without a doubt, have a stroke and be paralyzed.

Case closed.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Type B Problem of the Week

Today, Harper and I were playing with nail polish bottles on the bed.  Harper broke a pink one in two pieces - like she was going to use it as a weapon in a bar fight - and within .0000009 seconds, her hands, my hands, and my dry-clean only duvet cover were covered in sticky, bubblegum pink lacquer.

..So I ushered the reveler off the bed, took a picture with my phone, sent it to a friend and threw the duvet cover in the washing machine. ..Oh, the horror.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Git 'er dun.

"I get more done by 8:00 a.m. than you get done all day!"

As Dad would blaze past me with a level or a wrench or a power tool on the way out to the barn or to his truck, this was his typical greeting on a Saturday morning when I'd sleepily shuffle into the kitchen around 9:00 a.m.

I've always been an early riser. At school, I'd hear tales of my friends sleeping until noon or later on the weekends. While this was never physiologically possible for me, 9:00 was my 1:00 and if I slept much later than that, Dad woke me up. Even if we didn't have anything to do or any place to go.

In retrospect, it trained me well for motherhood.

I'd like to think I made it longer than the average mom before collapsing in a teary puddle and admitting that 4 hours of sleep each night isn't enough and I could still form coherent sentences when Harper was 14 months and still not sleeping through the night.

For better or worse, Harper has inherited my ability to rise early and happily. We've learned to take advantage of these extra, non-crowded hours so that we don't land in the grocery store at 2:00 p.m. Rarely does anything fun happen with Harper after 3:00 p.m. 

So, I can boastfully say that usually, we get more done by 8:00 a.m. than some people get done all day. Like.. maybe old people who don't work, or something.

This is what we did, this morning:

Between 5:45 - 6:00, Harper started wiggling and the alarm clock went off. Harper sat with the babysitter (Nick Jr.) while I got us ready to go.  Milk: Check. Coffee: Check. Pants: Check. Then, we drove into DC and dropped Brandon off at work.

An aside: Brandon could easily drive himself to work in his own car, but we go together because between the commute and parking, it means Brandon gets to spend an extra hour/day with Harper.

7:00, we loudly enter the grocery store. Harper knows and greets the morning cashiers and she's on foot since we only have two things to get.  She thoughtfully and carefully cradles her precious Pepperidge Farm cinnamon raisin bread and I carry the milk.  Cause, y'all. It's supposed to snow tonight and I'd be forsaking my Southern roots if I didn't rush out to buy bread and milk. After a somewhat raucous tussle over who gets to enter the pin number, we leave.

An aside: Do you drink organic milk? Not for all the crunchy granola dread-locked tie-dyed hippie reasons, but because it's the fiscally responsible thing to do if you don't drink a lot of it. Because fewer farms produce it, it has to travel farther, so it's super-pasteurized. The gallon I bought this morning has an expiration date of March 11th.

7:20, Dunkin' Doughnuts stop. Harper's yelling "bayyy ull" from the back seat and I take a stab at what that means.

7:30, Bank.

7:45, Gas Station.

7:50, Blockbuster.

7:59, Harper is first in line at the post office.  They open the door one minute early because she's yelling "Haaaay! Knock, knock!" and banging on the door. I hope that was cute to them, instead of annoying. I think most things she does are funny. Like beer goggles. Mom goggles.

When we don't take Brandon to work, we get an early start anyway.  If you're curious, Home Depot and most grocery stores open at 7:00. So do pharmacies. So does Wal-Mart. Target opens at 8:00. Do you know the bliss that is to be the only customers in Target?

For those of you in a profession that require you to wake and begin working anytime prior to 5:30, I sincerely apologize and recognize and appreciate that you want to punch me in the face right now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Today, Starbucks introduces the new Trenta cup. Reserved for cold beverages (because you know there exists a dummy who would buy a Trenta Caramel Macchiato every single morning and eventually, Car Ramrod would take an untimely speed bump and gluttony would be rewarded with second degree private part burns), the Trenta is a full 7 ounces larger than the Venti. Unless taller than 6'3, a person will look really, really silly carrying around this liter-a-tea.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Top of the muffin, to ya!

The last thing I'd ever do is turn this into a weight loss blog. Obviously, some actual "loss" would have to take place to make that a reality, but secondarily, fun things happen in my life that are far more awesome to talk about.  Like coffee filter wreaths.

But before I get into the awesome that is that wreath, tomorrow, tonight I'll say this: We're going to Fort Lauderdale in May and I'm not taking a muffin top with me. I'm feeling the pressure from a stringy, three-headed monster named Polyester, Spandex and Lycra.

Luckily, I have a three-pronged approach:

1. I'll do some sort of exercise If it's warm enough and light outside - because our treadmill broke and our neighborhood is spooky at night - I'll get in a C25K run. If it's not or not, I'll do Wii Zumba, a Pilates dvd or Wii Just Dance.  

Regarding the latter: Enjoyable in equal parts are the 80s-heavy choreography and Brandon's sweet moves. I can not understand how the Wii possibly favors his flailing and constant bouncing (Tigger does Jersey Shore fist-pumping), but he almost always beats me, so I guess that makes me Pooh.

2. I'll continue with my super healthy, slightly unorthodox Vegan diet. ..b/c it would be embarrassing to be the only fat vegan in history.

3. I will drink so much water that Harper will get to follow me into the bathroom at least thrice as often as she does, now. Don't have a toddler and know anything about this? Ha. Just wait.

And since Monday is a total fail of a day, I'll update every Monday until May.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Hey, you.. with the fonty, multicolored work email signature. What are you going for, here? Because when I see your signature under your message marked "Very Important" or "Urgent!," my thought process goes a little something like this:

CrazyCakes McCrayCray
I Luckily Stumbled Into This Associate-Level Position
My Company is not thrilled with this off-brand conglomeration I call my contact information.
1 LaLa Land Lane
867-5309 It'll take me a LONG time to call you back, or I may erase your VM and pretend you didn't call.

If my super sweet email signature didn't do the trick, I'm going to throw in one or more italicized quotes by Gandhi or Aristotle to demonstrate my trustworthiness, intellect and worldliness. 

Mission accomplished.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Against the Wind

Elementary School: Upon completion of the dreaded 1 Mile Run, a teacher looked me square in the face and said, "I can walk it faster than that."

Middle School: Made sports teams. Had no choice but to run every. single. weekday. Oh, the horror.

High School: Same thing. Then, quit because I sucked in a furious rebellion. Then, accidentally made the bowling team my senior year, spent the winter eating cheese fries at Lafayette Lanes, turned into a Chris Farley-esque version of myself, realized the error of my ways and ran every morning until college to undo the damage.

College: I regularly ran - usually outside, by myself. My theory on how I alluded kidnappers: I tend to flail a little lot and make scary, jerky faces, so any potential axe murderer/rapist probably wouldn't have wanted me. After flirting with long distance running (ok. totally not long distance to an actual runner. . .) but with more than a few 14, 15, 16 mile runs under my belt, I could have probably hopped a 5K on one leg with no shoes. Or toenails.. because most of them fell off from the running. Eww.

Milwaukee & Maryland: Gone were the days of hours on a treadmill because I had to do this thing called.. work for money. Weather permitting, I did manage to make it to the gym or run around our super cute neighborhood(s).

18 months ago: Someone chewed me up and spit me out . . . and that very small person was Harper. After 9 months of toting around her little watermelon self, then bringing her into the world, I was spent. Those of you who "bounce right back," bless your hearts. That was not me. Everything hurt and I was so sleep deprived that I got winded and sore walking around the grocery store. I never thought I would ever be the same until..

Yesterday: My name is Courtney, and I have started a Couch to 5K training program. Because like every other 40 year old, I need to take it slowly. Ever the planner, I chose to begin in mid-January (what the..?) and got the weeks confused on my mp3 player . . .so I started on Week 2, instead of Week 1. ((flops on couch, dies))

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Aww, shucks.

Usually, I don't bother to make new year's resolutions. If I'm really serious about something, I save it for Lent. ..There's more riding on that and I'm good with pressure.

A couple nights ago when we were out to dinner, it hit me: I am horrible with compliments. I don't give them often enough and I have to remind myself to take them gracefully.

I believe my lack lies somewhere amid ingrained Southern humility, shaky self-confidence and my knack for self-deprecating humor.  It's the compliment Bermuda Triangle. Nothing goes in, and nothing comes out.

It's really not the train wreck I make it sound like, but when someone says something complimentary, I look down (because sometimes my cheeks turn pink) and fight like crazy the urge to say, "Ugh, my hair is tangled and my pants are too short!" After lots of practice, I can usually squeak out an "Aww, thank you." But it's a battle. It really is.

Especially after Harper. . . even if I look together, I'm a bit of a hot mess.  It's not like I don't like compliments.  It always makes me feel great, I just react poorly.

..and because I don't take them well, I don't give them well.  Much more than not, I swear, I'm thinking something positive about someone I see. Oh, and by the way.. the adage that you shouldn't be so self-conscious because people are rarely paying attention to anything but themselves? Can I just call BS on that? Pre-Harper, and when she's behaving herself, I definitely notice other people.

So, this year, I resolve to give more compliments.  Not fake crap. . . just verbalize what I'm thinking. Because it makes people feel good. And life is hard sometimes. And people need to hear it. And if me saying, "Wow, I like that nail polish" might give someone a little pep, I'm in to that.

Friday, January 7, 2011

An open letter.

Dear Elevator Mom,

Yes, I'm talking to you.  Remember me? You probably don't, but I bet you might remember my darling child.  She was the 18 month old screaming in the elevator because, less than two minutes prior, she had gotten three shots in her sweet little legs.

Remember, now? Yeah. There you were. . . smacking and relentlessly popping your chewing gum with your bad dye job. Your pre-teen boy had his head stuck in a video game so, lucky for him, he wasn't the target of your roaming stink eye. I think if I were your child, I'd probably play a video game instead of talk to you, too.

Lucky for me and Harp, you were so void of thought that the only thing on your to-do list was to stare at a crying toddler with a disapproving look on your face. And when she dropped her paci at your feet because she was crying so hard and you wouldn't pick it up? Well, that's just special. Bless your heart.  It's not like I had my hands full or anything.

Lucky for you, if I hadn't been carrying the 3ft. screaming toddler, her coat, her hat, my coat, her blanket, my diaper bag and pushing a stroller with a purse and medical records in it, I would have punched you square in your unpowdered, shiny, red nose.

Until we meet again.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

If you ceaselessly carry around a Nalgene water bottle, you look like a toddler with a sippy cup.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I think I can, I think I can.

Day 5 of veganism, three slip-ups. None intentional, even though I've been eyeballing the chocolate cherries on our kitchen counter so hard that I'm positive they can't continue to withstand the pressure. I keep waiting for one to spontaneously combust.  When it happens, I just hope its near my mouth. 

Bring on the indiscretion:

1. Day 2. Brandon has announced, quite dramatically, on several occasions that his life is only worth living after a coffee flavored frappuccino on Saturday mornings. Well, the baristas flubbed his order and presented him with a caramel frap, which aside from the squirt or two of caramel, is topped with an obscenely tall tower of whipped cream. Just to get out of the claustrophobia-inducing nightmare that is our Starbucks on Saturday morning, we accepted the tower amid a Brandon side-eye and grumble about its girlyness. In a weakened, decaffeinated state, he deemed it acceptable and thrust the straw my way for corroboration. Whoops.

2. Last night. I licked the lid of Harper's yogurt.  Old habits die hard.

3. Today. I cooked an amazingly delicious Gardenburger brand veggie burger (seriously, I yelled from the kitchen, to no one in particular, that it was the best thing I've ever eaten and that my taste buds are clearly responding to this whole veganism shtick) . While contemplating another putting another on my plate, I saw a little oily residue from the bygone burger, and because my BFFs, the veggies, wouldn't do me like this, I checked the ingredients list: cheese. Burger fail. Apparently I bought the one variety in their product line that contains cheese. Vegan fail.

Pressing on.. one tofu square and crockpotted lentil soup at a time.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Harper hates Christmas.

As only children and first grandchildren at Christmas usually roll, Harper is living large.  Basking in the glow of 9 million new toys that she loves, there were ..and I guess always will be.. a few fails. 

Santa did the worst job. He brought Harper two things she totally hates:

Meet Harper's Arch Enemy: Original Tickle-Me-Elmo.  The mere sight of him sends her running to the other end of the house.    

Farm Animal Sounds Puzzle straight from Hell.  Even after I took the batteries out and disabled the terror, the wounds are too deep. ..Maybe in a few months.

Although it was touch-and-go for the first few days, she finally warmed to:
Violet the Dog (since Violet knows Harper's name, she's tentatively in the circle of trust)    

Our great friends gave Harper the most popular and sought-after toy of the Christmas season:  

The Singamajig, which I find unbelievably cute.  Unfortunately, Harper thinks it cries instead of sings, soo... just one syllable of his festive rendition of "This Little Light of Mine" will collapse Harper into a puddle of tears.

And because she absolutely loved the majority of her spoils, I would be remiss in not mentioning the top three most-loved. The grandparents (the aged Santas) came strong, delivering all three of her very favorites:
It's a REAL grocery cart, just smaller. She loves it beyond measure. She puts her baby in the front, browses the cabinets for groceries and strolls yells and runs all over the house.
Although latch #2 causes a sad little breakdown every now and then, this Melissa & Doug latch board will keep us busy for more than 15 minutes, which equals hours in baby time.

Meet Harper's new BFF - Dancing Mickey. Just like H, he has boundless energy and his mouth opens frequently in realistic song, which, when she can catch him, Harper rewards with cheese crackers.