Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Harper rages against the dying of the light.

Fairly often, Harper will find something hilarious.  The belly laughs, which are so uncontrolled and unexpected, often completely knock her off of her feet. A Budweiser Clydesdale throwing a snowball will reduce her to a lump of bumbly, stumbly, snorting adorable.

When this happens, as most parents can attest, I feel it, too. I smile and laugh along, but really? To see her so happy is like someone is hugging my heart (gross, but that's how it feels).

When it happens, I soak it in. . . because as often as she collapses in a fit of laughter, she collapses in a puddle of tears and screams.

..because I insist that she hold my hand and not roam freely through a busy Chicago Starbucks.

..because she doesn't want to get in the stroller.  She wants to walk, just like us.

..because she's tired, but can't fall asleep because she doesn't want to miss one.single.thing.

..because too many people are staring at her and talking to her and I'm holding her hand and she can't retreat from the intimidation.

She's been on the earth a short 21 months.

It's par for the course.

She can't control it.  She feels, just like adults, but she's too little to contain it. Or express it with words. Or blog about it.

I beg of you.  Harper & I beg of you.

Remember that she's a tiny person with big feelings.

Even I don't always remember that.

..especially when she lets fly with a blood curdling scream in Starbucks before I can quickly usher her out the door into the cold so as not to fluster the regulars.

Please try to understand.  Trust me.  I'm mortified.

I might sheepishly smile (because what else can I do) while I try to quickly fix the problem, but no one is hugging my heart. It's being ripped out.  By your disapproving stare.  By her unhappiness & frustration.

It's OK to feel upset that the bliss of your morning routine was interrupted.  Harper is upset, too. . . She envies your freedom & eye-levelness (as opposed to butt-levelness) & ability to sit in a chair untethered & your coffee instead of her milk.

But if my toddler gets the best of you, if your emotions get the best of you, and you can't help but glare angrily or furrow your brow or roll your eyes in exasperation, a wonderful alternative is to take your ass out of the public place that we want so desperately to leave, and have coffee at home.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Top of the Muffin, to ya! Week 11

Wow, I had high expectations for vacation. As we buzzed through hilly Pennsylvania before dawn, chatty from obscenely large coffees and the promise of a week away, I told my husband how committed I was to staying on track for the week.

And then my overly tired toddler had a screaming meltdown at 7:00 a.m. at a Michigan Avenue Starbucks.  And then it started raining and didn't stop. And it was cold. And windy. And then Harper declared adamant opposition to the stroller. And before I knew it, I was sitting in our hotel room, mindlessly eating a pack of Harper's fruit snacks (among other atrocities).

And though Harper made a swift recovery and had a wonderful week in the stroller, in museums and even in the pack n play,

Unfortunately (poor choice of words. . . the muffin top has nothing to do with fortune, since it was completely within my control), I crumbled like. . . the crust of a Gino's East deep dish cheese pizza.

And crumbled like the huge bag of Doritos that Harper poured onto the luxurious hotel bed at 6:15 a.m.

And crumbled like deep-fried portabella mushrooms (y'all, I don't even like mushrooms) at Trocadero.

And crumbled like the Garrett Chicago Mix my huge butt sat on as we drove home.

We got back two days ago.  I'm too scared to weigh.

Last week did not a skinny bitch make. I am shamed.  I am embarrassed.

I'm going vegan for the week to get myself back on track.

I will not falter.  I will not fail.

I will wear my favorite white capris in May and I will not look like a ruptured bag of cake icing in doing so.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

the one where I visit Milwaukee . . Part I

Three years ago, I tearfully jerked my way onto a Wisconsin interstate in Brandon's manual transmission sports car and sobbed my way to the Illinois line, where I determined that I couldn't possibly cry any more because. . .

. . .  Traffic was terrible and I needed to NOT stall out in Chicago. ..b/c getting horns blown at me makes me totally lose it like Dionne on the freeway.

. . . and I wasn't trying to show up all puffy-eyed and dehydrated for my first day of my new job. Nothing says 'competent hire' like some busted eye blood vessels.

. . . and with tolls scattered through Illinois and Indiana, it was too much trouble to start crying and quit crying for every one.

I was leaving a job I loved, friends who had become family and a neighborhood where I wanted to raise children.  In just two years, Milwaukee had become home.

Since we left, I've hoped we could go back, if only for a vacation - I know, I know.. vacation in Milwaukee? - so when Brandon told me that we'd be going to Chicago for a week this March, I jumped at the chance to drive an hour north.  Back home.

I knew that it would be different, because everything changes, and that, quite possibly, the changes would make me love it less.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


For my whole life, until one year ago, when I'd hear Prince sing Raspberry Beret, I definitely thought he was singing "Brass Merry-Go-Round."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Top of the Muffin to ya! Week 10

There's this .. Mom secret.

When you're in public and visibly pregnant, complete Mom strangers will approach you and try to explain it.

You nod knowingly, but you don't know, yet.

You believe them.

You anticipate the feeling.

Until you see your baby for the first time, you don't understand what they're trying to tell you.

Simply, it's that you will do anything for your child. Anything.

It's what gets you up in the middle of the night on 2 hours of sleep, it's what makes you suddenly immune to the smell of vomit when they're sick, it's what makes you sternly & repeatedly tell them "No" when they do something fun/funny, but dangerous.  It's what - without even thinking - makes you take a flying Larry Bird leap across a room when your baby is perched precariously on the couch. How did she get up there?!

You'll do anythingConsciously or Subconsciously.  To keep them safe, to make them happy, to teach them, to show them that you love them.

Last week, I sat quietly sobbing my way through a DVRd episode of The Biggest Loser (am I the only one who cries through the whole thing?), when my very favorite contestant, Moses, said something that almost knocked me off the couch.  With regard to always putting his family first, he said - and I'm probably paraphrasing here, b/c I was too blubbery to remember it verbatim -

"To take care of them, I have to take care of me."

It really is that simple.

Being healthy isn't an option, it's a requirement if I am to take the best care of my child and family.

If this is preachy, I've done it for two weeks and it works.

On vacation this week.  No scale.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Type B Packs for a Trip

So, tomorrow we're leaving for Chicago for a whole week.

To say I'm excited is an understatement.  I could barely choke down food today.  This whole day has been like the night before an elementary school field trip.

Amplified by coffee. And free will. And no nametags. And my two trip buddies are my favorite people in the world, instead of some random kid my teacher randomly paired me with that isn't even my BFF. I digress.

Harper and I have been on the move all day, only pausing for one long nap coinciding with a windshield replacement in our front yard.  Boy.  That's a story for another day.

We're packed for tomorrow. Food bag, game/toy bag, Harper clothes, Daddy clothes, Mom clothes. Shoes. Power cords. Chargers. Cameras. Every eventuality is covered.

The car has been vacuumed out, much to Harper's horror/delight.

The house is spotless. ..because what's better than coming home from a long trip to a sparkly clean house?

My bulldog of a next door neighbor knows we'll be leaving tomorrow and to be on the lookout for lurkers.  ..I swear, we should be paying her instead of ADT.

Our neighbor across the street will be picking up our mail beginning tomorrow and doing daily checks.

Our bills are paid.

Loose ends? I have none.

We are ready in an extremely Type A way. 

Since we're leaving tomorrow morning at 4:00 a.m.,  I packed our car this afternoon.  

As I did so, I lamented that, for tonight, we'd have to use old toothbrushes and I'd have to coax an old hair dryer to run and make do with second-string cosmetics, but it would be worth it.  We'd be up and out of the house as quickly as possible.

About an hour after I took that, "Ahh.. it's done" breath, I realized that today is Thursday.

And we aren't leaving until Saturday.

And now I'm going to get my toothbrush and phone charger out of the car.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Inspired Errands

Nothing makes me want to do something fun like a list of lackluster chores.

After far too many cups of coffee and a long walk to get me thinking, I think I'd like to spend the afternoon. .

Planting some of these in our sad, dead front yard:

Painting a piece of furniture this color (fear not, father-in-law, king of antiques, this won't actually happen):

Baking a cake to put it on my gorgeous cake plate that never gets used.

Buying flowers for the coffee table. HA. Toddler hands with gladiolus in reach. HA.

But. . . .

The front windshield of our car needs replacing. . . because wow, I've put that off a long time and nothing says safe (and classy) like a week-long road trip with a cracked windshield.

Harper's vast array of pajamas need to be washed. . . we're scraping the bottom of the fleece-footed barrel. If things don't happen quickly, we're poised for a showing of the blue ones with trucks, to which she is adamantly opposed. "No turks!"

We need to scream bloody murder while hurtling into a black hole of muddy abiss get the car washed . . . That's an emotional scar I'd just as soon not inflict.

And honestly? The house needs to be cleaned. Like.. actually cleaned, not just straightened.

On that last one, I'll defer to my home girl Mary Randolph Carter:

 A perfectly kept house is a sign of a misspent life.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Top of the Muffin to ya! Week 9

This will gross you out. Fair warning.

Everyone always says, "Don't finish your child's food."

and in my head, I say, "Right. I'm not a garbage disposal."

In my gut, I scream, "Are you kidding?! We're a one-salary family. We do not waste anything. Just this morning, I broke a sweat trying to cut the top off of a bottle of lotion to scrape out the remains. Are you telling me I shouldn't eat the last two bites of Harper's oatmeal/quesadilla pizza/PB&Banana? Ludicrous. Pay my grocery bill, then you can give me a list of rules."

This week, mid-week, my head conquered.

So, beginning at lunchtime on Thursday, I set aside Harper's leftovers that I would normally eat. And by Sunday night, this is what I had:

Disgusting, right? Bites add up.

Everyone who has a toddler knows their tastes change with the tides, so with each meal, I present a few options.

The bad news is that I was eating what she didn't want plus a meal. The good news is that my child has an inherent grasp on nutrition. As evidenced by the lack, she loves all forms of dairy, vegetables (except for those peas. . .) and fruit.  She doesn't particularly like junk. . .mardi gras king cake, organic corn chips, big hunks of bread. ((chews pen studiously, learns lesson from toddler))

The wonderful news is that, in this world of many vices, this is a super easy habit to break. . . especially when you can see it sitting in your fridge for three days instead of on the top of your muffin.

Down 1 lb. this week.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oh, Maine!

Yesterday, it rained. All day. It was all I could do to keep Harper entertained. 

Around 10:00 a.m., she got bored with me and decided it was time to nap.. until 2:30 p.m.

I got a million things done.  And when it seemed like Harper would keep sleeping, I did another million things.

And then I sat.

Outside, the temperature was higher than it had been in weeks - but rain poured ceaselessly and in the balmy warmth and absolute quiet of the house, I missed Maine.

Last June and July, we were lucky enough to spend 7 weeks there.  I am forever changed by the beautiful things I saw and pace of life to which we adapted very easily.


One Saturday, we drove south to Freeport to do some shopping and on the way, a light drizzle of rain began to dot the windshield.

About the time we got out of the car, the bottom fell out and we spent 15 minutes under a tree with a baby who wasn't amused.

We made a mad dash to the car (probably the best part of Harper's day) and, soaking wet, we gave up.

We drove back to Waterville and put Harper down for a nap.  Great story, huh?

Well. . .

The next weekend, we went back.

The little town bustled with activity in the mild breeze and sunshine.

We walked all over Freeport,

ate lunch,

visited a petting zoo,

watched the fish in the LL Bean flagship store,

and shopped in cleverly disguised outlets.

And the people, oh.  They were so nice.

A sweet older lady even offered to take a picture of our family as we struggled to do it on our own.

After a lengthy tutorial on which button to press, multiple practice shots and her entire family making silly faces and noises to get Harper to smile, she snapped this priceless family portrait:

Yep. Just our necks and chests.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Does the illness have a name?

There are only two symptoms.

Upon sight of a camera, one experiences involuntary mouth scrunching with uncontrolled jerks of the index and middle finger of one or both hands.

It's a relentless illness, as the afflicted continually post the contortion on their Facebook page.

Unfortunately, it's contagious. I've even seen some moms do it in their weekly pregnancy pictures!

Luckily, there is no shame or stigma, because usually, it's a profile picture.

Most luckily, it seems to dissipate with the removal of a camera, because I've never seen anyone standing in line like this at Target.

Be aware of the symptoms. Don't be the next victim.

Oh, hay Urban Dictionary WebMD!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A mile in my shoes. . .

We met with a Realtor this weekend.

Because, well.. we'll be moving in 15 months.  And I want to make sure everything is perfectly ready to sell when we have to.  No surprises. No unforseen expenses. How Type A!

For the 20 minutes it took our savvy hired gun to assess our house, I prepped for nearly a week.

Because she looked in every room, I couldn't just hide toys & coats & junk in the office.

I had a wonderful helper who's always up for a conversation and whose hands absolutely gravitate to clutter.  and sharp objects. and electrified objects. and objects which make permanent marks.

I left the attic for last, because it's a bit of a wreck and..

..because it's a little sad.

Stored are wedding gifts too breakable to display,

boxes of baby clothes that have been outgrown,

racks of beautiful silk dresses, skirts, suits, oxford shirts still pressed,

and shoes.. oh, the shoes.

As Harper and I sat playing on the floor with a "new" old toy, I begrudgingly gave the racks a glance.

I don't have a portfolio of my work, so ridiculously, the display on those racks is my sorely outdated resume.

I saw my first interview. God, was I nervous.

My first day of work in Milwaukee. And the weekly meeting that left me wanting to quiver under the table or run home.  Neither of which I could manage in those sky-high shoes.

My first trip to Chicago. Oh, the days of buying fancy things on a whim ..& taking trips on a whim.

My last day of work in Milwaukee. I've never been so sad to leave something behind.

My first huge presentation at a new job. 200 people? Why didn't someone tell me that? I would have worn a suit!

The day I told my boss I was pregnant. Wow, I spent a lot of time dreading that for no reason.

Some days, when yoga pants and a ponytail don't exactly scratch the itch, I might long for burgundy suede and leopard print and black patent leather with gold chains. . .

..because the resume served me well.

It led to the job for which I was made.

And who says mommy life is void of leopard print?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Top of the muffin to ya! Week 8

In just two short days, a Catholic you know might whisper sweet nothings to a bag of M&Ms, look forlornly at a glass of wine or tie themselves to a chair to keep from checking their Facebook page.

Without fail, they will refrain.

Yes, yes, y'all. Lent begins on Wednesday.

I'm giving up the usual - sweets. No cookies, no candy, no cake, no anything else that, midway through the 40 days, I decide I might try to use as a substitute. Like peanut butter and jelly in excess. I've almost done it and I know it when I see it.

The first few days are rough.  Not because I'm actually thinking of cheating. . . but because I simply forget (which speaks volumes about what I eat without thinking about it).

Oh, the poor people around me during Lent. . . My unintentional lapses have resulted in spitting out chewed food (very attractive. very.) and actually swallowing a forbidden item then, in realization, yelling, "Oh my Gawd!" to the confusion and shock of bystanders.

Lent drums up interest.  People ask questions about Catholicism and there's always someone to look out for me and keep me on the straight and narrow.

To this day, when I'm torn over an item and wondering, "Can I eat this?," I hear my childhood friend Misty's syrupy Southern voice yell the same words she did across the high school softball field as she saw me poised to pop a piece of sugary, ballpark bubblegum into my mouth: "Court! You're lenting!"

I wish I heard Misty's voice every single day of the year instead of just 40 days.

Lent isn't about a diet, which is why I hesitated to even write about it here. It's about suffering & sacrifice & an effort to change bad ways forever, which is why I did decide to write about it.

For the next 40 days, I'll be reflecting on a permanent life change and hopefully not spitting out too many half-chewed peppermints in public.

Oh. And no loss this week, after a couple unfortunate run-ins with a Pyrex of banana pudding. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Come again?

Before I had a child, every now and then, I'd hear a toddler "talk" and - amazingly - their parent would swiftly decode the (and let's call it what it is, here) gibberish.

This unnerved me.  Foreign languages have never come easily. I've been trying since high school.

So this morning, I stood at the counter and blearily succombed to muscle memory as I made coffee and a sippy cup of milk & oatmeal for Harper.

Just then, I heard a small but stern voice issue the diktat: "Hi! Borsch gurts gah dish!"

Without pausing to whip out my Toddler to English dictionary, I replied, "Ok, but only one. You haven't even had breakfast!"

So, I opened the refrigerator, she handed me the pressurized whipped cream, opened her mouth, and again, I said, "Only one" as I squirted a minuscule dab of the sweetly combustible dairy onto her tongue.

"Mmm. Danks."

Y'all, I'm bilingual.

-- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - 
Harper to English: Entries 5,000-3
borsh - four.  In context: "wunn, teww, freee, borsh, fie."
gurts - squirts
gah dish - whipped cream and/or ice cream. Origin unknown.

Enjoy the "pitch."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

exquisite normality

When I worked to earn money (instead of love & kisses & hugs & the occasional tantrum), I had different priorities. Around about noon, my mind would begin to wander. . .

What will we do for dinner tonight? Seriously, who cooks for two people unless you love to cook?

Where will we go? Because home is kinda boring, and when you can go somewhere, why not?

What will I wear? Because in my copious amounts of free time, I'd shop.

Will anyone else be coming along? None of our friends had kids and were always up for a fun night out.

I'd love a glass of Chardonnay tonight.  Because, well.. who wouldn't?

Things are different, now.

Noon rolls around and I think about nighttime.

What will we do for dinner, tonight? I figure it out and start prepping in the stillness of Harper's nap.

Where will we go? Probably to the kitchen, where we'll color and stack blocks between stirs and oven checks. After dinner, we'll sit on the floor in the den and play Harper's favorite game - Monkey in the Middle. We'll laugh as hard as we ever did on any crazy night out.

What will I wear? If PJs are good enough for Harper, they're good enough for me.  I draw the line at those adult-sized footed ones. No. They're scary.

Will anyone else be coming along? Our dinner guest is a frequent one.  She's short, is very messy and has a lot to say.  After she's tucked in, I don't clink glasses and do a tipsy dance with girlfriends at a bar, but we text. . . about girly things and mom things and life things. 

I'd love a glass of Chardonnay tonight.  Because, well.. who wouldn't? Tonight, though, I'll lie in bed and sip a glass of water because I can't wait to start over in the morning. . . and that's hard to do with a hangover.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Hi, all of you post-collegiate gals and guys who stumble into Starbucks at 9:30 a.m. without brushing your hair.

I get that you're trying to pull off a sexy, rumpled Abercrombie look, but you're too old.  

So, you look freaking crazy

Put that mess in a ponytail!