Sunday, May 29, 2011

Behold, the power of water!

I don't know how I've been a homeowner for the past three years without buying a pressure washer.

When you sign a deed to a house, the lawyer should just give you one.

It's $99.

It's addictive. There should be a support group. . . power washers anonymous. . . for people who neglect all other duties in the name of clean bricks and a build-up free deck.

As a Type B personality, I can get behind this in a very this-is-so-much-more-fun-than-unloading-the-dishwasher kind of way.

If you get a kick out of cleaning, this is for you. If not, stop reading now. This'll be the most boring post ever.

Also, I'm pretty bad about taking before pictures. I didn't start snapping until I realized greatness.

Explanatory and somewhat obvious captions will immediately precede each photo. Like this:

Bottom step done. Holy cow.



Wide angle shot of bottom step:

Up close and personal with the gunk I blasted off:

Railing half gunky, half not:

After it dried, half done, half not. Our intention is, of course, to re-stain a similar color. The power washer knocked off more than half of the old, cracked, chipping red stain.

Front porch step. Concrete is way more satisfying to blast than wood. Is there a joke there? Also, feet in the picture on purpose. This is a seriously gross job. Way worth it.

Bottom two steps done. Top not.
A tiny part of the stoop not done. I didn't actually use any of the cleaning supplies pictured. Super gross feet. I didn't think this would be so dirty because it's a covered porch.

Action shot of our stone walkway. I had no clue it was this color. Bottom cleaned. Top not, obviously. Note the right side of the grout, which has been cleaned. Left side, not. Huge difference.

The final one is when I uncovered how pretty the flagstone is! It's different colors! Top cleaned, bottom not.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

A little Friday night excitement.

Yesterday afternoon, Harper and I were sitting in the car at Blockbuster waiting for Brandon to pick up a movie when I felt the car suddenly lurch forward. Not particularly violently, but the kind of lurch that I was all, "Holy cow, did the car just randomly switch gears to "drive" and begin moving forward?" The lurch was appropriately combined with a non-violent "thump" that I noticed less than the lurch.

I swiftly turned to find the bumper of an enormous Benz right behind us. Her car had just butt bumped ours! "Ugh," I groaned.

So I waited for her to get out of her car, but she sat. And sat, blocking traffic in the parking lot for what seemed like forever. I waited. And waited. And then, just as I was reaching for the door handle to get out to make sure she hadn't like.. stroked out, she began to drive off!

I hurled myself out of the car and banged on her trunk to stop.

She rolled down her window and, annoyed, said, "Yes?"

"You hit my car."

"I did?"

"Yes. I was sitting in it. We lurched and I heard a crunch. My bumper is cracked."

"You lurched? Ha. Well I didn't feel it."

((starts to drive off, again, as I feverishly shuffle through my purse for a pen to write down her license plate number))

"Don't you leave!" I say in the meanest voice I could muster.  I may have thumped her trunk again for emphasis, because what was coming out of my mouth wasn't nearly as serious or scary as I wanted it to be.

Thankfully, Brandon came out. Guns blazing, typical Brandon style. I can only assume that after 11 years, he saw my face and knew he needed to yell.

She pulled out of traffic and talked to us from her car and started to drive off, again.

Brandon yelled that he'll call the police. She stopped. I sighed in relief. I just know Brandon would have chased her down. But what do you do once you catch an old lady?

She must have been afraid of the po-po, because she gave me her insurance card. And wanted mine. Haha.

She told me that she'd dispute the claim because she didn't feel it.

Brandon might've yelled a little more.

All the while, I'm snapping pictures like the paparazzi, but my hands were shaking so hard that I was taking one good picture for every 20. I hate, hate, hate confrontation. HATE.

With her entire insurance card copied on a piece of paper, she left

Dispute the claim? Really?

. . . Because you sat still for 15 seconds after you hit our car. Who does that?

. . . Because people who commit insurance fraud don't shake like a leaf trying to take pictures, form complete sentences or write down a license number (of which the first three numbers are illegible. smooth, Courtney).

. . . And they don't have a toddler in the back seat crying.

. . . And when your giant-ass Mercedes cracks my bumper and leaves black paint, it's not necessarily something you can deny.

Unless, of course, you're old as Methuselah and your giant-ass Mercedes cushions you so much that you probably wouldn't know it if you steamrolled a 1,000 year-old tree.

She probably didn't feel it. And I guess I'd be wary, too, until I saw the bumper, obviously.

I am SO done driving when I turn 70 years old.

It is the responsible thing to do. I promise to be brutally honest with myself and understand that I am a horrible driver by virtue of the fact that I can no longer see, hear or feel and that my reaction time is 1/5 of what it should be. In which case, I may occasionally risk driving to the mail box at the end of our driveway.

Claim is pending. An update will follow, assuming I'm not too crestfallen to document the experience.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Harper visits the zoo.

One of the perks of DC is, of course, the free museums. While it's wonderful that everyone has an opportunity to visit, I would willingly fork over money if it meant the venues wouldn't be quite so crowded. The great thing is that Harper loves to people-watch, so it's fine.

Yesterday, we went to the zoo. Harper is an animal enthusiast so we hoped this would be a win.

Much to my delight, she wore a "bone" (she calls it a bone. it's too funny to correct.) in her hair the whole day:


She loved the chimps, to whom she was able to get verrry close. The chimps were second only to the pandas in terms of adoration. The pandas were indoors, lunching on some bamboo when we stopped by. I didn't get a picture because Harper was so overcome with happiness that she hugged me and said, "Aww, Momma!" My cup runneth over.



On our way out, I realized that we hadn't taken enough pictures - we never do - so we took a couple near one of those misty shower things. Despite what comes next, she was enamored by the mist. The first is when she becomes slightly woebegone because I stepped out of the mist to take a picture:



The other one makes me laugh out loud. Harper got mad because Brandon stepped out of the mist to take a picture. I was telling someone that they could cut through our picture (Harp was mad, anyway) and SNAP, Brandon proclaims that he "actually got a really great picture!" I sighed in relief because those are so few and far between. Great, indeed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Oprah sucks. 

Maybe after today, millions of women around the world can begin thinking for themselves, again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Life isn't all flowers and sausages.

Every once in a while, Harper hates life, which reminds me how great life truly is. She doesn't like my cooking. She doesn't like my games. She doesn't like her daddy, but screams bloody murder when he leaves the room or goes to work. She doesn't want to nap or go to bed. And she pitches an unGodly fit to let us know that, which leaves me physically shaky with a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach. Yes. Clearly, I have this Mom thing cracked. No. No. After a day like that, I'm cracked.

Fortunately, for the sake of the proliferation of the human race, most days are like today.

She starts babbling at 6:15 a.m. instead of 5:15. We play crazy games and I hear big belly laughs until it's time to get dressed. And when we get dressed, she picks out an outfit and doesn't feverishly claw at its embellishments and frills like they're going to come to life and swallow her up. She chooses a bow for her ever-lengthening wisps of blonde hair and actually leaves it in. And then we go to Gymboree. She and her friend Charlotte lie on a parachute together and giggle and roll. Then she takes a nap. Peacefully. And she eats. And she poops (parents will identify with this victory. otherwise, it will be gross. sorry). And we play outside. And she talks to me and I understand. And at bedtime, she curls into a motionless ball in my lap with her blankie and she lets me sing to her and hug her and kiss her until I tear myself away. When I lay her down, I hear a sleepy little "Night night, Momma. Sweep tight. Wuv you" and I shut the door, aching for 6:15 a.m.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Language Barrier

Many of our friends don't have children and some know absolutely nothing about babies.

Their knowledge level is, oh, exactly where mine was until the day Harper was born.

So it's easy for me to remember that they don't know baby lingo. Before I babble on about a Snap-n-Go stroller frame vs. a travel system or say "Bumbo" or try to explain to them why I can't pop by their house and "just let Harper nap in the guest room," I remember that I'm speaking nonsensical gibberish. Harper may as well be explaining it.

So I attach pictures when I talk about baby products, b/c I would have been all, "What the heck is a Bumbo?!" before Harper actually needed one.

And when I tell someone to get Harper a board book for her birthday, I tell them that they're the big thick cardboard kind that don't rip.

B/c what the heck is a "board book" to a non-parent?!

I have never, ever, ever judged people because they don't know about kid stuff. Or processes. Why would they know? How would they know?

Until today.

Harper and I were in line at a craft store when Harper struck up a conversation with a twentysomething woman waiting behind us. After Harper dazzled her with stories about her purple toenails, white shoes, stickers and crayons (not that the lady had any idea that's what Harper was talking about), she asked, "How old is she?"

"23 months," I replied.

Quizzically, she looked at me and asked, "What does that mean? How old is that in normal people terms?"




Thursday, May 19, 2011

Type B Greets an Officer of the Law

Today, Harper and I made the trek over to Bethesda to have some routine lab work (me, thankfully, not Harper).

As I pulled up to a new hospital gate, I was distracted by a lot of construction.

I wanted to mention the new, substantial covered entrance to the guard who was about to check my identification. . . maybe even make a little jokey joke about how nice it was that we weren't having to do this in the rain (in hindsight, so, so lame, which scares me, because this means that on a daily basis, terribly stupid things must fly out of my mouth with abandon and I don't think a second thought because I don't blog about saying them. I digress).

So I got the standard and way polite, "Hello ma'am, how are you today?"

Since I hadn't quite put together exactly what to say or how to say it, the ole brain went on autopilot.

Typically, a disaster.

Even tonight, I still don't know what I was going for, but it had the word "good" in it. And I think my brain got the "day" from his "today," because what I emphatically blurted out was:

"Good day!"

and then I may have followed it up directly with a "yes."

Like.. Agreeing with myself? Answering for him?

The whole thing came out all garbled and the inflection was crazy, so I sounded a little like a hot-under-the-collar Gene Wilder, except not mad. Like.. jovial. And British.

Monday, May 16, 2011

How I wonder what you are.

I had a great life before Harper. I wanted for nothing. I was fulfilled.

But I'm glad I didn't know what I do now, because until I heard her rousing rendition of Tink-Uh Tink-Uh We We Ta, there was a gaping void.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Opening a can of confused worms.

I was spellbound by an article I read a few days ago.

Instead of give my opinion on it, which, hello, I'm not stepping on that landmine, I'll summarize it and let you draw your own conclusions. Or, just read the whole thing yourself and draw whatever religious or political conclusions you'd like.

So..

Recent studies suggest that taking hormonal birth control (like the Pill) may alter a woman's choice in mate (making her less likely to choose a more masculine partner), "upending" her natural, instinctive choice.

When a woman isn't using hormonal birth control, subtle changes occur during the course of a month to attract a mate: voice gets higher, certain pheromones are released, and she's more attracted to features & traits generally defined as masculine (muscle tone, dominant behavior, masculine voice).

If a woman is using hormonal birth control, none of this happens. She's more likely to find a less-masculine mate attractive. She also doesn't show a preference for a mate whose genes are very different from her own.

The latter is a key component in healthy procreation, in that a partner wants to be as genetically diverse from their partner as possible, so that their offspring will have the greatest immunity.

So, science is suggesting that choosing a partner while under the influence of hormonal birth control could lead to a less healthy child.

Another study suggests that when women choose less-masculine partners, they tend to stray more often (choosing more masculine partners) when they're fertile.

Another study found that when 81 women wore t-shirts, which were subsequently "sniffed" by 31 males, the men showed a preference for the shirts whose owners were not using hormonal birth control.

..Then they're some research about lemurs & hormonal birth control shots that hasn't been proven in people (the male lemurs were more attracted to the female lemurs before they got the shot).

Scientists are quick to say that the overarching concept hasn't been proven, but that each piece of research certainly seems to support it.

The many, many implications seem scary, if its true.

So, discuss.



Prairie Dog a cubicle mate.

Pull it out at a dinner party.

Throw it around the lunch table.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Oh, how I've waited!

Last month, my friend Tiffany sent me a link about Birchbox.  In a total I-just-changed-the-grossest-diaper-in-the-world-and-I-have-no-one-to-whom-I-can-lament moment of self-pity, I signed up.

B/c every girl needs a little treat now and then. . . or once a month.

And b/c I could never, ever afford most of this stuff!

Today, I crept out onto the porch to check the mail after putting Harper down for her nap and almost loudly reversed the calming routine that had just taken place when I saw that...

My very first Birchbox arrived!

After filling out a short questionnaire about my preferences so they know what I'll like, I get a box full of new and exciting beauty samples!

For $10, I get this little slice o' Heaven:

Hello Kitty rain boot not included. I couldn't bear to crop out its cuteness.
Jouer Moisturizing Tint. It's almost sparkly, but not quite. Two different colors.
Serge Lutens Nuit de cellophane perfume. $120/bottle. It smells delicious and..expensive.
This shrinks the visibility of pores and wrinkles and.. well.. I've been furrowing my brow for 27 years. . .
Super cute, ridiculously heavy card stock from Tiny Prints.
Champagn-y sparkly lip gloss.
A pretty big sample of lotion that smells like something I'd like to eat.
All together now.. Sigh. Until next month.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Crack is whack.

Rather than don my usual mom-at-Gymboree sweats today, I wore jeans (totally conservative-mommed it out with a cardigan). . . .not because I particularly wanted to fix up, but because we just got back from vacation and all of my mom clothes are dirty. Eh.

So, sitting in circle time, singing songs, acting out The Noble Duke of York (umm.. am I the only one who'd never heard of that?), throwing Harper over my shoulder, bending down low to tickle her, lifting and stretching with her on the floor, and pretty much wigglin' on down, I felt a breeze up my back.

You know... the breeze that causes you to say to yourself, "Self, you should be very thankful that you have on a very long, flowy shirt with that perfectly fitted cardigan today, because if it was anything else, these moms and dads and toddlers and grandmas and grandpas might see your butt crack." ((pats self on back for unintentional coup))

Later today, I was stooped, if you will, in a position I had taken at least 10 times at Gymboree to put on Harper's socks and shoes. Enter the breeze.

I casually turned to a conveniently placed mirror to see just how close I had come to showing where the sun don't shine. . .

And found that I had overestimated the flowiness and length of my shirt as well as the rise in my jeans.

Staring back at me? A solid two inches of crack.

Possibly Unpopular Opinion of the Week

Words without vowels give me the creeps. Sometimes "y." Still creepy.

...Nymph, lymph, stymy, syzygy..

((shudder))

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Monday Morning Quarterback..mom.

When I was pregnant with Harper, I said that I would never, ever let her sleep in our bed. . . until she could only sleep when being held, so I propped myself up, took the pillows & covers off the bed, and slept all night sitting straight up holding her.

When Harper was born, I said I'd never give her a pacifier. . .until we tried it one especially awful night and she loved it.

I said I'd never give her formula. . . until, at 10 months, I had to.

I said we'd get rid of the bottle at one year. . . until it took 18 months.

I could do this all day.

Even at this early juncture in parenthood, I'm well aware that there's a 50% chance that any judgemental stance I take on my parenting or someone else's will end up being wrong. Just.. wrong and stupid.

My point is, I am, by no means whatsoever, attesting to be a perfect parent.

In fact, sometimes I suck at it. Like this morning when I lured Harper out of the house on the pretext that she'd get a vanilla milk from Starbucks. . . . then I forgot to order it.

What I'll never do? Forget what it's like to have a 22 month old. Forget what they're like. Forget what it's like to be their parent.  It is an honor and a privilege, and a bit like dismantling bombs for a living.

While we were in Florida, we ventured to the pool on our second day there. Armed with a floating apparatus and good weather, we slipped into the water amid best-day-ever squeals of delight from Harper. For an hour, we had the beautiful pool to ourselves. We kicked, we stuck our faces in, we snuffed water up our noses, we splashed.

Then, as we were making one of many trips back to the shallow end (by this time, floating apparatus had been abandoned in favor of more independence. . .which left me wrestling an alligator who can't swim), I breathed a sigh of relief as I heard other happy squeals. New kids to play with!

A four year old little girl and her 18 month old brother made quick work of introducing themselves. The mom was nice and engaged. What fun! We swapped stories as the kids giggled and jumped.

The four year old gave Harper a sand pail and shovel to play with, which she gripped with intensity and what became the sole object of her focus. Dude. If I had known she'd want something like that at the pool, I coulda brought one myself, and I would have! 

Because five minutes later, when the four year old wanted her toys back, I knew we were in for it. I secretly prayed that the other mom would intervene. ..That she would say, "Darling four year old child with whom I can reason, you gave an atomic bomb of a toddler your sand pail and shovel, so it would be best that you let her keep it awhile longer. Let's wait this one out. Play with your other 25 toys we brought to the pool. I speak from experience. Let's not poke this bear, darling."

But did she? No.

So when the child asked for her toys, I had no choice but to pry them from Harper's chubby little hands and blubber something to Harper about "learning to share," when clearly, she's far too young to understand the concept. I had to pretend that this was a valuable lesson.

For the longest 5 minutes ever, I tried everything to distract Harper, but she was woebegone beyond repair and, at this point, crying so uncontrollably to the annoyance of everyone, that we had to leave the pool.

After I embarrassingly hauled the saddest and loudest toddler in the world out of the pool and across the pool deck to gather our one million belongings to go up to our room while Harper kicked and hollered "Poow (Pool), sovul (shovel)!" between unadulterated sobs, I heard the mom half-heartedly say from the deep end, "Oh, we can share. I didn't know she wanted it so much." 

In the coven of judgement and understanding that is motherhood, I will never, ever, ever let that happen. Not to a baby. Not to a mom. Never ever.