All posts by Becca

40 on 40

Today I turn 40. 40!

Below are 40 lessons I’ve learned . Honestly most everything I know that is worthwhile I picked up in the past 5 years. For the first 30-35 years I was kind of an idiot. So in a way 40’s not so bad, by the time I’m 80 I’ll be a genius…

 I’ve learned that if you want to make really good mashed potatoes don’t use cold milk straight from the fridge, warm it up first

 

I’ve learned that you should never let your gas tank get much below a quarter of a tank

 

I’ve learned that anything more than 3 martinis in a single evening is too many martinis

 

I’ve learned that we are our own worst critic and if you ever compare how you look to Danny DeVito when he dressed up like the penguin in Batman Returns it’s probably not that bad

 

I’ve learned that cats are not always going to get along with other cats

 

I’ve learned that you should not buy cheap make-up

 

I’ve learned that really good friends are like precious gems – rare and valuable

 

I’ve learned that being happy is way more important than having money

 

I’ve learned that what I really want to be when I grow up is a good mom and a good friend, everything else is secondary.

 

I’ve learned that you should never brush your hair when it’s wet

 

I’ve learned that you should pay attention in math class; you really will use it all later

 

I’ve learned that you cannot take anything for granted

 

I’ve learned that jeans will always stretch

 

I’ve learned that if you need to get things done in the afternoon don’t eat a giant cheeseburger for lunch

 

I’ve learned that dental hygiene is paramount

 

I’ve learned that being quiet and listening is more advantageous than talking

 

I’ve learned that family is everything

 

I’ve learned that confidence will get you farther than actually knowing what you are doing

 

I’ve learned that you should have a little time alone by yourself everyday

 

I’ve learned that you cannot truly understand worry and fear until you become a parent

 

I’ve learned not to give a shit what anyone else thinks about me

 

I’ve learned that too much coffee will make you less productive, not more

 

I’ve learned to never pick a fight when I’m tired


I’ve learned that putting a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on the top of a bloody mary makes it perfect

 

I’ve learned that if you clean and pick up your house on Thursday night than it will be clean and weekend ready when you get home from work on Friday.

 

I’ve learned that you should never compare yourself to other people

 

I’ve learned that to have a good marriage you have to be yourself – as clumsy and foolish and exasperating as that can be at times

 

I’ve learned that both frogs and marshmallows will expand in the microwave

 

I’ve learned that making lists and checking things off of it is more gratifying than you would think

 

I’ve learned that no matter how old I get I will never feel like a grown up

 

I’ve learned that people don’t really change and you either need to accept them or move on

 

I’ve learned that it’s okay to agree to disagree

 

I’ve learned that everyone has their own personal handicaps

 

I’ve learned youth is fleeting and you should enjoy it while it lasts, but that you never will because you won’t truly understand how precious it was until its gone

 

I’ve learned that you can never know what forever means until someone you care about dies

 

I’ve learned that there really is no place like home

 

I’ve learned that there are not many things better than: a good book, hugs from your kids, ice cream on a hot day, freshly brewed coffee first thing in the morning and quiet time outside

 

I’ve learned that in order to be successful you really need to put in the time and work hard. Hand outs are rare and should never be counted on

 

I’ve learned you should try never to be beholden to anyone

 

I’ve learned that if you tell your 4 year old daughter that you are going for a ride on a ferryboat – you need to be real clear before you step on to that boat that ferry and fairy are two different things

Pre Schooler’s Course Catalog

With a nod to our friends at The Ugly Volvo I have decided to write my own Pre Schooler course catalog, these are the classes we will be offering this semester:

 

SLOW DINNER 501: MWF 6:00-7:30

Think you took a long time sucking down toddler food? Think again! In this course we will teach you how to take forever to eat your dinner. We will bring in a world renowned chef and cook you a delicious and wholesome meal – if you finish it in less than 90 minutes, you fail.

 

GETTING OUT OF BED 20 TIMES 101: TR 8:00-10:00

This course is offered in conjunction with another class entitled “How to ask the most ridiculously inane questions – especially late at night.” We will focus on teaching you how to sit in bed and holler for your parents so loud that the neighbors across the street will be able to hear you, we will also teach you how to sneak out of your room at least 10 times before you fall asleep.

 

GAMES ON PHONES 206: S 11:00-3:00

This course is designed to introduce you to the world of stupid kid games available to you on your parent’s phone. Want to dress up a Unicorn? Or Make a Fish fart? We can do that. For this class the final exam will involve seating you in the back of your Parent’s car and asking repeatedly if you can play a game on the their phone – the longer you can keep it up for, the higher your grade will be.

 

WHINING 701: MWF 5:00-7:00

This is a Graduate level course, where we will hone your whining skills to the level of professional. We will concentrate on peak times of the day, like directly after your parents get home from work.

 

SUDDEN MOOD CHANGES 101: S ALL DAY

This course is designed to teach you to go from ecstatically happy to unbearably miserable in the blink of an eye. We will also help you to recognize that the reason for these sudden mood changes is all the fault of your parents and we will show you ways to blame them for making you unhappy.

 

SOAP IN PULBIC BATHROOMS 201: F 6:00-7:00

Don’t have to go to the bathroom? Of course you do! You don’t know what color soap might be in there! Sign up for this class and we will explore all the different kinds of soap dispensers available in restaurants and stores in your area.

Because I look really good in flannel pajama bottoms

I returned to work today after a glorious thirteen day break, below are some statistics I compiled in those thirteen days:

  • It takes approximately five days off in a row to digress to my adolescent self where I stay up until 1:00 in the morning and sleep until 10:00am
  • If left alone without the pressure to entertain or be anywhere on time it takes approximately 27 minutes for our house to go from clean and ‘organized’ to complete chaos and disorder.
  • Without the burden of work or commitments I could easily spend eight hours a day coloring in princess coloring books.
  • I may be an alcoholic – this is less of a statistic and more of a general understanding of myself based of the ridiculously large quantities of wine I have consumed in the past two weeks.
  • In the past thirteen days I believe I have taken four showers and one bath (that’s a 38% bathing rate)

I have exactly 17 hours left to work at my current job (more on that later) and besides shredding all of the paper on my desk and forwarding client inquires to my new replacement I’m kinda at a loss for what to do. I have extensively researched the new HGTV dream home – I have rearranged some furniture in my head to make it perfect for my family when we move in there – I have decided which window I will set my easel up against… Come on HGTV – if you pick me to win I will totally change this blog to be all about living as a hermit in my Martha’s Vineyard dream home and spending my days drinking wine and painting the ocean… everyone would want to read that, am I right?

2014: A Year in Books

My third annual book review. I read a lot of recommendations this year which means that I read a lot of good books. Enjoy and happy reading!

Hyperbole And A Half (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

I love Allie and have read her blog for years– if you did too, this book is a print version of many of her cartoon posts, but contains enough new material to be worth the investment. Highly recommended.

Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress: Tales of Growing Up Groovy and Clueless

I really like this book although at first I was a little skeptical – expecting the run of the mill chick lit material, but this book far exceeds that. Anyone who was ever a compulsive liar as a little kid will identify with Susan Gilman almost immediately.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Meh. This was a good book and a well written tale, but I found it hard to emotionally connect with the characters or feel strongly one way or another about their situation.

The Sense of an Ending 

I waited too long to write down my impression of this book and by the time I did I honestly cannot remember the story at all – I know it was a very short book and clearly forgettable.

Everyman

Not my favorite of this year – perhaps if I was a middle aged man, the clear intended audience for this book, I would have. If that’s who you are – give it a try.

Play It as It Lays

This was a great book – although it took me a little to realize this. Written in a very stark almost Hemmingway-esque style it captures a time in history remarkably well and haunts you well after you have finished.

Delusions of Grandma

Oh, Carrie Fisher… This was by far better than wishful drinking and almost nearly as good as postcards from the edge. Carrie can be crazy funny and incredibly insightful in a single breath. I loved this book.

 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly 

There is nothing more depressing than the true story pf a novelist that suffered from a major stroke and is left completely paralyzed and penning his last novel by blinking his left eyelid. Read this, but beware it will leave you empty and heavy.

Orphan Train

This was a recommendation and not something I would have picked up on my own but I enjoyed it, it was a well written novel that captures a piece of history I was completely unaware of.

 Consider Phlebas (Culture Series #1) 

My sci fi book of the year this was a classic deep space tale and I loved it for all its sci fi ridiculousness I’m just sad that in all this otherwise good literature this was the only really good genre book picked up.

Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World

This was a book about a couple that circumnavigated the globe without using any kind of air travel. I had high hopes for this that in the beginning were fulfilled but the more their travel continued the less and less he seemingly took notes about it – I felt he kind of rushed through the last half of their journey and wished the second half could have been as good as the first.

The Giver

A book that came out after I was of the age to read it I decided to pick it up and really enjoyed it, I thought it was a great young adult look at a utopian society, I was underwhelmed by the ending but all in all thought it was well done. I never saw the movie but just looking at the previews can tell it is far from the original story. If you are interested read it, don’t watch it.

The Geographer's Library 

Meh. The next few book were $1.00 clearance items in a going out of business sale – some were better than others, I didn’t hate this one but I didn’t love it either.

The Catastrophist

The next in my bargain bin hunting – I thought this was going to be something it wasn’t. It was enjoyable but nothing to write home about.

Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story 

The last of my clearance finds and this one I really enjoyed, a modern day love story set in New York between a soon-to-be tenured professor and her unexpected protagonist. I honestly thought I would hate this book; not being much for romantic stories but this one surprised me and liked it.

Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer

A memoir of a long distance swimmer – I thought this story had the potential to be really captivating or terrifically boring and was by far much more captivating than anything. It lulled in places but overall made up for it, as someone who loves memoirs this did not disappoint.

The Snow Child

A great book. Period. I can’t describe it but read it. Trust me.

Thunderstruck 

I read everything Erik Larson writes, everything. This was not my favorite book of his, the stories he was trying to connect were too far removed from each other and the history of the wireless telegraph too involved to condense into a coherent story. Not my favorite but will not deter me from picking up his next book.

The Samurai's Garden 

Another recommendation – this was a very good read, written in letter form it was a compelling and heartwarming tale.

Maine

Another great book, a multi-generational family drama set in my favorite place, this is a must read.

The Goldfinch 

An excellent Novel – one of the best of the year, deeply complex and gripping – run don’t walk.

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates 

The true story of two men with the same name born within blocks of each other in Baltimore, one went to prison one went to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship – it was an interesting read and a cautionary tale for people in circumstances different than my own. I liked it but it did not resonate.

Let the Great World Spin 

Hands down the best book of the year, this was an ah-mazingly well written book of different stories loosely connected by one external event. I loved loved loved this book.

The Book Thief 

Another recommendation. A book about WWII from the Nazi perspective – I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did, it was well written and definitely worth it.

That Old Ace in the Hole

A sleeper novel from one of my favorite authors, it took me forever to get through this book but in the end I was glad I invested the time. Not as good as the Shipping News but good nonetheless.

Bossypants 

I heard a lot of bad reviews about this book and was hesitant to ready it but I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it was witty and funny and enjoyed it very much.

Olive Kitteridge 

Another book set in Maine – I liked this although it was darker and more intense than Sullivan’s book. I watched the HBO miniseries after I finished and enjoyed that too.

Swamplandia!

Not the book I expected it to be – it began slow and stayed that way until the end. I liked it but not until it was over.

The Circle 

I’m not completely finished with this yet, but am enjoying the face pace and modern technical aspects of this book – I know it’s working toward a crescendo and I’m excited to see where Eggers takes it.

Tis the Season

Greetings  friends, family and random internet readers – welcome to our 2014 open Christmas letter. I’ve struggled for weeks to write this because (as long time readers will remember) my old cat Ruka was always responsible for handling this for me. Sure she was surly and uncooperative but she did it and all I had to do was buy stamps.

In the spirit of the late great Ruka – Feliz Navidad!

This year some really good stuff happened – Lucy let me cut her hair, Jason brewed some really good beer and I finally learned how to spell “definitely”.

Also some not good stuff happened – Ruka died, Lucy once got a splinter stuck so far in her foot that we nearly had to amputate to get it out – this has instilled a deep fear of wood in her.

Highlights include a wonderful grown-up vacation that I got to take with my favorite BFF where we explored and drank our way through New York City and small towns in the Poconos. Lucy, Jason & I got to spend two great weeks together – one in Maine and one in North Carolina with our respective parents.

And we have managed to get our house (that was still very new last Christmas) in order. We bought new furniture and planted a cherry tree. We even bought a new car to make the driveway look fancier.

This has been a great year for Lucy and there is a part of me that wants to keep her forever four years old. Nothing can match her enthusiasm or her despair – whether happy or sad she throws herself 100% in to whatever it is. She is so excited for Christmas she can hardly sit still – she got the same way for every major (and not so major) holiday this year.

Jason is doing well – working on his twelfth year at the major telecommunications corporation that employees him, he continues to manage things I do not fully understand. This year he got really really good at mowing grass and shoveling snow – and will caution anyone who listens never to buy house on a corner lot.

I received good news just recently – I have been offered a finance manager position in a well-respected nonprofit organization which is all I can tell you for now since I don’t start my new job until January 12th (I need to save some good information for next year’s newsletter) but in the meantime I am bidding adieu (for the second time) to the University that has supported my for many many years – it’s both lamentable and exciting. I am ready for change!

Here are some random pictures which if I had my shit together would have made up our Christmas cards and been mailed to all of you (well, not you random internet browser). Enjoy and I hope you all have a safe and happy new year!


lucy for xmas letterlucy and me  lucy and dad
all of us

From the mouths of babes…

My Mom tends to overuse words. In high school everything was a ‘struggle’ until one day in a shining moment of self-assertiveness I asked her to please stop using that word. I believe my request left her speechless for approximately three minutes until she ran through her mental thesaurus and came up with something equally as annoying.

I love you Mom.

Since she’s gotten old she’s starting making up words – she uses the word ‘Chockablock’ like it’s her job – as in “I don’t know if we can get the leftover turkey in the fridge that thing is chockablock full.” This drives me crazy; it (spoiler alert) drives everybody crazy.

Recently I instituted a rule where the word in banned in our house – this (of course) forces my husband to run around the house yelling at me “chockablock, chockablock, chockablock!” It’s very reminiscent of Miracle Max and his hatred of Prince Humperdinck.

Lucy, of course, thinks this is great and sometimes also gets in to the action and also runs around yelling chockablock for no apparent reason. And all of this is good and harmless except that I forgot to tell her it’s a game we only play with Mommy and Daddy.

Fast forward to last week when my parents were visiting and Nana says to Lucy “Your room is chockablock full of toys” and Lucy looks at her wide eyed and says “No Nana we aren’t allowed to say that in this house!”

Whops.

How do you explain to your Mom that her idiosyncrasies have become fodder for family fun time? With wine – that’s how.

How to explain robots to a four year old

We went to a Halloween party this year where someone had taken a big cardboard box and made themselves a pretty cool Wall-E costume. Cool until he realized that he could not get food or drink from his hands to his mouth due to the limited mobility of being trapped inside a huge cardboard box.

Based on this one point of reference Lucy jumped at the chance to watch Wall-E this weekend when it came up in discussion during the pizza and movie night movie selection. My husband and I were thrilled because Wall-E (as I’m sure you all know) contains not a single princess. We started watching the movie and this happened:

“Mom, where is Wall-E? Is he inside that robot?”

“No, sweetie Wall-E is the robot”

“What? How could he get inside the robot?”

“No, sweetie, Wall-E is the robot”

“Is he hiding in there? Will he come out soon?”

“No sweetie, Wall-E is the robot”

“Mom, I don’t understand when he is going to come out of the robot?”

“Mom, why does he have wheels – robots don’t have wheels, how does Wall-E have wheels?”

“Wall-E is a robot, robots are machines, they move I many different ways – like the car, the car is a machine that has wheels.”

“Our car is a robot? Is there someone hiding inside the car too?”

“Be quiet and watch the movie”

“Mom… ”

“Yeah?”

“When is the princess going to come out of Eve?”

It was either this or marriage counseling

This past week my husband and I took a long hard look at all of the social engagements and family obligations we have coming up over the next few months and we correlated that with the seating options in our house and we came to the not-so-startling conclusion that only 3 and a half people can  sit comfortably in our living room. On a day to day basis this is just fine, but there comes a point in adulthood where you shouldn’t have to drag folding chairs in to your main living space or make your in-laws sit on the floor if you want to all hang out together.

Thus began a round of furniture shopping. Now I love my husband dearly, he is by and large an excellent human being but he has a taste level I find…. Atrocious…difficult to deal with…Differs greatly from my own.

My husband’s idea of ultimate comfort and style involves anything from the lazy boy 80’s collection. New furniture that looks old. OLD. And the more recliners and drink holders involved the better. Corduroy and tweed did not seem out of the realm of possibility either and at all of this I drew the line. I am a reasonable person, but only up to a point, you know?

Furniture shopping is terrible; there is no joy in walking around large warehouses, being accosted by pushy and desperate sales people. Add to this a rambunctious four year old who only wants to pretend that she’s a cat and it makes it 600 times worse. Plus we had the added pressure of waiting until two days before our first round of guests were to arrive before we made it out to the store. Nothing like opposing design aesthetics, a hyperactive preschooler and an unreasonable time crunch to really bring out the best in people.

We began at 5:00 on Friday night and essentially shopped all weekend until mid-morning Sunday in a delirium we pulled the trigger and bought something neither of us expected. It is a weird amalgam of sleek and modern, overstuffed and comfy. Made of microfiber without a single cup holder.

It wasn’t until we made up our minds, arranged for transportation, and finally felt freed from the pressure to make a decision that we realized  our new lovely sofa and love seat combination matches nothing (nothing) in our house, in a sea of taupes and creams and browns we are going to introduce a large dark, slate gray monstrosity.

I would worry about this – but at this point I feel like it is simply easier to repaint our house and replace our carpet than go back to the furniture store.

Maybe we could just sell our house and move in to something that better matches our new furniture.

White Girl Problems

I have some kind of universal balance where I am not allowed to have all my shit together at once. I have a system of losing things, important thing you know like wallets, keys, driver licenses, my husbands social security card… Honestly, I’m surprised that I’ve managed to hold on to Lucy for four years and not leave her on the top of the paper towel dispenser in Chilis.

Several months ago I lost my work ID, the ID I need to get in to my building, to go to the gym, to do just about anything in or around campus. I didn’t really worry about it at the time, I go days without ever leaving my desk and who wants to shell out $20 for a replacement card if they don’t have to?

The only problem is that I get to work really early, like before almost everyone and in order to get in the building I wold loiter hooker-style outside until someone more responsible came along and opened the door so I could sneak in behind them. This went on for some time until I realized that I took the train with a vice president of something-or-other that also worked in my building and if I walked from the  station with him I could guarantee myself entry.

This worked well until he realized that I was shadowing him the three blocks to work, on purpose. Being a nice and reasonable fellow he began walking with me which meant that I now needed to make small talk with a vice president of something-or -other at 7:15 in the morning – every day. Ugh, I wont even talk to my husband at 7:15 in the morning – I only grunt and push him out of the way of the coffee maker…

Several weeks went by and I realized that I had to finally give up the $20 to regain my freedom in the morning and so one day I went to the ID office and received a new card with a truly shitty picture of me on it (think autistic child molester). I thanked the 17year old co-op as I wondered what it would take to change jobs with him and my hand to god not five minutes later I discover that I had lost my monthly train pass, my $135 monthly train pass.

I was so annoyed with myself for losing my pass and with SEPTA for charging me $135 to ride on a loud, hot, crowded. uncomfortable train for an hour everyday that I decided not to replace my card but to start driving to work instead. I figured if I get in to the city early enough I won’t have to pay for parking and somehow between all the free parking and the really good gas mileage I get I might end up even or maybe a little bit a head by month end.

And it went well – I realized that because of my hours its actually less time in the car than in the train and I don’t have to pay to park my car at the station and I can leave work and go directly to pre school without any delays.

Maybe I got cocky, who knows but just a few days after realizing that maybe I don’t need a train pass I was getting out of my car one morning and my phone mysteriously jumped out my of suit pocket and landed on the cement sidewalk instantly shattering in three places.

I swear to all of you it was like some kind of cosmic miracle – I never touched the phone, it sits in that pocket all the time and has never once jumped for no reason.

The good news now is that I believe I have once again regained stasis – I can get myself into work (and I suppose the gym if I ever find out where it is) but I can only see about 17% of my phone screen. Maybe if I get my phone fixed I can trip and fall and throw our garage door opener into the creek behind our house…

Ode to the Helicopter Moms…

Check all that apply:

___  Your child’s face is plastered to everything you own – your cell phone case, your credit card.

___ Your facebook profile photo does not contain you.

___ The walls of your office resemble something like a crime scene investigation of a deranged stalker.

___ It’s hard for you to go anywhere without your kids because you might miss an opportunity to show them off.

___ At night after they are in bed you can spend hours on your computer looking at pictures of them.

___ you write a blog called “sticky jam hands”

 

There is help and there is wine and I’m pretty sure they are the same thing.

In Recent News

Did you know that four is the new thirteen? Just minutes after her birthday Lucy suddenly knew everything and now her response to everything I say is, “I know Mom!”  and it doesn’t matter what it is, here are a few examples:

“Watch the stove it’s hot”
“I know Mom!”

or

“The scientist rounded up all the dinosaurs and now they live in Minnesota”
“I know Mom!”

Its truly wonderful how smart she has become.

She also announced just recently that she is tired of me waking her up in the morning, that she’s grown up and can get up on her own. Clearly this grown up part only extends so far because when I took her to Target to buy an alarm clock she was disappointed not to find one with Hello Kitty on it.

She has graduated from a car seat to a booster seat and has learned how to take off the seat belt and open the door – which is great because getting her in and out of the car was becoming an ordeal bordering on the insane. But now when I park, she instantly takes off her belt and climbs into the front seat where she has learned how to work the radio. She has also learned that her favorite Adele CD lives in the CD player. I used to like Adele, I really did.

We recently deiced to find a new pre-school/day care for her to attend this upcoming school year. We took her with us to check them out and the one that won hands down? The one with the water table in the play yard and the drinking fountain in the classroom – in the freaking classroom. Honestly, what is more fun than drinking fountains when you are still too short to use them?

For her birthday she got many barbies and barbie related accessories including one Ken doll and she currently seems much more interested in dressing Ken in drag than in dressing up the girls (the girls who totally hog the jeep, by the way, and never let him in it)

rocking that dress
rocking that dress

At night we put her to bed way before she is ready to go to bed so she ends up playing in her room while she tires herself out. This morning I found in bed with her – a hairbrush, a comb and her fisher-price telephone. When I asked her what she was doing she explained that her animals missed their Mommies and Daddies and so she let them call home (apparently they had all been abandoned at our house) and the comb and brush? To make them look nice for their big phone calls of course…

Right now Lucy’s favorite things are powdered donuts, lemonade & making mud pies in the garden.

Newsletter: Year 4

Today Lucy turned 4, and its not just her hair that’s grown in the past year. Welcome to our second annual birthday interview, she still doesn’t have the best attention span and is it just me or is she unnaturally obsessed with candy?

Happy birthday to my wonderful, beautiful, brilliant little girl.

Holy Hair!I love you so much!

Vacation part II ( or a lesson in self-restraint)

Its hard to write a post about your vacation – call it part one and the never follow up with anything else. It’s like waiting for additional Star Wars movies that we don’t really need anymore to come out. Actually, wait, its like the complete opposite of that… My grasp of analogies is on par with Alanis’s grasp of irony (and…I’ve lost my train of thought).

The point is that I had a wonderful vacation that now seems like it happened eight years ago but involved a lot more than a museum related nervous breakdown.  In addition to sweating our proverbial balls off in NYC we also took a side trip, weekend getaway, to the Poconos to a little town called Jim Thorpe that was so anti NYC there was literally nothing to do there. We checked into our quaint, turn of the century Inn with a room so small we couldn’t open the door all the way, we stopped for a bloody mary and walked the entire length of the town in the ten minute time span it took us to decide where to eat lunch. It was perfect.

In NYC we had felt compelled to do everything, see everything that we were so tired and exhausted we barely made it to 10:00pm, in Jim Thorpe were awake until 2:00am – sneaking out onto the balcony (closed at 9:00 – like everything else in the town) to drink cocktails in the cool night air and listen to far off fireworks.

Our second day there, having already wondered in to every store of interest we had breakfast and discussed what to do. He wanted to wander the town and take some pictures, I wanted ice cream and to tour the old jail. I might not like museums but I am fascinated by old prisons. Is that weird? Who knows. My BFF was slightly weary of me at this point and did point out several times that if we went to the jail we would be on a guided tour – with a tour guide, like where you would have to pay attention and stay with a group. I assured him that on my particular chart of crazy the X axis of my museum fear and the Y access of my fear of forced social interaction would not cross paths on this specific outing.

We spent several hours walking around trying to capture the beauty of the Poconos on our cameras, we bought large sugar cones full of ice cream and when it finally opened at noon we were one of the first tourists in line at the old jail. The tour itself was guided my a monotone liberal arts intern who had memorized her speech so robotically that the few questions she asked and the one joke she tried to make were completely lost on her audience. I loved it, it was awful and scary and reminded me fondly of my time touring Eastern State Penitentiary. I wandered round touching rusty locks and peering in tiny peep hole windows, wondering what Piper Chapman would have made of all of this, I bought a T-shirt on my way out through the gift store. It wasn’t until we were outside that I looked at my BFF, white as a sheet, breathing heavily, that I realized maybe we both didn’t enjoy it as much as I had thought.

Apparently, though we share a collective brain his reaction to old, damp, mold infested dilapidated prisons is the same sort of reaction I have to Modern Art – he’s just better at not making a public spectacle of himself. I admire his restraint I really really do.

Old Jail

Uncultured swine (Vacation Part I)

Last week I took a vacation – a grown up vacation that did not include visiting grandparents or a single episode of Dora the Explorer. Crazy – I know.

It was necessary though because one half of my brain resides inside someone else’s brain – but that person lives really far away (in California) and every so often we have to get together so for a little while we can feel like a whole person – its like a mental health check.

I would say 96% of the time our thoughts/interests/ideas of superiority are perfectly simpatico but not always – he watches “Mad Men” while I’m all about “Game of Thrones.” (Idiot)

Part of this mental health check involves cocktails (many many cocktails) lots of sarcasm and often times trips to places we have never been before – to broaden our common mind. Last week we boarded an early morning bus and made our way to the Big Apple to buy souvenir t-shirts and search for the cash cab. I was all about taking avant guard photos of outside cafes and sweaty tourists but my BFF had a crazy notion that we should do more than walk around aimlessly searching for the most expensive bloody Mary in Manhattan – he convinced me we should check out the Museum of Modern Art. I took a great deal of time to explain to him that I would be happy to go but that I am not a good museum goer and have about a 40 minute window before I pool into a puddle of four-year-old crankiness. I was clear about this.

So, our second day in the city, after a wholesome croissant filled breakfast we took our fully charged cameras and descended upon MoMA and I was good… for awhile….

You see I like art and I want really hard to be able to appreciate it and when I first enter a museum I am at peace with the quiet and the hoards of slow gawkers standing around. MoMA is six stories tall and the first three floors are all ‘instillation’ art… I don’t get it but I can deal with it – I can deal with it until I end up watching a movie of a street performer tying a towel over the head of a monkey and making it dance until it dies of suffixation. At that point I was ready to leave, but we were still on the first floor and my BFF was going on and on about all the cool stuff that was ahead of us upstairs. I followed along wishing that I had been allowed to bring my back pack in with me so that at least I could have some water… or something.

We walked through two more floors of art that I imagined I could recreate if I was in prison and only had access to homemade ink, cheap muslin, heartache and rage.  By the time we finally ascended to the permanent exhibit I had gone through the twelve complete stages of internal melt down, suddenly I HATED everyone in that museum with the passion of a giant super nova. I couldn’t breathe, I could hardly contain my rage at being stuck in this seemingly endless white tunnel of quiet contemplation (my mind works in mysterious ways). I heard faintly through the pounding inside my own head my BFF remark in awe “look this is the Warhol room and over there is Picasso!” I  shrugged him off with a vague ‘yeah yeah’ as a pushed people out of my way to find the closest exit…. I tried really hard not to start screaming out loud while he stopped to photograph Van Gough and discuss how he never really liked Pollack’s color pallet… Finally, almost in tears I offered him the entire contents of my savings account if we could please exit this art filled purgatory and go get something to drink.

Because he is a good friend he didn’t argue (although he did stop to use the bathroom) and we proceeded out the closest exit and made our way to the nearest french bistro where I spent $30 for two glasses of Chardonnay and bad service.

It was the best $30 I ever spent.

About the time I started ripping my own hair out...
About the time I started ripping my own hair out…

 

I’m a god-damn hero

Over this past weekend I attended a wedding of a good friend of mine. It was a beautiful wedding, in a beautiful garden, filled with beautiful people. It was only marred in one way – my husband. Now, my husband has a history of getting inappropriately drunk at weddings and thus being referred to as “that guy”. As in, “Oh yeah, your husband was ‘that guy’ at my wedding.”

For this particular wedding I inexplicably decided to try and beat him at his own game. After the ceremony and during cocktail hour I stood in the bar line double fisting some seriously souped up gin and tonics, I didn’t stop there, once seated  I spent more time making trips to the bar than I did socializing at our table.

I knew that this would not end well, but at the tine I seemed powerless to stop it.

My favorite part of the evening came before I lost all control of my senses and had made my way to the ladies room only to discover someone’s grandmother (I assume she was with the grooms family as her grasp on English was tenuous as best ). She was struggling because somehow she had gotten the zipper of her dress caught in her underwear.   Next thing I know I am undressing this sweet little old lady on my knees of the bathroom (cocktail still in hand) as I worked her zipper out of her giant granny panties and thus somehow saving the day. It was as close as I got to intimacy that night being too tired and incapable of doing anything other than falling in to bed, completely dressed, when I finally did arrive home later in the evening.

Sunday arrived much too soon and for the first time in her entire life Lucy was awake and in our room at 6:25am, I wanted to crawl inside myself and never come out, her Dad clearly felt the same way. It was a long day for all of us and by far not my proudest moment as a Mom but I think what we all need to remember here is that I got to second base with the grandmother of the groom…

 

The end of the Internet, Stuff in my Bra and the Latest Addition to our Family

I read last week that the internet is full – there is something like four million IP addresses left. I’m not sure that I really understand what the problem is – why not just add four digits at the end, you know like the post office did? But part of me thinks, ‘shit I really better utilize my little corner of the internet to its fullest’. You know?

This spring has been very busy for us, with both work issues, new house projects, and  questions like “how many numbers are there?” and “How do ants take a bath?” I also vowed a few months ago to be more creative with my evenings and started painting which has paid ten fold when Lucy told me last week that when she grows up she wants to “be an artist like Mommy”.

Sometimes I fool myself in to thinking I really have it all together. Today I went to work, after a stop at the dentist for a thorough teeth cleaning. I worked all day, picked Lucy up , stopped by the vets to collect a very very pissed off cat (more on that later). Went home, played a rousing game of CandyLand before making very healthy Asian chicken lettuce wraps for dinner. I managed to clean the kitchen, coax the cat out from under the guest bed and was feeling  pretty proud of myself… Until I found three light bright bulbs in my bra. In my bra? It raised so many questions: had they been there all day? Why three? Was this the object of the dental assistants snicker as she laid me back in the dental chair? Was this something Lucy sneaked in to my shirt when I was letting her get to CandyLand before I did? How did I not notice that happening? Or had they been living inside the lining of my bra for months? I honestly cant remember the last time I let her play with the light bright. (Note to all my friends with small kids – the light bright is not a good toy for anyone under ten.)

Whenever you think your finally a step ahead you should really take a closer look in your underwear and reevaluate the situation. That’s my gift to you.

In other news there is a new man in my life:

Spalding Grey-kitty

His name is Spalding Gray-Kitty and he is both handsome and sweet. He came to live with us a few weeks ago and I really couldn’t be happier. He is so much different than Ruka and I think that’s okay, she would have hated him as she hated… almost everything – but with Spalding I can put my feet on the floor and not be afraid that they will be instantly bitten, he doesn’t wake us up at 4:00am with his insensate meowing, and I have to bribe him to get up on the furniture.  But he’s already attached to us, he follows us around the house and waits by the door when we get home, of course all that could change depending on if he ever forgives me for the castration I subjected him to today… tough love Spalding tough love.

The rest of our life is pure chaos and non stop talking that it is nice to sit and pet something warm and quiet. One night last week I offered Lucy $1,000 for five minutes of silence. Just five minutes, she didn’t last 15 seconds, which I guess is good since I would have had to pay her in grapes and she’s smart enough now to recognize that grapes aren’t money. Stupid three year old savviness – there was a time just a second ago that I could have convinced her pebbles where currency. It’s all down hill from here my friends.

Things I learned on Mother’s Day

First, I have to begin this post with perhaps the biggest Mother’s Day lesson of all and that is if you plan on having a wonderful family filled day outside for Mother’s day then you should not (should not) spend Saturday randomly texting co-works and neighbors to come over and experiment with different sangria recipes. You should not (not) make it your goal to get rid of (i.e. drink) the two boxes of really bad wine that you inadvertently purchased for your house warming party. Two boxes of wine for those who have not been to my house recently equates to 8 bottles of wine. Eight bottles. In one afternoon. The day before mother’s day.

 

This really just sets a bad scene Sunday morning when your over-eager three year old runs into your room wishing you a wonderful mother’s day and giving you homemade presents wrapped with enough tape to stop a black bear. Lucy likes to wrap up trash (backs of old stickers, grocery store receipts, etc) in construction paper with rolls of tape to keep them closed. It’s cute but hard to deal with when she is sitting on top of me and I have to pee so badly that the only thing more pressing at that moment is getting some water, water to lubricate my mouth enough to talk and to swallow the four extra strength Tylenol I know I’m

 going to need just to make it to the breakfast table.

 

Being hung over on Mother’s day is a lot like being hung over on Christmas – totally inadvisable.

 

Being the consummate professional that I am I did manage to rally and make it not only downstairs, but through 3 cups of coffee and a potato and bacon omelet. I was almost feeling normal when I opened the present that Lucy made me at preschool – it was her hand prints, a really cute poem someone vaguely famous wrote about motherhood and included on the back where questions that Lucy answered:

 

    • I love my Mom because: She buys me nice things oh no – first I rarely buy her nice things, I rely on her grandmother to do that… but I’m not very enthusiastic about this being her line of thinking. And while I’m on the subject I’m also not real enthusiastic that while reading her a  bed time story last night she says to me “you know what I really love? Daddy, I can’t wait until Father’s day…” (and people wonder why I drink so much)

 

    • My Mom loves me because: I make her smile – aw that one was really sweet, of course I would love her if she makes me smile or doesn’t – on some days there is very little smiling…

 

  • My Mom is good at: Doing Work. Ugh… really? not giving hugs, or fixing her boo boos or playing school with her of brushing her hair or making sure every baby doll in the house is safely bedded down for the night, or reading to her sometimes for 4 or 5 hours at a time. Nope – I’m good at working. Awesome.

 

Next year I’m going to a spa.

 

 

 

 

Unexplained Phenomena

There’s something really weird going on with me lately and I seem powerless to stop whatever it is. I feel like I’m too young for either a midlife crises or the ‘change of life’, but then again perhaps I’m deluding myself when I estimate my life expectancy to be 120 years.

Three major things have stuck out in my mind. I’ve started painting again. This is unusual because while I try to inject some type of creativity into my day to day routine, it has been over 20 years since I had actual tubes of paint and good brushes. I haven’t gessoed a canvas or thought about perspective in several decades. In fact it took me over an hour to simply remember how to put my easel back together… It’s weird but not entirely without merit, here are my first two mini projects that are the first part of a bigger project I’ve been ‘commissioned’ to do:

Red Flower

Blue Flower

I wouldn’t say I’m ready to have a showing but perhaps I’ll open an Etsy store and make some extra cash to pay off my looming student loan debt. And wouldn’t it be ironic if the six months of art school I was in before I dropped out went to pay for the six years of undergrad and graduate work that I did?

The second most disturbing thing that’s happened lately is that I attended my first official Yoga class. Now, I’ve done Yoga before especially when I was pregnant in the privacy of my own home where all new age-y things should occur, but last Wednesday in an effort to foster a better work/life balance I donned a pair of yoga pants mid day and headed to the University gym to downward face dog in a room full of 19 year olds. Nothing makes you feel older than this scenario. And just for the record, I don’t think its for me, it took FOREVER and the 20 minutes we spent relaxing and clearing our mind was 20 minutes I spent anxious over work piling up on my desk… (I may have missed the point). Next Wednesday I’m going to kettle bell class which is only 30 minutes long and I have a feeling will burn just as many calories and not make me feel like I’ve spent an eternity with younger more flexible versions of myself.

The third and last weird thing is that I went shoe shopping this weekend. I went shoe shopping for like an hour all by myself. I’ve been hoarding gift cards (thanks to my super generous in laws) and I decided it was high time that I spent them. And I ended up buying these:

sandals

I love them, they are beautiful, impractical and kinda hurt (although I’m hoping they only need to be broken in a little). I’ve worn them non stop since I got back home Saturday evening. Any one who knows me or has heard my ‘practical shoe’ speech before knows how totally out of character this is. It might be totally out of character but when I’m in them I can reach things in the cupboard on top of the refrigerator.

I will keep you abreast of any other personality anomalies – I know this is ‘edge of your seat’ sort of stuff…

 

 

I’m not proud of any of this

Motherhood has gifted me with multiple personalities. I like to refer to them as the “Overachiever” and the “Loafer”. The Overachiever reads a lot and explains in great detail science and physics and goes out of her way to plan fun craft projects and asks Lucy every day when she picks her up from school to recite her full name (first, middle, last)her home address and her alphabet. Overachiever makes up songs to remember important numbers and  she warns her about stranger danger and explains to her how compound interest is calculated and how all of her clothes are manufactured. Loafer Mom spends a lot of her time on her phone – tweeting imprudent things (#profoundBecca) and texting pictures of her latest tattoo to friends across the country. Loafer Mom gives her candy to be quiet and pays little attention to things like bedtime when she thinks ignoring it might allow her to sleep in a little bit the next morning. Loafer Mom is unconcerned that her hair is seldom brushed and that she only gets vitamins on weekdays when her Dad remembers to hand them out. Loafer Mom loves wine.

I like to think that overachiever has a higher percentage of participation in this whole child rearing thing but I don’t know… I get the sense that overachiever tries really hard but often falls short. Overachiever works all day and has excellent intentions while boarding the train in the afternoons to go home and participate in some interactive play and to make a wholesomely well balanced family dinner, but at some point right around the time that she is trying to wrangle a tired and cranky Lucy into her jacket after school, right around the time that Lucy starts to whine about not wanting to sit in her car seat and not liking any of the music that is on the radio – right about at that time Loafer Mom (devil in the ear Loafer Mom) starts whispering about how it’s all going to be okay, that she can just drive home, put on some sweat pants and enjoy some wine while she turns on an episode of Olivia. Loafer Mom knows how to make everything all right. Sure – overachiever might try to ignore this, go home and suggest story time but it really only takes one small breakdown or one suggestion to play the insufferable “Mommy and Baby” game again for the Loafer to finally say ‘enough is enough’ and to go lock herself in the bathroom to find out what’s trending on Digg while slipping into a pair of yoga pants and her favorite sweat shirt.

I used to think that if I was a stay at home Mom that Overachiever would completely take over, being laid off a couple years ago quickly taught me that without work to keep her strong Loafer Mom rapidly took power. Loafer Mom discovered that it was okay to have wine with lunch. She learned that showering everyday was totally unnecessary when devoid of meddlesome coworkers. She learned that huggies diapers would hold more pee than you would think.

Monday night both Mom’s emerged nearly simultaneously – it was a warm spring day and Overachiever decided to take a trip to the park, she was in full bloom and running around and pushing Lucy on the swings until she was told to be sleeping beauty and to go lay on the bench. At this point tired and thirsty Loafer Mom sauntered to the bench, laid down and started texting on her phone, she ignored Lucy in hopes that she would self engage and leave her alone. This tactic didn’t work and Lucy rushed her and tried hard to physically lift her head from the bench. Loafer Mom dug her claws in and as Lucy struggled she got her finger stuck in one of the holes of this hard metal bench. Overachiever was back in a flash and tried desperately to calm her down and work her finger out – she called her husband (ever the Overachieving Dad) and had him bring olive oil while she stroked Lucy’s hair and found funny you tube clips for her to watch. Her finger was traumatically disengaged just short of calling the fire department. However – half way home, Lucy in her arms Loafer Mom came back, blaming Overachieving Mom for being in the park in the first place and rushed the rest of the way home to put on yoga pants and start and episode of Dora while pouring herself a glass of Chardonnay.

 

 

 

Ms. Sassypants

I live with a short sassy tyrant, it’s equal parts infuriating and hysterical. Here are some highlights from the last four days of our lives together:

  • Saturday  while enjoying a late morning snuggle in our bed her Dad offered to help her get down when she realized that she left something in her room, and instead of thanking him or saying anything nice she belts out: “Yeah, because it’s always all about you Dad!”
  • Sunday night after her Dad had given her a bath, washed, conditioned and brushed out her unreasonably long hair I picked her up out of the tub, wrapped her in a towel, carried her into her room, dried her off, slathered her from head to toe in lotion and put her in her favorite princess pajamas before sitting down to read her two bedtime stories. I asked her to please grab the milk I had left on her dresser, she looks at me, rolls her eyes and says, “Why do I have to do everything?
  • Monday night it was her Dad’s turn to read to her and when I went into her room to wish her a goodnight before  time story, she grabbed my face kissed me hard and pushed me away from her as she screamed “I’m so done with the hugging and the kissing!”
  • Tonight while we were eating dinner her Dad said something silly and she turns to him and says, “Dad you are so ridiculous I cant play with you anymore!” when he asked her what the problem was she told him, “I cant be your friend until you stop being funny.”

True Story. Good Times.

Death to a three year old

Last Saturday we buried Ruka in her favorite trivial pursuit box on the side of the house under some unidentified tree/bush that may or may not be a rhododendron or a forsythia or lavender… come April it will be a surprise to all of us.

I did a lot of research before telling Lucy about Ruka dying and everyone seemed to agree to be straight, honest and brief and let her come up with her own questions. Here is a smattering of what I’ve gotten so far:

  • Now that the cat’s gone, can we get a dog? (this was the FIRST thing out of her mouth)
  • Can she come visit? Well, if she can’t visit can we talk about her? Can we also talk about the dog that we are going to get now that Ruka is gone?
  • If we are going to bury her in the ground will she roll around and play with the worms?
  •  Can we just plant her in a flower pot instead? We could plant her and grow growberries on top of her. (I have no idea what a growberry is)
  • How did she die? Did her heart stop bleating?
  • “Mommy, before we bury her are you going to take her legs?” “No, why?” “But how will she run?”

I miss my sweet little kitty but I have a feeling we are all going to be just fine.

Myruka Watson Sells 1994-2014

Ruka
Dear Ruka,

Remember the afternoon that you walked through my sliding glass door in that horrible townhouse I was renting across the street from the post office? Remember how it was just a few days past my 20th birthday, the birthday I bugged all my friends, roommates and anyone who would listen that all I wanted as a gift was a cat? Remember how you strolled right in like you owned the place, jumped into my lap and stayed… forever? We slept with the sliding glass door open for days ( virtually inviting any other wandering stray animals to come in as well) but you never left. Sure you’d sleep on the patio, warming yourself in the hot southern California sunshine but you never left.

Remember when we moved to that cute little 1920’s apartment on Choctow street? The one just a few doors down from the blind shut-in who used to fry you fresh chicken livers every afternoon? I wondered for a long time where you disappeared to everyday and why you weren’t all that interested in dinner until I ran into to her and realized I could have saved a lot of money on cat food. That was also the apartment where you used to catch lizards – little lizards by the dozen, I would come home from work in the late afternoon and there would be 6, 8, 10 tails on the front stoop.

We left there and eventually moved – just you and me – to our little one bedroom apartment over the garage. A garage just a few feet off very busy University avenue where you cried relentlessly every day to go outside. I eventually let you go because it seemed mean to lock you up when you were so obviously street smart. I’d come home from work – you’d go out for a couple hours and always show back up right at dinner time. Except one night when you didn’t come home – one night when I spent the entire evening canvassing the neighborhood for you. The night I even enlisted the help of my landlord – my landlord who did not like cats and was none too thrilled that you were living there – but he helped.  He helped and eventually late the next morning you came home tired, dehydrated and covered in cob webs (I can only hope it was some late night Tijuana kitty rave). It was the only night we have ever spent apart. You and I lived in that little apartment over the garage for years like two old spinsters – keeping each other company, finishing each other’s ice cream. Remember one lazy Saturday afternoon when I inadvertently threw a crumpled up dollar bill across the living room and you fetched it for me – it began a two or three day game of none stop fetch. You are the only cat I know that has ever done that.

Remember the time when you caught a mole – a mole half the size you were and you tried to bring it home and I pretended like I didn’t see you standing at the screen door – half dead mole in your mouth? I felt bad but I didn’t let you in because you were really good at catching things but not so good at killing them. It had only been a few weeks prior that you had run inside with the biggest lizard I had ever seen, let it go and since it was still alive and only slightly injured it ran under the TV stand. I missed a Spanish midterm that night.

When we eventually left California for the colder and decidedly less sunny east coast you were not thrilled, but still you never gave up on me – you nearly ran away in Phoenix but you decided to stick it out. You traveled in the hot un-air-conditioned twelve year old Toyota Camry for six days refusing food and water and the comfy big bed I had outfitted for you in the backseat. Instead you opted to be hot and thirsty under the driver’s side seat – for 6 days in July – through Texas.

When we finally settled in Philadelphia we shared a wonderful house with your Aunt Beth and Mr. Furry pants. Remember Mr. Furry pants? I wouldn’t say you two were ever the best of friends, but you tolerated each other and found your own spaces and made it work. You were a real trooper and we had many good times all together in that house.

When you and I decided to leave and go our own way we moved into the top of Towne Pizza. Remember Towne Pizza? There were so many mice there – you kept a lot of them at bay just by your mere existence but every once in a while one would sneak in and you would be on it. I could always count on you to protect me. In that apartment we had a big shallow sink in the bathroom that you liked to nap in as it was the perfect size Ruka bowl. I would move you while getting ready in the morning and you would sit on the counter and watch me in stunned disbelief. One morning I dropped my ring down the drain and without hesitation you climbed into the sink, reached your paw down the drain and retrieved it for me. You were magic.

Remember when I met Jason and I brought him home and the three of us used to watch movies and he would always invariably fall asleep on the couch and become your personal cushion? Remember when the three of us got that little house on Rodman street the one next to the nosy super-gay neighbors? The neighbors who FREAKED out the first time I let you outside. Freaked out so bad that I never dared let you outside again when we lived there. You weren’t too happy about that.

Remember when the three of us moved to East Falls and the first day you were there you went next door to say ‘hi’ to our new neighbors and two minutes later all I heard was ‘Steph come quick there’s some crazy cat out here!’ because you tried to get INTO their house. And remember when their German Shepard chased you down the street and you climbed up half a sycamore tree to avoid her? Remember – it took weeks for your nails to grown back.

Remember when Guinness came to live with us and you were weary at first and didn’t want anything to do with him, but remember when you became friends and the two of you would sit downstairs at night after we had gone to bed and keep each other company? Remember when we brought Lucy home from the hospital and Guinness tried to pee on her and you just looked at me with silent dismay? You were not her biggest fan but you grew to love her and today when you had to pick a spot for your last and final nap it was her bed you crawled in to – not mine and not yours.

I had hoped when we moved you Swarthmore that you would once again get to go sit outside, explore nature and nap in the sunshine, alas it was never nice enough for you to get the chance to do that…

My dear sweet friend I am going to miss you so much. I have never met a cat that was more sociable, more friendly, more willing to greet me at the door when I came home from work as you were. I never wanted to have to make ‘the hard decision’ with you but in the end you wanted to fight more fiercely than your body would let you and couldn’t stand to see you suffer.

Already the house seems emptier. I hope you are in a place with giant lizards. Rest in peace.
XOXO

Ode to the third year

There once was a cranky three year old
She whined all  the time
She didn’t like you if you said ‘no’
Her favorite word was ‘ mine ‘

 
She hated eating dinner
Unless it was mac and cheese
She would beg and beg for dessert
But rarely ever said ‘please ‘
 

We would love her and hug her
And say she was cherished
Until she pulled away saying
“Now I’m embarrassed”
 

She is so grown up
Yet still a baby
She’s wonderful
But drives us crazy

Men are from Mars

There’s a lot of differences between my husband and I, many of them stem from our own kinds of personal grooming techniques, some are related to the length of time we can talk to any one person on the phone. Many of our differences originate from our organizations skills and our ability or inability to multitask (he can talk longer on the phone but I can do two things at once).

We’ve been together quite a few years my husband and I but there are still moments that amaze me. Ever since we purchased our new home I have invited friend after friend over to give them the grand tour to show them the awesome huge pull out drawers in the kitchen to say things like, “and on this wall imagine a big focal point like lots of family photos interspersed with art and cool fabric swatches…” my friends ohh and aww over the potential that they can see in our unfinished rooms. But last weekend my husband had some of his friends over and when I got home they were just drinking beer and hanging out in the driveway. I invited them, but they declined. Later after they had gone home I asked my husband if he gave them a tour of the house and he said ‘yeah, I took them downstairs and showed them the beer refrigerator’. Really? All this space all this unlimited potential and you take your friends to the utility room in the basement and show off our second refrigerator? I was incredulous and he was perplexed by this.

Sometimes I wonder how men and women have managed to coexist for so long, I mean despite the fact that our parts fit together so easily. I guess this is the reason there is both HGTV and SPIKE TV.

Thanks millennials for keeping it real

I know it seems lately that my entire life is completely filled with dealing with my strongly opinionated melodramatic daughter, but alas this is not true. I have an entire 40 minutes I spend on the train everyday where I can contemplate things like politics, the environment or the personal grooming practices of my fellow riders.

Usually I spend this time immersed in any number of poorly written chick-lit books as to stop the real world from seeping in to my candy-land colored existence. Oh – how I hate you reality. But every once in a while, despite my constant vigilance, real world events seep into my paradigm.

Take for example the “polar vortex”. First, WTF? I know that most people really don’t care about science. I know that money to support scientific research can be hard to find.  Because of this I think scientist everywhere try to invent fancy names for things. Fancy names to make people care. Fancy names that back when I was a kid were simply referred to as “winter”.

Now – I don’t have an exceptionally good memory of my childhood – many events and day to day occurrences are blacked out and hopefully never surface unless through hypnosis or deep psycho analysis (neither of which I would ever subject myself to). But I do remember some things, I remember getting ready for school in the morning and hoping against hope that the thermostat outside would reach a double digits (because it’s so much warmer at 12 degrees than at 8?).

I remember walking to the bus stop when it was so cold that it hurt to inhale air into my lungs. I remember finally getting on the bus and my hands would be bright red and would burn the entire 35 minute ride from the cold outside. Now admittedly, I was too cool or just too dumb to properly attire myself during this time in my life. I wore an unlined leather bomber jacket most days, a jacket that my Mom inconceivably bought for me at some fine outdoor clothier like ‘fashion bug’. I wore this with no gloves or hats or scarves. I was cool damnit.

And yet, I survived, I survived despite my stupidity, I survived despite the fact that we lived in one of the coldest areas in the contiguous United States. I survived even though school never closed because of the cold. The colder it got the more impervious we acted. It’s honestly amazing the tips of my fingers aren’t black…

But now that I am older and oh so much wiser I have invested in a warm sub zero winter parka and all the accessorizing trimmings that go along with it. Earlier this week when I was all bundled up and the mercury never got above 20 I still saw students walking around campus in short shorts with nothing heavier than a hoodie. It warms my heart.

If you give a three-year old a muffin

If you give a three year old a muffin chances are that she’ll want to help you make them.

So you let her help, and she will immediately pour milk all down the front of her.

So you’ll send her upstairs to change her clothes.

She’ll come back 27 minutes later in a pair of underroos and stripped leg warmers.

You’ll send her back upstairs.

She’ll come back with a matching pink tutu and a tiara, she’ll ask for a snack.

You’ll remind her you are making muffins, because by now she’s completely forgotten.

She’ll ask you what kind of muffins your making, you’ll tell her blueberry.

That will remind her of Blueberry’s for Sal and she’ll run back upstairs to get it.

Two minutes later you’ll hear her yelling “no stop it! Stop it!”

You’ll go upstairs and find out that she’s screaming at her evil twin that lives in the mirror in her bedroom.

You’ll remind her again that the mirror is simply a reflection of herself.

At this point the smoke detector will go off from the burning muffins you also forgot about.

Your three year old will freak out and try to run outside in her underroos.

You will hold her in one arm while climbing onto the living room side table to turn off the smoke detector.

Right at that moment she will remember the muffins and want one really bad.

So you will drive to Starbucks, buy her a blueberry muffin while you doctor up your vanilla latte to get rid of your raging headache.

burnt muffin

Because I care

I currently have several friends that either just had or are soon expecting their first baby girls. I couldn’t be happy for them with their little screaming bundles of oppression joy.

But I thought I would take a moment to share with them some really exciting things they have to look forward to – once their little poop shooters grow up and turn three, below are just a few things that one can expect:

  • She will be obsessed with poop. You will not go to the bathroom without someone running in after (if she’s not already in there) jumping up and down shouting “can I see it? Please Mommy just let me see it!”
  • She will be very annoyed by bookmarks and will begin to pull them out of every book she finds laying around the house.
  • She will pick up on your vernacular until one day you walk into her laid back in the bathtub and when you ask her what she’s doing she’ll say “oh, I’m just chillin like a villain with my baby, Mom”. Or every time you take a picture of her with your phone she’ll ask you to send it to her. When you ask her what her number is she’ll say “five”.
  • She’ll pick the most opportune times (usually in line at Target) to reach inside your shirt for no reason and say really loud to anyone whose around “I like your squishy boobs Mom!”
  • Hide your make-up. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
  • When you get her up for nap time she will often times be wearing 3 pairs of underwear 4 shirts and leg warmers and be mad when you tell her she has to go put on pants. Because its January and its cold.
  • She will never want to wear socks. Even during a polar vortex. No socks. No.
  • One day you will pick her up from school and ask her how her day was and she will say “We can talk about it during dinner Mom, that’s when we discuss how everyone’s day was. Right now I just want to be quiet and listen to Adele.” and you will wonder what the hell happened to your little girl.

I remember when Lucy was still just a little gurgling crawler before she could forms words and I couldn’t wait until she talked. All of my Mom friends warned me not to rush it, but I knew they were insane and I couldn’t wait to hear the pearls of wisdom that would emanate from my little angel.

Hahahahahahaha.

2013: A Year in Books

I know that last year I complained about the measly 34 books that I read and promised the internet I’d do better, but before you scroll down to see my final number for this year (abysmal) let me reminds you that the average American only gets through about six a year. I’ve totally beat a lot of them.

 Audition ***

I liked this book – I listened to it in the car and it took me awhile to get over her speech impediment, and I was surprised that she never mentions her speech impediment. The first half of the book was by far the best, describing her childhood, her famous father and her fairly dysfunctional immediate family – the second half gets a little braggy about her success.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter ****

Wow, what an amazing book. Certainly the best thing I’ve read in a long time. I put it into the same category as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I am stunned that a 23 year old could create such a multi-dimensional,   deep, stirring, story. Run, don’t walk – read this today.

Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy

Winter of the World***

Not as good as The Fall of Giants but still a riveting story. It started with the rise of Hitler and ended with the conclusion of World War II. I liked this but felt like it dragged a little in the middle, it seemed like it took me forever to read.

Great Expectations

Great Expectations***

A classic I always meant to read. I like Dickens and enjoyed this – I listened to it in my car which was very enjoyable and took me away from my road rage and my 21st century paradigm.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry***

A cute, sleeper novel. This was the first book club selection of the year and I’m not sure that it’s a consensus to give this novel 3 stars, but the end took me by surprise and made me think long and hard about old age and the relationships we hold dear.

Life Interrupted: The Unfinished Monologue

Life Interrupted**

The last unfinished monologue of Spaulding Grey, I listen to this in the car. It was read by Sam Shepard and I could not get into his reading. He had neither the rhythm nor the cadence that Spaulding had and I could not hear Spaulding at all. At the end I was just depressed.

2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey Series #1)

2001: A space Odyssey***

I’m adding this here because I re-’read’ almost half of this book this year and I think it makes the list. It’s classically sci-fi and way better than the movie.

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs Series #1)

Maisie Dobbes*

Ugh – I could not get into this book at all. This was a recommendation from both my Mother and my sister who have read the entire series. I read three quarters of it and stuck it back on the shelf. Murder mysteries are not my cup of tea and this wasn’t compelling enough to change that.

The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada**

Exactly what you would expect a block buster chick-lit book to be. I listened to this in a car on the way to my crappy job in the ghetto and it made me feel better about my own situation. I would have liked it so much better if the ending had been different, but it was the most anti-climactic thing I have read in a long long time.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild***

I really enjoyed this book. As a Mom the introduction and forward made me both sad and depressed and I went through many many tissues, but the story of Cheryl’s hike and quest to get her life back and move forward where both poignant and funny. Not long after reading this I got a chance to hear a reading from her at the free library and she was amazing in person – I need to get more of her stuff.

Tess of the d'Urbervilles (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

 Tess of the D’Urbaville’s***

Another classic that I listened to in the car. I really liked this book even though I felt so bad for the protagonist Tess who is a constant victim of her own design – I spent half of the book yelling at her from inside the car. But otherwise, it is a good story that transcends time and is still enjoyable today.

The Year of the Flood

The year of the Flood***

It’s been a long time since I read Oryx and Crake, the first book in this series that I loved loved loved so I was excited to once again pick up this story and I did enjoy this but I did not love it – it fell short of the first book by a wide margin.

Mississippi Sissy

Mississippi Sissy****

An excellent memoir that will make you both laugh and cry again and again. Beautifully written and raw.

The Phoenix Unchained (Enduring Flame Series #1)

 The Phoenix Unchained*

Ugh – another audio book I got through my book club. I generally really like suspending belief and diving into other worlds that take me away from the stress of this one but this book was ridiculous to the extreme. Perhaps it’s because it was being read out loud. I finished it because I had to but I would not recommend it.

The Center of Everything: A Novel

The Center of Everything***

This is a very good coming of age novel set in Middle America. Not a book I would have picked up but I needed something to read while on vacation and found it next to the guest bed at my parents’ house. I thought it was very well written and makes you empathetic to all teenagers, especially Evelyn.

Traveler

Traveler**

Meh. I had high hopes for this book after reading The Memory of Running from Ron McClarety last year, but again, I thought this fell short. It’s good but not great.

It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy

It Looked different on the Model***

Oh Laurie Notaro – you are one of my favorites. She could sneeze on a napkin and I would think it was funny. If you’ve never read anything by her do yourself a favor and go pick up Idiot Girl’s Action Adventure Club do it now.

Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin

Official book club selection***

Much better than anticipated. I can only assume that Kathy got a ghost writer for this book… It was a very honest look into her childhood and struggle with her career and relationships. I am a big fan of personal memoirs and I really enjoyed this book.

From the Dust Returned

From the dust returned**

I picked up this book because the Bloggess once named it as one of the three books she would read for the rest of her life if she could only read three books (I had already read the other two and liked them so I assumed this would also be a winner) and I have to admit that I didn’t really get it. It’s all about the supernatural and ghosts/vampires sort of things which I generally can get into. Unfortunately I simply spent the entire book a little confused and not all that interested.

City of Dragons (Rain Wilds Chronicles #3)

City of Dragons****

Robin Hobb is by far one of my favorite authors and if you enjoy being immersed in alternate worlds and like using your imagination than I recommend her highly. This was the third book in the rain wilds chronicles. The only downside to this book is that I thought it was the final in a trilogy but it turns out there’s one more – which now I have to wait for…

A ticket to the Circus***

Another great memoir – from artist, model and 6th and final wife to Norman Mailer. Norris led a pretty amazing life and takes you right inside on her wild ride. Honest and open about her struggles with Norman it’s definitely worth the read.

I Don't Care about Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Faux Sensitive Hipsters, Felons, and Other Guys I've Dated

I don’t care about your band**

Total brain candy. This is classic chick lit and won’t take you long to get through. It’s perfect for train riding or sitting by the pool.

One Summer: America, 1927

One Summer***

I bought this for my Dad for Christmas but as a huge Bill Bryson fan I thought I should read it before I gave it to him. The entire thing is centered around the events of the summer of 1927 and is a masterpiece in investigative literature. Anyone who wants to know more about this era should definitely make this a must-read.

The Last Unicorn (Graphic Novel)

The Last Unicorn***

This book is supposedly a classic (I read it in a list on the internet somewhere so that must be true) and while I am enjoying it (I’m not quite finished) it’s not in any way groundbreaking. It’s a cute story and well written but I’m not sure I would add it to a must read list.

And to all a good night

Seriously, is there anything more exciting than Christmas eve when you are three years old?

20131224_200103

Tonight transports me to a time of footy pajamas, nighttime bubble baths, homemade sticky buns and complete and utter exhilaration.

Hats off to childhood – may you always be merry and bright.