20 August 2010

What the Pediatrician Said:

Do you want me to hold her so you can put your shirt on right-side-out?

19 August 2010

Hot Baby in the Summertime

Poor little Gopher is home today with a fever.

Poor little mama has nothing to say except "Poor Little Gopher."

I am working from home this afternoon, otherwise known as Livin' the Dream.

Also, I am hungry. For the past few weeks, I've been trying to follow the rules of the No S Diet, which is both difficult and easy-- and so ridiculously straightfoward it makes cheating difficult to rationalize. Finally, a worthy adversary to my superhero rationalizing powers. Dammit.

Just returned from a truly lovely weekend at a cabin in the mountains with Mr. and Mrs. Littlebrother and their sweet little Izzy. Could have used, like, 5 extra days. We had pool access, a gorgeous view, a raccoon visitor that both terrified and delighted Birdy, plenty of food and drink, and nothing to do but be together. Much needed, much appreciated, much much much. I/ we are lucky.

Ah, the being lucky. Something I am so acutely aware of lately, as I respond in my puny human-logic way to the big and non-specific brewing change I've been feeling the last few months-- this low thundery thing in the distance.*

What I have is lovely. NOW is so good. I've worked hard for this-- to be able to do the things we do and have the this lifestyle-- this non-extravagant thing, this vanilla-with-just-a-few-sprinkles life. This security and safety (relative to the salad days). This alignment with "how it's supposed to be/ look/ work." I envisioned this. I have this (mostly) under control. The bumps in the road are few and mild these days, just daily non-drama in our happily predictable little world.

So, naturally, it's time to turn the canoe toward the falls, right?

*totally not pregnant, btw.

12 August 2010

Now I've really done it.

I need to be better about recording things in this space. Gopher is a chubby, flappy, screechy 8 months already and I have very few words about her here-- I reported on Birdy's every move, remember? There will be more time soon, I hope. I've done something big-ish but still quiet and gray for the moment. Something that is freaking me out. That is my quietly freaking out at work face up there, in case you were wondering. Stay tuned.

(here are my sweethearts, by the way, being sweet):

16 July 2010

Reminder: change contact lenses

Today, I drove past the driveway sign for Catholic Charities.

For a moment, I thought it said "Catholic Critters."

Just imagine.

25 June 2010


I just signed the customary "Happy Birthday from the department" card for our CEO.

I wrote "Have a lovely birthday."

Despite all efforts to fix it, it still looks like:

"Have a lonely birthday."


Confirmed: Bird is Southern.

We were having a conversation the other day and when I was joking around about how stinky Gopher's diaper was, she said,

"Oh, LOWER."

as in,

"Oh, LORD."

But with the Southern bonus syllable.


We visited our picture-perfect Indiana college town for our 8th (!! ) anniversary, leaving the sister babies with my folks.

The weather, it was perfect. The sleeping in, it was heavenly. The husband, he is my favorite. The town, it loved us back.

And just as we suspected, Mike still works the door at the Vid. And remembered us by name after TEN years, which I'd like to attribute to his insane steel-trap memory and not our (ahem) frequent flyer status at the townie bars. In any case, that guy is a freaking legend and seems to have acquired more walkie-talkies as the years have progressed.

You know when you re-hear a band you love but had kind of forgotten about and you air-drum on your steering wheel and kick yourself for not listening to that album every waking minute since you got it two years ago or whatever?

That's how I'm feelin' about the Features these days.

12 June 2010

Got to tip on the tightrope

That's us, tippin' on the tightrope, always.
It is crazy here. As Bird recently declared, "This house is nothing but babies and crazy people."

Well said.

Work is nuts, A's work is nuts, kids are nuts, social calendar is nuts, weather/ heat is nuts, dogs are nuts, family is nuts:

And on Friday, we all (except Gopher) woke up with some kind of awful stomach ick which passed-- violently-- in about 24 hours and our tiny one-man bathroom saw A LOT of action.

In the past few weeks, I've been on two bizarre work-related road trips, one in which I saw a sign by the side of the road that said "Twenty Kinds of Cheese" and I actually got to stop, and another in which I drug my friend T. along and visited the most delicious-smelling Mennonite grocery in all of West Tennessee, plus saw buzzards, plus saw a goat standing on top of another goat (!), plus drove a Grand Marquis all over the countryside, plus visited a very creepy home/ museum or two, plus plus plus. This project, it wears me out in a good way, and it beats the hell out of writing healthcare marketing copy day in and day out behind a desk, so I'll take it.

Also watched the LOST finale, and I have one thing to say: pbbbbbbffffttt. Way to waste a few years of my life, LOST. It was as if the writers showed up for the final exam but hadn't really been doing the reading all semester, which is something I wake up in a cold sweat over, still, 12 years post-college. So in essence, the finale of LOST was my recurring nightmare.

Plus, it was lame.

There is more, but I am tired, and A. is at Bonnaroo doing some supercool work opportunity fun creative project stuff, and I'm supposed to be doing actual work-work (sewing machine marketing, anyone?) that I promised to do for Monday since I had to leave the office early on Friday on account of a guts-puke-out. Because I'm dedicated like that.

I'll leave you with our latest favorite dance party:
Me: What do you think those guys are?
Bird: Mirrors with coats on. (duh).

04 May 2010

Water, water everywhere.

Rain this weekend.
Lots of it, straight down, days and nights.
Pound-y rain. Thunder.
Weather radio bleeping and blooping, us joking about how the little man inside it kept telling us what we already knew: it was raining. We GET IT, little guy. Clock out.

We cleaned out closets, I dragged Bird along on a thrift store outing, A. did some wet grocery shopping, we all spent Saturday evening on a friend's porch to celebrate a birthday in the deluge. When it came to shoes, I chose poorly-- cheap purple flats that felt like wet socks on bare feet. Clammy ick. Reached for the pull-chain in the bedroom closet upstairs and drip, drip, drip down my arm from around the light fixture. Rats. Fix it later, oh well. Slept with the windows open and listened to more more more more rain. Woke up in gray light next to a fat, bare baby nursing in her sleep, rain pounding the roof, house completely silent, breezy. Lucky me.

Watery garden in the morning, got in the car and set out to church solo through the downpour, turned around to fetch a forgotten coffee mug from home and stayed. More closet cleaning, making up songs with Bird, scheming with A., making pizza dough, pinching the baby.

Meanwhile, 18 blocks away, the river was escaping its banks, and downtown was drowning. The Opry was drowning. The symphony center was drowning. Opryland Hotel. Lower Broadway. Entire neighborhoods. Schools. Businesses. The mall. History. People were evacuated. People bailed water and watched their keepsakes and furniture float out into the street. Uncontrollable water washed around street corners and flowed in through windows and doors. Cars were carried off. The stranded were rescued from their homes by boat. People lost power, phone service, each other. Roads and bridges crumbled while we ate our pizza and Bird declared her distaste for the crust, again.

The last two mornings I have driven across the bridge over the obscenely swollen river, over three-day-old lakes littered with parked cars, past the now-waterfront intersection of 8th Ave, through clouds of diesel fumes from the generators. I've passed over the waves on First Ave, driven my 4 miles over high ground, parked my car in the bone-dry lot behind my office, and spent large chunks of time obsessing about commas and capitalization rules as I proof a complex and frustrating piece that is set to print tomorrow.

Completely spared. Lucky, lucky me.

16 April 2010

14 April 2010

Welcome, dimentia

At my office, every person has a small bulletin board next to their office door to post clippings, projects, quotes, whatever.

There is a moon-shaped, wire-and-bead creation hanging on mine. It is about 8 inches tall and hangs from a shiny pink and purple ribbon.

I noticed it last week.

I have a vague sense that it was a gift, but I have no memory of it past that.

I have no idea how it got there, how long it's been there, where it came from, or even if I put it there or it was put there for me.


And would you like some losing-my-mind related TMI?

Every time I use the restroom at work, I return to my desk and cannot for the life of me remember whether or not I flushed. So I return to the bathroom to check. Every time.

That's it. Carry on.

13 April 2010

Scenes from a Marriage:

Me: Know what would go great with this salad?

A: A bottle of booze and a day off?

29 March 2010

Mistakes I Have Made, March 2010 Edition

1. Emailed the circulation dept. of a magazine I love to tell them, in response to their subscription renewal reminder, that hey! I ordered this subscription in September and I haven't received any issues! And they sendt the 3 back issues I've missed and will be sending everything first class from now on, yadda yadda terrific customer service yadda. Fixed. And then. On my bedside table (ok, old tv tray, but whatever, it sits by my bed with a lamp on it), I happen to notice the Winter issue. Of the magazine. Which I now remember reading cover to cover. Oh, and on the shelf by the window is the Fall issue. So I've been getting it, reading it, and forgetting all about it.

2. Bought a semi-gnarly booster car seat from a woman on craigslist, primarily because I had already written out the check before I met up with her in the parking lot and for some reason felt the deal had already been set in motion. It will do, but in hind sight... eh.

3. Pumped breast milk like a dedicated mama-mammal at the office, washed and sterilized all of my pump parts, and promptly left my baggies of nutritionally perfect and hard-won milkiness in the car all night. On at least three separate occasions.

4. Came within a millimeter of dumping a scoop of baby formula into an open jar of olives.

22 March 2010

March, is it?

So, here it is, the Monday of my 4th week back to work full time, with Gopher in daycare full time.

And you know what? It's going just fine.

Sure, I miss my days of working from home. Mostly the parts when I was baby-snuggling and coffee-getting, though, which meant that I spent a lot of nights working from home to meet my deadlines. And as fantastically snuggly as that Gopher can be, I don't miss working FT with an infant and no childcare.

The month of February was a great opportunity to live the dream, refine the dream. What was once "I want to work from home" is now the more specific "I want to work for myself." Which is good to know. And what was once "sooner than later" is now "when the time is right," which is not now. And what was once "I could totally handle it" is now "I would really, really have to work at time management and give up on perfection."

And for whatever reason (maybe the refined and less urgent dream), I am much more comfortable where I am and I'm realizing that I really like what I do, that I get to do some really interesting things with interesting people, that I am treated with much kindness, and that I am really, really lucky when it comes to my job and many, many other areas in my life. I mean, I knew that before Gopher, but coming back to work was a nice reminder that everything is FINE. GOOD, even. That there is no need to reinvent everything, all the time.

The mornings, though. If I could just fix ONE thing, please. The fucking mornings. The racing around, the unpreparedness, the madness. The limited baby-snuggling, lack of patience-having. The feeling like I've been clawing my way out of a deep, dark pit for hours upon hours before I even hit the office door. That I could do without.


Spring must be hiding and giggling and almost peeing its pants somewhere, waiting to jump out and be all "Bloodeedoo!" because I have been feeling CRAFTY and RESTLESS. I've been knitting washcloths like your Granny, I made Birdy 4 little belts to hold her jeans up (bless her heart), and I've been threatening for three weeks to leave this damned house with no children strapped or otherwise attached to my body to go to the fabric store and purchase one of about 8 dress patterns I've had my eye on. That's right, I said it. DRESS PATTERN.

Which is funny, right? Miss jeans and solid-colored t-shirt over here? Well, despite my legendary * ahem * simple fashion sense, I spend a weird amount of time thinking about clothing, partially from a nerdy construction angle and partially from an "I'd like to be in over my head on a project" angle. Plus, dresses. I mean, how much easier does it get? One piece of clothing + shoes. Tights if it's cold. No finding multiple clean pieces. And in my current body shape, no waistband, amen. What may seem like a move toward the fancy is actually a move toward the lazy, and I am totally cool with that.


Bird and I ran into one of her former daycare teachers at the hotdog stand a few weekends ago. She's a lovely person, mid-twenties, who has recently become a police officer. She spends her working hours patrolling on foot in the projects. Which is, as you might have guessed, is totally hard core.

I realized as we were talking that becoming a cop is one of the most unsettling things I could imagine. In my life now, with my constantly humming little brain thinking up bizarre scenarios in the background of my actual, valuable thoughts, there are plenty of situations (plausible and implausible) that I am able to dismiss with "I would call the police."

But for Laura, holy shit, she IS the police. Which, for some, might feel empowering. To me, it seems terrifying. To know that this idea of an all-seeing protector is truly just a human, with no superhuman powers and no more magic than anybody else. That since Joe Policeman visited my 4th grade class, I've had this imaginary army of officers who totally had my back and really? There's just ME. I'm IT, and I know just exactly how un-magical I am. And there are a bunch of people out there who think I'm capable of being not only a badass, but a superhero badass.

And really (this is my point), it's kind of the same thing being a parent, isn't it? Those moments when you say to yourself, "Holy shit, I AM the mom. And I don't have a clue what I'm doing."

06 March 2010

What I just said to my friend on the phone:

"I'll give you that crochet hook at church tomorrow."

Old. Lady.

20 February 2010

I'd like a slice, please

What my husband said in a pretend conversation with the guy who almost ran him over during his run downtown this afternoon:

"You want a slice-a this beefcake? You're gonna need a fork, buddy."

I thought it was precious.

Also precious:
Birdy doing several "silly walks" all around the wide ledges of the Parthenon, including a totally kick-ass robot walk that would make the Beastie Boys stand up and cheer. Intergalactic, planetary! (that is not Bird in the photo. That is not even my photo. But that is the Parthenon.)

And precious-er:
Lunch time, Bird and I standing at the edge of the duck pond at the park, sans bread, when a sweet little girl came over to us and offered Birdy the top of a hamburger bun from her duck-bread stash. We said thank you, the girl moved on, and Birdy sat there for a second, staring at the bun.

She looked up at me and whispered, "Mom, can I eat this?"

Less precious:
20 minutes spent staring at, wondering about, and discussing in great detail a dead squirrel on the side of the walking path.

And most wonderful:
My Bird can read!
Fat Cat Rat Hat Splat! Can Ran Stand Pants! Hop Pop Stop!

17 February 2010

Thoughts on giving and receiving

After a grumpy little incident involving my Bird, my mom, and a pair of brand new jeans, Bird and I had this exchange at bedtime.

Mama: You know, when someone gives you a gift you don't really like, most of the time you just say "thank you" and move on.

Bird: Why?

Mama: So you don't hurt the person's feelings. Think about how you would feel if you gave someone a present and they said they didn't like it.

Bird: Oh. It would hurt my feelings. Ok.

Mama: So... what if I gave you... a hat you didn't really like?

Bird: I would say "thank you."

Mama: What if I gave you... a really ugly shirt?

Bird: I would say "thank you."

(( long pause ))

Bird: What if I gave you a fart?

Mama: Well, I guess I'd have to say "thank you."

(( long pause, giggles))

Bird: I just farted, mom.

25 January 2010

I once got busy in a Burger King Bathroom

Working from Home:
WOW, my friends. It's everything I dreamed it could be. And I just learned how to nurse in the moby, so YEAH. One sweet month of livin ' the dream before I'm back to wearing real pants, remembering my key code and doing my designated week of office kitchen duty. That's gonna hurt.

She Has a Home
Mystery solved: neighborhood-wandering chicken (who survived the cold snap! aw snap!) is the tragic result of a chicken escape that happened to my corner neighbors. Except the chicken was to be a gift, so the neighbors aren't exactly eager to get her back, as they never intended to own her. They tell me that the only way to catch a chicken is to wait until it's asleep and then sneak up on it and grab it, so... not bloody likely. Looks like I'll be cleaning chicken shit off my sidewalk for a good long while, or until the chicken meets with whatever natural predators a chicken might encounter 18 blocks from the smack-middle of a major metropolitan area. I must say it satisfies my country-livin' yearnings to see her pecking and scratching around outside the kitchen window every morning.

And speaking of urban living:

My friend J. recently tried to help me understand why in the holy hell one would live 30 miles away from one's workplace, explaining that he really didn't mind his super long-ass commute to work, or the traffic, or the fact that he puts in the equivalent of almost one extra work day each week just getting there and back. He said that on that very morning, he had left his subdivision and continued his commute through a stretch of hills and farmland, where a light morning fog was just beginning to lift over the giant, stoic hay bales dotting the fields. And something about a deer or a fox or a magical unicorn that inspired him to turn up the Dave Matthews, sip his Starbucks Mochachino and really JAM.


One morning, I saw a dude gracefully drop trou and take a shit in a garbage can on the Main Street Bridge, like it was nothing. Salut!

Things go missing sometimes:
I almost surely popped a box of granola bars in the library drop box along with my library books by mistake. (Hey, it happens.) Later, there was some discrepancy at the Library about books I had not returned, which I swore up and down I had returned. I defended my honor by stating that I absolutely remembered returning those books, because I returned them with a box of granola bars! See!?! DO YOU NOT REMEMBER MY GRANOLA BARS, LIBARY GUY? WERE THEY DELICIOUS? HUH? WERE THEY?
And then, I found the books under Birdy's bed. And the granola bars in the car.
And showed my true crazy to the library guy in one short vignette.

Pretty Much What I Expected When I Said I'd Bear his Children:
This weekend I walked in on A. in the living room drinking a bloody mary, dancing around with Birdy and watching the Humpty Dance on YouTube. A true peach, my friends.

24 January 2010

Letter to a 4 year old

Dear Bird,

You are driving me nuts.
I love you, lovelovelovelove you, but damn.


12 January 2010

U and I make a difference

The other day, I heard Birdy in the parlor playing with some shoddily-made Christmas crap and doing some loud, frustrated growling that sounded like it would soon become frustrated throwing.

"Bird," I said, "Maybe when you're frustrated, you could find something else to say, like 'RATS!' "
"Yeah," said A, how about 'aw, nuts!' ?"

She thought for a minute and said, "Or I could say... SHUT!"

06 January 2010

I'd say it's about time you met the Gopher.

There she is, sweet Ophelia Rose. Born at the beginning of December by c-section, 10 days early.


What is the Birth Story?
This could be a long one, due to some medical weirdness in my blood requiring a lot of doctors and a bonus captive period in the hospital a few weeks before she actually came for infusions and other excitement. Boring. Here are the parts that count:

1. Ringalingaling!
Surprise! I know we're catching you at the end of your work day, but just wanted to let you know the stars have aligned and your platelets are up and you're having major abdominal surgery to produce a human tomorrow morning at 9am! Be there or be square! Oh, and don't eat or drink anything after midnight! Tell your boss! Bye!

2. It turns out that while you lie there on the table, nice and sliced wide open, the hot topic of conversation is Types of Salsa in the Hospital Cafeteria. The anesthesiologist likes the fruity salsas. Turns out there are far more choices since Baja Fresh opened. Residents are all about the roasted corn, and the nurses dig the green chile business. What's that? Oh, shit! A BABY!

Also, being conscious through surgery in a teaching hospital means listening to the surgeon grill observing students about your innards. "What is this?" is not something you expect to hear from someone who is elbow-deep in your abdominal cavity. Even for the sake of education.

3. ...And truly miraculously, it happened again: a perfect baby girl. Generally grunty and squeaky with a bad-ass hunger cry and a voracious appetite, big blinky eyes and a nice baby smell. Oh, we are lucky.

What does Bird think of all this?
Where to begin? She's huge, for one. A gigantic, sweet and bumbling monster of a child, doing her very very best to not crush or eat this baby out of love or frustration. Always in her face, nose to nose. So much adoration for this tiny new thing, so much curiosity and, alternately, boredom. So much sharing of attention to be done, so much change. Trying so hard to be the big sister we all made such a big deal about. We congratulate her on her kindnesses, on sharing, every victory we can find. We try to be gentle with redirection, give her a little wiggle room. But we also get annoyed. She gets annoyed. We snap. We all act out. We reconcile. We say to each other, "I love you very much, even when you are DRIVING ME BANANAS." Permission to say that is worth its weight in gold, for all parties involved. I hear it just as much as I say it these days.

Goodness, though. It's complicated. Sometimes I want to set her out on the front porch and lock the door behind her, sometimes I literally cry over her sweetness and the hard, clumsy work she's putting into her part of becoming a family of four. Sweet Bird. Oh my.

Are you getting any sleep?
Am I supposed to? Stop asking silly questions. Are you winning the lottery? No? Did you expect to?

How is A. holding up?
Wow. The most wonderful husband/ father/ friend. I hit the spousal jackpot, y'all. This man was born to be a daddy of girls and a partner to a lunatic like me. He is incredibly kind, patient, and so easy to love. And damn cute, eh?

Can we bring a casserole?
And oh, the friends! The best in the whole dang world and beyond. We have eaten well and been so loved. Who says we don't live near our family?

How were the holidays?
The first in nine years without a single trip to Indiana. Plenty of visitors-- two separate shifts of grandparents and family before and after the Main Event, full of joyful company and personal quirks and general holiday drama. But Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were just ours-- free to sit around in our jammies and gaze at the baby and play with our (modest) Christmas loot and eat nachos and watch Mary Poppins. I never knew Christmas could be so lovely. Best. Gift. Ever.

How is Maternity Leave?
Oh, man. Livin' the dream most of the time. Sometimes feels a little solitary, sometimes wonderfully so. Adjusting to the pace of home, re-working my definition of urgency and daily accomplishment, trying to keep the dishes done and the laundry caught up, trying to work in a shower once in a while.

But also: YOU SHOULD SEE MY LIST, Y'ALL. Budgets, closets, books, sewing, projects, purging, thrifting, cooking... half of me fighting for long hours of napping and dreamy baby-gazing and the other half barking tasks like a drill Sargent. This is the last maternity leave I'm likely to have-- and possibly the most time away from work until I retire*-- and both of me (dreamy mama and taskmaster) just want to make the most of it. Sometimes it is an ugly fight, but everyone eventually gets their say, and it tends to cost me my nap.

And what else?
Ran over my own keys in the pet store parking lot this weekned. And you thought it couldn't be done!

The neighborhood free-range chicken has taken a particular shine to our front yard tree/ garden. As her shitting place.

Lovin' the MOBY.

Contemplating a haircut like this one, as a sneaky growing-out tactic, considering going back to Shaky Hands. I know! A gamble! But she is so cheap! And I know better!

And up to my general scheming, as usual. Wheels turning, turning. Always.