Sunday, July 30, 2006

Perfect timing!

You would think that there are certain events for which there is never, ever a good time.

For example, it’s probably safe to say that there is never a good time to lose a limb. Or drive your car head-on into an oncoming truck. Or fall off the George Washington Bridge.

Prior to today, I would have said there is never a good time for your baby’s diaper to fail while she is sitting on your off-white couch causing poop to be smeared over an entire cushion.

However, that happened to us today literally hours before our new couch is due to be delivered. So really, that’s an apropos send off to what I have referred to as our crappy-looking couch for years.

Friday, July 28, 2006

One man and two babies

Earlier this week, Mark was in charge at home while I went to work (as he is two days of every week). And while those days generally pass by incident free, on this particular day he turned his back just a little too long to check his e-mail. In those few short minutes Loaf turned our kitchen into a beach using Grape Nuts as the sand. And Peanut was all too happy to join in.


Mmmm! Better than the sand at the playground.


Loaf and Peanut play in the "sand," and have a snack. What a great day!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Old friends are the best friends

I had the pleasure of spending yesterday afternoon with six very good college friends, their spouses and oh-so adorable and delightful children in Connecticut. People drove several minutes to a few hours to be there, coming from Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

There is nothing like a friend who always makes you smile, who you can go months or years without seeing, but pick right back up where you left off, and who makes you forget all your petty worries, stresses and frustrations the instant they hug you hello.

One of the greatest things about these get-togethers is seeing how much the “next generation” has grown and changed since the last visit and watching them all play together and form new friendships.

I’m so lucky to have so many wonderful friends like this. I wish I could spend additional time with them and always miss them more for a spell after a weekend like this passes. But I know they’ll all be there. Waiting for the next time we can get together, catch up, laugh and forget the rest of the world for a while.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Tribute to a friend


Today, I said good-bye to one of my best friends and most loyal companions – Cottons, my cat of 21 years.

Twenty-one. Think about that. If she had been a person, she’d be an adult of legal drinking age. I’ve loved her several years longer than my husband. And there is only one friend I’ve known longer who I still stay in regular contact with.


She had two striking features—her bright, Arizona-sky blue eyes and her thick, glorious white fur.

That fur - oh my. It was like rabbit fur: thick and soft. I loved running my hands through it and brushing it until it gleamed. But it had a tendency to get everywhere. It was all over my bed and pillowcase. I’d wake in the middle of the night with cat hair up my nose and stuck to my eyelashes. I’d find it on my toothbrush and in my hairbrush. Huge balls of it would blow down our hallway like tumbleweeds.

With Peanut in 2004

For years, I was unable to walk out of the house without being covered in it. I have lint rollers everywhere—in the car, at work, and several at home. And of course, despite my best efforts to integrate more color into what I wear, I still have a primarily black wardrobe. So it was always noticeable. I was endlessly picking it off of me.

Her fur on my clothes became my own private joke. It became my mission to cover the world with Cottons’ fur, leaving cat hair everywhere I went. Commuting by bus in and out of NYC, I’d always pluck a few hairs from my jacket and leave them on the seat next to me in hopes that they’d stick to a future passenger and be carried elsewhere. The same with airplanes. Spreading her fur was my own personal version of “you tell two friends, and they tell two friends and so on, and so on.” I imagined her fur circling the world sleeve by sleeve.

I dropped her hair all over New York City: Central Park, the Public Library, the Seaport, the Port Authority, Grand Central and numerous museums, subway lines, bars, dressing rooms and restaurants. She was left on the Weehawken and Staten Island ferries and was deposited amidst incredible flowers at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. She was even dropped – twice – in the lobby of the World Trade Center.

Cottons and Loaf, October 2005

But it didn’t stop there. Cottons made it to Bermuda and Africa’s North Coast where I stood on a beach in Tunisia and let a tuft of her fur fly along the Mediterranean. Tossed from the bell tower at Notre Dame, she danced over the streets of Paris. Her hair went over a cliff in Jerome, A.Z. and was dusted onto the floor of a cable car in Albuquerque, N.M. It flew from my hand over the railings of Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.

She found her way to Moab and Milan (both the one in Italy and the one in Michigan); San Francisco and Dubuque; Boston and Houston. She was left in the sand of beaches across this nation: from Cape Cod to Florida; the Jersey shore to Cannon Beach in Oregon; Montauk, Long Island (extreme east) to Queen’s Bath in Kauai (extreme west).

From the local Gap to a trans-Atlantic flight, she went where I went. Always with me. Always in my heart.

My first baby, November 2004

So today, after we buried her in the yard next to a new Rose of Sharon shrub, I looked down at my shirt. It was coated with her fur. I started pulling hairs off in clumps and tossing them into the air. Some fell to the ground around my feet. Others seemed to take flight – soaring up into the summer the sky on their way to another place. Gone from sight but not from memory.

So if you’re ever out and about and look down to find a long, pure white cat hair on your clothes and can’t imagine how it got there, please take a moment to think of Cottons and her amazing traveling fur, and the girl back in NJ who is still missing her.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Lesson learned

You know, for a second-time mom, I sure do make a lot of freshman mistakes. Take today for instance.

I put Loaf down for her nap wearing her diaper. Just her diaper. And there’s probably some rule out there about not doing that with babies over a certain age because inevitably, said baby is going to poop and then have a good old time reaching into her diaper to do a little finger painting.

In fact, as I wiped globs of poo from nearly every rail of my baby’s crib today, I remembered my aunt telling a nearly identical story about one of my cousins (names withheld to protect the guilty). So really, I should know better than this.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Night, night. Sleep tight. Don't let the spiders bite.

I don’t do well with bugs. Ever since I was a kid, I would run away screaming from anything that had more than four legs. Bees sent me into a panic. An ant crawling up my arm would induce a maniacal frenzied dance to shake it off. I’d run screaming into the house if a wasp flew my way. But the reigning king of my own personal Fear Factor is the spider.

Big or small, spiders freak my shit.

Which is why, last night when we were just about to flop into bed and one of these crawled from the covers, I nearly had a heart attack on the spot.

Yes, that’s right. That – a gigantic, nearly 4-inches across fishing spider – was IN MY BED. My bed, people!

I expect to come across an occasional eight-legged freak in my bathroom, or maybe the kitchen, or even the living room. But the bed is supposed to be a bastion of spider-freeness, a happy place where you spend at least a few hours in a restful, blissful state, not tossing and itching and twitching.

And thank goodness Mark came to bed at the same time as me last night. When I go to bed first, I turn off the light across the room and then wander over and turn down the covers in the dark (something I will never, ever do again). I would have been cuddled up right next to that thing and not even known it. Until maybe it crawled over my arm or got tangled up in my hair. (I’m all itchy now).

Instead, Mark captured it in a washcloth and threw it out the door where hopefully it will live a happy life far, far from my bedroom.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Perfect is as perfect does

Yesterday, I experienced one of those rare, wonderful days where everything went so swimmingly, I almost had to pinch myself.

The good karma began when both Peanut and Loaf slept in later than usual and instead of jumping out of bed at 6 a.m. to try to get some things done before they got up, I took advantage of that and slept in too. The last time I was still horizontal at 7:45 a.m., I had the flu and a 103-degree fever. So . . . yeah. That was pretty cool.

The extra shut-eye made both the babes cheerful and whine-free. We all ate breakfast together discussing the merits of pink Play-Doh and how many swimming pools we are going to swim in at ”Elmo’s house” when we go later this month. (Well, Peanut and I discussed them. Loaf pretty much just sat in her highchair pointing at various objects and proclaiming, “EH?!”)

Next, it was off to the park because (are you sitting down?) IT WASN’T RAINING!! I know, I know . . . this story is starting to sound really far-fetched. But really, it wasn’t. And while the sun wasn’t out and it was actually kind of cool, there were not large droplets of water falling from the sky and these days, that’s about the best we can hope for. So off to the playground we went.

There, both girls were on their absolute best behavior. They both sat in the sandbox for a good 15 minutes, allowing me to actually sit on the bench and zone out a bit instead of the typical running from slide to swing to bouncy car trying to prevent one or both of them from needing to go to the ER.

At the park, some one left one of those Cozy Coupes and Loaf, Peanut and another little girl were all playing with it. The other mom and I were playing the role of “the sharing cops” when all of a sudden, Peanut jumped out on her own and declared that the other little girl could have a turn. Granted, she ran off in the other direction to do something else, and she has never, EVER exhibited that behavior with her own sister, but still, I was stoked. And proud.

After the park, we went home and had lunch and Loaf took her nap while Peanut and I went outside. She “helped” me work in the garden by pulling weeds and was very interested watching me stake some plants that have toppled over due to the Seattle-like weather we’ve had since mid-June. And sometime while we were out there, the sun actually came out. It was a bit shocking at first and took a while for my eyes to adjust to actual natural light, but I think my eyesight is almost back to normal now. Whew!

I got a ton – TON – done in the garden, so by the time Loaf woke up (around 2 p.m.) I was feeling pretty good. But then something truly miraculous happened with both girls outside: THEY PLAYED TOGETHER—FOR HOURS—WITHOUT FIGHTING, SCREECHING AT, HITTING, OR KICKING EACH OTHER. I almost don’t want to say it out loud for fear of jinxing myself and never again experiencing the joy of cooperative, calm, and peace-loving children. It was probably a really wonderful sight, but I was so busy gardening that I barely noticed. Selfish, bad me.

OK, it wasn’t exclusively like that. I did get in a few rounds of ring-around-the-rosy with them (can someone explain the appeal of this to kids? Because mine can do it indefinitely it seems), as well as built them a few sandcastles (promptly squished), and picked them each a few flowers (promptly plucked apart). And then they’d happily go back to playing on their own. Bliss!

Later, Mark made dinner (portobello/swiss burgers and sweet potato soup), which everyone gobbled right up. However, both girls looked as though they’d dipped their heads in their soup bowls, so next came a bath. Once they were scrubbed and shined, we piled them in the stroller and set out for our nightly walk.

Peanut seemed a little too quiet on the way home and I peaked over the stroller’s canopy to discover her snoozing away. I could not believe it! She hasn’t done that since she was an infant. Come to think of it, since she required being held non-stop for the first seven months of her life, she never even did that as infant.

We got home and lifted Peanut into bed, put Loaf to bed and there I was, once again, a woman with free time. What to do? Mop the kitchen floor? Organize the linen closet? Paint some more of the trim in the hallway? Nah! I plopped down on the couch and watched two episodes of So You Think You Can Dance (buh-bye Jaymz, you whiny, fell-off-the-stage-last-week goofball). And then I went to bed where I slept until the alarm went off this morning.

I may never again experience a day quite so easy and perfect, but at least I can look back at this entry and assure myself that it really did happen. At least once.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

There were good times, there were bad times . . .

Overall, we had an excellent and long holiday weekend that started on Thursday night when we drove up to my mom & step-father’s house in Massachusetts. We stayed and hung out with them Friday and Saturday and then went to a big family barbeque on Sunday. We drove home under the cover of dark Sunday night and recuperated around our house most of Monday until we headed out for an early evening cocktail party with great food and amazing sangria. Today, we had a full day that started with my township’s most excellent Fourth of July parade and field day and ended with another really fun barbeque at the house of some new friends here in town.

Here are some of the highs and lows:

Low: Waking up to 50-degree temps on Friday morning, requiring a trip to the mall to get some sweatshirts and long pants for the kids, because stupid, silly me just assumed it was summer in New England too.
High: Gorgeous, perfect, amazing summer weather on Saturday.

High: On the aforementioned mall trip, getting $156 in kids’ clothing for just over $33. I also got a pair of really great white wedge sandals for $15.
Low: The sandals are like mini torture devices for the feet. I wore them for two hours last night and it felt like my feet were in a vice. They are in my shoe stretcher as I type. Why oh why do shoes never hurt when tried on in the shoe store?

Low: Losing Peanut’s blanket in the mall. You know? The one she hauls around with her everywhere and absolutely, positively cannot sleep without.
High: Finding it in a shopping cart completely by the grace of God (and believe me, I was praying hard walking those aisles).

High: The girls getting so much quality time with my mom.
Low: The time flew by much too quickly for us all.

High: Going to the local playground on Saturday and having a blast on the swings, slide and merry-go-round.
Low: Loaf being stung twice on the arm by a nasty wasp.

High: Swimming in my aunt and uncle’s pool on Sunday and seeing Peanut take to the water like a fish (a fish that can’t swim yet, but still – a fish). She even jumped off the diving board (wearing floaties and right into Mark’s arms below) and then clapped like crazy for herself.
Low: Loaf going head first off the pool’s step and floating under water for a second until I (standing RIGHT THERE, but chatting away with my cousin’s wife) realized what happened. (Thanks Sheila for the panic sounds that made me look down to see her floating 3 inches from my foot). Yes, Loaf had a rough weekend.

Low: A political debate among my family that got a *leeetle* heated.
High: Said debate ended peacefully before things went too far.

High: Eating really great food all weekend.
Low: Feeling sluggish and bloated as a result.

High: Sipping yummy sangria on the back deck of a friend's house last night (foot pain mentioned above excluded).
Low: Having to exit the party with Peanut screaming at the top of her lungs, "I don't want to go home! I want to stay here! Home is no fun!"

High: Watching Peanut dance, clap and bang on her toy drum during our town’s parade.
Low: Having to leave field day so early because Loaf was completely exhausted and melting down.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!