Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Reality staring me in the face

When I dropped Peanut off at school on Tuesday, her teacher had an envelope for me. It contained her first ever official school pictures. And I just couldn’t wait to see them, so I tore open the envelope right then and there.

And then, completely unexpectedly, I teared up. Seeing that picture was all too much because staring back at me in undeniable full color was A Big Girl. Gone was my tiny baby, my first baby, who when she was a mere two weeks old I held in the crook of my neck with one hand while browsing the aisles of Target. She slept there, her head snuggled in the curve of my shoulder, for the entire hour or so that I shopped. I can still feel her heart beating against me and her warm breath on my neck. Every now and then she’d sigh and nuzzle a bit closer.

That day was a pivotal day for me. It was our first official outing after her birth—her big public debut if you will. And thus, it was also my public debut as a mom. I was terrified. What if she cried or I forgot diapers or I had to leave my cart full of unpaid merchandise to leave the store and nurse her? It was my first test—our first test—and we passed.

She started to fuss almost as soon as we got there, so I picked up her tiny, seven-something pound body and held it against mine and that calmed her and she slept. The arm that was supporting her fell asleep and started to tingle partway through the trip, but even then in the early days of motherhood I knew that she’d wake if I put her back in her carseat, so I kept holding her. And honestly? I didn’t really mind. This was what motherhood was all about—tenderness and unease and warmth and discomfort and love. Who knew you could have all that in a place like Target? Walking through the aisles of that store I suddenly realized that no matter what, we were going to be OK.

People passing me smiled and oohed. I’m sure I looked a mess—unshowered and wearing yoga pants and a giant t-shirt—but the scene was unmistakable. She was clearly a newborn and I was clearly a novice and there we were, out making our place in the world. Little did I know how easy I had it that day. How naïve I was.

Now when we go to Target, it’s a real challenge full of “no’s” and “don’t touch that’s” and “please come back here RIGHT NOW’S.” I’ve known for a long time that my sweet, tiny, sleeping baby is forever gone. But seeing that picture yesterday sent it home like a hammer to my heart.

I walked out of her classroom and back to my car where I sat staring at that photo for a long time, searching desperately for some trace of my baby girl. Was there still a little something in the eyes? Or maybe a bit around the lips? The harder I looked, the less of that baby I could see until eventually it was almost like looking at a photo of a child I’d never seen before.

Except of course it wasn’t. This was my child. My baby. My Big Girl.

All afternoon I anxiously watched the clock waiting to pick her up from school. For the first time practically ever, the two-and-a-half hours that she was away from me inched by. It seemed like it’d never be time to go get her. Until finally it was. As soon as I saw her, I gave her a huge hug and, almost as if she knew it was exactly what I needed, she nuzzled her head against my neck and wrapped her arms around my shoulders. It was better than a time machine—abruptly, she was my baby again. Just like that day back at Target, I realized we were going to be OK. Because if there’s one more thing motherhood is about it’s change.

Fortunately, it comes in small, barely perceptible increments that you don’t even really notice until all of a sudden. Maybe it’s something your child says or does that seems impossibly mature. Or maybe an envelope full of pictures catches you off guard. It doesn’t really matter how it happens. But it will be OK. Because when you least expect it, your Big Girl (or Boy) will hug you or climb into your lap and for just a moment, you’ll recapture a sliver of your tiny, sweet baby. And in that moment, you will be the luckiest person on earth.

My Big Girl


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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fashion cop for a day

I love the Oscars. Even though I’ve rarely seen even a fraction of the nominated films when the stars make their march down the Red Carpet, I just love it. The pomp. The glitz. The bling. The glamour. The fun. (Although this year, I had to wonder where the fun was. This was probably the most boring and safe Oscars I can ever recall. Yes, there were a couple of moments that made me chuckle, but I can’t think of anything outrageous).

But anyway, the main reason I love the Oscars is the fashion. I love to sit in front of my TV making snarky comments (Did she even bother to brush her hair? Her stylist should be flogged for that! Does she even OWN a mirror?), as well as ooh and ah at the starlets who get it right.

And this year is a very special year for me. Because this year, I have a blog from which I can bestow my judgment across all the land (or at least to my 25 or so loyal readers). Behold my power! Besides, it totally makes me feel better about myself to know even the most beautiful women in America can look like crap sometimes, even on the most important night of the year for them. (Me? I look like crap when I’m dropping my kid off at preschool. If I were going to the Oscars I would totally pick a better dress than some of these women).

Meeeooow. I revel in my power!

So without further delay, here’s my assessment of the ladies who walked the Red Carpet Sunday night.

Nicole Kidman


OK. I know the fashion reviewers generally liked this, and while I agree that the color is spectacular, that giant red bow wrapped around her neck is Just. Plain. Awful. She looks like she is ready to plopped under the Christmas tree. Just stick a sprig of holly in her hair and she can be one of Santa’s helpers at the local mall.


And while her hair is nice, what’s up with her face? It looks weird, right? I don’t know if this Botox gone awry or just the case of someone being a little too heavy handed with the eyeliner, but it’s all bad.

Naomi Watts


I hate to pick on a pregnant woman, especially a pregnant woman who is usually so stylish, but was this dress designed by Charles Schultz? Because I am totally getting a Charlie Brown vibe looking at it.

Kate Winselt


I just HATE (H.A.T.E.) that she is considered the fat girl in Hollywood. I mean seriously? How deluded and twisted and fucked up is the industry that labels this woman “fat?” Look at her. She’s gorgeous. She has curves like a woman’s body should. I admire her for not bowing to the pressure to be a size double zero. She’s not only gorgeous, she’s smart and inspiring. Go Kate!

Kirsten Dunst


I only have three words for this: WHY? WHY? WHY?

OK, maybe I have more than three. How many ducks had to give their life to make this creation? If I were a duck, I’d be so embarrassed to die and have this dress be my legacy.

Penelope Cruz


OK, I know a lot of people didn’t like this, but I thought it was amazing. Now this is a good use of feathers. If I were a duck on the chopping block I’d be BEGGING to go on this dress and this woman’s body. That’s dying with dignity.

Helen Mirren


I don’t know how old Helen Mirren is, but I’m sure she’s a lot older than me. And I’m sure that I don’t look as good as she does right now. And I’m sure that I would cut off a couple of my toes to guarantee looking this good when I reach her age. Wowza.

Reese Witherspoon


I loved this. Splitting up from her husband is apparently the best thing that’s ever happened to her because she is looking better and better with each appearance. I love everything about this - she’s glowing. She makes me think of those “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful” ads. I want to hate her, but I just can’t.

Cate Blanchett


When I grow up, can I be Cate Blanchett? Pretty please!?!? This is my personal favorite gown from the night. Fabulous! Though she’s so stinking skinny that I’m willing to bet this metallic dress weighs more than her.

Eddie Murphy and Date


OK, so it’s bad enough to be a big star’s date at the Oscars because really, no one gives a crap about you. You might as well be invisible. But I had to include this because this dress is so horrendous I just couldn’t let it go. Ryan Seacrest actually said to her – on the Red Carpet – “Oh, you have a mirror right there between your chest.” Heh. If I were at the Oscar’s I would totally walk up to her and check my lipstick in that thing.

Jennifer Hudson



Oh dear. I wanted to love what she had on. I really did, because she is so amazing and talented and has such a fantastic story. I mean here she is – an American Idol reject, told by Simon Cowell that she does not have what it takes – nominated for an Oscar! (An Oscar!) But there are just too many things wrong with this dress. The color is blah, the tin foil jacket looks like it just finished its role as a tent on a Thanksgiving turkey and, worst of all, it has pockets! I’m sorry, but evening gowns should NOT have pockets. That’s why fabulous purses were invented. And if by some chance you do find yourself wearing an evening gown with pockets, do NOT under ANY circumstances stick your hands in them! This is the Red Carpet, not a taxi line, dammit!
pockets. sheesh.

Rachel Weisz


Rachel Weisz is so damn gorgeous that she could show up wearing a potato sack and still look good. And this dress? Is no potato sack. She has just the right coloring to pull off this shimmery dress. Amazing. Good job, Rachel!

Anne Hathaway


I thought she was utterly adorable in The Devil Wears Prada but something here just isn’t working. With the giant black bow and white tablecloth-like lace this looks like a cheap prom gown from 1987 (and I should know, because I am the proud owner of a cheap 1987 prom gown, which is still hanging somewhere in my attic. Hmmm, maybe Anne would like to borrow it for next year’s Academy Awards?)

Agree? Disagree? My little power trip hasn't quite ended yet, so it doesn't really matter. Get 'yer own blog if you want to bestow judgment for all the world 25 people to read (or let me know what you think in the comments). Until then, I have the power.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Look what I can do

It's only taken five years of yoga to get this point, and I can still only hold it for a few measely seconds, but I can officially say I can do it! Me so proud.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The big defrost

Yesterday was 47 degrees and today we're supposed to hit a high of 51! That's practically shorts weather compared to the deep-freeze we've been in for the past several weeks. But the things that are really melting my heart lately include:

* When I dropped the girls off at the gym's babysitting center yesterday, I looked back to see Peanut walking with her arm around Loaf's shoulder.

* While taking Peanut to pick up a pizza last night she says to me, "Mommy you are my most special best friend."

* Loaf standing at the edge of her crib this morning calling, "Mama," over and over again until I went in.

Where was all this warm-my-heart sweetness when it was 10 degrees?


Monday, February 19, 2007

Tree-hugging nerd

Ever since we moved to our house in March 2001, I’ve kept a bird feeder. It wasn’t really my idea – it was there, hanging in the weeping cherry tree right outside the huge picture windows in out breakfast nook when we moved in.

The previous owners had filled it with birdseed the morning of our closing and as I stood in the kitchen on our first day stripping that God-awful ivy themed wallpaper from the walls a myriad of beautiful, colorful birds came and went throughout the afternoon. More than once I stood in the window transfixed. I was hooked. As soon as the food in the feeder ran low, I went out and bought our own bag of birdseed and I’ve diligently filled the feeder each day since.

Not long after buying the seed, I bought my first field guide. There were so many birds visiting the feeder each day and I could only name a few varieties without help. The day it arrived I eagerly tore open the package and rushed to the kitchen window and it didn’t take long for me to learn the names of the species that visited the feeder: White-Breasted Nuthatch. Tufted Titmouse. Purple Finch. Rusty-Capped Sparrow. Downy Woodpecker.

The nerd tendencies took control and soon I was keeping a running list in the front of the book of each new species I saw. Yellow-Shafted Flicker. Eastern Bluebird. Red-Bellied Woodpecker. Mourning Dove.

So in early February when I received an e-mail informing me of the Great Backyard Bird Count I instantly signed up. For the past four days I’ve stood at that window for 15 minutes a day counting birds. (My banner day was Sunday when I counted 54 birds from 12 different species).

I know, I know. Why add another thing to my always-too-long to-do list?

Well, for one, the count helps answer many questions including:
* How will this winter's snow and cold temperatures influence bird populations?
* How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions?
* What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas?
* Are any birds undergoing worrisome declines that point to the need for conservation attention?

And, it was cool in a nerdy kind of way. Loaf sat on my lap pointing and saying “brrr” and “tweet twee,” while Peanut stood nearby happily exclaiming, “Look at all those birds, Mommy! Can I go catch one and put it in my room?”

Conservation and environmental causes are important to Mark and me and we hope our children grow up to feel the same way. Probably the most important way to get them interested is by exhibiting good behavior ourselves. I hope the past four days were a start.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

My (recent) life in pictures

I've been sick all week. Loaf's been sick all week. We haven't left the house or done much and I really didn't think anyone wanted to hear me whine about life with snot, so I haven't written lately.

I am happy to say we survived the great Nor'easter of '07. My town got a whomping 3.5 inches of snow and while I know other areas really got pounded, the panic and consternation that this storm prompted here in NJ was cause of great amusement on my part. I made the HUGE mistake of running to Whole Foods for a bowl of soup on Tuesday only to find swarms of people tossing gallons of milk and loaves of bread into their carts as if they anticipated being trapped in their homes for weeks on end. Ridiculous.

Here are a few recent pictures of life in the Gav household, including the kids attempting to sled in a mostly flat yard with only a wee bit of snow.

Have you ever seen A Christmas Story? Loaf was like the boy's brother who was bundled up to the point where his limbs were utterly useless. She waddled around the yard like a gingerbread man.


Mark getting ready to push them down our "hill."


Excuse my husband's ass. The "through the legs push" seemed to give them the most distance.


There she goes!


Here she is after her run. She was having fun, but this was toward the end of our outing and I think she was starting to get cold.


And now it's Peanut's turn. She loved it!


Last Thursday was picture day at Peanut's school. Our digital camera is sucking-ass lately, so I'm sorry this is so grainy. Despite the poor quality, she still looks pretty cute.


And last night the girls had a kitchen camp-out while I made dinner. They pulled the sleeping back into the kitchen and sprawled out on the floor with some books. Oh to be a kid again!



Looking back at these I realize that even "life with snot" can be pretty cool with these two around. :-)

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Another reason to wash your vegetables before you eat them

We all know that we are supposed to wash our fruits and vegetables before eating them. Besides hopefully ridding them of all types of little unseen nasties, you also cleanse them of leftover pesticides, fertilizers and just plain 'ole dirt. All good reasons, right?

Well, today I learned one more.

You should always wash your fruits and vegetables because it is possible that while they sat in the store, some hypothetical, random mother walked in with her two toddlers. And while that random mother turned her back to pick out a few good kiwis, one of those hypothetical toddlers may have maybe walked over to the bin of green beans and could have possibly started pulling them out and licking them end to end like a candy cane and then throwing them back in the bin willy nilly. And it's just possible that this went on for a good several seconds before that random mother realized what was happening, grabbed her toddler by the arm and quickly shuffled away.

I'm just sayin'. It could happen.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

19 years and counting . . .

Can anyone remember what you were doing 19 years ago today? (That would be February 6, 1988 for those of you who are really bad at math).

I can.

It was a Saturday. I was a 19-year-old college freshman and I had a date.

Well, sort of a date.

It was really more like I had my sights set on a certain soccer player at my school and a group of my friends, plus a group of his friends, were all going out together to a dance club.

And I was nervous. Nervous because I really liked him. Nervous because prior to that night I had only said about 50 words to him and had no idea if he liked me. Nervous because there was a strong possibility he was interested in one of my friends instead. Nervous because I really didn’t know his friends either.

So I primped carefully. The afternoon is a bit foggy, but I’m pretty sure I went to the mall to buy a new shirt. And I know I spent a good part of the afternoon thinking about what I would say and do and trying to imagine how the night would go.

When it came time to leave, we all met up and between all 14 of us, only one person had a car. Me. So we did what any group of college students in the same situation would do. We all got in. (Look away, Mom). Yep, that’s right. All 14 of us got into my Chevy Celebrity and off we went.

Only we didn’t get that far at first. Because you see, when you put 14 people into a car designed to hold at best six, there are people whose bodies are not actually touching any physical part of the car, but who rather are sort of levitating in the air supported solely by the bodies of others. And before we even got off campus the foot of one of those levitating bodies slipped forward and slammed the gear shift of my car from “drive” to “reverse” while we were going about 30 miles-per-hour.

This, as you can guess, is not really very good for the transmission of your basic automobile and the car stalled and all sorts of weird lights started flashing on the dashboard. After that, the car would not start again. After several failed attempts, I started to cry trying to think about how I was going to explain this one to my parents. But luckily, my "date's" friend David gave it one more try and lo and behold it started right up. (I think I actually hugged him).

So we all cheered and then got back in (yep, not the smartest group we were) and away we went. It was not a short drive and it was winter. I think it was snowing a little. It seemed to take forever to get there, but we made it without further incident.

Now, as most people reading this know by now, a dance club is not exactly the ideal place for a date. In addition to not being able to hear a thing the person standing next to you is saying, there are also just too many distractions.

Like ex-girlfriends. Yep, that’s right. His ex was there. And to this day, I think she was still pining for him (though he would disagree) because she kept coming over to talk with him and dragging him out onto the dance floor. But luckily, I am a persistent little minx (and, quite frankly was a whole lot cuter than her) and I didn’t let this minor problem distract me from my goal.

So we stayed a few hours. Danced a bit. Drank some. (Mom you can look again.) Not me though since I was driving. I have always been very good about that. And then we all piled back into the car and drove back to campus.

And my night ended with a good-night kiss that made me a bit weak in the knees and sent my heart racing.

That was 19 years ago. The object of my affection that night, in case you haven't guessed by now, was named Mark and many, many years later, I married him. And today we have two beautiful children.

Things didn't turn out quite as well for my Chevy Celebrity, which was never quite right after that and required a steady stream of transmission fluid dumped into its innards to prevent it from bucking and hesistating whenever I stepped on the gas.

Good thing I know a bit more about men then I do about cars. ☺


Monday, February 05, 2007

Daily candy

Mark was out late Saturday night, and up early (just after 5 a.m.) with the kids on Sunday morning.

So, he was pretty damn tired Sunday afternoon and while we were all playing in Peanut's room, he fell sound asleep on her bed. A bit after that, Loaf and I went out into the living room to read stories while Peanut continued playing in her room. After a while, she joined us and this is what she said:

Peanut: "Mommy, I turned off the light in my room so Daddy can sleep."
Me: "Aw, that was so nice of you."
Peanut: "Yep. And I also turned on my butterfly lights* so he wouldn't get scared."

Could you die? I mean, how freakin' sweet is that?!?! My God, I love that kid. :-)

*We hung these butterfly lights in her room about a month ago and they now serve as her nightlight. And to give credit where credit is due, Mark called every Target in NJ looking for these until he finally found a store that had two left and then went out in the dark on one of the coldest nights of the year to buy them. So he's pretty sweet too. :-)