Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sitting on a bench, looking at the moon

As anyone in the Northeast knows, today was a beeee-u-teee-full day. Amazing. Gorgeous.

It was in the mid-70s with a mild breeze and felt more like early June than late March. The bright blue sky was broken up by only the most occasional wisp of a cloud. I swear the daffodils grew five inches today and about two-dozen new crocuses popped their heads up to say hello.

I had a work-related meeting in the afternoon, but I spent all morning outside with the girls. We wore short sleeves and summer shoes. We kicked the ball around the yard, played hide-and-seek, dug in the sandbox and walked down to the pond to check out the dozens of tiny frogs chirping happily in the sun. Then we ate our lunch on the back porch and giggled as the cat begged for scraps.

Then it was time for me to join the business world. I showered, dried my hair and put on makeup. I wore a dressy cardigan, pumps and a skirt. I drove to my meeting, shook hands with some very smart people and sat in a conference room brainstorming and discussing a plan of action for the next two hours. I sipped my bottled water and forgot about the beautiful day outside. I left the meeting with my mind buzzing about my ever-increasing to-do list.

When I got home, it was after 5 p.m. and the air was cooler, but still pleasant. Loaf was napping, but Peanut was outside with her dad. I really should get some work done, I thought. But instead, I changed into a pair of comfortable pants and a t-shirt and joined her outside.

“Let’s sit on the bench, Mommy,” she suggested.

We sat cross-legged facing each other and I asked her about the rest of the day. She went to school and played outside. She sang some songs and played with her friend Mylie.

Then she sidled up next to me, and we sat quietly with our arms around each other.

“Look Mommy, the moon,” she said, pointing up to the sky.

“Yes there it is!” I answered, surprised to see the moon so bright in the sky so early in the evening.

“I really like sitting on this bench looking up at the moon with you,” she said snuggling even closer.

“Me too,” I said, tears rimming my eyes. “Me too.”

My God, I thought to myself. I almost missed this wonderful moment—a moment that will probably never occur in exactly the same way again.

This balancing act I conduct every week between my part-time job and my full-time children is not easy. One part of my life bleeds constantly into the other: I sneak away to log onto e-mail the instant my kids are occupied. I call the pediatrician to schedule appointments on the days I’m in the office. Lately work has been bleeding into my mom time much more than I’d like and while I don’t quite have a good answer on how to deal with that, I have to find some way to regain better balance.

I have no idea how many moments I’ve already missed because something more “important” was going on when the reality is there is no place in the world I’d have rather been this afternoon than sitting on a bench, looking at the moon.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Wipe that smug smile off your face (or, how I came to realize that I do not have all the answers)

It always astounds me how different my two children are. They are such polar opposites, that I almost wonder sometimes if one of them was taken out of the house and raised by another family under the cover of night while the rest of us slept.

For example, Peanut was (and for the most part still is) a fantastic eater. Always willing to try anything, she was the child at the party who turned her nose up at chicken nuggets opting instead for the baked brie and grilled vegetables. Mark and I took this to mean we were the proud winners of the Adventurous Eating badge, and we wore this badge proudly, smiling smugly as other parents stared gaped mouthed at our two-year-old chickpea- and onion-salad eating miracle and saying, “Yes, she’s just such a great eater. She’ll eat anything at all.”

We figured we had every right to be smug, since these amazing eating habits could only be the result of the healthy eating standards and strict food rules we’d enforced since the day she began eating solids.

Until Loaf came along.

Loaf subsides on cereal, fruit, bread and vegetarian hot dogs. Once in a while she’ll eat an egg, or a bit of turkey or ham and tonight I practically did back flips in the kitchen when she ate a few spoonfuls of corn. Thank God for fruit, or I’m sure she’d fall victim to scurvy or rickets or some other disease of the nutritionally deficient. And if there is ever a wheat shortage in this country? I fear she may actually starve to death.

So much to my chagrin, Loaf, raised in the same household with the same food standards and rules, will turn her head in disgust at the presentation of anything outside the foods mentioned above. Even a new fruit can cause several minutes of battling, with Loaf turning her head and somehow making “eewwwhaaa” sounds while tightly pursing her lips together.

And maybe it is “second child syndrome,” but I find myself less and less willing to fight the daily Food Battle. Aside of waving a white dishtowel, I’ve done everything else to surrender. She wins. Each day I serve her up the standard fare and pray that one day she’ll simply evolve on her own into a good eater.

Another area where they are vastly different is temperament. For the most part, they're both pretty laid back, but Peanut’s meltdowns are far and few between and usually only come when some other trigger – exhaustion or an empty tummy – pushes her sensitive psyche over the edge.

Peanut tiptoed through the Terrible Twos. I barely even noticed that she was two until suddenly she was three, and truth be told, this past year has been much more challenging then two ever was. I remember thinking parents who complained about the Terrible Twos had to be crazy. Or exaggerating. Or somehow mishandling the situation. I was wrong.

You see, with T-minus five weeks until her second birthday, it has become painfully clear that Loaf intends to take the Terrible Twos by storm. Whereas Peanut tiptoed through them, Loaf is going to steamroll over them, along with any fool who dares gets in the way of What Loaf Wants.

Unfortunately, What Loaf Wants is often not Safe. Or Practical. Or Sanitary. And thus, Loaf does not get What Loaf Wants and Loaf decides the way to deal with this is to shriek at the top of her lungs for many minutes at a time.

You may have read about that experiment where someone plays a tape of a crying baby to a roomful of adults. The tape is exactly two minutes long, but when asked the adults swear it went on for 5, 10, even 15 or 20 minutes. When listening to something unpleasant, time slows down.

Let me assure you, this is not the case in our house. Loaf really does shriek (there is just no other word for it) for an unbelievable, and quite frankly, unreasonable period of time. For example, today as we left the gym, Loaf wanted to walk rather than be carried back to the car. This was fine for a bit, but we were literally in the farthest spot in the parking lot and Loaf wasn’t exactly making a beeline back to the car. She kept veering up onto the snowy embankment and stopping to pick up balls of hard snow and turning to walk back toward the gym. I let her go about three-quarters of the way and then I picked her up and carried her. And that was where Things Went Horribly Awry.

She screamed all the way to the car (estimated time: 2 minutes). She screamed while I buckled her and Peanut into their car seats (estimated time: 3 minutes). She screamed as I got into the car, buckled my seat belt, backed the car out and left the parking lot (estimated time: 2 minutes). And then she screamed halfway home (exact time: 11 minutes). After the screaming stopped, she kept crying on and off for the remaining 8 minutes, as well as for an additional estimated minute or two after we arrived home. So no, I am not exaggerating about the scream-time this kid logs. It’s quite substantial. And today is not an isolated incident.

So I’m writing this today because I am at a loss. Having not dealt with this with Peanut, I find myself absolutely perplexed about what to do about this behavior. My goal tonight is to surf the internet for answers. I figure I’ll start by Googling “Terrible Twos,” followed by “Shrieking Child,” and finally, “Pint-Sized Terrorist.”

Aside from that, the only thing I can do is appeal to the mystery family who must be responsible for one half of this equation. If you’re reading this, and you’ve been taking Loaf out of the house in the middle of the night, I’m asking you nicely to knock it off! You’re not doing her (or us) any favors. And while I know she’s incredibly cute and snuggly and really sweet a lot of the time, you’re just going to have to leave her to us. She’s ours and we have to be the ones to screw her up. At least then when she’s in therapy in 25 years and blames us, she’ll be on the money.

On the other hand, if you were taking Peanut out in the middle of the night to teach her good eating habits and a relatively collected demeanor, I beg you. I plead. PLEASE COME BACK AND FINISH THE JOB! You’re obviously much better at this than I, and I can admit this now. I’ve wiped my own smug smirk off my face for good – I promise.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my very humbled self is off to Google.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dear Mother Nature:

You are one cruel, mean, cold-hearted bitch.

To pull this out of your hat days after I squealed in glee at the sight of the first crocus of the season, posted my nice little poem about spring, started clearing the dead leaves off the budding plants in the garden, and ran around the park in short sleeves because it was 60- and 70-degrees? Is complete and utter crap.


Yesterday I had to pile on boots and a parka and gloves just to slog out to the mailbox.

It was the poem, wasn’t it? You read that and thought, “I’ll show that little bitch who’s boss,” and then you blanketed the entire Northeast with frost and snow and sleet. It’s bad enough you had to ruin Valentine’s Day with a blizzard, now St. Patty’s Day too? And meanwhile, it was in the 60s and snowless at Christmas. What type of two-bit operation are you running here, anyway? Is nothing sacred to you anymore? Or do you just really like screwing with everyone?

So OK, I get it. You’ve got the power and I’m just a poor, mere mortal at your mercy. But really, the crocuses were innocent in all this. Could you leave them out of it next time? Sheesh. You Big Meanie. ☹

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A welcome sight

For winter's rains and ruins are over,
And all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover and lover,
The light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten,
And frosts are slain and flowers begotten,
And in green underwood and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins.

by Algernon Charles Swinburne


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Happy belated blogirthday!

I realized, somewhat belatedly, that my blog passed its one-year mark on March 7 (three days ago, but who's counting besides me?)

So yay! Happy Blogirthday! Or maybe it's Blogiversary? I'm not sure, but when I started this little endeavor just over a year ago, I sure wasn't at all confident that I'd keep up with it so yay me!

To celebrate, I'd like to share a Cool Tip of the Day:

If every household replaced its five most frequently used lights with Energy Star bulbs, it would have the same effect on reducing greenhouse gases as if we took 8 million cars of the road. Wow! That's so cool. As a bonus, doing so will save you about $60 a year in energy costs. So get to changing out those bulbs!

Bonus tip: Don't forget to Spring Ahead tonight! Catch you on the flip side.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I haven't been following the whole Anna Nichole Smith drama because honestly? I. Don't. Care.

But when I stumbled upon this little tidbit today, my jaw nearly hit the floor.

O.J.? The father of Anna Nichole's baby?

Hmmmm. Isn't that interesting. I don't suppose his claim could have anything to do with the fact that the baby is worth a whole lotta money. Nah. O.J. wouldn't do that. He's such an upstanding guy and all.


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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Admit it . . .

You wish you could fall asleep anytime, anywhere and not wake up when someone lovingly carried you into your bed and tucked you in:



Yep, that's Peanut. She fell asleep on her chair in the middle of dinner last night.

I looked up to see just her hand and asked her—several times—to sit up and eat before getting up to investigate further and finding her like this. Sweet.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday funnies

Getting ready to go to the park yesterday:
Me: OK, it's pretty warm today so let's put on your windbreaker instead of your winter coat.
Peanut: Do windbreaker's break wind?
Me: Only when your Dad is wearing them.

In the car on the way to the gym this morning, Peanut is "reading" one of her story books (she actually has the entire thing memorized word-for-word):
Me: You're doing so great with that story.
Peanut (proudly): I sure am!

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