Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Once upon a time . . .

Peanut has a blanket. Well, it used to be a blanket. With three and a half years of being dragged all over the house, washed countless times, and hauled all over the greater northeast, it now more accurately resembles a scrap of nasty gray cleaning rag. But she loves it nonetheless.

She loves it almost as much as she loves me and Mark, and quite possibly more than she loves her sister (sorry, Loaf).

She calls it her “baby” and wraps it in receiving blankets, dresses it in old newborn sleepers and feeds it with small plastic baby bottles. She pushes it around in her doll stroller and I have on more than one occasion found it strapped into our old high chair (which for some reason, I just can’t bring myself to get rid of yet).

It has, in her mind, body parts such as feet and hands and a face. She once asked me to put a pair of shoes on it and threw one hell of a nice fit when I apparently tried to put one of the tiny baby sneakers she’d found in Loaf’s closet on Blanket’s “head.”

Bad, stupid me.

Peanut loves it when we tell her “Blanket stories,” and Mark is especially good at this. His stories involve Peanut and Blanket (and sometimes Loaf if she is within earshot) having adventures and making mischief of one kind or another. Peanut will laugh with glee and sometimes interject her own thoughts into the story, which more often than not make almost no sense, but Mark manages to find a way to keep the story going anyway.

Last weekend on our way to brunch, Mark started telling a new Blanket story to the girls.

“One beautiful summer day Peanut and Blanket and Loaf took a walk down to the pond,” he began. “It was warm and pleasant and they stopped along the way to smell and pick some colorful flowers.”

“They picked the flowers and put them in their pockets,” said Peanut happily.

“That’s right,” said Mark before continuing. “When they got to the pond they came upon a small green frog.”

“And then Blanket picked it up and ate it!!” exclaimed Peanut. “The end. Everyone lived happily ever after.”

Except the frog.

Good grief.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Hair update: There is hope

It's looking better today. I used a different brush and my husband's gel. I'm feeling a bit more centered.

Deep breaths.
In and out.
In and out.

Looking better today. There is hope.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Wanted: One good wig. Or hitman to rough up hairdresser. Or both.

Alright, so here’s a story to which every woman in America (maybe every man too) can relate.

I needed a haircut. Badly. I pretty much had not had a haircut since the spring and it’s been a long summer of swimming and outdoor play. The ends of my hair were like straw.

So I started looking around at hairstyles and decided I was going to get an
inverted bob.

Shorter in the back – longer in the front. I was a bit nervous about this, because my 20-year high school reunion (ACK!) is about 3 months away and I didn’t want too drastic of a change. So I figure if I keep the ends to about collarbone length in the front, I can always grow it out by the reunion in November.

I walk into my hair salon and sitting at the reception desk is a young woman with exactly the haircut I am coveting. It’s about mid-neck in the back and sweeps down to grace her shoulders in the front. It’s adorable.

My hairdresser calls me back to his chair and I tell him what I want. He is nodding along in agreement.

“Actually,” I say, “the woman at the front desk? That’s exactly what I’m looking for.”

“Oh!” he says. “I just cut her hair two days ago. No problem.”

So I am thinking, “WOW! Excellent. He knows exactly what to do. I mean, afterall, he just did this exact cut TWO DAYS AGO. And there is a real-life model a mere 15 feet away from us.”

I get washed and return to his chair and he again confirms, mid-neck in the back, just past shoulders in the front.

“Sounds great,” I say.

And he starts to cut. And cut. And cut. And by the time he makes his way to the front of my hair, I realize that the ends in the front are just barely chin length. Barely. If I pull on them a little.

It is about this time, he realizes his mistake.

“Is the length OK in the front?” he asks.

"Hmmm. Let me see. Considering that it’s a full TWO INCHES above what we discussed, what do you think, fuckwit?!? Now start gluing all those individual hairs back onto my head, tootsweet. I don’t have all fucking day."

OK, I didn’t say that. I believe it’s in my best interest not to piss off anyone holding scissors inches from my head. And besides, what’s the point? What’s done is done. At this point, the only choice you really have to is make the best of it.

So yeah. My hairdresser somehow fucked up a haircut he himself performed on another woman—a woman who was seated only a few feet away—48 hours before. HOW???? DOES???? THIS??? HAPPEN???? TO??? ME????

This is especially upsetting because on my round pumpkin face this is just about theeeeee most unflattering length possible. It reminds of Sally Field’s “brown football helmet” hairstyle in Steel Magnolias. Not. Good.

OK. OK. I know. It’s only hair.

It will grow back.

Yes, there is at least a small chance that I’m overreacting to this. Wee. Minute. Teensy. I accept that. But come on? I don't think I know one person who does not have a "my hairdresser completely fucked up my hair" story. If one of my clients asked me for a newsletter and I delivered an intranet, I'd probably get in pretty big trouble here at work. Perhaps he was confused between "chin" and "shoulder?" Maybe next time I go I should bring a diagram of the human body? Sheesh.

And also, hello?? Twenty-year class reunion? Three months from now? People I haven’t see in two decades? Yes, vanity, thy name is Kimberly. I want to walk in there looking and feeling great. It all adds up to shit.

For the next 12 weeks, I’ll be taking lots of vitamins B and E and massaging my scalp and mediating to send energy to my hair in an effort to foster increased growth. Any other tips? Wigs? Extensions? I’m only partly joking here, people. If Britney can get away with it, so can I.

Look how thrilled I look about my new 'do. NOT.

Looking really happy about my new haircut. NOT.

Does this look “shoulder length” to you? Maybe if I shrug my shoulders really high. Like to my ears. UGH.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The problem with princesses

Peanut is under a spell.

It’s a powerful spell cast by a petite, soft-spoken, blonde named Cinderella. Her sweet singing voice, charm, grace and beauty have sent Peanut’s imagination awhirl to a land of blissful, wonder where the bad are punished and the good live happily ever after.

So what, you may ask, is so wrong with that?

Because along with the spell come questions. Lots and lots of questions. Like:

• Are the stepsisters unhappy at the end because they aren’t married?
While being married can be wonderful, it is not the only way to find happiness in life.

• Did the prince love Cinderella the best because she is the most beautiful?
He fell in love with her because she was nice and kind and had good heart, not just because of her beauty. (Though I must admit, this argument doesn’t hold much water when the Prince screams after her as she dashes from the ball, “Wait, I don’t even know your name!”)

• If I had a stepmother, I would run far away and never come back.
While I don’t really expect she’ll ever have a stepmother, not all of them are mean, awful tyrants who lock their stepchildren in attics and force them to do all the cooking, cleaning and laundry.

As if these questions weren’t troublesome enough, the whole princess thing puts too much focus on beauty and outward appearance. Additionally, there is the fact that, with few exceptions, princesses are pampered nitwits who sit around waiting for some guy to come save them from their problems, some of which, quite frankly, they’ve brought upon themselves.

Like Rapunzel. You’re telling me she couldn’t have cut off her hair and climbed down on her own long before Prince Charming came along? She spent years up there and that never once dawned on her. And then, once he did show up, why did she have to wait for him to come up with the idea of rescuing her? He visits her many times before it finally dawns on the putz to try to get her out of that tower. If I were Rapunzel, on his very first visit I’d be like, “Dude, I’ll sing and tell you stories later. Right now, help me get the fuck out of this place.”

Then there’s Snow White. She’s warned by the dwarfs not to let anyone into the house while they’re at work. And so what does she do? She lets in some scary old hag who pretty much looks exactly like you’d expect an evil person to look (Long scraggy hair? Check. Pointy nose? Check. Black robes? Check. Knobby hands? Check.) What was she thinking?!? And this is after the little woodland creatures try to chase the evil hag away. I mean, I’m sort of thinking Snow White had it coming and deserved to lie there in that glass coffin a lot longer than she did. Dumbass.

And Cinderella? She’s no brainchild either. Upon hearing that the Grand Duke is making the rounds with the glass slipper she lost, she totally lets on that she’s the rightful owner, dancing lightly down the hall with a goofy love-struck look on her face totally tipping her stepmother off and thus allowing her to lock Cinderella in the attic where she is rescued by – are you ready for this? Mice. If I were locked in some damn attic, I’d start screaming and throwing stuff out the windows as soon as the Grand Duke showed up, you know? I mean, use your head there, Cinderella.

Based on my conversations with other mothers of girls, princesses seem to be a phase through which nearly all young girls pass. I myself recall being quite obsessed with princesses with long flowing gowns, bejeweled crowns, castles and a proclivity for needing a prince on a white horse to get them out of trouble, and I don’t think I’m weak or passive today.

But still, the whole thing sits a little badly with me. I think princesses are to the parents of girls what toy guns are to the parents of boys: we try to avoid them, but sooner or later you lose out. Just as Peanut made her first princess dress out of an old pink t-shirt I had laying around, parents of boys are bound to one day witness their sweet boy running around the back yard screaming, “BANG! BANG!” with his L-shaped hand pointed at a friend.

Peanut’s most recent birthday was a full-blown princess parade complete with fluffy pink dresses, crowns and hats, a pink throne for her room, a pop-up castle and numerous cards bedecked with Disney’s most powerful franchise: the Princess Quartet (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Snow White for those of you not in the know).

And I have to admit, I encouraged it, telling people who asked that she liked “princess stuff.” I guess my own love and eventual adult success has helped convince me that it is just a phase and there’s no need to worry.

Further consolation has come from the mothers of older girls who assure me the phase dies down eventually. And, as one mother put it, when it’s over, it’s OVER. She says she couldn’t rip the smiling princesses from the walls of her daughter’s room fast enough and the pink and fuchsia décor was immediately replaced with much more subdued blues and greens.

So for the moment, I’m letting Peanut embrace her inner Cinderella by marching around the house in a sparkly pink confection of a dress singing Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.

I’m taking lots of pictures. Someday, when she’s dyed her hair purple, wears nothing but head-to-toe black, and refuses to speak to me, I’ll probably look back on this phase wistfully, decide Cinderella isn't so bad and start wishing for my own Fairy Godmother to bring back my princess-loving preschooler.

Princess outfit for the princess

Princess dress #1


Friday, August 17, 2007

Born yesterday

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re sitting there saying, “Gee it seems like just yesterday that crazy smart, sweet Mama over on The Gav Menagerie wrote those two nice posts about Peanut turning three. And here it is, already a year later. How is that possible?”

Believe me, I know how you feel.

The past year has absolutely flown by. I simply can’t believe my baby is turning four. FOUR! She’s a quarter of the way to getting her driver’s permit, people! And then she’ll be gone. Driving off. In my Passat (which at this rate, we will probably still own). And then I will never see her again (except maybe for meals or when she needs money for the movies or something). Can you feel my pain? Do you know where I’m coming from?!?

In no time—the blink of an eye, the flash of a tail, the wave of a magic wand—she has gone from this:

Sweet baby

To this:

I love bunny crackers!

Someone, please, figure out a way to slow down time!

In all seriousness, I’m amazed at the difference in her from last year at this time. Last night, she was telling me about liquids and how, “sugar is not a liquid, but it will dissolve in a liquid.” (Thank Curious George on PBS for this – they talk about all sorts of science-y stuff).

Every day she becomes a little smarter, a little bigger, and a little more independent. Each year, she marches a little farther away from the baby in the picture above, and closer to the wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, kind, strong woman I know she is going to be. This is very difficult to contemplate right now. Imagining my life and home without her day-to-day presence is heart wrenching.

However, I know that every second, no matter what she does, I will love her. No matter how far she goes, she will always be here, in my home, in my head and this close to my heart:

Peanut at about 4 days old

Happy fourth birthday, baby girl! I am constantly amazed, continuously blessed, sometimes driven crazy, but always very grateful for the funny, sweet, charming, smart and beautiful presence you are in my life.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Put on your sunglasses . . .

. . . and behold Peanut's new day-glo PINK! room.


New Pink Room

The neighbors complained a bit at first about the bright PINK! aura emanating from our windows at night, but they got over it once they realized their kids could now play soccer in the back yard into the wee hours of the evening. The neon glow has other advantages too – no more nightlights needed. In fact, now we hardly need to use lights anywhere in the house at all.

For those of you who haven't stalked me to my house yet, her old room, which was painted "unknown sex of fetus" neutral looked like this:

Old "baby" room

And while, yeah, that was kind of cute, the Big Girl turns four tomorrow (hold me) and "unknown sex of fetus neutral" was just not cutting the mustard anymore. After all, she is no longer an infant, never mind a fetus, and she is certainly, 110% GIRL. A girl who loves princesses and kitty cats and flowers and PINK! So as her main birthday gift this year, she got her wish of a new Big Girl room. She even picked out the bedding. It wasn't my choice, but look how happy she is:

Happy girl in her new "big girl" room

Awwww. That's totally worth having to wear shades in my own house.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Getting an F in dressing 101

Yesterday, I had a client meeting that started at 9:30 in the morning. That doesn't sound too bad, except it is about a two-and-a-half hour drive away and many of the roads there are under construction. So I decided to leave the house at 6:30 a.m. to give myself extra time.

Of course, I couldn't get to sleep for what seemed like forever. Lying there in the dark trying to coax myself into Dreamland, I thought about all the things I should bring, worried about getting lost and of course, thought about what to wear to my big meeting.

In the morning, groggy but anxious for the drive, I selected a black sheath dress with a low slung built-in "belt" that fastens off to one side. As I started dressing, Loaf began crying, so I quickly slipped the dress over my head, zipped it up the side and hurried to her room. Mark was already there, so I returned to the bathroom to finish getting ready.

Makeup done, hair styled, water and snack packed, I walked out the front door. The traffic was minimal and I arrived early, so I sat in my car reviewing notes and listening to NPR for a while. Walking into the conference room, I moved to clip the "Visitor" nametag on my belt. Except, something was off. Instead of being on the front left hip, it was on the back right. What the . . . ?

As subtlety as possible, I reached up to the neckline and ran my fingers around the top of the dress. Yep, you guessed it. The tag was in the front. In my hurry to get dressed, I put the dress on backwards. Doh.

Fortunately, it's a nice dress. It's fully lined, so there weren't any seams in the front that would reveal the tag's stitching. Further, I was in a roomful of men, and we all know how observant they are when it comes to women's clothing. But funny how the tag didn't bother me at all on my three-hour drive, but as soon as I was aware of it, it picked and scratched at the front of my neck the entire meeting. I guess that's what you get for not paying attention to what you're doing.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

A leopard doesn't change its spots . . .

But Loaf does.

And not for the better.

My poor baby has hives. Big ugly red raised nasty itchy purplish painful-looking hives. EveryFUCKINGwhere.

Icky, yucky hives

We don’t know what brought them on. The doctor says it could be absolutely anything from the recent heat, to a chemical in the pool, to a food she ate.

My biggest fear is door number three: Food Allergy.

On Monday, the day before she started breaking out, she and Peanut ate a bunch of pecans. They also ate handfuls of big, fat raspberries. And on Tuesday, when all she had were two tiny red spots on her arms that looked like mosquito bites, I gave them each half a Luna “Peanut Butter Cookie” bar.

So it could certainly be either the nuts or the berries since both are common culprits.

It also could be wheat, eggs, or dairy. Or the grass in our yard. Or a bad reaction to a bug bite. Or something in our sunscreen.

For the moment, we’re being told not to worry, but anyone who is a parent knows that is much easier said than done. The thought of facing life with a child allergic to tree nuts makes me a very unhappy camper. Peanut butter & jelly is the world’s easiest on-the-go lunch. And I LOVE peanut butter. And nuts. And Luna bars. And if she is indeed allergic, it strikes me as incredibly cruel to go on eating those things in front of her. So yes, Selfish Mommy is certainly at play here, though the greater concern is for Loaf. I feel sad that she may never again know the joy that is a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup. Or Chubby Hubby ice cream.

Of course, it may not be nuts at all. The berries are just as likely a suspect.

So we wait for them to clear up and then slowly re-introduce some of the common causes in an effort to pinpoint the problem. There is a strong chance we’ll never know. The good news is there is a strong chance this will never happen again. A lot of parents have told me their kids had similar incidents once and never again. Fingers crossed that will be us.

Check out the photos below - she almost looks proud of them, doesn’t she? She walks around pointing to them saying, “Spot. Loaf spots." I guess looking on the bright side, this has given us a chance to work on several new words including: itchy, skin and hives, and I can say with 100% confidence she can now identify the color red. Fantastic.

Hives: it looks like she's been on the losing end of a fist fight

Allergy girl


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I love this picture


That is all.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Tag! I'm it.

So Ryssee my extremely cool, world-traveling cousin, tagged me for the following meme. Here are the rules:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Eight Random Facts About Myself

1. I don't like scary movies. I can't even bear to watch promos for them on TV. Even the really dumb ones, like Cabin Fever can keep me up for hours in the middle of the night.

2. I cannot bear to watch TV without Tivo. When I am at someone's house who does not have Tivo, I constantly find my fingers twitching in a futile attempt to fast forward through commercials. Our Tivo remote broke three days ago and we haven't watched TV since. Yes, we have ordered a replacement. Yes, I am counting the hours (about 29) until it arrives.

3. For the first 33 years of my life, I swore up and down that I did not want children. Then one day - BAM! I woke up and thought, "I must have a baby. NOW!"

4. I really wished I had learned to do something artsy - sing, dance, play an instrument. Anything. And don't tell me it's not too late. It just is. Maybe someday when my kids are in high school or college, but right now? No fucking chance.

5. I have a whole community of women friends who I met on the internet while planning my wedding. I've been talking to some of them for nearly 9 years, have met bunches of them and check in with them on an online forum several times a week to this day. They're a very cool, wise, fun, supportive group and I feel very lucky to know them.

6. I wish I were 2 to 4 inches taller.

7. I once lived half the winter in an apartment in Utica, NY without heat because I didn't want my landlord to come in and find out I had my cat there, which was forbidden in my lease.

8. Best trip ever: my honeymoon in Hawaii. Worst: Probably one of the times we went to visit Mark's sister and the two of them fought like cats and dogs the entire time with me stuck in middle. Fortunately, they get along MUCH better now.

So that's me. A quick perusal of some of my favorite blogs shows this meme has already made the rounds, so I'm tagging just one person. Yoo-hoo Maureen? TAG! You're it.

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