Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Debbie Downer

I knew that being a working mom would be hard.  I knew it before Lucas was even born.  When I was pregnant with him, I was exhausted.  The fear of being tired all the time was something that really plagued me during my pregnancy.  Some people can do amazing things without much sleep, but I've never really been one of them, and I think the majority of people in this world do not fit into that category.

Well, amazingly enough I got used to the lack of sleep.  And now that Lucas is sleeping almost 12 hours a night, things have gotten so much better.  I have time in the evening to watch something on the DVR or read a book for pleasure or whatever I want.  Then I can go to bed and get 6+ hours of sleep.  

So really, the sleep is not the problem.  I guess I'm just feeling kind-of bummed today, so please excuse this depressing post - a temporary departure from the norm.  This morning when I dropped Lucas off at daycare, Brenda and I were talking about how Lucas hates tummy time.  (By the way, things have gotten exponentially better in the Brenda arena.  I think we all just needed an adjustment period.)  We were discussing how we both just keep on doing the tummy time, even though Lucas screams and gets angry.  And then she said, "But he's rolling over really well, so I'm not too concerned."

I was pretty surprised when she said that.  I could count on one hand the number of times I'd seen Lucas roll over, and every time he did it you would have thought someone just handed me a stack of cash that went up to the ceiling.  Lucas rolling over is a big deal to me because I can't get him to do it on his own.  But apparently, he's rolling over regularly for Brenda.  

As I walked out to my car, it hit me how much of my son's life I am missing while I'm at work.  I know it's not good to dwell on things like this because I can't do anything about it at this juncture.  But it just doesn't sit well with me that for Brenda, Lucas rolling over is a regular occurance; with me, I can coax him and encourage him and put a zillion toys around him (everything Parenting magazine could ever possibly suggest) and nothing.  Well, not nothing.  There's always the ear-splitting screams and the frustrations the reach a fever pitch if I leave him there for longer than 30 seconds.  And some kids when they get frustrated being on their tummy, they try to roll over to rectify the situation.  But Lucas gets so mad that he usually plants his face into the floor and screeeeeeeeams.  

And the screaming is something I have a really hard time with when I've just gotten home from working my big, flat butt off all day.  I've never been what one might call a patient person.  And lately at work, I've been forced to use any patience reserve I might have for the day.  And then some.  Because at work, you can't just blow up and say whatever you might be thinking at the moment.  (Oh how I would love to.)  

So when I get home from work, I'm zonked.  I know I shouldn't be whinining about this.  I am very thankful to have a job, especially one that has been so generous to me and treated me so well.  You just don't find jobs like mine in Michigan anymore, and I am so painfully aware of that fact.  In fact, if my job weren't so darn good, it would have been easy to cut bait and stay at home.

But therein lies the battle.  There are so many people out there just waiting to fill a job like this.  I'm not the only one who can do this job well.  In fact, there are probably people out there who can do it better.  But even though I'm not a perfect mom, I'm pretty sure there's no one else out there could could be Lucas' mommy better.  God gave Lucas to me, not to someone else, so I know there's some reason for that.  Even if I don't understand why, God must have thought that I could be a mommy to Lucas better than anyone else could.  

I wish there were two of me so my job and my family could both get the best of me.  That is a waste of time thing to wish, and I'm frustrated with myself for even typing that.  I'm not trying to be all "poor me, I have to work."  Believe me, I am mentally kicking my butt for even writing this post.  I've almost deleted this at least five times.  But I won't, because I feel like I need to put this out there, to get it off my chest.  And also because I really don't think there's anything wrong with saying that I'd rather be at home with my son.  

I'll be back to my regularly-scheduled program of dazzling wit and intelligent humor soon, but I guess for right now it's Debbie Downer.                            

Monday, March 29, 2010

I don't have a clever title because it's Monday and I'm annoyed about that

This morning was a disaster. I woke up at the time when I should have been leaving for work, which made me super late and now I'm going to have to stay in for part of my lunch hour to make it up. And it's pretty much all Dan's fault. I'm sorry to say that, because I know he's my husband and he's wonderful and I'm only supposed to speak kindly about him. But facts are facts, and the fact is that it's his fault.

This disastrous morning started before I even went to bed. My mom called around 9:30 last night to confirm that my dad was not watching Lucas at all this week. I was confused, because I had thought that my dad had him the next day (today). Turns out, my mom was right. So there was the first monkey wrench in the works. I'm the kind of person who plans things, and I had already been mentally preparing my morning. I would get up, shower, get Lucas ready then take him to my dad's. Now, because he would be staying home with Dan all day, I got to sleep an extra hour. Ordinarily, this would be good news. But I didn't get to enjoy it as much because my mental preparations were completely messed up. (The exception to this is a snow day. I am nothing but overjoyed when my boss calls me at 6 to tell me that the office is closed because of snow.)

So then, Dan and I go upstairs to go to bed. This is always an interesting time, because we have this unspoken battle game that happens every night when Dan is home. Whoever gets upstairs first gets the remote and the good side of the bed (closest to the tv, and the side with the clock).

The remote game is actually fun. Here's how it's played:

Whoever gets the remote first gets it and can turn on any channel they desire, within reason. You are not allowed to bring the remote out of the bedroom. If you have to go to the bathroom to brush your teeth or wash your face, you lose the remote. However, if the other person is not upstairs or in the room at this time, you may hide the remote somewhere in the room so that the other person will have difficulty finding it. If they find it, they claim it until and unless they then have to leave the room. (Since Dan never goes online and doesn't read this blog unless I sit him down and read it to him, I can tell you that my best hiding place is under the mattress. It doesn't seem like it, but I actually lift the mattress up and put the remote right in the middle so that any exploratory swipes won't produce the prize.)

The good-side-of-the-bed game is not so fun. Here's how it's played:

Dan sleeps on the good side of the bed for the first year we are married. This is during the time we were sleeping in the bedroom that is now Lucas' nursery. We move the bed to the other room after we paint it a shade of green I now greatly regret, and the whole game changes. Instead of having the tv right in front of us as we did previously, it is now located on Dan's side of the bed (because that's where the cable jack is). Since Dan works nights, I decide that I am there every night and that I will now claim the good side of the bed. Now every night is a constant battle of "it's mine" and "no, it's mine!" Dan says that it's his because he had it when we first got married and also that it is actually his bed, since he brought it with him when we got married. I say that possession is nine-tenths of the law and that, since I possess that side every night, it is now rightfully mine. Kind-of like a common-law marriage. Also, Dan gets to sleep there when he comes home from work because I'm gone. So he gets it for at least part of the week and he should just pipe down and be happy about it.

(You might be wondering why this is all relevant. I actually am too, and I had to sit here for a second to remember where I was going with all that. Luckily for everyone, it came to me.)

Well, as I mentioned, the good side of the bed has the alarm clock on it. We used to have a clock on both sides until I brought the other one to my parents' house while I was pregnant and sleeping over there in case I went into labor while Dan was at work. So now there's one clock and I ALWAYS keep the alarm set for 6 a.m. Always. Dan uses his phone as his alarm, and this is how it's been for a long time.

So last night we went to bed at around 10. Dan was exhausted because he had worked the night before and slept only a few hours because he usually likes to get up early-ish and enjoy his first day off. He fell asleep really quickly, and I was left with the remote all to myself, not a bit tired because Lucas had slept through the night before and I got to sleep in until 8 a.m. (oh the luxury). So I made a huge mistake and got sucked into this movie on Lifetime. Except it was kind-of scary (about this lady who had her house broken into and was held hostage with her daughter) and then I couldn't fall asleep because I was on-edge.

I finally fell asleep and was dreaming that I was home from college on spring break and that I'd just woken up from sleeping in until 3 p.m. (you know, the good old days). And then I heard Dan say, "Katie you're late for work!" And I woke up and said "Leave me alone, I'm on spring break."

And then I realized that it wasn't spring break since I'm an adult in this cold hard world and I don't get a spring break. And then I further realized that my alarm had not gone off. What the what? I know I turned it fact, it's still on, waiting to go off.

"Daniel did you re-set this alarm?" And he buried his face in his pillow and started blaming it on Lucas for sleeping through the night again.

And then I scrambled all over the place trying to get ready for work. I didn't even get a chance to relish in the knowledge that my son had slept almost 12 hours for the second night in a row. We're talking real progress here, folks. I don't know what the definition of "fluke" is, but I'm pretty sure it's not, "Something that randomly happens two nights in a row."

At least it's a only four-day week. Let's hope this all-night sleeping continues so I can enjoy a little sleeping-in to help celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this weekend.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Seven is a great number

If you are uncomfortable with talk about butts and occasionally bras, you might want to avoid this post. Consider yourself warned.

One thing I'm kind-of embarrassed to admit is that I love brand-name designers and labels. I know it's ridiculous and frivolous and wasteful. I know it doesn't make me a better person if my purse is from Coach instead of Kmart. Does that stop the desire for all things Kate Spade? Not even.

See, the problem is that I'm not what you would call rich. Dan isn't a sugar daddy. He doesn't have some secret treasure safe in a Swiss bank account or buried by the tree in the backyard (though if you ask him, he'd tell you that his treasure is currently located in his parents' garage - aka his precious lawn mower). And I certainly didn't bring wealth to our marriage; far from it actually - I brought thousands and thousands of dollars of student loan debt (and forget what they say, debt is debt. I don't believe there's such thing as "good" debt anymore - not in this economy. And if you still think student loan debt is good, you are welcome to mine.).

So I have, out of sheer necessity, morphed into a bargain label shopper. The good thing about me is that I don't give a rip about if something is this season or last. (Another good thing about me is that I'm amazingly self-aware when it comes to my good qualities.) I go crazy for end-of-season clearance sales and discount stores.

Don't confuse me with another breed of discount label whore. When I say I will only buy something if it's a good deal, I mean I will only buy something if it's a good deal for a normal person. Not like "Oh that bag used to be $1000 and now it's only $400!" Yeah, I shudder to think about what my husband would do if I a) brought home a $400 bag and b) used that logic on him. If I said, "But Daniel, I saved $600!" he would say, "You should have not bought the bag and saved $400. Now go return it." (That's the nice version of the fight conversation.)

Plus, it's simply not very gratifying to ever pay over $50 for any clothing or accessory item. Or any item, for that matter. Ever. And $50 is like the cathedral ceiling of ceilings. If I'm being honest, I will rarely spend over $25 for anything. Which is why I currently own one bra that fits me. Why would I go out and spend $40 on something that no one ever sees? I'll just repeatedly wash the one I have, thank you.

When we went out to buy our obscenely large flat panel tv before we were married, I asked the guy what the best he could do was, and when he said $1500, I was like, "Howsabout we make it $45 and call it a day?" When we signed the closing papers on our house, I literally had to refrain from looking at the actual amount we were paying. And even now, when I hear how much we owe on our house, I have panic attacks and have to breathe into a paper bag.

The point is, I'm kind-of cheap. I'm not a tightwad, because I always end up spending far too much money on clothes and things I don't need, but at least I got a darn good deal on them!

So one thing I've always, always wanted is a pair of 7 for all Mankind jeans (or Sevens, to the cool kids). I don't know why I've coveted them so much. Maybe it's because every time I see a girl wearing them, her legs and butt look amazing. And my goal since have Lucas has been to become a MILTLA (Mom I Like To Look At), hence the WW and C25K. So Sevens (yeah, I'm a cool kid) would be extremely helpful at this juncture in my body crisis. But because of the fact that Sevens are in the $150-$200 range, it's always just been a dream.

Or so I thought. Enter ebay, my current drug of choice. I was "just browsing" when I came across an auction for a pair of NWT (new with tags for the ebay newbies - if there are any newbies left, and if there are, there really shouldn't be. ebay is just that awesome.) Sevens, complete with a certain element of stretch to them (score). I bid $14.99 on them, thinking the whole time that I wouldn't get them and that they'd end up being bid way past my comfort level. (Note from the author [and also note to self]: This is dangerous. Don't ever bid on something you don't really want because ebay karma says you will get it. If you aren't sure if you want something, or you're certain you will be out-bid, that's what "Watch this item" is for.)

So I placed my bid and even forgot about it, so sure was I that I wouldn't win them. Would you believe I won them?? You probably would, because if I didn't win them then this story would be pointless and this would be the dumbest post I've ever written. So shocker, I won them! And they arrived to my house yesterday.

When I ripped them out of the package, I had a sudden flash of panic. Most designer jeans run way smaller than what you think they will, which is so depressing. So I raced upstairs to try them on and ta-daaaaa! They fit! It's an Easter miracle!

I checked out my all-important rear-view to find that my butt looked like my old butt! By this I mean my pre-baby butt: the butt that is not so flat, not so mushy and not so sad-looking. Not only that, but they had a nice big hem on the bottom (not sure what it's officially called, but I adore it), and a cute flared opening that looks fantastic over heels. Plus, they are slightly destructed which is so trendy right now (trust me, if I know anything, it's trendy. ::Snortgiggle::).

The best part? I can button them with room to spare, and they are a normal rise - not so low that I have a muffin top and can't sit down with my back facing anyone in polite company.

Bottom line: I'm in love. I don't even care if these are real Sevens. If they're not, someone did a freaking awesome job making fakes and I'd buy them again, even knowing that. I'm wearing them today and feel oh-so-chic with my maroon heels peeping out from under them. And that feeling is tough to come by lately. (I can do cute pretty easily, but chic is a difficult feat when I can't get out the door without a formula and/or spit-up stain somewhere on my person these days. I know Lucas means well. I'm sure he just wants to make sure I am thinking about him when we're apart). And the best part is, I keep going to the bathroom so I can check out my butt. And for once, I'm likin' what I see.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fattie, Fattie Two-By-Four

I started another post with this subject and I got like 7 paragraphs in and realized that I hadn't even begun to talk about what I really wanted to talk about. So in the interest of brevity and the sanity of all you loyal readers (whoever you may be), I'm starting fresh.

Ok, so in a nutshell, the idea that took up 7 paragraphs in my scrapped post is that while pregnant, I decided that once Lucas was born I would take up running by doing the Couch to 5K (C25K). To help motivate me, I asked my friend Theresa if she'd do the 9-week program with me. For many, many reasons, this whole deal has been delayed until recently. (I'm so proud I was able to condense this much.)

So Theresa and I looked at our schedules and decided to run twice a week together and once by ourselves, to get in the 3 days the program dictates. Dan and I finally sucked it up and got a pass to the Rec Center (highway robbery, by the way. $350 for a couple, it's only something like $50 more for an entire family. But, as usual, I digress.).

Last night, I decided to hit the Rec to do my solo run. The first week of the program is simple: Brisk warm-up walk for 5 minutes, then alternate 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking for 25 minutes, then 5 minutes cool-down walk.

Ok, I'm going to have to condense again. Theresa and I tried to start the program in like February. So knowing that, I started exercise at home to free Exercise TV OnDemand to try to get my body over the initial shock of working out again. I didn't think I was doing a whole lot, but when Theresa and I did the first week or C25K I found the first week to be pretty easy. But the program specifically tells you not to jump ahead, to take it week by week, so I gave myself a pat on the back and did week 1. Then after week 1, a lot of unforeseen circumstances presented, so Theresa and I had to put C25K on hold and decided to start from the beginning again.

Fast-forward to yesterday, my first day of week 1 and my day of running alone. I got all dressed up in my cute work out clothes, feeling pretty good since I have lost 18ish lbs on Weight Watchers (almost half-way to my goal woot!). Something about exercise clothes makes me feel really attractive. I don't know what it is, but I guess that's the way things are.

So anyway, I strut into the Rec feeling all good about myself with my cool iPod touch and pink ear buds, get my new ID pass, try not to look at my horrible picture on it, and head over to a free treadmill. There's something about walking into any type of gym or exercise facility that makes you feel like everyone is looking at you. Maybe it's because everyone is looking at you?

Because I was the temporary center of attention, I tried my best to be cool. Since I was feeling pretty good about myself, I was thinking something along the lines of, "That's right everyone, eat your hearts out. You WISH you could look this good 4 months after having a baby. Even you, muscle-bound but otherwise skinny high school boys."

So I get to my treadmill and step on. I took of my sweatshirt and put it on the floor next to me, and, since I was feeling too cool for school, I decided to just toss my wallet onto my sweatshirt. Did I mention it's the kind that has a little push-button clasp? And wouldn't you know, my wallet decided to land right on that button and explode open, tossing loose change and old receipts everywhere.

A quick look around confirmed that, yes, everyone was still looking at me and no, my trying-too-hard-ness did not go unnoticed. Slightly deflated, I tried to position myself in the 4 inches of space between my treadmill and the treadmill of the lady next to me so I could clean up the crap from my wallet, aka my pile of shame.

Ok crisis averted. I hopped back on the treadmill, set my iPod on the monitor ledge and started to untangle my awesome pink ear buds (I really love them). Of course, the ear buds were more tangled than I realized, so my iPod fell off the ledge, and dangled from my hand as I tried to grab at it in the most inconspicuous way possible.

Yeah, inconspicuous is not really my thing. My iPod fell off the ear buds just as I went to grab it and bounced off the treadmill about 2 feet in front of me, right at the feet of the high schoolers. One of them gallantly picked it up and handed it to me. I quickly thanked him and got to work on my run, any possibility of people thinking I was cool completely thrown out the window.

At first, it was easy. I was feeling good, doing my warm-up walk, starting to get back in my groove. Then the jogging started. My treadmill was unfortunately positioned to face a blank wall. All the tv's were far to my left, and I couldn't even look directly into the basketball court. So I basically had nothing to stare at except the timer on my treadmill, ticking more slowly than I'd ever seen it.

After the first few jogging stints, I started to get tired. And then I started to feel nauseous. Refusing to admit that I had quickly gotten out of any sort of shape I'd been in, I quickly decided that I must be pregnant. That would be the only logical explanation for my nausea. Normally, the thought of being pregnant would fill me with fear. This time, I was like, "YES if I'm pregnant then I'll have an iron-clad reason to stop doing C25K." So I decided that 1) I must be pregnant, 2) I'd pee on a stick when I got home, and 3) I won't jog anymore, I'll just walk until I get to 17 minutes (I was somewhere around the 14-minute mark at that point). (Also, the test was negative, in case you're wondering. I really am just out of shape.) (And also, in case you haven't noticed, my favorite things in the entire world of punctuation and grammar are parenthesis.)

So I got to like 16 minutes and 45 seconds, and my iPod turned on me. First, it called me a fattie and a quitter. Then, it threw on my power tracks. Then, it dared me to keep going, just until the end of the song. So I said, "Screw you iPod, I'll show you what I can do." And I kept going until the end of the song. Then it said, "You think you're awesome? Well here's another power track. See if you can make it through this one." Rinse and repeat.

I made it to 30 minutes. Even though I didn't jog after my pregnancy scare, I walked at a very brisk pace on a slight incline. I felt pretty good after those 30 minutes, so I decided I'd go work out my arms a little.

I hate using non-cardio machines because I don't usually know what to do. I am that person that you laugh at when you walk by because I'm trying to use a leg machine for my arms. I literally spend a few minutes putting my stuff on the floor so I can sneak-read the directions on the machine. So I did a few pully-type exercises and decided to just do one more machine - the one with the long bar that you pull down.

I proceeded to make an idiot out of myself by trying to pull down more weight than I could handle and had to adjust the weight to a much smaller level. And then I hit myself in the head with the bar and had to do the whole "What are you looking at? That didn't really just happen" dance and try to hide the tears that involuntarily sprung to my eyes (like when you get hit in the nose and can't help but cry. I wasn't really crying, it was just my body.). And then I decided it was time to go home.

So I'm thinking my program might be more of a couch-to-couch type deal than anything.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Caffeine: A Love Story

I truly don't know where I would be today were it not for you, caffeine. You have been my constant companion for more than 7 years (minus our brief and ugly break-up during my pregnancy). I love you more than I could ever express.

What I love most are the many forms you take, the many ways you present yourself to meet my needs. When my eyes are bleary and my head is swimming with exhaustion on a depressingly early Monday morning, you make yourself readily available in my a.m. cup of tea. When I'm dragging my feet during the post-lunch slump, you come to my rescue in a delicious can of Diet Pepsi. And although these days I avoid you in the evenings like I'll be avoiding bathing suits this summer, there was a time when you were by my side through those nights of cramming for finals and writing the thesis that I waited until the last minute to do.

Yes caffeine, you have been a faithful friend. Despite the fact that I find you disgusting in coffee, I love you just the same. No one's perfect, right? And now, when I need you more than ever, you are here for me. Now that my child has decided to play sleep roulette, one night pretending like he just might master the art of sleeping all night, only to burst my bubble with 10,000 samurai swords the next, you come through on your aluminum steed.

You make me believe that anything is possible. You allow me to get through the day somewhat coherently, regardless of how much sleep I've had (or didn't have) the night before. And even though you are not remotely discriminating in the company you keep (yes, I know about the others), I don't care. I love you that much. Call me self-destructive, but I won't answer. And even though we both know that all I do is take, take, take, you never cease to give.

So caffeine, my beloved, my friend, my life-blood, thank you from the bottom of my wired heart. I dread the day when that pee stick again turns up two pink lines and we'll have to part ways for another 9 long months. But never fear, for I'll be back. As soon as the fruit of my womb is born and sleeping under the warming lamp, I'll instruct the nurse to switch my saline IV to Diet Pepsi, just like I did last time. And then, yes then, we will have our joyous reunion.

But until then, dear sweet caffeine, I will rejoice in our relationship and faithfully visit you at least 3 times a day. This is my solemn vow.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A morning post about fowl

I hate geese. I hate them. They are big, loud, mean and, as far as I can tell, a completely pointless bird. I would never eat goose, nor would I make a breakfast of scrambled goose eggs. I suppose you could use their feathers for pillows and blankets and stuff, but if I saw a pillow in Target with a label that said "100% Goose Down" I would put it back on the shelf and slowly back away. I hate geese that much.

One time in high school, I decided it would be fun to have a picnic by Newburgh Lake. For those of you who aren't from Livonia, Newburgh Lake is this random lake right next to an extremely busy and irritating-to-drive road (Newburgh Road, coincidentally). It's like someone just decided, "Hey, Newburgh is a really stressful road to be on. What would make it less stressful? Oh right, a lake!" And then they put a lake there. Like they wanted to pretend that Newburgh was some rural little paradise where people could come and camp and fish and reflect quietly on life, instead of what it actually is - a road that I've been trying to avoid driving during Lent because it greatly tempts me to toss out the four letter words I gave up for these long 40 days.

By now you might be thinking that this post is about how much I hate Newburgh instead of about how much I hate geese. But never fear, we are getting to the geese.

So back to this picnic by Newburgh Lake. There was one picnic table next to the lake and I happily set up my little lunch there, looking at the fresh water that they'd just refilled the lake with because the old water was so polluted that if you accidentally fell in you'd come out with an extra eye and the ability to receive radio waves with your nose. As I tried to tune out the sound of the busy street above me, I noticed that there was a pair of geese hanging out by the shore (is it still a shore if there is no sand?).

I knew there were geese around, as evidenced by the countless tiny mountains of goose poop I'd had to tip toe around when I was walking to the picnic table. But I didn't see them when I sat down, so I thought I was in the clear. When I noticed the two geese, they were minding their own business, so I decided to just enjoy my lunch and mind my own business too.

But then I pulled out my PB&J and, I kid you not, at least 50 geese descended upon me. They started coming from every direction, like Children of the Corn. Except I've never seen Children of the Corn because I hate scary movies, but it was how I imagined Children of the Corn would be - like the victim is standing in the middle of a corn field and all of a sudden these crazy zombie children are appearing from between the corn stalks to come eat the victim's face off.

ANYWAY, these geese started coming at me from everywhere. I was literally surrounded by geese, at least 3 geese deep at any given angle. They were all honking and grumping at me in a way that let me know that they were accustomed to either being voluntarily fed by humans or taking what they wanted by force. I was unwilling to feed them my sandwich, one, because I wanted it myself, and two, because I knew there wasn't enough to go around and I didn't want to make any of them angry by leaving them out.

They got so close to the picnic table that I had to climb on top of it and stand on the table part. I honestly thought I was not going to make it out of there alive. The worst part was, I knew the people driving on Newburgh could see what was happening, and I imagined them all sitting in their nice goose-free cars, laughing at my misfortune. People actually walked by, saw my blatant terror, smirked and continued walking. I mean, I don't know what I expected them to do (run at the geese with their arms flailing? Negotiate with the hostage takers?), but they could have at least held back the smirk.

I finally decided that I could make another sandwich if I ever made it home, so I wound up and threw my PB&J as hard as I could into the lake. The geese went bonkers and fell all over each other trying to get there first, and I high-tailed it to my car. I knew two things after that situation. First, I will never picnic at Newburgh Lake again. Two, I hate geese.

So this morning I was a little early to work. The parking lot was pretty empty, and only one office had lights on. I was walking in a daze, trying to pretend like I was still at home curled up in my warm bed with my sweet sleeping baby snuggled up next to me.

Then I heard it. The tell-tale honking of an evil goose approaching. Suddenly, amidst a flurry of flapping wings, two MASSIVE geese landed right next to me. These geese were how I imagine the children of Aretha Franklin and Yao Ming would be, if they got together and had babies. And if they were geese.

They looked at me with their dark beady eyes and I froze mid-step. I was so close to my office, but they could get to me before I made it, if they wanted. I slowly started walking to my office door, my key at the ready.

Just as I stepped on the curb, Yaoretha unfolded his massive wingspan and flew to about a foot away from me, honking at me like, "Yeah you better get in that office b*tch." And then he took a major poop right in the middle of the parking lot. I hate geese.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rotten is as rotten does

I know you think I'm perfect, but I'm here to tell you that it's just not true. I do have a few faults. Not too many - just enough to make me perfectly flawed and all the more charming.

One of my few faults is that I can be a teensy weensy bit judgmental. My dad always used to tell me that there's a difference between being judgmental and just making judgment calls. Basically what he meant is that in order to be a person of any character whatsoever, it is necessary for us to make judgments about what is right and what is wrong, what we agree with and what we don't. This has served me well over the years, but I've always had a problem walking the fine line between making judgment calls and just being judgmental.

An area that has always been difficult for me in this regard is judging how strangers parent their children. Having a baby has opened my eyes on just how wrong I was in so many of my judgments of other parents, much like how being a waitress has made me more lenient with servers at restaurants.

I try not to say things like, "Oh I'll never do _____" because I know that statements like those tend to come back and bite a big huge chunk out of my behind. Want some examples? "I'll never give up on breastfeeding." "I'll never let my child sleep in my bed." "I'll never be one of those pregnant ladies who gain 10 pounds of baby weight and 20 pounds of Taco Bell weight." I could go on. But I won't because it's depressing.

At the risk of tempting fate, I am about to put forth one such statement. I will never allow my children to misbehave in stores at such a level that it causes physical destruction to said store.

I was at Kohls the other day because my "fun money" was burning a hole in my pocket. I found an adorable Easter outfit for Lucas and a cute top for myself, which is unrelated to my story but exciting nonetheless. As I was waiting in line to check out, a girl I'd peg at about 7 or 8 got in line behind me with her mom and grandma. I wasn't paying much attention until I heard an ear-splitting shriek pierce the air.

"WHY can't I get that dress mommy? I want that dress! You said if I was good I could have that dress!!!" wailed the much-to-old-for-this-nonsense child. And then she proceed to push on the rope partition that showed where to get in line so hard that the posts wobbled. She was hanging on them and melting down about dress her mother would not buy for her.

Let me stop for a minute. If this were my child, I would have taken her firmly by the arm, given my purchases and wallet to my mother so she could check out for me and swiftly guided my daughter out the door and given her a stern talking to, along with a punishment proportionate to the behavior.

This mother, on the other hand, chose the opposite approach: ignore. While her daughter proceeded to swing on the ropes and knock down the posts, all the while screaming like some demon from The Exorcist, she simply said in a very bored and distracted tone, "Ava are you being rotten?"

As if that weren't bad enough, the grandma piped up, "No she's not being rotten! She deserves that dress for being such a sweet little thing." (No exaggeration - that was what she said verbatim.)

(Meanwhile, the lone cashier is helplessly watching the embarrassing scene unfold, her eyes pleading with someone to do something.)

So yes, Ava, you were being rotten. But it's because your mom and grandma were being rotten, too. They have spoiled you into a sense of entitlement, and they do not put your bad behavior in check.

Now I am painfully aware that it is not possible to control your child's behavior every second of every day. But I believe that your child learns how to behave from watching your behavior and observing how you respond to them when they act out. If you don't tell them when they are behaving in an unacceptable manner, they will naturally believe that any behavior is acceptable.

I saved the best part of the story for last. While Kohlgate 2010 was occurring, another mom and her daughter (who I would guess was around 4) got in line behind Banshee and her caretakers. As the younger girl and her mother looked on, the cute as all get-out girl said to her mother, "Mommy, that girl is being naughty."

Mama Banshee turned to Mama Angel Child and shot daggers at her with her eyes, her look clearly saying, "Oh no she didn't! Discipline your brat, woman!" But Mama Angel Child simply looked down at her well-mannered daughter and said, "Yes honey, she is."

I could go on for another 10 paragraphs about the sad irony of the situation. But I'll instead say again - I will never allow my children to act like this in public. Bring on the karma.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I didn't cry at work today

Or maybe I did.

As I mentioned in my last post, I live on an emotional level. Sometimes I wish I could pack up and move, though, especially in some situations that come up at my job. In this way, I wish I could be more like my boss. If you've ever done the True Colors personal inventory, you'll understand what I mean when I say that my boss is hard-core green. She is smart, analytical, hard-working and logical. These are classic green traits. I, on the other hand, am pure blue. I am sensitive, emotional and often think about how others will be effected in any given situation.

My boss is very green and very calm and collected under pressure. She doesn't take things personally, doesn't fret about if some random person is mad at her, and doesn't sit down after the fact and go over and over all the things she should have said in her head. Man do I wish that were me.

Instead, I'm true blue. I do exactly the opposite of what my boss does. I take things personally, fret and beat myself over the head with all the witty things I should have said in order to sock it to the person who had the nerve to be mean to someone as sensitive and kind as myself. I'm sort-of like Meg Ryan in "You've Got Mail" - if I do happen to say something snappy in the moment, I feel pretty bad about it later and end up having to apologize to the instigator who should actually be apologizing to me.

ANYWAY, the belabored point of this post is that I had a mini-breakthrough at work today. Without getting too descriptive, I was sitting at my desk with my emotionally stable boss, working on a pretty large on-going project while the phones rang off the hook. A person came into the office and needed something from me that I couldn't give to her at the moment (through absolutely no fault of my own). She got upset and started essentially laying in to me.

I started to feel this pressure building up in my chest, as I usually do when I'm presented with conflict from someone I'm not comfortable with. I was already overwhelmed with the large project and the phones ringing like crazy, as well as with the fact that work in general has been a nightmare for the last two weeks. I was basically at my breaking point.

As I tried to walk the fine line between standing firm and defending myself and trying not to say something I'd later regret and that could get me into trouble, my voice and hands grew shakier, my head started swimming and my ears started ringing (which always happens when I'm faced with confrontation). Thank God my boss was at my desk at that moment, because she stepped in and dealt with the issue in her typically calm and cool manner.

The instigator left the office furious, but at least she finally left. At that point, I knew what was coming. Not a moment too soon, I said to my boss, "Excuse me, but I need to take a minute." I walked quickly down the hall and into the bathroom, where I proceeded to cry like a wiener.

"So what is this breakthrough you had?" you might be wondering. "How is it a breakthrough when your boss had to step in and you had to run to the bathroom to cry?"

The breakthrough, my dear readers, is that I made it to the bathroom before I started crying. I'll pause for a minute while I soak in the applause.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Say hello to my little friend

Hi, my name is Katie. I'm 5 foot 7, weigh an undisclosed (but steadily dropping!) amount, have brown hair and blue eyes. I love cheap wine (Arbor Mist is best), shopping and long walks on the beach. I would like to introduce you to my constant companion. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mommy Guilt.

During my pregnancy I thought I might have successfully eluded Mommy Guilt. I didn't feel guilty for eating whatever I wanted and being as inactive as humanly possible (although I wish I had, because then maybe it wouldn't have taken me 4 months to comfortably fit into most of my pre-pregnancy jeans). I didn't feel guilty for occasionally indulging in a caffeinated beverage. I didn't feel guilty for letting people do things for me. Even now, I'm still surprised when my co-worker expects me to lift things at work because she would not let me carry anything when I was pregnant - and I mean anything. One time she went to Costco for the office and I picked up a package of 3 Kleenex boxes and she literally grabbed them out of my hands, told me not to strain myself and made me go sit down. I was surprised that she was concerned about me carrying something that weighed less than a pound (I mean really, is there anything lighter than a box of Kleenex? Maybe a feather.) But I didn't feel guilty.

Maybe I'm making up for lost time now. Mommy Guilt has become my worst best friend. Any time something remotely negative is said about my child, I take it as a personal assault.

"Lucas is fussy, do you think he might be hungry?"
Oh my gosh, of course he's hungry, what a terrible mom I am that I couldn't anticipate that!

"Lucas sure does like it when you hold him, he stops crying as soon as you take him!"
If only I hadn't spoiled him when he was 2 weeks old by snuggling him because I was in awe of his newness, his sweetness, his tinyness. It's all my fault and now he's a mama's boy.

"Lucas really doesn't like it when you lay him flat!"
It's all because we discovered at 3 months that he would sleep in the swing at night. We never should have put him in the swing, now we'll have to install a toddler-sized swing in his nursery because he'll never, ever, ever sleep in his crib and it's all because we were exhausted and it was either sleep or go mentally insane. I should have let myself go crazy because then they would have checked me in the loony bin and someone more fitting could have taken care of him.

Seriously, these are only slight exaggerations of what goes through my frazzled mind. I have no clue what I'm doing, and I feel like it's completely apparent to the entire world just from looking at him. It doesn't help that everyone has their own ideas and experience of what worked for them and they want to share it with me. I'm not trying to be sarcastic at all (for once). I totally understand that when people give me advice, it's well-intended. It's just unbelievably frustrating to hear conflicting ideas constantly - each time it seems like it's designed to make you feel like you're doing something wrong.

Working full time only compounds the Mommy Guilt. I see Lucas 4 hours a day, max. Maybe 2.5 of these hours are quality time when I can snuggle him and play with him. That in itself is enough guilt to keep me completely occupied. I look forward to the weekends when I can spend some time with him and relax a bit.

This past weekend, Dan's mom was watching Lucas for a couple hours so we could take care of some errands. By some strange miracle, Dan and I were alone at our house for 10 minutes or so before we had to pick him up. We were sitting there just basking in the quiet, when the thought crossed my mind that I wouldn't mind leaving Lucas at the in-laws' for a few more hours so we could just enjoy laying around the house for a while more.

Enter Mommy Guilt. How could I wish for alone time when I hardly saw Lucas during the week? On an intellectual level, I know that i need some time for myself, to rest and recharge. But Mommy Guilt knows right where I live. And let me tell you, it's not on the intellectual level. I live on the emotional level. And the emotional level does not allow me to take time for myself guilt-free. If I'm going to have alone time, you can bet it's going to have a price on it. (And I'm not saying all this to try to garner sympathy or anything. I just figure that if I'm going to over-share my life for the world to see, I might as well be honest!)

It's a constant war with Mommy Guilt. Hopefully one day it will go off and quietly die somewhere. For now, we're engaged in emotional combat. Mommy Guilt: 100; Mommy: 5.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Car Rides Are A Scream

I can't believe I'm sitting here, about to write this sentence. Sometimes I wish Lucas was a newborn again.

...Did hell freeze over? Are pigs flying? Did the Lions win the Super Bowl? No? Ok, I'll carry on.

Car rides have become an absolute nightmare. When Lucas was a newborn and slept all the time, errands were a breeze. He slept like a little angel. My biggest problem then was toting his huge awkward car seat around, trying to look like I knew what I was doing, even though everyone could tell I did not know what I was doing because I had "new mom with infant child" written all over me with my black yoga pants and vacant eyes.

Now, Lucas likes to voice his dismay at being put in the car seat without my attention being showered upon him every waking minute. If you were to listen to him when I was putting him in the car seat, you would understand where the phrase "screaming bloody murder" came from. It's as if we're plunging him into a pit of fire that's as hot as a thousand suns.

While we're still in the house and walking out to the car, I can distract him by singing "The Wheels on the Bus" and blowing raspberries at him. But after I put him in the car and he realizes that I can no longer focus every iota of my focus on him, he gets mad. And he screams at periodically-increasing variables.

I've tried everything I can think of. I've sung about that stupid bus until I'm blue in the face, reasoned with him, turned the radio up and down, and even pulled over to re-insert his paci. The paci is usually the silver bullet, but if he spits it back out when I start driving again, all bets are off.

I'm half-ashamed, half-proud to admit that I can now tune him out to a certain degree. But sometimes I'll catch myself tuning him out, and then I have to push the ever-present Mommy Guilt aside.

How can you tune out your own child's screams?
I ask myself.

It's self-preservation! my self answers back. You have to keep your sanity.

And so it goes, back and forth. I tangle with my guilt and my rationality until we get to wherever we're going. When we do finally reach our destination, I'll unsnap my seat belt and rush over to Lucas' side of the car to rescue him from the cruel situation he was unwillingly thrust into.

And when I open the door, I'll be met with a perfectly calm baby who is either sleeping or happily looking at the toys danging from his car seat handle, showing absolutely zero signs of having just spent 10-15 minutes doing the kind of cry where he's sometimes screaming so hard that no sound comes out and he can't breathe.

Of course.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday Quickie

So it has become my life's mission (or at least my month's mission) to get a stranger comment on my blog or, even better, a stranger follower. (Stranger as in someone I don't know, not someone who is strange. Being strange is not a requirement, just a bonus.)

I don't know why this matters so much to me. I mean, it doesn't matter to the point where I obsess over it and will crumble into despair if I never get there. But it would make me happy. You can ask Dan - he'll tell you how happy I get when I get a comment on my blog from someone I know. I get really excited. Like a kid who just heard they're moving Disney World into his back yard. But nothing over the top, of course.

I've been thinking about how to achieve this mini goal. A lot of well-established bloggers do giveaways to increase traffic to their blog. The nice thing with them is that they are so well-established that companies actually give them things to give away because they know that the blog gets enough traffic that their sales will increase enough to off-set the loss from giving the product away.

Yeah, not so with me. I'm a fledgling blogger. A little Nemo in the big ocean. So no one is going to give me free stuff to give away. But that's not really the point. I don't need a huge, huge following to make me happy. I just want people I don't know to read my blog. How else am I supposed to take over the world?

So here's how I'm thinking it would work. I would write a post about the giveaway (prize is yet to be determined) and give a few ways to enter. 1) Follow my blog, then leave a comment saying that you follow me. (one entry) 2) Leave a separate comment giving me a topic you would like to see me blog about. (one entry) 3) Get one of your friends whom I don't know to follow me, then have them comment on my blog telling me that you told them to follow me (i.e. George told me to follow you). (one entry for you, one entry for your friend)

Is it too crazy/desperate/silly that I am thinking of spending a small amount of my own money just to achieve the minute gratification of a stranger comment/follower? If you really think it's any of the aforementioned things, maybe you shouldn't say anything because at least this is a chance for you to get something for free. I promise it will be something that is not stupid. (As of right now, I'm thinking of a $10 e-gift certificate to Amazon. Small, I know, but the next time you want something from Amazon you can be like, "Hey I have that $10 certificate from Katie's awesome blog to put towards my purchase. Righteous!")

So think on that. Be on the look-out for a giveaway. And think of people you know who don't know me and would be willing to help you (and themselves!) out by following a stranger's blog that they might not even have any interest in.

Edited to add: The drawback of doing this giveaway is that I could get very low or nonexistent participation, which would be more embarrassing than letting people see my messy house. So consider that, as well.

Further Edited: Sorry Jessie, I know I told you I'd pick you on principle, but I'd better make my first giveaway a fair one. Maybe next time?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Spring Cleaning

This post is apropos of nothing, but it's been on my mind.

My house is messy. There, I admitted it to the world. And not the kind of messy where you know it's clean but when people come you say, "Oh excuse the mess!" so either a) they will think, Wow this is messy? She's a great housekeeper if this is messy or b) in case they really do think it's messy (even though you think it's clean) they will think At least she knows its a mess. No. I'm talking the kind of messy where if you stop by unannounced I will literally make you stand on the porch for 5-10 minutes so I can hide the piles of stuff that are everywhere. And I am not even joking.

Example: One night a few months after Dan and I were married, we were hanging out with our friends at some restaurant or bar. We all decided to go back to someone's house and while I was in the bathroom, Dan nominated our house. When I came back and heard that we were all heading to our place, I gave Dan the Death Stare and put on my fake happy voice. "Oh our house? Great!" And then I took great care to let everyone know that our house was messy, we weren't expecting company, no seriously our house is really messy I'm not even lying.

And then I pulled Dan aside and very unhappily asked him why he invited people over when our house was such a disaster. He suggested that we ask people to drive around the block a few times so we could race in and clean up. He was serious. Normally I would have been embarrassed at that idea, but the embarrassment of my nasty house far out-weighed the embarrassment of asking our friends to circle our neighborhood while we hastily straightened up. So we actually informed our friends to drive slowly and if they got to our house before a certain time to drive around and come back. I'm almost dying of shame as I'm reliving this experience.

Let me clarify: Our house is not dirty. We don't have dishes piled up in the sink from last week, we don't have moldy food sitting in various rooms of the house, we don't have garbage cans overflowing with trash that no one will take out and our toilets don't have rings in them. You don't have to worry about catching a disease from my house. You do, however, have to worry about walking around in the dark in my house, because you could trip over a pair of shoes or a pile of clean (and folded) laundry and break a bone.

So no, we're not dirty. We are messy. We have too much clutter and not enough places to put it. We have too many clothes and not enough dressers for storage. And we are (I have to face it) just a little lazy. Or maybe a lot lazy. We just have a lot of little things that would take a few seconds to take care of. Sadly, if you add up all the seconds it would take to take care of these little things, it would amount to an entire weekend. And there-in lies the problem.

I didn't realize how messy our house was until one time we had Dan's aunt come to clean our house (she cleans houses as a side job). She was there when I left for work in the morning at 7:30 and she was there when I got home at 4:50. Her face was bright red from the energy she was exerting, and she didn't finish until 5:30. I'm pretty sure it took all her self control not to run from our house screaming when she was finished. But MAN did our house look good. I don't think it was that clean when we moved in. It actually smelled clean for five days.

I often dream about that day and the next few days that followed. Dan and I decided that we were going to keep our house clean and that having his aunt get it nice and clean was the perfect jumping-off point. We were like the masses of people who promise on New Years to get in shape, lose the weight, quit smoking, eat healthy, scrapbook all their pictures, walk the dog every day, etc. etc. And you know the route those promises usually take.

So we're back to Square 1. Some weekends we make a half-hearted effort to get the house clean. We are often successful on the downstairs, which is really the most important part. The upstairs is like no-man's land. Clean clothes are piled everywhere because we don't have the space to put them away and I can never get motivated enough to cycle my clothes by season (which I really should do, now that I think about it). Dan's dirty work clothes are lying on the floor right beneath the laundry shoot (which is probably the wrong usage of the word "shoot" but spell checker is giving me red lines underneath every alternative spelling I try. Schute? Shoote? The journalism major in me is ashamed.) because it's way to hard to open the door and throw the dirty clothes down. But who am I to judge? I'm too lazy to move my clothes from the bathroom floor after I take a shower.

The moral of this story is that I want a cleaning lady. Regularly. I would sacrifice a lot to have Dan's aunt come once every month. I've suggested this to Dan before but he's not quite as willing to make the same sacrifices. But I might win yet. Maybe I'll suggest a trial basis of two or three months. Once he sees how much happier our lives are when our house is routinely scrubbed to a shine, he might be more willing to come over to the clean side.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Welcome to Crazy Town

I haven't had a chance to post in a while because life has been inSANE around these parts. I have literally sat down to blog at least 4 times in the past week and just deleted the post after a few lines out of sheer exhaustion.

Lucas has been sick for more than a week, and having a sick baby is exhausting in every sense of the word. I'm physically exhausted because he wakes himself up at night coughing. I'm mentally exhausted because I'm expected to think and function after these nights. I'm emotionally exhausted because I'm constantly worried that things are going to go from niggling cold to pneumonia in no time flat.

Ah, parenthood. The good life. We've taken Lucas to the doctor, I've called the Nurse Line through my health insurance, I've called the doctor twice. The doctor is concerned but confounded. All he can tell me is that it must be a cold that's really hanging on. Lucas hasn't had a fever, hasn't lost his appetite, and isn't turning blue when he coughs (which apparently is the only color we worry about. It's no cause for worry when your baby coughs so hard that he turns bright red and the veins in his head protrude like little blue pipe cleaners. Just in case you were wondering.)

The nurse on the Nurse Line basically asked me yes or no questions which she plugged into her computer, then read whatever the computer spit out at her. I know this isn't her fault, I'm sure she has to follow protocol and can't tell me about what she did when her kid was sick. But it doesn't make me feel better when I call the Nurse Line and get the same results I could have gotten from plugging Lucas' symptoms into WebMD.

So basically all I can do is continue to smother Lucas' feet in Vicks (you only put it on his feet because apparently Vicks can cause babies to overheat if you put it on their chests), give him warm baths before bed, run the cool-mist humidifier at bedtime and fill the bathroom with steam and sit in there with him. Which is what I've done for pretty much this whole week. With no visible positive effect. ::Sigh::

I've been fortunate that Dan has been home for the worst of it. When Lucas first started getting sick last Sunday, he only had a little cough and suddenly started sleeping from 8:30 p.m. until 6:30 without waking up. I was a little concerned but glad he was sleeping because I knew he was getting the rest he needed and I knew I was getting the rest I needed. Dan was home from Thursday until last night, and Thursday was when things really started going downhill.

We actually moved Lucas back into our bedroom on Thursday night because we were getting up 100 times a night to put the paci back into Lucas' mouth after he coughed it out. (And by we, I mean Dan, because when Dan is at work I am the one who gets up with Lucas every time, so I lovingly provide the same opportunity for Dan when he doesn't work.) And normally we don't have to get up to put the paci back in for him because he'll usually spit it out but stay asleep, but now he's coughing it out which wakes him up and then he wants it to go back to sleep. In a word, it's been miserable. And now Dan's back to work. I can only pray that Lucas gets his rest tonight, because I know his poor little body needs it.

And the very best news of all is that I have now contracted Lucas' cold. Never let it be said that my little guy doesn't know how to share!

So usually I am not very good at accepting advice, but now I am begging for it. Does anyone have any idea how to help Lucas kick this cold? (And that's what I really want to do - kick the crap out of this evil, sadistic cold that has taken over his helpless little body.) I am willing to try anything that doesn't include putting medicine in him, which the doctor has explicitly told me not to do. Please help!