Saturday, July 31, 2010

Some Things You Can Count On

Beatrice is 9 months old today! My little booger and I have survived thus far and she is well on her way to being a big girl. During these 9 months, I have learned that there are few constants in parenting. With each new month and milestone, all of the rules seem to change. Once we got the hang of swaddling she started rolling over and the swaddle got tossed. Purees only lasted a month and now she'll only eat table foods. And scooting soon turned into crawling. And the end of me sitting while she is awake. While things keep changing, some things I have realized always remain the same.

1. If you wear white clothing, something will spill on it. This applies to you, the child, or anyone near you wearing white.
2. If you Windex something, it will get licked/touched/smudged. Every time.
3. You are never the sole owner of a drink. Thus, no drink is without chunky, mystery backwash.
4. If you find yourself in the throes of passion, your child will wake up/need a hug/ask for your drink. Children have some sort of sexytime radar and only use it for evil.
5. If you actually have a chance to sleep in, you won't sleep. You can thank the neighbors mowing their lawn, the garbage truck dropping trash cans in the street, your husband "playing quietly" with the baby downstairs, your mom texting you.
6. If you mop your floor, something will spill. Or get tracked in. Or cat litter will get kicked all over it.
7. If you enter a restaurant, your child will throw a tantrum. This also applies to meal time at your own house. If you are trying to eating anything with an adult, your kid will throw a fit.
8. If you attempt to leave the house in a hurry, your baby will poop.
9. If you only packed 1 paci and you are out in public, it will get thrown on the floor. And your baby will have the biggest tantrum of their life.
10. If you brag to everyone you know that your baby can wave/clap/recite the alphabet, they will sit there and make you look stupid.
11. If you wash your hair, it will rain. This has nothing to do with parenting but I find this to be true.
12. If you attempt to make a list of 10 bullet points, you will come up with 11 and an 11 bullet point list is stupid. So you make another bullet point about bullet points to make your list even.

I'm no expert, but I do have 9 months of parenting under my belt to make such statements with confidence. So live and learn and people. A lot changes on this wild ride, but if you make note of my clever (and accurate) observations, you and your child will make it.

Beatrice says yes you can!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Mean People Suck

People are mean. Mean sounds a little harsh, I'll admit. But it's true. People are really, really mean. I have become more and more aware of how people just aren't nice to each other anymore. No one waves to random strangers walking their dogs, people don't hold doors open for old people or {GASP} women with babies, and if you need the mayo jar on the top shelf that's just out of reach, you're pretty much screwed because no one's gonna help you out. This will probably result with some grocery store shelf scaling and a stern reprimand by the staff because scaling the shelves is dangerous and instead of the clerk offering to get it for you when he sees that you're clearly struggling, he scolds you because PEOPLE ARE MEAN. Or at the very least really inconsiderate.

I don't know that I've ever been flat out mean to a stranger. I'm sure I have been short or maybe a little reticent, but I really strive to be nice and polite and helpful. The whole entertaining angels unaware thing, Hebrews 13:2. But people these days just don't seem to be all that interested in being nice to people they don't know. And I live in a part of the country that is known for its hospitality. It is starting to hurt my feelings. I don't want my daughter growing up in a world where people don't say please and thank you. I don't want her to never have a sense of community with her neighbors. But if the neighbors are stealing the newspaper or won't wave when you check the mail, how will she ever experience that?

And it's not just in real life, I am a member of several online communities and I stay amazed at how many people are mean to internet strangers for petty things like having a difference of opinion. Or how they spell their child's name. Or how they discipline. I watch the news and wonder how someone could stab someone else in the face over their place in line or rear end someone because they failed to signal when changing lanes. Do people really hate each other so badly that they are willing to wreck their car to prove something? This happened to my best friend. We both cried for the person that hit her because he obviously has some issues if ramming his car into hers over a lane of traffic seemed like a rational option. 

When I am faced with deliberate meanness, I always try to remember that I don't know the other person's story. They could've flipped me off for driving the speed limit because they're on their way to the hospital to see a dying friend or something awful. Or they could have just broken up with someone. Realizing that the mean person may have some awful thing they are dealing with helps to not take it so personally.

I don't want to go all prep rally on you and incite a pay it forward type of thing with random acts of kindness, but can we at least smile when the waitress brings extra lemons or nod when the old man coos at your baby? Are we all so callous that we sneer at women with babies who don't walk the cart back to the store in the parking lot because it is 100 degrees and the baby is already loaded in the car seat? This happened to me today. I left my cart in my space because I was at the end of the parking lot and Beatrice was already buckled in. The lady got out of her vehicle to glare and shake her head to let me know that she did not approve of me leaving the cart there. Yes, I know the cart doesn't belong there but women with babies in 100 degree weather have different rules. It's in the Bible. (I kid, I kid). 

We are all called to love one another (John 13:34). So maybe next time the bank teller is rude and tells you she cannot process your three checks because there is a two transaction limit at the drive thru, don't tell her where she can shove that cylinder can thingy, be nice instead. Wave at your neighbors, even if you don't know them. Open doors for old people. Be nice. Okay, maybe this is starting to sound like a prep rally. I'm just gonna own it though. Seriously, don't let the mean people win. Be nice and sweet and polite. It will go well with you. Do it or I'll ram you with my car.

Random Thing of the Day

It's about time he pulls his weight around here.

Sometimes Milk Is Not In the Budget

JD and I have a pretty iron clad budget. There is enough cushion for the unexpected expenses and the occasion splurge, however we never live like the cushion exists. We follow the budget religiously and it has never failed us. Every so often though, we have a few too many unexpected expenses and the cushion gets a little tight. During these times, we get really creative with our resources. Especially meals.

We haven't had milk in the house in four days. I could care less. I hardly ever use milk except for coffee and the occasional bowl of cereal. JD however, drinks the stuff like a five year old boy. He almost prefers it over any other beverage choice in the house. But don't try to take a sip of his milk, he says it tastes like fish if it's shared. So weird. No milk means no cereal, no coffee for JD, no mashed potatoes, no creamy pasta sauces. That's okay though because when we get down to the scary number in our checking account, I get creative.

I think we almost eat better when we're broke. JD is Mr. It's Not A Meal Unless There's Meat On The Plate so I have to carb it up to trick his stomach into feeling like it received a protein laden meal. So we eat lots of potatoes, pasta and bread. You'd think we live during the Irish Potato Famine by all of the things I can make with potatoes. Since we couldn't eat cereal I made blueberry pancakes for breakfast. This morning I made brownies. What? I'm going grocery shopping today, relax. 

We may run out of staples like milk and meat but we never ever run out of toiletries. I am a coupon queen and have mastered the art of stockpiling my cupboards with the necessities. I counted four tubes of toothpaste, eight sticks of deodorant, twelve rolls of toilet paper, and no soap (oops) this morning. And that's just in our bathroom. I have over fifteen boxes of cereal, ten boxes of rice, five brownie mixes, a bazillion canned goods and fifty million granola bars in the pantry. We could really get away with not grocery shopping for another month and live like kings on that stuff if JD would let me. If only we had milk though....

I don't mind a little penny pinching every so often. I think it really strengthens me and not take for granted the things that we do have. Payday is today so we are rich yet again. The first thing JD said to me this morning as I gave him the choice of dry cereal or a brownie for breakfast was "please get some milk today." Babe, I got this. I'm gonna buy so much milk you're gonna mistake our fridge for a dairy farm. It'll be nothing but milk and cookies, milk baths, milk mustaches, milk chocolate and cafe au laits. Until we run out and then it'll be water. From the tap. Because bottled water isn't in the budget either.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Things Seem Unbalanced

When Beatrice was born, JD really stepped up to the plate. I was suffering from the postpartum blues for the first month of her life (not to mention major sleep deprivation) so I was grateful when he took the reigns on the whole baby raising thing. He changed diapers (never poopy ones), gave baths and prepared meals. While I cried and cried. It was great. I still had to nurse and get up a bazillion times a night, but JD was there keeping the kitchen clean and our laundry folded. Then he left for 5.5 months for job training out of state. I maintained everything in our house while he was away. I did what I had to do for our little family and eventually, I fell into a great routine and started enjoying all of my responsibilities. Every once in a while I felt overwhelmed but knew that God doesn't give us more than we can handle. So I pressed on knowing that my husband would be home soon.

When JD returned home I thought, great now I have a helper. I imagined that he would take over Beatrice's bedtime routine and maybe handle a few dirty diapers. My load would be a little lighter so I could have some extra time for me. Oh how naive I was. When he returned, my work load doubled. I barely cooked when he was gone so all of the sudden, I had to meal plan and cook. Every night. I had more laundry, more dirty dishes, more everything. And it's great, it really is. I was so lonely without him I never want to complain about the extra work because it means he's here with me messing everything up. 

I'm at the point now where I am really good at this stay at home mom thing. I meal plan like a chef, my laundry baskets aren't overflowing, my floors are clean. Except for the cat litter, see post below. But it is becoming more and more obvious to me that the work load between the adults in the house is not balanced. While JD occasionally gets Beatrice up in the mornings, he still calls me when she poops so really it's not all that helpful. It's the thought that counts though, right? I make our coffee, all of our meals, I make our bed, I clean, I pay the bills, I run errands, I make appointments, I shop, I do most of the household chores. And while I don't take for granted that JD is the sole provider and without his efforts at work we would ultimately starve and be homeless, it is becoming more apparent that I do a whole lot more at home than he does.

I find myself saying things like "put your feet up and rest honey" or "go take a nap," "sleep in" to him. But I never take naps, sleep in or really stop until bedtime. Isn't this kind of the way that it is though? Don't most wives/moms carry the majority of the household chores while the men relax? It's like men get to be relieved for the day once they get home from work but women, no matter if they work outside the home or not are on until bedtime. I remember my mom folding laundry while we watched TV with my dad. She was washing the dinner dishes while we played games. She cleaned while we fished. We played, she worked. Always.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. Just observing. I love my life and love having a husband to cook for and clean up after. He said the best thing to me the other day. "I really appreciate everything you do for us and I am aware that you do 99% of the work in this house." Honestly, all I needed was for him to know that I do it all. He never has to thank me or remind me of how hard I work because knowing that he knows is enough. I really do relish in my role as housewife. Even if it means endless work and little thanks.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This Means War

I am at war in my own house. War against cat litter. I vacuum every day. Every single day. No matter how hard I try to keep the floors clean, my cat continues to kick litter outside of his box. And there is nothing worse than walking barefoot on grainy floors. Oh wait, an infant crawling around on grainy floors is worse. Awesome. I can handle many disgusting things but cat litter grains on my hardwood is the bane of my existence and I rue the day that I opened my home to that litter kicking furry beast. Or at least acquired a pet that called for a box to hold its feces. Because who doesn't love feces boxes? It's my decorating scheme.

So I vacuum. And vacuum and vacuum. And my floors stay clean for about 5 minutes because that's how long it takes the cat to muster enough courage to emerge from his hiding spot and go kick some more litter onto the floor. Our floor plan doesn't allow for the cat's box to be anywhere but where it is so I have learned to deal with it by vacuuming a lot. And ruing the day. Then a little extra vacuuming. And I round everything out with some more vacuuming. And finally, I vacuum to finalize the vacuuming.

Oh and to make matters worse, Beatrice ate cat food today. And liked it. As if worrying about my floors weren't enough now I have to divert my baby's attention away from the cat's uber expensive special dietary food. Honestly, the first thing I thought when I discovered that she ate it was how we can't afford to buy more $40 a bag cat food if Beatrice continues to eat it. Not, "oh how gross, cat food is not good for babies." I'm pretty sure that's not a normal reaction but now you realize the full extent this whole cat litter thing has played on me. I'm not well.

JD's made it pretty clear that the cat is here to stay and suggested that maybe I need to vacuum twice a day. You know, to give him more opportunities to kick some litter on the floor. I will continue to wage war on a losing battle but I don't care. I cannot live like this. The cat is so freaked out with all of the vacuuming that I do feel small victories every time he darts under a curtain to take cover. But then he goes to the litter box to kick litter so I guess the joke's on me.

Random Thing of the Day

JD looks like the Yellow Wiggle.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Random Thing of the Day

Is it me or does anyone else get a little uneasy when the spin instructor is in worse shape than anyone else in the class? I'm just saying....

My Buddy

I had a play date today with some other stay at home moms and their babies. There was almost too much cuteness in one room to handle, but somehow we made it through without any spontaneous combustions. Because that's what happens when too much cuteness is packed into one room, in case you're wondering. The babies played (and pulled hair bows) while the mamas talked. It was a good time.

I love days like today. I think I just love a change of pace. While staying home all day with Beatrice is such a blessing, it can also be really boring. Our routine is pretty much, well, routine. Each day kind of feels like the day before. But I have never felt like I needed a break from her or my life. Maybe like a 30 minute break to relax and check my emails but that's what naps are for. My new mommy friends feel the same way. As tiring as it is to be with your baby all day, we really wouldn't want it any other way.

That got me thinking about how there are basically two different types of moms. The type that takes time for herself outside the home and the type that never leaves the house without the kids. Or something like that. I guess I'm more of the latter. It's not that I don't want to leave sometimes, I just really don't have anywhere to go without my goobie. Everyone keeps telling me to feel free to drop her off if I need a break, but I honestly never feel like that. Ever. And the times that I do leave her for a hair appointment, I miss her like crazy and hope that she's not doing anything cute without me. She's my little friend, my sidekick. The peanut butter to my jelly. The milk to my cookies. Actually I'm probably more the milk but you get my point. She's my buddy and I never want to leave her. And meeting mommy friends that are like this too make me feel a little bit more normal.

All I heard when Beatrice was born was to take the help when offered. I never took it. And even though I didn't have a clue what I was doing, I still didn't want the help. I wanted to be a first time mommy and learn things the hard way just like everyone else. Not that I didn't want advice, prayers and support. I just didn't want someone to come over and help me do it. Maybe it was stubbornness, maybe it was pride. I think it was more of my desire to blaze my own trail and have the battle wounds to prove that I did this: I raised a baby. I wanted the experience of being a mom for the first time to be all mine. And as she continues to grow (along with my confidence in the job that I am doing), I never feel the need to be relieved from her.

Sometimes I envy the moms that go on romantic getaways with their husbands. But I know that we would hate being away from her and the getaway wouldn't be all that romantic. She is only little once and I don't want to miss a moment. So for the rest of her life now, she goes with me. And if I ever need a change of pace, I will just do the same thing we always do at someone else's house.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Random Thing of the Day

JD and I are addicted to crime TV shows. We watch all of those Datelines that relay stories of spouses murdering each other over life insurance policies. What baffles us is how the 100 lb petite woman can dispose of her 200 lb husband's lifeless body all by herself. After watching several of these shows in a row one night, we thought we'd try it. He laid limp on the floor while I tried to drag and move him. I couldn't move him an inch. So we switched and I laid on the floor....he flung me over his shoulder and carried me upstairs in mere seconds. I'm screwed. For this reason, if either of us mentions life insurance we both get very suspicious.

Operation M.I.L.D.

I have been complaining for oh say, 9 months now about how I'm going to get back in shape and tighten up what is now so very, very loose. Well this morning with a lot of coaxing from JD, I drug my loose behind out of bed and went to the gym. Before 8:30. I only lasted 40 minutes but Operation M.I.L.D. has commenced. M.I.L.D. is like M.I.L.F without the explicative. And because I haven't worked out in over a year, I will be doing it mildly. 

It actually wasn't so bad. The gym wasn't the usual muscle show it is during the afternoon when no one is really working out but just standing there flexing and posing. That's when the pretty people go. 8am is more my style. There were maybe 3 guys working out with trainers but mostly the gym was full of moms like me with messy ponytails, no makeup, and loose behinds. Except for the girl on the Stairmaster in front of me, wench. 

It was really nice going early and coming home to a baby fed and ready to nap. By the time she was down, I had worked out, showered, changed our sheets, swept, and now I am doing this. But honestly, I really only went to get JD off of my back. You see, every time I go into my closet and try something on that doesn't fit properly or makes me feel like a wannabe M.I.L.D., he says "go to the gym." Not in a nagging your-postpartum-body-disgusts-me kind of way. Just a I'm-getting-sick-of-hearing-you-complain-get-up-and-do-something-about-it way. And he's right. I just needed to get up and do something. 

So this morning I did. When I came home he asked if I felt all discouraged and bad about myself. Ummm, no. But now I know how he feels about my physique. I actually felt pumped and excited that I can and will do something. It was probably just the endorphins talking, but whatever. Beatrice was alive and well and eating pancakes with half of her diaper unattached when I returned, but alive nonetheless. So I guess I will be working out now. No more excuses. JD will have his M.I.L.D. after all. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Random Thing of the Day

When I vacuum, I always feel like someone is going to grab me from behind. I constantly look over my shoulder and purposefully maneuver my machine so that I am never facing a corner. Yes, I realize this borders on paranoia. But I never want to find myself cornered by a shadowy figure with only a vacuum in my hands. Today's Random Thing of the Day: consider strategically vacuuming your house so you never find yourself cornered with this guy:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Forever 21 Made Me Feel Like A Loser

We took a family shopping trip last weekend. JD had to get some new work clothes and I decided to tag along for one reason: he lets me buy stuff. We ended up in Forever 21. This is not my favorite store. In fact, I only go in because my friends shop there and always find adorable outfits for CHEAP. I am more of an Anthropologie and J. Crew kind of a girl. But anyway, there we were, in Forever 21 with a bazillion 20 year olds with perfect bodies and their fabulous senses of style.

Before I go on, let me paint you a picture. Almost every week day I wear shorts and a tank top. I always wear makeup but I only fix my hair a few times a week. Beatrice and I don't go very many places that require a more stylish wardrobe. When I walked into Forever 21 last weekend, I was wearing jorts (not the nerdy ones from junior high, the cute bermuda length ones from the Gap), a tank top with my inch wide nursing bra straps peeking out (sexy), flip flops and my 4 day old dirty hair pulled back in a ponytail. I instantly felt self-conscious when the girls in front of us had on the tightest, shortest gym clothes with full hair and makeup. Then I became self-conscious of the way I look at the gym. I never wear makeup and never, ever fix my hair. Here I was, in my mom-iform pushing a stroller with my husband following behind ready to hold my purse. I did not belong in that store.

I looked through the tanks and tops and found some cute stuff but realized that I either A) had nowhere to wear them and B) didn't know how to wear them in an outfit. I spent all last year pregnant and all of this year nursing and getting my body back. I have not put an outfit together in almost 2 years and quite frankly, I don't know how anymore. I want to be stylish and look put together, even if it's just for JD. I'm 28 years old for goodness sake. I'm not ready for mom jeans and mock turtlenecks.

I ended up leaving Forever 21 and going into Baby Gap. Beatrice got several new outfits and honestly, at this point in my life dressing her up is more fun than dressing myself. But I'm not ready to give up. I am going to make more of an effort to be stylish and put some outfits together. I may not be forever 21, but I refuse to be Cold Water Creek before my time.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Random Thing of the Day

On any given day, I ponder world peace, cow digestion, the formation of icicles on mountain sides, and about a million other totally random topics. So I decided to start Random Thing of the Day. And if you're like me and have totally random things that you would like to share that may not warrant a full post, then by all means join in on the fun and post your own Random Thing of the Day. Here, take this badge and spread the fun. 
Aly's Bloggity Blog

Today's Random Thing(s) of the Day are these plush pee and poo toys. Here I was trying to get Beatrice to leave her diaper contents alone when these dolls encourage cuddling the pee and poo. If you're weird and actually want to buy these items, do so here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Safety First

Our cat, Heathcliff Ferdinand, AKA Diddle, has had to sacrifice a lot since we had Beatrice. Because of this, he has to sleep in the bathroom at night. We no longer play hide and seek every day and he's lucky to get a wadded up receipt "paper ball" to play with let alone any real cat toys tossed his way. We pet him at best twice a day and Beatrice chases him relentlessly. His life basically sucks.

When he was little, we commissioned a handyman friend to build the Tower of Power:

It's a 6 foot wooden monstrosity with multiple levels for ultimate climbing fun. He loves it. Well, he used to love it. We had to give it to my brother and sister in law because of this:

That's my child playing near the Tower of Baby Danger Power. Don't worry, being the subpar cat parents that we are, we replaced it with this:

We like to call this the Mountain of Mediocrity. It's lightweight, low to the ground and he hates it. He has had nothing to do with it since the Tower of Power has been evicted. I feel bad for him, but that mammoth of a cat perch was too much of a hazard for our human baby. I'm sure he understands.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ode to JD

Every time JD reads the blog, he gets all pouty and accuses me of making him out to be a douche. He thinks that all of the cute stories and funny little jabs I give at his expense make him look bad. He's joking (I think), but I promised him I would write a post dedicated to him solely. And not make him look like a douche. How can I put into words the way that I feel about my husband? I know, a rhyming poem.

Oh wise husband, who is more brave?
Who slays bears that live in the cave?
Who gives joy to my loins like no other?
Who gave me seed and made me a mother?
Who is my friend, my provider, my boo?
It's you JD, that's who.

How's that honey? What? You think I still made you look like a douche and I used the word loins? Ah crap. The thing is, I can't write about JD and not use humor. He's my muse. He is funny. We laugh a lot in our house. We laugh when things are tough, we laugh when we are tired, we laugh at nothing and we laugh at each other. Portraying him as my jester on the blog comes naturally to me.

I guess if I had to give it a serious try, I would write about how he is very sensitive and tenderhearted about sad stuff. I would write about how he listens intently at church and talks about sermons and God on the way home. I would write about how he is interested in every detail of our daughter's life from the milestones to the doctor's appointments to the frequency of her naps and nursing sessions. He is involved with a capital I. I would write about how he insists I put my computer down and cuddle on the couch when Beatrice goes down. I would write about how hard he works. I would write about how he loves and respects me. I would write about how he lets me be a stay at home mom. I would write about how he will do anything at least once if it will make me laugh to the point of almost peeing my pants. Best game evah. I would write about how he is always up for a trip or doing something fun together. I would write about how he is a man of his word. I would write about how I would worship the ground that he walks on if I were a heathen and worshiped the ground. I would write about how he still gives me butterflies when he walks in the door/holds my hand/kisses me.

But since I can't write about him like that, I will just say that JD is not a douche. There honey, that's the best that I can do. After all, you are my douchey.

Electronics, Part Deux

$80 and a new power cord later, my battery is now charging again. Moral of the story: don't let the baby suck on the electronics.


My life has changed drastically since Beatrice become mobile. Gone are the days of lying her on a blanket in the living room while I pay bills/prepare dinner/go to the bathroom. As soon as she hits the floor, she is off like a little tiny wind up doll or baby robot. She moves like a walking horse because her arms never bend when she crawls. Instead they go up down up down with rigid motion. She's bumped her head a few times on the furniture but the items that are worse for wear since she became a little explorer: the electronics.

This kid can have the pick of any toy in the house and she bypasses them all for the remotes/plugs/laptops/cell phones/DVD player/etc. It's hard enough trying to figure out how to turn on the TV with the 3 remotes required without having Beatrice change all of the settings when she pushes every button. She's smart too. We gave her my old disconnected Blackberry (because she wants nothing to do with toy phones) and she somehow called the Verizon directory through the bluetooth in my car. The battery has since been removed. Yesterday I caught her sucking on the power cord for my MacBook and discovered today that it no longer works. JD was all freaked out about her sucking the PLUGGED IN power cord so I sucked on it to prove that nothing happens.....that thing shocked the heck out of my tongue. Beatrice was going to town on it without a mere flinch. What is wrong with my baby??? So today I have to take my computer to the doctor and hopefully find out it just needs a hard reboot or something cheap easy. 

It's not like we let her play with the electronics. She is just so darn fast and throws a fit for the stuff. I don't know what the solution is but I hope to figure it out before all of our stuff is slobbered to death.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Had A Dream

I feel weird today. I had a dream that a female coworker of JD's sent him a provocative text message that I intercepted. I spent the majority of the dream playing detective to find out if anything was going on between the two of them and ultimately, told the hussy to back up off my man. Then I made out with the Ice Truck Killer . The dream rounded out with us attending a coupon seminar in wine country. Normal, right? So, needless to say, I am feeling a little weird today.

I hate how a dream can taint your whole day. If I have a bad dream, I spend a good part of the day trying to shake it off and convince myself that it's not real and has no place in my life. Who really wants to spend a day feeling like their husband is receiving boob text messages anyway? But the thing about dreams is, even the ridiculous ones can seem awfully real.

The even weirder thing about dreams is trying to figure out where they came from. Do I subconsciously really want to visit a nudist colony with my dead father (I had this dream right after he passed and after fighting back the barf, I made every effort to never think of him right before bed again. Ick). Do I really want to cheat on JD with my brother? Please tell me I'm not the only one who dreams sick things like this. Please. Pretty please? If dreams are really our subconscious' way of relaying what we really want/need/are saying, then what the heck is wrong with me?

I have a friend that analyzes every dream she has. She looks up the dream and calls a board meeting of friends to debate the meaning and discuss the possibilities of its relevance in her life. I think this is silly. Yes, I think dreams can be a very poignant way of speaking to a person, however dreaming about finding movie tickets in your purse does not clearly mean you will marry a missionary and live in a big house. Not to me anyway. I have only had three dreams in my life that shook me to my core where I woke up knowing that it was a message/warning from God Himself. Usually when I'm doing something really bad. But the Ice Truck Killer? What's the message from him? If you watch Dexter and know the story, I'm sure his presence in my dream has something to do with my feelings of abandonment from when my mother was massacred by drug lords during my childhood. Oh wait, that didn't happen. See, dreams are just a big, stupid mind trip that make you wonder what the heck is wrong with you. 

It's 3 o'clock and I'm just now feeling back to normal about the dream. I'm done stalking JD's facebook and cell phone records to see if Slutty McSlutterson has left any incriminating evidence of tawdry behavior. What? That's how I roll. See. Dreams are the mind's way to make you feel really messed up and ruin half of a perfectly good day. I can't wait for tonight!

Man of the Year

Friday Night

Me: Honey, you should get up with Beatrice in the morning and let me sleep in.
JD: ----

Saturday Morning

Beatrice: Hey, ahhhhhhh, dadadada, bababa, ah!
Me: I'm going to feed her but don't forget about our deal, okay?
JD: It's only a deal if we both agree to it.

He ended up getting up with her and playing so I could sleep for 2 more hours. But for the rest of the day he bragged and gloated like he was Man of the Year for doing it. At this point, I'm not sure that those 2 extra hours were worth hearing, "honey can you make me a sandwich/get the remote/mow the yard/conquer the world, I got up with Beatrice for you after all?"

Friday, July 16, 2010

I'm Coming Out

I am different. I always knew this about myself but I never really embraced it until the last few years. I was raised going to church every time the doors were open. Our family was there a minimum of 3 times a week. We went to private Christian school and all of our friends were raised by parents like ours. We never celebrated Halloween, the Easter bunny never left a basket and Christmas was about Jesus, not Santa. We prayed when we got sick, we prayed when there was a financial need, we prayed for everything. God was as real to me as the grass was. Still is. I have never doubted or questioned His existence because my parents never gave us the opportunity to. Growing up, He was the center of our lives and we lived to honor and obey His Word. My parents treated every situation as an opportunity to teach us what the Word says and how to please God with our actions. And I mean every single one. Seriously.

I am also naive. I thought everyone grew up like this. And if they didn't grow up as immersed in God as I did, they at least believed in Him. My mind could not grapple with the idea that some people did not believe in Him and hold His Word as the ultimate authority in their lives. When we moved out of state during my 7th grade year, my parents sent us to public school. I was terrified. I had never heard a curse word in my life, never knew any one's parents to drink alcohol, and never ever in all my 13 years encountered a kid who talked back to authority. I quickly learned that in order to survive (according to my immature calculations), I had to become like them. 

The only problem with becoming like them was that my parents wouldn't allow it. So I rode the fence with my rebellion. I talked a mean game at school but as soon as I was home or with my church friends, I was angelic and God-fearing. I kid. I have never been angelic in my life. The older that I got and the more that I recognized how different we were from everyone else, I started to resent my upbringing.
Just to be clear, by them I mean kids who did not go to church regularly and by different I mean we were expected to live IN the world but not be OF the world (John 15:19-20). I wasn't allowed to date very often because my dad thought that everyone was having sex. We couldn't spend the night at friends' houses if my parents knew that their parents drank alcohol. We couldn't watch movies with bad language, nudity, or a rebellious message, etc. Basically, our lives were very censored in efforts to keep us from the world. And by world, I mean sin. 

I just wanted to be like everyone else. Or at least not as different as everyone else. I wanted to have a "normal" teenagehood with dates and parties and opportunities for fun without the knowledge that those situations had the possibility of leading me down a path that didn't honor God. I wanted to worry about God when I was grown up, not when I was a teenager.

I spent the next couple of years out of my parents house following my own path and trying to figure out who I wanted to be. It took some really bad decisions that eventually led me back to living a God-pleasing life. I started to own my faith instead of just obeying what my parents told me to do. I studied my Bible like never before, I found my own church (and eventually made it back to my parents' church), I walked the walk. Being different no longer mattered to me. I embraced it because I finally understood that God's way is better than the world's way. And the cool thing is, I met people who were like-minded so being different wasn't as lonely.

I don't know where all of this is coming from. I suppose my heart has been heavy for the world and I have been reflecting on my view of it. And I have spent too much time covering up how I was brought up for fear of freaking people out over how differently I was raised to think, act and interact with the world. But I'm tired of trying to hide it. If believing in God and taking Him at His Word (in His Word) makes me a freak, then I will proudly fly my freak flag. This is who I am: a Christ follower who believes in a living God that still works in the world and speaks to His people. There. Feels good to get that off of my chest.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Pool

JD and I are semi-professional people watchers. We love having a long layover while traveling so we can sit back and watch the people in the airport. But if people watching is your thing, there is no primer spot than at the neighborhood pool. Oh. Emm. Gee. There are so many wondrous things to see at the pool. Things that are uncouth, at the very least, anywhere else. Perhaps even a little illegal.

I take Beatrice and my younger brother to my in-law's pool about twice a week. While it is exhausting lugging a baby, floats, towels, snacks and toys each trip, I never tire of watching the people. People are much more uninhibited at the pool. Everyone is half naked, letting body parts see the light of day that are typically hidden under mock turtlenecks (my favorite) or denim jumpers. Like the two ladies pushing 60 that wore matching monokinis today. These ladies looked pretty good, however their swimsuits were way too big (maybe an attempt to be modest?). Instead of working those monokinis, their suits hung off of their rears and the piece in the front that connects the top to the bottom was so loose, it flapped with every step. But those grandmas were oblivious of their droopy drawers and totally confident. That kind of confidence only comes out at the pool. I so wish I took a picture.....

Imagine this but with your grandma wearing it. And yes, that's my body. 

And then there are the teenagers that grope and straddle each other in the deep end. Every time we go, they are at the 5 ft marker with their bodies tangled up, touching and kissing. I don't like public displays of affection but I cannot stop watching. It is like a train wreck. I don't really want to see what happens next, but I can't stop staring at them.

There are the mean mommies that yell and beat their children poolside. There is the old guy whose skin resembles a leather football and never moves out of his chair. JD and I joke that he's dead. It's not funny, I know. We are sick. But he's so old and he never, ever moves. There's the guy that I know from high school that is so obviously using steroids. He looks like a tiny Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then there are the kids. Oh this is my favorite part about the pool; watching the kids play. Big kids doing cannonballs, little kids taking off their swimsuits and peeing in the grass. The pool is just a big ol' bowl of inappropriateness. And I love it.

People watching just doesn't get better than this.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Who Knew?

I did something that I said I would never do yesterday. I went against all of my principles and convictions on a subject that I'm pretty passionate about. I bought cheap toilet paper.

No matter what our financial situation has been, I have always bought the thick, soft, super expensive Charmin 12 pack. The stuff is around $10 a package but totally worth it. You can't put a price on good TP. Since becoming a single income family, I have become a coupon guru shopping only the sales and never, ever paying full price. Except when it came to TP.  But I have grown accustomed to paying $.13 for toothpaste and getting most of my pantry staples for free with couponing, so paying $10 every week felt like I was flushing money down the toilet every time I bought TP. And I was. Literally. Until I bought the 12 pack of Cottonelle for $4. Not only is it soft and durable (characteristics you should look for when purchasing TP), we have tons of it so I can use it liberally. I used the Charmin like the roll had to last us the entire month. 3 squares at a time. Never more. Never. 

I feel liberated, like I have been set free from the confines of toilet paper snobbery. I have gone outside the box and it feels good. Not at all scratchy or sand-papery. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blind Date

My best friend is going on a blind date tonight. She is dreading it, as she should. While the dating world has many opportunities for fun, blind dates are typically the lamest thing ever.

I get why blind dates are necessary. So and so knows someone who is just perfect for you and often times the only way to "meet" them is on the phone, then the dreaded face to face meeting is set up. You don't really want to go because blind dates are so lame but you don't want to miss out on possibly meeting your soulmate, so you go. And because so and so is your friend/aunt/co-worker/acquaintance, there is all of this pressure to like the person they set you up with. After all, they are perfect for you. So you go and meet the guy and he's not exactly what you pictured, but he's nice enough so you can work with it. Nervous pleasantries substitute real conversation and by the end of the date, you feel like you just walked off of a job interview instead of really getting to know someone. Then there's the awkwardness of saying goodbye. Do you hug, shake, offer to see them again? You don't really know what you want since you spent the last hour and a half making small talk with someone you never really pictured yourself with anyway. But he wasn't that bad and you don't want to end up alone, so you kind of make loose plans to maybe check out a movie the next week. Not that my best friend's date will be anything like that. I'm sure it will be lovely. 

I do not miss dating. I miss the excitement of going somewhere fancy with the person you're crazy about while dreaming about all of the possibilities of a life shared, but I don't miss the dating world. It's rough out there and I know my friend will find her way like I did. I just hope that she navigates with minimal blind dates. If not, I'm sure I know someone who is perfect for her. No pressure though...

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Dark

I have suffered from insomnia for most of my adult life and parts of my childhood. There is nothing worse than being tired but unable to sleep and knowing that in x amount of hours, you have to get up and go to work/go to school/face the day. I would typically lie in bed and check the clock every so often, doing the math in my head. "If I fall asleep right now, I will get 5 hours and be able to semi-function." And when the possible hours of sleep reduced into minutes, I would beg God to put me to sleep and let me feel rested, even if I wasn't. This has gone on for years and because of it, I started hating nighttime long ago.

Pregnancy was a wondrous time for me and my body. I never slept so hard than in the first 7 months while carrying Beatrice. I could sleep on the couch, I could sleep in the car (not driving, of course), I could sleep pretty much anywhere. And then go to bed and sleep some more. It was great. But sometime during the last 2 months, I couldn't sleep anymore. It was a combination of having to pee every 2 hours and being so big and uncomfortable that my body just couldn't settle down. My sister in law swears it's God's way of preparing you for getting up with a newborn every 2 hours. I kinda wished God just let me sleep those last 2 months and let me deal with being up all night once I had the baby, but whatever. I started dreading the night once the dark settled in because I knew that I would be spending it lying in bed, not sleeping. I have to admit, the insomnia has provided for some great opportunities for thinking though. I have often thought my best thoughts in the middle of the night. 

Once Beatrice was born, I really got acquainted with the dark. For several days, she had her days and nights mixed up so JD and I spent a lot of time bumping around in the dark feeding, changing and singing. And sometimes crying. As she got older and started sleeping better, I still dreaded the night. I never knew how much sleep we would get (or not get) and the looming darkness was a constant reminder that our lives were different and that we would be very tired. Eventually, the 3 nighttime feedings became 2, and then I was only getting up once before morning. I would sit in the dark of the nursery with the glow of the nightlight thinking my thoughts. I would size up the day and decide what worked for us and what I failed at. I would often cry and think that I would never get used to caring for someone all day and in the middle of the night, and that I must be a horrible mother to think like this.

Beatrice has been sleeping through the night for many months now. I am usually so exhausted by bedtime that insomnia is not a problem anymore and I can fall asleep within minutes. But last night around midnight as I rocked Beatrice back to sleep (she must've had a nightmare because she woke up screaming), I realized that I became a mother somewhere in the dark hours of our house. I have learned to put aside my selfishness in the dark. I have learned to nurture in the dark. I have learned to nurse and change diapers in the dark. I have learned to pray for my daughter's future in the dark. And my marriage. People say some stupid stuff in the middle of the night when a baby is crying and no one can figure out why or how to make it stop. While the dark has been a lonely place for me for most of my life, I realized last night that God taught me how to be a mother while everyone else has been sleeping.

I have very few moments like last night with Beatrice anymore. And as frustrating as it was (it took an hour to get her back down after lots of crying and rocking), I know that sometimes being up in the middle of the night is apart of the gig when you're a parent. Knowing that you have the ability to calm a bad dream or help a baby fall back asleep is a powerful thing. While the dark of night has been an isolated and exhausting place for me, it has also been a place of learning and triumph. Somewhere during these dark nights, I became a mother.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Attack of the Goose Down Feathers

Almost everything in our house that we sit down on or lie down on has down feather stuffing. While this provides maximum plushness and comfort, it drives JD crazy. The couch is so soft that you sink into it, the down comforter is way too hot in the summer and the down feather bed mattress cover thingy gets all bunched and caddy-wombus on the bed. But more than the uber comfy-ness everywhere, the feathers prick. JD has been begging me to remove the feather bed because he is sick of having feathers stick him in the legs, back and well, loins. I'm gonna be in so much trouble for saying loins on the internet. JD hates the word. I love it and say it quite a lot. "Beatrice is the fruit of our loins." "My loins burn for you...." "We are having pork loin for dinner." Wait, that's not the same? Oh, never mind. Loins, loins, loins. There, I had to get it out of my system because I probably won't be typing L-O-I-N-S again for awhile. 

Anyway, there are feathers poking us every time we sit or sleep and there really isn't much of a reason to put up with it anymore. So today I changed our sheets and removed the feather bed. Holy feathers sticking in our mattress Batman! There were about a hundred tiny goose feathers stuck in our mattress that had to be removed. It took me about 30 minutes to carefully pluck each one out and I am still finding them flying around our house. But they are gone and the feather bed is piled into the corner until we figure out if we can handle a bed without bird feathers embracing us. I have a bad feeling that JD will love the support of a firm mattress and make me get rid of all of our cloud-like furniture. It may actually cut down on allergies though. With that many feathers in our house, it's a wonder we all aren't sneezing.

As long as his loins are happy, I'm happy. I. Am. In. So. Much. Trouble.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

End Times Phone

I have a Motorola Droid. It can do everything. Well, almost everything. When I told my mom that it has the capabilities to track the exact location of other people with a cell phone, she said that I had an end times phone. I told her that every cell phone has GPS capabilities that can be disabled at the owner's discretion. She's not convinced.

While my phone cannot predict the 2nd coming of Christ (only God knows that. Matthew 24:36), it can suggest the perfect beer to complement your meal, become a tool to hang your artwork perfectly level on your wall, teach you how to perform CPR on your child, track your steps, find the nearest Starbucks (or 5 bucks as JD likes to call it) wherever you are in the world, teach you spanish, warn you of speed traps in your area, and about a bazillion other useful and not-so-useful things. Most importantly, it can entertain Beatrice for hours with animal sounds, bubbles, coloring, and sing-alongs all while the phone is safely in lock mode. Oh, and it can place calls. Basically, it is the most awesome phone in the world. Yes, even more awesome than the iPhone. ::Ducks for cover::

I had a Blackberry for years until JD convinced me that Droids were the best thing out there. I was reluctant at first when during the first week, I couldn't figure out how to place/answer a call on the darn thing. But I learned and found out that he was right. Yes honey, I said that and it's in black and white for the whole world to see. Don't gloat. The phone is freaking awesome and I typically spend more time on its browser than I do on my 2nd most awesome piece of technology ever: my MacBook. So what does he want now that he has turned me from my loyalty to my beloved Blackberry? To get rid of his Droid and go back to a simpler phone, like a Blackberry. I love that a Blackberry has become a simpler phone once you experience a Droid's awesomeness. 

This is the most annoying thing about my husband: he convinces me that we need to get the best phone/camera/computer out there and after a few months, decides that he wants a Blackberry/Polaroid/PC. The annoying thing is not that he changes his mind. No, it's the fact that we always lose money when he decides he wants to go back to a simpler form of technology. "I just don't use all of the stuff like you do," he says, as if this is a perfectly good reason to get rid of whatever he doesn't use. Being the submissive wife that I am, I never make him keep whatever it is he wants to downgrade. I just ask that he sells it for the cost of the replacement item. And since he always decides that he needs less technology, we always lose money because PCs cost less than MacBooks and Blackberries cost less than Droids. Sigh.

We are trying to convince my mom to trade her new Blackberry for his Droid. I downloaded the Bible app on it in effort to prove that it has no relation to the mark of the beast or other end times signs and wonders. She has not made up her mind yet but I think she will come around. After all, it's just a phone. Or is it? ::Insert maniacal laugh here::

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Miss Sleep

Beatrice has this new habit of waking up really early nowadays. Every morning this week she has been up around 6:15 am. Any time before 7 is early in our house. I've tried everything to convince her to go back to sleep or at least play silently quietly in her crib until 7 so Mommy can get her required 8 hours. So far, she has not heeded my warning suggestion and continues to wake up a few minutes earlier each day just to stick it to me.

JD and I are sleepers. Most of our pre-baby memories involve lots of sleep. Like, sleep-until-noon-on-weekends-sleep. For fun, we like to go to bed early and get an extra hour or 2. Sleep is good and we thrive on getting lots of it. We were not prepared for getting 2 hour increments (at best) once Beatrice was born. And when that reality slapped us in the face, instead of working out a fair sleep-catch-up schedule where we took shifts getting some shut-eye, we selfishly took on the mantra of every man for himself. Since I nurse, I usually got screwed with this deal. I had so much difficulty nursing her in the beginning that I always woke JD up and made him help me, hehehe. For about a month, we walked around walking into walls and living off of buckets of coffee just to keep our eyes open. I don't just like sleep, I really need 8 hours to feel human. 7 at the least. Anything less than that makes me feel dead.

The stupid thing is we never took naps during the day. We were dead set on getting back to our regular sleep pattern that any deviation felt like steps backwards. This is our biggest parenting fail: we continue to ignore the fact that our lives are drastically different since having a baby. Slowly but surely though, Beatrice started sleeping longer stretches at night and much to our delight, we were too. 5 hours turned into 7 hours, 7 turned into 10, and finally she slept for 12 solid hours. I'm not gonna lie, I prayed for this. Somewhere during that first month I pleaded with God to make her sleep. I told Him I didn't know what kind of mother I would be without good, quality rest. For the last several months, sleep has made a welcomed return to our house.

Until this week. Now I'm getting less than my required 8 hours and I am feeling it. Tonight, we are going to bed early. Hopefully Beatrice will take my cue and sleep until 7 like a good baby girl. Otherwise I might be forced to accept the fact that life is now different and my beloved sleep is but a fleeting memory. I'm not ready, I'm not ready!!!!

Beatrice is spooning me after I brought her into our bed this morning to nurse and attempt to get her back to sleep. We never went back to sleep, but I did get a baby spoon. Win for me!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Overprotective Parent

My dad was the kind of guy that took us fishing in alligator infested, snake-filled waters. We would climb into his rickety old john boat with approximately 25 plugged leak holes and paddle out sans life jackets to the perfect spot. If we happened to have the inconvenient burden of having to pee, Dad would hold us over the alligator/snake infested water so that we could do our business. Really quietly though, as we did not want to scare the fish. I cannot speak for my brothers but as I got older, I learned to just hold it and pee at the gas station on the ride home, without seat belts of course. And sometimes Dad let us ride in his lap and steer. Hi mom! 

Dad was really good at helping us get over our fear of large, menacing dogs by making us pet them. "They can smell your fear, Alyson. Hold your ground and show them that you are in charge." And his advice if said vicious dogs tried to attack us: punch them in the face. Yep, punch them in the face. Umm, I was 6 and I'm pretty sure that any dog bigger than me left me paralyzed with fear. But more importantly, if my scrawny little fist tried to punch anything I would be in more trouble with the dog to begin with. Okay, maybe it was a cocker spaniel. But it was known for biting and that is really scary for a kid.
Note: the only time I knew of my dad punching a dog in the face was when he was running and a Chow attacked him. That dog was going for the jugular and he had to get it off of him. We didn't go around beating up dogs. We are huge animal lovers, rest assured. 

My dad didn't have the eye for potentially dangerous situations like my mom did. He was more of the adventurous parent. If there was something that we were afraid of, dad saw it as an opportunity to teach us how to overcome that fear with little regard for the possible dangers involved. At least that is what I can gather from times when he brought an alligator home and kept it in our back yard and encouraged us to pet it. I thought all dads were like mine. While moms have eyes in the back of their heads, every dad I knew only had 2 in the front and they were typically watching the game instead of the children. So naturally I assumed that JD would be like my dad. Oh how wrong I was. 

JD is super overprotective of Beatrice. He makes sure the soft cooked carrot dices I prepare for her are quartered and given 1 at a time before she is allowed to consume them. He even cuts Puffs and Cheerios in half. He flenches every time she ventures onto the hardwood as she may crack her skull open. He inspected the crib to ensure there were no suffocation hazards. We ended up removing the bumpers then reinstalling them because we couldn't decide which was worse: broken legs from her getting them stuck in between the slats or burying her face in soft, pillowy padding. Sometimes he follows me up and down the stairs when I am carrying her and it makes me think that he is there in case I trip and fall with her....

Actually, it is kind of nice that he is so cautious with her because I am not. I mean I am, just not to the degree that he is. I am more of my dad with her. When she goes for the tiny piece of something under the chair, I cheer her on because she is discovering new things. But later when I realize it was a cat litter nugget (eww eww eww), I wish I was more like JD. I am not concerned about her bonking her head when she crawls under the ottoman. I think it is good for her to figure out how to get out from under it. She usually just cries and I pick her up, but 1 day she will figure it out. I'm certain. I guess I like to let her explore at her own pace and not give her as many boundaries as JD does. This drives him crazy. I think we are a good team though and we really do appreciate the other's parenting style. I think he is glad that I am more apt to let her try things for the first time (with lots of supervision) because he is not. He still likes to feed her halved Puffs instead of letting her do it herself. 

My sweet dad died 10 years ago so there is no threat of alligator wrangling fishing trips without life jackets or introducing her into a canine fight club in the near future. But if he were here, he'd get a kick out of watching her explore on her own terms. With mediocre supervision of course.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Reality Check

I think I have body dysmorphic disorder. You know, the disorder where an 80 lb person sees themselves in the mirror as a 380 lb person. Except mine is backwards. I look in the mirror and think that I look pretty darn good. At least 10 lbs lighter than I really am. This lackadaisical attitude towards my body's current state has left me with a few areas that need attention. This is not good. Something must be done.

I gained a bazillion pounds while pregnant with Beatrice. 48 to be exact. After gaining 10 lbs in the first trimester by bingeing on 5 dollar footlongs everyday, I gave up on trying to be a svelte pregnant woman. I ate 2 breakfasts a day (because 1 was clearly not enough) and frequented our town's beloved Julia's Bakery for petit fours and iced cookies. I quickly gleaned a look that I like to call "fat face" (exhibited below).

I couldn't wait to lose those pounds once I had Beatrice. I was a runner prior to having her and kept it up until I was 6 months along. At that point, it was July and spending my afternoons hauling my fat-faced body through the nearby running trails was less appealing than enjoying gossip TV in the cool air condition with pita chips and hummus resting on my burgeoning belly. I told myself that as soon as she was born, I'd be out there once again, sweating and working off the weight.

I lost the baby weight in about 4 months. It took longer than I planned but I did NOTHING to lose it, except nurse. I ate a ton and laid around a lot. Breast feeding makes me insatiably hungry, I think I eat more now as a nursing mother than when I was pregnant. Once I lost it and all of my "skinny clothes" started to fit again, I started feeling pretty good about the way that I looked. It had been a year since I had been able to stuff my body into my jeans so it felt like I had a new wardrobe to boot. Since I could wear all of my clothes again and the weight was gone, there didn't seem to be much of a reason to work out anymore. I mean I took care of a baby ALL BY MYSELF for 12 hours a day, I was exhausted. I worked out by climbing the stairs eleventy billion times to change diapers for crying out loud. Plus, every time I did try to start P90X, my milk supply took a hit. 

I don't look terrible. There is definitely a lot more wiggle in my step these days. But last night, I ate 5 pieces of pizza and gained a pound and a half. Oops. I blame the breast feeding and that insatiable hunger thing. So here I am, 28 years old with a wardrobe to covet, a hot husband who prefers hot women (he better only prefer this woman if he knows what's good for him), a love of exercise and health, and no more excuses for the way that I have "let myself go." I need to get over this attitude of "not looking that bad" and start exercising or I will do as the old saying goes.....use it or lose it.

Good Morning

Hehehe. I didn't mean to eat a banana whilst drinking coffee from my monkey mug this morning, but now that it's happened I had to share.

This little monkey had some too. Bananas, not coffee. She prefers espresso anyways. Coffee snob.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Child, The Genius

I have become one of those parents. The really competitive, every-time-my-child-meets-a-milestone-early-I-want-to-brag-to-strangers parent. I'm only this way with milestones like clapping and crawling. I could care less that she is off the charts in length (she wears 18 mo clothes at 8 months old) or how adorable she is. Physical traits are out of our hands. God makes babies, not people. And every inch of her is His handiwork to boast about, not mine. But her tricks, I can take credit for those.

When Beatrice was born, I did not think she was beautiful. She was cute with a face only a mother could love... She was purple and cross eyed and cried a lot. I loved her, but the most beautiful babe that ever graced the earth she was not.

Lucky for her, I'm her mother and loved her no matter how, erm, non-photogenic she was. When she got a little older and came into her looks, family would say things like, "She is really starting to get cute" or "She is so much cuter than when she was born, Aly." Thanks guys for basically saying I had an ugly baby. I never cared much because I knew that newborns have that alien look for a little while and then they plump up and start looking like little people instead of wrinkly puppies. And JD and I are ridiculously good-looking so the odds were in her favor to turn out the same as us......I kid.

Never having much pride about having the most beautiful child ever left me quite surprised when she first rolled over at 4 weeks, I was bursting at the seams with pride that my baby was going to be advanced. I could teach her things and show off to those relatives who thought she was not cute. Cute schmute. My baby was going to do running round-offs by 9 months and recite the Lord's Prayer at a year. A violin prodigy perhaps, the options are endless really. Because everyone knows that rolling over early is a sign of genius.

I put a lot of stock in my own intelligence. Growing up, lots of people complimented me on my height and slender frame. I was a beanpole, veryyyyyyyy tall and thin from a young age. But nothing made me feel better than when a teacher gave me high marks or rave reviews on an assignment. Being called smart or being moved up to the advanced reading group made me feel like I was worth something. I feel like I need to admit that I am only good with words. I had to take intermediate math 3 times in college and finally passed with the aid of a tutor. I'm convinced my left brain lies dormant in my skull. So having a smart child is very exciting for me. And now that she's beautiful, my heart bursts with pride. Very non-sinful pride...

The first couple of milestones came pretty slowly. She rolled over front to back, then back to front. Then she learned how to grasp and pass objects from one hand to the other. The da-da-da-da-da-das started and led to other babbling. She sat up, she fed herself, she clapped, she waved, she scooted, she crawled. And now the milestones come a few at a time and you better not take your eye off of her for a minute because if you do, she will do something new and you'll miss it. I know that every baby does these things, but my baby did them early (according to the pediatrician and Baby Center). And my heart beams. Having a beautiful baby is a gift, but having a smart baby is something else entirely.

Having a smart child somehow reflects the parents I think. My sister in law taught her 9 month old 5 new words a week when she was a baby. It was the craziest thing to see this little baby speak!! Not babble ma-ma da-da, but say words like pretty, baby and on and on. This kid was smart and everyone credited Marcia. I guess that's why I get a little proud when I teach Beatrice to wave at the old woman across the street or clap every time I say "yay!" She is smart, but she also has a mama that knows how to teach a tiny human how to do stuff.

As I proofread this post, I'm hoping it doesn't come across as obnoxious or pretentious. That's not my intention. It's just that this morning as I was watching her crawl and figure out how to turn the pages on her book (I didn't teach her that), I was amazed at how much she is capable of at such a young age. I guess in reality, I have nothing to do with her brilliance at all. God made her mind too and I suppose He gets the credit for how smart she is. And I know those milestone charts have a vast range of appropriate ages to meet them, but I can't help to think that I had something to do with how quickly she is learning stuff. Right? No? Oh, okay then.

No matter who is to credit for her brains and her beauty, you gotta admit it's pretty darn cool to watch a little person learn. Even if you have nothing to do with it.