Monday, November 26, 2007

It's one of those days...

The kind that's all cold and rainy and foggy and gray, and it feels like a lost day when nothing happens, and you just wait for the day to be over so you can start over with a better day. I hate this kind of day.

I used to like them, when I could stay home from work and crawl under the covers and watch movies and eat lots of sugar, but now I hate them. If Cleo can't get her exercise and see the world, life is rough. Or, as rough as life gets for a happy stay-at-home mom with a great life.

So, yeah. Blech.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I need my King Butterfly



Well, Craig, you asked for it, so here you go.

My husband rocks. Here's why, in no particular order...

1. He's my best friend. We laugh every day, often until we cry, and I can tell him every thought I have from the embarrassing to the hilarious to the horrid. There's nobody i'd rather be with.

2. He's hot. He's all lithe and muscley, and he's got cool hair and beautiful eyes and nice stubble and his clothes fit him perfectly. He walks like a cat. He's got a great knowing smile. He's got a really cute butt. Seriously. Look at this guy!

3. He's a great father. I love to listen to him laugh, play, tussle, and joke with our daughter. And when she says AUK! in the middle of the night, he'll go make up songs to sing her to sleep. It's amazing to watch their relationship blossom as she grows.

4. He's a great husband. He takes care of me. He always puts the family first. He keeps us safe and makes sure I have time for myself. He listens to me and provides excellent counsel. He's the consummate strategist.

5. He's interesting and has passions and pursuits and remains an active and evolving individual. He isn't content to sit back, gain weight, watch TV, and grow complacent with himself or the world. He's always plotting, thinking, feeling, searching out new things to learn or do or be, and he inspires and dmires this quality in me, too.

6. He loves my art. He doesn't fear it or attack it or think it's just a little hobby. He understands it's an intricate facet of who I am and actively supports every piece. Although he usually likes everything I do, he offers insightful critique when I need it most. And he understands that buying art supplies is important and special and necessary, not a splurge or demand. And he comes up with great names for pieces when they elude me.

7. He likes the same stuff I like, media-wise. To name just a small fraction of our shared interests: Venture Bros., The Tick, The Office, Firefly, Harry Potter, The Critic, Dr. Katz, Chappelle's Show, Troy, 300, Total Recall, Snakes on a Plane.... et al. His interest in Kurt Russell movies cancels out my costume drama interest, but otherwise we could be the same person. We very rarely disagree, which is lovely.

Honestly, who could ask for more in a companion, husband, and father?

Here's to you, pug. I love you!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's the little victories...


I am having a fabulous holiday weekend full of little victories!

1. We're shopping for a small SUV/wagon. Which is fabulous, because i've been driving Trigger the WonderCivic for 8 years now and would love to be able to put Cleo in the carseat without knocking myself in the skull. I'm currently mentally writing love notes to the Hyundai Santa Fe, but i've got a blind date with a Toyota RAV-4 tomorrow. Both Mazda models under consideration were knocked out of the running due to turbocharging/premium gas (CX-7) and Consumer Reports "rollover" report (Tribute). And when I get a safe new car that can fit two car seats, that means I get to get pregnant again! Woohoo!

2. Today I found on sale at Target for $25.04 a Peg Perego Aria One-Hand stroller in mint. If you're not a mommy on the hunt for the perfect stroller, i'm sure that means nothing to you. But if, like me, you refuse to pay $200+ for the stroller you really want and have been placating yourself with used strollers from consignment sales for $20 or less, a new and attractive stroller that meets all needs and exceeds all expectations is an enormous coup. I mean, I love my carriers and i'm 100% with babywearing, but it's hard to go for a 5 mile hike with a 20-pounder strapped to your chest. The Aria retails for $199.99, and my Target doesn't generally carry them, so why this one was on an endcap for 1/8 the usual price is beyond me. I just gleefully shoved it in the buggy and ran to checkout before someone noticed. It reminded me of going to Richway in 1983 to get a Cabbage Patch Kid and trying to walk through the store with mad-eyed moms trying to rip poor Sherri from my innocent, loving six-year-old arms. Except no one tried to grab it. I have assembled it, and it rocks, and i'm naming it George. So long, Veronica, Ugly Betty, and Pretty Bitchface! (my previous 3 strollers). Again, woohoo!

3. Cleo's transition to the crib is going great! It started as a rocking, singing, nursing bonanza for 2 hours. Then we pared that down to 30 minutes over the course of a week. Now i've introduced music on CD, and I don't have to sing myself hoarse, and it only takes 15 minutes of rocking to get her to sleep. She's napping well in the crib and sleeping there at night from about 8:45 to 2am. Which means i'm actually getting to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time for the first time in 15 months, which is tremendous. Cosleeping has its merits, but she's getting a bit big and thrashy, and we're all sleeping better. Woohoo!

4. We went shopping on Black Friday and got some great deals! Craig got 2 awesome sweaters, I got a cool pair of slip-on Sketchers and a huge, heavy robe to replace the one lost in the move, and we got a Fiestaware platter for my dad, who keeps breaking all his dinner platters. Yes, my dad is so big that he can't eat off a plate like normal people; he sits on the couch with a pillow on his stomach and eats off a platter. It's kinda Roman/hedonistic, but we still love him. I've feared shopping on Black Friday my whole life, but we had a great experience at Kohl's around 10am. Even Cleo enjoyed it, with so much to see. Lots of sparklies.

5. I haven't had processed sugar in 10 days! To be quite honest, I didn't know if I was capable of lasting this long. I dreamt last night that there was a huge conspiracy involving the CIA, ex-Iraqi special forces, and an entire Broadway cast to trick me into eating a piece of cake. I got 3 bites in, realized what had happened, and started crying. How crazy is that? And I got through 2 Thanksgiving feasts without a single dessert or iced tea. And my grandma's ice tea is so good that is was harder to resist than the cupcakes and cookies at Uncle Mike's house.

6. The painting i'm working on kicks ass. Craig named it "Goodnight, Horses," and it's going to hang over our bed. I love it when a painting comes together. And now I want to focus on some work for the upstairs breezeway...

In conclusion, I am a happy panda. Happy Holiday weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

You Are My Rewritten Sunshine

Like so many mamas, my go-to song for sleep and general calming is "You Are My Sunshine". But have you ever listened to the lyrics? It's the most depressing song since 'Wannabe' by the Spice Girls. So I have created my own lyrics to make the experience more palatable (and longer listening) for Cleo. I suppose they could also be considered a bit of an AP manifesto, although they are easily altered for different philosophies. And here they are.

Regular chorus:
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You'll never know, dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

The other dawn, dear, when we were waking
And you were snuggled up so near
When you rolled over and called me 'mama'
It was music to my ears

(Chorus)

The other morning, when we were playing
You had the brightest, widest smile
And then my heart swelled with joy and thanks, dear
I'm so glad you are my child

(Chorus)

The other noon, dear, when at the playground
You tried out all the slides and swings
I was so happy watching you explore, dear
And learning lots of new things

(Chorus)

The other day, dear, when we were walking
And on my back I carried you
We saw the world, dear, in all its wonder
And we both enjoyed the view

(Chorus)

The other evening when you were nursing
With your sweet hand upon my face
I was so glad, dear, to help you grow strong
With strength and health and grace

(Alternate for non-nursers or babies on solids:
The other evening when you were eating
With lots of food smeared on your face, etc.)

(Chorus)

The other night, dear, when we were sleeping
I dreamt I held you in my arms
And when I woke, dear, you were beside me
So I turned my head and smiled

(Chorus)

And now i'm yawning myself.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mommy, why is that lady so mean?

I have to say it-- whether it's my hormones, lack of sugar, lack of sleep or lack of lunch talking-- quit touching my kid!

Seriously, everywhere I went today, strangers were touching my kid in ways designed to annoy me. At the gym this morning, I saw an older child, maybe 8, pick Cleo up and carry her across the room. I understand it's the day before a holiday and everyone's sugared up rugrats are out of school, but i'm not paying for childcare so some bossy big sister can dislocate my child's arm while the paid childcare worker talks on the phone in the corner.

And then at the park, 2 entirely different children and 1 annoying mom were either helping her off of things she didn't need help off of or were helping her onto things she shouldn't be on. Grammatical paralysis aside, I just don't see why people don't supervise their own children and leave my child alone. When I very politely asked one child, about 4, to quit picking Cleo up and carrying her across the playground like a geriatric bulldog, her grandmother defensively said, "She's just helping!" And all I could say was, "That's very kind of her, but my child is independent and enjoys walking on her own." I'm sure she went home asking why the mean lady didn't want her help. We just don't go to the playground so Cleo can be treated like a valise or an invalid, we go there so that she will expend as much energy as possible having fun and learning. Like, duh.

And another mother of twins one month older than Cleo insisted on helping her into and out of the sandbox, I suppose because her own children were so coddled that they could barely function. She kept saying, "Oh, your little one is so advanced!" And I really wanted to explain that if she quit walking 4 inches behind her children and telling them exactly what they couldn't do that they might surprise her by doing it.

I don't mean to rant. I know that these people were polite and that the children sincerely believed they were helping. I appreciate that I live in an area where people are polite and kind and look out for other people's children. I just get really sick of people assuming that a) Cleo needs help, and b) I wouldn't help her if she needed it. I believe in letting her explore, and, yes, occasionally fall down or conk her noggin. And when she does have an oops, I don't go running over to fawn over her boo-boos and make a big whoopty-doo about the implicit bit of childhood that involves failure or mistakes.

I think society as a whole right now is too fearful in the wrong ways and not frightened enough of things that are legitimately terrifying. I'm terrified of driving down a highway with my baby in the back of my small car while drivers in huge SUVs swig lattes and talk on cell phones, but i'm not scared to let her fall off the last stair at the playground. I'm scared of the overuse of antibiotics and the uprise of MRSA, but i'm not at all scared about my child eating sand or picking her dropped toy off the ground. It's all about priorities, I suppose.

So, in conclusion, unless you see blood, don't pick up my kid, or i'll yell at your toddler.

Monday, November 19, 2007

But isn't that an oxymoron?

Error #312 caused by lack of sugar in a system desperate for sugar:

I just sent Craig an email discussing Jonathan Rhys-Meyers getting arrested for drunk and disorderly charges in Ireland. Apparently, the people who read his mail at work aren't appreciative of hot drunk Irishman discussions. Not good. I'm totally in the doghouse.

Woof.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 2: The Subject Appears to be Suffering.

Two days without processed sugar. And I feel stupid and clumsy and have had a stomachache all day. And i've made several silly mistakes in the past two days, including going for a walk in today's 43 degree weather dressed in a tank top and thin sweater. And i've apparently been a wee bit grouchy. Just a wee bit. And i've been craving sugar so bad that I actually picked a piece of apple out of the trash can and tried to eat it. How sad is that?

It's sad. But it's an accomplishment.

In other wacky news, a branch fell on my friend's head today while we were walking the trails. Out of nowhere, in the whole park, a big ol' branch just fell on her. And she let go of her stroller, so I let go of my stroller to grab her stroller and 3 week old baby, so Cleo started rolling down the hill, so my friend had to recover from the branchwhacking and chase down Cleo, and Cleo was just watching me curiously with her little pink bobblehat bobbing in the blustery wind. So that was different.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Sugar Pact: Because I'm Keeping It Real


I'm giving up sugar.

If you know me, you're probably laughing yourself to peeville right now, because if there is one thing that heartily characterizes me, it's my maniacal devotion to sweets. Cakes, cupcakes, donuts, cookies, brownies, tiramisu, cheesecake, coffee with so much sugar it's criminal. Hell, i'm the person who invented the most notorious confection ever invented, The Cardiac*.

But i'm giving it up, because I find i'm being a complete hypocrite in my sugar addiction. I don't allow an ounce of processed sugar into my child, so what do I tell her when she points at my dark chocolate mint 3 Musketeers and asks, "Gisch?", as in, "Gosh, mother, that thing looks delicious. I mean, you're really enjoying yourself. What is that wonderful thing, and can I have some?" And one day soon, she's actually going to ask me, using words, why i'm not sharing, and i'm not going to have an answer for her. Not to mention the fact that I can't seem to lose my last 10 pounds of baby weight any more than I can quit mainlining the leftover mini Milky Ways from Halloween. Coincidence? Je crois non.

So i'm giving up processed sugar. Scientists are saying that sugar is one of the main causes of aging, that it plays into diabetes and cancer and global warming and killing kittens and every other bad thing in the universe. So i'm giving it up.

Not today, though.

No, today i'm eating all the leftover goodies in the house. I'm having my long goodbye. So long, chockosammiches in the freezer. So long, last slice of birthday cake that's been hiding behind the frozen salmon. See ya, Coffeemate and 2 tablespoons of sugary goodness per cup of halfcaff coffee. Ciao, Halloween goodies. You're all out. I'll keep the 6 grams of sugar in my cereal, because I need the 13 grams of fiber, but everything else is gone. I'm going to have to totally rethink breakfast and find some new reason to get out of bed in the morning, but I know I can do it.

And now i'm off to the store to find some "no added sugar" alternatives for my life. Tea instead of coffee. OJ instead of chocolate milk. Hummus and carrots instead of yoghurt and apple. That one's gonna hurt.

Wish me luck, and should you see me with cupcake crumbs in the mustache that I definitely don't have, please call me out.

* The Cardiac is something I invented while pregnant. It goes like this. Get a waffle cone, and put a little vanilla ice cream in the bottom. Then put a cupcake, wrapper removed, on top of the ice cream. Then a tiny bit more ice cream, then a warm chocolate chip cookie. Then a hot Krispy Kreme Donut. Top it off with ice cream, whipped cream, and sprinkles. Eat it and try not to die. Hormones are a bitch, neh?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I am homeowner, hear me ROAR!

Today, I:

* purchased and hung curtains in the dining room
* transplanted 2 nandina bushes and covered them with lava rocks so neighborhood cats will (hopefully) cease to use my yard as a toilet
* planted an abelia where the nandinas used to be
* planted 2 wintergreen boxwoods in the planters on the front steps
* planted 15 tulip bulbs

And I still plan on finishing a painting of a silvery cheeked hornbill and hanging it in the kitchen, replacing an Ed Gilliam plate of a nude woman with a chicken head and hanging that plate in the downstairs bathroom.

I feel like Private Reich in Ravenous, that bit where he's in the frozen stream, shirtless, screaming savagely into the void in complete triumph.

I only hope a cannibalistic Robert Carlyle doesn't show up on the doorstep.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Blockbuster? More like SCHLOCKbuster!

Yeah, i've been watching a lot of Scrubs. Zoom zoom zoom! Zach Braff reminds me of a really nice guy I used to date...

Anyway, I hate Blockbuster, and I wish that there were a way to rent movies that benefited nice people who aren't raging asshats. I plan on doing all handmade gifts for the holidays, and etsy has a "Handmade Holiday Pledge" of some sort, but there is no way to obtain movies without going to some horrible store-in-a-box and having to fork over your credit card number and be asked if you want any Coke products.

My mom gave me several Blockbuster coupons that offered 2 free movies, and I should have been leery, since she sends me forwards about orange toilet spiders and Penny Brown, but she said they were from her work, so I tried them. After 20 minutes in the store smelling the hideous McD's next door, I found 2 movies that might be bearable and toted my nearly eruptive toddler to the front counter in my spiffy Brick Birds Beco. And the snarfly little garflark behind the counter gave me a pissy little speech about how that's a big hoax, that someone Photoshopped it, and "Do you really think we give things away for free?" My response being, "No, because you're jerks, which is why i'm going to Big Choice Video instead".

It's ironic that I had no patience until I had a child, because now I have all this wonderful patience with her, until we're waiting in line at Walmart to buy deer corn, and we're behind a ginormous lady with 2 carts full of Walmart brand Slim-Fast and Ruffles, and Cleo starts to fall apart because i'm too polite to open the enticing bag of organic freeze-dried blueberries until i've purchased them, and I'm just stuck there in consumer purgatory, and then I totally lose my patience with the world, but not with her. And *then* I go to Blockbuster, and... argle bargle.

That being said, until our shopping trip, I was having a lovely day, full of playing at the sunny park with friends, delicious lunch with mom, and sewing my little heart out to make cozy corn bags for my family and friends. What better gift to give for the holidays than a flannel bag of deer feed?

I am a lucky woman.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Recipe: White Chicken Chillax

Ingredients:
20oz. chicken breast
32oz. chicken broth (I prefer free range organic)
1 big white onion
3 cans Great Northern beans
3T minced garlic

1. Dice chicken and onion. Separately, so you don't get salmonella.
2. Heat some olive oil in a skillet, preferable cast iron. Saute diced onion and 1T garlic. If you are openly weeping, you chose your onion wisely. When onions are translucent, plunk them in a stock pot.
3. Add a little more olive oil to the empty skillet and saute the diced chicken. Add some salt, pepper, and oregano to taste. When it's cooked, plunk it in the stock pot.
4. Add the chicken broth and beans (including the gooey juice in the can) to the stock pot and turn it up to high.
5. Add the rest of the garlic. Add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and chili pepper to taste. It should be quite savory and flavorful. If it 's weak, keep adding seasoning.
6. When it boils, put it on low and simmer it until you start drooling. Then eat some, possibly over brown rice.

I am now going to go eat some. Over brown rice. With extra cayenne pepper.

Bob, cad I hab sub soup? And synesthesia ahoy!

I am sick for the first time since February 2005, and Cleo has her first cold ever. Woohoo, right? Wrong. My head, nose, and ears feel full of wax, my throat feels like sandpaper, my hands and feet are ice, and my poor little baby is in a great mood but running like a faucet from her adorable widdle nose. And it's 60 degrees in the house, so we're all bundled up fat as ticks.

The good news is that there's a big pot of white chicken chili in the fridge, and we've got the 6th season of Scrubs on DVD, and we don't actually have to *do* anything today, other than clean up a bit. It's so lovely being a stay-at-home mom! The time change isn't too big an issue, since we just wake up when we wake up. When I'm sick, there's no calling in, no battling with guilt and/or a recalcitrant boss, no covering shifts or clients, no loading up on ridiculous drugs that just mask symptoms with no real aid. We just keep our pajamas on and chillax to the best of our abilities and drink lots of fluids.

And whenever I blow my nose, Cleo thinks i'm talking about an elephant and makes an elephant sound right back at me!

In other news, I just remembered the other day that I have synesthesia. I mean, it's not like it goes away and comes back; rather, since it's normal for me, I forget it's abnormal for anyone else. There seems to be very little interest in synesthesia right now, compared to the late nineties, when it was quite the rage. The MIT synesthesia page hasn't been updated since 1997, and every email or website associated with it is defunct. My MAILER-DAEMON has been quite active!

I have been toying with focusing my next exhibit on synesthesia, or maybe doing a series of paintings for a children's book, something i've always wanted to produce. I was going to do a series on children playing, old toys vs. current TV and video game culture, but now I might switch it up to doing a series of encaustics on the colors and personalities of numbers, letters and names. Well, maybe not names, because no one named Jennifer will ever speak to me again if I do that. I've got a whole stack of 6"x6"s waiting, and I think 1 will be my first player, even though it's a weak and watery little sycophant of a number. Now 2, that's a number I can get behind!

I can't seem to find a single book on synesthesia geared to an age group under 13, but I also don't know if it would have appeal, since current research suggests that all toddlers are synesthetic to some degree, anyway, and it's not the most mainstream concept. And not many 3 year olds are running around accusing their teachers of making "M" the wrong color, which was my predicament.
Still, it would be kinda fun to talk about the personalities of numbers for little kids...

One, one, he is no fun
He's always blue and on the run

Two, two, is a brawny lad
He's always orange, jolly, and glad

Three, three, she's shy, you see
Lightest green like moss on a tree

Etc. It's an idea.

Off to expectorate.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Not entirely unlike a shopaholic ninja...

Grammatically hideous query:
What do ninjas shop for at Trader Joe's?


























Who cares? It was a good Halloween.

O, sweet irony!

Today is a day marked by irony.

1. All I want to do is paint, but a) baby!, b) lack of heat gun and damar crystals, and c) boards are in the trunk of my car, in the garage with the blown light where I can't go because a) baby is sleeping and b) possible serial killer lurking in garage that planted strategically blown bulb. Seeing a very convincing Michael Myers costume last night did not help.

2. All I want to do is not eat and work out so that I can lose my last 10 pounds of baby weight, which I probably can't lose anyway, since i'm still nursing. But, a) forgot my workout bag today, and b) received a box of deviled chocolate cupcakes in the mail. This goal is also difficult considering the huge vat of white chicken chili in the fridge, the 12 mini candy bars leftover from Halloween, and the enormous box of apples my parents gave me because they couldn't say no to their annoying neighbor who was selling apples for the Elks.

3. Given that 1. and 2. are impossible, all I want to do is hole up in bed under two quilts between my husband and my peacefully snoozing cherub and watch season 2 of Chappelle's Show or Dr. Katz, but a) husband is in Minneapolis (Oh crap! Oh crap! Oh.... crap.), b) we can't find season 2 of Chappelle's show and theorize we lent it to the husband's old coworker who moved to DC and works for Fannie May, which is funny because he's gay, har har, and c) we don't own season 2 of Dr. Katz. Yet.

So, you see. There it is. Sweet irony. How sad is it that i'm one of the few Americans who wants to produce fine art, exercise my heart out, and be thin and virtuous, but my lousy consolation prize is the stupid internet?