All Along the Watchtower

The Jehova's witnesses came to my door again this morning. It was the lady's second visit; the first time she brought her two kids and a nanny, I think. I was home with the girls and it was a slow Saturday, we were all still in our pjs. The words, "Jehova's Witness" never came out of her mouth, but I knew from experience who she was, they used to come by our house when I was growing up (once, I left my friend Meg on the phone while I went to answer the door for one, I listened to her rap, sort of lost my train of throught, and left poor Meg hanging on the phone wondering who came to my door and snatched me away. She stayed on until I went to the phone to call her several hours later and, well, she was already on the line! Quel surprise!).

During the lady's first visit, Annie, in her Ariel pj's, and her daughter, in her Church clothes checked eachother out through the door. The women tried to connect with me on a parenting level, read a passage from her bible about parenting, handed me the literature, and left. Annie was very confused about the logistics of a girl her age coming to the house, but not staying to play. I tried to explain who the people were but I could tell she didn't get it.

After mentioning it to Brian later that day, I didn't give them a second thought. But when they pulled into the driveway today, I knew exactly who they were, though several months have passed. Today, she came with her husband. I think the kids were in the car. I was mortified to realize that even though it was 11, there we all were in our pjs. Mine, charmingly, consisted of my Simpsons flannel pants and a t-shirt that simply reads, "beer'. Cuh-lassay.

So, I heard her out again as she repeated her schtick: play the parent card, read passage from bible, hand out literature. Only this time I am chuckiling within as I think of how I must look to this lady. I must look like someone who needs a nice religion to set things right. I mean, 2 trips to the house, no sign of a husband, in pj's at all hours with my dirty girls hanging on me (well, Mary's face was messy from her cereal bar snack--Annie was more like...unbrushed) and my dirty hair (guilty as charged). And beer shirt. Yeah, I might look like a saving wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

Both visits, I have tried to find the words to tell her that I have a religion, thank you very much and even though there are things about it that make me angry, it is a part of me. Then again, she isn't exactly asking me to come over to her team. She just swings by, hits the high points, and leaves.

Brian thinks I am nuts for not shutting her down. And I agree with him that by not doing so, I am basically rolling out the red carpet for her return in the future. I don't want her to come back. But I kind of feel like, well, who am I to mess with something she feels called to do? She probably gets a lot of doors slammed in her face for just...doing something that she belives in. So maybe that's where my religion and hers meet. Mine has taught me to treat others kindly, the way I like to be treated. And because of that, I'll continue to listen to hers.

But I am totally getting dressed earlier on Saturdays.


Mmmmm Movies…

How many times have you been to the movies in the past 6 months? Past year? I’ve been once, to see Happy Feet. I hated it and wrote about it here. But tonight we are taking my stepson to The Simpsons Movie and I am as happy as a leetle girl.

My relationship with movies is kind of odd. In high school and maybe during parts of college I saw a lot of movies. There isn’t much else to do out and about when you’re that age. It’s not like I was INTO them but every time one came out that I wanted to see, I pretty well know that I’d see it.

Nowadays, I never see them unless we get a DVD and watch it at home on a Friday or Saturday night. And even this is rare. I usually save weekends for catching up on Reality TV.

So, in the past…hrm…maybe seven years or so I have hardly seen anything. Often, the Russian at work will talk about movies, relating to me funny scenes from this or that movie. And he’ll never remember the name of the movie he wants to discuss, or the stars. I can fill in those details for him but then when he eagerly asks, “did you see it?” I invariably answer, “no”.

But since I don’t see anything, people always want to lend me movies. Don’t. I don’t have time. And when I do, I like a very specific kind of movie, usually involving Christopher Guest or a book I have read (oh-unless you want to loan me Running with Scissors or Little Children…DYING to see those). The Other Russian brought in Hot Shots Part Deux for me after I mentioned that I liked comedies. I have to return them. When I take time to view another film, Charlie Sheen won’t be in it.


The Devil in Disguise

She walks like an angel, talks like an angel...you get the idea.

Yeah, she's trouble. The little one. The big one, not one bit.

But I am not just posting to say that. I am posting because I never wanted to slack off on my blog yet at the same time, I knew I was destined to. It's what I do. So I am making good on my desire to not let this completely die.

Plus, I had these really cute pictures to share with anyonw passing through. I mean, hot damn, these gals are cute! OH, shuddup-it's not just bias. Anyone would think so.


Oh, right! I wanted to tell you about one of my life's greatest disappointments. Miller Chill Beer. It sounded so good on paper. A light (pardon, LITE) beer with salt and lime added. Yummay! I first heard about it when I was back home and thought that maybe it was being test marketed in the midwest and maybe I'd never see it out east. Upon my return to NJ, I began calling liquor stores. It was here! So, one Friday afternoon I stopped at a liquor store on my way home and picked up a 12-pack. I was SALIVATING on my way home. Is that weird? I called up the Gib to share my joy (beware asking someone "CAN YOU GUESS WHAT'S IN MY TRUNK RIGHT NOW??". It never sounds right) and anticipated the moment that the limey goodness would pass my lips.

I got home and went inside, trying to play it like there were other things on my mind besides a tasy new beer I greeted all and sundy. Then clik. Slurp. Hm. Slurp. Hm. Slurp. WHA??? Where's the lime??? I guess this tastes a little...salty? But the limey goodness??? Nowheresville. Sigh. Life, why must you taunt me? Miller Chill, you are no Tequiza. Go away.

Best thing I have heard in the last six months:

Annie to Savannah Lee (resident cat): Savannah Lee, I love you. You can come to ALL my birthday parties.

I defy any of y'all to come up with higher praise from the 4 year old set. G'head. TRY.

How I spent my summer vacation. First I woke up. Then I went down town. To look for a job.

Wha? None of you remember Sister Mary Elephant?? F y'all.

No really. My summer:

The fam
Trip to Chicago
Listening to Howard on Sirius while at work
TV: My Life on the D-List, Intervention, Big Bro, The Soup, That random show with the celebrity impersonators-though why that lamoid Sinatra made it to the finals is beyond me, The Office reruns.
Doing Yahoo Answers at work
Harry Potter

Do I bore? Welcome back.



I hope I can describe this accurately.

Nearly every time I have breastfed Mary, and at this point we are talking about over a thousand or more times, right? I have gotten this rush. It's not the let down, that is something very boobule-related and that particularly strange feeling stopped happening months ago. No, this rush I am talking about is an emotional one. Every time it happens I am struck by the strength of it. It's like this combination of joy and heartache and it's just a big OH! felt right in my heart. It causes me to take a deep breath and to sort of gulp. Or maybe gasp.

Do I sound crazy? Since it's so hard to describe, I've never asked any of my breast friends (snerk) about it. But if you've felt it, tell me. Insanity loves company. It cleans the house and makes pink lemonade for it.



Have you tried Yahoo Answers yet? It's awesome. It's a forum where you can ask any manner of question and anyone can answer. I am not a big asker but man, am I suddenly an expert on everything when it comes to answering. My know-it-allism knows no bounds! It's really a blast. So far today I have told a woman that her boyfriend's baby is not "behind" because she is just starting to crawl at 10 months, I rewrote a sentence for some high school kid, and helped someone whose avatar is a thumb with the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit. All this, before 10:30 a.m.!

Yah, it's slow at work. And due to certain factors that I shan't write about from here, my will to pretend to care has wavered. Yes, I have found myself in the asylum and the inmates are most certainly running the joint.

Mary turned one. Naturally, she has an ear infection on her birthday, so we celebrated afterwards. We gave her a tickle me Elmo. The TMX. Toys have model numbers now, apparently. Anyway, this Elmo is technology's greatest triumph. He doesn't just laugh. He guffaws... he is actually the definition of the most hated internet speak: ROTFLOL. He rolls around and smacks the ground as he laughs. But most amazingly, HE GETS BACK UP. This, my friends, is a glorious time in which to live!

So, I wrote Mary a first birthday letter, just as I did for her marvy sister. I do share:

Mary-it’s your first birthday! I don’t get how you can already be one-it seems like you just got here. When Annie turned one, it felt like we had had her for ages but you still feel so new. Maybe it’s because you cried less than Annie or because I wasn’t working for most of your first year or because I worried that I might not get to have you. Whatever the reason, you are still a new surprise for us all, even after a full year.

Though your sister taught me many of the lessons I needed to survive a baby’s first year (namely patience, patience and more patience), I learned a lot from you, too.

You have been my little kangaroo baby, hanging on me for a year now. For the first 5 months you slept with Dad and me in our big bed. It was easier that way as there were no cold walks downstairs to fix you a bottle and cuddle you in the family room when you awoke crying. Since you breastfed, I simply nursed you back to sleep. Because of this I never suffered from the sleep deprivation that makes having a new baby so hard. This helped us like each other more, I think. You still breastfeed-my little baby bird nursing off to sleep or into wakefulness. I am not worried about this ending, our bond has been long formed and you are ready to let go, I think.

Always a mom’s girl, my little bean, but you are never out of smiles for everyone else. You were such an early smiler-and it wasn’t just the gassy grins, either. You smile and bounce as you seek out the attention from Daddy, Ryan and Annie and you smile and bounce when inevitably this attention comes your way.

Though you look more and more like your sister as the days pass, you are really such a little YOU. You are so consolable, regardless of what upsets you, but when you are upset you make it very clear. You love to laugh. Love it. Giggle diggle we say to you. You love swings. You love eating. You love when people talk to you (but you sly girl, you act like you don’t as you bury your head into my shoulder trying to conceal your obvious smirk). You love your bag of tricks, both new and old: clapping, waving (and now saying “bye bye”), standing, stairs, combing your own hair, it’s all so much fun.

There is something about you that I don’t really have a handle on yet. I feel like you still have a lot to show us as far as your personality goes and I can’t wait to see who you become.


Best. Mother. Ever.

Where should I begin? I could tell you about Mary's double ear infection-probably brewing for a couple weeks but undisgnosed until last Friday. Or I could describe a week and a half's worth of the diarrhea she has had. Or that she has been fussing frequently lately, kicking out her legs and rocking her body and sxcreaming every time I put her down.

But instead, let's just focus on this morning. Brian is in California, so it's just me against them. Did I say against? I meant and. Yeah. Mary woke up at 6, crying. So I nursed her in bed forever as this still calms her. Somehow, 2 hours later, I have not managed to leave the house. So I kick it in to high gear and hustle the girls out the door. When we got to "school" Annie has realized that we did not bring one of her stuffed cats. I had realized this on the way to school but at that point it was too late to turn back. So she's in tears. Luckily, awesome Miss Joanne scooped her up and calmed her with the promise of getting her choice of school stuffies. Annie did manage a weak, "Bye. Love you." through her drying tears.

So, off to the infant room! Here it was business as usual as Mary started clutching me harder once we entered the room. As I tried to set her down to take of her jacket, she would not detach. Not even a teacher's offer of crackers would calm her. But I had to go! I was running late for work and and hanging out would only delay the inevitable. So I handed her to crackerteacher and left to the sound of her crying. I was 2 for 2.

Lots of things are bothering me but mostly it's the feeling that I had forgotten about working and being a mom: You can't really ace both. Oh, some days you can, sure. But mostly, you will come up short on one or the other or both whether it's forgetting a stuffie or not knowing what's wrong with your little chum, you will fell terrible and failtastic.

What is wrong with Mary? I'll call the doctor again but even with my bosses out of town, I can't leave early for an appointment. I left early last week for her appointment and with such a small office, I have to be here today. Tomorrow, maybe I can take her. But what do I tell the doctor? She isn't herself? She seems to be in some sort of pain with the kicking and screaming. It can't be the ear infections anymore because she's been on the antobiotics for 5 days now. Although it looks like two big, honkin' teeth are coming in, she's not worrying her mouth at all. It msut be related to the poopsters. Sigh. I swear she's been sick since I started working again.


A Tale of Two Babies

Trouble doesn't find Mary. She goes looking for it. Annie was the opposite. You know that entire aisle of Babies R' Us that is intended to scare the HELL out of you? The one with outlet covers, gates, handle covers and barbed wire? Never went down it when Annie was a baby. Never had to. But with Mary? We're going to need 2 carts.

She got put in time out this week at "school". Miss Pam said that she would not stop unpacking the diaper changing area. All of the babies' wipes, diapers and creams kept ending up in a floor with Mary in the middle, smirking. So she got a time-out.

She's stealth, too! You think by her hugs and calm demeanor that she won't give you a moment's trouble, but then you turn your back for a moment only to realize she's got the aim and flame up to a cigar that's been jammed in the cat's mouth. Or somesuch.

Do you watch Intervention on A&E? They moved it to Friday nights. As I joke weekly (to the amusement of only myself), I need an Intervention intervention. I am addicted to it. What rips my heart out nearly every week is when they show the childhood pictures of the addicts. And they could me anyone's kids; happy, mugging for the camera, celebrating this holiday or that. And yet, what they become...well, it's hard to imagine.

Ever since I went back to work, oh, and maybe even before, I have had no time. I don't have time for that. Or that. Where does the time go?


Word to your mother

I didn't go to Niagra Falls but Brian did on his way back from Canada last week and I thought this picture was really cool. He said everything was covered with ice there.

Am I the only one who can't think or say the word ice without immediately thinking or saying "ice, ice baby"? I thought so. Never mind.

The best parts of my new job all revolve around the things that are unlike working in a corporate setting. I do not spend the whole day in useless meetings that constantly check the status of projects that are late because everyone is in status meetings all day. I dress however I want because there is no one to impress with the dress and the owner/founder/president of my agency likes to wear jeans. I do not travel because we are small and most of our clients are local and e-mail will do just fine, thank you. I am not encouraged to kiss ass or have a certain variable set of standards of etiquette based upon who I am speaking to or working with because there are only 5 of us and everyone appears to treat everyone the same, which is kindly.

Let me revel! If I have to leave my babies in someone else's care I am entitled to Pollyanna, right?


Lame-o was her name, oh!

Yeah, I'm pretty lame. I love to blog. I dream about blogging at night and wake up all sweaty and smiley. And yet, I never blog. My excuse:

I started work this past week. Yup, I gots me a job. Not just any job but the job I wanted. To wit: a 15-minute commute. No travel. A 5-person ad agency. Casual dress. A boss who brought in a million little bags of Sun Chips for everyone yesterday. After my foray into corporate America, this is really great. Yeah, it tortures, maims and kills me that most of my paycheck goes to daycare and health insurance but this is life.

Now, after hearing from 36 people that putting Mary in daycare after our 10-month honeymoon together would hurt me more than it hurts her, I was saddened to see that no, she is hurting worse. Sure, I cried every morning when Brian took her out the door, but it is Mary who comes home at the end of the day looking shellshocked and boogery, wondering what the hell she did to wind up in juvie. Seriously, by day two she was sick. So much for breastfeeding ratcheting up the old immune system. Yes, I know she'll adjust but for now, this is killing me. She isn't herself and I am sick about it. What I keep thinking of is the Simpsons episode where at we finally see the caption on Maggie's picture on Homer's desk at work, "Do it for her". I work for the girls. It makes a better me and it'll keep us out of the poor house. To quote Brian's favorite saying, "this too shall pass".

Sigh. And I think I really will like my job. And it was HARD and exhausting staying home with the girls, even with Annie in school three days a week. But just, sigh. AS long as I am tossing out the favorite quotes, here's mine, of late, "It's hard to be a woman". Who dat from? Tammy Wynette? Loretta Lynn? Well, thanks old country-type lady. Big ups.


The icing on the cake


The problem with the cake was that I forgot to frost in between the layers. There was no creamy frosting oasis amongst the sweet, sweet cake. Just more cake. So I brought out the extra can of frosting and we dipped. Yummy!

The blanket above is the Woven Moments one I was talking about. It came out great, didn't it? And it's thick, too. I just sent them a picture of Dallas and 7 weeks later the blanket came in the mail. Brian loved it, naturally. And since in the picture Dallas is sitting on the family room rug, and we keep the blanket in the family room, it matches perfectly. It's the circle of life, if life were color coordinated.

Mary is also pictured above, just cause. I have never changed the name of the file that I keep her pictures in on the computer. It's still called "MJ", her in utero name, short for Mary James, The Baby of Uncertain Gender. Just as Annie was AJ for the months preceding her debut. Mary still isn't cruising. Mostly, she can't even lift her tummy off the ground when she crawls. "Git that belly offa the ground yew yellow-bellied maggot!", I goad, to no avail. But girl can MOVE. And she finds trouble. One minute playing with parent-sanctioned baby toy, the next mouthing Henry's kong. Nice. For all her early personality flaws, Annie was not a trouble-seeking baby so this new vigilance is taking some getting used to.

Because I am slow, February is when my New Year's resolutions are going to take effect. Of course I want to lose weight. Will that be easier once I stop breastfeeding (the great myth of breastfeeding having been the weight that supposedly just falls off)? Or will this take a concerted effort to stop eating potato chips? And I want to blog more, cause I like to. And my e-mailing has really been falling off. And this JOB thing. Great, now I'm depressed.


Dallas Update

I think I may have become a pessimist because I was so certain that we'd hear bad news regarding Dallas' biopsy but it wasn't so bad. Well, the tummy tumor is malignant but the vet said it is the kind of malignancy that won't grow. The tumor could come back in the same spot but if it does (and there is a 40% chance it will), it can be removed again. So, yay!

And Dallas is acting more sprightly than she has in awhile, now that those big lumps are gone. A aurprising, good thing for the new year. She keeps referring to herself as a cancer survivor now so, whatever.

My sister is getting a third dog, God bless her. Her house is already total choas (2 dogs, 1 cat, 2 guinea pigs, fish, 2 kids) but her husband heard of a dog that had been kept by its owner in really crappy conditions for all 8 years of his life. He was removed from the home and has heart worm and but my sister decided to take him to make his golden years happy. And they will be, lucky dog. His name is MJ after Michael Jordan but my niece just informed me via e-mail that they will change his name to Huckleberry. As you do.

I made a crucial error on Brian's birthday cake, one that toally defeated the purpose of making a round cake rather than a sheet cake. Look at the photo above. Can you see my mistake???


Get well soon, Big D

I know. Totally lame, I am. But I was busy with playing Santa and then home to Chicago for New Year's and the cat ate it and I got a flat tire and blah blah blah.

So Happy New Year, y'all!

It was good to be home. I miss my family and friends and I miss Lake Michigan. It probably wasn't a good idea to ever move away from the Lake. It was my anchor growing up. No wonder I feel so rudderless here. How am I supposed to have a sense of direction when my absolute East doesn't exist?

As you can see, it's game, set and match on the girly shite with Annie. Sigh. I even let her buy The Little Mermaid yesterday at Target with the money her Grandma and Pop-Pop gave her for Christmas. Later, Brian and I had to call her Ariel. I know when I'm beaten. But I am signing her up for Spring soccer this week; the dark side shouldn't go unchecked, after all.

I still had trouble making amends with all the STUFF my girls got for Christmas. It makes my stomach hurt a little to think about it. There's the things that Santa brought, of course. Then between the 2 of us, Brian and I have 10 siblings. Plus the grandparents. Just so much stuff. I think that's why I might be overreacting a wee bit when Annie asks for ANYthing these days. I just never want her to take receiving gifts for granted. But she's only THREE, says the devil's advocate that rents in my brain. She doesn't know from spoiled. The whole thing left me feeling unsettled and I am still trying to work out why.

Dallas had surgery the day after we returned home. She had had these fatty growths for almost as long as I've known her. They might appear, disappear and reappear over a period of time, but none ever grew to be too large until recently. Three pretty big ones came and didn't leave plus one hard one, lime-sized, on her tummy that we really didn't like the looks of. The vet ended up removing 6 sizable lumps and biopsied the tummy one. I already kind of know that it's malignant, though we won't find out for sure for another week or so. I don't say that lightly, but part of loving Dallas so much has always been trying to brace myself for eventually losing her. She's a big dog and twelve years old and I can do the math. Since we had everything removed though, I think we bought (and paid dearly for, money being no object with regards to our beloved D)her a couple more really good years. OH, Plus? We got her teeth cleaned and it's a miracle...she has like no breath at all! Her breath used to smell like the inside of Nickerson's Fish Market but now it's the carbon monoxide of breath, totally odorless. But poor dear is all staples and bald spots.

Timely, then that I got Brian a woven blanket with Dallas' image on it for his birthday, which is tomorrow. Well, Dallas and I went in on it. It looks pretty good, though the picture I submitted was a little dark, in retrospect. Tomorrow I will make him a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting because that's what he wants and he obviously doesn't know any better because anyone who knows anything knows that white cake wtih chocolate butter cream icing is really the finer cake.



Yesterday I slipped on a banana peel. I know! How ridiculous is that? I had stepped out of my car after parking in front of Linens N Things and was preparing to open the back seat to get Mary out. Suddenly my foot slid out from under me so I was doing like a half splits. A banana split, if you will. Shut up. I looked down expecting to see a patch of ice, even though the temperature outside was in the 50's. But, no, it was a banana peel. Classic. I chuckled my way through shopping but saved my big laugh for home, in private.


The Babysitter Cometh

We finally gots us an outside babysitter! Once Brian's niece went to college (a full year and a half ago) we were really strapped for sitters and consequently, didn't go out. Ever. Anywhere.

We managed to hook up with the daughter of our old next door neighbor. She is a junior, will have her license in 25 days, and looks to be just awesome with kids. I like her because she jumped right in to play with Annie the other night. Oh, and she assured us that she doesn't go out much because either her friends don't want to do anything, or they want to drink which does not interest her. Are y'all jealous yet?

But wait! There's more! She has already told her mother that she does not want to go away to college so we are talking at least 5 more years of availability here, people. And, come summer, she wants to get a job at Annie's "school". But we will have already staked our claim to her by the time other parents come sniffing around.

I never thought finding a sitter would be so hard. I see why it is though. While I was babysitting at 13 (making a whole one dollar an hour), I must have been a horrendous sitter. I always liked kids but I am fairly certain I wouldn't have picked up after us and if anything bad had happened, I don't know if I was qualified to handle it. In short: I wouldn't want me or anyone like me to sit my kids. Once when I was sitting the Smiths, they were so bad that I called up my dad and had him act like he was Santa and threaten them with coal. Another time, I was babysitting for a neighbor's grandchildren. After they fell asleep I remembered that they had a daughter that died and I got it in my head that she died in their house. Then I heard noises coming from the room the baby was sleeping in and no one bothered to tell me that they had a cat rattling around upstairs and I had to call my sister to come over and keep me company.

I used my first Santa threats on Annie yesterday. She is going through a bad phase of collapsing and whining every time she doesn't get her way. By 10 a.m. yesterday morning she had had three such collapses and I played the Santa card. These collapses make me INSANE. She comes off as such a spoiled child when she does it, and that's one thing I simply can't abide by. And she is starting to act bratty in stores when I tell her she can't have something. How did that happen? I have been so careful to not get her everything she asks for and yet she acts as though she'll die if she can't have something. It makes my blood absolutely boil.

Oh, hey, don't take your kid to see Happy Feet. Out local rag attributed its PG rating to "minor peril" but the movie was scary! And dark. And NOT funny. The animation was at times quite breathtaking but it is not a movie for the very young. Plus (middle age lady alert), when did movies get so LOUD?? Good lord, my teeth were shaking. Even in parts of the movie that weren't scary, the music builds to such a crescendo at such high decibals that my heart was pounding. Turn it DOWN, ya whippersnappers!

Annie usually loves the movies, too. She perches her popcorn on her lap and methodically plows through it, only pausing for an occassional wave of the hand that indicates she is ready for her beverage to be brought to her lips. Heh-can't imagine why she's spoiled! I could tell the movie was making her uneasy, though she held it together. Until we went to the bathroom in the theatre afterwards and the freakin' hand driers sounded like goddamn freight trains and then she sort of broke down a little on the way out. I promised her that next time we'd go to a more gentle movie. A friend suggested Charlotte's Web but I know what happens at the end and no thank you.