Sunday, December 31, 2006

End of the year musings, avec champagne

Today I did a whole lotta nothing. Or really, a whole lotta baby-watching because these days I'm a weekend landscaping widow. I've mentioned here before that Husband and I have had this landscaper working in our backyard for the past week or two, and he's worked miracles on the boggy quagmire that would appear behind our house whenever a bit of rain would fall. It's now a boggy quagmire retained by a beautiful stone wall with a completely bog-less gravel path running in front of it. But seriously. We're hopeful that even the confined bog will go away once the hundreds of feet of drainage pipes Husband has been spending every.spare.weekend.hour laying are all in place. Then he gets a turn as a landscape widower once it's warm enough here for me to justify spending hours at a time planting things in these new planting beds we have all of a sudden.

In the meantime, I'm starting to think of what to get Husband for his 37th birthday coming up in a few weeks. I think I'll look into renting a room in a b&b in Asheville, or perhaps a rustic cabin or some such. Husband has a good friend living up there now and we could perhaps get him and his charming wife to go out to lunch with us while we're up there. (And if said friend is reading this, he should be sure and comment on this post, leaving me his email address which will be hidden from others. I do not have his email address and would like to hear from him whether he'll actually be around some mid-January weekend...!)

Anyways. My dear husband has just put a second bottle of champagne left behind by some mysterious but much-beloved guest at our cocktail party into the freezer for a rapid chill. We've just polished off the first bottle, see. Now off I go to curl up with him to get drunkish and watch Battlestar Galactica which is, as far as I'm concerned, the perfect way for us to ring in 2007.

Happy new year, y'all!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Out with the old

I know that it's not even the new year yet, but Christmas was 5 days ago. Anyone else out there looking forward as much as I am to getting all the dusty damn garlands, ornaments, and light strands out of their living rooms, family rooms, kitchens, porches, and front yard? I can't wait to purge this house of all things Christmas and get back to the clean, uncluttered lines of bare windows, mantels, and doorways, all lit up by the sunshine that will come in through a window unblocked by a big, dead Fraser fir.

I'm done with the winter holidays. Time to think about spring cleaning and vegetable seeds...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Cozy suburban vision meets bitchy mama reality

Do any of you suburban, SAHM types have this sweet little vision of having the neighborhood go-to house like I do? You all know what I'm talking about, right? The house in the neighborhood where the rooms all have interesting stuff to play with or look at, the backyard has swings and toys and other good stuff, there are pets to chase, crafts to do, the homemade cookies flow like wine, etc? Some part of me wants our new house to be that house. Some part of me very much likes the idea of having a house full of kids that I can play mama hen to and that Bean and Sister can play with until it's time to send everyone home to their grateful parents. I want the neighborhood kids to be comfortable here, to think of me as a nice mom, to have this house be a lovely, cozy backdrop to my kids' childhood that they'll remember fondly when they're adults. Nice image, huh?

So when a neighbor lady called up a little while ago to ask if her 2 bored, out-of-school kids could come over to play for a few hours because she wasn't feeling well, I should've been all sweetness and light and getting out the plate of cookies 'cause here was a chance to live my nice neighborhood mama vision! I wasn't. To the mom I said yes, of course they could come over and I was sorry she didn't feel well and if she wanted they could have lunch here while she napped and Sister would love to see them and yada yada yada. But when I hung up I fumed quietly to myself, even as I recognized that Sister would probably snap out of her own out-of-school funk if she had someone besides Bean to play with. All I could think, though, was, "They better fuckin' all like grilled cheese and baby carrots for lunch. I better not hear any babies screaming because they're feeling left out, dammit. No one better fight..." and so on.

Just call me the neighborhood bitch.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Kickin' back at last

Ahhhhhh. The lull after Christmas may be one of my favorite times of year. Or at least one of my favorite non-gardening times of year. It's such a lovely, empty, relaxing time. Sister has no school and I am therefore not required to get up at 6:15 to squeeze in a shower before I have to start hustling her around. I am getting good rest these days and have the mental energy to indulge in a couple of new-found obsessions: Battlestar Galactica, sudoku puzzles, and plant selection for a brand new landscape being created in our backyard even as I write this. I have no shopping, wrapping, or baking to do--unless I want to shop a little, like for quilt fabrics on sale on-line to start some new projects. And I may want to bake a little, like maybe a batch of some real Scottish shortbread which, according to a new book of Scottish teatime recipes I received, contains rice flour in addition to wheat flour. Yes, I may want to do these things. But right now I want to blog.

For the record, I had no intention of slogging along in real life for two weeks without even the briefest dip into the blogging pool. I'm a bad, bad blogger. So I'm going to try to make it up here. I vow to blog a little something everyday, barring stupid Time Warner Cable connectivity issues here at the cave. It's not that I believe you've all been longing for a little window into my life (or into Husband's, as the case may be). Rather, it appears that this blog has almost completely taken the place of my pen and ink journal writing--all except for the really ugly stuff that I hate to put out there for the masses. If I want some documentation of the minutiae of my life-with-babes that I can go back to someday then I better get a little more disciplined about documenting.

Not a new year's resolution or anything, mind you...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The menu, as promised, but without recipes (yet)

I'm just thinking about putting on a giant pot of caramel sauce, a follow-up to an enormous pot of hot fudge sauce I boiled up today. Every year I give my stepfather an ice cream sundae kit for Christmas. Being the large, hedonistic ice cream fan he is, he never tires of this gift, just as I never tire of his gift to me, a big fat day spa certificate. In his kit, I include a quart Mason jar each of hot fudge and caramel sauces, a batch of his favorite nut-free brownies, some peanut brittle, toffee, purchased raspberry sauce, and maybe some chopped up broken pralines to sprinkle if I made a batch that had some break. I include all this detail just in case any of you are at a loss as to what to give an ice cream sundae lover on your list. If you use it, I hope you get day spa gift certificates out of it!

But the measuring out of ingredients made me realize that I had not yet lived up to my promise on Friday to post my cocktail party menu from last weekend. I don't feel up to actually posting recipes just now, but let me know if you'd like to see some. So here it is, for your perusing pleasure.

Little snacky type things:
  • Marinated olives
  • Tamari roasted almonds
  • Chili spiced pecans
  • Puff pastry parmesan cheesestraws
  • Platter of assorted cheeses, quince paste (to go with the Manchego), and crackers
For the vegetarians:
  • Wild mushroom pate with little toasts and almond crackers
  • Platter of roasted beets and asparagus, and endive leaves with aioli
  • Caramelized shallot and blue cheese dip with roasted potato wedges (a.k.a., oven fries)
  • Hot pepper and smoked mozzarella empanadas with avocado relish
  • Marinated sheep's milk feta, orange, and mint skewers
For the meat-on-toothpicks crowd:
  • Beef and mint skewers with Thai dipping sauce
  • Tandoori shrimp skewers
  • Chicken with peanut sauce and scallions in phyllo cups
And then some assorted little homemade candies and a fruitcake kind of hiding in a corner of the living room, because truthfully I didn't devote all that much time to desserts for some reason. Oh, and did I mention my sour mix? I make rockin' sour mix.

That's it! Gotta run because Husband's trying to get me to watch a movie with him. This weekend's been incredibly busy for both of us and finally we're getting a little time together here if I could just...tear...myself away...from this keyboard...

Friday, December 15, 2006


Phew! I haven't meant to completely abandon my blog this week. But between cleaning up after our party, planning Sister's Brownie troop meeting which included another party at our house--and by the way, 14 little girls literally make as much mess in 15 minutes as 40 adults over 6 hours, in case you had any doubts-- dealing with Bean going through a waking mysteriously every night at least 6 times phase, sending out Christmas cards, planning my Christmas candy-making and cookie-baking extravaganza...well, this is why I haven't been blogging. I suspect the rest of you are in the same merry boat, though I haven't checked your blogs to find out. I will, though. Really really.

But not just now. In about an hour I'll be leaving Bean and Sister with Husband while I go with my mom to Taylorsville, NC to visit a woman who was my stand-in grandmother from the time that I was in 6th grade through the end of high school This woman was the mother of my mother's boyfriend, and when their relationship ended (badly), my contact with Gran was pretty much broken off, too. I talked to her a couple times on the phone, and she sent me $20 my freshman year in college once, but after that I didn't talk to her.

She's turning 93 in a few days and my mother's ex-boyfriend asked my mother to lunch because Gran's asked about seeing us one more time. I haven't been back to Taylorsville since I left for college 17 years ago. It should be something.

So I'll catch up on my blogging this weekend and I'll even post the menu and probably some recipes from my party since some have asked. In the meantime, I hope you all are well and still alive and kicking in the blogging world.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The party is over

I'm feeling somewhat less poisoned today than I did yesterday, though--let's be honest here--hangovers take a lot longer to get over once you're past 30. Am I right?

Our party was a whopping succes, if I may say so. Many people came and had fascinating conversations with each other. Everyone loved, loved the food that I made, and they drank so much liquor I was actually shocked. Seriously, me shocked about everyone's liquor consumption! Nearly ever guest showed up with a bottle of wine in hand, but then left it on a side counter and made a bee-line for the cocktail table. I mixed drinks almost continuously all night long. We started out offering gin fizzes and whiskey sours since I had made my locally famous sour mix. When the sour mix and the gallon of gin and the fifth of whiskey were gone, we switched to mixing bourbon and ginger ale and cosmopolitans. Then the fifth of Maker's Mark and the gallon of vodka and the fifth of Cointreau were gone, so we mixed rum and Cokes and white Russians. Our liquor cabinet is down to the weird stuff now--Pimm's and pear liqueur and peppermint schnapps and that sort of stuff. But at least we won't have to buy any wine any time soon. Not that I feel up to having any yet.

Some highlights:

  • The food was almost all eaten! This thrilled me because there have been parties in years past where not enough people showed up or cared to eat and we had a lot left to put away and eventually throw away afterwards. Plus, it's flattering as hell when your food gets eaten!
  • One neighbor woman got so drunk she started talking shit about another neighbor woman, who overheard her! Ouch!
  • Only one glass got broken! But many cute glass swizzle sticks with seahorses on them that I put out just for kicks bit the dust.
  • Bean had a great time for about an hour, but went immediately to sleep when I put her down, despite all the loud shrieks and music coming from downstairs. What a good baby!
  • Husband got many people to play this weird hand-shocking, reflex-testing game during the course of the party and all of them thought it was hilarious fun. Most of them were male, but I didn't need to tell you that.
  • Me doing and saying several embarrassing things to party guests that I wish I hadn't. I'm not even going to say them here because...well, at least one of them is SUPER embarrassing. Okay, I'll just tell you. I pinched someone's nipples and cussed at him for saying something extremely scornful to his wife in front of me. There. Just so you know, I am mortified now that I am no longer drunk. Hopefully I won't have to see him ever again.
But I figure if you wake up with a sense of unease that perhaps the party was a bit TOO out of control, then it was probably a damn good party. Everyone left smiling at least, including pinched-nipples guy.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Foodie mamas--are you out there?

We're having a cocktail party on Saturday, and I'm so very pleased to be resuming this mostly-annual tradition of ours after skipping it last year. Husband and I just couldn't seem to get it together with an 8-month old baby to concern ourselves with. This year, though, we're seasoned parenting pros and we've got more space in our new place, too, to fit even more friends and neighbors. I'm really looking forward to it, even though I have no idea what I'll be wearing.

More than that, though, I'm having trouble deciding on an hors-d'oeuvres menu. In years past, I had a million ideas and had to whittle my tremendous lists of canapes, crudites, and the like down to a number of items I actually had platters to serve from. This year, not so much. What's making it hard is not just my usual lack of time to plan, though that is a factor. More than that, I'm feeling a bit intimidated about cooking for everyone. I used to know my way around a professional kitchen like...well, I don't know like what. But my work was so a part of me that it was a part of my physical memory. My arms and hands were used to exactly the right movements necessary to whip egg whites, shake a pan of rapidly caramelizing sugar, flute dozens of pie crusts in minutes, and all the rest of those small tasks I did for years. Those physical memories are pretty rusty now. I've been out of that life and really that culture--because there is a professional kitchen culture--for a couple of years now. And some of those people from that life are coming to my party.

So chefs are coming. Not only that, there will be vegetarians. Then, there's my good friend on a gluten-free diet. Husband isn't so down with the veggie thing since I wooed him away from his virtuous vegetarianism with a plateful of warm fried chicken some years ago. He told me he wants "meat on toothpicks." How the hell am I going to pull this all together AND make it yummy and festive? Wish me luck, will ya?

And any menu ideas you want to throw my way would be warmly received.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Old habits

The other day I was waiting with some other parents outside the school for the kids to be released. Everyone was making idle chit-chat as usual. I was chatting with a mom I don't know very well, but who lived on our street til she moved last month and who has invited me to a cookie-swap party at her house. She told me that she liked my new-ish haircut and that the new-ish color looked nice, too. "Oh, thanks." I told her. "I used to dye it really bright red when I was younger, but I'm getting old for that now," I laughed.

She responded very seriously, "I'll bet you were one of those goth girls when you were in high school, weren't you?"

"Uh, we didn't have this thing you call 'goth' where I grew up," I joked back at her.

She was not to be put off. "Well, 'alternative' then. You were 'alternative,' weren't you?"

"Okay, alternative-ish," I said. "I mean, as alternative as you can be in Tater-hill, North Carolina," hoping she'd let it drop. She seemed satisfied with my answer and turned away.

I thought about it off and on for a couple of days, trying to figure out why it is I found it so funny and weird. I still don't quite know except that aren't we all supposed to have grown out of these labels now? Or if age isn't the great leveller, isn't parenthood? Where you so often have to swap out whatever clique-ish costume you might once have been accustomed to for something you don't mind getting spit up on or that you can roll around on the floor in? Isn't being a mom our new clique, where we may not have New Wave music or musty vintage clothes or drug use in common, but we damn sure all have kids and the kidless don't get it at all?

I dunno. Mabye we don't ever grow out of this stuff. I mean, I do still look for those moms who look interesting or "cool" on the playground to talk to. Hmmm...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Will work for Scotch

There's nothing quite like the calculatedly off-handed yet sincere suggestion that I call a handyman to fix a few things around the house to make Husband leap into action and do things himself. After the girls went to bed last night, and with a glass of Scotch in hand, Husband trooped upstairs with assorted tools and unguents to patch cracks, caulk stuff, and try to get a broken light bulb out of our shower fixture. I am so grateful.

But my gratitude is tempered at this point by what I fear is the answer to the following question: just how long will a screwdriver, 3 tubes of caulk, a caulk gun, a putty knife, a pair of needle-nosed pliers, some painter's tape, and a shop vac all be left to languish in our bedroom without me nagging him about it?

Yeah, I think you know.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hooray! My first real family drama!

You know you're busy when things like, "Blog," and "Put up Xmas decorations" appear on your list. Or at least I do. Those things are things I consider fun, not something I usually have to remind myself to do. But here goes again, right?

I've fallen very behind on my blog reading lately, but I should get around to it during Bean's afternoon naptime. (Right after I cross off "Wash out muddy cooler" and "Soak antique quilts" from my list.) This means I have no idea how the rest of you spent your Thanksgivings, whether your dinners were delicious or hectic or fraught with family drama. I, for one, experienced all three of these things over the weekend.

Thanksgiving itself was lovely. Everyone showed up and got along. My old friend Suburban Gorgon came with her family PLUS delicious homemade egg noodles and a chocolate chip pie that caused most everyone to shun the usual pecan and pumpkin pies. My mom brought some veggies and some cranberry sauce so tasty that Bean hoovered down three servings before I stopped her out of fear of fruit acid-induced diaper rash. My stepfather was in rare, benevolent form and didn't make a single charged political statement to stir shit up for the fun of it. The kids were all good and when they got rowdy we sent them outside to play tag, which they did ecstatically, if muddily. Really, a very wonderful Thanksgiving.

But my euphoria over a successful, relatively relaxing holiday was not to last.

Husband's brother booked a 6:00 am flight Saturday morning after a big fight with Husband on Friday. I won't go into details because it was just too silly to even believe, but given Husband's brother's slow, mysterious simmering all day Friday something was bound to happen. Anyways.

Guess I'll have to get used to future holiday dramas. This is not something I've ever had to worry much about in the past, mind you, so I'm a little unclear of family drama protocol. I suppose that I should just take my cues from Husband, since it's his brother, and just brush it off.

It IS sort of a pain in the ass when grown-ups just won't grow up, though.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Rode hard...

This house has seen some hard use in the last 48 hours and I have this feeling it's about to come down around our ears. There are smudged cabinets and sticky knobs. Smears of unidentifiable stuff going up the banisters in the stairway. Stained linens, bruised fruit, damp bathrooms, slimy flowers in vases, pine needles ground into rugs, cat barf we keep discovering in hidden corners, a broken screen door, a muddy porch flooor, a cooler out in the yard covered in mud and filled with used turkey brine. And the worst of all, a leaky pipe upstairs that drips through the ceiling onto the floor outside the pantry, a product of some novel way that Husband's nephew takes his showers that otherwise doesn't occur when, for example, we give the girls their bath there.

Ugh. Thanksgiving was lovely, but I have to admit I'm looking forward to giving our poor, over-used house a rest.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A little punchy here...

My to-do list was ridiculously huge today, even for me. I've just begun to realize how close Thanksgiving is and how much I want to do before Husband's brother and nephew get here from Colorado and my mom and rest of the clan show up. The number one thing on my list is to clean the whole house, followed by a trip to the ABC store for booze, getting new plants for the front porch to replace the faded mums, sorting through the morass of papers on our desk, and much, much more. It's a colossal list.

We're hosting this year and I'm so psyched.

I'd like to go officially on record as saying that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There. Christmas is a definite number two if you ask me. To me, Thanksgiving has all the good parts of Christmas without all the stress and overspending. Most of you who've been reading here awhile already know how much I love to cook and bake and eat and drink. I do! Absolutely love it all! Thanksgiving prominently features ALL FOUR OF THESE FABULOUS THINGS. I also enjoy dinner parties with children running around wildly in the yard while the adults gaze on them fondly over post-dinner glasses of something. Furthermore, I love having an excuse to bust out the china and ancient crystal wine glasses, the white linen napkins, and a freshly ironed tablecloth. See? Thanksgiving is just the best, hands down, for a little Laura Ingalls wannabe like myself.

It's a lot of work to prepare, of course, though the amount of fuss you want to put yourself through is totally optional and therefore shouldn't be stressful if you're careful to maintain perspective. Today's naptime, for example, found me on the back porch trying with little success to empty the contents of a huge, neon-green, supposedly indoor-outdoor, but nevertheless undeniably moldy beanbag in order to save some of the styrofoam beads inside and reduce my paroxysms of liberal guilt over THAT much styrofoam in the landfill from ME. (I can use these styrofoam beads for something...) I was doing this in order to make the porch look nicer without this enormous, moldy, styrofoam-leaking eyesore--for Thanksgiving. I even went so far as to floss the porch floorboards free of the stuck styrofoam beads with a pick-up-stick, vacuuming it all up with Husband's handy shop vac. For Thanksgiving. And all the while I was near hysteria--I mean the good kind of cackling, laughing hysteria--over my own stupidity and ingenuity at creating tasks to take up the time here at home. I was thinking to myself, "C'mon, I know being a stay-at-home mom is supposed to be work and all--or at least you're supposed to SAY SO in order to be p.c. these days--but truly, I am making this shit up most of the time!"

Anyways, Husband's out of town for the night, gone to Georgia where he's picking up some furniture in storage at his uncle's house. It's for Thanksgiving, you know, to make our still-empty guest room sleepable for Husband's brother. And I'm off to have a second cocktail since it's the weekend. I'm going to try out a recipe for a bishop (American style, not English). If I like it, we might be having them for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Brownie bitching

Ugh. Slogging through formatting yet another list of volunteer "opportunities" to hand out to parents at tomorrow's Brownie meeting. Did I complain last year about what a crap job it was to be the cookie mom of Sister's Brownie troop and be stuck with trying to make other supposed grown-ups meet deadlines? Did I say how much other parents sucked for making me nag them about giving me troop money on time and then getting mad and pissy with me for nagging them? Did I ever complain about how much it sucked to be PAID to hassle people back when I used to manage a bakery with a dozen bakers on staff? I take it all back. Being cookie mom was just for 2 months. Being a bakery manager actually paid pretty well. Being a Brownie troop leader is for most of the year and you do it for free.

What's REALLY a crap job is having to hassle parents every month to please do something to contribute to their daughter's Brownie troop. Please just say you'll bring a box of granola bars or a bag of apples for the girls to snack on. Please sign up to help with the single meeting you're required to help with. C'mon. We tell you about this at the beginning of the year. Your daughters love love love it when you come. Please send money on time so that we can buy event tickets on time so that we can actually attend the events that your girls voted to attend. Please help drive all these girls to the events. I know they're usually on Saturdays. Did you know that it's Saturday for me, too? Do you realize I'm not your free babysitter? Did you know you're making it so that I really don't want to do this anymore?

Say it with me now--what the hell was I thinking? Again?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New habits

I decided after having the miscarriage that I really need to get healthier. The midwives told me that there didn't appear to have been a specific cause for losing the pregnancy, but still. I'm 35 now, get no regular exercise other than walking a 10-pound dog around our block, and feel no shame about gorging on all the Halloween candy that the girls hauled in a couple of weeks ago. I drink gin with abandon, add heavy cream and butter to most things I'm cooking with great recklessness, and have dessert every night. Sometimes I even have a little sweet something after lunch. I could be a little healthier, dontcha think?

So as of about 2 weeks ago, I've changed a few things. I've stopped having an enormous bowl of ice cream with homemade caramel sauce dripping all over it every night after the kids go to bed. I've stopped having my customary two gin drinkies every night. Now I just have a glass of red wine over the course of a couple of hours and then a cup of herbal tea after the girls go to sleep. (Okay, it's still alcohol and you teetotallers won't approve. But red wine is good for you, and it's just a bad idea to completely deprive a mama.) I do not snack on candy during the day, but have fruit or yogurt or cheese and crackers instead. I am trying to pay attention to when I feel full at dinner rather than snarfing everything on my plate just so I don't waste it. I do not finish Bean's leftovers at lunch or breakfast. And I've begun exercising again.

Not much, mind you. But I got up at 6:00 am this morning to go to the gym before Husband and Bean got up, and I did this last week a couple of times as well. I've been dragging the poor doggie on longer walks of 30-45 minutes in which I walk briskly up hills, working up an actual sweat. I sometimes even do abdominal crunches during naptime (though, ahem...not right now).

Husband says he can already tell it's having an affect, and I do feel different already. I feel great, actually. I've got the beginnings of the muscle tone I used to have a couple of years ago when I went to the gym as part of my regular week. And I find that it's self-perpetuating. Since I went to the gym this morning I denied myself that little sweet snack I craved after lunch because I didn't want all that damn early morning exercise to go to waste.

Now if I can just keep it up during the holidays...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Under construction

Can a cave be green? I've kept my same black template ever since I started this blog last year because caves are black, right? And I'm not as talented as some people about just making design stuff up, at least when there has to be a computer involved. But since I've switched to Blogger beta and it's supposed to be all fabulous in various, still-mysterious ways I feel like I should do something different. Can a cave be green? Maybe I should shuffle colors like they say you can do now. Or choose a different one altogether for my on-line cave. If I could just figure out the instructions, because really I see the instructions but I can't make sense of the instructions. Anyway, new template...

Oh, and crap, where did my blogroll go?!

Return to normalcy

Husband and I took Bean to a friend's going-away party yesterday afternoon. This is a friend that Husband made here in Chapel Hill when we first moved here about 6 years ago and Husband joined a running group. I think they immediately hit it off, which pleased me at the time because, while Husband lived here when he went to college, he'd been gone for some time and didn't have friends here anymore. I'm very sorry to see this particular friend leave, though it's for a great job in a great town and his wife and 2 kids are very excited.

It was a fun party and I do feel up to parties again now. But I was a bit shaky when Husband's friend's wife asked how I was doing because she knew I'd "lost the baby." I had mentally prepared myself for the possibility of people asking me about it, but the second she asked me I teared up a bit and came very close to saying, "I don't want to talk about it," as a precursor to really losing it in the middle of the party. I didn't realize I was still that shaky. In my normal, daily life I am NOT that shaky at all. I'm too busy feeding the kids, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, walking the dog, working on projects, planning Thanksgiving dinner, bringing in the houseplants from the porch, planning our holiday party, and all the myriad other little items that fill my life to actively feel sad about it anymore. I feel o.k. now, really. Maybe just when I'm confronted with someone else's sympathy it's hard.

So if I happen to lay eyes on you in person, don't be sympathetic, damn it! A little light-hearted, "How are you?" will do fine.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The worst news

Well, the worst has happened. The spotting escalated into a full-blown miscarriage that kept me awake half of last night. I am no longer pregnant and am terribly, terribly sad about it. I'm also feeling like a complete idiot for announcing it so soon, given that I've had a miscarriage before and remember all too well how months afterward I would STILL have people asking me cheerfully how the pregnancy was coming along. I'm kicking myself now.

I remember writing here, too, that if something happened I'd want to talk about it here. You know what, though? I don't. I really, really don't. What I want to do right now is hole up for awhile and not talk to ANYONE about it. I need to think about it on my own for awhile and really believe my midwives when they say that even having 2 miscarriages is no indication that I'm predisposed, especially since they happened so far apart and I've had 2 perfectly healthy children in the interim.

My 2 beautiful girls ARE a huge help to me right now. Bean especially is so unfettered in her sweetness and mama-love that when I'm with her the sadness is just gone. So I'm going to immerse myself in my life right now and just do the things I enjoy and be sweet to my babies. I'll be back in a couple of weeks, I think.

Monday, October 30, 2006


It's been a pretty shitty day today. I got a call from one of the midwives at the birth center about the fact that I tested positive as a carrier for cystic fibrosis. Now Husband has to get tested to determine if he is, too. If he isn't, there's little to no chance that our baby will be born with the disease. If he is, then the baby has a 25% chance of being born with it. I immediately called Husband after hanging up with the midwife and burst into tears when he answered the phone. My thought was not of this baby in my belly, but of Bean who exists already. I now think I needn't have worried about her, because in reading descriptions of cystic fibrosis on-line today it looks as if Bean would already be a sickly child indeed if she'd been born with it. Still, both she and Sister have a 50% chance of being carriers themselves, and now I have to fear for any children they give birth to in the future as well as this new baby of mine.

Then again, I may not have to think about this new sibling because--as if the threat of cystic fibrosis wasn't enough--I'm spotting today, and have been since 5:00 am. I haven't had cramps so I have no way of knowing what the hell is going on, and neither do the midwives. I just have to wait and see, and in the meantime I'm pretty freaked out about it all.

Part of me also sees the irony in being so freaked out recently about the prospect of having this third baby so soon. Now I'm just worried that I won't.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Free time

This was a gorgeous, windy, bright fall day here in NC. I spent most of it indoors, unfortunately, stuck in a whole day's worth of Girl Scout leader training. The morning session was 4 solid hours and the afternoon class was a jam-packed 3 hours. By the end of it, I was information saturated and I think my eyes were literally glazing over. By the time 4:00 rolled around, I kept having to read the same sentence in our books several times before I could comprehend it. But in between those 2 grueling sessions I had an hour and a half lunch break. A whole hour and a half to myself where I wasn't expected to be at home or anywhere else, where the kids were taken care of, and I could do what I pleased.

I was practically delirious with the restaurant options for my solitary lunch.

My grilled reuben dripping with Russian dressing, pastrami hangings, and yummy sauerkraut was delicious, and the cannoli I had afterwards was tongue-shockingly sweet, creamy, and crunchy all at once. Because the deli was take-out only, I ate it all in my car with the windows rolled down to catch the stiff breeze. I licked my fingers afterwards.

But possibly even more delicious than that was the walk I took to a nearby park afterwards. The weather was, as I mentioned, lovely for a brisk walk, and with a little time to myself I fully realized that I am pregnant. It sunk in today. I noticed that I felt poochy today, though granted that was probably because of my recently gobbled lunch.

It wasn't just that, though. I just felt pregnant all of a sudden, sort of roundish and full of busy cells and blood and life.

This is the last time I'll be going through pregnancy, and I was so glad to have a bit of free time to pay attention.

Friday, October 27, 2006

My life without blog

Our internet connection has been spotty at best for the past few days. For some reason, Time Warner Cable has to deal with this problem in our neighborhood everytime it's a bit rainy outside. I've missed my blog, and more than that I've missed your blogs. But on the other hand, I do get quite a lot done without the blog vortex sucking me down during naptime hours. Witness,

  1. I finished planting 2 flats of cute little Johnny-jump-ups in my front bed. They've been waiting for me right by the front door for 3 weeks now.
  2. I mulched most of that same front bed to lessen the quantity of mud that comes sliding down the front walkway everytime I try to water the new plants I've put in there. Plus, mulch will control the little fall weedies that are popping up everywhere.
  3. I dug up 5 azalea crowns from diseased, old azaleas growing unhappily at the side of the house. I don't much care for azaleas anyway. Too ubiquitous in Southern suburbia, and they're only pretty for a couple of weeks in the spring.
  4. I got a start on digging a giant hole in the backyard for a redbud tree before I hit what must've been a bed of prehistoric sandstone. Ten minutes of trying to scrape some headway and my heart was racing, I was dripping sweat, and the shovel felt like it was made of lead. Yes, I am out of shape, thanks, but that was some damn heavy clay shit! This is a job for Husband to finish, I think.
  5. I made a big batch of buttercream for decorating some pumpkin cupcakes with Sister and a friend who's over today on this, a teacher workday. I love teacher workdays. It's almost enough to make me consider home-schooling except that I know that my days would not be spent baking cupcakes and letting Sister veg out in front of movies. (Or would it...?)
  6. I ordered hundreds of flower bulbs!
  7. I gave some thought to Thanksgiving dinner!
  8. And I talked with my mom about her visit with my brother earlier this week. He looks great, she said, and is currently living with 2 other recovering addicts in a condo owned by their mother. He seems to be getting back on track and as long as he's employed and staying clean, he's welcome to live there. Considering he's spent the last 2 winters living in a tent, my mother and I are both very relieved that he'll at least have a warm place to live.
See? Very busy without the blog as an option. It's been quite cozy.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I had my first prenatal appointment this morning at the birth center where I had both Sister and Bean. Not all the midwives I remember are still there, but enough of them were there that I felt very welcome. I'm sure it's a nice validation when they get repeat customers, especially when it's for something more than just buying your toothpaste or your sewing supplies or what have you. They couldn't yet hear the baby's heartbeat since I'm only just over 9 weeks so far, but the RN went overboard reassuring me that my uterus "definitely felt pregnant" and the right size for gestational age. I'm not worried.

But I also walked away not terribly cheered up, as I'd hoped to be. I can't tell if I'm just super hormonal or what, but I just feel blue today. Probably it's got something to do with a talk that Husband and I had last night at the dinner table. A little back story is in order here.

I have a brother 2 years younger than me who is homeless and a previous heroin addict, probably still using. He lives in a city a couple of hours from here and, needless to say, has made a complete mess of his life. He has 2 sons by different mothers, neither of whom he's allowed to see anymore. He pays no child support to their moms, and is employed only some of the time. When he did work steadily, he was a stone mason and made good money at it. Now when he works, it's at drudge construction jobs, and I suspect that his money is spent on fast food meals, helping various friends with whom he sometimes lives for a few weeks at a time pay their rent or gas or whatever, and yes, drugs.

My mother is going to see him tomorrow for his 33rd birthday. She's taking him out to lunch, and to get a haircut and some new, warm clothes. She asked me on the phone last night if she could invite him to Thanksgiving, which Husband and I are hosting this year, if my brother seemed o.k. I told her I thought it would be fine, but that I didn't think that we'd be comfortable with him staying overnight in our house. This may sound harsh to you, but if he's really still an addict, then he could very likely do something stupid like steal cash from our wallets when we weren't paying attention, or make off with some small electronic thing he could pawn or something. My mom thought this was reasonable, and even said she'd likely put him up in a hotel because her own husband, my step-father, wouldn't want him staying there either.

When I mentioned this conversation to Husband, he just got silent. I asked him if this made him unhappy, and he told me frankly that he didn't want my brother to come to Thanksgiving. At all. He didn't want him in our house or around our kids. He'd been keeping tabs of him through his county's courhouse website, had seen his arrest record and mug shots, and just didn't want him here. I didn't know what to say. My mother has also been keeping tabs of him that way, and says that he was arrested once this year for possession of drug paraphernalia and 3 times for failing to appear in court. She thinks he's more or less o.k. now.

I emailed my mom to tell her about my conversation with Husband, and she told me she understood, but emailed me a link to the courthouse website so that I could see for myself my brother's arrest record. When I looked, there were pictures of my brother that I couldn't believe. Just devastating pictures. He looks like a homeless person. He's dirty and underweight and has uncut hair, and in one photo his eyes were rolling from whatever he was on as the picture was snapped. And my mother was wrong. He'd been arrested 4 times this year for possession of drug paraphernalia.

So my husband is right and I don't feel comfortable having my brother around our kids and in our house either, even for a few hours of Thanksgiving dinner. And this is such a shitty thing to admit, that I'm keeping my door closed to my brother, knowing that he won't be with family, won't get to meet Bean whom he's never seen, and will likely be eating a Thanksgiving meal at the homeless shelter, if he eats anything at all. I feel horrible.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The first of many pregnancy gripes

A good friend of Husband's was over this afternoon with his wife and kids. It was very pleasant despite the rainy afternoon--the kids all ran around screaming, helping themselves to the plate of cookies in the kitchen at frequent intervals while the grown-ups sipped hot cider and tea (me and the other wife) or cold beer (the husbands) and talked.

These friends have 2 kids born 12 months and 2 weeks apart. They're 6 and 7 now and their crazy, newborn days are long over. The parents seem downright serene and content, so I asked the mom what advice she might have for me once I'm the mom of 2 very little ones. Her advice was damn funny. She told me right away, "Just don't go anywhere or do anything," which made me laugh. Of course! I mean, I knew that! It makes total sense. By the time you've got them both dressed and in clean diapers and their giant, shared diaper bag packed, and snacks packed, and then one of them needs another diaper change, and then you lug them both out of the house and buckle them both into car seats...well, it hardly seems like it'd be worth getting to where you're going. So this mom said, and I can see it.

Husband and I went to dinner at a different set of friends' house last night with both Sister and Bean in tow. We met this couple at the birth class we took when I was pregnant with Bean and they're the only ones we've kept in touch with. Their son is a month older than Bean, and they're now pregnant again, too, a month ahead of us again. While the guys talked techie stuff, I talked with the other wife about how she was feeling physically, how she anticipated her little son would handle it, how her last birth had gone and that sort of thing. She made it clear that it was freaking her out some, contemplating a second child with her first so young. When I mentioned this to Husband upon returning home, he asked me, surprised, "Are you freaking out about this?" To which I replied, "Uh, yeah. You're not?" And apparently he's not.

My first prenatal appointment is tomorrow and I'm wondering if I can let my mixed feelings show, or if I'm going to be asked annoying, leading questions like, "Are you so excited?!" from a beaming, midwife-intern type. What I really want is someone who's going to say to me knowingly, "Honey, you're in for it. Now here's what you need to do..." and who will then go on to tell me all their secret mommying tips for staying sane with 1 kid in school and 2 still at home. 'Cause I spend a fair amount of time worrying just how the hell I'm going to pull this off with any sort of grace or sweetness. Grandi, whose been-through-it-all grandmama perspective I find incredibly helpful and reassuring, commented on my last post that someday I'd have the privilege of hearing my kids talk over the dinner table about how much fun it all was. I just hope that's true and it's not them talking about what an absolute bitch I was, which frankly seems like the more likely scenario.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Okay, quick! Our third wedding anniversary has snuck up on me, and I've just learned that it's our leather anniversary. Leather! A Google search for "third anniversary leather gifts" has yielded either very boring or very expensive ideas--leather luggage, leather briefcases, leather wallet, leather belt, etc. Husband neither needs nor would want any of these things. Anyone out there got any brilliant ideas? Lay them on me, please! If, however, you're a friend of Husband's thinking of doing him a favor, just know that "leather-clad escort" is NOT an option. (One of the expensive options I ran across on a Google search, that one.)

Help me!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Big question

I've been back from my fabulous beach vacation for 2 days now, but was so immediately plunged back into the daily grind that it's taken me this long to get to blogging again. I didn't think it would wear off THIS fast, dammit! Ah well. It was worth the back-to-real-life shock. We had 2 full days of having to do absolutely nothing. I read magazines I've been meaning to read. I wrote in my journal. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I damn well pleased, and didn't have to fix any for anyone else. I went to bed very late and got up late, too. Most strikingly to me, though it was a subtle thing, was that when I woke up in the morning I just lay there awhile. Opened my eyes and stared up at the ceiling and thought quietly about things before I pulled back the covers. I can't remember the last time I did that.

But I'm mostly solidly back now. Not sleeping great because the baby's still, STILL not sleeping great. Rushing through mornings to try to get Sister out the door to school on time. Lunch packing. Homework supervising. Laundry folding. Sigh.

One of my friends asked me while I was there if I had any strategies for coping with things once spring rolls around and there's another little baby on the scene. The question stopped me cold as I realized how damn hard it's going to be to have 2 such young children. I told her that basically I would be kissing my own interests and hobbies goodbye for the next couple of years and just keeping my head down. I already don't have much time for doing the things I like to do, and soon I'll have zero time. I'm just glad that Sister will be almost 9 by then and perfectly capable--as she is now--of taking care of many things herself. She really is an incredible big sister.

But I don't mean to sound as if having this third child is something I don't want to do. I did want one last baby and if the timing was off by a couple of months that shouldn't be SO daunting. But I'm beginning to realize that it is very daunting indeed and asking myself, "What the hell have we done?!" Mixed feelings? You betcha.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Packing list

2 pairs of fat pants? Check.
1 fat skirt? Check.
Large beach towel? Check.
All my favorite CD's for the road? Check.
Grocery bags and a cooler stuffed with chips, crackers, pates, cheeses, chocolate cherry chunk cookies, and all manner of very delicious snackies? Double check.
Bathing suit? Check.
Bikini wax? Are you kidding?! These are my girlfriends! No check.
Gleeful expression and loud heart thumping as I realize that I am minutes from walking out the door to my fabulous all-ladies beach trip for the next 3, baby-free nights? Check, but I'm keeping those low key for the sake of my poor, put-upon husband. God bless him.

See y'all on the other side!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Beginning the new garden

Bean woke up at 4:30 this morning screaming, and then woke every ten minutes after that for the next 2 hours, crying her loudest. I was exhausted, and still kind of am, though I'm coasting on a couple of dark chocolate cherry chunk cookies that I just got out of the oven. (I'm baking a couple kinds of cookies to take to the beach--good, grown-up kinds with chunks in them.) But the good thing about Bean depriving herself of so much sleep was that she fell asleep in the stroller while we were out walking the dog this morning, and this meant that I got to garden. I just left her sitting in her stroller in the front yard and dug away at the bed in front of the house til she woke half an hour later.

It's been a few months since I was able to plant anything and now, of course, we're in a whole 'nother garden space. It's nice dirt here--heavy with all the clay, but still workable because previous owners have also done a little gardening and lightened things up a bit. I planted some hardy lantanas, some catmint, a sweetspire bush, 2 white flowering camellias, and some pretty purple asters, just for some color right now. I'm trying to go with a few new gardening assumptions at this new place. Namely, that global warming is here to stay and I should really be planting as much that is drought-tolerant and tough as possible. Also, that you just can't force soil conditions. The beds by the house appear to be moist-ish and rich, but when I get around to planting by the street it'll be plants as close to cacti as I can stand to make them since the ground out there is bone dry. And lastly, I had the recent realization--just this morning, in fact!--that I can make our gardens here full of smells that my girls will from here on out associate with this house and this life and maybe with their mother who loves them. Lantanas, lavender, sweetspire, gardenias, and tea olive are all present in these beds already. I'm going to start going with more good-smelling stuff to see what kind of smell associations I can instill in my babies. Seems like a nice way to try to be remembered.

And one final, parting comment about gardening before I quit boring those of you who couldn't care less. I forgot how much I really love it after this long, busy, extremely hot summer. It felt really wonderful to be back out digging in the dirt again. I can already see what this garden is going to look like in my head, and I can't wait to really get started, heavy clay and all.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Countdown til Friday

It's official. I have all the emotional maturity of an 16-year old high school girl. The playgroup mom who dissed us yesterday? She sent an email last night with "I am SO SORRY" as the subject line. She'd been in California and it had completely slipped her mind to let us know she wouldn't be coming to the playgroup. She was extremely apologetic and we're all good playgroup buddies again. Makes me glad I phrased my email to her as neutrally inquisitive as possible, inquiring after her well-being, even. I am NOT a weirdo that other moms try to avoid after all.

But now my mental attentions are straying to the fact that I'm going to the beach this weekend. Husband isn't going. Neither are Sister or Bean. Who IS going? Me and four of my very good girlfriends, (including Mommygoth!) on our annual all-ladies-all-the-time oceanside estrogen-fest. I'm desperately excited about the prospect of 3 nights' worth of uninterrupted sleep, no dinner preparations, no children to entertain (God love 'em), all the grown-up girl talk I could possibly want, walks on the beach if I want, reading trashy novels on the oceanfront porch if I want, cookies for breakfast if I want, and yes, dammit, a glass of wine if I want. Dreamy, no?

But I've got to keep my head down and still.get.through.this.week. Here's what I have left to do:

  • 3 more nights of teething Bean waking to scream her head off at least once and probably more times per night. She'll then wake at 6 am, insisting that it is too time to get up.
  • 2 afternoons hassling Sister to finish her homework already and get into her bathing suit for swim class across town. Then entertaining Bean in a gym for 40 minutes when the childcare isn't open, and anyway Bean screams her head off if I try to drop her off at gym childcare.
  • 1 Brownie meeting, including snack for 15 girls, that's only partly planned so far. I'll probably need to run to the store at some point for craft supplies, too. (Crap, better do that tomorrow...)
  • 1 baby music class across town, which is mostly fun except that about halfway through the class Bean starts bogarting the laps of any dads that happen to be present. This generally pisses off their own offspring, makes me feel a bit awkward, and makes all the other parents stare at me as if I am secretly doing things at home to make Bean scared of me.
  • 6 dog walks, 6 animal feedings, 3 dinners to prepare, 3 toilets to scrub, many loads of laundry, etc.
But after that, I'll be hitting the road around lunchtime on Friday, the car stocked with my favorite road trip CD's, the windows down, leaving Bean with her beloved Papa and Sister to be picked up from school by my Ex. They'll all be fine and will miss me. I'll miss them, too, of course.

But I can't frickin' wait!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Dissed by a playgroup mom

I just finished hosting the second meeting of our playgroup at my house, but for some reason one of the moms didn't respond to my email or bother showing up. This meant that it was just me and one other mom because so far we haven't had anyone else in the vast mothers' group list want to meet on Monday mornings. This no-show mom's absence was pretty conspicuous, then, as you might imagine, and I couldn't help feeling like I was back in high school again or something. Like I planned a party where I invited someone I liked--because I did entertain visions that this mom and I would really like each other--who just didn't come. I'm wondering now what did I do to scare her off. I mean, I didn't even cuss lat week! Am I some kind of weirdo? Oooh, or maybe it was the crappy, 80's hair band music that the other mom played in the background when we met at her house last week that scared this California native off? (Actually, I thought it was a pretty weird choice of music myself, but what do you do when it's someone else's house?) I don't know. But I can't help feeling a little rejected. Stupid, huh? When I'm in my mid-30's now, happily married, with a pretty sound self-image?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

More on food

Aw, shucks! Y'all are just so nice to be saying congratulations and asking after my level of barfiness and all. And not one of you asked if this pregnancy was planned like my mother did. So sweet!

We're in the throes of homework/snack time at the moment, and so far Sister has been at her eating and homeworking for just over an hour now. I keep thinking the snacking is coming to an end, but I happen to be trying to get a jumpstart on dinner at the same time, and the girls both keep begging me for pieces of what I'm making to supplement the perfectly adequate snack of cheese and crackers and dried strawberries they've already eaten. Sister likes this new kind of dill pickles after all, it appears, and who knew that Bean liked pickles at all? I gave her a little cube of one and she immediately dragged her high chair over from across the room so that I could give her much, much more. Little part-Polish girls after my own heart.

Me? I'm having a hard time with the food lately. I'm only slightly barfy in the mornings, which is usual for the knocked-up me. I'm also starving at various points during the day. Already! At seven weeks! But the hard part is that I can't think of a thing I feel like eating, and believe me, I'd be happy to eat! I gained 50 pounds with Sister and 40 with Bean and, well, whatever. It all came off after nursing awhile. Most of it did anyway. Stupid recommended 25-35 pound weight gain. But fabulous nursing!

The one thing I've found that is very delicious to me is drinks with ice in them. Ice is SO yummy to me right now. Oh, and Ben and Jerry's, any flavor. They sort of balance each other out, dontcha think?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Long time no blog

I have zero excuse why I haven't been blogging or even keeping up with others' blogs lately. I'm busy, but when am I not? I have projects going--transforming the antique quilt top I bought a few weeks ago into a full-fledged quilt, tiling the top of a perfectly nice, round table that a neighbor discarded by the side of the road recently, cake-baking, soup-simmering, homework-supervising, etc, etc--but these days I usually have some kind of project working, so even that is no excuse.

Maybe it's because I'm pregnant? Yeah, maybe.

'Cause while I've got all these other things going on, I basically didn't know what else to blog about as long as I was keeping my knocked-up state a secret. So now that I've told my mother, most of my friends, and hell, even my insurance agent, I guess it's time to tell all of you. I am about 7 weeks pregnant with my third and probably last child.

I know, it's a little early to be spilling it all over the internet, but in the event that I miscarry (God forbid), I'd want to blog about that, too. So how 'bout that? I'm pregnant again...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sponsored by The Man

In my ongoing search for mama-and-baby activities for Bean and I to do together that don't involve her spending a lot of time in shopping carts and me making up things I "need" to shop for, I've run across something that I'm pretty sure is a new and uniquely American event: the playgroup or story time held inside a retail store.

I'm not talking about someone reading stories to little ones at the local bookstore. Personally, I still think of bookstores as something other than a retail category and more of a...I don't know, a sanctuary of sorts. Something more worthy than just a store somehow. The creepiness I'm talking about is Pottery Barn Kids holding a playgroup where a clown is invited, and afterwards kids are permitted to frolic in the store's play area--all the toys in which are for sale, of course. And for a pretty big chunk of cash.

Then there are those Gymboree play center classes that are admittedly separate from their kids' clothing stores, but which include the singing of songs about "Gymbo" the clown, sung to the tune of "Bingo," and which have the corporate logo emblazoned all over the place. Plus a convenient little wall of overpriced toys for sale right next to the cubbies.

Is this phenomenon not similar to Channel One still showing in many American classrooms, purportedly airing current events content but also running ads by Coke and Nike and what have you? Are my lefty roots showing and I'm freaking out over a non-existent conspiracy in which The Man tries to imprint my little one's tender brain with corporate logos? Does anyone even talk about The Man anymore?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Special etiquette

I have officially joined the local mothers' club. It felt so...well...weird doing it for some reason. I'm not a joiner, for one thing, and much prefer hanging out in my kitchen alone on the computer or else sewing or reading or some other solitary pursuit. Plus, I have friends already. They're good friends that I've known for some time and like very much. Most of them work, though, so it's all I can do to maintain those relationships. For that matter, it's all I can do to squeeze in things like sewing and reading and hanging out on-line, so why am I doing this? For baby Bean, of course. I'm doing it for the playgroups.

But I'm beginning to have the sneaking suspicion that there is a playgroup culture out there that I'm so not privy to. I never did join a playgroup when Sister was little because I was working and already had too much to do. So it was a surprise when the mothers' club sent out the roster of people looking for playgroups and attached articles about playgroups that we were supposed to read. 'Cause playgroups require research and preparation, I guess. And then there's the overachieving mom who called me at friggin' 10 p.m. last night because she's taken it upon herself to organize the roster into a spreadsheet with names listed according to different criteria. She's getting her master's in information science, she told me gushingly, and just hated to have a semi-functional system out there. I went to the open playgroup last week with Bean to meet some of the parents, and more than one mom gave me recommendations quoted from those articles or from the mothers' club meeting speaker about how playgroups are supposed to be run and who should be in them. It was a bit freaky.

I just can't bring myself to research how I'm supposed to be scheduling Bean's playtime for optimal fun and learning or whatever, so I'm turning to you mamas out there before I sign up. Have any of you ever joined playgroups? Recommended or not? Any words of advice? And how do you avoid the overachieving, uber-mamas and just find some nice, relaxed mamas with nice, relaxed kids?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Changing of the garden

I've got an unexpected boon of free time this morning. Bean slept miserably last night and woke up with a cold, so she's taking a morning nap. We're skipping her little Friday morning music class, too, since I think she'd be too grumpy. No parent there would appreciate her extremely runny nose and sneezing either.

So here I sit in the kitchen at my computer, sipping tea and enjoying this little gift of time. I didn't get much sleep last night either, but I'm not feeling it yet. I feel great, in fact, which just goes to prove how very much I am starved for alone time these days. It trumps napping, which is saying a lot for me!

Earlier this morning I walked the dog past our old house and dropped off lists of plants that I had planted there in 2004 and 2005 plus a fat stack of plastic plant tags that I'd never gotten around to cataloging. The new owners requested them when I mentioned that I had kept records of everything because they're eager to learn about what's there and what kind of care the plants require. This thrills me, of course, since it was so hard to leave them all. But it occurred to me after I walked away that it really isn't my garden anymore. I've still felt possessive when I've walked by the house these last couple of months. I've been mad at them when they didn't water during a whole month of no rain. I've been sad to see things die that I really loved. But when I gave them those plant records I gave them the last of my work there. That's it! For real this time.

Tomorrow, though, Husband and the girls and I are going to a local nursery to choose a good-sized tree to plant in our mostly barren new front yard. I'm thinking about a willow oak or possibly another maple to pair with the one tall maple already out front. It will be the first thing we plant here and I'm so pleased and excited about it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Terrible tasks

The past 48 hours have been filled with all sorts of sucky events. 2 days ago, I experienced perhaps my single worst day as mama to Sister. It involved a 1-1/2 hour long bout over very hard subtraction homework during which Sister alternately cried, whined, moaned, and threw fits. There were exactly six problems on this homework sheet, by the way. Six. At one point I totally lost it, grabbed Sister by the arm, and hustled her up the stairs to go sit in her room to cool off. (I, of course, also very much needed to cool off.) Plus I yelled at the baby after Sister came back down 'cause I STILL couldn't get Sister focused and Bean tore about the house getting into everything she knew she wasn't supposed to get into--plant leaf ripping, much drawer emptying, block throwing, dog slapping, and file cabinet paper flinging--just so I'd pay her some attention. Yeah, yelled at the baby. Is it any wonder that Sister's picking this up from me when Bean gets into her stuff? Way to model good mama behavior, Self!

Later that evening, Husband and I talked about the lawyer appointment we'd had just that morning where we discussed our wills. The appointment had gone fine, but Husband and I had a heated discussion over whether I should leave the money for Sister under the management of her perpetually unemployed father if I were to die. I don't want to because I'm afraid he'll spend it all on remaining unemployed so that she'll have nothing by the time she goes to college. Husband argued that making someone else a trustee is impractical, and anyway which of us inherits money at such a young age? I'm still unsure what to do. But I cried again that night.

And since then, I've spent precious naptime working either on an application for a new life insurance policy or on Brownie stuff.

Just sucky, I tell ya. Hope y'all are doing better than I am!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Job widow

"Whatever you believe you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."--Goethe

I'm not usually the inspirational quote kind of girl, but this one has stuck with me since the first time I came across it 15 years ago or so. Lest you feel all impressed and daunted by how erudite and well-read I am and shit, let me just say that I read that in the context of some magazine article about someone who climbed Mt. Everest. Can't even remember who it was, and I probably read it while waiting in a doctor's waiting room or something. See? Not so clever as all that.

But anyways, it popped into my head this morning randomly, probably as my sub-subconscious was mulling over Husband's recent job change. I haven't blogged about it recently because it occurred to me that I was being rather indiscreet, blabbing the details of his work life over the internet when things were still undecided and tense. Now I can tell you that he turned in his letter of resignation yesterday. His plan is to start his own on-line marketing agency, and already has a couple of clients lined up, and even a few people begging him to be their marketing directors if that doesn't work out. He appears to be good at what he does, though don't ask me exactly how he spends his working hours. Couldn't tell ya.

So last weekend he spent part of Saturday and all day Sunday working on this new venture, meeting with people he knows, and going over potential contracts. I had thought that this was an exceptional event and that once he was no longer still working at his current job he'd have normal working hours again and we'd have weekend family time again. Last night when I mentioned that I'd be glad when this was settled down some, he let me know that it may not. Starting your own business requires very long and often irregular hours, he told me, and though he didn't plan to work every weekend, he couldn't promise me that he wouldn't. And then he said, "I may have to work all the time just to pay all the bills." Which, how can I argue with that, being one of the people he's supporting?

I lay there awhile thinking all these things that started with, "But I...." You know, like, "But I need you to give me a break from the baby sometimes!" and "But I really want us to be able to do things together as a family on the weekends!" or "But I hate it when you don't show up for dinner and it's just me and the kids sitting there, and me all pissy because I just spent the last half hour cooking with a screaming baby clinging to my legs." Feeling sorry for myself, I eventually fell asleep.

Sort of hard to think of Husband's new thing as full of genius, power, and magic when the kids have nearly pushed me over the edge, but hey! I'll give it a shot, okay, honey? Y'all just think thoughts full of genius, power, and magic my way.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Old friends, hard feelings

I've been working for the last couple of days on renting a beach house for some girlfriends of mine and I on Topsail Island, NC in October. It's our annual beach trip--as of a couple of years ago anyway, and not including last year when both me and Mommygoth had babies too new to leave for a few nights. I'm looking forward to resuming this tradition very much, though. I'd love for it to keep going til we're all old, old ladies.

But I'm a bit nervous about this trip, too. There will be 5 of us there, including me. We've all known each other since college, and one of them I've even known since elementary school. 3 of us are married and have children. 2 of us are not married and are childless. These last 2 girlfriends would like very much to be married and be mamas, and one of them is even going so far as to give her boyfriend of 10 years an ultimatum. He'll either agree to have kids with her by her December birthday, or she'll leave him. Only she's not telling him the date, because apparently he won't respond well to a spoken ultimatum. The other friend is still mourning the end of a relationship that she (and we!) really thought was going somewhere, and which went on long enough to seem serious. She's 36 now and freaking out about her prospects seeming so grim.


Our first year doing this trip, I remember commenting to one of my friends, "We're at the age now where for the next 10 years, someone'll either be getting married, or pregnant, or nursing a newborn." It seemed like it couldn't possibly turn out otherwise then. Can you tell why there's something a bit nerve-wracking here? My emotions about it all are very mixed. I feel horrible that my 2 friends are so unhappy about their lives, and that things aren't going the way they wanted them to. One of them is particularly fragile, and I hate to see her that way. I'm excited to be going and getting some time with them away from the responsibilities of my usual life, even if I should be so lucky to have such responsibilities. I want to get caught up on everyone's lives, but I feel like I should probably keep my mouth shut about my own because I don't want to piss anyone off or make anyone feel bad. They are wonderful women who don't have a spiteful bone in their bodies and wouldn't begrudge me a thing, but I can see that my TWO husbands--one of them Ex, of course--and TWO girls are an irritant sometimes.

I know that marriage and babies aren't the only mark of success in a woman's life, and I certainly know they're not the only route to happiness. But I AM happy, and apparently feeling guilty about it. I know I don't deserve my life, and didn't do a thing to earn what I have. I feel grateful and puzzled about it every single day.

But almost none of us deserve what we get, do we?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sad fat foodie mama

My to-do list is mercifully light today, and the calendar empty of after school activities for Sister. Which means that I feel fully justified in sitting here during naptime writing blog fluff.

Today was the first day in quite some time where it was cool enough to require something rather heavier than cotton capri pants and vintage cotton house dresses. I busted out my favorite pair of jeans this morning in the early chill, all thrilled that I got to put them on again. Pulled them up with perhaps a slightly harder tug necessary to get them over my hips than I remember them requiring. Zipped them up...but that needed a bit of force. Then buttoned them and fastened my belt and looked in the mirror. Damn. When the hell did my ass get so big? I was so crammed into those jeans I felt like a total trashy slut mama walking Sister to school.

Better start laying off the ice cream. And the gin. And the jellybeans, amaretti cookies, butter mints, roasted nuts, buttery mashed potatoes, and everything else I love that's a routine part of my eating week. Ugh. I think this gets suddenly harder the minute you turn 35 or something. Or maybe it's this stay at home mom gig where food keeps me company all day.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Back to THIS?

This back-to-school business is hitting me hard all of a sudden. I feel like I've been thrown violently out of a summer of comparative leisure and relaxation--or anyway, as much of that as can be expected while trying to keep a couple of kids from being TOO bored--to the fast lane of Brownies, open houses, emails to the teacher, after school activities, packing non-boring yet nutritious lunches, and trying to instill good homework habits in Sister so that she doesn't take 2 hours to do 30 minutes' worth of homework. How did this happen? And did I REALLY believe that once Sister was back in school I would somehow miraculously have time to start going to the gym regularly like I've been promising myself I'd do?

Yeah, right.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A weekend long recovery

It's been some time since I felt completely back to my normal self, but I think after this weekend I'm there. I left Bean alone with Husband on Friday night while I went on an overnight trip with a friend to her mom's house in a town a couple of hours away. We got our hair done--and FINALLY someone got my haircut right, though I had my snooty doubts, this place being what I think of as a small Southern town. Just goes to show me, ME of all people, why stereotypes about the South and small towns are, well, stereotypes. I'm crazy about this haircut. So cute and not like I have a pair of shaggy earmuffs on at all anymore.

But anyways, this is not what got me back to my normal self entirely. This trip included not only a perfect, unplanned haircut, but also cheap antique shopping! I purchased things for the house and didn't spend a fortune! I even found 2 beautiful antique quilts and a quilt top that I plan to finish myself with fabrics from this place for just under $100. Do any of you know how unaffordable antique quilts generally are? If you care, I'll just tell you that they're usually WAY expensive. But not these.

We also had margaritas! 16-ounce margaritas, me and my friend's mom, that were yummy and extremely drinkable. Served to us by a slow-ass waiter, but who cares when the conversation is fabulous and there's no baby to chase around the restaurant and you know you can drink as many as you want because you can stay up as late as you want 'cause there's no baby who's going to wake you up at 6:30?! I can't tell you how much glee that filled me with for the whole 24 hours I was there. We all 3 stayed up late, drinking and nibbling sweets (and them smoking) on the porch til WAY past my bedtime. I learned that I am in fact NOT too old to get over hangovers quickly the next morning. All it takes is having slept 9 solid hours the night before!

So all in all, this was a fabulous weekend. I missed little Bean a tiny bit when I called home to tell her goodnight, but mostly I was just so pleased to be out on my own for a change. I recommend this sort of thing highly to all you over-taxed mamas out there if you can manage it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A new food season!

I don't know about the rest of you, but all of a sudden it really feels like fall is coming. The angle of sunlight is changing, and down here in NC we've had a lot of heavy rain lately. This after a solid month of temperatures in the upper, upper 90's and not a drop of precipitation. No wonder it feels different!

Suddenly, all I can think about is cooking fall things in the coming cooler weather. I went out to the grocery store today and bought a whole mess of apples to make into apple butter. Mommygoth is going to email me her pumpkin muffin recipe tonight when she gets home. I want to bake and fill the kitchen with delicious, cinnamon-y, nutmeg-y, clove-y smells! I want to can stuff! I want to stockpile things for the winter!

I am so ready for fall.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Unlocking the cabin

We got back from the mountains yesterday and after 8 hours on the road with 2 kids, I'm glad to be home. I unpacked everything within an hour after our return, and have washed and dried no fewer than 6 loads of laundry in the past 18 hours. Blogging with a cup of tea is my reward. Folding will come later.

Some of you know about shall we say...dread? Horror? Anyways, my rather negative feelings about our annual excursion(s) to Husband's family cabin in Tennessee. If you're new to this blog, let me just explain that this cabin is beyond "rustic." It's more along the lines of "filthy" or even "squalid." I am no pansy when it comes to damp and dirt, like say on a camping trip or a long hike. Neither am I by any stretch of the imagination the keeper of an immaculate house. You know, someone who makes you take your shoes off at the door, someone who even scrubs the toilets regularly. But this cabin! The floor is so disgusting that I just can't bring myself to go barefoot. I wear socks instead, and after a couple of hours have passed, the sock bottoms are stiff and shiny with black filth. The mattresses and whatever horrible things fill the old dressers reek of mildew. I am physically uncomfortable when we have to lie down in one of the damp, stinky beds at night between sheets that will never get properly clean because it's just too moist there, and anyway the washing machine stinks, too. Factor in the 8-hour drive over the mountains with kids in the back, and the prospect is ghastly. Every time.

Last time we went there over July 4th, I began to understand a little why Husband's family is practically reverent when it comes to the cabin. The family members themselves are wonderful people--smart, well-traveled, friendly, good cooks, lovers of my children. Spending almost a week with them over the 4th made me think of the cabin as just the setting for a long history of really good times with these people. Many of them have been vacationing there since they were children. Their parents have, too, because it's been in the family for 4 generations now.

This time, something else happened. Husband invited an old friend of his deceased mother's up from Knoxville to breakfast with us on Saturday. Knoxville is only a 45-minute drive, which is nothing in that part of the country, so they were pleased to make it. She--I'll call her Kathleen--knew Husband's mother for 60 years before she died. 60 years, y'all! After breakfast, when we were all chatting on the back porch, listening to the river rush by and drinking coffee, I asked Kathleen how she'd originally met Husband's mother.

"Oh, gosh, I can hardly remember. It was in church, in Sunday school. We didn't attend the same grammar school, 'cause B. lived across town, but course we got along so well that we played together sometimes. Then we did go to the same high school. You know, B. and Nancy (another long time friend) were the only ones in our crowd who had a car in high school. So after church every Sunday--we'd have our bathing suits and our shorts with us--we'd leave church and come driving down here to the cabin. We'd stay here all day and swim and go tubing, and then drive back to Knoxville when it started to get dark."

And in an instant I got the clearest picture of a group of teenage girls piled into a big car, smoking illicit cigarettes, gossiping, laughing, the windows down and no seatbelts to keep them from turning around in the front seat to grin at their friends in the back. They'd be skinny because they all were back then, and wearing the modest bathing suits of the 1950's because that was the era, and because they were all good Southern girls, but they'd still feel the wind and sun extravagant on their skin and in their hair. They'd be talking in loud voices over the wind, excited to be on their own, out of church, heading towards a whole day at the river, the cabin and the water all to themselves. And then the cabin itself waiting empty for them, then full of them as they burst in. They'd run down to the water and shriek at the cold, nudge each other in, tripping over the smooth rocks, smoke on the bank if the cabin next door happened to be unoccupied that day. Later inside, they'd lounge with their legs up on furniture that was old even then, eating pears from the tree out front, talking til it was time to drive home.

Kathleen didn't tell me all that, and I never got the chance to hear B. talk about the cabin, but I could see it so clearly in my head. I understand how B. must've talked about that time in her life to her two sons, and how all the now-old cousins must talk about it to their children and grandchildren. I understand where Husband's love and yes, reverence, for this cabin comes from, and I understand why he wants our kids to go there and love it, too.

We would all be lucky indeed to have a place we loved like that, friends like that, memories like that.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Holiday sign-off

We're heading out of town for a long weekend in about an hour, driving one more time this year to Husband's family cabin in the Tennessee mountains. Because of Ernesto grazing the East coast, the weather is iffy, and therefore all activites usually associated with going to this cabin are iffy--tubing down the river, hiking, horse-back riding, going for walks, etc. We could very well be in for a long weekend of being holed up in a rather primitive and damn dirty cabin, trying to entertain 2 children who will be pissy indeed if they can't go play in the water when it's.right.there. Why are we going then? Please don't ask me. The cabin trip is Husband's gig. My newest strategy is to be as acquiescent as possible in the hopes that one day when the girls are old enough, I can beg off going to the cabin at all. It is SUCH a long-ass drive--8+ hours, the last couple of which are barfingly curvy. But I know I've complained about the cabin before...

No other news with regard to Husband's job. His new boss once again didn't come find him to sit down, though the president of the company did try to sound Husband out about his plans. We'll see when we get back, I suppose.

Off to finish packing and load up the car before we pick Sister up from school and get on the road. I'll probably be incommunicado up in them hills, but I do hope all you bloggers out there have a pleasant Labor Day holiday and don't get rained out by the storm. Cheers, y'all!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The day only half over...

I just called Husband for an update. He was not fired this morning, and neither was anyone else. But he's considering quitting this afternoon when he meets with the new boss one-on-one. Depends on the boss' attitude, I think. Or on what kind of mood Husband is in when the boss asks if Husband will be able to work with him and for him. I'm not quite sure what to hope for now. Maybe something along these lines:
He'll quit this afternoon, but it won't be this big, inflammed scene that will leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth and inspire nasty comments about his work there when other potential employers call for a reference in the future. He'll figure out in the next month exactly what sort of business he'd like to start for himself, he'll find a few others he gets along with brilliantly who think it's a fabulous idea, they'll all decide to work together and feel inspired to go to work every single day, and they'll all make tons of money doing it.
Yeah. Something like that would be nice.

In other news, the recycling contained a stack of newspapers, a crushed gallon container of organic low-fat milk, one empty fifth of Scotch, and one empty gallon of gin this morning. And me with my car in the shop today, unable to run to the liquor store. Meh. Even worse is that the mechanic estimated the repairs at somewhere between $470 and $600. But he'd call me if it was going to be more than $600. Wonder if he'd run to the liquor store for me for an extra $50.

Clearly, this day is a loss. Think I'll go watch some recorded episodes of "The Colbert Report" and work on Sister's quilt now. Nudge me when it's 2:15 and I need to wake the baby and get Sister from school.

Potential bad news this morning

Husband left the house at 6:45 a.m. this morning. He was going to un-decorate his cube at work, probably save things to disk from his work computer, sort through files and papers and all the stuff on his desk. Husband thinks it's very likely that he and his entire department are all going to be fired this morning by their new boss. This because the new boss flew in from Canada yesterday for his first day of work and refused to make eye contact with Husband or any of his employees. Refused to meet them or talk to them at all, in fact. And at the end of the day, another manager came into their work area and said that they all needed to be at work at 9:00 a.m. this morning to meet with him. Things don't look good.

I'm trying not to be too stressed about it. Husband has been talking about making a change for well over a year now. He doesn't like this new guy and the direction the company is going. He'd like to work for himself, he thinks, and not have to deal with sucky office politics. Financially, we'll be o.k. for awhile, so if it had to happen I'm glad it's now and not last year some time. (If it had happened then, the situation would quickly have become desperate with me newly out of work.) But still. Husband's worked there for the last four years and I'm pissed off for him that some new guy, younger than him and so very new to the company, could just walk in and fire him.

I'm waiting to hear from Husband now. He should be getting out of his meeting soon and will call me to give me the news.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Out of sorts

It's only day 4 of Sister's being back at school, but I'm feeling a bit out of sorts. Maybe it's because this house is still so new? Maybe it's that I have no garden yet in which to putter? Maybe it's because my usual choice of activity with Bean for a few weeks now has been to go shop for one house-related thing or another? Don't know. I just feel like the day yawns like a bottomless pit most mornings and afternoons. It's hard to figure out just what exactly to do with my time. It's not free time, mind you, but time that needs to be spent entertaining a baby and keeping a household running.

To that end, I told myself this morning that it was high time I start getting back to the gym again. Bean is 16 months old now and should be able to handle being away from me a few times a week for an hour or so, right? Right. So I tried introducing her to the gym daycare this morning, thinking I'd take it slow and leave her there for 20 minutes while I went to pee and maybe read a magazine out of sight in the hallway nearby. No dice. I set her up with some toys, told her bye while she still seemed happily occupied, and went to the bathroom. When I came back exactly five minutes later I could hear her wailing from down the hall. Thought I'd let the sweet, capable college girls do their job and give it a few more minutes, but...nope. Bean lasted exactly 10 whole minutes in the gym daycare before I had to rescue her. We played together there for the next 15 minutes and I took her home while she still wanted to stay and play, so maybe she'll be pleased to go back soon. But maybe I should've thought of doing this long before 16 months old. There were 8-month olds there, all nonchalant at the prospect of hanging out with a roomful of toys and other kids to play with without their moms around. Not my baby, though.

I have GOT to start doing something for myself. I hate to keep beating the dead horse that I've been beating for the last several months, but don't all you SAHM's out there feel like your days are spent cooking, cleaning up, running some errand, cooking, cleaning up, squeezing some stupid chore in during naptime, making snacks, cleaning up, helping with homework, cooking, cleaning up, and going to bed for not enough sleep every damn day?

And yeah, we're thinking of having a third child soon. I suppose there's something to be said for getting it out of the way and having all the hard, early years be concentrated together. Isn't there?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The afterschool grind resumes

So Sister's in third grade now, as of last week, and we're settling into our afternoon routine all over again. We walk home from school, have a snack, dismantle the backpack contents, start on homework. I'm beginning to get alarm bells about the homework all of a sudden, though. I've never thought of myself as bad at math--except for maybe high school calculus which I nearly flunked--but just what the hell are "fact families" and "addends?" THAT"S third grade math?! I had to look it up on-line so as not to embarass myself calling her teacher. I honestly had no clue at all.

Maybe I should be reading ahead or something. Sheesh.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Day 3, going, going...

This is the next installment of a little program I like to call, "It Really Sucks That My Husband Has to Travel for Work." Last night, I had to get up with a non-sleeping, screaming Bean at least 7 times. I think it was even more than just 7 times, but I was so deliriously tired, not to mention absolutely livid at the injustice of it, that I lost count by around 7. By 3:00 a.m. I made the executive decision to stop getting out of bed to comfort her. I turned off her monitor, told her to please be sleepy, closed her door, and closed my door. She cried awhile longer, but I could only barely hear her, so I was able to go back to sleep a few more hours. She was still alive this morning so it appears that this was an o.k. thing to do.

Then while I was out getting some groceries a little while ago and returned lugging my 27# baby plus heavy bags of milk gallons and canned beans and tomatoes and the like, I discovered that our new outdoor sofa had been delivered. The UPS guy had very helpfully deposited it on our front stoop, blocking the front door. Probably thought he was doing me a favor getting up the steps or something.

Have I said how much it sucks that my Husband is out of town just now? Wish me luck as I try to make it through the rest of this particularly damnable day...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Day 2 done

No real time to blog just now, but I'm procrastinating a bit while I finish a cocktail, so why not?

It's been a hectic evening after a lovely day in which a good friend came over with her daughter. We ate a lunch that included many tater tots, followed up by chocolate cake. We talked a lot, and I REALLY needed to have someone to talk to today that wasn't asking me for popsicles and ideas for fun things to do and cartoons to be turned on and a cup of juice, etc. This fabulous friend of mine even watched both the girls while I ran out to pick up a bookshelf for Sister's room I'd bought yesterday and then helped me haul it up the stairs when I returned. She rocks!

But after she left, the day kind of crashed. Or I kind of crashed. There was a meet-the-teacher ice cream social to attend, the dog to walk, dinner to make, the screaming baby to appease, neighbors to reconnect with since we'll all be walking to school together tomorrow, children to bathe, dishes to wash, etc. I remained in a foul mood for most of the evening, struggling valiantly not to yell at the girls. Okay, actually struggling valiantly to stop yelling at the girls, counting down the minutes til it would be seemly to pour myself a drink for chrissakes! Sigh.

But they're both peacefully asleep now, and my own curling up in cozy bed is within reach. All I need to do first is fold the laundry, pack a lunch, empty the dishwasher, take a shower...

I'll be so glad when Husband gets home. Just 3 more days.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Slightly drunkish ponderings

Alone with the kids both gone to bed and slightly drunkish--is there any more wonderful state of mind than that? I don't think so. Not on this earth anyway.

Sister and I just finished up a late showing of "The Man From Snowy River." Did anybody else besides me totally go nuts over this movie as a girl? Probably not. I must've seen it a dozen times, and I can't say that about ANY other movie, even 35 years old as I am and obviously well advanced into the era of VCR's and DVD's and HBO. Even now, the scenes of the hero, Jim, riding his horse over a cliff in Australia--or is it just a real steep hill? Do they have cliffs in Australia?--to go round up both his own escaped horse and the rich boss' expensive colt gave me goosebumps. Goosebumps! I mean, through the gin here, y'all! But I was one of those horse-loving girls who had no good reason to love horses, having spent my formative years in Miami.

Is there anyone of a Freudian bent out there who knows why there are some girls who go horse-y, but no boys doing this generally? Aw, I'm probly obsolete as hell in the era of video games anyway...

Single mama

The secret cave is rather subdued today. Husband left town this morning for 5 days in Canada, on a work trip with about a dozen other co-workers. Even if it has been difficult for me to talk to him a lot recently, I miss him already. He's been gone exactly...hmmm, looks like a whopping 5-1/2 hours so far. I'm sure I'll be missing him even more this evening when I've got to cook dinner while Bean clings to my legs and Sister sighs around the kitchen, complaining about him being gone. 5 days with no back-up! 5 days without mi esposo! I suspect cocktail hour will come a little earlier than usual, and perhaps last a little longer while he's gone.

But fortunately, a woman from Bean's birth class came over with her little boy a little while ago. She and her husband are the only people we've kept in touch with from that class, and we like them very much indeed. Not only do we have kids the same age, but this fabulous woman brought fresh pastries! Plus, she made me a present of a beautiful, pink glass, antique rolling pin that she thought I would like. So that helped me out of my self-pitying mood quite a bit this morning. Grown-up company, happy children, AND presents--how could I remain in a funk?

The trick is for me to stay busy, I think. Maybe I'll get around to working on Sister's long-neglected bed quilt while my evenings are yawning this empty and spouse-less...

Monday, August 21, 2006


Announcement: Husband and I are in zero danger of getting a divorce! Just so everyone knows. From a few comments I got on yesterday's pity party of a post, I believe I left it ambiguous about whether I wanted to stay married to my dear spouse. I do, really! It's just that some days are harder than others. Some days are so hard, in fact. And a weekend where I still have to mind Bean for most of her waking hours because Husband needs to get his whole to-do list done before he leaves town for 5 days is even harder than usual. I don't plan on getting divorced a second time, but thanks to everyone who was concerned that I would.

Now on to other marriage-related ponderings. Tonight I was thinking about all the trade-offs I put together mentally in every day. Things like, "If I go get a haircut and Husband stays with the girls, I could get an hour to myself, but then the house will be trashed. Is it worth it?" (The answer to that one is always yes.) Or, "If Husband and I have really great sex tonight, will he let me sleep in tomorrow? Should I risk losing the sleep now 'cause he might refuse to budge when the baby cries?" (Often I risk the sleep and of course feel pleased that I did, whoever gets up with the baby.) Or, "If I take Bean to the damn park while it's 95 degrees outside, she'll probably run around enough to take an extra-long nap and let me get x, y, or z done. But it's SO hot. Is it worth it?" (Usually not.)

Today, there were a series of them to consider back to back. And they're so complicated sometimes!

"My friend is in town from Mexico and wants to come over for lunch and an interview for a book she's working on. If I say yes and schedule while Bean is sleeping, Bean is bound to miss out on her afternoon run-around 'cause we'll still be too busy catching up when she wakes. Will Bean be entertained and peaceful by the mere presence of my seldom-seen friend and not scream her head off? Does the adult conversation make it worth it even if she's freaking out?" (Ohmigod, YES!)

"Does going to the book store--which is out of the way but which has an enormous basket of stuffed animals and many throwable, stompable board books--before going to the grocery store mean that Bean will spend a little energy there and not throw fits during grocery shopping when she can't have cookie after free cookie or balloon after free balloon?" (Apparently not.)

"If I let Husband take over with the pajama donning and hair brushing while I get on my own p.j.'s and pour myself a drink, can anything terribly messy possibly happen in those few minutes?" (Oh yes! Husband can give Bean a whole apple of her own to augment her paltry, thrown-about dinner and Bean can spit each and every chewed up bite onto the porch floor for the roaches and ants to come find later if it's left uncleaned. I find this dismaying in the extreme when I happen upon it. Husband watches this with glee, though, both because his baby girl is cutely proud that she has her very own apple to eat, and because he just bought a new shop-vac that he's desperate to try out. I swear, I wasn't gone longer than 10 minutes!)

This is one of those mental skills I find I've become proficient in since I became a mom. The calculations take only a few seconds, though I may not always be able to predict the outcome.

Today, though, I mostly feel like I came out ahead. Funny what a little grown-up company can do for a mama's state of mind.