Friday, August 27, 2010

Greatest. Day. Ever.

The Liberty Bell Chair is officially out of my house.

Background: My father bought the ugliest chair in the history of furniture at an auction, and it soon became the property of my husband, through no fault of my mother, so she says. Let me see if words can do it justice: The color scheme is orange-y rust, brown, olive green, and brown. The arms are scratched up wood. The patter is-- now really try to see it-- historical icons, such as the Mayflower, and, you guessed it, the Liberty Bell. It's old. It's faded. It can't even be cleaned anymore. It sounds like a cannon exploding when you recline it. And twelve years I've had to look at this piece of shit. And finally, finally, it's gone.

Well, sort of. Ryan has yet to bring it to the dump. Sigh. Baby steps.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is that what she's wearing?

Ryan is color blind. I'm not really sure how it works, to tell you the truth. What I do know is that monochromatic colors seem to kind of bleed together for him. Reds and oranges are pretty similar. Blues and purples. If a color is pretty muted, it just looks grey to him.

I used to be fairly sensitive about it. Making fun of someone's disability is one of the douche-iest things you can do. But then one day, this happened:

"Are there no clean t-shirts in this house?" Ryan is notoriously bad at finding things that are in obvious places. Like in a drawer.

"Your purple shirt is clean," I said, trying to be helpful.

"What purple shirt?"

I rummaged a little and pulled out the shirt triumphantly. "This one."

Ryan blinked. "That's... purple?"


He took the t-shirt in hand and looked confused. "What color is this stripe?"

I knew that this wouldn't end well. Because he had had this t-shirt for years and years. He has worn in a million times. Obviously he didn't know that he was wearing a purple shirt with a pink stripe on it. I didn't think of it. Who the hell cares if a shirt is purple and pink? Well, Ryan does, apparently.


"Oh, that's it." He chucked it in the trash can.

Now I can't not make fun of him.

But I try not to be a shrew about it. He's really trying hard. He has Mondays off, and that is Daddy/Daughter day. He is in charge of dressing her. This is where I use every strength of my being to remind me that it doesn't matter what she's wearing. She's clean. She's happy. She's warm/cool or whatever the weather dictates. It doesn't matter....

Of course, sometimes I fold under pressure. For instance, if they're going out in public. I try to be subtle about it, like, oh-- she got a little stain. Let me change her. Or, I think she needs something warmer. Or I'll lay out an outfit on the couch for her, hoping he won't be offended. But for the most part, I really try to let it go.

Sorry, Daddy
Recently it's become a little game. Will Daddy pick out a cute outfit for Norah? We've been popping her in front of the webcam, letting a couple friends be the judges. I think I'm undefeated.

But I know in the grand scheme of things that it doesn't matter. She's not going to have less fun. She's not being harmed. She's just a toddler with an unattractive outfit. So, this is a good lesson for me-- letting go of the control freakness and just enjoying the ride.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fun and Fear

Norah and I went to the Benton County fair with Sara, John, and her little pal, Samantha. It was here where I discovered I may never actually have pure, unadulterated fun ever again.

It's not that I don't like a good ol' county fair. Quite the contrary-- I love animals, fried food, beer, and midway games. I'll drop $20 without a second thought if someone gives me a dart and some balloons to hit. Sure, the prize may be a tiny stuffed alligator that cost .03 to make, but I love it. In the past, it was a great time to get together with friends, listen to local bands, and drink cheap beer. Now it's a different story.

And it's not as if Norah didn't have fun. I doubt she could have had more fun had we gone to Disney World. She desperately loves animals and with each new one she saw, she got the same amazed-aghast-thrilled look on her beautiful face. Mouth wide open, eyes searching for me as if to say, "Are you seeing this?!" and laughter that could barely even escape from her throat. I couldn't even feel my normal pity and sadness for the animals trapped in the cramped petting zoo in the sweltering humidity and heat because Norah was so flippin' happy.

Girls having fun, me worrying about duck bites
John took a rabbit out of a little rabbit house for Samantha and Norah to see. Was this allowed? I highly doubt it, but John usually doesn't care about details like that. Sara took pictures. Soon John was swarmed by happy children wanting to pet the bunny. He also took out a baby duck, which was beyond adorable, and the girls quacked at it.

The girls rode ponies, and again, even though it was hot, the ponies had probably been walking slowly in a circle all day in the heat, and they had to endure miserable little kids sweating and dripping ice cream on them, I pushed those thoughts out of my head and tried to memorize Norah's look of pure joy. She got off the pony and politely said, "Bye, Horse," and gave him/her a pat on the nose.

So what's my problem? The babies had a blast. I was there with my pals. There were minidonuts. Utopia.

But I realized that night, as I tried to fall asleep, that I will always and forever be in a different state of mood. I will never be able to let go and have fun. Ever again.

I had a good time, yes. But there is always a very prevalent feeling of alertness and worry. No matter if we're at a county fair in central Minnesota or camping or shopping or at the splash pad or wherever. I have two streams of thought above all else-- Norah is having fun! She is so cute and awesome! This is great! and then I have the low drumming of strangers... keep her in sight... animal bites... dirty... too many people... weather... too warm/cold.... hurt... danger... 

Even camping I had felt like this. The whole time. I wondered if my companions felt the same, if Ryan did. He was happily giving wagon rides to the kids and picking wild flowers. I was doing the same sorts of things, but also thinking bugs... injuries... sun... weather... keep her in sight... I don't know that one second went by that I just felt... content.

Even at Play Land at the mall. She's having a blast with the other kids. I'm thinking Why is that freak sitting over there looking in here? Those kids are running too fast. They're going to run over Norah. Can she get a foot disease in here? These kids look dirty. 

It's a dark and heavy feeling in my chest. A dread. I'm ok when we're playing in our living room. I'm ok at Sara and John's or my Mom and Dad's. But I feel like I should be carrying a first aid kit (or just go back for some kind of medical degree), have my black belt in karate, and be concealing and carrying when doing pretty much anything else. Because there's a real threat at the Waite Park Public Library. Psycho.

Does this ever go away? I may have to call my mom and ask her if she has ever had fun in the last 32 years. Maybe I don't want to know the answer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Full of It

I'm slowly starting to realize that Norah is a little person, rather than just my little snuggle monkey. She surprises me every day with her thought capacity, that is, what she all understands and how she makes decisions and her favor over one thing or another. It's amazing. I know it's kind of dumb, but it's difficult for me to think of her as a little person, rather than an I'm-hungry-tired-wet-comfortable-uncomfortable-amused little baby. She's becoming so much more complex.

And thusly, she has finally discovered that her mom's full of shit.

We were coloring the other day. She just learned the word "yellow," and now declares every color to be yellow. She triumphantly held up a crayon and pronounced it yellow, and I gently told her the real color. Then she went for another color.


"That's red."

She looked down, unfazed, and grabbed another. "Yellow!"


She dropped it and picked up a turquoise crayon. "Yellow!"

"Blue, Baby."

She picked up the blue one. "Yellow!"


Then her little brows knit together. She still clutched the blue crayon, but looked down with a frown and snatched up the turquoise crayon. Then she looked at me accusingly.

I had dumbed down "turquoise," thinking the word was too hard to learn right now. And now she looked at me like I was either screwing with her or I was an idiot.

"Yellow..." she muttered. Then she took the crayons and scribbled side-by-side, one in each hand, as if she was examining them more closely. Could Mommy be right? Could they both be blue?

I stammered, "See, Honey, they are both blue-ish. They're different shades of blue."

She lost interest immediately when Ryan came in from the kitchen, thankfully, and ran to him. Was this it? Was this the end? Had I lost all credibility? Was I no longer Mommy, Queen of the Universe?

If she sees a butterfly flitting around the yard, she squeals in delight until it disappears. Then she quickly turns to me with a deadly serious expression on her face and says, "More," while smashing her fists together (the baby sign for more). As if Mommy could wave her arm and make butterflies appear.

She points to all the images in all her books and looks at me expectantly to name the item. Curtain. Moon. Mouse. Clock. As if I'm the keeper of all the words.

She calls to me in the night when she can't get back to sleep, and knows that a few minutes snuggled warmly in Mommy's arms will do the trick. The Sandmom.

And now? I'm either a liar or a dumbass. Not very good options. But at least now I know that she's more clever than just a baby, and deserves to not have me dumbing things down for her. And hopefully she's still trust me enough to ask me what letters or numbers she sees. And to summoned more bunnies in the yard.