Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Taking a Blogging Leave of Absence

My witty, beautiful, fantastic readers:

I haven't blogged for a while. And I'll tell you why. I'm working on a new novel, and I've been dedicating  more time to it. Because I really only write when Norah's gone to bed, or sometimes on my lunch break, I have decided to take that precious little time and use it to focus on the novel. It's really important to me.

I apologize if you're bummed out about this. I'm bummed out, too, but a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do. I'll still blog a little, but it will be with much less frequency.

And I'll still be out there reading my favorite bloggers! Look for me laughing in your comments area. Unless you're not trying to be funny. Then look for me being appropriately concerned or thoughtful.

I'll leave you with a quote from Norah, and my favorite Friday Story Time.

"You're not people. You're just a mom." -- Norah

















It's Story Time: Goldilocks and the Three Bears

"This porridge is too hot."
"THEN MAKE YOUR OWN FUCKING PORRIDGE."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Enforcer

When you enforce consequences, you kind of get screwed, too. Case in point: Out to eat with Norah and Auntie Sarah. Stipulation: Norah must eat half of her meal if she wants to go to Cherry Berry (a frozen yogurt joint). Doesn't happen.

Consequence: Auntie and I were clearly the ones who wanted fro-yo, and got screwed, as we ate half of our dinners. But going there and eating it in front of her seemed usually cruel.

Also, after watching Despicable Me in the theater this afternoon, Norah had a complete and total meltdown in the restaurant attached to the theater. We were there with our friends and Norah's bff Minta. I took Norah out to the car, as she was causing a scene. Apparently she was sad the movie was over, and wanted to go to another one. Stipulation: Norah has to calm down before we go back in. Doesn't happen.

Consequence: Ryan gets to drink the beer I ordered as I sit in the car in the rain with Norah screaming, and me nearly in tears because I usually start crying when she's inconsolable. And I feel like a douche for being firm when she's crying. I did try to console, but she was hysterical, so I sat there and tried to ignore it. I don't know how to parent.

Another situation. We went to a birthday party. All was well. I even let Norah pick out the gift. MISTAKE. ATTENTION PARENTS: don't let your preschooler/toddler pick out gifts for birthday parties. Maybe this is a big duh, but no one told me. She picked out things she loved, and grew an instant attachment to the items. So when the party was over, she obviously wanted to bring rubber frog home with her, as it was her friend. She named it Seesaw.

I made her give it back to her little friend, and carried her wailing to the car. "I want my fwoggy! I want my Seesaw!" Meanwhile, my heart is breaking over a stupid fucking rubber frog that she clearly loves and I am making her leave it behind like Sophie's Choice, and this sweet little boy runs up to us with the frog, freely giving it back to Norah.

What do I do? I say "Oh, you are so sweet. But you keep your frog, Honey."

Consequence: Norah is now hysterical, and I am torn. I wanted her to learn about giving gifts, but now I'm certain I screwed up. I don't want her to thinking tantrums are the way you get your way, but she loved that dumbass frog. We drive the entire way back home in tears. I get her calmed down for about ten minutes, when Ryan returns from the party again, because I left my purse and he happily volunteered to go back as Norah wailed, and Norah thought he had gone back for her fwoggy. Tears for what seemed like an eternity.

I really have no idea what I'm doing.

The next morning, I got Norah ready, had her count out some money from her bank, and we hit Target to purchase Seesaw II. We thought at least we'd show her about money and goods exchanging hands, and that lesson would offset the fact that we're total pussies.

So, I know that setting consequences and enforcing them is a good thing. Right? But I don't know when I should be doing this. Is it for eating food? Having tantrums? Or is it just for violence and dangerous activities? Or for smart mouthing? Or all of the above? I don't know. I have no idea.

I guess it should be for things that are important to Ryan and I. Hitting and such is bad. Bad manners is not good. But the tantrums... I'm not sure. A communications professor once told our class "Feelings are facts." And while this is a corny thing to say, it's true. Should I allow this behavior? Let her let it out? Or should I be encouraging self-regulation? Or would that teach her to hide her feelings and push them down until they become ulcers or time bombs? I don't know!

I suppose no one said parenting is easy. And my friend, Kristi, said something like if it is easy, you're probably screwing it up pretty bad. I think I'll cling to that for a while.

















  


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Oh, Smurf It

Thursday, Ryan lost Papa Smurf. (Long story short: Papa and Smurfette were cake toppers on Norah's birthday cake back in January. We've played with them every waking minute since then.) They were at Bounce Depot (indoor place with inflatable castles and slides) while I was teaching an evening online class, and Papa fell out of Norah's coat pocket.

He whispered it gently to me as we were making dinner that night.

"I lost Papa Smurf," he said so quietly, I could barely hear him. His face looked as if he had been the cause of a 30-car pileup and fled the scene. Norah didn't know at this point... she was eating a Krabby Patty (cheeseburger) and watching Smurfs on TV. He was lucky... usually she likes the cake-topper Smurfs to watch it with her. "Look, Papa Smurf! You're on TV."

So, Ryan was simultaneously in the running for Worst Dad Ever and Best Husband Ever, as I, and I alone, am assigned to do the voices for these Smurfs all the damn time and I sometimes want to chuck them both out into traffic.

But she loves them so much.

Anyway, the next day Ryan went to Bounce Depot after work and reclaimed Papa Smurf. Yippee.

Then on Friday night, my sister came to entertain Norah while Ryan and I did our taxes. She took her out for frozen yogurt and shopping, which was good because children should not be exposed to the language and violent outbursts that take place when Ryan and I are actually faced with our finances.

They came home and what did Norah have? Smurf WORLD. She pealed the Toys R Us bag off of the huge box and said, "Mommy, you're going to freak out!"

She thought freak out = good. No.

"Thanks, Auntie Sarah," I said, with my middle finger nonchalantly scratching my eye.

"She picked it out!" she grinned.

Smurf World is a giant Smurf head that unfolds to a landscape that includes a mushroom house, playground equipment, a waterfall, and a skyscraper, which makes no fucking sense at all. It also came with Gargamel (I'm not even going to Google this shit to make sure it's spelled properly) and Azreal. The cake-topper Smurfs are the perfect size.

Of course, the pictures on the box showed even more Smurfs.

And then the next day, probably still reeling with quilt over losing Papa briefly, Ryan frickin' went and bought a little set of more damn Smurfs-- the ones that fit in the little house and merry-go-round.

And I have heard "Mommy, can you do the Smurfs?" thirty thousand times since last night, making the total since January nine billion.

Oh, and for Easter? My parents got her a stuffed Papa Smurf and a classic Smurf lunch pail, which is exactly like the one I had as a child. That I actually had a soft spot for, but clearly my family is out to get me.

But now it's time for bed, and I will relish my Smurf-free time until 6:30 comes and I hear through the monitor "La la la la la la la, Smurf along with me!" Sigh. That is just too smurfin' early for that.

 













Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Another Fat Update

Well, I'm down 12.5 pounds. I don't really feel different or see any difference, other than some of my jeans are annoyingly loose. I know, I should be grateful they're loose instead of tight, but I'm not ready to buy a new size, so the in-between stage is a little irritating.

I'm still not doing great with drinking water, so I need to ramp that up. I'm doing much better with exercise, now that the weather is fairly decent. Now I just need to ignore the Easter candy lying about.

New motivation:

We went to the zoo, and did a potty break. Norah was in the stall with me, and as I shimmied my jeans down, she said, "Mommy, you have big buns!" Ugh. Yes I do. Hopefully not for long.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bike Day and Subsequent Events

It was Bike Day last Friday at Norah's school. Thankfully, her teacher called me before we'd left the house to remind me. I guess it's no secret that I'm an idiot.

Princess Cycle
Anyway, it's March in Minnesota, and while we had a very, very mild winter, the weather was still a little iffy at times. One day it was beautiful-- 70 degrees and sunny. The next day, cold and drizzly. We hadn't broken out the outdoor toys. So into the shed we went, and Norah chose her princess bike.

We got to school, and she saw the other little bikes lined up, and wanted to ride down to them. She couldn't even get her knees past the handle bars. Too small.

Shit.

No prob. I told her I'd get her tricycle. We'd gotten it from our good friends when their sons had outgrown it. It was navy blue and white, and was a little rusty. But it works. I ran home and got it. When I got back, Norah was playing with her little pals, and I surveyed the bikes. They were big kid bikes with training wheels. Yikes. And fancy ones. Lightening McQueen grinned out from a couple of them. I looked down at Norah's trike.

I made my way back to the car, and considered hitting Target. Don't be stupid, I told myself. They're too little to make fun of each other for that stuff... right? I made myself go home to work, as I was now about 10 minutes late. Which is really damn sad when you work from home.

I called my mom later. I told her about Bike Day, and how I was worried because Norah doesn't really "get" pedaling yet. Had we missed the boat? Rob and Tamara's kids practically pedaled out of the womb. Her BFF Samantha was tooling around their basement last time we went over for a visit. Ruh-roh.

My mom advised we start working on pedaling and steering with the trike. Once she started to understand and do better, we should get a big kid bike. She reminded me that one of Norah's strengths is athleticism. She's not dunking or doing triple lutzes yet, but she runs, jumps, somersaults, dances, and moves constantly. We weren't nurturing one of her strengths.

She was right. I threw up my hands and resigned myself to the fact that our college savings account would now be designated to future therapy. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But I was disappointed in myself, because I usually try to make Norah do what I value-- art, music, reading. She likes that, too, but I need to nurture her in her other strengths. Which blows, because I'm frickin' lazy, and I hate running and shit.

Lalaloopsy bike
Later that night, my sister called. We were at Target for a couple essentials (and $100 worth of stupid shit we can't resist because Target is the Devil), and she decided to meet us. She had decided to buy Norah a bike. Weird coincidence. I told her about Bike Day, and our plans to practice with the trike. She dismissed that (and said she normally would have just brought one over without consulting at all, so she was actually being good, which I suppose is true) and later that evening, Norah had a new bike. Aunt Sarah spoils her a tad.

She's happy, we're practicing, which is a whole other story, and we get to be creeped out by the dead button eyes of Lalaloopsys. Norah likes creepy. Shrug. We're nurturing that.



Monday, March 26, 2012

Reviews: Games for Ages 3+

I decided to do some reviews on games designed for children 3+ because I'm an expert. That is, I'm an expert if you're exactly like me, and your child is exactly like my 3-year-old daughter. So, if that's the case, you're in for a treat.

Memory

Grade: B

Premise: You should really know what this game is, but if you don't for some reason, here's how it works. You place a bunch of cards face down. The cards have symbols on them, and there are two of every one. You flip two over at a time and try to make a match. There may be more to it than that, but you get the gist.


Pros: I guess finding matching symbols probably does something positive to your brain. It's simple enough, so a 3 year old can get it. You can vary degrees of challenge, like keeping the cards face up when they're first starting.


Cons: It gets a little long. If your kid gets bored with a game, Memory will turn into Twister mixed with throwing stars. The cards are the stars.

Candy Land

Grade: C


Premise: There's a path to some candy castle or something (I don't really know, because I've never actually landed on the end, nor have I paid attention to it), and each stone of the path is a different color. Game pieces move by picking a card and moving to the color indicated on said card. Or, there are also cards with different candy treats on them, which allow you to jump to different spaces. And there's some area that's sticky, and you get stuck until something else happens. I don't know.


Pros: If your child gets the ice cream bar card, or whatever candy treat is closest to the candy castle, and then gets double blues and double oranges the next two turns, this game is pretty kickass. It will last about 5 minutes, and I'd give it an A. Also, with the grade A scenario, your child's goal must be to reach the candy castle. That doesn't always happen.

Cons: It's too much of a crap shoot. Sure, it could go well. Or, your child wants the gumdrop card, and you draw it, and they kick your gingerbread game piece across the room and throw themselves on the floor in tears. Or they get stuck in the sticky stuff, or they're almost at the end and then draw the popsicle card (or whatever) and have to go all the way back, or the game takes too long, or the damn cat steals a gingerbread piece, or whatever. There's no telling, hence the grade of C. Could go either way.

Chutes and Ladders

Grade: C


Premise: It's a lot like Candy Land, but instead of the candy castle, there's some other kind of goal destination that I can't remember. I think there are dice, and the game pieces move accordingly, sometimes landing on a plain square, sometimes you have the opportunity to ascend a ladder, sometimes you're screwed and have to go down a chute. Oh, and there are little morality plays within the game. Bring an apple to your teacher? Ladder. Animal sacrifice? Chute.


Pros: Same deal. You get the big ladder, big rolls, you're gold.


Cons: Same. You get close to the end, you hit the big chute, the game board ends up in the toilet. Or, your child thinks the big chute is the greatest part of the game. Crap shoot.

Don't Break the Ice

Grade: F


Premise: Each kid gets a hammer, and taps out blocks of ice until a bear falls through to its doom. That kid loses.


Pros: Kids like hammers and smashing.


Cons: It takes five hundred years to set the damn thing up. You have to cram each little block of ice in the frame, and the kid can't help, even though they're begging you to, because they don't have the strength or coordination to squeeze the blocks into the edges. You barely do. And instead of you sitting back with a cocktail while you let them figure it out, you shove their little hands out of the way, because you're invested now; it's taken an hour for you to find all the damn pieces and fit them in. Then you flip the thing over, ever-so-gently slide the stupid plastic bear into its slot, it inevitable falls through and you have to flip it over again and replace cubes, and then put the bear in, and then in one second flat, the kid destroys the ice, sending the bear to the depths of icy cold, and laughs hysterically, because they don't care what the goal is, as long as they can have the yellow hammer. Then the hammer is used on the cat. Then they want to play again.

Bingo

Grade: A-


Premise: It's bingo. But instead of tiny balls in a cage, there's a spinner. You have to get three in a row, and then scream bingo.


Pros: The cards are small, so the games are short for short attention spans. Spinning the spinner is fun. Screaming bingo is fun.


Cons: The only con is the markers are small and look like cat treats.

Lucky Ducks


Grade: B+

Premise: Little ducks swim around a pond. There are symbols on their butts. Pick ducks, try to find three matching symbols, and you win.

Pros: It's simple, quick, and kids like ducks.

Cons: It's so frickin' loud. So loud. When I hear that game turn on, tears fill my eyes and I need to resist the urge to smash the game with the Don't Break the Ice hammers. Stop quacking, you little fuckers.

Stay tuned for Strategies for Playing Games with Toddlers.







Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Damn Smurfs

I loved the Smurf as a child. You'd think I'd love the fact that Norah loves the Smurfs. But I don't. I hate it.

It started because of my mother. Yes, I'm blaming my mother for all of this nonsense. She purchased a Smurf cake for Norah's birthday party. It came with Smurf figurines. And blue poop. Blue frosting is now a no-no.

At the party, Norah's little pal, Will, wanted to keep Papa Smurf. Norah loves Papa Smurf more that any other of the little blue bastards, so I sadly said no. Oh, to replay that moment. To give the small child Papa Smurf would have been the greatest decision of my life.

Norah's birthday party was at the beginning of January. It is now March 20. Nearly three months. Every single day, every single hour of wakefulness, has been spent with Papa Smurf and Smurfette. Here's how every flippin' day has started for nearly three months.

Norah gets out of bed.

"Can you do the Smurfs?"

It's my job to give voices to the Smurfs and have them converse with Norah. Every game we play, the Smurfs play. Every book we read, the Smurfs read, too. Every meal we eat, the Smurfs are invited. And they're required to participate in witty small talk.

Ryan is not allowed to play Smurfs. I can't even get a reprieve.

We get home from preschool.

"Can you do the Smurfs?"

We forget about the Smurfs for two minutes.

"Can you do the Smurfs?"

We get ready for bath.

"Can you do the Smurfs?"

We get ready for bed.

"Can you do the Smurfs?"

It's insanity. The only good thing, is that if Papa Smurf asks Norah about her day at school, he at least gets an answer. If I ask, I get, "I don't 'member."

Even Mongo hates the Smurfs. He generally leaves Norah's toys be, but he loves chewing on the Smurfs. This ends in:

"NO, MONGO! NOOOOOO!"

And crying.

I hear a lot of crying. Crying occurs when I say, "Not right now, honey" or "It's a little early for Smurfs, sweetheart."

So I play Smurfs. And my throat is sore from doing different voices constantly. And my brain twitches violently every time I hear the request. And I fantasize about melting the Smurfs into a puddle of blue plastic carnage, or throwing them as far as I can down the street.

But I can't. She loves them. I love her. I try to think about asking her to play Smurfs with me when she's 14 years old, and laugh. How I'll miss those blue bastards.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Snitches Get Stiches

We always tell Norah not to keep secrets from Mom and Dad, no matter what. You know, because of psychos and pervs. But at some point, she needs to learn a little discretion. Some things you tell, some things you keep to yourself. This is how people successfully navigate through life.

For example, we were driving home from preschool, the three of us. I asked Norah how her day was.

"Good. Henry was naughty." (Henry is her little buddy at school.)

"Oh. What did he do?"

"I don't 'member. I told the teacher."

"You told on Henry?"

"Yeah. 'Cause he was naughty."

Ryan and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows. "Snitches get stitches," I whispered.

"Heather! Jesus."

I turned back to Norah. "Honey, we only tell on people if they're doing something dangerous. Okay?"

"Okay. What else is dangerous?"

"Oh, here we go."

Other times, she's smiled mischievously and said, "I have a secret." I don't like this secret business, but it's not as if it's hard to pry it out of her. She's three.

"What is it?"

"I ate two cookies at Grammy's."

And yet other times, I want her to keep her yapper shut. Like last night when we were waiting at the car. Ryan got in, turned on the car, and just sat there. Not unlocking it for us. This is classic Ryan. We stood there for a while.

"What an asshole," I muttered, rapping on the window.

"MOMMY! Don't say that!"

"Sorry, baby," I said, as we finally entered the car.

"What did Mommy say?" asked Ryan.

"Norah. Loose lips sink ships," I warned.

"What?"

I made a shhh gestured with my finger and lips.

"Mommy said 'ass,'" she said loudly, as I buckled her in.

"Oh really? Who did she call an ass?" Ryan turned fully around from the driver's seat.

"You," she replied. "And a hole."

"Thanks, Norah."

I guess the mature thing would be to filter my mouth spewings, instead of expecting Norah when to use discretion.... I'll consider that.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Nuk Fairy II

(Disclaimer-- I stole this tactic from another mom.) 

A few weeks ago, I found the one toy that could be Norah's weakness. The one toy that might outweigh the need for a nuk. It was walkie talkies.

I figured this out because Norah thought our baby monitor was sort of like walkie talkies. She'd go in her room and try to talk to me on the monitor. Or she'd have me stay in her room and pretend to be her, and she'd be me, and I'd pretend to wake her up through the monitor, and she'd come to her room and yell at me for waking her up. (I don't know where she gets this-- seriously. I am awesome at putting on a happy face in the morning.)

Anyway. I explained to her what walkie talkies were all about.

"Ooooooo," she replied, eyes widening.

 So I'd plant little seeds every once in a while.

"Wouldn't it be cool to play with walkie talkies?"

"YES! Let's get some right now."

Then I started telling her about the agents that work for the Nuk Fairy as well as Toys R Us. I told her if you're ready to give up the nuk, you can trade it for walkie talkies at Toys R Us. She looked incredulous, to say the least. And she shook her head. She wasn't ready.

That was okay. I kept reminding her. Soon, she started to believe it.

She'd start telling me to get ready to go to the toy store. I'd remind her that it's forever. No bedtime nuk after you trade it in. Then she'd back down.

Was I sabotaging her? Or making sure she was truly prepared? Not sure. Maybe a little of both.

Then on Sunday, she said, "Let's go to the toy store!" She grabbed her nuk payment. The three of us were on our way.

She picked out black walkie talkies (of course), and we also got some foam swords and shields. Hell, I probably would have bought her anything she wanted. I was so scared. Nervous. Sad. Guilty. But she was happily dancing around the store, looking at giant crayon banks and clearance toys near the registers.

I went up to the cashier first. A dude in his twenties with a goatee.

"Hi. Can you do me a huge favor?"

He looked at me blankly.

"My daughter is trying to give up her nuk, and we made a deal with her."

Blank stare.

"Do you know what the Nuk Fairy is?"

Blank stare. Ok. Time was a-ticking. Norah and Ryan were making there way to the register. No time for a back story.

"Here's how this is going to go down," I said. "My daughter is going to give you her nuk. You are going to give her the walkie talkies she wants to buy. Then she and I are going to play on that coin-operated horse, and my husband will give you actual money and you can give the nuk back. Is that ok?"

"Sure."

The transaction took place. She did it with a big smile. I didn't make a big deal out of it, although I wanted her to say goodbye or something. Look at it solemnly for a moment before releasing it to this stranger. Nope. Not Norah's way. She practically threw it at the dude. Okay.

Then we took her to McDonalds. I still felt guilty about making her ditch the nuk and was trying to buy back her love, even though she made no signs of being pissed in the first place.

We went home and played walkie talkie (which was a lot of "Hold it in the whole time you talk! Then let go!" She'll get it.) She laughed hysterically. She made us all go to different parts of the house. She tried to make Mongo meow in it. Her Smurf figures took turns. Then we played swords. Mongo exited pretty swiftly when the swords came out.

Then it was bedtime. Ryan settled her down, and I went to my room to read more Sookie Stackhouse, and I listened in. No trouble. One "I miss my nukkie." That was it. She went to bed.

The next day there was no utterance of the nuk.

Success.

*Sniff.*





Friday, March 2, 2012

It's Story Time: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

"As a woman, basically, you'll be cooking, cleaning, mending, laundry, making sure we get up in time, light yard work and landscaping, and doing the books for our mining business. And keeping' yourself purdy. And you can live here and we'll bring home the proverbial bacon. Also, our names all tell you something about our personalities, so that's easy enough for you, right? Or you can take your chances with the queen or the woodsman." 

"So basically I'd be like married to seven Rick Santorums." 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Expect This Excerpt: Anger

Here's another excerpt from my memoir, Expect This. It's all about pregnancy rage. (You can check out the "Buy My Book" tab on top to learn more, if ya want to.



Ryan and I had been out to dinner with a bunch of friends after work. Childless friends. Of course, I loved them and still was one of them, really. And I was determined not to yap on and on about the pregnancy and our future baby; I was one of those people put to sleep by such inane babbling. I wanted to still be one of the gang. 
I was so tired at night, I hadn’t been going out. And going to the bar, which was our usual destination, was completely unappealing. It was a long day, as another fairly common pregnancy symptom was fatigue. We met at a bar and grill, and I sipped my large glass of ice water as I watched my friends chug down their beers and cocktails. I felt the need to explain to the waitress that I was pregnant as I ordered my water. I was mostly okay with abstaining from booze, although I did still crave a nice cold beer when the weather was hot. It was mostly fun. Good food, good friends, good conversation for the most part. I had missed them. They politely asked about the fetus, and I kept my answers positive and short. The conversation meandered on to include future plans of camping trips, what shows were coming to the Twin Cities, and other adventures. I tried to keep a smile on my face. Who knew if I’d be up to it? Or after the baby came, who knew if I would be up for anything?
The evening started to drag on, and my eyelids were already becoming droopy. Ryan had drank a few Jack 7s and I was the designated driver. (And got to hear all the continuous jokes about him having a designated driver for nine months.) I didn’t want to be the one to end the evening, though. Typical pregnant wife; spoiling everyone’s good time. But 10:00 p.m. started to approach and I had to get up for work the next day. As did everyone. And normal Heather would have stayed out much later. Normal Heather wouldn’t have even noticed the clock. But I had been going to bed around 9:30 p.m. I gently nudged Ryan under the table with my foot and gave him a subtle look.
“What’s up?” he asked loudly.
I refrained from showing my exasperated look. Everyone was still engaged in their own conversations. I raised my eyebrows and shifted my eyes over to the Budweiser clock on the wall. 
“You wanna go?” 
A couple people turned toward us. 
“Awww,” Annie howled, refilling her mug with the amber colored pitcher. “Don’t go yet!”
“Yeah! When was the last time we all hung out?” Michelle chimed in.
“I’m sorry guys,” I said. “I’m really tired. I’ve gotta get to bed.”
“One more hour! Then I’ll go, too. We can walk out together.”
I looked at Ryan. Say you’re tired, too, I tried to telepathically message him. He didn’t receive it. “Sorry, guys.”
A few more groans emitted from the group, and eventually we escaped. The night had grown chilly and I was only wearing a light fleece jacket. I shivered as I sat in the driver’s seat and waited for Ryan to finish his cigarette before getting in the car. I flipped through radio stations while watching his tiny poofs of smoke float by. Every station seemed to be running an annoying commercial simultaneously, so I left it on an NPR reporter commenting on the DFL presidential hopefuls: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards. I tapped my fingers on the wheel and finally Ryan got in.
We drove silently listening to the radio. Ryan rolled down his window. He was always overly warm, and I was always chilly. He would always tell me to bundle up, and I would always tell him to take off his jacket. This conversation had gone on a million times before, usually ending in us laughing at the realization that the conversation had gone on a million times before. I stewed for a while and even made a shivery “brrrr” noise, trying to send a hint. His Jack 7s must have dulled his perception skills.
“Honey. Could you roll up your window?”
“I’m hotter than hell.”
“I’m freezing.”
“It’s not that much further.”
And then I burst into hysterical, uncontrollable sobbing.
“Jesus Christ!” he yelped. “What’s wrong? What is it?!”
I just sobbed like a toddler. My chest heaved up and down, and I gasped in between wails. 
“Oh, my God! Pull over!” He rolled up his window, and cranked the heat up to the maximum and put the vents on high. 
“I’m—(gasp)—fine!” I practically screamed. I continued to bawl.
“You can’t drive like this! Baby—what is it?” He was fully turned to me and rubbing my arm vigorously with one hand and my leg with the other. 
“You don’t care about me!” I howled.
“What are you talking about? I love you!”
“No—you only care about yourself!”
“What the hell is going on?”
“I’m tired and cold!” I wailed, even though the heater had started blasting hot air on me. Much hotter than a mild autumn night called for. But I didn’t dare turn it down.
“We’re almost home, sweetie, and you can go right to bed.”
“You didn’t want to go! You would have stayed all night!”
“Why didn’t you just tell me you wanted to leave?”
“I did!” I shrieked.
“I’m sorry, baby, I’m sorry,” he said and kept rubbing me, as if attending to someone having an epileptic seizure. “Are you sure you can drive?”
“YES!”
After we (safely, thank God) pulled into the driveway, I stood outside and cried. The tears had subsided into a normal human’s crying. Ryan rushed over and held me tight, muttering over and over that it was okay and that he was sorry. Then I realized I was now crying from embarrassment and shame. 
“I’m sorry,” I blubbered into his jacket. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
“Don’t be sorry. I’m a jerk,” he kissed my head.
“No you’re not. I’m a jerk.”
“All right, this is getting silly,” he said, like he was talking to a small child. “Let’s get you in bed.”
We walked to the door, me slumped into him like an invalid, and eventually I was cocooned up in bed and fast asleep on my tear-stained pillow. My first meltdown. Before I knew it, the alarm clock was going off.
“Morning!” I chirped happily as I leaned over and kissed Ryan’s shoulder. His eyes cracked open a millimeter.
“Are you okay?” he croaked. 
“Yeah. Why?”
Silence. “No reason.”
I made my way to the bathroom to heave.

Friday, February 24, 2012

It's Story Time: Winnie the Pooh

"You know, a single bee flits between 10,000 flowers in one day to make honey. I could never do anything as useful as that. I'll just go sit by a tree and try not to bother anyone."

"You know, people are getting tired of your shit."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fat Update

Well, I've successfully logged in and tracked my food at myfitnesspal.com for 36 days. I've lost 7.5 lbs. Hooray! Here are my upcoming goals:

Increase water to 8 cups a day. 
This is hard for me, as I like Diet Coke and beer. But I got some Crystal Light bullshit to cheat a bit.

Exercise 4 days a week.
This is also hard for me, because I'm sort of lazy. But I started tonight with a dance workout from Netflix. I thought it would be fun for Norah, too. After five minutes, though, we looked like this:

I suppose that's weight resistance.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted!

Friday, February 17, 2012

It's Story Time: Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet in the 16th Century

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.



Romeo and Juliet Today

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I don't hate Valentine's Day

When I was sick and miserable during my pregnancy, what kept me going was listing all the great things about having a child. One thing that always made the top of my list was holidays. Even stupid ones like Valentine's Day.

When I was little, Valentine's Day was pretty kick-ass. I'd work on my box for days, trying to be the most original. I'd painstakingly pick out the coolest valentines and spend a great deal of time matching the right card to the right classmate. After all, some cards said "You're the coolest friend!" and some cards said "Be my valentine." We couldn't very well give a "Be my valentine" card to some random boy. He might get the wrong idea. If I included conversation hearts in the cards, they, too, would be selected carefully. I couldn't have Matt Olson know my true feelings from a conversation heart that read "U R cute."

So Valentine's was approaching, and I took Norah to Target to pick out cards for her preschool buddies. She picked out Phineus and Ferb cards that came with little tattoos. Perfect!

However, from last year, I knew that the moms from Norah's school had a little too much time on their hands. Last year, Norah got goodie bags from each kid, filled with handmade cards, candy, pretzels, Goldfish, stickers, tattoos, and the like. I told Norah to pick out some other stuff. She chose chocolate SpongeBob hearts and tiny bubble containers. That'll do.

Last night we began our assembly. Armed with our valentine supplies and a class list from Norah's teacher, we set up at the kitchen table.

It was a little different than I imagined. And yes, I imagined it. I imagined Norah and I working together, folding little cards, placing heart stickers on them, giggling, her trying to write her name on the From field. But here's what actually happened.

"The tattoos are ready!" 
She lost interest about five minutes in, and I ended up assembling the cards and peeling heart stickers off of... well, everything within her reach.

Yeah, I know. She's three.

Then I tried to attach the bubble containers on each card.

"THOSE ARE MINE," Norah screeched, as she entered the kitchen, meaning to ask me to play Smurfs with her.

"Baby, these are for your friends. There's one for you, though," I said, giving her one.

"NO! THOSE ARE ALL MINE!"

She started to cry, and swept her arms across the table, trying to gather all the tiny containers in her arms. They fell everywhere. I tried to reason with her, which was futile. Finally, I let it go, and decided to just do it after bedtime. She'd forget about it in the morning. Hopefully.

After that activity, Norah and I were talking in the bathroom, as she was doing her business.

"Are you excited for your Valentine's party?"

"YES!" she squealed.

"Do you think we should get a valentine for Daddy?"

"Yes," she whispered, with a grin.

"Oh, Jesus," I heard from the living room. "Do I have to go shopping now?" Oh, Ryan, you romantic bastard.

"No," I answered, with a glare.

Then later that night, as we cuddled down for stories before bedtime, I told her when I was little, my mom, her Nana, used to give us heart-shaped boxes with chocolate in them.

"Can I have one of those?" she asked, amazed.

"We'll see..." I smiled.

Then she wrapped her arms around me. "I love you, Mommy."

So, I still don't hate Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Nuk Fairy... of doom

Norah is three and still uses a nuk at nap and bedtime. I know she's too old for it. But it's like an addiction. She feels she needs it. She cries when she doesn't have it. She's placed it on the level of Bear Bear and Blanket. I don't want to be the one to take it away.

That's where the Nuk Fairy comes in. She's there to do the dirty work, while I come off scot-free.

I started prepping Norah about the Nuk Fairy months ago. At the first mention of it, there were tears.

"I don't like the Nuk Fairy!" she wailed.

"Honey, she's so nice. She'll give you a present."

"I want my nukky!"

"What about all those new babies who need nukkies?" I asked, pulling something out of my ass I read on another blog about weaning off the pacifier.

"WAAAAH!!"

I stopped the Nuk Fairy talk for a few days after that. But I kept mentioning it occasionally throughout the last few weeks.

"...then she comes while you sleep, and she'll take the nuk and leave you a great, big present."

"She comes in my room?! WAAAH!!"

Oops.

I enlisted the help of my friend, Kim. She had successfully weaned her son, who's just a few weeks older than Norah, off the pacifier. She had told him his nuk was broken. The first night, she poked a hole through the nipple. He didn't notice. Then she cut off a bit. He seemed a little agitated, but nothing serious. More of the nuk "broke," and eventually he was done. I can do that, I thought.

So I started prepping again.

"Sometimes you use your nuk SO much, that it breaks."

"Then we buy a new one?"

"Uh...no. They don't allow 3-year-olds to buy nuks."

"Oh."

What can I say? I'm not good off the cuff. Anyway, we kept talking about it. We told her that it would break little by little, and when it was all gone, the Nuk Fairy (yeah, her again) would bring her a sweet present. She actually seemed semi-cool with it.

Then one evening, as Ryan brushed his teeth and I got Norah a drink before bedtime, she came running into the kitchen.

"MOMMY! MY NUKKY IS BROKEN!"

"What the--" I started. I took a look. Ryan. Ryan.

She was surprised. She still used it, but would take it out of her mouth once and a while and look at it, and fiddle with it with her tongue.

The next day, she didn't use it for nap time. It didn't come up.

And the next night, she had it, but didn't seem so... attached to it.

So, go Team Ryan, right? No. I was kind of pissed. Part of me didn't want her to give up her nuk. I'm a crazy person, right? I know I am. I just feel like it's the last vestige of babyhood. I don't want my baby to grow up. I don't think I'll have another chance at babyhood. I was unreasonably sad, and I went to bed early to read my book alone and cry a little bit, leaving the once-smug-about-the-nuk-thing Ryan mystified at my bizarre behavior.

Then next morning, I heard her singing "Old MacDonald had a farm and Bingo was its name-o!" over the monitor, and I went in her room to say good morning.

"Look, Mommy! I found another nukky!"

Yeah, we didn't look behind the bed. Ryan said we need to let her have this little victory, so I guess I get a few more days of babyhood.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fatty McFatterson

Well, I've got about 30 pounds I need to lose. I delusionally (yes, I know that's not a word) call it "baby weight," although I've been overweight since age 0 and Norah is 3 years old, and at some point, baby weight is just fat.

So, I started MyFitnessPal.com, and I have to say, I love it. I've lost 5 pounds in 15 days. And I also know this blog doesn't usually promote products, but I'm going to. You've been warned.

MyFitnessPal.com is, at its most basic, an online calorie counter. But it's much more sophisticated than that, while remaining user-friendly. Here's how you do it.

1. Register and create a password and profile. A profile is optional.

2. Enter your weight and your goal weight. It will set a daily caloric intake just for you.

3. Enter what you eat into your food journal. Every bite. This is where it's super easy-- if I type "Fiber Plus Eggos" into the search field, I can find that product, click "add," and the calories, fat, carbs, and protein automatically are entered. So easy!

4. Enter in exercise, if you actually exercise. Apparently, exercising is good and what normal, healthy people do. I plan to try that someday soon.

5. When you're done for the day, click "Complete" and it will tell you, "If every day were like today, in 5 weeks you'd weigh ____." That is motivational.

6. Weigh in whenever you want and record it. You get a nifty chart to look at. You want your line to go down. The downward pointing line is a happy line.

Other sweet things about MyFitnessPal:

  • It's similar to Weight Watchers online, but their food database is more comprehensive (as far as I can tell), and it's... wait for it... FREE! 
  • They have a community area and you can check out people's success stories, or just chat about nutrition and health and all that jazz.
  • They have an app, and it's easy and free.

I'll check in occasionally and report my successes or failures. So far, so good. Fat mom, no more!

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's Story Time: Goofus and Gallant

Gallant confesses to taking a dollar from his mother's purse.

Goofus fibs to his mother about the missing dollar from her purse.

25 years later...









Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beloved children's characters who should die Part II

Joe: The new Steve from Blue's Clues

Now, I know he's a real person, and I don't want a real person to actually die. But his character can. This is why: First of all, his real name is Donovan. Why call him Joe? It makes no sense. Steve's character's name was Steve. If it needed to be one syllable for some reason, why not Don? Also, when Steve went to college, my daughter cried, and when Joe came to live with Blue, it was never the same, and I heard "Why did Steve go to college?" and a tearful "Am I going to college?" ever day since. Thanks for making college the old "Spot went to live on a farm" tactic. Am I overly invested in this show? Perhaps.





All Wonder Pets

The animation is creepy, the rhyming is atrocious, and I've said it before and I'll say it again-- I can't stand that smug little know-it-all guinea pig, the sass-mouthed duck, and that pussy turtle. What kind of turtle wears water shoes? Come on. And don't get me started on that hat.




Brainy Smurf

I hate Brainy Smurf. Because he's smart? No. Because the only character that seems to be dedicated to knowledge and education, save Papa Smurf, is touted as a huge pain in the ass. He's whiny, tattle-taley, and a total jerkface. I'd throw is blue ass out into the forest, too.







Thomas the Train, and all his little train frenemies 

I know there's a loyal fan base of Thomas, so I probably won't win anyone's hearts with this one, but those trains are completely dysfunctional. They are supposedly friends, but treat each other like shit constantly. Jealousy, snarking, making fun of each other... they never learn. Well, they learn at the end of each episode, but then go back to being douchebags. Sir Topemhat needs to lay down the law. Also, those train whistles are the same frequency as my brain, and when I hear them, my ears bleed.




Share Bear

This is the shittiest Care Bear ever. Her power is shooting lollipops out of her stomach patch. Oh, that'll stop Dark Heart.





Read Beloved children's characters who should die Part 1

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Dad

My dad had a heart attack on Saturday. Luckily, my sister and mother were on the scene and rushed him to the ER immediately after realizing what was happening. Because of their fast thinking and action, they saved my dad's life.

And because they got to the hospital so quickly, there was little to no permanent damage to his heart. He's already home and feeling good.

But it was damn scary.

And it made me realize how much I take my dad for granted. So, this is for you, Dad.

Handing me the church program and a pen so I can scribble quietly, using a hymn book as a hard surface.
Catching me as Gypsy bucked me off her silver back.
Building a treehouse and letting me paint it sea foam green.
Reading The Tall Book of Nursery Rhymes.
Sledding in the summer.
Walking on a nearly flooded road, looking back at Mom, sitting on the hood of our white Pontiac.
Catching white, bloated catfish from the river in Granite Falls.
Blaring Harry Belafonte so loudly, I could hear it two blocks away on my purple unicorn bike.
Letting me have all the change in his pocket for candy. So much change, I can't hold it all.
Making me believe in magic.
Letting me hide in the carpet displays at the lumber yard.
Apologizing for teasing me about a boy.
Digging rivers and channels in the gravel driveway to drain the puddles after the snow melted.
Letting us roller skate in the basement.
Driving to Crazy Horse and getting pissed that it was a rip-off.
Reading the Chronicles of Narnia.
Showing me how to hit a bank shot nearly every time.
Taking us to the used book store in Cross Lake on rainy days.
Breakfast for dinner.
My piano being delivered.
Playing Super Mario Brothers.
My black and white checkered bedroom walls.
Driving an hour to school and work there and an hour back; AM there, FM back.
Bazooka Joe bubblegum.
Sitting with me in the lobby of my dorm.
Taking Ryan shopping to buy dress clothes for our wedding.
Trusting me to draw for the Wood Mill printed materials.
Having to leave the room when we gave him the scrapbooks that held all of our photos since forever.
Telling me to never kiss ass.
Building a crib for my daughter.
Telling me to sleep while he watched Norah. Listening to him talk to her while I'm laying in bed.
Telling his coworkers about my book. Being proud of me.
Taking Norah and me to the farmer's market.
Driving to the mill in Annandale.
Reading Norah stories on Halloween.
Looking right at me in the hospital, and me knowing he was going to be okay.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year's Eve: Toddlers vs. Drunks

Both overestimate their Wii skills.

Both lose the ability to share with friends.

Both are blissfully unaware.
Both release inexplicable emotional outbursts.

Both are not ready to go home.


Both pass out around 9:30.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Recap

Hello, all! I've been on vacation. Now I'm back to the grind, which means I can relax a tad. At least enjoy some quiet in between hearing my own voice repeatedly (I create software training tutorials.)

Anyway. Here are some Christmas highlights.


Norah's Christmas Concert
Mind-blowingly adorable.

Mongo
We had to take down the beautiful tree, and put up the ugly fiber optic tree we've had since college, which was a hand-me-down from Ryan's mom. Apparently Mongo eats glass light bulbs. And while he made Ugly Tree more ugly and misshapen, due to his climbing and biting, he only knocked it down four or five times. We bought cheap-o shatter-proof ornaments and didn't put any sentimental ones up at all. Which was a smart move, being that he'd systematically take down each bulb, carry it in his mouth by the string, and hide it somewhere in the house, only to eat the metal thingy on top of it that holds the string to hang it up. He's got an iron stomach, so it seems, and possibly is not long for this world.

Presents
Norah got a mountain of gifts from my family. When she saw all the wrapped gifts piled up for her, she literally started shaking. She screamed, "They're all mine!"

MIL Bingo
I did not get blackout, nor did I even get bingo. It was a pretty nice holiday, and now I feel like a douchebag for expecting the worst. I have been putting in more of an effort to mend our relationship as of late, and I think it's really been beneficial. So, hooray for family peace! Boo for funny blog fodder.

Christmas Bummer
My aunt has joined us for Christmas every year since I can remember and couldn't this year. She was missed.

Christmas Loser
We didn't have any weird or horrible gifts. Not a one! A Christmas miracle. But I'll take this opportunity to revisit some losers of the past: Ryan's soap-on-a-rope. A box of used travel magazines. A giant picture of cats. Ah, good times.

Christmas Winner
The most-played-with award goes to Frontier Logs, Menard's (our Midwestern home improvement center) answer to Lincoln Logs. We actually bought another set so Norah could create a vacation ranch for her Zhu Zhu pets.