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What’s in the Box?????

Diva Cat in the Box

What’s in the box???? Ok, so yes, my diva cat Lucy is in the box. The box, though, came from Land’s End and contained my new bathing suit for our beach trip. Today, we head to the beach for a week, and I don’t think we could feel less prepared.

Compared to other trips, this one was easy to pack for because we have almost no summer clothes. Despite our house being declared “clean” (feel free to imagine that being said by Tangina in Poltergeist) after our last carpet beetle treatment, we haven’t had a chance to bring back our clothes from storage. Daniel has 14 pairs of shorts and assorted shirts; Jimmy and I have the jeans we’re wearing, a few t-shirts and bathing suits. Looks like we’ll be going shopping. In addition to my wardrobe, my body is definitely not beach ready. I’m flabby and out of shape from months of takeout and quick meals due to stress and general busy-ness.

This vacation is also our first week-long one. Normally our beach trips are more like long weekends. Those trips were fine pre-Daniel, but another pesky little detail left out of “What to Expect”-type books is how vacations change with children. Honestly, that realization was a rude awakening for me 2 years ago during our first family beach trip as silly as that might sound. I was used to spending all day on the beach with several books and doing whatever, whenever I wanted.

Vacation with a toddler? Relaxing isn’t quite the word I’d use. On the first trip we lugged a high chair, pack ‘n play and a million other items into a hotel room and felt claustrophobic after 5 minutes. Last year we found a place with a bedroom that could be closed off from the living room. It was small and Daniel ended up sleeping with us on the pull-out couch. Comfy! That trip did have the perk of exposing us to old reruns of The Office, and when we returned, we bought and watched every season.

This year’s trip will be different. Hopefully. We are renting a two-bedroom condo for the week, and I already feel less stressed at my need to cram in as much quality time on the beach as possible. Exhale.

I love the beach. That may be a surprise since my skin is the color of a dead, plucked chicken and my encounters with the sun include the highest SPF possible. But I do. I have to make a pilgrimage to the ocean every year to let the sand stream through my toes and bathe in the ocean. When I look at the ocean, its size overwhelms me and I feel like I’m at the end of the world. I remember that life began in the ocean and thousands of generations later, my soul still responds to that primordial call. It calms me and puts everything into perspective. It’s a giant, much-needed reset button.

I feel a little unready for this trip considering how much I’ve been out of town recently; I don’t think I could have waited a moment longer though.

Also? Five points if you can name the movie in which the title of the post was uttered.

Friday Foolishness: Succubus

I cannot believe it is Friday, but oh, how glad I am it is. This week has been intense. If it were a person, I’d call it a succubus. A soul-killing, brain-stealing succubus.

My Week

  • We went out of town to visit my mother last weekend. A 24-hour visit necessitated packing like were going to be away for 24 days and managed to get all of us off our routines all week. No one slept well. Naps were boycotted. Meltdowns ensued. The suitcase has not been unpacked, and we haven’t gone to the grocery store all week.
  • I pitched a hissy fit at work on Monday.
  • I woke up with a scratchy throat yesterday that I hoped was due to allergies but I think is actually a cold. After falling asleep last night at 9pm (I party hard), I woke up at 1:30 AM. Willing myself back to sleep didn’t work, so I used the time profitably to plan my spring/summer wardrobe on eBay.
  • I’ve been slowly creeping out of my shell and meeting some awesome people. I had a lunch date 2 weeks ago, one next week, a play date next weekend and another lunch date in the works. Today I attended a Femfessionals connection lunch and met more people after finding out about it from Brandy. More to come on these efforts!
  • I’ve read only 40 pages this week.

Interesting Reads

  • NPR aired a 4-part series on surrogacy this week that was refreshingly free of sensation and well done: Making Babies: 21st Century Families
  • In the wee hours of the morning after I had planned my wardrobe, I came across this post on Twitter: 20 Common Grammar Mistakes That (Almost) Everyone Makes. I have to admit that I was pretty humbled by some of the mistakes included because I have been guilty of making them without realizing it. What a blow to my English major ego!
  • Forget the Factories: Slate‘s article suggests that the government stop its silly focus on rebuilding the manufacturing sector. Given where I work, you can guess that I disagree vehemently with Mr. Yglesias. I include the article because it illustrates the common misconception that R&D can be effectively separated from manufacturing and that our ability to innovate is what provides our competitive edge. He’s wrong. Innovation and manufacturing go hand in hand. As well, not all companies are created equal when it comes to community impact. A manufacturing facility creates jobs in the community beyond those in the facility. An Amazon does not.
  • Law Momma posted a seven-part series on the break up of her marriage. It was raw, brutal and riveting, and I am in awe of her strength to be able to post something so personal as well as how she accepted her part of the break up.
  • So, you’ve heard of BDSM sensation Fifty Shades of Grey, right? Well, Katie Roiphe wrote “Working Women’s Fantasies” in Newsweek about how its success speaks to the current popularity of sexual domination. I read a few articles critical of Roiphe’s article and tweeted one of them. A professional dominatrix (!) replied to me and told me Roiphe’s piece was correct. This is why I love Twitter!
  • I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Mrs. Lusher yet, but the food she posts on her blog is amazing. She had a simple post about sauvignon blanc yesterday, and I smiled as I read it. I feel the same way about white wine and I, too, am glad white wine season is here.

I hope your week was free from drama and hissy fits!

Daniel, Daniel, Quite Contrary

Daniel's mad face

Daniel, Daniel, quite contrary

How does your day go?

Napless, whining, wanting your way

And lots of “No, No, No, No, No!”

Daniel is 32 months.  He was so easy-going and laid-back for the last several months that I thought we had perhaps escaped the Terrible Twos.

Au contraire.  In the last few weeks, it’s like someone flipped a switch, and he has started to demand his way.  And the whining when he doesn’t get his way is a-may-zing.  He’s also become very fond of saying the opposite of what he means, which is quite maddening:

Me: Daniel, do you want to go outside?

Daniel:  No, not go outside.

Me: Ok, we’ll stay inside.

Daniel: (on the verge of tears) Go outside! Go outside!

Thankfully, he’s still pretty cute 🙂

Working Mom’s Lament

My eyes fly open, and I sit up. I look at the clock and curse. 2 AM. I’ve been asleep only for 4 hours. The only sound in the room comes from the monitor from which I can hear Daniel’s wheezing and coughing, sounds so weird that it seems he is almost speaking in tongues.

I listen to his labored breathing and hope he’s better by 7AM because I need to go to work for a two-day workshop after two sick days at home. Unable to go back to sleep, I surf on my iPhone, visiting blogs and trashy celebrity gossip sites.

My alarm goes off, and I stumble to the shower to start getting ready. Daniel wakes up, and I get him from his room. His forehead is hot, and his face is flushed and puffy. He’s whiny and crying, “Momma, hold me” while I kiss and hug him and turn on Super Why so I can finish getting ready. He begins to cry, and my heart breaks. He should stay home today. I should stay home today with him. Finally ready to go, I put on his jacket over his cozy footie pajamas and feel grateful that he is going to his grandmother’s house where I know my sick boy will receive lots of cuddles and hugs.

At work I make his doctor’s appointment, booking the only available time, a time that of course is the most inconvenient one. I exhale, pull myself together and go to my workshop, prepared to razzle and dazzle despite sounding like I swallowed a frog and having a scratchy throat and throbbing head. Calm and focused on the outside, twitchy on the inside as I await the verdict from the doctor’s office: an ear infection. I immediately replay the last 4 days in my head, searching for any clue that would have told me Daniel had an ear infection instead of letting him suffer longer than necessary.

Class over, I head to the required evening dinner and working session, checking in with Jimmy. Daniel is miserable: no nap, feverish, needy and clingy. He won’t eat or drink anything. Guilt, today’s constant companion, waves hello. I should go home. A good mother would go home. Previous generations of women fought hard so I could sit at that table and think about being at home. Should, should should. Always should.

The moment I swallow the last bite of braised lamb shank (while Jimmy is eating leftovers if he has even eaten at all), I make my excuses and fly. I race home, but I’m too late: Daniel is already in bed. Jimmy and I chat about the evening and how pitiful Daniel was. No longer racing anywhere, I slump, my body reminding me I’ve been awake since 2AM.

I get ready for bed and wonder why I do this routine each and every day. Why I go to work. I have good days during which I accomplish a lot and make a difference:  I’m queen of the world.  I have bad days during which I feel tied in knots and tripped up by processes and people, making no progress and feeling like it is impossible to make even the smallest impact.  On those days I resemble that poor guy in Munch’s The Scream painting.  He looks like he might understand the special hell that is working with bureaucracy.

Birth and death and sickness and health and change and carpet beetles cycle around and around. Lately I feel like I’m constantly moving and running and getting nowhere, especially during times like this. Exhausted, I wonder why I bother. I gave up ambitions of setting the world on fire years ago; I’m just a rat in a cage.

I go to bed, thankful that the breathing coming from the monitor is smoother and less labored than the night before.

Four hours later, my eyes pop open. It’s 2AM. Time to do it all over again.

Stick a Fork in Me

As of right now, I am done with work until January 2, 2012. Yay!!!! Being a state employee can suck in many ways (no raises in years; assumptions that you are a worthless employee; infuriating campaign rhetoric), but I love that the university for which I work gives several days off at the holidays. I save several vacation days each year so that I can take off a good block of time. J is fortunate to be able to do the same with his employer, and we have begun to rely on these 2 weeks off to rejuvenate us. Especially after the last few years.

I feel like I earned that time off this week.

Monday: three meetings including a conference with Daniel’s preschool teachers (recap coming soon).

Tuesday: a few hours of work followed by a trip to Morganton with a coworker (three hour trip).

Wednesday: We meet with local manufacturers and economic developers in Morganton in support of our grant project. Sit in traffic in Hickory and finally have another meeting before heading home (three hours).

Thursday: Prep for a 9:30 meeting. Prep for meeting later that day. Attend coworker’s farewell luncheon before going to the afternoon’s organizational-wide meetings from 1-5.

Friday: Organizational-wide meeting until noon and then holiday luncheon. Another meeting from 1:30-2:30 and then try to catch up on work until 5 pm at which point I tiredly set my out-of-office message, put a note on my door and trudge out to my car.

Oh. And as if work weren’t chaotic enough this week, we’ve had health issues with J’s grandmother to deal with. She has been very confused this week, and she’s been to the hospital twice. She’s currently in the hospital undergoing more tests but seemed to respond well to some antibiotics. Honestly, J and I don’t know what to think but we’re hoping for the best.

And now we are packing for our trip to my mom’s tomorrow for Christmas #1. It is a short trip (only one night), but it feels like we are packing for an eternity.

And so the holidays begin. We are exhausted already.

Capture the Everyday: Lucky & Thankful

I had ambitions of doing two posts today, one on the NaBloPoMo prompt on “What is the luckiest thing that has ever happened to you and why” as well as a separate post participating in Adventuroo’s Capture the Everyday meme. It turns out my productivity does not match my ambition. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that both posts could fit in one post. Stay with me here.

Luck

When I was a senior in high school, I applied for and received a Teaching Fellows scholarship. The now-defunct program (thanks to the bozos in the General Assembly) gave college scholarships to students who would be willing to teach for 4 years in the NC public school system. The scholarships were redeemable at all of the public universities and one private college.

For some reason, I always wanted to attend UNC Chapel Hill. I think it was because it was the paternal side of my family’s favorite college team. As I was going through the Teaching Fellows process, I had to indicate my top college choice and secondary and tertiary choices. You could get into the university of your choosing, but you wouldn’t be able to use your Teaching Fellows scholarship unless they had a place for you. Unsurprisingly, NC State and UNC Chapel Hill had a lot of applicants for not enough spaces. I put down UNC Chapel Hill as my top choice and then faltered. Where did I want to go next? I ended up putting Meredith College in Raleigh as my second choice because I had heard good things about it, my mother talked it up, and since they were private, they matched the Teaching Fellows funds so that it was pretty much a full scholarship. UNCG was my third choice.

I was accepted at UNC Chapel Hill but did not receive a Teaching Fellows slot, so I quickly turned to my second choice, Meredith, which had accepted me into the school and the Teaching Fellows program. I turned UNC down and made plans to attend Meredith.

And it was the best decision of my life. Even though my first glimpse of Meredith was on the day I moved in, I loved it. Granted, I didn’t always love the sorority-esque feel and activities (Cornhuskin’!!!!), but I loved the campus, I loved my classes, and I loved the people I met there. I ended up majoring in English (quite a change for the student who planned to major in psychology and become a therapist one day). I continued my long-time participation in theater by being in plays. Though some of my friends who attended Chapel Hill and professors at NC State were dismissive and condescending about the school, Meredith was awesome. I met one of my best friends there. Attending college there laid the foundation for my future (no, I never taught). Most importantly, I met J there during a “Boy Day,” one of the few times boys were allowed in your rooms. We were married in the chapel almost 10 years ago.

Thankful

I am so incredibly thankful that I was not given a spot in the Teaching Fellows program at UNC Chapel Hill. I don’t think I would have been happy there, and while my relationship with organized religion is somewhat sketchy and nebulous, I truly believe that some higher power was looking out for me. Meredith was perfect for me.

It is tempting to ponder whether one decision sends you down a wildly different course than another decision would (roads not taken and all that), but I don’t want to think what my present would be like if I hadn’t attended Meredith. If I hadn’t attended Meredith, I may not have this:

Story time!

My sweet boy

And for that, I am truly thankful.

Capture the Everyday from Adventuroo

Boring Saturday

I had planned to write something profound today but alas, profundity escapes me. We had a weird Friday in which Daniel fell asleep on the way home but was restless during the night, which woke us up several times, so we are in the odd situation of having gotten good sleep technically but fragmented sleep overall. Also known as engendering little sympathy.

Today we had hair cuts and the grocery store plus an early night for Daniel due to a very abbreviated nap. As a result, it’s now barely after 8. We’ve eaten dinner & are discussing Christmas presents, but we are tired. It’s pathetic, but I would love nothing more than to go to bed soon. I’m exhausted.

I’m old. Or becoming that way.

Happily, our groceries for Thanksgiving are in the refrigerator. I love seeing a full refrigerator and love cooking for my family. It will be fun, and each year provides us an opportunity to create a new memory or a new tradition.

I hope your Saturday went well!

Amazon to the Rescue!

Daniel napping w/ Alpha Pig on the way home from the beach

Daniel is a big fan of PBS’ Super Why, and his very, very favorite character is Pig, who transforms into Alpha Pig when they are solving “super-big” problems. Several weeks ago, we ordered him a stuffed Alpha Pig, and that toy has become his lovey. He sleeps with it. He plays with it. He takes it to and from Grandma’s every day. He adores Alpha Pig and joyfully calls, “Alpha!” when he sees him.

Alpha Pig’s constant presence can occasionally pose some logistical issues. One day he was dropped and/or thrown (Daniel loves to make him “fly”) in the parking lot at work during the transfer from my car to Grandma’s car, but we didn’t realize it. Thankfully, some kind soul found Alpha Pig, recognized that he might be some child’s beloved toy and stuck him in one of the trees in front of where I park. When I saw Alpha Pig looking at me from a tree, my heart skipped a beat and I was befuddled, but I gratefully rescued him and returned him to my car. Crisis averted, and we all vowed to be much more vigilant so we wouldn’t lose Alpha Pig!

Ahem.

Last Friday, Grandma and I realized that Alpha Pig had NOT made it from her house with Daniel’s things. Could Daniel go without Alpha Pig all weekend? He was already looking for him, calling “Alpha?” plaintively. Even though it was pouring rain (oh yeah–and a weekend with a HURRICANE approaching), I briefly considered driving to Cary to pick up Alpha Pig. Maybe we could go to Cary on Saturday if the hurricane wasn’t too bad? But what if we lost power or the wind scared Daniel or zombies attacked, wouldn’t he need Alpha Pig to comfort him?

I started to panic. I called J and heard the panic in his voice as I informed him of Alpha Pig’s absence.

10 minutes later, J texted me that he had ordered a new Alpha Pig from Amazon, and it would arrive on Saturday, assuming UPS could make it through the hurricane.

Saturday morning, we were anxious. We communicated in code as we tracked the whereabouts of Alpha Pig’s shipment. We avoided watching the Saturday episode of Super Why and instead watched any Thomas movie Daniel wanted. Then we worried about whether Daniel would accept the new Alpha (Beta?) Pig, knowing somehow that it was not his original one.

Finally, late morning, the doorbell rang. J ran to the door and retrieved the package. He liberated Alpha Pig and we held our breaths and he presented it to Daniel.

“Alpha!” Daniel yelled, grabbing Alpha Pig and embracing him. And the sun shown and birds sang. (Not really – it was windy and raining).

Whew.

Did we overreact? Maybe. Daniel has many, many other cuddlies, and we could likely have continued to distract him from the absence of Alpha Pig until they could be reunited on Monday. Seeing the delight on my little boy’s face was worth it, however, and now we have a second Alpha Pig just in case.

So thank you, Amazon. Thank you for having a new Alpha Pig to us in less than 24 hours after we placed the order. I’m glad we did not have to experience what a weekend without Alpha Pig was like.