Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Let Freedom Ring

We live in the birthplace of Liberty, or so they tell us. And Philly takes its Independence Day celebrations quite seriously. It’s when we Welcome America! It’s when “WE WANT YOU to party with us!” It’s when we shine. Or at least glisten in the humidity. (I have to mention that I love those print ads with the dancing people in the Uncle Sam top hat. Hip and clever. So sayeth me.) And every year I try to make the most out of the festivities. I like feeling involved . I like the buzz in the air. And I like free stuff.

On Saturday we went to the Sidewalk Sizzle and Ice Cream Freeze at Reading Terminal Market. We took a carnival train ride around the block and ate like pigs. Today Noah and I had a lovely afternoon when we went with my friend and ex-co-worker Jeff to catch some free music in LOVE Park before stopping back in my old office to make the rounds and show off the boy. And I’m hoping to check out the fair in Rittenhouse Park on Friday, as well as possibly make it to the Fiesta on the Parkway on Monday. Oh, and of course we’ll head over to Penn Treaty Park to have a superb view of the fireworks over the Delaware on Saturday night. It’s big stuff. Check out the event listings.

So what else have we been up to? On Sunday we headed out to Jersey to visit with Mark’s Grandmother, Mark’s Dad and his wife. It was generally a lovely evening though Laima blew my mind. First let me say that I adore Mark’s grandmother Laima. She’s 96 and a matriarch of the first order. She’s sassy, opinionated, educated and colorful. But she’s not really an expert on the small people. In fact she seems downright uncomfortable with them. I think Martin, her only child, was mostly raised by nannies in Latvia where her family where landowning gentry before the Russians forced them out. So I pretty much stood slack jawed when she started telling me what I was doing wrong with Noah. Apparently I need to stop telling Noah what things are and start asking him more questions – which she proceeded to demonstrate by awkwardly asking “What’s that?” repeatedly without ever giving him any answers. She said that until I did that he’d never learn to speak. At first I tried to explain that he was speaking quite well for his age, though his pronunciation was a bit suspect, but soon I gave up and nodded. What else can you do? SHE”S REALLY OLD. And pushy. But later we had an exchange that had me nearly howling with laughter. While I was coloring with Noah she told me she had NEVER colored before. I said “Surely you did some coloring with Mark when he was little?” I flashbacked to coloring, cards and board games with my Oma. To which Laima said she never colored with Mark. And why? “Because it wasn’t fashionable at the time.” Oh RIGHT. The seventies were largely anti-coloring. What was I thinking?

Tomorrow Noah, Mark and I are headed to the zoo to see the new Big Cat Falls. Mark had a use-it or lose-it personal day to take before the end of June so it’s a nice family day extra. And it shouldn’t be as crowded as it would on a Friday or a weekend. I hope the weather is good to us.

Saturday we’ve been trying to tempt some folks to come to our place for burgers and beers for a few hours before jaunting over to the park to watch the fireworks. So far we don’t have any definites, but we’ll be having burgers and beer regardless of our company. Wanna come? Then Sunday we head to Pa Joe’s for a picnic to celebrate our independence and my brother Jim’s birthday. And then Monday and Tuesday are reserved for more Philly fanfare. And probably some bathroom and kitchen cleaning. We’ll have some lovely antibacterial fireworks of our own. Though maybe we should do some of that before we have company?

And what have you got in store for your fourth?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Like a willful weed

First I have to clarify the last post. I have folks contacting me alarmed thinking we aren’t paying our bills and swimming in debt while I continue to buy the boy new hats. Not so. It’s just that we’re going a bit over our monthly budget. We’ve been cushioning that with savings we had set aside from our tax returns, but that money is gone now. And for the first time this month we have to carry a balance on our credit card bill - we’re actually pretty debt free thanks to Mark’s aversion to credit. So if we don’t start bringing in some more cash we’ll just have to cut way back on the niceties – gifts for family and friends, new stuff for the boy (he’s the only one who gets stuff), an occasional meal out, higher quality groceries, etc. I don’t want anyone thinking I’m crying desolate or anything. I’m just saying going forward we could use to make some extra bucks so we can live in the semi-modest way in which we’ve grown accustomed. Relieved now? Good.

So the boy is GI-NORMOUS! I can’t believe how much he’s growing and how fast. It seems like in the last two months he became a real little boy. His vocabulary and understanding have exploded. He went from saying a handful of one word declarations to using nouns and adjectives. Now he can tell you he’s eating “dried apple” and that it is “chewy.” He can say some numbers, colors and letters and tell you he has two feet. (Admittedly though he often counts by saying “Un, two, two, two, nine.”) He repeats part of nearly every sentence he hears. He loves to sing, dance, read books, put together puzzles and draw. But his passion for trains is unsurpassed by anything else. He wants to watch Thomas, play with trains, look at the Thomas website, go to the playground to watch the El ride by and watch train movies on youtube. It’s all trains all the time. It’s INSANITY. I’m so relieved when he wants to do something else like pretending to cook muffins by putting cupcake liners in the toaster oven.

Though he never seems to bore of the same old stuff, I do. I’m having to get more imaginative about what we do together. It’s why I constantly want to buy new (or used) toys – not because he needs them, but because I do. Last week I gathered him up and took him on the subway just to ride the train. We ended up going to Mark’s campus and climbing around on the landscaping until Mark got off work so we could all come home together. I imagine we’ll be doing that a lot more often in the coming months since Noah enjoyed it so thoroughly.

And with maturity comes will and independence. Yes, the tantrums are here. I’m fairly thankful however that they are fairly short lived. SO FAR it doesn’t take too long to reason with him or redirect him. Hopefully that’s his nature and will continue to be the case. Maybe it’s some of the tips we picked up from Happiest Toddler on the Block or because he’s a “textbook child” as sayeth The Baby Whisperer. Whatever it is, I’m thankful. He’s also starting to insist he do things by himself. It was a day after Patrice told me Bella wouldn’t allow her to place her in the booster seat that Noah began insisting on climbing in himself. He’s beginning to push my hands away as I try to help him do anything and to point to himself when he wants to master something on his own. Like he doesn’t need me. Pishaw! I won’t allow it.

One of the things that I am most happy about is how loving Noah is. He likes to list all the important people in his life and say he loves them. He enjoys going to see all his grandparents and talks about their visit for days afterwards. He's a hugger, a kisser and he just loves to be close. He's giving with his toys and gentle with other children. He's sensitive, empathetic and kind. He really is such a sweet little soul.

I’m determined to take some video of Noah soon. My Mom lent us a video camera we never use and Mark assures me that with some sort of wire/card thingamabob that I could post some video. I need to do that because I just can’t do the boy justice. I can’t adequately capture how vivid he is. You just have to see for yourself.

Monday, June 26, 2006

My mom demanded I post a photo of Noah in his new hat - and I ALWAYS listen to my Mama.  Posted by Picasa

Noah eats a granola bar and train watches at a little local playground. Truthfully though I took this photo because I think this is one of the cutest outfits EVER. And NO - that isn't a "farmer" hat - just floppy canvas.  Posted by Picasa

Yes - it seems cruel and unusual to photograph your kid while they are crying. But in my defense Master Noah was having a tantrum because I wouldn't let him play with the digital camera. So I had said camera in hand to take a photo, and then the pawing and crying commenced. Am I still cruel?  Posted by Picasa

My mind on my money

Ends aren’t quite meeting. Close, but not quite. We could do with about $500 more a month. And while that isn’t terribly a lot, I’m puzzled and stressed about where it’s going to come from. I need to find a way to make some dough. It’s not enough of a differential for me to compromise my intentions and put Noah in daycare and return to fulltime work, so what I’m working with is either the possibility of getting some sort of part time job outside of the home on nights and weekends, or finding a way to rake in some cash from home. Unfortunately my career path doesn’t offer me any easy solutions. While it'd be great for some freelance writing assignments to fall into my lap that probably won’t happen given my lack of connections or up to date experience. The bulk of my work experience has been in admin, customer service and waitressing - which sucks for someone with a Journalism, PR and Advertising degree. So realistically what I'm looking at is probably getting some typing or document formatting I can do from home, or picking up a gig waiting tables twice a week. But again, my up-to-date experience is nil. And customer service jobs barely pay enough to make it worthwhile. Looking at the classifieds for work from home gigs is a joke. Every ad seems like a total hoax. My current daydream is to suddenly became crazy creative and crafty and make a killing selling something on consignment to local gift stores. I know – what am I smoking? Anyway, it has me in a miserable, desperate tizzy.

To make it worse, Mark could easily get some extra work and bring in some cash – he did freelance editing for years. He’s more employable and would definitely bring in more money by the hour. But he already makes all our money and works outside the home – and I don’t think it’s fair to expect him to bring in that extra income. Plus, it might be good for me to get a paycheck, even if it’s measly and for doing something trite and boring. Guh. Every time I think about it though, it makes me ill. I’ve not had a good employed life. I can honestly say that I’ve only held one position that I both enjoyed and was proud of, and during that time I felt completely out of my league. I was only in it for a few months before I was laid off because of a buy-out, so I never got to the point where I felt like I knew what the hell I was doing or that I had enough experience to make me employable in that field. So looking for something new fills me with trepidation. Especially since it will most likely take time away from the only thing I ever felt was really important to me and I was perfectly suited for – motherhood.

In November, after Noah turns two I’d like to enroll him in a part-time preschool program for learning and socialization. I think two year olds need that. And ideally I’d like him to attend 9 am to noon, Monday through Friday. I hope to take him after breakfast and pick him up before lunch and nap, and have it fit perfectly into our weekday routine. At that time I’ll have more time to do work, but of course I’ll also need to make the $120 dollars a week it’ll cost him to attend school so my earning potential is going to have to increase to make that happen.

So, readers- do you have info regarding the perfect money making opportunity for me? Maybe your great aunt wants to pay me to type up her memoirs? Your cousin wants me to help ghost write her book? Your Dad needs someone to handle the customer service email inquiries he’s getting from his small business? Or maybe you know where I can take a cheap sewing class so that I can start hand crafting baby clothes? Perhaps you can suggest a lovely corner from whence I can peddle my wares? I’ll take anything under advisement.

Friday, June 23, 2006

HELLO! I've not had much time to blog lately, partially because Noah is sleeping poorly again (for what reason I have NO idea) so I'm often napping when he is and partly because if he's awake and I LOOK in the direction of the computer he wants to look at the Thomas the Tank Engine website. But I have some stuff I'm blogging about in my head - so stay tuned.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The long and the long of it

Last night I had a dream I was preparing to go back to London on another study abroad program. I was laboring over what I should pack, scheduling my flights, taking care of all my mail etc. But in addition to that I was worrying about Noah – because I was taking him with me but I hadn’t told the organizers. I figured if I asked them they would say no so I was hoping to just show up with him and everything would be okay. Though I was a tad worried that my roommate would feel put upon.

So the weekend was good, busy and tiring. While Mark worked commencement on Saturday, Noah and I headed for the hills of Qtown. My mom watched Noah for a few hours while I went to Kristen’s baby shower. The shower kind of sucked aside from seeing Patrice. In fact she was the only person I really knew there aside from Kristen, the mother-to-be, who we were both friends with in high school. Patrice and Kristen remain friends while Kristen and I see each other about once a year, and only through Patrice. We were never quite friends unto ourselves. Our relationship reminds me of that episode of Seinfeld when George and Elaine try to hang out without Jerry and it fails miserably. Kristen is nice and all, there just was never a spark. But I’m all about welcoming another sucker into the joys of motherhood, so to the shower I went. I bolted after the gifts were opened and returned to find Noah coated in a thick layer of dust. Seems Grandma had him rolling down dirt piles, playing with a load of stone, climbing into backhoes and running around in the garage. He was exhilarated. It took a thorough cleaning and promises of Pa Joe and chocolate to get him back into the car. On our walk from Pa Joe’s to Applebee’s for a Father’s Day dinner Noah and I stopped in Payless and got him two new pairs of shoes for $12. His toes were just about to spring forth from his size fives. And after “eatin’ good in the neighborhood” we headed back to Dad’s house to let the boy run around until it was dark enough for me to head home. The plan was that the boy would sleep, however he waited until we were ten minutes of our home to do that. Tricky thing. When I got home I made Mark open his Father’s Day gift because I’d been sitting on T-shirts from Threadless for weeks and it was killing me.

Sunday we went to the Aramingo Diner for Father’s Day breakfast, then for a small animal spotting stroll through Petco, a hair trimming for the boy at Haircuttery and then to the Thrift Fair to buy a couple of bags of assorted toys for a dollar each. After lunch and a nap, we went to Ezra’s second birthday party and consumed wine, hummus, samosas, feta and divine chocolate cake. (Kiss my big dieting behind.) We all had a really nice time and Noah was more outgoing and playful with the kids his own age than usual. Though true to form he instantly fell in love with Shelly, the eleven year old girl that was there for half and hour. He’s been listing her in his love proclamations (“I da dub Mama… I da dub Daddy…Ahwee… Pa Joe… Shelly) since Sunday.
Yesterday afternoon Noah and I went to a picnic at Penn Treaty Park. Wierdly enough it was a farewell picnic for a playgroup that we had never attended. I finally got all the information about where and when to attend to then be told that it was ending for the summer. Oops. I look forward to taking Noah to it or something like it in the Fall. Especially after getting a taste of group play and circle time yesterday - I know it’s something from which Noah would definitely benefit.

This morning we headed back to the Thrift Fair because since Sunday I’ve been obsessing about the vintage Fisher Price Family House I didn’t buy. In fact they also had and I wanted the Sesame Street Family House (which I owned when I was a kid) and the A Frame – but I restrained myself and only bought the house today. None of the sets came with any people or furniture unfortunately, so I’ll be on an Ebay hunt real soon. But while at Thrift Fair I also scored a toy kitchen for $3.99 and a cheap plastic train set for my rail enthusiast. Of course both of those were also missing a bunch of pieces in authentic thrift store fashion – but cheapos can’t be choosers.

And now you’re all caught up. A big relief, huh?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I choo choo choose to take a nap.

This week seems a million years long. I almost passed out this morning when I came to the realization that it was just Thursday. And once I came to terms with the fact I had to wait one more whole day to share the fulltime parenting load, I remembered that Mark has to work on Saturday. Dagnabit. Damn Drexel commencement. I guess I’m feeling particularly worn out because Mark had a neighborhood association board meeting right after work yesterday, and as a result got home two hours later than usual. That was 12 full hours of solo parenting with a one hour break for a nap. And since Mark will likely be home later tonight and tomorrow too – I feel too knackered to make it to Sunday.

Plus my body still feels like a wrung out dishrag from Tuesday night’s yoga class. YUP – I’ve been to two whole classes. Look at me GO. The class was fantastic. The instructor focused on fine tuning poses in long holds, much like my first and favorite yoga teacher. There were only three negative parts of the class. One – again with the sucky music. The soundtrack to this entire class was Natalie Merchant Unplugged. Yuck. I don’t love or hate her (like Mark does) – but I know I don’t want to listen to her whole album while trying to concentrate on my breathing. Two – no sun salutations. There was no vinyasa movement whatsoever to warm you up or keep you going. Weird. Three – I had to intimately touch a stranger. Ewww. And worse yet – it was a MAN. And even worser – he had to touch me. GROSS. There was one damn guy in the class and he got paired up with me because we were similar in size. YUP. I am man sized. Lovely. I miss the days of Mark coming to class with me. I always had a partner for poses and I didn’t have to worry about my stranger-touching anxiety taking hold.

The dieting is going okay. I eat just about the same thing every day, which is getting a little old, but I also like the structure of knowing what I’m going to eat for lunch since I was never a lunch planner. But I think this weekend I’m going to cheat a bit – not go crazy or anything, but a little. That may be the best way for me to diet. Watch every regulated morsel Monday through Friday and then take a few liberties when in social situations over the weekend. I feel a bit thinner which is really nice – and enough to keep me going for at least one more week. We shall see. I know you are dying to know.

Oh and I have to relay this foot in mouth story from a few weeks ago. Or more like thigh in upper intestine. I was at the park with Noah when I saw a young couple with whom I have spoken to before. They had their two beautiful kids with them. Their oldest son is about three and I remembered that his name was pronounced “E-FAY,” though obviously I have no idea how it’s spelled. And I thought I remembered the infant daughter’s name too. So I said to the mother “She’s getting so big so fast. Her name is Hilton, right?” And the mother paused, pursed her lips slightly and then said “No… her name is Hyatt.” I could have just died. WRONG H hotel! Good God. And then the mother said “People think we named her after a hotel but Hyatt means ‘life’ in Arabic.” I was mortified. I must have turned magenta while I stammered “That’s really beautiful” before shuttling Noah to the other side of the park. Honestly the mom couldn’t have been any nicer about it, but I felt so ignorant and ethnocentric. I wanted Noah to bury me in wood chips.

And suddenly Noah is a full-on choo choo addict. It’s all he wants to talk about. So yesterday I let him watch his first episode of Thomas The Tank Engine. He was hooked immediately and has been asking to watch it on the TV all day. He also enjoys looking at the website. We stopped in a neighbor boy’s house yesterday and they had much of the Thomas wooden train set. Noah coveted it instantly. As we left he kept pleading for Ezra’s choo choos. I don’t think he understands that those wooden train cars cost $20 a piece! I might have to get the extender set for his Ikea train real soon, but if he wants the real deal he better start selling plasma.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

First the issues, then the weekend

You can skip ahead if you want nothing to do with the issues and skip the end if you don’t give a damn about the weekend.

The issue part of the post

I don’t know how I refrained from mentioning this since I think about it every day, but I’ve been trying to get pregnant again for the last ten months. And I just got my period again. It sucks. Obviously Mark and I aren’t the most fertile couple on the face of the planet since it took seven months for us to conceive Noah. And it was a hard seven months. Every month was an emotional rollercoaster of hopes and disappointments. I was reading up on adoption (and how we couldn’t afford it) and bargaining with the gods when we were finally blessed with Noah. And if it turns out that he’s our one and only then he will have been even more of a miracle for whom I will forever be grateful. But even though the issue isn’t quite as emotional and desperate feeling this time, it still sucks that we’re having problems again. It’s disappointing to me to be planning out our life and then realizing how little control I have over parts of it. And it’s sad to be thinking every new cycle about possibly being pregnant and then finding out I’m not.

One of the big questions is whether Noah’s continued nursing has anything to do with it. For the most part breastfeeding women are inundated with information about the fact that breastfeeding is not a form of birth control. That you CAN get pregnant while nursing – especially after your child is nursing less frequently. And I have had a regular period and been regularly ovulating (ovulation predictor kits) since Noah began eating solid foods at six months old. So I had assumed that it would definitely not impede my getting pregnant. However some sources suggest that breastfeeding hormones in some women can still prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, but I have no idea what percentage of women this affects. I’m thinking it’s low since the bulk of information does not support that as an issue. And I do have two acquaintances that got pregnant while nursing – and one of the women was still nursing a four month old. But who knows.

I called my OBGYN to make an appointment for a checkup and to discuss the fertility issue. I’ve waited this long because last time they told me that a healthy, fertile couple could take up to a year to conceive and they wouldn’t look into it further until that time. I couldn’t get an appointment until August, which is good in that at that time it will have been a year. And I hope, hope, hope that the nature of that appointment changes between now and then, but I’m highly doubtful.

So yes, Noah is still nursing. Approximately three times a day – first thing in the morning, naptime and bedtime. It’s still impossible for him to fall asleep without it and he’s still very vehement about requesting it when he’s tired. And just recently he’s seemed to increase the amount of time during which he nurses. Last night I nursed him for quite awhile and then decided to put him in his crib without him being fully asleep. Two hours of hell ensued. Screaming, hysterics, crying like I’ve never witnessed before. My heart and soul being razored into shreds. And I actually caved an hour in - I was offering him “Bappa” (Boppy – we always use his nursing pillow so that is what he asks for) but he’d say “No.” He was crying “Bappa. Bappa. Bappa.” But he was SO mad at me that he wouldn’t let me pick him up out of the crib. It was ugly. It was awful. And finally he settled down enough for me to nurse him again. Mark was exhausted just listening to it. And Noah is an emotional mess today as a result. But I need to separate the sleeping from the nursing. It’s dire. And once I do that then I can wean, but not until then. But it seems impossible.

The weekend part of the post

What an incredibly lovely weekend we had! Friday night we were able to dress up, go out on the town without the baby, celebrate in the nuptials of Tom & Audrey, hang out with our dear friend Tracey, and drink wine and eat in anti-South Beach abandon. It was a lot of fun. And GOD what an attractive couple. Seriously. Tom is one of my favorite people on the planet and when he told he was finally seeing someone I was prepared to deal with her not measuring up. But Audrey is sweet, beautiful and smart – and they make a dashing pair.

Saturday we headed for the hills of Hershey, Pennsylvania. And though I was a tad concerned about the drive, the length of the day, and Noah’s interest in the rides – it was PERFECT. Seriously. Things couldn’t have worked out better. We left at 10:30, a little later than we had initially intended, but it worked out perfectly because Noah slept the entire one hour section of the turnpike. The weather was sunny, breezy and comfortably cool. And the rides – Noah LOVED them. He went on the kiddie train, the big train (2X), the monorail, the ladybug rollercoaster, convoy, traffic jam, the pedal powered track cars and more. But most importantly we went on the carousel. FIVE TIMES. He loved those “neigh neighs” And on the fourth and fifth time he rode on horses that moved and was blow away by them going “up” and “down.” He keeps talking about it days later. He was also quite awestruck by the roller coasters which he referred to as the “Uh-Oh Choo Choos.” And he was really well behaved – patient in lines and good natured. We were all exhausted by nine delightful hours in the park when we left at 9:30. I don’t know how Mark managed to stay awake to drive us home safely. The only small glitch in the day was that I was feeling a bit nauseated during most of the day. Partially because of a slight wine hangover and partly because of a glut of carbs and sugar in one night after a week of detox – and not as I had been hoping because I was pregnant. But luckily I wasn’t sick enough to impede my enjoyment of the little man enjoying his big adventure in chocolate world.

Sunday was a day of relaxation. Well, not completely. We went grocery shopping, got new cell phones (Noah sucked my old phone into submission so I lost my phone contact info so I have nobody’s numbers), went to the park and prepared some South Beach lunches for the week.

And yesterday we had a play date with Susan and Frannie in the morning and in the evening Noah’s Nana and Pop Pop came, brought him a fun dump truck, chatted with us, and respectfully ate a South Beach friendly dinner without complaint. Oh and then the screaming Bappa incident happened and I got my period before I went to bed. But you heard about that.

One week after 060606

I met Patrice in ninth grade Executive Council homeroom in the fall of 1988. She was then and always will be cooler than me. Not from trying - she’s just naturally so smart, so singular, so stylish. And while I was wearing vests everyday, matching my lipstick to my nail polish, and listening to Bad English, Patrice was rockin’ Converse and listening to Violent Femmes. She was way out of my style league, but I guess she took pity on me.

Eighteen years later and Patrice is still my best friend. That’s a lot of good times, a lot of bad, a lot of water under the bridge. There were times during each others lives where we lost touch, had tiffs, weren’t there when we should have been – and there were also plenty of times we shared in each other’s extreme happiness and sorrow. She’s been such an integral part of my life for so long that I can’t imagine my life without her – and I don’t want to. She makes me laugh, shares her wisdom and makes me infinitely cooler by association.

Today is Patrice’s 32nd birthday. In the new year of Patrice I hope I’m a better friend to her than I ever have been. That as she successfully pursues her happiness that I’m by her side to cheer her on in the good times and to listen with understanding in the bad. Because a life long friendship doesn’t pop up every day. Especially with someone as cool as Patrice.

I love you, Patrice.

Friday, June 09, 2006

I look at this face about 14 hours a day - and I'm still amazed by his cuteness. Not that I'm biased or anything.  Posted by Picasa

Baby Jules had a very happy first birthday and had no birthday boy blues. Posted by Picasa

Check out Noah's new bed set. I got it at Goodwill a couple of weeks ago and it's a brand new Target set. (Of course Noah does not yet sleep in this bed. His crib is to the left of it.) And check out that naked Spy underbelly. He's still over grooming.  Posted by Picasa

I did it!

Blogger is sucking. I’ve been having troubles posting, putting up photos and commenting the last two days. I wrote the following post yesterday. Get it together people or I’ll have to stop paying for your free service.

Last night I participated in my first yoga class in over two years. And I am happy to say that not only did I survive but I did a decent job keeping up. This obviously means the class wasn’t overly challenging but also that I’m not as weak as I had anticipated being. So, good stuff. The instructor was a sub though, so I have no idea what sort of hoops the regular instructor will be putting me through. The grapevine has it that she’s tough.

My only problem with last night’s class was the music. She played Madonna, Gorillaz, Air, and Beck. I HATE that. I want to hear ethereal chanting, singing bowls and some sitar for christsakes. Something other worldly. It’s not a freakin’ aerobics class where you feel the burn to the bumpin’ hits of today. Sheesh. Am I the only one who feels this way? Mandy, what do you think?

We have a busy weekend ahead of us. My Mom is coming tomorrow evening to watch the boy while Mark and I go to a wedding. This means not only do I have to shave my legs and paint my nails – I must also make our house look like there is some semblance of order. Ha. As if she doesn’t know already.

On Saturday, weather permitting, Mark, Noah and I are driving two hours to Hershey Park. My Dad gave us his tickets for his work’s company picnic – so it’s free rides and free food once we make the lengthy death drive with our active car-hating toddler. Obviously Mark and I aren’t going to take turns going solo on the Super Dooper Looper, but it will be fun to see what rides the boy will go on. I'm betting that the train and the monorail will be big hits. It'll be our first amusement park experience so wish us well. And South Beach dieting in the “sweetest place on earth”… screw that. We’ll return to the land of the sugar free later.

And Sunday we have the windows on our house capped! YEAH. It doesn’t get more exciting than that. Especially after the action packed day of roofing we had today. Yup – we finally got ourselves a brand spankin’ new rubba’ roof.

Five bits of Noah news
- His first sentence is “I did it!” It’s said happily and triumphantly and is typically accompanied by jumping up and down, pumping fists, and his mother falling to the ground from the inability to carry the sheer overwhelming weight of her pride.
- Noah is in love with the wooden train I got him at Ikea. He’s all about the “choo choo chain.” He's even said "choo choo" in his sleep. At the library this week we got more books on trucks and trains and he’s in heaven. An overly motorized heaven.
- When I ask Noah what he wants to eat he says “Breakfast.” Even if it’s dinner time. He’s excellent at thinking out of the box.
- He’s begun copycatting the very stern “No” I use when he’s behaving as well as the sign language “No” that accompanies it. In fact I’m not sure what the cat was doing wrong Noah gave him a firm talking to.
- It took an entire week and a half for his appetite to come back after his stomach flu. All of the sudden it was like someone hit the switch and he was once again an unstoppable eating machine. But he’s definitely getting fussier. There’s a lot of bargaining going on at dinner to make sure he eats “one more piece of fish and then you can have pudding.” Luckily he enjoys a lot of healthy snacks like fruit leather (no sugar added fruit roll ups) and dried cherries. But today after lunch I gave him a dark chocolate chip and almond cookie and he spent a good ten minutes breaking the cookie apart so that he could eat the chocolately goodness all on it’s own. Smart man. And yes- my pathetic South Beach eating self nearly drowned in a pool of drool.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Short and unsweetened

On Saturday we drove out to Reading for Baby Jules’ first birthday party. There were cookies, balloons and babies aplenty. In fact I think the very young may have outnumbered the old. Noah enjoyed playing with Jules’ toys – he has his very own ball pit and a riding train that blows bubbles – and watching the other kids play. He’s quite the voyeur. And the weather rebounded for a few hours so that Mark, Noah and I could take a walk.

On Sunday we did some light cleaning and went to the grocery store. On the way back from the store I bought a plastic ride-in Little Tikes car off the street for $5. It’s in crappy shape – but for five bucks you can’t be picky. On Monday morning we started a diet – blek. I hate the way you need to obsess about food when you are dieting. It’s so freaking counterintuitive. And I’m using artificial sweetener which I’m convinced is poison. No more diet talk. Last night Mark went to his first meeting as an official board member of the Kensington South Neighborhood Action Committee. It was kind of sucky to have him home for only 45 minutes before he left again, but I’m proud of him for getting involved and making our neighborhood better for Noah.

This morning we went to Marita’s house for the boys to hang. Noah was being super clingy for some odd reason and only warmed up as it was time to go. This afternoon we have to return our library books that are due 6-6-6! Devil books.

What’s that you hear in the background? Why it’s Dan Zane, Gnarls Barkley and Arctic Monkeys. I’m dying to get The Raconteurs and mildly interested in The Subways. What new stuff are you folks listening to?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Rambling post about relationships

On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of meeting my friend Jeff at Good Dog for a couple of hours while Mark and Noah hung out at the homestead. The big news of the evening is that Jeff just ended a thirteen year relationship. And while it was long overdue, he hadn’t been happy in quite a long time, it’s always so disheartening to hear about someone’s breakup. Recently my friend Patty and her beau split up, as did my brother Jim and Ofelia, the mother of his sons. That seems like a lot of breakups hitting close to home in one clump - is there something about this time of year or are the planets in alignment for relationship strife? Either way, that stinks. And it has me thinking about relationships. Hearing that a couple didn’t make it through is defeating to me. Though I know that over 40 percent of marriages end in divorce, I want to believe that good people that love each other can weather the ravages of daily life and cling together for support rather than fall apart. I want that desperately for myself – a marriage that lasts forever. And being a child of divorce whose parents split up when I was five, I don’t think I had a good role model for how a good marriage works. So here I am just winging it as always.

Missuz J refers to marriage as “juggling porcupines” and while Mark and I might toss one into the air on occasion, I think of our relationship in terms of 90/10. Ninety percent of the time I adore him, thank the heavens for him, and know we’ll grow old together. And during that dreaded ten percent he’s treading on my last nerve and I wish he’d just leave me alone.

Since we’ve had Noah marriage undoubtedly seems harder. We’re occasionally stressed, often tired and in need of a never coming break – and that can take a toll on anyone. And you can’t lash out at the baby – so who else gets it but the spouse? On many days I don’t even see another person to lash out at. Plus the fact that we don’t really have time to do so many of things that brought us together as a couple. A large part of what I loved about Mark from the beginning was that he shared my interests in music, movies, books, dining, travel and politics. And now – well FORGET those. We’re lucky to have the opportunity to chat about Lost and Project Runway. So what brought us together, attracts us to each other, and keeps us together has changed. That is a challenge within itself. Luckily one of the other key components of what brought us together as a couple was that we wanted the same things out of life long term and that hasn’t changed. We both wanted a happy marriage, a city life and a family to share it with. And every day I marvel in wonder at Noah, the prime fruit of those dreams.

Marriage (or any equivlanet long term commitment two people make to one another) is work, undoubtedly. We knew it going in – it was a large part of our discussion with the woman who married us and it was the focus of our ceremony. We’d seen marriages gone wrong up close and personal and we wanted to acknowledge from the start that often it’s an uphill battle and that we were ready. So I guess I shouldn’t feel so crushed when I hear that another couple has lost the fight. But I do. Because certainly each of them thought it was all worth the work. So what brought about that change, and can it happen to us?

I can’t be certain but I believe my 90/10 rule to be fairly normal. No matter how much you love each other, no matter how perfectly matched you are, occasionally your mate is going to drive you nuts. Right? The question is that given the sheer amount of time you spend together and responsibilities you tend to, are you sharing your life with a person who drives you the least amount of nuts. And luckily I’m pretty certain that I am, though when I’m stressed and Mark is stomping on the last tender nerve I have to remind myself. So Mark please remember that I love you even when I’m being a downright snappy bitch who doesn’t seem content with all that we have and all that you do for us. I am. I’m just being crabby becauses sometimes I just am. As we all are. Right?

So here is to our getting through it and doing it together. And to you too.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

mrs. self distruct

About five years ago I was seeing a therapist. The issue I wanted to deal with specifically was my self loathing – specifically body image. I really loved my therapist and she helped me work through a lot but not as much as joining Weight Watchers and losing some weight did. Once I dropped some pounds, I discontinued my therapy. I felt good about myself. Better than I ever had. More therapy would have helped more on the long term, but I stopped cringing when I looked in the mirror and that was pretty spectacular for me.

Five years, a baby and 20 pounds later I could use some therapy but cheaper yet some weight loss. Yesterday a friend sent me some photos of myself that made me weep. Looking at them I couldn’t believe I go out in public looking like this. My face, so swollen and chubby, my midsection so flabby and lumpy. And it wasn’t just the weight. My hair is horrendous. My skin dreadful. And my teeth are ghoulishly ridiculous. How can I face people looking like this?

Obviously some things can be fixed and some can’t. I decided last week I needed to start a diet and so far it isn’t going well. Of course a major picnic weekend is not the best one on which to start your weight loss initiative. Especially when you have such poor willpower and a defeatist attitude. While at that toddler birthday party this weekend I thought I was showing some restraint until I began talking to a couple that just finished a two week cleansing fast. For TWO WEEKS they ate no solid foods. TWO WEEKS! I felt like kicking them in the teeth. HOW in the hell did they do that? I WANT to do that – but know I couldn’t last two days.

Last night I planned to go to my first yoga class in two years. I was excited. I needed some forward motion, something to feel like I was fighting my wretched unpresentableness. And then the damn instructor didn’t show up. I wanted to cry. Especially since I didn’t go to the class last week because I got the damn stomach flu. Will the gods please work with me a little? PLEASE. I need something to prevent me from falling down deeper into this self hatred hole.