Attention Readers in the Triangle!

As a public service announcement to those of you who live in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area in NC (shout out to the home town!), I thought I’d let you know about this event via Mojo Mom.

Again, I admit to not having read this book yet, but it is on my to read list (along with a stack of other recommended reads from friends, relatives, neighbors…wow, it takes twice/three/ten times as long to finish a book now than pre-baby, doesn’t it?) and I’ve read wonderful, thoughtful reviews about it.

So, I recommend checking out the event. A book reading is an excellent mommy night out activity. I try to take advantage as often as I can here. So gather up the ladies, plan to grab drinks for discussion afterwards and make a night of it. If anyone goes, please feel free to come back and let the rest of us know what you thought.


PS – Elizabeth Edwards will be at the Regulator later in October to read from Saving Graces. I heard her read and speak locally and would recommend checking it out.


You’ve Got a Friend

I avoided the Blackberry boom when I was a working gal and am proud to say I’m resisting the Facebook phenomenon.

And it has nothing to do with their double standard on free speech as it pertains to breast feeding mothers (which you can read all about here and here and here and here if you haven’t already. It’s up to you whether you decide to boycott or not, but if you’re a breastfeeding mother and Facebook member, you might want to think about making a little noise about it at the very least. We can’t be heard if we don’t speak up.).

(Pardon me while I step off my soapbox and get back to the post at hand)…

I always felt like the MySpaces and the Facebooks of the world were for younger folks. You know, the ones who knew what email was when they were five. I remember going to college and being assigned an email address and not having the faintest clue what to do with it. I only knew about four other people outside my university with email that I corresponded with and if I wanted to make plans with folks I went to school with, I called them…on a landline. Or stopped by their dorm room and left a pithy message on the white boards hanging on their door.

As email became more and more mainstream, I found myself more and more dependent on it. Sure, it was great for keeping up with my far-flung friends at Notre Dame or the Naval Academy while I was at UNC and later with all my college buds as we scattered to the four corners after graduation. But when I started working and realized how much correspondence was via email and how easy it was to keep in touch with my parents and other relatives through email, it became my conversation medium of choice. A shy person by nature, it was easier and faster to dash off an email to check in or make plans. But I wonder how many friendships died down or acquaintances didn’t blossom into friendships because of my dependence on it, because it allowed me an easy way out and wasn’t as much work as a phone call or (gasp) a letter.

And now here’s Facebook. Allowing people to connect without fear. The hubby recently established an account after much ribbing from his active Facebooking brother. After watching his experience and playing around in his account, I can definitely see some benefits. It would be totally fun to fulfill some of those voyeuristic tendencies we all have — see whatever happened to those old boyfriends, locate those college friends you lost touch with, see who from high school is still friends with whom. But after satisfying my curiosity, I realized it would be too easy for me to reacquaint myself with some college friends or former colleagues and be “Facebook friends,” keeping in touch with them only through Facebook, not making the effort to really regain a friendship with them.

Perhaps I’m just naive or stubborn about it. I refuse to start an account. I don’t have anything against it (well, except for the whole breastfeeding thing and the fact that Bill Gates is thinking about getting his hands on it). A lot of people I know, including the hubby, are on it and having a blast with it. But I think I’m going to choose to refresh some Notebook and Phonebook friends. I think I’ll send out some real letters this week. Make a few phone calls. Chat with a few folks. Gossip with the neighbors at the playground. Being isolated with a 13 month old all day makes human contact a necessity. As much as the Internet has helped me to find a voice, it doesn’t talk back. And sometimes, it helps to hear a friendly voice at the other end of the telephone line.

Call me old fashioned, but until James Taylor revises his classic song to “You’ve Got a Facebook Friend” or Blondie changes their 80s hit to “Email Me” I’m okay with that.

A Tale of Two (or Ten) T-Shirts

I believe I’ve already established that I’m a reality TV addict. So it will come as no surprise that I would follow my favorite part of Project Runway to his new show Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style.

This past week Tim and sidekick Veronica made over a mom with a mommy wardrobe. Now I’ll clarify the mommy wardrobe for those non-mommies that might be reading: t-shirts, jeans (worn-in), non-logo-ed t-shirts, khakis, long-sleeve t-shirts, capri pants, t-shirts that we convince ourselves are dress-up-able, and sweat pants. Oh, and did I mention t-shirts?

I felt a sense of superiority when I realized that I have not only a few skirts in my closet, but I actually wear them (because news flash ladies, they cover more than shorts and are just as cool in this hot weather). Then I realized that all I ever really wear with said skirts are t-shirts (shocker) and flip flops. With fall approaching (apparently more on the calendar than in the weather forecast), I have been jonesing to do some shopping. But I have had a horrible time shopping since becoming this mom person.

I can’t seem to justify spending a lot of money on a wardrobe that only I and the checkout gal at the grocery store see most days. Or I find a fantastic find that is totally me and I would have bought in a heartbeat to wear to work or out and realize I have no where to wear it now (because seriously, who is going “out”?). Or there’s shopping for that special outfit that just doesn’t look right on mom-body. I won’t even get started on my complete lack of accessories. Or the fact that I am not making the money right now and therefore have a hard time spending it (unless I’m at Target, apparently).

And then I start to wonder, why the heck don’t I do it? All of these makeover shows get moms out of the sweats and into day dresses and trousers with kitten heels and they seem so happy. I know I certainly feel better when I look better. When I can blow dry hair, my attitude is totally different. And I know it’s not that much more of an effort to put on better clothes. Why don’t we moms dress better? Not for our babies or our husbands or whomever, but for us. Because it makes us feel better. Because I’ve always been taught to dress for the job you want and if mothering is the most important job there is, shouldn’t we look good doing it?

Oh, I know it’s unrealistic and I’ll be pulling out another t-shirt in the morning, but maybe, just maybe I will go shopping this weekend and try some things on that don’t qualify for the mommy wardrobe. Maybe I’ll be surprised. Or maybe I’ll just look good for a hours in a fitting room with outfits on that don’t make it home.

Or maybe I’ll just buy another pair of shoes. Nothing dresses up a new t-shirt like a pair of heels.

I’ve Kicked the Bucket

Oh the joys of a sink and dishwasher that drain!! My counters are finally cleaned off – no more drying rack or stack of dishes waiting in reserve for the dishwasher to work again, no more science project bubbling up from the depths of my rotting, cast iron pipes, no more washing my dishes in a bucket.

I just had to share the good news. I hope you all have had a day filled with similar wonder.

At least Cinderella had the mice to help…

I have not meant to neglect this space for so long. But I’ve had a bad case of dish-pan hands.

Our ancient cast-iron plumbing is hopelessly clogged in our kitchen so our sink, our dishwasher, our disposal all won’t drain. Fun, fun, fun. The plumbers come to rework our kitchen plumbing tomorrow, but I’ve been washing dishes in a bucket since Saturday, using paper plates and trying to creatively use one pan when cooking. All of this has brought to a head my constant struggle to keep the perfect house while raising a head-strong and accident-prone child.

I swear I’m not as anal as that sounds. Trust me, my house is far from perfect and even on its cleanest days it is still a lived-in house with a stray cobweb probably in the corner, stacks of papers/books/clutter on the desk, floors that probably haven’t been washed in the last six months, toys everywhere and please, please don’t open my oven.

I struggle with the unrealistic June Cleaver vision of a stay at home mom yet at the same time holding myself to that standard. I mean, sure, I want to emulate June in her ability to care for her family while still looking put together and in heels no less. But that stereotypical “housewife” raises the hair on the back of my neck. So why do I feel like a bad mommy when I realize I’ve stepped over the same pile of books in the bedroom for three months?

I guess I still feel like because I’m home I should be more “with it” than I am when it comes to household chores. After all, working moms have to handle the cooking and the cleaning and the mothering on top of being at work for most of a day. Maybe it has more to do with the fact that without a job, the status of the house is really the only measuring stick to my daily performance, or so it feels some days.

I’m working on it. I’m learning to accept my imperfections and make friends with the dust bunnies. Luckily, I have a kid who thinks the Swiffer is a toy!

And it’s all your fault anyway, dear reader…I probably could have washed a bucket of dishes in the time it took me to write this. Oh well.

Sign of the Times

Peanut has figured out shaking his head. I’m not sure if he completely grasps the power of his new gesture (he mostly employs it when he’s done eating and wants out of the high chair), but it’s entered his arsenal and provided us a glimpse of the terrible toddler “no”-fest to come.

I think I’ll enjoy his ignorance while I can. Whoever coined “ignorance is bliss” most definitely was a parent.

A Day to Remember

It’s hard to know what to write today. I have honestly started this post several times and nothing feels quite right. I could write about what it felt like in Washington, DC that day. How the sky was so blue, how we gathered around the television sets in our offices confused about what was happening in NY, how everything suddenly changed when we realized the Pentagon had been hit, how quiet the bumper-to-bumper traffic was leaving the city – no horns, no cutting people off, just thousands of cars with their windows rolled down all listening to WTOP and watching the huge black plume pour from the Pentagon into the sky over the Potomac – how we cringed at the sound of every military plane overhead when we knew one of the flights was still unaccounted for, how we will always consider the passengers on United Flight 93 heroes because we knew that flight was coming to DC, how quiet the streets and the airports were, how we gathered in churches.

I could write about how our world changed, how fear came home. Or I could write about how, slowly but surely, our lives did get back to normal and it seems surreal that it’s been six years.

But I’d much rather write about how there was joy this 9/11 anniversary morning, how I was tickling my 13 month old peanut on our bed listening to his belly laugh and relishing in his four-tooth grin, how we snuggled under a blanket to read a story before his morning nap, how he giggled when we got to a page with frogs on it.

So today, under a similarly clear, blue sky, I remember those who sacrificed their lives in NY, DC, Pennsylvania and subsequently in Afghanistan and Iraq. You are not forgotten. You are present in the safety we no longer take for granted, you are present in the joy we are privileged enough to experience on these anniversaries, and you are present in our prayers. We remember.

The Boy in the Bubble Wrap

I’m officially wrapping my child in bubble wrap and keeping him locked in his room. There is just too much danger out there – speeding cars, toys made in China, child predators, coffee tables.

Peanut somehow slipped while banging his drumstick against the coffee table (something we do several times a day) and hit his mouth on the way down. The blood was dark and immediate. He rebounded relatively quickly, but he split that little thing that connects your upper lip to your gum on the inside. The pediatrician took a look and all is well ($15 co-pay, $4 parking fee, 2 minute doctor’s visit, mommy’s piece of mind…priceless), but I’m still recovering nearly 24 hours later.

I didn’t handle the situation well at all. Oh, sure, I was at his side in a heartbeat, paper towel in his mouth to stop the bleeding from going down his throat, trying to get ice on it, murmuring reassuring words and rocking him gently…while I was balling like a child myself. I called the hubby once I knew peanut was not seriously hurt and he said all the right things (“I’m sure he’s fine”, “Why don’t you call the pediatrician’s office to be sure”…), but what I really wanted was for him to ditch work and come straight home to take care of it, okay, take care of me. Even at the pediatrician’s office this morning, the doc cuddled peanut when really I wanted to ask him to give me a hug instead!

If I’m this much of a wreck now, what happens when he really starts hurting himself at football practice, at camp, on the playground, whatever? Although, I suppose wrapping him in bubble wrap isn’t realistic – he’d probably get a rash or the hubby and I would have too much fun popping it. Plus, he’s apparently already at risk from the bottles I gave him. And to think I remember learning to ride a bike without a helmet, roller skating down big cement hills with no knee pads and playing for hours in the woods behind our house. It’s amazing I survived!

I guess the moral is to just let kids be kids. They’re gonna get hurt. I can’t wrap him in bubble wrap…

…but I could wrap the coffee table in it!

Mommy Metro?

I never thought I’d say this, but I miss my commute. Okay, maybe not the hour drive-to-the-park-
blocks-commute, but 20 minutes of downtime after a day of work…yeah, that would be nice.

What’s a stay-at-home-mom to do? We go straight from afternoon playtime to dinner prep to feeding, clean-up, bath and bedtime routine not to mention trying to sneak in a bite ourselves at some point. I realized how much that affects my evening sanity when the hubby came home last night and found me totally frustrated trying to get dinner on the table while attempting to keep a fussy one-year-old occupied and stationary. When he left for the gym after getting peanut in bed at 8, I finally had a chance to breathe, to take a second and regroup…but then I was alone in the house with no one to talk to. Contrast that to the hubby willing to chat when he came home at 5:30, wanting to know about our day and what fun things we did together.

The difference? He had time to turn off part of his day and focus on something new. I was still in the trenches, changing laundry loads after our weekend away and emptying the dishwasher for the second time in 12 hours.

So ladies, how do you make the switch from mom to just you at the end of a long day chasing/playing/cleaning/feeding the little ones? What’s your stay-at-home-mom “commute” back to you?