Friday, December 29, 2006

A Holiday Card for You

Over the arduous, weeks-long process that is the sending out of holiday cards in my household, I often thought of you blog buddies and how deserving you are of the message I mailed out to the friends and family members whose addresses I possess. Since snail mail does not befit our Internet friendship, I hope you will accept the electronic transmission of this year's 24/7 holiday greeting. You all have made this past year richer and more enlightening than I thought possible.

Lest you ruin your eyes trying to view my poor attempts at getting the inside of the card to convert to readable jpg format, I will save you some effort by pointing you to the the original post from which I lifted the text, as it appeared here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Driving Headlong Into the New Year

Merging is a necessary driving skill that one can conceivably go an entire lifetime without learning. By "one," I mean "me." And by "an entire lifetime," I mean "my days are numbered."

I've heard rumors that the theory of stress as a trigger for ulcers has been debunked, but if it is in fact true, then The Partner is being overcome by gastric acid as he reads this. My lack of driving skills is the bane of his existence. It is at the very foundation of his puzzlement every time he looks at me. He is the speed-happy connoisseur of all things automotive; I am the Sunday-driving shorty who pushes Cadillacs into the ground.

I love to drive. Don't get me wrong. I must get in the car and roll onto the open road at least once a day or I will cross over into crazy. You would think that, with all the practice, I'd have mastered a few vehicular basics by now. But there are curbs, guard rails and store fronts all over the northeast that would prove you wrong. If it can't get out of its own way, I'll hit it.

When it comes to merging--particularly onto highways--my success rate is based purely on the fact that most other cars on my roads can, in fact, get out of their own way. . .and mine. If that was not the case, I would've been an American-made flapjack on Interstate 84 the day I got my license. I cannot explain this belief I have that any given lane is mine for the taking, but it's deeply ingrained. I am far more likely to accelerate into place and look over my shoulder as an "Oh, Shit" afterthought than to take any preventative action. I can't help but wonder if it isn't a deadly form of ADHD.

Somehow, I've made it to the cusp of 2007. I'm older, wiser and more maternal. Since I can no longer take anything lightly, I must now resolve to take action. This year, I will not drive like an idiot.

Inasmuch as biology and genetics will allow, of course.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Who Stole the Mistletoe?

We racked up 300 miles in the car this Christmas weekend on visits to the homes of sundry parents and siblings, but I wasn't overtaken by the spirit of the season till I was back home late Monday night, watching Everybody Loves Raymond in bed with The Partner.

It's hectic, this business of trying to fit the extended family into our fledgling yet already dysfunctional unit of mother, father and baby. The Partner and I spent the majority of the long weekend vowing to return the gifts we'd purchased for each other as we fought our way from the parking meter at a metropolitan Target to several big box stores, bobbing and weaving through traffic patterns along Route 1. It wasn't the holiday throngs against which we were struggling; it was ourselves. The pressure of trying to please everyone else left little in the way of time or inclination when it came to considering our own marriage.

It should be more apparent than it is, the idea that presenting a united front is far more likely to earn us a victory against the forces of commercialization and sprawl than waging war against each other. When things are going well, it's easy to see that. We're a team. We're good together. We can make each other laugh. We show each other truths that, for some pig-headed reason, are not readily apparent. But add a stressor to the situation and it becomes easy to believe that the alliance is unneccessary. Suddenly we're crossing our arms and trading barbs. The zingers are only momentarily satisfying.

On the first floor of a downtown Target that somehow took 5 flights of stairs to access, I found my husband after waiting for him at the car for 25 minutes. It was Christmas Eve's eve.

"Where the hell have you been?" he asked as he spotted me near the front.

"I've been waiting at the car!" A typical disregard for decibel levels and privacy was evident in my shriek. "Where the hell have you been?"

A middle aged couple walking by looked over with a series of good natured guffaws born of experience. "Don't worry," said the wife, "it'll be over in two more days." They continued merrily along.

The Partner laughed politely, smiling over his shoulder as they passed. I straightface-stared at him until they turned the corner and his smile vanished. We squared off in the aisle between hosiery and popcorn tins. After some seconds of squinty-eyed silence, he stormed off. I sighed and turned toward the automatic sweep of the glass doors, my heels digging loud into the linoleum.

Then the penultimate evening became Christmas Eve and feigned civility begot the next day. We traveled from one state to another and across the line again. All was familial and festive as deep as anyone cared to look. Suddenly it was 11 p.m. on the 25th and The Boss was nestled snug in her sleep sack as The Partner and I fell into our own bed. I'm sure my exhale was audible.

"How about that Christmas kiss?" The Partner suggested.


Edited to add: The Partner sent me the following link in an email today. It was too good not to pass along. Make sure the volume is turned on to fully enjoy another Christmas Kiss.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Baby Love

The Boss has taken to belting out "baby" at intervals for which I cannot seem to determine the motivation. She learned the word just last week when her grandparents brought her first baby doll. She held it; she kissed it; she fed it a bottle. She called it "baby."

Since then, the word has taken on a heightened significance. She looks at pictures of herself as a newborn and says "baby." She wakes from nap screeching "baby" as a way to get my attention. She looks in the mirror and sees a baby. When her father puts her in her crib at night, it's to a chorus of "baby, baby, baby."

We first thought she was asking for her doll each time she'd say it. That quickly proved not to be the case. Then I started thinking she was simply babbling to hear herself speak (which, by the way, would be yet another indication that she is almost entirely her father's daughter). But with each passing "baby," the truth became clearer and clearer to me. The Boss is starting to figure herself out.

When she wakes from naps, she's telling me she's ready to be picked up. "This baby is done sleeping" would be the rough translation, I think. It's a basic tactic, but even before I figured out the meaning, it worked.

That baby in the mirror is her. "Guk! Baby!" becomes "Look! It's me! I'm a baby!" to the enlightened mama.

And at bedtime, it's again the girl that hates her crib. "I'm not tired. Why don't you get it? Babies don't like to sleep!"

Watching her slow ride into the realms of thinking, feeling and articulating makes me feel like the only mother in the world--past, present and future. I've heard about the joys of watching children grow, but other people's recollections never meant anything to me. They still mean nothing. The only thing that reverberates against the closed doors of perception is the strange, personal newness of growing my own human being. Her life is something I need to experience for myself to truly understand.

I will learn slowly and, more often than not, the hard way; but even if she's more her father's daughter than she is mine, so will she.

Monday, December 18, 2006

What's That Smell?

I just came back from a week-long ski vacation. If you can identify this mountain, you win...absolutely nothing.
This view is from the condo where The Partner and I stayed with three friends. That's a total of four skiiers, plus me. I don't ski. I wouldn't touch a chair lift with a four foot ski pole. As they say on Sesame Street (or at least they did 25 years ago when I was watching it): "One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong."

I thought that a genuine hatred of all things wintry and snow-based would not be enough to ruin a week set apart from all the demands of real life. I thought that relaxing with a book and then doing some window shopping while the rest of the group hit the slopes would suffice. I mistakenly believed that I'd get some writing done.

I was wrong. It turns out I am far too lazy, selfish and hedonistic to embrace a vacation that does not revolve around my own interests and pleasures. Boredom bred resentment and suddenly I was that person I was before The Boss came along and forced me to cut the crap.

I wanted all The Partner's attention. While he was skiing, I sulked around town and then sat on a non-moving bus, talking to myself out loud about how the transportation system's poorly placed and misleading signage was ruining my life. When The Partner got back to the condo, I was surly. I got surlier still when he wanted to go to bed at 9:30 after a day of high-altitude exertion. Then surly turned forlorn as I stared at my glass of red wine.

It's my lack of perspective that ruined it for me. Inward focus renders the big picture peripheral. I wasted all the views.

Sitting here now, it's easy to see what a spoiled brat I was being. I should've made the most of the freedom that is a new place. I should've been happy that my husband was engaging in something he loves and almost never gets the chance to do. I went into it thinking I would have a good time, but, upon arrival, I didn't do anything to help the good time along.

I'd like to think I learned something from the experience. I'd like for The Partner and my friends to think I learned something, too, so that they might actually entertain the notion of going somewhere with me again. As it was, I was no fun. No fun at all.

It was like a fart in a car, that bad attitude of mine. It ruined it for everyone. And though I might have felt good letting it out, I was just as much stuck in the stink as the rest of the passengers.

Monday, December 11, 2006


The Partner and I have a spirited marriage. While other parents talk about their spirited children--and all the inherent extremes of energy, sensitivity, insightfulness, intelligence and discipline issues--I find those characteristics more prevalent in our own wed-locked union than in our daughter.

For us, being married is the most difficult aspect of being parents. But that doesn't mean I'm any more prone to giving up on our husband-and-wife status than another mother would be to giving up on her precocious toddler. Nobody said it would be easy. The fact that nobody told me it would be this hard is irrelevant.

We fight all the time. We alternately scream and ignore. We forgive on incompatible timelines. He tries to hold my hand when I have yet to unclench the fist at my side. He puts on a good face in public. I, on the other hand, will put nothing or nobody on--when I am done, not a single person is left unaware of the true state of affairs.

The nature of this "spirit" is such that the depth of its negativity is countered on the high-flying upswing. I find The Partner hysterically funny. He is never disappointed by the kind of shocking anecdotes that come out of my mouth. He is the left brain to my right. He is my biggest supporter.

It's only been two years. Maybe our extremes will slowly shift toward the center. On the other hand, maybe they'll continue to skew the spectrum. The only thing I'm sure about is that today's chaos leaves us with little time or energy to ponder realities that aren't here and now.

But it all begs the question: What becomes of spirited children when they grow up?


Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Boss Fills In

I'm swamped. Who isn't, right? Since I don't have time to pull together four coherent sentences, I thought I'd bring in The Boss to do a guest post. Not that's she's coherent, either. But she's really cute.
With this quick transcription, I will be on my way. Here goes:
Hi! Look. Bear. Look. Hat. Dog! Dog! Look. Ball. Thank you.
~ The Boss, age 16 months

Photo by Lauren

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fun With Fiction!

As part of Mrs. Chicken's Mother of All Memes, I am continuing on the fictional foray that began today at her blog. She started the story. I will add to it. When I am done with my contribution, I will tag someone else from a predetermined list of willing pawns (see below). If you would like to be added to the list, I suggest you ingratiate yourself over at Chicken and Cheese, because I've got nothing to do with organizing this thing. I just work here.

Now, without further ado. . .

I thought I saw him at the grocery store. It was raining that afternoon, and he had an umbrella. The red and white triangles that made up his portable shelter partly obscured his face, but I caught a glimpse of his eyes. Those eyes. Huge, blue and empty.

When he left me I remember searching their vast cerulean expanse for some sign, some flicker of love. It rained that day, too. Why does it rain when you lose someone you love? My tears left him unmoved. I don’t know why that surprised me.

The baby kicked in my cart and I let my gaze fall on her face. Her father’s eyes stared back at me. Green eyes, warm and full of life.“Mamma?” she said. “Mamma!”

The question-turned-exclamation jarred me out of my reverie. There was pressure in my temples and behind the hazel tint of my colored contact lenses. "Mamma's here," I cooed. My voice was a manufactured kind of soothing. I leaned in and brushed a kiss over Bethany's forehead, where a drop of rainwater hung like the tiniest Swarovski pendant. Its chain was made of fine blond locks.

"What do you think, baby girl?" I asked as I pulled her into my arms. "Is it time to go home?" Her searching legs and center of gravity found all the right contours as she settled atop the jut of my hip. I tugged at her coat until the hood framed her face, then I stepped into the rain. A small deluge of water streamed off the curve of the lowercase "o" on the Save-A-Lot sign and landed at the back of my neck. I could feel the tag from my shirt sticking sharp and soggy to my skin.

I sighed against Bethany's face and tried to avoid the bigger puddles on our way to my twenty year old Civic, which was miraculously close. One row over and three cars ahead, I saw a familiar red and white umbrella spanning the gap between an open door and the driver's seat of a rusty 4Runner that had to be as old as my own piece of junk. They guy I'd mistaken for Paul sat sideways and watched the rain as he talked into a cell phone.

I tag Creative Type Dad since a little male perspective just might do this story good.

Participants List:
Occidental Girl
Mrs. Maladjusted
Desitin's Child
Tater And Tot
Word Girl

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Five Things You May Or May Not Know About. . .


1. My obsession with dangerous men began at age 11. The categorical chronology and duration of infatuation are as follows:

Wild West outlaws - roughly two years
Italian mafia bosses, capos, consiglieres and accountants - a year and a half
Race car drivers - three years
Members of the armed services - ten years

2. Then I married a management major from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute.

3. The fact that I implied my fixation with military men is over is a complete bastardization of the truth. But I thought it was only proper to pretend.

4. Then I changed my mind.

5. My husband is not going to be happy about this post.


1. She has long fingers and tiny toes.

2. Half of her food ends up in her hair during any given meal.

3. Her breath smelled like rubbing alcohol when she was born and, in my morphine induced stupor, I would've drunk a whole bottle of the stuff just to keep the scent around.

4. At home, she can fall flat on her face, get a bloody lip and a forehead egg, and be on her giggling way in seconds. If she's at the playground, however, where one of her friends gives her so much as a playful shove, she's inconsolable for the next five minutes.

5. Her father is adamant in his belief that she is the cutest baby, ever. I, myself, am a little more rational about the whole issue.

Today's meme was brought to you by Chicky, Chicky Baby. I tag the following people to continue the barrage of random and/or interesting facts about parent and child(ren):

Mrs. Chicken and Emmie

lildb and J

Jenifer and her two little ones


Monday, December 04, 2006

Perfect Posts and the Patriarchy

They say perfection is in the eye of beholder.

If I do say so myself, Masked Mom and Mrs. Chicken have impeccable taste. So what if I'm biased?

Each of these lovely, generous ladies has nominated a different post of mine for the November Perfect Post Awards hosted by Petroville and Suburban Turmoil. Thanks to MM and Mrs. C for the nod and to the Perfect Post hosts for carrying on this monthly tradition.

In this award show, all nominees are winners. That's the part my husband didn't get.

"But being nominated means you are put in the running for an award. Being nominated isn't the award itself."

"Ah, that's where you're wrong," said I. "This is the momosphere. It's all very Montessori. Negative competition is damaging to our inner growth."

"Well, then no one can actually be a winner," said he. "And thus, you are all losers."

I rolled my eyes. This was coming from a guy who has a fifth place trophy displayed prominently in our living room. Fifth place or--as he would say if he was referring to anyone but himself--fourth loser. He won it by driving around a bunch of cones set up on a dirt field in mid-nowhere New Hampshire.

Do you know what? I think a good husband is in the eye of the beholder as well.

If you see me squinting a lot, you'll know why.


Friday, December 01, 2006

The Almighty Green

As the holiday season approaches, the world is filled with many colors that help get us into the Christmas spirit. There’s the red and white striped candy canes, the multi-colored twinkling lights on trees and in yards, gaily wrapped gifts and fancy new holiday clothing for special occasions. All of which we are told that we need so we can celebrate.

But, in order to have all of these festive “must haves” there is one color you must have more of than anything else.

Green. As in cash. *Cue strains of “Money, money, money, money….MONEY!” from The Apprentice.

Yes, green seems to be the most popular color around this time of year, much to the delight of the store owners and the disdain of the consumers. We are trained to open our wallets and spend, spend, spend. And we do, sometimes begrudgingly, sometimes willingly, but all in the name of The Holiday Spirit.

Now don’t get me wrong. I loves me some shopping as much as the next girl, albeit not in the throes of The Last Minute Holiday Dash. But I got to thinking. Over the years, where has all my cashola come from? When I was younger, I loved the wads of bills that I collected for my holiday stash. Although nowadays I carry my debit card more often than the actual green stuff, what kinds of jobs have I had to make it appear in my bank account?

Over the years I have done many things for money. Many boring things. I’ve waited tables in many different establishments. I’ve delivered newspapers and flowers. I’ve done babysitting for kids, run a camp for kids, tutored kids and taught kids. I’ve dished yogurt at TCBY and sold books in a bookstore. I’ve washed cars and mowed lawns.


Unless you count the time I stapled my tongue for money at the request of a childhood friend (which, by the way, was so not worth the dollar I made doing it), or the time I posed semi-nude for a college art class, I played it safe.

People will do some wild things for money. All you have to do is watch reality TV to find some of them. They will eat all kinds of funky things that are not supposed to be eaten, swap wives, lose weight, perform dangerous stunts, persuade a bachelor into a proposal, or race around the world.

Would I do wild things for money? I took this test to see. I would like to say that I did something exciting in my lifetime for money, but I can’t. There were no Indecent Proposals for me. No earth shattering choices I had to make about what I would do or how badly I wanted or needed the money.

I earned no awards for being Miss I’ll Try Anything Once. I did, however, earn a lot of cash doing a lot of honest hard work. And I guess that’s something to be proud of, but not very exciting.

So I’ll take my wallet and my little safe self and head to the mall.

Right after I stop at the ATM.


Hi! I’m Kim. I am visiting today from In Full Bloom for December’s Blog Exchange. I spend my time there detailing some of the moments of my life, including my two kids and a wonderful husband. I also have a pet peeve or two!

Please visit ECR today at my place and be sure to visit the other members of this month’s Blog Exchange. If you would like to participate in next month's Blog Exchange, let Kristen
know. We’d love to have you!