Thursday, November 29, 2007

Her Friends All Drive Porsches

It began with Johnny Cash. Now, The Boss has taken to roaming our house like a three foot tall, straight-haired, sober Janis Joplin.

I've got the Southern Comfort under lock and key. It's just a precaution.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lifestyles of the Young and Selfless

Sometimes I wonder if The Boss could fall any further from the most proximate branches of her family tree. Take this recent manifestation of her altruistic nature in conversation with yours truly:

Me: I'm sooo hungry.
The Boss: Do you want dinner?
Me: Mmmm, yes.
The Boss: Do you want my dinner?
Me: No, thank you. Your dinner is for you.
The Boss: But I'm not hungry. You're hungry.

There's no way such sensitive logic could be a learned trait, not in our fend-for-yourself household. And if it's genetic, it almost certainly skipped a generation. In spite of--or maybe because of--that fact, I can't help but marvel at her perspective. She forces me to look at things differently. I appreciate that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The Partner informed me the other day that I am a failure as a wife due to my lackluster attitude toward housekeeping. After listening to an exhaustive list of my failings, I asked him to cite a few of my positive characteristics so that I might have something to cling to as I teeter on the edge of a maritally-induced depression.

He thought for a while. Then he told me I was perfectly good as a girlfriend, back when I would visit him at his apartment and then go home again (to my own pig sty).

At first I was shocked and appalled by his line of thinking. Then I remembered that he is always right. By forcing myself to look at the issue from his God-like point of view, I saw everything with a strange sense of clarity. He was on to something.

Things were better back then. I was a nicer person, more carefree. He was unstressed each evening as he tossed another Skillet Sensation on the stove top. I made my own money. He drove a big, black truck, factory-fresh. We were two autonomous beings enamored with our own independence, and with each other's.

Upon our marriage, we got a gift subscription to the Hallmark greeting card school of thought that told us sharing a life not only makes good times better, but it makes bad times more tolerable. It was a course load of shit. Missing was this core: sharing a life is infinitely more difficult than living one's own.

I don't think it does much good to dwell on things that were easy. Unfortunately, looking forward to the hard parts is daunting. I don't know how to work through them and it's pretty evident to me that The Partner doesn't, either. We're both bad at compromise. We find it hard to reconcile a given situation with the way we think it should be. He won't apologize and I won't forgive.

But at least now I understand that marriage is supposed to take effort. This is no small realization on my part. I'm the type of person that will try to get away with whatever I can for as long as I can. It's how high school, where I never had to study for my high honors, blended into college, where I failed half my classes freshman year. Though guaranteed to be a long process, I can be taught.

So marriage is hard. Okay, I get it. But now what? I guess all that remains to be seen is if I'm truly as lazy as The Partner thinks I am, and if his solid work ethic translates from the office and the garage to the less tangible turf of our life together.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Sometimes The Boss wears a look that makes it obvious she's just humoring us. She's our teenager in a two year old body, and we're thankful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Otherwise Occupied

I have no time to blog.

I'm too busy stuffing my arm up a turkey's butt.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Beyond the Belly, Part II

Another thing: pregnancy infringes on my ability to write. It's not the words that are affected; it's my ideas. I've got none.

I've been reading more lately than I have in a long time. I think that goes along with the whole living-inside-myself thing I discussed yesterday. Books fit well in my bubble. I happily absorb whatever crosses over, from Howard Stern's Miss America to Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres. I used to accomplish things while The Boss napped. Now I sit in the living room and read. Unlike The Partner, though, who is probably reading this while casting troubled sideways glances at our mess of a kitchen, I find value in these months of inaction. I feel like I'm storing energy and inspiration for when I'll really need it.

Writing, unlike reading, begins as an introspective thing but ends up having to fend for itself on the outside. I have no interest in that right now. I think about the fact that best selling author Jodi Picoult began her prolific career while pregnant with her first child and it just blows my mind. For me, producing anything right now would be next to impossible. Instead, I sit on ideas like a mother hen and wait, with no sense of urgency whatsoever, for them to hatch.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Beyond the Belly

I am not a worrier by nature. I mean, I'm not completely oblivious to the world around me, but I am adept at sweeping my everyday apprehensions under the mental rug.

However, my natural inclinations are trumped by pregnancy. From the moment of conception through the fourth trimester, I am ridden with anxiety. About everything. I can't have a good time amongst family or friends without wondering who's going to drop dead before we get together again. I can't listen to the news without my imagination turning every typhoon, car accident and prediction by Ben Bernanke into a personal disaster. Each edition of NPR's All Things Considered convinces me that the Apocalypse is that much closer.

It's logical that pregnancy forces one's thoughts to turn inward. Worrying isn't the only manifestation--the introspection also engenders a greater understanding of parts of oneself not often recognized, and it heightens the bond with the developing fetus. So, it is logical, yes, and healthy, yes; but this constant inward gaze strikes me as supremely uncomfortable. I don't like to dwell in my subconscious, or my heart, or my gut. It's too consuming. I prefer to interact with other human beings in an engaging way. I like to be witty and responsive. I like to be fully functional at face level.

Still, it's only a few years in the grand scheme of things. So what if I feel like the friends I'm making in my new town aren't getting to know the real me. So what if, while my physical form takes on added dimensions, my personality loses some.

I know I'm not myself. I'm somebody deeper, where a completely new person is getting ready to emerge.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Day of Rest

I found out today that virtually all the car dealerships in Connecticut are closed on Sundays. I wish I had given more thought to my state's puritanical roots before I set aside the day to test drive station wagons and crossovers.

It all goes back to the premise of the seventh day as one of rest. As inconvenient as it is when one wants to buy a car or, say, a six pack, maybe the idea isn't really so bad. I'm thinking right now in terms of blogging. I've been posting for 18 days straight and I could really use a rest. Since it's Sunday night, I'm going to take one.

Maybe on Monday I'll come up with something of substance.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Haiku Friday - Car Shopping

Haiku Friday

My taste in cars can
be compared to that of some
World War II veterans or

maybe to your great
aunt Gert, who can barely see
over the dashboard.

See, we like them big,
American-made, with a
smooth ride under worn leather.

But, ah, the high price--
three bucks and change per gallon
into the ozone.

Eyes closed, I dream of
my bio-diesel Caddy
that smells like French fries.

Haiku Friday comes to you courtesy of organizers Jennifer, at Playgroups are No Place for Children, and Christina, at A Mommy Story.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Toddler Road Rage

We drove past an empty pasture this morning as rain darkened the route to a friend's house. The Boss was, as always, on the lookout for those animals she loves to hate. She didn't find any.

"Stupid horses," she muttered.

I did a visual double take in the rear view mirror and a verbal one to boot. "What?"

"Stupid horses." She repeated the slur--more clearly this time, for emphasis--as she gave the hairy eyeball to a patch of barren farmland.

I cringed. Then I shrugged my shoulders against the worn leather of the driver's seat and acknowledged that it could've been much worse.

The fact that such a thought comforted me is no doubt a very, very bad sign.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What's In a Name?

We are considering affixing to our second child, if it should turn out to be a boy, the designation of "Jr." He'd have the same full name as his father but would go by a different nickname. The first name itself is so common as to consistently rate in the top ten list of baby names according to the Social Security Administration. Though I know I specifically said that we won't consider any common names, we figure the nickname will get us around that.

I've only ever heard of one person with the same nickname. That one person happened to be a sit-com star not too long ago, but the name seems not to have caught on. [Note: if your curiousity is insatiable, I'll give you a bone: this guy was the main character in a show about a certain era characterized by bell bottoms, pet rocks and the Captain & Tennille].

Another positive is that the name begins with the same letter as the Boss's given name. Some people find alliteration absurd and annoying; I thrive on it.

So, there it is. The problem with going the "Jr." route is that my husband already has a big enough head. The idea of reinforcing his lofty opinion of himself by molding another child in his name is disconcerting. It also leaves my side of the family nominally unrepresented. The Boss's middle name was inspired by The Partner's family history. I'd like to use my side as the basis for #2's middle name.

So, tell me: what do you think of the whole Junior phenomenon? Pros and cons? What about the option of using the same first name as the father while going with a different middle name and calling the child by an easily distinguishable nickname?


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Looking For Lost Ponies

Sometimes The Boss's hold on sanity seems tenuous at best (though perhaps this can be said of all toddlers, and, more than likely, a vast majority of adults). In no instance is that sense of detachment more apparent than when horses are involved.

To hear The Boss talk, you would think she has a horse. She will converse at length about her imaginary equine. Once I came home from a meeting only to be cornered in the bathroom by The Boss as she regaled me with a long, drawn out story involving the horse kicking down a fence. There were cows and sheep involved, too. And hay.

When the Boss is sad or uncomfortable in a situation, she looks immediately for this horse. "Where's my horse? I can't find my horse!" The hysteria grows with each syllable; the pout becomes more pronounced. Her lips throb beneath wide eyes.

It's disconcerting to watch her search for something that doesn't exist. I can figure out what she's thinking when she reaches out for a hug. I understand what "I want to go home" means, even when she's already there. But this epic quest for her horse renders me helpless.

Today, I thought we found one. Two of them, actually. This week's playgroup was held at a house with a pasture and riding ring on its property. We brought the kids out to say hello and goodbye to the horses on our way out. But instead of warming up to these creatures that she talks about incessantly, The Boss backed away.

"She's afraid," I marvelled to the rest of the group.

"I'm not afraid." She looked up at me with defiant eyes. "I'm never afraid!" There was a strength to her convictions that did not jive with her small, wavering voice. "I'm never afraid!" She turned toward the empty riding ring and walked in that direction, away from the snuffles and thumps of the two real life horses. I followed her.

"That's where the horses jump," I said, bending on one knee to her level.

She nodded. This pleased her. She relaxed. Her back was turned to the whinnying reality around which the rest of the children were still gathered with their mothers.

She stood in front of the ring for a long time, watching imaginary horses leap over logs painted white.

"Horses jumpin," she chortled, her breath a contented and audible sigh.

Cross-posted at New England Mamas. It's new! It's improved! Stop by to see what the other frosty northeasterners have to say.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Three of a Kind


These are the thoughtful and unique contributions that fluttered through my comment box in response to my recent plea for some help in assigning our gestational human the proper nomenclature.

I am compiling all your suggestions here for easy reference. Perhaps they will inspire someone else, as well--maybe someone like my friend and regular commenter, Boz.

You see, Boz and his wife (a friend since the mortifying days of high school) are GOING TO BE THE PROUD PARENTS OF TRIPLETS. Did I make myself perfectly clear? SHE IS GOING TO BE POPPING OUT THREE PEOPLE AT ONCE AND THEN THEY WILL HAVE TO RAISE THEM ALL. Sometimes I'll be at the store and I'll see something like a high chair and it will occur to me that Boz and the Missus will need one in triplicate. I then have to sit down until the lightheadedness passes. How either of them can manage to stay upright for more than five minutes at a time is beyond me.

All joking aside, they are able to stand tall because they know that if anyone can handle the demands and rewards of three children at once, they can. A more devoted and supportive couple would be hard to find. They share everything--hopes, responsibilities, fears and accomplishments. And they have a habit of beating the odds. Just look at the chances of conceiving spontaneous triplets: 1 in 8100.

But the most accurate statistic when you consider the whole of these lucky parents and their babies-to-be is this: 1 in a million.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sleeping Soundly, With Thanks

I spent today celebrating Veteran's Day with my family as my mother was awarded the Connecticut Veteran's Wartime Service Medal, along with a host of veterans from all the wars since WWII, at a ceremony in my hometown. She was a soldier (stateside) in the Women's Army Corps during the Vietnam era.

It was a moving day that I would write about in more detail if didn't end so late.

For now, I will sleep on it--gratefully.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
~Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865, second inaugural address

Saturday, November 10, 2007

'Tis Better to Give Than to Receive...Or Something Like That

Every year, my mother-in-law picks out a day planner from the catalogs of the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Then she tells my husband which one she's selected so he can buy it as part of his Christmas gift to her.

They've always done it this way in The Partner's family. There are very few surprises under the Christmas tree as each member tells the others exactly what he or she wants, sometimes right down to the SKU. They're also big believers in tradition. My mother-in-law has been receiving her day planner for almost fifteen years. His father has unwrapped a Tour de France DVD and calendar for 7 years, except for last Christmas, when he informed us in advance that he was boycotting the DVD on account of the American doping fiasco.

Personally, I find variety makes for a more spicy existence. But I've learned to accept his family's way of doing things and even to embrace it. Until this year.

At our last visit to his parents' house, The Partner found a bag on the nightstand next to the guest bed in which we sleep. Inside that bag was a day planner. Not only had his mother made this year's gift selection, but she'd actually gone ahead and purchased it for him.

I was incredulous. "She bought it herself? And gave it to you to give back to her at Christmas?"

"Yeah." The Partner's eyes and mouth were set to sheepish. "I tried to give her money for it but she wouldn't take it."

"Are you kidding me?"


And I thought my family was weird.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Help Me Name This Baby

This morning at breakfast, I conversed over pancakes and eggs with my 27-month-old dining partner about the mystery identity of her sibling-to-be.

"Do you want a baby sister?" I asked The Boss.

"No, thank you."

"Oh." I nodded thoughtfully. "So you want a baby brother, then."

Her response, though slightly more open-ended, was decisive. "Not today," she said.


Regardless of The Boss's desired timetable, baby #2 is scheduled for a mid-April arrival. The Partner and I have decided not to find out the gender in advance. This question mark makes it necessary for us to brainstorm a first and middle name for both sexes so that, no matter what form of genitalia presents itself at birth, we will have a fitting name to bestow upon its owner.

One of the biggest problems is finding a name that goes well with the Boss's given moniker. We kind of made her name up. Needless to say, it's unique. To attach a more common designation to the next baby would either a) make The Boss's name seem even weirder and more out of place or b) make #2s name sound like a bored afterthought. This pretty much rules out anything on the Top 100 List of American Baby Names.

We are also finding it much more difficult to come up with options for a boy than a girl. It seems that there's more room for creativity when it comes to the feminine.

And, finally, most names ending in -en or -on do not mesh well with our last name.

I've bored you with all these details so that I may now enlist your help. Please, share your name suggestions. Even if you've never left me a message before, I hope you'll put your two cents in the comment section. We need all the help we can get.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Isn't She Sensational?

I just read a post by Slouching Mom about the importance of teaching children to acknowledge all the senses. They don't need much help appreciating sight, she says, as that sense's virtue is already heavily extolled by society. It's hearing, taste, touch and smell that need to be reinforced.

Chez 24/7, however, I find that the roles have been reversed. Ever since The Boss racked up enough months on this planet to be able to convey an attitude of wonder toward the world around her, she has been the one teaching us. Now she asks "what sound?" more often than she points to a "what's that?" I was surprised the other day when she lay down on the couch to give her full attention to a music CD just as she'd attune to a program on television. She was still and attentive for the 20 minute duration of the songs on disc.

She is keenly aware of everything around her--the taste, the texture, the smell. And if she misses something that we don't, she'll ask us about it. Like the time in the car when our dog emitted something foul-smelling from an unidentified orifice.

"Eww," The Partner drawled. Then, in disgusted description, he added "Tuna!"

The Boss didn't miss a beat. "What smells like tuna?" she inquired, sweetly.


To sum it all up, I thought I'd link to a post I wrote commemorating The Boss's second birthday. I could've done that right from the beginning of this post and saved you about five paragraphs of reading, but whatever. If I'd gone with concise, you'd never have found out my dog smells like tuna.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pardon My French, But. . .

. . .Why am I so God damned horny during pregnancy and what the hell is the point?

As far as I can see, there is no purpose served by my constant state of arousal. I'm already pregnant. The species is being actively perpetuated. Evolutionarily speaking, I could be sitting around in a chastity belt and a unitard and it wouldn't make one bit of difference.

The Partner certainly doesn't appreciate this heightened sex drive. Believe it or not, he thought it was too high to begin with. Now our incompatible libidos are further separated by my protruding belly.

I can't even get any in my dreams. As vivid and visceral as these hormonally induced fantasies are, they're still only soft core. It's like this: I'm getting HBO when what I really want is Pay-Per-View.

I think I need a technician to come out and fix my cable box.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

On the Road Again, More Safely This Time

Aside from my husband, my daughter, my siblings and my parents, one of my most enduring and complex relationships is the one I have with my cars. They have identities to me. With names like Wilderberry, Daisy and Opal, these babies were my pride and joy.

One of the biggest loves of my life (and if you think I'm exaggerating, you just need to get to know me better) is my now deceased 1993 Cadillac STS with a Northstar engine. That was Daisy. When I was through with her, there were body panels missing, the rims were useless, and she had to be jump started every single time I wanted to go somewhere. But I cried when some grave robber came and hauled her off on his flatbed. Oh, how I cried.

I'm only telling you this to illustrate the fact that cars are an integral part of my existence. I drive every day, even when I have nowhere to go. The Partner recently added up all the miles I've clocked in the past year and determined that I drove nearly as much as he did. He has a long commute. I am a stay-at-home mom. He said, "I don't think you're getting this 'stay at home' concept. . ."

. . .To read more, you can find me today at The Full Mommy, in cooperation with The Parent Bloggers Network.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Calgon, Take Us Away

I've been staring at this screen for a half hour now. And I've been thinking.

The Boss is sleeping in her crib. The Partner is out. The air in our house, where the heat does not go on till after Thanksgiving, has a silent chill.

And the conclusion I've come to is this: I'd rather be in the bathtub. So I'm going to run some hot water and light a couple of candles. I'm going to enjoy the silence and sink away from the chill.

It's going to be wonderful.

Just me. A book held in two hands while my toes turn pruney. Then, most likely, there'll come a kick or two right below belly-button level to remind me that I'm not alone.

And that's going to be even better.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Another Reason I Will Never, Ever Win Mother of the Year

Earlier this fall, after The Boss took her first journey down the stairs all by her lonesome and attempted to do it again, I whipped out my video camera. Her stair-to-stair butt bounce and the smack of her lips as she tasted the freedom of bi-level living were too adorable not to record for posterity.

As situations are wont to do when I try to get posterity involved, they quickly went awry.

Exhibit A:

I know it should be easy to berate myself for being a bad mother (on more than one level) as I watch this and double over in laughter, squishing up on my 16-weeks-pregnant midsection. But I can’t muster too much guilt. It’s the idea of it all: her glee; my pride; the click of the “record” button; and the downward spiral.

I can laugh because she was unscathed. I can laugh—and believe me, if I didn’t, I’d cry--at this subtle clue as to just how very bad I am in a crisis. I can laugh because she seems to be saying “boobie” instead of “boo boo.”

I can laugh—and maybe you’ll think me insensitive for saying so— because sometimes motherhood is a real trip, even when it’s not just mama taking the fall.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Home is Where Her Heart Is

Sometimes on any given weekday The Boss will tell me that she "wants to go home." It doesn't matter if we are home. It only matters that she, for whatever reason, is not completely within her comfort zone.

Yesterday I was taking her out of a bathtub from which she did not want to disengage. When I finally got her standing still on the mat so that I could towel her dry, she looked up at me with the puffed lower lip of a toddler pout. "I want to go home," she whimpered.

"You are home. So what do you mean? Where's home to you?"

She looked at me with the full red defiance of her lip still protruding.

"Where's home?" I prodded.

"Daddy," she said.


Friday, November 02, 2007

The Pros and Cons of Pregnancy Brain

I drove to the gas station today only to discover that my purse was not beside me in the car. It was not anywhere in the car. Though I could have sworn I loaded it in along with The Boss just five minutes earlier, its absence proved otherwise. I got back into the driver's seat and headed home again.

I found my purse at the end of our driveway. It turns out that my memory had served me half right. I did indeed carry the purse out the car. And then I left it there on the roof as I strapped The Boss into her seat.

I used to laugh when people talked about "pregnancy brain" because forgetfulness is a permanent condition for me. Like, "Oh, ha, you lost your keys and eventually found them in the freezer? Welcome to my world!" But now I realize that my already compromised state of mind has worsened considerably since I became pregnant.

The pleasant side effect of pregnancy brain is its impact on my pregnancy butt. Though I have no structured exercise regime, I manage to clock in a good 20-30 minutes of cardio a day just by running back and forth, up and down stairs, over and over in pursuit of objects that I forget I am looking for as soon as I get within two feet of them. To actually escape the house with purse, keys, coat, diaper bag, snack food, and overdue library books takes at least five trips between the car and the two flights of stairs separating basement from bedroom. I wish I was exaggerating.

Whether this is a reversible condition or a cumulative one, I do not know--though looking at my own mother does not inspire much hope. She can't remember what she did yesterday. On the other hand, neither can I. Yesterday was Halloween, right? No, wait...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Halloween For the Dogs

The Boss was dressed up as Clifford the Big Red Dog, but when she announced her identity to everyone around her, it consistently came out as "Clifford the Best Red Dog." There's something to be savored in toddler malapropisms. All too soon, my two foot tot will be a full-fledged kid who thinks she knows everything. There may even come a day when she proves she knows more than her parents. She's so damn smart that I'm convinced her ideas, once mature, can only ever flow smoothly from her brain through her lips. She'll probably use almost all her words the right way.
But now, at two, she doesn't do things by the books. She mixes things up. It's not only cute; it's enviable. I want to encourage her creative use of language and her spastic expressions. I want her to know that words are what she makes them.
"In the books he's called the big, red dog," I say, "but I like your name better. He really is the best, isn't he?"
And she looks at me kind of funny, like maybe I'm trying to lead her astray. Like maybe she'll start using the more generally accepted version of the cartoon dog's name just to prove she knows what she's talking about. And that makes me kind of sad.
Now that The Boss has said it, Clifford will always be the Best Red Dog to me.
Today marks day number one of NaBloPoMo. You can expect to find a post here 24/7/30 during during the month of November. See you tomorrow.