Sunday, August 30, 2015

dear Mom: it's Sunday night.

Dear Mom,

It's Sunday night, and I can't stop thinking about you. Rowan is sick (just cough and cold, because I know you'd ask), and you know how that makes me get all worried and hand-wringy. She's only been in bed for two hours, and I've already had to go back up to cuddle her after she coughed herself awake and started crying. She's coughing again right now, and I just laid her back down.

It's Sunday night, and Rowan being sick isn't the only reason you're on my mind. It's partially because I miss your voice and humor and perspective, and it's (selfishly) because I'm having a total life crisis - about big stuff, like jobs and money and having more babies - and I really need your advice. Can I just...call you for a minute?


On Sunday nights long ago, you'd have made sure I finished my homework, packed my school bag, and laid out my clothes for the next day. You'd have sent us to bed a half an hour ago, but we'd be making trouble in our room for another hour or so...until you came back in and used all your patented Mom Tricks (and Mom Threats) to make us go to sleep.

On Sunday nights more recently, you'd call me to let me know "The Wizard of Oz" was on TBS again, and to ask how work was going or if I'd picked out which dresses I wanted you to buy for Rowan. You'd tell me stories about your coworkers that would have me in tears, I'd be laughing so hard, and then I'd hang up the phone feeling much better about facing my Monday.

On Sunday nights in the future, here's what I imagine would happen: I'd call you the night before Rowan started kindergarten, probably crying and emotional, and you'd bring me back to earth and remind me of all the reasons why her first day of school would be amazing and so good for her. Or I'd call you on a Sunday night in the future because I was totally bogged down with housework and PTO meetings and carpool schedules, and you'd regal me with stories of juggling five kids and all their sports, friends, issues, and needs. Or I'd call you on a Sunday night in the future to confirm plans for the birthday party, the Thanksgiving dinner, the Christmas gift exchange, the Mother's Day brunch, and I'd know - because I always knew, almost never took for granted - how lucky I was to have my mother in my life. And to have that mother be you.


But this is my Sunday night instead.

...Listening to Rowan's ragged cough over the baby monitor, just waiting for the wail that's bound to follow one of her episodes, knowing there's nothing I can do to help her but hold her.

...Clicking around the Internet, wondering why a legal get-rich-quick scheme hasn't made itself known to me yet, calculating how much longer we have until we're flat out of money, and tumbling down a rabbit hole of regret over completely ditching my career.

...Checking my phone periodically for another text from Dad, hoping fervently that he'll somehow get through this next year - and all the rest - without you.

...Vacillating between ignoring and dwelling on the thought that weighs heaviest on my mind: That this is it. This is what the rest of my life looks like - missing you, remembering you, smiling about you but not with you. And wishing it weren't like this. And grinning when I realize you would love that I knew to use weren't and not wasn't in that last sentence. And acknowledging the pit in my stomach that waxes and wanes (but mostly waxes), the anxiety that builds and flourishes and has no built-in boundaries. And wondering if this is the new theme in my life: wanting what I know I can't have, and only being able to imagine what you'd say about...everything.


This Sunday night, it's a rough one. It's empty. It's terrifying. It's me, grieving.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

the hunt for Anna: a play in one act.

SETTING: Suburban household, approximately naptime o'clock

CHARACTERS: Mama / Toddler

BACKGROUND: The two have spent the morning playing outside in the unseasonably cool and cloudy weather, watching the University of Michigan Marching Band practice (which consisted of watching the newbies screw up simple formations and not even play their instruments for forty minutes, and then catching the drum line doing an impressive routine for three minutes as Mama and Toddler walked back to their car). Both are tired, and Mama is looking forward to naptime, because chocolate. Mama is giving Toddler (who's super into negotiating as of late) a five-minute naptime warning.

MAMA: Okay, Rowan, do you want to go upstairs for nap in two minutes or in five minutes?

TODDLER: No two minutes! Five minutes!

M: Sounds good! Let's sing the "five more minutes" song.

[Okay, I guess this is a musical.]

M & T: [singing] Five more minutes, five more minutes, five more minutes, and then we'll go upstairs!

T: [claps hands and laughs]

M: [pats self on back for executing the five-minute warning] [anticipates chocolate]

T: Chairs are choo-choo train! Rowan sit on chairs. Choo-choo! Choo-choo goes fast, REALLLLLY fast. Rowan sit on choo-choo. Choo-CHOOOOOO! [continues in similar vein for - you guessed it - five more minutes]

M: Okay, Rowan, five more minutes are over! And I hear someone crying - wah, wah - aww, it's Elsa! She wants to come upstairs with you for naptime. Can she come up with you?

T: [delighted] Yeah! Yeah, Elsa upstairs with Rowan!

[M & T gather Elsa doll from a ridiculously massive pile of dolls in the play room and walk upstairs to T's bedroom.]

M: Allll right, Rowan. Let's take out your hair tie -


M: - and, of course, Elsa's hair tie, too. And let's put on your sleep sack -


M: - and, of course, Elsa sleep sack, too. Now let's sing some night-night songs -


M: - and, of course, Elsa can sing with me, too. [M snuggles T in her arms and starts singing] "Mary had a little lamb, little lamb -"


M: [sighs] [knows better than to argue with sleepy toddler] Okay. You sit right here, and I'll go get your Anna doll.

[M rushes down the stairs to the Ridiculous Pile of Dolls and sifts through it. Wait. Where the fuck is the Anna doll?! Crap. She can hear Toddler upstairs starting to dance around and laugh. Mama tears through the house looking for the tiny, four-inch-long doll, hoping to get back upstairs before the pre-naptime sleepy spell is broken and it ends up taking forfreakin'ever for Toddler to fall asleep. Mama frantically calls Daddy's phone number at work, but he doesn't answer. Mama calmly realizes that Daddy probably doesn't know where the doll is actually FACETIMES Daddy in hopes that he'll hear the annoying FaceTime ring and answer her call. No dice. M looks around in despair and grabs a sorry excuse for the Anna doll - a beloved stuffed dog - and bounds upstairs.]

M: [breathless] Well, honey, Anna is hiding! But [falsely enthusiastic] I brought your dog! Now let's go to sleep.

T: [cries] [screams]

M: [sings soothing lullaby and hopes T will get over it]

T: [cries] [screams]

M: [mayyyybe curses Daddy internally, because she's SURE that he knows JUST where that stupid doll is] I'll look for Anna after you go to sleep, okay, sweetie? But you need to close your eyes and go night-night first.


M: You want to go in your crib? Ohhh, because I won't look for Anna until you're asleep in your crib. No, no, let's just go to sle --

T: [cries] [screams]

M: FINE. Here, lay down and close your eyes and go night-night, and I'll look for Anna.

[M flies back down the stairs, fully aware that there's no way T will put herself to sleep, since she hasn't done that at naptime in over a year. M looks everywhere and calls/texts/pages Daddy a few more times. Nothing. She goes back upstairs, steeling herself.]

M: Guess what, Rowie? I talked to Daddy, and he said Anna went to work with him today! She's helping the kids feel happy at work with Daddy! She'll come home later, and you can see her then.

T: [contemplates] Yeah. Anna work Daddy. Rowan saaaad.

M: I know, Rowan is sad and wants Anna. She'll be home later with Daddy. Now let's go night-night, okay?

[Seven thousand renditions of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" later, T is asleep. But Mama has a sinking feeling that Toddler will awaken shortly and remember the Anna Tragedy and start wailing. In the name of Adequate Naptime, Mama combs the house for the Anna doll. She even texts Grandma to see if Anna somehow made it over to her house by mistake. Nope. Sighhh. Mama looks freakin' EVERYWHERE.]

First stop is the Ridiculous Pile of Dolls, including around, under, and inside the ottoman.
Next is the Other Ridiculous Pile of Stuffed Animals, which
Mama unceremoniously dumps out and rifles through.

Maybe in the shoe bucket? We're getting desperate here.

Okay, whenever her little Lego people are missing, she's hidden
them in her little potty. Maybe Toddler put Anna there?

Wouldn't be the first time we've found a beloved doll in the oven. But...

Maybe Anna was cavorting with the dinosaurs? Brushing up on her paleontology?

Stranger things have happened.

[Mama looks around the kitchen after searching the fridge and is hit with a horrible sinking feeling as she glimpses a possible hiding spot.]

NOPE. Not here. But...oh god...it was garbage day
today. Is Anna gone forever?! Is naptime gone forever?!

[Mama gets a text from Daddy: "Did you end up finding her?" "No - maybe she's in your car?" "I don't think so - maybe stuck in the cushions of her rocking chair?" "No..."]

[Mama decides to do one last visual sweep of the house, even though it's OBVIOUSLY pointless. She's already checked every single spot like twelve times. Still...ONE MORE TIME.]



[Maybe Anna is in the new dollhouse?]

NOPE. Already checked there like seven times. Definitely not there.

SEE? Absolutely not in the dollhouse.

Clearly...not...in the...wait a second.


[Mama stealthily tiptoes back upstairs to put Anna in the crib with Toddler, reasoning that Toddler will have a dumb short nap otherwise. Mama avoids the creaky stair, creeps across the squeaky floorboard, gently opens T's bedroom door, and places Anna silently next to T. She then retreats, closes the door ever-so-quietly, and sneaks down the stairs.]

[One short hour passes. Toddler wakes up, and, despite Anna being right there in her damn crib...]

T: [cries] [screams]

M: [cries] [screams]

Aaaaaaand SCENE.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

anniversary number 5 (of 100).

This past weekend, J.J. and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Traditionally, the fifth anniversary gift is either wood (heh) or silverware. Instead, we went with...

Laser tag. We played laser tag and went out to dinner, and then I ate an entire wedge of chocolate fudge while J.J. sat with me in public and didn't wince or judge. Love, people. That's love.

We have a tradition of taking a picture every year in front of a dilapidated little red barn that sits on the lawn of our wedding venue. We got married at a local "farm" (it has goats and roosters, but I'm not really sure it qualifies as a farm so much as a farm-ish wedding venue), and one of my favorite wedding-day pictures was taken in front of this barn:

On our first anniversary, we both ditched work for the day and rode our bikes for miles all over Ann Arbor. We made sure to stop at the farm for a commemorative photo...helmet-hair, accidentally matching outfits, and all:

On our second anniversary, we went kayaking...and then back to the farm:

For our third anniversary, I was massively, uncomfortably pregnant and thought it would be cute to do a pregnancy photo shoot at our wedding site. Cute in theory, sure. But it turns out you should really do pregnancy pics earlier than 35 weeks' gestation, and not when it's so hot that your already-swollen body threatens to explode. We managed to get our barn shot, though.

We had a new participant for our fourth-anniversary photos - plus a mama who still hadn't slept a full night in eleven months and had about ten free minutes that day between pumping and washing pump parts to take a "cute" picture. Blah.

This year's farm trip - early in the day, before the customary fifth-anniversary laser tag games and fudge consumption - resulted in some great shots, thanks to my sister Carrie, who acted as our photographer. I love these ones:

And here's the one that will represent our fifth anniversary on the anniversary-photo frame wall that I'll do someday, when I get around to printing pictures. Like maybe by our tenth anniversary, or something.

Crazy that we've now celebrated more anniversaries as parents than as non-parents. Maybe one of these anniversaries, we'll make it back to our honeymoon destination. Maui sound good to you, Schnookums? :) Or we can just stick with laser tag. As long as I'm with him, it's bound to be good.

Monday, August 24, 2015

a non-Pinteresty first birthday party, by a Pinterest addict.

:: This post contains affiliate links.

A month from tomorrow, my baby girl turns two. Twwwwoooo. In just one teeny-tiny month. She's been practicing Being Two for a couple weeks by having mini-meltdowns at every turn ("Rowan, here's your oatmeal!" "NOOOOOOOOO"), which is really super fun. (False.) Meanwhile, I've been gearing up for her second birthday by brainstorming for her party.

I am an unabashed Pinterest addict. I know Pinterest has become a much-maligned target, in particular for stay-at-home moms who are perfectionists but aren't really crafty by nature (meeeee! hiiiii!), but, unbelievably, I avoid the "Pinterest makes me feel unworthy" syndrome 99% of the time. In contrast, I think it's energizing. I started using it when it was brand new, and initially, I just transferred all the inspiration pictures that I'd been saving on my hard drive to my new Pinterest account. I love it for ideas, for tutorials, for planning, for saving money, for dreaming. Still, I'm not about to get all caught up in making every detail of my life Pinterest-worthy, despite how easy it is to get sucked in to well-curated social media fairy tales. I'm much more interested in the functional aspects of Pinterest: Tell me how to paint my cupboards, how to make dill dip, how to grow a green fort in my backyard...and then leave me alone, k?

One of the biggest Pinterest traps is kids' birthday parties. Especially your kid's first birthday party. Especially your first kid's first birthday party. I'm not a party-thrower by nature (mostly because that means people...ugh), but I definitely wanted to celebrate Rowan's first birthday in a meaningful way. And by "meaningful," I mean non-stressful for me, fun for her, laid-back for our guests, low-cost, and allowing for a few good photo ops.

So here's how I planned a Pinfluenced (see what I did there? I know. I'm sorry) first birthday party without going totally overboard.

:: Planning and timing: Who's the party for, anyway?

The reality is that a first birthday party is more for the parents than the baby. She'll have pictures, but no memories of the event. Mostly, I was amazed that the three of us - J.J., Rowan, and me - had survived that first year together. So I didn't hesitate to make it the kind of party that J.J. and I would be able to actually enjoy: a small affair with just family members. That way, we didn't have to worry about tons of one-year-olds running around our house (I love my friends' kids and my mama group, but the idea of a dozen babies scoping out our un-childproofed abode - as in, the stairs weren't even gated yet - gave me heart palpitations). 

As for timing - the party was the Saturday before her birthday (which was on a Thursday), and we timed it to be in between her morning and afternoon naps (aww, remember two naps?).

:: Theme: No one actually cares.

Look. Birthday-party themes can get pretty ridiculous. Do you remember having or going to any birthday parties as a kid that had a theme, beyond, say, My Little Pony paper products? I don't. Themes for first-birthday parties are especially arbitrary, and, in Rowan's experience, it would've been the same whether it was a book theme or an Elmo theme or a Walking Dead theme - or no theme. 

That said, some of us - ahem, like, those of us who luuuuv Pinterest - like creating parties around a theme. True to my nature, I currently have three complete parties planned around specific themes - a toddler art party, a dinosaur party, and an autumn party - none of which has actually come to fruition yet (let's get on that dino party, Stephanie!). So for Rowan's first birthday, I chose a theme mostly to guide me in decorating, and I stuck with something simple and cheerful: rainbows. I also chose the theme myself, since Rowan wasn't very responsive to my emails asking for her input.

:: Decorations: Major Pinterest-trap alert.

You know what I considered doing for decorations? DIY Martha Stewart pom-pom flowers, a watercolor rainbow on the sliding glass door, handmade fluffy clouds with rainbow streamers floating through them, rainbow paper chains for all the doorways, and calling on Mother Nature to supply an actual rainbow IRL.

You know what I actually did for decorations? Streamers and balloons. Cheap, easy, colorful.

I wanted a cute "first birthday" shirt for Rowan after seeing some adorable ones on Etsy, but thought of that way too late in the game to execute. Plus, expensive. Oh - you may have noticed that creepy posterboard in the above pic. I did put together a poster with (almost) all of the weekly and monthly pictures I'd taken of Rowan. I never added the 52-week or 12-month pictures (hence the blank space at the bottom), and of course it's too huge and weird to actually display anywhere, so it's lurking in the basement, awaiting its fate. And I don't think anyone actually looked at it during the party. But whatever...it was still a step back from what Pinterest dictated - a photo montage in the shape of the number one.

:: Food: Pinterest-trap alert #2.

Pinterest had allllll sorts of adorable rainbow-food ideas, but the reality was that most of those wouldn't be an option for the birthday girl (who was still getting the hang of chewing), and/or would go untouched by most of our party guests. So for the main course, J.J. and Rowan picked up pizza right before the party; and to stick with the theme, we had a colorful selection of my favorite soda, Izze, and put together a simple rainbow fruit platter with marshmallow clouds (Pinterest's contribution!).

Ah, yes, and the cake idea came from Pinterest. I wanted to make something, mainly because I don't like the taste of store-bought cake (the frosting is never right, and frosting is the only reason for eating cake). I originally planned to make baby-friendly "cupcakes" that were healthy, natural muffins instead of chemicals and red dye #40, but I scrapped that idea because I don't trust my baking skills enough to be sure I'd create something edible. Instead, I made mini-cupcakes from a box and frosted them with different colors (food coloring in store-bought frosting) to make a rainbow. I was pretty proud of this cupcake rainbow. 

And, more importantly, it tasted good - to me and to the birthday girl, who was getting her first real taste of sugar.

:: Birthday photos: Whatever, Pinterest is awesome.

Okay, here's the most Pinteresty thing I did for Rowan's birthday. When I was pregnant, I stumbled across a Pin of a little girl holding a bunch of red balloons, and I just thought it was striking and memorable and adorable. 

(found here)
I mentioned it to J.J. a couple weeks before Rowan's birthday, but then I actually forgot about it. We had a bunch of helium balloons in rainbow colors tied to her high chair for her birthday party...

...but those were skimming the ground by the time her actually birthday rolled around later in the week. So, the morning of her birthday, J.J. and Rowan went to the store for a few things, and J.J. surprised me by bringing back some beautiful orchids for me ("birthing day flowers," he called them) and a new bunch of balloons - so that we could take the photos I had talked about. Awwww.

We took the balloons, a basket (usually used to corral shoes), and the baby to the backyard, and I started snapping away on my iPhone while J.J. danced around like a fool to make her smile.

We ended up getting some of my very favorite shots of her ever, ones that I would DEFINITELY frame if I ever got around to printing photos. Still trying to decide what to do for a birthday photo shoot this year - I'd love to do another session with balloons, but I'm not sure if we'll do it in the backyard again, or maybe somewhere else...we'll see!

And as for this year's party? Who knows? We'll probably do another low-key family get-together, but I laid in bed last night dreaming of apple-slice displays and hollowed-out pumpkins holding various dip flavors (dill dip...pumpkin Cool Whip dip...I hate the word "dip"...) and a doughnut cake...so I'm not taking Big Birthday Bash off the table quite yet!

Rowan's like, "How about a birthday party theme of Elsa, Elmo, and pickles?"

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

as dirty as we can, while we can.

We've already had two days this week where a mid-day bath (...for Rowan) was a necessity. And it's only Wednesday. THAT is a good week, in my book.

{Monday: play date that started out playing with "moon sand" -
flour + baby oil - and ended with rolling around on sticky, sandy park bleachers}

{Wednesday: visiting my old work, where Rowan felt right
at home splashing in the playground-wide mud puddle}

And this doesn't even include Tuesday, the morning of corn starch goop.

{The beauty of corn starch + water is that it brushes right off when it dries}

We're making the most of summer while we can. My sister and I (both former preschool teachers) decided that this would be a pretty good gig - playing with our own kids, and with each other, AND (this is...sort of key) getting paid for it. No problem, right?

A friend texted me the other day. She may end up on forced leave from work due to major pregnancy issues (affecting her body, not the baby). Her thought: "We need to put together a group social work practice for moms, so we can all work and be home" (she's a social worker, too). It's not a bad idea. And I just keep thinking...why aren't there more options for parents to be home with their young kids? Or am I just not looking hard enough? That's usually my answer to a problem I'm having - I must not be working hard enough - but this time, I think I'm just not working smart enough.

And you know who I'd love to call to help me sort this out? My mom.

In the meantime. Our tomatoes and cucumbers are going wild in the garden, afternoon thunderstorms mean vicious rainbows, and cousin playdates mean naked snacktime. Enjoying these last snaps of summer before Michigan goes cold.

Edited to add: third wardrobe change of Wednesday now necessary, thanks to this afternoon's thunderstorm ~ she's singing: "Rain, rain, go away; come back another day; Rowie and Mama want to play; rain, rain, go away!" :)

Friday, August 14, 2015

life's a picnic. and then some.

Someone explain this to me.

Explain how I can want nothing more in the world than to live the life I'm living right now - summer and sunshine, picnics and pigtails...

...Where we spend our days together, giggling and growing, and I pinch myself over and over and over because this is an actual dream come true...

...And yet? Like I've been saying since day one: This is not sustainable. I took a leap, and I'm landing. Hard.

Which is to say: I miss that huge part of my identity - having a career. I'm still grappling with the shift from being someone whose work defined her to being someone whose...well, whose new work defines her.

In this new job, I love my client, I love my daily tasks, I love the challenges, and I can't deny that my colleagues are the best. Supportive, available, fun, inspiring. I'm nowhere near ready to move on to something else entirely. But this isn't all of me. Oh, and financial stability? Is a priority. Mama needs a paycheck...and to fulfill the myriad pieces of me.

Still. I don't want to sacrifice this. At. All.

So. You know. Now accepting suggestions for employment that is part-time, is from home, is not annoying, pays well, can be done on my own hours, and plays to my strengths. Sorry, not able to sell cosmetics, due to never having used them (though it's tempting, based on multiple friends' experiences). References available upon request.

See below for example of satisfied customer.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...