Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Fat(e)

Against my better judgement, I stepped on the scale on Monday morning. Not pretty, not pretty at all. I gained around 10 pounds while on vacation. 10 pounds = 3,500 calories, which means that I consumed 35,000 calories. And let me tell you, I burned precious few. The most strenuous thing I did was to walk to the refrigerator to refill my wine glass. Oh, and I may have grabbed a cookie or five while I was in there.

I really have no excuse for myself. I've been a member of Weight Watchers for a year and a half so it's not like I don't know how to eat the right amount of food in order to maintain my goal weight. I think sometimes I just get kind of pissy about the whole thing. Why didn't I get my middle sister's metabolism? She can give birth and leave the hospital in her regular jeans. Me, I had to drink Slim Fast for six months in order to fit into my wedding gown.

But enough of the pity party. As a Lifetime member I am required to weigh in once a month. I have a few weeks to lose this extra weight (I've lost a couple pounds already since Monday, so my weight was probably artificially high when I first stepped on the scale). It's sad, really, that I need to have a stranger weigh me in order to keep my weight under control but what can I say, it really does work.

So, was it worth it? It's hard to say. I wish I had indulged a little but exerted more self-control in general. I didn't need dessert with every meal, nor did I need 3,000 tortilla chips at the multiple Mexican restaurants we visited. My aunt made something called a Bishop's Pound Cake. She claims to be world famous for this but I tried Googling her and it appears she may be mistaken on this score. I also recall eating a brownie sundae that was bigger than my head.

And now, I must get back to my carrot sticks. Seeeeee ya!

Monday, May 28, 2007

She Had Eggs

We're back from our vacation in Texas. I have a whole new respect for SAHMs. After 10 consecutive days (all day, every day) with my daughter . . . let's just say that she'll be lucky if I pick her up from daycare after work tomorrow. I did take three months of maternity leave when she was born but let's face it - she slept a lot more back then. And didn't talk back. I feel like I'm stuck in a perpetual round of "Opposite Day." Remember that game in school? Someone would declare some random day as "Opposite Day" and then you had to do the opposite of what was requested of you. I tell A to walk and she runs. I tell her to sit down in the bathtub and she stands and stomps her feet. I tell her to stop throwing her food to the dogs and she sends a mandarin orange slice in a perfect arc straight into Gideon's mouth.

Here is a small sampling of what we did while in Texas: visited the Riverwalk and the Alamo in San Antonio; visited the Children's Museum, the aquarium, and the Galleria in Houston; saw various forms of wildlife including deer, ducks, squirrels, and birds galore; ate at a slew of restaurants; visited a pond; and stayed in two hotels. We spent the rest of the nights at my Aunt's house. She lives in a woodsy resort area where we took scenic walks, fed deer, and saw Texas-type stuff we had never seen before (like lizards). We also hung out with relatives I hadn't seen in 18 years.

So here is what A remembers about the trip: she had eggs. She told me this as we were reflecting on our vacation and all we had done. All she could remember was that she had enjoyed some eggs at breakfast one morning. At that moment I decided that we are definitely not taking her to Disney World anytime soon. It almost makes me a little sad that she isn't going to remember any of the cool stuff we've done over the past two years. But I digress.

As for the other half and me . . . well, 10 days of togetherness is also a little much even for couples that get along. This evening P and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: I sure hope you are going to work tomorrow.
Him: You're the one who'd better go to work, shithead.

Awww, isn't he precious? By today just the sound of him chewing started to cause my jaw to tighten. Somehow the 10th day always seems to be the straw that breaks the vacation's back.

Waiting for the hairplane

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Wisdom of Homer

My "Boxer a Day" calendar contained a funny quote from Homer Simpson the other day, so I decided to look up some other good quotes. As Simpsons fans know, there are plenty. Here are a few of my favorites:

Homer: Donuts. Is there anything they can't do?

Homer: Bad bees. Get away from my sugar. Ow. OW. Oh, they're defending themselves somehow.

Homer: The lesson is: Our God is vengeful! O spiteful one, show me who to smite and they shall be smoten

Duff book of records: Springfield is now the fattest city in the U.S.
Homer: Woo Hoo. In your face Milwaukee.

Homer: Marge, I'm going to Moe's. Send the kids to the neighbors, I'm coming back loaded

Homer: He didn't give you gay, did he? Did he?!?

Homer: Marge, you being a cop makes you the man! Which makes me the woman - and I have no interest in that, besides occasionally wearing the underwear, which as we discussed, is strictly a comfort thing.

Homer: I like my beer cold, my TV loud and my homosexuals flaming.

Homer: Got any of that beer that has candy floating in it? You know, Skittlebrau?
Apu: Such a beer does not exist, sir. I think you must have dreamed it.
Homer: Oh. Well, then just give me a six-pack and a couple of bags of Skittles.

Marge: Homer, is this how you pictured married life?
Homer: Yeah, pretty much, except we drove around in a van solving mysteries.

Homer: You couldn't fool your own mother on the foolingest day of your life with an electrified fooling machine!

Homer: I'm normally not a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me Superman.

Homer: Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.

Homer: How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I'm Leaving, on a Hairplane . . .

We're getting ready to take a trip to the great state of Texas. P and I are celebrating ten years of (something resembling) wedded bliss. So it's a combination "anniversary/vacation/visit the relatives" sort of trip. A has been telling everyone that she is taking a Hairplane to Texas.

My to-do list has approximately 2,782 things on it. P's has . . . well, he has no list. He can't remember what I said to him five minutes ago but God forbid he should write anything down.

Last night he was working so it was just me and the kid. I was working on packing our suitcases while she dipped random stuff in the dogs' water bowl. She also watched "Favorite Children's Songs" by Baby Genius (the bastard son of Baby Einstein, I think). The funny (well, not that funny) thing is that she has scratched up this particular DVD so badly that when it gets to "Farmer in the Dell" it stops and goes back several songs, to "Old MacDonald." This means that the DVD is caught in an infinite loop and whaddya know - we can watch the same DVD alllllllll night without touching a button. Good times.

So here I am, packing everything from baby Tylenol to swimsuits to pajamas to diapers. I packed a bag with fun-stuff-to-do-on-the-plane-that-will-actually-only-occupy-her-for-thirty-seconds. I printed up the TSA guidelines to make sure I have a thorough understanding of the "three ounces = okay, four ounces = we're all gonna die" regulations. I checked the kid's car seat to make sure it meets airline regulations (and bears a sticker to that effect). I made arrangements for our dogs, cats, and fish. I printed up directions from the airport to our final destination. Isn't there an old saying about needing a vacation from my vacation?

My darling husband, on the other hand, will do this: knowing that we need to leave for the airport at 8:30 a.m., he will head down to our basement at 8:15 a.m. and grab a suitcase. He will then throw in three pairs of underwear (for an eight-day trip). He will ask me what the weather is like there. Five minutes later, he will announce that he is ready to go. When we get to our vacation spot, he will ask me things like, "Hey, did you bring some toothpaste for me?" At some point during the trip he will ask me for some obscure item, like a wooden spoon or a meat thermometer, and act incredulous that I failed to pack it.

But, payback being what it is . . . guess who gets to sit next to Short Stuff on the hairplane?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pet Peeves and Whatnot

Some random thoughts that have been stuck in my head:
  1. When you’re paying for something, do not throw the money on the counter. This is just rude – no two ways about it. It’s even worse with coins. There is no reason on earth why a cashier should have to scrape your nickels off the counter. Can you tell I used to work retail in college???? Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you’re worried about germs and therefore don’t want to touch a stranger’s bare hands. Do you have any idea how filthy your cash is?
  2. Also, no talking on your cell phone while you’re checking out. Unless you are a doctor discussing a medical emergency, hang ‘er up.
  3. You know your lane is ending – do not wait until the last possible nanosecond to switch lanes (sorry, Pop, I’m talking to you).
  4. Do not drive slowly in the left lane. I’m speaking to all the Midwesterners out there who do this. Where I come from, people have been shot for pulling that kind of shit.
  5. Do not wait until you are at the drive-up bank window to start figuring out your transaction. You should’ve had your act together long before that.
  6. Little girls should not be wearing anything with writing on the ass. Little girls should be dressed like what they are – little girls.
  7. Don’t call me and say “who is this?” You called me. Try telling me who you are first.
  8. People who constantly send out pictures of their kids . . . oh wait, that’s me. Never mind!
  9. People who write that they need to loose weight. It’s lose, lose, lose! Also, the word separate is spelled like so: separate.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Stuff I know too much about

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two not watch any television at all. I kinda missed the mark on that one - by about two years.

You see, I grew up in a home where the first person who woke up in the morning turned the TV on. The last person who went to bed was the one to turn it off. As a matter of fact, my parents still have the same TV that they had when I was growing up. As electronic appliances are wont to do, the TV has picked up a few quirky behaviors over time. Now it demands to be left on full time or you are subjected to a 20 minute warm-up period during which the TV passes through three extended periods of snow.

I should add that we are not stupid people. My parents produced three offspring who all have college degrees. What can I say? We just like television.

So, I wasn't afraid to let my kid watch television. We bought her some Baby Einstein DVDs when she was four months old and propped her up in her Exersaucer to watch them. I mean, we had to get ready for work and something had to give. At two, she continues to watch some of these DVDs and has added a few more, like Elmo's Potty Time. We also let her watch Noggin and the Disney Channel. Of course, she is also spending lots of time outside and doing other toddleresque things.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to the playground. My kid learned all kinds of stuff from watching her DVDs. At 14 months she could say "Night-night, see you tomorrow." She was speaking in complete sentences before she was two. She knows colors, shapes, numbers, and the alphabet. You can draw any random letter on her Doodle Pro and she can tell you what it is (unless it's U or V - she gets those mixed up). Of course, we work with her a lot but I have to share the credit with the DVDs, man.

Some of the shows on Noggin and Disney do drive me around the bend, though. My other half swears that there are only three episodes of the Backyardigans.

Random thoughts about her favorite shows:
  • How come today's shows require so much interaction from the wee ones? Bugs Bunny never asked me for help with anything. Dora is constantly asking for my help with finding stuff. She'll ask her question ("Do you know how to get to Penguin Island?") and then she'll just stand there until I tell her that indeed, I do know.
  • Oobi is just plain creepy. Like Elmo, Oobi speaks in the third person. Claudia hate Oobi.
  • I'm puzzled by Go, Diego, Go. How old is this kid and how is it that he runs a wildlife park all on his own? My friend Brenda wants to know why Diego's sister, Alicia, has no accent.
  • Don't even get me started on the Wonder Pets!
  • I worry about what the creators of LazyTown are going to do when Stephanie sprouts a bosom.
  • Higglytown Heroes is another weird show. The characters are all hollow and have the ability to split in half - like Russian nesting dolls. If you watch the credits on this show, there are a lot of famous people on there! There was one episode where the kids were trying to get an expectant mom to the hospital but there was too much traffic. I couldn't figure out why she couldn't just pop open her mid-section and pull the baby out. Also, I'm not convinced that Pizza Guy is not a pedophile.
  • And finally, how come Dora requires no parental supervision whatsoever?

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Vegetarian Who Doesn't Like Vegetables?!

My daughter will not eat vegetables. This presents a problem because . . . she’s a vegetarian. She does not yet know this, but I’ll be breaking the news to her as soon as she is old enough to understand.

I’ve been a vegetarian for 18 years (since I was a teenager). People often ask me if I miss eating meat. I don’t. The only thing I will admit to missing is the Blue Crab of the Chesapeake Bay. I’m from Maryland originally and in my childhood I spent many a Saturday sitting around a newspaper-covered picnic table, carefully picking apart an Old-Bay-seasoning-encrusted crab. I sometimes dipped the crabmeat in vinegar. My Maryland relatives still repeat this ritual regularly. But as for missing hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and so forth – it’s very easy for me to say that I’m happier without them (what’s in a hot dog anyway????).

So how did I get here and why am I dragging my kid along for the ride? I think it began with a gradual awareness that factory farming is barbaric. I mean, it is one thing to have a small family-owned farm where some reverence for life is actually observed, where the slaughter of livestock is carried out in some (at least vaguely) humane way. But that is not the case with factory farming. As I began to learn more about where meat comes from, I came to the realization that, simply put, I was not worth that kind of suffering.

I come from a loud family of animal-loving smartasses. Some of them follow a vegetarian diet and some do not. My mom makes an amazing vegetarian chili – I swear you’d never miss the meat if you tried her chili. I used to have the recipe but one of my dogs chewed it up. I’ve asked my mom to give it to me again but she’s not done punishing me for the fate of the first one.

Life as a vegetarian can be challenging at times but if I can sleep at night with a clear conscience, then I think it’s worth it. I hope that my daughter will choose to pass through this life in a peaceful way, too. But if she decides to eat Chicken McNuggets with her friends when she’s 16, I’m not going to stop her. I won’t prepare meat myself, though, which is another reason why she is starting out on a vegetarian diet. One of the biggest challenges I face is that I have a horrible sweet tooth (this reminds me of a line from Jim Gaffigan that goes something like this: “your tooth should talk to your ass, then, because that’s where everything is going.”) I don’t have to read the labels on a box of brownie mix – I already KNOW that it doesn’t have meat in it. So I’m a vegetarian but not necessarily a healthy eater, if that makes any sense. I’m trying to do a better job for my toddler, though.

So, how to get vegetables into my darling toddler? Trickery doesn’t work, I can tell you that. The first time I tried to hide a vegetable in some ranch veggie dip, she actually started to eat it but then began to gag and erupted into all sorts of theatrics. Now she is very suspicious of anything resembling a sauce of any kind. Oddly enough, she will eat black beans (do beans count?) This makes me happy because it’s also a protein source. She does eat a lot of soy-based products like Boca Burgers. Well, I take that back – she eats some of her food and throws the rest to the dogs. If you know of a way to get vegetables into a two-year-old, feel free to send your suggestions my way!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mudder's Day

That was the greeting I got this morning from the wee one. This is technically my third Mother's Day (well the third one for which I was celebrating BEING a mother and not just HAVING a mother). The first one was surreal. A was about a week old and her birthmother had not yet terminated her parental rights. There was a two week period between A's birth and the court hearing. It was stressful in a way that I can't adequately describe even though two years have passed.

Anyway, I had waited so long to be a mother and my other half commemorated the occasion by buying me . . . a CD.

Last year he "got the message" and got me a necklace instead. He's smarter than he looks.

This year Mother's Day started off with an awkward moment. P got me a necklace and it was very pretty but there was just one small problem with it. It was a cross. As in Jesus. And that would be fine except that I have veered off that path a little bit. I am a Unitarian Universalist (I'll post about that journey some other time). This does not mean that I do not believe in God nor that Jesus is not an important figure in my life. It's more complicated than that. But, it does mean that I'm not following the prescribed path that a dedicated Christian is expected to follow. Therefore, wearing a cross wouldn't have the symbolic meaning that it is supposed to have, at least not for me. I do have a couple of very pretty crosses and haven't decided whether or not to wear them.

I felt like a jerk for feeling so iffy about a gift that P had chosen for me. But, I think he understood after all because while A and I were at the fellowship today, he exchanged the necklace for another. This one has three amethysts on a silver bar and it's very pretty. And it suits me much better.

The three of us went out to lunch, a buffet. Eating out with the kid is . . . well, it's trying. But we're morons because we keep going out - at least once a week. Sometimes she's fine and then other times it feels like we're eating with some wolf-child that has never been out in public before. As barbarians go, though, she's pretty cute.

Sleeping after a long day of dictatorial rule.

Friday, May 11, 2007

It Bites

My kid bit me yesterday. While I was preparing HER dinner, she came up to me and acted as though she was going to hug my leg. Next thing I knew, a searing pain shot up my spine. This was a “one strike” offense in my book – off to the time-out chair she went. She sat there and cried and looked pathetic for two minutes. It surprises me that it doesn’t occur to her to get out of the chair (which would lead to hand-to-hand combat of sorts with me). She actually stays in it. Poor, wounded little thing.

I was wearing shorts so throughout the evening I would periodically pull up the leg of my shorts and say, “See, look where you bit Mama. It’s an owie.” She would then affect an expression look of . . . irritation? consternation? and then pull my pant leg back down.

Another interesting development this week – A has figured out that I have other names and that I’ll respond to them. Instead of just calling me “Mama” like she always has, she’s been experimenting with Mom, Mommy, and so forth. Then out of the blue she started calling me Claudia. Sure, I waited a lifetime for someone to call me Mommy and now she’s going to call me by my first name instead. Sa-weet!

And finally, I learned this week that my daughter is turning into a nerd like her father. Sure, they are not biologically related, but you’d never know it. People who don’t know she’s adopted tell me all the time that the two of them look alike. And they kinda do. But anyway, he’s a nerd from way back. He would kill me for posting this but seriously, he reads D&D books in his spare time. Loves comic books, too. (Traits that she shares with me so far: she loves dogs and is incredibly clumsy.)

Yesterday after I picked her up from daycare, A started rooting around in the DVD cabinet. She started waving a Spiderman DVD over her head, demanding to watch it. “Watch Spiderman!” At about the same time I realized she had pooped in her diaper so I told her (a little sadly and reluctantly) that she could watch Spiderman after I changed her diaper. As I was putting her pants back on she looked up at me and said, “Watch Star Track?” (this is how she pronounces it). I felt a tiny tear forming in the corner of my eye . . .

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The "Only Child" Debate

My daughter is an only child. Technically she does have a biological half-brother but since she is the only kid who lives in our house, I think that makes her an only child. Apparently this practically offends some people. Even my veterinarian has informed me that I need to get my hands on another child tout de suite. “She needs a playmate!” I hear that quite a bit.

My other half and I did not set out to limit our family to one child. Nor did we want to be the next Waltons. Happenstance put us here.

We tried to do everything in the socially prescribed way (well, except for the part where we lived in sin). We met (I was in college, he was a Marine), we fell in love, we rented an apartment, we got a cat, we got another cat, we got married, we bought a house, he finished college, we got a dog, and then we got another dog. Then we waited for our baby to come.

We began trying to have a baby in 1998. One of these days I’ll take the time to chronicle my entire journey more thoroughly. But the short version is this: we lost four babies to miscarriage over a period of five years. After that, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the heck we wanted to do with ourselves. We had begun talking about adoption back in 2001 but weren’t sure which type of adoption we wanted to pursue. Finally, in the summer of 2004 we threw our proverbial hats into the ring at a local adoption agency. The short version of THAT story is that our beautiful baby girl was born in May of 2005 and at long last we were parents.

We’re now well into our 30s (with me being closer to 40 than 30 and him being right in the middle). The kid, she wears us out. But that’s not why A is an only child. Have you ever wished for something with all your might and then actually got it? You know how you were then hesitant to ask for anything else? That’s kinda how we feel. But still, it’s more complicated than that. Domestic adoption is expensive, risky, stressful, and a few other adjectives besides. We don’t think we have it in us to go down that path again.

So here we are, with our adorable kid.

After A was born it started to dawn on me that she would probably be the one and only. I started digging around and doing some research. The statistics are iffy but seem to indicate that, in general, only children score well on scholastic tests, tend to get good grades, and usually grow up to be successful adults. By the way, I was watching American Idol last night and was very interested to hear that THREE out of the four semi-finalists are only children. It does seem to fly in the face of the oft-told theory that only children are forlorn social misfits.

I also talked to some people I know who are only children. Some were happy with the way they were raised while others always longed for siblings.

While I didn’t set out to have only one child, I have to admit that I have a hard time related to people who have very large families. I always wonder how they can afford to send so many children to college. That is not to say that my daughter is getting a free ride when she heads off to school – she’ll be expected to hold a job while going to school. But still, we have a college fund for her and yes, there is money in it! We used to call it her “beer fund” because at first there was only enough in there to cover her beer consumption during her freshman year.

I should add that we have talked about the possibility of adopting an older child through the state at some point in the future (a child older than an infant but still younger than our daughter). But for now, we feel pretty confident that we can raise our daughter to be healthy, happy, and well-adjusted even without siblings. Sure, it would have been great if things had gone differently and we had other amazing kids to hang out with the one we’ve got, but we don’t think we’re doing her a terrible disservice either.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Terrible Twos

A (my kid) turned two last week. This "terrible twos" stuff is not a rumor after all, as it turns out. She now has 17.4 tantrums per day.

Yesterday I made the mistake of taking her to the grocery store. She makes up bizarre rules and I am supposed to follow along. She decided that I wasn't allowed to touch the (red) cart handle. How I was supposed to get the cart around the store, I have no idea. "MY RED!" she yelled at me and batted my hands away. :::SIGH:::

I am amazed at how quickly kids pick up on advertising aimed squarely at them. She can spot one of the Backyardigans characters at 100 paces. And Dora, don't even get me started on Dora. I think the Dora people are laughing all the way to the bank. A was able to say "Dora" at around 15 months. Our house is littered with Dora figurines . . . oftentimes Dora is without all of her appendages because Gideon (our Boxer) likes to chew them off. On a side note, have you noticed that some of these shows only seem to have about five episodes? Go, Diego, Go seems to have only one episode. Either that, or those tree frogs get saved in every single one.

But anyway, back to the shopping trip. She whined up and down every aisle. She pulled stuff out of the cart and opened/ripped/bit it. She threw a minor tantrum for each of the 17,000 things I told her she couldn't have ("fruuuuuuit snaaaaaaacks!") She grabbed a bottle of detangler. I didn't think she could get it open until I heard a helpful lady saying, "Hey, did you know she has that open?"

For my benefit she was being a hellion but to everyone else . . . pure delight. She's going through this new phase where she calls everyone "buddy." When I take her for a walk through our neighborhood you'd think we were on a parade route. "Hi Buddy!" she yells to everyone she passes. A couple weeks ago we were several blocks from our house and saw a man mowing his grass. He was unshaven and had a cigarette dangling from his lip. He was wearing a ripped black t-shirt and looked like he hadn't slept in a week. "Hi Buddy!" my daughter shouts cheerfully, waving frantically.

Yesterday when I picked the kid up from daycare, I noticed she wasn't wearing the outfit I had put on her when she woke up that morning. I ask her daycare provider, Jessica, what happened. She gives me a look that tells me that whatever happened, it was disturbing. It appears my sweet little buttercup shoved both hands down the back of her pants and pulled up two fistsful of her own poo. Precious!

"Hi Buddy!"

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Blogging all over myself

So, here I am . . . the last person in the free world to create a blog. You'd think I would have been one of the early ones. I was an English major in college so it goes without saying that I love to blather on about something (or even nothing). I work in web design for a living so it's not like I don't know my way around a computer. Maybe I just didn't think I had anything to say.

But in any case, here I am.

Why the title? Well, everything else was taken. I can't seem to define myself in any singular, distinctive way that makes any sense. One thing I can't change about myself is that I am extremely fair-skinned. (And for the record it's okay to call me fair, but pale, white, etc. - that's just rude.) In early childhood I developed an auto-immune condition called vitiligo. When I was 14 I went through depigmentation. So, I'm fair. I wanted the blog title "Desdemona," which sounds much more romantic, but it was taken.