Monday, May 31, 2010

Camping? Not Me, Thanks.

Memorial Day Weekend makrks not only the unofficial kickoff of summer, but also of camping season. And once upon a time, I was one of those outdoor enthusiasts who gladly packed up the car and headed for the wilderness, where I could wipe my ass with poison ivy and shower in subzero water.

Not anymore.

Why? Because of one too many poison ivy rashes and subzero showers, of course.

I used to be made of hardier stuff. Growing up, most vacations found us calling a tent home, whether we were in the No Man's Land that is the Upper Penninsula of Michigan or the sunny beaches of South Carolina.

I once washed my hair in Lake Superior (which is the same temperature as a frozen Hell, for those of you not in the know).

I once got a severe case of diarrhea when the only toilet I had access to was a stinking Port-a-Potty baking under a 90-degree sun.

I once stomped on a fire ant hill and ran screaming back to my mom with armies of stinging red hellions traveling up my thighs.

But at the time, I thought nothing of it. Those adventures were just part of the Camping Experience.

Experiences that also included swimming in ocean surf, collecting Hermit Crabs in buckets, roasting marshmallows on an open fire and giggling with my brother in our own "Grown-Up Tent" after lights out.

Then I grew up. Well, maybe not "up," but older. Old enough to have my own set of car keys, friends and camping equipment. And camp we did.

My best friend and I once camped in weather that reached freezing temperatures at night, in the rain, then washed off in the aforementioned sub-zero showers.

Before we were married, my husband and I once went camping on Lake Michigan—in an area where the water, warmed by the nuclear power plant just at the other end of the beach, was decorated with used condoms and empty beer bottles.

Not to be deterred, the next summer we set out for a campground on Lake Huron, only to be awakened in the middle of the night by a tornado siren. After spending several hours praying to a nameless God as I sat shivering and drenched on a pitch black beach (we were told that the tornado would turn back before it hit the water), I vowed never to camp again.

But it wasn't until a weekend of rustic camping (i.e. peeing in the woods), left me with a poison ivy rash up and down my legs and thighs so bad that they were swollen to the size of tree trunks that I made good on my promise.

While smearing myself with Calomine lotion and popping steroids, I swore never to camp again. And I haven't.

Because of this, our vacations have become much less frequent (a clearing in the woods is way cheaper than a hotel, yo), but significantly more pleasurable.

When it rains? I can go inside.

When an unexpected cold patch hits? I can turn up the heat.

When a tornado threatens? Well, I still quake in my boots, but at least I'm dry while I do so.

So, all you hardy, I-don't-need-no-cushy-mattress types, enjoy your mosquito-ridden, rain-soaked weekends. I'll be toasting you from inside my air-conditioned living room, munching on s'mores roasted in my microwave.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

From Couch To Frustration.

The Couch To 5K is a fine, fine program. I'm in my fourth week (although redoing week three), and so far I've heard nary a protest from my knee, ankle or back, which means I must be doing something right.

But damn is it frustrating.

I remember when I could run four miles. Four! Uphill. Barefoot. Through the snow. Okay, maybe not that last part. But the point is, I could run pretty dang far, and it felt good.

But now?

Now I'm huffing and puffing and generally making a fool out of myself as I trot past garage sale attendees and playing kids and dog walkers.

Now I'm looking at my iPod every five seconds to see how. much. longer. untilthetorturestops.

Now I'm red-faced and sweating and pulling at the shorts that are riding up my too fat thighs.

Now I'm miserable. Miserable and only running three minutes at a stretch (and I'm using the term "running" very loosely).

It makes me long for the good old days. Those summer days two years ago, before pregnancy and those three abdominal surgeries.

The days when I could run.

I know I'll get there again. I just have to keep at it, keep working, and ignore the frustration.

Bur damn, I wish there was a fast forward button.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Moment For Thanks.

I am thankful...
For the fiery blast of sweet smelling air that hits my face when I walk outside.
For the blessed coolness that caresses my skin when I walk back in.
And for the flats of rainbow-hued flowers waiting to brighten my garden.

I am thankful…
For the evenings spent watching Tori splash under the hose.
For the days that lengthen far into the night.
And for the cricket and frog symphony that lulls me to sleep.

I am thankful…
For the sunshine that flickers across my closed eyelids on a lazy afternoon.
For the cool grass that tickles my feet as I walk across my yard.
And for the warm trickles that fall from my hands as I play with Tori in the sand.

I am thankful…
For the sandals that free my feet from their suffocating winter prison.
For the whirly skirts that swirl around my legs.
And for the sleeveless tops that welcome the freckles back to my shoulders.

I am thankful…
For the scent of grilling hamburgers racing on the wind.
For the cool drips of condensation flowing down a glass of lemonade.
And for the creamy goodness of the season’s first ice cream cone.

I am thankful…
For picnics in the park.
For afternoons at the beach.
And for long holiday weekends.

I am thankful for summer.

What are you thankful for? Link up at Alli 'n Son and tell us!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tori Walks!

Tori took her first steps almost two weeks ago. And ever since, I've been trying to capture them on film.

Well, I am lots of things, but a master cinematographer is not one of them. So it took me a while to get anything. This was my first sort of successful attempt:

But I wasn't satisfied with the amount of walking shown. So, after numerous attempts, I got this:

Forgive the shaky camera work, and the lack of editing (I can't figure out how the dang program works). But we have walking...and now there's proof.

And yes I know, I'll never sit again. The thing is, I wasn't aware that I ever got to sit before!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Top Ten Signs You Have Baby Fever.

I do not need another baby right now. In fact, I'd go so far as to say a baby is the last thing I need right now. It's taken 14 months to feel like I have any idea what I'm doing. To feel anything other than tired and frazzled, as a matter of fact.

But part of me really wants another baby.

That's right, people. I have a small case of baby fever. How do I know? Well, gee, I thought you'd never ask. Here we go...the top ten signs you're jonesing for a babe.

Pictures of wrinkly, newborn babies bring a tear to your eye. And not one of remembered pain, but one of "ohmygodsheissocutecanaIhaveonenowplease?"

You attempt to sell your child's outgrown clothes, but can't bring yourself to do it.  Because, sure, you have no plans to get pregnant again, but what if you did? And what if it was another girl? A girl who conveniently enough, was born at the exact same time of year? Then you'd want those clothes again, wouldn't you?

You start rationalizing why you don't really need the guest bedroom in your head. After all, you only have guests once every other month or so. Besides, those pull-out couches are surprisingly comfy! And hey, they could always sleep in your bed...

You start keeping track of your cycle again. You know. Just in case.

You look at pregnant bellies, and instead of smiling in sympathy, you have to stomp down a pang of jealousy.

You start sentences with "next time..." I'll exercise all the way through. And I'll watch what I eat. And...

You allow yourself to picture driving a minivan. And you don't feel the urge to vomit.

Speaking of vomit, you tell yourself morning sickness wasn't that bad. After all, it only lasted a couple of months. And those preggo pops were awfully tasty...

You give yourself a mental high five when your husband slips and says things like "our kids" (plural).

You find that you're almost disappointed when your period arrives on time. Not that you were "trying" but...

So yeah. I think I have baby fever. But I'm pretty sure I can wait this one out. Kind of sure. Sure I am.

How about you? How do you know when you're suffering from an acute case of GimmeABabyNows? And how 'bout you go visit Oh Amanda and spread some Top Ten Tuesday sugar around?

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Daughter, the Bottle-holic.

At Tori's twelve month appointment, my pediatrician looked sternly at me over her glasses and asked, "is she still getting bottles?"

When I shamefacedly admitted that yes, I hadn't even attempted to wean her from her naptime and bedtime bottles, she launched into a full-blown lecture.

I had better do it sooner rather than later, she said.

Every day I waited, I made the eventual trauma of having to go bottle-less a little worse for Tori. Delay too long and I might as well start a savings account to pay for her future therapy bills.

Plus, Tori's teeth were in danger of rotting out of her head and when they did, she'd be the only second-grader with dentures in Bloomington.

So, the pediatrician advised, I should just start replacing the milk in her bottles with water, and before anyone could yell "say cheeeeeese," she'd be off the bottle and on her way to a picture perfect smile.

Thoroughly cowed, I swore to follow my physician's sage advice.

The day after Tori's appointment, I replaced the milk in her bedtime bottle with some warm water. But when I gave it to her? She took one short guzzle before making a horrified face and throwing it clear across the room.

And her screams? Might just have pierced the sound barrier.

Needless to say, I went and got her some milk.

The next night, I tried the old switcheroo again, with equally painful results.

And again the next.

And after that? I gave up. There is only so much pain my ear drums can stand, you know?

Besides, I like (make that love) those few quiet moments we get together while she drinks her bottle. She curls up on my lap in the big blue chair and grabs her bottle with one hand while she runs the other through my hair. Meanwhile, I bury my nose in the sweet grassy scent of her head, close my eyes and enjoy her warm, heavy stillness.

Then, when she's done, she turns around in my arms and chatters at me, playing with my lips and beeping my nose. I beep her back and together we giggle, reconnecting after the long hours apart. It's easily one of the best parts of my whole day.

So yes, my daughter's a bottle-holic. But while they say the first step is admitting you have a problem, I'm not ready to do anything about it yet.

Is it so wrong to want to hang tight to this last little bit of baby-ness just a little longer?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Who Wants to Vote on My New Header?

My husband, creative maestro that he is, has decided he wants to start designing blogs. So, of course I told him he could start with mine. What we've come up with so far is a drastic departure from what I currently have, so I thought I'd put out feelers before it becomes reality.

Obviously, this is rough. But what do you guys think? If we go this route, I'm thinking my tag could be something like "writing my way through life, one wrong turn at a time." Maybe.

Be honest (but as nicely as you can, please).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: The Promise I Made.

It was day two of Tori’s short life. We were alone in our hospital room, listening to the rain pounding on the window as we memorized the lines of each other’s faces. Ever so gently, I pulled her arm from the swaddling that engulfed her and counted her impossibly tiny fingers.

She seemed so small. So delicate. So ridiculously breakable.

As I stared down into her blue, blue eyes, I made her a promise.

I promised to keep her safe from the big bad world.

To protect her from the bad, the evil and the merely indifferent.

To surround her with goodness, with happiness and with light.

To help her to grow up to be strong, and confident, and sure.

To be there to share in her triumphs and take the sting out of her defeats.

To surround her with people who share my fierce devotion to her well-being.

To love her unconditionally with every beat of my heart.

I made her a promise.

And that’s why this search for a new daycare is breaking my heart.

How can I tell this face that she’ll have to spend her days in a space smaller than our family room at home?

How can I tell her that her time will be strictly regimented, that she can only sleep between 12 and 2, and only play outside for thirty minutes each day?

How can I tell her that her caregiver might let her sleep slumped over in her high chair, or step on her while passing through the room, or ignore her cries because five other children need her more?

How can I tell her that I chose a daycare that was simply “good enough?”


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eight Ways A Baby Changes Your Marriage.

Before my daughter was born, I swore that her arrival would not change my relationship with my husband. We would be just as romantic. Spend just as much time together.

We'd be the same AmberandBrian we had always been...but better.

Then Tori was born. And it was like a nuclear bomb had gone off in our family room, changing the familiar surroundings into something foreign—and turning our world upside down.

The dust has settled now (mostly). We've figured out how to manage this whole baby thing (mostly). And our relationship? Has leveled out (mostly). But it's not the same. And here, for your reading pleasure, are ten ways it has most definitely changed.

Romantic late night dinners? Sure we have those. Of course, usually these late night noshes are spent silently shoveling food into our mouths as the baby screams (from teething pain, sickness or just plain crabbiness) upstairs. When the screeching gets too loud, Brian puts on some tunes—but it's more likely to be Metallica than Frank Sinatra.

Couple workouts? Sure we do those. However, instead of spending hours working out together at the gym, we take turns sprinting after the baby, and wrestling her into her car seat, and keeping her still while the other person puts a clean diaper on her frantically wriggling bottom.

Long, leisurely walks? Well, not quite. How about short trots around the neighborhood, pushing the stroller as fast as we can pull the dog along, hoping he poops before she starts screaming.

Relaxing Sunday brunches? Only if McDonalds counts. Okay, we haven't actually eaten Sunday brunch at McDonalds. But the two hour meals we used to begin our weekend afternoons with have become hurried affairs at Bob Evans—on the rare occasion we make the effort.

Saturday night movie dates? Absolutely.  Only, except dressing up and heading to the theater, we strip down to our sweats and fire up the latest NetFlix arrival. And the end credits usually find us snoring on each other's shoulders, not making out.

Knock down, drag 'em out screaming matches? Not so much. These days our battles are done in hissing whispers, with red-hot glares used to maximum effect. Because, after all, you can't fight in front of the baby. And if you can't have a good fight? The making up part isn't so great either.

Boot knocking action? Yeah. Sure. It happens. You know, on those oh-so-frequent occasions when we're actually both feeling rested, relaxed and amorous. Yeah. Aaaaaallllll the time (anyone want to buy a bridge from me?).

Still best friends? Definitely. I've got no snark here. Despite it all, I'm still glad to be married to him, and can't think of anyone I'd rather spend time with. And after the year we've had? That's saying something, people.

Now it's your turn. How has a baby changed your relationship?

Monday, May 17, 2010

A (So-Called) Date Night Adventure.

Friday night marked a momentous occasion in my little world. It was a Date Night. The second one in less than a month!

Now, for the two of you reading this who are not mothers of young children, that might seem like no big thing, but let me assure you, it is. Was. A very big deal. One involving the curling of hair, application of makeup, and payment of babysitters.

We intended to start the evening off at our favorite children-not-welcome bar/restaurant. Because we? Were child and stroller free!

That dream came to an end about 30 seconds after we sat down. The very same moment a 40-something pseudo-sorority snot informed us that every open table was reserved. Every. Single. One.

I almost said something about her needing to save all that room so she’d have somewhere to put her overly Botoxed face when it slid off her anorexic bones…but I just grabbed Brian's hand and  harrumphed out of the restaurant.

So instead we decided to try this heavily hyped eatery we’d never been to. It’s helmed by a former big city chef, has a “concept” and lines that frequently extend out the door, so we figured it was a safe bet.

Forty-five minutes later, when the food still hadn’t arrived, we started ripping the carefully designed, shabby chic atmosphere to shreds. Upscale country? We decided it looked more like a junk saler’s wet dream.

A half hour after that, when we finally got our ridiculously garnished plates and dried out food, our conversation quickly moved on to the kitchen staff’s questionable parentage and obvious inability to read a recipe.

Heck, even our dessert (a slice of cheesecake they semi-graciously comped us), tasted like a bar of perfumey soap with a little bit of cream cheese thrown in.

In other words? It was not good.

In fact, I’ve had better meals at Cracker Barrel (whose cuisine and d├ęcor they were all too obviously trying to one-up).

But you know what was good? The opportunity to indulge in a couple hours of unadulterated snark with my husband—without worrying about covering the baby’s delicate ears.

Because while it’s nice that she’s finally getting old enough to eat in a restaurant, it’s even nicer to eat in a restaurant without her.

And that? Is why we’re going to have to do this date night thing a little more often.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Things to Remember: Part Four.

Seems like just yesterday that I was in tears over Tori's very first smile. And now? And now she's fast on her way to becoming an official toddler (walking is imminent), and far from that little peanut of a baby whoneeded me so much.

So I thought I'd stop for a minute to put keys to computer screen to record the little moments bound to get  forgotten forever when she moves on to the next big thing. Things like...

Her first words.  For months, she's been babbling in that secret language that is Tori-ese, but we couldn't understand a single thing she was saying. But now she has a few words - Dada (her first, the little brat), Bato (bottle), whadis (what is this), and finally, Mama (which just became clear this week).

Her tendency to shake her head no.  She can't say no, but she sure as heck knows how to shake her head. And now? No matter what you ask her, the answer is nononono...followed by a hand grabbing for whatever she just said she didn't want.

Her unfussy eating habits. As of now, that girl will eat just about anything you put in front of her. Broccoli and cauliflower are just as eagerly accepted as pudding and waffles. Of course, no matter what  you feed her, it ends up in her hair, on her clothes and stored in her high chair (she wants to do it herself), but since I know this won't last, I'm enjoying it while it does.

Her hesitant little steps.  Although she's normally Miss Adventurous, when it comes to walking, she's taking her sweet time. We've caught her taking a couple tiny little steps, and when she does, she grins from ear to ear, but as soon as she realizes she's walking, boom, down she goes. I don't know why we're so eager to see her up on two legs...I'm sure once she starts walking, she'll be running, and then I'll be even more tired than I currently am!

Her burgeoning love of dirt. I think this gardening thing must run in the genes, because the minute we walk outside, she makes her way to the garden and starts pawing in the dirt. She even tries to "weed" with me...unfortunately, her chosen victims are almost always plants I'd rather keep in the ground.

Her straight-legged crawl. This little girl pulls herself along everywhere in a modified downward dog position - legs straight, body bent in half at the waist. It looks ridiculously uncomfortable, but it gets her where she wants to go!

There are more. So many more. But that sweet little monster is up from her nap, so these fond ramblings will have to come to a close. Stay tuned for more...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Run, Baby, Run.

I am aware that overall, I have a darn good life.  A great husband, an adorable daughter, good friends and a good job. But there are days when it's easy to forget about all that.

Days when the baby starts screaming the minute she wakes up, and doesn't stop until after I put her to bed at night.

Days when the high maintenance people (and clients) I work with all turn the crazy knob to 11.

Days when the dog has liquid butt (again) all over the baby's bedroom carpet.

Days when my husband says all the wrong things, at all the wrong times. Things that send me slamming off into our bedroom to muffle my screams of frustration  in a pillow.

Days when the cat pukes...right where I'm bound to step in it (again).

Days when there doesn't seem to be enough coffee in the world to keep my head from wanting to collapse into a pillow.

Days when I have to find a new daycare provider, come up with the money to re-tile the the bathroom tub and fix the kitchen ceiling, and write 50,000 brilliant  headlines, all with a migraine the size of Texas.

Days when I want to run away. Far, far away. To a city on the other side of the country. Or a country on the other side of the ocean. To a place where there are no responsibilities, no problems, no demands on my time.

To an island where I can lie on the beach and read books all day, selling macaroni necklaces to tourists for money.

To a cosmopolitan city where I can get a job in a big, glamorous agency, write award-winning work and go home to a sleek bachelorette pad, freshly cleaned by my daily maid service.

To a cabin in the wilderness where I can gather nuts and berries to eat while crafting The Great American Novel.

To a place and a life that's as different from mine as it's possible to be.

But you know what? Even if I were to run for the hills, pull  up stakes and start over, I know it'd only be a matter of time before I found myself a host of new problems.

Besides, I really do love my life - inarticulate husband, screaming baby, disgusting animals and all.

But sometimes, when stuck in the middle of the chaos that is my life, I dream of running. Tell me I'm not the only one?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hey It's Okay...Tuesday and Every Other Day.

The world just keeps getting more screwed up, doesn't it? Oil spills in the gulf, tornadoes in Oklahoma, floods in Tennessee...whatever Mother Nature is up to, it sure isn't cool. Those are things we all should be worried about.

This list (brought to you by the lovely mistress of Airing My Dirty Laundry One Sock At a Time) is about all the silly crap that clutters up our brains and adds stress to our lives. The stuff that it's perfectly alright to be okay with. And with that I bring you...

Hey it's Okay...

It's okay to ignore the Mommy Nazis and feed your kids a little refined sugar every once in a while. I mean, childhood without cookies and cupcakes? Is not really childhood at all.

It's okay to flip through the Top 40 radio stations and realize you don't recognize a single song...or want to. You're not getting old, you're just too cool for mainstream media.

It's okay to get down in the dirt and show your little ones how to make mud pies. If they have to learn, they might as well learn from the best!

It's okay to secretly wish that the Sports Illustrated model wanna-be who just passed your huffing and puffing self on the jogging trail would trip over her shoelace or pull a hamstring or something.

It's okay to think that a little dust adds character to a home...and a few dirty dishes make it look lived in. Just make sure to throw away the dirty diapers hiding in the corner of the bathroom, mmmmkay?

It's okay to look at your perpetually puking cat and wonder why he can't just eat it again like dogs do.

It's okay to finally get serious about your diet simply so you won't be judged and found wanting by thousands of women at a blogging conference (not that I'm doing that or anything...).

It's okay to take your 15 loads of laundry to the laundromat on the other side of town, just so no one sees how behind you are.

It's okay to roll your eyes at your husband's Lost obsession, even though you enjoy the show too.

It's okay to wish you had a cleaning lady, but be too embarrassed by your messy house to call one.

That's my list. What are you okay about this week?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Just Right.

I was lost in dreamland, floating far from home, when suddenly my eyes snapped open and my mind returned to my bed. At first I didn't know was hours until dawn and the house seemed quiet.

Then I heard it. The heartbroken wail of a lonely child.

Next to me, my husband groaned, "Just ignore it. She might go back to sleep."

But I knew that cry. It was one that would not be denied.

So I got up. Seconds after stumbling to her crib, I realized she had a darn good reason to be upset—she'd suffered Extreme Diaper Failure and was soaked to the bone. As was her bedding.

By the time I got her into some clean pajamas and had changed her sheets, we were both too awake to go back to sleep. Instead, I made Tori a bottle and snuggled up with her in the big blue recliner, whispering sweet nothings as the milk soothed the last of her hiccuping sobs away.

After she finished, she twisted in my arms to face me and babbled to me about her dreams, or so I imagined. Then, all talked out, she tangled her fist in my hair, buried her head on my shoulder and zonked out, snores slipping from her open mouth.

Looking at her peaceful face, my heart cracked anew along the long-since established fault lines.

My baby. Mine. Through 4 a.m. wakings and 4 p.m. giggles, fussy Fridays, wacky Wednesdays and sunny Sundays, she was mine. How did I get so lucky?

Eventually I went back to bed, and when I awoke for real, there were breakfasts made, cards opened and gifts presented. Family fun was had, and the happiness I felt sang down my spine to the tips of my toes.

But I got all I really needed for Mother's Day at 5 a.m., looking at her gorgeous little face as the drool pooled on my shoulder.

Happy Mother's Day indeed.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Kicking the Couch to the Curb...Again.

Remember how I used to talk endlessly about banishing the baby belly? Don't worry if you don't, because it was never actually banished (and therefore, I'm not going to link you to the posts).

However, it did diminish in size—which is an accomplishment in and of itself, since I've spent most of the last four months feeling as if an alien was slowly eating its way through my insides (feel free to golf clap). But now? Now it's time to finish what I started.

That's why I did day one of the Couch to 5K program today...for the third time. But you know what they say about third times and charms and stuff. I'm hoping it's true.

I even took Tori with me in the jogging stroller I bought way back in September.

And you know what? That thing is heavy. Especially when you're jogging uphill, holding your surprisingly large pants up with one hand. By the halfway point, I was considering parking her under a tree and coming back for her after I finished my run.

I didn't, of course. But I did do the whole workout. Day one of week one is complete. Hopefully, nine weeks from now, I'll be gloating that I just finished a 5K without breaking a sweat...jogging stroller or no jogging stroller.

Anybody want to take bets on that?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Message to the New Mommies of the World.

To all you brand new moms out there:

I have one thing to say to you, and one thing only. But it’s important, so pay attention.

Are you listening? Then here it is. No matter what you’re thinking or how you’re feeling, it’s okay.

Really. It’s okay.

It’s okay to feel ridiculously overwhelmed, and to be unsure if you can get through the next 24 minutes, never mind 24 hours.

It’s okay to look at your baby and be blown away by the fact that this wondrous little creature actually came out of you (also, how did she ever fit in there?).

It’s okay to wonder why no one ever told you how hard breastfeeding is and to sometimes feel like giving up (it’s even okay to give up, if you need to).

It’s okay to think that those little baby burps are the cutest. noises. ever.

It’s okay to look down at your still pregnant-looking stomach and think about indulging in some do-it-yourself liposuction.

It’s okay to change your baby’s clothes twelve times a day because she just looks so darn cute.

It’s okay to feel like murdering your husband when the baby starts screaming at 3 a.m. and he just rolls over, putting the pillow over his head to block out the noise.

It’s okay to be absolutely terrified to cut your baby’s nails (I recommend just chewing them off).

It’s okay to wish your baby would hurry up and learn how to talk because trying to interpret his screams is getting old.

It’s okay to feel like snatching your baby back every time someone takes her from you.

It’s okay to wish someone was around to take the baby away from you.

It’s okay to feel sad, angry, overjoyed, bewildered, overwhelmed, terrified…even all at the same time.

Whatever you’re feeling, whatever you’re thinking, it’s okay.

You’re doing your best, and that’s all your baby asks. And as for the rest of the world? Well, feel free to tell the rest of the world where it can go.

Don't forget to visit Mama Kat for this week's other brilliant workshop entries.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: For the Love of a Car.

As a third-generation Motor City gal, I can't help but love cars. After all, the automotive industry is literally what keeps that city moving (or sends it screeching to a halt). But I never really loved my own cars. They were just the things that got me from Point A to Point B (when they weren't busy breaking down by the side of the road).

Until this beautiful little girl entered my life:

That, my friends, is the Bluebird—a Honda del sol. She was fast (I routinely broke 100 mph, no sweat),  sexy, and best of all...


The Bluebird was the first car I ever bought myself. I had my first full-time job at a publishing house down in the city, and the '83 Thunderbird I was driving just wasn't cutting it. So I asked my Dad to help me find a new one.

I was pretty sure he'd locate a bunch of safe, snore-worthy sedans.

So when we pulled up to the seller's house and he pointed her out to me, my jaw hit the floor. A sports car? For me? No frigging way.

But he was serious, and before I knew it, I was in the driver's seat, putting her through her paces. By the time I got to third gear, I was head over heels in love. I bought that car just as fast as my bank would let me and never looked back.

We had many an adventure, the Bluebird and I.

We risked death on a daily basis, weaving in and out through the rage-fueled rush hour traffic that clogs Detroit's highways.

We plowed through snowdrifts, fighting our way through blizzards that stranded all but the toughest vehicles.

We raced thunder storms, speeding ahead of the raindrops that threatened to ruin our topless fun.

But best of all were the laid-back days when the sun shone brightly down and the wind whipped through my hair, my joyous laughs mixing with the happy purr of her engine. 

She saw me get married.

Watched as I moved into my first home.

She put up with 2 by 4s being threaded through her back window and flats of flowers getting piled six deep in the passenger seat.

She was a trooper.

But eventually it was time to say good bye. It was the age of Monster SUVS and 50-mile commutes. I no longer felt safe in her diminutive interior—and she was getting old. After one too many ridiculously expensive repair bills, I put her up for sale.

A buyer was quickly found (old or not, she was still sexy, yo). 

But before I gave her up, I insisted on taking one last drive. We wandered aimlessly through the streets of my hometown, alternately speeding down expressways and moseying over country roads. And all the while, I cried. Oh, how I cried.

The Bluebird, she was the automotive love of my life. And on days like this? When the sun beats down and summer beckons?

I still miss her terribly.

Now, go visit our hostess:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Top Ten Strategies For Keeping It Sexy.

As the mother of a young child, it's difficult  to keep in touch with my inner sexy chick. After a long day of battling persnickety people, dirty dishes and grumpy babies, all I really want from life is a cozy pair of sweats and an hour or two of couch time.

I certainly don't feel like spending my few free minutes primping and pampering myself the way I used to. Heck, these days I'm more likely to take a razor to my mono-brow than take the time to pluck those stray hairs.

But, my inner sexy chick, she puts up quite the fuss if ignored too long. To keep her happy, I've found a few fast, easy ways  to remind myself that I am a woman first and mommy second.

Things like:

Red lipstick. I almost always put on at least a little makeup before I leave the house (that's what a couple decades of battling acne will do to a person). But I don't feel fully dressed until I put on that final coat of lipstick. After all, nothing distracts people away from those dark bags under your eyes like a pair of shiny red lips.

Hair dye. Shortly after Tori was born, gray hairs started sprouting on my head. At first, I tried to pluck them, but for every hair I removed, two more arrived at the party. But I refuse to give in to gray hair, damn it. So these days, my red tresses get a little help from Miss L'oreal.

Pretty underthings.  I might have baby food splatters on my shirt and mismatched socks on my feet, but you can bet that underneath it all, I'm wearing something with at least a little lace. A girl's got to have standards, after all (and a little support).

A pair of kick-ass heels. I love me some high heels. Loooooove them. My knee, on the other hand, hates them, but I am more than willing to put up with a little pain for the calf lengthening, back-straightening, chest-enhancing stance heels give me.

A really awesome jacket. Most of the time, you'll find me in jeans and a T-shirt. But when I need to remind myself that I still know how to fake it? I'll add a little jacket.

A quick pedicure.  I have long since given up on painting my finger nails. The sweet perfection that is a good manicure lasts all of five seconds on my hands. But my toes are a different story. Those I like to keep polished to perfection, even in the dead of winter.

Dry shampoo. These days I'm lucky if I have time to toss back a cup of coffee in the morning - never mind the 30 minutes it takes me to wash, dry and style my hair. But with the help of a little of that powdery shampoo goodness, I can cut my grooming time by two-thirds.

A good flat iron.  I invested in a $60 job a few months back and I have never once regretted it. Sure, my eyes might look a little crazy, but with the help of that flat iron, at least my hair can give the illusion of put-togetherness.

A flirty, twirly skirt. Although I always seem to don these numbers on ridiculously windy days (much to my chagrin), nothing makes me feel girlier, or prettier, than a really nice skirt (especially when paired with the aforementioned heels and red lipstick).

A power nap. Like most moms, I'm chronically short of sleep. So when I need to be on my A game? I try to get a little shut eye. After all, my smile is one of my best features, and it is always at its brightest when I'm well rested.

Those are my secret weapons. What are yours?

I'm joining up with The Mommyologist's monthly Mom Sexy link-up. Join in and see how everyone else keeps it sexy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Life Without Books? Perish the Thought.

I was maybe five or six, sitting curled up on the orange shag carpet in our living room with a book, my pig tails falling in front of my eyes. My brow was furrowed, and, although I knew I shouldn't, I silently mouthed the words to myself as I read.

I stumbled my way through page after page, determined to make it through the whole book without asking my mommy for help. By the time I was done, I had a headache—maybe my first headache. But the intense feeling of triumph that zinged through my body as I turned the last page of Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss far outweighed the momentary pain in my head.

Suddenly, I was a Girl Who Could Read By Herself. A Reader.

And with that accomplishment, the doors to a whole new world opened in front of me. A world where it didn't matter if I wore glasses, or was clumsy, or couldn't catch a ball to save my life. Because in the world of books? I could be anyone and do anything I wanted.

From that day forward, the library became my toy store—only better, because my mom never set limits on the amount of books I could have. She only asked that I return them when I was done (which wasn't always an easy concept for me to grasp).

Over the years, I tore my way through all the usual suspects: Beatrix Potter, Beverly Cleary, Judy Bloom...I even went through a stage where I read every biography I could get my hands on.

Books were my salvation. They kept me company when I was lonely, reassured me when I felt out of place and took me on adventures to places far outside the narrow confines of my little suburban world.

In short, books helped to shape the person that I am today.

So, when I read that in low-income neighborhoods, more than 80 percent of all preschool and after-school programs don't have any age appropriate books, my jaw dropped. The same article said that in those neighborhoods, there's only one book—period—for every 300 kids. Compare that to the average of 13 books a middle-class kid has at his or her disposal.

That's just not right.

Fortunately, BlogHer is teaming up with BookRenter to help address the problem. From May 3-28, they're working with First Book to provide books to kids in need through Head Start. And you can help—without ever opening up your wallet.

Just head over to this post and leave a comment about a book that has impacted your life. When you do, they'll donate a book to Head Start. That's it. By writing two little sentences, you could help open the doors to a lifetime of reading for a child in need.

So go. Go now. Leave a comment. Then come back here and tell me you did. When you do, I'll make a $1 donation to First Book. Why? Because if the universe had dealt me a different  hand and my child was the one who didn't have any books, I'd want someone to do the same for me.

What are you waiting for? Go.