Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Toddler Lessons and Defiance

Jenny, much like Rescue Pack, has got my back

For those of you who have up-and-coming toddlers, I figured I’d share some of the day-to-day things that Jellybean and I are doing lately. For those of you who have older toddlers, I would respectfully like to ask for advice on dealing with the ‘I’m a stubborn toddler learning that what I want to do and what my mom wants me to do are sometimes two different things, so I’m going to take my sweet bippy time when she asks me to do something’ phase.

The first thing that Jenny is doing more of is ‘chores’. Also called, ‘helping around the house’, ‘earning her keep’, or ‘making everything take 8 million times as long to accomplish’. The upside to this is that it often distracts her from making a new, high-pitched whining noise that has developed recently; she LOVES to help. Also, she usually claps for herself when she’s done, which is hilarious. And I guess it’s teaching her some valuable skills or life lessons or something, whatever. The downside, as mentioned, is that I’m usually tired and grumpy and just want to get. Stuff. DONE., and having a little helper results in either a few extra steps, a few extra minutes, or a whole lot more patience (or more commonly, all three).

Here’s what she really likes to do, in order of preference;

- Put the little soap tab thingie in the little door in the dishwasher. If you buy the stuff that pours, and you’re going to have a toddler around any time soon, switch now. This is her very favoritest thing in the whole world, and it makes her feel like a total big shot. One caveat – she did eat one or two in the beginning, and I still have to keep an eye on her to make sure she’s not pocketing one as a snack to barf up later. But it’s very cute, she gets it out after carefully selecting the exact perfect one, sets it in a very particular position in its little home, closes the little door, and then closes the big dishwasher door. And then claps for herself while spinning in a circle screaming ‘Yah yah yah!’
- Put wet laundry into the dryer. This is a good one because she use to be a little afraid of the washer and dryer, so it’s nice that they all get along now. I especially like to have her help with her stuff since, hey, might as well get her use to it before she goes off to college. She’s good with any little items, like socks or her shirts or washcloths, and she’s very funny about making sure everything is nicely tucked in there.
- Close doors. Just make sure to remind them to WATCH YOUR FINGERS!!!! Otherwise this isn’t as much fun.
- Get the mail. It’s nice to get outside and get some fresh air, even briefly, and I hoist her up to the mailbox and let her pull it out and drop it all over the ground. Then we go back inside and sort it, and read through the catalogs and talk about stuff. I feel like it helps with language exposure (how else would she learn the word ‘gauchos’?), and it’s a nice quiet bonding activity when she first gets home before I start dinner. I read something that taking a few minutes like this helps avoid the screaming and meltdowns when the food prep starts, and it does seem to work sometimes.
- Clean up toys. I need to be better about this, mostly so that I can help her learn to pick her crap up but also because then I won’t sigh so much when I look at how messy my house is. I bought two huge tubs with rope handles at BJ’s, $7 for both, and toys get pitched in there. It’s easier and way less time-consuming than the prettier and more organized little colored-buckets-shelf thing. She’s also really good about putting away her crayons, but not so much the fridge magnets all over the kitchen floor.

Ok, now the advice time.
Here’s my issue – I don’t want to be a counter. You know what I mean; the person who says, ‘If you don’t blah blah blah (clean up your toys/come put on your shoes/stop putting that candy cane in your nose/get out of the bathtub this freaking second) by the count of three, I’m going to count to three all over again and then still won’t do anything’. Counters make me crazy. Admittedly, there are some people who count who then actually do something, but they are few and far between. I vowed I would never be a counter, but it’s REALLY hard not to do! So there’s Jenny, la la la la la, looking over her shoulder at me and smiling as I sit getting madder by the second with a clean diaper in my outstretched hands waiting for her to meander over to me like a docile little lamb. She sings to herself, and plays with her toys, and wanders around some more, and I simmer. The first time I ask nicely, with a ‘please’. The second time there’s no please. The third time I use her full name and my angry voice, and then I have to go get her. I’m not interested in spanking, so what else is there to do to make this a ‘significant emotional event’ so that she learns she should listen to her mother? My mum says that even asking three times is too much for a toddler, that she should get one chance and then I should give her a little swat on the hand or something. Ugh. Yes, I’m happy that she’s independent and this is an important milestone, yippee. I don’t want her to jump in fear when she hears my voice, and I don’t want her to respond like a trained animal. I just want her to get her pudgy butt moving when I need her to. So what can I do?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like OMG WHEN IS CHRISTMAS?!!!!!

Man, has it been forever or what? Blog? Huh? Where?

I’m not going to make any promises about writing more since my product has recently begun barfing all over the place and doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon, but I felt like I needed to come and post and share and all that good stuff. I also posted two items I wrote a few weeks ago but never got around to posting because, for some reason, I have been hesitant to post. Why? Who knows what goes through the mind of a crazy woman stressed out beyond belief about work and working herself into a mess over Christmas.

I recently did another drive to Canada, which always gives me a good 20 hours (times two) alone with my thoughts. No, not really alone, since Jelly is in the backseat, but since the invention of the ‘Car DVD Player’, aka ‘OMG BABY CRACK’, I might as well be on my own for that drive. Jelly is such a freaking good traveler. She didn’t even poo in the car at all, waited til we got to the hotel or our destinations. Which was good, because at one horrible point I changed her on the floor in the middle of the dining area in a Wendy’s. With the exception of some seriously bad weather (as in, 'Well, despite the fact we are currently stalled across four lanes of traffic, at least we didn't go over that snowy cliff), the drive was fine.

Jenny was VERY happy to be home but has a new little habit that shows the trip got to her. Now every time she leaves a room she has to say good-bye to each and every thing in it, as though she will never see it ever again. It's a little heart-wrenching, except that it really is EVERY SINGLE THING. Like, 'buh-bah, tee' (for 'good-bye, Christmas tree, I've known you such a short time but I dearly love you and will miss you with every ounce of my being and OMG IT'S MORNING AND YOU'RE STILL HERE THAT IS SO FREAKING AWESOME!!!'). So it's making me a little nutty and I've had to add 10 minutes to the pre-nap and bedtime routine so that the coffee table and front door get the attention they deserve.

We are doing our best to get ready for the impending holiday season (oh, wait, it's here? whaa?), and managed to get lights up and bows on the porch columns and Jellybean picked out a nice tree.

Look at me, I'm walkin' in mah boots, I'm such a busy baby.

I am so far behind on baking and cleaning. My bedroom floor is not so much 'carpeted' as 'strewn with clean and dirty laundry in equal measure'. Isn't that one of the days of Christmas? I am trying to get together last-minute gifts for all my service friends who never get presents any more in this crazy day and age, like the garbage men/recycling guys (Starbucks and homemade cookie baskets), my lawn guy (Wal-Mart gift certificate), mail man (homemade fudge), plus I think I might give a random annonymous gift certificate to one of my nearby neighbors who lives in this tiny little singlewide trailer with two kids. I got a little Christmas bonus this year so am trying to spread it around, since so many people are so much harder up than me. Also, I don't want my good money karma to swing around; it's to the point of ridiculous now. Two months ago I was selling stuff on Craigslist to pay my electric bill, and last week I found $40 that someone left in an ATM (for the record, I called my bank and they said there was nothing they could do about it and I should keep it but thanks for my honesty - I feel bad for that person).

Jellybean met Santa, and decided she preferred him from a distance. Fair enough. I gave up when I realized I was bribing her with candy to sit on a stranger's lap, and that was just not cool. I can't argue with her instincts, he was a little weird (ie, 'stoned').

So we're just plodding along, adjusting to her new daycare provider (which means sobbing twice/daily for Jelly and a super crappy drive twice/daily in traffic for me, who has not had to sit in commuter traffic for like almost 4 years) and doing the bare minimum so we don't end up on 'Hoarders'. Eh, we're (mostly) clean and healthy and happy, what more can we ask for?

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

I'm paying attention to the presentation, I swear

**Please note: This post is a few weeks old

Have you ever had a dream that was really super-realistic, and you woke up and thought, ‘Man, that was a really realistic dream!’, and then a unicorn ran past or you suddenly were swimming in chocolate syrup, and THEN you woke up? That’s how this whole past month has felt like. It’s hard to explain, but I think it has something to do with the fact that I’ve slept in like 15 different places in the past few weeks, and have been constantly packing/unpacking/repacking, and there’s been this super-weird mix of work/personal (parents visiting while I went on a work trip, bookend visit with parents on another work trip, etc.). I just looked around the room (me and 14 guys, where are all these women in the workplace I’ve heard about?) and thought, ‘Where the heck am I? Where’s Jenny?’. It’s very disconcerting. Last night I slept in a swank downtown Toronto hotel, ate dinner out and did some shopping. Tonight I’ll have a roast with my parents and baby, and sleep in the bed I had in high school. Tomorrow I’ll be in a small-town hotel in Pennsylvania, exhausted after a day of driving. Then I’ll be back at home, in my own bed, prepping for a busy work week and Jenny’s first day at a new daycare and trying to find time to get a Christmas tree and decorations up.

I don’t know if it’s just me and my incredible lack of focus, but I find it hard to pay attention to what’s at-hand at times like this. There are so many other things to be thinking about; remember to get the GPS out of the bag in the trunk of my car, which is back at the hotel in the parking garage on level B3. Don’t forget to do Jenny’s laundry and include bathing suits in a small bag for the pool at the hotel when we’re on the way home. And, uh, shave my damn legs this time. Get some of those scrumptious little marshmallow strawberries that for whatever reason are only found in Ontario. Send my edits for the upcoming product release notes, due hours ago, when I have internet access again tonight. Follow up with the Engineering team on what’s been dropped from the release, and what our revised beta plan is. Reschedule my dentist appointment. Make sure I have our passports. Confirm the babysitter for the show Dre and I are attending next week. Get to the bank. Will need groceries as soon as I’m home. Check the tires before I get on the road. Arghhhhhh. I hate that I get ahead of myself sometimes and can’t just be in the moment. Especially since I should really, REALLY be paying attention to this meeting. Which is SO. BORING.

I’m getting lots of grief about not spending Christmas in Canada with my family, and part of me is incredibly disappointed that I won’t get to see my niece and nephew, and hang out with my sisters. But a part of me is still excited that it will be just me and Jenny, and that we’ll get a good night’s sleep, and not have the stress of travel or the chaos of relatives. I feel like I haven’t seen her in forever, and it’s only been four days. The good news is, she’s had a LOT of fun with the grandparents; they got a little bit of snow and built a snowman with her, and put up their tree which made her LOSE HER MIND, and she’s eaten better and slept better there than at home in months. The bad news is, she won’t get to see them again for six months. SIX MONTHS. Well, 5 ½. But still. Thankfully she’s got a great Ta and Aunt Jen and lots of other people who love her in Raleigh. But they’re not Uncle Dancey, whom she’s grown VERY attached to, and who makes her positively howl with laughter.

So the next few weeks will be very work-busy, and Christmas-busy, and I’m already looking forward to some long weekends at the end of the month. And the best thing about this flurry of travel is that I’m wicked excited to settle back into my boring ol’ routine of weeknight Tivo ‘n Snacking and weekend Errands and Lunch With Ta/Playdates with the CSMs. Normalcy – mmmmmmmm.

Oh, and of course Jellybean was A TOTAL ROCKSTAR in the car. That kid is so freaking great.

The iPhone Review

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post that was neither baby-related, nor me whining on and on about my life in general and hardly saying anything about my baby at all. I try not to bore everyone who is only here for Jellybean details with miscellaneous other stuff, like how I’m excited I fit into a smaller size jeans recently (*edit – Uh, not so much anymore, after a visit from my parents and real non-Cheerios meals and then a week in Toronto on an expense account and a different awesome Thai restaurant every night) and how much I’ve secretly loved not having the nanny here anymore. However, I have a new love in my life and am just so darn happy that I had to share.

Before you get too excited, remember I titled this post ‘The iPhone Review’, not ‘OMG I FINALLY MET A DUDE’. I’ve been a Nokia girl for a very long time (even had the crazy 3650 with the circular key pad), and my N75 recently drifted off while I gently cradled it. Or, more accurately, the stupid power/lock/settings button broke a spring or a pin or something, and since that was pretty necessary to the general day-to-day functioning of the phone, I decided it was time to move on. Random strangers on the street have been peer-pressuring me for quite some time about the sly little i-device. Knowing my love of all things geek-y and make-life-easier-y, more than one person suggested I join the cult. Despite the fact that I tend to be an early adopter of some things, as far as cellular devices go I’m usually slow and steady. I’ve been doing lots of reading and news-watching of the iPhone for quite some time; I watched friends pay first-car amounts for early models, observed hackers jailbreaking (and consequently bricking) more than once, and was quietly jealous of a few really cool apps.

What made me decide to finally go for it? I was looking at buying a Garmin, and was fretting I wouldn’t have it before my next Canada roadtrip. Garmins are expensive. The iPhone has GPS. I saw how many awesome kids’ apps there were, and our gal Jelly loves her some cell phone. I got sick and tired of not being able to check email or movie times or anything browser-necessary. And I should be getting some Christmas money here soon, so I figured why not.

First, I gotta say it’s really, really awesome. Like, really. Just alone, on its own, with no downloaded/purchased apps, it’s a great piece of technology. Pretty, fast, functional. I still prefer a phone that feels like a phone, but this is no phone. It’s a space-aged communication device, and there are some things you just let go of when you have so many other things making up for it. Granted, there are some irritating ‘why can’t it do that?’ types of issues, that pop up when I least expect it. You get so use to performing certain tasks and finger taps that you come to a screeching halt when you can’t save a pdf attachment from your email, or copy/paste it somewhere else (I was trying to insert the upcoming local Christmas parade route into my Calendar reminder, obviously quite critical). And the camera is pretty crappy. But as far as what you CAN do – pretty sweet.

I’ve tried very hard to not go overboard with downloading apps, and have thus far been fairly successful (on this, our 1-month anniversary, only $22.70 spent thus far!). I find it interesting how little overlap I have among friends. It’s very telling about how personalized each phone becomes, which I think is the biggest draw of having one. I tried to keep the majority of the applications in the under-a-dollar category, if not free, and there have only been two that have fallen outside of that; an RPG I couldn’t live without because I’m a big dork, and Jamie Oliver’s cooking app (because I would pay any amount of money for anything he does, because he’s bloody brilliant and totally smoking hot). I’ve also tried to keep them organized, and are so far broken down into the following categories; Main Page (use frequently, like Phone and Email and Messaging etc.), Jenny (games and stupidity like ‘shake the phone and it will sound like a choo-choo and your kid will go freaking bonkers even though it was free and you paid all kinds of money for other stupid apps that she hates’), Games (stupidity for me, like Cow Bell), Functions (for travel, for shopping, for cooking etc.), and Tools (Flashlight, Calculator, Lighter). I’ve only had the phone one week so haven’t had a chance to get out and use a lot of the stuff yet, but I figure starting with next week’s business trip I’ll use the heck out of them and come back and do another review. (*edit – As I mentioned, I’ve had it a few months now, so have revised my top favorite apps based on some actual road-testing)

So far, based on what I’ve downloaded (and I’ve already uninstalled a few items), here are my Top 10 personal favorite apps:

• FastContacts
• Maps (great as a simple local GPS; I decided I didn't like having my GPS and the iDevice in one unit, and The Ta sold me her Garmin for a steal)
• PackingPro
• Choo Choo
• Baby Piano
• Monkey Ball
• Grocery Gadget
• Yelp/AroundMe (I still haven't decided which one I like more; each one can yield different, extremely handy results. So for now I'm keeping both and we'll see how it goes)
• Alarm Clock
• Voice Memo/Dragon Dictation (still playing with these, but like that they're free and I can grab the phone and do a quick, 'Note to self')

I don’t like news, so there aren’t any news apps, although I’ve been told there are lots of great ones. I tried out TripIt and liked it, but didn't love it - I think there should have been more it could do as far as links and flight delays and stuff like that. I'll keep an eye on it. Leave me a comment if you want more details about any of these or how to find the exact versions. If you're my cousin reading this and your name is 'Jen', don't be horrified by this list. They are the things I use all the time that make life easier, I still have plenty of other crap on it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tired With a Chance of Impatient

Sooooo… yeah. Busy times, here. Little sleeping and lots of frantic preparation for the upcoming month of birthday parties, family visits, work travel, and holiday prep. My parents and brother arrive Friday (yay!), then next week I’ve got to fly out to Arkansas for a client site visit. I get back and we spend a few days getting hair cuts, some more professional pics for Jelly, her 18-mo checkup, the local Santa Claus parade, and then it’s off to Charlotte for Thanksgiving with some cousins. From there I’m driving up to Canada again with The Bean, because I am a crazy person and it’s been long enough that I’ve blocked out the incredible agony of that trip, and I have a client meeting in Toronto that is only an hour or so away from my folks so they incredibly agreed to watch her yet again. Then it’s the drive back, and hopefully throw a tree and some decorations up, and host a holiday party, and then it’s off to Boston for a week to the corporate office. And then it’s Christmas, and then I lay down and die, and finally get some sleep, the end.

Jellybean for some reason has continued to wake up around 4:30-5:30, fall asleep for another hour at most, and be up for the day. It’s brutal. I think I functioned better when she was a newborn. Ha ha! I’m funny. No, really, I’m once again totally brain dead and exhausted all the time, plus there are a gazillion different viruses going around that my system is constantly fighting. Little Snotty doesn’t help by licking random things and shoving them in my mouth. I’m back to Cheerios for dinner (they should have some sort of marketing campaign, ‘The Single Mother’s Meal’), which isn’t the most balanced diet, but it’s neutral and quick and easy and Jenny is guaranteed to want to eat half of mine so she’s at least getting something in the evening. The early rising is either a case of 'I'm Starving Because I Positively Refuse to Eat Dinner But Want a Gallon of Milk Two Seconds Before Bed' (which results in a ravenously hungry and soaking wet baby), or 'Why You Got To Keep This Damn House So Cold, Beyotch?' (baby is either cold, or too hot because I've put her in 19 layers of jammies and onesies and put a dangerous space heater on 'Grill' in her room because I'm freaked out that she will be cold).

I am ridiculously excited for the holidays, but am conflicted because work is just so grody. My Engineering Product Manager AND his boss just quit because of the craziness that is the upcoming December release, and you can imagine how awesome that makes my life. Anyone going to own this train wreck? Bueller? I feel like Jenny has had an unfair share of grumpy mama the past few weeks, despite continuing to be the relatively good-natured and well-behaved toddler that she is. Thank god I work from home and don’t have to get myself presentable, or have to be on time to an office after dropping her off at daycare. It is remarkably painful trying to get out the door in the morning, and I’m so short-tempered that a sudden mysterious disappearance of a shoe is THE END OF THE WORLD. I am keeping my crap in check, but I’m doing a lot of ‘get a grip on yourself!’ conversations in my head and taking a lot of Tylenol. Everything is just hard when you’re tired, know what I mean? The Halloween party we went to was a lot of fun, but my ears were ringing and I was nauseous and dizzy from lack of sleep, so that made the whole trick-or-treating experience sort of anti-climactic. Jellybean was great, though, hauling her fat little butt up those stairs and stretching to ring the doorbells all by herself. She had a blast. But now that the candy is gone she keeps asking for 'treat?' hopefully after dinner, and sobs when none are forthcoming.

Things I Feel Guilty About Today:
  1. I'm phoning it in with the meals lately. Or, still. It's just so darn irritating when I spend an hour preparing something and an hour cleaning up and all that happens is Jenny cries like I'm torturing her and stuff gets thrown out. She does seem to enjoy clementines, though, and I figure that's some good vitamin C, so it's not totally bad. I just think that if I ate better I'd feel better, have more energy, the world would magically become simpler, etc.

  2. Money spent on Christmas stuff. Yes, there are a batrillion other things I should be spending my money on. But - Christmas! Shiny! Happy!
  3. The dirtiest house in the world. I am trying to get bits and pieces done in the evenings, but that's also my only Jelly time, so then I feel guilt that I am ignoring her or that her mommy time is spent sitting on the floor by herself looking at books while I wash linens and swipe at toilets and ignore dusty window sills. Thank god my mum isn't all judge-y and won't criticize me if stuff doesn't get done, that would suck.

I don't know how much posting I'm going to get done in the next month or so, so please don't be upset and go away and never come back. I'm sure there will be PLENTY of stories after the holidays that will thrill and titilate. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll want to read the blog again and again. It will be just like 'Cats'.

Some Jellybean goodness coming your way;

Monday, October 26, 2009

This Is Halloween

I like to think that summer is my favorite season. I love the beach; warm sand under my feet, cool waves rocking me, a lazy benevolent sun on my face. I do not, however, like sweating. I don’t like $200+ A/C bills every month. And I don’t like a scorched, angry acrid air that punches you in the face when you attempt to walk out your door. So I may need to rethink this whole summer thing (check back in with me again in February, though).

Autumn doesn’t really get properly moving in North Carolina until late October. It’s a little slower, and a little more unpredictable than other locales. One day it’s 54, the next it’s 82. But when it finally makes up its mind to be sensible and settles down around 67-68 degrees, that’s when I’m happy. The house is cool at night, and I sleep better. I’ve finally been able to have a few al fresco meals, and drinks with friends in a sweet evening breeze. This body is made for jeans and sweatshirts, not shorts and tank tops, and I don’t faint with heat exhaustion toting Jellybean around.

This past weekend was the local mommies ‘Trunk or Treat’ event. For those of you unfamiliar with such a notion, it’s like tailgating for a sporting event but with less beer and more music and unsupervised children. Actually, the kids at the soiree this year were pretty well tended. Everyone seemed to be having a fun time, despite the suspicious amount of weird squeeze-tetra applesauce-like product. Jenny’s favorite treats were definitely the lollipops, although I had a moment of concern watching her run down a hill with one in her mouth. And I did lick some grass and lint off for her, which I thought was pretty gracious of me. I didn’t get as much time to hang out with my favorite cool mommies as I’d like, since I was Jelly-wrangling most of the time. That’s the frustrating thing about a non-contained event. But there were some cool costumes, and we got to see friends, and we didn’t roast like last year. And Jenny learned the joy of eating too much candy and not eating a single bite of dinner, which is very important.

This coming weekend will be another Halloween party, this time with my hacker friends. A couple who moved to Atlanta will be staying with us, with their baby in tow, and I can’t wait to see them! Hopefully Jelly will refrain from poking him in the eye, which she seems to like to do to some babies. I am going to take her trick-or-treating with some of the partygoers and then try to put her down to sleep there. I’ll let you know how that works out.

Speaking of sleep and not getting any, she’s had a nasty little cold and, despite me and Vick’s teaming up to do our best to keep her breathing at night, for whatever reason she’s woken up earlier and earlier the past few days. Saturday was 6:30, Sunday was 6, and this morning was 5:15. Yep, you read that correctly. Although it was partially my own stupid fault, because I woke up to pee and decided it was too cold and OMG THINK OF THE CHILDREN and went in to cover her up. Which of course woke her up and made her furious. I pulled her into my nice toasty warm bed in the hopes that she would be lulled back to sleep by my regret and sleep-deprived frustration, but no such luck. It’s a 9 pm bedtime for me tonight!

Here are some pics of my favorite pet.

Jelly hangs out with some friends, Kai-Lan and Oscar

She's a good sharer, my Jelly; 'Here, doggie, have some!'

Jelly and Jellybean Mama, in a rare photo together

And just in case you'd forgotten (or never saw) last year...

Happy Halloween, everyone!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Not You, It's Me

Omg I'm a terrible blogger. I've become the blog person I hate - get people interested, then leave 'em hanging. Will you ever forgive me? Are you even still checking? I'm sorry! Things have actually settled down a bit - Jenny is doing ok at the in-home daycare, but still cries when I drop her off so that stresses me out despite the fact I know that SHE'S FINE. Yes, normal separation anxiety, it's all very healthy, normal to be still adjusting, whatever. It's still a sad little face boo-hooing when I have to pry her off my leg. And I've been reminded that I still need to find a permanent solution come January. Which stresses me out all over again, especially when I realize that due to my parent's Thanksgiving visit and some work travel, Jelly won't need care for 3 weeks straight, and if I were smart I would have her finish at Miss N's in mid-November and start her in the new place when we get back in early December. Which would mean I would need to find her new place, uh, next week, prior to paying Miss N for November. I would personally prefer to pretend that I don't have to deal with any of this at all, and that childcare fairies will take care of things. Or I'll win lots of money despite never playing any sort of lottery.

I went on another lame internet date, and realized the problem is not the lame internet dudes - it's me. I like the nerdy boys, the nerdy boys aren't exactly social butterflies, therefore I get all irritated on dates when they don't ask me any questions about myself OR MY PRECIOUS BABY. Seriously, it's a game now. If an hour goes by, I casually mention her, let it hang there, and move on. Wait a few minutes, then do it again. So far, neither guy has asked me about my job, or Jellybean, or how I came to be such a gorgeous total package. It's making me crazy. Also, last night, my jeans were unzipped for most of dinner and I accidentally blew a snot bubble in mid-sentence. None of my pants fit right - I sit down, and the zipper gaps open. I was like, 'uh-oh, I'm out!'. Luckily I was wearing a long shirt so could make it to the restroom to wrangle some pants control. And blow my nose. It's this crazy weather, not my fault!

Work has stressed me out to the point of shut down, which is never a good thing. I play Facebook apps and wake up in the middle of the night from dreaming I've missed an important conference call. Any tips for re-focussing would be greatly appreciated (like, reminding me that it would really suck to lose my job maybe?).

Jenny continues to morph into a toddler. One day she LOVES something, the next she DESPISES it. This is true of television shows, food, ponies, clothes, toys, activities, and clocks. Yes, she hates the kitchen clock suddenly - I have to take it down from the wall and put it in the pantry or she won't eat that 1/2 piece of teeny tiny boiled carrot that she calls dinner. She's also throwing more temper tantrums, which personally is pretty hilarious. I'm not insensitive - I offer to lay down on the floor and cry and kick along with her. She does not think I'm funny. Her new favorite thing EVER! is to play in the car. She can get the keys in the ignition and turn on the radio, so I figure she's almost ready to move out on her own. Her language skills continue to explode - people's names, phrases. She likes to point at things and say, 'See!' to get my attention. Which is WAY better than grunting, and cute as a button.

The next few months are busy ones - it's apparently birthday party season in my awesome mommies group, and there's holiday stuff (Halloween, Thanksgiving - and then - CHRISTMAS!!!), and we went to the fair, and the cooler weather is freaking fantastic. Except for the extra boogers.

And now, to copy my sister, say 'Click'!

Monday, October 5, 2009

We're Still Standing. But Mostly Sitting, Because We're Lazy Like That.

Hello, internet friends, sorry to keep you waiting. Last week things kind of fell apart, even more so than I already wrote about - nanny and her son got sick, Jenny and I got sick, things at work fell apart, my stress level was through the roof. Anyhow, the barfing is now done with and I don't EVER want to see poor little Jellybean go through that again (dudes, seriously, it was SO. SAD.). Also, I would prefer to not have someone yammy down the front of my shirt again anytime soon. But this weekend we took it easy, did some Halloween decorating, and had lots of couch time, so physically we're better although mentally I'm still stress-headache-central. Tomorrow morning Jellybean and I are going to go hang out at Miss N's for a few hours, then on Wednesday she'll do a half day by herself, then Thursday will be her first full official day at her new in-home daycare up the street.

I will write more later this week after I have recovered from the trauma of nanny's final days and Jelly not being here.

And thank you, everyone. Thanks for the kind words and the advice and the offers of support and for listening to me and for worrying about Jellybean right along with me. It's comforting to be reminded that I don't really carry this alone. And there are lots of voices of reason out there, and you're all totally right.

And now, some pictures of my totally crazy child to make you smile on a Monday:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Today I am Angry

Yesterday was a bad day. Yes, it was a Monday, and Mondays traditionally kinda like to slap us around a bit. But at 8:30 am on a bright and sunny fall morning I was not prepared for my awesome nanny, the person who makes my daughter light up when she enters a room, the person who has rocked and walked and carried my most precious Jellybean for over a year – I was not prepared for her to quit.

I of course was busy doing 857 things; making a frittata for everyone for breakfast (because that’s just the kind of terrific employer I am), unloading the dishwasher, checking email, etc. She set down her son and said, ‘I need to talk to you about something’, and I figured it was just another reminder about one of the things I continually do wrong, or that she needed more time off to visit her Baby Daddy or something. No, she wanted to talk to me about how frustrated she was, and how the hours were no longer working out for her, and how she couldn’t continue making less than minimum wage. It was obvious that it wasn’t going to be a negotiation kind of talk; much like I tend to do, she had obviously been stewing about things for some time and had made up her mind.

Not that there was anything I could really say; I work 8:30-5:30, like 8,000,000 other people, and that couldn’t change. Despite the fact that most days I let her leave at 4:30 and struggled to finish my work with a frustrated Bean trying to get my attention, it wasn’t enough. Despite the fact that THOSE WERE HER CONTRACTED HOURS. Despite the fact that she was able to use whatever time she needed during the day for her own appointments and personal errands, long lunches with friends or shopping or going to her house and doing whatever needed to be done. Despite the fact she was averaging 8 weeks of vacation a year, plus any and all sick or personal days off she asked for.

And yes, the money was terrible, I’ve always been totally open about that, right from the very first interview. I am a single mom and I technically ran out of my nanny budget 3 months ago; I’ve used up my savings and have been putting groceries on credit cards just to keep her as long as possible. But I always made sure she had gas money, and paid for any memberships or lessons or activities she asked for, for both Jellybean AND her son. I paid for their breakfast, lunch, and snacks, which had a surprisingly large impact on my bills. I bought her son toys, and clothes, and was generous at birthdays and the holidays. And most of all, for three hours every afternoon while my baby slept, she was effectively paid to play with her own non-napping son. She was not responsible for any cleaning, or laundry, or any other chores. Ask me how happy I’ve been about taking out diapers for her baby for a year!

Ok, sorry about that, I get a little defensive when I think about it, and how she’s behaving now.

The contract we drew up states that we were to give each other a month’s notice, but she wants to go back to school, and the class she wants to enroll in starts in just under two weeks. TWO WEEKS. Yes, I could point to the contract, and did mention that, and her response was that the next class wasn’t for two months, and that she would stay if she had to but would be miserable. Well, thanks for that, I sure would love to have someone terribly unhappy caring for my child. And that is a lovely way to express your gratitude, especially since I had offered to write a nice letter of recommendation for whatever you do next.

So yesterday I was shaky, and weepy, and felt a huge loss, and tremendous guilt and I toured less-than-satisfactory daycares and spoke to unreliable home daycare providers and became even more despondent and had several raging headaches and couldn’t sleep last night.

Today I am angry.

I am angry because every single day, five days a week, for the past year, I have been extremely conscious about providing a good working environment for this person. I have continually overlooked lateness, and questionable behaviors, and a thousand other little things because I knew that regardless, she was taking great care of Jenny. I worked late at night and early in the morning to make sure the house was clean. The fridge and pantry were always stocked with foods she liked. I am a terrible boss at the best of times, but with her I thought carefully about every word that came out of my mouth, every action, because I knew it directly affected The Bean. And it wasn’t good enough for her. I feel betrayed, and disrespected, and resentful. And worse yet, I’m pretty sure she feels the same way.

But you know, I didn’t change the rules. I can’t help the fact that at 21 years of age, the grass is always greener somewhere else. And really, it’s probably better this way, because I was going to have to face letting her go when the creditors started calling, and that tough decision has been made for me. I think Jelly would likely thrive in a daycare environment; she’s sociable, and flexible, and happy to please, which are perfect characteristics for a likeable little Toddler Class enrollee. And if worse comes to worse, I’ve got a line on an in-home provider who could take Jenny right away, even though she isn’t sure yet if she’d like to do it permanently. Yes, there are still lots of worries; what am I going to do about night care when I have to travel next, and ugh, the thought of getting up an hour earlier and fighting traffic to do drop-offs and pickups. Letting go of the ridiculous guilt about not being able to afford another nanny, and the overwhelming sorrow at the thought of not having Jenny directly downstairs every day for me to run and kiss and nuzzle. The sadness of Jenny losing a brother, and a surrogate mother.

And yet… I get my house back. I get a realistic budget back. Jenny isn’t listening to a screamer all day long, someone who hits her when she tries to lovingly pat his head, or takes her toys and taunts her. I can stop running a half-empty dishwasher, and have the temperature set where I like it, and the furniture placed where I want it.

In spite of it all, it’s a member of the family saying good-bye, and it’s a sad, scary thing.

NOTE: Some of you know my soon-to-be ex-nanny. Some of you may, in fact, have an upcoming scheduled playdate with her later this week (so jealous!). If you see her, please do not say anything like, ‘OMG, I totally read all about everything on the internets!’. I may be upset, but I would not want to do anything to make nanny feel bad. Please continue with business as usual and respect her privacy. And have fun.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No Daddy Yet

Well, it’s official. I am a busy working, DATING, single mama.
For those of you who may not understand the significance of this, it’s not just that it’s scary and expensive and exhausting and lame to be dating as a mother; it’s that it’s my first date since my ex. And my ex and I broke up on September 16.


So it’s, uh, been a little while.
The good news is, I’ve apparently developed an extremely healthy positive attitude about the misery that is online dating. Previously, I would be all stressed out about him and me and rejection and him being a loser and me having a fat ass and expectations and those kinds of things. Now, I figure, I’m paying for a sitter so screw everything else, I’m sure as heck going to enjoy myself, even if it is a total bomb. And oh, boy, was last night’s nuclear.

First of all, I knew in advance he had ‘some’ tattoos. I took ‘some’ to mean, ‘a very discreet and tastefully done miniature caricature of Calvin and Hobbes, or the equivalent’. Not full arm sleeves, back of neck, legs, god knows where. Secondly, he was wearing those baggy skater shorts that ride low and go to the knees. Kind of an odd choice for a 31-year old on a first date to a nice restaurant. Thirdly, he was wearing some sort of bird head on a necklace. Intriguing, yes. Appealing, no. Now, I don’t appreciate being judged solely on appearance, and I work very hard to avoid doing just that to others. So I was willing to look past these minor surface imperfections and discover his beautiful soul or whatever.

We sat down at the Japanese-themed dinner table and I ordered the hibachi dinner. You know, soup, salad with ginger dressing, the rice and noodles and chicken and zucchini/onions, the whole deal. He ordered a sushi roll. ONE ROLL. Four little teensy itsy-bitsy pieces. And he’s a few hundred pounds, so I kinda raised an eyebrow and had to ask. Oh, why, why am I such a curious person?

Apparently my date had once weighed 490 lbs. As a result, he went into liver failure and had to have ½ of it, plus his duodenum, removed. And now he can only eat little bits, very, very, VERY slowly. Like, over two painful hours. I was initially shocked at hearing the word ‘duodenum’ during pleasant dinner conversation, but recovered well and said lots of things about how strong he was and how awesome for losing weight, which sadly led to him explaining in detail his upcoming skin removal surgery. That led to a story about a prior back injury, where he had developed an addiction to pain meds and spiraled downwards until he was buying Oxycodone on the streets and ended up spending time in a methodone clinic.

Dude, seriously, what do you say to that?! I said very brightly, ‘Well, I hear those clinics do wonders!’ in a slightly nervous and falsely chipper kind of voice.

Those were the highlights of the conversation. Other fun facts that came out about my date included narcolepsy and complete and utter self-involvement. Not once did he ask me a question about my job, my life, my beautiful and most-precious-thing-in-the-whole-world-to-me daughter, or fantastic hair. Oh, and his artistic glass-blowing job? He makes BONGS.

But you know what – I got out. I did it. I took a chance, and I put myself out there, and at the very least I showered and had a good meal. I opened myself up to experience greatness but got a heaping portion of good ol’ fashioned crazy. So what? It was hilarious. It was an extremely one-sided conversation, but it was extremely entertaining. How many other first dates include a story about a 500-lb Man-Eating Chicken freak show where the punch line is your date, in his underwear, mowing through some KFC? That’s great story value there, my friends. And that’s something that you can’t buy. It has to be earned.

If you are married, please be nice to your husband today. You don’t have to do this.

Happy Autumn!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just Jenny

Check it out, a late-afternoon Friday blog post! Maybe you should wish on it, since it's something you so rarely see...

Catching up on my blogs earlier today, I chanced upon an interesting post about a pair of parents who changed their son’s name when he was one. Now, the very sweet person who posted was very polite, but as you all know I am not, I personally have a few issues with the name change shenanigans; firstly, poor little Ralphy was old enough to ‘know’ his name, so it was probably confusing for him. Although, people who adopt older children sometimes do this, and I guess the kids somehow manage to make it to adulthood. So maybe it’s not as emotionally damaging as I think. Secondly, they originally named him ‘Ralph’, which was just silly on their part, because he is neither friends with The Fonz nor in A Christmas Story. Lastly, the fantastic new name that they struggled over for AT LEAST a year is ‘Huxley’. Which, while literate, is bad news for a playground bully spoiling for a fight. Also, I would inexplicably want to call him ‘Huxtable’.
No matter what you think about people and their crazy naming (hey, at least they didn’t go with ‘Hitler’, right?), picking a name for another person, let alone a stranger you barely know, is a cruel task for a hormonal woman. I started remembering the oceans of anxiety I waded through before I decided on Jennifer Jillian R.. And realized I don’t think I ever shared the full list of reasons with anyone.

So here's why I went with what I did, instead of Isabella or Madeline or Alora:

1. My other top choices were all in the Top 10 most popular girl's names. Jennifer isn't even in the Top 100 anymore. Surprising, huh?
2. I think it’s just plain mean to give an innocent baby a name that you like because of a movie, video game, novel, ice cream flavor, capital city, or fashion accessory. I would love, LOVE to have a daughter named ‘Alora’ (the baby princess from the movie ‘Willow’), but that’s just not right in my mind to do. I know someone who named her baby ‘Juicy’. I think that you should have to take your list of potential names and a.) Page them slowly and loudly over a public intercom somewhere busy, at Christmas time; b.) Draft potential resumes; c.) Share them with a selection of teachers, and d.) Try to buy a personalized mini plastic license plate.
If you find yourself wanting to die of embarrassment, can’t pronounce/spell the name properly, chose the name in a haze of alcohol/drugs/post-partum, realize you are breaking your future child’s heart, or have people send you angry letters, maybe you should rethink that name.
3. I wanted a family name so that my daughter could feel that connection, especially since she only has maternal family; my closest cousin and birth coach is a Jennifer, and Jellybean’s initials are the same as my father’s.
4. Her name had to be something easily nicknamed (Jennifer Jillian Jellybean, Junior), easily spelled in kindergarten (Jenny), flexible (Jen, Jennie, JJ), and not spell anything weird as an acronym. It couldn’t be easily made fun of, rhyme with any naughty body parts or funny odors, or be unfashionable within the year.
5. It had to be functional for both a baby and a lawyer/doctor/President/Prime Minister.
6. I didn’t want to have to spell it over the phone a million times, or have her have to spell it. We already have to spell our last name. But guess what, there are now so many variations of ‘Jenny’ that I spell it anyhow. So annoying. People repeat it back to me, like, ‘Really? You don’t mean ‘Jenalyah’ or ‘Ginni’ or ‘Jinxy’?’ Argh, no, just Jenny, people.
7. At this point I do have to admit that one of my favorite ‘Buffy’ characters was Jenny.
8. I also have to admit that sometimes, I call Jelly ‘Izzybeau’ or ‘Maddy’ just to see if I made a terrible mistake. Because no matter what name you choose, you will at some point doubt yourself.
9. All the Jens that I know are strong, independent, beautiful women. Have you ever met a Jen that picks her nose, or can’t drive a stick shift? I don’t think so.
10. That’s who she was.

Just Jenny

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Also, I'm a Jerk

I TOTALLY forgot that one of my readers gave me a blog award! Like, a bazillion years ago. I remembered last night, when I was thinking of yet another post that I'd forget by the morning. So thank you, and sorry, and look, it's in my sidebar finally! Yay!

Please don't take it back because I'm a bad award winner. I promise I will try to do better. I will try to think of some folks to nominate right after I get around to taking care of my outstanding 'pay it forward' debts...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Too-Short Long Weekend

Oh, my poor little woefully neglected blog. Alas, my lonely bored woefully neglected fans. I am so sorry for letting you down! How was I to know that work would BLOW. UP. IN. MY. FACE? And when I least expected, too, in September! Why is everyone suddenly crazy? Some people have the flu, some people are still trying to drag out summer vacations, parents are freaking out about school starting, we are planning for a December release that is going to go horribly wrong and I’m like, ‘Uh, December is when Christmas is, better be NOBODY messing with Christmas’. My boss is all stressed out and grumpy all the time, my coworkers are overloaded and freaking out; is it still recession fallout? I read something somewhere that said the recession has not only caused layoffs, but productivity issues; people are having to take on more, and are scared and irritated, so doing less. I don’t know, but it needs to change. Mama needs a little downtime during her day. Farkle misses her.

Jelly and The Ta and I returned yesterday from a glorious, 3-day long weekend in scenic downtown Wilmington. The Hilton was a little noisy at times (rotten children running the halls at 1am, perfume-y bridesmaids stinking up the place at 2am, my baby squealing with hysterical glee every time we hit the lobby because she knew it meant either a.) Swimming pool or b.) Breakfast) but was comfy, filled with nice staff who fell all over themselves to rub Jellybean’s head and back (seriously), and had some very breakable stuff in the bathroom (Jelly didn't break a single thing; The Ta would start breaking something and I would finish it). Disappointingly, they do not deliver room service to residential homes in Raleigh, which is a shame, because their Crème Brule Cheesecake was SO GOOD. So good. I’m going to take a moment to think about it again while you look at the updated videos in the sidebar…
We got in around 3ish on Friday afternoon, after a did-the-zombies-invade-and-we-were-too-busy-fighting-to-notice? freakish absence of traffic. Apparently word got out that it was suppose to be rainy and miserable, so the less housebound tourists cancelled plans. We totally lucked out with weather – it was a little overcast, but we had sun and 82 degrees on Saturday morning when we dipped Jellyfish in the ocean for her first salt water, and the rain held off until we left yesterday morning in a flurry of unbuttoned pants and discarded juice boxes.

Despite the fact that BOTH The Ta and I were experiencing the joy that is being a bloody, bloody girl, we managed to not murder each other. Although we did quite narrowly avoid a terrible accident because we were arguing about whether or not a massive tractor trailer was going to hit us or not (for the record – yes, it was going to hit us, so I was wrong. But at least I was the one who had the sense to say, ‘Well, honk your horn!’ before it did hit). I managed to get a pretty bad migraine on Saturday afternoon, but luckily it got really bad right as my good-as-gold napper went to sleep, so I was able to lay and shake and chatter and try not to barf without ruining any major plans.

We ate at a variety of restaurants with a wide range of success. Jellybean is going through some sort of phase where she will apparently only eat French fries, bar cherries, or whipped cream for dinner, so I wasted some bucks on food she either ignored, threw, or massaged into her scalp. The place that had the shortest wait and nicest staff was sadly also the most disgusting meal I’ve ever consumed. I never knew that fried rice could be gray. Probably the best thing I had was Jellybean’s entrée the first night; she had some awesome seasoned fries and delicious popcorn shrimp that were ignored (the night of the bar cherries meal). But hey, I didn’t have to cook any of it or go shopping for any of it or most importantly, clean up after any of it.
If you asked Jellybean what her favorite part of the trip was, she’d have a tough time deciding. The Children’s Museum was kinda lame, but she enjoyed the few activities they did have. The beach wasn’t as great as the lake, due to the constant and cruel saline punches delivered by some pretty forceful waves. I bet she’d say it was a tie between the sleepover parties and the pool. Every evening and at least once during the day we’d all go for a nice cool relaxing swim. There were usually other kids to watch and play with, or she would simply enjoy some time spent playing on the steps. She did some awesome kicking swimming around with Tata, and was extremely brave about jumping off the side (much to my terror). The night swimming was followed up by cozy jammies and milk under the fluffy duvets. We’d pick out something inane on pay-per-view with either Sandra Bullock or Seth Rogen, and plump up a zillion pillows behind us.
Jenny thought this was THE BEST THING EVER! Bedtime, with the TV and lights on, and look, there’s Tata! And Mama! She’d get all settled and cozy, then seem to realize where she was, and pop up, fully upright, bouncing on the bed and clapping her fat little hands in delight with a huge smile beaming on her ecstatic face. Sleepover party! Yeah, the girl loved it. She’d finally sack out around 9ish and I’d toss her into the hotel crib, where she slept like an angel.
There were also a few new skillz that Jellybean picked up; she used the potty pretty frequently, she came up with her own sign for 'Please' (she crosses her arms across her chest, it's VERY CUTE), she can do a 'thumbs up!', and once she tooted and pointed at Tata like, 'OMG, Tata, I can't believe you did that!'. Grandpa will be proud.

Thanks for the awesome mini-break and for bringing sexy back, Ta! Thanks for being you, Jellybean girl.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Haircut? Got 'em ALL cut!

Jellybean's first official professional pay-for-play haircutting event occurred over the weekend. Check out that so-big little person sitting by herself so nicely in that chair! She was good as gold, didn't fuss or freak out at all (although little princess was not at all pleased with getting some little hairs in her eyes). It actually hurt me to see little curls falling on the floor. We've got a certificate and some locks for the scrapbook, and hopefully mama will be able to cut it from now on (poor, poor Jelly). The bangs are wayyyyyyy shorter, which I guess is good from a being-able-to-see standpoint. But I miss the long waves.

Aunt Jen babysat Saturday afternoon so that I was able to go to lunch and a movie. Oh, glorious day! Lunch without sticky handprints and guilt about food on the floor! The Ta and I saw 'District 9', which is totally the kind of movie I would have absolutely loved pre-baby. Yes, it's incredibly well done and the effects are great, blah blah blah. But there's something about being a mother that changes how you look at the world - people doing mean things to other people (or, apparently, aliens) causes pain and huge buckets of near-overwhelming sorrow. The only reason I didn't cry in the theater was because The Ta would've punched me.

Yesterday was the Raleigh Fiesta del Pueblo, some sort of wacky Latino soccer festival that I really didn't understand but mean no disrespect to by use of the word 'wacky', and thought it would be a little nice non-white-South culture for The Bean. It was a blast. There were a zillion bouncy houses, so she got one all to herself - I'm surprised she's not still there. They were playing the 'Go, Diego, Go!' theme at one point, I thought she was going to lose her mind. And I tried fresh homemade pupsas and horchata for the first time - delicioso*! There were tons of free giveaways (we came home with t-shirts, mini soccer balls, notepad/pen sets, hot pads (?!), key chain flashlights, etc.), and some awesome music/dance performances. Jellybean liked the pretty girls in their twirly long dresses and the dudes in the hats stomping around. People gave her balloons, and churros, and lollipops, and I got to use my super-terrible Spanish which I love to do, so it was a great day.

I was thinking last night about today's blog post, which I often do, and how I don't do such a good job of documenting what specifically Jellybean is up to. Like, for example, she was saying 'ready, set, go!' in the car yesterday, which not only shocked me but was super-duper cute. And, uh, made me keep hitting the breaks and accelerating for her, which wasn't super-duper safe driving. But was hilarious. Anyhoo, I was starting to feel all guilty for not having EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE. of every amazing thing she does captured in my blog, but then I realized that hello, our mums didn't have blogs. My mom barely managed to get my first steps into my baby book. And there are times when I could stop and grab a camera, but then I'd be pulling myself out of a moment - and believe me, I'd much prefer to be in it. So I hope the snippets here are enough for you guys, and enough for Jelly years from now when I can't remember the exact date and time she started solids, or poo'd in a potty (yesterday! we're doing some very relaxed low-key, zero-pressure potty training, it's going really well). I'm too busy lost in the moments.

*Do not look up 'delicioso' in the urban dictionary. That is not my intended usage of the word here. Although the horchata really was that good.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Work Blows

Sorry it's been a while, but time flies when your job repeatedly kicks you in the teeth. I'm having a bit of a stressful time right now, and a total bitch of a coworker constantly going behind my back to my boss to complain about how I'm not my predecessor is not making things any easier. Last night would have been a really, really good evening to have a husband. Someone to pick up take-out, or play with Jelly so I could just have a drink or seventeen and try to forget the day. Without that, I found myself on the couch for longer than I would have liked and with more Nick Jr. exposure for Jellybean than I would have liked. It made me mad that there I was, someone who'd wanted so badly to be a mom, dialing it in. But the reality was, Jelly wasn't any worse off; she got some extra couch snuggles and loved the extra TV, and I wasn't forcing myself to do stuff but doing it irritably and losing my temper. And baby cuddles really did go a long way to making me feel a bit better about the world in general.


The things the single mom does for that nice, consistent paycheck.

It's almost the weekend, right?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Just Another Day

I wake up to a soft little voice, and bound out of bed bleary-eyed to see her. Good morning, jellybean girl! I get hugs and pats and then she’s too excited, pointing at everything in her bedroom like she’s seeing it for the first time, wanting me to put names to things and let her touch stuff that’s normally out of reach.

She screeches with dismay that I cannot hold her while frying sausages, and it makes me crazy that no matter how many times we play out this food-being-prepared-I-can’t-hold-you-now scenario, it’s always the end of the world. I tell her no, and wait, and please, PLEASE stop, and count in my head how many hours until we go through this again, at dinner time. She sobs, and it both breaks my heart and makes me want to holler at her.

We’re at the toddler pool, and she’s ecstatic to be in the water. Her favorite thing, ever! I am excited for her, and can’t understand the listless disconnected moms who sit by the pool’s edge chatting, eyeing their pedicures and ignoring their toddlers while they complain about disappointing husbands and shoddy housecleaners. I am in the water beside her – I’m a water slide, and a horsey ride, and a ledge for chubby hands with wobbly fat water legs to hold onto. She squeals with excitement, and I want to squeal too.

It’s bath time, but she won’t get in the tub. She presses all the buttons on the printer in my office and sends a blank fax to Istanbul. She wants to spin in the chair, and pound on the laptop, and runs into her room and tears all the paperbacks that she’s not suppose to touch off the bookshelves. She throws cups of water out of the bath onto the floor, wants me to destroy the environment by leaving the tap running, shrieks when I shut if off. She stands up, and cries when I make her sit. She only wants to suck toothpaste off the brush, and howls when I grab it and try to wedge it in her mouth, feeling endless guilt when spots of blood appear. It’s because the molars have broken through, but I still know I’ve caused her pain, and it hurts in ways that non-moms have yet to feel.

We’re in my bed in jammies, with the ceiling fan softly humming overhead on a warm cicada night. We’ve pulled the big, overstuffed pillows into a comfy pile, and she lays with her soft sweet-scented curls brushing my face. We read story after story until I’ve lost count, until I can’t even see the words anymore in the fading light but know them by heart anyhow so it doesn’t matter. In the quiet of the dim room after the last The End, still and silent, I am suddenly afraid of how easy it was. The years of wanting and months of trying, the worry and the drama and the biology of this little person coming into being pale in comparison to the wonder that is lying in my arms, content and peaceful. This person who walks and talks and calls me ‘Mama’, who makes me violently, irrationally crazy one minute and astounded and overcome the next. My daughter.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Tata Blog - Part Deux

First of all - yes, everyone, The Ta really is a real person. She has achieved such a high level of infamy that now, when I go places and meet people and they learn that I am the nefarious 'Jellybean Mama', they are not interested in me or my precious delight of a child. They can barely contain their excitement as they ask with baited breath - "Who is The Ta?!" So for all the Tata fans out there, a brief refresher on the wonder that is - The Ta.

I've known the Ta for about 12 years (yikes), ever since we worked for an international pyramid scheme that was shut down by the Feds (true story). She and I first became friends when we went out to lunch as coworkers and she ate my breadstick off my plate at TGIFriday's without asking. We haven't looked back since. She was very apprehensive about me becoming a mother on my own, and pre-Jellybean she was the one I least expected to become involved in Jelly's life as a result. However, as you have seen from this blog, she has since become Jellybean's favored babysitter, auntie (Tata is French for 'aunt'), dog-friend, and Bojangle's-deliverer. The Ta has helped me out many, many times over the past 15 months (this week!), and despite some questionable behaviors (she kept trying to feed my baby guacamole yesterday because she thought it was funny that it made her cry), she deserves some major kudos.

So here it is... the second part of the guest post written her niece, emailed to me last week (sorry for the delay in posting, I know, I suck, I should have thought of the children).

The Tata Blog - Part Deux by CC
20 Reasons to Love The Ta

1. she buys me stuff
2. shes frickin hilarious
3. she has time for everyone
4. she is a great mommy tata
5. she is a great care taker to my fur kids
6. she is very good at her work and what she does
7. shes smart
8. she does look like me (a little) bc. ya know im bringin sexy back meow! hehe

9. shes brave to face the craiglist killers hehe
10. shes not boring unless shes working
11. she buys me bojangles
12. makes up funny words
13. she loves me so much and would do anything for me
14. she likes im so cool that she likes to steal my cool saying so she can be cool too!
15. she watched dreamy zac efron with me!
16. she watched twilight with me! witched i already watched a million times but love it!
17. she is very good with the baby jenny and me and my cosiens
18. she LOVES my peace sign (NOT)
19. she brought me to the beach in wilimgton
20. tata is liked by many people!

Thanks for being you, Ta!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


So, uh, yeah - she's walking. Like, as in, 'OMG WHAT THE HECK IS MY NEWBORN BABY DOING?! THAT'S JUST CRAZY!!' Her first step was a month ago, and as of 8/4/09 she got down from the table after dinner, and that was it. No more crawling. Done and not looking back. It's indescribable. And hilarious. And so very cute. To see those fat little legs toddle around, and see how happy she is with her newfound freedom and viewpoint - seriously, I beam with pride. BEAM, I tell you! I just sit and watch her with this goofy look on my face. I can't wait to go back to the toddler pool - how much fun will she have NOW?! It's so funny how kids are so different. My nanny's baby could walk months and months ago, but was not really into it. He still sometimes crawls. Jellybean, though - she's into it.

And really, really likes shoes. Today she's wearing a pair of K-Swiss I bought her back when I was pre-baby and still rolling in the bucks and doing stupid things like buying a little pair of $50 shoes (oh, how I long to go back in time and tell myself to STOP. BUYING. THINGS.). But dude, seriously - so cute. Like the dress, Aunt N?

Some shots of playing in the rain last night. She thought it was hilarious that I closed the patio door. I thought it was nice and quiet for once. Yep, that's the kind of mother I am; I send my 14-month old out to play, alone, IN THE RAIN. You can see that she's got a terrible life and is very sad about it...


I don't want to be working. I want to be playing with that little person. Don't you?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jenny's in the Backseat of the Car and Other Fun Things

My melodious voice singing 'Jenny's in the Backseat of the Car', trademark CR/09, as requested by Aunt N.;

Some photos of Princess VonFattybottom taken during a photo shoot yesterday morning. The trick for good toddler pics? Cheerios, plain and simple.
I got nothing done this weekend around the house, but threw a few tasty items into the freezer (Chicken Enchiladas, made with a chicken I roasted especially for the dish, stuffed with garlic and covered in a chipotle rub, because you know how I am). The 5-hour Energy shots do not seem to help any longer. I guess I'm just too energy-resistant lately.

It rained a lot, but since it stayed warm, that meant - free splashpad in our driveway! Jelly and I spent some time outside this weekend playing in the mud, which she thought was pretty awesome (video available in the sidebar if interested in cute, dirty baby).

It's crazy to see her push herself up to standing and walk. One of the most bizarre effects of motherhood is that every phase feels like it's going to last forever, good or bad, and when it's gone it seems like it was a blink of an eye. Late nights awake with a newborn, baby baldness, teething, crawling - you feel like they'll never end, that you'll always have a child that exact age doing those exact things, but then the next day you wake up and she's a whole different person. I broke one of my Before I Had a Baby, Ha Ha rules yesterday and made Jellybean a peanut butter sammich, because she had refused the last 3 meals I'd put in front of her. I had always vowed I would NEVER OMG NEVER be the mother who made their child something separate from what I was having or because they didn't like it, because CHILDREN WON'T STARVE THEMSELVES, DARNIT! But, uh, it's a little different when your eater won't eat. So yes, Jellybean's tastebuds are changing (pasta is so disgusting! why would I give that to a baby?! enchiladas are the best thing ever! why have you been hiding them from me?!). She likes different toys now. She thinks her new shoes are the best thing ever (yeah, I'm in trouble there). She likes to pick out her own clothes (and makes some very good choices). I'm constantly adapting. Flexibility is my new mantra.

She's also hitting some other cool milestones, a few of them a little early. She can pick out and point to certain objects in books when asked (like, 'Where's the teddy?'), an 18-mo concept. She's trying to create her own signs if I don't understand what she wants. She applies previous knowledge to new things. She's incredible. I like her, but don't tell anyone.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Tata Blog!

As many of you know, Tata’s niece CC has been visiting for the past few weeks, and is generally pretty awesome. I’ve had a lot of fun hanging out with her, although not as much as Jellybean; I think Jelly believes that CC is her newly adopted big sister, and totally adores her. We’ll all be sad when she leaves to go back home in two days, although Tata has felt the stress of raising a tween and will (initially) feel some relief.

CC and I thought it would be funny if she documented the goings-on of The Ta while she was here, and she decided it would not be fair to the world to keep the results to ourselves. To be totally fair, though, I also have to include a short list that The Ta was keeping on CC (although it’s much funnier to be mean to Tata, so her list is way longer). CC apparently once fell asleep in the Pack 'n Play. And doesn't like to help clean up dog poo. The End.

Please keep in mind that I have only made minor spelling corrections to the nicely hand-printed list CC passed along. And, uh, that it was written by a tween living with The Ta, so there’s lots of talk about poo. Young girls, I’m telling you, they are harsh critics. I can’t wait until Jellybean sees me like this.

Without further ado, I give you…

UThe Tata Blog

A guest post by CC Y

Critics rave, "Hottest blog spot ever!"

• She looked like she was drunk and she kept on slipping on the carpet [editor’s note: sweetie, she probably WAS drunk]
• She picked up a pillow and smelled it
• She makes ‘granny grunts’ when bending over [editor’s note: in my family we call them ‘fatty grunts’]
• She talks during my shows and just comes into the room to fart
• She believed there was peanut oil that contained no peanuts
• She looks at her dogs’ butt holes
• (on Craigslist ) Ray: I’d like to buy your Pearl; Tata: Would you like to buy my Pearl?
• She wears striped underwear 6 times/week
• At Applebee’s Tata’s pants were see-thru so everyone could see the striped underwear
• When listening/not listening to ‘Halo’ Tata acts out the song
• Tata’s nicknames are ‘Al’ and ‘Titty Tata’
• She gets mad/dying of laugher when I go onto youhoogle.com and type ‘Titty Tata’ as her homepage
• Tata likes to announce to me that she has a turtle head everyday
• Tata tells the dogs to drop the deuces outside
• She likes to pose for the camera with her flashy middle fingers
• She picks through the poo to see what the dogs ate
• The old-lady Tata, likes to watch East Enders
• She gets embarrassed when I fart on her conference calls (again) oops! Heehee!
• Tata tells me that she’s going to fart and then she cries because it went up the front
• After Tata reads a ghost book it’s FUN to scare her!
• Tata gets mad when there is secrets between me and Jellybean Mama
• Tata loves to nap when supposed to be working!
• Tata goes outside with plastic bags and picks up poo
• She doesn’t flush the toilet
• She likes to tell me what happens in the ghost books before I read them
• She is dumb when answering zoom questions. CC: What more does ‘Zoom’ show?; Tata: Closer stuff (obvious!)
• Tata doesn’t steady the camera well
• LOVES to swear with her coworker
• Likes to slip on ice
• Likes to pick her toes
• She also likes to suck on her pinky
• Tata gets jealous when the dogs are with me
• She eats like the baby Jenny [editor’s note: not true, she is MUCH messier than Jenny]
• Tata likes the gossip and all the drama at work (starts it sometimes)
• Tata is ALWAYS dropping the f-bomb!
• Tata likes to goof off at work
• She walks around in her underwear, and her sporty sports bra! Not pretty
• Tata looks like a monster before coffee time
• She wears monkey pajamas
• Tata wears a shirt with A LOT of boob-age (a lot!) boobs falling out (a lot!) Boobalicious!
• She sometimes sports that see-thru top look! You know! Hee hee!
• Tata crops herself out of pictures when she thinks she has rolls
• Tata believes she has fur kids
• When trying to back into the driveway, she was in the wrong gear
• Tata uses Strap Perfect to get one cup size bigger!
• Tata yells at the Smooth Away commercials because it doesn’t work
• Tata likes me to praise her for pooping because we praise the dogs for pooing
• Tata makes bad stops at stop signs
• Tata loves pics taken with her on the toilet, except when they are for Jellybean Mama

Still reading? Sucker. You really are trying to avoid doing anything else.
God help you if you have a young girl.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Someone Please Get My Car Inspected For Me

Who's the big kid?!
Phew! That’s all I’ve got to say. What’s with the past two Mondays? I’m having too much fun, I guess. It was another busy weekend, with all kinds of stuff going on. In order, the critical updates:

1. Friday was the hearing. Jellybean is now fully, legally, 100% mine, as declared so by a court of law. Can you believe a judge met me and still ruled that?! I was TOTALLY meek and very professionally dressed, as you can imagine, in a navy dress suit and HEELS and PEARLS. It was ridiculous. I had to be sworn in! I didn’t even think about that, it was cool, I had to raise my right hand and the whole bit. It took forever for my case to be called since there was a very full docket (see, here I am, slinging the lingo now). But it’s over and done and official, and Quiet has to sew a scarlett ‘CA’ on all his clothes for ‘Child Abandoner’ (his joke, which I have stolen for your enjoyment and reading pleasure). In case you're wondering who the heck she looks like in that picture above, it's all donor. I hardly ever see Quiet in her, and mostly just try not to think about it too much, but he is a good-looking guy luckily, and once in a while I catch a look that is pure him.
2. Tata’s niece CC and I went and saw ‘Harry Potter’. It was long. It was good. The Dumbledore scene made me catch my breath even though I knew it was coming. CC and I almost got in a car accident on the way home, some jerk in a fast truck crossed entirely into our lane going around a curve on a wet road in the dark. Luckily, I’ve been hit that way before so was quick to react and we were fine. CC was a total rockstar Friday night and babysat The Bean so Tata and I could go see ‘G-Force’. Yes, I used my invaluable babysitter time to see a movie about spy guinea pigs. Everytime Zach Gafflinakalamadingdong was on the screen I burst out laughing because, really, how can anyone see ‘The Hangover’ and NOT laugh when they see him? CC did an awesome job, and helped watch Jelly again on Sunday when I shopped the consignment sale, and I’ve got video of Princess Von Fattybottom walking. To CC. Still not to me or Nanny. Rotten child.
No walkies for you, mama! Just my BFF.
Also, CC wrote a guest blog post, which I will get typed up and posted shortly. It’s basically a list of all the weird, gross, crazy, embarrassing things Tata does all day long, as observed by a tween. It’s hilarious, you’ll love it.

Yep, I'm a dork. Check out that sweaty beach-napping baby though.

3. Jellybean and I went to the lake again, and once again I tried to drown her. I can’t even talk to people about it. I thought it would be fun to play on an inflatable toy, and for a brief time it was. She was sitting up on one of those raft-type things, I was in the water opposite her, holding onto her, at about shoulder depth. Then Jelly kicked her fat little slippery foot right out of my hand, and she toppled over backwards and upside-down underwater. It was awful. Time stopped. The two steps I took through the water to get to her felt like forever. And she sank so fast. I had time to think, ‘All these people around me, and no one can help me quick enough’. I grabbed her ankle just as she was disappearing from sight into the dark water beneath me and hauled her up. She’s a Jellyfish, so she just sputtered a bit and looked indignant, didn’t even cry, and wanted to go right back to dunking her head under. I may cut the raft into little tiny pieces. Let’s never speak of this again.
4. Sunday morning was the big exhausting consignment sale. I sold a lot of my stuff, so we’ll see how well I did in a few weeks when I get my check. I picked up a lot of fall/winter items for Jelly, but was worried about sizes so got mostly leggings and tops, a super-cute sailor coat, some jammies. I also picked up some stuff for her for Christmas – a big ‘Fur Real’ dog, lots of hand puppets, a dolly and some of those toy bottles that look like the milk/juice is disappearing when you tilt ‘em. I love those things.

I hope everyone has a good week, and I’ll post the awesome Tata post probably tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer in the City. Limits.

Here at Casa de Haricot we've been extremely busy, getting annexed by the City of Raleigh and having cousins visit and preparing for another big consignment sale. We've also enjoyed some more time with CC, who is not only a hilarious Tata-Tattler, but is also a first-class jellysitter.
Jellybean, interestingly, was not as interested in my cousin's kids as I thought she'd be. And she was only mildly impressed with my cousin. My cousin's husband, on the other hand, well, that was another story. Jelly, who normally DOES. NOT. LIKE. MEN. was extremely fond of Dan. It helps that he's one of like a million kids, so he knows how to butter up a little bean. Don't tell my dad, but she even sat in his lap one evening for a snuggle! It's nice to see her with a good male role model, since that's one of the few things (other than a kind, sympathetic mother) she's lacking. I guess anyone who lets her gnaw their fingers is ok in her book.
Speaking of sympathetic, my poor little pudding pop had her first major blood-spouting injury. She fell and clipped her chin on her little red rocking chair, putting a few top teeth into a bottom lip. There was blood all over her, all over me after I scooped her up, and her lip was ENORMOUS. Happily, I did NOT fall apart, and it's nice to know I have zero problems with my child gushing the red stuff all over the place. A popsicle later, she was just fine. Yes, I took a picture of her, because that's the kind of mother I am.
We had an exhaustingly hot and busy weekend with our guests. The Flea Market, Farmer's Market, Market Market (aka 'Grocery Store', aka 'Red Dog', aka 'Dirty Food Lion'). Sunday we spent the afternoon at the lake, and had beautiful weather for it. That Jellyfish sure does love the water. She was waving and blowing kisses at the boats. Yesterday morning the relatives departed for Myrtle Beach, and I'm very jealous. I need to take Jellybean to the ocean! It's already August! Omg, she's 14 months old today!
This morning I dropped off approximately one hundred kajillion items for the Kids Exchange sale coming up this weekend. You wouldn't believe the size of this place, or the stuff they have. There were something like 7,000 people that attended the last sale. Since it's so competitive, I priced things ridiculously low in the hopes of selling more stuff. My latest idea for what to do with the money I make is to get another round of professional photos done - when my parents are visiting next! Wouldn't that be freaking AWESOME?! Just imagine, a professionally done pic of me and my mum and Jellybean! S&G Photography, if you're reading this, pencil me in for a tentative date in late October, and I'll call you to confirm when my parents make their travel plans.

Friday morning will be the (hopefully, final) hearing for Jenny's custody case. My lawyer sent me a 2-page document of the questions he's going to ask me in front of the judge, to prepare. Gulp. It's mostly pretty basic stuff, like 'State your full name for the record', but there are also things like, 'What in your opinion is the best course of action for Jennifer's well-being?' (answer: to terminate Quiet's rights). It's so weird. And it just makes me think even more about that side of Jellybean's family, the Secret Side that I'm not allowed to reveal Jelly to. Does she look like any of them? Does she have any of their mannerisms? Is one of them a growler and scratcher, like my sweet darling delicate flower? As she gets older hopefully it will get easier and not more difficult to put those thoughts aside, since I need to be able to help her with not having those answers herself. And that time will come before I know it. 14 months already, that's just crazy!