The Wink is a labor of love, occasional source of ire and constantly influenced by the toddlywinks in my life- my daughters. There's also the HunkyWink. You'll read all about them as The Wink unfolds. Please feel free to wink back!

Monday, April 30, 2007

"Summon up some sympathy in the spirit of the sisterhood"

On this upcoming Mother’s Day, I’d like to ask a favor of the moms out there.

Yes, I know it’s your day, so why should you do anything for ME? Everyone should be focusing on YOU.

Oddly enough, that’s the favor I’m asking of you: to focus on yourself. To remember your own experiences as a mother. Perhaps doing so will help you remember to go a bit easier on your fellow moms.

Your children might be older now, but surely you remember disastrous outings with them in which you had an agenda to accomplish – and their agenda was simply to thwart YOUR agenda. Surely you remember airplane flights during which your children continually kicked the seat in front of them, no matter how furiously you admonished them to stop. Surely you remember meals at family restaurants where your children played with their food while yours remained untouched.

Children have very little perspective – it’s only natural, given how few experiences they’ve had. A minor disappointment to us feels like the end of the world to them. They simply don’t know any better, and as much as we try to teach them, there’s no substitute for experience.

We adults should know better, but considering how some adults – even mothers – behave in the above-described situations (not the parents of the children in question, but the observers) you’d think they’d never had a tough time with their own children.

Frankly, when adults act as if a crying baby on a six-hour flight is the end of the world, I want to tell them to grow up. Because they are behaving just as badly as the child in question, but unlike that child, they have no excuse for their immaturity.

Even adults who don’t have children ought to bear in mind that once upon a time, someone wiped their butts upwards of ten times a day. None of us was born behaving beautifully and thinking and acting rationally – it takes good parenting and the passing of time to get there.

On this upcoming Mother’s Day, remember that we’ve all been there – either as a parent or as a child ourselves. Sing your own praises – why not? It’s your day! – but remember to sing the praises of others too.


Julie is a woman who never dreamed she’d be the mother of two little girls (who may or may not become mothers themselves one day). She doesn’t want to think about how anyone else ever had to wipe her butt, but she loves her mother and grandmother very much and wishes them a Happy Mother’s Day each and every day of the year.

This post is a part of the Mother's Day edition of the Blog Exchange, special thanks to Kristen for putting it together. Julie has a fantastic blog called mothergoosemouse and today, it's where you'll find me. Come on over for my post and stay for some of Julie's, you won't be sorry. Be sure to check out all the other posts at the Blog Exchange.

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Amanda & Goaliath

Ah, CCE, you got me. Exactly one week ago I got this:
I've tagged you today over at my place so when you're open again for business go check it out.


The tag was, wait for it, to list five goals that have been left largely ignored. How pathetic that I failed to respond to this tag? And it's from CCE, she of the hysterical $180 circus tickets, my kindred spirit in the lonely and often futile battle against trans fats, HFCS, and checkstand teeth rot nuggets. She's cool, and cool doesn't often come equipped with smart and funny or dressed in killer jeans.

I'll promise to waste not another minute if you promise not to be grossed out.

1. Flossing. I even bought those little plastic implements of torture with the floss cued up in a mini-spear, complete with a sharp end for parrying with lilliputian knights. Alas, now instead of long forgotten square containers of floss becoming gummy behind toilets, I have little baggies of sharp things that at once make me feel like a failure and howl with pain as they puncture the little Ziploc bag I store them in and make their way into the unmatched socks, forgotten until they pierce the only just healed cuticles, of my swollen, chewed finger tips.

2. Ah, cleaning behind the toilets, though this doesn't technically count because I am not foolish enough to put such an uncrossoffable on my list.

3. Matching the unmatched socks in the bin...fuck it, let's be real, it's a barrel. Guess what, this tag didn't get answered Friday night because I matched the 55 gallon drum of unmatched socks.

4. Put together the scrapbook from our wedding, engagement and the births of our two girls. I made that a mega unmet goal instead of four. How do you like them apples?

5. Wear any of the fineries in my little drawer of unmentionables. Sigh.

So CCE, there you finally have it.

If anyone out there feels the need for this exercise that allows you to free your inner "I suck" voice, shoot me an email at briars_mama at yahoo dot com and I'll unleash the wrath of this little activity for you.

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Because I can't bear it

I just can't begin the week with the vitriol reserved for neighbors and drunk drivers. No, I am taking a stand. I am going to be different. Positive. Sunny. Unabashedly happy. A chest thumping mama armed with a camera and an unrelenting pride in the perfection of her brood. Ah, but you are too wise, this is all simply code for: Picture Post!



Behold the magic of glass. In an uncharacteristic show of restraint I am withholding the photos wherein Avery morphs into Sloth of Goonies fame. And yes, that is unshowered me, mouth agape in the reflection.


And still she crawls. I am certain she is simply lulling us into a relaxed sense of security, so that when she does walk it'll be a good five minutes before we gather our wits to chase her down.


My little pre-dawn companion. I exaggerate not a whit when I say this creature is happy in slumber and wakefulness.


She pierces my soul. I simply cannot remember life before Avery.



Have a happy day!

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Telling it like it is

This is a post dedicated to not one, not two, but three radiant, insightful, and beloved expectant mommy bloggers. I'd be willing to bet they are getting a "helpful" earful every time they go to the pharmacy or grocery store leave the house. Something about pregnancy and weddings brings out the asshole authority in everyone. They are throwing a party over here. My little way of participating is responding to a request for the best advice and assvice I received while pregnant.

As always, a slight mandification. I didn't get a single piece of bad advice, rather I had a series of awful encounters with people wanting to talk about my pregnancy. They seemed to come in types. There was the:

Weight Bully -
"How much do you weigh?"
"What did you weigh before you got pregnant?"
"Yeah, but exactly how much weight have you gained?"
"Hmm, are you dieting? Not good for the baby, you know."

You'll Grow to Hate Them -
"Enjoy it, once they're out they're hateful."
"Beh, babies. Your marriage'll end."
"Wait til you find out how needy they are."

Your Days of Being Attractive Are Over
"Hope you liked having a waist."
"Good thing you waited, you got to look good for a while."
"Enjoy the kids, dads stray."
"Get ready, your tits'll tap your knees and your lips'll flap away."
Trust me, I was as shocked when she said it as you are reading it.

WTF
"My daughter miscarried at this stage. Just poof, it died."
"That lunch meat could kill your baby."
"You drink coffee? Don't you want a healthy..?"
"Are you pregnant? My baby died inside of me. Didn't get to your stage."
"You really shouldn't wear things like that, it isn't appropriate when you're pregnant."


Luckily I had some wonderful advice given to me by strangers and family alike:

Don't worry. The worrying will kill you. Just live every minute.

Trust your instinct.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Talk to them like people.

Get over the 6 week hump and breastfeeding will get easier.

BIRTHING BALL.


To each of the moms we are celebrating, I wish you health, happiness and unexpected windfalls that allow you precious time with your angels unencumbered by money woes.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Taking Care of Business

The other night I played on a Scrabble team. I know, try and hold back your awe at my hipness. One of Sean's clients signed his business up as a team for a Scrabble for Literacy fundraiser, so we did - despite the fact that Sean and I have not played Scrabble together in well over a year because somebody thinks somebody is a cheater (apparently being better than me at singing, playing innumerable musical instruments, drawing, painting and taking pictures isn't enough, to lose to me at Scrabble is more insult than he can bear...some time ago the Scrabble game was "lost").

I arrived late after what was not a shining moment of motherhood - Picture the scene:
I had to be to the venue by 5:30 with a t-shirt for Sean
I had to drop the girls at my mother-in-law's between 5:10 and 5:20
I had to work until 5:00pm
Avery did not go down for her nap until 4:15pm
My boss kept me on the phone and on task until 5:00pm
Briar wet her diaper
Avery did not want to wake up
The dog would not come in
Briar didn't want her diaper changed
Avery was clingy
I realized we had just 5 diapers left
Avery emptied an entire bookshelf while I changed Briar(4 diapers)
Briar scolded Avery repeatedly and loudly
The dog still wouldn't come in
Avery peed through her outfit (3 diapers)
Briar removed her ponytails
The dog came in and promptly pissed on the floor
Avery crawled through said piss in her fresh outfit (2 diapers)
Made it out the door, forgot the shirt
Got the shirt forgot the diaper bag
Got Avery buckled in, worked on Briar and was 5 minutes late
Phone rings - Sean
Curt, bitchy, awful and immediately remorseful. But damnit, why call when odds are I am in an impossible situation?
Got to MIL's and just tried not to cry as I explained I was shamelessly low on diapers, had not packed dinner, had woken Avery from her nap prematurely, and would not return until after their bedtime

Did I mention there was yelling, an f-bomb and borderline tears? (not at my mother-in-laws, it was before but I had to explain why Briar might utter any number of four letter words ending in 'uck', 'it' or a series of other biblically influenced expletives.

So when I got to the Scrabble thing I wasn't too interested when I was handed a couple of sticky things to put on my shirt to look like a part of a team. What I was interested in was an uninterrupted trip to the bathroom with an opportunity to oh, I don't know, pee the pee I'd been wanting to pee since before noon. I arrived at the door to the ladies room at the same time as two women. I let them pass and they immediately went over to the mirror. Great. I can just pee I thought.

I took the second stall. Boom, in like .32 seconds one of the woman swished into the stall next to me before I even sat down. I tried to get comfortable and ignore having her there.

"Is the letter 'cuz it's Scrabble night?"

Silence.

"Your "y", is it 'cuz you're Scrabbling tonight? "

Oh, god, I think she's talking to me. "Ah, what's that?"

"Your "y" is it for Scrabble?"

"Yep, sure is."

Then quiet but for the rustling of paper.

Ok, no more talking. pee, pee, pee. Just wanna pee. I cannot pee. I am burning. I have to pee. I must. Shh, breathe, you are all alone.

"Oh, (odd nasally laugh) did you even know you were "y"?

What the hell, lady? Let me pee.

"Yes, I did." This was said with great finality.

"OK 'cuz I wouldn't want to mess that up. Why is it a "y"?

"Not a problem." She stopped. I listened as she flushed her toilet. Phew, now I'll be able to pee.

"The "y"?"

She's talking again, no fair. She probably peed a dozen times today.

"Huh?"

"Your "y", what's it for?" She asked this while she peed. While she PEED!

"Oh, I think It's for jury."

"Hmmm, jury? Interesting." Then she laughed as her toilet flushed.

I finally peed the tiniest bit, not nearly accomplishing what I had hoped needed to do, and worse still what I did pee fell on top of paper so there was silence, like I was that woman who pretends she's not there because she wants to poop but doesn't want anyone to know. You know that person, you're like I know you're in there, and you know I know you're in there, so why not stop the charade. Your print rayon gaucho pants are pooled so wide I actually had to side step them as I came in.

After my disappointing stealth pee that wasn't I gave up and stood to leave. As I walked out of the booth little Miss Chatty von Peesa'lot opened her door at the exact same time. I paused as it flew perilously close to my face. Then I stepped forward and inexplicably she stepped to the left and blocked me from the sink that kind of went with my stall. Fine, it's not like I peed. I moved to the corner to the last sink and washed my hands as she walked away. In what must have been a choreographed move, her friend popped in and swang wide the door to the first stall effectively blocking me from both drying my hands and leaving. You know what she did then? Guess. Come on.

She peed with the door open. Seriously.

Psssssssss. Tinkle tinkle. Psssssssss. Flush. Zip. I stood in disbelief.

"Oh. I'm sorry, did I block you?"

I stood mute because the only word I seemed to know in that moment in time was was not nice and rhymed with stitch.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I see you



From the moment you wake up to the moment you ratchet your little butt up in the air to go down for the night, you have a smile on your face and a twinkle in your eye. Your laughter has exploded throughout every room of this house and seems to echo even as you sleep at night. You spring up from anything Briar throws, kicks or jabs your way. Lately your desire to talk to us has kept perfect time with an explosion of words, and though sometimes it takes us a moment or two, you have been patient with us. Thank you my sweetest little one.

You need to know that I've fallen magnificently in love with you. When I scoop you in my arms you curl your fingers around my shoulder and dig your legs into my waist. There are times when I think I might break. Before I go to bed each night I tip toe over and lean into your crib. I rest my hand on your back and breathe you in, half hoping you'll wake so that I can talk to you.

You are my first thought in the morning and my last each night. I wake each day eager to watch you get up, as your face travels from serene to joyous. Mornings when I am away from you, I imagine your face, the shape of your eyes and your many dimples. I conjure up the smell of your skin and the feel of your face touching mine.

This morning I found something new about you. I was watching you sleep. Admiring the length of your body and the tender skin that I knew would be cool to my touch. My face hovering over you I noticed a freckle on your leg. It surprised me this little freckle, but what surprised me more was my delight to know you like this. To know your little body with its creases and folds, its soft edges and delicate layers. To know without question that this little freckle was not there yesterday.





I know this body. I know you. I see you.

I simply love you.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Gym Goggles

Sean and I made a quick trip to the gym tonight while Nana and Ciocci Jean watched the girls. After surveying the equipment we decided that if we had wanted to run we would have stayed outside. We hit the weights. Unfortunately my favorite gym rat, casanova, before-and-after waiting to happen, walking hair gel disaster wasn't there. Probably off somewhere wearing a tank top tucked into his jeans, the arm holes large enough to see the unnaturally hairless chest within, and his hair only barely concealing his wicked face as he licks his lips while staring at members of both sexes. Luckily for Sean I was there.

Standing in front of the mirrored wall by the free weights-

Me: "Is this a skinny mirror?"

Sean: "What?" He asked shaking his head as if to get water out of his ears.

Me: "Is this a skinny mirror?" I asked as I thrust my head in the direction of the mirror.

Sean looked at me, then at the mirror, and then back to me. "What do you mean is this a skinny mirror?"

Me: "Well, sometimes there are skinny mirrors. I'm looking in the mirror and the legs I see there are not the legs I see when I look down."

Sean, to his credit, really seemed to be trying to wrap his mind around what I was asking. "You don't...What do you see in the mirror?"

"Just not long or skinny like that. So, do you think it's a skinny mirror?"

"No, I don't think it's a skinny mirror." He scoffed as if no such thing even existed to begin with.

"Well, I think a skinny mirror'd probably make it a pretty popular place."

"No, Manda, that'd make it a fun house."

Funny, and yet honestly, doesn't that say a little something about the difference between men and women? It doesn't even occur to them that looking good in a mirror might be on account of a skinny mirror, or that a lighter weight is just a bum scale.

I've been tagged for a meme about unachieved goals by the brilliant, beautiful and witty CCE at Mad Marriage. I'll be working on that post, but in the meantime I think I may work on a little goal having to do with image. I think the next time I look in the mirror and think I look beautiful or skinny or smart or insert complimentary adjective I'll believe it and count myself lucky.

Maybe you can do the same?

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Shut

Sean and I were driving through Washington County one day with the girls, when we saw a sign that charmed us both. Instead of "Closed" it read "Shut". So, today, as we gather the girls and plot ways to spend the entire day outdoors getting good and dirty, I am posting a "Shut" sign here at The Wink. Hopefully it makes you smile, even more hopefully, you get yourself outside and enjoy our earth today.




It's Earth Day, go play!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Can you fix it?

Walking.
Talking.
Riding a bike.

None of these milestones hold a candle to this next one. Ok, so I can't speak to the bike one, as Briar hasn't really taken an interest in pedaling since she always seems to have at least one willing set of hands to push her on the bicycle like some sort of modern day Cleopatra. Yet I still think this milestone she reached today has set the bar quite high.

Today, she drank from a can. My can. My long desired can of Sierra Mist Free.

I say long desired because I made a mad dash through the grocery store on my lunch (you know, that special time when the store somehow senses your need for efficiency and swiftly sends out their second string, on break from some sort of rehabilitative institution, staff?).

After having every last bit of patience tested by the zombie pregnant woman with what seemed to be a sneer tic checking my groceries, I bumped into the nicest human being I know, who on a good day makes me queasy she's so nice. This kind of nice just isn't normal. Saying what I wanted to her would have put me up there with baby seal clubbers, so I grinned and tried not to slip into her southern lilt as I tra la la'd about how I had to be getting to the girls.

I rushed to the sitter's, settled the girls in the car and drove us home. I went through the special routine of keeping them entertained while I unloaded the car (Read- grabbing bags, bounding up onto the porch and skipping back to the car while alternately singing and just generally making an ass of myself- works every time, I might add). After that it was the dance to keep them from playing with the plastic bags as I tried to get the things needing refrigerating put away. As luck would have it, Avery is 100% into the fridge. She can hear it open from 500 yards and be halfway in the crisper before I realize it. I made quick time and socked a couple of cans of pop in the back.

After an hour working, Avery went down for her nap. I went to the fridge and grabbed one of the now chilled cans of pop, I hadn't had four sips before Briar asked for a sip. No big deal, she is usually quite turned off by "bubbles." Not so today. Today she sipped, scrunched, and sipped again.

"S'Mommy's drink Briar is drinking. S'good."

"Yes, that's mom's drink."

"Can I Briar having some." (I kind of love it when she has a question morph into a statement to suit her fancy.)

"Yes, you sure can have some. Please just be careful. No spilling."

"Briar's careful."

And she was. Feeling magnanimous, and perhaps a bit lazy, I let her have the can and decided to wait until later to have another. Perhaps she'll tire of it, I thought.

Not so. Instead she found a way to more completely enjoy the Sierra Mist Free experience.


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Monday, April 16, 2007

Monday Musing

Why do things in the dishwasher react like luggage stowed in the overhead compartments?

I know that I set this bottle into the rack mouth down so as to avoid the collection of that inimitable dishwasher/food particle sludge. Yet when I opened the dishwasher this is what I found:

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Nutmeg is the spice of life

I tend to get low when it comes to rehashing my resume.
Low like Charlie Brown after finding himself on his back, Lucy standing over him holding the football, with the wind knocked out of him. Again.
Low like Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink realizing that pearls just so weren't the way to go.
Something about trying to sum up my accomplishments and skills and then having so much white space left just destroys me.

"Give me a write up on your freelance work."

"Write up? What can I say about it?"

"Talk about who you have written for."

"But one place hasn't even published the articles yet."

"So, talk about the others."

Sigh.

"Talk about your traffic."

"Sean, I can't"

"Why?"

"It just doesn't look great."

"Great to who?"

"People."

"Why?"

"Because it's not as great."

"Great as what?"

"All the rest."

"Manda."

"What if they think I am ridiculous?"

"Why would they think that?"

"I don't know, but what if they do?"

Ah, self-doubt, if only we could bottle it, bet it'd give corn a run for its bio-diesel fuel money.

Awash in all this nauseating doubt, despite a knock out resume and a meaty roster of work, I wished for something. I know, I know. I'm a mom, an adult, you make your own destiny. No wishing on stars or blowing dandelions to get what you want. But oh no you can't think that! We must always believe in faeries and unicorns and Nutmeg.

I was checking my Yahoo account for the 3rd time in an hour.
Comments from ladies like Lara, Sarah, Chelle, CCE, DysdHousewife, Binkytown, Kelly, Joy, and my sister fill me like hot stew on a cold day (say perhaps a late April day in the Adirondacks with a forecast of 12-15 inches of snow...)

There was a comment from Nutmeg. She, taking a cue from a comment I made on her blog, went and nominated me for two categories in the Blogger's Choice Awards. If you look over to the right, or just down a few lines, you'll see a couple of shiny buttons. If you click on them and vote for me you'll feel an exhilarating charge of do-gooder-tasticness-

My site was nominated for The Blogitzer!


My site was nominated for Best Parenting Blog!

Of course I'd love you to choose to do it, but honestly, it really is enough just to have been nominated. You could always click here and vote for Nutmeg as The Hottest Mommy Blogger (she certainly has my endorsement).

Whatever you decide, know this, we are each incredibly powerful- more powerful than I think we realize. A comment here, a vote there, these little things mean a lot. I am thankful for each and every comment I get. I am truly proud to be a part of this incredible community of bloggers.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Y (is this so hard)MCA

Last night, in an attempt to blast away some workplace blues, Sean packed the girls and me into the car for open swim at the YMCA. We had one diaper bag stuffed to overflow with towels, a brush and warm, easy to pull on post swim clothes. Sean and Briar went to the pool for the first time earlier this week, so they stuck together once we arrived. I took Avery into the women's locker room with me. Once I had stripped us both down to our suits I realized that I wasn't keen on walking out into the hallway and traveling the 30 or so feet to the pool's entrance. It's one thing to bump into people in workout gear, but standing in a hallway in my bathing suit seemed, um, indecent? I scouted the locker room and failed to find another door. A woman walked in and I asked:

"Is there another way to get to the pool?"

She looked at me as if I'd asked her where I could find the YMCA.

"Um," she spat with disgust as she hooked her thumb up over her shoulder and sneered, "The entrance to the pool is right there."

"Oh, ok, I just didn't know if you could walk straight in through the locker room."

And then, I am not kidding when I say that she huffed.

"Huh-uhf," she kind of grunted as she sidestepped me. Seriously, she moved sideways like I was one of those cartoony villains for that commercial about creatures living under your toenails.

"Ok, thanks." I walked softly to the door, imagining a line of men from businesses downtown standing outside.

"Oh, hey. How's it going? Yup, just taking the girls for a swim."

Of course I'd blush because it would seem that since I only had Avery, then by saying "girls" I was referring to my assets and not my daughters.

"You know, ah, my girls, Briar and Avery." Like I name them.

"My daughters, Briar and Avery. Swimming."

I'd keep walking, pretending to need to face them as I talked so that I didn't take 20 steps away from them with the edges of my cheeks peeking out from the back of my suit. Don't get me wrong, I actually feel pretty good about how my ass looks, that is until we start talking about walking with it almost uncovered by men who have never even seen my elbows. I managed to overcome my wild insecurities about being seen in the Y in a bathing suit to find my way to the pool.

Sean and Briar were already in the water. Avery and I walked over to them, past what seemed an inordinate number of people not wearing bathing suits. Perhaps I have a phobia about wearing a swimming suit indoors, I don't remember this kind of worry when we've been at the lake. It wasn't long before Avery's head bopping and squealing got the better of me. I began laughing and exclaiming right along with her. So great was her delight at being in the water with us, that she managed to win over even the grouchy "No kick boards during rec swim!" life guard.

"She's really cute," the young woman said between scowls and barking at other swimmers.

Briar positively beamed as she swam around with Sean. It was incredible to watch them, usually clinging to me, she instead wrapped her arms around Sean. This was their playground, they were sharing with us. My heart soared. I focused on Avery unapologetically. No guilt. Just joy and sweet kisses and splashes with my baby. It's been a whole lot of trial and error with two, but right then in the pool, it was one of the perfect moments. Thank you world.

After a while both girls were beginning to look otherworldly as their lips purpled and their sparkling eyes became eclipsed by slightly shivering shoulders. I said I thought it was time to go. Sean and Briar kept swimming while I retrieved the bag, leaving a diaper and two towels behind. I wrapped Avery in a towel and did my best to hold a towel against my own wet body.

Once in the locker room I realized that no matter how easy the clothes were to pull on, the tiles on the floor were very hard and there were large areas of standing water. I didn't want to leave Avery in a wet suit, nor did I want to change her and have her get her dry clothes soaked. What to do, what to do. I thought maybe we could do a back and forth:

Take off Avery's suit
Wrap her in a towel
Take off my suit
Wrap myself in a towel

But I realized that if I set Avery down it would have to be on my towel and forgive me all the vain tendencies emerging in this post, but I did not want to be the woman that gets talked about in the middle school:

"And oh my god, she like totally stood there naked. It was so gross and then she bent over and I was like could you please cover yourself up or whatever?"

No, that wouldn't do at all. I decided to get Avery completely changed. Her damp limbs made pulling her pants on nearly impossible, that was until I got to her shirt. That was when I discovered just what impossible really was. Her head fit through the neck hole only after considerable tugging and twisting. Then her arms, the left getting stuck in the body of the shirt, the right getting folded, with her elbow poking out. I honestly feared that I would fracture something as I grunted and pulled. Two thoughts ran through my head over and over again:

"Thank god I'm not naked and please god don't let me break her arm."

Eventually we got the shirt on. I let her crawl around sockless after I toweled the floor off with my own towel. I quickly dressed, desperately trying to keep my ass backed up to the lockers and my breasts and face masked by my arms and hair. I am sure that I was quite a vision of grace and poise. Avery nearly escaped twice as I tried to untwist my camisole which was firmly stuck an inch above the parts I was looking to cover. I darted over in time to grab her feet as they started to disppear under a dressing room partition. After what felt like 30 minutes we made our way out into the hallway. I was a little embarassed by how long it had taken me to get us dressed and hoped Sean had found the stuff I'd left for him.

We went over to peek into the pool area. No sign of them. I walked Avery up and down the hall as we waited. The smell of the pool in her hair and the kisses she gave me made me feel incredible. I was so proud to not be parked in front of Entertainment Tonight. A few minutes later Sean and Briar came out. Sean smiled at me as I knelt down to pick up the diaper bag.

"That was hard." I said.

"What was?"

"Getting Avery dressed."

"Try it with a room full of penises."

"What?"

"I said try it with a room full of penises."

I kind of laughed and shook my head.

"Aren't guys a little more modest? Don't they keep their backs turned?"

"They're penises. She's 2 and half. What's that? What's that? ooh, Daddy, what's dat right dere?"


Life isn't perfect, but playing back, "Try it with a room full of penises," makes a lot of it much easier to deal with.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tax Man

We met with our accountant today. And by we, I kind of mean me. I tucked a small menagerie in our diaper bag to keep the girls occupied. I know, I know. The accountant. Kids. What the hell was I thinking? I wasn't. It's taxes we're talking about, they terrify me. Sean was waiting for us when we pulled up, both girls having played through nap time. I know, I know. The accountant. Kids. No nap. No chance.

I set the animals on the floor and encouraged the girls to play with them. These animals fit in the palm of my hand (I have large hands) and represent most of the animals you would see on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. They are also heavy, quite heavy as a matter of fact. When lifted and dropped 12 inches they make a ghastly racket. We tried to redirect the girls to look daintily out the window or to count the tiles around the hearth or to gently run their fingers along the table and marvel at its smoothness. You'll be shocked to find that the girls didn't exactly take to our suggestions. Sean took them for a drive after about 6.3 minutes.

I was left with our accountant. I like him. This doesn't mean I didn't feel sheer terror as I sat there. He had a laptop open across the table from me. Fujitsu. Fujitsunomo. Fugetbouthavinmoneynomo. He sat there looking at the computer and looking at our documents. Our pathetic, dog eared, scribbled upon documents. You can't know how proud I was to have been able to even lay hands on these papers. Then, sitting there, I looked at them and saw how absolutely hopeless it all was.

"How sure are you that you wrote that check?"

I could not have been less sure if he'd ask me to perform algebraic equations while naked in front of a room of exes and standing atop a large scale.

"Umm, maybe not totally sure," I squeaked.

He turned back to the computer and made the sorts of was that a good sound or a bad sound noises that the tech made during our first ultrasound. Just when I'd begin to think that the silence might kill me he, "Aha!" and say things like, "There's gold in them thar hills." He so does not have a southern accent, not that there is anything wrong with that, this is more to illustrate how he'd go from dry, cerebral, making me crap myself serious, to light and dare I say, playful.

Turns out our last accountant overlooked some things. In a good way. Well, actually not in a good way if you think of Suze Orman or someone like that who might be able to calculate the interest lost based on the funds not being available to us blahdy blahdy blahdy. I can't keep track of our estimated taxes payments, you think I'd have the diligence to put that money to use for something other than sidewalk chalk, leave-in conditioner and Smartwool socks? I'm ok with the government keeping a bit of my money here and there. Life here seems to dictate that just as you get ahead some sort of disaster, usually of the plumbing variety, occurs and out the window, or down the toilet as the case may be, goes any extra money. I will say this, I am going to strive to keep better records and better track of the records that I keep.

I hope you all find a little extra something in your return, or maybe not, how much do you enjoy a working toilet?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I did?

"You mean I actually passed something on?"

The force of those words hit me like a mack truck.

I was standing in the kitchen wearing an apron and wielding a very sticky wooden spoon. It had a black streak at its tip commemorating the time I left it sitting on the stove top remembering it just seconds before it would have burst into flames. Briar was at the butcher block, gay little floury hand prints peppering her pant legs. We were baking. It was Sean's birthday and he had instructed me not to buy anything. I think perhaps a dozen eggs might have been ok, but I was sticking to the plan. Besides that I had both girls and a ton on my plate and not so much in my wallet.

"Let's make daddy a cake."

This pitiful, last minute attempt to not let Sean's day go by unnoticed was met with squeals of delight from Briar.

"Briar's cookin' wis'a mama for to make daddy a cake of his birthday."

"You bet, honey."

I took down a cookbook and some mixing bowls. The bowls were a gift from my mom back when we lived in Boston. I love them. I love bowls. Period. I get that from her. I can remember having a favorite bowl growing up. Not a doll, not a toy. A bowl.

"Can we use the best bowl, mom?"

"You bet, honey."

It was a mixing bowl she was given for her wedding, made up of greys and browns, white inside and dotted with dark brown. The sides had ridges that I would run my hands along, one hand always coming to rest on the spout it had for pouring out the batter.

Looking in the fridge I saw that we only had one egg. Ugh. I gave Briar some shredded cheese and asked her to mix it up with the cheese spoon (a whisk) while I scanned the cookbook. No dice. All the cakes seemed to call for more than one egg, you silly, hapless woman. My mind ran back to so many times in my childhood when we didn't have what the recipe, directions or costume called for. We (she) always made it happen. I knew I could do this.

"Ok, Briar. Mama is going to use some of Avery's food, maybe some bananas and pear, and we're going to make a special cake. Our own way."

"We makin' it a kind of our own way special cake of daddy's birthday."

"That's right,a kind of our own way special cake."

After a kitchen cabinet and back of the fridge mambo, we arrived at a beautiful bowl filled with what looked like cake consistency batter.

"Shall we put it in the pan?"

"Yes, we shall be puttin' it in to the pan of the cake."

I reached for a cake pan. Damn. Cake pan, cake pan. Don't have a cake pan. A loaf pan? A loaf cake. A loaf of cake. No. Hmm, muffins? No.

"Oh. I know."

"Oh, I know. I know!"

I smiled at her perfect inflection of me with an idea.

"Let's use the special rose tin."

"Oooh, roses. Briar loves roses."
Sniff
Sniff
"Mmm, roses smellin' beautiful, mama."

Together we poured the batter into the heavy rosette pan that had been purchased as my mom and sister feverishly cooked baked goods by the pound one holiday season. Later, Briar and I drizzled frosting, made with one squinted eye looking at a recipe and the other spinning in mad, sugar fueled circles as we made daramtic additions of ingredients via tests by the tongue of a toddler.

"Now, what can we use to decorate?"

The table, upon which we set our mostly-from-scratch confections, was adorned with bits of ribbon and miniature this & thats from my drawer of just in case crafts and things. We had created a birthday poster from one of Briar's mixed media arrtistic triumphs. Behind the display was a Barbie doll house fashioned from a Victoria's Secret bag, a Huggies Wipes box, and scraps of construction paper stamped with Disney Princesses. It was a birthday smorgasbord of making-spectacular with what we had.

Growing up I didn't have the cool shoes and my closet didn't contain Esprit, Guess or Genera. Our kitchen cupboards never contained Nestle Quick, Wonder Bread or any cereal with Frosted or Fun in the name. I didn't have Barbies and I never had a banana seat bike.

What I did have was a mom who taught me the magic to be found beneath the yellow flowering boughs of the bush on the hill behind our house. I spent countless afternoon within those brilliant limbs of gold, festooning the different branches with bandanas for curtains and making shelves with sticks. I'd hang chipped mugs in the kitchen and lay pieces of old towels upon the floor completing my backyard getaway.

She showed me wonderlands where faeries danced beneath magic blankets. We'd walk delicately along the stone retaining wall, breathlessly declaring each discovery of gossamer threads twinkling with dew in the early morning sunlight. Then ever so gently we would touch the emerald moss to feel it still warm from the faeries.

Tucking my girls into bed at night I remember looking up at my own mom, searching her face. I remember the softness of her hands and the way her voice would dance, filling my room and carrying me away on magical flights of fancy. I remember wanting to make it last, wanting to stay a girl forever so that I'd always have her tucking me in. The sleepy blue eyes looking up at me night after night seem to make the same silent wish I did all those many years ago.

That mom I wished I could hold on to forever? Turns out she lives inside of me, she's an inspiration in a nearly empty cabinet, she's a fantastical tale on a stormy night. She's forgiveness when the dishes don't get done and she's the laughter when I burn another wooden spoon.

"You mean I actually passed something on?"

You bet you did, mom.

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Friday, April 6, 2007

Braids

Briar has discovered braids.

"Mama, will you put a bray in mine hair?"

It began a few weeks ago, and I have since created many little braids in her hair, some lasting but a moment before she pulled them out, others holding on until lights out. I've transformed Ariel from sleek, flame haired mermaid, to wild fiery, rastafarian goddess. Some of the other Barbies have not fared so well. (Snow White, for example, did not transition well from her sleek flip to the multi-braideed maiden Briar insisted she become.) This morning Briar learned to hold still. It may not seem like much, but in the moment after saying:

"Honey, you need to sit still and look at Avery so mommy can braid your hair."

I braced for the inevitable fidgeting and the frequent touches with her little nails-bitten-to-the-quick fingers, patting to inspect my progress. As I fixed her hair without interruption I realized that she had changed. She was sitting still. Last night she went to bed a little girl who did not understand the connection between sitting still and having a pretty braid. And this morning she sat ram-rod straight, barely even breathing as I worked.

When she turned to me and tilted her head as if to say, "Here mama, look at what you did," my breath caught. Something was different. As I looked at her, she smiled and I saw in those impossibly blue eyes the reflection of these past 2 and half years.

There were the nights spent soothing her to sleep.
Our shrieks and laughter at the park.
Stolen moments behind her door, my own hot silent tears after a scolding.
I see her warily approaching the hospital bed to meet her sister.
Her sleeping face. Staring back at me were discoveries of fairy beds and princess sparkles, sidewalk chalk and spit bubbles.

In that simple moment, barefoot and unshowered in the kitchen, I realized that despite mistakes and frustration, I have done something right. She is my daughter and she is simply amazing.

I shook my head and said,"Briar, I love you so much. Your hair looks so beautiful and you helped me so much by sitting still."

"Mama, I make you happy. You make me happy."
Then she walked over, placed her hands on either side of my face and pulled me into a kiss.

"I love you so much, mama."

So much indeed.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Following Shadows






I pray that when she's a woman I'll visit playgrounds and my find my first baby there in the shadows playing by trees and knealing near swings.

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One cool cat

You can't fake cool.






She's got more cool in her lower lip than I have in all 70" of me.


I love you, butternutter.

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In a minute...

I have a lunch date in 30 minutes. If I don't run to the bathroom I fear I might create a puddlle in the middle of the restaurant. I dash down the hall and into the back bathroom. It is sort of an unspoken truth that it is the pooping bathroom

(at least that's the deduction I have made from the fecal grafitti that is impressively splattered to the uppermost edges of the bowl)

hat means people are used to visits lasting a little longer. I lock the door behind me and undo my buttons.
I turn the water on, up enough so that the sound of it hitting the basin can be heard outside the door. This is not to mask any embarassing sounds, I am not here to poop. I am simply trying to alert anyone on the other side that I am in here and that there is still business being handled.

Phew. I thought I might burst.

I hear the clickety clack of heels outside, they stop just shy of the door. Good. The water worked. It continues to cascade down the shiny white walls of the sink. Little bits of water splash me every so often as the water pressure varies. I was so full, the release is intoxicating.

Click, clack, click. She must be walking over to the window. I blow the hair out of my eyes. Still going.

Click, clack, click. She is at the door. She clears her throat.

I call out, "It'll just be another minute."

Click, click. I think she has stepped a respectful distance from the door in anticipation of my exit.

I try to hurry, but it just makes things stop. Performance anxiety. I try to listen to the water to relax myself.

More clicking and clacking and what I imagine are crossed arm sighs.

I look at myself in the mirror and close my eyes. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. I loosen my shoulders. Ok, there we go, now--

Knock, knock, knock.

"Yup, sorry, hang on." Damnit, stopped again.

Ok, desperate times call for desperate measures.

And even when your hope is gone, move along, move along...

Clack. Click. CLACK. CLICK.

Shake it off, Amanda. Whew. Ok. Here it comes. And then, not ten sconds later-

Tap tap tap.

She was tapping her damn foot.

Ok. Squeeze. Come on. You have to get this out before lunch. Squeeze. Gentle. Breathe. Ok. Hmmmmm. Ah-hmmmmm.

Clickety, clack, clack, clack.

Ok. Fine. Damnit. I turn the water off and get myself buttoned up. I open the door and this woman stands there. She has a look of surprise on her face as if to say:

"Oh, my. I had no idea anyone was in there." She smiles at me. Pure fakeness.

I look at her. I open my mouth and almost lay in to her, but she is from the Senator's office. It wouldn't be a good idea. I smile back. Pure fakeness. I turn on my heel and roll my eyes as I know she is about to go in there and sniff. I smile as I realize she may very well think:

"Wow. Her shit doesn't stink." Sniff, sniff.

All her pert little nose will detect is the scent of sweet, hand expressed milk in the sink thanks to the breast pump I left sitting on the kitchen counter at home.

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Monday, April 2, 2007

It's the little things

Sometimes you're just tooling along and life throws you a little something. A little something that shifts things in just such a way that you smile. It might even make you throw your head back and let fly a carefree laugh. I feel duty bound to share these moments when I can. My dear friends, it is my distinct pleasure to share with you a little slice of Washington County heaven.




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