Fashion Fright Friday: Birthday Edition

This week I decided to once again focus on my style problems below knee-level. I didn't even realize I was committing this particular fashion faux pas until my best friends in the entire universe, Clinton and Stacy, called the collection belonging to one of their show participants "an abomination."

I present to you my collection of patterned socks.

You'll notice I have several pairs with cats on them. And an entire collection of seasonal socks! Look-there's a pair with hearts on them for Valentine's Day! A pair with spiders on them for Halloween! And of course, the ubiquitous pair of red Christmas socks that every 4th grader you know wears to school on the last day before holiday break. I even have a pair of rainbow-striped socks with spaces for my toes in them. They're like gloves for my feet!

Now, to give myself some credit, I will say that I can't remember the last time I actually purchased my own socks. Most of the socks I own were purchased for me as gifts, which either means most everyone in my family needs as much fashion intervention as I do, or they all delight in making me look foolish.

And yes, I actually wear most of these socks. But pick your jaws up off the ground, people. Nobody can see my socks under my pants.

So, it's kind of like I'm not really breaking any style rules at all, because it's my little secret, right?

No? I didn't think so.

(And if you happened to catch its mention in the title, yes, today is my birthday. I'm 31. Send in the clowns.)

My Baby, She Sniffles

Growing up, I was what you would call a "sick kid." I'll spare you the sob-story details here, but if you want a brief recap, here it is (see #4). Throughout my various stays in the hospital, I watched my mom exhibit what amounts to rabid lioness protection of her wee baby cub (me). She kept doctors and nurses who treated me roughly far, far away from my bedside. She asked numerous questions about every blood draw, test, and procedure my doctors wanted to perform on me. She held my hand as IVs were inserted in my veins, slept by my hospital bed every night, and almost always kept a smile on her face (at least in my presence), while on the inside she was most likely sick with worry and exhausted from sleep deprivation.

I had attributed her behavior to what my sister and I affectionately call our mother's obsessive compulsive motherhood disorder. You see, my mother still asks me to sit on her lap. (No, I'm not kidding.) Up until this year, she still filled our childhood stockings for us to rip through on Christmas morning. And she still spoils us as if we were children for our birthdays. Truly, my mother should have had about 10 more children, so she could have divided up some of her attention instead of focusing it entirely on my sister and me.

So, I never understood her perspective on being the mother of a sick child. Of being that fierce protector. Of staying up long nights by my bedside, and doing anything she could think of to make me smile when I was having a particularly bad day.

That is, until this weekend. I now know what it's like to mother a sick (albeit on a much smaller scale) child. Isabella has contracted her first cold.

There's nothing more pathetic than a sick 7th month-old. On Sunday, her first full day of sickness, she woke up in a great mood, but with a nose so congested, it took a 10-minute battle with the nasal aspirator to clean it out so she could breathe better. She was coughing a lot. And sneezing a lot. And while her general personality was the same as it always is, there were times when I would look at her, and the big brown eyes gazing back at me were glazed over and drowsy. She was fever-free until Sunday night, when her temperature spiked to about 100 degrees. We gave her some baby Tylenol and put her to bed, but to say it was a rough night would be an understatement.

But while I would have been frustrated and annoyed and cranky to have dealt with the kind of night she had on Sunday under ordinary circumstances, instead I seemed to channel my own mother's nurturing ways. I nursed her in the middle of the night, something I haven't had to do in weeks. I rocked her, and I soothed her back to sleep. I checked on her often, making sure she could breathe properly. And on the inside, my heart was aching for the sick little girl whom I couldn't do a thing to help. It was unlike any other emotion I've ever felt.

Luckily, she woke up yesterday morning feeling much better. She doesn't have a fever anymore. She seems much less congested. She's hardly sneezing at all, and her cough seems to have dissipated for the most part as well.

I know this is the first of dozens of colds she will have over the course of her childhood. I know babies are much stronger than we often think they are, and that by breastfeeding her, I'm providing her with tons of antibodies to fight off disease.

But holy crap. On Sunday, I was scared. Clearly, I need to wipe my child's snot off my shirt and get a grip.

Fashion Fright Fridays

The always-clever and candid Damselfly, mom to the adorable Flybaby, and creator of one of the cutest blog designs I've seen runs a weekly feature called Wardrobe Wednesdays. Each Wednesday, she posts photos of clothes she likes and would wear if she had unlimited funds. Girlfriend has great taste. Especially cute are the tie-back dresses she picked out this week. Go check out her post here (which also contains a good message for all the moms out there).

Damselfly's Wardrobe Wednesdays gave me an idea of my own, but it approaches the world of fashion from what I would consider the total opposite end of the spectrum.

My name is Kristi. And I am extremely style-challenged.

Ever since I can remember, clothes really haven't been all that important to me. I think I can trace it back to the fact that for 13 years, I attended Catholic school, where I was either in uniform or adhering to a pretty strict dress code. Once I got to college, I came to the realization that hey, I can dress however I want now, chopped off my hair, dyed it every color of the rainbow, and pledged allegiance to Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson every morning. Good times.

Upon graduation, I clothed myself in a professional wardrobe for work that interestingly enough bore a scary resemblance to the aforementioned Catholic school dress code. If it fit, I wore it, and I didn't really pay attention to styles or trends, or what particular pieces looked good on my body.

Until the summer of 2005. I went to Seattle to visit my sister, who is the goddess of all things fashion. She owns more cute shoes and skirts than Isabella has items of pink clothing. Karrie used to work in the fashion industry, and she always looks so put-together and stylish. She took pity on her poor couture-challenged sister and took her shopping. That's when I bought my first pair of designer jeans. And I came home with some really nice (and stylish!) pieces. Then I done got myself knocked up, and of course, none of those nice clothes fit for the next 12 months or so.

Unfortunately, in my new mommy role, I've resorted to some pretty bad fashion choices. Sure, I still have my clothes from my Seattle shopping spree, but I have no place to wear them now since I'm at home with the babe all day, and my trips into the office for work are few and far between. And as I've mentioned before, the shirts, well, they don't quite fit as nicely as they did pre-breastfeeding.

So in the interest of full disclosure (not that full, people. Remember, this is a post written by a former Catholic school girl), each Friday, I'm going to dig into the recesses of my closet to show you just how challenged I am. Because seriously, if you can't poke fun at yourself, you're taking life way too seriously.

For the inaugural edition of Fashion Fright Fridays, we're going to travel back in time to 1997. You remember 1997, right? You went to see Titanic three times in the movie theatre. You watched South Park every night, and you were probably just learning about the internet.

I was six months from graduating from college, and I was taking a three-week class in London. You can read all about it here. I went to a store, which for me, at that point in my life, was very much like a journey to Mecca. I went to the Dr. Marten department store.

Now, I had two pairs of Docs at home already, so I wasn't new to the shoe. But this store, located in the heart of London, was five stories of pure yellow-stitched heaven, with every conceivable shoe and boot available in the free world.

I saw a pair of silver hologrammed boots, and a love like no other was born. I bought them. I took them home. And I wore them everywhere.

I wore them out clubbing. I wore them to class. I even wore them under my graduation gown. Don't believe me? Here's me and the hubs (who was just my boyfriend then) in May 1997.

And I desperately wanted to wear them under my wedding dress, but the hubs threatened to call the whole thing off if I did.

Truth be told, I still love these boots, even though I know they (like me) are past their prime. I have dreams of passing them down to Isabella someday so she can love them as I did, although she'd probably laugh her mother into the next century upon first glimpse.

Perhaps instead I'll put them in a shadow box and mount them on my living room wall. They deserve a final resting place worthy of all that silver shininess, don't they?

Isabella at Seven Months

Tomorrow, little miss Isabella turns seven months old. Here's what she's been up to lately.

Her hands are constantly busy exploring. It's amusing to watch her lay on her back and just examine her hands as if they're the most fascinating thing she's ever seen. She loves playing with paper (which oddly enough, unlike everything else, she doesn't try to stuff into her mouth), and she's constantly grabbing for food, and especially drinking glasses or soda cans.

She's starting to give hugs now, which she likes to couple with passive-aggressive hair-pulling. And she's giving big open-mouthed kisses, which melt her mother's cold, shriveled heart every time it happens.

She can sit up virtually unsupported, and only topples over occasionally, and mostly when she's trying to grab one of the cats' tails.

She still hates tummy time, and most often will flip right back over when placed on her stomach. That said, she will roll over onto her stomach on her own when reaching for a favorite toy, then quite amusingly realize what she's done, and flip right back over, giving up on the toy completely.

Her favorite activities now include making noise, which delights her to no end, by either banging a toy on her highchair tray, or scraping her pacifier along the wall while I change her diaper.

And there's still nothing that entertains her more than ripping off her socks and sucking on her toes.

She's recently begun making motor noises with her mouth, which is actually pretty funny. Not so funny is her newly developed penchant for grunting, a la Billy Bob Thorton's character in Slingblade. Very unappealing to listen to, let me tell you.

She's trying lots of new foods these days, all of which are made by yours truly. She especially loves sweet potatoes, apples, and squash, and hates zucchini with a fiery passion.

And perhaps the skill that makes her mother most proud: she can turn the pages of her board books all by herself.

I'm continuing to learn new things about motherhood each day. For example, I learned this week that feeding your baby an entire banana, even a small one, over the course of a single day will cause your mother and your grandmother to take her into a back bedroom at your aunt's house following Sunday dinner, strip off her pants, undo her onesie, and massage her belly in order to alleviate perceived (and as it turned out later, very unappetizingly real) constipation.

I've also learned that my baby likes to make me look bad, probably as punishment for making her eat the aforementioned dreaded zucchini for three days in a row to see if maybe, just maybe, the next day would be the day she'd decide to like it. She behaves like a perfect angel when in the company of all of my family members. No whining. No grunting. No back-arching thrashes. Nada. Which, as you can imagine, leads them to say, "Well, I can't imagine what you're talking about when you tell us she's having a bad day." Right. Of course, I must be lying!

And the second they leave? Her alter-ego, Miserbella, rears its ugly head. Ah, babies and their split personalities.

So I realize the posts around here have been few and far between. I haven't posted since last Sunday, which I believe is the longest stretch of time between posts since Isabella was born. And while I was fielding 27,000 calls a day from my manager last week, picking pureed sweet potato out of my hair for three straight days, and trying to figure out how it was meteorologically possible to go from 60 degrees (whoo-hoo, we went for a walk outside!) one day to 27 degrees (hell and damnation, we were stuck climbing the walls in the house again) the next, the truth is, I felt creatively and emotionally tapped out. My life is so incredibly teeny, tiny, small now, that truthfully? Nothing much is going on worth writing about.

Don't believe me?

Here's what's new in my life. Judge for yourself, and please try not to fall asleep halfway through. And if you do, don't tell me about it. My ego can't take the beating.

1. My mom visited this past weekend. I didn't change one dirty diaper for three whole days because she practically inhaled my child. Bliss, thy name is "new grandma." She hadn't seen Isabella since Christmas, and I do believe if she could have, she would have climbed into Isabella's crib with her and slept beside her each night. Which apparently, she actually did with me when I was a baby. Um, yeah.

2. I am developing back problems. At first I thought it was because of our new (and defective) foam mattress. But we recently had it replaced with one that didn't sag into two permanent valleys where our bodies lay each night, and the back problems persisted. So I've narrowed it down to the enormous boobs I'm sporting (thanks, breastfeeding) or to hauling around an almost 15 pound baby all day, every day. The odd thing is that my lower back only hurts when I'm in bed at night, and first thing in the morning until I've gotten up and walked around. Do I sound like your arthritic Aunt Gertie yet?

Thrilling, I know. But wait! There's more.

3. I am turning 31 years old next week, and I can't think of a single thing I want for my birthday (or at least something that's actually feasible). When I go to the mall or to Target (holla!) now, I shop for the kid or the hubs. I refuse to buy myself any shirts because as it is, most of the ones I already own make me look like I've been augmented (someone out there please tell me the girls will go back to their normal size once I've finished breastfeeding), and I'm counting on them fitting again once August rolls around and I've finished nursing the wee one. So yeah, birthday coming, and no excitement about it whatsoever.

4. There was a What Not To Wear marathon on TLC about a week ago. My DVR recorded every single episode. I have been in eyes-glazed-over heaven watching what has amounted to visual crack. I cannot get enough of Stacy and Clinton. Love. Them.

You understand now, don't you? You're nodding your head. You've said aloud to yourself, "Geez. I hate to admit it, but she's right. Her life really is so teeny, tiny small now. This blog used to be somewhat-to-moderately entertaining to read. And now? Well, not so much."

And right this second, you're trying to figure out how to access your template in the new Blogger so you can remove my blog from your blogroll.

But I'm not going to stop writing here. I may be treading water now, but sooner or later, something of import is going to happen to me. And I will write about it here. And the two readers I have left will laugh. They will cry. They will smile and nod their heads. They may even give me an "Amen, sister!" These two readers will tell their friends and family to check out my blog, and pretty soon my comments section will be alive with the sound of music once again.

I promise I will post again before Friday. Writing this here will actually make me do it, so there you have it. And on Friday of this week, I'm starting a new weekly tradition inspired by one of you.

Hopefully it will pull this pathetic blog (and me along with it) out of the soul-sucking hole it's been stuck in for the past week or so.

Target is My Xanax

Isabella and I have many rituals. In fact, our days are built around them. We have our Jumperoo-Coffee-Email ritual, whereby after her first feeding of the day, we head downstairs to the kitchen where she bounces happily in her Jumperoo for about 20 minutes while I make coffee, check my email, and feed the cats.

We have the late afternoon ritual where I put her in her exersaucer and she works on training me to go fetch the balls she throws all over the living room. Over. And over. And over again.

And we have our soon-to-be-moved-to-the-adult-tub ritual of her bath (previously held in her infant tub, placed in the kitchen sink), where she has recently discovered the joys associated with making her mother appear ready for a wet tshirt contest (and one that no red-blooded male would want to attend, believe me), as she pounds her not-so-tiny-anymore fists into the tub and sends water everywhere.

But my favorite ritual, by far, is our Thursday afternoon trips to Target. Hey, my life is getting smaller by the day, people. Please hold your laughter until you reach the end of the post.

It started about six weeks ago on a Thursday, when I was going ape-shit out-of-my-mind stir-crazy, after not having left the house since the previous Sunday. It was around 3pm. Miss Isabella had taken a short afternoon nap, I had just finished feeding her, and I was staring into the face of four frighteningly long hours until her bedtime. There are just so many games you can play, songs you can sing, and books you can read with a then five-month old. I needed to get out of the house. I needed to see people. The need was primal, I tell you. And so, with no shopping list and absolutely no reason for going there, we headed to Target.

And oh, what sweet retail-therapy-get-me-the-hell-out-of-my-house relief it was. It wasn't that I spent a ton of money. It wasn't that I even particularly like shopping, because I really don't. It was that we were out of the house, in a brightly lit place (which stood in marked contrast to the dismal cold and gray day I had been staring out my house's windows at all day), and there were people there, and many of them looked like the tired, desperate-for-a-change-in-scenery house fraus with babies I was.

So Isabella and I spent about 45 minutes wandering the aisles. I snagged some cute baby shoes for her, some headbands for me (because I'm on the fast track to baldness what with her hair-pulling fetish), some granola bars for the hubs, and the new Norah Jones CD (for both of us).

And then we went home. I was in a better mood. I think even Isabella was in a better mood because for a brief time she had something to look at besides my ugly mug all day long. And the following Thursday we went again. And the one after that. And the one after that.

Just because I know you are literally dying to see what I bought this past Thursday, I'll show you. Because that's the type of person I am. A giver.

My stash included Quaker Granola Bites, Reeses Pieces, for which we've already established my obsession, gum, a new throw rug for the bathroom, a bag and tissue paper for my aunt's birthday present, and these cool little fruit salad/ice cream bowl dishes that resemble ones I bought at IKEA several years ago.

Target bowls on the left, IKEA ones on the right.

Okay, so those new Quaker Granola Bites? Are seriously good. And for the record, yes, I'm fully aware that they're a snack designed for children's lunch boxes, and I'm okay with it.

These two came from the Dollar Bins at the front of the store. Magnetic grocery lists for your fridge! Bunny ear headbands for Easter! Candles in the shape of little chicks! All can be yours for just a single dollar. I snagged animal crackers (anyone know why they're called "crackers" when they are so obviously a cookie?) and a Beatrix Potter bunny pal for the little girl for Easter.

Oh, and I also bought this bowl (not for a dollar) whose purpose I've yet to decide. I just knew I totally needed it when I saw it on the shelf. Who doesn't need a cute yellow bowl?

And finally these. Okay, so I didn't buy these at Target (but I so would have if they carried them!). Baby's first Chuck Taylors!

Oh Target, I think I love you.

Chelsea (March 31, 1992 - March 8, 2007)

15 years ago I was working as a cashier in my local grocery store. I was walking out of work one night when I saw a woman and her children standing beside a shopping cart in the parking lot. In that shopping cart was a tiny puppy, no more than a month or so old. I stopped to pet the puppy, and the woman explained that her dog had had a litter of puppies, they were moving, and they needed to "get rid" of the puppies. There had been several others, but the one I was petting was the last one. And she asked me if I wanted the puppy.

Now, at the time, my family members were "cat people." We had a geriatric kitty named Cheena, and although my sister grew up with a great love of all things dog, and even had a collie for a time before the dog went to live with my grandma, we hadn't ever really had a dog live in our house for any great length of time. But I went home from work that night and convinced my mom that we just had to have that little puppy. So we returned to that shopping cart in the parking lot, my mom paid the woman the $50.00 she was asking for the puppy, and we brought Chelsea home.

She was to be my dog. Mine and my sister's, actually. We were to take care of her, feed her, take her for walks. All those things one does to train a puppy in her new home. But my mom soon took pity on my sister and me because of the early morning bathroom trips Chelsea needed to take, and my mom became her primary caretaker. And a mother-doggie bond like no other was born.

Chelsea became my mom's third daughter. When my sister and I graduated from high school and moved out of our house, Chelsea stayed behind and kept my mother company. She was a "special needs" dog, because while very sweet and gentle, she was high-maintenance, needed a lot of attention, and was extremely pampered by my mom.

Chelsea loved to chase squirrels, and to play in the lakes and climb the Adirondack mountains where she lived the last ten years of her life. She was my mother's constant companion through a rocky third marriage and divorce, and remained by her side, faithfully, through it all. My mom rewarded Chelsea with a level of care unmatched by any "animal parent" I've ever known. She cooked her meals that would rival those made for humans. She bought her fleece coats to protect her against the harsh Adirondack cold. She would often take her to work with her, and would never leave her alone for any longer than a few hours, preferring instead to incorporate Chelsea into virtually every aspect of her life.

I hadn't seen Chelsea in about five years. My mom shared custody of her with her third husband, and whenever I've been up to visit my mom in recent years, Chelsea was with him. But last weekend, during our weekly webcam chat, my mom had Chelsea for the weekend, and I was able to see her for the last time. She hadn't been eating. She was throwing up. She was very weak. A vet appointment on Monday of this week revealed she was riddled with cancerous tumors.

And my mom made the agonizing decision to have Chelsea euthanized today.

My heart is breaking for what my mom is losing. I know that ending her suffering is the greatest gift she could give to her dog, and my wish is that my mom can find a way to not cry over what she's lost, but to smile over the 15 amazing years she and Chelsea spent together.

Rest in peace, sweet Chelsea. You'll sleep with the angels tonight.

This is a Land of Confusion

The rent came due for my four frosties (or as my mother calls them, her "frozen grandchildren") the other day. $240.00 to keep my embryos cryogenically frozen for another year. And with that bill, came the discussion Rich and I had about when exactly we want to try for our second child (and last) child. I cannot even fathom having another little one anytime soon (and that's if we're even able to conceive, because, as you know, baby-making ain't all about mood lighting, two straws in a bottle of wine, and some Barry White on the old turn-table in my house). But I'm not getting any younger (31 in 25 days), and statistically, the younger you are, the more likely your IVF cycle will work. Plus, as I'm realizing, Isabella is going to need a sibling to prevent her head from growing to twice its normal size from the ridiculous amount of attention she receives in my family.

So I had been thinking a lot about motherhood lately (mainly my own, of course), when I came across this post, nominated by Marie over at Practigal for her Perfect Post Award for the month of February. Read it. And then ask yourself what you would do in the same situation. Because what the author of the post did for the sake of another woman's children whom she witnessed being abused was extraordinary. I'm not usually the overly emotional type when it comes to sad human stories. Tell me a depressing story about an animal, or make me watch that Pedigree dog food commercial with the dogs in the animal shelter ("I know I'm a good dog. And I just want to go home"), and the tears? They are flowing. Christine and I have shared a Kleenex over that one. But after reading this horrific tale, well. It brought tears to my eyes.

And to round out my thoughts on motherhood in the past week, I watched a documentary on Discovery Health called 14 Children and Pregnant Again. And yes, they are all biological children. That woman had been pregnant a uterus-shattering 14 times. And during the course of the documentary, she gave birth to two more children for a total of 16. 16 freaking kids! Now, while this woman is clearly Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs on multiple levels, it's obvious from the documentary that she loves her children.

Motherhood is a strange experience. Being a mom can, in a single 24-hour day, make me want to whip out the needles and the drugs and start the IVF process all over again tomorrow one minute, and in the next move me to place my daughter gingerly amongst the cantalope in the grocery store and make for the nearest exit while hoping some nice woman decides to pick her up and take her home.

Is this schizophrenic, Sybil-like behavior normal? I'm not sure. But here's what I do know. Being a mom has changed my life in ways I never imagined, some of which I'm proud of, and some of which I'm not. Motherhood is an evolutionary process as well, because I feel that while I've learned so much since bringing Isabella home six months ago, I still have a ways to go in order to feel totally comfortable and at peace with my new life, its sacrifices, and the enormous responsibility of caring for such a helpless little being.

So I'll pay the rent on my embryos, while I try to figure this whole motherhood thing out. I figure that by the time Isabella is ready to retire I'll have things under control.

Quick Snapshot:

  • 34-year-old writer and
    mother to a daughter
    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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  • "All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." -Martin Buber

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