That said, I'm under no delusions that everything I write here is riveting material for my visitors. Posts that seem entertaining and creative and engaging to me at first read seem boring and self-indulgent and bordering-on-the-screwy following a second read. Some posts garner many comments, and although I'd like to think I'm above equating the worth of my writing with my comment total, who am I really kidding here? I feel validated! And honored! And somedays, even giddy! (Remember the itty-bitty life I'm leading here, people). And some posts, well, they just sort of languish out there in the blogosphere, like that last piece of warmed-over pumpkin pie that no one wants to touch, sitting on the table four hours after Thanksgiving dinner has ended.
So it was with the aforementoned validation, honor, and giddyness that I came upon a post over at Growing a Life in which Damselfly bestowed upon me the Thinking Blogger Award. Someone out there has actual thoughts provoked by my blog! Now, granted, those thoughts might be something along the lines of, "Um...this girl is Krazy, with a capital K, ya'll" but hey, I'll take it.
And it was clearly a good week for me, because I won the award again, this time bestowed upon me by Michelle over at My Journey.
So now it's time to share the love by nominating five blogs that make me think. They have to be blogs that haven't been nominated before (and there are so many great ones that have already received this award), so here they are, in no particular order:
Sasha from My Wombinations. Many of her posts resonate with me because we have so much in common. We're both liberals, writers by profession, runners, love travel, have husbands who never home because they're in school pursuing advanced degrees, and mothers to daughters. So many times I find myself reading her posts and shaking my head because I feel I could have written them myself. She's smart, eloquent, and completely in love with her new daughter Samara.
Ramona from Kross-Eyed Kitty. Ramona has lived and traveled all over the world. She has an incredible eye for detail and for recognizing the off-the-beaten-path beauty of the places she's been. She's also a nurse with an incredible level of compassion for her patients. There are some days when I think that I'm well-traveled, and that I've seen so much of the world and its different cultures. Then I read one of Ramona's travel posts and realize that there is so much more out there to see, and how small my own slice of the world really is in comparison.
Hopeful Mother and Beagle are two of the infertility blogs I read. Both have endured multiple ART cycles and are now at two different stages in their path toward motherhood. Hopeful Mother is pregnant with twins, and Beagle is pursuing adoption. Both of these women are incredibly strong, and their posts about their struggles are always inspiring because they're real. They both write with raw emotion about what it's like to be infertile in a baby-centered universe, and their posts always serve to remind me how truly resilient women are.
Sher is a wildlife rehabilitator, and an amazing cook and food photographer. Her posts always serve to make me fantasize about another life, one in which I'm not chained to my keyboard writing about software, but in a kitchen in my own bakery, whipping up desserts. She is also mom to Upsie and Sundance, two adorable kitties, whose escapades she chronicles with hilarity every weekend.
Okay winners-it's your turn to nominate five blogs that make you think. Have at it!
And then this weekend, I spotted my own personal recurrent sign of spring: my geriatric neighbor's granny panties and bras hanging on her closeline beside her Cryptkeeper husband.
Ahhh, spring. It is everywhere.
Now, as you know, I've been waiting for this nice weather forever, because I've been itching to take Isabella on regular walks. She's at an age where everything is such a new discovery for her, so the walks benefit her by exposing her to new and different surroundings, and they benefit me because I'm able to get the hell out of the house where I've been cooped up with said bambino all winter long.
And my family members are excited about the "walks with Isabella" concept too. When my great aunt mentioned she was going to buy an umbrella stroller for her house, I gave her the free one we received after purchasing $75 worth of kid crap (I mean, merchandise), from Toys R Us.
Last week a local drugstore was offering a free umbrella stroller if you purchase $25 worth of babycare products. The very next day following the publication of the ad, my grandma had herself at this drugstore bright and early, and came to my house with bags of diapers, butt ointment, and the like. And she now had her very own umbrella stroller for her house.
Both my great aunt and my grandma clearly had visions of wheeling their much-loved neice and great-granddaughter up and down the sidewalks in their neighborhood, showing Isabella off to their friends.
Can you see where this is going?
This past Saturday, my mom and I attempted to take Isabella for a walk. As soon as we got her strapped into her stroller, she started to cry. We figured she was just fussy and would snap out of it once we got going. That didn't happen. In fact, she worked herself into a full-fledged temper-tantrum, with screaming and tears, which would lend the casual observer to believe we were pulling out her fingernails one-by-one instead of wheeling her down the sidewalk in a stroller. So we headed home. Oh well, we thought. She's probably just tired. We decided to postpone our walk until the afternoon.
The exact same thing happened in the afternoon. Except this time, Isabella decided to mix it up a bit by attempting to physically remove herself from the stroller. Back-arching, legs-kicking, arms-flailing. Needless to say, it wasn't pretty. Neighbors stared. We smiled politely back at them with a "We-have-no-idea-what's-wrong-with-her-and-please-don't-call-Child-Protective-Services" look.
We tried again and again later that day. And then again the following day. We tried three different strollers (her large travel system stroller, her umbrella stroller, and then on Sunday afternoon, my great aunt's umbrella stroller). I knew it was pretty much over when I witnessed my 78 year old great aunt running (yes, running) behind the stroller down the sidewalk back to her house following an attempt to show off a screaming Isabella to her next-door neighbor.
I've tried loading her up with toys. I've tried holding her hand while my mom pushed her. I've tried singing and talking to her the whole time, in case separation anxiety is the issue. The one thing I haven't tried is placing her in her car seat on top of her travel system stroller, in which case she would be facing me, instead of facing out. This is because this weekend, we're installing her new carseat, and this one will be retired. I don't want her to get used to walks only while sitting in her car seat carrier.
I do not understand this new behavior at all. The last time I took her for a walk outside was probably two weeks ago. And she didn't act this way at all. And earlier last week, we went to the mall, and she was perfectly fine in her stroller for an hour and a half. She's fine in her carseat in the car. And she's fine with being left alone in a room to play by herself for a few minutes. So I doubt separation anxiety is the issue.
My brief online research hasn't yielded a whole lot. The advice I've found just says "wear your baby!", which was fine when she was younger, but now she is heavy, and I am weakling. Plus, I have a lower back issue that I don't want to exacerbate.
As you can imagine, this is completely bumming me out. I love being outside. While far from being an "outdoorsy" type, I love running outside, rollerblading, and, of course, I loved taking her for walks. I'm so worried about this stroller phobia. Will we never be able to take her to the park? Are trips to the mall out now too?
Does anyone have a suggestion for me?
The biggest change since last month is that she's come to the realization that laying on her tummy is not akin to being waterboarded by the Bush administration. She now rolls all over the place, and spends quite a bit of time on her tummy, both while playing, and while sleeping.
She's not crawling yet, and at this point, I'd be surprised if she ever does. What she does do is lay on her belly, and move commando-style, using her elbows as leverage, to stretch and reach for her toys. It's as if she's on a reconniscence mission, but she's completely dead from the waist down. At this rate, her meaty little thighs will never be Suzanne Somers-perfect!
Her most recent new trick, which has just emerged in the last week or so is that she now holds out arms to go to people, which is super-cute, and of course, a major crowd-pleaser in my family.
Feeding her has become a combat sport of sorts. She's developed a passive-aggressive fascination with wrapping her mouth around the rim of her highchair tray while her mouth is full of food. This, of course, makes a mess, and I firmly tell her "No!" while pushing back her head. And what does she do? Smile cunningly, and repeat the same behavior the next time I'm looking away.
She also turns in Oscar-worthy performances while she eats a new food. Somehow she has caught on to the "see food" thing. When I introduce her to a new vegetable, her first instinct is to scowl, and stick out her tongue with the offending food still on it, as if I had placed a live caterpillar there for her to swallow. She then fake-gags, and then behaves in such a way that makes those out of the room but within earshot believe I was beating her. And then, of course, the next time I feed her the previously untolerable food item, she devours it.
She's discovered the fun of peek-a-boo, and can both take the rings off and put them back on her stacking toys. She's also channeling her inner Ty Pennington, because there's been many a time when I've come to get her following a nap to find her hard at work at disassembling her crib bumper. We've lowered her mattress, because we're certain if we didn't, we'd one day walk in to find her sitting on the floor reading Proust.
Isabella's made great progress this month, but seems to have regressed in another behavioral area just within the last few days. It's extremely frustrating, and I've tried everything I can think of to correct the issue. I'll blog about this in the next few days, and hopefully someone out there will have a solution for me.
In the meantime, here are some pictures.
Isabella's iPod is rockin' the hip-hop these days. Current favorite? Eminem.
Please do not feed the animals, for they do not enjoy food designed for humans.
Naked hammock-swinging is fun.
Somehow, I've never quite outgrown my penchant for them. And I've accumulated quite the collection.
Here's the thing though: I love them. I know they make me look like an Oompa Loompa. At slightly under 5'2, an XL sweatshirt hanging down to my knees isn't exactly the most flattering look. I know that if I actually bought one in my size, which to this day I've never done, I would have to buy a small. And I know that sweatshirts are likely meant for exactly that-sweating-and when I'm wearing one, I'm most definitely not doing that. Unless, of course, you count as "sweat-worthy" the exhausting effort of pulling a blanket up to my chin while sprawled out on the couch watching American Idol while eating Reeses Pieces.
I love my vast array of oversized sweatshirts because they're comfortable. When I'm doing laundry or hauling the babe in every direction, or sitting at my desk working, the last thing I want to experience is the tug of form-fitting clothing. I crave comfort like nobody's business, and while my XL sweatshirts are far from what one might consider haute couture, they ain't going anywhere. And this time I don't care what Stacy and Clinton have to say about it.
Update on my most recent post: Thank you to everyone who offered advice and comfort following my "on the edge" meltdown earlier this week. Your posts, along with conversations with friends, and some personal reflection on my part have led me to the conclusion that despite thinking otherwise, I cannot "do it all," as much as I want to, or think I should be capable of doing so. I need help to find that work-life balance, and I need it soon. I just have to spend some time figuring out how exactly to do it. Whether it's asking my relatives to come over more often (up until now, I've let them decide when to come over) or figuring out some way to alleviate the growing burden of my job, I have to make figuring out my life a priority, or my meltdowns are only going to become more frequent. In the short-term, however, mamacita is coming this weekend, sans #4, which means I should have a wonderfully easy weekend in the babycare department.
You finally arrive at the restaurant. And instead of Fratelli's Italian Ristorante you find Bubba's Taco Palace. Needless to say, they don't carry the homemade gnocchi you've been craving for weeks.
Last week was Rich's spring break from school. No work for one whole week. No classes that have been keeping him away from home two nights a week since January for one whole week. No after-school groups, no board meetings. Nothing. He was to be free from all work and school obligations for seven blissful days.
On Monday of last week, he came down with strep throat. Throat-closing, ginormous white spot-growing, lymph node-swelling, fever-spiking strep throat. Antibiotics didn't touched the beast, so we think it's viral. He can still barely speak. He is awake all night, and sleeps much of the day. He has been staying far, far away from Isabella (and from me), or as much as he can in our small house. I feel so badly for him, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I also feel badly for me. To say I had looked forward to last week doesn't quite cover it.
To put this into context for you, I'll say that I've essentially been a single parent for the last four months. The hubs not only has a full-time job as the Enrichment Co-ordinator for his school district, but he's also completing an internship in his path to become a school principal, so he is serving as acting principal for an elementary school while its principal is recovering from knee surgery. And he's also taking classes two nights a week, directly following his day at school. So if he isn't staying late at school for administrative or board meetings, he is at a local university from 4pm-8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He rarely sees Isabella during the week, and when he does, it's usually to kiss her goodnight before her 7pm bedtime.
So last week's spring break was not only going to give Rich some much-needed time with his daughter, it was going to provide me a much-needed break from being Isabella's sole caregiver from morning until night. I didn't have anything extravagant planned. I was going to catch up on my work so I could finally feel as if I was ahead of my manager's requests instead of feeling as if I were constantly behind the 8 ball. I was going to work hard to diminish the stack of magazines beside my bed, with issues dating back to February, and even crack open a book or two from the pile I keep foolishly growing in my closet. I was going to catch up on all of your blogs, which I so miss reading on a regular basis. I was even going to escape to Starbucks for an hour or so as a did a few months ago, especially considering the one closest to my house just moved to a new and less crowded location.
I was going to pretend for a little while each day that my life hadn't changed so drastically from what it was just 8 months ago. I was going to try and reclaim the person that's been buried deep under the mommy role since last August. And at the end of the week, I would be recharged and refreshed, and hopefully emerge with a new attitude toward the life I'm living now. Truly, books and magazines and Starbucks aside, this is what I was looking forward to most.
It was to be a win-win situation for us both.
It never happened.
Instead, for the last seven days, I have changed every diaper, fed every meal, played every game, read every story, changed every peed- or pooped-on outfit, washed every dirty highchair tray, cleaned up every spit-up mess, wiped away every tear, and carried an increasingly heavy baby girl everywhere she needed to go all day, every day. All this, while juggling a full-time job at the same time. Really, it's no more than I do every week, Monday through Friday. But I wasn't supposed to have to do it last week.
And now the week, and that opportunity, are gone. And I'm sad, and I'm disappointed, and I'm exhausted.
So despite being out of practice, I was determined to make the pies for my family's Easter dinner. So I dusted off my apron, pulled out my beloved Kitchenaid mixer, and got to work. The only caveat was that I decided to both reduce my stress level and the time spent in the kitchen, I would try three no-bake pies this time around.
I made a lemon pie, Martha's no-bake cheesecake, and Paula Deen's Snickers Pie.
Here's the lemon pie.
And you can see the cheesecake in the foreground of the picture at the top of this post. But I know what you're all waiting for. You want to hear about the Snickers Pie, right?
It was really easy to make, and an instant hit with my family. I'll have to take their word for it, though, since as you know, I don't like chocolate.
3. Fold in Cool Whip, pour into crust, and freeze for 4 to 6 hours before serving. When ready to serve, top with Cool Whip and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Store any leftover pie (as if!) in the refrigerator.
I know you're looking for a picture of the final result. Problem is, I forgot to take one. Yeah, there are some days I forget to comb my hair, people. You can kind of see it in the right-hand corner of the picture at the top though.
As the first grandchild in my family, I grew up spoiled. Every holiday was an occasion for which I was showered with gifts, completely excessive and ridiculous at times, but of course, as a kid, I thought it was fantastic. Bring on the swag, I said!
According to my mother and grandma, I was not a spoiled brat, however.
As the first great-grandchild, and the first baby in my family in over 15 years, Isabella is getting the same pampered treatment. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the child is a rockstar in my family. The hubs and I? We no longer exist when we walk into one of my family members' houses with Isabella. We're simply her handlers. And of course, that's the way it should be.
But the gifts. Good God, the gifts. Her Easter was reminiscent of Christmas.
Here's what she was given.
A chicken stuffed animal
Two baby chick stuffed animals that squeek when you squeeze them
Two stuffed bunnies
Five Easter baskets
A ladybug flag
A ladybug bathing suit with matching sandals
Four summer outfits
A chewable rattle
A stacking toy
And over $50 in cash.
Here she is surrounded by a portion (yes, only a portion) of her Easter gifts.
Her first birthday is a little over four months away. Think I should just rent the U-Haul now?
What follows are a few of the slides.
This is my all-time favorite. I was pleased to report to my friends and husband that I currently wear something very similar for laundry day, so I won't be needing to pick up this little number.
Once the video was over, we traveled upstairs to my bedroom where my husband instructed my friends to raid my closet and pull out anything they'd consider a fashion disaster. Gone are a ginormous green J. Crew sweater circa 1992, which I called my "St. Patrick's Day sweater" because I only wore it once a year, a sweatshirt from a wine trail we used to tour all the time in the pre-baby days, and my beloved running shorts, deemed too masculine and too disgusting to see the light of day any longer. I wept bitterly over the loss of them all.
This structured blue jacket from Ann Taylor Loft. (Michelle, aren't you proud of me?).
And this necklace from, you guessed it, Ann Taylor Loft again.
It was a great birthday surprise, and I think I would have done Stacy and Clinton proud with my purchases*, don't you think?
1. If you could take back any one thing you did in your life, what would it be and why?
I took enough Advanced Placement courses as a high school student to enter college as a sophmore. As a result, I graduated in three years, which at the time seemed like a great idea. I was paying for half my tuition (with my parents covering the other half), so I was saving a lot of money by graduating early, and who the heck wouldn't want to end the misery of 8am classes, term papers, and exams a year before they were supposed to? In retrospect, that would be me.
I think I would have liked that extra year to figure out what I really wanted to be when I grew up. I majored in English and intended to become a feature writer for a magazine or an editor for a book publisher upon graduation. One small problem: I don't exactly live in a major metropolitan area, so these kinds of jobs aren't plentiful. So I ended up becoming a technical editor, and eventually a technical writer, working in the computer field. And computers? Don't interest me in the slightest.
2. If you could do anything other than your current job what would it be and why?
This is an easy one. I would be a travel writer. Travel is in my blood. I absolutely love experiencing new cultures and visiting new places. I've been to seven countries (which certainly isn't a lot compared with some people-check out Ramona's Travel Tuesdays to meet someone who has been all over the world), and I can't wait to visit more, someday.
And I love to write as well. I have two degrees in English, and if I didn't have this blog as an outlet, I think I would curl up and die.
3. You were driving cross country and your cd player was stuck on repeat, what is the song you would least mind listening to over and over and over again?
This is a tough one. I'd have to say "How Soon is Now?" by The Smiths. That period of self-discovery I would have liked more time to participate in back in college? Well, the soundtrack to that time in my life is a Smiths album. And this song is one of my favorites.
4. If Isabella was a boy, what would his name be?
If you recall, I was absolutely certain the Beastie was a boy. She would have been either Nicholas or Noah.
5. If you hadn't named her Isabella, what would have been your second choice in names?
I desperately wanted to name her Ella. The hubs desperately did not. So we compromised with Isabella. Emma was also on the list for awhile, but due to the name's popularity, we decided against it.
6. If infertility were not an issue, how many children would you have?
Regardless of whether we had infertility issues, I've always wanted two children, and definitely no more than that. I don't think I'm psychologically capable of taking care of more than two children (because, dear G-O-D, taking care of one is oh-so-hard most days), and we want to be able to provide for them in a way we just financially couldn't if we had more than two.
If you want to participate, and have me dream up six questions for you to answer, just let me know in the comments section.
I ordered the onesie and the bib over the internet. When I opened the package, I found these two wife-beaters instead, shipped to me by accident, instead of to their rightful owner who lives in the great state of Texas.
And while receiving her order was highly amusing for me, imagine how horrified she likely was to receive my order instead of hers. The irony of this situation was not lost on this quick study.