Friday, June 30, 2006

Having Fun With Boys - You know what I mean

Raising a little boy is so...strange. Sam's moods are so fleeting and extreme. One moment he is grunting and yelling at his truck that will not stay up on the couch when he puts it there, screaming and turning red in the face in aggressive frustration. The next he is head butting me with his mouth wide open for a kiss, he lays his head on my leg and smiles as I rub his ears while he whispers sweet nothings, aka babble, to my lap. I think I'm in for it. He's got me right where he wants me. Is it wrong to believe I have the sweetest baby imaginable? The best? Because I do...believe that, I mean.

Here are some highlights from the zoo today, the highlight being the ice cream. This is not unlike the face he makes for that kiss.

My two boys.

And for the five of you that care, we'll be headed to the in-laws for the 4th so there won't be an 80's Sunday this week. We'll pick up where we left off next week.

Happy weekend and Happy 4th!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Bragging Wife

I just have to brag because I am so very proud of Hubby. As you may know, he graduated from law school back in May. He did an excellent job in all of his classes from the very beginning. Just yesterday we found out that he was awarded Cum Laude for his awesome GPA, 3.88.

In addition, he was awarded the honor of Order Of The Coif. I know, it sounds so very Harry Potter. This is an award that is decided by the Professors at his school, giving it to students for outstanding achievement.

Hubby worked so hard during his 3 years of law school, he took excellent care of a crazy pregnant woman for nine months of it, and then took on the new responsibility of being an outstanding father - all while succeeding and excelling at a top 15 law school. I am so proud of him for being able to accomplish so much, so I just had to brag because I can't contain myself.

And speaking of Harry Potter, look at what they made him wear for his graduation!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My Mom Haircut is New and Improved

Welcome to my new look! This is what I get when I go to a book group that I've looked forward to all month and prepped for all day (mentally and psychologically), one of the only social events I have been able to attend since moving here, only to sit there by myself for 20 minutes until finally realizing no one else is coming. After coming home crying and declaring that absolutely nothing seems to work out in this city (recall all posts regarding the BIG MOVE and the one about how no mommies live here) Hubby offered to work on my site's look with me, something I have been making noises about for a month or so. He's so good to me. Of course, it also gave him a good excuse to avoid studying for the BAR exam...

I hope this new format is both easier to read and more reflective of my site's content. The Carol Brady thing was a little too kitschy, even for me. So please let me know what you honestly think, because I'm sure we'll have more nights when I have tried to be social and am thwarted, and Hubby will be looking for more ways to avoid his studies. Personally, I love it and intend to have beautiful dreams about my new blog tonight.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Sorry, bad apples

Oh, it’s so very unfortunate, but alas I am sick. You may have noticed in the description of the 80’s Sunday video that I mention Sam has a bit of a fever. Well now he is ok, but I am under the weather. So I won’t really be writing today, but sipping tea instead. But I wanted to go ahead and mention it now so that tomorrow when some of you are asking me if I went to visit my good friends with the apple calves and the blank stares again, I’d have my excuse prepared. I am sick, see? So no, I can’t possibly go back to that class and haul buns through the park with my humungo stroller and humungo nummies. Just can’t. Must finish book instead. Must rest. Must regain strength and recover.

Ok, this is all a little too sarcastic sounding. I truly am legitimately ill – sore throat, stuffy nose, dizzy feeling, all that stuff. But I’ll be honest: I’m just fine with not having to make a decision about going back to that class tomorrow. I hadn’t decided yet what I was going to do. I think I was leaning toward going, which would mean that now I should be feeling some sort of disappointment. Can’t say that I do.

We’ll see if something happens to come up next week as well…

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Apples Calves and Shin Splints

So, I went to a fitness class for moms yesterday. It is a class where you bring your child(ren) and a stroller and you work out with your baby. The cardio portion of the class is predominantly pushing the stroller, and then every so often the group stops to do some strengthening exercises, ending the one hour session with work on mats on the grass, using our babies as resistance. In Chicago I had always wished there was a way to work out with Sam, and I never felt I could really get any exercise in if I was taking care of him. I tried to go to one mom and baby yoga class and I got to do all of two poses. So this class sounded ideal when I first discovered it.

As with any new class/exercise/meeting/social situation, there is always that doubt when it comes time to actually participate in the activity, at least, this is true with me, particularly with exercise…and meeting new people…and being social…ok, with everything new. It always sounds good until I actually have to motivate to do it. Class was going to be at 5:00 and I found from the time I woke up that I was trying to devise a good reason to not go. This is a difficult task seeing as I would first have to convince myself it was ok to stay home, and then convince Hubby, who I knew would give me an earful of guilt since I have been yammering about how I need things to do with Sam, need to make friends, need to find ways to exercise, etc. So I knew it would have to be something pretty good to get me out of this successfully. I checked the weather and saw that they were predicting an isolated thunderstorm sometime in the afternoon. I thought, that’s it, I’m totally set, but as the day wore on it just got sunnier and clearer. In the morning I started planting the idea into Hubby’s head that it might just be too hot to exercise outside. It’s hot here, you know. And muggy, so muggy. And it’s hard for someone who’s not used to exercising in the heat to all of a sudden begin. It could be dangerous. Oh, and what about Sam? What about my son the big sweaty head who keeps getting heat rash. Surely I can’t take him out for a whole hour if it is hot and humid. But of course, the temp did not go beyond 84 degrees. It was a beautiful, cloudless, sunny day with a nice cooling breeze. But what if this is a running class? I can’t run. I hate running (Yes, I HATE running. It makes me feel like my face is going to bounce off and my eyes are going to fall out. It makes me want to puke. It is so jarring and unpleasant. I can’t even look at a jogger without getting uncomfortable.) And there’s no way I can run with a stroller, and with these enormous nummies! No way. “Well, does it say it’s a running class?” “No, it doesn’t.” “In the pictures are the women running?” “No, they aren’t. But they are ridiculously thin and buff. They are clearly work out women, which I am not. I’ll be the fattest one there.” “Honey, they just post pictures like that to make the program look good, the women there will be regular women who have also given birth. And you’re NOT FAT.” I had nothing.

And so, when the time came, instead of trying my usual excuses, I just went and got dressed in my “workout attire.” Please note, I made a half hearted attempt at, “I have nothing to wear,” to which Hubby promptly reminded me of the trip I took to Target not so long ago for the sole purpose of purchasing workout clothes for an aerobics class. “But that was indoor and this is outdoor.” “But you bought shorts.” Fine. I was going. I had no excuse and truthfully I knew I’d never forgive myself if I chickened out. I drove off with Sam and my map to the place where this group meets, the new Dixie Chicks improving my confidence slightly. I find the place easily and am on time despite my subconscious attempts at delaying us. Park, gear up the stroller, add baby, and make sure I have everything:
Water – check
Yoga mat – check
Total mom haircut - check
Humungous and heavy non-jogging stroller - check
Equally humungous and heavy breastfeeding nummies – check
Inner thigh flab that will rub together whenever engaging in a quick pace – check
Previously mentioned Target shorts that will ride up to crotch with the help of aforementioned thighs - check

And with that we walk down to the meeting point at the end of the trail. I knew it was them before I even got to the group. They weren’t exactly the ones from the pictures on the website, but they might as well have been. They were the buff women, the work out women, the serious women. How do I know?
Uber hip jogging strollers – check
Ponytails – check
Spandex biker shorts - check
Apple shaped protruding calves – check
Breasts – ... nada

And I know I’m being harsh on women who exercise here, but it’s only because I’m jealous. I think it’s great. But c’mon, noone wants to be the fat girl, right? And I’m looking at a woman who gave birth 3 months ago who is thinner than I have ever been in my entire life. Furthermore, as soon as I saw how fit these people were I was back to wondering what exactly we’d be doing in this class. I’m thinking at this point it’s not just a walk in the park.

The instructor curtly welcomes me, asks if I can register after class so that we can go ahead and get going…um, yes. We tell each other our names, and she begins with,
“Ok, we’re going to warm up by walking at a fast pace in a single file line. The person in back will then run up to the front of the line and so on.” Oh crap...

I found out later from Hubby that this exercise is called an Indian Sprint. Please ignore the offensive part and focus on SPRINT. And I think to myself: Would these women laugh at me if I just turned around and walked away right now? Yes, yes they would. They’d probably talk about it for the duration of the class.

The beginning of the trail is uphill. And let me say that the fast pace was FAST. I am short. I have short legs. People who have short legs have to take more steps to cover the same distance as people with long legs, see? I was practically running just to stay in the line, so when it kept being my turn to run up to the front I was totally haulin’ it. And my stroller is completely bouncing so while the other women are literally pushing theirs with one hand using like 2 fingers I’m trying to keep Sam out of the ditch. So I’m running up this hill thinking, “I have to get back to the car. I have to get out of here. Would anyone notice if I just didn’t run up to the front of the line? But if they turn around and see me, I know they can outrun me. They’ll come and catch me. Then I’ll have to run faster than I am now. They’ll trap me with their smooth riding three wheeled strollers. But if this is just the warm up, what is the real class like? I’m going to die out here and she didn’t let me register so she doesn’t even have my emergency contact’s information. Hubby will have to come searching for me in the ditch…” and then she says we will be continuing with this for 3 more minutes. I press on and we pull over to do push ups on a fence. When we begin again it is clear we will just do the fast paced walk. And this is how it continues. We walk fast, we pull over to do exercises. We head further and further into the park. I try desperately to think up an excuse to get out of there. Unfortunately Sam is not cooperating. Normally if there is something I really want to do I can depend on him to be fussy and thwart my attempts at having a life. Not today. No, he loves this. Mommy is on her 3rd set of 20 squat side kick things and he’s yuckin it up with the 8 month old next to him.

I try at one point to insert myself into the conversation 2 women are having. One is telling the other that she has been looking for activities like this to do with her kids. I ask, “Oh, did you just move here?” Pause…blank stare... “No.”… “Oh.” Silence. After about 15 seconds the other woman looks at me and asks if I just moved here, asks where from, etc. It ends. At this point I decide I need to just do my own thing. I need to enjoy the scenery, enjoy Sam, and just forget about what these women think of my shorts wedged up in my crotch.

The class seems to improve from here on out (especially when we turned around and started heading back). I fall a bit behind a few times, especially when I get off to a slightly late start due to giving Sam some of my water, but somehow I make it through. I end up talking again to that second woman and even a bit to the blank starer. We get to the last part where we set up our mats on the grass and take the kids out to play. Sam loved being used as my weight. He laughed as I lifted him up and down and bit and slapped my butt as I held my plank pose. And the women were a little warmer for this part too. I made 2 successful jokes and by the end found myself telling the instructor I’d be back next week. How did that happen?

As I walked to the car with the blank starer, I asked her about her super cool stroller. It was a single that could convert into a double with a place underneath for a second child. I thought that might actually be worth investing in if it could be used with a potential next child. So she told me the company and to look online. I did look it up later: $469.99.
Horror stricken face – check.

Told you they were serious.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Learning through play

Yesterday, for Father’s Day, we went to the Please Touch Museum. I had read that they had a farm exhibit specifically for children under three. They also have a storytime in the afternoons once a week, so I was considering getting a membership and going often if Sam enjoyed our trip. The Please Touch Museum is fairly small, very seventies in style. I think this is because they have plans to open at a new location in 2008, so there is very little going on there as far as renovating or making any major improvements. Everything is just a little old and a little grey and a little smelly. Sam was fascinated.

This place is so very well designed. I would have loved it as a kid and I could see that the kids around me loved it too. They have a water table exhibit where the kids put on smocks and play with boats and water machines. They have a house where the kids use “tools” to hammer boards onto the walls, a Sendak “Where the Wild Things Are” exhibit where a kid can pick up a Max costume at the beginning, and an Alice In Wonderland exhibit complete with the Mad Hatter’s tea party as well as the flamingo croquet. Strange gadgets, toys, and puzzles are everywhere. There are little doll houses the kids can play inside with vacuums and a construction center with bricks, construction plans and wheel barrows. And the Farm exhibit for very young kids was adorable. Sam had a blast placing all of the play radishes and corn into the wheel barrow and then emptying it, riding the tractor, and staring at the strange rubber pig. He also enjoyed the puzzle table in the storytime room, which made me realize that was an entire genre of toys that we have completely missed – he now has 4 puzzles. He crawled through the whole museum at a feverish pace, checking out everything, waving to everybody, and finding anything with wheels, stealing said wheeled object from whatever child had it, and proceeding to push it through the museum just like at home. He loved it. I got us the membership. Easily a place to spend an afternoon to get the kid all tuckered out.

As I sat there watching Sam play with his big knobby circle puzzle and watching kids working so hard at their tasks, I commented to Hubby that the whole thing had a very Montessori type of feel. We’ve been considering a Montessori school for Sam when he is ready for it, but I figure we have a lot of time to consider what we want. 3 years old, right? So during his nap I decided to look into schools here in Philly just to start to see what was available…and then I freaked out. Most Montessori schools begin their toddler programs at 18 months old and take in applications one year before the kid would be starting school. That means that if Sam was going to be 18 months old by September (which he will not be) I would have had to apply to schools for him last September when he was SIX MONTHS OLD. Have I missed something here? Was I supposed to be thinking about schools already? How can I possibly make a decision about what type of education would be good for my child when he is 6 months old? All of a sudden I feel like I am behind on this only because Hubby and I don’t know what we want for him yet. So it is horrifying to find out that should we decide on one thing or another, it may turn out we made that decision too late.

To make matters worse, I looked at an application for one of these schools and it totally left me with a rancid taste in my mouth. Among the typical “why do you think your child would excel here” types, they ask when he started talking. Why does that matter? Are you telling me you are going to consider this when looking at his application for admission? Is he in a race? It also mentions that the child will be brought in for an evaluation in which he is observed in the classroom to see if he is able to do tasks “appropriate for his age.” So essentially, Sam would be tested, his skills evaluated, his behavior scrutinized and compared in order to determine if he should be accepted. We are talking about a child under the age of two here, and I feel like I did when applying to college.

Let me say that I think this problem has nothing to do with these schools being Montessori, but being private schools, schools that require applications because they are so sought after. Problem is, if Philadelphia is anything like Chicago (is this just an urban problem or is this the case in other areas as well?), there will be an application process for nearly all decent schools, public or private. Aye, there’s the rub. We are having to put our little guys (and our parenting) in competition to ensure that our children can go to a school where they can learn. Parents are afraid that if their child can’t recite the latin names of his favorite bugs then he won’t be accepted into a good PRE-SCHOOL and his life will be ruined. No wonder acceleration is the trend.

I just want Sam to be able to be a child. I’m not into this whole sign him up for classes that will enhance his motor skills via a rigid program/drill him with flash cards/turn play into work movement. I’m just not. He’s a baby. He will learn to do these things by living (that’s why I was considering Montessori). But now it seems that by choosing this path for us I am putting him behind what the rest are doing, and that may hinder him, not because it’s right, but because there’s competition among toddlers and parents are afraid for their children's education. I'm not sure what the answer is. At the school where I used to work in Chicago they did their admissions based on a lottery system. I don't think I understood why or appreciated that until now. This babbling has at least taught me something about what I will be looking for in a school when that time comes (whenever that is – I’m totally confused now).

I trust that Sam will figure things out his own way; I don’t need to drill him, force him, or accelerate him. A few weeks ago we were playing with this toy that I made for him. It’s an oatmeal canister with a slit cut in the top just big enough for a poker chip. This is one of the only times I have actually tried to “work” with him on a task. I would hand him the chips and show him how to place them in the slot so they would fall in. I always tried to make him interested in getting the chips through the slot while he was always much more interested playing with the lid and trying to figure out how to get it on and off. On this particular day he was having trouble getting the chips at the right angle to go in the hole, or he wouldn’t let go at the right time. I kept trying to show him and he was getting frustrated. Finally he pulled the lid off of the can, threw in the chip, and slammed the lid back on top. He’ll work it out. And I was so much more proud of that decision than I was a few days later when he actually started putting the chips in the “right” way.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

80's Sunday, That's My Fun Day - week 6

Congratulations to last week's 80's Sunday winner, Crazy MamaD.

I don't actually know if her name is "Crazy" Mama D. But I've seen her site listed on the links of others' blogs as "Crazy Mama D," "The Tales of Mama D," "The Tales of Crazy MamaD." I just don't know (actually I know her real name, but that's a secret). Anyway, she's crazy, she's a winner, and she's MamaD. She correctly guessed that last week's song was "Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order, it's the song everyone who has ever been to a dance club on 80's night knows, but very few can actually name.

MamaD also has a very cool game on Fridays where she writes 80's movie quotes and you guess the movie. See, that's smart. Movies have quotes. It's not like, say, making people guess songs based on only reading lyrics and not actually hearing any music...oh wait...yeah. Many of you have said that it's pretty hard to guess these songs so randomly. I don't actually know how hard it is because noone else does a game that makes so little sense. So this week we are changing things up a bit. Let me know how this works: if you like it better, if you can see the video, if it's now too easy, etc. But I think this may be the new 80's Sunday format. It gives me an excuse to get some video of Sam each week, which is pretty cool. Of course, in this one he refuses to dance while the camera is running (he started every time I stopped taping or like when the song was at the chorus) and instead stares off at Hubby in the corner who is trying to encourage him to get jiggy. So now you get to see my son standing there doing nothing. Fascinating.

Below is a video with a popular 80's song playing in the background. Using your very own knowledge, I want the title of the song and the name of the artist.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 16, 2006

I Asked, I Received

Thank you all so very much for all of your support and suggestions in your comments to my last post. One of the things I have learned more recently in my life is that if you need help it is best to just ask for it, and I’m glad I did. Your comments gave me new ideas for activities to look into as well as motivated me to reconsider some things that I thought I could not do. And yesterday afternoon I took Sam to the neighborhood where I would think lots of moms go with their kids to walk around. Saw no moms (big shocker) but did go into every place and pick up those little free magazines for parents that list events and stuff. Of my stack one of them was very helpful and listed some promising things to look into. Between your comments and this paper I think I am on the right track. I’ll try to give as brief an update as I can here to let everyone know what is going on.

La Leche League – You know, I didn’t do these meetings after first having Sam because he was so amazingly, ridiculously fussy/cranky/colicky/cranky/did I mention fussy? I couldn’t really go to mommy groups those first 6 months because he made it a fairly miserable experience. He is a very light sleeper (still is) and was easily overstimulated. So by the time 6 months rolled around I kind of felt like those meetings might really be for moms new to breastfeeding. Don’t know why I thought that, but clearly from your comments I was wrong. So I am looking into a group that is listed in the paper that meets pretty close to me, even though they don’t have it on their website. If I don’t hear back from the woman I called I will try and work out going to the meeting a little further away. Problem is, it meets at 10:00.

It seems that 80% of gatherings take place at 10:00 or 11:00. Sam has his big nap of the day from about 10:00-12:00. I know, it’s weird. But that’s what he does instead of an afternoon nap. So because most kids his age nap in the afternoons very few activities take place then and are held in the morning instead. This nap issue will become a theme in this post I have a feeling, because it really is putting a cramp in my Let’s Meet Friends Plan.

The Little Gym – I had only heard of Gymboree classes before (which is very far from us) and did not know that these Little Gyms were in this area. Turns out there is one fairly close by and we will be going to a free trial class next week. It’s pretty expensive, but at this point I don’t think I care anymore.

Food Shares – I actually looked into this last week and learned that these groups were full way back in March. It didn’t occur to me to do that before moving out here. So instead we’ll be hitting the Farmers Markets nearby (first one is this afternoon) and checking out the groups that way so that we can get on a waitlist for next year.

MOPS Clubs and MOMS Clubs – I had never really looked into any type of “Mom’s Clubs” before. I had assumed that Moms of Preschoolers actually meant preschool aged kids, like kids in pre-school, but when I looked into it I discovered it was from infancy, but then I learned there isn’t a group anywhere near us. This suggestion did, however, motivate me to look into the clubs listed in this paper I got and one of them sounds promising, the MOMS Club, which is also an international group. There is one that meets right in may area. Waiting for a response to my email. Are these clubs good things? I guess the word “club” has negative connotations for me, but the website did not mention a hazing, so I hope to attend a meeting and an activity of this group soon to see if it’s my thing. It sounds really cool and welcoming.

Libraries and Book Store Storytimes and book groups – I have confirmed that none of the surrounding libraries are doing any type of story time this summer. Some of the bigger bookstores that are a little further away I think have some, but they are listing them for slightly older kids. In fact, a lot of what I find is for 3 years and up and I think that may be some of the challenge here. Sam is very young and can’t do much, but I am also not considered a “new mom” so we are sort of in between groups right now. I wish that the libraries didn’t drop their programs for younger kids just because the older ones have summer reading. I have found 3 potential book groups to do myself in the evenings. 2 meet in 2 weeks and I am intending to go to both to check them out. (CMommy, I’m about half way through the book and it’s pretty clever – I’ll let you know.)

Church – I have found a great sounding church that I want us to visit. Finding a church that’s right is always hard work, as I am sure many of you know who have looked at new churches. In addition to the regular difficulties in finding a good match, we also have the Sam sleep dilemma. Service times are always in the morning during his nap hours. And so we still have yet to make it to this place I found because he is always, ALWAYS mid-nap when we would need to go. Isn’t that always the way? They know you want to do something and it’s like they go out of their way to stop you. No, that’s not really true. But it is true that doing anything during the 10:00 to 12:00 window is going to be very difficult. I may go to this place by myself to check it out.

Starting my own play group – I really like this idea and was considering it before moving here. I havn’t decided if I want to try and start one within this apartment community or one for the area in general. And this may be my way of procrastinating because it’s a little scary to see myself trying this out. Any of you that have had success doing this please let me know your tips. If I was going to start one just in the area I suppose I’d post something at the grocery store and the library and plan to meet at a nearby park at a certain time. Are there really play groups for kids this young?

One Fit Mama – This is an awesome thing I found in the paper I picked up. The group of mamas meets with their babies for a fitness class and there is a meeting place close to us. They spend a lot of the time pushing the kids in the stroller around the park, stopping periodically for strength training using the kids as their resistance. They even have a class at 5:00 once a week in that park I showed pictures of in a recent post. So excited.

Other highlights – I’m waiting for my zoo membership card to come in the mail. We have a Makin’ Music, Rockin Rythms class starting next week. It is at 9:45am, which is totally going to cause problems with the Sam nap but I was desperate when I signed up and they only had morning classes (again with the morning meetings). I know there’s more…

Basically I have a left a lot of messages and am waiting to hear back on several things. But there is a lot that is promising. Thank you all again for your comments. They made me feel so much better and I feel like I have a lot of possibilities now. As my Mom and Hubby so very kindly pointed out, “I think you are upset about this because you are getting your period soon…” Well, they are both right. Let’s here it for the people that really know us. So while that does not make my feelings invalid, it certainly can make things feel exponentially worse and slightly more hopeless. I suppose that’s why it felt like it was really bad very suddenly. Thank you all again for coming to my pity party giving me the help I needed.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Red Bull (not the drink)

I’m at a loss. We’ve been in Philadelphia about 3 weeks now, including the week of no furniture. I’ve been working pretty hard to find activities to do with Sam, and it’s not working out the way I thought it would. Before moving here I envisioned finding play groups at recreation centers, talking to people at story times at various bookstores, and meeting other mommies at the park in our complex and at the pool. But instead, I am being thwarted. Seriously.

I’ve been working for weeks on this and just nothing is working out. The rec centers are literally not at the address that is listed and no one answers the phone, no bookstore within 30 minutes of us hosts a story time and the libraries are taking a break for summer reading, and the parks! The parks are devoid of mommies. Forget about the one in our complex; it’s lead poisoning/swing-crash-down-if-any-weight-is-put-on-it waiting to happen. I can see why it’s totally empty all the time. The pool is beautiful but totally freezing and therefore, also empty. Not to mention the fact that my visions of other moms walking around with their strollers in our little gated community disintegrated when I realized that 80% of the residents here are above the age of 70. And so we drive to other parks, beautiful parks…where we are the only living souls in sight. Are there no young mommies left in this city?

I sort of feel like the Last Unicorn, which was my all time favorite childhood movie. In the beginning the unicorn asks herself why she has not seen any other unicorns for so long, and so she goes on a quest to find them, learning along the way that the Red Bull rounded them all up and drove them into the ocean where they stay for the greedy and pathetic King Haggard to watch them. Anyway…where is this ocean? I just don’t know where the mommies are. Every day Sam and I set forth on our quest (cue music a la America here) to find other mommies and babies and come up with nada. I feel like they are all hiding somewhere around here whispering about me and laughing as I walk right by, oblivious and perplexed. And here my own self-conciousness comes into play.

It’s scary to make new friends. It was difficult in school where everyone else was looking for friends. As an adult it is much harder because so many people are already set: they’ve got their playdates, their mommy groups, the pals who were pregnant at the same time they were. They’re booked and not interested in meeting the new kid. I don’t know – is that true? Or is it just my new kid syndrome coming back to haunt me? It doesn’t even matter because I can’t find anyone to shun me anyway. How does one find potential friends? I did it when first moved to Chicago, but I was going to work. Now I do my work at home and with Sam; I’m a SAHM with Sam, hardy har.

And the problem is two-fold. Yes, I have no friends and that makes me very sad and discouraged. But Sam and I are bored to tears! I am not nearly as creative in the fun and leisure activities as I’d expected. What do you do with a 13 month old all day? And bear in mind we are broke, and often do not have the car at our disposal.

I’m just at a loss here. And I joke and draw stretched analogies between myself and a fantastical creature, but I really am sad. And lonely. I miss at least having the option of seeing a friend occasionally, or even talking to a stranger at the playground wondering if we’ll run into each other again. What do mommies do? And where do they go? If you were a Philadelphia mommy, where would you be hiding? Would you be happy to meet a new kid, or is your dance card full?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Underoos, my special friend

Now that THE BIG MOVE is done and we are mostly settled I get to finally participate in Rachelle’s “My Life Monday.” This week’s topic: a favorite childhood toy…

When I was young I used to love playing with my imaginary friends. I know this is true for almost any child at some point, but it was a bit extreme for me and it lasted beyond what I think most would consider “normal.” In addition to having my imaginary friends, I also pretended to be characters other than myself. Again, so do many children, but I guess for me it became persistent enough that I tried to convince people whom I’d just met that I was the other character; my parents promptly took me to a psychologist when I convinced my babysitter that my name was Dorothy.

I pretended to be several of my favorite heroines from books, movies, and cartoons. Dorothy was a big one – she had a dog, which I liked. Often I was seen running around our yard with my palm to my forehead as I communicated with the woodland creatures; I was Sheena, Queen of the Jungle after all. I actually saw part of that movie on TV recently and realized that it is practically porn, by the way. I can’t believe I was allowed to watch it. My parents must have been unaware. Anyway, I also pretended to be Kira, the female Gelfling from the Dark Crystal quite often. This was the best way to have a working romantic relationship with Peter Pan,which was clearly acceptable because they both had pointy ears, without having the difficult size discrepancies that he must have had with Tinkerbell – she was just doomed to long for him forever. Tinkerbell and I did have something in common though in that we hated Wendy for trying to take beloved Peter from us. But I digress.

I loved loved loved to pretend I was Wonderwoman. She was so amazingly awesome. For me, Wonderwoman was my first introduction to superpowers and the fact that she was a woman was just so cool to me. And she was an awesome superhero: powerful, confident, quick, and GORGEOUS. I loved her and therefore wanted to be her, and so, one of my favorite things in the entire world was my Wonderwoman Underoos. For most of my young childhood I could be found in my back yard wearing the equivalent of a swimsuit, swinging around a yellow piece of yarn (my AWESOME lasso.) It was very frustrating to me to not actually be able to lasso anything with my…string unless I set up the scenario very strategically. Actually, I guess I can’t remember that it ever worked, but I was not discouraged, I was Wonderwoman.

I’d like to say this was a fun phase that soon passed with nothing more than the minor concern of my parents, but this whole pretending-to-be-someone-else thing lasted a while. And yeah, I know I look too old to be wearing my Underoos to my tennis lesson there, and it probably was very inappropriate, but that’s not what I mean.

I rediscovered my love of acting when I was cast as Queen Aggravain in “Once Upon a Mattress” in 10th grade. I’ve loved it ever since. In college I majored in Theater and Education, spending more time in rehearsals than I did studying. And in Chicago I even made it my career for a little while until I learned that adding the business element really took out the fun. And that’s what acting has always been for me: pure fun. As a child I acted like other people because it allowed me to live in another world. I could be whoever I wanted to be, wherever I wanted to be. As an adult I loved it for the same reasons. I could be stronger than I was, funnier, smarter, prettier (at least it felt that way). I could even do things that in my own life I would not allow myself to do and not be accountable for these actions, which sometimes seemed more real than pretend. And the imaginary friends I created for myself as a child became the people watching me and the people acting with me. Peter thought I was funny, and so did the person on stage or in the studio with me, and that was a feeling I had not been able to experience as a child – being able to be these characters and interact with real people in front of real people, that was new. The best friends I have ever had are those whom I have acted with: my high school friends were fellow "Theater Nerds," my best friend in College was my servant in "Taming of the Shrew," most of my friends in Chicago and I started a theater company for a short while, and Hubby was my brother in "Arcadia." (eeek!)

When you really love acting, there is no other feeling in the world than really connecting with the character you are playing and being in the moment with the other person on the stage. Everything else falls away and you are just there with them, for real, perhaps aware of the energy of the audience as well, which only feeds into the hilarity/tension/fear/love/whatever it is at the time. It feels wonderful, powerful, just like Wonderwoman.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

80's Sunday, That's My Fun Day

Winner Katie's Little Potato...

Congratulations to Katie for correctly guessing last week’s 80’s tune. Really I am congratulating her on being speedy, because as I mentioned I was feeling pretty generous – Bryan Adams? Summer of ’69? Yeah, pretty generous. But Katie had this nailed within an hour of posting. Way to stay on top of it!

So now we move on to something only slightly more difficult. I know it is hard to guess these with no music, so I am trying to be fair. I am going to experiment with a new way of posting The Challenge next week. It will have real music, real video, and real live baby, so get ready to be wowed; Sam is preparing to DANCE. Until then, please accept my apologies and go here to be thoroughly entertained by one of my favorite lip syncing videos.

Below are the lyrics to a popular 80’s song. Without using the internet as a resource, guess the song and artist and name them in your comment. First to do so correctly wins. I will post the winner next Sunday, link to their site, and attempt to show their profile picture. In the meantime I will respond in the comments at some point to let you know we have a winner. Enjoy!

I feel fine and I feel good
I’m feeling like I never should
Whenever I get this way
I just don’t know what to say
Why can’t we be ourselves like we were yesterday.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Talk the talk and walk the walk...or not

Sam is now 13 months old. He does not walk; he does not talk. I am trying to be calm about this and not obsess over milestones and so forth. I have always tried to avoid fixating on his achievements in comparison with other babies and to ignore various books and emails sent to me detailing everything he “should” be doing. There is little cause for concern with the walking because if I could crawl as fast as this kid I would see very little reason to find another way as well. I have to admit though, I wish we were getting a few words out of him. He babbles all the time, but there is little indication that when he says “mama” that he is actually referring to me. I feel like I’ve been reading his mind for a little too long now and I am ready to be able to stop guessing what he wants. Those first words would also alleviate some of the fear I have relating to some autism in our family (yes, I know there is no proof that it is genetic, but how could that not enter my mind?). I’m ready for him to talk to me, to say “mama” and mean it, and to show me he can do these things.

We’re doing ok though. He is certainly developing other ways of communicating what he wants a little more directly, often accompanied with hysterical screaming and flapping of arms if my response is not immediate. And physically, despite the fact that he does not walk, he is doing some stuff that I find pretty impressive.

Here, he is about to feed me a piece of his cheese. Much to my “surprise” though, he will put it almost into my mouth and then pull it away to eat himself, both of us hysterically laughing as I tell him what a stinker he is. You can see his mischievous anticipation of his little joke, which is not nearly as funny when played on him.

Here is the face he now makes to let us know he wants to eat. I don’t know, he’s just so subtle. How could I possibly tell what he means?

I have just brought out the YoBaby, so we get the open-mouthed, lean forward in the seat action. He was extremely unhappy that I chose to take the picture rather than promptly feed him. I suppose that is understandable.

Please note the lovely proper grasp of the spoon...before noting that he is actually eating with his other hand. And this is just a moment before both the spoon and the bowl end up on the floor.

Sam at work. He likes to lift objects onto things: shelves, chairs, the ottoman, the couch, and in this case, the dishwasher. One of his favorite times of day is when I put away the dishes. He challenges himself by trying to place two objects at once so that he can’t use his hands to get up, or to lift very large objects onto very high areas. This backfires when he doesn’t quite make it and the much bigger fire engine falls back in his face.

This: I just liked it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"

Today was a good day. That’s right, I’m not here to complain today (except for about Blogger - What is up?!), and that feels pretty great. Sam had his first hair cut and no one cried, including Mommy. Back in April I wrote about my aversion to having this done in Cherub Do, one of my first posts. I just went back and read it and realized I had predicted I would cry. I also believed I would have to give in before his first birthday. Clearly I surpassed even my own expectations. But with his hair perpetually in his eyes this last week and that constantly sweaty head, I accepted that I needed to do this for the sake of his comfort, which is very different than having it done as a result of everyone talking about what a beautiful daughter I have. That never really bothered me; I think he’s beautiful too. And the good news is: he still is.

The woman cutting his hair did exactly what I asked, so we still have his little curls. And now they are less tangley so they appear to be even curlier. I don’t think we’ll be avoiding any of the pretty little girl comments from strangers anytime soon, but I am pleased to have not left there sobbing with Sam and his new crew cut. Best of all, he got to sit in a big red car and play with the steering wheel while watching a Baby Einstein video (that’s why he appears so mesmerized in some of the pics). Here are some highlights from the excursion.

This is the before picture, just as we were heading out.

First snip!

Not so sure about this...

Getting shorter...and eating treats.

Hey, where's my hair?!

You can read on to the next post to find out about the rest of our afternoon. I had to split the posts up since I guess Blogger only lets you use 5 pictures for each post. I couldn’t choose between these that easily so I'm double posting today.

Pretending it's our back yard

After Sam's haircut we went to a place that is literally a one minute drive away. I find it amazing that we live in the boundaries of a city and are surrounded with what you see here. It's such a strange mix of urban, suburban, and rural so near each other. On the road to our apartment community there is an actual field with actual horses and actual cows. We drove by and smelled the cow smell just minutes from our place. It has been so long since I've breathed cow and trees and grass. It's nice. I'm not saying I'm settled - far from it. But on a day like today I remember why we decided to leave Chicago on this new adventure.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Thanks to Cmommy for tagging me with this very cool meme. Sorry it took so long!

ABC Meme

ACCENT: Used to be Southern, now that’s only when I’m really seriously drunk or extremely angry.
BIBLE BOOK THAT I LIKE: Ecclesiastes and First Peter
CHORE I DON'T CARE FOR: Cat litter box! See below.
DOG OR CAT: 2 cats - Maki and Tyler. One day there will be a dog.
FAVORITE COLOGNE: I like the little mixes they do at Aveda. I can’t remember which one I have right now. Air?
HANDBAG I CARRY MOST OFTEN: Right now I have a straw bag that really is acting as a mini diaper bag since it has more of Sam’s stuff than it does mine. It’s good for summer.
INSOMNIA: Um, yes, baby induced.
KIDS: Sam, almost 13 months
LIVING ARRANGEMENTS: New 2 bedroom apartment – much bigger than what we had. I’ll give a tour as soon as the sun comes out so I can get good pics; it’s been cloudy for days.
MOST ADMIRABLE TRAIT: Well, I’m very organized, but I don’t know how admirable that is. I wish something else came to mind first.
NAUGHTIEST CHILDHOOD BEHAVIOR: I used to tell people my name was Dorothy or other characters I liked from stories instead of Elizabeth. I insisted. My parents took me to see a psychologist…
OVERNIGHT HOSPITAL STAYS: Just Sam’s birth – Cesarean – 3 nights for the labor, 4 more for recovery.
PHOBIAS: Swings.
QUOTE: “What’s that? What’s that you say? You say today is Saturday? Goodbye! I’m going out to play!”
RELIGION: Raised in Church of Christ, now it’s sort of an amalgamation and more personal.
SIBLINGS: One brother, 5 years younger. One brother in law, one step-sister in law, 3 half brothers in law. You can see my family tripled when I got married.
TIME I WAKE UP: Sam calls it. Sometime between 6:00 and 7:30.
UNUSUAL TALENT OR SKILL: Well, I used to act, and I guess since there is some statistic about public speaking being so many people’s worst fear that makes it pretty unusual.
VEGETABLE I REFUSE TO EAT: Collard greens and eggplant.
WORST HABIT: Eating at the counter, eating too much, eating junk food, eating too frequently.
X-RAYS: One of my ankle when I fractured it carrying laundry down icy stairs in Chicago. Do ultrasounds count? 3 during the pregnancy, 2 since then of my Thyroid, I can’t think of any others.
YUMMY STUFF I COOK: Salmon, shrimp scampi, fish tacos, meatloaf, chicken parm.
ZOO ANIMAL I LIKE MOST: Otters. I love those little guys.

And now to tag, and if any of you have done this one already I am very sorry. I was out of the loop for a few weeks there so I missed it. Let’s say Snickers (you said once you liked tags, right?), Katie (for guessing this week’s 80’s tune way too fast!), and Rachelle (for getting me with those other 2 tags and because I havn’t seen her around lately).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

80's Sunday, That's My Fun Day

Congratulations to Kep KEP for correctly identifying Poison’s “Talk Dirty To Me” as last week’s 80’s tune. Poison: an excellent hair band with some very special lyrics and lovely attire.

And also let us recognize Kate kate for her outstanding identification of the previous week’s Kim Wilde song. But let’s not forget Linsey, who was able to actually quote the chorus of the song without placing the actual name or artist (but you were right, Ms. Wilde also did “Kids in America”). Good job to both of you and I am very sorry you did not get proper recognition for your joint effort last week – those of you that have been reading know why. ANYWAY, it’s good to be back and here we go with another 80’s Sunday, That’s My Fun Day Challenge, and I'm feeling pretty generous so you'd better hope you get here first.

Below are the lyrics to a popular 80’s song. Without using the internet as a resource, guess the song and artist and name them in your comment. First to do so correctly wins. Enjoy!

Standing on your momma's porch
You told me it'd last forever
Oh and when you held my hand
I knew that it was now or never

And thanks to Mama D, who gave me the idea to post the profile pictures of the 80's Sunday winner (actually I stole the idea and didn't even ask). She does an awesome new 80's movie quote game on Fridays called "Say What?" I have big plans to win.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Taking My Chances With Lady Luck

I admit it; it’s my fault. I’m the one who thought it and therefore I am responsible. On Tuesday evening all of our stuff had been in the apartment a day, the air conditioning was working as was the cable and the internet, which I believe I mentioned was sporadic in my last post, but I was still happy to have just something. And then I thought it. I thought to myself, “Maybe our luck is finally going to change…” And I am sorry. I am very, very sorry. Do you hear me Lady Luck!? I’m fucking sorry! (Please note that is the first time I have cursed on my blog and oh, it feels fucking good!)

The internet lasted another 20 minutes or so after I posted my last entry. Who knows when I will ever get to post this but man, I just needed to vent. It is Thursday night as I write this, by the way. The cable lasted about 3 hours before going back to a black screen. The cable guy came out this evening and fixed it. That was about 2 hours ago. It’s a black screen again. And the AC stopped working again last night. This means that Sam and I had to sit in our furnace of an apartment all day today waiting for these various technicians to arrive. All day, apartment full of boxes, sweaty one year old, 85 degrees, waiting for 3 technicians.

Would you like to know how many actually showed up? One. The cable guy, and you already know how successful that visit was. Supposedly the internet people are coming out tomorrow. Hubby thought it was today but apparently, according to them, he was wrong. And the AC guys spent the entire day two floors up from us installing new ACs into those apartments (I should go tell those people to refuse them because isn’t the point of getting a new appliance to improve one’s situation?) telling us all day that they would be down to fix ours again soon, before finally just leaving for the day at 4:00 without ever checking in. I seriously believe that we have made about 32 calls in the past week regarding our utilities, these utilities for which we pay our money.

I was just sitting out on our little patio deck thing watching a thunder storm come in while Hubby put Sam to bed. It was really nice and I was realizing how long it had been since I’d gotten to do something like that. I love thunderstorms. And I can’t say I was really able to appreciate them while in Chicago because looking at a total downpour over a highway just isn’t quite the same as seeing one come at you over the trees. I didn’t have a deck thing or anything nice to look at. I couldn’t hear the sounds over the cars in Chicago. I couldn’t smell the difference in the air over the gas station across the street. I was sitting outside feeling the stillness in the air waiting for it to hit when all of a sudden the air started to move, the trees started to rustle, and the smell in the air changed to that wonderful clean heat changing to cool smell, like trees, leaves, and water from the sky. I liked it. I loved it.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had many recurring thoughts. One, of course, was: maybe our luck is changing. Another was: I hate it here. It’s crossed my mind over and over again and even escaped my mouth more than once. It’s been extremely difficult to recognize all of the positive things about this place in the midst of the ridiculousness. I need to remember that it will take time to feel comfortable, to find where things are, to figure out how to meet people. I just need to remember all of this and try to be more positive. As I watched that storm come in and felt the air change, new air blowing the old out, I let myself think it again. Maybe our luck is finally changing...or maybe that lightning is going to strike us.