Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Different Lens

“@(^#)%^$% - this is a disaster!” Mike says, throwing his hands up and retreating to the deck, his shoulders hunched in defeat from the house that decided to fall apart two days before we were hosting an event. I watched through the window as his eyes grew tired from a long work day in a job he wasn’t enamored with, the never-ending list of to-dos and a now non-operating garbage disposal that decided to kaput despite it’s age of only six months.

Watching this, I almost gave in myself to the negativity that life can throw at you when you least expect it. Instead, I focused on the glimmer that slowly crept back in his expression as our son perched on his lap, exploring the texture of the outdoor furniture, sharing kisses with the dog and taking in the bright colors of spring and the joyful neighbors. And I too chose not to attend the pity party, but delight in all the gifts that this same curve-ball ridden life has also given to us. So instead of focusing on the leaking roof, the water-stained ceiling and wood floors, doors that won’t close and an avalanche of laundry and bills that seem to never disinegrate, I focused on the list of things I’ve been grateful to witness or participate in the past few days:

- Long, laid-back walks where we encounter darling children that share their stories and want to pet Miss Ellie. Once in awhile L gets a pat on the head too.
- Time around the kitchen table with the best of friends that includes wine, delicious food and a whole lot of love and support.
- Blog reading where you figure out you’re not completely crazy.
- Blooming flowers that seem to brighten the whole world just with their existence.
- Silly songs created by your husband that bring a smile to even the grumpiest of faces-Mommy and baby both.
- Planning parties that you know will make the well-deserving receiver grin with delight.
- Having the ability to delegate some tasks such as cleaning when your heart feels like it can’t take anymore and all you want to do is sit and read to your child for ten minutes.
- Purchasing a used car at a killer price, and overwhelmed with joy that it is never one you could have afforded on your own.
- Soft gusts of wind across your face as you sit with your family, including the family members, under a newly-updated deck.
- The opportunity to connect with family that has moved back when it matters most.
- The ability to laugh at yourself when you destroy the world’s simplest recipe and decide you’re confident enough anyway to serve it at a work birthday.
- The love of your job not only for it’s flexibility, amazing colleagues, amenities and more, but for its purpose of making a difference in children’s hospitals.
- Looking forward to family arriving in town to meet your son for the first time.
- Sensing the warmth of sunshine on your back as you go to fetch the mail.
- The dog’s full body dance when you arrive home after work or even a two-minute stroll to water the plants.
- Your son’s smile as he waits on all fours for you to snatch him out of his crib and take him on a new journey of the day.
- The delight on your husband’s face as he finally did something for himself and treated his camera to a new lens that will create memories to last a lifetime.

Yes, a new lens. A different way of looking at things when the going gets rough and the tough are told to keep going. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s looking at it a little differently. Through a new lens.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


“What is he doing?” I exclaim to Mike quietly out of one corner of my mouth, the other twisting into a half-smile while I give a little wave and push the stroller over a series of concrete bumps.

“Be nice.” Mike says, a constant defender of his gender.

“I just don’t get it...” I say, my voice trailing off as I watch our neighbor whisk a shammy over and over the same spot on his yellow Mustang, the shine sending beams of light into the already blue, flawless sky.

This was not the first time I have seen this kind of love for the yellow Mustang occur in this driveway. As a matter of fact, it occurred daily, and though I can appreciate a good car when I see one, I constantly search my soul for why someone would choose to, on a daily basis, kick its wheels, shine its windows and stroke every surface for hours on end? And what is his wife doing while all this occurs? As far as I can tell, the vehicle makes no outings. It doesn’t pay bills. And it ain’t growing money out of its windows and doors. So what’s the deal?

Sure, I get it. You’re a manly man. You can afford a Mustang. And sure, I’ve even avoided rolling my eyes (ok, so I was doing it internally) when a gentleman chose a seat outside to watch people oogle his Lamborghini on the patio of a restaurant on the Plaza. But I gotta say, I’m not sure I’ve loved anything that much! I mean, the love of my life is my son, but let’s be serious, that boy doesn’t even get a decent bath everyday. Some days it’s a little swipe, swipe under the double chins and we call it good. So I ask again – what is the deal? Really, I’m trying desperately to understand. No judgment here – just curiousity. Ok, maybe a little judgment…

So friends, what’s with all the TLC? Do you, too, have a vice like this? Because I want to hear about it. And become the receiver of all this love. Because seriously – it looks like a good gig.

You Know You're a Mom When...

Week of April 25

1. Your ideal vacation looks like a few days away from the office, just at home, snuggling with your little one.
2. Your back starts to feel like its 90 years old from balancing your 20-pounder on your right hip.
3. You split your lip at least twice weekly playing kissy faces with your tot. Mind you, your tot also ends up with teeth indentions on his skull. There is a reason their heads are 90 percent of their bodies their first year. Call family services!
4. Meals at restaurants now occur in shifts and frequently include jaunts around the establishment to visit other innocent customers.
5. The greatest joy is heard from your child’s laughter, hearing him say “mmmmmmaaa” and convincing yourself he’s saying “mama” and watching the hand reach for you nearly melts you on the spot.
6. Your return to sleepless nights becomes even harder than you remember…damn those teeth and ear infections. Are they really necessary?
7. At this point, you find more joy in friends’ announcing their pregnancies than your wedding day. Welcome to the club – now you’ll understand me!
8. You strategize for hours how to remove your child from the big boy car seat while he’s still sleeping so you can accomplish at least one thing today.
9. Your heart aches when you’re required to run errands – you’d rather be at home taking in every movement, moment and magic.
10. Your heart expands in a million places to accommodate the growing unconditional love, amazement and undying passionate you have for your little being.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Gift of an Ordinary Day

"I'm not sure what we're going to do today," I said to Mike as he scuttled out the door to work. "But we love you - and don't work too hard!"

As the door clicked softly behind him, I cradled L on my right hip, preparing cereal and fruit in the other and began to run through my to-do list for a rare vacation day. Should I plant flowers? Get cleaned up before a friend dropped by? Run to grab the long list of baby, bridal and birthday gifts needed? Paint the front door? Laundry? After all, that's what vacation days are for now...catching up with the domestic life that has gone completely awry in the wake of real life.

After an hour of play, spilling colorful toys onto L's lap and watching him place, drum and chew them, he grew tired, rubbing his heavy eyelids and reaching to be cuddled on my lap. I took advantage of this newly mastered behavior, curling him into a little ball and watching his breaths fall deeper and softer as he found his thumb, a knit blanket that had been in the family for 30 years also along for the ride. Placing him gently into his crib, I paused as I always do, marveling at the wonder he was and immeasurably thankful for all that he will be.

The daily tasks still front and center of my mind, I hopped on the Mac to quickly peruse my blog list, a morning favorite and an excuse for a 10-minute reprieve. Visiting, I pulled up her latest video post and found myself having to reach for Kleenex. A woman spoke of the beauty of an ordinary day, referencing life's tiniest of moments, describing the heartbreak of letting go and watching her sons grow up. She told her tale of picking dandelions, to counting beers in the refrigerator to the emptiness of a house that suddenly became kid-free. There are no words for how I felt: terrified. Grateful. Moved. Sad. Incredulous. Authentic. Panicked. Purposeful.

One thing I did know in this moment - today's agenda now reads: an ordinary day.

The to do list can wait. The house can be a mess. The flowers don't need planting. The door - no painting. Clothes - can be worn stinky.

Because today, more than anything in this world, I'd like to relish in as an ordinary day.

Just L, me and an ordinary day.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

You Know You're a Mom When...

Week of April 18
1. You get asked at the airport (as you’re being searched and your pump being manhandled) what exactly that device is that you’re carrying with all the funny pieces and parts. Hello – have they not scanned at least one breast pump? Statistics say about 30% of us are still pumping and working…but apparently not traveling.
2. Your child goes to day care with two mismatched socks. And this time, you just don’t care. In fact, you decide to turn it into a trend.
3. You find valuable uses for hangers, cooking spoons and Tupperware: instruments.
4. You clutch your “Mom” charm on a long flight to CA, hoping the little pieces of sterling silver will bring fill the big pieces of your heart that suddenly feel like they’re missing.
5. You sneak into your child’s bedroom at 3 a.m. with your iPhone to catch him in his tush up tummy down position. Next, you sit and ponder how that doesn’t cause major neck pain in the morning.
6. The greatest part of the weekends now involves smuggling your little one into bed with you to convince him to sleep an extra 30 minutes. Note this doesn’t help at all, because you’re anxious you might roll on him so you don’t sleep anyway. But it’s all worth the nose hugs.
7. You feel extra sensitive when someone comments on a parenting choice…and it happens to be the one you had thought long and hard about and were happy with what you made.
8. You still laugh at flatulence. Yes – farts. They’re funny. From a baby only.
9. It takes an extra 15 minutes to “run and pick up the pizza” due to the addition of the big boy car seat. Thank goodness the freckled faced teen decided to bring the final pizza out to you on your third trip balancing baby on one hip and drink and side salad on other.
10. Your heart expands in a million places to accommodate the growing unconditional love, amazement and undying passionate you have for your little being.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No More Buddy System

“Friend” - it’s been real. Real…entertaining. Inconvenient. Important. Interesting. And sometimes flat out embarrassing. But I’m sorry to say, our time has come. No more buddy system for you and me as I continue to embark on my traveling adventures. The time has come for us to part.

And I could not be more excited.

With my short term goal met and about five months to go, there is only one more road trip you will accompany me on. No more tiny airport bathrooms. No more pounding on the airplane door from needy passengers wondering exactly the two of us are doing in there. No more pat downs, deep exploration of your parts and suspicion you may be part of a terrorist plot. Just you, me, and the open road. And plenty of quality time behind my locked office door of course.

I can’t say I’m going to miss you tagging along by any means. But I do appreciate you. Thank you for helping me nourish my child and give back in one of the last ways a working Mom feels like she can. You were worth every penny.

Thank you, buddy.

Monday, April 12, 2010


That’s what the hubs is going to be when he meets this girl tonight:

Flowy hair. Batting eyes. Flawless skin. Room brightening smile. Plus, the chic can cook. And writes books. Should I go on, or do you get the picture?

Between this event and the backless chaps we experienced at the Power and Light district on Saturday night, I’m pondering if he’ll return.

What? No takers for yoga pant wearing, size 14, makeup-free, spit up wearing, blog writing, undomestic goddess?

Yeah, I wouldn’t blame him either. But one thing I’ve got on Giada…ten years of shared idiosyncrasies and a whole lot of love for each of them. Put that in your skillet and cook it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

You Know You're a Mom When...

Week of April 11

1. Your master bedroom becomes a land mine of toys, exercausers, pack n’ plays and dog bones, leading to a code red situation every time you have to wake to feed or check on the baby.
2. Your nights on the town for friends’ birthdays are cut short by the need to pump, relieve the sitter or you just want to get home and check/snuggle on the little one. No more shakin’ the tailfeather until 3 a.m. for this mamma.
3. While out on the town for this same birthday, you realize how much you’ve changed when you’re already making snap judgements in the back of your mind similar to: “I hope my son doesn’t marry a gal dressed like that hussy! Apparently I didn’t get the minidress memo.” Orrrrr, maybe it’s just sad that you can’t pull it off anymore. No, surely that’s not it…
4. You make a pact to not talk kiddos on dates with the hubby, only to find yourself now strained for conversation without covering agenda items of work or home. That only leaves gossip and, though fun, not nice.
5. You know you have 27 seconds before certain bacteria really seep into that toy your child has now dropped 10 times. That’s nearly 30 seconds. Not only can a Mom like you rescue that toy in that time, she can apply makeup, shave, pack a lunch and so much more.
6. You delight in the many amazing milestones. Even the shrieking, glorious, teradactyl type sound ones.
7. “Changing poopies” feels like it should be entered onto your resume.
8. You dance like Carlton to help avoid a potential meltdown.
9. You buy those Downy things that are intended for clothes that don’t really need to be washed with every wear and clean your clothes that really do need an actual wash. By the way, these are the same clothes you have already worn at least twice.
10. Your heart expands in a million places to accommodate the growing unconditional love, amazement and undying passionate you have for your little being.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Maybe Rap is the Answer

“What are you rockin’ out to in there?” I ask Mike, delighting in his multi-tasking of laundry folding and TV watching. “Oh – this crazy Census commercial,” he says half-heartedly, reverting to his duties and preparing to flip to sports.

As the advertising/marketing side of me rears it’s curious head, I grab the remote from him and rewind the commercial, taking in the slogan, thinking of the target audience and all those other sick things we past journalism students seem to do when really we should walk to the refrigerator on commercial breaks like most normal people. After processing, I too return to my regularly assigned Saturday duties, yet hours later find myself quietly humming: “You caaannn’ttt move forward, until you send it back….”

“What the???” I mutter to myself.

So I’m not sure if all these commercials crossing over to the booty shaking genre in an attempt to win over the hearts of the millenials is working or not, but hey – it seems to be sticking. Look at me, singing it hours, even days later. Now blogging. Geez.

Maybe rap is the answer…

A Glimpse Into the Future

“What DON’T you feel like eating then,” Mike asks for the sixteenth time, his tone one of frustration edged with hunger. Shaking my iPhone and still disagreeing with Urbanspoon’s suggestions, I leaned lazily in the backseat of the 4Runner, the other hand linked with the kid’s rattle which he happily gummed as we carried on our conversation. “I don’t know – is there something new to try out here?” I say, entering us into the age-old married conversation I imagine millions of couples having every Friday and Saturday night.

Finally, we round a turn into a parking lot we had not yet graced in KC (a miracle) and decide to try a new little pizza spot that looked decent enough from the outside, tucked in a strip mall with dozens of cars parked out front. Undoing the baby from his car seat (a new phenomenon now that he’s getting to big to lug around) we enter through thick glass doors and were greeted by what appeared to be what could only be described as the McDonald’s playground on crack. An arcade lined the back wall, neon games shedding casino-like sounds into the dining space, children shrieking in high-pitched tones I didn’t even know they were capable of, parents propped at tables looking as if they were already on their second round trying to just to survive this event and highchairs were like little landmines every two feet. Sharing a sideways glance, Mike and I surrendered to the teenage, flat-faced host who asked: “how many?”

As the cardboard-like pizza whipped up with Spaghetti-O like sauce was consumed, we sat in silence, taking in all that surrounded us. Even the kiddo looked a little alarmed as rings of children scooted past the table, were put in time out from a parent, threw food or exchanged nasty words with one another. A few other children jumped in and out of their seats, laughing or crying hysterically, their focus in a million directions as children generally do, their attention spans limited within a 30-second timeframe. Others were content, tucked into the arms of parents they had waited all day to see after work, relishing in the family night together and away from the home.

All in all – it was mass chaos.

“Cherish it!” I hear a Mom near me say, finally recognizing she is inadvertently talking to Mike and me. “Pardon me?” I ask. “That’s such a great age – appreciate their immobility,” she says, looking longingly at the calmness of our child, perched on Mike’s lap, the wildest thing he’s concentrating on his banging his Tupperware with his spoon. Meanwhile, one of her son’s is in time out while the others are constantly tugging on her sleeve while she’s trying to have a 30-second exchange with me. I did also note she was on her second glass of white wine and it all began to make sense to me why so many retailers sold those little napkins, towels, etc. that say “Mommy drinks because you cry.”

Waiting anxiously for our exhausted looking server to return, we grew wearier by the minute, Mike working to recover from his long, disappointing workday. Needless to say his criteria of a “place to grab some food and wind down” was not something you may necessarily associate with this fine dining establishment. Debit card down, signature signed and we skeddadled out the door faster than you could say “Too close to Chuck e Cheese,” we rode home in silence, seemingly processing all that had just occurred.

Yes, we’re preparing for what our future will hold for managing a little one and all the magic it will bring, as well as the variance of what weekends will look like. But for now, we’ll decidedly stay in our la la land of seventh month oldness and sushi joints to avoid reality just a little bit longer. And yeah, Mommy may need a drink once or twice to survive incidents like the ones we just encountered, but I hear it’s all worth it – mass chaos and all.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

You Know You’re a Mom When…

Week of April 4

1. Instead of keeping score playing Texas Hold’em or sand volleyball, you rally against your husband on who is going to be right about whether or not kiddo has an ear infection.
2. Easter dinner consists of three costume changes, baby getting sick directly into Grandpa’s hand, finding this same spitup in your shoe an hour later and nursing in the car again at a nice brunch for the upteenth time.
3. When your good friend announces her pregnancy, you practically go ballistic with joy then have the sudden urge to call her up at all hours for hours and share everything you’ve ever learned. Either that or stay up late at night secretly hoping she’ll call you with a bizarre question so you can finally feel like all your crazy experiences have some applied meaning.
4. You feel sick to your stomach when day care calls and say baby has a temperature of 103 and you’ve been missing their calls for an hour because you were in meetings.
5. You find the greatest joy in a happy hour with a group of Moms versus the wild nights at P&L.
6. You think it’s safe to run to the bathroom for 30 seconds and come back to find you’ve completely lost your freedom as baby has rolled halfway across the room and found a fun Target bag to play with. Yikes.
7. You start your day by reading Mom blogs versus gossip columns. Ok, so maybe you do both but reverse the order…
8. You find yourself accidentally glaring at the hot new neighbor chic who still takes the time to tan, workout and keep house for her boyfriend and shitzu. You then spend hours feeling like starting a show similar to Kirstie Alley’s new gig.
9. The rectal thermometer becomes a more frequently used item in your bathroom than foundation, mascara or even toothpaste.
10. Your heart expands in a million places to accommodate the growing unconditional love, amazement and undying passionate you have for your little being.


“So, what are we doing today?” my hairdresser asks, running her hands across my aching skull. “Long bob as usual,” I say, relishing in her fingertips easing the stress of the workday, a sick kiddo and holiday planning. “But go ahead and stack the back a bit more than usual for a little sass – leaving room for Ms. Ponytail, a mom-must-have,” I say. “Got it,” she acknowledges as we head toward the little sink lined with gorgeous cleansers and conditioners with just the right amount of accessories for a trendy salon.

The rest of the appointment goes as you might expect…sharing hot celebrity gossip as if Jennifer Anniston was our friend, discussing drama in our personal lives as if we’ll never cross paths with one of the people in question, and a whole lot of fluffing, straightening and spritzing to top off our time together. She passes me the hand mirror with a half-grin and asks, “well, what do you think?” To which my response was, “perfect as usual,” and a debit card is exchanged between the two of us satisfied customers.

A peruse through the OPI nail polish and a stroll to the car later, I dance at the stop lights and look forward to going home to my little fam. Pausing one second longer in the living room to see if hubby will notice THIS haircut, I chuckle to myself as they carry on with life as usual and I make my way into yoga gear (my version of sweatpants). Deciding to make my hair match my outfit for maximum wrestling with the son, I fish for a hair tie and prepare to pull it back into a ponytail. Aiming my hands behind my head, I grab once, twice, three times a no ponytail. Impossible, I think. It doesn’t look that different. One more attempt and a few hairs poke through the holder, lasting for no longer than my jaunt across the bedroom. “Aaarrrggghhhh!” I say to the boys, who look at me, not unusually, like I was crazy. To top it off, hubby says: “why’d you cut your hair?”

Perplexed. Pathetic. Preposterous. Ponytail-less.

Don’t worry, I’ll make it. I’m not THAT high maintenance. But I gotta admit this cowgirl sure could use the pony so as not to have to add hair preparation to her daily to do list.

But it could be worse. Look what the groomer did to poor Ellie. Wonder what she wanted to bark when the gentleman asked, “and what are we doing today?”

Ashamed. Acquired. But you gotta admit…amusing.

See you in six to eight weeks? Better make it 12. And for the dog that looks like she could be Ellie…see ya next summer. And El – I owe you one sassy collar to make up for the white nakedness that has become you. Nose kisses.