February 28, 2006

How did we get here?

This post is dedicated to Average Jane who is anything BUT Average.

This is not a milestone post. I am only nearing 250 posts total and I think I still have a total of like 3 regular readers. My husband has questioned me often on this peculiar hobby of mine asking “when will you make any money?” I just laugh and tell him that he totally missed the point. Because he DID miss the point. If I didn’t think blogging was important to me before Arun was born, I certainly am aware of it now. These first 2 months of 2006 were very hard - some Really Crummy things happened and one Truly Horrific thing happened (although not directly to us). Blogging has been a great release - particularly on those days when it seems Arun -or even ME, for that matter - will never stop crying. Anyway, I have been thinking about how all of this began.......

The very first blog I got hooked on was Throwing Things - it’s a great mish mash of Pop culture, TV, sports, music, celebrity gossip. It’s not your normal blog and nearly every day they provide some sort of link worth following. I have been reading it for nearly 3 years now. If you are an Amazing Race fan, they have some of the best commentors out there the next day when the episodes are recapped. Actually, they have some of the greatest core of commentors around - it's one of the few blogs where I take the time to read all of the comments. Coincidently, one of the contributors’ wife is authoress Jennifer Weiner’s husband, which is how I found HER.

Then, sometime during 2004, I started to get interested in the infertility blogs. After all, I was told for years I would have issues having a kid, so I wanted to “get ready” for when X and I were going to start trying in December 2005. Yes, YES, I know now there is no way to “get ready” and furthermore, I feel pretty fucking stupid because I ended up having no issues. Anyway, this is where my blog obsession really started to ramp up. The icing on the cake was when Average Jane started her blog in February 2004. It was so much fun reading her blog, that I had to wonder how much fun it would be write one myself. The original intent of Rancid Raves was to do a copycat version of Throwing Things - I would just put various links regarding things I thought were interesting and leave it at that. Hence the name - Rancid Raves. It’s a play on the term “rants and raves” but implies (correctly) that I am always and forever behind on everything cool. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would become an Identity blogger and actually WRITE about what was going on in my teeny, tiny life. However, I was traveling at the time I started the blog and didn’t have time to surf the ‘Net for cool stuff. I felt I had to post something so that the crickets chirping wouldn’t overwhelm any casual clickers wandering to my blog.

So, that's how I got here. It still amazes me that I am blogging - I wondered if I would stop once Arun was born - either for the lack of time or interesting posting material. Still not sure about the "interesting" part of the posting material, but I do give blogging priority over many other things these days - say, TV for instance. I am also amazed that I DID end up being a Mommy Blogger after all and that really, I don't mind it. After last year's BlogHer, I posted about my thoughts on being a Mommy Blogger, I guess there is no looking back, now. I almost feel sorry for Arun, but on the other hand, I am providing sustenance and shelter for the little ingrate. He can suck it up and take it like a man.

Regarding my yesterday's pondering of self-censorship, I decided to leave things as they are. I probably won’t do another blog. At one point, I did have another blog where I was allowing myself to be “naked”, but it was too much work to maintain two blogs, so I let the other one die. Although, I may not censor myself, I will reconsider some of the monikers I have appointed people - for example, I think calling my maternal grandmother Evil Leavenworth Grandma took it a bit too far, particularly if people don’t realize the sarcasm involved. She is not truly evil, just EXTREMELY thoughtless to the point that you scratch your head in disbelief and wonder whether she realizes what she is doing (Note: the jury is still out on that one).

So, there it is - The Story of Me.

February 27, 2006

How Naked can I get?

The primary reason why I write under a pseudonym is to prevent easy Google Juice under my real identity. While many of my real life friends read this blog, I wasn’t comfortable with my entire family reading it and certainly not some of the Relationships Past I have experienced. At last year’s BlogHer , there was a session on “Getting Naked” regarding how much one reveals about oneself in a blog. At the time, I realized I was censoring myself quite a bit and after the conference, I decided to try to let go of the filter a bit more. And I liked it. REALLY liked it. It was very freeing to grind my heels on those rose-colored glasses and it followed my unofficial blogging motto of "Blogging is virtually free, therapy is not." It is exhilarating to “live” in a space where I don’t have to pretend that everything is “Gee, Golly, GREAT!” and that I don’t have to wear my mask at the masquerade ball that is my mother's family's dysfunctional communication issues. For me, it is healthier to call a spade a fucking spade, and then poke some fun at it. I come by it honestly, my dad has been making fun of ALL OF US (including himself!) my entire life. Furthermore, I LOVE my family - if I didn’t, I would have waved bye-bye in the rearview mirror a long time ago. But still, I get tired of the small deceptions.

Lately, I have started to squirm a bit on this decision to write more openly. The main issue is my mother. She has no sense of self-deprecation and is very thin-skinned. I make equal fun of my father in this blog and would have no issues giving him the URL - I did get my nasty sense of humor from him, after all. However, my mother is the very woman who LEFT MY HOUSE CRYING because Arun wouldn’t take a bottle from her. Yes, Arun - the breast-fed baby who doesn’t like bottles from ANYONE and only when faced with starvation will take one from a patient caregiver - namely, Cousin J. So, my mother is a tad sensitive and it was an issue even when I was a child. I often heard the line “You’re so cynical! Just like your dad!” which believe you me wasn’t much of a compliment once they got divorced. If my mother ever found out about this blog, I can’t even imagine the tears and the rending of garments that would commence. So, on one hand, I am very afraid that she would discover this blog and on the other hand, I am resentful that I even HAVE to consider it. Yes, it could be argued that some of what I have written about are really HER battles, not mine, but I would shoot back that HER battles shaped ME. Furthermore, if it hadn't been such a god-damned "secret" all these years, maybe she could have gotten help years ago, before it was too late. Instead, everyone just wants to whisper behind her back how "sad it is" and how "worried they are" - yet when I did try an intervention with her, everyone backed down and declared there was no problem. Wait. Did I just vent? Sorry. Moving on.............

So, why has this come up, now? Several reasons. I have had discussions with other bloggers who have been discovered and the results weren't pretty. Also, there are some opportunities coming up that may make it more known that I do have a blog. Finally, I am going to BlogHer again and some of my family are now curious why I am going to San Jose AGAIN. I also need to take Arun with me, which necessitates taking a caregiver, too. It might be Cousin J, or it might be one of my sisters. They can be trusted to keep a secret, but it means the reading circle has been widened.

I haven’t made the decision yet whether I am going to do a “deep-clean” of this blog and take out everything that could be offensive. I guess if you notice later this post itself is missing, you will know what I ended up doing.

February 23, 2006

Gee, I wonder why won't he sleep in his crib?

This post is dedicated to single mothers everywhere. I salute you.

Yesterday went better - it helped (or not, depending how you view it) that Cousin J was feeling better and was able to come and sit with Arun (she has been out sick most of the week - nothing contagious, though). I promptly got the hell out of there, ran some errands, and settled down in a nearby local coffeehouse to knit awhile. I came home and Cousin J was snuggling Arun in her arms and announced he had slept the whole time - a time slot OUTSIDE his usual naptime and she had held him the entire time. sigh

So, I present some odds n’ ends to round out the week. I am as tired talking about infant sleeping habits as people are hearing about them.

Taxation Vexation: I finished our taxes last weekend. I always try to be stoic when looking at the final numbers, but DAMN it’s hard when Uncle Sam is in the background jeering “Bend over, babycakes." (I also thought I heard a "Who's Your Daddy?", but that was just X questioning the kid). Anyway, X was pretty pissed too when we saw the final amount until I suggested that he start being a little more supportive of BeelzeBush and his cronies. That quickly shut him up and he started to hem and haw about the “greater good of taxation”. Bill Maher would be proud.

Vacation Elation: Okay - even though we are broker than a Ming vase left in a toddler’s grasp, I am going to San Francisco next week. Why? Because I can do it on the cheap - the VERY cheap, to be exact. X is going there for a conference and I can fly free with him (we have a hard-earned Companion Pass on Southwest). I have never been to San Francisco and welcome all advice on what to do out there that is also FREE.

Being a Bottomless Pit is the Pits: I am a hungry, hungry hippo - most likely due to the fact that I am truly eating for two and only one of us is gaining weight. It's really getting old, though. I wake up nearly every morning now around 4-5am HUNGRY. Losing sleep over food? That's Maslowe's Hierarchy of Needs gone wrong, wrong, WRONG.

Rancid Reads:
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood -- I finished this book last night and was blown away - it’s one of the very best books I have read in a long, LONG time. I laid there for a good 30 minutes just thinking about it. I woke up still thinking about it. In fact, I am thinking about it RIGHT NOW.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood -- This book was downright chilling in its exacting descriptions of what the future could hold for us. Much of it is already happening, which made the book that much scarier. This is speculative fiction at its very best. In fact, my experience with this book led me to immediately pick up The Blind Assassin.

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg -- This thought-provoking book was a little hard to get into, but once the ball got rolling, it was a quick read. This is one book where I do want to see the movie because there is a scene description that I want to actually SEE. I will definitely be following this author around - I really enjoyed her writing style and am looking forward to picking up her newest release Wickett’s Remedy.

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd -- Okay, I really enjoy this author’s style, but I am tired of all the weird mysticism. I would have enjoyed this book far more without it. The story was catching and I found myself wanting to know what would happen, but the weirdo religious overtones wore thin. I will give her credit, she handled the subject of marriage in a very real fashion - she was able to capture those “small moments” that really make a marriage and I was impressed.

My Name is Cagey: Speaking of reading, One of my life’s goal is to read every book on the Orange Prize for Fiction list of 50 Essential Reads by Contemporary Authors . I have a softcopy of this list and anal retentive* that I am, I update it periodically. I am not making the progress I had hoped when I started the list 2 years ago (I had hoped to finish it next year), but Karma intervened and I got a job that required travel, acquired new hobbies and oh yeah, gave birth to a teeny, tiny human. I highly recommend this list - I can report that every single book I have read so far has touched me in some way. In fact, this morning I picked up High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - so far, so good. If only I could get my kid to take proper naps...... Benedryl, anyone?

*Google Juice THAT!


I love this picture because he just recently discovered “mouth breathing” and I took this picture of him where he is literally panting like a dog. Who knew that babies had to learn/discover how to breathe through their mouths? Why don't they tell you this shit in those childbirthing classes? I thought something was WRONG at first, but no, it was just more rung in the evolutionary ladder, I suppose. Now, whenever he does it, I laugh - which only makes him do it some more. Notice X in the background? Arun is going to grown up thinking every Daddy has a laptop as an extra appendage.

These shoes are ridiculous and I totally fell for what I like to call the Robeez Rip Off. I forked over more cash on these silly shoes than I spend on MY OWN shoes. I am still flabbergasted at myself because I am NOT a Shoe Girl. In fact, all of my shoes fit in our downstairs hall closet! I am a Purse Girl (yes, my diaper bag breaks my heart. BREAKS it, I tell ya). Anyway, I guess the only saving grace is that these are the only pair of shoes I have bought for him so far and I have no intentions of buying him anymore until he outgrows them. Of course, then he will need THESE. Good grief.

The kid LOVES to sit. He has recently discovered that there are OTHER teeny, tiny humans like HIM, but they know how to SIT. Therefore, HE must sit, ALSO. Hey, WAIT. Those other teeny, tiny humans can CRAWL, too. Oh, shit.

February 22, 2006

Can I come out now??

This post is dedicated to Goofy Girl - who is not kidding when she says “Don’t fuck with Naptime. Trust me on this, Young Jedi.”

I feel like the one lone soldier left in the trenches, peeking his head out after the battle.........

Um, yesterday’s post was about NIGHTtime sleeping. I still haven’t figured out NAPtime sleeping

The past 4 months, Arun has honed his skill for napping on the fly - in the stroller, in the bouncy seat, in the car, in anyone’s arms who is a sucker enough to hold his little stinky ass. Basically, wherever the little guy can catch some daytime shut-eye worked out well. However, in the past month, the little turd has discovered there is a big ole world out there for his taking and if he sleeps - well, it might just PASS HIM BY. Therefore, it has become increasingly obvious that I need to stay home and provide a consistent sleeping pattern AND place for him. I decided this was the week - I even cleared my schedule so that I could determine what his naptime would be and totally be at his beck and call. Just like a good little NapBitch should. As it turns out, this is also beginning to be the Week From Hell. Coincidence? I think not.

First, I confirmed my looming suspicion that his morning nap laps over into my precious, precious Lunchtime Hour. This is the hour that I use to SEE MY FRIENDS. My busy friends who have husbands, hobbies, children, LIVES. It’s convenient to see them over lunch and for several of my friends, that is virtually the only time I get to see them. Poof! Bye, bye friends.

Second, I decided it’s high time the kid start sleeping in his crib. The very crib that I forked over precious, precious dollars for and spent precious, precious hours obsessing over it on eBay, then precious, precious hours fighting with X as we put the damned thing together. In preparation for the monumental task of him sleeping in his crib, for the past few months, I have been placing his bouncy seat in the room so that he could get used to the environment. Also, since I brought him home from the hospital, I have consistently placed him IN the crib in hopes that he would just fall in the love with the carefully chosen Clover Fields Kidsline crib set and decide that yes, YES he will just greet the Sandman and be done with it.

Third, I am committed to getting Arun to bed at a more consistent time. Until now, we have been going to bed anywhere from 8:30 to 10:00pm. Obviously, I need to reign myself in a bit on that timeframe. As the kid reminds me constantly, my life is now the Arun Show . All channels. All the time.

Fourth, I determined that it’s high time that he cry a bit. I researched infant sleep before I had the baby and even actually READ Dr. Ferber’s book. I highly recommend doing both before having a child. If I hadn’t done the research beforehand, I would be beside myself with grief, anguish and frustration. Oh WAIT. I AM ALREADY BESIDE MYSELF WITH ALL THOSE THINGS. I’m like milk when it comes to Arun crying - I have an expiration date of tolerance equal to about 15-30 minutes depending on the tone and pitch of the cry.

So, Monday’s Naps went swell! He even slept in his crib and all was right with the world. It paid off, too - we had a GREAT day. When he was awake, he was very giggly, wanting to sit up all the time, rolling all over the place. The problem started when I had a friend come over in the evening with her 2 children. Arun is at that stage where he LOVES other children. So, while it was fun for him, it was a lot of stimulation. By 8:00pm he was pooped. But my friend wasn’t. In fact, she and her 2 kids were still going full blast as they headed out the door well after 10:30pm. Do you see where this is going? By the time I got Arun to sleep it was well after 11:00pm, then of course, he slept past 10:00 am the next morning and from there, the entire yesterday was a nightmare, except I didn’t get to mack on Johnny Depp. Finally, by 7:00pm, I let him fall asleep in my arms because I just could NOT TAKE IT ANYMORE. Then we went to bed by 9:00pm and the rest of the night was a dream. Yes, I am thankful that we at least have the nighttime sleeping down to a science.

I’ll admit that last night, as he slept in my arms, I started to like him again (only just a little!) as he slept peacefully and smiled those creepy little baby smiles they do in their sleep. I think I even started to LOVE him again when we went to bed and he snuggled right up against my back and snoozed away. Then this morning, he woke up smiling and well, what can I say? I am such an easy mark and the kid surely knows it by now. So, of course, I let the little shit back into my good graces.

And that, my friends, is the ultimate beauty of motherhood.......... Just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in.

February 21, 2006

Co-Sleep or Co-Weep?

This post is dedicated to Surrender Dorothy, the Blog That Never Sleeps.

There’s a monkey jumping in my bed. Okay, maybe not exactly JUMPING per se, but he IS in my bed. It wasn’t always this way. When we first brought our bundle of boy home, he would happily sleep in his bassinet - hell, I had to set my alarm to wake up to nurse him. Then, we discovered that our boy wonder was not the world’s greatest sleeper, but rather slightly jaundiced, which made him listless. We got the jaundiced all “fixed up”, but then somewhere along the way he discovered that being nestled in someone’s arms or snuggled up alongside someone’s back was a far superior mode of slumber. At first, I just thought that all babies liked to be held this much and when criticized for holding my baby “too much”, I would shrug it off. He was MY baby and I was going to hold him as much as I wanted. Then my niece was born. I gazed in awe as my sister would place my niece down and LEAVE THE ROOM. I can’t remember EVER being able to do that!

I don’t know - maybe I DO hold my kid too much, maybe Cousin J holds my kid too much, perhaps it’s X’s fault. I also remember hearing in the hospital how popular he was with the nurses and how they loved to hold him. Maybe THEY created this situation. So, I brought it up to my doctor. She's conservative Catholic but with a heart of granola - she very matter-of-factly informed me that most of the world co-sleeps - it’s the Westerners who are the minority. She pointed out that yes, my son probably WOULD prefer to be sleeping next to me. She chuckled and said that all four of her children were co-sleepers and they all eventually “moved out”. In short, she didn’t think it was a problem and then we discussed the proper safety measures needed with co-sleeping.

So, if I REALLY confess - - it isn’t that much of a problem. Most nights, I love going to bed with him and snuggling in with him and a good book (he drifts off and I continue reading for awhile). Yes, YES, some nights I wish I could drop him off in his crib, then skip merrily down the stairs so I can watch Jack Bauer fight the baddies or watch another group of Survivors slowly starve themselves towards that million bucks. But this is the main crux of the situation - when he sleeps with me, he sleeps HARD. It’s the best sleep he gets all day AND he usually doesn’t wake up unless I have eaten Greek food for lunch (it tears the poor kid apart). Even then, he just fusses around IN HIS SLEEP. Furthermore, I love the mornings when I have nowhere to go and I can just lie (lay?) there watching him breathe and do those creepy little baby smiles in his sleep.

So what's REALLY the problem? In short, it's ME. I think what has really bothered me about this co-sleeping thing is the fact that I have been insecure about my decision to do it - meaning, I often don’t tell people that I co-sleep or if I do “admit” it, I do it sheepishly (at one point, I had almost convinced myself that co-sleeping was temporary, so why bring it up). It began to bother me that here I am, a 34 year old educated women who KNOWS damned well that co-sleeping is just fine, but yet I was still insecure about it. Then I woke up (pun actually intended) and realized that co-sleeping WORKS FOR US and our lifestyle. I am nursing and co-sleeping is perfect for that. We have several trips coming this year and co-sleeping is perfect for that (he had NO issues sleeping at night when were in DC, it was the napping that was a problem). I’ve always been a “late at night in bed” reader and co-sleeping is perfect for that. I finally realized that I need to suck it up, stand tall and be firm in my decision - even when people DO look a little cross-eyed at me when I say that we co-sleep. Ironically, Normal Olathe Grandma is the most understanding regarding the co-sleeping thing. When my aunt was born, they were a smack dab in the middle of World War II living in military housing, so they couldn’t AFFORD a crib (I guess Oprah wasn’t around back then). Also, I should mention X thought the crib purchase was weird and totally questioned the need for it. In fact, he was the one who pushed for co-sleeping after a long night of pacing the floor with Arun. How could I argue when Arun immediately snuggled in and went to sleep?

So, am I all over that attachment parenting stuff? Not necessarily. I don’t think cribs are harmful or that kids won’t bond if left in a crib. For us, it’s just a lifestyle choice and damned straight - the kid is SLEEPING. What’s that they say about fixing non-broken stuff?

Now, if I could only get the CATS to co-sleep. Between needing to be petted, needing water, needing to be let out, needing to sleep right on my legs so that I can't move AN INCH AND MY BACK CRAMPS UP, Arun is the very LEAST of my sleeping problems. Some nights, while I am wide awake with yet another feline getting on my very last nerve and Arun is snoring away, I think quietly to myself "Tennis rackets. Yep, we need more tennis rackets around here......."

February 20, 2006

What’s with all this meme crap?

Keeping in theme with this blog, I am a sheep. We do memes. Didn’t you know? Actually, I don't understand why memes are the Rodney Dangerfield of posting. Not only are they fun to write, they are also fun to read. Anyway, I have been tagged for a meme by Average Jane ........

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I had just finished my graduate degree, moved to Kansas City and officially started working for The Man. I was so very homesick for Lawrence at the time - it was the first time in my life that Lawrence wasn't "central" in my life. Now, of course, Kansas City is "central" in my life - and my heart. While I still go to Lawrence at least once a week these days, I know that I could never live there again. It's true what they say: You can't go home.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
Puking and hacking. I had just found out I was pregnant a few weeks back and morning sickness had began. THEN, I got a cold from hell. Not a fun combo. Fortunately, or not, I was on VACATION from the very worst job I have ever had -- working for the Federal Reserve. So there I was, on VACATION, PUKING, HACKING and still in utter shock at it all.

Five snacks you enjoy:
1) GOOD, expensive chocolate followed with a glass of soymilk
2) sunflower seeds followed with a glass of orange juice
3) a Kashi granola bar followed with a glass of soymilk
4) cheese, followed with some more CHEESE and a nice glass of wine
5) a cinnamon roll followed with a strong cup of coffee

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:
1) When You Were Mine (Cyndi Lauper)
2) Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd)
3) Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
4) Jessie’s Girl (Rick Springfield)
5) Inside Out (Eve 6)

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire :
1) Give a whole shitload to Doctors Without Borders and CRY
2) Pay off the mortgages for my sister, mom, and dad.
4) Go back to school and get a degree in something I am really interested in - linguistics.
5) Pay someone to color my hair for me. I am just too cheap right now to suck it up and pay. Sadly, it probably shows.

Five bad habits:
1) Procrastination
2) Spending WAY too much time online
3) Reading US Weekly and People. Sigh.
4) Jumping too quickly to conclusions which leads me to.........
5) Losing my temper.

Five things you like doing:
1) Knitting
2) Reading
3) Enjoying a tasty meal in fun restaurant
4) Enjoying a really good cup of joe in a funky coffee shop
5) Playing cards!!

Five things you would never wear again:
1) My long, bohemian skirts
2) a bikini
3) a spiral perm
4) big, plastic, bright-colored earrings
5) blue mascara

Five favorite toys:
1) My RidiculousCar with its Silly Features and 268 ponies
2) My Mac
3) My iPods
4) My digital camara
5) My RidiculousTV and DVR

February 17, 2006

Do you hear what I hear?

Ladies of the Internet, is it just me or do men give up some part of their middle ear function when they take their solemn vows of matrimony? Or, did I just happen to get stuck with a model that was already lacking in this feature? Was there the option to upgrade and I missed the boat? At times, I will actually send X an email so I have DOCUMENTATION. X has many, many virtues but GOOD GOD, hearing isn’t one of them. Furthermore, I am tempted to set up a chessboard-esque gridwork in our fridge so the next time he asks where the eggs are, I can shout " C4!!" because the LOCATION NEVER FUCKING CHANGES. Okay - got that off my chest......

Looking forward to this weekend because we have virtually no plans. Yippee!! My mother is coming over at some point so that I can finally see Brokeback Mountain. This heterosexual chick is all for gay romances - hell, All Over the Guy is one of my favorite movies , so that should say something. Anyway, other than the movie and hanging out at the house, I finally, finally figured out how to move movie clips around on my Mac. I am such a “guy” when it comes to gadgets, I never read the directions and nope, I’ll never learn. But, I did finally figure it out. I have footage that needs to be made into 4 different movies, then I can burn the DVDs and distribute them. I will probably do our taxes this weekend, which will be no small feat, either. Not to complain, but we sold our Virginia rental property last year and the return is going to be a total bitch.

Anyway, today was ChimpBoy’s 4 month checkup. He weighs 16 lbs and is over 26 inches long. While he is only 75% in weight, he is well over 90% in height which explains why I am already digging through his 6-9 month clothes. The doctor’s office always cracks me up - they always declare that I am doing a “great job” which really means crap because let’s face it - at this point the kid is on auto-pilot. All I do is feed and diaper him.

From This:

To This:

Unfortunately, while the kid has been growing, I still haven’t figured out how to get the lighting right. I had decided before he was born that this was the “spot” where I wanted to do the milestone comparison pics, but neglected to test out the lighting first. It's still crazy to think that it's been FOUR whole months. I can't even describe how much I just love hanging out with him, running around with him - just BEING with him. It is so fun to take him places and experience new things with him. It was even fun traveling with him this past weekend. I was downright giddy after the visit to Mt. Vernon because I realized I have many, many years of dragging his bored ass through cheesy tourist destination after tourist destination.

I almost feel sorry for him.

February 15, 2006

I'm not as bitchy as I sound, right?

First, I would like to clarify something regarding The Slap I wrote about in Monday’s post. The girl was FOUR years old. I do expect that over the years as Arun becomes a toddler, that he is going to be hit now and then by other children - hell, he will probably do some of the hitting himself. TODDLERS do that, as they learn how to communicate. It’s NORMAL. However, a FOUR year old knows better. Example: I have 2 nephews, aged 4.5 and 2.5 respectively. I would be very upset if the Older Nephew was hitting Arun, but not as much if the Younger Nephew was. Furthermore, I was more upset by the lack of discipline the girl’s mother was giving to her girl - the little girl was looking STRAIGHT AT ME when she was hitting Arun - meaning, she knew damned well what she was doing. I hope I didn’t come across as a complete bitch in Monday’s post, so I thought I should explain.

I finally broke down today and paid for a proper haircut for Arun - it was downright shameful how terrible the monkey's shag was looking. Fortunately, I know of a good Persian barber and if there is ever a person to cut my boy’s hair, a good Persian barber fit the bill. Hameed did an excellent job and I learned my lesson. Also, I got myself a new haircut, too. I had totally butchered my bangs a few weeks back - WHY DON'T I LEARN? Am I the only who takes nail scissors to her hair? It may work for Kinsey Millhone, but not so much for ME. Anyway, no more shear madness going on in the Rancid le Manse. Yikes.

Also, is anyone else completely confused by all these “developmental milestones” that you are supposed to keep track of when you have babies? I keep reading that “by now” Arun should be “rolling over”. I thought everything was cool because Arun has been going from “back to tummy” for months now (food is his motivator, so he rolls to nurse). He only just started rolling from tummy to back a week back or so. Now, I am reading that “back to tummy” is the one that comes LATER and that all along he should have been going “tummy to back” because that is easier. I am not overly concerned, just wondering if I am the only one who gets confused. It's hard enough to get him to spend any time on the floor as it is because he would rather stand, stand, STAND. He doesn't like to lie down. Also, he only just started doing raspberries, which according to all the experts he's so far behind now he will surely be riding the short bus.

Finally, I had a major issue with subject verb agreement in Monday's title. OUCH. I am tempted to change it because it bothers me so, but that seems like cheating somehow.

So, this week, we tried a new trick - sitting in the Boppy (something else I probably should have been doing with him months ago - probably while he was still in the womb, I'm sure. When does Mommy Guilt end?)

I can report that Arun LOVED sitting in the Boppy. Check out his new rug, too!

I couldn't help myself - I corrected the title. Also, OMIGOD. Since I posted earlier, the kid has turned into our own personal Rolie Polie Olie. He's all over the place! I am excited yet extremely frightened. I am not prepared for mobility. Eek.

February 14, 2006

What's that line about the bull in the china shop?

So, in my continuing battle to beat the SAHM Stereotype of stroller trolling in the mall, I suggested to my friend R that we take our progeny to the Kemper Museum and expose them to a bit of culture. I was really looking forward to this outing as the Kemper is one my favorite musuems - they have an incredible collection of art in diverse media and their exhibits change frequently. The bonus is that museum is very small and can easily be completely toured in about an hour. I arrived at the museum, excitedly buckled Arun into his stroller and headed towards the entrance. I entered the museum whereupon I promptly RAMMED THE STROLLER INTO A SCULPTURE. A WOODEN one, no less. My first instinct was to perform the whole “trading of insurance cards” routine with the security guard. I quickly realized that wasn’t appropriate, so I did the cursory lookie-see to determine if there was any damage, then MOVED ON. Because I am a classy gal. You can take the girl outta Kansas...........

Anyway - so today is Valentine’s day and as usual, X and I have nothing planned. I believe we are the most unromantic couple around and I am unapologetic. I’ve had poetic cards, flowers and chocolate. I’ve also had my heart broken. A lot. I would much rather stir up a juicy curry and a spicy thoren then throw a creme brulee in the oven myself. I'd like to end the evening by settling in front of the TV with my two favorite guys and hear what Jon Stewart has to say about the world or alternatively, watch Jack Bauer SAVE the world.

Hmmmm, sounds like a plan.

February 13, 2006

How many inches are enough?

Git yer mind outta the gutter. I’m talkin’ SNOW, folks! Yep - we got caught smack dab in the middle of the Big Snow this past weekend while in DC/VA. Let me start the recap by stating that if Normal Olathe Grandma knew what I subjected her precious great-grandson to this past weekend, she would push aside her walker and proceed to KICK MY ASS. Besides the dangers of snow, sleet, Big City traffic, and a smoke-hazed pool hall, I had the audacity to expose him to SUNSHINE and FRESH AIR. Anyway, let me say that like most of my Boyfriends Past, I went into this trip with low expectations and high hopes. However, this time I wasn’t disappointed! Except for two meltdowns, the weekend went very smoothly.

The Going: The trip out there was pretty uneventful. I packed only to the extent of what I could physically carry but gratefully accepted help along the way. The hardest part was getting in and out of the shuttle bus - the steps were too steep to navigate as I was loaded down like a pack mule - literally. I had Arun in the Baby Bjorn on my chest, the diaper backpack on my back, the travel stroller on my shoulder all while I dragged the suitcase with the carseat slung onto it. Let me state this right now - I absolutely could not have traveled without the Baby Bjorn and the Combi Travel Stroller - they proved to be invaluable in my being able to accomplish this trip by myself without X. Anyway, I got to the airport, boarded the plane and waited for the lottery to begin. Except this was the Shirley Jackson version where the “winner” was going to have to sit next to The Dreaded Baby. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner, folks! As the Ice Queen took her seat, I feared it was going to be a long ride. Fortunately, she ended up hightailing it to the nearest empty seat as soon as the plane was done ascending. Arun fussed a little in the beginning, then settled down for a nap. He woke up towards the end of the flight, nursed a bit, then fell asleep during the landing. That’s my boy.

Burn, Baby, Burn: When I arrived in DC, I picked up the rental car and immediately headed out to Fairfax - I was meeting X there so that we could drive to Sterling together for a company-related function. We arrived at the function and it was a POOL HALL. A SMOKE filled one, to boot. I quickly determined that since I survived my own smoke laden childhood, that Arun would probably be okay for one night. It was a fun night, I enjoy hanging out with the people that work for X’s company and it was good to finally meet some of the newly hired Virginian contingent as well. I had an interesting conversation - one of the gals was going on and on about how the company was such a good fit for her, she was so happy, it was so fortunate that “they” found each other. My Bullshit Detector was going through the roof because I had it on “good authority” (cough, cough) that she wasn’t necessarily that happy. THEN, I realized with a start that she was maybe giving me this song and dance because I am the president’s wife. Sadly, all these years I have bitched and moaned about working for The Man and then I ended up marrying someone ELSE’s Man. Anyway, the night was a good one. I noticed something else a bit odd, though. The Indians are fascinated with Arun. You see, our little half-breed is really a pretty good mix of American and Indian - he doesn’t clearly favor certain features over another, so to the Indians, our little guy is unusual, too. While Americans adore the hair, the Indians admire the fair skin. Anyway, the odd thing is, they kept taking pictures of THEMSELVES with him. I wasn’t sure what to think about that. I think I held Arun a total of about 10 minutes the entire evening because everyone else kept taking turns.

The House: Friday was “my day” where I could do anything I wanted. I decided to head down to Mt. Vernon to see George Washington’s house. I am not a particular fan of his, but since I enjoy touring houses, it seemed the trip was in order. The ride down was no problem and was quite fun. I quickly found out that Mt. Vernon is much, much more than just a house, but an ESTATE with various outbuildings, graves, gardens, etc. Luckily, it was a gorgeous day - although it was slightly chilly, the sun was out. I bundled up Arun and we walked around. While he slept in the stroller, I toured the grounds. When he woke up, we toured the house since strollers weren’t allowed in the house. I am really glad I made the hike down to Mt. Vernon - it was great to walk around outside and enjoy the fresh air. Also, since it was February, there was virtually no one else there - there were more guides than tourists. I toured the house with one couple and there was only one couple ahead of us and one couple behind us. Also, I LOVE driving around in new places, so it was also really cool to drive someplace entirely new. In fact, on the way back to Fairfax, I decided to try another route that I had passed by on my way down. This sort of turned out to be a mistake. Luckily, my motto about getting lost on Vacations is “Great! Now, I get to see more than originally planned.” (conversely, my motto about getting lost while driving for Work is “Great! Now, I’m royally fucked.”). At one point it became obvious that I had missed a desperately needed exit, but the latent Blue Bird in me wouldn’t take an illegal u-turn, so I drove a good 4 miles out of the way. But hey, I was on VACATION, so it didn’t matter.

Scream: Friday night, we went to our friend’s house in Herndon - J & L's. They were going to be watching Arun for us while we went to the Fancy Hoedown the next evening, so it seemed important that oh, maybe Arun would get to get to MEET them first so that we weren’t just randomly dumping him off and hightailing it out of there. The evening went okay - they just had their 3rd baby in December, so they were definitely qualified for the job. Also, they are an incredibly fun couple to hang out with. The problem is that Arun decided this was his big opportunity to work those lungs out and SCREAM BLOODY MURDER. It is so rare that he is inconsolable that when he gets like that I am CLUELESS. I had no idea what to do. Boobage? No. Diaper change? No. Rocking? No. Walking? No. Toy? No. Leaving? YES.

Scream, Part Deaux:The screaming commenced in time for my much-anticipated meeting in D.C. with Amalah.....sigh...... Fortunately, if anyone is going to understand the Screaming, it would be someone who has a child that is a mere 2 weeks older than yours. I barely got in two bites of my delicious government-controlled pizza - a Neapolitan slice of heaven which served to show that sometimes bureaucracy can be a GOOD thing. Unfortunately, Arun was just miserable and I was just clueless. I guess I should be grateful that he is not usually like that, but DAMN, I wish he would time those episodes according to MY schedule. He’s so “Me, me, ME” sometimes - little ingrate. Anyway, it was lovely to meet Amy - she is far more interesting than she gives herself credit for. Furthermore, she is so genuinely humble about her blog’s success that it is downright ridiculous the Trolls seem to think otherwise. I can also report that Noah has just as much personality as his pictures would indicate! What a cutie - the pictures don’t really convey how expressive he is! I was sad that Arun and I had to shoot out of there so quickly, but it was for the best. Arun was asleep before we even hit the Beltway, so I guess he was tired. D’oh!

The Slap: After lunch with Amy, but before the Fancy Hoedown, X and I had another social obligation - to visit one of his business associates and his wife - K and L. This required driving to fucking ASHBURN just as the big blizzard was setting in. K and L are very nice, but can I just say their parenting style is so very different than what I am used to? I can’t really claim to have a parenting style yet since all I do thus far is feed and diaper my own kid, but I am used to my own sister’s strict sense of discipline and dear God, I am spoiled. In short, their little 4 year old girl was very jealous of Arun and kept slapping him whenever her mother would try to hold him. L would just say “no, no” in a sweet sing-song voice. GRRR.... Okay.......1) I had the strong urge to slap the little girl MYSELF - which OF COURSE, I know is WRONG and I would never, EVER act out on the urge, but I couldn’t help feeling FURIOUS as I watched someone HIT MY KID, so sue me......... and 2) if ARUN ever tries to pull that sort of bullshit when HE gets older, I won’t be hesitating to make him STOP it and understand in no uncertain terms that is UNACCEPTABLE behavior. No sirree, a sing song “No, no” won’t cut it. Also, a very odd thing happened while we there - if you are a guy, just skip this section and continue on to the next one.................. Okay, while I was nursing Arun, I put my breast pad on the couch arm (yes, 4 months into this nursing thing and I still leak more than a White House Chief of Staff). When I was done nursing Arun, the pad was GONE. GONE!!! NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. I looked everywhere. In short, I think the little girl TOOK IT. Talk about awkward, I couldn’t go as far to accuse her of taking it, but man, I was pissed. K and L are a very nice couple, but honestly, I couldn’t wait to get the fuck outta there.

The BIG House: So, after the K and L fiasco in Ashburn, we drive all the way back to Fairfax, furiously get dressed for the Fancy Hoedown, THEN drive to Herndon. All while it is SNOWING. We drop Arun off, hoping fervently that the Screaming is over and done. We then drive to Great Falls for the fancy-smancy Valentine’s Day party. Oh my - it did not disappoint, either. Folks, if you hire a COAT CHECK GIRL for your party, you might be a Richboy. If you hire not one, but TWO bartenders, you might be a Richboy. If you hire a professional caterer and provide a special bar for CHOCOLATE, you might be a Richboy. If you have an entire ROOM to house your collection of 1300+ wines, you might be a Richboy. Finally, if you have enough space for a dance floor AND professional DJ, you might be a Richboy. That said, it was actually a fun party! I have always maintained that while I am fascinated by money, I am not necessarily impressed by it. After all, Money a personality does not make. However, our hosts were interesting people and their house reflected that. It was a beautiful home, but not a museum, either. So, we had a great time, met some interesting people and sampled some delicious wine. And then, drove back to Herndon, which leads us to.............

Snow, Glorious Snow: Let’s just say that this born and bred Midwesterner has always wanted to see a classic Nor'easter. I was not disappointed, either. It was absolutely beautiful with huge, fluffy flakes of snow. After growing up with the classic “Ice and Snow” combo that we in Kansas usually experience, it was very cool to just only deal with Snow. Furthermore, people in the East don’t freak out over snow - in Kansas, we flock to the grocery store at the first flake.

The Going: So, Sunday I packed everything up again - all 45+ lbs of it. That meant I was carrying a good 60+ lbs by the time you factor in the kid. I was flying Midwest and believe you me, I didn’t feel one ounce of guilt when I enjoyed their scrumptious cookies because I knew I would work off every last calorie. The trip home was uneventful, Arun slept the whole way in the Baby Bjorn which left me hands free to plow my way through both the latest issues of US and People. My packing mantra of ”Less is Less” defintely held true, even with a kid. He had one clean outfit left but still had 10 diapers to spare - so I need to work on that calculation. So in conclusion, while traveling with a kid was more stressful, it wasn’t that bad. The trick is to not pack too much and tack on extra time for EVERYTHING. Besides, it was fun to get him out and about to see his big ole bug eyes get REALLY bugged out at all the new sights and sounds. Definitely can’t wait to get out again. Baby needs a new pair of shoes, so Vegas is our next destination - hopefully in March.


Baby’s First Tourist Destination

Not only did I breastfeed my kid on George Washington’s East Front Lawn, I also changed his diaper there. Very, very cool.

As you can see, he was very impressed.

February 8, 2006

Is less actually more? Or is it still just less?

First, Let me be clear regarding Monday’s post.

#1: I really don't feel that bad about "not working". I am more weirded out by the very fact that I don’t feel bad - it’s not like I don't think I am pulling my weight. Case in point: our hot water heater went to the Big Hot Springs in the sky on Sunday night. Since I didn't have to report to the Man on Monday morning, I had ample time to call a plumber, diagnose the problem and comparison shop for water heaters at Lowe’s. I saved us nearly $200 because I had the time to make sure we made the right decision. If I had been working for the Man, I would have just believed the con artist of a plumber I originally called.

#2: I am not slim or even slimmed down. I still have some weight to lose from Smoking Cessation 2000. Oddly enough, the Pregnancy Weight and the Smoking Cessation weight don't bother me because they were for very worthy causes, but the Christmas 2004 weight DID - that's why I was so ecstatic and posted about it. Unfortunately, I haven't been slim since grad school where I proved that you can maintain a svelt figure with Capri Lights, Taco Bell and Budlight - 3 food groups I don't care to ever see again. Bleh.

Moving on.............

So, I head out to DC/VA tomorrow. Luckily, Cousin J will be adding “house” and “cats” to her sitting duties at a greatly reduced price from our previous pet sitter. Score. Anyway, I am very excited about getting on a plane again - I haven’t been anywhere since last July. Usually when I travel, I pack as lightly as possible in confirmation of my packing mantra “Less is Less”. It used to be that the only things I would be in dire straights without were my laptop, workpapers, contacts, medicine, wallet - most everything else really can be purchased in a pinch if needed. However, having a kid tends to rock your packing world. sigh...... For the flying monkey’s inaugural trip, I am still going to try to bring as little as possible and test my mantra. My goal is to bring only the usual carry-on suitcase, diaper backpack, carseat, baby Bjorn and Combi travel stroller. Pray for me. At least at this point the weight differential between the laptop and the kid is minimal.

Thursday night is a work related dinner thingie with X's company, which will be fun because I like hanging out with those folks. It certainly helps that two of my very good friends work for his company - Goofy Girl and Dorothy. Then, I am free all day Friday. I decided to nix the Monticello outing and will just do Mt. Vernon and Crate & Barrel. Yes, you read that correctly. I frequently incorporate C&B outings into my vacation plans and have been known to Mapquest directions to the nearest C&B, if needed. We are in the process of getting one in Kansas City (Lord, grant me credit card strength) but in the meantime, I have to get my fix whenever and wherever I can. If that means driving to Kittery, Maine from Boston for the holy grail that is the C&B OUTLET, then so be it...... Anyway, Friday night will be spent with some friends so they can meet Arun as they are going to be sit with him for us on Saturday evening. We are going to a posh hoedown in Great Falls to hobnob with the rich (not sure about the famous). The attire is “date dress” - whatever the fuck that means because I can’t remember the last time X and I went on a date. All I know is that it threw me into enough of a panic that I finally dragged my fat ass to Eddie Bauer to get proper slacks so that I don’t look as if I just arrived in from KANSAS or something. I am looking forward to the extravagent gig, but it did complicate my packing mantra because now I have to include my breast pump and a bottle amongst all the other crap the kid needs (I am still sad that the pocket in my suitcase that used to hold knitting supplies and celebrity ragazines makes the perfect diaper compartment).

Oh, I am also meeting up with Amalah on Saturday. We are going to meet for lunch and will compare our babies to see whose kid is Smarter! Cuter! and Better Smelling! Then we'll line them up for a race, which my kid will LOSE because all he can do is roll over for some nipple action. No crawling in sight yet for that boy unless I lay across the living room him and whip the maternal goods out for him. Anyway.... I am navigating scary DC traffic for this gladiatorial meeting of the babies so damned straight, my kid better win. I have never arranged to specifically meet another blogger before - I told Amy that if we end up staring slackjawed at each other, we can at least talk about the kids, I guess - they make a great equalizer, of sorts. Unfortunately, she will discover that I have been ignoring her advice on shampoo - I’m just an Aveda/Matrix gal. Sorry. I also haven’t pulled out my foundation brush since that Estee Lauder counter chick conned me into buying it 3 years ago. I hope I still can pass muster, though. Eek. The pressure.

Rancid Pondering: What is the age limit for the 2 person minimum in HOV lanes? Do babies count? My flight comes into DC smack dab in the middle of rush hour traffic - can I drive on the special HOV highway with the kid? That is the most direct route for where I am going. I wonder if I could play the Hick From Out of Town card if I get pulled over and say that I wasn't intelligently designed enough to figured out their fancy highway system? You see, in KANSAS, we are equal opportunity drivers. It's not uncommon to see a single driver barreling around in his two ton extended cab pickup - from his cookie cutter suburban house to his corporate gig. No joke!


The Littlest Blockhead

They say a picture is worth a thousand words - in this case, it's worth 1600 super junior double bacon McRibb cheeseburgers (or something like that). My ex-co worker from Block gave this to me. G sacrificed precious, precious BlockBucks to ensure the new Baby on the Block had appropriate taxation attire. Thanks, G! Now, I am kinda, sorta sorry I switched to TurboTax.

What a “Wonder”ful World

I love this picture because just about every kid out there in the blogosphere now has a picture with him/her in an Ocean Wonders contraption while playing with the ugly-smugly Lamaze cube thingie. And of course, I just want my kid to BELONG so I threw out all the Graco CRAP I had originally bought and totally went Fisher Price because you know, personalities are so YESTERDAY.

Just a Chip off the Ole Rock Chalk

The indoctrination starts early. We just won’t make him pay dues for awhile. I keep offering to buy some of X’s alma mater attire, but he declines. Sucker. I can’t wait to see his face when Arun sniffs his nose at Hanover, NH and trots off to Lawrence, KS with crimson and blue twinkling in his eyes..... That’ll teach X and his Ivy League ass.

February 6, 2006

Who Am I?

Last week marked 7 months since I quit my job with the Fed. At the time, I was very worried about being bored at home and losing a sense of my self. But the alternative wasn’t viable - keeping my Dementor’s Kiss of a job at the Fed, my husband continuing to run a company based in freakin’ VIRGINIA, AND raising a baby would have quickly landed us in a No Man’s Land of unhappiness. I’ll admit that sometimes I am weirded out by the fact that I make no money and am basically dependent on X. Then again, the guy is fairly dependent on ME because I run the entire household. He doesn’t know the purpose for any of the tools in the garage, I am in charge of all our finances, and hell’s bells - I just leveled our washer myself last week. For sure, my self-esteem has remained intact. However, I am still not certain how to introduce myself - nearly 19 years of saying “Hi! My name is Cagey and I work for {insert creppy job} as a {insert creppy title} tends to leave you at loose ends when you don’t have a “bona fide” job anymore. Furthermore, I don’t subscribe to that “I am my kid’s mom” bullshit. Dammit - I am still ME, just with less hobbies and hangovers. I don’t really like the “stay at home mom” moniker either , but am not sure how else to refer to what I do. I usually just say that I “stay home full time”, which isn’t exactly true because it is a rare day that I actually do STAY AT HOME. I’ve put many, many miles on the RidiculousCar and the kid probably thinks the backseat of that damned car is his freakin’ bedroom and that only the coolest babies nap to Coldplay........... Anyway, while I am not exactly having an identity crisis, I am having trouble LABELING it -- “Mistress of the Manor” ain’t gonna cut it (Hint: Open to suggestions here.) It doesn’t help matters that I almost feel guilty admitting how much I LOVE staying home. Is this where I confess that I have no desire to go back to work anytime soon? No? Moving on to brighter topics.............

The jig is up, Favorite Black Jeans. Your ass is MINE. I am now at my PRE pre-pregnancy weight. You see, I had gained 7 lbs during the 2004 Christmas Season, THEN immediately got pregnant in January (this is why I was so cautious in gaining too much weight while growing the Freeloader). Anyway, I have officially waved bye-bye to those 7 lbs! As tempting as it is to just chalk the weight loss up to my breasts for ensuring the monkey stays chunky, I really should blame Boredom, or rather the LACK of it. I am rarely bored nowadays - if I AM sitting around slackjawed then it is my own damned fault! There is ALWAYS something to do -- I can play with the baby, watch for Bluth staircar jumpers, read a book, wash baby’s hair, watch Jack Bauer thwart terrorists with his Treo 650, change diapers, clean the house, play with baby’s hair, watch Jon Stewart report the REAL news, talk on the phone, feed baby, watch Oprah give away free shit, tap away on the computer, brush the baby’s hair, watch a group of idiots outwit, outlast, outplay............

I guess I always suspected that my weight was related to working, but I didn’t guess the real nature of the connection. Who knew I wasn’t working for the weekend, but rather for LUNCH?

February 3, 2006

Is it really Friday? Thank God.

Well, the funeral went as well as could be expected. I never, ever thought I would need to help a friend write the eulogy for her husband - not while still in my 30s, at least. I have written and given several eulogies before, so I knew how to go about it and was glad to help her.

I know that way, way down the road J will be fine, although it’s going to be slow going while she builds this new life for herself and her children. I feel such a strong responsibility to help her towards that, and I am not sure why. Possibly because I know that she feels comfortable confiding in me? Or is it because since I am staying home, I have the time to be there? She will continue to stay home full-time for awhile, so she needs someone during the “daytime” hours. Maybe it’s simple geography - I live in the same town as her parents and she lives in the same town as mine. Or, it could be that I have her to thank for my own wonderful husband - I would have never met X had it not been for her. I guess that in the end, it doesn’t matter WHY I feel such a responsibililty, but innately I know that I am the right person for the job and that I should be there for her.

I will say this - J and I have already discussed the fact that we are grateful to be educated, professional women. J will have no problems financially maintaining a solid future for herself and her children. I think it says a lot that in her darkest hours, she can look to that and be appreciative.

Finally, I would like to say that I am very grateful for all the supportive comments and emails I have received this week. It was very comforting to write about what was going on and to receive all those kind thoughts. When I started this blog, I had no intentions of becoming an Identity blogger, so I am still amazed sometimes that I am able to write so much about myself. It’s been very rewarding and this week has only served to show what blogging can do for a person.

I won’t be posting anymore about this. It’s really J’s journey and I have probably already written more than I should. I will probably still mention J occasionally by simple virtue of the fact that I will most likely be seeing her more often. However, next week I want to return to posting bitchy, sarcastic, irreverent drivel about this wonderful life that I am so fucking thankful for getting the chance to experience.