December 28, 2010

Farewell 2010

I am saying farewell  to 2010 (hasta luego, good riddance, see ya)... four days early. So I started my resolutions yesterday. New Year's Day resolutions never seem to really pan out for me.  I think it's because I don't like being forced into anything - and the New Year's resolution is a forced change, predictable, a time certain.  Me no like.

Regardless, I always draft a lengthy list of health/fitness resolutions and then a separate list of inner-self/family/peace resolutions. 

Last year, my family/peace list went something like this:
1. Be the best wife I can.
2. Be the best mother I can.
3. Be the best lawyer I can.
4. Sleep more.
5. Eat less.
6. Pray more.
7. Doubt less.
8. Laugh often.
9. Forgive always.

And....2010 was so awesome.  So blessed.  So ridiculously blessed.  Yet, I look at that list and have so many "ughs".  Why? Why? Why?  I started working at a new law firm in January, so the "pray more" and trying to "be the best lawyer I can" seemed to come into play.  But in my little pea brain, that's about it. 

I feel like I messed up the wife, mother, sleep and eat categories.  Definitely botched the eat less part (!).  And I undoubtedly messed up "forgive always." 

Last year, when I added "forgive always", I was thinking more in the line of forgiving others.  This year, I am listing forgiveness as a reminder to forgive myself, give myself a break, pick up, dust off and move on.  2010 was an amazing year!  And I am still giving myself a hard time about every minute detail.  Good grief, Charlie Brown.   Along the lines of forgiveness, I am going to stop trying to be the best at anything.  I'm going to put down my list, and make a vow at boring contentment, perhaps interspersed with a hefty dose of mediocrity, and focus on the roots, the simple things.

Therefore, I give you my list for 2011:
1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Patience
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self-control and
10. Forgiveness

Of course, that list sounds familiar. What a better place to start than with a biblical verse and my family?  I'm sure the Expert, James and Stella could greatly benefit from a little Momma induced joy, patience and self-control.  Afterall, my family is the ones who suffer when I fail.  And everyone suffers when I fail to forgive myself.

I'm not sure if the below quote is actually from Maya Angelou, although the source claims it is (I haven't found the actual attribution and the link's "source" button isn't working - bah), but regardless, and even if penned by some random, angry teenager, I find wisdom in the words.

“I don't know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself ...because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, 'well, if I'd known better I'd have done better,' that's all. ...If we all hold on to the mistake, we can't see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can't see what we're capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one's own self....The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don't have that, we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.”

I wish you all a wonderful 2011! Full of peace, joy ....and forgiveness for all the times you lost your mind over crumbs on the floor, chocolate on the walls or dirty dishes in the sink. (Or is that just me?)

See you in the New Year!

December 26, 2010

Snow Babies III

White Christmas.
OJ Simpson with Mr. "Sweet Potato Head".

Snowball fights.

Sweet babies.



Awesome Snowman Fred.

December 24, 2010

Merry Merry

Really enjoying my sister-in-law, Melonie (or Melly, as James has nicknamed her) being here for Christmas. This is the first time she has seen the babies, so it has been a nice time. I pulled out a lasagna from the freezer for dinner last night (not Stouffer's, one I had made), not realizing that a six layer frozen lasagna takes about two hours to cook.

I essentially starved everyone, so it tasted delicious. Looking forward to cookie baking and Santa prep tonight.

The Expert and Melly are currently grocery shopping - the Expert is an absolute saint for shopping and cooking Christmas dinner tomorrow....I wouldn't know where to begin. All he needs is a standing rib roast to take this zoo to five star fine dining. If I was in charge, we would be having sandwiches and wine.

Stella Rae is napping, and I am getting some serious snuggles and Charlie Brown Christmas with my first born. I feel very Christmasy and relaxed today... I am very thankful for all my millions of blessings, my family, and friends. Sometimes, I just need a real day off to make me realize all the joy I am forgetting. Shamefully, the grind and pull of daily life sometimes makes me forget just how thankful and blessed I am. I have a roof over my head, a job I appreciate, an Expert who loves me, family who tolerates me, and friends and coworkers I adore. So many blessings. And in those blessings there was also hidden a fabulous new purse. Woo hoo!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

December 21, 2010

A Hero

It takes two to make a baby.  Two people...maybe together or not, or whatever.  For the sake of argument and ignoring some science, let's assume this is true.  But it takes only one person to grow the baby...birth it, feed it, and handle all the real responsibility that goes along with it. 

A man can walk out. Leave the marriage, the children, the burdens - whatever the cliche - throw money at the "problem" and somehow, the world says "we don't like it, but really it's okay (wink wink)." 

But what if a woman leaves?  Who forgives her?  Even now, in 2010, does anyone ever forgive the person who has spent the time bearing the vast majority of the family burden?  And if she packed up, walked out and said "ta ta"?  Would it be longer than 24 hours before the rubberband of responsibility springs her back into robotic action?

I doubt it. 

A hero has no face, no claim of actual self and no place of true whimsy or comfort.   I'm not a hero.  I haven't relinquished the desire for a face, a self and a place of inexplicable comfort.  But some have. Here's to my fellow mothers - my friends, my own mother, my grandmother, and family.  Somedays, I just want to walk out on it all.  I'm sure every mother has, at some point, felt the same (whether keen to admit it or not). 

To all my heroic women - thanks for hanging in there.   Together, I think we can all make this world remain on its axis.  And this time of year, especially.  Whew.  

And yes, Mom...I'm just fine.  No need to send in the police. 
And no, Expert... I'm not leaving.  But I am going to give you a good fight when you decide to show up tonight.

Merry, merry holidays everyone!

December 18, 2010

Lazy Bones

James has never been a good sleeper.  As a newborn, he was ridiculous.  And even now, at age 3, he's still waking us up two, three, sometimes five times a night.  He takes almost three hours to fall asleep.

I hear everything.  The blasted baby monitor.  But I still run the monitor, because I fear the next puke-a-palooza. If I ignored him, he could die from drowning in his own barf.

On Sunday night, we were jolted awake with a 1:00am "ROAR" from his plastic dinosaur, Big Rex. And another roar.  Roar! Roar! Ugh.  I went upstairs for the 114,000th time in my motherhood career.

Me:       James. Enough. Tell your dinosaur to be quiet.
James:  Okay. (He clicks the "off" button.)
Me:      Thank you. Goodnight, baby.

I walk out the door. I stand and listen. I hear 'click' and ROARRRR!!! 
I walk back in the room.

Me:       Give me the dinosaur.
James:   No.
Me:       Oh yes.  Dino is going night night.
James:   But he not tired.
Me:       Well, Momma is tired, and Momma always wins.  Hand him over.
James:   Oh, okay.

For two hours, I doze.  Only to be jolted awake by a rising rendition of....


And hence, I believed that I was moving into the guest room/office permanently. 

After three years of waking up consistently, each and every night.  I was over it.  I went in the guest room and pulled the covers over my head.  No baby monitors, just quiet.  Ahhhhh.  I open my eyes and see only the blinking light of my laptop.  Which reminded me of an email I needed to send.  3:30am and I'm out of the bed. Crap. I send the email.  Next thing I know, I'm in the shower, and sitting in my desk at the office by 5.  Only to find the network is down. Yes.

So these are my options?  I stay downstairs to listen to the stories/singing/talking  = I don't sleep.  I move upstairs to sleep = I work?  Ridiculous.  For Christmas, I want my own special house out back with nothing but a bed and a leopard print Snuggie.

The Expert can sleep through the singing, the jumping on the bed, the random story telling: "I see the dog. And momma says the dog is red. No doggie. You come here Stella. I see that dog too!"  I just can't sleep through it.  For women, I think childbirth brings a genetic mutation called "light sleeper."

And by the way, we can throw Stella into her crib from the hallway and she's out before she hits the mattress.  And she's out for 11+ hours.  Not a peep.  Thank you, sweet baby Jesus and your birthday (as James would say).

So, the Expert and I concocted a plan.  Bye bye nap. At three years old, James may be the first kid to have his afternoon nap wrestled out of his sticky little fingers. 

And hello sleep. Three skipped naps have resulted in three solid nights of sleep for all of us.  A sleeping monkey by 9:00, and he's out like a rock when I check on him.  Last night, I changed his diaper at midnight and he looked like he was on crack.  Woozy and slurring words. Perfect.  A Christmas miracle! A Christmas miracle!!

Anyway... we've been a bunch of lazy bones today. Slept in until 9:30.  All four of us are (still) wearing the same jammies from last night.  I ventured out for giftcards and Subway at noon.  The Expert went to the grocery store.  Other than that, we've been laying like broccoli. Cartoons galore.  And that's just fine. 

The kids are currently snapping beans for dinner.  And yes, Stella is wearing a diaper with a jacket only.  It's the only thing she will keep on. This is the most well-rested Saturday in the history of the house. 

In perfect contrast - on this same day in 2006 - the Expert and I were sitting in rocking chairs before the great fire at the Grove Park Inn in North Carolina, sipping wine, and doing exactly what we wanted to do.  And the kids? Not even a conceiveable thought in our heads. 

And now?  Time is often dictated by diapers, snapping beans and plastic dinosaurs who roar. Life is fast, and changes so quickly.  And although these changes are sometimes not a perceptible benefit of a real bargain - most of the time bargains are actually crap and the super expensive surprises are what make life worth living.

Baby Nudist

Stella Rae loathes clothes and prefers her birthday suit. This is not a new thing

Today, she was once again discovered buck naked in her crib.  

And precisely one minute after bringing her downstairs, fully clothed... this is what I found.

I don't think the Expert is very pleased with Stella's propensity to sling her clothes off.  He says, the teenage years are already starting to strike the fear of God in him.

Poor Expert.  I think he's gonna have his hands full with this one.

December 16, 2010

BlogVice: The Best Crayons (Ever)

I hate crayons.  The broken mess. The smell and feel of the crayon wax. The sight of  the shredded crayon paper was slowly undoing I went on a mission to find a crayon alternative. 

I stumbled across Crayola's Twistable Crayons.  One word: brilliant. (And yes, still a crayon).

The kids are thrilled.  They believe they have real, adult markers in their possession. The thin, plastic shape facilitates fine motor skills.  The "crayons" actually sharpen by twisting up (think: eyeliner with no real sharpening necessary).  The points are fine enough to actually color, but not fine enough to create a weapon during the two child mutiny.  There is no stinky crayon smell.  No broken crayons on the floor. No peeling of the crayon paper.  Love love love.

A+ to Crayola.  And yaay for me:  the end result was thirty solid minutes of solid, cooperative, quiet art projecting.

December 13, 2010

The Advantage of Invisible

The boy was full of the holiday joy and spirit until I was spotted at his preschool Christmas performance.  Ah, the advantage of being invisible.  Last year, he never saw me, and it went off without a hitch.

That's him in the middle...

"What? Is that.. is that mommy?"

"Oh my gosh, it's mommmmmmmy!"


Poor little guy.  He's been singing the Christmas songs for three weeks.  And apparently, I ruined the performance by just showing up.  His teacher said, "He hasn't been this upset... since you came to the Halloween Festival."

Now, I could have taken huge offense to that little comment.

Afterall, sounds like I'm not very well liked by my own kid. But I know what James wanted. When I scooped him out of the Christmas program and put him in my chair, he said, "I wanna go home with you, Momma."  He figures that he'd rather hang with me, than jingle some homemade bells. And I consider that a compliment. 

And while it was highly agitating to be that parent of the crying Christmas kid, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the karmic wheel turn to three of the scowling parents during the pizza lunch:  two of the kids hit their smugly mothers and another little girl almost picked her nose clean off her face, much to her mother's horror.

As for my boy:  I'll take a little Christmas scrooginess versus Katy McBoogers, Slappy O'Slapperson and Missy McHit.

And the live video? Here it is!


December 9, 2010

Trimming the Fat

Something about the holidays makes me want to cut people out of my life. 

Not my family.  But the unimportant ones. 

The people who make me insanely mad and crazy and are general energy vampires.  I think I feel this way because I want to be closer with my family during this time. I could almost devour my kids lately.  They are just too delicious. They smell like Christmas and yumminess.

The kids are growing up so fast.  Time is flying.  Technology never slows, the red light on my phone never stops blinking. And I am wanting to trim the fat:  the layers around my midsection, and the excess layers of crap in my life. 

I want to dig a big hole, cover it with some sort of thatch product, fill it with candy and bearskin rugs (well, that's not very vege of me) and just hole up with my husband and kids.  No worries about money, work, stupid people, lazy people, whiny people, liars and theives.  Just us.  Oh, and the television. And cookies.  Okay, so my escape hatch and all the Christmas goody doesn't much help with trimming my chubby belly.   But somehow I think ...if I could trim the excess garbage out of my life, I wouldn't mind my belly.  Or maybe that's where I hold all my tolerance for the garbage.  Instead of infiltrating my brain, the garbage of life heads into through my belly button and festers there.

I am not making any sense.  Anyway. 

Christmas is approaching!  The kids are getting a fabulous kid kitchen in hopes they'll stay the heck out of mine. Stella is obsessed with the oven, and I'm told that's dangerous.

James:     I see the Christmas tree!

Stella:     Treeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Okay, time to decorate.  Let's put up the lights!


No!  No, I don't like the lights tomorrow.


James:    No!!!

Me:         We're putting up the lights James.  Santa has to be able to see the tree when he arrives.

I no like Santa! NO No no!  Santa no come here tomorrow! No!

Me:         Sorry, dude. We're decorating the tree.

Stella:     Cheese!  Yes!  Cheeeeeese!!

Me:         No, Stella.  Tree, not cheese.

Stella:     Cheese!

(crying, crying crying....)

December 7, 2010

Happy BoobDay, Expert!

Tomorrow is the Expert's birthday.

BUT...he is getting suprised tonight with a little impromptu b-day party from me and the kids... and a homemade lunch break cake.  Since he has sworn off Facebook and other social networking, there's no chance he'll see this before the big reveal.

The kids think this is a froggy cake, with his big eyes and two tier smile.

But I understand how much men like boobies, so really, it's a Happy "BoobDay" cake.  Not my finest work, but certainly not the worst. The picture really does it no justice.  It's quite beautiful, actually! 

Happy Birthday to the love of my life.  You're 34, and I'm 31 - that makes us officially old people.

And....I can only imagine what's going to happen to the top of this cake.

Still Fighting & Tree Farms

...and the Terrible Threes:

Yes, he's still fighting... although this year was a fight with a purpose: to dismantle the Thompson Christmas Tree Farm and take over as it's evil owner! Moo ha ha! I love the spirit in this child of mine. He is a handleful (yes, as in a handle 'o bourbon) and never boring - I'll give him that.

We had a lovely time picking out our tree this year at the Thompson Farm in Lawrenceville. The weather was brrrrrrrr, and the kids were a little mismatched and looking like homeless babies, but it was great fun. Stella wanted to pet the goats and chase the hayride and was terrified when the Expert walked away for awhile (ah-hem, super duper Daddy's girl). 

The tree still stands in our foyer undecorated, but eventually we'll get to it.  For now, the kids say, "oh nice tree" and they seem happy. We'll go with it!

BlogVice: Best Way to Break Your Bank

Best way to kill your budget? Have kids.

Kids are so expensive. Understatement of the century.  When people start thinking about having babies, they grossly (and I mean, grossly) underestimate the costs of kid.  And even more so, the costs of kids.

Just the baby gear alone is a small home equity line of credit.  But before the baby gear comes the whole new wardrobe of stretchy pants, odd shaped underpants, weird bras, wider shoes that you've gotta get.  Cost: $300 (if you don't work and can fly by on sweatpants); $500 if you go all in with Target; $1200 if you go Pea in the Pod; $1500+ if you need working wardrobe like suits and shoes.

Now, comes the gear. Crib, bedding, stroller, carseat(s), highchair, humidifiers, swing, bouncy, Boppy, tubby, breastpump (!), formula (another kudos for breastfeeding - at least you'd save money here), diapers (!), nursing bras, the teeny tiny collegiate onesies, Elmo products, DVDs (oh, the car DVD player if you're not already sporting the Escalade), stickers, crayons, paper, hats, plastic forks, trays, sippy cups, diaper bag, bottles, changing table, rocker, burp pads, rug, nursery decor, and most likely a large humiliating new vehicle, etc. etc.

Costs:  Crib: $150 if you don't worry about your child losing a finger or two; $350 if you are frugal; $1200 if your baby is a princess (and so are you). Bedding: same theory applies: $80-1200+. 
Carseat: $75 if you are okay with the baby suffering a mild concussion in a fender-bender; $300 if you are mid-range; $500 if you are a paranoid freak.
Breastpump: $350+. Enough said. There is only one of these worth getting close to the Girls.

And on it goes... to the tune of about $5,000 more. $5,000 is really an estimate for the lucky and frugal. 

Most likely, if you and your partner have been a fabulous single couple - meaning you have a nice car, a snazzy apartment in the city, and other finer things  - say hello to a new house, big ole car and storage for all your bear skin rugs and Italian leather stuff that would fall prey to baby stickies.

Speaking of sticky.  Kids are stickyCost: dry cleaning, sticker purchases, carpet cleaning and de-stickifying is $100 a month.

Then, if you go back to work, do not forget the cost of childcare.  I work close to five months a year to pay for a nanny and all the extras that go along with the luxury of having childcare in-home.

Just wait until the kids are preschool age.  Another $200-600 a month, per child to go to "school" where they fingerpaint and pick noses. Plus the ridiculous projects the school assigns: Bring in $5 for pizza day!  Bring in $25 gift card for your teacher! Bring in an "appetizer" to share! The appetizer being my favorite - the word appetizer for a two year old's Christmas party.

And doctor's visits, medicine, clothing, shoes, college (!), school dances, cars, toys, holidays, birthday parties (and all 50 of their little friends have birthday parties too!).... and so on...

Last but not least, do not forget the price of your slow-dying ego.  Gone may be your bikini days - unless you are the evil Gisele, or otherwise blessed beyond all realms of stretchmarks and time.  Welcome to the world where there is no time to read Harper's Bazaar, and as such, you fall gravely behind the fashion times. Don't forget your husband may start wearing gas station glasses and pleated dockers and (gasp) driving the minivan to take the kids for a splishy splashy.

Well. Are babies in your budget? The answer is probably no.  But neither is that new purse or flatscreen television and those things probably make you happy. 

So....go on, get that new purse and the baby.  You'll be glad you did.  (Maybe you ought to wait on the television, until the peanut butter fingers are a little older....)

Caveat: This may sound like a negative post.  Not meant to be. Afterall, our babies are the best $150,000 (and counting) we've ever spent.  And yes, at that price, they are much nicer than our previous two houses - thanks for asking!

December 5, 2010


Our internet has been a mess for over a week. I've been stealing wireless from the "Johnson Home Freaks Network" for a week.  I suspect this is the old couple across the street. I think their grandchildren probably set their network up.  Hello.  The name of their network? It's not securitized?

But I thank you, Johnsons Freaks.

So I chat online with my stupid internet provider tonight. I couldn't resist copying and pasting the chat below.  (And no, I did not make up the name of the person).

Thank you for choosing Charter Chat Live! A Customer Care representative from HSD Support will be with you shortly.

You have been connected to TTD Juvy E .

TTD Juvy E : Hello, Meredith. Thank you for contacting Charter Communications Support Team. My name is Juvy. How may I help you today?

Me: This is Meredith [Last Name]. I am the account holder.  My address and phone is: [Address, Phone #]. The account # is: [**********]. Our modem is not working.

TTD Juvy E : I sincerely apologize that your internet service is not working as it should be. I understand that you want uninterrupted access to the service you are subscribed to, and I would be glad to take a look at your account to determine the cause of the problem.

May I have the name on the account?

Me: I just gave you the name on the account.

TTD Juvy E:  Oh yes.  And how can I help you today?

Me:  Again, I just told you. Internet. Modem.

TTD Juvy E:  Right. Your internet is not working. I sincerely apologize that your internet service is not working as it should be. I understand that you want uninterrupted access to the service you are subscribed to, and I would be glad to take a look at your account to determine the cause of the problem.

Me:  Yes, you mentioned that already.

TTD Juvy E:  Yes.

Me: Anyway. I called/chatted Charter on Tuesday and it has not worked since. The rep told me at that point that there was system outage in our area. That is not the case. 

TTD Juvy E : Okay.

TTD Juvy E : I presume that the name on the account is the same as the chatter's name.

Me:  Are you kidding me?

TTD Juvy E:  My mistake, I see your previous response.  How can I help you?

[Long pause while I punch myself in the face].

TTD Juvy E: Right.  I understand. Your internet connection.

Me: Yes. I tried all the troubleshooting. I have called several times. I am chatting on our neighbor's wireless. Clearly our modem is down. Everyone else around seems to have service. I would like an agent out tomorrow, as I work from home sometimes, and this is interfering with my job. I also expect a proration of fees for the time that it has been down.

TTD Juvy E : Please stay online.

Me: I am on our neighbor's wireless. I can't guarantee I will be online.

TTD Juvy E : When did you start having this problem?

Me: Monday last week.

TTD Juvy E : Please stay online.

TTD Juvy E : Let me check for system maintenance in your area.

TTD Juvy E : Are the modem lights one? Are the modem lights on*?

Currently experiencing network delays, one moment please....

Me: They are blinking, instead of steady.

Network connection re-established.

TTD Juvy E : Please stay online.

TTD Juvy E : Let me a test on your modem. [pause]
I have reset your modem? Check if it is working.  Please be informed too, that there is an outage in your area.
Me: If I test my modem connection as you suggest, I will lose you.  The light is still blinking like it was before. When the modem operates, the blinking light is steady. It's blinking. Therefore, it's not working.

TTD Juvy E : It says there is an outage in your area.

Me: Well that's very convenient. Has there been an outage for a WEEK?!? I guess you guys are very busy with an Gwinnett County area outage. You must be slammed. How are you managing???

TTD Juvy E : The outage has been resolved currently.

TTD Juvy E:  But your account says there is another outage and your house is on it. Would you like me to schedule a technician?

TTD Juvy E : Before I forget, may I confirm that you are the account holder?

[I hit myself in the face again.]

Me:  Juvy.  Yes. I am the account holder.  Again, already established fact in this convo. I would like it fixed. I don't care how it gets fixed. So yes, if a technician is the answer, then yes. Send him on.

TTD Juvy E : Do you prefer it in the morning?

Me: Excuse me?  Do I prefer what in the morning???

TTD Juvy E: Oh, the technician coming out?

Me: Actually afternoon - between 2-6

TTD Juvy E : Okay. Please stay online while I complete the work order.

Me: And please advise about the proration of our bill.

TTD Juvy E : Okay. I can transfer you later to the Billing Department for credit issues, Meredith. Please stay online.

TTD Juvy E : Have you checked your connection at home? I mean right now?

[Again, I hit myself in the face.]

Me:  DJ Juvy E. I don't mean to be rude. IF I check my connection I WILL lose this curren connection that I am stealing, thus losing this conversation and I will have to start over with another one of Charter's finest. Once again. if the connection WORKS, I have a solid light. Right now, the light is still blinking.  It is not working. Just send the technician out.

TTD Juvy E : Okay. No worries.

Currently experiencing network delays, one moment please....

TTD Juvy E : Please be informed that there is a possible charge of $35,00 for the technician's visit but since the problem is clearly not from your end, the technician can waive the fee.

Network connection re-established.

TD Juvy E : Will you be home on the 6th around 8:00 Am to 10 :00 AM?

Me:  First, you might want to add that the technician WILL waive the fee. Not "can".  Second, I think I already said I could only do afternoons. 

TD Juvy E : I stand corrected.

Currently experiencing network delays, one moment please....

TTD Juvy E : The technician will waive the fee.

TTD Juvy E : There are two slots. One is 1:00 to 3:00 and the other is 3:00 to 5:00 PM.  Which one is preferable, Meredith?

Me: 3-5 is fine. Thank you.  Is that tomorrow?

TTD Juvy E : Yes.  You are welcome. Please ensure that someone over the age of 18 is at your home....[deleted specifications here]

Me: Sounds good.

TTD Juvy E : As a recap, you chatted in to ask why your service is down and we have scheduled a technician to check on your connection. Is there anything else I can help you with, before transferring you to Billing Departmet for credit concerns?

Me: Nope that is fine, thank you. No need to transfer me. I will call billing once I receive my invoice because i am sure the technician fee will be on there and I will have to spend another four hours of my life working to remove a $35 charge. Thanks

TTD Juvy E : It is my pleasure to assist you.  Are we all set? Again, my apologies. Thank you for your patience.. We have a survey at the end of this chat session. I would greatly appreciate it if you could give me your feedback on how I handled this session.

.....Really? Do you really want me to complete the survey?

December 1, 2010

The Real Scariest Box Ever

I officially withdraw my post The Scariest Box Ever.

I had an MRI today for my bum hip.  That was hands down, the most freaky, uncomfortable and mind-numbing box/tube/coffin ever. The MRI is the scariest box ever.  I tolerated it pretty well for 20 minutes, then 30.  But my experience was a joyous hour, and I truly started to freak out a little.

Luckily, I was able to crane my neck and see the outside rim of the tube.  I think that was the only thing that saved me. 

What a stupid contraption.  People are hurt. That's why they need MRIs.  And the solution is to lay on a board for an hour, unable to move, and in a coffin. With a blanket and freaky sweats.

Come on medicine.  Yes, open MRIs exist. But why aren't all MRIs open?  With all of our technology, is that too much to ask?

November 30, 2010

Who You Are

I've always been in a hurry.  Around age twelve, I created my life as some sort of giant "to-do" list.  And one by one, I checked off things. And I checked them off in a fantasic bloody hurry. 

Even still, I feel the urge to run around like crazy, with my invisible list....and I'm not sure why.  What's my hurry? And really, what in the world is left on this magical list?  I graduated (check check check). Got married (check). Got fatter (check). Got skinnier (check).  Got fatter again (check). Got lawyered (check). Had babies (check check).  Got fatter (check). Obtained mortgage debt (check).  Moved to city (check).  Now needs therapy (check).

Now, I'm thirty-one and I'm looking back on the last ten years (like all these other old folks I know), and saying "those were the best times of my life."  

Don't get me wrong.  My life is good. Life is very good.  But I wish I would have just slowed down, taken some time to look around and see what I see now.  Then again, hindsight....well, it's 20/20.  And so are my eyes.  LASIK (check).

So I write another letter to my baby monkeys.

Dear Babies -

Take your time. Just slow down. Figure out what makes you happy, not what makes everyone else proud.  Your life is yours. You have to live in your own skin, with your choice of career, love, and location.  Better take time to savor it all, and determine what will make you the best you possible.  

One of my favorite bloggers says the idea that you should "do what you love" is bad career advice;  rather, you should do what you are

The biggest challenge is to figure out who you are.  But do it.  Take the time. Don't make a checklist. Figure it out, and maybe the rest will fall in place.

Your Crazy (check) Mom

P.S. - You and your dad were the best three boxes ever checked off my list.

November 28, 2010

BlogVice: Travel Plans

The Expert and I piled the kids in the car and headed down to Savannah for Thanksgiving.  We swore we weren't travelling anywhere with these crazy monkeys until they were 11 and 12, but we always manage to think that we can handle it.  And off we go.  Hence, we usually return from trips so worn out and so tired, that either the Expert or I will post a divorce lawyer's number to the fridge - handwritten in crazy script, on a wrinkled piece of McDonald's trash from the car.  I jest.  But yes, it's bad.

This trip, while better than all of the previous trips, was still so hard. But to our credit, we were smarter this time.

Rule 1:
Break your rules. Travelling with kids means breaking all of one's own rules. Buy the DVD player. Feed them a steady diet of gummy worms, Toostie Roll pops, and crackers.  McDonald's.  Let them each hold their own happy meal box and dump the entire contents on their heads, the floor.  Take a McNugget to the back of the head if it means giggles. Who cares.  If a sucker buys twenty minutes of peace & quiet, do it.  Just don't forget the babywipes.  Stella used her sucker to "paint" her hands and face red.  This gave me mild hives, but I tried to just look away.

Rule 2:
Run them. Take a break and run them around a parking lot, a Wal-Mart.  We ran laps around Longhorn Steakhouse on a stop, which resulted in the kids being too tired and out of breath to scream for about thirty minutes.

Rule 3:
Promises. Make any promises necessary to achieve quiet.  Yes, you can have a pony.  Yes, you can drive the car. I promise, on the next stop, we can take a ride on that airplane. Usually, by the time you arrive, they have forgotten the promise anyway.  Although, James did ask about a pony this morning.  Might need to reconsider this one. Okay. This is not good advice.  It builds mistrust. Strike it.  We never did this one.

Rule 4:
Blame the grandparents you just visited for anything out of your control.
            James:   Mommy, I want to go the aquarium, noooooow!
            Me:       We can't go to the aquarium now.
           James:  [random screaming]
           Me:        Mia says you can't.

Take it easy, Mom. It's only a joke.  (Sort of).

Rule 5:
Stickers.  I never understood why I'd see minivans driving down the road with hoards of gross little stickers stuck to the inside of the car window.  Now, I know.  And totally worth it.  I have dinosaurs, baseballs and pirates now inside the Pilot.  Total quiet time: 20 minutes.  It will take me an hour too peel off those stickers tonight, but still worth it, I say.

Rule 6:
New toys.  Buy new ones and give to the kids when you are absolutely certain they are sitting behind you planning a mutiny.

I am not sure if travelling is in our future anytime soon.  But letting go and allowing the kids to be wild and crazy and pumped full of sugar seemed to work better than attempting to assert any real control.  Afterall, what adult likes to be strapped into a seat on an airplane for hours?  That's basically what we are asking of our toddlers. It makes them unhappy.  So attempting to curb their pain (and ours) with a little rule-breaking makes the time move slightly faster than usual.

And yes, we had a good time on our trip.  Always good to catch up on hugs from family. And the Expert and I had an added bonus: my parents watched the kids for an overnight when we arrived.  That was actually unplanned, but I dropped a hint when we arrived.  Mom said something like "sure," whereby the Expert and I pulled a ninja smoke bomb ...and disappeared until the next day around lunch time.  However, this move resulted in my mother making a next-day declaration about her unwillingness to watch two kids at a time in the future. 

This Thanksgiving, I am very thankful for such wonderful family and friends.  And for Tootsie Roll Pops. Hope you all had a relaxing break, full of good food and company.  Back to the grind tomorrow.

November 22, 2010

BlogVice: Happy Noodles

Hiding healthy food (veggies, fruits, wheat germ) in a typical kid food is not novel genius. I am sure mothers have been doing for years. I added jars of baby food peas and beans to spaghetti without thinking. Only Jessica Seinfeld was smart enough to put it down on paper and has made millions off the concept with her book.   Mrs. Seinfeld complicates things with her homemade purees.  I say insert organic baby food and what's the difference?

Anyway, our house has tried several of Seinfeld's kid recipes, courtesy of the Expert. The kids hate them.  The adults love them. 

As the Expert and I were snacking on muffins, I asked him:  So, we're actually eating squash puree, right?  And that grossed me out. Why would I need to hide vegetables from myself?  I eat vegetables.

Anyway, tonight I hit the jackpot.  Good ole boxed mac & cheese with a healthy kick.

Organic boxed mac & cheese
1/4 c frozen cauliflower
1/8 c frozen spinach
1 small jar squash baby food

Chopped everything up teeny tiny. Mixed it together with the baby food.  Ew.  But the kids liked it, and that's a pretty healthy little dinner. Take that Jessica Seinfeld and your 45 minute butternut squash puree.

November 21, 2010

R & R & R

Relaxing Sunday.  Happy babies.  The Expert making a curry.  Bring it on, Monday.  I'm ready for whatever you've got.

November 20, 2010

Step off my Stoop

I am on a one woman campaign to make soliciting illegal.  No, not solicitation - that's different, people. 

Showing up at a house, knocking on the door and attempting to sell stuff - what are you idiots thinking? Do you have a death wish?  I don't even want to see a kindergartener standing there with chocolate.  I don't want to see a Girl Scout (like I wouldn't buy your cookies anyway. Like I don't pre-order them in droves anyway).  And I especially don't want to see a male stranger, mid-thirties, no uniform, no name tag standing on my stoop after dark, offering me some sort of deal on a Saturday night while I am home alone with two children.  

I joke about living in Lawrenceville. Alot. But it really is the seventh circle of hell. Of all the suburbs of Atlanta, we really hit the jackpot with this one.  After living in Duluth for a year across from the rich folks of the Sugarloaf Country Club (we rented a 1200 square foot apartment from the poor side of the street), I got a little spoiled. After being semi-burgled once already, I hate this place.  I hate Lawrenceville for the commute. I hate that our one fine dining restaurant guarantees a cold piece of fish full of bones, a steak so rare it moos (no matter how you order it), and a $100 tab for your trouble. 

Just a few miles down the road, Snellville and Duluth manage to pull off some great things (at least we have choices). But Lawrenceville...I'm thinking you'll never get it together.

One bonus, Lawrenceville: you're cheap.  Yaaaay for you.  Our house cost about six dollars. So that's nice.

Irrespective of our fair town, our fair neighborhood is even worse.  We had an incident a while back where a guy showed up and asked if we had an alarm system.  I'm like, hell yeah, we do and get the hell off my street!  He was with no discernable company or business.  He was in a car from Mississippi parked down the street.  I knew this because I put my running shoes on and went for a casual jog afterwards, carrying a sharpie and scrap of paper to jot down the tag info.  Shut up, I am not crazy. This crappy neighborhood should make me president of our miserable homeowner's association.  At the bare minimum, the title of watchdog extraordinaire.

Another time, I pop out of the bedroom after a shower, to see the Expert standing in the doorway, chatting it up with some "alarm guy" and I hit the roof.  Why are you talking to this guy about an alarm? Did he have an ADT shirt? What company did he represent???  [Insert one of the top ten biggest fights of our marriage here]. 

Tonight, I'm playing with the kids in the playroom (a/k/a a dining room converted to junk hole) and I hear a friendly knock-knock.  Thinking it's the Expert with his arms full of presents for day three of my birthday celebration (ha!), I open the door. 

White male, mid-twenties, 6'3'ish, black fleece, carrying a two liter of Coke.  Not even Diet Coke. I am immediately suspicious.

Idiot:     "Hey there lady, I just wanted to tell you about a neighborhood special we----"
Me:        (glancing at his two liter of Coke) "A neighborhood special? You have to be kidding me."
Idiot:     "Yeah, we are running a special where-----"
Me:        "No thanks, I am too busy for this."  And I motion to shut the door.

This guy steps towards me.  I make a mental note that he's not with Pizza Hut.  A Pizza Hut guy with a two liter makes a little sense.  And he didn't smell like pizza. I also make some sort of sick mental note that I can "take him."

My dad taught me to be a tough girl.  My dad also scolds me constantly, telling me that I'm going to get myself killed being a tough girl.  Irrespective of the sorority girl at the Georgia Theater in Athens who had it coming to her, I've never actually been in a real fight.

Yes, I have officially lost my mind, I admit.  I'm tired. I'm over these idiots in Atlanta.  But I am often thankful that I am not 100 pounds.  I complain about my size. Alot.  But I also like feeling that I am a size enough to at least put up a fight to doorway intruders. Maybe.

So this guy steps towards me, and I swing the door wide open and move towards him saying, "Look, I'm making dinner for my kids" (a bloody lie) "and I don't need this."  He mutters something I don't hear, and I slam the door in his face.  And I slam it hard. 

I wasn't scared in that moment because I knew this guy wasn't going to do anything (in that moment).  Instead, he was casing our house for another time.

Then I got scared.

That's what's going on here in Atlanta.  People going door to door, checking out who is home, what they've got inside, the cars in the driveway.  And it's not just Lawrenceville.  So I shouldn't hate Lawrenceville for that.

But I hate people for that.  How dare you make me feel insecure in my house?  Makes me spit nails.

I called the Expert, who was on his way home, and I told him that I'm going to start answering the door with the gun.  That way, these jackasses know what's inside.  A little preview into this crazy woman isn't enough. They have no idea how crazy I am.  Velcro rollers, my fat buns in a bathrobe and a handgun might help clarify things.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

In other news, our big boy James has retired the sippy cup.  I am proud.  And I am even proud of him slipping milk to Stella via the "big boy cup", even if it resulted in a spill-a-palooza on the chairs I once loved.

And the Expert and I managed a date night last night and saw the movie "RED".  Hilarious.  Highly recommend.

Happy weekend, ya'll.  It's almost over.  Awesome.

November 18, 2010

Love Thyself

Today, I am thirty-one years old.

I stood in my kitchen and I counted to my son, I am 1-2-3-4-5... All the way up to 31 years old. Surprisingly long number to count. He grew bored during the process and walked off.

And our nanny's five year daughter wished me a happy birthday today and her eyes grew huge when I told her my age.

I have no wisdom in my old age. All I have learned over these past few years (and most strongly in the last few months) is that one must love thyself. I have people who love me. But lots of folks in this world either don't love me or only pretend to love me (even worse). So at the end of the day I am left with those few people who do love me...and me. If I can't give myself a break every once in a while and love me....what can I offer these kids of mine?

The Perfect Family

The family photograph.  Ah, the family photograph. 

Our little family has never had an official photo until last week. A local photographer teamed up with a local children's boutique for a mini-session offer I could not refuse.  I booked the appointment.  I orded the kids some clothes and literally, counted down the days with dread.

It's no secret that I have wild monkeys for children. Or at least, they act like animals around the Expert and me.  I could envision our family portrait:  Stella with a handful of James' hair.  James poking her in the eye.  Stella biting me.  Me biting the Expert.   

The day of the shoot, I am dressing James and he breaks his clip-on tie.  He pops off a button on his vest.  Stella drools on her dress, and tears through two pairs of tights.  My dress, oh my dress, (which was bought last year a/k/a twenty pounds ago) is riding up my rear end so high that I have to scrap the pantyhose and put on actual leggings.  (Of course, the Expert is sitting on the couch relaxed and looking sharp as ever.) 

Second shock of my life, the kids are amazing (!) and we wade through the shoot with absolutely no drama (and the photographer commenting on what precious well-behaved children we have (!)). 

A sneak preview of the pictures came in last night. And shows this perfect family of four. 

Who ARE these people???

When we saw the pictures, the Expert and I looked at each other and laughed... the drama behind those two sets of tired parenting eyes...that's the real story.  And the fact that my leggings were cutting into my extra belly fat while simultaneously giving me an enormous wedgie...another chapter entirely. 

Also, apparently it's a small miracle to have a photo of an entire smiling family. So how was it accomplished?  Welllll.... the photographer was saying "where's the kitty cat" over and over again in this voice which was cracking up the kids.  And me.  She was funny.  The invisible kitty cat almost made me pop the elastic on my leggings from the giggles. 

Family pictures are nice. And beautiful.  And I love love love ours.  Afterall, no one wants 8x10 immortalization of the day-to-day reality:  the sweatpants, boogies, the fights and stained t-shirts.  

The Perfect Family.  Yes, I've got it.  We are perfectly chaotic, messy and crazy, with a whole slew of internet-diagnosed issues.  And that's just fine with me.

November 16, 2010

Stealthy Poo Bombers

Today is a work from home day, which is always nice because:
1) I manage to accomplish more at home than I ever do at the office.  The early wake up, minus the time it takes to 'paint the barn door' as my dad says, minus commute time, minus long walk to bathroom, breakroom, etc.  I'm automatically working a hugely productive day;

2) I can wear my Pajama Jeans. Well, not really, because I don't have any. Yet.  But I am thinking of rush ordering along with my Snuggie; and

3) Avoiding the Poo Bomber at the office.  As previously posted, we have stealthy Poo Bomber in office. She hits the bathroom at 10:00 and 2:00, like clockwork. It's lethal.  Now, we have learned that her schedule does fluctuate, but there for a while, I could have set my clock by the smell.

So, I'm working this morning in my home office, which happens to be near my almost-two year old daughter's room. It's early, and our nanny hasn't woken her up yet.  I start to smell something.  Poo bomber baby!  She made a bomb so stinky that it filtered through the walls.  By text message, I confirmed with our nanny what I was smelling.  Yep, she replied, it was gigantic.  I could not escape.  Home or office or home office, I'm surrounded by it.  And really, I have been most of my adult life.

My first job out of undergraduate, I worked in an optical shop.  A customer would eat at McAlister's Deli next door and while eating his loaded baked potato and phily cheese steak, he would see our sign and decide, "hey, I need new glasses." So here he comes, sometimes with a nagging wife in tow, both rolling in all full from lunch and with their plastic McAlister's cups. Well, fifteen minutes after picking our his frames, I see a change in his demeanor, and he would ask for the bathroom.  I would point towards the back of the store and crumple my nose, knowing what was about to happen.  B-b-b-bomb.  And then I would be stuck with it.  New customers would come in and glare at me questioningly, like I made that stink.

At a summer clerkship, I worked in a closet near the bathroom.  Every morning, the same associate would arrive with his giant Starbucks.  Approximately twenty-five minutes later, he would bomb the bathroom right next to my "office."  He kept Car & Driver magazines under the sink in the bathroom, and I could hear everything.  Horrific.

And then another person  and yet another one of my jobs would bomb the teeny office... and then bomb it with air freshener.  The worst.  Poo scented fruit.

Today, someone from my current firm reported to me that we not only do we have Poo Bomber... but we also have Guest Poo Bombers (yes, plural!).

Apparently, three or four men from other floors in our building, now arrive like clockwork (one with a magazine(!)) to bomb our floor.   This is funny, because I always declared that our original Poo Bomber should simply go to another floor and take care of her business.  Then she would not screw up her co-workers' days. 

Well, these Guest Bomber dudes are doo-ing just that.  Only under this scenario, we are the "other" floor.

November 15, 2010

I Win

The Expert did not wear the molestachio to work.  I win that bet.  Much like the fried chicken bet.  Won that one also.  The Expert is not looking so smart these days!  Moo ha ha!

November 14, 2010

I Hate Experts

The Expert shaved his beard (which I love) into a mustache (which I hate).  He thinks it's hilarious.  Walked out of the bathroom, strutting and all, with this look on his face. Like, oh yes I did.

I've been in a bit of an emotional slump and he says the mustachio stays until I am happy again.  I tried to explain to him that the Charlie Chaplin isn't helping me to love him more.  And it certainly doesn't make me happy.

The Expert is a lot of things... but self-deprecating isn't one of them.  One hundred bucks says there's no way that Rollie Fingers is walking into his office tomorrow looking like that.

He's a funny know-it-all.  Oh, how I hate him.

November 13, 2010

In Line

How can a child manage to line up his toys, and simulataneously destroy the rest of the house? 

And look at the window.  No, we do not have a dog.  We have monkeys - two of them.  These are the marks of monkeys.

Oh my gosh, I need to clean my windows.  I knew they were bad, but this is embarassing.  An embarrassing fact that I was not forced to reveal.  But yet, like my stinky feet, here you see it on my blog. 

Child: Defined

CHILD: (n) \'chi(e)ld\:

(1) a young person between infancy and youth;
(2) the quickest way to ensure that you will never again do exactly what you want to do, when or how you want to do it;
(3) the most annoying little animal possible, yet the most awesome, all wrapped up in one little package;
(4) career-killer and life-saver;
(5) main source of frustration and laughter;
(6) all that really matters in this world, walking around outside one's body.

November 12, 2010

Big Red Man

I just found this Gingerbread Man that James made at school yesterday. I laughed so hard.  Look at the placement of the two bottom buttons.  Oh my goodness, this should go on my list: the fabulous art projects.

I asked James if he liked making the gingerbread man, and he said: "Yes, that's my Big Red Man."

The Things to Love

My style is to vent and rant about motherhood (especially about other idiotic parents), tell silly happenings with my two monkeys, and every once in a while post something that gets me several dozen angry messages, just for the hell of it.

Motherhood has a fair share of heartbreak (mostly sleepiness and monotony), but there are a million things to love about being a parent.  Today I am home with the kids and thinking about the things to love about being a mom
1)  Sesame Street.  Enough said. The shows are often ridiculous, but when James Blunt sings "My Triangle" to the tune of "You're Beautiful," who can resist?

2)  Biscuits for breakfast, anytime.  And squeals of excitement about biscuits to boot.

3) A refined sense of smell.  A decline in sense of style.  I'm headed straight for an express order of Pajama Jeans.

4) The humor.  The funny things kids say.  The Expert and I have struggled with appropriate names for private parts and what we should call them (for the kids, of course...I don't mean in life, in general).  We sort of settled on "pee pee" and "beans."  Not sure where that falls in the appropriate spectrum.  But we have always called Stella's girl parts "beans."  James apparently mistook beans for poop. For example, I change Stella's diaper and James will say: "Does Sissy got beans?" meaning, does she have a poopy diaper.  Funny. But now I think he has made the connection. While changing his diaper he said, "I no got beans. I got balls."  Now, where he heard that....I do not know. 

And right now, he was playing the basil garden and said to himself:  "Mr. James, how ya doing? Oh, oh, I just fine. Thank you!"   Funny stuff.

5) The snuggle factor.  With kids, you always have a warm little sack of thirty pound potatoes to hug. I guess the same is true for puppies.  Hmmm.  And puppies are cheaper, and arguably less messy.  Oh! But puppies don't grow up, leave the house and come home for clean laundry and Thanksgiving.

6) Learning more about myself.  I have learned that I am more patient, more forgiving and less selfish than I believed possible.  Having kids has brought out alot of good in me.  Motherhood may have brought out other undesirable traits, though: stretchmarks, bad hair, failure to keep up with the times.  But the overall benefits win.

7) I have a greater appreciation for my parents.  They are still crazy, yes. (Love you, Mom & Dad).  But now I understand why.  It's my fault.  I am now crazy.  Which is James and Stella's fault.  During childbirth, the unconditional love gene kicks in, and your brains are now toast. Or swiss cheese, as my friend says.  Brain loss, however is a thing "not to love" about motherhood.  Although it does create valid excuses for stupid things, like wearing sunglasses on top of my head while viciously searching for them.

8) The Expert and I are less likely to toss money out the car window since having kids. In the back of our minds, each finanical transaction can potentially effect their futures.  I worry about retirement and savings alot more now.

9) Lazy fall days. Although I am working a little today, I am able to work from the back porch while watching the kids play in the leaves and dump water from old pots on each other.

10) Children create an excuse to wear stickers and talk in weird voices. All day long.

11) Holidays are far more special.  "Oooh, that's a big turkey!" and "Oh, my goodness, a real jingle bell!"

12) Goldfish, animal crackers and teeny tiny snackfood in general.

Happy Friday, everyone!