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Showing posts from 2008

This is My Blog.

Mine. Ownership and possession are both powerful concepts in childhood development. I can't actually remember when Caroline started declaring objects to be of her possession but lately she spends much of her time informing me about which items in our house are hers. It's not just naming her surroundings: dolly, kitty, blankie. It's announcing personal possession over them. My dolly. My kitty. My blankie. This idea of ownership is already deeply rooted in her personality. She says "mine" with a sense of pride and with passion. Caroline clearly associates people, places and things with herself as well as her ability to care for, play with, don affection upon or just hoard them all in her stroller.

With this deep rooted sense of possession comes jealousy and paranoia. The cats are not to be trusted. When we cuddle in the morning and one of the cats jumps on the bed to greet us, Caroline quickly grabs her lovey and holds it close to her face. "MINE…

New Book Draft- Your Help Needed!

Andy has never been known for his ability to empathize with others, particularly women. While he is a fairly educated man, he missed the course on "Understanding the Sensitive Female." My ability to digest Andy's remarks, even after many, many insulting comments in reaction to something I have told him, has not gotten any easier. Like a wounded puppy, I often get quiet when he responds, but lately I've been taking another tactic. Being the control freak that I am, I offer Andy an alternative statement as a suggestion for what he should have said to me.

I've started writing a book, "The Book of Common Courteous Comments in Response to a Woman's Statements." I'll talk to my editor about shortening that title. In the meantime, I hope you'll take a few minutes from your busy holiday baking, shopping and cookie-face-stuffing to review my draft. Send edits and feedback to:!

Scenario One
Woman: I feel fat today. Do I …

Road Trip

Maybe you've heard this one before. When I was in fifth grade a friend invited me to go on vacation with her family, but not during a school break. My parents permitted me to miss a week of school and we had a blast, a trip I'll never forget. Maybe more because of what happened after the trip. When I returned to school the following week, my world was turned upside down. My teacher had decided to rearrange our desk grouping configuration and I found myself seated next to three different students than I was seated with before the trip. Now, mind you, there were only 12 or so kids in my whole class (grades 5 & 6 combined) and it wasn't like I didn't know my three new desk buddies. It was that something had happened out of my control.

After a sour morning dealing with the change and scowling through math and story time, I was determined to get back my old buddies. I stayed behind at recess to talk to the teacher. Do you ever have a taste or smell memory? This one is mi…

Js and Ps

It's easier to prepare for a trip when you know if you are a "P" or a "J". Jungian Personality Typology, created by Carl Jung, was first published in 1921. Personality theorists have developed numerous self-assessments helping people understand their preferences and perceptions. I took the most popular version of this assessment, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, when I was in graduate school and it scarred me. All I remember was being told I was an extrovert. At that time, it felt like a scarlet letter, like wearing a big E on my chest to let everyone know I was really a big M (mouth). I couldn't even remember the other three letters that made up my type or what they stood for.

Now that I work in career development I've researched the theory more in depth and better understand how MBTI can be used to help people understand themselves and understand others. Knowing your preferences isn't a way out of a situation. It's really a way to under…

In Memory of a Pet

Do you remember what it is like to be two? When your main concern is how to get the tennis ball from under the chair or get mommy or daddy to pick up the fork you dropped for the nth time. I don't really remember much from my early childhood but what I do remember is my memories, not those of my parents'. As is human nature, I suppose, I remember things that happened to me and how I felt. I rarely remember emotions and occurrences of the rest of my family, unless of course, I caused it or it affected me. For most of my childhood I can say that my parents protected me so much from their concerns that I thought they never had a care in the world other than making me happy.
Normally, Caroline is the center of my universe and there is rarely an event that trumps my interest in all things toddler. Her first pee pee and ca ca in the potty was as, if not more, important in our house as Obama's election. Hurricanes could be blowing down the house, aliens could be landing their spac…

The Un-Fight

Today my friend Lisa told me that she and her boyfriend are "un-fighting." At first read you may think this is a good thing and that Lisa just hasn't quite mastered grammatical constructions of the English language. You may think un-fighting is the opposite of fighting which would be not fighting. You've thought wrong.

Un-fighting is a special skill, mostly exhibited in men. It is a defense mechanism not all that far from the Men are from the Mars/Women are from Venus concept of going into one's cave. Let me provide you with an example, drawing of course, from my own life.

I'm reading a book about the marriage contract and the importance of renegotiating the relationship during certain points of life, like the birth of a child or loss of a job. I think the book is fabulous and wanted to share its thesis and finer points with Andy. To start, there was a dialogue of sorts:

"Andy, do you remember last week when I told you that if eight years ago I could look i…

I Heart New York

New York is not New England. It wants to be one of the quaint little neighbors to it's north/southeast. But it's not. Maybe, on the surface, it feels and looks a little like one of my favorite states which,"played a prominent role in the movement to abolish slavery in the United States, hosted the first pieces of American literature and philosophy, was home to the beginnings of free public education, and was the first region of the United States to be transformed by the North American Industrial Revolution." (Oh, how I love thee, Wikipedia)

Nope, New York. You did not provide the backdrop of inspiration for some of our beloved poets like Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost or house those who fought for free public education. You can't claim that you have the rock that the Pilgrims landed on or boast recent championship teams in professional football, baseball and basketball.

Yes, you have old stone walls and historic buildings like New England. You do have go…

Can You Hear Me Now?

Sometimes the love between two is seen in subtle ways. A gentle caress. Repeated glances. Always close by. There for you night and day, good and bad. The sound of their voice is music to your ears. I witness this true love on a daily basis and I envy it. Right before my eyes my own husband expresses his love for another...his little chocolate lover-his cell phone.

If I could be anything, I think I'd like to be Andy's phone. He always keeps the phone in the inside pouch of his fuzzy fleece jacket or safe in his pants pocket. Often, when we are driving home together from work, he holds the phone in his hand and slowly rolls it open and closed with his thumb. When he's thinking, he presses it to his lips and softly blows, creating a warm film on its face.

When we leave the house and he can't find the phone, he searches frantically for it. Once he has it tucked away, he reaches down in his pants to touch it over and over like an automatic, yet oddly erotic subcon…

Traditional Man

What a lucky gal I am to have such a smart husband. A self-proclaimed expert on everything, Andy is your go-to-guy for unsolicited advice on any topic. As a nervous, first-time pregnant woman, my mind was always put at ease by Andy's knowledge of the expecting body. From recommending a scheduled c-section to arguing the money saving benefits of hand pumping, Andy was a constant voice over my shoulder, assisting me in my pre-parenthood decisions. In preparation for Caroline's arrival, I began stocking up on diapers. How silly of me, Andy cautioned, a baby just needs one diaper a day! Good thing during those nights of colic and breastfeeding, Andy had the good sense to open one eye, and suggest I feed the baby (after I'd already been awake for 30 minutes feeding and diapering.)

If at any time I question a decision or even if I think I'm making the right decision, Andy is there by my side to remind me that I'm wrong or doing the wrong thing and quickly sets me s…

Balancing Act

At 9:30 a.m. this morning I was sitting on a hill in a lean-to, rain pouring down around me, yellow leaves scattering in the cold wind. I wasn't alone. My companion is the director of a local wilderness education center and I was speaking with him about, what else, internships. What I love about my job is that I learn all about what other people do for work and how they got there.

So there I am, little miss hate to camp, hanging out with Rambo/The Fugitive having an existential conversation about how people are killing themselves and the planet. By the time I left I was ready to sell my house and move the three of us to a closet-sized cabin in the woods.

I'm just like most Americans, especially of my generation, killing my grandchildren to give the most to my child. It's hard not to think about our impact on the environment. It's easier not to really care. Invention often brings us one step forward and two steps back. I'm not going to lie, I'm a big fan …

A Little Serial Killer Does a Body Good

I have to tell you about the other man in my life. It's ok, Andy knows all about him. He knows all about how he excites me, thrills me and sometimes even scares me. He knows, too, how this man always leaves me coming back for more. His name is Dexter. He's a forensic blood expert by day and a serial killer by nature. He's chopped up hundreds of bad men and women in the Miami area. And I love him.

I also love Netflix. Just when you are sick of watching ANTM cycle 345, a happy DVD arrives in the mail, it's red envelope boldly pushing its way through the boring and disappointing pile of bills. Their system has solved a great deal of problems in our house because they offer queues for two users. Andy can get Rambo and 28 Days Later and let them sit for weeks before watching and I can get all my faves, from 27 Dresses to The Other Boleyn Girl, without having to take turns with Andy. In addition to movies, you can rent TV series. This is a wonderful, wonderful…

Mama D

Have you read Marley & Me? I've been thinking about that book a lot today. It's a classic story of a man and his dog. I love Marley because he is a less than perfect dog and his owner has a love/hate relationship that over time just becomes love.

Our pets are our family for better or worse. Dingo is our dog. Like most of our pets, we inherited her. She was born somewhere in New Mexico and roamed the land as a pup before being adopted by my brother-in-law. When he moved to Boston, she moved in with us.

I was incredibly reluctant to take her. Alright, I was enraged. The in-laws all tricked me into taking her by telling me they were going to put her down if we didn't let her live with us. It turns out she had a willing foster parent in New Mexico but they shipped her to us anyway.

I'll never forget our first day with her. I wanted to hate her just because she was a burden I did not want. That first night, I arrived home from work and it was raining. She was in the dog c…

That Nose

"Elephant, elephant, you have a really long nose/Yes, my momma has a long nose, too/Elephant, elephant, tell me who do you love?/Oh, you know it's my momma that I love.""

We went to Denny's this morning. I slammed my French Toast Slam and slugged my coffee (you really can only slug coffee) while Caroline sat next to her Daddy, drinking from a cup with a straw and shrugging her shoulders and giggling. I blew her a kiss and remembered something my brother told me last week.

"My brother told me Caroline looks just like I did when I was little." This statement is a big deal to me because since the day she was born people have told us that Caroline looks like Andy. Or Andy's mom. Or Andy's brother. Or my mom. But never me. I've never been offended when people tell me she resembles anyone but me. She lived in me, I grew her and I watched and felt her come out of my body so I know she's mine.

I was pretty happy when my brother told me …

I Now Pronounce You: Work and Wife

This morning I woke up hopeful. I put on my best second-hand suit, added a little bit of blush to the "apples" of my cheeks and rubbed the scuffs off of my shoes. I had a big meeting at work with a group of people I'd never met and needed to impress. My stomach churned waiting for my time slot at the meeting.

I was proud and confident until they started to talk. Then I was shot down. I was beaten down. I was defeated. I didn't cry because I'm over that but I did feel like sticking my head in the sand for a few hours. It quickly became one of those days where you spend the rest of your working hours mentally drafting business plans which will allow you to make tons of money, be your own boss and change the world.

Wouldn't it be great if you could have a trial separation from your job? A three-month hiatus where you explore, spend some time with other jobs. Meet new people Sow your wild oats. After all, you hooked up with your job when you were naiv…

Home Is Where Your Mom Is

Yesterday at dinner Andy and I were discussing our virtual diversion, Facebook. We've both connected with a number of old high school friends and in Andy's case, maybe even some old flames. Of course, this lead to a spirited discussion about exes and romantic behavior during our youth.

While we talked, Caroline shoveled grapes and raviolis into her mouth and tried to rub her grubby hands on Andy's senior yearbook. (I had to look up the old girlfriends and comment on their tacky hair and ugly outfits.) At the end of the conversation I turned to Caroline and said, "Now, Caroline. You are never going to date in high school. Or college." She gave me a goofy smile and motioned to get down from her chair. My comment was just to be silly and to include Caroline in our fun, but really, the statement made my stomach turn.

One day she isn't going to be a baby. She's going to be a teenager and she'll have a boyfriend and drive car. She'll go to col…

I Love You Life. All is Groovy.

Do you ever think about your legacy? As a parent, we know, or hope, we will be remembered for at least one more generation. I often wonder about two things: first, that I'm doing to make a difference and leave a lasting impression on this world and second, what I want people to know about me when I'm no longer here.

I don't have one of those obvious life impacting professions. I don't help bring people into the world or help keep them here. But, I like helping people and my job lets me do that in quite a direct way. I go home happy each night, knowing maybe one less college student will enter the workforce annoying everyone around them by acting like they deserve to make $80,000 and be the boss.

I hope I'm a good wife. I know I'm not a traditional spouse and my cooking is sub par. But, I'm fun and interesting, honest, loyal and supportive. I think these qualities have also made me a good friend and at least I've provided comic relief to many a du…

This is a Public Service Announcement

It is a rainy Friday night. A slight-framed 30-something woman with mousy brown hair quickly scans the sidewalk before ducking in the back door of the community church. The bright light makes her squint as she looks around the conference room. Plain white walls. Dark stained trim. A dry erase board and a circle of folding chairs. She sighs in relief when she spots the snack table across the room. Maybe a cookie and a cuppa joe will relax me, she thinks as she crosses the room. What the #$#%%! she mutters as she sees the table is not full of sweet goodies but carrot and celery sticks and a carafe of water.
Reluctantly, she takes some vegetables and sits down. A woman with khakis and Birkenstocks enters the room. She's the group leader. She introduces herself and it begins. When it is her turn, the mousy brown haired woman stands up and speaks clearly. It is time to confess: Hello. My name is Alyssa *(real name withheld) and I have a sweet tooth.

A Clean Slate

Caroline is my Etch-A-Sketch. No matter the drawing I've created each day, my first interaction with her after being apart erases whatever it was I previously had on my mind. It's usually a tiff with Andy, an uncomfortable argument about money or cleaning, that is comically broken by Caroline either doing something to endanger herself or doing something so incredibly hilarious that we have to stop being so serious to laugh.

The last two weeks, it has been work that Caroline shakes off my brain. These challenges fester on the ride home and I have 30 minutes to analyze my co-workers and re-play my discussions, questioning my decisions and evaluating my actions. Did I overstep myself in that meeting? Does my boss like me? Do I make enough money? Darn, I forgot to call that guy back, what did he want anyway? I have so much work to do tomorrow! What do I have to do when I get home?! Blah. Blah. Blah. My Etch-A-Sketch fills with zigs this way and zags that way, up and down …

Earth Mama

It's already another Monday yet I barely had to time think about it as we got ready for work. My back-to-the-grind morning routine is as follows: 5:45 fend off the cat Abner as he licks my neck and hair. 5:55 fend off dog who pushes her wet nose at me and stares at me. 6:00 hit super loud alarm clock. 6:09 hit super loud alarm clock. 6:15 knock cat off bed. 6:17 turn off alarm clock before it goes off again. 6:18-22 try to get dry eyes open, look for pet dishes without tripping over any of them. 6:25 wake up Caroline and get pee on side of my pants from her wet diaper. 6:25-7:00 rush between bathroom, kitchen and dining room getting dressed and feeding Caroline while Andy spends quality time on the pot. 7:00-7:15 try to eat and "stylize" via eye lash curler and blush. 7:15-7:35 think you are ready but rush around taking forever to leave and then realize Caroline pooped her pants as soon as you shut the door. (unlock door, change diaper)
On this Monday, I …

Reflecting Back on a Summer at Home

With less than a week left before I return to work, I'm nostalgic about the 9 weeks I've spent in Oaksville with little Caroline, the five cats, Dingo and a house under renovation. Today, as I chased Dingo with the water hose and shampoo as it started to rain, I felt a little flutter in my stomach. Will this really be the last time I'll have to wash dead animal off my dog? I wiped tears away when I vacuumed and 409'd the truck. Will there be no time to clean the Avalon this week? I really wanted to clean both cars five times each. And who will the plumber, electrician, painters and carpenters chit chat with when I'm not here?

Which is a happier life, stay-at-home mom or working mom? I like pro and con lists. Shall we break it down?

Stay-at-home mom v. Working mom
wear grubby clothes every day v. excuse to go shopping
watch TV v. NPR on the drive home
"Boss" won't yell at you until she's 12 v. Boss can't make you pay for her therapy
Feel validated fo…

My Talented Family

There are so many talented people in my life. I even have a few friends who are sucessful business owners. It's so cool to see your friends have a dream and then live it out. Then there are those friends and family who are so talented but just can't seem to figure out how to put their amazing skills into action.

Now, I'm a big fan of HGTV and the Food Network. TV is full of discoveries of secret talent. I've got two people in mind who should really try to find their 15 seconds of fame through a television program. They are smart, witty, atractive, of course and really have talent. I'm feeling really motivated and today I'm going to write proposals for them and send them to....Comedy Central.

My mom, Moe, has a knack for unique cooking and really knows how to mix ingredients for a most interesting meal. She's particularly fond of how plastic enhances a meal. You see, she uses her microwave for a bread box and then forgets to take the bread out before…

A New Kind of Doula

We all need a personal cheerleader, mentor, adopted parent or coach. When I went to graduate school I thought I'd spend my working days in a basement playing with old stuff. I thought that works of art and poetry influenced me the most. It wasn't until the last several years that I began to realize how many people have made an impact on me and that I want to give that care back.

Through fate and circumstance I'm becoming an actual career coach. I help young people figure out what they want to do with their lives. I love the clueless students the most because I am able to watch them grow and mature right before my eyes. I help them learn to hand in their back pack and pick up a briefcase and maybe understand that they're not going to be a CEO overnight. It's empowering to empower others.

I've benefitted from many coaches in my lifetime from the usual suspects- parents, relatives, teachers and bosses to my friends. Sometimes when we're down in the dump…

I Love You, Running

I've been running since my senior year of college when my roommate convinced me to try laps on the track. I started by running half a lap and walking, run a little, walk a little. By the end of the summer I was able to run 3 miles and had lost my freshman 15 and then some.

I continued running through the my twenties and through and intense amount of change. Three states, a plethora of part-time jobs, a broken love, a blossoming love, graduate school, a marriage, career, house and baby later and I'm still running. Regardless of my location or daily schedule, I've run 3 to 4 times a week from anywhere between 2 and 13 miles per trek.

I did stop running when I was pregnant. Like many first-time moms, I wanted to protect my baby as much as possible and felt her safety and health took precedent over my love of exercise. It took me over a year to even think seriously about running again and only was able to get back into it with the love and support of my mommy friend Mari…

A Slide of One's Own

Do you remember what it was like to climb the monkey bars? Or wiggle your way down a slide to quickly turn around and scale back up it faster than you went down? Did you hang upside down from your knees, rock back and forth and flip to end up on your feet, or at least your hands and knees?

We are in Minnesota this week at Andy's childhood home- a beautiful ranch in a quaint suburban neighborhood where one backyard weaves into another like a lush, rolling park. The neighbor's have a swing set and Caroline is learning to hold on to the big swing. She grips the ropes as tightly as she can, pushes her belly out over her knees and tips her head back to feel the wind on her face. We all take turns pushing her as she refuses to get off, unless it is kicking and screaming.

She climbs the stairs of the tree house and waits for Mommy to clumsily follow behind. She sits on my lap and we slip down the slide. Our joint weight allows us to pick up some serious speed and we feel the s…

Empathy Ends at the Airport

The other day my mom, Caroline and I went for ice cream at a local mom and pop near our house. While we ordered, Caroline wiggled her way out of my arms and marched by the diners, who of course, smiled as she waddled by them. The place was packed with locals, young families and elderly couples. Faces I see around every day, faces I have grown accustomed to as I've made this place my home.

When we left, my mom chuckled and mentioned an older man with a really bad toupee. It was bad, like a kitten was curled up sleeping on his head. It was pretty funny but I didn't laugh when it was indeed laugh-worthy. I didn't laugh because lately I've had a case of overactive empathy.

The man with the toupee, the late night airport shuttle driver with his lunch packed in a travel cooler, the woman working the toll booth at midnight. I know my life is easier than many others. I don't feel sorry for these people or think I'm better than they are. I've just started noticing the…

My Bon Bon Summer

It's rained for the past two days. My Internet connection is spotty. I have no sink, oven or stove. Welcome to my stay-at-home summer. Andy was worried about the summer vacation and told me that my staying at home would consist of eating bon bons and laying on the hammock. While I vehemently argued the idea up until my time off, in the back of my mind I'd hoped it would be just this way. Does eating cheerios off the ground and laying on alphabet blocks and Lego's strewn on the living room floor count as a luxurious vacation?

Once you have a kid there is no such thing as a vacation whether it's for a long weekend, holiday or for the entire gosh-darn summer. Yes, for two whole months I don't have to worry about what to wear and deal with office politics and water cooler gossip but I also don't get to sleep in, close my eyes and soak up the sun before drifting off for an afternoon nap on the hammock or even feel a sense of accomplishment after completing tha…

Shake What Your Momma Gave You

I hadn't realized until this month how sheltered I've been. While I am quick to boast of our adventures in Puerto Rico when Caroline was just four weeks old followed by a trip to Minnesota a month after, since then we've limited our travel to just a few road trips. Life over the past 19 months has been about work, sleep, cleaning the house and creating a safe nest for Caroline. I think most parents would agree with me that sometimes it's just easier to stay home.

We laugh when we get a last minute phone call at 7 pm on a Saturday to "get a drink at the bar" and can't fathom planning to drive an hour and a half to Albany for a day trip to the mall. We are way too tired to go to the bar and what about finding a last minute sitter? Impossible. The dog's not going to watch the kid. And as far as the mall, I'd rather wear last year's fashions than take the effort to get ready to go, miss nap time and get home only in time for dinner before a …

Parenting Perfection- the oxymoron

I'm a perfectionist but I am not perfect. My perfection lies in the pain and consternation I feel when I fall short of my desired goals. Working used to cause me a great deal of anguish. To think, every day, someone told me I didn't do what I was supposed to and if I did it, I didn't do it right. I'd cry and then I'd think horrible thoughts about the people and hold a grudge against them for as long as possible. This is the period of my life I learned the definition of and embodied the term, passive-aggressive. Anyone who has spent more than a year in the work-force knows that in order to succeed, we must move beyond the criticism and take pride in our work regardless of what others say. Or lack of raises year after year. I am somewhat tainted and bitter about working, but it's just The Man, so I like to think I am able to blow it all off. Plus, having a kid enables you to hang work problems in the mudroom and forget while life goes on each evening and …

Elimination Communication

The first time, mom-to-be: I dedicate these paragraphs to you. Your energy, your hopes and dreams. Your time. Time to read. Time to poop and pee by yourself. Your time to dress cutely and plan your nursery. Those were the days, my friend. Being pregnant for the first time is full of expectations. My day job makes me an expert in "expectations management" and so it's easy for me to get on my soap box and preach about mommy labor, delivery and those first precious weeks.

As I write this I'm standing on that box, but it's not a soap box, it's a training potty. That small, plastic box that my little Caroline will learn about and poop and pee around and near (but not in, at least for some time). My childhood best friend is pregnant and she has some really strong opinions about the whole labor through motherhood process. Most of it I get, even if they were not my choices or reality. Home birth, no drugs, no circumcision, breast-feeding for as long as po…