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Showing posts from 2011

Happy New Year!

The New Year looms around the corner and it's at this time that I look back at the past 12 months to reflect on my life, and ahead, to decide what to improve in the future. I do this every year, and while I have good intentions, I pretty much break every New Year's resolution. I have to ask myself why I set resolutions and why I then proceed to break them.

I'm a reflective perfectionist so it is my nature to obsess about what I did wrong and how to fix it. I recently read in (the scholarly journal) Real Simple about rumination- when one fixates on something very small, stresses out about it and makes it a bigger deal than it really is. Well, my middle name might as well be Ruminate. I am so good at it! Since I'm also very moody and sensitive, I strive to make every interaction, with every person I encounter, perfect. To err is human, and I'm often a big mouth fool so 2/3 of the time, I screw up and then I feel terrible for like, um, a year, or longer. Setting goals…

Thanks, Mrs.!

Caroline's teacher is awesome and I'm not just saying that because some of my friends who read this happen to work at Caroline's school. My sweet Caroline, my beautiful little girl, can be a very stubborn diva. A very exhausting, stubborn diva. I'm at my wits end after spending the weekend with Caroline, I can only imagine what it is like for her teacher to deal with her day after day, along with 19other five year olds. Oh, yeah and try to provide them with the academic foundation needed to succeed for the next decade of schooling, too!

Sending your baby off to a bunch of strangers each day can be difficult. It's not like Caroline gives us a blow-by-blow of her day to provide us with insight into her daily activities, the friendships she's forging, the accomplishments she's making and the growth she's experiencing. Instead, our dinner conversations go a lot like this:

Andy: Hey, Caroline, so tell us, how was your day?
Silence
Andy: What did you do today, Ca…

The Girl Who Cried Poop

Ever heard the story about the boy who cried wolf? You know the lesson then: the more we blow things out of proportion or call a false alarm, the less likely it is that others will help us when we really need it. Well, this is the story of a girl who cried poop.

Teaching a child to use the toilet is a giant undertaking and there are many approaches to making it happen. Some parents bring a few books and games into the bathroom, camp out, and play the waiting game, praying that eventually the child will feel the need to go and -voila- she'll conveniently already be sitting on the potty when the big moment arrives.

Others place plastic or towels over every surface in their house and look for signs. Is she antsily grabbing herself? Is she crouching under the table? Is she looking at you and saying, "I have to go to the potty!"

The potty training process requires lots of communication between parent and child. It also requires trust. The child must trust that the parent will i…

A Haunting at 6400 State Highway 28

During a visit to our house a few weeks ago, my mom delivered several boxes of my
'80's and '90's toys that my dad had extracted from the attic. We found Pound Puppies, My Little Ponies, a Simon Says and lots of music boxes that my grandmother sent me over the years. Caroline and Andy gathered up most of the goods before I was able to hold them and think about all the wonderful times spent playing with these items.

Since the arrival of the old toys, I have been playing one of the music boxes for Caroline after reading her bedtime stories. I remember my mom doing the same for me, each night, year after year. Last night Caroline was a little less tired and a little more rambunctious than usual. Andy read to her and then she called for me. After a story, I turned out her light, turned on her night light and twisted the ballerina music box a few times. I hummed the tune I know so well as I wished her a final good night and left the room.

I spent the next few hours scrap boo…

A Decade of Domestic Life and Love

Every time someone asks Andy or me how long we've been married we tack, "but it feels like forever" to the number of years. We just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary but we've been together since the fall of 2001- ten years.

I find it a tad disturbing that I'm now old enough to reference activities in decades including being a professional, my years out of school, having a license, being able to drink legally, running for fun and exercise, and maintaining friendships. Oh yeah, and being involved in a domestic partnership.

We all remember, and may think, that it's so much fun to be in the beginning of a relationship. It's thrilling to learn something new about your romantic buddy on a daily basis, like his favorite food or song, whether or not he snores in his sleep and the way he takes his coffee. You know you've hit a new level of intimacy when you hear the sob stories of past breakups or learn the true story behind that scar over his eye. The…

Having Another Baby

Babies are clogging my inbox and filling my facebook feed. Childbirth seems to go in cycles and everywhere I turn lately, someone is announcing a baby welcomed into their world. Oh, baby. Soft, warm, snuggly baby. Sweet, nice-smelling, perfect baby. Bright eyes, tiny fingers and toes, looking like an old man or woman. I see beautiful pictures of baby wearing a hat, wrapped in a comfy blanket, in the arms, and surrounded by, all the people who love that baby more than it will ever know.

I savor every picture, re-read every snippet of the birth announcement. Seven pounds, 8 pounds 4 ounces, 10 pounds 11 ounces, 21 inches, 18 inches, 2 hours of labor, 10 hours of labor. As I learn of the news, I look at my own miracles. My little miracle, who last night applied Chapstick to her own lips, yeah, not those lips, the other lips. My big miracle who is learning to write her name and reminds me that turd is not a nice word. Five years have passed since we welcomed our first snuggly gift to our …

You Had a Tantrum? I'm So Jealous!

Last year, on one of our many visits to the health clinic, we discovered in the waiting room that Charlotte had a fat, feeding tick above one of her ears. Luckily for us we were able to slide into an open spot with the pede for quick tick removal. Except- it wasn't that easy. This little bastard was clinging to Charlotte for dear life and the doctor used a little tool to twist and pull the tick while the nurse held my little, beautiful baby by her arms and legs as she screamed at the top of her lungs. I was upset by the whole thing and I'm pretty sure the pediatrician and nurse broke a sweat but poor Caroline practically lost her mind watching her sister squirm in pain.

She and I sat away from the scene, watching it unfold from a corner in the room. As Charlotte wailed, Caroline responded. The louder Charlotte's screams, the more agitated Caroline became until finally she was rolling around on the ground, legs and arms shaking at the ceiling. By the end, I cradled a moan…

I'm Gonna Cry, Cry, Cry

I cry quite a bit. It's basically my reaction to just about everything. Whether I'm mad, glad, happy or sad, I'm going to bawl. I can try my very best to bury the tears inside but I have no poker face. As soon as I feel the air welling up in my chest, the lump in my throat, I'm a goner. Here's a brief list of the things I've cried over of late:

-The girls breaking the sunglasses my mother-in-law just bought me. I only wore them once!
-In a work meeting after watching a 9/11 Tribute.
-After reading or watching anything related to 9/11.
-Watching the commercial with the dad talking to his daughter before she drives away in the car, you know, the one where he sees her as a little girl and not a teen.
-Watching the girls warm up to Katy Perry's Firework before the Girls on the Run 5k.
-While running next to Caroline in the GOTR 5k.
-The very beginning of any race I've ever particpated in. There's something about watching others meet a goal, and me accomplis…

To Caroline

Six years ago you were
a wish upon a star.
A quiet realization that
I wanted more in my life.

Five years ago we were one.
You filled my belly with life
and my heart with hope.

Four years ago I held you in my arms.
You called me Mama
and I wondered how I would ever
let you go.

Three years ago we walked hand-in-hand
but you walked ahead every so often.
I worried that I need you more than you needed me.

Two years ago I looked at you
as if for the first time,
and your soulful eyes smiled back at me.
My little girl.

One year ago we sat across from one another
and had an actual conversation.
I was proud of the woman
you will one day become.

Today I wished upon a star and my heart filled with hope.
I held you in my arms and we walked hand-in-hand.
Today I looked into your soulful eyes.
You smiled back at me and just like every day since you were born,
I was proud of the woman you will one day be and the girl you are now.

My Forever Moment

I'm not sure if I believe in heaven. I'm not a particularly, traditionally religious person so I don't buy into the pearly gates, yet life, this earth, this universe, amazes me. Too many unexplained, serendipitous events happen for us to just turn into worm food after we die.

I started having death panic attacks shortly after Andy and I got married. They come on at the most random times, most often when I am driving. I'll be making a mental to-do checklist and -bam! My brain goes blank and I realize, "I'm going to die. I'm going to die!" My can't breathe very well and I feel light headed. I may even start to cry, overwhelmed because I'm so scared and so sad. And then, the moment is over. Just like that, I'm back to life as I know it, whether it's focusing on the road ahead of me or adding to my to-do list.

I mentioned these attacks to a friend and she told me I should be thankful to be at a point in my life that I'm not busy worr…

If I Were a Dad

I wonder what would happen if I decided to stop parenting? No, I don't mean if I ran away, as I've sometimes considered. Rather, what if I stopped being the primary parent? Have you ever heard the Beyonce song, "If I were a boy"? I have to sit back and consider, what would it be like, :If I were a Dad" or more specifically, "If I were Andy".

Some critics have suggested that Andy and I are raising free range chicken. I've even agreed that, at times, little Charlotte seems like a baby goat in a pen but that has less to do with our parenting and more to do with her penchant for dropping her food on the floor then picking it up to eat. I really look up to the militaristic parents whose children go to church and don't make a peep, whose children do what they are told before the end a count to five, and whose children are really, truly limited to 30 minutes of screen time a day.

I can't even begin to understand how to run a household like boot …

Running on "E"- part 2

****cue sad violin music************

I was at first thinking that perhaps last week's trip to Massachusetts and nearly running out of gas struck a cord with me because I am neurotic and anything such as this can send me into a tizzy. Or, perhaps it is because almost running out of gas and therefore running on "E" is a perfect metaphor for the last year and a half of my life.

Having a second kid has been ten times more work than just having one. (I don't care how those with more than two manage, ok?) It didn't help me that I finally got a boss (which I'm actually very thankful for) and some fire under my butt to make our office the best it can be. As all new moms heading back to work, I didn't have the time to think very much about how hard the transition was and what a drain pumping and nursing was on my body. Not to mention battling winter illnesses, being out of the house for 3/4 of the day, sludging through freezing, snowy weather and terrible roads, an…

Driving on "E"- Part 1

In our marriage, not only is my casa his casa but mi coche is his coche. We have swapped cars for years and we have so many it's kinda fun to wake up in the morning and decide which car to drive that day. We like to drive old clunkers and spend less than ten grand, preferably two or three thousand max. It also works out nicely when one doesn't start in the morning (happens more often than I'd like) and we just take our bags and bodies out and hop into the next closest vehicle. Our junkyard and sharing system has generally worked well for both of us.

I do have an unwritten policy on car sharing that Andy never honors. When one drives a car, especially when the gas tank is near 1/4 tank at the end of the drive, it is that driver's responsibility to do a courtesy fill. It is that driver's responsibility to re-fill the tank so the next driver doesn't have to immediately fill the car before travel. Since we have so very many cars and we drive all over the place all …

A week in Goshen

We just returned from what folks call vacation and I call "going somewhere overnight with my kids". The girls and I spent 6 days and 7 nights at my parents' house. Since I am still trying to absorb the good, the bad and the ugly moments of the trip I've decided to summarize the week with a few haikus. I hope to write a more articulate summation of the week once I've unpacked, done some laundry and slept in my own bed for a few nights.

Hotter than Hades.
Girls, Mom, me head to the lake.
Hello, two foot snake!

Old people and dogs.
Little kids with grabby hands.
Not a good combination.

Visit with Smitty.
Eat sushi and Go Berry.
I heart my old friend.

Yoga in Goshen.
Moe and me do downward dog.
Smile, breathe, namaste.

Hot, hot, hot summertime.
Afraid of a snake? Not me.
'Til one more swims by.

Kids love mom so much.
Stuck to me like super glue.
Give me a damn break.

Your kids are whiny,
I am told by the old folk.
Children should be seen, not heard.

Bought Tina Fey's book.
Thanks f…

Tot Tantrum Rehab

Move over Dr. Drew and Super Nanny, there's a new therapist in town. That's right, I'm proud to welcome you all to Tot Tantrum Rehab. I'm Dr. Mommy and I'm now in the house and here to rid my tot of her totally terrible tantrums.

When she was a toddler, Caroline had the typical two-year-old tantrums due to lack of communication skills and growing emotions and needs. I'm a bit baffled that as a near five-year old, she continues to have hand slapping, foot stomping, scream-til-you-puke fits. It ramped up last year before Charlotte was born and we all knew it was because she was worried about her status as Our Family's Top Tot and the many changes occurring in our home. Last summer I spent what felt like endless evenings (mind, you- alone) with two screaming children and me in the bathroom hoping they'd both screech themselves to sleep. A year later and Charlotte has a great bed-time routine an Caroline had seemed to adjust nicely to the new family dynamic.…

My Sweet Summer

This is the beginning of my second week of my summer home with the kids. Those who learn of my work schedule always say to me, "You are so lucky to be off from work during the summer!" And, I agree. At home, I wear pjs and work out clothes all day, I can be outside during the three sunny days of the year and occasionally can catch Dr. Oz. And let's face it, I can't give my co-workers a time out or hand them a cheese stick to get them to be quiet and leave me alone for a few minutes.

I've written before about Andy's overt jealousy about my part-time status and his multitude of references to my "bon-bon summer". I think he envisions what it would be like for him to have an eight week hiatus from the office and all of the projects he'd accomplish and all of the lawns he'd mow. Thanks to his delusions of grandeur, he is often concerned when he arrives home and I haven't accomplished the wifely responsibilities he'd planned for me that da…

You Know You've Had a Baby When

This post was inspired by my muffin top today.

YOU KNOW YOU'VE HAD A BABY WHEN:

10. Your pre-baby fat pants are now your post-baby skinny jeans.
9. You are searching through a mom friend's bathroom for a Tylenol and you spot a clear, plastic squirt bottle and you know exactly what it was used for.
8. You are psyched that your stomach muscles are strong enough again to suck in but in doing so your belly button disappears between two rolls which look a lot like a deflated balloon animal.
7. Hearing Johnny Cash's song "Ring of Fire" triggers PTSD.
6. Again, you can use the metaphor "deflated balloon" to describe several other parts of your body.
5. You've looked pain and fear square in the face, called it a mother f%^&*$r, told yourself, "Well! I'll never do THAT again!" and find yourself in a room with pain and fear 2, 3, or 4 years later.
4.(Unless you are a freak)Have somebody poop or pee on your chest and you're too overwhelmed to not…

What's For Dinner?

When I met Andy in graduate school his diet consisted of Hot Pockets and Coke. His weekly routine involved going to class, studying, going to the bar, smoking butts and talking on his cell phone.

That time for me was one of particular neurosis. Like many twenty-somethings, I had no idea what to do with my life or how to get there. My lack of control over most things led to control issues over the small stuff. Therefore, my diet consisted of sugar-free hot chocolate, salad and too much alcohol. My weekly routine included going to class, studying, running and stressing out.

We were two polar opposites, of course attracted to one another because of our differences. A decade later and over time our extreme behaviors softened. With my support Andy stopped smoking (ok- I threatened him), switched to drinking Diet Coke and has added new foods to his diet, including a limited amount of fruit and veggies and also a glass of water or two a day.

Thanks to Andy, I have stopped obsessing about what…

A Mother's High

Years ago, when I started running, it was no walk in the park. Evolutionarily speaking, I didn't think my body was built for endurance exercise. I started by running one lap around my college track. I remember it clear as day. It was spring of my senior year and my friend and former roommate (a runner) encouraged me to get rid of the freshman fifteen by taking a few laps with her. That first quarter of a mile was the longest jog of my life. I felt like I'd never make it around the circle. And, what a pain! When I got to where I started, she told me to do it again! As a compromise, I walked a lap and then ran a lap. All in all that day I may have clocked about a mile but it was a start. As I continued to run (or really jog), I continued to have the same sensation: that every step was like trying to pull myself through quick sand.

But I set some goals, like walk a lap, run a lap, walk a minute, run 10 minutes, etc. and after a summer, I managed to run five miles without stopping…

When You Give a Toddler a Sippy

If you give a todller a sippy cup,
she will throw it on the floor.
When you give her back the cup,
she'll shake it upside down on her tray.
Then she'll throw it back on the floor.
You'll have to tell her "all done."
She'll start to tear up, ball her fists
and cry "NOOOOO!"
She'll point at it with her finger.
You'll give in and hand it to her.
When she's all done eating she'll want to get out of her chair to play.
Except she'll see an old piece of macaroni in the chair.
When she's all done eating it, she'll want another piece.
She'll ask you for more.
Then you'll heat her more mac and she'll see the strawberries in the fridge.
Seeing the strawberries will make her crave fruit.
She'll rock her chair, bounce up and down and say, "berry, berry."
You'll cut up some fruit.
Once she has the fruit,
she'll squish it between her fingers.
You'll get her a wet paper towel.
She'll probably put it in her mouth.
The …

Mariettaquette: Dining Tips for Success!

Last week my office hosted a dining etiquette seminar for our students. Our guest speaker for the evening, Robert Shutt from R.A Solutions, is dynamic and knowledgeable and the students always benefit from the presentation. As I sat through this year's session, like most of the students at my table, I giggled nervously as I sipped my soup and fumbled with the napkin on my lap. A few students at the table told me that their parents enforced dining decorum each evening at the family dinner table and it made me think about meals in my home.

While I've participated in similar dining events for nearly a decade and have put the rules into practice at several work-related meals, I realized that I completely check professional dining etiquette at the door step of our house. As a matter of fact, not only do we not practice anything remotely like what Robert recommends, we have established our very own rules at the Marietta table- it's what I like to call Mariettaquette. So that you …

Don't Call Me Pat

Today, a colleague of mine, who I've not seen in several weeks, commented on my new pixie hair cut. "Wow! You got your hair cut!" he said, "It reminds me of, oh, what's that Saturday Night Live Skit? Oh, you know, Pat! It's very androgynous."

This is not the first time that someone has suggested that I look more like a man than a woman and frankly, I've been confused with being a dude on several occasions. From being called "Sir" repeatedly by a waiter to being cross-examined by the town clerk when applying for a marriage license, being mistaken for a man is not new to me.

Before I start my rant on gender I just want to stop for a moment and talk about why some people are incapable of giving a good compliment. I wonder if, or when, it occurred to him that calling me Pat wasn't going to make me feel good about my appearance. I would have liked to hear that my haircut was very Halle Berryesque or that it really showed off my pixie-like fea…

Being Happy

A few weeks back I posted an article to facebook in which the author argues that people without children are happier than those with them. I think that happiness is relative. I know many people with children who are incredibly happy and just as many without that seem content with their lives. I also know some Eeyores who are the same curmudgeons post-baby as they were before having kids. Happiness comes from within, not from external factors like kids, money, job, etc. How can someone make such a sweeping assumption about happiness? Who is to say that childless people are happier? I can't answer that.

What I do know is that little things make people with kids really happy. For example, my heart just pounds with pride when I see Charlotte toddle down the hallway carrying her dirty diaper. I would also categorize my emotion as "happy" when Caroline decided to cut her cupcake in half tonight rather than shove the entire chunk into her mouth. What I also know about parents is…

Fighting With My Head

Since college, I have suffered from migraines. And, boy, I have suffered. I remember the first time I got one. I was completely unable to function. I had a paper due the next day. This is back when I used to HAND WRITE my papers and then type them up in the computer lab. Lucky for me, my friend typed up the paper for me while I lay in the dark, confused and disoriented. I had no idea what hit me. Everyone has a bad headache once in awhile. A migraine is not your run-of-the-mill headache. It's a neurological nightmare.

At first, I had them every six months or so, and while an inconvenience, I could usually shut myself away in a dark room for long enough to let it wear off. I tried prescribed migraine medication and it only made me more ill. As time has gone on, the symptoms have strengthened and the their duration has increased. Here's how it usually goes: it starts with light, natural or florescent. Sometimes it can be the contrast between being in a dark room and looking …