Thursday, September 30, 2010

Time Out

Taking a little time out today from blogging to spend with a sick Abigail. Preschool is kicking her butt and she isn't even the one attending. Poor thing has shunned a nap for three days straight in exchange for "Mommy hold Abby" or "Mommy rock Abby." How can a Mommy refuse? To be preferred over her beloved cribby is an honor of the highest order.

Will return when she is well, tired of snuggling, and again pointing to her crib for solitude. Until then, I will enjoy the sweet warm little face tucked tightly next to my right shoulder and hope she gets well soon.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Not sure when it happened but I'm a real buzzkill lately. Seems like the old me who would sing and dance on paper plates in the kitchen has forgotten all the words to all the songs. Seems like the old me who would make milk angels on the floor instead of crucifying the one who spilled it there in the first place has hung up her wings. Seems like I'm not me anymore.

I realize we're going through a stressful time. I know I shouldn't expect raising kids to be fun or easy or light-hearted but I cannot accept such chronic grouchiness from myself. How can I expect anyone around me to be happy when I'm such a drag?

"Don't wipe your mouth on your shirt."

"Don't touch anything with those hands."

"Are you trying to make me mad?"

"I will when I'm done with these dishes."

"I can't right now, I'm cleaning up yet another mess."

"I'm too tired."


"Please stop talking."

"Get off that."

"I said, No."

"Get over here.""

"Get over here NOW."

"I'm so tired."

"I need a minute."

"I don't care if you're not hungry."

"Use your fork."

"I am a wasteland."

Whoever that person is? She should hire a babysitter and get the balls out of dodge for a while. Like somewhere close by with rainbows, glitter, and unicorns. Or long pyramids of Toblerones and fresh linen. That would probably make for much more happy. Whichever the case, something's gotta give and I'll be really disappointed if that something turns out to be me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Girl Talk

The newest thing Abby does is bullshit with me. That's the only way to describe it. She sits down next to me on the couch, places her sweet tiny hand on my arm and looks me precisely in the eyes. Then she starts chattering in the smallest, softest, girliest voice with made up staccato words that have meaning only to her. But I don't let on. I nod in affirmation. I lift my chin in agreement. Like two girls in a cafe, I want her to go on. Because what she's saying is so important. The way she's delivering it is so femininely accurate; punctuating longer syllables with a glance away or a brushing of her sweet fingertips on my elbow. She's practicing the art of BS'ing and she's already getting it right. She wants to be part of this complicated grown up world and I want to hold her back as long as possible.

But I don't hold her back. Instead I listen with exaggerated eyes and closed mouth because I want to hear what she has to say even more.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

About an Artist

I've been on the lookout for some fabric lately. Nothing fancy and nothing Michael's. It's for a little something I'm designing in my mind on which to store Abby's barrettes. Anything will be an improvement compared to where I've been keeping them: dark menacing crevices of purses, couches, and carseats mostly. There is the occasional clump of them found in the dryer. Great for antiquing. These little buggers multiply like rabbits once they hit the floor so it's time to corral them properly.

Underneath my desire to make something for my daughter is a severe handicap. I can't actually sew. I also can't actually cut in a straight line either. It's that bad. But I'm not a person who lies down in the face of defeat so forging ahead in the quest to create simple objects from felt and hot glue is my only real choice. Plus, I found this idea on another mom's blog and she claimed to prettymuchsuckat making stuff too. Figured it can morph into a shooting target for Grayson should something terrible go awry with the fabric scissors. Wait, I don't think I own fabric scissors.

So in our quest to find the coveted perfectly soft yet substantial however not itchy fabric for Abby's barrette hanger clustereff, we went to my favorite second hand store. We shopped and shopped. Abby kleptoed several purple princess wands and kissed a ceramic owl square on the beak (what is with the owls, people?). I picked up and put down the same flowered pattern fabric priced at $12.00 at least seven times. The flowers were water-colored Gerbera daisies (I know - to die!) with a periwinkle background that would make you swoon. I swooned. Then I broke up with it because there was tons of this shit. It would live, collect silverfish and dust bunnies, then die a folded eternal death in my closet because I was afraid to ever begin. Baby steps for we NonMartha's y'all.

Just as I had walked away from the tempting pretty flowers a lady with a lovely British lilt asked if I was an artist.

"Pardon me?" I asked back in Madonna's voice for some reason.
"Are you an artist?" she asked without a hint of mock.

And I looked at myself, my little girl, and my jumble of plastic Halloween buckets, feathered mask, princess cape, harvest tins and confessed, "No. I'm not an artist. I am actually the farthest thing from an artist. The only thing I've ever made worth a hell is a piggy bank shaped like a tiger that weighs more than my daughter. I wish I could make things. I'd love to make things. But thank you for asking."

"Oh, it's just that you have feathers in your heap and I'd never even think to buy feathers."

The feathered thing in my heap she was referring to was a Mardi-Gras masque I picked out for myself to wear for Trick or Treating with the kids this year. You know, the cop out costume. I hadn't picked it out based on what else I could've done with it. I had selected it for it's basic literal function. Very practical like. Very pragmatic like. Embarrassingly one dimensional. No artist resideth here, me queen.

Fast forward to picking up Grayson from preschool an hour later. His teachers were absolutely beaming at him. He was hiding behind one pretending to be something (dinosaur? teetsie fly? wombat? who knows.) I was terribly confused because this was a grand departure from the weepy teardrop of boy I left there four hours prior.

"He did a fabulous job today in art class," his teacher sang. "He engaged entirely, painted a lot -even more than the others (she whispered) -and helped out the art teacher the whole time. He used lots of cool materials and came up with a beautiful design. Here, I'll show you."

An audible jaw drop was all I could come up with in response.

"He was honestly amazing today. He really loves art class."

Huh. Go figure. Looks like there may be an artist in my heap after all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In Memory of Harold

The thing about dogs is their memory.

They remember to seek out kisses when they're scared.

They remember to ask for belly rubs when they're at ease.

They remember the cookies are located in the kitchen.

(They remember to ask "pretty please with a bow on top.")

But most of all, they remember who their family is.

Harry, you never forgot me. It was me who forgot you. I forgot you were not so scary when I hid in my minivan as you pranced toward me. I forgot you were more gentle than a lamb when I stood stone still in your kitchen because I was afraid to move . I forgot you and I'm so ashamed because you always remembered me.

Now, Sir Harold, I promise to honor your memory and always remember you too. Bless your gigantic heart that taught me to love without divide. You were the center of their canine universe and wore that badge proudly. Now, the morning after you had to leave this earth, you are already so deeply missed that it hurts to say your name out loud. But we will.
It's what you do for family.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Little Brown Owl

Two nights ago I had the greatest dream about a sweet little brown owl. Or I thought it was the greatest dream until I googled it. Here's a morsel of what I found: "The owl represents wisdom and higher education. Because of the owl's keen eyesight it considered to be a great visionary. It also has superb hearing. As a totem it can reveal clairaudient and clairvoyant abilities. This nocturnal bird is called "The Keeper of Dark Secrets." The owl totem has a connection to the dark side and the dead. The owl is associated with superstition and magical powers. Whenever an owl appears or you hear an owl screech in the night it may be that a secret will soon be revealed to you. Also, if a secret is shared with you in confidence, the owl serves as a reminder to honor that knowledge and keep the secret private." Never google it. Even if "it" is a weird red rash all over your child's face. Even if "it" is the awful limp your dog acquired after jumping off the bed. Google will give you gloom, treachery and doom every time. This time was no different.

I dreamed of being back in my childhood home, opening the very familiar cupboard and seeing a small brown and gray owl peeking back at me. Nothing else but the owl. I was startled but not afraid. It blinked demurely and "spoke" something through its eyes. It then flew around my childhood home in search of a window or a door. It needed to get out but it didn't panic. It waited for me to open the front door before it stretched its impressive wings into the pitch black night.

I laughed in the company of two other women (I remember who but will not say here for some superstitious reason) even though I didn't think it was the least bit funny. Even in my dream I understood the gravity of having an owl simply show up in the cupboard of my childhood home. Even in my dream I knew it was anything but coincidence.

Then, when I woke up I felt relieved. Oddly relieved of decisions I still haven't made. Strangely relaxed from crossroads not yet passed through. It was as if the presence of that tiny brown owl gave me the message I needed to hear even though I can't remember, for the life of me, what the hell he said.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Backpacks & Love Notes

I didn't cry the first day.
Until I got back home.

You didn't ask me to stay.
You clung to my leg a little longer than usual.

Daddy stayed back at home with Abby.
You kept asking if he'd remember to feed her.
(He did.)

You asked us at dinner when things can go back to how they always are.
They can't.

You told us you would let us know when you were ready to make friends.
You already have.

I leave at least three love notes in your lunch even though you can't read.
We shouldn't be so sure.

We hid Foxy Loxy in your backpack just in case you get lonely.
Because your teachers won't look there.

You began to cry this morning because it's all just sinking in.
That makes two of us.

We are so proud of our big preschooler.
You make growing up look easy, my Love.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


In a few days my son will begin preschool and leave me all alone...

with this...

and I'm afraid of it.

It eats lipstick...

and real size food...

...and the hearts of grown up men.

It paints shirts, hands, door knobs and dog tails.

It is wildfire and brimstone.

It's never less than three feet away from its brother.

It is called Abigail and I am very afraid.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Labor Day at The Jimmys

Most of you already know I grew up lucky. I was lucky to have lots of people around who were brilliantly hysterical, seriously sappy, horribly hardworking, and steelingly steadfast (annoying alliterations end here). One of those people in particular is my Uncle Jimmy. I pretty much idolized him while growing up. If he stopped eating meat, I cursed hot dogs. If he strapped on his running shoes, I'd clamor for a pair of Nikes. If he joined PETA, I became an animal advocate and gave speeches in my English class about why we need to buy products tested on humans only (This last one stuck, I still feel we should aim to test only on humans and/or other technology. Just because we're bigger doesn't mean we get to hurt the things that are smaller.)

As a young girl with a Star Wars T-shirt and big buck teeth, I would follow him around the house and make up reasons to be wherever he was. Later, as a teenager I would shadow him at work and be impressed with his people skills. Finally, as a married person with a family of her own, I admire him for being one of the busiest and beloved dads around yet still making time for me and my family on Labor Day weekend.

It was great to have the families merge again. I try to pretend we'll live within an hour of my family every time I see them because our short timer's truth gives me a lump in my throat every time.

For now, however, I take pictures, replay the day and enjoy.

The uber-lovely Aunt Mary who happens to look 15 years younger than me. Seriously, she has the bod of an 18 year old, the face of a supermodel and is totally a rad mom of three beautiful kids.

Here is one of those kids. Meet Leah who selflessly allowed my daughter to foster mom one of her favorite babydolls for the day. Leah couldn't have been more gracious with her toys or sweeter with the baby snatcher.

You know these three already. Larry, Curly and Moe. Curly's kinda cute here with that sly smile, right?

The Nonie. The Nonie with Little Miss Polka Dot. They make excellent photograph material, even in the bright sunlight.

And finally, the most patient cat this side of the Mississippi (or Potamac): Maya. (Maya's tail pictured below.)

This "meow" had every right to lash, claw, hiss, spit, or otherwise mangle my little girl.

Abby stalked her like she was Rihanna and when finally allowed an autograph? Abs poked her in the eye. Meh, kids these days.

Friday, September 3, 2010


While on vacation over a week ago, my sister (hubby's sis by blood but mine by wineries) and I did personality tests. We shopped together at Barnes & Noble and found a cliff note versionof the Myers Briggs (What Type am I? Discover Who You Really Are by Renee Baron). We took the test for ourselves, then asked the rest of our company to do same over a campfire and multiple libations (us, not them). I probably don't have to tell you how hilarious that turned out to be. At one point, Jen was literally wiping tears from her eyes while her husband (Uncle Pete to us) answered his questionnaire out loud. At one point my husband let out a series of audible exhales that could be categorized as an actual burst of spontaneous laughter. But Dear God don't tell him I said so. The Marine Corps would fire him.

Turns out we are all very much how we seem. According to the author of this booklet anyway.

I am an ISFJ which stands for Introvert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging type. Not so proud of the J but they promise it doesn't mean I think I'm judge and jury; it has more to do with valuing order. Under a judging type phrases like these appear: seeks closure, values structure, plans ahead, work now/play later, goal-oriented, likes things settled and decided. That's more like it, Renee, you had me worried.

My hubby is one letter off. He is an ISTJ. The T stands for Thinking. He thinks; I feel. He is camouflage and crossword puzzles. I am pink bunny slippers and uncooked brownie dough. So on and so forth. Only one letter off yet an entire world apart.

While I've understood our differences & similarities for over eight years, somehow just being reminded of our very personal and distinctly different fundamental value system (and the decisions we make on a daily basis because of them) is enlightening. If he sorts through the mail before kissing me upon returning home from travel, I don't get bent about it. He thinks, he sorts, he organizes. It's who he is and helps to keep him in his safe and happy zone. I try not to request he recognize or validate my waves of insecurities and emotions whenever they wash up on my shore. Admittedly, they can be numerous, illogical and simply a nuance of being female. My husband is not my girlfriend. He is a man and all male at that. In addition to his testosterone makeup, he is also a thinker and a rationalizer. Thinkers think. My thinker thinks while he cleans, works, cooks (yes I know, I'm very lucky) and tidies up. Anything else would be a waste of time for him. Thinkers can't pay a lot of credence to fluctuating moods with weepy eyes or huggy arms, it's not the right fit for them. Besides, feelers do that enough for both of them. This feeler does enough for the both of them. In our marriage we are getting really good at seeing that both personality types keep us balanced. Sure both types can also lead to imbalance, upset our apple cart and result in definite casualties from differing value systems but that's for us to chew on. Mostly, we have become a working machine with a sturdy chrome axle (him) and flexible copper dipped in magenta hinges (me).

Obviously, I could rattle on about this forever...I find it socially I'll stop here.

Suffice it for me to say this book was a well-timed gift for me. Not only in reminding me the differences between husband and myself are not only okay but necessary but also for understanding myself, my friends, and people at large. Ultimately, we are all probably just one letter off yet probably worlds apart. It's always better to understand we all come from individual value systems that have shaped our natural tendencies into who we are, into how we are perceived.

Take the test. Then make your significant other take it. But don't forget to pour each other a smooth drink of your desired treat before hand. You will end up enjoying some spot-on realizations with notes of honey and self-enlightenment.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Old School

Not that I couldn't spend countless hours on Facebook, Twitter, and lost in rapture of the Blogosphere but there is one thing I learned about myself after a week of being away from it all. I am happier without it. I am less stressed without the constant temptation to see what all my friends and family are writing or thinking or making for dinner. I am less frustrated with my own responsibilities as wife and mom without the ever present beckoning pull of staying connected to everyone else in the "real world."

Being without connectivity for a week helped me truly unwind myself from the spool of technology and feel like myself again. I wasn't short with my kids. I wasn't impatient with my dog (I know, what?!). I wasn't grouchy toward my husband. One might even say I became a downright flirty girl with him again but that was probably the Riesling talking (right, sure). One week by a beautiful lake, kayaking alone, and playing in the rain was what it took to have me fall back into place. We all seemed to just fall back into place. We all fit together again.

The urge to keep myself contemporary or up-to-date is a strong one. It has been so strong that during the long weeks of single parenting (handsome hubby's travel has doubled lately so Sadie - and okay I'll confess Grayson too- keep my feet warm at night) I have burdened myself with the task of staying current in all avenues of social media. Even at the expense of a lost nap, neglected hobbies, or forgoing a block of time spent simply naval gazing. And for what? Am I really staying competitive enough with the big online savvyests who make money staying connected? I am not. Am I going to disappoint anyone if I don't post something every single day? You guys all are testimonials that life remained just as wonderful and flowery without my diatribing here. It's all for fun and fun for all. My new motto. So no more making myself crazy with updating on Twitter or Facebook. I will be a voyeur and contribute when the mood strikes. What about here on the blog? Just like my multiple cups of watered down coffee, I cannot quit you. I will allow myself this one daily vice. This blog happens to be a safe haven for me to chat with you guys and that in and of itself is enough connection for me. Those of you who read and comment are in my mind on a daily basis. You are my people, my circle of friends. Those of you who read and don't comment are there too, just donning invisible cloaks and dark glasses because you're tres mysterious and I dig you too.

So here is my declaration of the week: I am going back to the basics, going Old School. In an effort to balance the daily I will still post here on One-Sided Momma but will let the rest fall by the wayside without an ounce of guilt. It is a great way to network for people who can maintain their own richness of living but mine was definitely suffering and beginning to taste skim and sugar free. My network may be small but you guys are all the red capped whole milk and crystalline carbohydrates I need.