Reputation

So, for three summers during college, I was a ride operator at an amusement park.

Ahem. No, not a carnie, those people travel. We were in the same, permanent spot. Haha.

So anyway, one of the rides I worked on was the diesel engine train, which was a blast to drive but also one of the more technical rides to operate in the park. And everything had to be timed just so. There were a ton of crossings that were operated by hand, so there was a lot of whistle signals and walkie talkies and the whole process was down to a science.

There was this one particular crossing near one of the entertainment stages, and at night it was tempting to go up and watch the show for a minute, to kill the boredom. But, you had to have your ears wide open for the whistle, so you could open the gate.

One night, a girl didn’t hear it, and the train crashed into the gate. Which was like a BIG deal. MAJOR deal. She didn’t lose her job, but it was not pretty for her record.

Anyway, she recently friended me on Facebook. And she’s all grown up now, just got married, is a graphic designer, sells handbags, lots of interesting stuff.

But, to me, she’s always “the girl who let the train crash into the gate”. I just cannot shake it.

Get the Tissues

I don’t recall where I read it, but someone has said that when you have a child, you feel like your heart is in their body. If they’re happy, you’re happy. If they’re hurt, you’re hurt.

But, what they don’t tell you, is a little piece of you is with EVERY kid on the planet. You can’t see kids who are sad, hurt or disappointed without your heart aching. You imagine if that were your child, and then you know how that parent must feel (or some idea of it).

Three days ago, I did not know the little girl named Layla Grace. But I saw many people offering prayers, good vibes, good thoughts and support, so I took a look at her profile.

YOU GUYS. A 2 year old girl dying of cancer. Rips your freaking heart out, I don’t care who you are. I was feeling a lot of self-pity since last week, but this wiped that all away. I have my health. I have my son. I have my son’s health. That’s about all that really matters.

This morning, she passed away. And I am sitting here in a puddle of tears for a little girl I only know about because of Twitter, and have only known about for 3 days. Because it’s unfair that terrible people get to walk this earth day after day, spreading their hate and evil around, while innocent 2 year old babies have to suffer and die.

Rest in peace, Layla Grace. You were so brave.

http://www.laylagrace.org/

Survival

So, I’m pretty proud of the fact that we went the entire winter without turning on our furnace. We bundled up, drank warm beverages and used lots of blankets. But, no furnace!

Now, I know we don’t exactly live somewhere sub-arctic or anything (now THAT would be impressive), but it did get darn near freezing temperatures here on a couple of occasions, and we spent the better part of December and January in the 40s, so it was pretty cold.

I wish I could say we were being martyrs for Mother Earth, but it’s more like this: we share the bill with the landlords, who are mega energy hogs and we just wanted the utility bill to be slightly lower. It was kind of a fun challenge too, though. Just how long could we go? What creative ways could we use to stay warm?

And before you report me to CPS, we had a small space heater in the kiddo’s room that we turned on at night. His room can get a little cold, so we couldn’t expect him to go completely without. And he also has a really warm, fleecy blanket that my grandma made for him.

What are you doing to save a buck / save the earth / challenge yourself?

The New Sitter

Last night was the first time Bowie’s babysitter was not either my sister-in-law or some parent from the park that he knows really well. We met the gal last week, she works at an indoor play space, so we went and played for an hour or so. He was really shy that day, and kind of shy last night but he seemed more at ease.

I was freaking out the whole week leading up to it, and while I was super excited for a night out with my husband and friends, I was NOT super excited about leaving Bowie with someone he didn’t know very well.

It’s not at all that I don’t trust people, I do. And this girl was definitely trustworthy. The best way I could explain it to my friends was, there’s a million funny little quirky things about your kid. And for some reason, you feel like you have to remember all those things at once and tell them all to the caregiver. Even though some of them are so insignificant, you yourself tend to forget them sometimes. And others, like he needs his diaper changed when he poos or he’ll get a terrible rash. Like, duh. I’m pretty sure any sitter would do a diaper change at the first whiff of poo.

So, at some point you have to say to yourself, “Self, just let it go”. Any and all things about your kid will be one of three things:

1. a complete non-issue.

2. figured out by the caregiver.

3. maybe worthy of a quick phone call if they can’t figure it out.

Now that we’ve survived the ordeal, my life is completely changed. There’s going to be so much more we can do now that we’re not solely relying on family and close friends. Such as, going out with said family and close friends. This is going to be AWESOME.

Snuggles

Like many kids his age, Bowie wakes up in the middle of the night. Almost every night. And it gets a little tiring. Most of the time, we can lay him back down and he’s fine. He’s still tired enough that once his little head hits the pillow, he’s out.

But some nights, like Sunday night, he’s inconsolable. Especially if my husband goes to his room and not me. So, at 3 a.m. when he was screaming and flailing and hyperventilating, I reluctantly went into his room and tried to lay him down. He was clinging to me, and just really wanted me to hold him. I’d been suffering a rather painful pulled muscle that day, and picking him up, I knew, would cause searing pain.

But, eventually I gave in and picked him up. We sat together in the chair in his room, and he instantly fell silent. He took a deep breath, and hugged me tightly. We sat there like that for a few minutes, and he fell asleep and I was able to lay him down.

At the time, I was thinking I’m going to be so tired tomorrow. But, the next day, I was actually really glad I did that. He just wanted his mom. Nothing else in the world could make him feel better. And that’s pretty darn special.

Last night at our playgroup, I told the story, and my friend reminded me that we’ve only got a limited number of these snuggles, someday they won’t need them anymore. We should soak them up now while we can.

Kiddo, I’ll snuggle you as long as you’ll have me.

Full Contact Parenthood

Bowie has reached the I-can’t-believe-this-is-normal aggression phase of his toddlerdom. Everything, good or bad, warrants a slap, a punch, a head-butt or a bite. And there’s no waving a white flag here, until they learn to talk, this is how they communicate anger, sadness and frustration. And mine also for some reason expresses his extreme happiness in this way?

I’m trying to be as calm about things as possible. But, when you’re at the kids’ museum, and a complete stranger’s kid just accidentally bumps into your kid, and then your kid comes over and proceeds to beat the shit out of you, it’s hard to stay calm.

At home, I have taken to putting him in his crib so he can have a good freak out, and then I get to pick him up and assure him I love him and all of that. But, in public, what do I do? Putting him in his stroller exacerbates the problem.

The only sure-fire way I have found to make it stop is a treat. It’s usually a healthy treat, but a treat. I can’t keep throwing food at my son to make him behave, but I also don’t want to resort to physical punishment, or yelling, or any of the many things we’re often reduced to as parents when we have just reached the end of our rope. ESPECIALLY when I am in public. With all those other judgy mom eyes watching my every move.

What is everyone’s experience with this? I know there’s got to be something we can do besides investing in a face mask and shoulder pads and just rolling over and taking it.

Crazy and Hectic

New post. Okay, new post. Here we go. Where am I? What day is this? Who are you people?

Haha, just kidding, I am slightly exaggerating my disorientation today. It’s been a rough few days.

For one, on Monday I had a job interview which is not the norm for a freelancer, at least not with the jobs I’ve been applying for. Usually, they say “gimme your resumé and a writing sample and we’ll talk next week”. Not these guys. They wanted me to drive 35 miles (which in the Bay Area is more than it seems) and propose to them what I could bring to their company. And I was okay with doing that, I mean, it is their company, they can hire people however they want. But I haven’t had a serious interview in going on 8 years now, and I didn’t even know how to begin. And I went above and beyond what was expected, which made me feel like a fool for spending my whole weekend working on my proposal.

Then, I get home from the proposal, and my kiddo, who has had a mild cold for a few days, is running a fever of almost 103. He had that fever Monday afternoon and all day yesterday (with diarrhea), and just this morning it finally dipped below 100. But, he’s still refusing to eat or drink and sleeping a LOT, so I don’t think we’re in the clear quite yet.

And the weather, my GOD, the weather. The Pacific coast is getting completely HAMMERED right now with heavy rain, strong winds and other big time storm activity, such as the amazingly close lightning strike early yesterday morning, complete with thunder clap that startled us all awake thinking the house had exploded, and set off all the motion sensors and car alarms in a 10 block radius. Aside from knocking out the satellite every hour or so, it’s been okay, and it’s just a good time to cuddle on the couch with fluffy blankets and hot tea, especially since we are all sick. Thank God for Netflix instant queue. And, icing on the cake, it’s supposed to do this for two weeks. TWO WEEKS of being stuck inside. When kiddo’s cold has passed, it will not be pretty.

So, that’s where I’m at. Still waiting to hear about the job. Still trying to get Bowie to drink some juice. Still trying to get my nose to stop running. Still trying to save our house from being blown to the next town, Wizard of Oz style.

Year in Review 2009

Questionnaire courtesy of a blog gal pal.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Fed someone a banana whilst wiping his butt. Started a blog. Got laid off. Weaned a baby. And I absolutely have to poach this answer, because it also was my first time too: Cleaned poop out of a tub.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I make birthday resolutions in lieu of new year’s (see 30 Things), and I kept a lot of them. Really, more than I thought I could. And I still have 3 months to do the rest. I’m sure I’ll make more for next year.

3. Did anyone close to you die?
My husband’s Uncle George died suddenly in August. That was a rough one for us all. Picturing him and Harry Caray enjoying a beer together.

4. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A better idea of how, when and where we might be able to purchase our own home. A wide-open, blank canvas future isn’t as fun as it sounds in this department.

5. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Well, Bowie’s birthday obviously. It was the most amazing/scary/happy/heartbreaking thing to watch my firstborn turn a year old. Also, our anniversary. We went to Michael Mina and it was fabulous. Every year, I know more and more that we were meant to be together.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I came to terms with a lot of my demons. Things that had been scraping at the back of my brain for a long time. Turning 30 and becoming a mom will do that to you.

7. What was your biggest failure?
Development of my career. I got laid off, which really wasn’t my fault, but in the aftermath my career seems to be at a complete standstill.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My arthritic knee bothered me for the bulk of the year, but I went in November and had a cortisone shot, which has helped a lot. Also, just a few weeks ago ! I had the bunion on my right foot removed after years of pain. At the moment, I’m still stiff and recovering, but I can already tell it was a good move. And no serious illnesses, thank effing God.

9. What was the best thing you bought?
Me Talk Pretty One Day. I hadn’t read David Sedaris before, but now I’m 5 books in, and he’s hands down my favorite author. But my proudest purchase is the pair of Old Navy jeans I got at a St. Vinny’s in Wisconsin. Price? $3. I just LOVE a good bargain.

10. Where did most of your money go?
Rent. Medical bills. Whole milk.

11. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Bowie learning to walk and learning to talk. It’s amazing watching him develop. Also, the great number of Etsy sales I’ve had this year. Loving it.

12. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Haha, anything by Laurie Berkner or the cast of Yo Gabba Gabba. I don’t listen to a lot of modern music, so nothing’s really going to stick out for me.

13. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?

a) Happier. I’ve resolved issues with family, I’ve settled comfortably into motherhood and I’ve been relieved of a job that was a weight around my ankle, but got to leave with a severance.

b) Fatter, much to my dismay. I haven’t had the time or energy for a real workout regimen, and I’ve been eating horribly. I guess one of my resolutions could be to lose some weight. I’m at a healthy weight, but I’m out of shape. So, just like 10 pounds would do it. But I’ve never dieted before, so I have no idea what I’m in for. And I assume it’s much easier said than done.

c) Poorer. Because I lost my job. But, we’re doing okay.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Gotten out and explored more of this magical city I live in!

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Spent money, wish I could save more. It’s as if I have a genetic disorder.

16. How did you spend Christmas?
Brien’s family flew to San Francisco. It was great having them here. I think everyone had a really great time.

17. What was your favorite TV program?
We’re TV addicts. But this year, our favorite shows were LOST, Idol, Pawn Stars, Mythbusters, 30 Rock, The Office, Top Chef, Chopped, Rescue Me and Weeds.

18. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 30, and I spent the evening at home with my husband and son. It’s exactly where I wanted to be. We went out for dinner a week later or so.

Traditions

This being Bowie’s second Christmas, the last one he’ll be completely unaware of as it happens, I have been thinking about something lately: Santa Claus. And the Easter Bunny. And the Tooth Fairy.

I don’t think we’re going to carry on these traditions with Bowie. For one thing, it’s complete deception of your child. I have a hard time passing of a new sweater as an old one to the husband, or a believable cough to an employer. How can I pull off 8 years or so of fictional gift-bearers that come in the night? And another thing, I remember the crushing disappointment I felt when, at age 7, I found out they were not real from a playground pal. And I’d really like to spare my son as much disappointment as possible. Life is disappointing enough.

He may feel left out when he hears tales of his peers having visits from these special people, but it’s not as if non-participation means no gifts. We can do small gifts for Easter and small gifts for lost teeth. And as for Santa, don’t we get enough presents at Christmas without needing extras from Santa? I happen to think so. And I happen to want to raise a son who thinks so.

The one problem I foresee is him telling his friends who do believe that these people are not real, before their parents would like them to know. Because, even if we never have a conversation about them and he never knows they exist, chances are as soon as he sets foot in an elementary school classroom, he’ll start to hear about them. And when he comes home and says, “Mom, who is Santa Claus?” or “Why doesn’t Santa visit our house?” And my answer to that will be “Um, stammer stammer stammer, uh, well, you see…hmm.” But that’s a bridge I’m not crossing for a while. There’s a chance I can figure out some semblance of a good answer to that.

I’m blogging about this because upon admitting this to some people, I’ve been told I’m robbing my son of important childhood memories and traditions. But, I think we can create our own memories and traditions, and there’s just a teeny tiny possibility those memories will be better, right? And there are so very many truly important things I’m going to screw up as a mommy, this is the least of my worries. I won’t give in to the peer pressure. Ok, well maybe, talk to me next year.

Mad Skills

This morning, I parallel parked for the third time in my life. The other two times were just weeks ago. Granted, the spots were all GINORMOUS, but I freaking did it, people.

You may be asking yourself how one can live 30 entire years without ever having to parallel park, especially having lived the last 2 ½ years in a major urban area.

The answer? Well, growing up I lived in the opposite of an urban area, and it was just not necessary. In fact, when I took my driver’s test, I couldn’t do it, and the guy passed me anyway. And now that we live in San Francisco? Creative avoidance. Double parking. Driving around for an hour looking for a spot. Taking a cab to neighborhoods where I might have to parallel park. Making someone else drive.

But, there was this one day where it was certifiably unavoidable, and I found a nice big spot, and it was a quiet street, so I didn’t have an audience (this really is my biggest hang up about the whole thing), so I did it. I kept pulling out and trying again until I got it (mostly) right.

When you’re an urban dweller, parallel parking is no longer a “nice to know”, it’s a completely essential skill for survival. So, I may just make it after all.