Saturday, February 28, 2009

And you call this vacation?

I suffer from a disease that is best named the Ignore It and Maybe It Will Go Away Syndrome. This syndrome does not require a lot of additional clarification. I like to avoid even being exposed to things that I don’t like, or avoid taking care of things that are just a quintessential pain in the ass. It is similar to denial, but in denial, you have to at least make yourself aware of the issue in order to appropriately deny it, correct? I much prefer my approach, which sometimes means I don’t have to think about it from the start. There is some psychologist reading this blog who is pinning me as the next poster child for some trendy new diagnosis, I can feel it now.

For example, let’s take winter weather. I hate snow. I hate the arctic cold. I hate driving on bad roads. Instead of constantly obsessing over it and inflicting more emotional distress than necessary, I abstain from even listening to the weather. So, when people say, “Did you hear about the snow storm coming in tonight? We are supposed to get hammered!” I stare at them with a blank look. I much prefer the vision in my head, the optimistic side of me that instead secretly hoped to wake up rejoycing that we miraculously found a 70-degree February day. While this is good for my psyche, it isn’t necessarily helpful when I wake up to freezing rain, absolutely unprepared for the additional drive time my morning commute will require.

I’ve taken this same approach to buying our airline tickets for a trip we are taking NEXT WEEK. While I’ve been diligently researching flights for two months, our options have been fairly repulsive. In other words, paying $1600 to fly three people to Florida, with two connections each way and arrival times around the midnight hour, is not my idea of a vacation. I am not mentally prepared for Kate’s first flight, not to mention navigating multiple connections and subjecting myself to the absolute meltdown that will certainly take place between the hours of 9pm and midnight. And seriously people, if I am spending $1600 on airfare, that plane better be landing somewhere better than Ft. Myers.

So, I ignored it. I continued to think that maybe if I just waited, a much better scenario would come along.

It didn’t.

Then, Craig started to consider driving. The only thing worse than the travel arrangement described above would be the three of us in the car for 24-hours. I am developing a facial twitch just thinking about it. If I were a betting person, I’d put five-grand on Kate’s vocabulary expanding to include much more colorful language at the end of that car ride. I thought Craig was joking about this suggestion, but he wasn’t. Even more frightening, I caught myself in a moment of ENTERTAINING.THE.NOTION.

I feverishly got back online, trying to secure some flight arrangements that would put an end to this madness. On Airtran’s site (which we have to fly for a reason too exhausting to explain), I realized they sold tickets each-way, versus roundtrip only. I found an excellent price on RETURN trip tickets, so I booked three. I was apprehensive that if we waited for the THERE ticket prices to come down, we’d miss out on the great non-stop return flight.

We don’t have flights there, because at $950, I am still choosing to ignore that conundrum, hoping a solution will spontaneously appear. However, I’ve sufficiently obstructed any plans involving DRIVING to Florida by booking the return flight. I’m such a pain in the ass.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kate: Month Thirty-Seven


It’s hard to believe that you are thirty-seven months old. On one hand, it seems like you were just born yesterday, while on the other, it seems like you have been part of my life forever. Over this past month, more than any other time in your life, I’ve noticed just how much you have changed in such a short period of time. You truly are much more of a little girl now and much less of a toddler. With that growth, your addiction to clothing has intensified from mildly-obsessed to life-or-death-give-me-my-morphine-clothing-drip obsessed. Since I whole-heartedly believe in allowing you the freedom to express your creativity and believe in choosing my battles wisely, you often run around looking something like this:

(Please note that the summer dress over the pajamas in the middle of winter still does not really explain the behavior portrayed in this picture)

While “Baby Kate” has been your favorite baby for quite some time, your unfaltering love for her has increased exponentially. It is a true testament to the unwritten rule that children will often attach to the homeliest toy that they own, forcing you to oblige and carry that toy into every public place you visit. Baby Kate wasn’t really acceptable in her brand-new, clean, form, which makes her current shabby state even less bearable. The open-close mechanism on her eyes only works part of the time, rendering a slightly psychotic looking unkempt baby. Craig doesn’t take too kindly to the fact that my term of endearment for your baby is “ghetto Baby Kate”. You make a habit out of routinely playing mommy to baby Kate and showering her with love and affection, which warms my heart. You also have a knack for engaging baby Kate in bad behaviors, then sternly reprimanding her. At your recent Doctor’s appointment, Baby Kate was obnoxiously banging her plastic hands on the window. I quietly told you to stop. Suddenly, you started loudly hitting Baby Kate’s hands on the window, while yelling, “Stop Baby Kate, Stop. Mom, I can’t get Baby Kate to stop, she’s going to be in trouble! She isn’t listening.” I am not sure I am ready for Freud’s interpretation of your parenting tactics, or your early identification of a scapegoat.

Lately I’ve been calling you My Little Peanut Butter and Jelly. It is a fact that motherhood makes you say and do strange things, while suddenly seeming like a totally normal way to act. I am not sure if it is a gene that unexplicably morphs into your DNA when you give birth, or the loss of one of the more rational genes that occurs at that time. After a few weeks of calling you by this name, I’d start saying, “My Little Peanut Butter and …” and you would quickly chime in “Jelly!” Suddenly it became a game and you would work incredibly hard at filling in that blank with anything but jelly, becoming Peanut Butter and Ketchup! Peanut Butter and Banana! Peanut Butter and Chicken! Then you would erupt into fits of giggles, uncertain of how anything could be quite so funny. One day last week, we were playing this little game in the car and I said, “My Little Peanut Butter and …” and you yelled, “poop!” You proceeded to laugh so hard you snorted, which I guess is a revelation of just how weird your humor is. For days you paraded around singing “Peanut Butter and POOP! Peanut Butter and POOP!” which is nothing short of spectacular. It is some intuitive measure that kids find the word poop unexplainably funny. When I add that to your recent practice of making your baby puke, all while yelling, “BLAAAAAAAAAA … Baby Kate is puking!” it is a slightly disconcerting combination. It feels more like I am mother to a belching, farting, puking teenage boy than a darling little girl.

This month has introduced another change in you, which was one that I did not anticipate. You have always been a daring child, totally fearless and confident. Recently you have shown some trepidation, concerns in the face of meeting someone new, uncertainty about shadows in your room, and the practice of burrowing yourself firmly into my legs. It is not an abnormal phase for a kid your age, but one that I sort of thought you would breeze right though, or sort of hop right over. It makes me sad to see you scared and anxious, preferring instead to believe that somehow you would be immune to those horrible feelings. However, I can’t help but to breathe a sigh of relief that there is some apprehension there to counteract the absolute fearless with which you approach life. So, instead of darting out into the middle of the road, I have some hope that you will at least attempt to look both ways. Instead of eagerly engaging in play with any stranger, I have some hope that you will at least stop to ascertain their name and the fact that one of your parents at least know who they are. Instead of wildly launching yourself off the couch to try to land on the yoga ball (who thought that was a good idea anyway?), I hope you will assure that one of your parents are present to hold your hand. Perhaps this newfound hesitation is not something to be questioned, but something designed to ensure your third year of life does not include any more ER visits than necessary.

While I have enjoyed every moment, every stage, and every change you have gone through, I think this one is my favorite so far. A wise mother once told me that your favorite age is the one your child currently is and I couldn’t agree more.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Interviewed by Cate at Show my Face

Today I am being interviewed by Cate from Show my Face. Cate sent me a series of thought-provoking questions to answer here today. Cate was one of my first regular blog-readers and daily commenters. For that, she earns a special place in bloggy-heaven. I love Cate’s blog for her humor, her ability to say so many things I think, but would never be brave enough to say, and her ability to respond to nearly every single person who comments on her blog. She makes me look really, really inept at this particular task. Cate also deserves accolades since she hooked me up with a great new laptop when my last one caught some infectious disease a couple of months ago. So, truthfully, without Cate, this blog might have met an untimely death.

(Insert applause for Cate here)

I had the opportunity to ask Cate some questions on her blog today too. Click here to see her answers to my questions.

I'm going to start by asking a follow-up from the awesome interview Jenny conducted. You indicated you're more likely to give advice than to receive. What do you feel was the best advice you've ever given?

I indicated that I was likely to give advice, yes. I did not attest to the quality of that advice. In fact, I think that I do give stellar advice; people just rarely ever listen to it. So, I guess it would be hard to measure the quality of my advice, considering the majority of it hasn’t been implemented. Maybe one of my blog-readers can chime in and gush about my genius advice that changed their life. Waiting. Still waiting … wait, is this thing on?

And a follow-up to the follow-up, since I'm so creative that way. What piece of advice have you given that didn't work out?

Okay, see above. Apparently the majority of my advice hasn’t worked out, since people rarely seem to listen to me. However, I will say that I have advised a plethora of people against taking new jobs and I always end up being in an “I told you so” position. I don’t rub their nose in it, I just write about their bad decision on the internet. So, without divulging any secrets, I’ll just say, listen to me when it comes to career choices, okay?

What would be (or has been) your perfect vacation destination? Let's go with a family trip, a "woohoo, Kate's with a sitter" trip for you and your husband, and a "woohoo, your husband IS Kate's sitter" trip for just you!

In the past ten years I’ve had the opportunity to travel quite a bit. I’ve realized that my best vacations are ones that don’t require doing much. So, while I’ve visited a significant number of major cities in the US, they just require me to do too much work. I hate navigating the transit systems, meticulously planning daily agendas, standing in tourist-attraction lines with a multitude of claustrophobia-influencing people, wondering whose idea of relaxing this would be. I’m quite happy to be beach-side, enjoying warm weather, good restaurants, and the most significant looming decision to be if I should wear my Reef flip-flops, or my Rainbow flip-flops. My two top vacations to date have been Key West and Hilton Head. So, whether alone, with spouse, or with family, anything that fits this criterion is perfectly suitable for me.

Since you work in HR, I assume you've probably conducted your share of job interviews. What's the most bizarre answer (or question) you've ever received from a job applicant? I always hate being asked "what's your worst quality?", any interesting answers for that?

Expectedly, I’ve had more awkward situations than can be documented here. My all time most bizarre interview is best portrayed by relaying the conversation that took place:

INTERVIEWEE (Hereafter referred to as CD (Creepy Dude)): I just want to let you know that I have a criminal history.

ME: Having a criminal history doesn’t exclude you from employment. Depending on what your conviction was and how long ago it occurred, there are still some positions that you would be allowed to obtain. We will get to those questions soon.

CD: Well, I’ll just tell you that I am a sex-offender.

ME: Okay, well, again, we’ll ask you some specific questions about those convictions in just a moment.

CD: I’m a registered sex-offender. I’m listed on the sex-offender registery.

ME: Yes, ummm, I see. Well, we might as well just skip ahead and ask you those conviction related questions now then.

CD: Yeah, I’m not a only a sex-offender, I am a REPEAT sex-offender. I just want you to know.

After the interviewee left, I used so much hand sanitizer, I think my skin needed detox from all of the alcohol. I momentarily tried to conjure up a way I could turn that hand sanitizer into desk sanitizer, chair sanitizer, pen sanitizer, and mental-image sanitizer.

I often feel misunderstood or unheard. What is something that not a lot of people know or realize about you but you wish more people could know?

Oh, this is an ineffably difficult question for me. I feel misunderstood the majority of the time. Admittedly, likely not unheard, but misunderstood, which can be unheard on a different level. I would pretty much say that nearly any assumption that people have about me is inaccurate, except for the handful of people that know me very, very well. The most audacious is the people who believe that I truly have it all together and I can’t control the urge to shout … do you read my blog people?

Cate, it’s been a pleasure! Thank you for taking the time to participate in my bloggy interview exchange today. I hope you enjoyed it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Welcome to the world!

I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my sister’s first baby. They decided to be one of those difficult couples who didn’t find out the sex of the baby, which made the wait near unbearable, but admittedly, a lot more fun. If this baby’s arrival into the world is any indication of his temperament, his parents are in for trouble. Pre-term labor started Dec 24th, resulting in weeks of bed rest, unending contractions, and stress on the parents-to-be. However, despite being released from bed rest and “technically” full-term, the little one gave no indication of making a grand appearance anytime over the past couple of weeks. Needless to say, this frustrated the very impatient parents. The baby kept trying to come when it wasn’t time and they wouldn’t come when it was time. I can’t resist the urge to compare their child to the Springer-spaniel that we tried to train, albeit unsuccessfully, for five years. I am hoping my darling sister is too busy with her newborn to have time to check my blog and realize that I have compared her first-born to our ill-behaved canine. I see difficulty in their future, but at least they will be in good company. I should start copying my instruction manual for her now.

Part of me sees this as paybacks to my brother-in-law, who has indicated that if the child has ADD, he will be able to blame my sisters’ genes. Apparently he is using Kate is the proof of that theory, which is totally lame because that associates Kate's pseudo-diagnosis with ME, whereas it is most definitely her father’s genes.

Without further ado, I introduce my nephew, Ethan Joseph, born at 2:11 a.m. this morning.

I can’t wait to meet his perfect little face and kiss his cheeks. I absolutely love babies and I love them even more when they are ones that someone else needs to feed and get up with multiple times per night. I only had a moment to speak to my sister today, so I don’t have many details. All I heard was “this is the FIRST and ONLY natural (un-medicated) childbirth I will ever have.”

Friday, February 20, 2009

Come on Down!

I have been in a management position for the last nine years. In other words, at 29 years old, I have more management experience than a large percentage of people quite older than I. Despite that fact, I continuously find myself in situations where I have to prove my knowledge and ability in a senior management role based upon an initial assumption that am unqualified for it. It used to infuriate me that I was always the underdog, fighting vigorously to defend my position. However, I’ve learned that it is much more entertaining to just sit back, eat a few bon-bons, then catch someone by total surprise when they are least expecting it. I find the humor in this a significant return on all the years I had to work so hard to prove my ability. Now, please excuse me while I attempt to stop gagging and wipe the scowl from my face.

I tell you that not to convince you of my brilliance, but simply to explain that I avoid bringing attention to my age, or the fact that I am the youngest person on our executive team by more than a decade. However, this week I was caught in a weak moment as we were discussing plans for an upcoming event.

ME: I think we should play Plinko, it would be an easy way to extend our prizes through the night and something to get people excited and engaged.


ME: What? You don’t know what Plinko is? It is the game that they used to play on the Price is Right.

(blank stares from a room full of colleagues)

ME: Price is Right, always on weekdays 11:00 a.m. I loved the days I stayed home from school and I could watch it.


(More silence)

UNIDENTIFIED COWORKER #2: Well, I don’t think that the Price is Right was on when I was young enough to be staying home from school. No, in fact, I’m quite sure I was working while you were at home watching Price is Right.


Perhaps Monday I will show up with my Trapperkeeper and excuse myself for naptime after lunch.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Score! One for the home team

KATE: I like you.

ME: What Kate?

KATE: I like you all. I like you all the time.

ME: Aww, Boo, I love you.

A comment so innocuous, but so genuine, truly a heart stopping moment. It superseded the traditional, rote, “love you” echoed daily without hesitation or thought. A true testament that despite all of the chaos, I am apparently doing something right. If the only approval I can garner is Kate’s, I consider that a true success, as she is my toughest critic.

I am going to conjure up a way to recreate that moment, ensuring that I have a recording device properly positioned to document this statement. I will then secure it in a vault to be retrieved when she is fifteen and I am subjected to shrieks of, “Mom, I hate you. You don’t know anything. I swear you don’t even love me, or you wouldn’t say no. You just don’t understand … I just want to dieeeeeeeeeeee.”

I’ll then calmly locate this video and provide evidence that she agreed to like me all of the time. This little girl tests my parenting skills on an hourly basis, so I am utilizing the next twelve years to ensure I am ready for Kate: Version Teenager.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

You've Got a Friend

I remember this specific Saturday in Junior High like it was yesterday. That is quite a feat considering my inability to remember yesterday the majority of the time. I would be an interrogators dream. “What do you mean you can’t remember what you did yesterday woman? Don’t make me hang you from the ceiling by your toenails. Speak!” So, remembering a random Saturday some sixteen years ago is nothing short of a miracle.

On that particular Saturday, my mother was doing her very motherly-duty of hauling our ungrateful, spoiled little selves to ice-skating class. This Saturday was different though. This Saturday my brand-new friend Megan was coming along with us. I am not sure whose idea of a good time riding 60 miles to watch someone else ice-skate was, but we went with it. I guess that beat the other available options in our no-name town on a Saturday afternoon, like watching paint dry.

I was nervous about hanging out with my new friend. She was funny and I was, well, not. I tried though; I tried what could be classified as a little too hard. About 8 miles out of town, I spotted a little ma-and-pa style resort on the north side of the road. How come I had never noticed such an odd little place? “Megan, look! That place is called Linger Longer Resort. Who would name something Linger Longer?” I cackled, hoping Megan would appreciate my humor. Silence ensued. “Um, yeah, that is my Grandpa and Grandpa’s resort” Megan causally said.

I think I fainted and blacked-out for a quick moment, so I don’t recall the blubbering, awkward, apologizing that followed.

About 35 miles further down the road, I regained my confidence and my spunk. Simultaneously, I realized that we were quickly approaching a house that I always gawked at on my weekly trip. “Megan, oh my gosh! Seriously, you HAVE to see this house. They have animals running all over their yard, not like dogs, like barnyard animals IN THEIR FRONT YARD. It’s like the freaking animal farm.” Megan crinkled her nose and giggled a nervous, fake, giggle. “Um, yeah, that is my other Grandma and Grandpa’s house.”

I think I fainted again and I am almost certain I died just for a quick moment before I was speedily revived to face the embarrassment of trying to remove the foot that had permanently taken up residence in my mouth.

That, Ladies and Gentleman, was the official start to one of my greatest friendships of all time. Apparently the key to any true, long-lasting friendship starts with an obnoxious trashing of ones family. Last weekend, I was able to join in celebrating Megan’s 30th birthday. We have now officially been friends for more of our life than we haven’t and that is something I truly cherish. I contemplated getting all mushy and professing my undying thankfulness for Megan's friendship, but that seemed, well, too expected.

My second thought was to honor her by proving a catty recap of the activities surrounding the 30th birthday party. However, very few of those details are suitable for publishing on this here family-friend blog. What kind of company have I been keeping? All I have to say is that it was the first time I was ever threatened by someone to “Go all Chris Brown on my ass.”

With that my dear Megs, Happy Birthday. Here is to the next 30!

Interview with Jenny at Chased by Children

Sometime last week, Jenny over at Chased by Children put out a request for bloggers who were interested in swapping interviews with her. I quickly volunteered, as I love Jenny’s blog and I had never been lucky enough to do a blog-interview before. Additionally, I consider Jenny my long-lost twin. Well, besides her kick-ass high profile HR job in Chicago, the law degree, her exquisite taste in designer handbags, her ability to convey in two sentences what takes me two paragraphs, the book she's currently authoring, and her Stepford-like neighborhood. Yes, otherwise, we are exactly alike.

Jenny sent me a series of questions that I will be answering here today. Go here to see the questions I asked Jenny. Let the fun begin!

When your parents named you Lyndsay do you think they knew you'd have a lot to "say"? Do they approve of your blog? What do they say about it?

I’ll never live down the “say” now, thankyouverymuch. We can probably add that to the list of nicknames that will haunt me. No, I think they enjoyed cursing me with a name no one can spell correctly. It also allowed them an excuse to deprive me of the personalized goodies that all of my friends enjoyed growing up. I will be sure to keep your theory quiet, since my mother can’t be trusted with ammunition that could publically humiliate me. Ask the attendees of Kate’s 3rd birthday party, who heard all about the time I ate dog food as a toddler and also the knack I apparently had for refusing to remain clothed in my younger years. Good times.

My father is no longer alive, but I have full confidence he would enjoy my blog and heckle me on a regular basis. My mother still does not know my blog exists, which I should work on changing soon. Every time I run into someone, the conversation starts with, “Oh my gosh, I read your blog …”, so I am guessing it’s only a matter of time before she hears about it. I didn’t “not” tell her intentionally, but truthfully, I’m notorious for starting a million new things, with only one of the million really going anywhere. I would have bet money this blog wouldn’t have lasted a month. Shows what I know.

You are in Human Resources. When did you realize that you were brilliant, creative and mentally tough enough for that career choice? Any regrets? Anything you love about human resources that people wouldn't guess?

Not a single regret, I love the HR field. I think I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. Now I just need to wait to grow up. I do think it takes a certain person to be successful in upper-level HR jobs. I’ve been told that I am “tactfully mean”, “have a delivery that makes someone not realize what hit them until after they walk away”, and “can fire someone and still have them hug me and say thanks before they leave”. Apparently in the HR field, those are desirable characteristics that make me successful at my job. As far as a surprisingly enjoyable part of my job … I love mediating challenging situations and helping a manager resolve conflict, or deliver bad news to an employee. While not fun, I have a knack for it and I’m able to provide teaching moments to the manager who ultimately needs to learn how to do it themselves. Plus, I love a good challenge and there is nothing more challenging than getting an employee to agree with your perspective, is there?

Why blog? What's in it for you Lyndsay? I mean besides the gobs and gobs of money?

Well, the gobs and gobs of money certainly help my Starbucks habit. Really, I never expected to become a “blogger”. I love the connections I’ve made and the blogging community in general. Since I am tied to a computer for hours upon excruciating hours a day, I love that it provides an avenue for keeping documentation of these moments with Kate. Surprisingly, I’ve rediscovered my long-lost love of writing, so it’s become a creative-hobby for me. That is much better for our household than my shopping-hobby.

What's the best advice you've ever gotten? Was it about blogging?

I’m typically an advice-giver, not an advice-getter. Now, does that really surprise anyone here? Honestly, the best advice I ever received was in response to a panic about becoming a new mother and my desire to execute it to perfection. A very wise lady told me, “All you have to do is remember what it was like to be a kid. If you put things in their perspective, and can see things from their point of view, you will always make the right decision.” Initially, it did nothing for me. However, now, I rely on that advice daily.

I've done several interviews lately and its been a lot of fun. Would you consider doing a series of interviews on your own little blog?

Jenny, I’ve loved reading your series of interviews and I think it was a fan-tabulous idea. I would love the opportunity to do my own series of interviews. In fact, if any of my readers would like to participate in a blog-interview exchange with me over the next couple of weeks, leave a note in the comments of this post, or send me an email.

Thanks for allowing me to participate Jenny! I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and your blog.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Meme: The iPod shuffle

A few days ago, I found a new meme that Jenners created called the iPod shuffle. My interest was peaked, as I have a borderline-unhealthy obsession with anything music related. So, I pressed on, reading her meme. When I realized that the charge was to put your iPod on random and report on the first five songs that played, I gulped. Like a lot of things I tackle, I approached my new iPod with gusto two years ago, uploading a box worth of old CD’s. Then, I never got around to adding anything else. The music represented on my iPod isn’t really current, or an accurate depiction of the extent of my musical library.

Additionally, I have this panache for finding a silver lining in almost any musical group. I have many random artists, or bands, of which I enjoy just a song or two. Plus, those songs often serve a purpose and are great to have handy when the mood strikes. For example, it would be beneficial to have one in the maddening attempt to deflect some road rage, or when someone helps themselves to your Diet Coke in the community work fridge. However, my concern then centered around the fact that I’d may end up with a report that revealed Eminem and Kenney Chesney. If that occured, I would be in a debacle, because I would R.E.A.L.L.Y be tempted to cheat and lie.

Without further ado, my honest list:

Dave Matthews Band: Ants Marching - Two years ago, on our Caribbean cruise, we stumbled upon the piano bar and the accompanying pianist. Despite the availability of various entertainment venues on the ship, we spent many nights having fun at this particular bar. When I say “we”, I should clarify that it was Tiffany and I that engaged in the singing and ensuing obnoxious behavior. The husbands were just embarrassed onlookers, who I believe would have entertained the idea of appearing as a couple if it meant successfully disassociating with us. By the end of the cruise, we had convinced Dave (the pianist with a painful Elton John wanna-be persona), to learn Ants Marching. Not only is it one of my favorite DMB songs, but we coerced a cruise ship performer to play it. What's not to love?

Ben Harper: Steal My Kisses – I heart Ben Harper. This brings back memories of seeing him live in Detroit in 2001. Good times.

Johnny Cash: Hey Porter – While I cringe when my three year old asks for the Smashing Pumpkins, it cracks me up when she recognizes Johnny Cash. Seriously, a three year old that digs Johnny Cash, how much cooler does it get?

Rusted Root: Heaven – Rusted Root makes me feel like I should be wearing Birkenstocks, dabbing Patchouli on my wrists, and passing a joint around a campfire. Despite that, I can’t think of many bands that I am more in love with. Their music has soul unrivaled by many others. It also brings back memories of seeing them live at the Fox Theater in 1997, which will be blogged about at a much later date. It undoubtedly deserves its own post.

Van Morrison: These are the days – Admittedly, I am not a raging Van Morrison fan. But this song? This song reverses some of the other Van Morrison injustices inflicted upon innocent ears.

I encourage you to play along, click through the link at the top of this post for the official instructions. Let us know in the comments on this post if you play along so we can come and check out your meme!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bear with me while I wine

Yesterday I got the brilliant idea that I should start blogging about wine. I should have learned by now that those voices in my head should not be entertained. Some days I feel lost in this sea of blogging about nonsense, without any theme or direction. Would lack of direction be classified as direction in itself? I am continuously amazed that people are entertained enough by my rambling to read this blog. Well, besides my family and friends, who aren’t entertained, but come here under duress. I underwhelm myself with the topics that I choose to write about. Besides Kate, I mean, she’s got a stage name in her future. But, in all honesty, what do I give you? Zip. Zilch. Nada.

So, last night as I was opening a bottle of wine, I was struck with a sheer bolt of genius. I should start reviewing the wines I try and make recommendations to my readers. Now, I’m no sommelier, but I ascertain than you can gain expertise strictly by consumption. Additionally, I have toured many wineries, “sampled” my way through Napa Valley, and am familiar with terms like full-bodied, tannin, woodsy, and hints of sandalwood. I know the appropriate pairings for fish, steak, and pasta. I uncorked a bottle of red last night and pondered the review I would write about the Skyhawk Cabernet Sauvignon 2004.

The Skyhawk Cabernet did not disappoint. I was multitasking during this effort, in an attempt to catch up on some blog reading while I enjoyed this particular Cabernet. I won’t complicate, or belabor this review by boring you with descriptors that I may or may not have paid attention to. It could easily be paired with steak, salmon, your toddlers leftover mac-n-cheese, or half a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. It is equally lovely with the only pairing to be with a second glass.

What do you mean that isn’t helpful? Is my palate not discriminating enough for you? Perhaps I don’t have a knack for writing wine reviews. There goes another of my well intended ideas.

Aren’t you glad I stick to blogging about nonsense?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This giveaway rocks

I have coveted a piece of Lisa Leonard's Jewelry for quite some time. I have resisted the urge because I really wanted to wait until our family was complete to be able to get one of her inspired pieces. Since we don't know when that is ever going to happen, I think I should just indulge, don't you? I am in love with a fair dozen pieces of jewelry on her site and must resist the urge to by them all, lest I end up an albino Mrs.T.

The point to this story, ah, yes.

My darling friend Beth is hosting a Lisa Leonard giveaway on her blog this week. Click the photo below to visit her site and enter the giveaway. Make sure you mention that I sent you. If this jewelry isn't your thing, feel free to enter anyway. If you win, I'll simply expect you to share, capiche?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Breaking up is hard to do

Dear Target,

Although I knew this moment was coming, I’ve been coasting along in denial, secretly hoping that ignoring it would mean it would never come. I am deeply apologetic that I am unable to share this news in person, but I am not sure that I have the emotional strength to do so. It comes down to just a few short words: I am breaking up with you.

I know how difficult this must be to read. You’ve been there for me, a reliable trusted friend for more than a decade. I mean, how many apartments and homes have you helped me furnish and decorate? It was you that I turned to as my wedding day approached, knowing you could be trusted to provide me with all of the necessities for moving into grown up life. While we could argue that I have not quite grown-up, that wasn’t because you didn’t help me prepare. Oh Target, you were even there when I became a parent. You were faithfully there right at the beginning; I think you even provided the pregnancy test. Our connection didn’t end with that though, you provided maternity clothes, baby clothes, sweet little blankets, and even lamp shades for her perfect little room. You and I, we were a match made in heaven.

Somewhere along this journey you changed. It was subtle and it took me some time to catch on, I think it was camouflaged by my denial. Instead of being an “errand”, your charm and good deals elevated you into a “destination.” I wasn’t aware of the shift, which I attribute to your nuances and the sneaky way you started to manipulate my life. Instead of saying things like, “I must run to Target to buy some shampoo”, I started casually saying things like “I think I am going to go to Target on my lunch hour.” That pretty much resulted in me walking around finding things on your shiny shelves that were just begging me to take them home.

I know you probably have excuses for that behavior and I wish I could say that it was the only obstacles standing between you and me, but it isn’t. I have become aware of the technique you use to siphon money out of my wallet. I lovingly call this the Target Multiplier. My Target Multiplier averages about a 3, which means I leave your darling establishment with approximately three times the number of items on my list and/or having spent three times the amount of money I intended to. It’s evil Target and I just don’t have room for evil tactics in my life.

I’ve relied on you to provide cute, quality clothing for my daughter for three years now. You are no Janie and Jack, no Gymboree, no Hanna Andersson, which means I can easily justify the $14.99 that a darling little outfit for Kate will cost me. That is reasonable for outfits 1-9, but starts losing its merit for outfits 10-999. It isn’t only clothes Target, you have a sneaky way of making things catapult off your shelves into my shopping cart. The last time I visited, I ended up with a gorgeous set of paisley note cards. While precious, I don’t really hand write anything, so I am not sure why you thought I needed them. I also ended up with a whimsical set of Valentines dishes. While adorable, I think we both can agree that the day doesn’t really warrant its own set of toddler dishes now, does it?

I am sure you are well aware of the economic crisis we are in. I can envision the strategic planning that has been taking place around your board room tables as you plan to weather this economic storm like the rest of us. My family has been overwhelming blessed thus far to have avoided situations like “layoffs” and “downsizing” that are effecting so many of our dear friends and family. Seriously, Target, get real, we are in Michigan, the ARMPIT of the USA right now. While we have been fortunate, (outside of that tiny little cloud of doom called our 401K’s) I’ve realized that shouldn’t prevent us from being proactive and tightening our purse strings a little. Yes, I know, the PURSE that you so graciously provided. You are making this difficult, aren’t you?

I bide you farewell Target. While I cannot say our paths will never cross, it will be with far less frequency. Please don’t call, don’t write, and don’t mock my husband when I make him visit you instead of me.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

A brief synopsis of the weekend

I’m unwinding from this weekend and while I really should be unpacking and doing laundry, I am not. The worst part of this formula is that I am blogging to avoid engaging in any type of work, not because I have anything worthwhile to blog about. I guess that is my indirect way of warning you, or apologizing in advance for this discombobulated post.

The weekend was busy. We started by attending my 15 year-old brother’s basketball game. The game was at the high school I graduated from. It wasn’t nostalgic, or a homecoming of sorts, it really just made me feel damn old. Oh and it also confirm my suspect of the rapidly-aging pandemic affecting teenage girls. This was evidenced by the junior-high and high-school girls that easily could have passed for 25. Unless, as a collective group, they have flunked every other grade and really are 25, then I’d surmise that my theory is correct. On second thought, maybe I didn’t feel so damn old in their company. I just felt like I didn’t apply enough make-up and too little of my skin was showing.

We were also supposed to be celebrating my brother’s 15th birthday, but his busy social calendar prevented him from being home most of the time we were there. The birthday celebration consisted of cupcakes after breakfast this morning. Craig even dug out an old Crayola crayon candle (pink, of course) from my mom’s junk drawer in his honor. I swear, the candle has been in there for 20 years. You know the kind of junk drawer I am referring to, right? Anyway, we celebrated the big ONE-FIVE in style this morning. Poor dude.

Kate, of course, snuck in some of her Kate-isms throughout the weekend. First was her uncanny obsession with proudly announcing, “When I grow up, I am going to be a COWGIRL!” While I don’t have a problem with cowgirls, I am not entirely sure where this idea came from. We certainly don’t talk about cowgirls and before this weekend I would have easily bet a paycheck that she had never heard of a cowgirl. Now, not only has she is acquainted, but she’s got a plan to become one. Dream big little girl, dream big. I spent a large part of the weekend harassing Craig over our trip to North Carolina last year. The trip in which he got pulled over at 3:00 a.m. for speeding, by a West Virginia police offer who took his job way too seriously and didn’t take kindly to us out of town folk. Kate woke up screaming and wouldn’t go back to sleep and we unwillingly spent too much time in West Virginia. This has not much to do with my story, but I have Craig convinced that it was where Kate was introduced to cowgirls. Needless to say, that makes this debacle ALL.HIS.FAULT. and that is all that matters, not the accuracy of my story, right?

Her other, perhaps more disturbing comment, came while she was playing with her little Cinderella doll. On the surface, that appears innocent enough. However, while she was engaging in very lopsided dialogue with Cinderella, she says, “Oh Cinderella, you need a boyfriend!” I don’t really have words to explain quite how surprised I was to hear those words uttered from Kate during casual play. I think my head spun around 180 degrees, and my heartbeat hit a rapid crescendo while I tried to avoid a panic attack.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Where I suck at an attempt to be serious

I don't do serious well.

I take considerable satisfaction in writing about the daily, seemingly unexciting aspects of life. While one could easily write about significant, one-time events, I don’t usually take that approach. My reasoning is an easy one; I don’t believe that those occurrences matter so much in the greater scheme of things. What I believe shapes us, our memories, and our legacy are those small things that we battle, take comfort in, or celebrate on an ongoing basis. Years from now, when I look back at this time with Kate, reminiscing about how stubborn she was about brushing her teeth, or the eclectic dance moves she entertained us with nightly, are moments I want to remember most. They are most reflective of this time and are filled with love, laughter, tears, and smiles. I enjoy the challenge of documenting those moments, the categorically mundane. I approach them like I do life in general, with a sprinkling of sarcasm and humor.

Additionally, providing stories and thoughts that other parents can relate to is a comfort to me. I fully recognize that I am not unique in dealing with the challenges of parenting a three-year old and I never try to imply that I am. Instead, I embrace the opportunity to put that story out there for others. Some mothers will find immediate relief in recognizing that they are not alone in dealing with those tribulations. Other mothers will smile in relief that they cannot relate at all, appreciating that FINALLY there is one obstacle to parenting they didn’t encounter. Parenting is a skill that is never fully acquired. It evolves daily and more turbulently with every developmental stage. Often, I find myself “just” starting to figure out how to master the crisis.of.the.moment, only to look up and realize that Kate has careened past that stage onto something entirely different.

I’ve spent the majority of my life striving for excellence, achievement, and perfection. Parenting was the first task that stopped me in my tracks, as I realized that I will never quite perfect it. Despite my attentiveness and absolute best intentions, and sometimes because of them, things will go wrong. I often say that being a mother is by far more challenging than I ever could have imagined, but infinitely more rewarding than I ever could have fathomed at the same time.

I don’t feel the need to explain myself to you, or justify my writing because this ultimately is for me. However, I couldn’t resist the urge after receiving multiple emails trying to give me suggestions on how to get my daughter to eat. While I appreciate the concern and suggestions (and do not want to isolate those who sent them!), it made me realize that perhaps my love of writing and story-telling jumbled up the lightheartedness of the post. For that, I apologize. I have a knack for finding comedic value in most anything, but those situations rarely ever ruffle my feathers.

However, I am not above begging you for help when the situation warrants it. As such, look forward to that edition in a couple of weeks with desperate posts on HOW.DO.I.FLY.WITH.MY. CRAZY.THREE.YEAR.OLD. Those are the situations that require immediate intervention and assistance.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I skipped this chapter in the parenting books

To say Kate isn’t a big eater is akin to saying that our economy in Michigan is slightly-troubled. While the kid eats exceptionally healthy things, she just eats very little of them. Add the fact that with the nonstop action of her body and mouth, she’s likely burning calories at a rate far exceeding her intake. When we go out in public, I have to resist the urge to duct tape her arms to her side. Not doing so is a definite guarantee that she will end up lifting her arms up high, resulting in the raising of her shirt, and exposing of the cavernous excuse for a stomach that resides underneath her rib cage.

Last week we had her three year appointment with the Pediatrician. For height, she was in the 50th percentile. I’d say that is a feasible compromise for the product of a 6’ tall father and a 5’3” mother. Her weight, however, was in the 10th percentile. That alone isn’t a catastrophe, but the ratio of height to weight creates a slight unbalance. During the appointment, she was also exposed to a scale, which created a stalker-like obsession with our scale upon returning home.

I’ve attempted almost every bribe, tactic, and circus trick to make this kid eat. I am not sure about all kids, but anything that doesn’t come from our mouth carries much more weight and merit for Kate. I mean, what do parents know anyway? Shouldn’t I be more concerned that she already has this perception at three? Regardless, I took full advantage of this fact at the expense of the Pediatrician. Since that appointment, I keep telling Kate, “The Doctor said you need to eat more dinner to fill that little tummy” or “To grow big and strong, the Doctor said that you need to eat more.”

Tonight we grilled salmon, which is her favorite. Just as we sat down to dinner, she disappeared upstairs. I found her in our bathroom, standing on the scale. “Ugh!” she said with utter disgust. “I need to eat more dinner because I am not enough pounds.”

I’ll retain this for evidence that my DNA is no match for her fathers. While on one hand, I am picking my chin up off the floor, daydreaming of the day I hear those words from my mouth, on the other hand, I am wondering if I’ve afflicted Kate with a reverse anorexia of sorts.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Lesson in Musical Diversity

Before the Test That Consumed My Life happened, I was working on a portion of my New Year Anti-Resolution. That particular project involved tackling the massive amounts of debris reproducing in my basement. The project started out innocently enough, as I sifted through haphazard boxes that took up residency there when we moved in four years ago. At about box number three, I found the music. I spent hours and hours sorting through CD’s, reuniting orphaned discs with their dusty delinquent parental-unit cases. This duty required extensive trips down memory lane, some glorious and some so nauseating that it made me throw up in my mouth a little.

It wasn’t all that disturbing to find decades worth of music in my basement. What was disturbing was to locate a plethora of CD’s from the 90’s. A decade old and not only do I own them, but I remember when they were popular. You might as well knock me over, put support hose on me and paint the blue eye-shadow on, as I am sailing straight into old age.

The exhilarating bonus to locating all of this music is that I have found myself in a never-ending supply of new music. Admittedly, all music that I am not nearly cool enough to be listening to. Verve Pipe. Phish. Sublime. Rusted Root. Talking Heads. Pearl Jam. Seriously, who was the person that took my musical-taste hostage in 1996? At least I've been overwhelming entertained by this historic journey through my alter-ego.

Incidentally, Kate has recently moved from the random-inquisitive-stage to the questioning-everything-freaking-possible-until-mom’s-head-spins-180 degrees-stage. Not surprising is that Kate’s obsession with questioning has included music. What song is this mom? Who sings this mom? What song is this? I said what song? Who sings this song mom? Needless to say, I've answered more than my fair share of these questions over the past few weeks.

Over the weekend, we were driving down the road and Kate nonchalantly says, “I want to listen to the Smashing Pumpkins.”

Excuse me.

My first thought is the myriad of people who do not know that the Smashing Pumpkins are indeed a musical group. What exactly are they going to think of my wild three-year old asking for Smashing Pumpkins? I am assuming that it will be the proverbial nail in the coffin, an affirmation to what they already believe about the parenting taking place in this house.

On second thought, on the premise that they are familiar with the Smashing Pumpkins, perhaps worse assumptions could be made about both our parenting style and Miss Kate’s musical taste.