Saturday, December 31, 2011

Whee, that's fun. NOW STOP THAT.

I was thinking today about how confusing life must be for toddlers.  As a parent, I spend half my time encouraging my son to play with stuff and throw stuff and eat stuff, and the other half trying to get him to not play with stuff or throw stuff or eat stuff.  How much can an 18 month old really understand about that?  This cookie is delicious, but no to the unidentifiable thing I found on the carpet?  Yes, let's play catch with this ball, but no, I can't chuck around rocks from the driveway?  Yes to this fun blinky toy but no to Mom's much more fun blinky iPhone?

I concluded at times he must just think I'm a colossal asshole.  But he's getting to the point where he can communicate, and that has been pretty fun.  I always try not to rush development, ever since I kept saying "When is he going to crawl?"  and then he did and I've spent the time since then chasing him and remembering fondly when he was immobile.

But the language thing is good, because he can finally tell me what he wants.  Generally it's a snack.  Sometimes it's Dad.  Sometimes it's a long string of things that I can't really understand.  But he's sitting there playing with his toys and having a conversation that he certainly understands, and I am kind of anxious to find out what it's all about.

He also busted out his first curse word, which I was less proud of, though he used it appropriately.  He turned too quickly and tripped over the dog, and said "DAMMIT" in a tone identical to his father.  (Seriously the delivery was identical, he can't even try to blame me).  I glared at Ben, who made a credible attempt to blend into the couch like a chameleon.  Such a proud moment.

I'm also about to be an aunt again, which is really exciting, and from hearing my brother talk, one more little one won't be too far away.  My mom and I had to laugh when he said they were going to "start trying" in the spring.  In my family, there really isn't any "try".  For the most part, that's one medical problem we don't run into.  We have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, migraines, and premature gray hair on our genetically unavoidable giant domes, but fertility is not an issue.  Pretty much as soon as you say "we're going to try" and then get within two feet of your partner's genitals, congratulations, in forty weeks you're going to be a parent.  My ladyparts are completely scarred and broken and it still only took us one try, my dad is one of nine and I'm sure that number would have been higher, but my grandfather died.

So it looks to be an exciting new year.  I will continue with the resolutions I've already started-healthier living to try to avoid the above-mentioned genetic problems so I can be around to laugh when Henry's kids say dammit for the first time.  Happy New Year to all-I hope this is a great one.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Secrets to a Happy Marriage

WARNING-this post also contains stuff about sex, so don't read it if you're under 18 or related to me END WARNING.

I've figured it out.  After five and a half years, some of them difficult, some of them great, I have worked out what makes life easier and marital relations run smoothly, 99% of the time.

And it's having lots of sex.

That seems to be the first thing to go when you get too busy and you're working and/or have kids or just have a lot of stress in your life.  In my brief surveys on the topic, I find that women are more likely to hold back than men are.  This may be because women need to feel some emotional connection, and that needs to be a good emotion.  Men don't seem to have that need as much.  You could probably cut off your partner's toe, admit that you did it on purpose, then say "So, you want to go at it?" and he'd say "Sure, let me cauterize this thing and get my pants off."

I guess I can give credit to (or blame) these Dan Savage podcasts for my change in thinking.  He made me realize how important that connection with your partner is.  I mean, if you're not having sex you might as well just be roommates.  And lack of it makes people crabby.  Unless you're in one of those crazy swinging non-monogamous relationships (and good luck with that if you are, but hell if I'M shaving my legs for more than one guy) then it's something you share exclusively with your partner, and you need to remember how special it is.

So even if you don't really feel like it, get in there.  I've found that it doesn't take long to change your mind, even if your thought right now is "He hasn't done dishes or bathed the kids in three weeks, he can go fuck himself, and so can you, for giving me this advice."

But here's the secret-a guy getting a lot of sex will do ANYTHING to keep getting a lot of sex.  So if your sex life has been kind of slow, and it picks back up in a major way, you will both be in a better mood, and he will start doing the dishes.  He will start doing anything you want just to keep that door open.  The secret has been in our pants this whole time!

And I won't get too graphic here but ever since I embarked on this plan, I have a happier husband, a happier me, I've had dishes done, and the other day when I was heading downstairs with a basket full of laundry, he said "Allow me, my lady" and took it down and started it for me.  You get to enjoy yourself, AND chores get done!  (If you don't enjoy sex with your partner, I'm not really qualified to advise you on that.  Come to think of it, I'm not really qualified to advise you on anything.)

So give it a shot and see if it doesn't work.  And guys, if your wife/girlfriend reads this and you reap the benefits, I DO have an amazon wishlist if you want to thank me.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Guilt, Sex, and Arguing 102


This blog contains some stuff about sex.  Some of it is graphic, although the graphic stuff does not involve me, I keep the details of our sex life private.  I get that some people are exhibitionists and/or like to talk about different things they do, but I don't.  And if you are one of those other people, I feel certain there are no shortage of websites that will allow you to do so, as the internet seems to be 97% porn, 2% Netflix ads, and 1% other.  Just putting the warning out there in case you are someone close to me who really does not care to hear me or read me writing about genitalia.  Or who, despite my being married and having a kid, would like to maintain the idea that I am a 31 year old virgin and don't engage in that sort of thing.


So Ben's been listening to a lot of Dan Savage.  If you don't know who Dan Savage is, he's a writer and has a podcast and is behind the "It Gets Better" project, and I think he's a pretty cool guy with some great ideas.  He is also gay, in a long-term relationship, and his writings and podcasts get very graphic and he gives level-headed advice.  Today I heard one about a mom who discovered her son's large collection of urine-related porn, and wondered if it was healthy.

He pretty much gave the answer that I would have given, which is that some people just like to be peed on, and unless a porn obsession is about kids or animals or something damaging or illegal, you really don't want to talk to your mom about it.  Personally, I don't plan on going into Henry's room after he turns nine, and I'm teaching him to do his own laundry lest I run into "the sock".  And if you don't know what I mean by that, I'm not explaining it, because sexually I'm fairly repressed.

Anyway, Ben was listening to his podcast, and some of it has to do with more mainstream, less pee-related stuff, like being in a marriage where you don't have lots of sex.  Or you used to, and you don't anymore.  Or your partner has just brought up something they're really into and you're thinking "Holy hell there is no way I'm dressing up as the Hamburglar for this guy, I don't care how long we've been married."  But it did bring up an issue we have in our marriage, which is pretty infrequent sex.

If you're not married and/or don't have kids yet, let me introduce you to the main arguments you will run into.  Even other arguments generally devolve into or evolve from one of these main issues.  I'll try to present both sides of the argument, because there generally are two sides to them, unless you're one of those couples where one person can say "Hey, this happened or this drives me crazy" and the other can say "Ok, I see your point, I'll work on that" and that's it.  In which case, congratulations and also I hate you a little.

So here they are.
1.  We're not having enough sex/Stop poking me in the back with that thing when I walk in the door/am doing dishes/bend over for any reason/am sleeping.

2.  You don't do enough around the house/You don't tell me what you want me to do so when I get home I play XBox and have two beers and also you're a nag.

3.  You don't help with the baby enough/You think you're the only person who can take care of the baby correctly and you don't let me/trust me to take care of the baby.

4.  I get no time to myself/You never ask for time for yourself so I don't know that you need it.

Anyway, we were running into all four this week.  We went to couples therapy a few times and the counselor pointed out that guys are retarded (he didn't use that word but he might as well have) and that we women need to point out where and when we need help, because a guy won't automatically jump in and do the dishes or take care of the kid or whatever.

One,  I think this is kind of bullshit.  If you are sitting at your house and your kid is crying and you can't get to your faucet because the dishes are piled to overflowing and your wife is looking at you like she's deciding which part of the crawl space your body would fit into, then you KNOW that some action is required on your part.

But I do accept that Ben will not come home in the same frame of mind that I do and think "Ok,  let me feed the baby and do the laundry and wash these dishes and then there's lunch for tomorrow and I have to iron something and study and...."

He more thinks "Hey, I'm home!  I"m going to have a beer and look at the internet and see if Megan will have sex with me."  Actually, I don't think he so much actively "thinks" that as that's what the lizard part of his brain makes him do.

Guys also don't seem to experience guilt in the same way as women do.  I have desperately needed some time to myself lately, to remind myself that I have interests and needs and I'm not just a faceless toddler mom who is around to meet everyone's needs but my own, only to totally snap one weekend and go on a wedding bender that results in unexplained bruises and a three day long hangover (not that this happened recently or anything).

I tried to explain the guilt to Ben-that I'm away at work so much, it's really hard for me to leave Henry because I feel that the time I have that's free, I should spend with him, and that I"m a bad mom if I don't.  Again, here are the opposing thought processes.

ME: "I am a terrible mom because I am letting him watch King of the Hill while I fold laundry and he eats Cheerios and goldfish off a tray on the floor.  We should be interacting and laughing and running through a field of flowers and making memories and this TV is rotting his brain and he should be having a balanced meal and....."

BEN, upon walking in to the same scene:  "Mmmm, Cheerios for dinner!"

It makes you start to believe the Mars/Venus thing a bit.

Anyway, if you take anything away from this rambling post, let it be this.  Moms, it's ok to leave for a Saturday afternoon and go and get your nails done, or see a movie, or talk to a friend, or read a book.  Trust me, when your husband has his non-family time, he thinks about you, he misses you some, he probably comes home earlier and drinks less than he would have when he was single, but he doesn't feel guilty.  That time to be an adult and to not be reading "Green Eggs and Ham" for the fortieth time that day is important.  You will be a better mom and wife for it.

Guys, a piece of advice.  If you don't already do this, SUGGEST that your wife take some time for herself.  Schedule her a massage, organize a surprise night out with her friends, buy tickets for her and a girlfriend to a movie that you really don't want to get dragged to, anyway.  You will most likely be repaid in a genital-involving manner.  Don't make her ask for everything she needs.  Because even if she is asking, chances are she's only asking for a fraction of what she needs from you.

And who knows, you may start to feel like the sexy woman you are, and the next time you get poked in the back while drifting off to sleep, you may just go for it.

I'll warn you, though, that can set a dangerous precedent.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just breathe....

So I'm getting up in the morning to run now, mainly because if I don't get it over with early, I find excuses not to go.  Plus two days a week I have night classes, so there really isn't any time.  My afternoons are pretty full with getting Henry home, fed, bathed, and put to bed, especially now that he brings us upwards of six books to read every night.  I guess he should just get one, but if you can resist a kid bringing you a book and then getting himself situated in your lap, then looking up at you expectantly, then you're a tougher person than I am.  Or than Ben is (I still maintain that he's a bigger sucker than I am when it comes to that).

But there are some things to remember when running in the morning.  You'll be tired and out of it, because you just woke up.  So it's important to have short-term goals that you can concentrate on, like finishing a mile, or getting to the top of the next hill.  (My personal goal is to avoid lying down on the sidewalk and going back to sleep.  Whatever works.).  However, you need to remain aware of your surroundings, for safety reasons and to avoid falls.  Also, if you are deep in thought, and all of a sudden the sprinkler system you're running past sputters on in a very loud and startling way, you may screech like a girl and come dangerously close to peeing your pants.

Not that this happened to me today.  Or ever.  Although if it did, hypothetically, I think my speed for the next twenty feet or so would rival that of Carl Lewis.  A good scare can give you that adrenaline rush you need.

Anyway, so when I got home, I decided to attempt a yoga DVD.  I have a bad back, so I ordered one specifically for back care, and it has been really helpful.  I figured I could get as much of the DVD done as I could before Henry woke up, then get him set up for breakfast and finish the rest.  He woke up pretty quickly after I started, but seemed to enjoy the entertainment with his meal.  He did finish breakfast before I finished the DVD, so I set him down on the floor to play while I wrapped up my workout.

This made me decide I needed to narrate a yoga workout for those of us with impatient kids.  "Ok, on your next inhale, you're going to lower into plank....on the exhale, a 26 pound kid is going to throw himself across your back....ok, use his weight in the pose...on the next inhale, he will dig the corner of "The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar" into your spine....use this to focus your energy..breathe....."

It's not the most relaxing thing, but we get to have some fun before he goes to school and I go to work, and hey, my back does feel better.  I'd try one of the kid yoga workouts if I thought he had the attention span for it, but I don't know that Henry's the yoga type.  He currently gets most of his exercise by climbing on things he shouldn't, beating one object on another object, or chasing the dogs.  They do say find a workout you enjoy, or you won't stick with it.  Thank goodness Jack Russells are fast.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Going to buy a mental institution-not for the reason you'd think.

No, not to admit myself.  Although some days I'm close.  No, I want to buy a mental institution and start a day care there.  You see, it will be a specialty day care, with padded walls, for kids like mine who seem to feel the incessant need to wreck themselves.

I am home because day care called to tell me that Henry had hit his head.  This in and of itself was not concerning-he hits his head all the time.  But for them to call me, and to not just let me know when I picked him up, let me know it was kind of serious.  She said he wasn't bleeding, but did have a big bruise and a goose egg.  I know I seem like an overly-worrying mom here (mainly because that's what I am) but I just don't take chances with my kid, so I ran out of work to go get him and make sure he was ok.  Like I said, this is not an alarmist day care, so if they were concerned enough to call me, I was concerned.

So I ran the whole way to my car, sped all the way to day care, and found him bruised up but pretty happy.  We're home now, oatmeal cookies in the oven, kid taking a nap while I check on him incessantly and wait for a call from the pediatrician, just making sure that we don't need to take him in.  While I wait, I should probably make at least one apology.

Lady in the Tercel ahead of me on I95-I am sorry for that long string of very profane words I let loose while pointing at you, lest you think they were directed at someone else. I'm sure you are a kind person with a good reputation, as is your mother, and I'm sorry for questioning your morals or choice of nighttime, pimp-related employment.

To be fair, you were going 15 under the speed limit on the INTERSTATE.  Just take surface roads, in Richmond that's usually faster anyway.

To the guy in the van who I shrieked "Pick a fucking lane, asshole!" at, I stand by that.  You only get one.  Asshole.  Same goes for the lady who was on her cell phone and almost made me miss a green light.

Ok, so there aren't so many apologies, but know that I was in an increased state of agitation, and I normally don't yell at other drivers.  I've been trying to break Ben of the habit.  Even he's not as bad as his sister, though.  If Andrew Dice Clay had to ride in a car with her in Northern Virginia, he'd be telling her to tone it down.

So the kid is fine.  In other news, I found a good friend on Facebook who I hadn't seen in, god, going on fifteen years or so, I guess, and got to chat with him a bit.  I have mixed feelings about Facebook.  I mean, I love that it keeps me in touch with my family, and allows me to obnoxiously hose people who have innocently friended me with pictures of my kid.  But sometimes I get those friend requests from people who made no attempt to hide the fact that they despised me when we actually new each other.  Maybe people grow, but Facebook has been a mix of excitement over seeing people I love who I've lost touch with, and that old feeling of dread that the unpopular kids feel when they walk into high school.

It doesn't help that whenever I run into someone from my past on there, I start having dreams about ALL the people I knew during that time.  They're never nice, fun dreams, like ones of us camping and drinking and having a blast.  The dreams are always full of people I don't care to see, like I'm sitting by the road wearing no pants and all my ex-boyfriends are driving by and laughing.

So it's a love-hate relationship.  But this particular friend pointed out something to me.  Lately I'd been too focused on the bad times, and the people I shouldn't have bothered with, and I'd really forgotten about all the good people and good times.  And there were a lot of them.  It's so great when you can connect with someone you haven't seen in years and it's like no time has passed at all.  But he made me realize that I can be a really pessimistic glass half-empty person when it comes to stuff like that.  Instead of rolling my eyes over the asshole I dated, I should think about the group of friends I made because I dated him.  There really were some great people there, and the summer before college was one of the most fun times in my life because of them.

It's almost made me want to track a few down, but I think once you're a loser at some point in your life, it's hard to shake that tiny "What if they don't want to hear from me?" voice that's still trying to convince you that you're fat, that nobody likes you, and they're laughing at you because you have a tampon hanging out of your bookbag and they know your jeans came from Wal-Mart.

Some stuff you grow up with is just hard to shake.  So I'll work on remembering the good times, and all the misfits who I fit in just fine with.  And be glad for the ones I still have in my life (and yes, we're all still misfits and nerds, but when you get older, that sort of gets cooler.)

At least that's what I tell myself.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Look Out-Average Mom Goes Political

I rarely discuss politics on the internet.  One reason is that I'm not so sure what I think about a lot of things.  A master's in public administration gives you the fun ability to see all sides of a policy issue, and quite frankly, someone gets screwed over no matter what happens.

The other reason is the vitriol and hate that is spewed over so many issues, by people who could be neighbors, or friends.  Why do so many people only see their own view as right, and not even examine others for possibility?  Why do you have to shut someone down because they don't agree with you?  I'm not a big fan of the Tea Party and I think Sarah Palin is a moneygrubbing loon, but I try not to write people off who support either.  I mean, I can see being frustrated with the current political scene.

I guess the protests on Wall Street, and the reactions of both the media and the public have brought this on.  I've read so many people ranting against "liberals who want what isn't theirs" and adversely, "corporate whores who won't stop taking and have the government in their pocket."  The truth, I'm sure, lies somewhere in the middle.  I, like everyone else, have seen people take public assistance and, in my eyes, abuse it.  I have also seen, as has everyone, people who were born with everything, who never had to work, and who think they're entitled to a certain lifestyle or income because of who they are.

But most of us don't fall into either category.  Most of us are working, or trying to, supporting a family, taking out loans to go to school, trying to buy a house....not trying to make a million dollars, but wanting to make enough to get by.  To not have to worry between paychecks.  But the fact is, the top 1% of this country are getting richer, while the rest of us are not.  In the past 30 years or so, adjusted for inflation, average CEO salaries have increased by five times.  The rest of our salaries, adjusted, are basically the same.  Since I doubt they're working harder and we're all slacking off, the only reasonable assumption to take away is that they are keeping more of the profit for themselves.

And to those who say "well, they've earned it", ok, I get your point.  But they've earned it on the backs of American workers, workers they lay off and then give away jobs overseas because it's cheaper, and there's more profit to be had.  Of course, the other side of that is the public is not willing to pay more for less, and outsourcing cuts costs. and therefore price (that's the argument, anyway).

Also, the most horrific Supreme Court ruling I've ever read basically decided that money equals speech, and corporations are people, so they can give as much to political candidates and parties and PACs as is legally allowable to an individual.  That is complete bullshit.  Money does not equal speech, and here's why.  Because we don't have equal access to it.  And money makes people listen more than just speech.  The way our system is set up, you pretty much can't get elected if you aren't in corporate pockets.  If you want to learn more, and also really get depressed about our system and how hard it will be to change it, check out Is That a Politician in Your Pocket?  Washington on $2 million a day" by Sifry and Watson.

So if I don't like getting political online, why am I doing it here? Well, one, because I have a readership of about 15 people, 10 of whom are required to still like me by sharing familial blood.  Two, this is an outlet rather than trying to have a conversation with someone who disagrees with me about it, which is about as effective as me standing in my closet and debating myself.  And I think how I feel is felt by more than one person out there.  So here's a list of what I think I believe.

I think corporations and corporate leaders need to pay their fair share in taxes.

I think there should be term limits on Congresspeople.

I think education is the great equalizer.  All of those "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" people may not agree with me here, but if you have the privilege of a good education, you are more likely to succeed.  If you are born poor and are in a bad school system, with no available funds for college, you are likely to keep the cycle of poverty going.  There are a few heartwariming stories about people "making it" but that's the exception, not the rule.  Fix the education system, save the world.

I think abortion should be legal.  I also think there should be easy access to sex education and birth control, and that people should have the wherewithall to use it, so that a doctor performing an abortion should be just as rare as a doctor having to saw a padlock off of some guy's penis and nutsack because he and his girlfriend used it as a sex toy without finding the key (you can laugh, but this happened to one of Ben's roommates in college).

I can also promise you that being put on birth control at fourteen did not make me want to run around and start having lots of anonymous sex with strangers.  It led to me being on birth control because my mom would rather be safe than sorry (she told me it was for cramps) and I didn't have sex til I was 17 anyway.  It's not like putting a girl on birth control immediately activates a neon arrow and sign that points at her vagina and says "OPEN FOR BUSINESS, FELLAS."

I'm not sure where I stand on immigration but I know two things.
1.  I don't believe I've ever lost a job or been negatively impacted by an illegal immigrant and
2.  The employment problem is more the fault of employers who are willing to hire someone, pay them next to nothing and treat them like dirt, knowing that if they have any legal recourse, they're probably too scared to use it.

And this whole country would probably be doing a lot better if we all stopped attacking each other as "Teabaggers" or "stupid hippie liberals" and actually fixed our problems.  There's nothing the 1% want more than for us to be distracted by each other and to not be able to unify to demand real change, change that would benefit EVERYONE in this nation.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Biting and walking and job hunting. Oh my!

Sad when it's been so long since you posted in your blog that you don't remember your password to access it.  I'm guessing my ten readers have already figured out that consistency is not my strong point.  This has also been a rough summer by anyone's definition.  Ben's left the teaching profession to give the handyman business a go, but things are still uncertain, and my job future is not looking quite as bright as I'd like it to.  After five years of graduate school, someone damn well better hire me.  I mean, I have the education, I have the experience, I have a good marginal I have a personality.  That is unique.  Sort of churlish in an adorable way.  Ok, so it's more bitchy.

I went to a job fair recently and felt old as hell.  All of these companies were recruiting new undergrad graduates for internships.  Just the idea of heading to a "Training Team Experience" at Enterprise Rent-a-Car makes me want to find a rented car and throw myself in front of it.  I just want to work.  I don't want to go to social gatherings.  I don't want to do teambuilding activities at a Sheraton.  I don't want to be on your kickball team.  It was bad enough to be picked last in elementary school, why am I reliving this now?  Is Corey Brueggerman also going to point out the maxi pad I dropped in the hall to all of his friends so I have to pretend I don't know how it got there while they all giggle?


Ben just came in and suggested we make sex tapes and sell them online.   My newly gained business acumen makes me wonder what the market for those would be.  I don't even want to see me naked, much less see me naked and moving so that the saddlebags reach full jiggle potential.  Thankfully he was kidding.  I hope.

The silver lining in all of this, of course, is our boy.  Walking, talking, getting into everything, expressing his opinion (generally that he does not approve of whatever he is doing/being offered/getting dressed in).  Still having some biting issues at school, but the ladies are still crazy about him and make excuses for him.  My mom keeps saying he's spoiled, and I keep explaining that IT'S NOT ME DOING THE SPOILING.   She doesn't believe me, though.  I think she gets some kind of sadistic pleasure out of watching my kid challenge me.  I don't know why, we all know I was a perfect angel.  Always.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I've been MIA for a while, I know.  This has been a rough month in more ways than one.  Marital discord, family issues, medical problems-it's just been a lot to handle.  And most days I just haven't felt like writing.  I think it's easy to get caught up in daily life and forget to do things just for yourself, and writing is one of those things for me.

So anyway.  Got some good news about Henry's new cousin, who had a little bit of a rough start, but is heading home today with her happy parents.  Your kid having issues right after they're born is no fun thing, Henry ended up in the NICU for respiratory distress, and for weeks after that I was afraid to put him down, or be away from him.  I was terrified he would stop breathing.

Luckily for me, a few weeks before he was born, my sister called me and said she wanted to talk to me about something serious.  I was kind of alarmed, because the women in my family (including myself) tend to avoid weighted topics, particularly when our emotions were involved.  She proceeded to tell me about having post-partum depression after her son was born, gave me some signs to look for, and told me there was nothing wrong with getting help if I needed it.

I'm eternally grateful to her for that conversation, because it saved me a lot of pain.  I think when we think about depression, we think sad.  And for a lot of people, that's the predominant emotion.  But after Henry was born, I wasn't sad-I was elated to have a baby.   How it manifested in me was in EXTREME anxiety.   I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't eating, and anytime Ben left me alone with the baby, I would imagine these impossible scenarios about things that could go wrong, and try to figure out what I would do if the situation arose.

I mean, these things were way out, too.  I recall one being "What if we go to the beach and a shark attacks him??"  Because Shan had talked to me, I knew what was going on, could talk to my doctor about it, went on a low dose of Zoloft, quickly got back to being myself, and six weeks in went off the meds with absolutely no negative side effects.

Post-partum depression is no joke.  I still think it's pretty taboo to talk about, and people assume that just because you had a baby you should be happy.  But it's a scary time, and nothing really prepares you for taking that kid home and realizing that you're solely responsible for their well-being.  Then you realize a few years ago you were in college and doing keg stands and sleeping through classes and now you're in charge of a person, even though fairly recently you went to work with two different color/style shoes on.


I also recently got connected to two pregnant people who are not having a good time being pregnant, and needed to hear that this was ok.  Honestly, out of all the people I've talked to about pregnancy and parenthood, very, very few of them enjoyed the pregnancy part.  I mean, yes, it's great and you're making a baby, but it's hard on your body and on your mind.  We all know those glowy happy pregnant people who would be thrilled to pop out a kid every two years, but most of us aren't like that.

Well, I sure as hell wasn't.  The point of this rambling blog for the tens of people who read it is's ok if you don't like being pregnant.  It's ok if you have problems after the baby is born.  Don't be embarrassed about talking about it, or seeking help if you need it.  Your body and your mind go through a lot in those ten months, and you owe it to yourself and your kid to take care of both of those things-your body AND your mind.

Now I feel like I'm at a suitable level of crazy and that I won't emotionally damage my kid too much, although recently I did let him play in a mud puddle and eat an Oreo (not at the same time), and I'm sure there are plenty of moms who would gasp over my poor parenting.  At least I'm cutting out my swearing.  Every time I curse at home I'm doing situps.  I figure in six months I'll be swear-free and have abs like David Beckham.   Dammit.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Our little guy is one year old today. Kind of weird to think about.  A year ago I was getting tugged apart and barfing into the hands of a very nice anesthesiologist.   And then I had a baby boy.

I have to confess, I wish my birth experience had been more picturesque.  I think all new moms anticipate the same kind of thing-some pain, a supportive partner, pushing and breathing, and voila!  baby and you're holding it and you smile and your partner kisses you and it's very Lifetime Original Movies.

So when it doesn't happen like that, it can be hard.  I got to see my kid for approximately thirty seconds before they took him to the NICU.  I was still totally flabbergasted by the whole experience, people weren't telling me what was going on, I hadn't gotten to hold him, he was gone, and I was back in the pre-delivery room, wondering whether or not we should call our families, and ordering Ben to go and be with the baby, because I was fine (as fine as you can be after people root around in your insides for what feels like a really long time).

It just wasn't anything I had imagined.  And then when he finally got to me 24 hours later, he wouldn't nurse, and man, after nine months of reading about breastfeeding, THAT can mess with you.  I won't ever go all evangelical on breastfeeding because it didn't work for us.  I did it, but I never produced enough for Henry, and that in and of itself made me feel terrible.  I stopped because one, he was getting maybe 3 ounces a day from me, and two, I had to start a new job when he was three months old, and I didn't know how pump-friendly they'd be.  (Turns out, very, but I was new, so I was squeamish).  I gained a new perspective on asking women about that, though. You'd be amazed how many people will ask you if you're breastfeeding.  And if you say no, they'll act like you're slapping your newborn openly and with glee.

Here's an etiquette tip.  Never ask people if they're planning to have kids, because maybe they've been trying for years and it's not happening, or maybe they've gone through a miscarriage-you never know.  And never ask new moms about the state of their boobs. Because again, you never know.

Come to think of it, maybe never ask anybody about their boobs or genitals or the potential occupants of their reproductive organs, because it's really none of your business!

I don't really know what the purpose of this post is.  This day, certainly is a wonderful day for me.  But I guess I had to express how things didn't go the way I wanted them to at all-and it was still ok.  Despite needing a C-section, being separated from my newborn son, and being unable to produce enough milk for him, we all made it.  And we formed a wonderful, very happy family.  Although Ben was bummed that the post-partum giant breasts didn't stay around that long.  And that I wouldn't let him take pictures.

Monday, May 23, 2011


We've reached an interesting milestone with our little angel-the one where his day care teachers point out that "his favorite thing is grabbing toys from other kids" and ask me if he's throwing tantrums at home.  Um....yes.  The toy grabbing is bothering me.  I mean, from what I read, and from what they tell me at day care, there's really not a whole lot you can do at this age, because they don't understand sharing.  So we do what day care does-when he grabs something, we take it from him, tell him no, give it back to the kid he grabbed it from, and try to distract him with something else.

This cycle repeats until the kid who had the toy in the first place gets tired of it and abandons the damn thing, at which point, Henry decides he doesn't want it, either.

So we're doing what we can, but nobody wants to have the kid that grabs toys.  At least he's not biting.  Feel free to give advice in the comments section, because I'm really at a loss here.  Or at least assure me that by the time he goes to kindergarten, he will understand what we're trying to say to him.  As Ben put it, "You can't really teach a kid when he doesn't understand the words coming out of your mouth."  But you also don't want the jerk kid that all the other parents talk about who progresses to clocking kids with toys and, I don't know, pushing them into mud puddles.

We've also told the teachers to feel free to put him in a crib or off somewhere during the tantrums to let him thrash it out.  I've assured them that he doesn't get everything he wants at home, and we certainly aren't the kind of parents who let a kid show their ass and act up and just say "OH, isn't that DARLING, he's asserting his independence!"  Um, no.  But I'm not sure they believe us.  Honestly, I think he gets his way more at school than at home, because, despite his occasional crabbiness, he is a pretty funny kid and finds a way to be absolutely adorable right when you're at the point where you curl up into the fetal position amongst the laundry he's thrown out of the basket (again) and cry.  The other day he wrecked the house, then crawled over to me and gave me a hug.

Which is what assures me that though he may look like me, he got his dad's personality 100%.  That's basically the same technique Ben used to get me to forgive him for fights when we were dating.

In other news, you've all read about this rapture thing.  I posted what I felt was a very funny picture involving Randy "Macho Man" Savage on my facebook page, and was told by more than one person that it was NOT FUNNY.  I don't know, I still think it is.  And I like to think God has a sense of humor, or else he probably would have put an end to this whole mess called Earth already.  Let's face it, as a species, we can really be assholes.  But I make fun of pretty much everything, including (and most often) myself.  Ah, well.  People don't appreciate that photoshop, and I don't understand how people on my friends list "like" Sarah Palin.  To each their own.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Crying it Out: Part Deux

We're getting over another double ear infection and cold over here, and I'm faced with another round of breaking bad sleep habits.  Henry had a fever and was just in general feeling pretty crappy, last week I don't think he slept for two hours straight at any point.  Of course, this led to massive exhaustion on my part.  When a coworker talks to you for five minutes and then says "What do you think?"  and after a brief pause, you respond "Um....what?"  it may be time to get some rest.

But of course, now Henry is in the habit of me coming to get him every time he cries, whether it's to administer ibuprofen, change him, feed him, whatever.  He seems to feel fine, so I know we're just going to have to tough it out for another few days and let him work it out.  Today I laid him down for his nap, and he started wailing.  I went to take a bath, and to shave various areas of myself.  Don't want to get too detailed about my personal hygiene, but I think I was in danger of being mistaken for a Sasquatch, shot, stuffed, and placed in the Natural History Museum.

He wailed the entire time.  And he's really worked on his lung capacity-just when you think they can't get any louder, they do.  Finally settled down and, aside from some sniffling, seems to be down for the count now.

In other news, it's wedding season and I'm dress shopping, and I have to say, what the fuck is wrong with people who design clothes?  I just want a normal dress.  A NORMAL DRESS.  The few I've found online are sold out, and everything else looks like a freaking peacock mated with an army tent.  I don't really get empire waist if you're not pregnant.  Because quite frankly, they make you look pregnant even if you're super slim.   And given the slight (maybe not slight) muffin top I'm still rocking, the last thing I need is something to make that area look bigger.  But damn near everything is empire waist-or so short that I may as well just rock a shirt and no pants and call myself fashionable.  (Nobody wants to see that).

Oh well.  I may have to suck it up and actually head out to a store to look for something.  I hate shopping, but here we are.  Online can only get you so far.  At least I can give Henry a chance to test out the screaming on his dad for an afternoon.  Pretty sure he gets that from his side of the family anyway.

Friday, May 6, 2011

We're Back. And I Mean it This Time.

Ok.  So school is over for the semester, and I actually have the summer off. From classes, anyway.  I'll hopefully be posting more often.  And things are getting more interesting, so it all works out!  The only thing that doesn't is that now naps have gotten less frequent, and moving is becoming....more alarming.  The days of "oh, I'll just set him here and do some dishes" are OVER.

I don't really get why people freak out about the first few months of motherhood. I mean, yes, it's a big change and a big family adjustment.  But...the kid can't DO anything.  If you leave them in the crib, chances are, when you get back, they'll still be there.  Not that I'm advocating leaving your kid in the crib for an extended period of time, like for a run to the grocery store or Vegas. I'm just saying if you wanted to do a load of laundry, you could.

Not anymore.  Henry is on the cusp of walking, and is getting into everything.  He has little interest in his toys, and strength that makes me concerned that he's doing Pilates or something in his crib.  The other day he broke a plastic coat hanger in half, and has thrown his baby gate and his scooter admirable distances.

He's figuring himself out, and we're struggling to keep up.  Here comes the issue of discipline-he's at the age where he could really cause himself a lot of harm if he gets into the wrong things (which he loves to do) but doesn't understand the warnings.  And yes, I understand babyproofing and we've done what we can, but this kid has no bounds, and I think the safest thing would be to remove everything from the house altogether.

Except that he'd still find a way to pull himself up and bang his head and fall down, and we've got to learn to deal with that ourselves.  Life takes some knocks.  And I always said I wanted any child of Ben and myself to live a little more like their dad-he's always been much more open to new experiences and choices, even when they've knocked him on his ass a time or two.  My husband has plenty of scars, but I doubt he regrets them much.  Getting beat up is the price of living a full life, and I want my son to have a full life.

Don't you just hate when the world gives you exactly what you wish for?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Delaware, Aquariums, and Pageants. Among Other Things.

We've had an exciting few weeks.  The weekend before last my dad and I ran the Monument Ave. 10k, very, very slowly.  Ben went to Atlantic City and has only recently stopped coughing up stripper glitter.  Just kidding, I have yet to spot a speck of glitter.  Maybe strippers are using something new now.  I don't know, not my field.  Last weekend Henry, my mom and I packed up and headed to Delaware for one of my cousin's bridal showers.

There are a few things you need to understand about my family to make any of my posts about them make sense.  One is that there are a lot of us.  My dad has eight brothers and sisters, and they all have at least two kids.  Now it's come about that the kids are having kids (not together, we're Delaware, not West Virginia).  So there are even more of us, and some more on the way, and weddings are always happening and always very, very fun, though they can produce epic hangovers.

But this was the first time that the extended family got to meet Henry, so I was excited.  He was a total charmer, grabbed lots of boobs, and ate anything anyone placed near his mouth.  And of course, everyone talked about how cute he was.  That happens a lot when you have a kid and I'm never sure how to feel about it.  Not because I don't think he's cute-I do, I think he's the cutest kid to ever be born, but I know that every mom feels that way.  His day care teachers are pushing me to put him in "cutest baby" contests, but I just can't, for many reasons.

1.  I think those contests are pageanty and creepy.
2.  I'm pretty sure for what I pay them a week his day care teachers are contractually obligated to tell me my kid is the cutest kid that ever was.
3.  If he didn't win, then someone would be implying that he ISN'T the cutest kid who ever was, and I'd have to punch someone.

I don't know, I've managed to get this far without a felony and a prison tattoo, I think I'll just keep that trend going.

So we saw the family for not enough time, because my mom got jumpy and wanted to get moving.  We had decided to take Henry to the National Aquarium in Baltimore on Sunday.  We showed up and wandered through, he loved it-particularly the dolphins.  We were sitting by the tank watching them swim by and play when a family sat down next to us.

The mom of said family started asking "Why do they go to the surface? I mean, they're fish! Why are they jumping?"
The husband offered a few lame explanations and they basically got into a fight about fish and how they live.

I generally do not get into other people's conversations but I felt the stupidity of this one was reaching a point where it might affect MY kid.  I mean, even he was looking at them like they were stupid.  I finally said "Dolphins are mammals. They breathe oxygen, they have to go to the surface."

The mom looks at me and says, I swear to God, "If they're mammals, why do they live in the ocean?"

And then proceeds to ask if they can hold their breath longer than humans and if that's "why they live so close to the surface."

I don't know how she is allowed to get a license or vote, because I was pretty sure this was one of the things covered in third grade science, but she really kept asking these questions.  Every time I answered her, the husband would repeat what I'd just said, like he'd known the answer all along.

Ben and I debated who'd seen more stupidity-me in that scenario or him in Atlantic City.   Pretty sure I won.

But now we're home, and on Sunday, Henry seemed to sense that there was no longer an audience to impress with good behavior.  Ben put him in his high chair and he looked at us, screamed, and kicked the tray off onto the floor.  His expression said "There's no company to impress now.  Show's over, bitches."

The sad thing is, he's so good around other people that no one ever believes me.  Not Henry, that perfect angel!


Friday, April 8, 2011


Well, we finished the 10K!  And yes, while I may have been passed by several tree sloths and an injured turtle, I ran the whole way.  Now on to the Lynchburg half-marathon, and all I can say is, good thing it's four months away.  I also started a weight training DVD, and all I can say is OW.  My legs have never been so sore.  It didn't help that the video has some....questionable moves and sound effects from the instructor, which were making Ben a little amorous.  Let's put it this way-if your DVD instructor has you doing squats while she grunts "Give me a good hard one!" your husband is going to giggle like a schoolgirl and you're going to lose your balance.

In baby news, we have definitely reached the tantrum milestone, Henry has decided that he gets to have everything he wants exactly when he wants it, and if you disagree, then God help you.  Since I tend to disagree on certain things, like whether or not he should be able to chew on the dog bowl or crash glass objects together, we are entering a new phase of the parenting roller coaster.  And this kid is dramatic.  He completely throws himself over backwards, kicks his feet, does that one scream and then holds his breath for the next one, which you know is going to be window-shattering....yeah, it's fun.  At least today he learned that it's not a stellar idea to throw yourself over backwards when there is not a person sitting behind you and you've misjudged the placement of your boppy.  CLUNK.  I swear, this kid has a head like a battering ram.

He's also exhibiting some worrisome feats of strength.  I got to day care the other day and his teacher was sitting and talking to him about why one should not lift up the playmat (which is about 10x10 feet and thick, it's like a gym mat) and attempt to toss the other kids off of it.  He also picked up his baby gate and threw it a good four feet last weekend. I'm a little worried that he's been doing my weight DVD when I haven't been looking.  

When he's in a good mood, he's all sorts of fun now.  Finding new things, eating new things (hopefully not just dirt, but actual food) and spending more time with his extended family.  This weekend Mom and I are taking him up to Delaware to meet all the aunts and uncles and cousins.  I think he's going to have a ball, but I"m worried that my Uncle Joey will corrupt him and get him to join the Bad Boys Club, which consists of him and a few of my male cousins, not to mention my nephew Chase.  From what I gather, the Bad Boys Club does a lot of talking about boobs.  Not sure what else.

Well, Henry's quite fond of grabbing those, regardless of how well he (or I) knows the owner of said boobs, so he'll probably fit right in.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Crawling, Wrecking Shit, and Caffeine.

Yeah, I really can't keep apologizing for slacking on the posting....sorry, it just happens.  Honestly, lately's been a pretty down time in our household.  Ben's dad passed this time of year, just two years ago, so he's been feeling pretty bad.  Add that to all the wonderful news in the world these days, and it's enough to make us not want to get out of bed.  But that's no way to live life, and now we've got a kid to set a good example for.  I've been known to get into funks and pretty much make it to work and home, and remain incommunicado for a while til I shake myself out of it.  Not really an option anymore.  It's a good thing, how depressed can you really get when you get up in the morning, look in the crib, and your adorable kid is totally delighted to see you, and you don't find out for a few minutes that his look of joy may have been the result of unleashing a mountain of crap, and not necessarily seeing your face?

Whatever, I'll take my smiles where I can get them.

It's something I think about, though-how he's going to see me and how that's going to form the kind of person he turns into.  There were times when I wondered about my parents and the choices they made, but whatever happened, they always just pushed forward.  Wallowing's not really allowed in my house.  And I want Henry to see the same thing, because there's going to be plenty of times in his life when I'm sure he's going to want to say "Fuck it." and not go to work or deal with anything.  Sometimes it's easier to drink a few beers and watch Ghost Hunters marathons.  I maintain that, much like most other things, this sort of behavior is acceptable in moderation.  Very careful moderation.

Update on the Lent progress-have remained alcohol free fairly easily.  When a kid's going to wake you up at six without giving the slightest bit of consideration to when YOU went to bed, it's best to turn in early and forgo your ingrained nighttime traditions (Kids are such selfish jerks!)

The coffee ban met with massive fail, very early on.  I tried, I really did.  But after a two-week long headache and seriously contemplating chucking office supplies at undergrad dental students, I decided it was in everyone's best interest for me to have my morning cup.  Down to one, and no soda or anything like that.  Watching the diet, and got my bloodwork today-hopefully my cholesterol will come back as "on the high side of normal" and not "your heart is going to explode" this year.

And in the last bit of recent news, the 10k I signed up for is in a week!  Snuck up on me.  I think I'll finish, which is my only real goal at this point.  I don't even think you can call my long run pace running, or jogging.  More like slogging.  But hey, my pants are getting looser.  So win.

Henry's going crazy with the crawling.  We did not realize how woefully unprepared we were to have a mobile child.  What is it that makes a kid ignore his toys and head immediately towards anything that has the potential to hurt them?  If anyone wanted to make a serious argument against evolution (and here in Virginia, there's plenty of people who do) that might be a good place to start.  Self-preservation is definitely a skill learned later in life.  Or in Ben's case, never.  If you could see his ER visit history, you'd know why I worry about that gene being passed on to our kid.  God help us when he starts walking.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Does this smell like barf to you?

Got to get more consistent about this posting thing.  I'm working on it.  We've just had a rough few months, with Henry being sick and family drama.  He seemed to be doing better this weekend, but last night I went in to check on him and he and his crib were just hosed with puke.  I mean, it was bad.  Naturally I panicked, but was calmed down by a helpful friend who also happens to be a nurse.  Nurses are good people to know.  They generally give you the information you need in a way that says "Stop freaking the hell out.  Kids puke and have fevers.  It's fine." without making you feel stupid about it.

Somehow a sick kid puts you and your partner into sync, though.  It's definitely a team effort-one goes with the kid to the tub, one goes with everything in barf range to the washer.  (Don't mix those up, by the way).  While Henry was miserable while he was barfing, as we all are, afterwards he would look around, smile at me, and clap.  Clearly he can puke and rally.  He's not going to have ANY issues at college!

Other than that we've had work, I've had school, friends visiting, it's been a busy few weeks.  I also gave up alcohol and coffee for Lent, which has been....interesting.  I'm not particularly religious and am definitely not Catholic anymore, so I think a lot of people think it's odd that I give up anything at all.  I just think that even if you don't believe in the exact theology behind it, Lent provides a good framework for doing some good internally, or in your community.  Since I have no money or time to donate anywhere, I decided to focus on some things I could improve on.  And really, if you're not taking care of yourself, how can you put more of yourself out there?  I like that it coincides with spring, too.  Sort of a renewal thing (not trying to sound all nature worshippy or anything, I promise, no naked dancing in the full moon in my backyard.  Just the front yard.)

Alcohol was kind of a no-brainer, having a beer or glass of wine (or two...or three, if we're being honest) had gotten to be a bit too much of a habit for me, so I decided that could go.  Saves me money, too.  The coffee was trickier.  Lots of people with small children eyed me suspiciously (and blearily) and asked me why the hell I would give up coffee when I have a small child and work.  The headache I've had for a few days would also like an answer to that question.  It hurts to think, but basically the root of that one is that I realized I don't really like coffee all that much, but I drink it every day because I've become dependent on it, and I don't like that.  Honestly, of the two, that's been the harder habit to kick.  Good thing it's spring break and the undergrads are gone.  If some 18 year old walked into my office, and asked me a question without knocking or saying "Excuse me" or even bothering to stop texting, I'm not sure Coffee-Free Megan could really be held responsible for her actions.

"Wait, why did you get fired?"
"Well, there was this kid...and I had this stapler....paramedics had to be know, I don't really want to talk about it."

Wish me luck.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hopefully, this link works! Help raise funds for MS research!

Apologies, I am technologically slow.  Thank you to those who have donated already!  New blog to come soon, once I get somewhat caught up, got some huge work and school projects, and a kid with a double ear infection.

Yes, you CAN do it all, if you don't mind not sleeping and never being totally caught up on anything!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gimme some money, and I'll dress like a Viking.

So the time of year has come for me to engage in some fundraising.  Back when I was an impressionable college student, I met an awesome girl named Skate, and her equally awesome boyfriend Rob.  I met them through a guy I was dating, and even when that hit the bricks (for about the eleventh time) they stayed friends with me.  They took me to my first Foxfield event, took me out for my 21st birthday, and took me in when my engagement hit the rocks a few years later.  (Their spare bedroom has been occupied by more than one jilted fiance, thus earning it the title "The Non-Honeymoon Suite".

They're just all-around great people, and very, very fun.  Some of my favorite Skatisms involve:

Her breaking a table at my 2001 New Year's Eve party.  I'm not even sure how that came about, but it involved some dance moves, and from what I understand, was intentional.

Her meeting some guys from New Jersey outside of a bar and insisting that they come hang out at her house because her then-boyfriend, now-husband Rob was also from New Jersey.  (He did not go along with this plan, surprisingly).

Her falling down at my bachelorette party, but to be fair, we all did at one point or another.

I'm sure I'll remember more.

Skate also has MS.  And every year, for all she's done for me, I repay her a little bit by raising money for the Charlottesville MS Walk.  I also offer up some motivation by thinking of ways to embarrass myself to get people to donate more money.  Last year I promised to do the walk dressed as a bee if I got to the $1000 mark.  I did, and I did do the walk in my bee suit-seven months pregnant, at that.

This year, if we get to $15,000, all the walkers will be dressing as vikings, and Henry's going as a dragon.  So do some good, and I'll post pictures if we meet our goal.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sleep Talking

Was just reading one of my favorite blogs, about Sleep Talking Man, and it reminded me that people have asked me to post some of Ben's sleep talking.  This started about six years ago, after we'd moved in together.  The thing is, Ben sleep talks, but it can be hard to tell if he's awake or asleep until something really odd comes out.


Ok.  So one of the main ways I can tell if Ben is sleep talking is that he brings up his balls, but it didn't start out that way.  One of the first times I can remember was when we were engaged, and getting tons of gifts packed in lots of styrofoam.  One night I wake up to Ben  mumbling, and this conversation follows.

Me:  What?
Ben:  I said I'm going to go BUCK WILD and SET THINGS OFF.
Me: What?
Him:  You heard me!  Now eat this styrofoam!
Me  What the hell is wrong with you?
He makes a Homer Simpson-esque fist and says:  Eat it.

Other notables.

One night I woke up and he was snoring.  I asked him to roll over because he was snoring.
He replied. "How about I just shit on your FACE?" and then proceeded to go THHHHBBBBBPPPPPPTTT for a good minute.

I said "Man, what a lucky girl I am."
He sat up, pointed at me, and said "Believe it, lady."

The last one, one of the latest ones, came about when he fell asleep on our chair in the living room, in what looked like a very uncomfortable position.  The following happened.

Me:  Why don't you go to bed?
Him:  *Muttering*
Me:  Honey, you're falling asleep.  Go to bed.
Him:  Why don't you lick my balls?
Me: thanks.  Go to bed, you're asleep.
Him:  You know SOMETHING about EVERYTHING, but you don't know NOTHING about BALL WASHING.

He then appeared to go back to sleep, but five minutes later sat straight up, pointed at me and said.  "This is bullshit.  ALL OF IT."  Then collapsed back into sleep.

It's an adventure, what can I say?  I'll post more as they happen/I remember them.

And we're mobile. To cough on more things.

Sitting at the computer, listening to a sick little guy cough and fuss himself to sleep.  Yes, big Hank is sick AGAIN.  He literally just finished a round of antibiotics Saturday, and by Saturday night was starting to cough.  Got up this morning, got ready for work, and went to wake him up only to find him burning up and runny-nosed.  Ben and I split the day-he went to work in the morning, and headed home at eleven so we could swap.  The kid had been so crabby that I was happy to trade him, I'm sad to say.  Not his fault, he's just feeling miserable, but man, when you're reduced to dancing and singing along to Fraggle Rock to amuse your child...well, those are desperate times.  Any longer and I probably would have let him play with all the things he tries so desperately to get to-namely all the remotes, the phone, and anything I happen to be holding.

But we did have a breakthough in the milestone department, our little guy is now mobile.  I hesitate to say he's crawling, he's more....lurching.  In a crablike sideways inchworm way.  It's pretty amazing to see.  It's funny how all these firsts are so amazing to us, but seeing your kid smile, or laugh, or taste something good for the first time just reminds you of how many simple joys there are in life.  Today we spent a good hour watching him figure out that he could work his way over to his toys, and saw him sit and contemplate how to get the toys that were on top of the ottoman, just out of his reach.  Wish I had some of his drive.

I also took him to see my family on Saturday.  Sunday was my mom's birthday, so Casey, my youngest brother, and I decided to drive down and surprise her.  I doubt we did surprise her, because nothing ever does, but she was happy to see us.  Henry got fed his first Thin Mint and was otherwise spoiled rotten by everyone-I was glad I was there because my sister threatened to give him coffee.  She said I'd done the same for her kids, but I had to point out that I never gave them coffee-just criminal amounts of sugar.  But I won't say too much about her, because she says I'm mean on here about her and mom, and told my mom I talk about her online.  Mom threatened to get a facebook page to see all the things we say about her, but she never will, she doesn't have the patience.

Shan says I should start a "Shit My Mom Says" blog.  She has had some winners.  We were laughing this weekend about her taking me to college with my dad.  My mom is not the most emotional of people, but you see that a lot with Irish Catholic families.  Yeah, they love you, and you love them, but no need to talk about it.  As my friend Skate, who comes from a similar background, once told me, "Emotions are for Italians."

So my mom is taking me to college, and as she and Dad turn to go, she faces me, and takes my hands, and takes a deep breath.  I think "Wow, this is it.  She's going to tell me she's proud of me.  MAYBE SHE'LL EVEN CRY."

She squeezed my hands and says, "Megan.  Remember.  If you get drunk, pass out on your stomach.  Because otherwise you might choke on your own vomit.  And that's a horrible way to go."  And then she just left.

But that advice has stuck with me, so maybe she knew what she was doing.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day

I'm not so into Valentine's Day. And I don't say that in the "oh, I'm trying to be blase about it, but GOD HELP YOU IF YOU DON'T COME THROUGH WITH A PRESENT" way.  I just don't really dig it.  Ben and I, while very in love and very happy together, are not terribly romantic people.  The one time we did try to have a romantic Valentine's Day, it went badly.  He grabbed me and kissed me when I wasn't expecting it, and I accidentally jabbed him in the eye really hard.  Later on, I was giving him a massage, and he farted on me.  (Whenever I bring this up, he insists that "you shifted your weight.  I couldn't help it.")

So yeah, we generally give each other a small gift or two and he makes me chili.  And let me tell you, nothing gets you geared up for a night of romantic love like a stomach full of chili.  Hot.

This year I did manage to surprise him by finding a brand of hot sauce he had once in a restaurant and really liked.  Found it on amazon, the most wonderful place in the world for people who hate shopping.  He brought me roses today.  Tomorrow's my day off, and I get to take Henry to the wang doctor (ok, so the technical term is urologist.  Whatever.  Wang doctor.)  One of his guys hasn't dropped yet.  I'm sure he'll be in a stellar mood after being prodded in the junk.

I did start thinking about relationships on my run today.  I took my Ipod, which I generally don't do, I like the quiet and random thoughts that pop into my head when I'm out on the road.  But today I had to do 30 straight minutes and that hasn't happened since before I got pregnant, so I figured I needed a distraction.  There's always a band you associate with certain people, and my ipod went to Death Cab for Cutie.  Not a band I'm crazy about anymore, but it reminded me of the guy I dated before I met Ben.  It was a fairly overdramatic relationship, but he's a good guy, and he got me out of a very deep rut that I'd dug for myself.  Even though things didn't work out, he got me to think about what I wanted out of my life.  I think up to that point I'd been bending over backwards to fit into other people's lives.  Yeah, it ended badly, but we're sort of friends now.  Again, still not a big Death Cab fan.

But before I get angry emails, I'm not saying they're terrible.  I'm just saying that if you're sitting in the dark, listening to Transatlanticism over and over again because you feel like it's applicable to you, then it's time to evaluate your life and look at other options.  Same goes for Tori Amos or Morrissey.

After that Drive-by Truckers came on, and it made me smile because that's a band that is forever linked to Ben for me.  And I thought about how lucky I was that my life, and the people in it, had led me here.  I once read a short story where the main character says something to the effect  of "You could spend your life in abject terror, thinking of all the things that might not have happened."  So when I think of that particular ex (who I'd rather call my friend than my ex at this point) I'm glad for the experience, because it helped me see what was important to me.  And I know he's doing what he wants, where he wants to be, and I hope he's happy.  It's an amazing thing, gaining some perspective.

Now all my other exes, including the one who passed out in the middle of a Subway robbery and the one who inserted himself into movie plots and then pretended those things really happened to HIM....yeah, I don't really care where the hell they ended up.

I will say that I thank whatever's out there, deity-wise, that my life went the way it did, because it got me to Ben, and eventually, to my beautiful son.  I love you guys more than anything.  Happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eating out

Ok, so I only used that title to see how many people find this blog searching for porn.  I'm guessing  my numbers are going to go way up and I may get some pissed off comments.  Hey, I take my fun where I can.

But it is an appropriate title, as we just got back from Henry's second outing to a restaurant. I'm pretty sure it's going to be his last for a good long while.  We've been wanting barbeque, so we decided to introduce Henry to the glory of pulled pork.  He's been sick, so maybe this weekend wasn't the best time for it, but I wanted to get out of the house, dammit.

When we got there, he proceeded to try to eat the menu, then yelled at it.  Thus began the fastest, most apprehensive meal I've eaten since that bad first date with the guy who ID'd me to make sure I was over eighteen because he'd "been tricked before" and then asked me if I liked DANGER.   (Like I've said, I used to pick some winners).

We basically spent the whole meal on the edge of our seats, waiting to appease our son if he let out the slightest noise, in order to spare other people their meals.  Ben looked at me about five minutes in and said "You know, I'm not really enjoying this."  Luckily, lunch arrived, my plate had a pickle on it, and Henry was content to gnaw that into bits for the entire ten minutes it took us to shovel in our food.  We then picked pickle bits off the floor and made our exit.  Not really a relaxing meal, and I'm pretty sure it will be a while til we go out with him again. It's not like it's his fault, but what's the point of getting out if you're on pins and needles the whole time?

Also spent some of this week talking to my friend Melissa, who has reached the point of sleep deprivation where letting the kid cry it out is suddenly a very, very viable option.  As I told her,  everyone I know with a kid, including me, gets there at some point.  Some people do it early, some people read about other options and try those first, and some of them (I hate to admit it, but like me) think their kid is just going to magically start sleeping on their own at some point.

But we all get there.  And we know if we have another kid, we're going to get there a whole lot sooner with that kid.  Like the night they come home from the hospital.

It's a different kind of exhaustion, when you have a kid that doesn't sleep.  Because even when they DO sleep, you can't really, because you're tensed for the moment they wake up.  It's kind of like waking up one day, and knowing that you're going to be punched in the face at some point, but you don't know when or how hard.  It's a bit difficult to focus on anything else.  The first time Henry slept eight hours in a row, I went to work the next day and felt GREAT.  I couldn't figure it out-I hadn't run that morning, or had coffee yet.  Then I realized-I'd just forgotten what not being tired felt like.  You learn to live with a certain level of tired all the time when you have a baby.

But now my own kid is asleep, and Ben is tinkering with the furnace, even though I got him to admit last night (after a mysterious loud boom came from the basement) that we may need to get a professional to look at it before it kills us all.  Sleep sounds like an ok idea to me, too.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Abbreviated Attention Span and Poultry

I was complaining recently about how I can't get into books like I used to.  Ben would marvel at how I could sit down with a book, not look up or move for an hour, then stand up and be done with it.  Cover to cover.  Maybe he didn't marvel at it so much, I think maybe it aggravated him.  But reading was my escape.  I grew up in a big loud family and spent a lot of time not fitting in outside the house, so I just turned to books.  And I can tune out damn near anything when I get into one.

But since I got pregnant, part of my brain seems to have just fizzled out.  I first noticed it when I was trying to describe Ben's remodeling job on our bathroom to some friends.  I was about five months pregnant.  I said "And he replaced those....those...." and couldn't come up with the word.  I looked at Ben, made a turning motion with both hands, and said "you know, these things."

He looked at me like I had lost my mind, and said "Do you mean faucets?"

And I said "Yeah, that's it!"

Since Henry was born, I've been trying to pick up books again, but I tend to get distracted or fall asleep.  It seems minor but reading is such a major part of my life, it was really bothering me.  Other moms basically told me to suck it up and start reading short stories, and one suggested Bailey White, who writes some great short stories about growing up in the South.  Some of them are really striking a chord, particularly the one about swans, in which she describes swans so mean that the alligators in the ponds refuse to fuck with them.

I believe it.

When I was in first grade, we moved from Boston to Augusta, Georgia.  Who the hell knows why.  But here my mom and my older sister's soft spot for abandoned animals of all kinds took a sinister turn.  I think it started when my sister found a baby chicken stuck in a manure pile at the feed store.  (Yes, there was a feed store.)  She pulled it out, yelled at the store owner, informed him that she was TAKING THIS CHICKEN, and then did just that.  That started our poultry collection.

From then on, she and mom would go to the feed store, head to that little bin with the light bulb overhead that was filled with baby chicks, and find the most beat-up looking ones and bring them home.  Once, they even found a turkey.  It's kind of odd how they both gravitate towards abandoned animals, given that neither of them seem to like people all that much.

I think my mom was also partially driven by the fact that our neighbor was consumed with having the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood, and was constantly complaining about the state of our house and yard.  Rather than achieving her expected outcome, which was shaming my mother into becoming a proper repressed Georgia housewife with a manicured lawn, this woman pissed my mom off to no end.  To get back at her, Mom planted pink plastic flamingos in the front lawn, built a chicken coop in the back, and started hanging Christmas lights so gaudy you could see them from space.

They never really became friends.

But here's the thing about having a flock of motley poultry in your backyard.  If you don't know livestock, you don't know how many roosters or hens, geese or ganders....whatever the hell you call male and female ducks you have.  As it turned out, we ended up with a lot of males.  Which turned into a renegade poultry gang that terrorized the neighborhood.  Even after we moved to Virginia, they kept this up.  The only nice one was the turkey.  The others would attack anyone and anything that came into the yard, and EVERYONE, including teenage boys, were afraid to go back there.  The geese eventually took over the front yard and once chased away an insurance agent (his secretary grabbed one by the neck and shook it, he left her alone.  We were impressed.)

So when I read this story about the alligators leaving the swans alone....yeah, I can buy that.  And I will never feel bad eating a chicken, I can tell you that.  I couldn't go into my backyard for ten years without a steel pipe to ward off attacks.  Thank God my mom gave up on feathered creatures and now just rescues really, really ugly dogs.

Although most of them bite, too.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Nothing's easy any more.

As much as I know I was an unbearable asshole at that point in my life, sometimes I miss my late teens/early twenties.  You know, that time when, particularly if you grew up in a backwoods area (I did) and you head to college, and you start meeting people who think like you and are introduced to all sorts of new ideas, and you proceed to act like you're the first person who ever thought about things in a certain way and you talk about it incessantly, because YOU NEED TO MAKE PEOPLE SEE.

Never mind that pretty much every person you know has already gone through that phase, come out the other side, realized they don't know shit, and are just humoring you as you get into heated debates about things you really know nothing about, like Vietnam or health care.  Now I realize that there are no easy answers, and for every person whose life is improving, someone else is taking it to the face.  This whole Egypt thing has certainly reminded me of that.  Part of me likes that people had just had enough oppression, and banded together to say "Enough."  And another part of me sees people getting hurt, thinks about stability in an already volatile region, and wonders if the protestors do succeed, if what follows will be even worse.  It's played out that way before.

I'm kind of amazed by the role social media has had in all this.  Debate the causes all you want, but social media is making people more aware of basic human rights.  I like to bitch about texting, facebook, and Twitter, even though I use two of the three, and how they're making kids obnoxious and people unable to interact-but let's face it, the internet and all its various offspring have opened up a whole new world to isolated people in isolated nations.  They're learning things they never could before, and saying things they wouldn't have dared.  I wonder if Mark Zuckerberg or whatever the hell his name is imagined that his site would play a role in the overthrowing of a government when he was sitting in that dorm room at Harvard.

Wonder if he's shitting his pants realizing it now.  I know I would be.

Yeah, I know this isn't a mom topic but like all moms, I do other things, and only ten people read this anyway, some of whom are contractually obligated by marriage or blood to still like me, and others who for some reason think I'm funny, so hopefully I can branch out some and not piss anyone off.  Or lose my ads.  I have one for Mormonism.  I'm not entirely sure how that happened.  Using me to advertise for Mormonism is like using a baseball blog to advertise for Sex in the City 3-Sassy Continence Management for Old Whores.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Food, teeth, and colds. Or an ordinary weekend here.

I have three days off a week, a bonus to my already great job.  I generally use Friday to get things done so I can have the weekend to enjoy with the guy and the boy.  It seems, without fail, the more I get planned out on Friday, the more the universe likes to laugh at me.  I went to the doctor, took Henry for a checkup, bought a ton of healthy food to cook for him and Ben and I over the weekend, and downloaded a training program for the 10k I've signed up to run in April.  I was feeling great and ready to go.

By Friday evening I was leveled with another bug, and Henry was coughing and blowing snot everywhere.  I didn't eat anything but chicken soup all weekend, and am scrambling now to freeze things so the stuff I bought doesn't go to waste.  Missed a day of work, and I feel like my head is full of cotton.  Ben came home and kept getting mad because I wasn't responding to him when he was talking to me-I just couldn't hear him.  That's definitely weird for me, I have crap vision but my other senses seem to have overcompensated-I've got a crazy sense of smell and ears like a bat.

But anyway, we're recovering.  I'm reading a ton about food for babies, we introduced pureed food a while ago.   The books all say "Look for signs that your baby is ready for solids."  Well, I was giving Henry a bottle one morning while trying to multitask and eat a bowl of oatmeal, and before I knew it, he had spit out his bottle, grabbed a handful of my oatmeal, and stuffed it in his mouth.

Ok, can't get more obvious a sign than that.  So far he's just been doing cereals and baby food.  I had great intentions to make his food, but that's just been impossible.  Plus the one time I made him peas, he ate three spoonfuls, each time giving me a look of pure horror, then covered his mouth with this hands and yelled at me through them.  I have managed to do some sweet potato and carrots that he'll eat, but that's been the extent of my culinary attempts for him.

So my friend Melissa has been posting on facebook about her son starting solids, and they basically skipped the whole pureed thing at the advice of a book she read, which I can't remember the name of and am too lazy to look up.  She's got all these adorable pictures and posts of her boy (who is younger than Henry) with plates of food in front of him, looking completely delighted.  "Roast sweet potatoes and broccoli a hit!" and things like that.

I figured I'd start letting Henry mess around with some solids.  Cut up pasta stuck to his hands until he forgot about it and started playing with something else, every now and again pausing to poke curiously at the noodles.  I gave him a piece of string cheese, and he appeared to eat it.  Then he made his raspberry noises (BBBPPPPPTTT  BBBPPPPTTT) which are generally accompanied with a lot of spit, until the cheese flew out of his mouth and across the room, and the dog ate it.

Well, I guess it's going to be a process.  He also has cut a bottom tooth, and I have to say, I'm glad I stopped nursing a while ago.  That went from gums to sharp pretty damned quick.  Ouch.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tiger Mothers, or why you probably shouldn't say your parenting style is superior to all others and not expect backlash.

So this woman writes a book about Chinese mothers, who basically sound like the drill sargeants of parenthood, and whose advice included forcing your child to practice violin or piano three hours a day, not allowing play dates or sleepovers, insisting they get all As, and berating them for pretty much anything, is all over the news defending herself lately.  Surprisingly, being called inferior mothers by a woman who makes beating your child only occasionally seem compassionate upsets some people.

I love how she seems surprised, like she expected people to be grateful to her for pointing out that they were raising their children wrong, and immediately start following her tips and demanding that she appear on Oprah.  Or beg her to come to THEIR homes and emotionally and psychologically torment their children, too.

I haven't read the book, and I really don't plan to.  I have heard this woman on the radio a lot and I can tell from her tone that if she and I were to meet, five minutes into the conversation I'd want to smack her.  And that would be true no matter what the conversation topic was, or whether or not I agreed with her.  She has that very smarmy, I-am-not-wrong-you-are-an-idiot tone that professors have (and I believe she is a professor at Yale).

But from what I can gather she talks about the strict way Chinese parents traditionally raise their children, and how success is so important, and how her daughter played Carnegie Hall at 13 or something and that's why she's better than you.  (I don't know what she's going to say when that same daughter snaps and tries to kill her in her sleep.)  It's brought up some fun  memories from my childhood.  My mom was nowhere near the level of crazy that this woman sounds, but she was very strict, had very high standards for us, and was not into silly things like emotions.  She was raised in a pretty crappy style, though, and I know she did the best she could.  Even so, she was hard on us, particularly my sister and I.  I think that was partially because she wanted us to be able to handle whatever life threw at us, and to be tough.  I like to think we both are, but at some point don't you need to give a kid a break?  It took me til after college to realize that not being great at something was ok, and that if I truly hated something I didn't really have to do it.  I mean, my mom made me play softball.  I have a congenital visual problem.  What was she thinking?  And for the love of God, again I ask that nobody show her this blog or I'll never hear the end of it.

Really, what good does it do if your kid is the smartest and the best piano player but has no idea how to have fun, or how to live life without being constantly corralled?  I ran into that problem, too.  When I got to college and my every moment wasn't monitored and scheduled, I really had no idea what to do with myself.  I couldn't manage my own time or realize how much time I should put into my work, or even what I should study.  I did, however, devote plenty of time to drinking beer and talking to people, two things that I didn't do that much of in my younger years.  I'm just figuring out what I want out of my professional life now, and I'm thirty-one years old.

So maybe Henry won't be the valedictorian or a violin virtuoso.  He'll do well in school, maybe he'll take karate or play a sport he really likes.  He won't sit in front of a TV or play video games all day.  But I like to think he won't be that weird kid that can't talk to other kids, and I like to think that while he may hate me at various points in his life, that at the end of the day he'll realize I did what I thought was best, and know that I loved him every day of his life.  I will never run him down or tell him he's worthless because he didn't meet some impossible expectation  And if he doesn't realize that I was an OK mom, I'll make him read this chick's book and be grateful I'm not like her.

Seriously, what are the odds on those two girls either beating her to death or going to college and turning into huge drunken sluts and never talking to their mother again?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Babies are jerks.

Sorry, a little bitter this morning.  Henry woke for the first time today at around 2:45, then proceeded to never really get settled down.  I'd have forty five minutes of silence, then he'd start talking to his mobile or kicking the bed rails.  We do have crib bumpers, but he stretches his legs and feet up until he's hitting the actual rail, above the bumper.  After a few attempts to feed him and get him back down, I finally gave up and got up around seven.  He had some prunes, then started fussing, so I put him back to bed.  He was sound asleep almost instantly, and will probably sleep til ten.  I, on the other hand, am blearily staring at the computer, coffee in hand, tired, but not tired enough to go back to sleep.

Sometimes you wonder if they do it on purpose.

We got to have a night out last night, though, my baby brother and his girlfriend came over to watch Henry.  Casey is great with him, probably because of the practice he got with my niece.  She was born while he was in high school, and my sister was back home at that point.   We were all used to her brother, who was a pretty calm and happy kid-really, he'd go to anybody, he slept great, he was just an easy baby to deal with.  I think we were all expecting something similar with her.

Then, on July 17....P arrived.  And she was a screamer.  Not her fault, she had colic, but that kid got spoiled very early.  She had grandparents and two uncles around who adored her-my mom even wanted to put her crib in their room.  But the kid did not sleep.  If you were holding her and she wore herself out screaming and did nod off, God help you if you moved or made any noise.  Because if she got up, you were in for a new round of screaming, energized by the five minutes of sleep she'd had.

When my dad commented on how solidly Henry slept, one of my brothers said "You're just used to P, who would wake up if an ant coughed.  Outside."  I remember a trip to the beach with her-on the way home all the girls rode together, my mom, my sister, me, and the baby.  She screamed for six.  hours.  straight.   She finally fell asleep around Richmond.  I had to pee really badly, but when my mom asked if she should stop, I just said "Don't do anything that might wake her up."  I seriously would have wet my pants or gone in a cup before I let my mom stop the car.

So after helping out so much with P (who, I'm happy to say, is a lovely, sweet, smart nine year old now who loves to hear stories about what a banshee she used to be) Casey is pretty patient and fun with Henry.  I feel pretty comfortable leaving them together, and it's hard to find someone who you're ok leaving your kid with.  Plus, he works for beer and cookies.  You can't beat that.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You're just a woman with a small brain. With a brain a third the size of us. It's science.

I was just telling Ben that a doctor at work today was explaining to me and a coworker that men think with one half of their brain, which is why men are the better scientists, artists, musicians, etc.  But women think with both sides, so they're better PEOPLE.  I can only assume his next lesson will involve the bumps on your head, and how they can tell your future.

I pondered saying a few things, mainly that the success of men in all those fields might be attributed to the differences in education offered to men and women until fairly recently, or I just could have laughed and called him a moron, but I'm trying to build good work relationships, and I'm pretty sure calling someone a dumbass would affect that in a negative way.  It certainly always has in the past.

As I've mentioned, I really like my new job, so I kept my mouth shut.  Anyway, when someone is sixty-ish and still believes that nonsense, they're not going to buy anything a stupid assistant says.  And I think he would be even less inclined to listen to an assistant who has a vagina.  Clearly I am made for typing letters and babymaking.  I'll leave hard thinking and math to the other gender, lest I tax myself and wind up with hysteria.


It's been a while since I've written, mainly because the same issues keep cropping up, and how much can you write about your kid not sleeping?  We're trying to eliminate his 3:30 am wakeup.  He resorts to kicking the crib rails, and running his pacifier along the rails like a prisoner with a tin cup when we're ignoring him.  It's funny at 7pm.  At 3am, it is less amusing.  This morning he fussed for a good forty-five minutes, while Ben dug out earplugs and I decided to go ahead and take my shower so I could have a few minutes' sleep when he actually did crash out.  All I can say is, though we may have been worried about his breathing for a while, all lung capacity issues seem to have solved themselves in a spectacular fashion.  Perhaps our son will follow in his dad's footsteps and become the frontman to a punk band.  He's a screaming prodigy.