Jan 26, 2009

Old blue eyes, young blue eyes.

"Do you like Frank Sinatra?"
"Not as much as you might expect."
"Gracie, do you like this music?"
"Why not?"
"It makes me want to go to sleep."

Atta girl!

Jan 17, 2009

It's not what you think.

This is the subtle approach Brady takes to begging when we're having an especially tasty (meaty) meal. I don't notice it so much anymore, but it can be awkward at dinner parties when guests aren't quite sure whose hot breath they feel on their thigh. When I was growing up, my father could cause the dogs to flee the dinner table with a quiet, "We're eating." I don't have that kind of steely control over Brady, but at least she matches my pants.

Right now she has a couple of projects going on in the backyard that have me mystified. She digs holes. This makes perfect sense in the summer when she needs someplace to cool off after she's laid in the sun so long her core temperature has reached dangerous levels. But now it's so cold the ground is hard, so she must be after something. My hunch is that when I tossed that steak bone into the back yard after dinner a few weeks ago, she didn't see its path from my hand to the ground, so now her walnut-sized brain is certain that steak bones magically appear out there and she must find them.

Mmmm, pupcakes!

Until a few days ago, it seemed Grace had pooped on every potty except the ones IN OUR HOUSE. For Mommy, she saved it all for naptime, bedtime or just any old time she felt like it. So the other night I sat her on the potty and sang to her, told her stories, made faces at her and said mean things about Elmo until she just couldn't take it anymore. I tortured that poo out of her, and I'm not ashamed to say it. Our deal? She gets a cupcake whenever she poops in the potty, and this baby cost $3.50 at New Seasons. Please do not bring to my attention the possible long-term psychological ramifications of such blatant food bribery. I'm tired of washing underpants, and she's so proud of herself, she will tell anyone who will listen that she poops on the potty like a big girl.

Jan 11, 2009

Back to bitching and moaning

I never quite know how to process remarks people make about how unfortunate it is that, now that I must go back to work, Grace and I are missing precious time together. For one thing, they are absolutely right (although some of our time together wasn't all that precious). Also, I don't imagine anyone is being intentionally judgmental or superior, even if the majority of comments come from people without kids or by fathers whose wives have had the luxury (!) of being stay at home moms. But it's happening more often, and I'd be more comfortable if I had a mental procedure in place to keep me from wasting too much energy on it. So I ask you, do I file it under:

a) meaningless conversation filler;
b) well-intentioned sympathy;
c) a whiff of criticism I could live without; or

My defensiveness around the issue is unoriginal and not terribly flattering, I know. I could go on about how committed I was to spending as much time with her as possible, how the divorce was unavoidable, how I have to help provide food and shelter first and foremost, but you know what? Just now, as I was typing this and realizing what a universal struggle this is for working moms everywhere, I decided it's not worth the time. So I think I'll just let it go. Yup, it's gone, for now anyway.

Jan 4, 2009

My girls.

They can be challenging, particularly in crappy weather and when they team up on me, but they're both so frickin' cute and give such good cuddles. I love the stuffing out of them.

Gigi, looking as if she's just smelled a fart, or perhaps the aroma of wet dog.

This rug was just cleaned. Damn dirty dog.

Bite me, 2008. I win.

According to a list I found online, the top ten stressors are:
- death of spouse
√ divorce
√ marital separation
- jail term
- death of a close family member
√ personal injury or illness
- marriage
√ being fired at work
√ marital reconciliation
- retirement

I experienced half of these (checked), spread nicely over the last six months. (I was surprised to not find moving on the list, because we all know how exciting it was to sell and/or buy a home last year.) Also, I watched one of my best friends suffer the loss of a parent; I went through the delightful process of kicking a Vicodin habit, courtesy of my gastroenterologist's (the Sadistic Prick) decision to treat my symptoms rather than figure out what was going on with my body (cold turkey, three days of hell); I faced some financial setbacks; I watched the Perfect Roommate become the Perfect Nut Job; I raised parenting anxiety to an art form; and I spent the holidays away from my parents for the first time since moving to Portland. It sucked.

So why am I so happy? I've never dealt well with chaos and uncertainty, but all the recent drama seems to have perfectly illuminated the good in my life. I'm making positive changes; I finally feel healthier now than I have in years; Grace seems to be adjusting remarkably well to her new living arrangements and is gradually transforming from a giant energy drain into a little person who makes me howl with laughter; and, of course, the people in my life continue to amaze me with their support, generosity, patience and compassion. Family, friends (old and new), and even cheerful strangers make me smile every day and appreciate what a fantastic little community I am part of.

I am optimistic about the new administration and the direction our country could take; I look forward to discovering the nuances of Grace's emerging personality; and I remain absurdly hopeful about publishing my novel and making a living as a writer. And as far as this is concerned? Time will tell.

Jan 1, 2009

Ho frickin' ho

Christmas this year was the culmination of a week-long siege of ice and snow that trapped us in the house and tested our very humanity. I, Grace, Brady and our friend Mike made the best of it. We didn't turn on each other (much), didn't eat each other when supplies ran low (although we speculated Brady would be nicely marbled) and we enjoyed some very creative meals and a lot of bad TV. Grace was such a good sport, primarily concerned with when we would be "going to Christmas." Try explaining that to a three-year-old. I went with, "Christmas is everywhere!"

The real reason for the season.

Grace ate just enough dinner to be allowed dessert. Dainty, isn't she?

We didn't make it to my parents' for the first time in years, but at least Ed was able to join us. Rather, Ed brought all the food for the yummy meal Mike prepared, rented movies for Grace and, most important, GAVE ME A NEW CAMERA FOR CHRISTMAS! He's, like, the best brother in the world.

Grace patiently explains to Mike how a doll works. (This is the same doll she got for her birthday, but the cute jammies were a gift from Aunt Kerry and Uncle Art.)

She really loves this doll.