CJDaily's Blog

November 13, 2010

To sleep… perchance to…sleep.

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 5:27 pm

The whining refrain of “But I’m not sleepy!  I’m not!  I’m not sleeeeeeeepy!” had faded from behind the closed bedroom door, and I held my breath, hoping that the 3-year-old behind it was finally unconscious.  First she had refused to wear clothes to bed, so I said, fine, sleep in your underwear, no problem.  Then five minutes later she had refused to sleep in her bed, opting for the floor instead.  I said fine, sleep on the floor.  The she’d eschewed all blankets and pillows, stubbornly insisting that she wanted to sleep on the carpet with nothing else.  FINE, I said through clenched teeth.  Go to sleep already.

And now five minutes after all of this hullabaloo, silence.  Perhaps I could finally relax.  Just to be sure, I opted to check on her.  Since she is the lightest sleeper imaginable, and the noisy flap of a butterfly’s wing a mile away can rouse her from her slumber, I decided not to open the door, but to peek under it.  She was on the floor, after all.  Glad we sprung for that beautiful cherry-wood toddler bed with the adorable forest animal bedding.  She’d rather sleep on the bare carpet, thank you very much. 

So, slowly, very slowly, I lowered myself onto the floor outside her room, moving inch by inch so as not creak the hardwood floor.  It was dim inside her room and the crack under the door only half an inch high, so it took my eyes a few minutes to adjust.  Where was she?  I saw no movement.  I heard only my own shallow breath and… a giggle. 

A loud giggle from the other side of the door.  And then my eyes snapped into focus, as I realised I was face to face on the floor with my daughter, with a door in between us.  I was less than amused.  She thought it was hilarious.

Belle has never been the best sleeper.  The only way to get her to sleep as an infant was to lie on my back in bed, with her on my chest, and then I would bounce up and down, clenching and unclenching my muscles until the motion soothed her to sleep.  Looking back, perhaps it’s no mystery how I dropped that post-baby weight so quickly.  She would also wake up often during the night, just to make sure I was still there, or maybe as experimental torture.  In any event, the past three years have turned me into a sleep deprived hag, able to fall asleep instantly, anywhere, if given half a chance.  My bedtime has been shoved up to about 8:30 or 9pm, since the minute she turned 3, Belle began arising at 5am every morning without fail.  Sometimes I can get her back to sleep, but since I have to leave for work at 6:45, going back to sleep myself is pointless.  I don’t know if I can fully explain the cosmic unfairness of being awoken 30 minutes before my alarm goes off every morning.  There’s just enough time to pacify her into going back to sleep, inevitably in MY warm and comfy bed, but not enough time for me to go back to sleep before the alarm goes off.

Her “big-girl bed,” rather ineptly named, as it is the proper size for a garden gnome, was a present for her third birthday.  The reason she didn’t get a proper bed until she turned three was for the simple reason that she never tried to climb out of her crib.  I declared that it would serve until she either grew out of it or climbed out of it, and voila, she climbed out of it two days before she turned three.  So my parents asked if they could give her a big-girl bed as her 3rd birthday present, and the very next day brought home a lovely little bed.  I bought precious bedding for it, and we made up the bed, tied a balloon to it, and ushered her into her bedroom where it was waiting for her.  Her eyes as big as saucers, she immediately climbed into it and pulled up the covers, experimentally turning onto one side, and then another.  She declared that she loved it, and proceeded to love it until five hours later when bedtime struck. 

She beamed up at me as I tucked her in, gave her a kiss, and stole out of the room.  For twenty whole minutes, I sat in smug pride, marveling at what an easy transition it had been.  Then two hours, TWO HOURS later, she was finally sleeping, after getting out of bed and being tucked back in fifteen times.  Since then, she had developed a strange love/hate relationship with the bed, sometimes happily climbing into it, other nights refusing to touch it.  There is a pillow and blanket on the floor next to her bed for those nights when her bed is her enemy, and even on regular nights she’ll still creep out of it anywhere from three to ten times.  Some nights she’ll sleep with the door closed, other nights she insists on having it open. 

And once she is finally asleep, there is no guarantee that she will remain so.  On the contrary, she’ll usually wake up once or twice during the night, anywhere between 1 and 3am.  Sometimes I can just tuck her back in and she drifts right off.  Other nights, however, she is convinced it is “wake-up time” and is furious with me for trying to put her back to sleep.  It is often through gritted teeth that I remind her that if she didn’t insist on waking up at 5am every morning, before the SUN comes up, then she would be able to tell the difference between full dark and true “wake-up time.” 

I’ve tried everything to get her to sleep in.  Later bedtime, earlier bedtime, soothing pre-bedtime baths… nothing seems to work.  She used to sleep in until at least 7:30am, and poor deluded me thought that was early!  Hah!  Fool that I am.  Now I’d go down on my knees and beg for her to wake up at 7:30 instead of 5… and I may have tried that already.  Nothing works.  Like a reliable little alarm clock, every morning at 5am, a tiny body hauls itself over mine into my bed. 

“Hi Mommy.”


“You sleepin’?”


“Open your eyes Mommy.”

I attempt to pry them open, but since it’s still pitch black out, being as how the roosters aren’t even up yet, I can’t see much. 

“Mommy, you’re awake!”  Said with so much evident joy that it’s hard for me to want to strangle someone so delighted by my presence. 

“Ung..” (cough, cough, throat clearing) “Yuh.  I ‘wake.”

“Mommy is it wake-up time yet?”

“Nuh.  Gotuh sleep.”

“Ok.”  Sweetly, she pats my face and snuggles down next to me.  My body relaxes back into sleep like a rock thrown into a deep pond.  Just as I feel sleep closing its blissful arms around me…


“Wake-up time Mommy!  I want pancakes!” 

I wonder if they make Toddler Ambien?  If they don’t… I’m inventing it.


September 15, 2010

Echos from the past…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 10:00 pm

In college we all had an Easyjournal.  Almost every week we updated eachother on our lives in one of the earliest online blog forums there was.  Now, years later, I just started re-reading the 3 years worth of entries I wrote, and marveling at how different my life is.  How different I am.  I don’t even see myself in those entries, I see this young, hyper girl with shallow thoughts but sincere motives.  I can smile at some of my youthful idealism and cringe at some of my immature ramblings.  Some of the stuff I wrote about doing, I don’t even remember!  There are full entries where I’m raving about how great a date with my boyfriend was, and I’m sitting here scratching my head going, “Huh.  Can’t have been that great, since I don’t even remember it happening!” 

But I came across this one entry that I wrote in early fall, in 2004.  Six years ago, but it might as well be a lifetime.  I’d just graduated from college, I was still working as an model/actress, I was still under 110 pounds!  I was just getting my first real taste of the world, and starting to miss the familiarity of college, and the daily comfort of living with my best friends.  I guess I was looking back and reminiscing, just like I’m doing now, but tonight I was struck by how everything I wrote six years ago is still true today.

Here’s what I wrote in October of 2004:

“The windows to the wall…
Wow, i was reading some old ej entries and at this time last year, Erin and i were bawling our eyes out watching Wuthering Heights, and Theresa was calling us pussies for being such girls… and then she fell in love with the soundtrack when i ordered it!…
Around this time last year… we gave Amanda a bday party she would never forget (even if she’d never remember parts of it, either!)… the countdown to Tammy’s bday began!… the war of the heights was in session…I was learning the joys and insanity it takes to choreograph… we were planning our sexy cellblock halloween… we had our glam, all black night at club mcshea… Theresa had the height decorated to the gills for halloween, and we’d all fallen in love with her cookies… we were all up to our necks in schoolwork and rehearsals… in a week or so we’d be beach-bound for Erin’s gorgeous senior project…
Ahh… i miss my girls… life now is slow and predictable, and filled with much less giggling, boxed wine, dance parties, and girly nights… i don’t get to watch disney movies at night w/ Kate anymore, nor can i run upstairs and hump Erin in her bed… or anyone at all, wherever they happen to be standing!… i don’t miss the shower that scalded your ass every ten seconds, but i do miss our cluttered, girly bathroom… i don’t miss freezing my butt off in my own bedroom cause someone has the door open again, but i do miss our crazy cool room, and how Kate always wanted to move the furniture around… i don’t miss the tons of schoolwork we’d all be bitching about, but i miss our lazy sunday nights when we’d all pile onto Jess’s couch and watch Oxygen, and ask Theresa where she hid her latest batch of cookies… I think most, i miss Thursday nights, getting dressed up, (every girl in someone elses tank top/stilettos/hot pants, etc…) and being the first out on the dancefloor, tossing our hair and shaking our thang like we were the shit–cause, hell, we were! If we could get together again and do anything, i’d say lets go back to Montana West for a night and be girly again…
Ahh… Kate, Laurie, Erin, Jess, Theresa, Tammy, Cem, and Steph too, i miss ya’ll… much love…”
Every last word of that is still true today, and I am so, so, so glad that next month I am going to get to do JUST THAT with my girls… go out and dance like we’re still twenty-two, and, even if just for the night, all go back to the same place, and sit and talk ’til dawn.  Back then, wherever my girls were was home, and just for one more night, we’re going to be home again. 

August 31, 2010

The Walrus Hunt.

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 9:40 pm

I finally have it.  Incontrovertible proof that my 2-year-old is trying to drive me insane.  Ladies and gentlemen of the internet, I give you Exhibit A:  The Walrus.

There is a stuffed animal, a battered pink walrus less than a foot high that is the most recent recipient of Annabelle’s unswerving love and devotion.  (Until she finds a new animal to drag everywhere for a few months.)  This walrus is named Walri.  Or possibly Walry.  He hasn’t told me how he prefers it.  But he belonged to my sister when she was young, and let me just inform you now that she was in possession of several other stuffed animals named Beary, Sealy, Lamby, etc.  Inspired, I know.  Who would have thought this child with such a desperate lack of imagination would go on to hold a degree in medicine?  I can tease her only because she’s now making six-figures while I’m pecking away at my computer, raving about pink walruses. 

Anyway.  Belle likes Walri.  (I prefer the spelling with an “i”, like the French spelling of Henri.  Perhaps the walrus is French as well, which would explain why he is so damn difficult.)  And consequently, she wants to sleep with Walri in her bed at night.  But since she also insists on having him everywhere else as well (attending her bathtime, watching her eat breakfast, etc.) he is never in the same place.  And every night for the past 2 weeks, just as I am tucking her in with her former and now demoted best friends, she imperiously demands the walrus.  She is surrounded by animals and dolls that she will not let me remove from the bed, yet who are no longer A-list friends.  Therefore her bed is starting to look like the Island of Misfit Toys, including 3 different bears, 4 Barbie dolls, an elephant, an owl, a pig, and a baby-doll.  Yet she will not let me close the door and leave until I have tucked Walri in beside her.

Which leads to my nightly exercise, The Walrus Hunt.  I check under her bed, the perimeters of her room, leave her room and do sweeps of the surrounding rooms, then gallop down the stairs and starts tossing sofa cushions about and cursing the tiny walrus’ existence.  He has never, and I mean never been in the same place twice.  I simply don’t know how she does it.  She carries him around all evening and then half an hour before bed she stashes him someplace new.  Yesterday he was under her step-stool in the bathroom.  The night before that he was under the living room couch.  He’s been found under the kitchen table, on the dresser, in desk drawers, and up lamp-shades. 

There have been several times I’ve told myself, through clenched teeth, that I was going to install a GPS in the walrus, but that would probably be the quickest way for Belle to lose interest in him, and move on to another toy without satellite coverage.

But tonight, my friends, I got smart.  Oh how smart I was!  While Belle was saying goodnight to her Boppies (grandparents) I seemed to recall seeing Walri in the den an hour beforehand.  I went and gave the room a good search, and lo and behold!  I found him tucked under a blanket on the futon!  So I chucked him in Belle’s bed, feeling pretty satisfied that for the first time in 2 weeks I would not have to do a walrus hunt before bed.  I thought Belle would appreciate me being able to hand her her friend the minute she asked for him, but when she made the familiar request and I immediately pulled him out from under her blanket, her eyes widened like I’d handed her a rattlesnake.

“Nooooo!” she howled!  “Go GET him!”

Aha!  AHA!!!  Proof, my friends, that my child really wants me to lose my mind hunting in vain for a pink tusked animal!  I was so shocked at her devious plan that I openly choked on my indignation. 

“I am not hunting for somebody I am holding in my hand!”

“Noooooo!  Go geeeeeeeeeeeeet him!”

“Oh heck no, you’ve got to be kidding me!  Take him or I take him away and sleep with him myself!”

Well that stopped her like I’d hit a mute button.  Sweetly she reached up, took her walrus, snugged him against her, and closed her eyes.  I kissed her goodnight and retreated, shutting the door behind me. 

Tomorrow I’m hiding the walrus myself.  In the oven.

August 18, 2010

A dragon is just one more person in search of a friend…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 7:32 pm

Belle officially has an imaginary friend.  Big Sam, the pink dragon.  I’m not sure where he came from, but Belle has a fascination with the dragons in 2 of her favorite movies (Enchanted and Sleeping Beauty) so that might have something to do with it.  No clue where the name came from though.  I’m guessing she hasn’t read Gone With the Wind lately, although she’s my daughter, so anything is possible.  (Big Sam is the foreman in GWTW.)  But Sam is usually present when she’s trying to distract us from something she doesn’t want to do. 

He made his first appearance last week when we were on vacation.  Jesse was trying to get Belle dressed for dinner, and she ran out of the bedroom yelling, “There’s a dragon in there!”  We quizzed her on the dragon and she told us his name was Sam, and he was eating her clothes.  Guess she figured if a dragon ate her pants she didn’t have to wear them.  Tonight she was sharing her dinner with him.  Originally he was eating her legs, which was why she wouldn’t sit still in her chair, but when I suggested he was hungry, she sat down nicely and offered him some ravioli.  He was very civil after that, and Belle actually sat and finished all of her food, after giving Sam a bite of each mouthful first.  I think I love Sam. 

In other news, we just got back from vacation in LBI.  It was a great week, aside from Jesse being a disaster magnet.  By the end of the week, he’d gotten a cold, run a fever, been stung by a wasp, and deeply gouged his elbow on a broken bottle.  By Friday afternoon I was in the Wawa buying bandages, Afrin, a bottle of disinfectant, a bottle of Tylenol, and a bottle of DayQuil.  The cashier looked at me dubiously and said, “I hope this is all precautionary!”  I had to tell her unfortunately it was not. 

But aside from that we did have a great time.  Swimming, surfing, and burying Belle in the sand were our predominant daytime activities.  Once the sun started to go down we’d come home, wash off the sand, and find something fun to do.  I regret to say I did not come home victorious over the crane games, but I found an even more fun and challenging game–looking for conch shells in the jettys in Cape May.  We went down there for the day and Jesse got me hooked.  He pulled a perfect one out from between some rocks, and I spent the next thirty minutes crawling over the rocks and trying to slither into nooks and crannies in search of more.  I was wearing an ankle length white dress, but this did not deter me from laying down on slippery rocks and scrabbling at shells wedged tightly between boulders. 

He told me that in the mornings before the tide comes in the conchs can be found just laying on the beach, but by the end of the day people have gathered them all up.  We have plans to go back again soon, and you can bet my top priority is some early morning shell collecting!  I’ve always loved digging through rocks and sand, hoping to find something cool.  I always hope while prowling through shell bits and pieces at the beach, I will find some antique ring, or lost treasure.  The closest I’ve come so far is finding what I thought was an antique chess piece by a jetty.  I gasped and lunged for it, thinking of pirate plunder, or antiques from sunken ships, but it turned out to be a black plastic army man, made in China.  I was quite crestfallen.  Jesse laughed at me, knowing exactly what I’d been hoping.  I tell you, I mock those crazies on the beach with the metal detectors and mesh shovels, but if they were ever to actually find anything while I was around I would be so jealous.  I”m not sure if they ever find anything other than people’s lost car keys, but if they do, I’d like a metal detector for my birthday, please.  And maybe a wig and false nose to disguise my plunge into total loserdom.

July 21, 2010

Suburned and smiling.

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 9:38 pm

I keep referring to this past weekend as “vacation.”  It wasn’t a vacation, simply a weekend, but as Jesse is almost invariably working on Saturdays, I only wind up seeing him on Friday nights, Saturday mornings, late Saturday evenings, and Sundays until about 7pm, when I must drive home.  It blows.  But this past Saturday he actually took off from work, and we went to the beach, me, him, and Annabelle.  It was heavenly.

Belle has a new movie, this awful Barbie surfer/mermaid thing, that she is obsessed with.  Combine that with the fact that she has been intrigued by Jesse’s surfboards since last year, and I’m sure you can guess what she wanted to do once we got to the beach.  Oh yes, the 2-year-old had her first surf lesson. 

Not that she can swim, of course.  She had a life-jacket on, and her arms are too short to paddle anyway, but Jesse walked her out to the shallows, and then held her hands as she steadied herself on the board.  She was so excited, so pleased with herself, you’d think she’d cured cancer or something. 

“I surfing!”  she shouted, as she stood on the board while it lay on the sand.

Not yet you’re not, we told her.

“I surfing!” she yelled out as Jesse stood her on the board in the water.

Yes, very nice, we applauded her.

“Hey everyone, I SURFING!” she shrieked above the roar of the waves.  Very self-congratulatory, that child.  You’d think she invented the sport herself.  But it was adorable to see her balancing there, looking so very serious and pleased at the same time. 

All in all, it was a wonderful day.  Regardless of multiple applications of sunscreen, I still managed to burn random spots of my body.  It’s probably due to the fact that I was using the spray kind that’s so popular right now, and the wind was blowing it all away from my body the second I tried to apply it.  Next time I will just suck it up and lather myself in the lotion kind I hate so much.  I feel like I’m greasing up a chicken for the spit, or some other unflattering type of cooking procedure. 

Jesse and I took Belle to Fantasy Island, which I adore, although I’d never admit to him that I’m not going “just for Belle’s sake.”  I mean, it’s full of rides and games, ok, yes, mostly kiddie ones, but still!  It’s fun!  The flashing lights and music, and smelling popcorn and funnel-cake, how can you not be happy in a place like that?  Although I think my secret is out, being as how he knows how my eyes glaze over with mad addiction at the sight of a crane-game.  You know, the ones where you put in 50 cents (ok, or a dollar) and then you get 2 moves, one back and one sideways, and the little arm descends and if you’re lucky it grabs something and drops it into the slot for you.  Last year I think I spent 50 dollars in quarters to get this big Elmo for Annabelle and I was wayyyy more into it than she was, although she was grateful to get it when I was finally victorious.  I think my victory dance might have clued Jesse into my enthusiasm.  And that fact that I was trash-talking the crane machine in my jubilation.

“Yeah, yeah!  What now, crane game?  I just stole your big Elmo!  How’d you like that?!”

Come to think of it, Jesse looked like he was trying awfully hard to melt away into the crowd–not an easy thing to do when wielding a big stroller.  And this year they had one machine with World Cup tee-shirts in it and I practically fogged up the glass salivating over it.  I tried twice to get one, but they were too heavy for the crane–an old trick.  You’d need to get one on its side, so the crane could catch on something.  I spent two dollars trying and then Jesse pried me off of it.  Humph.

But we did all sorts of fun stuff besides feed our money to the games.  We went on rides with Belle, and took her to a candy store, where her eyes almost fell out of her head, trying to take it all in.  We let her eat ice-cream, and funnel cake, and when I wasn’t looking she took a sneaky sip of my iced coffee, which (fortunately) she announced she did not like.  By the time we left it was after 10:30, and by the time we got her home and out of her car seat she slept through being changed and put to bed, which was so alarming that I checked her pulse.  She barely sleeps through the night, let alone being shuffled around and manhandled, so I guess the sun, sand, surfing, and sweets were the ultimate sleep cocktail. 

After Jesse and I tucked her in we settled down with a contented sigh and a glass of reisling.  And I remember, I looked at him and thought, I’ve had a lot of fun in my life but if I died, and had one day to live over again, it would be today.

July 12, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 8:46 pm

Last weekend was hot.  I’m not going to abuse every adjective known to man to describe just how hot it really was, but if you were on the east coast, you know what I’m talking about.  Annabelle was ok with it, since she was permanently planted in her new pool, a blow-up situation with an elephant shaped slide, but Jesse and I were melting into the grass.  The stone house doesn’t have air conditioning, so we have fans in every window, but honestly, unless you’re going to lay on your back on the floor in front of one, you’re gonna be warm.  Which is fine with me.  Really.  Because at the end of the day, if you’re feeling really gross, you can just jump in the shower and rinse off, right?

No.  Not at our house.  Because I think I told you about the maroon atrocity that was the single bathroom in the whole house, yes?  The crumbling tiles, the holes in the floor, the bubbling, painted-over caulk?  It was like something out of a Saw film, and Jesse demolished the whole thing to start from scratch.  Everything in this bathroom needed to go, right down to the walls, floor, and ceiling.  So 3 weeks ago Jesse had it all down to bare bones, and put in a new toilet and laid a new floor.  It was a husk of a room, with a potty in it.  The plumbing for the new bathtub, however, was going to take a little more time, and until 2 days ago, there was no way to take a bath or shower in the house. 

Now, I’m only there on the weekends, so my solution was to shower before I headed down on Friday nights, steal a shower at my sister’s house on Saturdays, and wash my hair in the sink Sunday morning.  Jesse was on a similar routine, showering at his parents house before work, and hosing himself down under the apple tree at midnight when the going got really rough.  But last weekend, my sister wasn’t home, it was over 100 degrees out, and I am too big to fit into the kitchen sink, which I was contemplating.  I was hot, I was sweaty, I was desperate for a bath. 

I would have gotten into the “elephant cool,” as Belle calls her little pool, but it was full of grass clippings, and I’m pretty sure she pees in it, despite our spasmodic potty-training successes, so it would have been counter-productive.  I had just put her down for a nap, and Jesse and I were in the kitchen, sweating and whining. 

“Honey,” I cajoled him, “I will give you anything you want if you can get the bathtub to work.”

“The pipes don’t fit yet.  I have to get my dad over here to… (jargon I didn’t quite understand, etc.)”

“Access to my meager bank account?  Personal slaveitude?  Anything.”

“I could spray you down with the hose,” he shrugged.

I laughed.  Then stopped.  Then raced for my bathing suit.

Five minutes later I am in the yard, shrieking under a spray of almost unbearably cold hose-water.  Dog-walkers and stroller-pushing neighbors alike had the benefit of seeing both Jesse and I shivering in our bathing suits, taking turns spraying each-other, while gasping and pleading with each other to stop.  I’m sure the sight of me standing in the yard shampooing my hair made for some good neighborhood gossip, but at that moment it was heaven.  My scalp started to go numb, it was so cold, but I felt clean.  White trash, but clean.

So when I arrived at the house last Friday, Jesse and his dad were just finishing the complicated jargon that made the tub work.  And it works!  We now officially have running water in the tub!  No shower-head yet, but that first bath in the new tub–our adorable white claw-foot tub–was positively decadent.  Being clean all over at once it not a luxury I will take for granted again any time soon.  Nor will I discount the pleasure of shampooing in private, rather than out in the yard, whilst waving to passersby.

July 1, 2010

Going batty…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 9:57 pm

Obviously the bats have read my blog.  And they took my relaxed stance to mean total acceptance of their presence.  Which I did mean, when they were bunking down in the attic.  But it became a different story last week when Jesse and I were having coffee in the morning and his eyes slowly lifted above and behind my head.  I took his expression to mean that there was someone with a hockey mask and chainsaw standing behind me and whipped around, ready to throw scalding hot coffee on the intruder.  But his gaze was on the mantel over the living room entrance.  Hanging by his toes from the corner of the ledge, wrapped snugly in his little wings, was a tiny bat.  Sleeping.  In our kitchen.

I looked at Jesse, looked at the clock and said, “Gotta run to work babe.  Love ya!”  I was out of the house in record time, leaving the poor guy to capture the bat with a kids butterfly net he duct taped to a broom.  I congratulated him on his manly hunting skills when he called my cell to tell me about it.  Obviously, I would have helped him, had I not needed to go to work that very second. 

I thought nothing further of it until last weekend, on Friday night.  Jess was closing at the restaurant, so he wouldn’t be home until 1am or later.  I’d already put Belle to bed, and was sitting on the couch, reading a book and thinking of going to bed soon when I heard a noise.  A noise IN the house.

This house, let me remind you, is well over 100 years old.  It is on top of a mountain where our neighbors houses are barely visible through the trees.  There are no streetlights.  Just stars and darkness.  Very, very dark darkness.  So when you hear a noise outside it is more than a little creepy.  When you hear a noise inside the house itself, you might feel inclined to wet your pants.  (I didn’t, by the way.  We can’t afford a new couch.)

So this noise was coming from the hallway, and the hallway, coincidentally, is where the only exit out of the house is.  There’s a side door there that we use on a daily basis.  The front door is in the oldest part of the house, which is unfurnished and full of power tools and stacks of wood, and you’d have to walk through the hallway to get to the front door anyway.  So I immediately know that both doors out of the house have been blocked off to me.  Whatever is inside the house is between me and the doors.  Not that I could go anywhere, because my child is asleep in the next room.  SO.  I must confront this noise.

I look around for a weapon, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing useful to be seen.  I fleetingly recall that in the old part of the house there is a machete (don’t ask me why a guy needs a machete, I don’t know).  I make a mental note to keep this very handy weapon under the couch for future use, should I survive tonight’s encounter.  The best thing I come up with is a tee-shirt.  Seriously.  It was that or a magazine.  Come to think of it, the magazine might have been a better choice, but my heart was pounding with terror at that point, and I guess I was thinking I could suffocate or maybe trap something with a tee-shirt.  So I have that in my right hand and grab my cell-phone with the left.  Slowly creeping towards the kitchen, I call Jesse at work.  It was late enough that he was able to pick up the phone, and in a strained whisper, I rasp, “There is SOMETHING IN THE HOUSE!” the minute he picks up.

“Is it the bat?” he asks right away.

“I thought you got rid of the bat last week!”

“I think there was another one in the house last night.  I heard squeaking in the bathroom.”

Dimly I realize that every so often, the noise I am hearing, mostly a scuttling, flapping noise, includes some squeaking.  With a sinking heart, I take a step further into the kitchen, through which I can see most of the hallway.  There’s an open doorway into the hall, and two low walls on either side of it. 

“Well what do I do?” I ask desperately. 

“Go open the side door, maybe it will fly out.”

“Whatever it is is IN the hallway,” I hiss.  “I can’t get to the door!”

With cold dread, I suddenly see something black scuttle across the hallway floor.  “Oh sweet Jesus!” I gasp.  It flops over and reverses its direction and my brief, sweet hope that it might be a bird is crushed.  It is indeed a bat, and my best hope now is that it’s crawling around because it’s injured, and won’t be able to fly around. 

“It’s a bat!  It’s a bat!  What do I do?”  I am up on a chair now, not wanting it to venture into the kitchen and crawl towards my feet. 

“Block the doorway, and I’ll let it out when I get home,” he suggests, but this is not going to work.  To block the doorway, I’d need to hang up a sheet across the entire wall, and that would involve finding a sheet, finding tacks to hang it with (where does he keep those, anyway?) and getting close enough to the hallway that the bat would easily be able to get at me. 

I tell him as much, and then add, “Well at least it’s not fly…”  Before the word can even escape my mouth there is a sudden flap of leathery wings and there is a bat, a real live bat, flying in mad circles in the hallway, from the bathroom door to the side door and back again.  I give a scream and retreat back about five feet, off my chair now, and crouched to about half my normal height.  I am gibbering at Jesse through the phone, though what I expect him to do for me I have no idea.  “Flying!  Flying!  It’s flying!” I think I am screeching, and then, without warning, it changes course and comes right at me.

I can see it in slow motion, its wings unfolded, its little bat fangs bared, zooming straight for my face.  With a reflexive roar, I whip the tee-shirt I nearly forgot I was holding up at it like a whip.  A sudden surge of battle-rage overcomes me as it shrieks and wings back the way it came.  Jesse is still shouting suggestions on the other end of the phone, and I only dimly hear what he is saying.  The cold focus of the hunter has fallen on me. 

“I’m going to take care of this,” I say calmly into the phone, and snap it shut. 

“Ok bat,” I say out loud.  “It’s you and me.”

It has gone back to swooping back and forth between the doors and I snap my tee-shirt at my side again in frustration.  I don’t really want to kill this bat.  I just want for it to be gone.  I don’t want to charge for the door, in case we collide and it has rabies and bites me and I die in agony.  I have a young child to think about, here.  Plus, I hate agony.  So I must trap it somehow. 

I move closer and snap the tee-shirt at it as it passes by.  It drops to the floor close to the bathroom door, even though I’m sure I haven’t touched it.  Maybe it ricocheted off the door?  But I’m excited because now if I can just open the door to the bathroom and get it to fly in, I can trap it there and pee in the woods for the rest of the weekend.  I look around for something long to push the door open with, and my eyes fall on a level.  I lean over the half-wall, stretching as far as I can, and manage to nudge the bathroom door open.  I had figured on this movement making the bat get up, but it’s still laying there, so in a burst of inspiration, I toss the tee-shirt on top of it and sprint for the butterfly net.  I grab a sheet of cardboard too, and armed with the net, I flip the shirt off the bat and bring the net down on him just as he is lunging for me. 

It’s a rather unsettling sight, this bat hissing at me and flapping all around inside the net.  As gently as I can, I slide the cardboard under the net and, at arm’s length, turn and bring him to the side door, which I manage to get open with my foot.  Once safely out in the garden, I overturn my net and dump him unceremoniously on the ground.  I don’t stop to make amends or say farewell, but rather, beat a hasty retreat back into the house.  I slam the door behind me and permit myself a roar of victory.  A quiet one, since Belle is sleeping and all.

I pick the phone back up, dial Jesse’s number.

“Are you ok?” he says in a rush.

“The bat is gone,” I say with quiet pride.

There is a moment of silence.  “He flew out the door?”


“He flew into the bathroom?”

“Oh no.  I caught him, and took him outside.”

A longer pause.  “You… what?”

“Oh yes,” I say as nonchalantly as possible.  “I caught it with a net and your tee-shirt.”

“You… you did?  Really?  YOU caught the bat?”

“I did.”  Huge silent grin.

“You’re…”  he pauses again.  “You’re awesome.

“Yes.  Yes, I am.  Could you bring me home a very strong drink, please?”

June 17, 2010

Doe, a deer.

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 10:35 pm

It’s official… I’m living in an animated film.  Not because of the adorable stone cottage in the woods.  Not because of the handsome man who cooks for me and thinks I’m beautiful when I feel like roadkill.  Not because I wear flowy dresses and wander barefoot through the fruit trees, carrying a basket of flowers.  These things contribute to the fairy-tale, but they don’t certify it.  You know what makes it all a bona-fide Disney movie?

The animals.  You can’t conjure those up.  They’re either there or they’re not.  And we have them in spades.  There’s the swallows nest up in a loose board in the front porch.  There’s the starlings who live under the eaves by the kitchen.  The groundhogs who live under the shed.  The snake in the woodpile.  The toad in the basement.  The bats in the attic.  The chipmunk in the living room.

Oh wait, what was that last one?  Yes that’s right, the CHIPMUNK IN THE LIVING ROOM.   We knew a chipmunk family, nay, a colony of chipmunks lived all over our 2 acres–under the front porch, under the gazebo, in the stone fence–you can’t step outside without sending a startled chipmunk bounding for cover.  But 2 weeks ago Jesse and I and were standing in the kitchen when I suddenly saw something small go leaping across the living room floor.

“Jess!” I grabbed his arm and hissed, “There’s a chipmunk in the living room!”

He spun around. “You’re joking.”

“I’m so not.”   The chipmunk had already made a dive for the planter by the wall and was out of sight.  Both of us were frozen to the spot.

“OK, don’t panic!  Don’t panic!”  I’m not sure which one of us he was addressing, but I did my best to remain calm, while wondering if chipmunks were as cute and cuddly as they looked.  If this were one of my favorite movies, the chipmunk would leap into my palm and chirrup his chippy language to me while I sang a song about finding my true love.  But this was not Enchanted, nor was I wearing a dress or even having a particularly good hair day, so I decided upon option number two: defensive action.  I ran and opened the side door, and then Jesse and I spent a good hour darting from corner to corner, trying to convince Pip to rejoin his family in the hollow tree. 

Actually, I stood on the arm of the futon, acting as a look-out, while Jesse brandished a flattened cardboard box to “herd” the chippy out of the room.  And then, just as suddenly as it appeared, it vanished.  The dang thing scampered under the bed and flat-out vanished.  We couldn’t figure out how–maybe it made its way out of the room when we weren’t looking, or found a crack in the wall to squeeze into, but nonetheless, it disappeared.  We don’t even know how it got in in the first place, but it hasn’t been back to visit us. 

The bats are another story.  We were in the backyard one night at twilight and Jesse pointed out a bat as it swooped by.  I was in awe, never having really seen one before.  Then  another swooped overhead, then another.  We both raised our eyes at the same time as he said, “Wait a minute… did you see…?”

I certainly did see.  Our eyes were riveted on the corner of the roof, where yet another bat had just materialized.  It simply seemed to slip out from under a shingle to fly off into the night.  It was followed by another, not ten seconds later.  And then another.  And another.  And another.  It was the Count Von Count’s dream come true.  Jesse looked less than pleased, and I couldn’t stop gasping in amazement–“Look!  Another one!  Fifteen!  Or was that twenty?  Twenty five!” 

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Jesse groaned.  “It’s like the freaking bat cave up there!”  We lost count after thirty, and Jesse was quite downhearted to discover that our house is a bat preserve.  I have decided however, that the bats can stay.  They don’t bother me in the least, and most importantly, they eat the bugs.  I’ll give them all little pillows and blankets and they can bunk down in the attic for life if it means I have a built-in army of mosquito eaters! 

But perhaps what sealed the deal for me, fairytale-wise, was last Sunday.  I was sitting at the dining room table with Belle, eating breakfast.  Perhaps it was a feeling of being watched, but something made me turn my head to look out the window to my right.

“Oh my.” I choked.  “Erm… good morning.”

The deer was standing on the other side of the window, looking in at me with unconcealed curiosity.  I was sitting there with my fork raised halfway to my mouth, and Belle peering around me in dumbfounded joy. 

“What doing, deer?” Belle asked in a hush.

“It’s looking at us,” I whispered back.  “Maybe it wants our pancakes.”

And right on cue, I kid you not, that deer licked its lips.

Take that, Disney.

June 7, 2010

Goodbye dignity, hello potty-training…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 10:30 pm

Nobody bothered to tell me that you don’t get a second to yourself ever again when you become a mother.  Or maybe they did, and I chose to think they were exaggerating.  But I have gotten used to going to the bathroom with an audience.  It is that or try to do my business while a little body is wailing and body-slamming the other side of the locked door.  Rather distracting, really.  So, I just let her follow me into the bathroom, and she usually heads for the sink and turns on the water.  She’ll either wash her hands or brush her teeth, or both, which I don’t bother dissuading her from, as the alternative is having her stand in front of me demanding, “Lemme see!” while I am trying to empty my bladder.  And then she’ll demand to hand me the paper.  It was only with the most vehement of refusals that I convinced her that she would never, EVER, be allowed to help me wipe. 

So tonight we are in the bathroom and I am doing my thing, and she is happily standing on her kiddie-stool in front of the sink, sucking water out of the toothbrush.  I get up and wash my hands, and she grins at me in the mirror and says, “Poopy!” 

I do an automatic air-sniff.  “You have poopy?” I ask, peeking into the back of her diaper.

“No, I not done yet,” she confides.

As the check of her diaper came up clean, I realise she actually hasn’t even begun, and I say in a rush, “Oh do you wanna try going poopy on the potty?”

Unconcerned, she goes back to her tooth-brushing.  “No.”

“Oh Belle, you should really try.  Don’t you wanna try going poopy on the potty like a big girl?”


Hmm.  “Hannah and Zoe go poopy on the potty.”  (Her pre-school hero’s.)


“But all the big girls do it!  Miss Monica and Miss April do it too.” (Her teachers.)


Big gulp.  Confession time.  “Mommy does it.”

She doesn’t bat an eyelash.  “No.”

I am a little peeved.  I don’t admit that I poop to just anybody.  “Come on!  Just sit!  Just try!”


I take a deep breath and pull out the big guns.  “I’ll give you chocolate if you try.”

She chucks her toothbrush into the sink and whips off her shorts so fast they hit the opposite wall.  In a flash, she is on the potty, wiggling back and forth and chanting, “Chocolate!  Chocolate!”

“Not until you try.”  She hits me with a confused look, and I encourage her.  “Just like you do in your diaper.  Relax.”

And in a few moments, voila!  She poops, she scores!  I cheer like a crazed fan at a sporting event, and she beams with pride.  “Chocolate!  Chocolate!”  she shrieks, and I take a minute to think about whether or not I feel guilty for bribing her into this success.  I don’t, I decide, as the end justifies the means. 

I clean her up and we go share the exultant news with Boppy 1 and Boppy 2.  We call Gigi and leave her a self-satisfied message.  I consider making it my Facebook status, but can’t reconcile myself to a status about feces, no matter how triumphant.  I do have some limits, you know.

I realise this isn’t the end of the battle for us, it is just the beginning, but she’s been doing #1 so well on the potty that if all it takes to get her to do #2 is a stash of M&M’s, then so be it.  Vive la poop!

June 3, 2010

What’s in a size?

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 9:37 pm

Is there anything more humbling than coming to terms with your post-baby pants size?  Ok, or maybe your post-college pants size?  How about your post-puberty pants size?  Ahh, yes, I think we’re all on the same page now, ladies.

Here’s my problem–I don’t see, I literally cannot see clearly when it comes to my clothing and body shape anymore.  I will be browsing in a store, and hold up a shirt I like and think, “Hmm, this looks a little big.”  So I grab the next size down, and when I try it on, voila, I get stuck in it, staggering around the dressing room with my arms pinioned above my head, desperately trying to wrench it free of my rib-cage.  When finally, gasping and red-faced I escape from it, I look at the mirror in bewilderment.  Whose body IS that?  And why does this shirt look too big for me, when it in reality I could use it as a leg warmer?  I think I may have reverse anorexia.  Anorexic’s see themselves as fat even though in the mirror they are actually wasting away.  I, however, pick up a pair of pants I could have worn in middle school and think, “Oh yes, these must be my size.”

Take today, for example.  While shopping at Target, I came across a pair of capris I wanted to buy to wear at work.  Now, women’s sizes are completely arbitrary and can be totally different from store to store.  Poor Jesse was confounded last week when he surveyed two of my dresses hanging in the closet, side by side. 

“Honey,” he said in the cautious tone someone affects when talking to the seriously deranged, “Do both of these dresses fit you?” 

I looked around in surprise.  “Yes, they do.  I bought both of them recently.”

“Ok, well are you aware that this white one is a size two and this pink one is a size seven?”

“Yup,” I smiled blithely at his consternation.  “I’m a two in women’s and a seven in juniors.”

“Oh.”  He didn’t seem convinced and looked even more bewildered when I went on to say, “Of course that white one is from Banana Republic, so it’s a two.  But if it were designer, like Diane Von Furstenberg, I’d be a four or a six.  If it were from Old Navy, I would be an extra-small, since they don’t often do numbered sizes.    At Lucky Brand I’d be a twenty-seven or twenty-eight, since they do the European sizes.  And if I’m shopping in the juniors section at Macy’s it’s a seven or a nine, since they do odd numbers instead of even.” 

I watched as Jesse’s brain exploded a little bit, and he just wandered off shaking his head, mumbling something about how he’d never buy me clothing again. 

But back to my trip to Target.  My favorite jeans are from Target, and they’re a size two.  They used to be big on me until I had Belle, and then they were the only jeans that fit anymore, so maybe they’re my favorite due to lack of options, but still.  I figured if I was buying the same brand of pants, I’d stick to a two and they would fit fine.  Only, when I saw these shorts, they were odd numbers, so I grabbed a size three.  I held them up and they looked about right to me, so I took them to the fitting room.  It wasn’t until I’d taken them off the hanger and was putting my first foot into them that I looked down and went, “Woah.  These look smaller from above.”  But I gamely put both feet in and pulled them up to my knees, where they came to a screeching halt. 

Deflated, I pulled them off and put my own pants back on.  Walking back with them past the little station where people monitor what you take into the changing room, I asked the lady standing there if she didn’t mind letting me scoot out to grab a bigger size.  She agreed, and I went back and resignedly pulled a size five off the rack.

Once back in my changing room, I pulled up the fives and felt a surge of relief when they slid up over my hips.  My relief turned to chagrin when I realized that the button was about three inches away from the buttonhole and no amount of cajoling could coax the two together. 

Cheeks aflame, I slithered back over to the lady at the station and asked if I could, once again, go back and get a different size.  I think I may have seen pity on her face when I muttered, “I was a little optimistic about my size.”

“Up or down, dear?”

“Up,” I sighed, “definitely up.”

I stalked back into my dressing room with a size seven and eyed it with trepidation.  A size seven is a perfectly nice size to be, but only if you’re expecting it when you roll out of bed in the morning.  There’s nothing quite like thinking you’re a three and being rudely disillusioned by a pair of capris to shake up your day.  If these didn’t fit and I had to go back and get a nine, I would just gracefully slink away.  Possibly to throw up my lunch.  I pulled up the sevens and held my breath.  They made it over my knees, always a good sign.  They slid up over my hips, another positive.  Wincing, eyes shut, still holding my breath, I pulled the zipper up slowly. 

Success!  The button met the button-hole!  My legs didn’t look like they’d been shoe-horned into the pants, and nothing too obscene was hanging over the top.  What a relief!  I smiled in triumph at the nice lady when I exited the dressing room.  She smiled back, probably relieved that I wasn’t going to commit hari-kari on her shift.  While on the way back through the women’s section, a pair of jeans caught my eye, so I grabbed a seven and tried them on.

They fell to my feet after buttoning them.   Bemused, bothered, and bewildered, I tried on subsequently smaller pairs until I went home with the size four.  Go figure.

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