CJDaily's Blog

May 20, 2010

You’re getting sleepy…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 9:39 pm

I”m not sure when or how my daughter trained me, but trained I am.  There is a way of doing things that she likes to adhere to, and it is not unlike living with an obsessively compulsive person who must turn the lights off and on 42 times before leaving the room or they feel the world might end. 

Take our bedtime routine, for example.  When I tell her it is bedtime, she must first close all the doors to all the rooms upstairs before heading into her room.  I don’t know why she needs to do this, but she closes to doors to my parents room, (and their bathroom door if she sees it open), the guest room, my bathroom, my room, and only then will she walk into her room. 

Then, I must go and sit in the rocking chair while she waits by the open door.  She will not close it until I am sitting down, and I have to turn off the light, turn on her sound machine, and pull down all the shades before I do.  Then I sit and she will come over to me and sit on my lap.  Only, it used to be that simple–now she likes to hop over to me, but then she runs right back to the door as soon as she reaches me and tiptoes back, because she likes to walk both ways and she can’t pick only one.  SO–after a double procession and backtrack over to my chair, then she will sit in my lap and allow me to sing her a song.

She always requests the song, and it’s always either “Stay Awake” from Mary Poppins, or “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.  Sometimes she asks for both.  And while I am singing, she will twist and turn in my lap, trying to find the most comfortable position, or possibly just trying to drive me insane.  First she will lean back against my chest and put her legs on mine, but then she will turn to the side so I am cradling her like a baby, and will sling her legs over the side of the chair.  But then she will turn in my lap 180 degrees, and lay her head on my other arm, and fling her legs over the other side of the chair.  It all reminds me of a dog on a rug, turning in circles to pick the prime sleeping position.  Inevitably, she winds up sitting with her back to me once more, legs propped up on mine, but until she reaches this position again it is something like what I imagine holding a thrashing sea otter in place would feel like.  While singing a calming song about bedtime.  Through gritted teeth. 

Then once our song has been sung, I pick her up and bring her over to her bed, but she will latch on to me, monkey style and request one more song.  The shortest song I know, and also one of her favorites, is Do-Re-Mi, also from The Sound of Music, so rather than take her back to the chair, I put her butt on the crib rail and hold her against me while I sing.  Quickly.  “…And that will bring us back to do!  Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do, do, do!  Goodnight!”  I dangle her backwards into her crib and pry her little arms off my neck, stuffing her Pooh Bear and Lovey Bear into each hand, and flinging a blanket over her. 

“Tuck, tuck, tuck!” her imperious voice always demands, and I place her Owl under her head as a pillow, smooth back her hair from her face, and tuck, tuck, tuck the edges of the blanket snugly under her arms and legs.  Then I bend down and give her a kiss, whisper I love her, and beat a hasty retreat from the room before she can think to demand something new. 

I am a sucker, plain and simple.  She likes things a certain way, and rather than face a tantrum if I refuse the second song or close the door myself (the horror) I simply choose not to fight it.  Which means that it takes about twenty minutes to do something that most people could do in five or less.  On Tuesday nights when I am at my Bible study, my Dad puts her to bed and he said she just walks into the room, refuses to be rocked, and lets him just put her in the crib and walk away.  And viola!, she lays down and goes to sleep.  The simplicity of this, to me, is staggering, and slightly envy-inducing. 

When she was a baby I used to sing while I rocked her and think about the day she’d be old enough to ask me for a song.  Now she’s doing it, and I’m grateful that she likes it.  I just didn’t factor in the door-closing, hopping, tip-toeing, thrashing, wiggling side effects that come with it!  But before long, she won’t want to sit on my lap, or let me hold and squeeze her, so I’m cherishing this as much as I can, even with all the complicated fol-der-al.  On the bright side, at least there are no dance numbers!  At least, not yet…

May 9, 2010

It’s hard to remember a time before I knew you.

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 7:30 pm

It seems crazy that it’s Mother’s Day again.  Last year at this time, Belle needed help climbing up her little plastic slide.  Today she was flinging herself off of it in typical fearless two-year-old abandon.  I don’t really feel up to being the mother of a 2-year-old most days… it’s so much more work than being the mother of a tiny little baby.  She has opinions!  She has energy!  She has fashion sense that must not be challenged!  Like yesterday, when I was cleaning out my closet, and she was amusing herself by taking off her clothing to put on a new outfit consisting of a swimmy diaper, and her skirt (worn as a tube top).  And she’s all dancing around the room saying, “Look at me!” and I’m going, “It’s way to early for you to be dressing like a wasted co-ed on spring break!” 

This weekend has been rather fabulous and it’s not even over yet.  My sister took a weekend off from being very busy and important in the ER, and came home to shop with me and Belle during the day, and at night she and I dressed up like we actually have lives and hit up Swanky Bubbles for sushi and overpriced champagne cocktails.  There’s a definite feminine satisfaction to be derived from putting on your highest heels and teetering out into public for a few hours, even if you spend the next day massaging your achilles tendon and whining about how much it hurts to be beautiful. 

This morning while sipping coffee with the rest of my family, the Fed-ex truck rolled up and delivered a dozen of the most perfect roses, each one a different color.  I opened the card to find they were from Annabelle, wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day.   Jesse said it was her idea, and he lent her the money.  (Is it any wonder I adore him?)

If I need another reason to be insanely fond of my man, he’s taking me out tomorrow night to celebrate my birthday.  Now, my birthday isn’t until May 21st, but May is a very busy month at Edge.  So last month he came to me and said, “Take May 11th off of work.  It’s a Tuesday.”

“A Tuesday?” I said in consternation.  “What could possibly be going on, on a Tuesday?”

“We’re celebrating your birthday.”

“But on a Tuesday?  What are we doing?”

“Oh hush.  A surprise.  Don’t ask me anything.”

So, being me, I waited meekly until now and have not bothered him once to find out the birthday surprise.  I’m very patient like that.

Haha!  No, sorry, I couldn’t keep a straight face for that one either.  I’ve asked him every other day what we are doing, and as usual, he kept his secret without so much as a single hint.  Although I do rather enjoy this yearly theme of a birthday surprise trip, I finally begged him at least give me a city to narrow things down, as the height of my heel would be determined by the amount of walking we’d do. 

While I was puzzling out what might be happening on a Tuesday, I realized the date we were going out was two years and a day after our first date.  When I mentioned this to Jesse, with the superior air of Sherlock Holmes having cracked a difficult case, he looked at me pityingly and was like, “Yes, I know.

“Oh.”  I sat back, thinking hard.  “So is this like, connected to our anniversary?”

He shook his head at me and sighed.  Then, with a patient tone, he explained to me that we would be going out on the actual night of our first date–May 10th. 

“Ohhh!” I exclaimed as the light dawned.  “We’re going out on Monday night because it’s our 2 year anniversary?  All this time I was thinking we were doing something that could only be done on a Tuesday!”

Thank goodness he likes me, because sometime I am rather slow, mentally.  He has since been good enough to reveal to me that not only are we going out on our anniversary but we are going BACK to the restaurant where we had our first date!  I am beside myself with excitement, since 1. It is a very romantic and cute thing of him to plan, and 2. LaCroix, at the Rittenhouse in Philly, is a fabulous place to eat at any given time.  I’m glad I didn’t know before our first date just how nice it was or I would have been even more nervous.

I was so very nervous on our first date that my hands were literally shaking.  We had arranged to meet at the rooftop bar at Continental, and by time I got there I was so rattled I couldn’t even read the cocktail menu.  My eyes were scanning it but nothing was processing, and I felt like an idiot just staring at it while he was watching me, waiting to order, so I just pointed to one of the mixed drinks and said, “I’ll have this.”  I remember it was called a Mexico City, and the only ingredient I noted was tequila, and thinking, “Great, now he thinks I’m a hardcore alcoholic!”

I almost didn’t go out with him that night, I was so apprehensive.  I had never before agreed to go on a date with a total stranger, and my sister promised to call at 9:15, just in case I needed an emergency exit.  Needless to say, at 9:15 I just smiled and turned off my phone.  I’ve never been happier that I took a chance on a strange guy.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to going back and reminiscing about how goofy we both were, (he later confessed that he was totally nervous, too) and how it was 10:30pm and everyone else in the restaurant was gone before we even realised the waiters were all lingering around, waiting for us to go!  And I’m hoping to go to Parc the next morning, my fave brunch place, and just spend Tuesday with the guy I’m crazy about.  Cause I really can’t think of a better way to spend a Tuesday… or any day, really.

March 22, 2010

Attack of the Giant Purse Girl

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 9:49 pm

My friend Kate turned me on to this rather hilarious blog written by a friend of hers, who just wrote a blurb on girls with giant purses.  (featured here http://thewittygritty.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/apocapurse/)  As a girl with a giant purse, I found myself nodding in recognition at the list of items found in said giant purse, and noting several omissions.

The bag I carry every day is a large pink, quilted Vera Bradley, the kind I mocked until somebody bought me one, and I became addicted to its giant cavernous depths.  Now, technically this bag is a diaper bag, as it came with a matching baby-changing pad, but Vera Bradley sells an identical tote, sans baby accoutrements, so somebody out there aside from me is using this thing as a basic purse.  And since I do have a baby (ok, a 2 year old) I don’t know if this gets me off the hook as a GPG (giant purse girl.)  But since I admit to carrying it around with me when my child is NOT around, I guess I’m guilty.  Guilty on 2 counts really, one of being a GPG, and another of being too lazy to take all my crap out and put it in a tiny bag for solo excursions. 

Sean made an inventory of all the things he supposed a GPG is slogging around with her on a daily basis, but quite frankly that list was rather brief.  I did my own inventory and will admit to you now what I haul around on a daily basis.  The contents of my bag include:

My phone, my Kindle, a book I am not done reading, a powder compact, mini hand-mirror, lip gloss, chapstick, band-aids, water bottle, camera, usb-cord, several pens, a permanent marker, travel perfume, small comb, breath-mints, sunglasses, keys, assorted change, wallet, bobby-pins, a pony-tail holder, 2 blank greeting cards (and envelopes), a packet of instant coffee, a few packets of Splenda, a bottle of clear nail polish, hand-sanitizer, some Cold-Eeze lozenges, tissues, tampons, and a clean pair of socks.

All that is just for me.  The socks, I admit, are random, but I was going to a friend’s house, and they have hardwood floors, and I thought my feet might be cold, so I tossed them in before I left the house…. hey stop judging me.  I am nothing if not prepared.  Oh, and to be fair, I didn’t itemize the stuff I pack for Annabelle.  The above list was simply MY survival kit.  Wanna hear what else is in my bag?

A baby changing pad, always at least 4 diapers, travel wipes, triple paste, assorted coloring pages, 4 crayons, a sippy cup, stickers, a tiny copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a snack bar, a few tiny plastic princesses, a toy cell-phone, and Baby Einstein placemats that adhere to any surface so she can keep her food germ-free wherever we go. 

My bag weighs about 15 pounds.  Am I crazy?  YOU BET.  But am I prepared?  Absolutely.  Jesse cut his finger Saturday and was bleeding all over and I whipped out a band-aid for him then and there.  He was like, “Don’t you need that for anything?”  I rolled my eyes at him.  “Honey, THIS is what I needed it for.  I was prepared for THIS moment, right here and now!”

I do not have an umbrella in my bag, but there is one in my car.  Same goes for the extra pair of shoes, a blanket, my address book, and a world almanac.  But the car doesn’t count, just the giant bag.  Am I truly nuts?  Would it be liberating just to toss my keys into a teeny little purse along with my drivers licence and a few bills?  Maybe.  When accompanied by small child, the bag must be present at all times, or bad, BAD things will happen.  But if I were to go out on my own?  Could I leave my quilted island of safety and not worry that if I do, someone will bleed and I won’t be able to fashion a tourniquet out of my hair-band? 

Truth is, I like my giant bag.  I like that a mugger probably couldn’t make off with it for more than a block before getting winded and just leaving it behind.  I like the safety it assures.  I like being able to offer someone a breath mint, or bobby pin, when the situation arises.  It’s like being a tiny savior of social moments.  And if you wanna mock the fact that I can’t make it down the street without unintentionally assaulting several passersby, go right ahead.  But you’re gonna rue the day you laughed when you’re on fire, with a sore throat, bad breath, bad hair, and a thank-you card to write, and I refuse to help you out!

March 15, 2010

Giving new meaning to the term “bail-out.”

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 10:53 pm

Picture this: an old stone farmhouse sits in a sodden field, surrounded by mud-puddles, and deluged by rain.  The basement storm doors are open, and up the crumbling old steps comes a young woman, her face half obscured by her hat, her eyes half-shut in the rain.  She is carrying a heavy pail of water in one hand, obviously straining against its weight.  Reaching the top of the steps, she moves out into the yard, heaving the water away from the house with all her might.  With a look of grim determination, she starts back to the house, moving down the steps to scoop up another bucketful of water and repeats the process.  Like, 200 times.

A scene from the 1800’s?  How I wish.  That mournful scene aptly depicts my Sunday afternoon.  I should have mentioned the strapping young man helping the young woman with the bailing process, but I was having a mini pity-party, and you all were just invited.  Jesse, to be fair, had a much larger bucket than I.  It wasn’t even, by rights, a true bucket, as it was actually a laundry basket.  We should really buy another bucket.

It all started Saturday night.  Jesse went down to the basement to get a beer and came back upstairs with one wet foot and a long string of profanities.  What with the 4 feet of snow recently melted, and an added 3 days of rain, the yard was so saturated that water was literally pouring in through the old stone foundation.  I followed his “You will not effing believe this” down to the steps to gaze in wonder at the lake in the basement.  It wasn’t just puddles, mind you.  It was 5 full inches of water, and things were floating away.  Since the basement is where Jesse keeps his admirable stash of booze, it was reminiscent of a smuggler’s cave, complete with empty Patron bottles drifting by. 

We moved all the boxes out of the water and up onto a little platform in the corner and by we, I mean Jesse slogged into that freezing water while I clutched a stray bottle of wine I could reach from the stairs.  The sump pump was sitting quietly in the corner, not doing a damn thing until Jesse went over and harassed it.  Then it kicked on without so much as an apology, and started chugging water out.  We sighed in relief that at least it wasn’t broken, it just hadn’t turned on for some reason.  Going back upstairs, we congratulated ourselves on modern technology, and opened a lovely bottle of wine while the storm raged on.

Cut to the next morning.  While laying in bed pretending to sleep at 9:30 am, I heard a funny noise.  The sudden noise of SILENCE.  I raised up warily on one arm and looked around but all seemed normal.  I got up to make a cup of coffee and flicked the light-switch on my way past it.  Only it didn’t turn on.  And my first very dimwitted thought was, “Gee, the light’s broken.”  Only it took me a few minutes to realise that the ominous sound of silence and the light not turning on was the total absence of POWER in the house.  And I turned and called to Jesse, “Um, we have no electricity,” and was bewildered by his sudden dash towards the basement.  Hearing the faint splash and high-pitched scream from the depths of the house clued me in, however, to the disaster that awaited us. 

The lack of electricity also meant a lack of sump pump. 

Hence the early morning bucket brigade.  I bundled Belle up and let her watch outside as we hauled gallons, nay, OCEANS of water up from the basement.  There was somehow even more water than there was the night before.  And as my aching arms and petrified shoulders can attest to this evening, it required a butt-load of bailing. 

Descend steps.  Scoop up water.  Turn without spilling it all over myself.  Climb back up (very old, very slippery) steps.  Walk to edge of yard.  Pitch water down little hill into street.  Repeat. 

Despite the freezing cold day, I was sweating like I’d just run a marathon, and though I started with more layers, wound up in just my rolled-up jeans and Jesse’s old farm show t-shirt, a look which he declared to be utterly irresistible.  But honestly, I’ve had worse Sundays.  Belle had a ball jumping in puddles, and begging to be allowed to help dump the buckets.  Jesse and I both got a workout, and the primitive satisfaction of seeing the water slowly (excruciatingly slowly) go down inch by inch.  Our biggest concern was to get the water down enough that it couldn’t ruin the boiler, and once he declared our efforts a success, I felt euphoric.  Of course, I also felt sweaty and grimy and in dire need of a hot shower and a two-hour massage, but since the power was still out, a shower was not to be had, and a massage was a little unfair to ask for, considering my laundry-basket hauling hero. 

But the whole episode taught me that 1. We are SO getting a battery back-up for the sump pump, and 2. Jesse thinks I look hot in a t-shirt advertising local cattle.  Is it true love?

You bet.

February 23, 2010

Of mice and men…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 11:35 pm

Valentines Day.  Day of love and romance and heart-shaped peeps.  Busiest night of the year in restaurant world.  Which means that if you work in restaurant world, a nice quiet night of romance is not in the cards for you.  I have resigned myself to the realization that V-day will never be a big deal for me and Jesse, simply because he will be working his buns off until 2am servicing all the amateurs who come out for their one night of fine dining a year. 

So this year, I decided if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.  Edge was understaffed and I wound up hostessing on Saturday night, something I occasionally do on big nights when they need somebody to smile nicely and escort people to their tables.  It’s a fun excuse to dress up and actually see Jesse rather than sitting at home in threadbare sweats, waiting for him to get off work.  It was a busy night, but perhaps because it was the international day of love, people were so much nicer than usual.  Usually hungry people are angry people.  People have literally waved their blackberry in my face, saying, “I HAVE a reservation, I made it ONLINE, do you want to SEE it?”  And then I say, “Yes, please, I’d love to see it, since you aren’t in our computer.”  And they start tapping away indignantly on their blackberry and five seconds later they mumble something having made the reservation for tomorrow and they didn’t notice the date, and whoops, and they slink away with no apology. 

But Saturday night went great, people were friendly, we were turning tables in the right amount of time, and aside from a few people who wandered in expecting us to have a free table on Valentines Day weekend, and being all shocked and offended when we didn’t, when we’d in fact been booked for a month, it was all pretty great.  I was feeling good, patrons were complimenting my cute outfit, and the night suddenly improved tenfold when two guys from the florist a few doors down showed up at the hostess stand with a GIANT bouquet.  And I’m all, “Wow, that’s gorgeous!” and he’s all, “Yeah, it’s for CJ?”  And I go, “Uh, really?  Cause I’M CJ!”  And he’s all, “Here you go then!” and I’m suddenly standing in the crowded lobby with an armful of roses and lilies and tulips and things I can’t even identify, and people who are waiting for their tables are cooing over my giant arrangement, and I’m thinking to myself, I have the best boyfriend ever.” 

How I even wrangled that sucker home is still a mystery to me, but it graced our table for the rest of the weekend.  Sunday night I wasn’t expecting anything, having considered my giant floral tribute to be enough, but wouldn’t you know, that man came home with shrimp, scallops, lobster, lobster bisque, and some kind of champagne mussel reduction to soak it all in and proceeded to make me the best dinner I’ve ever had.  Top it all off with champagne and homemade truffles and I was in total heaven.  I couldn’t even finish it all, and for me, that’s really something! 

Oh and in case you were wondering, for Valentines Day, I got him a rug.  Yes, a rug.  Romantic, no?  I just rolled it out on the floor while he was at work, placed a big red bow in the middle of it, and let him find it when he came home.  Perhaps not the most orthodox of gifts, but he happened to love it, especially as it was replacing a worn comforter we were using in lieu of a carpet.  Hardwood floors are cold, as we have come to find.  In place of rugs, which are expensive, and require a commitment to a color scheme, we have just tossed down blankets in specific areas.  Practical, but not very visually appealing, and very easy to trip over in the middle of the night when stumbling around in the pitch dark. 

Speaking of being up in the middle of the night, I was making Belle some milk when she couldn’t sleep last weekend.  I was in the kitchen, it was maybe 4am, and I am standing bleary-eyed at the stove, heating up her milk in a saucepan because we don’t have a microwave.  All of a sudden, I hear a noise in the corner of the kitchen.  I turn around, trying to figure out what I’m hearing and where it’s coming from.  It’s kind of a scratching noise, but also kind of a scuttling noise, and there’s the faintest clanking noise along with it.  I freeze, eyes darting around for any movement, any clue as to what I’m hearing.  I see nothing aside from the basic counter clutter, but the noise continues. 

I realise that it could be coming from one of three places–the inside of the wall, the floor in the corner which is blocked by the cabinet, or inside the lower cabinet itself.  I also realise that I really, really, am not prepared at this moment to confront any scratching-scuttling-clanking perpetrators, and decide that as long as nothing comes racing out at me, I will leave the noise alone for the time being. 

 (This would maybe be a good time to mention that the week before, I saw a mouse in the living room.  With my own eyes, I saw a mouse.  It was small and brown, and when I came in and turned the light on it ran for cover, and I must have blacked out for a minute ’cause I didn’t see where it went.  That or I was too busy calling the restaurant and asking Jesse to bring home a cat.)

So, anyway, I am done heating up the milk, and have poured it into her cup and am turning to leave the rodent/Jacob Marley-impersonator in peace, when my foot comes into contact with something small and soft.  And I swear to you, I screamed, only nothing came out, and if you’d been there all you would have heard was a strangled gurgle as I leapt into the air and did a Street Fighter style backflip.  Thank goodness Belle’s milk was in a sippy-cup or I’d have been wearing warm milk to bed.  And I look down at the floor, ready to do battle for my domestic turf, and I see something small, and soft, and… pink.  It’s a sock.  A tiny Annabelle sock that for some reason was on the kitchen floor.

Clutching my heart and swearing under my breath, I went and gave that kid her milk, grateful that it was dark and I couldn’t see the Rogue-style patch of white hair that had just undoubtedly sprouted from my head.  I mean, I think mice are cute and all, I even had one as a pet when I was little.  But knowing they are helping themselves to the contents of my pantry while I’m sleeping is unnerving, and the idea of meeting one with my bare foot still gives me the willies. 

So now I really want a cat.

January 4, 2010

Resolutions and realizations…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 10:24 pm

I apologize for not writing for a while.  I know people check my page almost every day, so I hope you find this new update satisfying enough to make up for a month of silence!

It’s a brand new year, 2010, like something out of a sci-fi book.  All I want to know is–where are the flying cars?  And the butler robots who do menial housework and the human clones and the alien spaceships?  This is it?  Really?  I still have to steer my own Honda and everything?  The future, my friends, just ain’t what it used to be!

I know everyone likes to make resolutions and promises to do all sorts of things–lose weight, be more productive, maybe quit smoking or drink less coffee.  I actually don’t like to make resolutions because people, being human, rarely see these drastic plans through to fruition.  Think about how crowded the gyms get at the beginning of every year, yet eventually that mad craze to lose weight succumbs to the lure of the mint chocolate chip.  There are improvements I’d like to make to my life, but they are things I’ve been working on for the past few months already, and I don’t see my desire fading, as they are not rash promises or huge, unattainable goals.

For one thing, I am saving more money.  Not having even one credit card is pretty amazing for an American, so I have to thank my dad, who raised me to never spend more than I actually have.  I signed up for a Lucky Brand credit card four years ago when I worked there, and learned my lesson the hard way.  After paying off all my bills, I put every last store card I had–Lucky, Victorias Secret, Macy’s, into the shredder, never to be used again.  I only use my Visa debit card when shopping, hence I can never spend more than I have.  If I want something, I wait a day to make sure it’s a necessity and not a spur of the moment purchase.  So I’ve been pretty frugal for the past 4 years, but I’ve decided to put even more money into my savings account than before.  Also, I now have 2 separate saving accounts.  One is the account with my bank where I have my checking account.  If I ever need to, I can take money out of that account, say for Christmas shopping or an emergency.  But the second savings account is in an online bank, and I only transfer money INTO it, never out.  Once the money is in there it’s untouchable. 

So although I’ve been putting more money into it lately, my “resolution” is to put slightly more money into both saving accounts than I have been, without skipping a paycheck.  Now that the holiday season is over I can stop excusing myself from putting money into these accounts because of extra expenses.  Being a grown-up is expensive, and being a mom is even more so.  As much as I love clothes I’ve never wasted my money on Coach purses or getting my nails done.  (In fact, I’ve always found doing my own nails to be highly therapeutic.)  But I do love buying nail polish, or a new sweater here and there and that sort of thing adds up, so I’m going to be extra-conscious of what I buy, and force myself to use up all those old bottle of polish before buying more! 

The only other thing I’ve resolved to myself, aside from watching my finances, is to personally be a better person.  I’ve found lately that rising above someone else’s pettiness, while it is by no means easy, makes me feel calmer at the end of the day.  It’s hard to turn the other cheek when someone is being nasty, but retaliating can only bring you down to their level.  I’ve been having a hard time lately dealing with someone else’s anger and spite, and it came from an unexpected place, which always makes it harder.  My initial response was shock and hurt, and I wanted to lash back out and “set them straight.”  But (thank God) I reminded myself to take a deep breath before replying and asked others for feedback and advice before flying off the handle.  I also spent a lot of time praying for the right words and for wisdom on how to handle such a crazy situation. 

In the end, well, it hasn’t been resolved, but rather than lashing out, I’ve been calm.  I’ll admit it makes me crazy when someone picks a fight and then refuses to let you defend yourself, but I’ve learned that sometimes you can’t fix other people’s problems for them if they refuse to let you in.  It’s also shown me that if I can approve of how I’ve handled it at the end of the day, well my behavior is the only behavior I have to answer for.  The me of 5 years ago, heck maybe even 2 years ago, would have told this person off so strongly that they would remember my words until their dying day, and it wouldn’t have been pretty.  But I realise as I get older that not everyone will see reason, even if you explain things to them in a way that is perfectly logical.  Not everyone will fight fair, even if you’ve done nothing intentional to hurt them.  And not every friendship gets fixed after a fight.  Sometimes people let you see a side of them you didn’t realize was there, or you didn’t want to see.  As you get older, life gets simpler.  Priorities are clearer.  And I know I am a better person for turning the other cheek, even if it means I swallow all the things the old me wishes I had said. 

Aside from saving money and rising above, I make no other dramatic vows.  Jesse and I have our hands full fixing the house–and by that I mean he is working all week long on it and when I visit with Belle on the weekends I make him coffee while he hangs drywall.  I’m very helpful.  I have conquered my fear of the purple bathroom and even brought myself to use the shower.  We put a Christmas tree in the living room and decorated it with all the mismatched ornaments donated by both of our mothers, as well as three we bought at Target, one for each of us.  The end result was rather colorful, if not elegant.  I bought him a gorgeous and elegant grandfather clock, something we both wanted in the house.  I was rather triumphant in this purchase, having found it almost brand new for $75 on Craig’s List.  New Years was wonderful, and Belle celebrated until 1am with candy in one hand a kazoo in the other.  We also took her to see the Princess and The Frog on Sunday and she was so well behaved it was scary.  We had our doubts about taking her to her first real movie, but she was a gem and we were both bursting with pride at how grown up she is becoming. 

She’s talking up a storm and obsessed with all things princess, which, believe it or not, I did not push her into.  She loves all things Ariel, and knows the names of all the other princesses, and insists on spending the whole weekend flouncing around in the gold Belle dress Jesse got her for Christmas.  She also loves Elmo, Mickey Mouse, and babies.  She literally dragged me across Pottery Barn because she saw a baby carrier and NEEDED to go see the baby.  Our friends Jeff and Terri have an adorable newborn named Elke, and she goes on about Baby Elke for days, and wraps up her dolls in blankets because that’s how Baby Elke gets wrapped up.  It’s so cute you would not believe it.  Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here but I think she’s gonna be a good mom…

Alright, time to wrap this up… having a whole week off was wonderful but after today I realised I need to start going back to bed at the normal time, or else risk falling asleep some time after lunch.  Here’s wishing everyone a healthy, happy new year!

November 21, 2009

Charm is expensive, but worth it.

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 11:22 pm

When Jesse and I first walked through this old stone farmhouse, we saw some of its flaws, sure.  But I was mostly looking at its potential, at all its charm.  Now that we have full possession of this ancient beast, I walked through with fresh eyes going, “Wow, so it’s OUR job to fix all this, huh?”  It felt something like that scene in Jaws… we’re going to need a bigger boat!

Intimidation factor notwithstanding, the house is awesome.  The addition on the back was built only a year ago, and so has new windows and heat and will be the “base camp” where life is livable while we work on the whole rest of the house.  It needs new windows in almost every room, and not just new windows themselves, but new frames because the wood is literally just rotting away.  But the sills are deep enough that a full grown man can sit comfortably in them (Jesse did, in fact) and each one has a beautiful view of the woods, no matter where you are in the house.  The chimney needs to be repaired because it is leaking water into the wall on the west side of the house (the cow-side we call it, the horse-side is east) and the house will be ruined shortly if it isn’t fixed.  Oh and every wall needs to be stripped of about nine layers of uneven, awful paint, and totally sanded and repainted.  EVERY.  WALL.  IN.  THE.  HOUSE.

Do you know how many walls are in a house?  Not to mention things that you don’t think of as walls, like the stairwell?  The walls that need to be stripped and painted include the front hall, kitchen, bathroom, summer kitchen, front room, dining room, library, stairwell, upper landing, and all three upstairs bedrooms.  Oh and maybe 3 of these rooms need new ceilings, and 2 of them need haphazard old closets torn out and rebuilt, and 1 of them needs the floor torn up and replaced.  Actually, several of them need the floor replaced, but we’re working on a “if you’re not falling through it, it’s good enough to ignore for a year or two” kind of mentality. 

Notice how I didn’t mention the bathroom yet?  That’s because every inch of our bathroom is in such dire need of repair that it makes me think of a torture chamber–I literally flinch every time I walk through the door.  Where do I begin?  Possibly with the color of the room, a deep purply rose, which might not sound too bad to you except that when I say the whole room is this color, I mean even the toilet itself is a solid block of purple.  Only it’s not SOLID, per se, because part of the floor under the toilet is, how do I put this, MISSING?  As in, not existing?  As in, “Careful when you sit down because if you lean at all to the left you are going to pitch right into the wall as the toilet gives way.”  I”ve seen subway station bathrooms that looked cozier and more inviting than our bathroom.  The shower works, but I was not, I regret, brave enough to step into the tub, (also deep purple), which is covered in several decades of grime, despite a good hour of a very brave and lovely man attacking it with several gallons of bleach.  It was caulked, at some point, when the tub must have been still wet, as the caulk is swollen, sticking out of every crack like a festering wound, and yes, you guessed it, painted over with purple paint!

The floors are tile, with random nails sticking up here and there, ready to send an unwary pee-er rushing off to get a tetanus shot.  The tiles are also purply, and extend up to cover the walls, in lieu of wallpaper.  The windowsill is also, inexplicably, covered in tile.  The tiles were obviously all laid by someone who had been drinking heavily before wielding their caulking gun, as they are all askew, unsymmetrical, and in some places, missing.  The radiator in the corner emerges from a hole in the floor where said drunk person must not have felt like putting anything under it, as it would have been too aesthetically pleasing.  I realise it sounds like I must be making all this up, it can’t be THAT bad, you’re thinking, but I assure you only the bravest man would wander into its dim purple glow after dark.  I would have taken pictures of it but I was too busy screaming in general horror. 

But I love the house, I DO, despite it’s obvious fixer-upper-ness.  It’s going to need a lot of love, and a lot of time, and a lot of money to help it reach its potential, but I can see it there, under all the crazy layers of paint.  This house was once a lovely home, and we just have to remind it of what it can be!  And buy a lot of paint stripper!

November 16, 2009

This old house (and its old stuff).

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 11:10 pm

This past Saturday I was sitting on the living room floor in front of Jesse while he scratched my back.  Belle looked up from where she was playing and wanted to be in on the love so she came and sat in front of me so I could scratch her back simultaneously.  I laughed out loud and commented that we had made a little train.  From in front of me, Belle piped up, “Choo-choo!”

It’s the little things like that that make it all worth it. 

I haven’t written in a while because things have just been hectic.  Between work, house nonsense, weekly Bible study, commuting to PA every weekend, and taking care of Belle, life has been a whirlwind.  Every Monday comes too soon, and every Friday I say, “Hey that went fast!”  Settlement on the house is this weekend, and I’ve been hesitant to post anything about it because part of me feels like it’s a fairy cottage that will disappear before we can get too close.  I won’t really exhale until I see the key in Jesse’s hand.

We are not, however, too reluctant to buy anything to put into our little dream house and have been picking up little antiques here and there, selecting pieces that feel like home to us.  Old cabinets, antique tables, little carved footed chairs, anything that suggests to us that it has the kind of charm and appeal that our little house has too.  We both like things old– give us faded wood, peeling paint, and splintery boards any day over the new and gleaming.  I like to look at things and know they’ve been owned and used by people long before us, and that they all have their own story to tell. 

If you’ve seen my Facebook as of yesterday, you’ll see some of the things we’ve accquired.  Most of it is practical–as few things have no use other than we loved them too much to leave them behind.  I don’t feel guilty owning an ancient and charming spinning wheel… obviously I’m neither Sleeping Beauty nor Rumplestiltskin’s princess but the wheel called to me and Jesse as soon as we saw it.  Going to an estate sale on the last day has its merits–you may have missed some of the finer pieces but the prices are lower, and we got the spinning wheel for a song.  Now to learn to spin straw into gold!

Congratulations are due to my dear friends Laurie and James Batzel for the birth of baby Charlie this week!  I can’t wait to meet him.

 

October 19, 2009

Two! Dos! Deux!

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 10:13 pm

I bet some of you are wondering how those sock-gloves worked out, and the question is they worked fine for my daughter as far as the scratching, but let me just mention one thing.  If you have taught your darling child to communicate with you through sign language, then putting socks over her hands may prove inconvenient for everyone in the middle of the night when Mommy is too exhausted to realise that the thing said child is doing?  The thing where she’s flapping her hand-socks at you frantically and making a sound like she’s mooing and all Mommy can do is stare at her and suggest what she might be trying to communicate?

“More?  More what?  Moo?  You want to rock?  You want Pooh-Bear?  Are you mooing?  Yes honey, cows say moo.  More?  More rocking?  You want a hug?  Moo?  Meow?”

And poor child is getting frantic and almost ten minutes of whimpering and flapping go by until she slumps against me in defeat, and I’m rocking her wondering what the heck that was all about and why she kept flapping her socks at me… like she was trying to sign something…

“MILK?  Holy cow, honey, do you want MILK?”

A sad, and pitiful, “Yes!”

Mommy slaps her forehead and apologizes profusely to poor toddler who picked a really bad time to try saying “milk” for the first time.  In my defense, it sounded a lot like “Mao.”  Which really could have been anything, right? 

This weekend was Belle’s 2nd birthday, and it’s crazy to see how much she’s grown.  I remember a year ago I was all thrilled that she was walking and blowing kisses and waving bye-bye, and now she’s saying new things every day and even stringing words together, and going everywhere at a flat-out run!  Last year I want to keep her frozen in time at one year old, and now I’d love for her to stay two forever.  I love hearing her talk to me, in half baby babble and half real words, and I love that she is becoming a little person with opinions and preferences of her own.  Like her mommy she loves chocolate, but she’s decided that Ariel is the coolest princess ever, despite me naming her for MY favorite princess.  She loves to be outside, she asks to go out even when it’s pouring down rain.  Sometimes she’ll fish the car keys out of my bag and run to the door yelling, “Bye-bye!  Outside!”, as if the keys are the magic connection to getting to leave the house.  She loves any kind of art–it’s a surefire way to get her to detach from my leg in the morning at preschool if they have paper and markers on the table. 

But the best, the very best thing is the way her face lights up when she sees me at the end of the day; the way she says, “Mommy!” and runs to me and hugs me and nestles her head in my shoulder, and pats my hair.  It makes me melt every single time.  As frustrating as motherhood can be, all the daily struggles, the whining, the food on the floor, the constant laundry and diapers, the runny nose, the cry at 2am that you’re dying to ignore but can’t, all of that dissolves in that one hug.  I always remember to take in that moment, to hold onto it in my heart the next time she’s trying to pull off the pants I’ve just put on her, or kicking off her shoes in anger because she’d rather be naked than subjected to something so bothersome as clothing. 

As a mom, you have to take those shining moments and cherish them, because there are so many other moments, the frustrating, the mundane, the thankless, that make you wonder why you try so hard.  But then your child looks at you with an entire universe of love in their eyes, and you remember why you try.  You remember why you can’t do anything other than your best, even if it burns you out and you snap at someone you meant to be nice to, and you’re too tired to eat, and too busy to sleep.  You remember that you do your best because you hold an entire lifetime of potential in your hand.  You do your best because when you’re in love like that, that’s the only way you know how to do it. 

Happy Birthday Annablue, Belly Button, Little Miss, Precious Girl.  I love you.

October 12, 2009

Maybe I should take her to the vet instead…

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 10:31 pm

Tonight I taped socks onto my daughters hands before putting her to bed.  I am at the end of my rope, and need to figure out a way, ANY way, to get her to stop itching the boo-boos on her cheeks!

They started as bug bites.  One on her left cheek, and the next night one on her right, almost in the same exact place.  They wouldn’t bother her during the day, but when she is asleep I guess she has a wicked compulsion to dig her little fingernails into these wounds and itch them until they are bleeding sores.  I put neosporin on them to heal them, and she rubbed it right off.  Feeling smart, I put bandaids over the neosporin, only to discover that she has a raging allergy to the adhesive in most bandaids.  So I purchased hypo-allergenic bandaids, at a price which ensures we won’t be able to afford sending her to college, but at least she’ll have nice skin. 

Only, here’s the kicker, the bandaids are frankly too big for her little face.  So not only do I have to buy pricey hypo-allergenic bandaids, but then I cut the adhesive strip in half on each side before sticking it to her face.  I am cutting money off and throwing it away!  And if the bandaids aren’t on at night, she scratches her face and any healing that may have taken place during the day is rendered null and void. 

Not to mention the sheer frustration of her getting a tiny scratch on her chin last Friday, and I guess she decided while she was scratching her cheeks in her sleep, she might as well attack her chin too!  So this weekend saw her looking somewhat like a mummy, with bandages from cheeks to chin, to cover the itchy, unhappy, multiplying boo-boos.

Our neighbor who is an EMT suggested using cortizone to stop the itching, which I did with minimal success, because it may have stopped the itching but it wasn’t speeding up the healing!  So, feeling like I just might beat this once and for all, I purchased maximum strength neosporin + pain relief!  And do you know what?  I think she’s allergic to it!

When I put them on last night I felt all smart and happy but today her cheeks were all flushed and warm, and I take off the bandaids to discover that she is all rashy under one of her hypo-allergenic bandaids, and her little wound is all hot and angry.  So I got desperate.  Obviously, I can’t put anything on her cheeks while they look like this!  We have a pediatricians appointment on Thursday, but she needs healing now!  So I left her cheeks alone and tackled the real problem–her busy fingers. 

I got a thick pair of socks from my drawer and a roll of surgical tape.  Can you see where this is going?  Thank goodness she found it entertaining when I slid the socks over her hands and up her arms–I was rather expecting her to freak out.  But she just watched me in an amused fashion as I used the surgical tape to bind  the edges of the socks to the arms of her sleeper.  Now her face is free of bandaging but her hands are covered in white gym socks and tape!  She’s going to be one confused kid–as I was putting the socks on her hands she kept lifting her foot to indicate that perhaps my aim was a little off?  Perhaps madam would like to reconsider her choice of limb?  But no… she went to bed without complaining about her makeshift gloves, and I felt only mildly like decorating her room to look like a crypt, complete with sarcophogas for her to sleep in. 

I’ll let you know how this all turns out.  My biggest fear is that her pediatrician will scold me for not bringing her in sooner, but quite frankly, I keep thinking they’ll heal, only to wake up and have my hopes dashed.  One day they’ll look just fine, and next thing you know, she’s itching them while in the carseat and I can’t reach her hand to push it away, and she’s totally disregarding my threats to get her one of those neck-cones they put on dogs to keep them from licking their stitches.  Which may just be my next move…

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