Monday, January 31, 2011

Just Like Sally O'Malley

Living near a college campus, I am constantly reminded of that fact that I am no longer a college student.  (I am also reminded of how ugly the colors green are white are.  Ha ha.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  Go Blue!)  Mike and I will be driving around, and I'll be thinking Seriously?  You're wearing that?  Skinny Jeans?  You're a dude! or Wow, that girl really should put a hat on.  It's cold out there!  But no matter how out of touch I feel as I watch twenty-somethings walk to class, I still feel like I'm one of them, even with two diaper bags slung across my back and Anna screaming in her stroller.

Yes, yes, I know that I lead a very rich fantasy life.  In my head, though, I am convinced that everyone around me also thinks I am still a college student, and the bags under my eyes and lack of showering are due to the fact that I was pulling an all-nighter to finish a paper or playing beer pong into the wee hours at some really cool party.  Wow they are probably thinking.  That poor girl.  Going to college AND raising a baby.  Or even better, I imagine that they think I am just Anna's nanny.  Because SURELY I look much, much too young to have a baby of my own.

That fantasy was sufficiently kicked to the curb on Friday, when I found this in my mailbox.

Dear AARP,  SUCK IT!  Love, Leslie
REALLY?!??  I know that I have not been using my anti-aging moisturizer quite as often as I should be, but I certainly don't think that I look like I'm fifty.  (I kick! I stretch!) Admittedly, I do spend a lot of my time in pajamas, I really love knitting, and I recently took up the hobby of mall walking, but come on.  What a cruel, cruel contrast to my "college girl with a baby" fantasy.  

So I guess maybe this is the universe's way of telling me that I need to stop fretting about turning thirty and just enjoy where I am right now.  I may not be the college girl that I once was, but I have a long ways to go until I really will be able to classify myself as a "retired person".  

And in the meantime, I might just go ahead and send in for that membership.  I hear they get some pretty sweet deals...

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Like To Smile. Smiling's My Favorite.

It's amazing how quickly my body has responded to this whole "my baby is sleeping through the night" thing. In a little over two weeks, my sleep intake has gone from one or two hours at a time with a baby smushed against me all night, to eight, nine, even ten glorious hours with Anna in her crib and a husband smushed against me. And it has been awesome. I have energy. I'm enjoying my baby girl so much more. I have actually showered and gotten dressed every day this week. Nothing short of a miracle, I tell you.

Except we had a minor setback last night.  I was forced out of my bed once, around two, and then she was wide awake and ready to start the day around six.  Three weeks ago, I would have been having a little party in my kitchen at six in the morning, celebrating how long she had slept and marveling at how great I felt.  But that was the old me. And now that I've tasted the good stuff, I don't ever want to go back.

So there I am, bright and early - which Mike loves, by the way, since it means we can all have breakfast together - and I discover something horrible.  We. Are. Out. Of. Coffee.  (Insert crazy, maniacal scream here.)

I would like to say that I was never much of a coffee drinker before Anna came along. Sure, I enjoyed the occasional icy, sugary, whipped-cream-covered, coffee-ish beverage, but I certainly could go days, weeks even, without a caffeine surge. A couple of things changed all that...

1. Mike and I got a Keurig coffee maker for Christmas a few years ago. This lovely little machine brews only one cup at a time, eliminating the hassle of grinding beans, setting up a filter, and then pouring out almost a whole pot after brewing ten cups for one person.

2. My darling sister introduced me to a tasty drink known as the soy latte.  Up until that point, I had never had a "regular" order from a coffee place.  My whole coffee world was turned upside down with one sip, and I began traveling to Starbucks on a daily basis with a little more frequency.

3. I then discovered Silk vanilla soy creamer, the perfect solution to the money suck that my trips to Starbucks were becoming - and I could enjoy delicious, hot coffee in my own house.

Mix those things up with a new mom with a little baby who does not sleep and voila!  A coffee drinker was born. I can remember being little and trying to avoid my mom at all costs until she had consumed at least one cup of coffee in the morning and totally not understanding how she could drink something so disgusting or why she seemed to absolutely need it to function like a rational person. I get it now. Completely. And if it wasn't for the the fact that I'm still nursing, I could probably swill three or four cups a day, no problem.  Alas, I'm limited to one (sometimes two if I'm feeling extra crazy) but it's enough to have me hooked. I crave it in the mornings.  I get headaches from withdrawal if there is no caffeine surging through my veins by lunchtime. 

So when I realized we were out, I did what any other sleep-deprived, caffeine junkie would do. I panicked.  I started flinging things in drawers, pulling boxes off shelves, shouting obscenities, trying to find my fix.  And there, in the back corner of the top shelf of one of our cabinets, I found what I needed.  A packet of coffee from a gift basket we probably received years ago. It had dust on it. And it was maple flavored.  Seriously?  Who drinks maple flavored coffee?  Buddy the Elf?  Yep, Buddy the Elf and this girl.  And as bad as it was, it was so good.

That's when it hit me. I absolutely need coffee to function like a rational person, just like my mom. Even if it tastes like pancakes. Sigh. I may not feel like a functioning adult in most aspects of my life, but I've certainly got the coffee drinking part down.  It's a start, right?

Friday, January 21, 2011

We're Free!

My in-laws have this lovely little habit of kidnapping Anna for a night, and as we speak she is snuggled into her car seat cruising with my father-in-law back to Oma and Opa's house.  It's a win-win-win situation all around.  Anna gets smothered with kisses and Oma and Opa get some quality time with their granddaughter and Mike and I get to pretend we're childless for a night. 

It's funny, because leading up to the big send off my brain is usually swirling with all the glorious free time I'm going to have and how much I'm going to accomplish and how I can't wait to just have some peace and quiet.  And now that she's gone, I'm just sort of putzing around the house, not sure what to do with myself.  Yes, the kitchen needs to be cleaned disinfected with industrial-strength chemicals, and the bathroom toilet has some kind of murky beige growth crawling up the bowl, and it looks like a bomb exploded in our bedroom.  I have a huge list of things I could be checking off right now, but instead of being productive I'm sitting here thinking about my daughter and how I can't wait to see her tomorrow.  Good grief.

I'm sure that in an hour or two I'll start to catch little glimpses of my baby-free life.  Right around the time that I sit down with a hot cup of coffee and a magazine to enjoy both in their entirety, or grab that knitting project I've been trying to get to for weeks, I'll hear something and think to myself "Oh, crap!  The baby's up..." and then suddenly realize that my mind is playing tricks on me.  Then I'll smile to myself, because I'll be able to keep filling my brain with pointless celebrity gossip or knitting and purling to my heart's content.  And that, my friends, is awesome.  Because no matter how much I love my daughter, how much I miss her kisses and the sound of her shoes squeaking through the house, shedding the role of "mama", even if it's just for a few hours, is so important.

So without further ado, there's a new issue of Us Weekly calling my name - that I'll get to right after I finish scrolling through all the pictures I have of Anna on my computer.  What can I say?  You can take the girl out of mommyland...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Here are a couple of things that I'm lovin' right now...

1.  It's already Tuesday!  I know, I know, I don't technically have a real paying job, so pretty much everyday is the same ol', same ol'.  But it's always a lot more fun to have Mike around for morning snuggles, and breakfasts out, and other weekend adventures, and this week we got an extra day to do all those things.  Thank you, MLK, for being awesome and for letting us celebrate your awesomeness with a day off. 

2. Visits from my mom.  Friday night was Mike's big company holiday party, so my mom came up to watch Anna and do all those little mom things that only she can while we got gussied up and pretended we weren't parents for a couple of hours.  Like, she always cleans my dish drying rack when she's here, and wipes out my microwave, and usually something else that I look at and go, "Um, I'm supposed to be cleaning THAT?  Great."  And she does it all while taking care of Anna, which is even further proof that I have a long, long way to go before I will be joining the ranks of all the other grown ups. 

3. Visits to my parents' house.  On Sunday afternoon Mike, Anna, and I headed to Farmington Hills for lots of exciting things - mostly a big fishing show that Mike was super pumped about attending and somehow convinced my dad to join him.  Without fail, pretty much the first thing I do when I get to my parents' house is head for the kitchen, where I open the pantry and fridge scanning for goodies.  Because their goodies are always better than the ones I keep at home, and for some reason when I'm there I feel it's necessary to stuff my face with things like frosted animal crackers and oreos and potato chips.  Being there is like being on vacation, and vacation calories don't count, right?  Plus the fact that there are two grandparents around who are more than willing to play with Anna while I get to do exciting things like shower in peace, read the newspaper, and drink a cup of coffee before it turns cold.

4. Feeling accomplished.  Saturday was my first group training run, and I will admit I was a little scared.  I had no idea what to expect.  Were they going to make me run really far?  Was I going to make any running friends?  Was I going to keel over on the side of the path while all the real runners zoomed by me, laughing and pointing?  I am proud to report that I did not, in fact, keel over.  I actually ran four miles, which is by far the longest I've ever run at one time.  And even though it was really cold and I did not make a new running best friend (it turns out it's kind of hard to chat while huffing and puffing and trying not to puke) - I did it.  Week one of half marathon training is over, and I survived. 

Lots of other little things, too, like a baby girl who now loves to give kisses (and I think, is learning to use her new smooching abilities to get out of things like bedtime and eating vegetables), emails from good friends, and my coffee creamer being on sale at Meijer, even if I will still be drinking it cold.  I guess it's a good thing that microwave of mine is clean...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bob Dylan Says It Best

Did you feel the earth move last night?  How about the night before that?  Or the one before that?  I sure did.  Because my child slept through the night.  Three.  Nights.  In. A. Row.  I do declare that the times, they are a-changin'.

For most parents of one-year-olds, this is probably not really that big of a deal.  In fact, in the parenting circle, it's almost this secret little competition.  Like, if you can get your sweet little baby to sleep through the night it means that somehow you are far superior to all the other mamas and dadas out there stumbling sleep-deprived through the world.  It always comes up in conversation with other parents.  "Oh, is she sleeping through the night?" they would always ask.  And I would always, shamefully, look down and mumble some response along the lines of "Well, no, not really, but we're working on it and she's still nursing so that probably plays into it and who needs sleep anyways?"  And in my head, I would be thinking "For the love of all things holy, why will this child not sleep?" and doubting my parenting skills.

According to most "experts", Anna should have been sleeping through the nights months ago.  Almost all the other little babies I knew were slumbering peacefully for hours at a time, while my darling girl was waking up every freaking hour.  If she slept for three hours, it was cause for celebration.  If it took less than 45 minutes to lay her down, we were practically popping the champagne.  Mike and I were just sort of ready to accept the fact that our daughter, while being so much fun, and having such a great sense of humor, and bringing us so much joy, did not have any desire to let us sleep. 

People told us to let her cry it out.  Or to give her a bottle of formula before bed.  But those were things we just didn't really want to do.  So we waited.  We cursed the clock in the middle of the night and we learned to function on a little less sleep and we watched as our little baby grew into a walking, laughing, loving little toddler in the blink of an eye. 

And ever so slightly, things began to change.  It got a little easier to lay her down in her crib.  Instead of every hour,  she was waking up every two hours.  I got a little inspiration from my friend Alexia and her successes with The Sleep Lady Shuffle (not to mention hours of support and laughter and a shoulder for my sleep-deprived self to cry on).  Then, without warning, she did it.  The ultimate accomplishment.  Mike put her in her crib at 9:30, and she didn't wake up until 5:30.  (Cue angels singing, birds chirping, trumpets blaring.)  I was sure it was a fluke, the Sleep Gods playing a dirty, evil trick on us.  But again, the next night she slept like a champ.  And last night was another repeat performance.  In fact, as I'm writing this, she is still sleeping.  It turns out that after a year of only sleeping a few hours at a time, eight straight is glorious for a mama - and enough for me to be wide awake at 7:30 in the morning ready to take on the world.

If there is one thing motherhood has taught me, though, it's that I know absolutely nothing.  That just when you think you have something figured out, your baby will prove you wrong.  These past three nights have been nothing short of wonderful, but if Anna goes back to her old hourly-waking self, it won't be the end of the world.  Because as crazy as it sounds, as sleep-deprived and exhausted as I've been over the past year, as much as I want my girl to sleep through the night, a little part of me realizes that this just means my little baby is growing and growing and needing me less and less. 

So even though I'm more well rested than I've been in over a year, and even though I can proudly tell the old lady at the grocery store that, yes, as a matter of fact she is sleeping through the night, a small part of me will miss the long nights rocking her to sleep, holding her in my arms while she drifts off to dreamland.  Because pretty soon those nights will be a distant memory and she will be sleeping in a big girl bed and there's nothing I can do about it.  The times, they are a-changin', indeed.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Don't Ever Turn It Down

Ever since we first heard January Wedding by The Avett Brothers, Mike and I have pretty much been hooked. It's a seriously good song that we seriously love - it's even become the song we both sing to Anna when we're trying to get her to sleep (which means that we've both probably sung it about 8.3 million times in the last year).  But that's okay, because we really love it that much.

You can listen to it here.

And that pretty little song is even more appropriate today, because it is my parents' wedding anniversary.  Their 30th wedding anniversary to be exact, which I think is pretty cool.  Happy Anniversary to two of my favorite people.  Thank you for teaching me about love, marriage, and being a good mama - here's to thirty more years!

Come January, Let's Get Married
It's also a little scary, because their thirtieth wedding anniversary means that my thirtieth birthday is right around the corner.  Which just seems wild.  Remember?  I still feel like a little kid?  So in honor of adding items to my bucket list and the impending 3-0, I went last night and did something crazy.  I signed up for a half marathon training group.  Yep, you heard me.  I plunked down ninety bucks, got my picture taken, and officially joined Team Playmakers.  They claim they can have me running 13.1 miles in no time.  Well, in like four months.  But for a girl who literally peed her pants after running barely jogging the mile freshman year in high school (true story - ask me about it sometime) the prospect of completing a half marathon is exciting and scary and exhausting all at once.  I like the idea of the challenge, of training for a goal and finishing it, and I really like the fact that there will be a bunch of other people trying to do the same thing.  I'm even trying to get Mike to train with me, but the jury's still out on that one.  Hopefully, four months or so from now, I'll be able to add "Half Marathoner Extraordinaire" to my ever-growing list of titles.  So, while my baby girl is napping (thanks, once again, to The Avett Brothers) I better get on that treadmill...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Swinging for the Fences

I've been hearing a lot about bucket lists lately.  You know, the things you want to do or accomplish in your life before you "kick the bucket".  And I've kind of come to the conclusion that I need to add some stuff to mine, because right now there's pretty much nothing on it.  I mean, I always knew that I wanted to fall in love and get married and have babies (check, check, and check), but other than that I've never really had any wild dreams or goals or fantasies of doing crazy shenanigans around the globe.

I have this very vivid memory of my high school softball coach pulling me aside and telling me that he wanted me to strike out the next time I was up to bat.  That's right - he wanted me to swing and miss on purpose.  Because I never struck out.  I think I had the lowest number of strike outs on the entire team, something I was proud of at the time.  But you know what?  I never hit any home runs, either.  And maybe it's because I'm turning thirty this year, or maybe it's because I have a daughter I want to set a good example for, but I really, really, really don't want that to be the metaphor for my life.  

It's time to start swinging for the fences.  This blog is part of that - putting my thoughts out there for others to read.  What if I suck?  What if people think I'm full of it?  What if no one cares?  So be it. At least I tried.  I have a few other ideas running around in my head, but more on those to come later.

For now, I'm going to cross a few things off from today's list.  Like snuggling with that sniffly little girl I hope to inspire someday, drinking coffee, and getting dressed before Mike comes home from work.  Baby steps, right?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What Would a Grown Up Do?

I think I'm going to have some bracelets made.  Remember those WWJD plastic wrist bands that were so popular a few years back?  Like that, except instead of Jesus, mine are going to serve the purpose of *hopefully* reminding me that I am a grown up and while there are many, many grown up things I don't want to do, I gotta do 'em.  Sigh.

Like, dealing with the piles masses mountains of laundry that have built up over the past few weeks.   And when I say dealing, letting the same load dry over and over again because I am too lazy to fold the clothes inside simply does not count.  A grown up would just fold the damn sweaters and socks after the first dryer cycle.  A grown up would also put everything away, instead of stacking t-shirts and underwear on the dresser and letting them sit there for days and days until they get mixed up with the dirty stuff and have to be washed all over again.  Nope, a grown up would never let that happen.

With a new year, I always feel compelled to try to make some kind of resolution.  I would bet that eight of the last ten years my resolutions have all had something to do with being neater or more organized or less messy.  And I would bet that (well, actually, I know) that I have failed miserably by January 5th every year, dirty dishes piling up in the sink, opened mail left out on the kitchen table, winter coat strewn across the back of the couch.

And this year has been no different.  It's gotten to the point where I don't vocalize these "resolutions" because I don't want my poor husband to get his hopes up.  But secretly, in my mind, the last week of December I'm thinking about how awesome it's going to be when I'm the type of person who always hangs her coat in the closet as soon as she takes it off, puts her keys in the same place every single time so she doesn't have to spend nine minutes searching for them anytime she wants to go somewhere, and takes the recycling out to the bin so it doesn't sit on the counter for a week.

I can feel myself slipping.  It's January 4th, and even though we cleaned our bedroom two days ago, just this morning I dropped a dirty sock on the floor and did not pick it up.  That's how it starts.  With one little sock, or a dryer sheet that doesn't make it to the garbage can, or a wet towel that can't find its way to the hook on the back of the door.  And then, without warning, it's an all-out explosion of dirty clothes, and magazines, and baby toys and I'm right back where I started.

That is why I need the bracelet.  A constant reminder, something I can look down at 87 times a day telling me to do the right thing.  To pick up that sock and put it in the hamper.  To hang my towel up after I'm done drying off.  To fold the freakin' laundry when the dryer buzzes.  The first time.

Speaking of...I hear a familiar sound coming from my laundry room, which means this girl is going to look down at her imaginary bracelet, grab a basket, and get to work, in hopes of stretching this resolution out just a teensy bit further.