Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, My Sweet Girl

One year ago right to this minute (12:44 p.m.), my child was born. That is when I became a mother. That is when I fell in love like I never have before.

I never thought I wanted to be a mother. I didn't think babies were anything great. I didn't think I could hand over my life to someone else.

Then one day as I lay on an operating table, I heard the cry of my daughter. From that moment on, there has never been anything more difficult and more easy than handing my life over to her.

Thank you, God, for knowing the plan all along, and sending me Claire.

I love you, my little fuzzy...



And Always

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This Mama is Just as Proud

Been on my bazillionth baby Web site to research something, and for the bazillionth time I'm hit with someone who writes a comment and in their signature has...

"I'm proud to be a twice babyfitting, breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering mama!"

Geez. And what the heck is babyfitting?

Fine, then for the record...

"I'm proud to be a once bottle feeding, baby-in-the-bouncy-seat, baby-slept-in-the-crib from day one, Pampers diapering mama!"

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Don't Want Your Stinking Pink Puffball!

It really was supposed to be simple. I needed to get a winter coat for Claire.

Claire's dad had her on Sunday, which gave me the rarest of occasions..A DAY TO MYSELF!!!!

Oh, how I relished the idea of this day. What to do? I envisioned sitting at the Red Canoe sipping one of their amazing chai lattes and browsing through a new book. I had thoughts of me sitting alone in the Charles, watching a wonderful film that I had picked on my own, not having to worry if it suited anyone else's taste. Finally, I saw myself curled up on my couch, some forbidden food in hand, wrapped in my comforter enjoying the new Sex and the City Movie DVD I treated myself to in honor of Claire's birthday (hey, I made it through the first year, too!!).

Um, none of the above. Sigh.

I planned on making a quick stop at Toys R Us to pick up Mommy's birthday gift to Claire (whose real birthday is on Wednesday the 29th). I also wanted to make a quick stop at L.L. Bean in Columbia, because I had seen a lovely violet and aqua winter coat I wanted to get for Claire.

I hopped in my car and headed down to Route 29 to the mecca of Columbia. I trotted through Toys R Us and picked out a gift for Claire. Jumping ahead in this story, I have since discovered it really wasn't the thing I was looking for, and I have to haul it back this week. Grrrr.

After Toys R Us, I made my way down Patuxent Parkway to the mall. I have a love/hate relationship with the Columbia Mall. It's a beautiful mall with the best of stores. It's also ALWAYS ridiculously busy with notoriously shoddy parking. BUT it was a beautiful day and I was happy to park two counties away and jaunt to L.L. Bean. After what felt like the parting of the Red Sea, I made my way through the masses of people to the kids section. There was the coat! Yay! every size but Claire's...grrrrrr.

This began the arduous quest for Claire's winter coat. I hit EVERY store in that mall that carries children's clothing, and the results were always the same:

There's nothing wrong with the coat; I simply did not want a pink bubble coat.

I searched high and low and kept seeing that coat. By the time the day was over, I wanted to rip it to shreds in every store. I finally found a wonderful coat at Nordstrom, but OF COURSE, they were toddler size (2T and up).

By this time, it's nearly 3 pm, and my feet are KILLING ME. I hobbled back to my car and traveled to the Long Gate plaza in Columbia to the Old Navy and Kohl's. Old Navy held promise, but no Claire sizes. Kohl's? Pink puffball.

My story ends in the unlikeliest of places: (I need a)Security (guard to survive) Mall. I walked through a sea of pink puffballs in Burlington Coat Factory and made my way to Old Navy. I finally settled on a coat that they actually had in Claire's size. Yes, it's still a puffball, which wasn't my plan. BUT it wasn't pink!!! It's a lovely ivory color.

As I pulled it from the rack, I heard my mother's voice..."It will show dirt!" And I replied OUT LOUD, "I DON'T CARE if it shows dirt, I'm tired of looking for coats!" Luckily most of the other people at the Security Mall were either too strung out to notice me talking out loud or didn't care.

I drove back to Owings Mills, coat in hand but not feeling victorious, and surrendered myself to a chai tea at Starbucks (not nearly as good as Red Canoe, but it would do).

There are definitely days where it's very tiring being me.

Celebrating Claire...the Maryland Story!

Birthday party number 2 for Miss Claire took place this past Saturday. This time we were at our home in Maryland. Claire was joined by many wonderful friends...Miss In-Sung and Minhae the Penguin; Miss Laura, Mr. Greg, and Victoria the Care Bear; Miss Jodi and Ava; Mr. Mark, Miss Christa, Caroline, and Isaac; and Princess Rose and Nick.

The weather left a lot to be desired (tsunami!!), but everyone piled into our tiny apartment to share some appetizers, cake, and baby fun!

I want to very highly recommend Carrie Shelley, who runs Enchanted Cakes and Treats, who did Claire's beautiful pumpkin cake and cupcakes.

Claire received many wonderful gifts, including this HANDMADE winter hat from Miss Laura...

My little place was brimming with babies!!! What a wonderful life Claire has to be surrounded by these great friends! I already know this, because their parents are special people in my life. This was a celebration for all of us, and I hope to see you all at her party for years to come!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dinnertime Deception

I can see already that my daughter is favoring my preferences at mealtime. That is, heck with these stupid vegetables, where's the good stuff??? As you can see from my last blog, that birthday cake went down easy!

I, however, am hell bent that my child will eat vegetables. The only real "sweets" I give her are fruit, which she loves, and some puffs or animal crackers. I don't think for right now that this is denying her, because she's never had the junk food to begin with, so she has no idea that she is missing it.

I try to give her a variety. I had noticed for a while that I was giving her only the vegetables I liked, not even thinking to give her other things. It was just a natural reaction. But while at In-Sung's for our play date, I tried to give her a tomato. That was spit right out. Mommy doesn't like tomatoes either. She doesn't seem to like green beans, but I love them!

I steamed some frozen green beans the other night. I then cut them up into small, bite-size pieces. I cut off a square of cheddar and melted that over the beans, hoping that would entice her. She slowly picked up a bean and cautiously held it to her mouth...she always looks at me while she does this, which I find to be funny. She then put it in her mouth and began chewing. I felt triumphant. That was short lived. She proceeds to spit the bean out, but has managed to suck the cheese off of it. She continues this pattern with the rest of the beans. Sigh.

My next good plan was to offer her the steamed veggies that Green Giant makes that steam in the microwave and that are seasoned. I prepared the broccoli and carrot combo in its seasoned sauce and cut some up into tiny Claire-sized bites. She took some, spit it out. Took more, spit it out. She normally does pretty well with carrots and broccoli. It didn't help that she was overtired. Then she just wanted to fling it all off of her tray. That was the end of that meal.

FINALLY I scored...puree them and mix them into something she likes. I know this is a fairly common trick, but I was hoping she'd just like the vegetables by themselves. No such luck. So last night I steamed some more Green Giant veggies..edamame, snap peas, white beans, carrots. I threw them into the baby food processor with a little water and buzzed them into puree. I cracked an egg into a bowl (I like Eggland's Best), added the puree, and beat it slightly. I sprinkled a little organic shredded mild cheddar into this mix and scrambled the egg on the stove. Claire really likes eggs. She gobbled almost all of her veggie egg up! Now I'm inspired. I think tonight I'm going feed her some chicken breast (another Claire favorite), which she loves, and use the puree as a "sauce." I can also start pureeing cauliflower and squash and other such vegetables and mixing them into mac and cheese and mashed potatoes.

Hey, Mom's gotta do what a Mom's gotta do.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Celebrating Claire---Part II: The Gifts

The cake was just the first of the treats for Miss Claire. We took her into our family room and she was handed her birthday gifts. She looked at them but wasn't sure what to do. Her cousins tried to encourage her to rip open the paper. Of course she ripped one piece and was then fascinated with it.

Eventually (and with some help from Mommy) we opened her Pop-up!!!

Claire loves this! She hasn't mastered actually pushing the buttons to make the animals pop up, but she loves to watch them pop up and she wants to yank them OUT. And she loves pushing them back down. Thank you, Mishlers!

Next Claire opened her dump truck!

Claire especially like the little man who drives the truck. We've named him Leroy. She likes to take him out (occasionally chew on him) and put him back in the truck. I show her how to drive it around and put her blocks and other toys in the back and dump them out. She still prefers Leroy. Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa!

Next came the corn popper!

This is about twice the height of Claire, but she still wants to try and push it around. And she is one determined little girl!! Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa!!!

Uncle Greg and Aunt Jen and cousins Zach, Ben, and Seth were kind enough to give Claire money, which Mommy put in her piggy bank to save for a rainy day. Thank you, Wingards!

And Grandma and Grandpa blessed Claire with the most beautiful little rocking chair I've ever seen...

(Picture To Come)

So all in all, this was a very joyous day for Claire. She is extremely blessed to be loved so much by so many.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Celebrating Claire---Part I: The Cake

Claire and I traveled to Grandma and Grandpa's house in Pennsylvania this weekend. This was the first of two parties to celebrate Claire's first birthday, which is coming up so fast on October 29.

Claire got to see so many of her family...Grandma and Grandpa; Uncle Greg, Aunt Jen, and cousins Zach, Ben, and Seth; Uncle Don, Aunt Beth, and cousins Megan and Holly; Aunt Carol and cousin Tessa; Auntie Sharon, Uncle Marty, and cousins Kim and Allie; and a quick visit with cousin Mona. Everywhere she turned, someone wanted to see her. It was the Claire show, and I think she enjoyed being the star.

Grandma cooked up a marvelous meal on Sunday, and then came the big event...


And there was a Claire-sized cake of her very own...

Think she likes it???

Friday, October 10, 2008

Where is our Franklin D. Roosevelt?

Where is my John Wayne
Where is my prairie son
Where is my happy ending
Where have all the cowboys gone?

The financial crisis.

As in most catastrophic events, Kara chooses to stick her head in the sand and let the "big, important people" worry about it. How much longer can I live in my world of denial? And how can there be people who still want to vote Republican?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Autumn is Home

So the autumn equinox "officially" started on September 22; however, it didn't feel like fall. Down here in Merry-land, the Indian summer sometimes feels like it lasts forever. I remember the day Laura and I went to see the butterfly exhibit...mid-September. It was SO hot. I was sweating like no human really should.

But in the last few days, autumn has slipped in. I can literally see the difference in the air. It has a different color, a different smell, a different feel. When I arrive at daycare each evening to get Claire, there's a notable difference. I can't even put it into words...that indescribable "essence" of the atmosphere. All I know is that I like it. It feels like home.

A natural inclination toward cooking and baking seeps in...especially for soups and warm spicy baked goods. I have accumulated recipes to try in the next few weeks.

I now dress Claire in her one-piece "footie" pajamas. As I get ready to put her to bed, I switch the light off in her room and we sit quietly together in the new darkness for the last moments of her day.

I put the heat on last night for the first time this season. I traded my t-shirt for a sweatshirt and put socks on my feet. I pull out sweaters and tweed pants in the morning and my white pants have been retired for another winter.

I really do love fall, maybe because it doesn't feel like it lasts long, so I want to hold onto every moment of its cool heartiness.

Before the messiness of winter hits, I am going to come home and wrap myself in this season.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Frustration Nation

I'm really just bummed out today. I'm better off than so many people, but right now, i just feel defeated.

I want Claire to grow up in a house with a yard, and I'm giving her a box apartment with no grass and loud, obnoxious neighbors.

I want Claire to be in the best daycare, so I put her there and can't afford it from week to week.

I want to give my mom and dad gifts and money so they can enjoy life for once, yet I bleed them dry because I can't manage my own expenses.

I park between a Lexus SUV and a Mercedes C-class at daycare, and my own humble Honda is still not paid off---a 6-year car loan to afford a Honda.

I have to fit at least 20 people into my pea-sized apartment for Claire's birthday, so no one will want to stay because it's so uncomfortable.

I want to never look at a picture of myself again, because I don't recognize who I've become but am too weak and lazy to do anything about the weight.

I want to have happy family weekends, but there's no one there to share them with.

I want to put a lousy tank of gas in my car, but am praying I make it on half a tank because there's no money left to fill it.

I work too hard for this. I'm ashamed and angry and jealous and sad. If you put all those in a pot and stir them up, it doesn't make for a good concoction.

So now what? I guess keep prodding through and keep trying.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tag, I'm IT!!!

Jessica didn't official "tag" me, but I'm posting this anyway.

4 Things I Did Today
1. had morning snuggle time w/my best girl
2. changed two diapers before leaving the house this morning
3. worked on the same horrid proposal all day today
4. ate real (i.e., not lite or fat-free) Thousand Island dressing for the first time in years...oh so good.

4 Things On My To Do List (<-- this is just my to-do list for this evening)
1. fold whites in the dryer, do a load of towels
2. nails/eyebrows
3. cook apple couscous chicken thingy
4. do dishes that don't go in the dishwasher

4 Of My Guiltiest Pleasures
1. Papa John's Tuscan pizza
2. great films
3. clothes and shoes..for me or Claire, doesn't matter
4. ebay

4 Random Facts About Me:
1. I am genetically predisposed to be clean and tidy...and am anything but
2. I was going to name Claire "Kate," but I didn't want people to call her "Katie," so I chose Claire instead. There are people who actually call her Clairey. Go figure.
3. Every night I have slept on the couch..not in my queen-sized bed..since Claire was born
4. I do not hate that Claire goes to daycare and feel guilty that I should.

There you have it.

The Girls of Autumn

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Step 1 (then 2, then 3!!)

Subject: I'm Mobile!


Dear Minhae and Victoria,

I took steps today! The daycare lady wrote to Mommy on Friday telling her I was taking steps. Mommy was so excited.

Today Daddy took me to my Tiny Tykes class, and when I came home, I was showing Mommy how I take two or three steps at a time. I have great balance! I'm going to be able to walk along with you girls so soon! We are going to have great adventures!

So where should we go first, Vegas or Palm Beach? Chase said he'd meet us there and he has the MasterCard gold with him. Minhae, yes, I did check, and there is a Panera in both places. Victoria, I am Google-ing right now to see if they make leather pants in size 18 months. I call shotgun.

OK, I think Mommy hears me, so I have to log off now. See you soon!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wheel of Fortune

"Hi, my name is Claire, and see, this is my wheel!

"Mommy gives me one every day after we get home from daycare. It is my favorite part of the day. I eat my wheel and play with my toys. I must do this barefoot though, cause I don't like those socks Mommy puts on me. I take them off immediately.

"I bet you'd all have a great day if you just had a wheel like me. OK, I have to go now, cause my Mommy needs to give me big huggies."

Booster Seats

Just read this valuable article on the efficacy of booster seats.

Claire just transitioned from her infant carrier seat to her "big girl" car seat a few weeks ago, but I still found the referenced article to be of value.

Happy October to everyone!