Monday, December 13, 2010

What She Said

"We teach our children to be good citizens, never kill, never lie, never do bad things, and yet in 3-4 weeks, we train them to go and kill people half way around the world, and still have yet to give them a good reason to kill and die."

Helen Thomas, American author and former news service reporter, member of the White House Press Corps and columnist.


And so this is Christmas
WAR IS OVER
For weak and for strong
IF YOU WANT IT
For rich and the poor ones
WAR IS OVER
The road is so long
NOW
And so happy Christmas
WAR IS OVER
For black and for white
IF YOU WANT IT
For yellow and red ones
WAR IS OVER
Let's stop all the fight
NOW

Friday, December 10, 2010

Disillusioned

"Christian" church going to protest Elizabeth Edwards' funeral with their messages of "God hates fags" and claim she's going to hell. (And how can anyone wonder why I detest religion?)

Army of people think it's their right to spout national secrets for the public to see, acting under the guise of vigilantes exposing the "truth" of what the "public deserves to know."

Congress of our elected spouting back and forth and not a one caring for what would really help their constituents.

North Korea ready to start the next world war.

Iranian woman facing stoning.

More murders in Baltimore.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell upheld.

Companies hiring spies to make sure you're home when you call out sick.

Three boys missing whose dad claims he dropped them off w/"Friend" so they wouldn't see him kill himself. Dad still living, boys gone, nowhere to be found.


If anyone wants to know why I sit alone and hang my head most days, this is why. What kind of world did I bring my daughter into? And for all of those news stories, if you read them online and read all the comments from others, it only reinforces the hate-filled, corrupt world we live in.

I'll continue to love my child and do my best, but it's really a losing battle, folks.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas

If ever there was $9 a month that was well spent, it is for my Netflix service. I have been doing not so great at actually receiving and returning the physical DVDs (like that's a big surprise), BUT their library of instant viewing movies and TV shows is amazing!

Adding to my homage to Netflix, they have three full seasons of Dora the Explorer and two seasons of Go, Diego, Go available for instant viewing. LIFE SAVER!!!! Claire says, "Mommy, I watch Dora on your 'puter."

So after dinner, she wanted to snuggle in for some quality Dora time. I had other ideas. I searched the library for some good holiday films. They're a bit lacking on what's available instantly as far as holiday-themed films (although you can get almost anything you want as a DVD order). What I did find, however, was a little gem, The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas. This is from way back in 1973, the year of my birth (i.e., a bazillion years ago). Casey Kasem narrates, and Tommy Smothers is the little bear. Oh, what a delightful little film!!! Claire was mesmerized, and it was a sweet and funny little tribute to Christmas.

Anyone with a Netflix subscription should take the short 25 minutes it takes to watch this...it's an endearing little tale that spans the decades :-)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Painting a Rainbow on Black Friday

Simply put, Black Friday makes me sick. I don't understand glorifying a day that showcases the worst qualities in human beings: greed, greed, greed, more greed, every man for himself, aggression, inconsideration, and have I mentioned greed?

One year before work when I still lived in Pennsylvania, I needed laundry detergent. Absolutely clueless, I stopped at Walmart on Black Friday that morning. I waited a half hour in line to buy Tide. I don't care if I have not a crumb to eat and no toilet paper, I will never, ever go out again on Black Friday. This year I'm working, and I'm fine with that.

I love giving gifts. I love that much more than receiving really. I also like getting a good deal, as I, like most, am on a tight budget. The evolution of online shopping has been a godsend. I like the luxury of sitting at home in the evenings, carefully picking things and having a ton of variety right at my fingertips. Better yet, many of the Black Friday deals have translated into web deals as well. So that works fairly well for me.

More importantly, Black Friday and all that goes with it just cheapens the spirit of what the holiday is about. I'm not speaking religiously here either. No matter what your particular belief (even if it means no belief), Christmas to me represents a time when human beings worldwide come together to be charitable, kind, and giving. Black Friday is like an ugly, open sore on that concept.

So this year, I'm going to paint a rainbow over the "Black." I'm going to commit to a season of love and giving. I'm going to celebrate the spirit of the season and teach my child what Christmas should really be about.

Happy Holidays, one and all.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!

Ahhhh, and we are quickly coming upon my favorite time of the year!! Yes, I loooooove the Christmas season!! I love the time leading up to Christmas much more than Christmas Day to be honest. And this year, I finally get to share it with my daughter.

Claire hasn't understood Christmas much up until now. I still don't think she completely "gets" it, but we've been talking more about it. She has been talking about Santa Claus and learned "Jingle Bells" in her music class at school. I am really looking forward to getting the Christmas tree this year. I have been without one for the last few years, but this year it's coming back. I can't wait to smell it, have Claire see it, have us decorate it together, even though I'm sure that will be quite an event with a 3-year-old.

I've been watching holiday movies for the last two weeks on the Hallmark Channel. Claire has favored Christmas episodes of Dora. I've put in the Sesame Street Christmas DVDs, and she's made it through a bit but she just wants Dora, Dora, Dora. I'd like to have a CD of children's Christmas music for her to listen to. I've been teaching her "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and she loves singing that line over and over.

My Christmas cards are bought and ready to write. I'm ready to adorn my mantle in greens and candles. Claire's Christmas portraits are back and ready to send.

May the upcoming days be merry and bright!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Princess and the Potty

I just read In-Sung's blog where she talked about all the awesome books she is reading to Minhae. Claire is a big book fan as well. She has a book called The Princess and the Potty that she loves. The plot, as described by Publishers Weekly, states
"Brown's comic ink-and-watercolor pictures depict a medieval princess who looks to be well past the potty-training stage--and who trots out an engaging range of facial expressions that indicate her stubbornness. It seems she has no interest in trading in the "royal diaper" for a potty--even when tempted with models that are polka-dotted, musical or glow-in-the-dark."
.

Sigh. Welcome to my world. I have someone at my residence who just turned 3 who is completely uninterested in using her potty. She still wears pull-ups to school, and I think the teachers are becoming a little tired of that. Thankfully others in her class wear them too but not the majority. I have a big pile of big girl panties...princesses and Dora. When we get home from work/school, we take off the pull-up and put on big girl panties! Then I give the speech. "Now, Claire, you can't pee in the big girl panties! You have to go on the potty and keep them dry!" Then comes the timer. Every 30 minutes, it dings and off to the bathroom we go; most of the time that involves me dragging her to it screaming. She will usually go. Then sometime during one of the intervals, I'll notice she's soaked. She pees in between the timed breaks. She drinks a lot and it shows! Limiting her drinking is hard because of her allergies. It's a vicious cycle.

The worst part is that the wet or even dirty panties don't bother her a bit, so she'll walk around like that until I figure it out. So that doesn't seem to be working to encourage her to use the potty. I guess the next move will be to go completely naked, but I imagine she'll just pee all over herself and get on with it like nothing ever happened.

I'm not good at this!! I guess I'll read more books, find more incentives, pray to the potty fairy...anything! Until then, I'm accepting donations to the diaper fund of Baltimore County.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dear Claire

My baby is three. 3. One two three. I can't believe it. It seems like I had her yesterday and it seems like she's been here forever. She's not a little fuzzy ball anymore. She's a true little girl...that both delights me and breaks my heart. I wish she'd slow down just a little...Mommy wants to keep her little as long as she can.

Claire is wild. Claire is uninhibited. Claire is obstinate. She's hard for a lot of people to control. Because of that I think she's a misunderstood little girl. I know I misunderstand her enough. She does frustrate me on a fairly regular basis. But I realized I confused her stubbornness for deliberate misbehavior, and that's not who my Claire is.

Claire has three baby dolls she often cares for. She is the best little Mommy I've ever seen. She lovingly rocks her babies, places them on pillows, covers them with blankets, she whispers to them in words I can't hear, but they're words of love and reassurance. She smiles at me from across the room. She walks over to me without a word, with both hands she brushes the bangs from my face, leans over, and kisses me on the forehead.

She worries when she thinks I have a "boo-boo." She finds band-aids and puts them on me in an attempt to make me feel better. She shares the apples I cut for her...hands me one, eats one, hands me one, eats one. She loves babies and likes to pat their heads. She loves to laugh from her belly and she makes the funniest faces I've ever seen...mean angry face to big cheesy grin.

Some days I really don't think I'm a great mom, or even a good mom. Some days I don't even know if I want to be a mom to be honest. But as soon as I walk through her door and see her sleeping in her bed, I know with every fiber of my being that Claire was meant to be here, and it's a blessing that she's mine.

I love my beautiful little girl, and this day will always be a day of celebration and thanks. Happy Birthday, sweet Claire.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The princess party and the royalty known as my friends!

Well, we pulled off one fun princess party today! My beautiful little sweetheart's eyes lit up when she saw her pretty pink princess dress, and she was just overwhelmed at all the decorations and people who came just to see her. I was very happy to have her friends (and mine!) there, and I think it was the perfect size.

We had fun doing a craft, opening gifts, blowing out candles, and settling in with popcorn for a fine piece of cinema, Dora's Slumber Party.

A few party pics:










I want to take a minute to thank my wonderful friends. Rose stopped by yesterday with my girlfriend Josie and helped me with my big cleanup project. More than that, she kept me company and provided free entertainment (Miss Josie). In-Sung brought extra little people chairs to help round out the princess party table. And all of them straightened the place up so well before they left that my cleanup was an absolute breeze.

My friends Nina and Rachel helped me get the gorgeous princess cake on Friday evening from my awesome cake lady, Carrie Shelley of Enchanted Cakes and Treats. When we dropped it off at my apartment, those two chicks came in and scrubbed the living daylights out of my kitchen and helped straighten up the entire place. They ROCK and I love them!

So in addition to celebrating Claire's 3rd birthday, today I also celebrated the fact that I am surrounded by some pretty amazing friends. Thanks to everyone!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Week in Between: Part I -- Cleanup

So here I am with an ENTIRE week where I don't have to go to work! I'm a little out of sorts, but I'm going to run with it. The Fuzz is still with her daddy, so I'm trying to tackle the big, ugly project head-on.

Cleaning up the catastrophe known as my apartment.

Ha, I think I blog about this a lot. I'm a messy child. I really am. I will lose my grip on the clutter for one day and then it spirals. And the clutter makes my anxiety soar. Combine that with the fact that I have a very important princess party to host on Saturday, and it's time to kick my butt into high gear.

I'm finally addressing my bedroom. I have an absolutely beautiful bedroom. Unfortunately, it's buried under six feet of crappola. It was honestly never properly unpacked from when I moved in the place in April. So six months later, I guess it's time to deal with it. I'm working one little section at a time. I know when I'm done it's going to give me the sense of peace it was intended to all along.

The rest of the week I'll work on the other rooms, although they're not bad. Having this week off was a godsend. I was really worried about having this whole party and not having enough time to plan, but I've already got all supplies ready and organized, will be picking up the cake on Friday night so Saturday isn't so frenzied, and then hopefully Saturday, after a few hopefully quick errands, will be ready to welcome the royalty to Claire's castle.

While I clean this place up, the week away from the chaos will also serve as a week to give my mind a good scrub. I am really looking forward to walking into my new job next Monday with high spirits and lots of motivation.

So have I procrastinated enough? LOL Back to the bedroom I go!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Finding Happiness in Familiar Places

So I've shared the news with most already. I hadn't intended to for another week or so, but circumstances dictated otherwise.

Months of miserable blogs stemming from my life circumstances, namely, my employment. I have always been proud of my career, loved to work. I was going along in life happy with my situation until one ugly day in April 2009 when it all came crashing down. I was laid off and scared out of my mind. I had no income coming in and a 1 1/2-year-old to take care of. So I made a job out of looking for a job and was hired 2.5 months later by a very small firm downtown. From day one, I struggled back and forth with adjusting to this new environment. At one point I thought I had come out on the other side of some rough patches and could really contribute. But there was so much doubt, so much frustration, so much pressure.

My daughter has had to suffer because of the commute. I had to drag her into daycare earlier and pick her up later. I have never been able to come to terms with that. And even so, I was late every day anyway, because I outright refused to yank her out of bed and throw her in the car, which is what was required of me to get there on time. Despite getting a very gratifying amount of reading done, I grew tired of the train, tired of the riff-raff I encountered daily downtown, tired of running from the work building at 5:20 to catch the 5:28 pm train, racing to my car and then to daycare before it closed at 6:30. Rush rush rush rush. That was my life.

Work became less satisfying for many reasons, and personalities began to clash. On one very difficult morning suffering with a terrible migraine, on four hours of sleep, all the frustration came spilling out of my mouth. On the ten counts of verbal assault, I find you, Kara B., guilty. You are sentenced to a miserable work existence for the unforeseeable future. And so the last month has driven me into a dark place where I could see no light. And I desperately searched for a flicker to lead me out.

And finally the flicker came. I reached out to the place that was "home," and they threw me a lifeline. My previous place of employment had contacted me after the layoff on two separate occasions to ask me to come back. Every fiber in my being wanted to accept both times, but both times I turned them down,trying to prove that I could do the job I was hired for, trying to make it work. But this time, I needed out. I needed out so badly it terrified me. So I called, and they answered.

And so, after months of duress, I am returning to the place where I was the happiest in my work existence. This move benefits my daughter...she is one mile away from me...I will get to her so much earlier in the evening. We will have more time to relax and play at night. Her mommy won't be sick from work conflicts. Her mommy will be two minutes away if she needs me.

Today as I drove home from daycare, I noticed a line of maple trees marching up the street. Their leaves were stained with red and gold, and the sun had weakened in the sky and streaked them with a pink hue. I noticed the tall trees on the road home, how they too were changed to the colors of fall. The sky was muted and the air was crisp. When did this happen, I thought. And then I realized, I had been RELEASED. I was opening my eyes for the first time in a long time, and the world was there in all its colors to welcome me back.

Hello old friend
It's really good to see you once again

"Hello Old Friend" Eric Clapton

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Fleck of Light

Yes, there is a fleck. And I will share it soon. But for now, I am going to carefully hold it until I know it's for real. Stay tuned :-)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rock Bottom

Really, I hope this is it. I'd hate to think I'm sitting here and there is even farther down to fall.

A tiny thread was pulled and I began to unravel. I slowly spun until I dwindled. What was left of me clung tight, but to a false power. Anger makes you feel invincible. Angry as a tiger and can tear your flesh apart with a ferocious roar. But when I stopped roaring I realized i'm a shell of a person.

Anger is flesh eating.

I don't self care anymore.

I have lost control and an inferno resulted and i'm sitting in the ashes and the damage is irreparable.

There is a fleck of light I'm nursing right now. If I can carefully tend to this fleck, have it grow into a glowing ember, start rising from the ashes, maybe I can start connecting some dots and begin moving forward. But in the present, I am living with the results of a head-on collision. I will be a shell of a person until I can stand up again. I hope I can stand up again.

I do the best I can, honey. I know it's not enough, and I'm sorry. But that's what you get in life, you know? You get whoever you end up with. Whoever is willing to stick by you, and fight for you, when everyone else is gone. And it ain't always who you expect. But you just have to make do. ---Boys on the Side, 1995

Monday, September 13, 2010

IN-SUNG!!!

Ugh, are you back in the USA yet??? Did you smuggle Kangyi back in your luggage?



I miss those two cutie pies up there.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Magic Pill

Well it seems to me that you have seen too much in too few years
And though you've tried you just can't hide
Your eyes are edged with tears
---19th Nervous Breakdown, Rolling Stones


How about a Mother's Little Helper...got one? The one I swallow everyday doesn't seem to do the trick.

Did you ever think you'd hear someone say that cancer was way easier than depression? Maybe cause I did so well and the cancer was so responsive to that treatment that I didn't face the darker days that some w/that disease do.

All I know is that my existence takes more work than I think should be necessary, and happiness is something I'm not altogether familiar with.

I love being alone but hate being lonely.

I love being single but want to have a family.

I detest being obese but love food more than life.

I want to get out of this bed but it's the safest place I know.

I spend my time thinking Claire deserves so much more than this. But really, it is me who deserves more than this. But I won't do the work, so I don't see any changes ahead. The last time I tried I spent a lot of $$ and got sick from new medication. That most definitely discouraged me.

My romantic memories are littered with partners who grew weary of my erratic moods, my anger, my sadness. So I will be the story to their wives..."My one ex was just crazy...thank God I got out of that one alive." I think about that a LOT. I'm the horror story.

The difference between before and now is that I felt that I had youth on my side, that I was always ready for a new beginning. Now I get older each day, and I have too much to be responsible for to afford myself that new beginning. I'm just not a fan of the whole blended family, sorry.

So with a low mood, struggling finances, and no real "I can't wait for...." prospects, existing means being conscience of each breath in, each breath out.

I'll be OK. Come Tuesday, I'll wind myself up and go through the daily motions and press repeat, cause the days just blend together. But someday, it would be great to be MORE than OK. What would that feel like? I have forgotten the possibility.

If you, reader, do not suffer from mental illness, thank whatever power you believe in. It is wretched, it is unkind, it is all-encompassing. It makes people uncomfortable, as I likely am right now to those who read this. But I'd gladly take that discomfort over this way of life any day.


I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
---I Am A Rock, Simon & Garfunkel

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Letter to the Playground Mom

Dear Lady at the Playground today,

Could you please stop texting on your phone and push your little boy on the swing? He begged and begged you. Your friend came with her two little ones, and you were wrapped up in a conversation with her. All he wanted was for you to pay attention to him for a bit. I hope when you yelled at him to "Shut up!" that it didn't break his spirit. I wish you would have seen him come to me, talking to me, happy to have someone speak to him with kindness and interest. I hope whatever it was you were doing was truly urgent. And little boy, if you come back to play, I will be happy to push you on the swing until your spirit soars.

Best,
Kara

Monday, August 9, 2010

Less Boob Tube

Here I am, tail between my legs. Yep, I'm the gal who said my child would watch no TV before the age of 2. I made it til she was about 13 months old and Elmo came into our world. I think I kept it under control until the last few months. All of the sudden I became aware that my girl was starting to become addicted to the TV. I limit her shows to the Sprout channel, which is all pre-school and educational, but still, we were starting to creep upwards of two to three hours a day.

Let's face it, it's the easy way out. My day from early morning til late night is rush, rush, rush. I'm always rushing from one place to the next, always on the clock, always chasing a deadline. When we finally get home from work and daycare, I then need to get dinner ready and do the rest of the stuff that needs done. It became so easy to put her in front of Sprout from the time I started dinner until it was time to go for a bath and bed. I could get some laundry started, dishes done, or simply sit on the couch and rest my eyes.

I started to notice that Claire knew the lineup of shows. She would know what came after the next. She would beg to watch On Demand episodes of Caillou one after the other. She started knowing every character's name on every show. She has recently been introduced to Dora, her new obsession, and can sing the theme song and yells "Swiper, no swiping!" every time she sees Swiper the Fox.

It really hit me...this is too much. She will sit glazed in front of that TV, refusing to talk to her dad when he calls at night for her. I decided last Thursday night that I was going to start putting a time limit on her viewing. We got home from work/daycare, and as I prepared dinner, she sat as she usually does and watched a Dora episode. I sat down to dinner with her and let the episode finish (about 25 minutes from start to finish). Then I shut it off. Oh my. That went over like a lead balloon. Kicking and screaming on the floor crying for Dora and Caillou. She went on and on until she looked up...

There I was, dragging the kitchen table into her play room. She stopped crying for a moment to see what I was doing. I hurried about, very animated, and she walked over. "Mommy, what doing?" I threw my arms in the air, "I'm making the castle! I'm making the princess castle!!!" TV was forgotten, as she helped me pile blankets on the table to make our castle. We sat under there for 45 minutes (well, she sat; I crouched) with her tea set. She served tea to her baby and to me. Then we moved over to her table and I pulled out her art box. We worked on drawings for a while. And then it was bedtime. So, all and all, instead of two hours of TV, we had 25 minutes. She watches about a half hour in the morning while we get ready, so that would equal about 1 hour a day total. I'm cool with that.

Tonight she put up a bit of a fight for me. I just kept dragging her to different activities until she forgot what she was crying about. We were in the castle again (my back hates me right now..where's the heating pad). We played with her Fisher Price garage and her drum (girl got rhythm). Then we had clean up and off for our bedtime routine.

Some days I know will be better than others. I'm sure she'll have days where she will end up watching two hours, but I feel good about making a concerted effort to cut back as much as possible and engage her in creative, imaginative play.

And then once she goes to bed, I can tune in to the Golden Girls :-)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

KTV

If you are at least as old as me, you may remember that MTV actually showed music videos at one time. Remember A-Ha's video for Take On Me? That crazy animated cartoon? How about Chevy Chase and Paul Simon in You Can Call Me Al.

Anyway, my favorite movie videos always were songs from movie soundtracks. They'd show movie clips while the song was playing. "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins. "Take My Breath Away" by Berlin for Top Gun. All very romantic and dramatic.

I find I am falling into the habit of extracting my memories and piecing them together into music videos. I daydream a lot. I escape and go back to 2006...September...that happiness was euphoric. It was out of control and pervasive and fantastical and all-encompassing. It was the summit of the highest peak of another world. And it was brief. I ache...literally ache...to have that back. I want to gather up the ashes and resurrect it.

So my eyes close, and the song is playing and I'm watching the screen. I'm hearing the words. The text of the e-mails are going across the screen like a ticker. And Bell X1 is singing Eve the Apple of My Eye. Or Cary Brothers or Damien Rice or anyone really. The soundtrack of the time I want back.

Take my breath away.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bath to Bed: The Scene in Between

Claire takes bath. Swims around tub until she achieves desired "wrinkle fingers." Screams when she sees mean Mommy coming with the water cup to rinse her hair. Gets out of tub, wrapped in big, fluffy towel, and carried to her room like the princess she is.

Then...

"Helps" Mommy rub some Vicks on herself to ease her cold. Mommy rubs small dollop on chest and back. Claire extracts the remainder from the jar and smears it over every inch of her body.

Back to the bathroom to wash VapoRub from her hands. Plays in sink and rubs water all over the rest of her skin.

Brushes teeth and then scrubs arms with toothbrush. Back into bedroom to dry off.

Mommy leaves room to fill humidifier tank. Mommy returns to find Claire digging fingers into the compartment where the vaporizer oil goes.

Back to the bathroom to wash oil from her hands. Dunks herself arm deep in leftover hand soap suds. Back to bedroom to dry off.

Hides in closet and tries on four different pairs of shoes. Dragged out by Mommy to put bedtime diaper on and rest of pajamas.

Drags two books over to read, reads them to Mommy. Mommy says lights out time. Runs over for another book. Mommy turns out lights. Claire not happy.

Claire asks for milk. Mommy says enough milk for today, you may have juice. Claire is not pleased. Screams for milk. Is denied. Angry protests. Mommy responds by putting Claire into the crib. Accepts defeat and the juice.

Claire sings "No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" to teddy. Mommy sits in the chair and tries not to fall asleep. Claire yells at the top of lungs for Mommy seven times to make sure Mommy is alert. After eighth time, Mommy goes over to bid Claire goodnight.

Seven "high fives," and a big hug and kiss later, and Mommy exits stage left.

Scene closes.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Name that Tune

I started a music blog. My goal is not to engage an audience; rather, this is a personal journey of music that has somehow affected my life. Feel free to stop by and listen if the mood hits you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Music

I am feeling more and more compelled to start a music blog. I could probably even make it private. I honestly am not concerned with a single soul reading it, but sometimes I am so moved by what floods my ears that I feel I need to document it somewhere, if only to announce to myself the effect it had.

So if I choose to do this, feel free to read but it may bore you to death. It will, however, fulfill something unnamed in me that only responds to the song.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Listen!

...to the piano solo on "Leaving a Memory" by Andrea Wellard.

Bliss.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Scratch pad: Rain thoughts

Sitting on balcony, dark, listening to rain coming down. Love it.

Left Claire's hair down today after so many days of ponytails. Love studying the curls...wild and beautiful, like her. Shake my head at the glints of gold that sparkle all over it...where did that come from? Two dark-haired parents. Ah, maybe she's who they sing about..."and they sprinkled moondust in your hair...."

Broccoli on her plate untouched tonight, even with the ketchup. Even when I ate it in front of her. Crap. Vegetables are the big hurdle.

Did headstands on the couch while she watched Caillou. She is a live wire, never still. She is flexible, strong, agile. I have no doubt she would be a phenom in gymnastics class. If anyone could lasso her. Too undisciplined for a structured class right now.

They blocked a million Web sites at work today. What bullshit. Can't even pay the daycare bill from there now. Missing my old job so badly. Liking coworkers here (for the most part)but just not connecting with the job. Casually looking at what's out there, but not really pursuing unless something really grabs me. Finding comparable salary will be a challenge.

Hungry.

Feel like You Tube-ing some good music tonight. Teddy Geiger? And maybe some Hem.

Need a spa treatment for my brain.

Should blog soon about this book I'm reading...in love with it.

Tired.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Janitor

Cleanup needed over here. Please send the janitor.

It's a mess here.

Spilled guts.
Emotional bleeding all over.
Shattered dreams strewn about.
Broken heart.

Watch your step. Mop the carnage into a bucket. Buff a smile back on 'til it shines.


Open for business.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fireworks

I remember it well
The first time that I saw
Your head around the door
'Cause mine stopped working
"I Remember"...Damien Rice

when you and I are sitting on a blanket on the ground
we are listening to patriotic songs played on violins and cellos
our daughter sits between us
i feel like we are a family
the kind where you don't drop her off at the end of the weekend



i watched you speak to the families sitting in front of us
the smile spread across your face
the one that sucks all the breath from my lungs
i want to be on the other end of that smile



but
i am not what you want
and when i turn away from my fantasies, i know
i know, i know
we are not what i want



but even still after all that has passed
i know i shall always love you



the orchestra stops.
and then, the fireworks. it's the fireworks i always remember.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Chosen Playground

Bar tours? SOOOO yesterday. Nope, the new thing in my middle-aged life is PLAYGROUND tours. Yep, each day after daycare when the weather is agreeable, Claire and I set off to a different playground. We definitely have our favorites---Northwest Park and behind Hannah More School. These are favorites because they have swings. Claire requires swings. A swing-less playground is a half star rating on Claire's Zagat Playground Survey. She's a little high maintenance when it comes to equipment.

So we've been hitting the same four spots this summer, and I decided it was time to shake things up a bit. I did a little Web-based research and came across a playground at the Jewish Community Center in Owings Mills that is open to the public (i.e., Gentiles can enter the premises). So I buckled Claire into the car after daycare and off we went.

I have never been to the JCC (I feel I'm hip enough to use the acronym), and I don't know what I was expecting. But dang, this place was impressive! It gave the impression of a campus. I drove around aimlessly a while looking for the telltale signs of a playground but came up empty. Finally I spotted one behind a tall fence, but the gate was locked. Claire was less than happy at this point.

I was determined to succeed. Like Moses across the desert, I marched onward. I hauled Claire into the main building and asked the nice boy behind the desk where the playground was. Straight down the steps and out the door and he would buzz me in. Buzz me into the playground? Uh, OK. We were let into a fairly boring area with wimpy slides and most importantly, no swings. Claire ran around for a bit but this was way too tame for her. I could tell she couldn't spot anywhere she could potentially climb where she'd risk falling and cracking her head open, so what fun was this? Before I could see what was happening, a couple was leaving the playground with their child, Samara (I know her name because her mother said it every two minutes, obviously proud of her exotic name choice. I didn't have the heart to tell her it sounded like a stripper's alias). All of the sudden Claire squeezed past Samara and took off outside of the playground. Why oh why does my life constantly resemble an "I Love Lucy" skit, with me running like a loon after this little three-foot Wilma Rudolph?

Needless to say, the gate to the playground shut behind me and we were locked out. I had to break the news to Claire, and that realization crept across her face slowly and I assure you, went over like a ton of bricks. At that moment I spotted what looked like a children's kingdom past the pool, and I quickly tried to save face and yanked her over to the pool admission gate. The sullen 15-year-old pool attendant told me we could go back, and off we went to playground #2, buzzed in again, of course.

The "kingdom" turned out to be a large playground constructed entirely of wood and tires. Claire's eyes lit up like Christmas and she began climbing up tire ladders and asking me to help her. All it took was one attempt down a tire ladder where the 2-year-old hops down like an agile bunny and the Mommy trips and falls through a tire hole and I was sidelined. I then started glancing around at the equipment. There were signs everywhere. This one was Noah's Ark. Another apparatus was talking about Rosh Hoshannah. The large covered slide was something about Jonah the Whale. And then there was the kicker, a sandbox shaped like the Star of David. Oy vey!

I suddenly felt like I had two heads, and neither of them were wearing a yarmulke. I noticed a bunch of little kids with t-shirts on with embroidered Hebrew script. The kid on the swing had payot (side curls) and looked unhappy with life. The pre-teens on the tire pile were trying to figure out of Leeza was related to Simon Lieberman. Dorothy, I don't think I'm in Sacred Heart of Glyndon anymore!

All in all, Claire very much enjoyed the hollowed out tire swings as well as eavesdropping on Leeza's conversation with her peeps. I caught myself asking Jesus to protect her on the big slide and wondered if I somehow would be mysteriously knocked in the head by a falling tire. When it was time to leave, we were buzzed through more security gates than the BWI airport and finally were back to our car going home to the Promised Land.

Our next planned stop on the playground tour is at McDonough School...tune in to see if the white trash detector catches me trying to enter the grounds of the exclusive, LaCoste-and-Land Rover school and ejects me into the middle of a Super Walmart.

Either way, Claire and I will keep on swingin'.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Welcome to My Lap

So kiddos, this would be my first post being performed on my new laptop...woohoo!! Yep, my desktop was a minute away from non-functional, so I knew a new PC was on the horizon.

I have always been a desktop girl myself. I like a big old keyboard I can move around, a monitor I can adjust, a desk I can sit at. But at the last minute, I opted for a laptop anyway. I figure I can still use my archaic desktop if need be, and I'd have a laptop to cart around and look cool with at Starbucks. Nothing like an angry-looking hipster sitting at Starbucks with a skinny extra, extra hot, no foam latte staring at his laptop as if it were the 8th Wonder of the World.

So Mr. Laptop arrived today in a neat little package with a convenient handle. One little box! Not the three huge bulky boxes I'm used to with a desktop version. And all I had to do was open it up and it was pretty much set up. Yep, i'm easily impressed.

So here I am, 20 minutes away from The Golden Girls, laptop..well, in my lap, me all happy about hurdling into the 21st century finally.

Now I just have to keep this thing hidden from the Little Girlfriend. She already wanted to know, "Mommy, what that?" I told her it was "something for the house." Sigh, I lie to my kid, what can I say.

Who knows what's next? Will I jump into the world of ipods? (I still have no mp3 player.) Surrender to the DVR? Hmm...we shall see!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday

"All that I know is I'm breathing, All I can do is keep breathing..." Ingrid Michaelson

I don't like interpersonal conflicts. I do, however, like songs with violins.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Love is Golden



These two crazy kids have been married for 50 years as of today. They're pretty cool. That guy can fix anything and knows everything about the stock market. That chick likes Taye Diggs and referees all Steelers games from the comfort of her couch. They decided to get hitched back in 1960, and 50 years later, they've got three kids, six grandkids, and a bunch of bunny rabbits. This is Jay and Jan. I like to call them Mom and Dad. And they are the best parents a child could ever dream of. Happy Anniversary to my Heroes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Message to Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, et al.

Dear Ann Taylor and Related Retail Chains:

As a consumer and woman in the workforce, I do my best to present myself in both a professional and attractive way on a daily basis. In today's marketplace, a plethera of ladies' fashion is offered at all price points and styles.

What is lacking? The plus-size market. True, there are stores dedicated to the plus-size consumer. However, for those of us who prefer the styles carried by stores such as yours, we are given no options.

Over the years, you have expanded your lines to include tall, petite, and more recently in the case of Ann Taylor, maternity wear. But plus size remains untouched.

I'm sure the obvious data indicating that the average size of the American woman is now 14 has not escaped your research? So what stops you from creating this line? Do you think larger women don't have money to spend? Lane Bryant is still in business, so that negates that theory. Or is it the more likely but unspoken reality...you don't want your clothes on fat women.

This is the common reality...look at the fashion industry in general. Fashion models are never bigger than a size 0 or 2, with a height of over 5'8''. PLUS-SIZE fashion models are between a size 10 and a size 12. OK, except that those sizes ARE NOT considered plus size!

I've sent you letters before. I receive the standard form letter back explaining nothing really. So I'm left with the conclusion that Ann Taylor and the like are also among the supporters of the only acceptable discrimination left in this country...the prejudice of body size.

I hope that one day in the near future, your buyers and research departments will consider that a woman's desire to be fashionable and attractive does not diminish with a larger dress size. Until that time, I regret to inform you that your earnings potential is not nearly what it could be due to your narrowminded attitude.

Sincerely,
Kara Barrick, plus-sized consumer

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Girlfriends

Once upon a time, about five years ago, I was blessed with meeting a bunch of fantastic, gorgeous, eclectic, wonderful gals. A job brought them my way, and now five years later, not a one of us is still at the company. But we are still together.

We are varied in ages...with me being the oldest (grrrrrr). But as fate will have it, we all had babies at just about the same time. So now we're moms together. And for me, someone who hadn't ever planned on children, being able to share this with my gals has been a Godsend.

Pre-babies, our meetups were usually dinners together after work. Post-babies, it has been events that we must plan for waaaaay in advance. Getting schedules coordinated is tough in Momville!

So last night, we had our much-anticipated Sex and the City 2 girls night! I believe I sent Evite Save-the-Dates out for this LAST YEAR...hahaha! Yep, I'd be the planner of the group. It's a sickness, I know.

It is a rare gift for us all to be together, so I was ecstatic when yesterday finally arrived. Two years ago, we all did cocktail dresses in honor of the first Sex and the City. This time around, we opted for more casual. But in true Kara style, I can never go out on the town without a pair of fantastic but HORRENDOUSLY PAINFUL heels...



But foot pain aside, this was a wonderful night. All my girls know me. They don't flinch at the things that pop out of my mouth. They make me feel beautiful at a time when that has proven tough. I love remembering the incidents that made us laugh, brought us together, joined us as friends. And I also love the mom stories. Oh, who would have thought we'd all be sitting around talking about tantrums and preschools and potty training. What a tremendous gift to share that with these ladies!

I'm a single mom down here in Baltimore...but I know that one phone call away there is someone to listen, to help, to share play dates with, to support my chai latte addiction. I believe wholeheartedly that these angels were very purposely sent to my life. Whenever I start to slip into a funk, I must remember the gift of these friendships, because it truly IS a gift, and I know I am loved by these women.

So ladies, thank you for being exactly who you are, and though our geography may someday change, you will always be my heart's next-door neighbor. Love you all...and can't wait until our next adventure, which I will boldly move forward into with COMFORTABLE SHOES!!!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Alone with My Thoughts on a Friday Night

Have gotten into that uninspired mode again where I just can't think of anything interesting enough to blog about. But I'm alone here tonight...Fuzz is with her Daddy...and all the random thoughts buzz around my head so that the quiet really just isn't.

I'm disgusted with myself. I have let myself slip into a terrible funk with regard to my appearance. I've always had self-esteem issues, but at the same time, I was incredibly vain. I was always aiming for good hair, kept my eyebrows groomed, nails done, could rock a smoky eye and a killer pair of 3-inch heels.

Now? Oy. Eyebrows that haven't been plucked since Christmas. No haircut since before the blizzards, and no style to it to speak of. My nails are bare, half of them broken, and I still won't wear sandals or flip flops because my feet look inhuman. None of my clothes fit, and I just throw on random stuff that doesn't really even work together.

This all goes to the core issue of my weight, which has been something that has consumed me since the age of 10. Up until the age of 10, I was the exact same weight as my friend, Missy Yanity. But at age 10, and my induction into the fourth grade, changed that. Suddenly, I wasn't scoring straight A's with no effort. Suddenly things became more challenging. I was feeling something that wasn't familiar and not at all good. At age 10, I had no idea that feeling was anxiety. I didn't know there were healthy ways to handle it. What helped was a Little Debbie. No, actually what helped was a box of Little Debbies. And so began the emotional eating.

Miraculously, I had a good metabolism and through high school, I never was what you would even call overweight. Of course, I thought I was a cow. Looking back, would you call this girl a cow?



I gained a bit of weight my first year of college, and I went on a fairly successful diet and lost over 20 pounds and was at my best adult weight ever. But you know what? I still felt like a cow. All I could see were the friends who surrounded me...tall, lanky. I was never getting beyond 5'3'', and my body was thicker, curvier. I hated it. This was pre-JLo. This was the Kate Moss, heroin chic era. So at a healthy weight, I continued hating myself.

I had lost a bit of weight again right after college, and then that August I was diagnosed with cancer. There would be some trauma. How do I handle any trauma? Eating. There's a drug called Zofran that was a lifesaver while I took my chemo treatments. It took away almost all nausea. So I was able to eat. And did I ever eat. I binged my way through fear and depression. I hit remission and came out of chemo 40 pounds heavier. And I have never really recovered since that time.

I have managed to lose weight here and there, but I fall back into binging. I had just lost some weight and was really in a good momentum when I found out I was pregnant. I quickly was struck with "morning sickness" (in quotes because it was allllll day), and my eating and exercise program fell to the wayside. I did manage to limit my pregnancy weight gain to 18 pounds, and quickly dropped it once Claire was born. But my body was completely different after the pregnancy. And the stresses came one after the other. The end of the relationship with her dad, struggling as a single mom, not being able to really put myself first, just like all the other moms I know.

Soooo, with that in mind, I have packed on what I believe to be about 50 pounds on top of the mess I was already in. I won't get on a scale, so I can't say for sure, but I have my reasons to believe that is a fair assumption. I honestly don't recognize myself. My face looks so different with all the extra weight. I only look in the mirror long enough to brush my hair and teeth and put what little makeup on that I do wear. This is the longest I've gone without at least trying to diet. I feel really, really defeated.

I so want to change. I do. But I'm quite terrified there's no turning back. I know you have to start somewhere, but it's such a monumental undertaking. What I keep focusing on is Claire. I want to be a role model for her. I want to be able to run and play at the park with her. I get winded so easily. My knees hurt all the time now. I'm always tired from lack of movement and from very poor food choices.

So I don't know. Even after all of this, I still feel too weak to overcome. But I'm going to really, really "noodle" on it, as my boss would say, and I'm going to seek the strength I need.

I really didn't intend for this to be a "weight" blog, but when I think of myself, I don't think of anything...anything at all...but weight. I define myself just by that. It has been a focus of my life for almost 30 years. I need it out of my head. I need it off of my body.

While I ponder all of this, I also do fun stuff, like scour Etsy for artwork for my new place. I have a few pieces picked out, and once that freelance check comes, I may treat myself to one of them.

I watch Hoarders, and it helps motivate me to keep this place clean. I've been doing a pretty good job, except for my bedroom, which never got properly unpacked. I am going to give it another go tomorrow. I would like to have my friends over soon. That would be nice.

I continue to work on my parenting. Claire is certainly no shrinking violet, and I have every confidence that she will challenge me her whole life. She has a strong personality...it brings dazzling highs and absolute chaos. I love the person she is. But some of the behaviors aren't so desirable. But I'm catching on to what works...diversion especially. And giving Claire tasks is another good one...she wants to help with everything, and I know it raises her self-esteem, which is at the forefront of my goals. The enrichment teacher from KinderCare called today and wants to assess Claire for the Phonics class. I'm all for it...I'll find the extra money; I want her to have every opportunity to learn and grow. We continue our after-school "playground tour," and visit different spots every day that isn't raining. I study her like she's my thesis, and I hug and kiss her every minute so she is absolutely wrapped in the security of my love. Claire was meant to be in this world...it wasn't even a choice, it was a necessity...her existence was meant to be.

So my friends, that is where this Friday evening has taken me. I'm glad to tell you I'm smiling now. I think good things are ahead. I'm ready for them.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Climber

Today at the playground, Claire spent most of her time climbing the steps of this...



...sliding down, and then CLIMBING back up the sliding board.


So on our way home, I stopped for this...



and this...




But know what...can't lie to you, part of me admires her fearlessness, the absolute unadultered happiness that fills her face, the pleasure of just climbing.

The other part of me is scared out of my flippin' mind!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh etsy, how I love thee

In LOVE LUST with this tea set...



Are you there, independent wealth? It's me, Kara!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Doctor Visit

Claire went to the pediatrician today for her checkup. Yep, Mother of the Year took her 2 1/2 year old in for her 2 year old checkup. I suck.

Anyhoo, she is a healthy gal! A long, lean healthy gal...28.8 pounds and 37.5 inches...the nurse told me her measurements then glanced at me..HAHAHAHA probably thinking, um, what genetic pool did this child come from??

I am very proud to say how great Claire did in the exam room. We'll just overlook the whole terrorizing the waiting room part of the visit, and the receptionist who asked her to please not slam the door...um, she's 2 1/2, and this is a pediatrician's office honey. I'm doing the best i can but she IS a little girl! Grrr.

I sat Claire down this morning and had her watch "Elmo Goes to the Doctor," one of her favorite DVDs we hadn't watched in a while. SMART move!!! I think it helped a lot. She was very cooperative with everything the doctor did.

We had Dr. Levy, head of the practice, for this visit. I love him, love him, love him. He sat down and talked to me for a good long while about everything you can think of. He specializes in behavioral development, and he said Claire was just your typical 2 year old pushing all of my buttons.

HUGE BRAG ALERT, GET OUT YOUR BARF BAG...Dr. Levy said Claire is highly intelligent and that sometimes in kids who are extremely intelligent, they're minds are beyond their development and they end up displaying behavior like Claire's...I was beaming with pride for about a minute, and then I had to put that on hold as I got Claire down from the window sill. Sigh.

After a LOT of struggling, I finally asked for allergy medication. Claire's allergies have gotten progressively worse since infancy, and now they're starting to affect her sleep and her general well being. I had held off on medicating her, because I don't like to, but I said I would if I could see it starting to bother her a lot, and it has been. She is constantly filled with mucous...she coughs from the mucous and her nose bothers her a lot. Her eyes are itchy, and she gets frequent bloody noses. So the doctor prescribed Zyrtec, which I can give her as needed. I was glad for that, because I can give it to her when she seems to be really miserable but I'm not forced to give it to her daily.

Next on the agenda...because of the prevalence of Lyme disease in the area, he wants me to spray Deep Woods Off on her clothes daily. Ugh. I just bought it but am going back and forth. Her dad takes her on weekly hikes through the woods, and she's outdoors frequently at school and after school. I like the natural stuff, but after reading extensively (and driving myself even more nuts), it doesn't work as well as DEET to prevent the ticks. Last year I compromised and used a product containing Picaridin, supposedly not as controversial as DEET. I trust Dr. Levy implicitly, so I'm torn. I'm going to think on that one a while.

Of course he recommended the sunscreen, but was also just as adamant about a hat and sunglasses. Um, Dr. Levy, don't know how well that will work out, especially the sunglasses. She wears her hat OK for a while but then tosses it off. I will just keep trying.

And he is an advocate about car seats rear-facing as long as humanly possible. Well, I kept her backwards until she was 2, but she's forward-facing now. Even he admitted he couldn't picture Claire being very cooperative rear-facing..lol.

He also told me to give her a multi-vitamin...says toddlers need it for the Vitamin D. I just bought some Disney Gummies...no artificial flavors or colors. Do I need organic vitamins? God, I exhaust myself.

It's crazy how I worry myself to death about each morsel of food that goes in her mouth, the soap I wash her with, the sheet I put on her bed...should I go dye free? should this be organic? does this have high fructose corn syrup? should I wash this in fragrance free detergent? By the time I go to bed, my mind is whirling. I just feel like she was a perfect little human when she was born, and anything that comes near her should be healthy, pure, not cause harm. That's a tough goal to fulfill, let me tell ya.

But all in all, Dr. Levy told me I was doing a great job...he told me she's a very happy, very trusting little girl, and I have to not be so hard on myself.

Aren't we all though? Which one of you isn't? We all try to do the best by our child(ren), and I don't see us taking a break any time soon!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Favorite New Toddler Food Finds

Nature's Promise Nitrate-Free All Natural Hotdogs (no antibiotics or growth hormone used)

This is an incredibly quick meal to make for Claire. I served this with another valuable convenience item...organic baby carrots and ranch dip all in one neat little pack..and some key lime applesauce.

I had a hot dog as well, and I must say, it was extremely tasty! I know Claire liked it, because she actually ate the whole thing. Because of my work schedule, I'm always striving for quick, easy, and as healthy as possible. I know hot dogs are never going to win the nutritious food award, but I try to serve at least one protein and vegetable with each meal. The vegetables are often overlooked (although last night she annihilated the broccoli...but left the salmon untouched..grrr).

Nature's Promise is my favorite line, because it's at Giant, which is super convenient, and they have a large selection. It's always good when I can find something that suits my needs and tastes good, too.

I have been far more conscientious about bread these days, too. That is something where you really need to read the ingredients. I used to rely on the "100% whole wheat" description, but I saw a really good piece on a local Baltimore Sunday news program where a nutritionist came on and discussed how that can be deceiving. So I settled on Nature's Own Double Fiber Wheat Bread...7 grams of fiber per piece and no high fructose corn syrup. Claire is a HUGE fan of toast, so I wanted to feel good about the bread I was giving her.

I hope to keep finding new healthy things to add to our menu...and that pass the Claire test!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Another snippet

Please don't get me started on the fact that I STILL have no internet at my new place. Long story, and I don't feel like getting into it.

BUT the good news...I just was offered a nice big proofreading project (of the most boring kind, but they lead to $$, which is what I need to focus on). Sooooooo, in addition to saving some, this bounty will also result in my purchase of the flat screen for the living room! Still no sofa, and probably none until next year, but there are chairs in the living room and there will be a TV, so I think that's reason enough for a housewarming party! By housewarming, I don't mean the kind where people bring me gifts. I mean the kind where I get food and wine and people come over and we sit and watch the Golden Girls or some Lifetime movie in our sweats and chill-ax!

K, must get back to work, but a party is on the horizon!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Just a Snippet

So we're moved in! Yay!! I don't have internet access until Wednesday. Boo!! Last night was Claire's first night sleeping in her new place. She had a little trouble, but she ended up finally going down at 10 and sleeping the rest of the night. I'm sure soon enough she will be right at home.

Gotta get back to work...more later!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Phrase

I don't adapt well to change. I am a creature of habit. Behaviors have been built into me over 36.5 years, and I often think I don't have the mental, emotional, and/or physical wherewithal to undo the less savory ones.

Think positive. Nope, that one never sticks. Nor does believe in yourself or any of that other stuff. It's just easier for me to kind of prod along as is because changing that mindset requires so much deliberate modification. Think "swimming against the current."

But today I did something that just may have made a difference. I don't know why. Maybe I've just decided to let it help. I'm not going to spend time questioning the whys.

I'm impatient with myself. Very, very impatient. It's all or nothing. I need to do it perfectly and I need to do it perfectly right bloody now. If not, I feel like a failure and my frustration goes through the roof. Tiring.

So today, you know what I did? I found an ordinary yellow post-it note and I wrote on it:

Rome wasn't built in a day.

I posted it to the bottom of my monitor. Every time I can't get a sentence right, I read it. Every time I get overwhelmed with what there is to do, I read it. And I've been reading it all day, and it has calmed me each time. All I know is that I believe every word of that, and I am trusting in the power of that little note.

I hope you find your phrase today and let it bring you to somewhere good.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Three "Bests" Ain't Bad!

I was just reading one of the working mom blogs I follow, and they had a cool map detailing the best cities for working mothers for various attributes (employment rates, cost of housing, etc.). Some pertain to all mothers in general, not just working moms. I'm proud to say Baltimore made three lists:


1. Baltimore ranks number 8 in the top 10 highest incomes for working moms.

2. Baltimore ranks number 5 in best pediatricians (I love you, Dr. Caterina!!)

3. Baltimore ranks number 8 in best childcare (I love you KinderCare!!)


I was pretty impressed!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's a Love/Hate Thing

I currently hate...

Sinus infections and related antibiotics and steroid regimens, being tailgated every single night driving home from work/daycare, special trips made to the Red Canoe for chai latte and they are out of chia latte...twice, missing the morning train by one minute and having to wait around for the next one (thus being late for work), when Au Bon Pain is out of Nantucket Nectars Orange Mango, having to physically drag my screaming child out of daycare and then listening to her scream her head off for "Daddy! Daddy!" the whole way home (while being tailgated; see above), waking up every night at 3 am and not being able to get back to sleep.

My current loves...

Onion dill bagels from Au Bon Pain, the fabulous female side of my office, the hilarious male end of the office, the latest ruffles trend in clothing, watching Claire crack an egg into a bowl better than anyone I've ever seen, my new Watson Twins CD, the entirety of the Crewcuts catalog, this week's weather, winning a fantastic perfect mint condition denim jacket for Claire on ebay last week, Claire's purple graffiti Sketchers, thinking about how peaceful my new pale blue bedroom will look, thinking about what a great Saturday I'm going to have with two super cool chicks, and the best of all...

listening to my beautiful angel sing "Are You SLeeping Brother John" as I turned out the light tonight at bedtime...never sang that to her, but have it on a CD in the car and I imagine she sings it at daycare. It was the most precious thing, and I've been smiling ever since :-)

The loves so greatly outweigh the hates. And that makes me so happy that all the hates start dropping from my mind...goodnight and hope your list of loves is neverending.

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's 3 am and I Must Be Lonely...

No, not really. Sorry, Rob Thomas.

However, it is, in fact, 3:56 am and I have a screaming headache. I never seem to be able to escape the weekend without one, and this one showed up late Sunday evening. Oh well, I just took some Advil and I'm sure it will help.

Took Claire to Great Kids Village in Columbia on Saturday. She had an absolute blast until it was time to go home. Then she had an absolute fit..lol. Later that evening, her personal superhero showed up, aka Daddy. The plan was to stay over and take her with him Sunday morning. However, he decided to take her back that night because I had no water that day. Yep, big water main break in the area that no one could find until later in the afternoon, so I was without water from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm. Not fun! I am so thankful I have it now! When you lose something like your electricity or water, it is only then you realize how very much you depend on it.

The move is fast approaching and I need to get it in gear. Since the last post, I did pick up the bar stools and also bought the comforter and throw pillows. I have (no big surprise) changed my vision about the play room slightly, which involves less painting, so that's a good thing. My hope is that Claire's dad and I can move as much as we physically can ourselves, with the help of his work van, and that would leave only the big items for when I can get more help.

I plan to return to my sister blog, Style Times Two, very soon. That one takes a little more work because I go searching for fashion and then start saving the pics, all of which is a little cumbersome on the computer I'm currently using. But I have many wonderful things I've been lusting after, and my daughter is a veritable fashionista, so I look forward to sharing my inspirations for anyone who has the interest...or who is bored enough lol.

OK, probably should try to rest a bit more since work comes a'callin at 8:30. Off to bed to dream of fresh starts and serene surroundings.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Progress

OK, so...

1. Application to new apartment accepted, lease SIGNED!! Woot woot!

2. Apartment is ours as of March 28.

3. Both shower curtains bought!

4. Bathroom rugs and toothbrush holder & wastebasket for Claire's bathroom bought!

5. Duvet cover/shams bought!


What's left...

1. Sofa, which will be bought closer to move so it can be delivered right to new place.

2. TV for living room...same reason as above.

3. Slipcover for sofa...located but not bought yet

4. Throw pillows for above sofa...possibly bought today on my trip to IKEA

5. Comforter insert for duvet cover...see number 4

6. TV stand...want to measure first

7. Counter stools for kitchen...hopefully picking up today!

Yep, can you tell I'm getting excited? I've got some friends who've volunteered for painting and so many visions dancing around in this old head that it's spinning! Yay for new place to call home!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Moving in Style

So the application for my new apartment is in; I should know sometime this week if it has been accepted. After researching, asking friends who live here, etc., I applied for an apartment at Cascades Overlook in the New Town section of Owings Mills. It is extremely close to Claire's daycare and had most, but not all, of the amenities I had wanted.

I originally wanted a ground floor apartment. Claire does go up and down the stairs usually, but it's still difficult when I have groceries and am trying to coax her up. At the last minute I opted for the second floor again, because a co-worker mentioned that she'd worry about someone breaking in since it's much more accessible. Yikes, sad to say, I do have to think of those things. So we are scheduled to be on the second floor of a building on the "pet friendly" side of the complex. I have no pets, but they don't bother me, and we have plenty in our current complex. And I've heard that this is the side that ends up being quieter anyway.

The one thing I noticed pretty fast was that the parking looks crappy. That is very disappointing, because that is one of the very main things I was looking for. Unfortunately, there aren't really any complexes with assigned parking. There were two who had individual garages, but I didn't like the one and the other I was advised by a former resident isn't great.

Other than that, it does have the other stuff I wanted. Two bedrooms, and they are right beside each other. I really wanted that because right now we're at opposite ends of the apartment, and I'm always nervous when I go to bed that I won't hear her if she calls.

Second, we now will have a full-sized side-by-side washer and dryer....oh thank goodness. I'm grateful for the stackable because at least I have something, but it doesn't hold much. This new set is actually in its own small closeted section and even has a shelf for laundry products.

Two bathrooms...woot woot! The master bath has a shower stall, and the main bathroom has the shower/tub. Two vanities, so two places to store stuff.

There is a full-sized living room and a small room right off the kitchen they call a family room. This will be used as Claire's playroom. Even better that it's close to the kitchen. The kitchen has a breakfast bar, and I just located some gently used counter stools on Craigslist...going to buy two of them from a couple in White Marsh.

And finally, I have a fireplace :-) I've really wanted one for a long time, and I decided that was an amenity I was going to treat myself with.

So to get the rent special, the lease will be starting around March 28. I'll have a nice two week overlap where I'll have the old and new apartment, so I'm hoping to get some smaller stuff moved during that time so I don't have to do it all in one day.

I've been driving myself crazy with my redecorating project. I DID find bedding...a really nice Pottery Barn duvet cover and shams I found on ebay. I had gotten myself so fixated on finding "the one" that I was actually making myself almost sick. I said enough for heaven's sake. That's when I decided to just pick something not too trendy and that I'd be happy with. And I did :-) The living room I've just accepted won't be my ultimate dream, because I can't bring myself to buy new chairs and tables when I have perfectly good ones here. I was going to cover my current wing chairs with slipcovers, but all the wing chair slipcovers I'm finding are made for T cushions, and mine are not. So for now, I'm just going to get my new sofa and keep the rest the same. I am still getting a slipcover for my current sofa, to be used in Claire's play room. I am hoping that by trying to confine Claire's stuff to that room, the apartment will stay a little neater, because right now my place is a disaster with all of her stuff all over the small living room.

I'm hoping this will be a good move. I will finally be in the area I want to be, and it will be a faster commute to the daycare in the morning. I'm excited to make the place our own.

On that note, anyone who likes to paint, I would love some help, because I plan on paiting a few rooms, hopefully before the furniture has to be moved in.

Looking forward to moving out and up!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

1-2-3-4 Pressure!

(Note: For the younger readership, the blog title hails from a classic Billy Joel song. If you are too young to know who Billy Joel is, I officially don't like you.)

I put too much pressure on myself. Simple statement, not so simple reality. And often, the pressure I put on myself is for the DUMBEST reasons ever. And there lies the theme of this blog.

I search for perfection. That is HARD. (I'm too stubborn to say impossible.) As noted in my last blog, I am moving when this lease is up...HALLELUJAH!!! I am going today to the new apartment complex to complete paperwork and hopefully make it official.

So for this new place of mine, I wanted to treat myself and get a few new things. A lot of my stuff is pretty old, much at the very least ten years old, some even more. So I've decided on a new couch for the living room, new shower curtains (the new place will have two bathrooms), a new quilt for me, and a new play room for Claire (the den will be used for this).

I have found the couch....yay! I have decided to use the old couch in the living room for Claire's play room and to purchase a slip cover to freshen it up. I have found the slip cover. I have found toss pillows for the couch. I have decided on a color theme. I have envisioned the layout and the "accessories." Do you know how many Web sites were viewed to get this vision completed? Do you remember that I looked at over 1,000 dresses before I chose Claire's Christmas dress? I mean really people, I am out of control.

When I search for something...let's use the shower curtain for an example...I don't just look and say hmm, this looks cute, OK, done. Nooooooooooooooo. I must find one that literally makes me suck my breath in. It has to be "THE ONE." Seriously. I have found a shower curtain for Claire's bathroom but not for mine. I've looked at hundreds. I can't believe I just admitted that. First of all, I have personally banned myself from anything paisley, because I am full blown addicted to paisley. I LOVE paisley and always have. I am drawn to it, and I find that most things I pick involve it somehow. So I said, no, I'm going outside of the box, no paisley.

The new quilt? Ha. There are quilts that make me swoon at Anthropologie, but I can even find something not quite right about those. I'm finding a lot of "yeah, this is nice," but no, "OMG, I MUST have this!" The problem is, I've had those moments in life before. My bedroom suite (still love it). My Eddie Bauer quilt (RIP, bad doggies ruined it!). My daughter's christening gown. Green reptile peep toe wedges. Claire's spring jacket this past year. I see it, the need to have that exact thing will grip me until I get it, and I know in my heart that what I found is the most perfect thing out there and meant for me.

Are you tired yet? Yeah, I'm so high maintenance that I get on my own dang nerves.

Oh well. I guess I should get back to my Web search for the perfect shower curtain. I mean, how will life go on without it?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Slipcovers

Maybe this should go on my Style Times Two blog I haven't updated since October (whoops), but I'm putting it here because I'm lazy.

Claire and I are moving in less than two months...YAY!!!!!!!!! I had really hoped to rent a townhouse, but I wanted to remain in Owings Mills, specifically moving to the New Town area, and all the townhouses to rent are over $1600 a month, which are a bit too expensive for me. So after searching around, I have settled on an apartment complex and am just hoping they have the model/floorplan I want for the move-in date I need. Fingers crossed!

With that being said, my plans are for a two bedroom plus den, so that I can give Claire her own play room. I already had the whole layout mapped in my head, cause that's what I do! I would like to have a sofa but no other furniture. So I found something at IKEA that I loved.

I also am going to be getting a new sofa for my living room. My poor sofa has seen better days. She is 14 years old and has been through four dogs, a cat, and a toddler.

Two people suggested that instead of getting the new (albeit cheap!) sofa from IKEA for the play room, I should use my old sofa and just get a slipcover. They're right. I have to be practical. (Oh, and just to note, practicality sucks.)

After that lengthy exposition, there is the true "meat" of the blog. Slipcovers are SO BORING. Why doesn't anyone have cool slipcovers??? IKEA does, but they are made to fit their own furniture. BLAH.

I wish I could find a site/store that carries super fun slipcovers in bright colors. Instead i'm left with beige, blue, burgundy, cream. Are you dozing off yet?

So with some annoyance, my two finalists are solid red or solid blue denim. I tried desperately to find hot pink. Yes, I wanted a hot pink slipcover. It's for her play room for heaven's sake! Anyhoo, now I have to readjust my WHOLE decorating plan and color scheme. Can I do it? Of COURSE. I'm FABULOUS. But for any of my talented crafty friends reading this, know that there's an untapped market out there for fun slipcovers!

Well, I actually can see some new plans oozing into my brain based on this new color scheme, so I'm going to run with it. In a few months hopefully I'll be able to show you the finished results. While wearing a t-shirt that says slipcovers suck.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hell on Earth

OK, so in the traditional fables, hell is always fire and brimstone. I beg to differ. I am now convinced that hell is 35 inches of snow in less than two weeks.

I have issues with being trapped. I have issues with not being able to leave an establishment for four days. I have a history that I'd rather not talk about, and this past week was a little too close to that scenario. Consequently, I've been having anxiety attacks for about a week.

I think it may have been my aunt on my Facebook who suggested I take Claire out in the snow. Ha, she lives in Johnstown. In a house. With a yard. I live in Owings Mills. In an apartment. With parking lots. Not exactly your cute little family scene, eh? I know everyone is working as hard as they can, but my apartment complex is inexcusable. People are "marking" their parking spots with chairs and other things once they dig themselves out. That's fine, except there IS no assigned parking, I have ALSO dug myself out, and when I come home from work tonight at 6:30 and there is nowhere to park, what would one suggest I do with my car and my two-year-old? The drifts are so high and only one car width of driving space is open, so people are coming around curves and pulling out of places on to the street and hitting other people. It's terrifying. I was terrified driving to the train station this morning, but if I had to sit in that apartment one more day I would have seriously had a nervous breakdown.

This should give you an idea. I told Claire she was going to "school" this morning (what we call daycare). She gave me NO problems getting dressed, RAN into the building, and was smiling from ear to ear. This is so my child...neither of us deals well when we get out of our routine. Neither of us deals well with being trapped.

So after an extremely challenging commute to work...car to train station..train not running above ground so had to take shuttle bus to Mondawin station and then train to Charles Center, end result getting to work at 10:30 am...I am now here and trying to catch up on three days of work. But I tell you...it feels SO good. It feels like my brain is doing calisthenics (at least my brain exercises!) I'm pretty bummed that we're going into a three-day weekend to be honest. I'm going to try to drive up to my brother's house in Carlisle, PA so we have some company.

It's going to take so long for life to return to any semblance of normalcy, and quite frankly I dread it. I still have until April to move from my current place, so I will have to deal with this parking lot situation until it can get cleared up. It's just very stressful to be the one driving, shoveling out, doing the chores, paying the bills, taking care of the household, and trying to navigate my way around this fiasco. I think it's a lot for one person, and I think the blizzard on the ground is only equaled by the one in my little world.

"It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!" ~Mark Twain

Friday, January 29, 2010

God has welcomed his sweet angel, tonight

Friends,

Please pray for our family's friend, Wendy and her family, who tonight lost their precious daughter/sister, Heather to Ewing's sarcoma. This beautiful girl had the strength of a thousand men, and she handled her illness with the grace and strength of no human I've ever seen before. Praise to Wendy for her unbreakable faith in God, and their family's creed to FROG..Fully Rely On God. May Jesus hold Heather in his arms tonight and the angels sing their glory to this precious Child of God. My God's healing hands be placed on Wendy, Meach, Hannah, and their family as they face the road ahead.

May they never stop fighting to rid the world of cancer, for no child should have to suffer from this disease.

Dear friends, please hug your precious ones a little tighter today, and love them in the name of Heather Miller. God bless you, Heather Feather.

Changing Angles

Books, Web sites, countless talks with other mothers. That has been my life for a while, trying to figure out how to handle a strong-willed child. Claire is, without a doubt, my true soulmate and love of my life. But Claire's behavior is challenging. And I have always been quick to admit to anyone who hasn't already figured it out, that I was not born to be a mother. It is a skill I continue to practice. In other words, I don't have that innate motherly instinct. I am a Type A, and I'm not used to little people.

Well, probably thanks to my mother's frequent wishes of "I hope one day you have a child who acts just like you!" in her fits of exasperation over my latest antics, I was blessed with a beautiful, stubborn, brilliant, obstinate child. I have been struggling as of late with two things especially...picking her up at daycare at night, and getting her ready in the morning.

With regard to her behavior, I need to reign it in, because we have what Dr. Phil calls, "the tail wagging the dog." Claire is running the show, and that is not acceptable. So I decided to reclaim my position as ringleader. First of all, let it be known that I am not morally opposed to spanking. But spanking does not work on Claire. It feeds her aggression and she hits back. That is not the effect I want, obviously. Second, time outs are fine, but there is no way, no how that child will sit for two minutes in a chair. She is just too hyperactive, and while I love Supernanny (Jo Frost), I refuse to put her back into the chair for four hours until she completes her two-minute timeout. So I have tried and am still evaluating two things. I give her a timeout in her booster seat. I put her in, lock the tray down, and turn the TV off and I ignore her. At first she doesn't seem fazed, then about two minutes later she is pissed and trying to get out. Then she calms down. I try to explain to her why I put her there, but I'm not sure how effective that is. So this is still an experiment.

Second, I do believe the method that continues to work best with Claire is diversion. I stop the bad activity and divert her to something else. Or I just stop the bad activity and that is that...e.g., she wouldn't lay down to get her pajamas on and was running around in her bedroom and wouldn't cooperate, so I put her in her crib without pajama pants and shut the light out w/no bedtime stories or songs. I need to nip it in the bud because she needs boundaries more so than even the average child in my opinion.

Getting her out of daycare at night has become a nightmare. I'm thrilled she likes it there, but I wish she'd be ready to go home when I got there. She runs around the entire daycare while I run after her (you can only imagine what this scene looks like), and most nights I grab her by the hand and literally drag her out the door. She is screaming and falls to her knees and I'm dragging her along the floor, with all the parents looking at us like, ha, she has no control over her child. This has reduced me to tears on more than one occasion. She just has a tough time with transitioning I think. The past few days I just keep trying to steer her toward the door, repeating that I have an apple/pear/banana/whatever in the car waiting for her, and I'll grab her hand just long enough to pull her in the right direction. It's still a lot of work, but I'm just trying to be patient.

On a happy note, I love discovering all the new things she can do almost every day. She now says "please" and "thank you" in the correct context at the appropriate times. It is really just precious. She nods when she says please, because I will nod in approval when she says it and she thinks that's how you say please, by nodding at the same time...ha. I love how when she wants something, she puts her hand out and grabs mine and says "Come-ma." I love that in the mornings she will go turn the TV off and get her coat when it's time to go. She will get me my coat and my shoes. She wants to do EVERYTHING herself. She does a little ballet dance at home now...so adorable. This morning she brought her dad a diaper and the wipes so he could change her. In the morning when it's time to go, she names all her friends at school: "Kai, Kate (Katelyn), Mahk (Mark), Mason, Bwooky (Brooke), Binka (Bianca)." She doesn't cry when I leave in the morning. She goes in and sits right down at the little table for her breakfast. "Bye, Mommy, see you layer!(later)" She "cooks" in her pots and pans and brings her daddy and I plates with hamburgers and sandwiches. She puts the food in her play microwave and blows on it to "cool it off" when it's done. She pours tea and we sit and enjoy ourselves. For as challenging as this new age has been, it has been even more rewarding.

My prayer has been and always will be that Claire grows up to be happy, healthy, secure, and good-hearted. And as I grow as a mother, I will continue to work toward that wish.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Port Discovery Revisited

Oh, the joy! The joy! Swimming in a sea of plastic balls...the joy of it all!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Night, night

"Claire, do you want to read your book?"



"Yes!"

"Who are all these people on this page, Claire?"

"Cookie, Elmo, Dawn (Prairie Dawn), Buht (Bert), Uhnie (Ernie), Big Buhd, Uhsca (Oscar), Honkie (Honkers)...THEE End!"

"Very good, Claire! Do you want to read this one now?"



"Yes!"

"What are those?"

"Potties! (Hippopotumus)"

"What else?"

"MONKEYS! Lions..ROAR! Seals. Behs (bears). Nakes (snakes)THEE End!."

"OK, let's sing before bed. Do you want to sing a song?"

"Yes!"

"Sing with Mommy..Twinkle, twinkle...."

"Kinkle, kinkle, little stah. Diamond in 'ky. What you ah!"

"Yay, Claire! One more...Patty cake, patty cake..."

"Bakes man....you can. Wolllllllll it. Paaaaaaat it. Mark...B! Put oven baby and ME!"

"What a good job, Claire! I loved your song! OK, let's get in bed with blankie and binky."

"Mommy..joos!".

"Here's your juice, babe (water). Give Mommy hug. Give Mommy kiss. Do you love Mommy?"

"Yes!"

"Good, because Mommy loves you so much. Nighty night, Claire."

"Nigh nigh."

Friday, January 15, 2010

When Art Becomes Filth

Wow. I consider myself very open-minded when it comes to books and film...film especially. Netflix has been a huge blessing because I have access to many independent films I could have never found through traditional venues such as Blockbuster.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman is at the top of my list when it comes to actors. So I usually throw a film of his in my queue frequently. Claire is with her daddy this evening, so I just put in Happiness.

This is disgusting. I'm not going to put on this blog part of this plot; I simply can't believe that this film was made and won awards. I think I'm more sensitive now that I'm a mom. I'm just very disappointed in what people found acceptable to portray in a film.

Last week, however, I did watch one I found really high quality. It was an Italian film called Incantato. Hopefully, my future selections will be more along the lines of that film in quality and content.

On a book-related note, I'm reading a book called The Street Gang, which is an account of the entire origins of Sesame Street. Its incarnation is incredible, and I'm really enjoying the story.

And that's all that's fit to print for this evening. Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mary Lou Retton? You ain't nothin'!

Claire has officially been enrolled in her first gymnastics class! I had originally wanted to wait until she was 3 to start, and in the meantime, I had intended on going back to My Gym to keep her active. Then I was poking around the internet last night and was researching U.S. Gymnastics Association certified gyms. There is one right by the JumpZone (site of her birthday party) in Reisterstown called United Gymnastix. The class for her age sounds very similar to the My Gym class (and surprisingly less expensive). It is a parent/tot class every Saturday morning at 9 am. It runs 8 weeks. After that, she can advance to their next level of classes and so on. The girl does straddles and splits daily, rolls somersaults around the living room, and hangs upside-down on the couch and flips her legs over her head. I'm thinking she's a natural. We almost didn't get a spot, but there was one left. (Really? Wait listed for a 2-year-old gymnastics class?) We start on February 13. I have to ask if she should wear a little leotard..haha! That will be beyond cute!

If nothing else, we can expend some of that boundless, seemingly infinite energy!! Yay!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Foot in Mouth...or Hand in Pocket?

Usually it's me sticking my foot in my mouth. What do you call that when you do it online?

I very casually typed a status update for Facebook..."Contemplating an MBA...am I nuts?" OK, totally never expected the influx of comments that came in shortly after I typed that. This is not something I was really putting a ton of thought into yet...just throwing a few ideas around in my head. In-Sung is probably reading this open-mouthed, as every time we talk and she mentions school, I adamantly declare how much I LOATHE school and am glad I got my bachelor's and got the heck out. So my Facebook statement was in total contradiction of what I normally say. As usual!!!

That brings me to a few of the thoughts that are swimming in my head (and there are so many they start banging into one another). I'm impatient. I know, huge revelation, right? Well, I feel like I started a career that I am totally unfamiliar with. I was strictly an English major. The most business experience I had in school was a 100-level management class and another marketing class. So for the past almost five years, I've been in the investment management industry, and it becomes clearer by the day how little I know about investment management. It's also clear how lost I am in my role as a marketing assistant. The RFP writing process comes easily. The whole marketing thing...strategizing, developing, etc...not so much.

So what do I do to become better educated? That's when I started thinking about pursuing further studies. Towson and University of Baltimore have joined together to offer an online MBA program. So that's what I was exploring when I threw that statement out there last night...apparently very prematurely! But I'm a pretty rash person, and I need to remember (1) how much I hate school; (2) that I am beyond limited in the financial means department; and (3) have a child who deserves my full attention. Ay, there's the rub.

So between now and when I may actually make this big life decision, I'm going to ask my boss for some recommended reading to perhaps better acquaint myself with some of the language and processes I deal with day to day.

I'm also going to stick with lighter status updates on Facebook!

To end this on a positive, if not positively gorgeous note...the poor child is getting tired of standing in front of the door for her daily photograph. Mommy can't help it.