Friday, December 18, 2015

On Priceless Toddler Moments: "Treat" Edition

Sometime in early December, after a particularly successful dinner, Mark and I decided to give Avery, then 17 months old, a "treat." Mind you, this was not her first treat.

She's had encounters of the cake kind...

The first birthday smash cake extravaganza.

And the chocolate kind...

After Mark tried to take back his chocolate croissant in Mexico
But on this night, we decided to give her a nonpareil, those little chocolate things with the tiny white sprinkles. We had a baggy of them, and we thought, what the heck, right?

So first Avery took a tentative bite. She is wary of anything new, and white sprinkles were no exception.

Then she realized it was chocolate, and proceeded to shove the entire thing in her mouth. We reminded her to take bites. So she removed the nonpareil from her mouth and started biting off chunks. Great. Back on track. #SuccessfulParenting.

Of course, the minute the last bite went into her mouth, she stuck out her hand and shrieked "TEET!" (treat). We told her she ate her treat already.

She paused for a minute and then started doing this weird gagging thing. For a minute, I thought she was choking. Then all of a sudden, out of her mouth popped two chunks of chocolate which she promptly deposited on her rubber place mat.

She pointed, screamed "TEET!" and proceeded to re-eat the regurgitated chocolate.
 ‪#‎mommasIRL ‪#‎isitbadthatilaughed

Monday, December 14, 2015

On the universal language of motherhood

There are a lot of stories I could tell about our recent family trip to Mexico. But there's really only one that I feel I need to tell.

On our third full day in Puerto Vallarta, we took a late afternoon walk with Avery down the beach. On the way back to our hotel, the sun was starting to set and the beach was clearing out.

Avery, normally an enthusiastic walker, was still struggling with the effects of a cold and for once wanted me to hold her. She sat on my hip, one thumb in her mouth, the other little hand hooked around my arm, head occasionally dipping to rest on my shoulder.

As we neared our hotel, I noticed a Mexican family wrapping up their day at the beach. The mother was standing just at the edge of the surf holding her baby -- a darling little boy, not more than a year old. The father was packing up their things, gathering bags and toys and towels, but the mother looked in her own little world, so peaceful holding her baby.

As we got closer, I smiled at her (these days, I find it impossible not to smile at mothers and babies).

And then it happened.

For just a few fleeting moments we locked eyes. She returned my smile.

This woman and I probably have nothing in common beyond the fact of our motherhood. We are not citizens of the same country. We do not speak the same native language. I will never know her stories or how she came to be on the beach that day.  I will never know her name. She will never know mine. We spoke no words, and I never stopped walking.

But in that moment as we both stood holding our babies, our feet in the Pacific Ocean, the sun sinking into the water, none of that mattered. Our smiles got wider. We held each others gaze just a few beats past polite. And all of the barriers -- language, country, culture, lifetimes of stories and memories, all the trappings of "who we are" -- fell away.

In that moment, I knew her heart. And mine was known.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Parenthood: The Glamorous Life

This morning at work, about two hours into a series of analyst briefings, I realized that I'd completely forgotten about Avery's parent-teacher conference. Not that I could have made it anyway because meetings had gotten scheduled over it. But still... I only remembered at all because my mother emailed me to ask how it went. My mother. Emailed me. From Paris mind you. My mother who is in Paris on vacation remembered a parent-teacher conference that my husband and I had completely forgotten about. There is really nothing to say here but Total. Parenting. Fail. FAIL!!!!

UPDATE: This is to say nothing of the utter absurdity of a parent-teacher conference for a 16 month old. I mean honestly. But daycare is a rare and special butterfly of the most ridiculous order

Thursday, October 22, 2015

On grass-fed flan and unrealistic expectations for motherhood

Tonight, I had what could loosely be described as an out-of-body experience. I'd just finished Avery's bath and handed her off to Mark for some bedtime books, and was standing in the kitchen, rolling the second half of my gluten-free cookie dough into balls in preparation for baking. Why was I baking GF cookies, you ask? Because tomorrow, Avery's daycare/preschool is having the Fall Parent Potluck, and I signed up to bake cookies. And because our daycare is allergen-sensitive, I agreed to remove gluten and nuts from my cookies. I even selected a GF flour that didn't include any nut flour. Seriously.

Monday, October 5, 2015

On Bonus Grandparents

Today, Avery spent the day with Mimi and Ray-Ray. Neither Mimi or Ray-Ray have any blood relation to her, but they are grandparents nonetheless. And for that, I'm eternally grateful.

A little over six years ago, Avery's Noni (Mark's mom, Andi) passed away. For the several years prior to her death, Ray had been her companion. They married just a few months before she died. Although Ray only came into Mark's life when he was in his 20s, he has always treated Mark and me like family. Andi's death only solidified that.

In time, Ray found love and companionship in another woman, Barbara, known to her grandchildren as "Mimi." Mark and I attended their wedding. Like Ray, Barbara has always treated us as family.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Morning Sickness: A Google Streetview Tour

Of all of the blog post topics floating around in my head at any given time, this is the one I've always known I'd have to write. It involves all the things I most enjoy blogging about: my own absurdity, the indignities of pregnancy and parenthood, the things you aren't supposed to talk about in polite company. The topic of today's post is Morning Sickness.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The First Day of Daycare: A Tale of (Parental) Angst and Woe

Mark and I dropped off Avery for her first day of daycare this morning. You could say that the experience didn't bode well for the first day of kindergarten, the first day of high school, or (just cut out my heart right now) college drop off.

Oh... oh wait... you thought I meant Avery? Oh gosh no! Avery was fine. After about 0.5 seconds of leg clinging (squee!) she found a crayon to try to eat and she was all good. There was no wailing. No tantrum. No crawling after us as we left. We didn't even get a lip tremble. No, she just stood there at the teeny-tiny daycare table, holding a crayon in each little fist, deciding whether to put them to construction paper or her mouth. Brave girl.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Daycare Admissions: Like College on Steroids and Paranoia

A few years ago, a good friend of mine had her first child. After the fact, she told us her labor and delivery story, which included her apologizing on behalf of the legal profession to the anesthesiologist (in between screams) for making her sign so many damn consent forms before she could have her epidural.

Any doctor will tell you that lawyers as a breed have done an excellent job of instilling the need for an abundance of ass-covering measures. As it turns out, they've done the same for daycares.

As someone who has filled out more than her fair share of daycare forms, allow me to explain. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

We need to talk about Lemon Bars

As a human who enjoys both cooking and eating, I follow a few select food blogs and bloggers on Facebook, Pinterest, etc. My favorite of all of these is Smitten Kitchen (I want to eat all of the things! Go there. You, too, will want to eat them.), but there are a few others that occasionally pop out good recipes. One of these is The Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond). I was following her before she had her Food Network gig, and have gotten some good recipes and suggestions for things like turkey and mashed potatoes. You know... hearty.. pioneer food... or whatever.

But today. 

Today, the Pioneer Woman decided to post a recipe that I guarantee no pioneer was cooking out on the trail. A recipe filled with butter and sugar and lemony, gooey goodness: lemon bars. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I'm melting... melting! Oh, what a world!

It is hot. Really hot. Like 90 degrees hot, which I realize is small potatoes for most of the rest of the country, but here in Seattle where no one has A/C because it rarely gets above 75, it is mother-foxtrotting hot as balls.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Taylor Swift: The Dear Zoo Edition

Mark and I have never made a secret of our lameness. But having a baby has really taken the lame to a whole new level. The following story perfect exemplifies this phenomenon.

Avery has a few books that she really, really loves. At the top of the list is a "lift the flap" book called Dear Zoo. It goes a little something like this.
"I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet. They sent me a (lift the flap)... Lion! He was too fierce. I sent him back."

Death by Anticipation: Flying on Planes with 1-year-olds

This Thursday morning, Mark and I will board a plane with our nearly one-year-old child to travel across the country to Virginia for my close friend/former roommate/partner-in-flirting-at-bars Becky's wedding. I have decided that in the future all friendships shall be measured by my willingness to subject myself to the misery of flying with a one-year-old.

When you are the parent of a young child time seems to just slip away from you. Presumably, that's why the fact of this wedding and its associated travel snuck up on us a bit. As in, about a week ago, I went "oh Foxtrot, how are we going to entertain this foxtrotting kid for five hours on an airplane? We can barely entertain her for five minutes in our own living room!!!"

Digression: I'm making an effort to replace fuck and other swearwords with more appropriate substitutes. I'll be very curious to hear the reaction of Avery's kindergarten teacher when she comes into school one morning and tells the class that Costco was a Charlie Foxtrot on Saturday...

Anyway, back to the airplane.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Unsolicited Parenting Advice: Your Kid is Not a Moron

A member of a mother's group to which I belong recently posted a question on our group message board: "Be honest -- is 11 too young to leave your child at home alone for a few hours?"
When I saw it, I almost burst into stunned laughter. Is 11-years-old too young? Really? I grew up with a mom who stayed at home for most of my childhood, but even so, by age 11, I was permitted to stay home for a few hours at a time while she ran errands or took my sister somewhere. By age 12, I was babysitting for my younger sister and cousin, as well as some young kids down the street. 
If you're about to accuse me of going down the "when I was a child we walked 10 miles to school in the driving snow in nothing but a burlap sack" road, you'd be wrong. On the contrary, I'm not bemoaning the disappearance of a better time.
I'm bemoaning the total insanity of today's parents. 

Normally, I try to avoid explicitly judging other people's parenting choices. Everyone has his or her own threshold for different things, colored by unique life experiences. But the madness has to stop somewhere. 
Let me be absolutely clear: barring an actual physical or mental disability that requires round the clock supervision, your 11-year-old will be fine at home by herself (or himself) for a few hours. 
Here's a quick FAQ to help answer any questions you may have. 
What if little Ezra Steampunk gets hungry?
At the age of 11, I assure you that little Ezra Steampunk is perfectly capable of slapping some peanut butter on some bread and feeding himself. If he isn't, what the fuck have you been teaching him how to do for the last 11 years?
But what if he uses the Jif peanut butter instead of the fresh-ground, organic, unsalted peanut butter?
First, a question: why do you have Jif in the house if you want him to only eat the fresh-ground, organic, unsalted peanut butter? Oh because that's what you'd prefer? That's what I thought. It's also why he's using it. Second, is it going to kill him? No? Okay, so who cares?
What if he decides he wants grilled cheese and he turns on the stove and burns the house down?
Do you burn the house down every time you turn on the stove? No? Okay, good chance that widdle Ezra-wezra won't either. In any case, there is a pretty good way to mitigate the risk here. Before you leave the house, walk Ezra to the stove, show him how to turn on a burner, remind him that it's very important he turn the burner off when he's finished, and that you trust him to be responsible. He'll be fine.
What if someone comes to the door while my darling Penelope Paige is home alone?'
Before you leave the house, tell Penelope Paige that she's not to open the door to strangers. Then lock the door when you leave. Voila! 
Oh goodness, what if Imogen Esmerelda decides to watch TV all afternoon instead of doing her homework or reading a book?
So. What. ???? TV is not going to kill her. Really, it won't. How much TV did you watch as kid? Probably way more than you let little Immy watch, and you turned out just fine. You weren't scarred. You didn't turn into a zombie. When the kid finally has the chance to control the remote, of course she's going to seize that opportunity. The sky won't fall.
I just know that if I leave Gibson Edmund by himself he'll spend the whole time playing some video game. 
See response above. Who cares? If you're the parent who is worrying about this, I don't think he's in possession of Grand Theft Auto V (or the means to obtain it). Chances are he only has fairly innocuous games like Mario Kart. And if he figures out how to hack them to make them more scandalous or violent, good for you! He's got a bright future as a Google software engineering intern making more than most families of four. 
But if Axl Bode-Reign spends all that time making sandwiches and turning on stove tops and watching TV and playing video games, he won't have time to do his homework!
Ok, so your 5th grader doesn't get his homework done, and thus gets a good real-world lesson in what happens when you neglect your responsibilities in favor of doing something fun and unproductive. This is a good thing! A bad grade in 5th grade isn't going to impact little Axl's ability to get into college. Really, it won't. It's better to let him fail now and learn from it than to let him get all the way through college, get his first job, and then get the shock of his life when his employer fires him for taking off for a couple of days to chill at Coachella with some buddies (and presumably some bud).
Gosh, I just don't think sweet Remington Ariadne is mature enough for this amount of responsibility. (Side note: Remington is one of the fastest rising girls names... WTF). 
News flash: children grow into mature, responsible adults by being given (gasp!) responsibility and accountability. Sure, every child is different, and will be ready for different levels of responsibility at different stages, but by age 11 every kid should be able to handle their business well enough not to burn the house down or host a 5th grade rager in your absence. Your child cannot earn your trust if you never confer any trust upon them. Show them that you trust them, and then let them rise to the occasion.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Some thoughts on "dad bod" (or why women are better at F*!&, Marry, Kill)

Mark, on Sunday afternoon: "Yeah, what's with this whole dad bod thing? I don't get it." 

If you haven't heard the term "dad bod" yet, you are either living under a rock or you don't read the right parts of the internet. A couple of weeks ago, a Clemson University sophomore stumbled ass backwards into internet fame when she penned a piece on the "it" body type of the moment -- dad bod. Rather than attempt to provide a definition, I'm just going to quote hers:
"The dad bod is a nice balance between a beer gut and working out. The dad bod says, "I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time." It's not an overweight guy, but it isn't one with washboard abs, either."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Getting obsessed with songs: Shut Up and Dance (with me)

Some songs I have to hear a few times to really get into them. On rare occasions, I need approximately 20 seconds of listening to the song to go completely bonkers for it. "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon is one of those songs.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

On Nursing Bras

Yesterday I bought my first regular bra since Avery was born. I bought this bra -- in my current, still-breastfeeding cup size -- because a few days ago I found myself standing in the fitting room of a tailor, trying to wrestle the neckline of an already perfectly modest wrap dress high enough that it wouldn't show my nursing bra.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Five Years

Five years ago today, I became a resident of the city of Seattle. Five years, gone by in the blink of an eye.

It's hard to believe that I've been living in this beautiful, temperate, brilliant, and ambitious city for half a decade.

It's hard to believe I ever lived anywhere else.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Napa Day 2: Giving Zero F*cks

What happens when Mandell-Rice sisters go to Napa? We go hiking, naturally.
Today, we trekked out to Armstrong Redwood Forest in search of steep hills and big ass trees. We found both. On the way there, however, we also found GF crackers, GF donuts, about a pound of cheese, and fig and apricot paste. All of which was delicious.

Napa Day 1 Recap/Day 2 Intro

Day 1: Important Moments
  • Jenna arrives to meet me at the rental car pavilion as I'm signing the paperwork for our rental car. She feels compelled to take this extremely unflattering photo of my back in order to show her boyfriend that I have to get on my tiptoes in order to effectively sign on the countertop.
Fuck you guys.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Napa Day 1: Mark is an a**hole

Last night, in anticipation of leaving my sweet baby girl for three days, I made Mark swear that he'd call me ASAP if anything happened. He laughed at me, so I got a little bit tearier and whinier and he capitulated, as he's wont to do when I get a little teary and whiny.

So I land in Napa a little before noon, and like the good spouse that I am, I texted him to let him know that I was on the ground. The following is the text message exchange that ensued.

As I said, Mark is an asshole.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Prelude to Napa

Back in December, my sister, Jenna (famous for her squeamishness about poop - both the substance and the word), was desperate for a vacation. Her Big Law job was sucking her dry, and she was itching for a few days tethered only to a smartphone instead of a desk.

Never one to let my sister suffer (unless, of course, I'm the one inflicting the suffering for my own amusement), I volunteered to go on vacation with her.

"Golfing" on the White House putting green circa April 2010.
Jenna still has annoyingly perfect hair.
Hand to God, it looks like a shampoo commercial constantly.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Runcible Blog Post

One of the fascinating things about becoming a parent is realizing just how incredibly dirty and innuendo-filled children's books and entertainment actually are. Things that blew right past me as a kid are now cause for much immature and frequently hysterical laughter. Mercifully, right now Avery is far to little to make the connection between the words I've just read and my total inability to continue reading coherently. She just thinks it's funny that I'm laughing. This window is rapidly closing, however, which means I need to figure out a way to get my shit together and be a grown-up in short order.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Seagulls in the Chimney

Did you read that title and think to yourself, "what the actual fuck?" Yep, that pretty much sums up the reaction we had about two weeks ago as we were sitting in our living room, waiting for Avery to wake up from her nap, when we heard a most unfortunate sound spewing forth from our fireplace.

Conversation came to a dead halt. Our heads whipped around simultaneously. Exorcist-style. I blurted out: "Oh my god, there are fucking birds in our chimney," at almost the exact same moment that Mark looked at me bug-eyed and said "is that a fucking seagull?"

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Packing for 28 Hours

Last weekend, we traveled from Seattle to Portland for my sister-in-law's baby shower. We were staying only one night - Saturday - and from the time we walked out our door on Saturday morning until the time we got home on Sunday afternoon, we were gone approximately 28 hours.

A few nights before the trip, I informed Mark that I was making a packing list. Without breaking stride or pausing for breath, I also told him that we should probably pack some of the stuff the night before. Because, you know, we were going to have a lot of crap. 

Mark's response: "but we're only going for one night!"

Oh, silly rabbit. Overnight bags are for bachelors.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Paging Dr. Google

The first few months of 2015 were our indoctrination into the wonderful world of childhood illness. Before you become a parent, one of the innumerable things that everyone tells you is that little kids get sick. They get sick all. The. Time. This particular cautionary platitude was one that I largely ignored. I don't remember being sick a lot as a little kid, and I certainly don't remember being anything close to a total snot monster.

And yet...

On December 20, Avery came down with baby's first cold. And then she came down with another. And another. And the nanny caught it. And the nanny share baby caught it. And I caught it. And we passed it round-and-round in a vicious cycle of snot and fevers and night sweats and pure, unadulterated misery.

And then Avery got THE EAR INFECTION (cue ominous music). Due to the fact that the ear infection happened to coincide with her cutting her first teeth, her relative lack of fussiness, and our extreme desire not to be the parents that go racing to the doctor every single time the kid looks a little off, it took us a little while to catch it. Put more accurately, it took a case of conjunctivitis for us decide to consult the pediatrician, at which point we learned that the conjunctivitis was resulting from one giant mofo of an ear infection. Put most accurately, we were idiots.

Anyway, ear infection + conjunctivitis = antibiotics. No two ways around it. Dr. S pulled out the big guns and prescribed some something called Augmentin, which is apparently Amoxicillan on steroids (I promise, this digression into antibiotics does have a point).

Days passed. Avery got increasingly good at finding ways to avoid letting us administer the twice daily dose of antibiotics. By the end of the 10 day course, one of us was all but sitting on her while the other wrestled her head with one hand and inserted the syringe into her mouth with the other. (That little digression did not have a point other than humor.)

And then, two days after she finished the antibiotics, the rash showed up.

Now, you need to understand that this was Saturday, February 14 -- Valentine's Day -- the height of the Disney Land measles epidemic. Because the MMR vaccine generally isn't administered until 12 months, Avery was (and still is) unvaccinated against measles. With every news channel and website covered in headlines about measles, and our child covered in a red bumpy rash, you can imagine where our minds wandered. The doctor's office was also closed until Tuesday due to the Presidents' Day holiday on Monday. So I did what any self-respecting parent of the smartphone generation would do. I paged Dr. Google.

I'm just going to come right out and say it. Dr. Google is not your friend. It's pretty easy to extrapolate a rash on your arm (or your baby) into some deadly or incurable disease in a big hurry. Why? Because Dr. Google is the main cog in the wheel of confirmation bias. Input a sufficiently specific string of terms and you will almost always find something that confirms your worst fears. Even though Google is actively trying to make their health-related results more accurate by making sure they are fact checked, it's still pretty easy to find yourself in a sneaky spiral of despair. I know this about Dr. Google, and yet... and yet...

I was already through the Mayo Clinic website and had moved onto a Google Image search for measles when Mark looked at me staring intently at my phone and told me not to Google measles. I looked up at him, then back at my phone.

"It looks an awful lot like measles..."

"Stop Googling. It's not the measles. Little kids get rashes. She just has a rash. Anyway, it's barely noticeable."

This conversation took place sometime mid-afternoon on Saturday. At that time, even after an initial consultation, I had to admit that the rash still looked pretty mild. I put down the phone.

A few short hours later, Mark plunked Avery into her bath and discovered a much more robust rash. What had been, just a few hours earlier, a smattering of red bumps on her chest and cheeks had turned into a widespread and dense rash covering her torso, part of her legs, and her sweet little face. This is what can best be described as the "oh fuck" moment. After a brief debate about whether to go to the emergency room, we decided that we'd proceed with bedtime and then call the on-call nurse. If they told us to go to the ER, we'd wake her up and go to the ER.

After bath, I rocked Avery for a few minutes and then put her down for the night. I returned to our bedroom to find Mark staring intently at his phone, flicking the screen every few seconds to scroll. He looked up. My eyes narrowed.

"Are you Googling baby rashes?"


"Remember when you told me not to consult Dr. Google?"

"Yes... it could be this Roseola thing. Although it does look a lot like measles. "

An hour later, we finally spoke to the on-call nurse. She looked at Avery's chart online.

"Your daughter was taking Augmentin last week?"


"Oh, that's probably what it is. Lots of babies get a rash just before or just after they finish a course of that antibiotic."

"So you're telling me this rash that looks exactly like measles is a delayed allergic reaction to an antibiotic?"

"Oh, it's not an allergic reaction. It just happens to some babies. We don't know why."

"Oh, okay then. So she doesn't have measles."

"No, just a reaction to the Augmentin."

Here's the response that was happening in my head as this phone conversation was happening.

We are definitely going to the ER tonight. We are going to the ER because some selfish motherfuckers decided that their kids should get all the benefits of herd immunity without incurring the incredibly miniscule risks of contributing to it. If she has measles, I am going to fuck someone's shit up. I will give new meaning to the words "hell hath no fury." I will go Samuel L. Jackson on these people. I will... wait, why is this nurse asking about the antibiotic? My kid is allergic to the antibio-- wait what? This rash is some random, common reaction to an antibiotic? A common reaction that no one bothered to mention while the country is in the middle of a (completely motherfucking preventable) measles epidemic? Gee, because that wouldn't have been salient information at all... motherfuckers....

Remember that thing I said about Dr. Google and confirmation bias? Yeah, when I searched for "baby rash" not one single thing came up about Augmentin and baby rashes. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Pages and pages of pictures of measles and chickenpox and hand/foot/mouth disease and a bunch of other ugly crap. Nothing about this apparently very common reaction to an antibiotic. That looks exactly like measles.

If you page Dr. Google, just remember that that bitch is not your friend. 

Author's note: If you are going to read this post and troll me with your anti-vaxx agenda, knock yourself out. If you could please include your last name, city of residence, and school district so that I can make sure to keep my kid away from yours, that would be super. Thanks a million!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A "wellness room" it is not

Let me begin this post by giving all due credit to my employer. As a young and still relatively small company, they have put forth great effort to making the few lactating mothers' lives easier, supplying not only a private, locked room, but a Medela Pump in Style breast pump, a mini fridge for storing expressed milk, a closet for storing supplies, and a comfy red arm chair in which to recline whilst being milked.

They have also gone to great pains to be as politically correct about this as possible.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Black Plate, Chapter 4: The Moon Riseth

This post is long overdue. Once again, I'm going to pull out the "I was sick" excuse and assume that you'll forgive me.

The last time we left the black plate, it had arrived on my desk bearing brownies, causing me to unleash a torrent of swearing at the poor unsuspecting receptionist/office assistant who gleefully delivered them to me on my first day back from maternity leave.

Before I get into the meat of this story, let me take a pause to explain a bit about how the great plate transference has evolved over the years. At first, it was mostly a matter of sneakiness and speed. The goal was to get the plate back into the hands of the other couple as fast as possible without them noticing until it was too late, which usually meant after the giver of the plate had left for the evening. The problem with this approach is that we all quickly learned the signs of a black plate hand-off... and how to head it off at the pass.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Getting obsessed with songs, inaugural post (One Direction, "Night Changes")

Because this is the first post of this nature, I'm going to have to provide a little context.

One of my most favorite things about myself is that I get obsessed with songs. Not like "yo, that's my jam on the radio!" obsessed, but like "I will listen to this song, on repeat, for days; my feet will march in step to the beat; I will awkwardly rock out at crosswalks (because people in Seattle don't jaywalk!), and in my car; I will sing that shit to myself in the shower, and to the dog" obsessed. That is what I mean when I say obsessed.

If you think it's narcissistic of me to have favorite things about myself, fine. My guess is that you also have favorite things about yourself, in which case, guess what! You, too, are a narcissist. And if you don't, well, then I'm sad for you. Because having shit that you like about yourself, especially when it's super awkward, is actually really fun.

Acknowledging that I get obsessed with songs (and learning to like this quality in myself) took a long time. I was in law school before I was able to accept it, let alone embrace it. This is, in part, because the songs I get obsessed with are SUPER awkward. Top 40 pop songs, cheesy country love songs, indie-music-that's-a-little-too-emo-for-comfort songs, Taylor Swift... that kind of music. Really. And it wasn't until I was in law school that I realized that pretty much everyone else is obsessed (maybe not to the same degree, but still), with the same songs. I learned this on various road trips with law schools classmates. One listening to Belinda Carlisle (Heaven is, indeed, a place on earth, baby!), and Boyz II Men, and Brandy vs. Monica (no, the boy is mine, bitches) on the way to a ski trip. One with my also-an-atheist friend (you know who you are) during which the two of us rocked out to Christmas music in the middle of February in North Carolina on the way home from a moot court competition.

But the moment when it really hit me just how utterly ordinary (and awesome) my awkward music obsessions are was during Mark's 30th birthday indoor tailgate party. Mark and I put together the playlist maybe 30 minutes before people were supposed to show up, and I was basically just dragging and dropping any song that was played at frat parties when we were in college, or that I assumed would have been played at a frat party any time in the last decade (in keeping with my bad taste, I have many!). Finally, we reached the point where we were dipping back into high school territory. As in, the Back Street Boys, circa 1999: I Want It That Way. 

Tell me why... we all think this song is sick! Tell me why... we all know the fucking lyrics! Tell me why... I always want to hear you sing... I want it that way!

By this point, you must know where this is going. Despite the fact that, had you asked my 14-year-old high school self, I would have told you this was the worst fucking song on the planet, I love this song. I loved it in high school. I love it now. When I was a high school freshman, I would secretly listen to it on repeat in my bedroom and sing it loudly in the shower, only to swear to my friends that it was drivel and Metallica and AC/DC were where it was at. And in January 2014, 15 years after this song first came out, I was insisting that we add it to the playlist for Mark's 30th birthday shindig.

Mark was not super thrilled about this idea. Don't get me wrong. He likes the song. He even acknowledges that other people like the song. But he disagreed that it was the right tone for the party.

Holy balls on fire was he wrong.

At around 10pm, the playlist finally gets to the moment. Backstreet was back! Even though I was the only sober person in the room (pregnancy problems, natch), I didn't really notice what was happening until a friend of ours started singing... "you are... my fiii--rrrree, the one... desiii-rrreee." All of a sudden, another friend joins in, and then another, and then suddenly 20ish 25-30 year olds are fucking belting out I Want It That Way. God I wish I'd had a GoPro to record one of the best "I told you so" moments of my life.

All of this brings me to the original point of this post: my current obsession. The plan, my dear readers, is to make this a semi-regular feature whereby I embarrass myself by exposing my terrible musical taste to the world for your enjoyment.

So without further ado, the inaugural obsession: One Direction's Night Changes. Embarrassing for the fact that it's One Direction, a boy band of British origin whose name is not The Beatles. Awesome for the fact that it's super old-school boy band music a la Back Street Boys and N'Sync. God that shit is good.

Listen to it. Love it. Let yourself go. Also, if you think Harry Styles is the cute one, you have horrible taste. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

You need a Nosefrida

One of the truest things I was told about parenthood is this: every parent you know will provide you a list of crap they swear by. Which you will register for / purchase. And then never use.

Here's a sample list of just some of the baby items we just had to have, and then never actually used:

  • The Woombie (a swaddle-type thing involving a zipper)
  • The Swaddle Sack (a swaddle-type thing involving velcro) 
  • The Bumbo (this was convenient for approximately five minutes until Avery realized that she could tip herself out of it, even with the strap on)
  • The Boppy
  • The Baby K'Tan (Avery screamed her head off if you put her in this)
  • The Hotsling (same problem as with the Baby K'Tan)
  • The infant insert for the Ergo carrier (word to the uninitiated: the Ergo is meant for babies who have head control. Before they have head control, using the Ergo requires wrestling them into the infant insert, which is basically like wrapping your baby in a North Face parka, smooshing her against your 98.6 degree body, and then expecting her to be comfortable. I mean honestly, would you be comfortable? There is nothing like watching a 2 week old sweat to make you feel like a shitty parent)
  • The Bebe au Lait (a nursing cover than I used maybe 3 times until I realized that if people had a problem with seeing my boobs in public when I needed to breastfeed my child, that was their damn problem, not mine.)
  • Diaper Rash cream 
  • Baby Oil
  • Baby Lotion
  • Baby towels (those hooded things that are basically just tiny, thin bath towels. We realized pretty quickly that regular grown-up bath towels work just fine and actually keep your slippery, cold, and displeased offspring much warmer and thus quieter).
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'm totally going to be that parent and tell you what you really just have to have (!) for your currently gestating bundle of joy.

You need the fucking Nosefrida.

Do not believe the nurses at the hospital when they tell you that the little blue snot sucker bulb works just as well as fancy baby snot suckers... ahem, nasal aspirators. They do not.

They are also impossible to clean, and when you are wrestling with your wriggling, kicking, screaming 7 month old who would rather drown in her own mucus than allow you to get near her with this thing, they become a total liability for things like:
  • Breaking your baby's septum in your desperation to shove it in there 
  • Impaling an eye
  • Forgetting to squeeze the bulb prior to insertion and thus blowing snot, germs, and God knows what else back into your baby's head
The Nosefrida, a device brought to you by the Swedes (of Ikea and delicious meatball fame), considerably reduces the risks of fuck ups like this. The portion of the device that makes contact with your baby's nose is much wider with a rounded end, make it much less weapon-like than the bulb.

The main problem with the Nosefrida, and the reason I waited so long before caving to this most magical of baby devices, is that it requires you, a human, to place one end of a straw in your mouth, and the other end in your baby's nose, and suck.

For me, this admittedly presented a bit of a psychological hurdle. But a solid two months into the never ending runny nose that evidently (according to other parents), constitutes the first four years of the human experience, I'd had one too many close calls with the snot bulb and I couldn't take it any more.

It turns out that the Nosefrida is not nearly as horrifying as I'd imagined. Indeed, those crafty Swedes made sure that transference of mucus from Avery's nose to my mouth (or even close to my mouth), was not going to happen. First of all, the tube is too long. Second, unless your baby has the world's biggest and most congested sinus cavity, there is simply not enough bodily fluid in there to make it through the straw. Third, the folks at Nosefrida, Inc. knew that selling $15 snot suckers was only going to go so far. They needed a subscription model. So in order to use the Nosefrida and prevent germ transference, you use these little blue foam filters that you're supposed to change every time. At about 50 cents a pop, I decided that 3-4 uses for each one was probably fine...

Naturally, the weird smiling baby on the front of the Nosefrida box is not really representative of how small children react to having their sinuses vacuumed. The reality is something more like this:

But let me assure you, the scrunch-face crying that accompanies the Nosefrida is not even close to as painful as what accompanies the bulb. It's also so much more efficient. Rather than spelunking for snot with the bulb 3-4 times per nostril every 15 or so minutes, you can actually vacuum out enough to give your kid a reprieve for a few solid hours (not to mention give yourself a reprieve from the Darth Vader/pig hybrid breathing that accompanies baby congestion).

It's a damn miracle. Please, learn from my mistakes, people.

So what else do you truly need?
  • Diapers
  • A strong constitution for when those diapers inevitably blow out, because there is no such thing as a blowout-proof diaper.
  • Wipes
  • Vaseline, which works just fine for preventing and treating diaper rash. Our 16oz tub is still going strong almost 8 months in and Avery has never once had a diaper rash (a pediatrician has earned a life time of good will for giving us this golden advice).
  • An apparatus in which your baby will sleep when they are very little or very snotty, such as a swing, a Rock'n'Play, whatever. Bonus points if it vibrates.
  • Pacifiers. So. Many. Pacifiers. Do not be deceived by the people who tell you that it will fuck up your baby's latch/teeth/self-soothing ability/self-esteem. We waited 10 days before conceding defeat and giving a pacifier. It changed our lives. Now, months later, she doesn't even care about the pacifier and we got so much more sleep than we otherwise would have.
  • Dr. Brown's bottles. Yes, you can use the Medela ones that come with your breast pump. You'll be a lot happier if you buy the Dr. Brown's.
  • A baby tub with an infant sling. Mark threw so much shade about this thing, but now it's far and away his favorite piece of baby gear.
  • A slush fund for baby carriers. You have no idea what your baby is going to like, and there is going to be trial and error involved. The magic bullet for us was the Beco carrier. Some people love the Bjorn. Others have babies who actually like the comfort of a sling (I imagine those are the same babies who enjoy swaddling). If you get away with spending less than $300 on carriers, count your blessings.
I welcome other suggestions in the comments from other parents. What was a waste of money? What item saved you in your darkest hour?

Of course, you can take or leave any or all of this advice. Except for the part about the Nosefrida. Just do it. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Nanny Cold War: The Over/Under

Back in November, I wrote about what an absolutely gigantic pain in the ass it was to secure good, reliable child care. Looking back, it's amazing to think that it took us another month after that post to finally find long-term childcare. A brief summary is below:
  • November 17: Find out that our daycare has revoked our part-time spot.
  • November 21: Commence nanny interviews
  • November 23: Make an offer to a lovely Italian nanny. Feel pleased about the choice. 
  • November 24: Nanny accepts our offer; we send her the contract and employment forms.
  • December 2, 11am: Less than 24 hours before nanny is due to start, she calls to inform us that she has accepted another position.
  • December 2, 11:02am: Laugh/cry/curse the gods over the fucking nanny. 
  • December 2, 11:03am: Immediately email second choice nanny candidate, beg her to take the job. Learn that she has accepted another position, but mercifully can cover us for the month of December. 
  • December 5: Commence second round of nanny interviews
  • December 7: Make an offer to another nanny
  • December 8: Offer is accepted and contract is signed. 
  • January 2: Nanny starts... yay!
During this time, while I was mired in the chaos of trying to secure child care, there were a number of things that I didn't really think too hard about. Like the fact that having a nanny meant that some other woman was going to spend all day, every day, taking care of my child. In my house. I mean, I get that that is the point of having a nanny, but when it's actually happening, it's hard not to feel a little strange about the extent to which you are actually outsourcing your life.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Scottish Pronunciation of "Vitamins"

The Scottish pronunciation of "vitamins" is insane. Or at least it sounds that way to my American ears. My whole life, I've said and heard "vitamins" pronounced as vie-ta-mins. It never occurred to me that it could be pronounced any other way, until two weeks ago during a call with the lovely Scottish woman who handles my company's UK public relations when she admonished me to take vi-ti-mins. First sound "vit" as in "nit" or "bit" or "sit." Second sound much more like a short "i" than an "a."  Vi-ti-mins. Say it. It sounds crazy.

When I first heard it, at first I thought she was referring to a specific product, one that must only be available across the pond. I was about to tell her that I'd never heard of such a thing when the light bulb finally went on and I realized that she was talking about vitamins. As in Centrum or whatever.

Why, you ask, was my UK public relations team admonishing me to take vitamins? For the very same reason that this blog has been silent for a few weeks. I have been down and out with the worst cold I can ever remember having.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Classic Moment in History: Dick's Sporting Goods Edition

Christmas 2010. Mark and I are in Colorado for the holiday with my family. It's the morning after the big day, and my sister is in hot pursuit of a new fleece jacket, hoping to get one on sale.

In order to avoid the clamoring hoards as much as possible, as well as give herself the best chance at actually securing the correct jacket in the correct size, she decides she is going to look up what time the Dick's Sporting Goods at the local mall is scheduled to open.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's resolution season at the gym

January is new year's resolution month, AKA the only time of year that the gym is actually crowded. Regular gym goers hate January. Suddenly, the gym becomes a crowded purgatory filled with self-righteous resolution rats who understand nothing about fitness equipment or etiquette. If you are this person, read on at your own peril. You're about to learn some cold, hard truths.