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May 2009

In which I feel rather foolish

I am not going to tell you about how my kids slept the best they've slept in months at my PARENTS' house Friday night. And how Phillip and I had the Best! Day! Ever! all by ourselves. And how we have our kids back and neither of them will eat dinner because they are too busy making us deaf with the whining and we are putting them to bed early BECAUSE THAT IS HOW WE WILL SURVIVE.

No, I am going to tell you about how I almost bought myself a supah blingy diamond ring today.

I am in the market for a new engagement ring setting. Sort of. See I have this fab anniversary band, the ring I always wanted, seen here:

Yes, there was an Audible Squeal when I opened this at the restaurant on my third anniversary.

Before that I was wearing a diamond solitaire (diamond from my mother-in-law's engagement ring (her first one, she has since, ah, Traded Up)) and a plain wedding band ($40, purchased in a Let's Just Get One So We Can All Get Out Of This Store huff). There is a long-ish story (which I may or may not have written here, I can't remember, too lazy to look) about my rings and how I got them and what I wanted and then what I found out I really wanted ETC. ETC. ETC. did you know people don't believe you when you say you're engaged unless you have a big rock on your finger? Seriously! MOVING ON.

Anyway. I liked my old rings but I LOVE my new ring. I immediately switched out the old for new and only broke out the engagement ring when I dressed up. Those rings are now at least two sizes too big for me (thank you South Beach Diet!) and I never wear them anymore because they slide off when I walk.

I originally passed on an engagement ring (see: long-ish story) but I happen to HAVE one and I 1) wish that it fit and 2) wish that it looked better with my new wedding band. It doesn't look bad and it'd look better if I got it sized and I'm not into matchy matchy wedding sets, but I don't know. Something about the roundedness of my engagement ring and the straight lines of my band just look off. And I'm a straight lines and right angles kind of girl so... perhaps I am in the market.

I've been informing Phillip that part of Hot By Thirty is rings that fit. Yesterday I went to one of the mall jewelry stores to find out how much that might cost me, and instead of finding out I was told to come back tomorrow (today) because they'd be having a DIAMOND SHOW! with lots of NEW SETTINGS! and wouldn't that be SUCH FUN! Um, yes? My sisters were around to watch TV during naptime so I could drag Phillip to the mall and I was soooo excited.

Phillip, need I even tell you, was not. He was not prepared to 1) spend more than ten minutes inside a jewelry store or 2) spend more than ten dollars inside a jewelry store or 3) look at more than ten I mean ONE ring. I pooh poohed all of this of course because hadn't we been TALKING about a new setting and it's not like we're overrun with opportunities to LOOK etc. I might have been a little bit annoying. Who knows?

Of course, once IN the jewelry store, even though we had discussed The Strategy and I had a very firm idea of what I wanted (which I was pretty sure that particular store wouldn't have) I was weakened by The Sparkly Factor. SPECTACULAR JEWELRY STORE FAIL. And you guys, I feel like I have to underline the fact that I am NOT a jewelry girl. I even HAVE jewelry now (thanks to my father-in-law, the former jeweler, and proud supporter of jewelry shows and giving lovely things to his daughters-in-law) and I don't wear it. It just feels FLASHY. Where do you WEAR this stuff? I am much more of a jewelry fiend than I was when I got married, but there's no way I could go around wearing some of the engagement rings I see. That's just a LOT of RING.

So I was thinking I wanted something very small and thin and delicate, like my anniversary band. I most certainly did NOT want a line of tiny stones to match my anniversary band. Nothing blingy, nothing flashy, as not sticky uppy as possible- just straight lines and simple.

I tell all this to the saleslady, who then pulls out an engagement ring mounting with tiny stones on the sides like my anniversary band, two side stones and giant prongs and OOOOH SPARKLY ME WANT. Well, not once I saw the price, but then the saleslady pulled out THIS ring:

OMG YOU GUYS. I might have been in love. Look at me saying "Oh, I'm not into jewelry! I could never wear those cathedral settings and giant rocks!" and then totally drooling over THIS. The center of the ring was just like this, but the sides were like the ring above, which, in my opinion, made it pretty much perfect. It looked gorgeous with my band. It was so... GLITTERY!

Phillip and I spent the next half hour discussing. I'm so embarrassed right now, I can't even tell you. I really feel like I went to duel with a sparkly dragon and the dragon earned the knockout in, like, fifteen seconds. (How many metaphors is that?) WEAK! I wasn't trying to talk Phillip into it, or lobbying, or trying to talk myself into it or even really paying attention to Phillip's stressed-out-but-sounds-kind-of-antagonistic dealings with the saleslady- I was just sitting there being DAZZLED.

We could technically afford it (it was a THIRD of the price of the first ring, which, now that I'm thinking about it, was maybe the saleslady's strategy?) I definitely liked it. It looked beautiful with my band. But... seriously? THIS? If I felt like my ORIGINAL ring was for special occasions, where would I ever wear THIS?

We talked a LONG time. We even agreed to fill out the credit application to buy some more thinking time. In the end I decided we needed some fresh air and if I still wanted it, we'd come back.

We didn't go back. Phillip had stressed his fear of Impulse Buys and Not Shopping Around and all sorts of irritating responsible stuff before we left and I hadn't bothered listening because I was so sure I wouldn't like anything. And now I really liked something, but it would be a TOTAL impulse buy and did I really want THAT RING? I liked it, oh yes, but did I LOVE it? It wasn't at all what I thought I'd want. If I bought it now THAT WOULD BE IT, you know?

I tried calling my sisters at home to get an opinion (or, more likely, a "are you SERIOUS you're doing WHAT?") but I ended up calling my old coworker by mistake, since her name happens to be right above my sister's name in my phone. I told her what I was doing and she said two things: "Diamonds are never a mistake" and "Don't buy anything that makes you feel guilty." Which actually helped. I felt WAY guilty. (I always feel guilty, but this was guilt to the frillionth degree.)

So no. I did not buy this ring. If, weeks from now, I am kicking myself, I can find it somewhere else. Right? But there are so many things we want to buy this summer (birthday bashes, plane tickets, multiple cases of wine for Sacramento, a house with another bedroom so my children start sleeping again) and a RING? No.

Of course, if I HAD bought it, I could be staring dreamily at it RIGHT NOW. That's another saleslady tactic: it's only a one day show! The jeweler is here right now! You could have your diamond set in an HOUR!


Seven completely random quick takes

1.I know I need to pick the lettuce in my garden (already!) but will it grow back? Or is that it? I read somewhere about staggering when you plant lettuce so you can have it all summer, so I'm guessing that's it, and I should buy more seeds (I planted Mesculun). But then why do I need to pick it before it gets too big? So the little leaves can have room to grow and I can get more out of one plant? Can anyone answer this burning question?

2. I've been trying to hunt down a sandbox on Craigslist for weeks now. I emailed a few different people but no one returned my messages. Then yesterday I was probably the first person to email a guy selling this sandbox down where my parents live. We then exchanged four frillion text messages to arrange pickup. And then about a half hour after my parents were supposed to pick it up, he called. I was all set to make excuses as to why my parents weren't there yet, but he was actually calling to say thanks for taking it off his hands (not like it was free, buddy!) and his son is four and too big for it now, but he loved it when he was younger and oh, did you know you could fill it with water too, like a swimming pool, and my two-year-old is going to love it. I know warm and fuzzy conversations with strangers aren't everyone's bag, but I thought it was the nicest thing. My two-year-old WILL love this sandbox. (At the very least he is going to stop digging in MOMMY'S sandbox.)

3. Speaking of text messages, I think I have now Caught On. I'm still not that great with the PHONE part of my phone (several days ago a friend called my home phone and informed me that my cell was dead, go plug it in idiot, but I forgot, and then last night she called my home phone again and told me my cell was dead AGAIN and I was all "oh, I think I forgot to plug it in before" and she was all "seriously, what is wrong with you" but it turns out my phone WASN'T dead it just needed to be kind of reBOOTed and ANYWAY) but I loooove text messaging! I can totally be a high schooler you guys. It's, like, INSTANT EMAIL. How can that be anything other than awesome?

4. As I have mentioned many times before, we visit my mom and dad on Fridays. And tomorrow? Friday? WE ARE LEAVING THE CHILDREN. Gasp! Choke! Blink! Well, we are leaving Jack FOR SURE and let's just say I am packing lots of Molly clothes and diapers and food in the event that 1) we are confident enough and 2) my parents are brave enough to take her. It's sort of spur of the momenty, and there's no occasion, but there's sort of an open invitation for sleepovers at Grandma's house and we are taking advantage. Also because there's no possible way a night at Grandma's can adversely affect the way they sleep at home BECAUSE THEY AREN'T SLEEPING. Have fun Grandma!

5. And speaking of sleepovers, I was not allowed to. Sleep over. At friends' houses. EVER. I think the first time I slept over at a friend's house was my senior year of high school and I'd gone to some horribly boring and angsty high school party and then crashed on a friend's living room floor. This was rather disastrous for my social life in the middle school and junior high years, and I suppose I did survive, but I always told my parents that was the most Neanderthal of all their Neanderthalish parenting policies and I would NEVER do that to my own kids. Except. When I think about it? I don't want to let my kids sleep over at some random friend's house! Poor Jack and Molly. I weep for their tween years.

6. I'm thinking I should do a post about my parents' Neanderthal policies. What do you think, Mom? All about being the OLDEST CHILD and therefore sentenced to watching my siblings do everything I wanted to do YEARS BEFORE I WAS ALLOWED TO. And also all the times my dad growled, "I will Shut. You. Dowwwwwn." whenever I got in trouble in high school, which is now a tiny bit amusing to me because there wasn't anything TO shut down. Except basketball practice, I guess, and OH, HOW PAINFUL, MY DAD SAYS I CAN'T GO TO PRACTICE AND RUN LINES ALL AFTERNOON, WOE! I was, honestly and truly, the most boring high school student on earth. FACT.

7. I can just see the look on my mom's face right now so I better post a picture.

Saturday morning at the Folklife Festival- at the fountain washing off the hippie smell.


I wrote the post about whining BEFORE yesterday, the day the whining KILLED ME

I'm busy with my various nerdy projects today, so if you're looking for content, I am whining about the whining at Parenting today:

In just a few months Jack has gone from a four word vocabulary to three-word sentences. It's amazing to me, and sort of makes me wish I hadn't wasted all those hours fretting about his inability to deliver soliloquies on Cheerios at 15 months...


p.s. I bought the Bananafish sheets. Because they were more white than not white and had a smidge of yellow, which I think will go better in the room. (Ha! Like ANYTHING goes in that room!) Also because I strive to impress my house decorating idol. Also because I like the name Bananafish. Should arrive next week!

p.p.s. I love how everyone was all, "Gee, I pictured Molly in a clothes-closet-sized closet! Not a glorified LINEN closet!" I do not lie to you people. I DO NOT LIE.

p.p.p.s. The other reason for no content today, other than the various nerdy projects (OMG THE NERDINESS) is that yesterday killed me. No naps! The whining! The crying at the drop of a hat! The not falling asleep until TEN PM! Did I mention no naps? Of course there was no magic sleeping through the night in the new crib, AND THEN she woke up at FIVE THIRTY. Dead I tell you! Dead! 

I am going to be very sore tomorrow

For the first seven or so months of her life, Molly slept here:

There are SO many things wrong with this picture.

Where do I even begin? How about with the shockingly small size of my closet? It extends about another two feet to the left, where we have some wire shelving you can just barely glimpse, AND THAT'S IT. When I said my closet had exactly enough room for a portable crib I MEANT IT. And here is how Molly felt about her closet room:


(Note to CPS: the bumper is untied because we took the crib out of the closet and then remembered we hadn't taken any pictures of Molly in her closet bed, so we put it BACK, but no way was I tying that stupid bumper on again. Oh wait, unless you are the CPS types who don't APPROVE of bumpers in which case I dragged it out of the linen closet and stuck it in the crib for the picture just to hide a little more of the closet. And note to Finicky Types: I had a matching crib sheet, but it was in the wash. Yes, I am fully aware that these are two different pinks, but HELLO, it's in the CLOSET.)

And then about a month ago we moved her into Jack's room. Where she slept in this:


Only ours is sort of a blue and brown plaid thing, without all the accessories, and with a pink and brown sheet, because one way or another I WAS going to use girly bedding.

Jack sleeps in a rock solid $300 crib we picked out from the nursery displays at Babies R Us. Phillip was all about the sturdiest heaviest crib he could find and he wanted it in the espresso stain. I'd been kinda thinking a white crib, or "birch veneer" to match the rest of the room's College Era Ikea decor, but while Phillip's opinions about furniture are few, they are very strong. So we put a dark brown crib in a butter yellow room with white trim and a plain pine dresser. I guess all that's to say that nothing in Jack's room matches and I didn't feel THAT bad about the pack and play. Other than the fact that it was a pack and play.

Both sets of grandparents, however, mildly registered their disapproval with their only granddaughter sleeping in the baby equivalent of a tent. I wasn't sure what they wanted us to do about it, but last week Phillip's parents broke down and offered us the crib they keep at their house for Jack's naps.

And we took it.

Even though I said there was no way we could fit TWO FULL SIZE CRIBS in that room, even though I had grand plans for toddler beds and storing the boy bedding to make room for girl bedding and maybe even buying a house with three bedrooms (WHAT?) we took the crib. This afternoon I carried each piece up two flights of stairs while my father-in-law sat on the floor putting it together and muttering to himself. Yay in-laws!

I then started moving every single thing in that room, trying to figure out how to make it a livable acceptable space. Two-ish hours and three or four incarnations later, this is the arrangement I settled on:

I TOLD you nothing matches.

Directly to the left of this picture is a tall out-of-place wardrobe. The chair is smushed in next to the wardrobe and a small table is squished in between the chair and the closet door. The dresser used to be where the chair is, and all those diapers used to be in baskets on the dresser- but do you see how close Jack's crib is to the changing table? Do you know what it would look like in the morning if I left all those diapers out within reach? SHUDDER.

I don't love it, but it works. It's the best we've got. And it's going to stay this way for YEARS people, until we move. I need to get a curtain (I draped that blanket up there when Molly moved in, since she was used to the pitch black closet) and GIRL bedding and I'm thinking about buying those name letters to hang above their respective cribs to make me feel a little more PotteryBarnKidsIsh. I am very very hopeful that the new crib has some sort of magical sleeping-through-the-night power. What do you think?

And this is how Molly feels about her new bed:


And here's a picture of Jack in case he's feeling left out:

What are you looking at?

So which bedding should I buy? I've narrowed it down to this one or this one, based on how much they will cost after I use my Amazon gift certificates and the fact that neither one contains any brown. What is with all the BROWN, Baby Fabric Designers? 

In which those of you with cats remove me from Google Reader

I am pretty sure that whenever my neighbors go to change their baby in front of their window (which is where I used to keep OUR pack 'n play, where I would change Molly when she was tiny, which is what I assumed my neighbors were doing, but no, they are changing their table on top of a BAR that stores WINE GLASSES and LIQUOR) they see me sitting at the table in front of my computer. And I bet every single time they think to themselves, "Dear me. That woman obviously has nothing better to do. Should we invite her over again?"

Which reminds me that I didn't tell you about my Big! Neighbor! Playdate! and, actually, a million other things. Perhaps this will be one big Updatey post.

So after MUCH nail-chewing and lip-biting, the oh-so-anticipated neighbor playdate took place last week and was, if I may say so, rather uneventful. Oh wait, no it wasn't, I found out Jack is allergic to cats. (THANK GOD. I HATE CATS.)

(Don't hate me back, cat people. I don't hate YOUR cats. Just all the other cats.)

See, I knew it was going to be problematic when THEY invited US to THEIR house. Those of you with babies in the crawling and walking and older stages, maybe you can relate. You are in charge of something toddlerish, but your friend with the new baby wants to have you over. And you say, "Oh, are you sure you don't want to come HERE?" (Of course, you only say this if you have already made the Obligatory New Baby Visit and the new mom is confident about getting out of the house and blah blah blah. Because you are not a big fat rude meanie.) But no, New Mom wants to host YOU and while that is very nice of her and she is probably going to make you brownies or chocolate chip cookies or at least put out a Hershey bar, she is expecting you to bring your own kid[s] and is telling herself she's going to have her very first playdate how EXCITING but she has no idea what she is getting herself into.

Wait, I take that back. SHE is not really getting herself into ANYTHING. YOU are the one with the problem. You understand immediately that you will not be able to enjoy your friend and her new baby because you will need to keep at least one and a half eyes on your toddler at all times. You are picturing the low shelves in her house that display the pretty vases and picture frames. You are picturing the stereo equipment inside the easily accessible glass-front cabinet. You are picturing the candles and ceramic coasters on the expensive coffee table, the vase sitting on the floor with tall reeds inside, the fireplace pokers, the basket of magazines next to the sofa. These are all things you used to have in YOUR house until the Toddler became The Toddler. At that point you swapped out your sharp-edged and breakable furniture for more durable and softer stuff. You put the candles and photo albums and picture frames away or higher up. You didn't put latches on all the drawers and plastic plugs in all the outlets, but you made sure your new Toddler couldn't reach the remote. And your friend the new mom? SHE HAS NO IDEA.

Anyway. I said, "Oh, are you SURE you don't want to come over HERE?" And they said, "Oh NO, we would love to have YOU over, it'd be GREAT FUN." And I agreed, even though I knew it wasn't true.

So this is how I know they change the baby on top of the bar. (I find this incredibly awesome.) This is also how I know Jack is allergic to cats, because there was absolutely nothing for him to do and nowhere in their house for him to go, so he stayed annoyingly and frustratingly close to me. Until he saw the cat. Jack is a big fan of small creatures and while I am most definitely NOT, I was relieved because: cat! Something to play with! And my shoulders relaxed a little and my extra super nice neighbors were ALL OVER introducing Cat to Jack and bringing out all the cat toys and even letting Jack chase the cat up and down the stairs. (The cat, I'm sure, was not half as amused.) About halfway through our visit Jack started rubbing his eyes, tearing up, sneezing, whimpering, etc. He's been around plenty of cats before and hasn't reacted, but I was assured by my neighbors that this particular cat has a lot of whatever gives people allergies, and that next time Jack came over Cat would be properly... I don't know. De-allergized? Something about a bath? Of course I was secretly tapping my fingers together in glee because both my cat-loving husband and child are allergic (AND I AM NOT) which means I will never have to have one of those animals in my house. YAY ME.

My neighbors have very nice things and very nice furniture and the whole time I was sitting there listing all the things they were going to have to change in nine or ten months. Because I am mean like that. And then they sent me home with a giant plate of decadent fudgy brownies, which made me feel very guilty.

I realize I said I was going to be all Updatey, but I am tired. I have about four hours left of Memorial Day Weekend and I am going to need those to watch television. I realize I have told you not one single thing about my weekend, fabulousness of,.or any of the OTHER fascinating tidbits of my daily life, things I KNOW you are just DYING to read, but the leftover berry pie on my counter is taking precedence. Oh, and THAT reminds me I have a new post up at Hot By Thirty. Talk later? Kisses!

More seven quick takes

1. I just put the kids down for the night. This is Phillip's monthly late night at the office and doing bedtime on my own isn't QUITE the hellish chore it was a few months ago, but today came close to driving me round the bend and, well, let's just say the children better stay quiet. Jack is still working on his molars, Molly's working on the little teeth next to her top teeth, as well as a snotty nose and they still aren't accustomed to being in the same room. Those are all my excuses for being too tired to eat dinner. WHICH IS VERY TIRED. I am now TOTALLY confused as to why anyone who DOESN'T have to have their kids share a room even CONSIDERS it. Either your kids are terrific sleepers or having a guest room trumps sleeping through the night. In either case I'm not sure we can be friends.

2. I wore shorts today. In public. And didn't think twice about it until I got home and realized I WORE SHORTS IN PUBLIC. The last time I wore shorts outside of my house.... I can't remember. Definitely pre-children. And yes, I may have lost the baby weight, but I'm thinking I should still confine the shorts-wearing to my living room. My legs and my shorts are THE SAME COLOR.

3. While we're talking appearances, let's discuss hair. Mine is long and stringy and now that my bangs have mostly grown out, vaguely reminiscent of high school. Faaaabulous. I sort of enjoy the longness, even though Molly thinks pulling my hair is akin to pulling the dinnerbell rope, and even though the underside of my ponytail gets disgustingly wet and gross when I'm on the treadmill. But my bangs... the girl who cuts my hair suggested growing them out because its lower maintenance (she didn't add that I don't go to the salon for the recommended intervals and obviously can't be trusted to even DO my own hair) so I grew them out. But now I've got the post-partum hair growth going on (even though I am STILL pulling out handfuls of hair every morning, WOE) and the bangs area is looking pretty sketchy. I'm not sporting the bald patches anymore, but I've got short spiky hairs jutting out of my hairline every which way and you know what would fix that? BANGS.

4. I am going on a date with Mona Saturday morning. I mean PLAYDATE. Totally a playdate. I was psyching myself up for the drive along If There's An Earthquake You Are So Dead Highway down to her 'hood, but today she offered to scrap that plan in favor of seeing the Jim Henson Muppet exhibit at the EMP, for which she has super cool fancy important media passes. And I was all, "MEEEEE?" And then, "REEEEALLY? MEEEEE?" You guys I am So. Excited. And Jack is going to have a blast. He loves Bert and Ernie almost as much as I do.

5. Yesterday I told you that Jack is 25th percentile for weight, but what I didn't tell you is that he's 50th percentile for height. This piece of information left me speechless. Here I've been going around thinking I have THE shrimpiest kid on the planet. I mean, stand my boy next to every single one of his little girlfriends and they could all beat him up blindfolded. And my poor family, thinking, "Here's our last hope for an NBA star!" even though I've told them a million times that Phillip is a mutant and that every other man in his family is my height or smaller (and, SIGH, weighs less) than me. But I'm breathing a little easier tonight. All that milk consumption may not be so good for the digestive tract (ahem) but at least it's helping him out in the bone-growing department.

6. So one of last week's seven quick takes was about Phillip going to see that Star Trek movie with coworkers. (Do you like how I called it THAT Star Trek movie? Again: the things I do to annoy him!) Aaand one of his coworkers told his wife he had a "work dinner" and neglected to MENTION the Star Trek movie. Now. We can speculate as to why he failed to mention the movie (I am guessing he was EMBARRASSED) (AGAIN with the annoying! I am HILARIOUS!) but this is not the point. The point is that HIS WIFE READS MY WEBSITE. (Hi Gina!) And so she knew. And she told him that she knew. And then he told Phillip that she knew. And then Phillip told me and I thought that was the funniest thing EVER. But you'd think the little stretchy jumpsuit and pointy ears he'd packed in his work bag that morning might have given it away.

7. I went to Target this afternoon (scene of the shorts crime) to save my own sanity. I bought four shirts without trying them on and GUESS WHAT. None of them fit. Shopping FAIL. I did, however, buy four frillion jars of baby food since they were FORTY-SIX CENTS EACH. That is a good deal, my friends. And no, I do not want to hear about how it would be even cheaper to make my own.

Oh! I do believe I hear the first whine of the night. Excellent! I'll be going now!

No more joining

I decided not to join another church committee. I have one last meeting in June, and then I'm done. Finito.

I think I decided this several months ago, when I was driving to one of my meetings and feeling very put out about the whole thing. And, as I am wont to do in such situations, I was informing God as to exactly WHY I felt put out. "This hasn't been at ALL what I expected it to be," I snapped to the steering wheel. "I am tired of trying to figure out what I am supposed to DO. I am tired of LOOKING." On and on it went. Gripe, grouse, complain, whine.

And then, in my head, I'm pretty sure I heard God say, "Perhaps because you've been looking everywhere except at ME. How's that working out for you?"

(In my head, God is kind of snarky.)

I like to tell you I'm not a Joiner, but in recalling the History Of My Personal Churchiness I have to confess I've been quite the joiner. I even half-organized and half-hosted the youth group when I was in high school, if only so I could make sure I had something churchy to do. Uncharacteristically blurting "Sure!" when the stranger-now-one-of-my-best-friends invited me to a Non-Denominational College Fellowship barbecue my first week on campus is possibly the joiniest thing I have ever done. And when Phillip and I decided to stop church shopping and go back to our original parish, it was with the intent of DOING something there. Only a few Sundays went by before we found ourselves committed to weekly RCIA meetings, sponsoring people we'd never met.

I joined the church committee because I don't feel like I'm a part of something unless I'm involved. And I mean: INVOLVED. I haven't figured out if I necessarily want to lead things, but I always want to be where the action is, know what's going on, be part of the decision making. So that was part of the draw. There's another reason I joined the church committee, and it's the reason for all my churchy joininess, which is: maybe this is the place where I will find God.

I blame the NDCF, because it's there and it's fun to do so. It's just that even though it took forever, I eventually found a place in the NDCF. I knew what my role was, and what I was about. I guess you could say that I recognized my gifts. I felt like I knew what God wanted me to be.

But then I went from being a token Catholic in the NDCF world to a grown up Catholic in a large city parish and the gifts and things I knew about myself in the NDCF world suddenly didn't apply. I didn't know what God wanted me to be in this church, only that he wanted me there.

So I started joining. Looking. Trying to figure it out. You would laugh if I told you how many things (and what KINDS of things, dear GOD) I tried. I hated not knowing my role, my gifts, my PLACE. Everything I've tried, everything I've joined, it's all taught me something. Not always what I thought it was going to teach me, but all of this participating hasn't been for nothing. I'm not sorry for any of it.

But I haven't figured out what God wants me to DO, who he wants me to BE. How do I use what he's given me as a Catholic? I know that probably sounds weird to a lot of you, but I hope you'll trust me when I say it's a legitimate question, one worth finding the answer to. I'm not asking some meaning-of-life theological question, I'm being quite specific. The things I know about myself, the things I've done, the gifts I think I have- how do I do and be and use those things as a Catholic?

Which is why I've decided to stop joining things. What God said to me as I was driving- I think he made an excellent point (as he would, being God and all.) And that wasn't the end of the conversation. I have a few ideas about what he means and where I should start. I have a whole post in my drafts folder about something that happened to me during the Holy Thursday service. I am always a bit anxious posting these churchy things since I prefer to be, well, I think how I put it to Kate once in an email is "ecumenical in my writing". But I think part of "where I should start" is maybe writing more about it here (maybe? I don't really know, we'll see) and this is as good as any place to begin: I am not joining another committee. Not right now.


Sometimes I find myself looking around my house, waiting for these kids' mother to show up. Because I'M not the mother. The mother would not still be in her pajamas, allowing her toddler a second third hour of morning television, swiping the crabby baby off the floor and grousing, "I'm HERE, OKAY? Quit whining, OKAY? It's not even LUNCHTIME and I'm done with you."

I wasn't very nice to Molly today. I know she can't help it. I know she's only 8ish months old. But she woke me up four times last night and then had the nerve to take a one-hour nap this afternoon. I didn't have it in me to be nice.

I'm not nice to Jackson either. Yesterday, when he wouldn't turn his bike around when I told him to, and then started a full on 1000-decibel bawl when I turned it FOR him, I put the bike under one arm and the two-year-old under the other and marched them both home. I wonder what the neighbors thought, seeing the stone-faced woman half-dragging her wailing toddler back to the house, and then shutting him inside so the neighborhood couldn't hear the crying. We have a glass front door, so he stood there, chubby palms thwacking the door, smudging the glass with his wide open bawl mouth and dirty tears. Was I moved? Not really. This not-listening-to-mommy thing is getting very very old.

I'm tired. I'm much more tired than I was when either of my kids were newborns. I had easy newborns, it's true, but I sometimes think newborns ARE easier. It must have a lot to do with expectations, don't you think? My expectations for the first several months are exceedingly low. I don't expect to sleep, I don't expect to get anything done, I don't expect to feel good about anything I'm thinking or how I look or what I can get done during naptime. I only expect to survive, and look! I did! Twice!

Kind of like how labor went for me. I was expecting a near-death experience, so my long but relatively boring and average labors and deliveries were amazing walks-in-the-park in comparison.

My expectations must be higher for this point in my parenting career. Everyone says the first three months are the hardest, but not for me. I've got a toddler who doesn't pay attention to a thing I say and a baby who finds her lack of mobility to be a great travesty, and the only way to appease the wails of unfairness is to never ever put her down. Aren't we supposed to be getting more sleep? Aren't we supposed to be better at amusing ourselves?  Does this teething thing really last longer than TWO YEARS?

Since I've been a stay-at-home-mom, I've been asked twice to watch working friends' children for an extended period of time. Each time I really wanted to help, but there's no way. There's really no way and sometimes I shamefully caught myself thinking, "Why do they think I can do this? What do they think I do all day?!" And then a couple nights ago I spent an hour researching housecleaners, feeling like a huge moral failure the entire time. I caught myself asking the same question I usually scorn: WHAT ELSE DO I DO ALL DAY?

My expectations, they are high.

Today, though, I got down on my hands and knees and cleaned the kitchen floor. I don't usually do this, because I can't just stop with the kitchen- I have to clean the whole second-level floor. IT'S ALL THE SAME FLOOR. And I don't do it, because it's overwhelming. But I told myself I don't HAVE to clean the whole floor, I can just clean the kitchen part, the part that really needs it, and that would be okay. Really.

I am only partway through Phase Two of the Great Yard Remodel. It's driving me INSANE that I can't just hop in the car and buy everything I need and get it done in one afternoon, but I can't do that with my two kids. So one day I plant flowers and another day I shovel rocks and another day I weed. It will get done eventually.

I'm making dinner almost every night I schedule myself to make dinner. I can't say I'm always cooking dinner, but I am preparing and heating food that most of us like to eat, and getting it on the table not long after Phillip gets home from work.

I keep my plants watered and my dishes washed. I can fold a load of laundry right after the kids wake up from their naps, because they don't mind playing in their room by themselves. They get baths every other day, they wear clean clothes, we go outside when it's nice, even if it's only a walk around the block. We're doing okay. I'm doing okay. I am working on being okay with the sharp and irritating drop in my productivity, because I have two small children and there is only so much I can manage. And I really AM trying to be okay with never knowing if I'll get to sleep eight hours or not, if I'll get to exercise AND eat lunch AND read a magazine during naptime.

I'm just not very graceful about it- a constant theme on this website, isn't it? I mean, is a nap as long as the Grey's Anatomy season finale too much to ask? APPARENTLY SO.


Last Wednesday night I put on my big girl who isn't scared of new people pants and headed out to a local blogger tweetup (Tweetup! Hello Web 2.0! I have arrived!) at Swoon. Where I would please like to make a weekly pedicure appointment for the rest of my life. Seriously, have you had one of those? HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

I wasn't feeling very confident about this tweetup thing. For starters, I was invited by some random Susan person via out-of-the-blue Evite. And it was sponsored by Pledge, and I imagined I might be subjected to some kind of time share presentation type deal and harassed by lemon-scented Pledge representatives. And for another thing, I knew maybe two or three names on the Evite list. And you know what that means. NEW PEOPLE = HIVES.

But the Evite also promised a free manicure and a free pedicure and a free massage and, to be honest, they had me at FREE.

So I did the requisite googlestalking of all the attendees, attempted a go with the mascara wand and managed to find parking in a rather parking-sparse neighborhood. I walked in, tried out this "calm, cool and collected" thing I've heard about and immediately failed when Kathryn from Daring Young Mom walked in a few minutes after me. GAK!

I very quickly learned that the random Susan person was actually Way Super Cool Susan from 5 Minutes For Mom and the event organizer. That the lemon-scented Pledge reps were actually two very nice girls from Chicago who alternated between wiping our laptops down with their new product (which, by the way, is the only thing I've tried on stainless steel that HASN'T made me want to rip my hair out, so, there's your plug Pledge! It's even an honest one! Love this stuff!) and fetching us drinks. And also that spa treatments aren't half as fun as meeting bloggers who live ten minutes away from you.

I didn't get to meet everyone, but I did hover around the [crazy delicious] food with Erin and Astacia and I had my nails done next to Ellen and was educated in the ways of a pedicure by Shera and then I fumed about not getting to talk more with my new best friend Mona while I had the most amazing twenty-minute back and shoulder massage. Seriously, the only lame thing about a blogger get together at a spa is how the spa staff is constantly dragging you away from the Awesome New Person You Just Met for a spa treatment. Lame!

I got over my Dorkness pretty fast (wait, not the Dorkness, let's call it the Nervousness ABOUT The Dorkness, the Dorkness never disappears) as it turns out there is a surefire way to start up conversation with other bloggers, that being: "So! What's your website?!" I am very VERY ashamed to say that my feed reader is embarrassingly thin when it comes to local reads, so this wasn't even a lame attempt at conversation, it was a GENUINE QUESTION.

It was supposed to be over at 9, but they were still doing my toes at 9:30 and across the room Kathryn yelled, "Maggie! Talk to me before you leave!" And you guys I was SO RELIEVED. Because Kathryn also blogs at Parenting and is, I believe, the reason why I get to blog at Parenting and I've always kind of wanted to hug her. When my toes were done, Kathryn and Mona were talking and I just sort of invited myself into the conversation and Kathryn turns to me and says, "I'm going to say something that is maybe a little rude."

And I am thinking, "Oh God. What did I do? What did I say? I mean, WRITE?"

And Kathryn says, "You are WAY cuter than the picture you have on Parenting."

So that is how Kathryn became my OTHER new best friend, even though I am absolutely certain she never reads THIS blog and is a thousand percent cooler than me and whatever, I am not too proud to beg, HANG OUT WITH ME, KATHRYN!

That is also how Mona, who is a Photographer Extraordinaire (am not kidding, go see her tweetup recap with pictures, including one of me shielding my face NICE ONE, MONA at Seattle Mom Blogs) started taking HEADSHOTS. OF ME. GAK.

So Mona is taking my picture and, like, DIRECTING ME and Kathryn is fluffing my hair and also DIRECTING ME and oh my gosh I was as mortified as I could possibly be, but also TOTALLY ENJOYING MYSELF. Is that even possible? Anyway. I told Mona to make me look skinny with her mad rad Photoshop skillz and I know she will, because she is my new best friend.

There are lessons to be learned from my big internet tweetup and they are as follows:

1. Never EVER turn down a free pedicure, for they are wonderfulness
2. Never EVER turn down an opportunity to meet your fellow bloggers, for they are crazy fun, and when they decide to TWEET the fact that this is your FIRST PEDICURE EVER, you won't know whether to hang your head in shame or bear hug the woman with the iPhone because SHE IS OF YOUR TRIBE.
3. The people in the internet ARE as awesome in real life as they are online, which is why