Friday, April 30, 2010

The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love

I'm not talking about the Peace Corps, though I just stole their slogan for the title of this post. I'm talking about parenthood in general, motherhood specifically.

Parenthood is an incredible responsibility. I held a responsible position prior to having my son, but it was nothing compared to parenthood. Nearly every single decision you make, from the food you prepare to the toys you purchase, can have a positive or negative impact on your child. If you're selfish and can't handle self-sacrifice, do society a favor and don't become a parent yet. There's no shame in delaying parenthood until you are mature enough to handle the responsibility. Why do you think I waited until I was in my 30s to start a family?

Parenthood comes with much joy and aggravation. The joys are obvious: your baby's eyes lighting up when you walk in the room, your baby's smiles, your little one saying "dada" or "mama," your toddler planting an unsolicited kiss on your cheek, your sweet child saying that they "luf you too." I'd imagine the joys continue to grow as the child does. The aggravations may not be as obvious to a non-parent. Yes, I know that parents shouldn't think parenting is aggravating, but sometimes it really is. My son isn't quite two, so veteran parents are probably thinking that I haven't seen anything yet. What can I say? I start some days with one last nerve and my son has the uncanny ability to continue getting on it. On those days, it's up to me to get glad in the same shoes I just got mad in and turn my frown upside down.

As a stay-at-home-mother (SAHM), I have a completely different parenting experience than my husband. I can express my exhaustion and frustration, but he can't fully understand it unless he's been in the trenches. As someone who has worked for a salary and someone who "does nothing" all day, I can easily say that it is far more difficult to stay home and care for a child.

I've heard some people claim that a woman is happiest if she's raising her children at home. I don't particularly agree with that sentiment because staying home to raise children just isn't for everyone. Financial obligations aside (and plenty of mothers work to keep a roof overhead & food in the cupboard), some women need more adult stimulation than they can get at playdates and Mommy & Me classes, some women are concerned about their future prospects and aren't willing to have a lengthy employment gap on their resume, some women just don't want to have their lives revolve around diaper changes, feedings, diaper changes, feedings, playtime, diaper changes, & naps. Women have the option of choosing whatever works best for them and in this post-feminist world, no one can question her decision. Heh, that actually just reminded me of Steve Martin's line from the movie Parenthood: "Women have choices, men have responsibilities." Sucks to be you, Men! haha

I can't say what's best for someone else's family, but I know what's best for my family. That said, caring for my child all day by myself is strange at times. The rest of the world tends to fade away when I'm focused on my little one. Things that had been important are no longer even on my radar - I'm sometimes surprised to notice that I haven't plucked my eyebrows in months. A 25-pound individual can make or break my day and the entire day goes down the toilet if my son wakes up on the wrong side of the crib. Singing The Alphabet Song 102 times each day is mind-numbing. My back, shoulders, & arms ache from playing "1, 2, 3, WHEE!" so often. I periodically have vague feelings of guilt because I'm sure that I'm not doing an awesome-enough job and raising the best kid ever.

Life is short and it is always uncertain. Though sometimes minutes begin to feel like hours and hours feel like days, I adore staying home with my son. My days with my son are precious and this time will never come again. Cleaning, cooking, laundry. . .it can all wait until my little boy is snoozing. I cherish my time with my little boy and I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to stay home with him.

Thank you, my love, for working so hard for our family. The house is a mess today because I decided to shirk cleaning and write this post while the tater tot is napping! xoxo

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bedtime Routine with Daddy

I've always thought that I have the best husband on the planet, but sometimes he makes my heart feel like it's going to burst right out of my chest. Tonight was one of those nights.

My son thrives on a schedule. I'll assume that he finds comfort in the predictability of his soporific routine. Every evening we eat dinner together, he has a bath, I sing his favorite bedtime song as I dress him for bed, I give him a quick rubdown with lotion, we sit in the rocker while I read two bedtime stories, we snuggle for a few minutes while I hum the end of his favorite bedtime song, and then I put him in his crib while telling him that I'll see him in the morning. This routine has been followed since he was around nine months old, when I stopped nursing him directly to sleep. It never varies and it nearly always comes at the same time each evening. Thanks to this bedtime routine, he has always been easy to put to bed.

Up until about six-weeks ago, my husband had never put our son to bed. I suggested that he might want to start putting the baby to bed because I might not always be here. Long time readers of this blog probably think that I have an unhealthy preoccupation with death, but it does happen - sometimes to perfectly healthy young women. Anyway, my husband reluctantly agreed to start putting the little one to bed on the evenings he's home with us.

The first time was a disaster. The second time was a disaster. It has been a difficult task, to say the very least. My heart broke for both my husband and our son: for our son because he would wail for his "mama!" and for my husband because our son was essentially rejecting his father.

Tonight was wonderful! My husband took the lead in feeding the boy his dinner. My husband gave the boy his bath and, HOORAY!, there were no tears or wailing involved. My husband got the little one dressed for bed. Our son held me for a few minutes instead of just giving a kiss, but I figured that he needed a little extra love. The sweet little one pointed at the rocking chair and asked if I was going to sit in the chair with him. I said that his Daddy was going to read the bedtime stories tonight. I handed the boy to his father and I left the room.

After I started a load of laundry (strange habit, I know, but I do it every night), I jumped in the shower. My husband popped his head in the restroom and told me that tonight was the easiest night ever. The little one didn't scream or thrash about and they were able to read both bedtime stories. Our son chatted to himself for a little bit and then went to bed.

I'm so happy that my husband likes to spend time with his son and I'm glad that he's able to put the little one to bed. Why am I so glad about this? Well, because this gives me a break on the nights that my husband is home. Yay!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Favorite Songs - Part II

After I posted on my favorite songs, I realized that I left off so many that really needed to be included. I don't know that anyone gives a rip about my musical taste and I've heard that many readers haven't even heard of most of the songs (really?!), but these lists of songs will be handy if my husband ever wants to make me the most awesome mix tape of all time. I haven't received a mix tape from a boy in probably 20 years, so I'd think that would be pretty rad. I learned the other day that kids probably don't make mix tapes anymore. So, Big Daddy, I'll also accept an iPod. :)

Purple Rain by Prince - It was a toss up between several Prince songs, but this is kinda like his signature song.

Vehicle by Ides of March - A rockin' one-hit wonder. I find that the passionate chorus is impossible to listen to without singing it at the top of my lungs.

Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty - It reminds me of someone I once knew very well, right down to the dream.

Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf - The only thing better than a magic carpet ride is a. . .well, it has to do with mustaches, I'll let you figure it out!

Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest - Another one-hit wonder and a fun song that often reminds me of the next song on this list.

Slow Dancing by Johnny Rivers - A romantic song that often reminds me of the previous song on this list.

I Touch Myself by The Divinyls - So sexy and so fun. Hasn't everyone had one martini too many and made an ass of themselves while discoing around to this song on the jukebox? No? Er, yeah, me neither!

What's Going On by Marvin Gaye - I could have included every single one of his songs because I love, love, love Marvin Gaye.

El Condor Pasa by Simon & Garfunkel - A Peruvian song that is just lovely.

Beautiful Boy by John Lennon - I'm not a fan of hippies in general or Lennon specifically, but this is a song that is so sweet and so poignant because he didn't live to see his own beautiful boy grow to become a man.

Suzie Q by Creedence Clearwater Revival - I like the extended version and I admire the balls of these guys to create an eight minute plus song.

Wild World by Cat Stevens - Yes, yes it is. I don't like who Cat Stevens has become, but I liked the musician he once was.

What are some of your favorite songs?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BOB SUS v Jeep Overland Jogger

I don't like to shop. I don't just not like shopping - I detest shopping. I avoid it at all costs because I think it is, generally speaking, a waste of time and money.

There is one notable exception to my shopping aversion: Baby Stuff! I don't just like baby stuff - I love baby stuff. My house is like a baby store full of cloth diapers, bottles (well, when I was trying to get him to take one anyway) & sippy cups, feeding stuff, spit-up pads (I had a major puker!), baby carriers, and strollers.

I have one child. At the most, I might end up blessed with two children. I have enough baby stuff for a passel of children. I haven't made poor purchases; I have found that different baby gear works best at different times and ages.

I purchased a used BOB Sport Utility Stroller today. The price was excellent ($65!), but I already have a jogging stroller that I love. Well, make that loved. My son is tall and his height has become somewhat problematic with the Jeep Overland Limited Jogging Stroller, which I have used for nearly two years. So I bought the BOB SUS and took it for a walk/jog this afternoon.

The BOB Sport Utility Stroller v the Jeep Overland Limited Jogger:Both strollers are great joggers that can easily handle a variety of terrain. Both have nice suspension and thick, knobby, inflatable tires. Both are heavy. Both are traditional joggers with fixed front wheels for stability and neither are really the best choice to take on a shopping excursion.

Things I like better about the BOB:The BOB isn't as long as the Jeep, meaning that it is somewhat more maneuverable. Of course, both are big sonsofguns and neither can be remotely described as nimble. As one could expect, the BOB folds much smaller than the Jeep too. The BOB has a taller and wider seat area for the little passenger. The harness buckles are very user friendly and a snap to use. No child tray to hassle with means that it is easy to put your kiddo in or take him out. The smooth foam covering the handlebar is so easy on the hands.

The BOB has a much better suspension, at least a few inches of play, and it easily handled off-roading. My kid was comfortable and the BOB was easy to push over very rough terrain. The wheels are taller, thicker, and more rugged than the ones on the Jeep. The alignment is fantastic and it rolls in a straight line! The canopy easily rotates so that you can shield your little one from the sun whether you're heading due East or due West.

I have mixed feelings about the wrist strap being attached to the rear axle. I realize it is safer because you won't tip the stroller backwards should you fall. However, I had to move it away from my feet several times to avoid getting tripped up on it.

Things I don't like about the BOB: There are no parent cupholders!!!!! This may not seem like a big deal, but it really is important and it really is irritating. For storage, it has a small & shallow basket and a mesh bag behind the seat - that is it. I realize that you probably don't need the whole diaper bag when you're going for a jog or a stroll to the park, but it's nice to have storage space whether or not you need it. Also, the handlebar doesn't jut out far enough for my stride and I have to remember to watch my steps or I end up kicking the back tires. There are no reflectors on the stroller at all - not even on the tires. The handbrake isn't very responsive and I can't figure out how to set the parking brake.

Things I like better about the Jeep:The Jeep has an adjustable handlebar, meaning that it is comfortable for my husband (6'2") and for me (5'6") to use. The handlebar also sticks out several inches further and it saves me from kicking the back wheels when I'm zoned out. The Jeep has plentiful storage. Really, it is lousy with pockets and places to stash your stuff. It has the largest basket that I've ever seen on a jogger, very deep. It has three cupholders (two for the jogger & one for the passenger) that are easily accessible. It has a music on the go feature, which is basically built in speakers for your CD-player, radio, or MP3 player. I've actually never used this feature, but the hard case for carrying your electronics is handy to keep pepper spray, keys, cell phone, & lip balm at hand.

Things I don't like about the Jeep: The handlebar is covered with a bumpy grip that hurts my hand after about 20 minutes. The passenger tray is fixed and doesn't move, making it difficult to put a long-legged toddler in the seat. The harness buckles have pinched my fingers nearly every single time I've used the stroller - and I've used the thing for nearly two years. Though there are several cupholders, they only fit small vending-sized water bottles so I've always stashed my water in one of the plentiful pockets. The canopy is bigger than the one on the BOB, but I don't find it as useful. I've never been able to get the alignment right and I always have to overcompensate for the pull.

I liked the Jeep better when my son was younger & shorter. The storage options allowed me to securely bring everything I could possibly need while we were exploring the great outdoors - diaper bag, blanket, lunch, drinks, etc. Now that my son is so tall, I prefer the BOB. He still has several inches before he outgrows the seat height and I expect to get at least a year or more of use.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Very Few Tater Tots for My Tater Tot

I have always taken my work seriously. I strive to be The Best and jump through any hoops necessary to get an Atta-girl. My position as wife & mother is perhaps my most important job and I take it very seriously. I feel like I earned a long-desired raise while eating dinner with my son this evening.

Even before I had a child, I've always wanted the best for my baby. I waited a long time to start a family so that I could give my child what I consider to be the very best of everything. Prior to getting pregnant, I focused on improving my nutrition so that I could give my baby the very best start. I took care to eat healthfully and avoid behaviors that might be potential risk factors for problems while pregnant. Once he was born, I committed to breastfeeding while trying to maintain a balanced diet. (Note: The first seven weeks of breastfeeding were AWFUL and I only stuck with it because I'm a stubborn old mule and I had made up my mind that this was the best source of nutrition for my baby. I'm glad I persevered though because I ended up with a lovely nursing relationship with my son that lasted until he was just over one-year old.) When my son began eating solids, I was mindful that his tastes could be influenced for better or worse by what I provided for him to eat. With that thought, I focused on vegetables after he had mastered various whole grain cereals. I think it's because I delayed introducing him to fruit, but he actually preferred veggies over fruit until he was around 18-months old. My son is almost 2-years old now and he still loves vegetables and fruit, but he does prefer fruit now. My son has been eating only table food, whatever I eat, since shortly after he turned one.

This is all just part of my job. It's up to me to make sure that my kiddo gets the nutrition he needs to grow healthy and strong. This isn't to say that there isn't room for junk food. He's had french fries plenty of times in the last year, he's had chocolate once or twice, he gets treated to juice now & then, and he has a few tortilla chips every Sunday afternoon. However, the mainstays of our diets (his or mine) aren't fries, chocolate, juice, & chips. We've always eaten reasonably well, but I've really kicked up the produce since starting WW.

I was admiring the design of one of his toddler plates tonight. It's a divided plate with one section being half the plate and the remaining two sections are roughly quarters. I filled the large section with steamed broccoli (seasoned with garlic, pepper, & salt and drizzled with a little flax oil - it was soooo tasty!) and the other two sections contained a romaine lettuce salad and half of a grilled chicken breast. I'm aware that this isn't exactly considered toddler-fare and I realize that most kids would turn up their nose at the broccoli specifically. But this is the meal that I prepared and this is what I set down in front of him.

He. Ate. Every. Bite!

At one point he held up a broccoli floret and asked, "What's this?" I replied that it was, "Wockly Broccoli and it's taaaassssty!" Yeah, I make up silly names for foods to make them cooler to him - you don't want to know what I call Brussels sprouts, but he ate it all!

Now, this is typical in our house. The kid eats chili, curry, pasta with sauce, steak (cut into super-small pieces of course), fish, jambalaya, you name it. If I prepare it, he generally eats it. But, for some reason I can't figure out, he began to shun steamed veggies. I found that he still loved veggies in casseroles, soups, and pasta sauces, but steamed veggies by themselves weren't a big hit for him anymore. I still offered them whenever I prepared them, but knew that he would only take a few bites before focusing on what else was on his plate.

So tonight feels like a victory of sorts. For months I have continued to offer what I knew was healthy & delicious (steamed veggies) and he ultimately came around and enjoyed it. I'd like to say that this was a win for Team Mama, but it really was a win for both of us.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Favorite Songs

I like writing posts about my favorite things because, well, I like my favorite things and find them very easy to write about. I've been plagued with headaches lately and I don't want to exert too much effort, so I'll stick with my favorites in this post tonight.

I adore music. I love music so much that I'd rather lose my sight than lose my sense of hearing. My tastes are varied in that I like music from a variety of styles and eras. However, I am not a fan of most music that receives airplay on terrestrial radio. As I commented in this blog earlier, I find that "modern music is soulless dreck. Musicianship appears to be a dying art. It appears the most important thing about music today is a good "look" and the sound engineer's ability to manipulate auto-tune. Nowadays, we would never have a famous Joe Walsh, Janis Joplin, CSNY (well, maybe Nash), James Taylor, etc."

Here are my favorite songs, in no particular order:

I Can't Help Falling in Love with You by Elvis Presley - It reminds me of the earliest days of my relationship with my husband. This is "Our Song" and I always get a stupid smile on my face whenever I hear it - even after nearly five years of marriage.

Affair on 8th Avenue by Gordon Lightfoot - Rarely heard and not found on his Greatest Hits, it's beautifully haunting.

I've Got a Name by Jim Croce - My husband reports that this was totally played out on the radio when it came out and, as a result, he still doesn't care for this song. I wasn't born when it came out and I'm not sick of it yet.

Brandi by Looking Glass - A one-hit wonder, but a great song. It's my favorite at karaoke.

Color My World by Chicago - It's short, but sweet.

You're So Vain by Carly Simon - Who is it about? Who friggin' cares, it's a great song. But why are there clouds in her coffee???

Let it Grow by Eric Clapton - Great music, great lyrics. It strikes me as hauntingly sexy, but I'm probably reading a little too hard between the lines.

Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince - It's a fun song that reminds me of fun times.

Fire and Rain by James Taylor - I've heard several theories about the meaning of this song. It's moody and it's great, no matter what the meaning.

Nights in White Satin by The Moody Blues - Really, the entire album was fantastic, but this was their orchestral masterpiece.

Volare and That's Amore by Dean Martin - I love Dino and I couldn't just pick one of his songs, so I gave two.

Our House by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young - Beautiful harmonies are found in every CSN song, with or without Y. I like this one because it so sweetly idealizes monogamy.

I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor - What woman hasn't cranked this song and shook her ass around after a breakup?

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart and Night Fever by The Bee Gees - Both good songs with great harmonies.

Southern Cross by Jimmy Buffett - Yes, it's originally a CSN song, but I like Jimmy's version and he rocks it at concerts. As an interesting side note, the guests at our wedding overwhelmingly chose "Why Don't We Get Drunk & Screw" as the song that they most closely associate with us. Freaking Parrotheads!

California Love by Tupac - Such a fun song & it reminds me of cruising around with my BFF.

Drowning Man by U2 - I think I'm the only person on the planet who knows this song, but I love it.

The Very Thought of You by Billie Holiday - An endlessly romantic classic.

You know, I thought this would be a super-short post with just a few songs. I have at least twenty more songs that I'd like to add to the list, but I'm tired and my head hurts. What about you? I'd love to learn your favorite songs.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Favorite Guitarists

I was going to write a serious post tonight about pubic hair (bet you didn't know pubic hair was serious business, huh?), but I thought a lighthearted post would be easier to finish at this late hour. I chose to write about my favorite guitarists because it is a topic that I discuss often with my husband. Over the last seven years, we have discussed my favorite guitarists at least 1,007 times. I don't know why I keep bringing it up since our conversation is almost always exactly the same each time. I know what they say about opinions, but here you go:

1. Eric Clapton - Love, love, love him. He's so talented, so prolific, so handsome. "Let it Grow" is my favorite song of his, followed closely by "Running on Faith." I prefer traditional names, but I seriously wanted to name my son Clapton. My hubby, assuming our son might grow up to become a judge or doctor or something, said F-no!

2. Eddie Van Halen - Very original, very talented, and so cute back in the day. Everyone knows the Frankenstrat on sight and he blew everyone's mind when he played on Michael Jackson's "Beat It."

3. Joe Walsh - So talented, but so tortured. I suspect that most people only know him for his work with The Eagles, but he was legitimately famous before joining one of my favorite bands. Of course, if you're picking a favorite Joe Walsh tune, you have to pick "Life in the Fast Lane." He didn't just have a hand in writing that song, he freaking lived it.

4. Jimi Hendrix - I'm not really a Hendrix fan, but I am aware that he fundamentally changed music. Plus, he knew how to dress for attention and he rocked that 'fro. Of course, he literally followed the youthful advice to live fast, die young, and leave a good looking corpse, so we can only guess what he might have accomplished had he not bought it at age 27. I know he didn't write it, Bob Dylan did, but my favorite Hendrix song is "All Along the Watchtower."

5. I always have trouble picking #5. I want to say Prince, but I recognize that he's not a particularly awesome guitarist - he is a fantastically awesome lyricist though. Any suggestions?

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Preachy & Free Speech(y) Post

I really wanted to address the South Park v militant Islamic fundamentalists brouhaha, but something else has preempted that post. Perhaps I can find a way to tie them both together? I'm crossing my fingers, now here I go:

I'm sorry to have to break it to all the 1st Amendment chest-thumpers, but free speech isn't exactly free. We do not have the right to say many things in this country. You don't have the right to shout, "FIRE!" in a crowded theater. You don't have the right to threaten bodily harm toward anyone - including, most importantly, the President. In some states, you don't even have the right to anonymously bully and harass people over the internet.

Politics is ugly and divisive. Individuals with no knowledge of this nation's history believe that politics is more partisan now than ever before. That is simply not true and it is only easy to believe that because we have far more information flying than at any point in history. We have several 24-hour news channels, we have countless legitimate news websites (all biased in some way to one side or the other) to peruse, and, of course, we have innumerable sources of information and opinion on the blogosphere.

I've become aware of a squabble on Facebook in the last few days. I don't want to direct any traffic to either group, so I will be calling them Group A and Group B. There is a group, Group B, that is outraged over another the very existence of another group, I'll call them Group A since they existed first. Group A is titled with a mock-prayer in which they indicated that God has taken various favorite celebrities in the last year. They finish the prayer by mentioning that our current President is their favorite. The implication, in case anyone is too thick to get it, is that they want God to take the President too.

I personally don't find the title terribly offensive, but I do acknowledge that I have a thick skin and it takes a lot to offend me. Of course, I clearly remember far worse things that the rabble said and illustrated about our last President. Comedians had an absolute field day with President Bush and I find this to be fairly tame in comparison. Besides, I'm not humorless and I realize that it is a joke. It's even somewhat funny, what with the very obvious misspellings in the title. I find it difficult to take anyone too seriously if they can't even be bothered to double-check their spelling. Of course, by stating that, I am virtually guaranteed to make several errors in this very post!

Back to the topic at hand, taken literally, they are praying for death in an otherwise healthy man. The head of our federal government. I can't speak for God, but I don't think those are the types of prayers that He's looking for from his people. Indeed, He wants us to pray for our leaders and respect & obey our government. Heck, we are even instructed to pay our taxes - even if we don't approve of how they are being used! See 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Romans 13:1-7, and Matthew 22:15-22 for a very clear examples. I think it's obvious though that the creator of Group A isn't a Christian. Therefore, why would his mock-prayer, to a God that they don't even believe in or respect, mean anything to anybody?

Side note: Before anyone starts squawking that the creator of Group A may be Jewish or Muslim, I'll grant those two possibilities because it is often bandied about that the three Abrahamic religions all share the same God. However, followers of Judaism and Islam don't exactly have a "Hey God, I need a favor. . ." relationship with their deity. I suppose it's possible, not probable, that a Jew or a Muslim created Group A, but I'm going to ignore the possibility since I just showed evidence why a Christian wouldn't create such a group, based on New Testament teachings, and I'm not well versed in the Torah or the Koran. More than likely, I'd guess the creator of Group A is an agnostic or an atheist because they are so irreverent.

Again, I get the joke. I just don't think it's all that funny, but I do recognize that humor is subjective and acknowledge that the title of this group may be the height of cleverness to others. Frankly, the biggest prank of all would be if Group A were created by an Obama-supporter! Now that irony would tickle my funnybone.

Look, I didn't vote for the man, but he is in fact our sitting President. I believe he is still deserving of the honor and respect of that position, even if you detest his policies. Even if his personal behavior is a complete embarrassment to the country. Even if you hate him personally, assuming you know him personally. He is still our President for three more years and no amount of bellyaching is going to change that fact. If, God forbid, anything happened to our President, remember who would take his place. . .

I realize that I take a more mature view on this than most people on the left or the right. To those who were full of hate & vitriol during the Bush years and to those who are full of hate & vitriol now, I say this: You can disagree with civility. You can even decide to agree to disagree. It's really not that tough to suck it up and be a grown up about such things. Your anger and frustration is openly mocked by the so-called other side and your behavior, more often than not, only serves to highlight your childishness.

To Group A: Congratulations. Your trolling and attention-whoring has caught the attention of thin-skinned humorless prigs. Enjoy it and try not to make too big of an ass of yourselves.

To Group B: Do not feed trolls and do not pay attention to attention whores because doing so only encourages their outrageous words and behavior. Forming Group B only serves to get them off, so to speak, because they've garnered attention. Had you ignored them, they would have been easily forgotten by next week.

How does this tie in with the South Park v militant Islamic fundamentalists? Well, it's really the same damn thing, isn't it? South Park pokes fun at what's "allowed" in regard to images of Muhammad and, predictably, militant Islamic fundamentalists react as we have come to expect from followers of the "Religion of Peace." Matt Parker and Trey Stone are Group A personified. Militant Islamic fundamentalists are Group B personified - only they tend to murder people who they disagree with instead of forming ineffectual Facebook groups.

Personally, I see no problem with South Park showing Muhammad. They did it like nine years ago on the Super Best Friends episode. No one flipped out. No one called for death. No one really seemed to care at all - I guess because they were lampooning so many other religious figures. Before anyone suggests that I feel this way because they don't rip on Jesus, you really need to see the series. They rip on everybody. Everybody!

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a joke is just a joke. You might not find it funny, but it is still just a joke. Get over it and move on with your life or you run risk of finding yourself in the trollish attention-whore category as well.

I hope all this made sense, I wrote it while my son was busy watching his beloved Elmo video! :-)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Couple of Milestones

Milestones are always exciting to me. They break up otherwise typically predictable days and they are solid evidence of growth. Today was a day of milestones!

I love wearing my son. I've worn him since he was a newborn and, though he's a toddler, I still wear him now. My favorite carriers and my favorite carrying positions have changed as my son has grown. My formerly favorite stretchy wrap has long since been retired - at least until the next little one comes along. Front carries (always facing in toward Mama) in soft structured carriers (SSCs) didn't last much longer.

I know most people associate pouches with wearing tiny babies, but I prefer to wear him in a hip carry in a pouch these days. The pouch is remarkably simple to use and I've comfortably worn him in it for hours at a time. I also like the ERGO because back carries are also comfortable when wearing a 25- to 30-pound child. My main problem with the ERGO is that I find it difficult to put him on my back without help. Well, something clicked today and, for the first time ever, I was able to put him in a back carry all by myself!

My son also did something new today. He was asking about the box of goodie bags on our dining room table and I replied that they were for his birthday next month. I asked if he knew how old he was going to be and let him know that he'd be two. He threw his arms up in the air, similar to a prizefighter's victory pose, and shouted, "TWO!" That's a new word for my little guy! When I began to sing the Happy Birthday song, he added in the "cha, cha, cha" at the right spot. That's another first!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Genesis of Vito Corleone

A necessarily short blog post tonight.

I'd like to say that Francis Ford Coppola owes everything to The Godfather I & II and he pretty much sucks as a director without those two movies in his filmography. And, as a matter of personal preference, his wines aren't that great either. But I feel charitable tonight. Therefore, I will say that Francis Ford Coppola is a very uneven director. He has directed absolute masterpieces (The Godfather I & II, The Outsiders), but he has also directed absolute pieces of you-know-what (The Godfather III, Bram Stoker's Dracula) over his lengthy career.

Tonight I'm enjoying The Godfather II, hence the short blog post. The scenes set in Lake Tahoe and Cuba are fairly interesting, with stunning revelations, but the scenes that depict the genesis of Vito Corleone are truly fascinating.

His family decimated by Mafia violence, a nine-year old orphan flees his native Sicily and arrives in America, unable to speak English. Years pass and he begins raising his family in the shadow of Don Fanucci, a bully to his own people. Stop reading if you've never seen this movie and would like to one day.


He kills Don Fanucci and, ultimately, ends up being that which he despised in the first place. And his son is arguably worse!

It's an age-old cautionary tale and we recognize these characters by their actions, even if we don't recognize them by name. In fantastically dreamy casting, this film stars true masters of their craft: Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Lee Strasberg.

If you've never seen this movie, particularly if you've seen The Godfather I, do take a few hours and immerse yourself in the Corleone family saga.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pregnancy Brings Out the Stupid

Pregnancy really did a number on my self-esteem. I gained 27 pounds, my feet were so swollen that I could only fit in "fat shoes," and I hated maternity clothes so I desperately tried to avoid them. I spent months feeling fat, clumsy, and unattractive. I did go from maybe an A-cup to a little more than a D, but I discovered that big boobs are one of those things that I think are better in theory than in reality.

Seeing a pregnant women seems to bring out the stupid in a lot of people and I heard a lot of lousy things while I was pregnant with my son. For some reason, other mothers feel compelled to scare you with their labor & delivery horror stories. I was told that I was being a silly martyr for wanting a drug-free vaginal birth and "no one" does that anymore because the epidural is so wonderful. Well, I had a spinal with my c-section and I think it totally freaking sucks to be paralyzed from the waist down. Unless I require another c-section, I will never again submit to another regional nerve block.

Nothing freaks out a pregnant woman quite as much as the idea that her baby will die. While I was in my sixth month, a woman felt the need to tell me that she had delivered a stillborn child at 6-months gestation. Thanks for sharing, that really made my day and I didn't worry about suffering the same. Nooo, I didn't worry one little bit.

At work one afternoon, I was asked when I was due and I replied that I had eight weeks to go. B*tch of the Century (bet you didn't know there was a title!) responded with a surprised, "Are you sure? You look like you're due right now." Thank you for that, it was just the boost I needed as the pregnancy began winding down and the aches & pains increased. She wasn't exactly a waif, if you know what I mean, and I kinda hope that people badger her all the time with questions about her "pregnancy."

I can't be the only one who looks for something positive or encouraging to say to people. No one wants to hear anything that can be remotely negative about themselves and pregnant women in particular are sensitive about such things. Pregnancy is a tough time and, like I said, it can be rough on someone's self-esteem.

Pregnant women have the most lovely nails, glossy hair, and, though I didn't see it in myself at all, I do see the special glow that pregnant women get as the pregnancy progresses. They may be tired, exhausted really, but they do emanate a special kind of expectant joy. They also tend to have great boobs, but I don't really recommend that you mention it!

Pregnant women don't often receive sincere compliments and, all too often, they get the opposite. You lose nothing by sharing kind and loving words and it will really brighten another person's day. Whose day will you brighten today?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hair Product Suggestions?

I've only used two brands of hair product for the last fifteen years. I like Redken very much, but I'm ready to make a change and I'm considering going the drugstore route.

My hair is long (in case you didn't realize that - ha!), it is colored, and bleached. My scalp tends toward oily, but my hair tends to be somewhat dry. I detest blow-drying my hair and I prefer to air-dry whenever possible. It has become very wavy in the last few years. Do you have any suggestions?

Though I visit an Aveda salon (when I get a few hours to myself!), please don't recommend it because I think their products smell like soil.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

He Made Me An Offer I Couldn't Refuse

My husband wanted to watch a movie tonight. He suggested Pulp Fiction (yawn) or The Godfather (yay!) We're watching The Godfather. I'd like to squeeze in The Godfather Part II, but these movies are probably a little too long to attempt both on a work night.

With his deep eyes and dark hair, Al Pacino was so hot in those days! He was hotter in Serpico, I have a thing for fuzzy faces, but he still packed some serious heat portraying the calculating Michael Corleone.

One thing that I always forget is that Abe Vigoda played Tessio. Abe Vigoda looked 1,001 years old back then in 1972; how in the world is he still alive today?! I guess that's part of the joke when internet rumors pop up to claim that he finally died - everyone assumes he died years ago.

My favorite quote, besides the nod in this post title, comes from the famously hot-headed Santino "Sonny" Corleone and is delivered to his brother, Michael:

"Nice college boy, didn't want to get mixed up in the family business. Now you want to gun down a police Captain. Why? Because he slapped you in the face a little. What, do you think this is like the Army where you can shoot 'em from a mile away? No, you gotta get up like this and bada-BING! You blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit!"

Anyway, sorry this is such a lame post, but I don't want to miss a single scene of this very awesome movie.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Sad Day and a Way to Help

My family attended the funeral for Wendy Talarico this morning. For a woman who died so young, she touched many lives. There were over 1,000 mourners in attendance.

As is often the case, the most heartbreaking moment was when her grieving husband said a few words. He rightfully kept their private moments between the two of them and instead chose to talk about the last six months. That family has been on an emotional roller-coaster since last September; I can't imagine how awful they have suffered. But he also talked about the good things they've experienced. Thanks to the gift of these last six months, they shared a lot of joy. Wendy was able to see their daughter celebrate her 7th birthday, she was able to attend her daughter's Valentine's Day party at school, she was able to see her infant son's first smiles and cheer for his crawling, and she celebrated one more birthday of her own with her family. They had one last Thanksgiving together and a final Christmas to cherish.

He added that just before she suffered her hemorrhage, the four of them spent a particularly beautiful time together. They had finished dinner and, rather than getting the children ready for sleep or watching television, they gathered on the bed and played. Frank tickled their daughter, Wendy corralled their little crawler. . .it sounds like a moment that takes place often in every family. And they will never experience it again.

Hold your loved ones close to your heart. Every single day that you have with your family is a gift to treasure. Let them know your love through your words and actions. Pray for the comfort of those who have had to say goodbye to their loved ones.

I picked up a flyer today and wanted to let you be aware of a way that you can help this family.

Educational funds have been established for each child: Gabriella Josephine Talarico and Frank Nicholas Talarico. If you would like to donate to these funds, please make your donation payable to either child. You may send your donation to:

Pasquale Talarico
362 S. Shaffer Street
Orange, CA 92886

Friday, April 16, 2010

It is My Blog, Therefore It Contains My Opinions

I wrote two posts last night and I really didn't want to write one tonight. However, I received a poison pen letter last night and I felt the need to set a few things straight.

I'm not a journalist. I'm not a reporter. I'm not a researcher. I'm not unbiased. I do have definite opinions and I freely state them in this blog.

No one is being forced to read this blog. No one can be punished for not reading this blog. There is no reason to view this blog unless you are interested in reading my thoughts on a wide range of topics.

This blog only has eight followers, so it really can't be considered an internet sensation. Even if it were, I have taken great pains to protect the identities of several individuals. Indeed, I have not even indicated the gender of certain individuals because I believe that even the guilty deserve some measure of protection.

Again, if you read my blog, be prepared to read my opinions. If my opinions offend your delicate sensibilities, I would suggest that you either toughen up or avoid reading my blog ever again. I am under no obligation to see to it that you are not offended by my words.

Know this, my poison-penned friend, I have always written the truth here. I haven't made up details or embellished anecdotes because I feel that I write well enough without relying on such common tricks. If the truth offends you, well, then you have far greater problems than your personal feelings about me. If you are able to identify an individual based on what I've written, it only serves to prove that I have been completely honest.

You can claim anything you want about my personal character, but I will be vindicated in the end. I am honorable, faithful, and true. I am spotless and above reproach. Based on the hate and vitriol you sent, I think it's clear that you cannot claim the same.

I know you are reading this. . .there is no need to respond. My life is full and busy enough without this ridiculous drama.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's a sure sign that this is not directed toward you.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Tragic Loss

On April 7th, I solicited prayers for a young mother. Several months ago she delivered her premature baby and she ultimately ended up requiring a heart transplant. Other than needing a heart, she appeared to be significantly healed and was home with her family, which includes her husband, their six-year old daughter and infant son. Last week she experienced a brain hemorrhage, leaving her in a coma.

It is with a heavy heart that I write of Wendy Talarico's passing. She is resting with God, but I want to request intercessory prayer for her family. They are understandably grieving and hurting so much.

Please pray for her husband, Frank, who is left to raise their two children without his loving wife. Please pray for their daughter, who is old enough to remember her mother - and miss her. Please pray for their little son, who will never remember his own mother. And please pray for her entire extended family.

It's a true miracle that her family had these last several months together. Modern medicine was at a loss to explain why she recovered to the extent that she did. Perhaps God gave her family that final bit of time together as a gift.

Please keep this family lifted up in prayer. . .

My Biggest Fear

Some people fear public speaking above anything - even above death! As someone who likes having an audience in her hands, I find that hard to believe, but okay. Personally, I'm terrified of death. I'm not afraid of what will happen to me when I die, I'm remarkably unconcerned about that, but I am afraid of what will happen to my husband and my son. Being separated from my family is my biggest fear and I don't want to leave my husband to raise our son all alone. I'd imagine all parents have the same fear.

When my son was about 7-weeks old, I suffered migraines for a solid week. These weren't typical migraines. I mean, I can still find a way to function when my head hurts so bad that I can't function. No, these were much, much worse. One morning I woke up to discover that I couldn't intelligibly speak. I knew in my mind what I was trying to say, but I couldn't form the words and the only sound coming from my mouth was gibberish. I ultimately ended up totally losing the vision in one eye and losing most of the vision in the other eye. I was afraid that I was stroking out and thought that I might die, abandoning my sweet young son. But, no, they were just really horrible migraines. The good news is that the lochia finally stopped just days before the headaches began so at least I didn't have to deal with the baby, the pain (the c-section incision still hurt), and the crazy headaches while feeling like I was bleeding to death.

About a week ago, I told my husband that I'd want to follow him to the grave if anything happened to him, but I have an obligation to raise our son and that responsibility would keep me tethered here on Earth. I don't believe that I'd remarry because there is no way that I would ever find such a wonderful husband, or loving father for our son, ever again. I know it's important for boys to have a man around to emulate and I don't know how I would address that, but my son does have two uncles who leave nearby and I know that I'd be able to count on them when it comes to man-stuff that I just can't do or don't know about.

If anything happened to me. . .well, my husband didn't think that he'd remarry for reasons similar to mine. We're both 1-1 for marriages and the odds of experiencing another awesome relationship just aren't that great. I would want him to remarry though, I can't bear to think of him being lonely and sad. And I want my son to have a mother. I'd prefer it to be me, but if not, I would want him to have a loving step-mother.

Death comes to us all and you never really know when your time is up so it's best to make the most of the time you have. Be kind to your family, be generous with affection, let them know they are loved.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

- for This Month Too

I'm a red-eyed, red-nosed, snotty-nosed, noisy mess when I cry. Shockingly enough, I prefer to cry in private. My favorite crying zone is the shower. It does a good job masking my sobs and hiding my tears. I like to shower once I put the little one to bed so I have plenty of time to cry it out.

What was making me boo-hoo tonight? My monthly pity party, of course.

Aunt Flo showed up this afternoon, so I broke out the Diva Cup. I had hoped that I wouldn't have to lay eyes on that Cup for at least a year or more, but thanks to certain events that occurred this month, I knew it wasn't likely that I could be pregnant. I'm somewhat resigned to seeing the Cup for at least a few more months. I think my vagina is resigned too because it didn't even put up a fight and the Cup easily slipped in place.

I know a lot of pregnant women right now. Eleven or twelve, maybe thirteen, I can't recall exactly. These are nice moms and I'm happy that they are able to expand their families. Seeing their joy ripen makes me wonder when I'll experience that joy again. . .if I'll experience that joy again.

I picked up around 15 ovulation prediction sticks yesterday from a friend. She had only used a couple of them and decided not to use the rest. Those sticks have brought my fertility superstitions to ridiculously epic levels. I had the fleeting thought that the reason why I'm not pregnant right now is because I didn't have the cash on hand to pay her for the sticks right then. What one has to do with the other, I don't know. That's the deal with superstitions though, isn't it? They're freaking stupid and make no sense.

My husband seemed surprised that we have been trying to conceive another child for so long. He thought it had only been a few months. I guess he didn't realize that I track EVERYTHING on a calendar. I track when I have my period, I try to estimate when I'll ovulate, I try to seduce him a day or two before my estimated ovulation, I write down when I have evidence of ovulation, I try to seduce him on that day, I track each and every time we do it - ovulation or not. And I do this each and every month. I must be sly because he had no idea.

Adding to my fertility woes is my terribly erratic cycle. I go anywhere from 20 to 35 days. It pretty much makes estimating fertile days absolutely impossible. That's why I finally decided to give the ovulation predictor sticks a try.

I know it will happen when it happens, but we aren't getting any younger and biology is a real b*tch when it comes to stuff like this. If there isn't a baby in my belly by the end of this year, I just don't know what we would do. Give up, I suppose.

It's so foreign for me to consider defeat. I am stupidly stubborn and I give up on nothing. I keep trying even when it is clearly obvious that there is no point. I find it hard to give up hope because it's all I have. Eventually, though, even I see the futility and I move on.

I'm in such a sour mood that I picked up on the similarities between the words 'futility' and 'fertility' - I really, really, really need to stop.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Three Tasty Recipes

I can't recall if I mentioned it or not, but I have lost nearly 15 pounds. In honor of my success, I thought I'd share some recipes that I've come up with in the last three weeks.

Veggie "Stir-Fry"

2 Tb olive oil
2 cups onion, sliced in thin strips
1 cup carrot, julienned
1 cup red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
1 Tb water
4 Tb soy sauce, divided
4 cups broccoli florets
5 cups mushrooms, sliced
6 cups spinach, chopped (the leafy green parts of bok choy or napa cabbage work well in this too)
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp fresh ginger puree

Add oil, onion, and carrots to pan. Cook until onion starts to soften, add red bell pepper. Cook until carrots are somewhat soft. Using slotted spoon, remove vegetables from pan and place in a covered container so that they can steam a little bit. Add water, 1 Tb soy sauce, and broccoli to pan. Cover, allowing the broccoli to steam. Using slotted spoon, remove broccoli from pan when it is tender and add to the covered container with the other cooked vegetables. Add remaining 3 Tb of soy sauce, mushrooms, and spinach (or other greens) to pan. Turn heat to high and toss mushrooms & spinach well. After the spinach & mushrooms have reduced by nearly half, add garlic & ginger to pan. When mushrooms are tender, add all of the cooked vegetables back to the pan and toss well with a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes.

Ground Beef "Stir-Fry"
1 lb. 4% ground beef
2 Tb olive oil, divided
4 Tb soy sauce, divided
1 medium onion, sliced in thin strips
1 cup red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
2 cups shredded carrots
1 Tb water
2 cups broccoli florets
4 cups spinach, chopped (the leafy green parts of bok choy or napa cabbage work well in this too)
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp fresh ginger puree

Brown ground beef in pan until no longer pink. Drain grease off meat - there won't be very much. Add 1 Tb olive oil, 1 Tb soy sauce, onion, and red bell pepper to pan. When onion softens, add shredded carrots. Cook until red bell pepper is somewhat soft. Using slotted spoon, remove from pan to a covered container so they can steam a little bit. Add 1 Tb soy sauce, water, and broccoli to pan. Using slotted spoon, remove from pan to covered container when broccoli is tender. Add remaining olive oil, soy sauce, and spinach to pan. When spinach has reduced by half, add garlic & ginger. When garlic is fragrant, add meat and other vegetables back to the pan and toss well with a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes.

Pasta Sauce (a chunky-textured sauce for whole wheat pasta, of course!)
1 lb 4% ground beef
2 Tb olive oil
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
2 cups zucchini, sliced as rounds
1 head of garlic, minced or pressed
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 cups spinach, chopped
3/4 can of water
Seasonings: oregano, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes

Brown ground beef in pan until no longer pink. Drain grease off meat - there won't be very much. Add olive oil, red bell pepper, and onion to pan and cook until onion softens. Add zucchini and cook a few minutes longer. Add garlic and carrots and cook for a couple more minutes. Add tomatoes, spinach, water, and seasonings. Turn heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or so.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm Kinda Close to My Son

My son will turn two in one month. The longest amount of time that I have been apart from my son at any time is four hours. In two years, I have had four hours of time to myself around five times, maybe six. I guess you can say that my son and I are kinda attached to each other.

It's logical to assume that this prolonged closeness means that my son is a spazz when he's apart from me. Quite the opposite. When my husband or I drop him off in the church nursery on Sunday mornings, he shrugs off our kisses goodbye and starts playing. When I leave a room, he doesn't freak out. He's happy to explore his environment, even in new surroundings.

He does get bashful, coy, and even fearful from time to time, but his general mood is confident and sweet. I don't know why he has such a great personality. Is it because my husband has personality plus? Is it because I'm no slouch in the personality department? Is it because I nursed him so long? Is it because I wore him so often? Is it because he's always had me whenever he's needed me? Or is it just how his personality was from the start?

I'm not terribly comfortable leaving my son with strangers. Frankly, I don't like leaving my son with very many people. The thought of leaving him for a few hours makes my heart thump wildly.

I'm so thankful that I have the privilege to stay home with my son. As much as I loved work, and I loved it very much, I don't want to return at this point. The last thing I want to do is leave my son with a babysitter in a daycare while I work for wages outside my home.

All that said, if our fortunes turned and we needed my earning power, I'd return to work. It would be with a heavy heart, but I'd do whatever was necessary for the good of my family. I can't imagine how difficult it is for moms who want to stay home with their little ones, but who are financially unable to do so. Motherhood is tough enough when you're doing exactly what you want, so big hugs to you mamas who are working out of necessity.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm Already Blessed

My husband and I have been trying for a second baby for just about one year and I don't think this will be our "lucky" month. Next month I will be making doctor appointments to make sure everything is as it should be with our baby-making equipment.

I was casually chatting with a friend this morning and she asked what my plans would be if we can't have another baby. I'd never really considered the idea, but it's entirely possible. Neither my husband nor myself are Spring Chickens and fertility does diminish as we age. I fumbled about and finally answered that I guess we'd just have our son then.

Her question haunted me for the rest of the day. I wondered if my answer was true. Would I be content to "only" have my son? What lengths would I go to in order to have another child? I began to suspect that I had not been entirely honest because I do ache to have another baby in my belly, in my arms.

My son was uncharacteristically cuddly when he woke from his nap this afternoon. He sat on my lap and snuggled from the moment that he woke until I began preparing his dinner. I spent that time reflecting on motherhood and wondering why I want another little one.

I found pregnancy exhausting. My back ached, ACHED, from month five until I delivered. My skin felt itchy. My ankles swelled to the size of my calves. I was bone-tired the entire time.

I found the newborn stage exhausting. I was in terrible pain for more than a month from my c-section incision. My breasts grew so full of milk that I was actually four cup sizes larger than normal and my nipples were stretched flat from the pressure. I remember leaning over, my nipples in a warm bowl of water, tears streaming down my face (engorgement is very painful, in case you don't know) while I squeezed my breasts so that they'd loosen up enough for my baby to latch on. My son nursed for 45 minute sessions for months and he wanted milk every 90 minutes for even longer. I suffered engorgement problems until my son was nearly nine months old. I once only slept for two hours in one 24-hour period. That's not two consecutive hours, it was a total of two hours.

I found the earliest days of motherhood exhausting. I spent months sobbing at home, feeling like I was the worst mother in history. I cried out silently for someone, anyone, to help me because I was failing by myself. I wondered why I couldn't just snap out of my funk and get on with life. I wept whenever I gazed at my darling boy because I knew that I wasn't worthy of such a beautiful gift.

I tell myself that I will love every moment of what would be my final pregnancy. I tell myself that I will adore the newborn stage of my last child. I tell myself that I will be able to competently handle the aches, pains, gripes, sleep deprivation, sadness, loneliness, and isolation. I tell myself that I will embrace these changes because I will never experience them again. Of course, I will probably complain every step of the way!

I don't know why God chose me to be my husband's wife. I don't know why He chose me to be my son's mother. I trust that He knows what he's doing and that's why I have the perfect gift of my family.

If I'm never blessed with another child, I suppose that I'll be okay with it. Perhaps I'm only capable of giving one child enough time and attention. Perhaps we'll have a reversal of fortune and we wouldn't be able to afford a second child. Perhaps another pregnancy would result in one of those ultra-rare life threatening situations. I don't know and it really doesn't matter.

I have already been blessed more than I could ever deserve. I'm a sinner's sinner and I could never earn such joy and bliss. In that sweet & snuggly hour that I spent with my son this afternoon, I realized that I have everything I need right now. I would accept another gift, but I've already been given so much.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I'm Back with Joe

No, I'm not talking about a man (I can't recall even dating someone named Joe), I'm talking about coffee. I quit drinking it, all caffeine actually, several months ago. I brewed up a mini-pot of coffee this morning and it was pretty darn nice.

I quit drinking caffeine for a few reasons. One is that I can't sleep at night. I used to sleep like the dead, but I really have trouble going to sleep and staying asleep these days. This problem began when I was pregnant and it never went away. Another reason is that I feel grouchy at the cost of Diet Coke. Yeah, yeah, I realize that they aren't all that expensive, but what can I say, I'm cheap. The final reason is that I don't have a newborn in my arms and/or I'm still not pregnant. Caffeine won't prevent a pregnancy, but studies have shown that it can help lead to a miscarriage.

I've been trying to conceive for a year now. I miss coffee. I'm not pregnant. I've decided that I'm going to enjoy my tasty beverage until I conceive. I made a couple of cafe mochas today and they were oh-so-tasty!

Friday, April 9, 2010

I Broke 100!

Not pounds - I did that a little less than 20 years ago.

No, I have written over 100 blog posts. On January 1st, I set out to write one post for each day of the year and I'm nearly a third of the way there. My 365 project is well underway!

I hope the readership (all 8 of you!) is enjoying reading my blog. Sometimes I've been hotly controversial, sometimes I've been relatively mundane, sometimes I've been intensely personal. I hope that I've never been boring and I hope that you continue to read this blog!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It's Cliche. . .

But true.

I need to pop over to my neighbor's house and ask for a cup of sugar.

The only problem is that I have no neighbors at the moment. Even if I had neighbors, I probably wouldn't know them well enough to ask for kitchen staples. Frankly, I probably wouldn't trust them either.

So my darling husband is off to the supermarket to pick up a package of sugar. I couldn't tell him what amount to buy because I have know idea how they sell sugar. It's in boxes or bags (I think?), but I don't know quantities.

This got me thinking. . .when was the last time I purchased sugar? I believe it was when I was still married to my ex-husband, around 2001 or so. He liked sugar in his coffee (no comment!) so I bought it for him. Prior to that I'm not sure that I had ever bought sugar in my entire life.

So what do people use sugar for anyway? Why do I have no need for it? I can't think of a single recipe I use that calls for sugar. I only keep it in the house because sometimes people do like sugar in their coffee.

Sugar. I just don't get it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Friend Nears the End

Months ago I requested prayers for a young mother. She has a six-year old daughter and she had just delivered her preemie son. The pregnancy stressed her body to the extreme. She ultimately ended up waiting for a heart transplant. This was several months ago. Her survival back then was nothing short of miraculous. Seriously.

I'm sad to report that she has taken a turn for the worst. This week she suffered a brain hemorrhage and is currently in a coma. Her family is understandably devastated.

If you pray, please pray for this family. We're seeking another miracle. A miracle that only God can grant.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Best Movies and Worst Movies

I've been a real buzz-kill the last several days, so I'm going to lighten up a bit. I thought it might be fun to list my favorite movies, my favorite movies that aren't part of a series, and the absolute worst movies I ever had the misfortune to see. I'll also give a brief explanation of why I love or loathe these movies. Break out the popcorn and enjoy!

My Favorite Movies

1. An Officer & a Gentleman - I'm a sucker for an over-the-top romantic ending. Particularly when it seems that all hope is lost. Though Louis Gosset, Jr. was the real eye candy in this movie, Richard Gere was a-okay back then. Understand that this was long before the gerbil got stuck!

2. Rocky IV - It has the best montage ever found in any movie when Rocky is driving in his Lambo. This movie kind of sucks because Apollo dies and he was the most interesting character of the series. But I love this one because Rocky beats the sh*t outta the Russian commie. Plus, I can't help but throw some punches when I watch the Rocky movies and this one really fires me up. On a somewhat related note, I came across an atlas that I had as a child and I wrote "bad guys" on the Soviet Union page. Why yes, I was a child of the cold war.

3. Pride & Prejudice (A & E version) - Love the book, it has what might be the very best opening line in all of literature. Again, I'm a sucker for over-the-top romantic endings when all hope is lost. I also think that Colin Firth nailed Mr. Darcy's cool heat. Yes, it seems contradictory, but he did it.

4. The Empire Strikes Back (Star Wars Episode V) - Screw Citizen Kane and his stupid sleigh, this movie has the biggest and most shocking reveal of any movie ever made. It also has Billy Dee Williams living amongst the beautiful Cloud City - rawr!

5. Dirty Harry - Long before the PC-age, there was a gritty realism in films from the 70s and this is a perfect example. The violence wasn't over the top or cartoonish and you believed that these scenes could happen. Harry Callahan ended up dispensing vigilante justice, but at least justice was served. Do watch it, but only if you feel lucky - punk! An interesting side thought: I think this movie was kind of a dig toward SFPD over their inability to capture the Zodiac Killer.

6. The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly - Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's epic Spaghetti Western masterpiece. Great story, outstanding camera work, an easily recognizable score, and the best Mexican standoff ever found in cinema. Eli Wallach was outstanding in this as well.

7. Star Trek - I think JJ Abrams is a little too fond of lens flare, but the story is fantastic. The actors absolutely nailed their parts, no easy task since we've known the characters for over 40 years. I can't help but tear up at the beginning of this movie every time I see it.

8. Rear Window - Alfred Hitchcock's suspenseful masterpiece. Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Raymond Burr, and a possible murder. What's not to like?

9. The Godfather Parts I & II - Yes, I'm aware that these are actually two movies, but I'm counting them as one because you really need to watch one after the other. Al Pacino and James Caan packed some serious heat in those days - and I'm not just talking about firearms! The third one is a total piece of sh*t that you should never watch - there, I just saved you nearly three hours of your life. The Corleone family saga has been compelling to me ever since I first touched Mario Puzo's fantastically engrossing novels.

10. Iron Man - I like superhero movies and this is the superhero movie that I measure all others against now. What's not to like about Tony Stark? He's young, he's handsome, he's wealthy, he's smart, and he's nice to his employees. And he's freaking Iron Man!

My Favorite Movies that Aren't Part of a Series

1. An Officer & a Gentleman - see list above.

2. Dances with Wolves - I'm not really a fan of blondes, but I do have a weakness for Kevin Costner. I watched this in the theater and boo-hooed like a little girl. It's uncharacteristic for me to like a movie that does not have a happy ending, but I do like this one.

3. Pride & Prejudice - see list above.

4. True Lies - Arnold Schwarzenegger blowing up plausibly "middle eastern" terrorists. Funny toss away lines. Lots of explosions. A Harrier jet demonstrating the awesomeness of a vertical take-off. Jamie Lee Curtis sports a smoking body, which she shows off during a somewhat sexy dance. But I still think that she was born a hermaphrodite. Seriously, take away the nice rack and she really does look like a dude.

5. Inglorious Basterds - I don't hate Quentin Tarantino and I don't particularly like him either, but he hit a home run with this movie. Of the Basterds, Brad Pitt gets better looking with age & he's totally believable in this role and Eli Roth is a far better actor than a director. Tarantino tends to allow the camera to linger uncomfortably long on random images, but it works here. And he can always be counted on to have a kick ass soundtrack. Using David Bowie's Cat People (Putting out the Fire) while our protagonist is getting ready to burn a sh*t load of Nazi's seems particularly inspired to me.

6. The Bank Job - Loosely based on a true story. A bunch of nobodies who made an extraordinary film. And they did such a good job of setting the period (clothes, vehicles, hairstyles, language) that you will find it hard to believe that this film wasn't made in the 70s. Highly recommend!

7. Deep Blue Sea - This is probably the crappiest movie on my list, but I do love this movie. It has a trio of super-smart sharks, Thomas Jane, an underwater research facility, Saffron Burrows stripping down to her panties so she can electrocute a shark, and best of all - LL COOL J! I would tune in to watch him read appliance repair manuals, he is just that damn sexy! It also boasts Samuel L. Jackson in an uncharacteristic role. He doesn't even bitch about these m*therf*ckin' sharks in this m*therf*ckin' cage!

8. Rear Window - see list above.

9. Casablanca - Humphrey Bogart at his dark & sexy best. Though Rick didn't win the girl, gave her back actually, he is one of life's winners. He doesn't get to keep the girl, but he keeps his virtue. The iconic "As Time Goes By" is instantly recognizable.

10. It's a Wonderful Life - A tear-jerking feel-good story if ever there was one. Frank Capra knew how to tug on our heartstrings and he did it masterfully in this movie. Who hasn't wished that they had never been born? We're all here for a reason, many reasons, and this movie powerfully illustrates that point.

The Worst Movies Ever Made

Homie Spumoni - Awful. Simply awful. It could have been tremendously funny, but it was painful. I smirked once, but never actually cracked a smile. I needed a healthy dose of mind bleach after watching this dreck.

The Godfather Part III - I still feel cheated because I wasted the money to watch this crap in the theater. This movie wasted nearly three freaking hours of my life. This is a particularly awful movie because the audience was tricked into watching it based on the sheer awesomeness of the first two movies in the series. You can rot, Francis Ford Coppola, for casting your talentless daughter in such a pivotal role. And, damn it, does Al Pacino even bother to read scripts anymore?

Ronin - Another movie that I actually paid to watch. I ordinarily enjoy Robert De Niro. He is an impossibly talented actor. But this is an impossibly unwatchable movie. I think De Niro is another actor who accepts any payday that he's offered.

Bram Stoker's Dracula - Another crapfest from Francis Ford Coppola and yet another that I watched in the theater. Listen up, Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, you should not do period pieces set in a foreign country. You are not convincing and you can't do accents. Gary Oldman had one of the most funny lines in cinema in this movie. . .but I don't think it was supposed to be hilarious. A miss all the way around.

Eyes Wide Shut - Yep, I saw this in the theater too. I realize that what I'm about to say is a total sacrilege to movie fans, but Stanley Kubrick wasn't a great director. He was pretentious and boring. Worse, he apparently believed that every scene he directed was gold because he simply could not edit his sh*tty movies to a reasonable length. This movie is a perfect example of that. Sure, we get to see Nicole Kidman naked on the toilet. And that pretty much sums up my view of this movie.

The Eiger Sanction - Look, I love Trevanian's books. Though Shibumi is my favorite, I was excited to learn that there was a movie of The Eiger Sanction. I must say that I'd rather have Dr. Jonathan Hemlock sanction me than watch this tripe again.

Star Wars Episodes I and II - Yes, these are two movies and, yes, both are terrible. Frankly, the only reason that Episode III isn't on this list is because I was fascinated by the genesis of Darth Vader and I think Ewan McGregor's bewhiskered face is impossibly handsome. Annoying kid, annoying Queen-cum-Senator, annoying (and seemingly neverending) pod race, annoying gungan (JarJar Binks, who else?), annoying ocean planet, annoying romance, annoying Senator-cum-Chancellor, annoying clone war sequences, and annoying clandestine marriage. Though I found Boba Fett's origination somewhat interesting, really, what's to like here? Oh, and for the love of love stories, I hope that George Lucas never again tries to pen romantic dialog. Seriously, is he a pre-pubescent girl? Bleh!

Blue Velvet - David Lynch is overrated and he's considered a genius. Why? Because he's too friggin' lazy to actually make a film that makes sense? Because he has quirky characters? I hate all of his craptastic films, but this is really the worst.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - I guess this was considered groundbreaking back in the day because it was about a white woman who was marrying a black man. Perhaps it disturbed some of the viewing audience. Frankly, race is the least disturbing aspect of this movie. What disturbed me was their shockingly brief courtship. Well, that and why a handsome & accomplished doctor would want such a vacuous ninny for a wife.

Superbad - The title sums it up perfectly.

How about you? What are your favorite and/or least favorite movies?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Is It Rock-Bottom Yet?

Apparently not.

How do you save someone who doesn't even recognize that they need salvation? I'm not talking about religion here, I literally mean that their life is in danger because of their actions. Yet they still can't admit that they have a problem. Even worse, they blame their family for the situation that they have found themselves in. A situation that they have entirely brought upon themselves.

I realize that rock-bottom is different for everyone, but I would think that most people would have stopped fighting by now. Actually, just fighting the current circumstances would be preferable. This individual is making their situation far, far worse than it has to be. And it doesn't appear that they're going to straighten up anytime soon.

At this point, this individual seems content to terrorize their own family. Making serious threats and accusations. Directing the most evil vitriol toward the family who they had always loved and cherished. The family who still, even with all the pain and havoc that addiction has wrought, the family who still loves and cares about this individual.

Dammit all so much! It's like we don't even know who this person is anymore! Who has this person become? No one who I would ever recognize in a million years.

I've had an incredibly difficult day. The last several weeks, months actually, have been emotionally draining. Yesterday was pretty damn bad, but I think today takes the taco.

I am angry, appalled, bewildered, frightened, frustrated, scared, stunned, and upset by this most recent turn of events. I think I'm mostly angry and frightened. Maybe stunned too.

I have so many emotions warring inside myself that I can hardly get my thoughts together. Goodness knows that I'm having trouble writing my thoughts. I'm sure I'll read this post at another time and think it's a jumbled mess of words. Typing through tears has never been my forte.

My heart is just breaking for this person and their family. I'm afraid that I don't see a happy outcome. Even the best case scenario in my mind can't really be called a happy outcome because an entire family has been so completely wounded.

I've witnessed an absolute tragedy. It took several years to unfold, but it is tragic nonetheless. And I hate that I didn't do something, couldn't do anything, to stop it from happening. It's a true nightmare.

One person's addiction. It's hurting so many people. More than anything, it's so damn sad.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Addiction Hurts More Than the Addict

I feel like addiction has always been in my life. I have had close relationships with addicts at various stages in my life. From very early childhood to adolescence to adulthood, there has nearly always been an addict in my life.

Thanks to addiction, I have cried oceans of tears. I have worried, I have feared. I have bargained and I have begged. I have pleaded, I have prayed.

More than anything though, I have wept. Wept for the damage that the addict is doing. Wept over my helplessness to remove the addiction from their life. Wept in frustration that someone I love (or loved) is powerless to fight a substance that beckons them.

Addiction is seductive and it doesn't take no for an answer. It lures the addict back with promises of good times. Of course, those good times are increasingly hollow and eventually fade away altogether.

Addiction is a thief. It steals the addict's health, time, and money. Even worse, it steals the very soul of the addict. They become someone their own family doesn't recognize. And, if they live long enough, the addict wouldn't even recognize themselves.

Addiction consumes the heart and mind of the addict. The addict eventually loves their addiction more than their own family. More than themselves.

I hate addiction. I just hate it. I hate what it does to the addict and I hate the pain it inflicts upon their family. It hurts friends and family so much more than the addict could ever guess.

I'm very concerned about someone I love. I have maintained their anonymity out of consideration and respect, but I'm worried. They refuse to participate in the program that they are currently enrolled in and they are growing increasingly combative. Please take a moment to say a prayer that this individual can break free from the bondage of addiction and give this person's family the strength to stand firm in demanding sobriety. With God, all things are possible. Please ask, and continue to ask, for His help with this painful situation.

Happy Easter. . .He is Risen!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

SCUBA = Stupid Crap Unless Being Attacked

We're celebrating Easter tomorrow with good friends who we haven't seen in far too long. They are a great couple who have had to suffer through the worst heartbreak I can ever imagine. I'm really looking forward to having some fun with them tomorrow.

I'm pretty open to new things. I'm willing to try damn near anything at least once. I'm even willing to try things that I know I won't like. Take SCUBA, for instance.

Our friends met while diving. He was a divemaster at the time and she was a student. Their story is pretty interesting and they enjoyed diving together for a long time. His son was my husband's diving partner. Our friend joined his son and my husband on the occasion of their last dive. . .

Anyway, I'm not really a fan of SCUBA diving. I kind of feel that I would have been born with gills if I was meant to breathe underwater. I don't even like to put my face in water; I won't even do that in the bathtub. But my ex-husband was really, really into diving, so I gave diving a shot.

What a freaking mistake!

Though I wasn't yet certified, he told me I should purchase all of my own gear. For those not in the know, SCUBA gear is freaking expensive. But he was hassling me, so I dropped a mint just to shut him the eff up.

Then we started taking classes. He was already certified, but he wanted to take the classes with me. He knew that I don't like my head submerged. He knew that I'm not very comfortable in open water; frankly, I'm not terribly fond of being in swimming pools either. He knew that death by drowning and death by fire are my two big fears. I'm also prone to sea-sickness. All in all, I'm not really someone who would enjoy diving. But I tried it.

Our classes were relatively uneventful, but Mr. Know-It-All sometimes would advise me to do something that ran counter to what our instructor said. Needless to say, I wasn't particularly comfortable with my dive partner disregarding what the instructor said to do. But whatever.

So we reached the point where we only had two dives left to do. Jerkoff swam away from me while I was, in my mind, being attacked by kelp. I finally found my way out and surfaced. I went back to the boat, wondering where A-hole was. When he finally saw fit to rejoin the group and board the boat, he had the nerve to say that he was in trouble and I was nowhere around to help.

I should repeat that he was already a certified diver; he'd been diving for years. He was very comfortable underwater. And, most importantly for the purpose of this story, HE SWAM AWAY FROM ME!!!

Years later, I still feel completely pissed at this. I have never felt so vulnerable in my life as I did in those frantic moments. Hearing my own heart pound in my head, sucking air down so fast that my tank was nearly empty by the time I boarded the boat.

Feeling attacked, I gave as good as I got. We created quite the spectacle. The other students averted their gazes or went below deck. Our instructor finally grabbed the two of us and took us aside. He chewed us both out for leaving our partner. Then he told us to straighten up before our final dive or there would be no final dive.

I took off my suit and went below deck. For me, there would never be another dive again.

Was I wrong? Perhaps. I just knew that I would feel uncomfortable with him underwater. I was sure that he would get behind me, close off my air, hold me down, easily overpower me, and drown me.

SCUBA. . .the only way I'll ever do it again is if my very life is in danger and it is my only escape.

Oh, and when we divorced, the creep kept all of my gear. Prick!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ah, Memories

I was reminiscing about good times while I was in the shower this evening. Perhaps it was the warm steam swirling around me? Or maybe it was the deliciously silky feel of my hair mask? Whatever it was that stimulated my memory, I thought about the early days of my relationship with my husband as I massaged my scalp.

We began dating after I'd signed my final divorce documents. I wasn't technically divorced because I was still counting down California's minimum six months + one day for a dissolution, but I was darn close. Anyway, I felt it was morally acceptable to begin dating because I'd already signed the final papers.

Though we have a 19-year age difference, we clicked from the start. I found him handsome (I think he looks like Kevin Costner - except my husband still has all of his own hair!), funny, charming, witty, and incredibly sexy. We went to dinner, strolled the beach, and had cocktails on our first date. The date went so well that it lasted until the next morning. Like I said, we clicked from the start.

It wasn't long after that first date that my husband & I exchanged "I love you's." We were sitting on the back porch. Back then there was nothing on the porch - we sat on the ground. My husband's GSD, Boris, loved when we sat on the back porch because we often had some sort of alcoholic beverage with us. Boris was a typical
German Shepherd, very sure-footed. But he became the clumsiest dog ever when he noticed that there was beer around and he'd "accidentally" knock over the mug o' suds so that he could get away with lapping up the hoppy goodness. We loved that good dog and he left us far too soon.

So we were sitting on his back porch and I said my husband's name and shyly asked, "Do you love me?" in a small voice. I was so relieved when he smiled and said that of course he loved me. He added that he had loved me almost from the moment he met me. Oh, how my heart soared to hear those beautiful words!

There have been so many more lovely memories in the last 7 years. The way that he gave his time, energy, & talent to help remodel my condo. How he patiently held me as I sobbed on the day that California officially recognized that my first marriage was over. The time he sent for me while he was in Vegas for the weekend because he missed me and wanted to see me. His ultra-casual marriage proposal and my ultra-casual acceptance. Our laid-back and fun wedding and honeymoon. His tender care on a wild night in DC. The first time I mentioned that I might be knocked up. The pregnancy test debacle: negative, positive, negative, positive, positive! My thumbs up to him at that final test. The first time we saw and heard our baby's heartbeat - unbelievably at only six-weeks gestation! The first time we saw our son. . .

I look forward to countless more precious memories to cherish in the coming years.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Now I Believe that Demonic Influences Exist

I spent many years running from God. I filled the God-shaped hole in my heart with all sorts of unpleasant substances and I chose to embrace substitute religions in my quest to find spiritual truth. I was an angry young woman for a very long time, prone to fits of rage that would burst forth with very little provocation.

I didn't just reject God, I was openly hostile toward Him. I actively tried to debunk the "lies of man" contained in the Bible. Being full of post-feminist bullshit, I ignorantly maintained that Christianity subjugates women.

I became a Christian in my mid-20s. I was taking a class about the Gospel. I was so sure that I'd learn even more about it and have further evidence to back my claims that Christianity was an emotional crutch used by the weak-minded and intellectually inferior masses. I sound like I was a real treat to hang with, huh?

Long story short, I converted while in that class. I've regretted many things in my life, but I've never regretted giving my soul to Christ. I believe the Bible. I believe that it is the inspired Word of God.

But there are certain things in the Bible that left me cold. Demonic possession, for one. I can believe that such things happened in biblical times, but it was hard for me to believe that demonic influences still exist today. However, a couple of things have changed my mind on the topic.

I have friends who are missionaries in the Dominican Republic. They were some of the first people who learned that I was pregnant with my son. They are two very sweet, down to earth people. They are very faithful and loving. Most importantly, they don't seem prone to exaggeration.

I've been following their blog about their seed-planting in the DR for over a year now. It's informative and immensely helpful to know what specific prayers they need. As they like to remind us in e-mails, we are holding the rope while they go down into the pit.

In their blog, he detailed an encounter with a young man. It was an odd encounter from the beginning. As I read the post, I realized that there was a spiritual battle going on for this individual's soul. When my friend asked to whom he was speaking, the demon identified himself by name. I couldn't help but recall Jesus' encounter with Legion.

I'd easily dismiss this encounter if my friend was only looking for something interesting to post, but I don't believe that was his purpose. He's not a writer, he's not crafting a fine story. He wants to communicate the real needs that he needs addressed through prayer. I believe that he did have a confrontation with a demon and that this young man was being tormented by a very real force of evil.

The other thing that makes me believe in demonic possession is a little hard to explain because I must maintain some anonymity, but try to follow me. Abusing mind-altering substances opens yourself to demonic influence. I'm not saying having a few drinks means that you are under demonic control, but I am saying that consistently overindulging might mean that something else is at work in your life.

I know someone who has been suffering with addiction for several years. This individual was someone who was generous, industrious, and always in control of themselves. Addiction has left this individual's life in shambles. Once the hardest-working individual I have ever known, now this individual can hardly write their own name. This individual is physically abusive toward themselves, this individual speaks to people/things that aren't visible or just don't exist, their personality has completely changed - even when they aren't under the influence. This individual has become unbearably unpleasant to be around because all they seem to care about is remaining under the influence. I wonder now, under the influence of what exactly?

I believe in demonic possession. I think I've witnessed it with my own two eyes. . .