Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Maddie The Marketer




Maddie may be a born marketer. She has this thing with product placement. She can capture the essence of a product in almost any picture. Here and here are examples with Cheerios and an Oral B toothbrush.

I actually tried to send the picture of her and the toothbrush to the Oral B people. There wasn't a way I could link the photo, so I wasn't able to.

I did, however, send this close up picture to the Nestle people. Nestle makes Coffee-Mate creamers. This empty bottle is now Maddie's new favorite toy. She carries it with her aroud the house, rolls it on the floor, hits Miles on the head with it, chews on the lid, and throws it.

So, please no fancy toys for Christmas or her birthday, just send your recyclables to us! We will accept your discarded boxes, jars, containers, newspaper, and any old kitchen items you don't need. You will make The Girl very happy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Moms

There is this thing in "mommy world" where moms never talk about the challenges they face as mothers. There has been many books written about this phenomenon. I've read several of them. I read some both before Maddie was born and after. Of the books I read pre-Madster, my thoughts were kinda like..."oh, that won't happen to me." Of the books I read post-Madster, my thoughts are...."say it sister!" and "so, it's not just me that feels this way."

I swore never to be one of those mothers who says to pregnant ladies..."oh, yes motherhood is wonderful. It's very easy." and "Oh, no, my life hasn't changed that much since the baby came." I promise to tell the truth.

I quickly learned that you can only tell the truth to your very good friends, and only when they ask. Even then, they won't listen. After their babies arrive, I get calls and emails saying...."You were right! This sucks/is hard/isn't what I thought!" Then we commiserate together. Sometimes they ask me (as I did all my mommy friends), "why didn't you tell me it was going to be like this?" The answer, "I did, but you didn't want to hear me" isn't easy to give. I mean who likes to rain on the pregnant lady parade? I want them to enjoy every free blissful second of it because I know what happens next. Moms almost keep the secrets of motherhood, well, a secret. That doesn't do anyone any good, however it's true. Pregnancy is bliss. Unless you're pregnant with #2.

WHICH I AM NOT.

I do find myself around oogles of pregnant women, and oogles of women who are trying to become pregnant. One I know just came back to work after a 8 week maternity leave. She had that look in her eye. "Uh-oh," I thought to myself. "I know that look."

Haggard. Late-Twenties, and haggard-looking already.

"How's it going?" I asked, preparing myself for both the truth and lies she may tell. I listed for 20 minutes as she went on and on about her truth of motherhood. It wasn't pretty. Another woman under the trying to get pregnant category was listening in and says, "You guys are making it sound so hard to be a mom."

"IT IS," I snap. Annoyed that she is making this other woman feel shitty for expressing her feelings.

"Well, I just don't think it will be that bad. You guys are exaggerating."

I betcha I will be getting a call from her in about 12 months wondering why I didn't tell her what it's really like.

Those first 3-5 months are the darkest days, dear friends, it gets better everyday after that.

I promise. I wouldn't lie about this.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving

Zak and I have always, for as long as we've known each other, lived a pretty great distance from our families. That means we rarely see them on the holidays. We used to practically kill ourselves driving the State of Texas trying to squeeze everyone in. Texas is a big state, in case you haven't seen a map recently. That would only cover 3/4 of his family, and 1/8 of mine!

It doesn't help that all of our parents are divorced, live in different cities, and don't live near our grandparents either. This means it could essentially take 6 years to make a full family Thanksgiving rotation! This doesn't rank as one of the most fun activities on my top 10 list...sorry family.

The good news is that planes do fly into Chicago too! Yay! COME SEE US. WE'VE GOT A BABY.

Because of this fact, and also that we refuse to short change ourselves in the Holiday Feast department, we have always celebrated together. Most of the time it was just the two of us.

Now, it's the three of us.

The three of us had a holiday feast with an 8 lb. Honey Roasted Ham (from Zak's work...thankuverymuch), green bean casserole, mashed taters, gravy, rolls, vodka, and pun'kin pie! It was a very relaxing holiday (partially due to the vodka)...just like holidays are supposed to be! Sorry family.

A quick word about the green bean casserole: My mother used to always brag about her "Famous Green Bean Casserole" that she would make for special family occasions. She boasted about how everyone looved it, and it was her signature dish. God forbid if anyone else tried to make it and bring it to a dinner. Mom, I hate to break it to you (you don't read my blog anyway), but your recipe has been stolen. I found it on the green bean can, the can of mushroom soup and the can of crunchy onions!

Nevertheless, it was delicious! Thanks.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Translation: You have a fat face.

Well, Zak really didn't say I have a fat face, but that's what he meant. I was laying on the couch and letting my head hang over upside down, looking backwards, making faces at The Girl.

"WOW! You can actually see your jawline when your face is upside down! It looks like Maddie's!"

"No, you did not just say that."

"That's not what I meant (laughing). I just mean you have a really pretty jaw..."

"When my fat face isn't covering it?! Oh, that is SO going on the blog tonight."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

11 months old


Dear Maddie,
You are 11 months old, and I simply can't believe it. You have FIVE teeth! Three were discovered just in the last week. You didn't even complain about it.

You're growing too fast. Please slow it down a bit because sometimes I don't have time to take it in. It takes my breath away. I see the things you can do, and it's startling. Just a few months ago you were completely helpless, now I think you could drive a car if I gave you the keys.

You're smart, funny, and just plain silly. You're a flirt...with anyone, as long as they keep their distance. You love to discover new things, then show me what you found. You're very proud of yourself. You grin when you complete some physical task...like walking or clapping. You think it is funny to point at my eyes and try to pull out my eyelashes. You stick your finger up my nose, scratch my teeth, and pick at my fingernails. You are beginning to mimic things you see. If I blink my eyes hard, you will blink hard back. I will sniff my nose, you will stick your finger up it. My favorite is when you look me right in the eyes, touch your forehead and nose to mine and give me sweet Eskimo kisses. It's our special thing.

You're definitely becoming a mama's girl. Probably because you're still breastfed, at least that is what your daddy says. You've been cling-y lately, and will only go to me, daddy and Mrs. Tippi without a tear. You literally want to be touching me at all times. I am your human jungle gym. Daddy is patiently jealous. He's waiting for you to be daddy's girl.

You're biggest milestone last month was walking. My little drunken sailor. So funny. Because of this increased activity, you are eating like a teenager. Literally TWICE as much as you did just last month. You're a vacuum, and will even eat leaves off the floor if I don't pick them up! I wonder if people think we don't feed you. As an example, this is what you ate today:

Morning mommy's milk
12 oz formula (8:30)--that's a record
Cheerios
Jar of Turkey/Sweet Potatoes
Jar of Apricots
Piece of toast
6 oz of formula
Peas
5 oz of formula
Jar of mixed veggies
Tofu pieces
Pineapple pieces
Night time mommy's milk



You love to play in the upstairs hallway. I think it is because you can see all the way down into the foyer. You shake the bars of the gate and railing like you're in jail. I got this picture of you minutes before your bath. After this photo was taken, we went over to run the bath. You LOVE to watch the bathtub fill with water...the anticipation of a bath makes you squeal with delight. While you were naked watching the bathtub fill with water, you peed on yourself. All the way down your leg, all over your toes, on the side of the bathtub, on the bath mat, then on the tile floor. You weren't really sure what it was, and you looked down at your legs, squatted to see where the liquid was coming from, then lifted each foot to shake off the pee. Then you looked at me, and we laughed together.

Being your mama is amazing, hard, interesting, stressful, fun, frustrating, rewarding, painful, and heartwarming. All of the above. The emotions are thick. My feelings can change instantly with your moods. I am so happy to have you in my life, even if you do make it a roller coaster of a ride.

Loves,
Mama

Friday, November 18, 2005

Don't be fooled by his good looks.


Do you know anyone who gets by solely on their good looks, like Paris Hilton or Ashton Kutcher? Well, add Miles to the list too.

Miles will be four years old next month. He and Maddie are exactly three years apart.

Perfect sibling timing you say? Wrong....Miles is a DOG. I didn't really believe that he was actually dog before Maddie arrived. Miles is our first born, our baby, our sweet and cuddly puppy...

Turned Jackass.

It's bad parenting, we know. We learned our lesson. We spoiled him rotten, let him get away with everything, and now we've got a monster on our hands. Dad, you were right...again.

He's bossy.

He bites when you leave him.

He shits and pisses on the floor.

He is angry.

He steals things (socks, undies, shoes, paper).

He is deprived of attention.

He barks like mad.

He loves Maddie.

Our dilemma is that we screwed him up, mentally that is, by not treating him like a dog. Then when Maddie arrived, he was not top dog in the house anymore. His acting out continues to get worse. When visitors come, we are SO embarrassed by his behavior. He only gets by on his looks. Like any ladies man, he knows when to turn on the charm.

The only thing he has going for him right now is that Maddie is fascinated by him. As soon as she wakes up in the morning, she turns her head to see where he is. When we get home, she kicks her legs and laughs as he runs around to excitedly greet us. He's a protector of her, he'll sleep near her, and he even used to sleep by my belly when I was pregnant with her.

But now he brings us no joy...only stress. So, now what?

Leona, one of the girls who cleans our house (yes, we have housekeepers. No, we're not rich--just lazy) wants to adopt Miles. The last time she was here, I joked that we gave him away in an "aren't you glad he isn't hear to mess with you while you work?" kinda way. She looked heart broken, and when I told her I was only kidding and that he was at the groomers, she was relieved. Later, she came up and asked me if I were serious about getting rid of him, and if I were, she wanted to adopt him.

I told her I'd need to think about it, and Zak was ready to ship him off the next day. I think it is time....Leona has a house, boyfriend, and another dog. She really likes playing with Miles and has really seen him at his absolute worst too. We're going to talk to her later this week to find out if she wants to adopt him.

It makes me sad, and I feel incredibly guilty. It's like I've said, "oh, never mind, now I don't like you, so I am giving you away." It just doesn't seem right, but I worry about Maddie. Soon, very soon, she'll be playing with him and I have no doubt that he will bite her (if he thinks she is leaving) or push her down too roughly.

I just don't know what to do. I feel like an awful dog mom.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Me and the Chicago Police Department

My friend Ann and I went to lunch on Friday. Ann and I work together and she was my boss when I first started, like almost 7 years ago. Ann used to be a lawyer (like another lawyer I know) and she can talk a mile a minute, I mean WAY more than I do, and WAY faster than I do. I know, you didn't even know it was possible! Anyway, after lunch I asked if we could stop by my bank to so I could make a quick deposit.

As we approach the bank, there are two other customers standing at the door trying to open it. We all wonder out loud why the bank doors are locked. I say,"Just swipe your ATM card on that thingy and the door will unlock so we can at least get to the ATM machines." So, a dude swipes his card, and a Chinese lady, Ann, and I walk in still trying to figure out why the bank doors are locked.

"Look, here are the bank's hours," she said pointing at the door, and directing her attention to the annoyed Chinese lady. "It says Friday, open 8:00-6:00. Then, why are they closed? Do you think the bank just got robbed and all the employees are sitting locked in the vault?"

"I doubt it, but maybe..."

"All the lights are out too, do you think they're at lunch?"

"Probably not, last time I checked bankers didn't close for lunch."

"Where are they?!"

"You know," I say proudly, "I've been known to contact the police whenever I see things that don't seem right. Kinda like they tell you on the news...'report suspicious behavior.' Well, that's what I've been known to do."

Secretly, I believe that everytime I "report suspicious behavior," I am singlehandedly thwarting terrorists. I'm usually quite proud of myself, and Zak usually just rolls his eyes at me.

Ann and I walk the two blocks towards work, and we spot a Chicago police officer standing on the corner.

As a side note, cops are everywhere you turn in downtown Chicago. Seeing one on a street corner directing traffic isn't a bit unusual, but one wonders why a real police officer needs to waste his/her time and my tax dollars doing this...but I guess it's the world we live in today.

So, I say to Ann, "Should I tell the officer?"

"If you think you should, here's your chance."

"Um, excuse me officer, um, I've noticed some suspicious activity, and I um, felt the need to tell you about it so you could investigate. Um, the bank, on the corner, um, there's no one in it, and um, it's in the middle of the day, and um, the lights are out, and um my friend and I found that to be a bit odd."

"It's Veterans Day."

"Oh. Sorry."

Monday, November 14, 2005

My mother would be proud




My mother never allowed me to eat sugary things like cotton candy. So, of course, I did it anyway, and always ate so much cotton candy that I made myself sick. Had I been under the supervision of my dental hygenist mother, I doubt I would have binged.

Zak's mother plain out lied to him about food and sweet treats. He thought chocolate milk was Carnations Instant Breakfast, and didn't know what a cookie was...until he went to a friends house! He also discovered sugary cereal at a friend's house, and now he still eats that crap! All these parent tricks eventually back fire, so I really don't want to use them. I'd rather let her try something, then only let her have a little.

Yes, you can stop laughing now.

You can see by the photo that I am attempting to have Maddie practice using her toothbrush. She loves it, but gnaws on it more than she brushes. When I brush for her, she just grins like it tickles her. While brushing today I found her THIRD tooth, upper big tooth on the left side!

If you look closely at the picture you won't see her tooth, but you will see the shiner she got today at daycare on her right eye. She got in a turf war battle with another kid and they went to fisticuffs.

Just kidding, I really just wanted to say fisticuffs.

Maddie actually just crashed and hit her head on a toy. She walks like a drunken sailor, and looks like a sailor does too. Last week, she had a scuff mark on her forehead, a scratch on her nose, and a bump on her chin. I think this one might actually turn into a black eye. I think it's kinda cool...she looks tough, like her mama.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

a conversation

I never thought this conversation would happen. Okay, I thought it would, but I didn't expect it so soon.

"Maddie, where are you?"

"She's over there by Miles' food and water. Looks like she wants to eat his food."

"Maddie, please don't eat the dog's food."

"She ate it?"

"Yep," as I dig out three pieces of drool covered dog food from her mouth.

"oh well."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

San Diego

We took Maddie on her second plane trip to San Diego, CA. My birthplace and location of my family on both my mom's and dad's side. Going to see family isn't really ever a vacation (sorry family), because there is nothing relaxing about it. We go go go and visit visit visit. Part of the problem is that because my parents are divorced, one must travel to MULTIPLE locations to see everyone. When we came home on Monday, we needed a vacation from our vacation! We didn't really catch up on our sleep until after several days. Nevertheless, we had a great time and was so happy that so many people were finally able to meet Maddie The Girl.
On Friday of our San Diego trip, we went to Bates Nuts Farm (or something like that) with my mom. Maddie saw farm animals for the first time and played in some hay. Since you already know what a freak-a-zoid I am about germs, you can only imagine how I felt about her touching farm animals. Who live on a farm. Who stink. Who are germy. Who hang out where they poop. Who stink. Who hang around farm birds. Who may have the BIRD FLU. PURELL!!!

Maddie did enjoy seeing the farm animals and she'd point and look at me and point again. Like she was saying, "Take a look at that stinky ass farm animal! I'm so glad I don't live on a farm!"

Maddie and her big, blue-eyed cousin, Julianna..more on them later.
We went to the beach, of course, and put the girl's legs in the 50 degree Pacific Ocean.
She LOVED it. She giggled and squealed. She squished her toes in the sand.
My brother Scott and his wife Carolee saw Maddie for the first time. They may be the most photogenic couple on the planet, and Carolee has the flattest stomach I have ever seen. We went out for Mexican food and hung out with their two big yellow labs. Maddie loved their dogs and I took tons of pictures of them (with my brother's camera!) and so I don't have any to share. You'll just need to take another look at Carolee's flat and tan stomach (after Mexican food!) instead.

This is my "Pops" and his wife Pat. Maddie's great grandpa on my dad's side. We went to Pops house to see my dad's side of the family. Pops and Pat sweetly had everyone (aunts, uncles, cousins) come and visit with us just a few weeks after they were both hospitalized for illnesses. Funny, cause I think they look GREAT.


My cousin Jacob, and his wife Teresa, had Jake a few months before Maddie was born last year. He's SUPER cute and looks more like he should be my baby than Maddie does! :) Little Jake can eat like he's a teenager and he is a fast little sucker too. He was walking and running circles around Maddie. Once Jake finally got strapped down (so he could eat) Maddie finally got even, and sole his food..right off his tray! BUSTED.

Ahh, four generations of bossy women...
That's my Granma J and my mom. Granma J makes the best chocolate chip cookies on the planet and Zak didn't just ask for a few, he told her he wanted the WHOLE tin of them. She gave in. Granma J is also a great dancer, but it's been a few years since I've seen her boogie. I just thought I'd let you know.

My mother's sister, my Aunt Diane, and her husband Dale had us over to their house to hang with my mom's side of the family. Diane has two kiddos, Brandon and Julianna. Maddie LOVES kids, so she was in heaven playing with J and B all weekend long. They doted on her, gave her toys and screamed like maniacs much to Maddie's enjoyment.

Even with all the chaos of the weekend, Maddie was a trooper. She slept and ate well, allowed a million people to hold her, and even traveled well. We may consider taking her out of the house again. Maybe. BUT, my dear family who are reading this, planes travel to Chicago too, so get your butts out here.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Leaves


We have a bunch of trees in our yard. Guess how many? GUESS!


THIRTY SIX. Of those, about TEN lose their leaves and cover our yard with golden, maroon, and brown garbage that must be cleaned up or it will kill the grass underneath it.

Guess who did it this year? GUESS!

Me.

Last year I was 8 months pregnant when the leaves fell. So that was my excuse.

What's Zak's excuse this year? (multiple choice question)
a. "I did it last year, so it's your turn."
b. "It's exhausting! I'd rather pay someone $1,000 to do this shit!"
c. Football (college or NFL...you pick)
d. "I'd rather play with Maddie."
e. All of the above

If you answered "all of the above" you win!

Ding Ding Ding! For the record, choice b is an EXACT quote. Now you know why I pay the bills around here.

The big tree in the front yard looses its leaves first, so I raked and blew those leaves in early October. The rest of the trees dump their leaves all at once. YESTERDAY. Then, of course, it rained. Rain is a leave picker-upper's nightmare. That means the leaves are soggy and heavy and don't move where you want them to.

I have two tools of the trade, a blower and a rake. In my town, the city is SO kind and they don't require you bag the leaves! They ask that you rake them to the curb and they come around once per week with a giant vacuum cleaner on a truck and suck those little puppies up. It's a brilliant idea, and I'm happy that my tax dollars go to the giant vacuum on a truck and the men who operate it.

So, we only need to get the damn soggy leaves to the curb, easy cheesy. Not really. I need to move those puppies about 20 yards! Oh my achy back.

So, being the genius that I am and the only person on the planet that ever had to rake leaves, I got an old fitted sheet, raked 1/20th of the leaves into the sheet and drug it across the yard. I did that, like, 19 more times. Not only did I get a good workout, but it only took a little over 1 hour. Normally, this is a four hour job....JUST FOR THE BACK YARD.

Zak was proud and thankful. He made me a turkey sandwich for my efforts. He also took the photo of me above.

"I can't believe you did that. Aren't you exhausted?"

"A little, but aren't I a GENIUS for the fitted sheet trick?"

"You are impressive. "

"Thanks, I pushed a baby out of my vagina. I can do anything."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

FIRST STEPS @ 10 1/2 months old!!







Today, Saturday, November 5, 2005, Maddie took her first steps!

Over the past week or two she would just lunge at me when standing a few feet away. She finally figured out how to put one foot in front of the other to take her steps. She, on several occasions, took just one step. She also took as many as 4-5 steps before crashing. Maddie was SO excited about her accomplishment she'd squeal, laugh, and scream with delight. We got a great video of it too.

My witnesses for this milestone are, of course, her daddy, and our friends Jason and Caroline. Jason and Caroline live in Houston, and are staying with us for the weekend. Their goal was "to make the blog."

They achieved their goal!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Cake and Uncles


We were in San Diego for a long weekend. More on that later...

My computer sucks! I took 153 pictures when we were there, and I can only download 14 of them! I am working to fix it so I can show you more fun pictures like the one above of my brother, Maddie's Uncle Scott, feeding chocolate cake to her.

Look at how she adores him! She'll love him forever for giving her the first bite she's ever had of anything sweet!