Thursday, February 26, 2009

job description

Ahhh look - it's a much younger working Whimsy!
At a time in her life when she could wear JEANS to work! Why are you looking at this much less baby-weathered Whimsy? Read on.

A not-quite-so-secret (anymore) fact about me: I sort of love the eighteenth century names for diseases. I guess I could do without some of the yuckier terms that they bandied about in medical jargon (like PUTRID - I violently hate that word)-- but on the whole, I love how they really committed to the names of the diseases. They had things like quinsy (throat inflammation), apoplexy (stroke), gout (sort of arthritis), and the grippe (flu). If you're going to be sick, I say you should embrace it.

And I totally agree with Serenity Now - consumption really does sound like such a romantic disease, doesn't it? I've always thought so. Also diptheria. That one sounded pretty good too. NOT THAT I WANT TO CONTRACT ANYTHING, THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

Anyway... the whole canker sore situation has cleared up quite a bit. I get them sometimes when I'm particularly stressed. And I think that things have been bubbling away on the stress meter. Some of it is my own doing, of course. Like the fact that I decided to have a smallish birthday party for Alice's first birthday. And even though I say smallish, I'm sort of a, shall we say CRAZY PERFECTIONIST. So there's that. I know she's not going to remember a blessed thing about it, and blah blah blah it's all for the parents blah blah. I know. So maybe I should have said on the invitation ALICE HAS KINDLY DECIDED TO TURN ONE SO THAT HER MOTHER COULD HAVE SOME PEOPLE OVER TO EAT CUPCAKES, THX.

Speaking of cupcakes (and my passionate commitment to being Crazy): this week, I found myself sitting in my parked car (engine running in an attempt to keep baby asleep) in the parking lot of Cash & Carry talking on the phone to my boss and subsequently, Andy at the gas company-- all the while trying to talk as quietly but as assertively as possible and scribbling massive notes about the process of installing a gas line into a property (and then installing the gas appliances such as furnace, stove, and water heater). The entire thing took 45 minutes but it was one of those moments when I realized that my life is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from how it was a year ago. And also? NOT SO MUCH. (Incidentally, the reason for the AWKWARD but really QUITE TOPICAL subject change "speaking of cupcakes..." is because I was AT Cash & Carry to buy the perfect size of nut cups that I use to make cupcakes. I like 'em small, yes I do.) Anyway, this thought of job pre-baby and the actual job of HAVING A BABY goes back to an email conversation I've been having with a friend that I met through this blog. She wanted to know what I used to do and who I used to work for. And while I'm not going to say WHO I worked for here, I can tell you that I was one of those Assistant-y people. I Assisted. I was at the Big Company for seven years, and in those seven years I Assisted various people at various levels of corporate hierarchy. Some easy, some not so much. All of them wonderful people who I still call my friends. But dude, when you're an assistant... your life isn't so much your own. And you can find yourself doing some very weird things. Which is why, a year later, I don't feel like my job has changed. Sure, I now perform the weird tasks on a 24-hour cycle--- though I once had a boss - this was at another Large Company - who would call me at all hours, on all days, including weekends, to ask me stuff. Stuff that usually had NOTHING TO DO WITH MY JOB. I'll never forget him calling me at O-DARK-THIRTY (read: 6:00 a.m.) on a SUNDAY to tell me that he was being transferred to Minneapolis and would I consider coming with him. He's lucky I first remembered that it was April Fool's Day, and that I was A NICE PERSON so that I didn't hang up on him or do something very terrible to the plants in his office. Instead, I sleepily fake-laughed and said, "Of course I will. When are we leaving?" All so the dude could have his little (HORRIBLE) joke. The point here? Moms do some weird stuff. They have to be patient, strong, flexible, imaginative, good with numbers, able to do many many MANY tasks at once. They have to be good managers, good listeners, good problem solvers. They have to know when to say no, when to say yes, and when to hold their tongue. They have to get REALLY excited about things that other people would consider very boring and/or ridiculous (today I cheered no less than twelve times in a thirty-minute period as Alice repeatedly showed me how she can sit herself down from the standing position). They have to be expert breakfast/lunch/dinner-getters. (Nearly every day I ran out to get April Fool's Bad Joke Boss his lunch. And also his breakfast. Many times. Occasionally dinner. I worked A LOT. I didn't mind getting out of the office to do the errand - it was a nice break - but can I tell you how much I HATED trying to figure out what the dude wanted to eat every day? I'd suggest no less than six different possibilities, and each time he'd be all, ummmm, until he'd hem and haw and eventually round bad to my first suggestion. Every time. Every day. Lather, rinse, repeat. Doing meals for Alice is a lot like this-- as I'm sure you get what I'm saying now, my old jobs - this newish job--- very similar deals.

Except. Except except except.... the difference is in Alice's smile, her laughter, her sweet face. The open-mouth squeal of glee when she sees me. The way she wants me near. Her tears. Her frustrations. Watching her try so hard to grow and learn. She is the very best project I've ever worked on, the very sweetest bonus I've ever been given, an incomparable love that I can feel down to my toes. This family is, by far, the best organization I will ever work for.

Monday, February 23, 2009

fun with eighteenth century diseases

Hey! I know what we can do! Let's each pick an archaic disease that we can suffer from! Someone can do the catarrah, someone else can choose gout, perhaps someone else might like ague? Or how about an apoplexy? Consumption? La grippe? Lumbago?

I'm choosing the Morbid Sore Throat for myself. It seems that I have developed The Mother of All Canker Sores --- somehow spreading from the back of my lower jaw UP and along the gumline of my upper jaw. (I actually believe it's TWO canker sores that are choosing to settle their heated battle over Mouth Dominion by meeting in the middle and holding a series of very painful peace talks.) Not that this is interesting or entertaining in the least. Which is why we're choosing which eighteenth century disease we have.

Come on, you know you want to say that you suffer from the Summer Complaint.

Friday, February 20, 2009

the teeth that ate manhattan

Based on my careful observation of The Alice in the Wilds of the Last Homely House, I've decided that my child is going to succumb to one (or all) of the following:

- Death by consumption of under-refrigerator dust bunnies (I just don't even want to know what was actually in the one I fished OUT OF HER MOUTH two days ago).

- Severed arm, leg, and/or missing eyeball from Intense Phoebe Loving (I caught Alice SITTING on Phoebe yesterday, I kid you not).

- Starvation (she has gone from eating everything to eating bread and cheese to eating bread to eating AIR. And formula. Occasionally she will lower herself to eat a cracker. THAT'S IT.)

- Death by teething. At this point, its HER or ME. Those two teeth still haven't broken through the gums, though we're close. Really close.

Annnnnnd we finally have actual photographic evidence of the Chomper Icebergs. Behold:

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone! If you're not doing anything, you're welcome to come over and have Alice chew on your leg. Or arm. Or squishy cartilage. She's not picky.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

the teething diaries, part 20

We have quite a few things worked out to make travel as breezy as possible. I have packing down to a science, and you'd be surprised with some of the things that are totally indispensible to our well-being (like the plastic storage box that I transport Alice's bottle in, that doubles as a wash basin). Be that as it may, sleeping in the same hotel room as your 11-month-old baby can be tricky in the best of circumstances. And even though I knew, on a basic level, that Alice was teething-- when she decided this week to pull some of the craziest Sleep Antics I've seen from her, like, EVER, I couldn't figure out what was going on. Tuesday night she woke up no less than 6 times between 9:30 and 2am--- and they weren't easy wake-ups. They were the stand-up-and-cry wake-ups. The kind that have me standing in the middle of the room with Alice in my arms, swaying back and forth, hoping I won't collapse from the sheer exhaustion. The crying only sort of stopped around 2am because I brought Alice into bed with us, knowing that having Chip and I close would help her to calm down. Wednesday night was a similar drill-- this time I was up every 45 minutes or so, always putting Alice back to bed, laying her down, giving her paci and blankie and reminding her that we were right there GO TO SLEEP NOW, MMMMKAY? All of these sleep interruptions have left me rather touchy. And let's just say it: CRANKY WITH A CAPITAL C.

It wasn't until this afternoon, when Alice was crying and hiccuping and crying and finally breaking into that heartachy SCREAM, I stuck my finger into her mouth to figure out just what exactly was going ON in there. And that's when I saw that she isn't just getting one solitary tooth. She's getting two: one on either side of her Dinner Plate/Iceburg top front teeth. So I can imagine she's not just dealing with the pain and pressure of the two teeth coming in - she's got those two teeth pushing her Dinner Plates more toward the center of her gums and ouchy ouchy ouchy it must HURT. Her gums are purple and swollen, big bumps for those Incoming Chompers. It made me feel a lot more sympathetic toward her plight. I mean, seriously OUCH, right?

When we first started to become acquainted with the whole Teething Concept around here, it struck Chip and I with a mixture of gratitude, glee, and (yes) confusion that people were so sympathetic about our situation. Chip especially was struck, and he realized that it must really be an actual Big Deal because so many mothers would nod and give that half smile/half crazed animal look when we mentioned teething. Now that we've had some time to contend with the teething, we totally know what they mean. And I think we should take it a step further. I think, as mothers, WE have the right to tell people that WE'RE teething, because dude. No one can tell me that I'm not suffering through this with Alice. The sleeplessness, the irritability, the short temper. And quite frankly, I've had a constant headache since November. I'm blaming the teeth.

My patience is short beyond reason. I'm blaming the teeth.
I snapped at Chip today when he closed the door too hard. I'm blaming the teeth.
I can't focus on anything that reqiures actual brain cells. I'm blaming the teeth.

I'm in desperate need for this weekend. I plan on sleeping for longer than a 2-hour stretch. I plan on trying to find my sense of humor (again). If I can't, if I don't, I'm not sure what I'll do. Somehow, I don't think that The Teeth Made Me Do It is an excuse that is going to hold up in court.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

the one where i'm looking for a chinese translator

You are going to think I'm absolutely crazy UNLESS you:

a.) Are the mother of a toddler

b.) Have witnessed, firsthand, the love of a toddler and his or her woobie/lovey/security object du jour

c.) Have been a child who had a woobie/lovey/security object du jour

So then you know where this is going, right? Alice has found her woobie. It's a very adorable Winnie the Pooh blanket that was a gift from The Wife. Alice has been sleeping with Blankie for about 4 months now--- for a while I was able to interchange the actual Blankie blankie for any blankie when the original, accept-no-substitutes Blanket was being washed. However. We have reached a New Level of Love for Blankie 'round these parts, and she's starting to reject other blankies in favor of ONLY Blankie. She has also started to fish it out of her crib in her waking hours and drag it around the house with her, a la Linus.

Don't get me wrong. I love that she loves Blankie. I do. I had TWO security blankets when I was little and they were torn to shreds by our dog and I still loved them without end. I think it's healthy for her to have a lovey. I even think it's cute. What isn't cute is the thought of her dragging around a nasty grime and snot-ridden square of fabric until it disintigrates. And then we face the crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth because (and here's the problem) Blankie is THE ONLY ONE LEFT OF HIS KIND.

The Wife purchased the blanket at Target, in late 2007, when I was still pregnant with Bean. Target no longer sells this particular blanket. I know, because I have checked. A lot. No one sells this particular blanket. No one on the planet sells this particular blanket.

No one, except this person on EBay.

My problem, as you can plainly see, is that this person, perhaps my only HOPE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, appears to live in Asia. Perhaps Hong Kong. And the EBay page is, most helpfully, written almost ENTIRELY IN CHINESE. Or some amalgem thereof.

I would like to purchase this blanket - and the rest of the loot if that's what it takes - for Alice, as a back-up woobie. But (and here's where you come in) I can't read the page. I can't even tell if the darn blanket is still for sale. Am stupid in All Things EBay, but am willing to put aside my stupidity for the Mental Well Being, Blanket Health, and General All Around Goodness of the Whimsy Household.

Anyone out there willing to translate the page for me? Tell me what the heck I'm looking at? Tell me if I'm out of my gourd for even attempting this? OR maybe you happen to HAVE this particular blanket somewhere in the deep recesses of your closet and you'd like to donate it to Alice's cause? Am willing to spend actual U.S. dollars in this endeavor.

Edited to add: After I published this post and check my EBay link, the link had INEXPLICABLY AND MIRACULOUSLY TRANSLATED ITSELF INTO ENGLISH. Dude. I don't even know HOW that happened. But it did. And now I'm not only left looking stupid, but also disappointed because the auction has ENDED. And I am without a secondary replacement woobie. Ugh. If anyone has any suggestions, yeah, let me know.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

because apparently the rest of the world ONLY LOVES THE CIRCUS ANIMALS

So. Yesterday I was all, I MISS THE MOTHER'S SUGAR COOKIES SOOOOO MUCH, and you guys were all ARE YOU SAYING THAT THE CIRCUS ANIMAL COOKIES ARE GONE GONE GONE??? And as I read your adorable comments (and emails! hee!), I was all, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SUGAR COOKIES??????

Anyway. Because THE REST OF THE WORLD listens to y'all. And because I'm just that nice of a person, I have a couple of gifts for you.

1.) Look here to find some of those darn pink and white frosted jerknecks THAT ARE THE ONLY THING THAT THE ENTIRE WORLD WIDE WEB IS MISSING FROM THE COOKIE PARADE BAG, LIKE THERE WEREN'T THREE OTHER WELL-DESERVING COOKIE TYPES IN THERE. You have to be willing to pay through the nose, like OVER TEN DOLLARS A BAG, but hey, if the fancy really strikes you...

2.) Yeah. So the headline is Kellogg's Saves Mother's Cookies - but really it should be "Kellogg's Certainly Doesn't Actually SAVE An Entire Company, It Just Saves The Cookies That The Rest of the World -NOT WHIMSY- Loves And While We're At It Whimsy Can Just Take A Hike With Her Beloved Sugar Cookies Cuz We're Sure Not Going To Be Making Them For Her". Yeah, I guess that second headline is a little on the long side. Bottom line? Kellogg's is going to be making your circus animal cookies. As well as a few more. Just NOT MY SUGARS.

Enjoy your cookies.
I'm not bitter.

Edited to add...
Okay, okay. I need a freaking FACT CHECKER here at The Creamery, because upon further detailed investigation (read: I entered a new string of words into Google: Kellogg's mother's cookies)-- I found out that Kellogg's is actually going to "reintroduce" -whatever that means- a whole bunch of Mother's cookies to the West Coast (so sorry, REST OF THE COUNTRY - you're going to have to have your West Coast blogging buddies ship them to you? Or something??? I think you should call your local Kellogg's representative to comment about the injustice, and while you're at it ASK FOR THE SUGAR COOKIES) by June 2009, including what they are calling "Mother's Parade Animal cookies" - which, I have my doubts that they are talking about my beloved mixture, but a girl can HOPE. Here's what they told Serious Eats in January:

Kellogg Company plans on reintroducing many of Mother's Cookies back into stores on the West coast by June, 2009. While we may not have all varieties of Mother's Cookies available at that time, we are working on some of your favorites like Mother's circus Animals, Mother's Iced Oatmeal cookies, Mother's Parade Animal cookies, Mother's Chocolate Chip, Mother's Coconut Cocadas, Mother's Macaroons, Mother's Taffy Sandwich cookies, Mother's English Tea cookies, Mother's Double Fudge Sandwich cookies, Mother's Vanilla Creme Sandwich cookies, and Mother's Iced Lemon cookies.

So, there you go. The latest and greatest of Mother's Cookies information, right here at The Creamery. Don't ever tell me that I didn't do anything for you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the way the cookie crumbles

You are looking at the last Mother's mini sugar cookie in existence. I'm guessing here, of course. But if it's not the last, it's close to the last.

The Mother's cookie company closed its door in October. I was really sad when I heard about it - like the fact that the owners didn't give their employees any notice, that there wasn't a severance package or any help for these folks. I was also really sad because Mother's has made, hands down, the absolute best mass-produced sugar cookie on the market.

I used to eat them at our neighbor Jackie's house when I was a little girl. I
liked to hold the cookie with my finger in the center indention and eat around it like a wheel. My last bite would be the part with the little finger-print mark. Childhood and sugar cookies are inexplicably intertwined for me. I couldn't find the sugar cookies when I moved to Washington. I searched every grocery store and market. Mom would buy them for me in California, and later, in Utah when they moved there. She would pack four or five or six packages in her suitcase and hand them over like plastic-wrapped bricks of gold. I would eat the cookies one by one, savoring each one, knowing that they had to last a long while. There was a rule in our house that NO ONE TOUCHED WHIMSY'S SUGAR COOKIES. I have hid them from small children and felt no guilt whatsoever, leaving nieces and nephews to eat pieces of toast. When the imported cookies had been eaten, and another shipment was a long ways off, Chip and I would buy Mother's Cookie Parade - the very familiar bag of mini cookies, with the pink and white frosted circus animal cookies, the chocolate chip cookies, the chocolate sandwich cookies, and of course, my beloved sugars - this time in an adorable mini version. Very early in our relationship, I established the following Mother's Cookie Parade rule: the Whimsy has first dibs on the sugar cookies and the chocolate chip cookies. The Chip can have free reign of the circus animals and the chocolate sandwich cookies. It was a happy compromise, and lent a very real sense of Made to Be when I realized that both Chip and I could eat an entire Cookie Parade bag without feeling jealous of the other one's cookie preferences.

I wish I'd bought a million bags of cookie parade when I had the chance. October saw the end of my lovely lovely sugars. We bought the last two bags at Target on clearance last month. And a couple of weeks ago, I ate my last little sugary treat.

But I took a picture first.

For the memories.

Now tell me - which cookie was your favorite in the Cookie Parade bag? And if you somehow were left inexplicably wanting, which oddball Mother's cookie are you going to miss most?

Monday, February 9, 2009

weather report

Doesn't look like much worries her, huh?

We're headed to Eastern Washington this week. Chip is going out there for work, and Alice and I are tagging along, as we do. Because we'll be on the road, the skies opened yesterday and gave us a nice little traveling gift: snow. Because that's what we do! When we travel, we get weather! It's in the cards for us. Luckily it isn't so bad. After December and the madness we witnessed, this morning's dusting of ice is tame.

I find that so much these days is about comparison. I'm fine. We're fine. You all were absolutely top notch last week - I post (what I believe to be) an innocuous entry about distractions from Yuck, and I get messages asking me if I'm okay, Facebook notices checking in on me, and even a couple of phone calls. Wow. I feel pretty spoiled for the attention. As I said, I'm fine. I'm... adjusting. We've got some fairly High Stress Items on the family To Do list, combined with the stresses that my friends and family are also dealing with. It makes me feel uneasy, jittery. It makes me feel like the world is slightly askew and I don't know if it's in the cards for us to find level ground for a good long while. I personally know at least four families who are facing job loss. I know a handful of others that are on the cusp of it. Chip and I, in our small corner of the universe are lucky enough to not be in that boat, exactly, though my part-time gig is looking awfully squirrelly right now. I am grateful. I know of other people who are contending with health issues: scary - sweeping - detrimental. We are not those people. I know people who are in relationship trouble. We are not those people. I know people who have problems that are so much bigger than anything we are facing; my small troubles become just that: small. And even though they are mine, and they can feel painful and horrible to me, they're also my ticket to growth. I know that. Our pains, our losses, our heartaches-- these things can be our greatest blessings. A while back one of my very dearest friends SS of Sibley Saga reminded me of a poem I shared with her a long while ago.

-Margie DeMerell

There will be storms, child
There will be storms
And with each tempest
You will seem to stand alone
Against cruel winds

But with time, the rage and fury
Shall subside
And when the sky clears
You will find yourself
Clinging to someone
You would have never known
But for storms.

I know it's true. This madness with the economy and jobs will pass. It will get better. It always does. The storm rages over us and around us and eventually it will rage somewhere else---as it has always done. We can't change the storm or soothe the tempest. We can only do something with ourselves, from within. Will we be different when it has passed us by? Will we be wiser, kinder, more teachable? Will we learn those lessons we are meant to learn - like the chains, or the emergency kit for our car, or the million other items that we know we should have on hand just in case? Or will we let this lesson go and find ourselves on the other side: no stronger, no more brave, no deeper than we are now?

For me and for now, I intend to go to my quiet center and find refuge there. I will protect and defend my small corner of the universe as I have always done. It's lovely here, even when the winds are beating on the door, even when the snow is drifting up to the windowsills. There is ice on the porch, but we've got a nice fire crackling in the hearth.

Come join me.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

por favor

I have a secret soft spot for musicals. One of my favorites is Camelot, that ode to All Things Sixties - with the bouffant hairdos and the brocade gowns. I love it. The hazy camera shots, the men wearing tights, the music. The wedding scene is still, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful chapel scenes I've ever witnessed on film (with the candles! and her dress!). And honestly, you can't tell me that Vanessa Redgrave isn't absolutely stunningly beautiful in Camelot. I don't even mind Richard Harris' weird purple eye make-up. (Oh if you don't believe me - watch it and report back. The dude is wearing purple eye shadow. I don't even want to know why.) Anyway. There's a scene in Camelot when Guinevere has started to realize her very complicated feelings for Lancelot (I HATE that guy), as well as her continuing love for Arthur. Everything around her is messy, messed up - and she longs for a simpler time, a less tangled life. She asks Arthur about "the simple folk" - and what they do when they are facing trouble. What do the simple folk do... So in honor of Camelot, I'm going to ask you today: what do YOU do when you're facing trouble? (Not that you're SIMPLE, or anything, k? Because in this situation, and in terms of SIMPLE MINDED - that would be ME. My mind is CURSED with its simplicity. Me simple. You much more, um, advanced. Ug.)

Distract me. Please. Bad News and Very Stressful Situations abound. Most blogs I visit, most friends I talk to, the news stories, the newspapers, the radio. It's all doomy, gloomy, and yuck.

So tell me. What do you do to distract yourself from the Yuck? Or, if you're not a distracting kind of person - just distract ME. Please. The best I've been able to come up with is to watch this trailer of Will Ferrell in the new movie for LAND OF THE LOST. It gives me about 45 seconds of respite. I need more. Whatcha got?