Friday, December 31, 2010

On (Not) Starting Over

I'm not a fan of New Year's resolutions, and I rarely keep them. Despite this, I usually make several every year, then torture myself when I fail to stick to it. Save more money. Be nicer. Be more patient. Get a better job. Lose weight. Enter a triathlon. And on and on and on. All my good intentions turn around to bite me in the ass when I realize that I either forgot about my resolutions or simply decided I didn't have time for them. Then I go through the whole mindfuckery again the next year.
This year I've decided to opt out of the whole thing. For example, I've made a deliberate decision not to obsess over losing my baby paunch. I'll work out like I normally do and the weight comes off when it does. As long as I'm not forced to buy two seats on the airplane then I'll call it good.
I've become nicer and more patient without trying. I think maybe becoming a Mom did that. All the line cutters/ smelly hippies/ bad drivers in the world were once someone's sweet baby. That's the truth. So obviously no one can completely suck. That's enough for me to throw less stink-eye around.
In 2011 I will like myself the way I am.- cranky, slightly larger than I want to be, sentimental, and broke. Whatever. So there universe.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Working Girl

Well, now that I am just getting the hang of taking care of a tiny human it's back to work for me. Today is the last day of my maternity leave. Why I can't be paid a generous salary for blogging, surfing the Internet, raising Ceci, and drinking coffee all day is beyond me. I'm good at all those things. But the universe sees fit to throw me back into the workforce instead of blessing me with incredible wealth. And because I like to complain (another thing I'm pretty good at), I'd like to mention how lame it is that Washington state, unlike my homeland, does not offer women the opportunity to file for state disability benefits while on maternity leave. Thanks Washington, for being unsupportive of women and families.
On the bright side, my parents are here for a whole month to help out with the baby. Of course, pessimist that I am, I have gruesome fantasies of them accidentally scalding her with their coffee, sitting on her, dropping her, putting her out with the recycling, forgetting to feed her, or forcing her to listen to Garrison Keillor all day. Her little brain would wither.
Logic tells me that none of these things will happen. After all, my parents managed to raise me to adulthood without any fatal snafus. I just love my girl and I don't want to miss out on anything. Sigh.
I'm sure I'll feel better by the end of the week when I see that Ceci is still in one piece and she still knows who I am. And I'll be thrilled to see an actual paycheck again.
I'll leave you with an awesome healthy cookie recipe that actually tastes good and relieves some of that post-holiday binge eating guilt. Adieu for now, the next time you hear from me I'll be a working girl.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Baby

Here's Ceci working my Christmas bib from the 70's. It's just a little too big, but I can tell she feels sassy in it. Her Grandparents are heading up in the car as I type, having driven 900 miles or so from California with their two cats in the car.
Tomorrow we're going to bake pistachio cookies as gifts. We've been trying to get this done for weeks but nothing seems to get done around here unless it involves sleeping, eating, or pooping. I'm thrilled to have my parents here for the next month so I can get back into some semblance of a regular routine as well as have some help with Ceci when I go back to work next week. I'm not sure I will even remember how to do my job.
Anyway, it will be our first Christmas with baby. Hopefully it's laid back and full of good food, cheesy Christmas movies, family and friends.
Lots of love to you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

How to Take Care of a Baby

I'm still learning how to be a Mom, and it's tricky. I've made some mistakes this week and I feel a bit stupid. Here's the deal- it's the holidays, and we've gotten a lot of party invitations. I'm determined to take Ceci to a few parties because she is cute, dammit. I like showing her off.
Thursday night we took her to a friend's dinner party and things did not go well. Upon our arrival Ceci was mobbed by a herd of squealing women and she flipped out. There was lots of screaming. We ended up hiding in an upstairs bedroom and nursing for a few hours. I could hear the loud talking and music coming up through the floor and I questioned my judgement. Why do I torture my daughter when all she wants to do is stay home with a boob in her mouth?
Sunday night we dragged her out again to a three-year-old's birthday party at the bowling alley. That was okay for a while, but after about twenty minutes of pins crashing, toddlers yelling, and Guns n' Roses blaring Ceci started to melt down again.
Luckily, there was a Mom there who is a million times smarter than I am and she lent us these-

Which led to this-


We were able to stay a little longer and I ordered a pair of these earmuffs as soon as we got home. As soon as they arrive we're taking her to see Slayer. She's going to love it. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Home Alone

Matthew took the baby out today for a few hours, and while I puttered around the house a revelation  struck me- I was home alone for the first time since Ceci was born! What a luxury. What silence, what peace, no one hanging off my boob or pooping on my bed (this could be the cat or the baby). The leisurely opportunity to sip tea and paint my toenails. I also tried on all my favorite jeans, and no amount of elbow grease, prayers, or expletives would make them fit over my flabby postpartum pooch.
Still, those few hours were my very own Christmas miracle.
I finally found the time to make this chai pumpkin bread, and it is delicious even though my sleep-deprived brain left out all of the spices except the cardamom, which I tripled.

I also pulled this little gem out of my creepy picture collection.

Don't worry, I've already faxed a copy of this to the FBI. Obviously, this is not just a photo of a creepy man dressed as Santa. This is photo evidence of a vile, soul-sucking Golum wearing a man suit that is in turn wearing a Santa suit. Clever no? I can see right through it. Look at the dead eyes. The child looks happy though, which is another Christmas miracle. Every photo I've ever seen of a human baby with Santa involves lots of tears. I can, and have stared at this picture for hours. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Conquering Christmas

So, like most bloggers I read several blogs myself. One of the blogs I follow put me in a odd mood this week. Said blog posted a piece called "Clipboard Christmas". The subject of the post was how to organize oneself for Christmas, and the blogger made hand drawn charts that she then clipped onto clipboards with headings like "crafts", "gifts", "cooking", and "decorating". You get the idea.
I can't quite put my finger on why this bothered me, but it did.

I've been pondering how I want to frame Christmas for Ceci, and what types of traditions we should have as a family.
For instance, do we want to make a ritual out of making Christmas cookies, or guzzling eggnog and passing out drunk under the tree? Do we want to encourage hand made gifts over store bought? Should we blast Bing Crosby records and buy a giant inflatable snowman for the yard? I guess what I'm getting at here is that I've been thinking so much about trying to create a perfect Christmas for my family that I've managed to suck the joy out of it.
I don't want to point the finger at the aforementioned blogger and say that that type of anal-retentive Christmas planning makes the holidays stressful, because for her that may work well to organize her thoughts and tasks. As for me, I think I need to let the holidays unfold organically with no more obsessing over how it should go. If we feel like making gingerbread then we will. If we decide to dress up instead and re-enact Star Wars, then so be it.
After all, Christmas is simply about enjoying family right? (or about baby Jesus if that's your thing).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Good Neighbor is Hard to Find

I got devastating news this week. The girl that lives in the mother in law apartment behind our house (we'll call her Ann) gave her notice and she's moving out February first. Curses. This is tragic because Ann is thoughtful, quiet, and kind, and we're living in such close quarters that these things really matter. Her one bedroom apartment sits behind our house, and the walkway into her place goes right by our bedroom window. We share utilities, garbage, recycling, gardening space, a patio with some shabby lawn furniture, and parking. From all arise a hotbed of drama.
In the 3.5 years Matthew and I have rented our house we've had a string of bad neighbors before Ann came on the scene.
Here's a rundown of the shit show in our living space-

2007. We move into the house, and shortly thereafter L. and E, move into the apartment. They are a lesbian couple from California, tall and fit, and in their mid- twenties. They drive a gargantuan yellow Hummer that they proceeded to double park in front of our house and the naturopath's office next door (this eventually drives him to cover the street in orange cones so no one can park anywhere). All was well at first, until our utility bills started arriving and I discovered that Matthew and I were receiving all the bills for both rental units.  I spoke with the landlord and he told me there was no way to separate the two units, so I had to pay the bills and collect money from the ladies out back.
Here's where things turned to shit. I spoke with L. and E. and proposed that they pay one third of the utilities. That was really the only way I could think of to divide it, as there was no way to measure how much water or energy each rental was using. Their rental unit was roughly one third the size of ours, so I figured that was the way to do it. L. and E. told me they were agreeable with this plan.
Unfortunately, every time I had to collect money from them for bills L. (the meaner of the two ladies) became argumentative and found ways to insinuate that I was trying to cheat her and her girlfriend out of their money. They always paid, but it was a struggle every month. Collecting money from them was a nightmare of passive aggressive notes taped to my backdoor, and I got even more upset when I learned that THEY DIDN'T PAY RENT. E. was a family friend of our landlord, so they got free rent but they still felt compelled to fight me over the stupid water bill. Bitches.

2008. The girls move out and D. moves in. I spoke with my landlord about my hatred of collecting money for utilities and we agreed to lower my rent in exchange for me paying all the bills, so no more drama there, thank God.
D. is a nice young man from the San Juan Islands with a job as a pilot, so we didn't see much of him. He wasn't a total asshole. He did, however have a fondness for working out on his elliptical machine butt naked. So there was that. He also decided that he would rip up all the flagstones in the backyard in a misguided attempt to help out with yard work, then he never put them back. Eventually Matthew and I tried to put them back into their rightful place, but now they are terribly uneven and a tripping hazard.
D. moved out after less than a year.

2009. N. moves in. N. was a twenty-one -year-old "musician" from New Orleans. He claimed to be a professional trumpet player, but I never heard him practice in the six (?) long months he lived here. N. was a drunken violent mess. He went to the bars every night and came home with lots of young men, all loudly cursing outside our bedroom window as they stumbled back into his apartment. As he moved in during the summer months, they would continue the party in our backyard after the bars were closed, and inevitably the drunken slurs would escalate into verbal assaults and then these fools would end up fighting in the backyard. Our backyard was like a cockfighting ring for demented fratboys.
Every once in a while I would go back to N.'s door, knock, and politely explain that my boyfriend and I worked early in the morning, that he was too loud, and that all the yelling outside my bedroom window wasn't appreciated. N. was always very apologetic. Generally he answered the door with terrible booze breathe and a black eye. He always blamed the chaos on his "cousin", or his "brother's girlfriend" who "had a really bad night".
Anyway, things would get better for a few days and then once again I would find myself cringing in bed while N. and his friends fought and broke beer bottles outside my bedroom window. I stopped trying to be nice to N. I continued to sweep up broken glass and cigarette butts every morning. I started complaining to my landlord about N.
Eventually N. moved out, and left the apartment full of bags of trash.

Here's where I mention that up until now, not one of the tenants ever took out the trash or recycling, helped tend the lawn or the yard, or did anything to improve he general look of the property.

So here I am, about to lose the one good neighbor we've had in almost four years. It's a dark day. If you're reading this, and you live in Bellingham, point any and all sane and considerate renters in our direction, because I'll burn the place down before I'll live with another drunken fool or lesbian Hummer driving wench.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Meatball Madness

I've made this Italian wedding soup twice in the last week and I am totally hooked. My affection for meatballs in soup or just about any other vehicle extends back decades, but I forgot how much I like them until I made this delicious, soul-warming soup. I am now newly obsessed with meatballs. I love them. Rolling meatballs between my fingers, eating them, reading meatball recipes- I've barely hide time to tend to my child since I rediscovered my passion for them.

That being said, I do think the soup would translate well to a vegetarian recipe. Just use veg stock and veggie sausage instead of meatballs. The fennel seed in the meatballs is what makes them brilliant, so if that could be incorporated into a veggie meatball it would be perfect.
I also made a few modifications to make the soup more to my liking. I omitted the celery and used lots of parsnip, left out the pasta, and used ground lamb instead of beef. Oh my God, lamb meatballs. I'll never be the same.

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