Saturday, April 30, 2011

coffee and donuts

I love my mother in law-- in a real, genuine way.  Case in point, I call her on Thursday morning and say " wanna watch the royal wedding?"  "live?".  I know taping it would have been her preference but in the name of gusto (our NY Resolution) she gave in.  It was a classy affair. . . I tried to get scones but Panera was out (the masses were also following my plan) so we went with coffee (more caffeine than tea) and pastries (the best of what was around).    Love this woman. She even played dress up with me at 4:15 in the morning.

Joan is sporting a basket ensemble adorned with paper flowers, Dana is modeling a tissue and paper towel fascinator.  Both of the Spring 2011 Collection.   Keeping it classy as always.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CSOM Electric Slide

This is my B-school alma mater. . . and I am torn.  As somewhat of a flash mob enthusiast, I think it's great.  As an alumna, I am a little disappointed.  Granted B-students aren't really known for their creativity or dance ability but the electric slide?  Couldn't we have done something a bit more innovative?

Almost Famous

So a year ago I got a call that a picture of me was in the background on the Fox show Lie to Me..  Sure enough,  at about 43 minutes in, there I am.   Yesterday I got a note from a friend saying that I am on Yahoo! I am sure its an accident that they cut off my face. . .

Loulapalooza-- Update on Progress

So my great hunker down, take care of baby and self,  work-out, self-reflection, get healthy experiment is almost over.  How did it go?  Well, not well.

I am a big fan of resolutions-- always have been.  I like to learn and grow but am often plagued by lack of direction.  The resolutions (and kitschy branding of these resolutions) has always been a good mechanism to get my butt moving.

First of all, I may have had an issue with focus-- see above.   I think I tried to bite off too many things. I did do some good things, I bought a running stroller off of Craigslist, rejoined the Y and worked on getting this blog up a little.  What didn't go well: we had some family things that needed to attend to, our condo came up for rent, life at work imploded.   There was just no time for self in the month of April.  It was nuts from start to finish. . . .

What else did do well- I was a good mom.  Despite the craziness of life this month, I still got to spend a great deal of quality time with James.   We've explored the park on several occasions and have had a lot of fun with a bubble gun.   We also ate a lot of cheese please.  I think it really paid off too, I feel like we are communicating better and enjoying each others company. 

I am thinking about moving Loulapalooza into May and focusing it more on my health.  I have struggled to regain a solid exercise routine since James joined us and I think with Matt coming home soon that this might be a better month for Loulapalooza.    I may even try to find a way to share it here!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

While the hubby's away

Matt's and my music taste overlaps by about 95%.  Where it diverges is in the Gaga realm.  I have a not-so secret love for trashy teen pop. So.  . . since Matt is away  I have been listening to quite a bit of Britney, Ke$ha, Katy and yes. . . Gaga.

James is really getting in the spirit. . .last night he started saying P-P-P Po.   If we can just finish off with "-oker face," I will consider this month a success.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I gotta feeling. . . that baby James is no longer baby. Just James.

So it struck me tonight as I was doing laundry and all James' clothes are muddy that my sweet baby james is no longer a baby-- but a little toddler. I know everyone says this. . . but isn't it shocking just the same?

I am trying to capture more of Baby James-- not just for Matt who is missing these moments but also to preserve them. Tonight I took this one of James trying to jump.   All this jumping and twirly can be blamed, credited with the introduction to the backyardigans.  James likes to mimic their cool moves.  Can you see the resemblance?  My kid has a natural gift.

Interestingly enough, 2 year old cousin Theo calls James "baby" as Baby James was his nickname.  Tonight James pointed at a picture of himself and said "Baby".   Which kind of makes sense now because he has been saying baby  (or bee bee bee bee bee) repeatedly when he wants to be picked up, cuddled etc.  Maybe he was referring to himself in the third person?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Oprah Speaks to My Language Again

This was in last month's Oprah magazine. . . I flagged it for Matt to read
Your Chaotic Life By Heather Havrilesky

Last week on the freeway, a car did a 360 and crashed into the shoulder, right in front of me. I pulled over and called 911, then got out of my car and walked back along the road to make sure the driver was okay. No one else had stopped.

A woman in her late 20s with dust all over her face was standing by her car, crying and shaking. I led her to my Honda, gave her a Handi Wipe for her face, and listened as a torrent of panicked words flowed from her mouth—she was unemployed, she didn't have insurance, she shouldn't have been driving at all, people were so crazy on the freeway. I agreed that people were crazy. I told her that I'd seen the guy in the pickup cut right into her lane. I told her that it wasn't her fault, that she was lucky she wasn't hurt, that the cops would come and fine her, not arrest her, for driving without insurance. When the tow truck arrived, I handed her my number in case she needed a witness. I gave her a hug and told her "Good luck."

The next day, when she found my number in her wallet, she would remember me as the lady who stopped and remained calm at the scene of the accident. To her, I would be the woman with the two kids' car seats in back, the kind of mature adult who stays clearheaded and calls 911 and offers hugs and empathizes and has a travel pack of Handi Wipes in her glove compartment.

What the hell has happened to me?

Right before the accident, I was listening to Eckhart Tolle on my car stereo. He's the guy who tells you to live in the now—sort of like the guru Ram Dass but more clean-cut, and with a German accent. "Please pay attention not just to the words, but to the silent spaces between the words," he was telling me as I hurtled down the freeway at 70 miles an hour. "That's where the shift happens." I was trying to focus on the silent spaces between the words as a means of putting my worries and neurotic thoughts aside. I wanted to shake off the frustrations of my workday before I picked up my daughter from daycare. I wanted to be relaxed and present, not harried and distracted and bossy. I wanted to be living in the now.

I've never exactly been an expert at now-living. In fact, I had Eckhart Tolle on in my car to begin with because five years earlier, when I was trying to gather the will to dump the last of a string of freewheeling, noncommittal stoner boyfriends, I was given the CD by a Reiki healer recommended by a friend who was having so much trouble living in the now that she could barely sleep at night. I was skeptical, but the Reiki healer, despite having a job title that sounds like an exotic dog breed, was a very good listener. Sure, she would conjure the spirits of the universe occasionally, rallying them to aid me in my quest to find myself and, if necessary, ditch the man whose childlike sense of wonder seemed to require him to remain unemployed indefinitely. But the universe did appear to be on my side more often during that time, plus the healer gave very pragmatic advice: Exercise. Get more sleep. Read this book. Stop thinking that way. Mostly she encouraged me to open myself up to the unknown, to stop hiding from the world. She quickly recognized that I was a creature of habit, interested in safety above all else, and she could see how it compromised my enjoyment of life. She told me to try new things for a change, drive to new places, stop and eat at random Chinese restaurants and taco trucks, wander through the world with open eyes, dare to be vulnerable in the face of life's unpredictable twists and turns. I ate some really bad Chinese food during that time, but something shifted inside me. I became more courageous. I listened to the Eckhart Tolle CD she gave me only twice before I resolved to dump the stoner and move on.
I threw a big party. I lost ten pounds. I bought a really nice king-size bed and mattress for me and my dog, Potus, to share. And as I was painting the room that was once my boyfriend's office a defiantly girlie shade of lavender pink, I thought: "This is the start of my new life! Everything will make sense from this point forward. I won't need therapists or healers or New Age CDs ever again. I am open to the world, I am vulnerable, I am confident and strong. I will take whatever comes. I will live with the dangers of the world, I will lean into the chaos!"

That was then. Today, five years later, the baby is crying. The 2-year-old won't put on her underwear. My husband left for an early meeting, so it's all up to me. The dogs need to be fed. The sink is filled with dirty dishes. And before he left for school, my 13-year-old stepson told us that if he has to spend another day in a room that's painted lavender pink, he's going to lose his mind.

The world is one big blaring alarm clock going off in my ear, but I'm staring blankly at myself in the mirror. My hair is pulled back in a knot—not the carefree knot of a younger woman who hit the bars last night but the perpetually frazzled-looking knot of a 39-year-old mother who spends her free minutes (what free minutes?) staring into the middle distance like a ghost, fantasizing about central air-conditioning. I look haggard and confused. Why am I getting it all wrong? Why can't I be the kind of mom who gets up early to work out, then showers and styles her hair and gets dressed, the kind of smooth professional who can jiggle the baby while coaxing the 2-year-old into her underwear? Why can't I be the relaxed, organized career mom instead of some harried, slovenly zombie?

But I know the answer to that: I am not and was never going to be the relaxed, organized, manicured career mom, any more than I was going to be the shiny, effusive cheerleader or the diligent Gap employee or the virginal good girl or the wise young lady who dates only responsible, emotionally available guys. I am a disorganized, melancholy second-guesser who rhapsodizes a little too loudly over the pleasures of a cold beer at the end of a long day. I am enthusiastic, yes, and passionate, sure, but I'm also fundamentally ambivalent, angst ridden, and conflicted. I am distracted, overwhelmed, and mostly unprepared for whatever lies ahead.

Sure, I was the lady with the Handi Wipes who stayed calm and called 911, but tomorrow it's just as likely that I will be the one with dust on her face, crying and panicking.

Most of the time, I am the messy disaster, the daydreamer, the disheveled, self-deprecating deep sigher. I am the one who complains bitterly about twisted car-seat straps and an ungodly tide of dirty laundry that never seems to subside. I'm the one who snickers mirthlessly when a moth flies into the baby's milk and it all has to get poured down the sink. What I want to know is how other people my age with my responsibilities get by. I want to know how they try and fail, and I want to know exactly how they feel and act and what they say when they're failing.

"This is a f***ing clown show!" is what one friend tells me he says when everything is going wrong. "What's a clown show?" I asked. He wasn't sure, but I think I know from my own experience: It's loud, stuff is spilling on the floor, and you can't all fit into the car.

But you could never fit into the car in the first place—that was only an illusion. All you can hope for is to accept your flaws and get a reasonable hold on your circumstances. No one wakes up one day and suddenly they're living in the now—even the Reiki healer and Eckhart Tolle and the spiritual masters of the universe agree on that.

You're never fully prepared. You never really arrive. The best you can do is to keep painting the walls to suit your new circumstances.
And then, just when I decide that I'll never get a handle on anything, it all comes together: I get a good haircut on Friday, and on Saturday I wake up early and run the dogs for three miles straight. I shower and put on earrings. I sit and read the paper while the baby is napping. I play in the baby pool with my 2-year-old while my husband makes us all dinner, then I have a beer and watch Suze Orman yell at people who are far less financially responsible than I am, while the baby yells along from her play chair.

"That's it!" I think. "I've finally turned the corner! Everything is right. I've arrived at last. Everything will be perfect from now on!"

Of course, that's not true. But this is: I love this f***ing clown show of mine. The unruly dogs, the distracted husband, the alternately sweet and enraged 2-year-old, the enormous baby who still wakes up at 4 A.M. even though she clearly has the fat stores to hibernate through a long winter. I love them all, along with my overwrought teenage stepson and my little, overheated house and my hairy rugs and my smudged windows and my scrappy, overgrown yard, and all of the imperfect manifestations of this imperfect life. I am flawed, flawed, flawed, and I will rarely feel shiny and complete and utterly calm and prepared.

But look how hard we try, you and me, us and them, everyone. Isn't it sort of sweet, to see how determined we are to do better, to be stronger, to make sure our kids and our mo thers and our partners and even our dogs know that they're loved? Sometimes, even as my world is in chaos, I see myself braiding my daughter's hair, drinking my tea, blending up a fruit smoothie and singing and dancing crazily to distract the baby from the blender's scary, grinding sound, and I think: "That woman is weird, but she does seem to be enjoying herself."

Speech Therapy

Weekly our friend (speech therapist) Kathy comes over to play with James.  We have been doing this since he was 9 months old-- so for 8 months.  I remember when James could only stand and babble and now he is making bee noises on command.  I am going to take some video and post his progress but it is just amazing to see him grow and develop.   And does my boy do it with joy.  I hope I can be James when I grow up-- that's a kid with gusto.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hearing Test

One of the mega downsides of CMV is the chance that your kids hearing can deteriorate.  James goes in for hearing tests every 3 months to program his hearing aids (HA's).   Here is a picture of my main man getting entertained (tested).

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Matthew is spending the month of April in Ethiopia and I have decided to embrace my post- James bedtime period for some quality me time.  I tend to name these types of initiatives so I am calling it Loulapalooza 2011!

The goal:  spend more time with my health-- physical and mental. 

We are just a couple days in and how is it going?  Well, pretty good!  I have worked out a couple of times, gotten myself a horrific haircut and am starting to blog again.  Pretty successful if you ask me!

Why Loulapalooza?  (Lou (ise) is my middle name, and Matt's pet name for me.) (I like the pet name)

International Adoption

So one important aspect of our lives is our desire to have a global family-- we have planned on adopting from the beginning of our marriage and are now on the 'waiting list' for a child from Ethiopia.  This has been a very challenging process-- for a couple of reasons.  A little back story- we first started looking at a variety of country programs.  Matt has done some work in Africa in the past and I went to visit him in Cameroon and we both felt somewhat called to that location.  Cameroon unfortunately does not have a well-established adoption program and just a few US approvals annually.   We then started looking more broadly at African programs and came across Ethiopia.  We both just kind of knew that Ethiopia was the right program for us- stable, ethical, significant need for homes for children etc. Unfortunately, soon after signing up with our agency there have been a host of changes in the country level administration of international adoption.    Now we have been waiting for 9 months and still are unsure of how things will pan out.  I will post more about the specifics because as I said before-- I learned a great deal from the experiences of other people's blogs.  I feel like I should contribute as well!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blogging? Again?

So I am starting this again. . . I used to enjoy a little blogging here and there but I now find I want a place to record my thoughts and document some of the things that I find funny or challenging in my life!  I hope you enjoy!