So the Fish Said...

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem, I whisper with my lips close to your ear.

- Walt Whitman

Meet the Fish

I want to get a pet duck and keep it in the bathtub.
I am addicted to chap stick and altoids.
I am freakishly flexible.


World's Most Beautiful Child

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World's Most Handsome Child

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Other Important Things

Clive Owen

Clive Owen
Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend


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Multiple Choice

WHEREAS Owen is approaching thirteen months old; and

WHEREAS he has taken a grand total of five steps; and

WHEREAS those five steps consisted of two instances of a single step and one instance of a series of three steps; and

WHEREAS he has henceforth exhibited not the least bit of interest in walking; and

WHEREAS it is clearly preferable to have Mommy carry you everywhere you want to go and Mia run and fetch anything you point to while screaming;

It is THEREFORE determined that Owen is:

a) a baby, age notwithstanding
b) a toddler, lack of toddling notwithstanding
c) a baddler
d) a grumpy little monkey
e) able to clear a three mile are with the smells emanating from his bottom

(This is a bit of a trick question, as d and e are both unequivocally true. Also, I used to be a paralegal.)

Wishing my DVR had a "Play All" function

The less said about the last three days the better.

Will return as soon as my children stop puking on me.

Taste the rainbow, if you must

Anybody out there have easy access to an intact bag of Skittles? I just need to know if there is a warning about nuts on the bag, and my bag was cut open straight through the ingredients list. Mia's half-birthday party at preschool (don't get me started) is this week, and she wants cupcakes (she doesn't like cupcakes) with cherries on top (she doesn't like cherries) and I have talked her into the Skittles instead of cherries (atop the homemade from scratch cupcakes) and now I need to know if I can actually send Skittles to preschool without killing any of her classmates.

Thanks.

And oh my god, you remember just recently when I was talking about how kid poop from your own kids is just not really a big deal because you get used to it quickly and whatever? I take that back. Poor Owen seems to have a touch of a stomach thing, and this morning I threw away his pajamas and the blanket I changed him on because I simply could not deal with it. I am giving careful thought to also discarding the high chair and replacing the bathtub because I'm not sure I can face either ever again.

Naked

Chris was working the other night, so I was flipping through channels specifically looking for the kind of chick dreck that I can never watch with Chris around. And Chris has a pretty high tolerance for chick stuff (higher than mine in some instances), so I was really in the market for the bottom of the barrel. I ended up with How to Look Good Naked. This show is annoying on many levels. First, it isn't how to look good naked, it is how to feel good naked. I am all in favor of body-acceptance and confidence-building and that sexy is as sexy does, but I am opposed to giving television shows salacious titles specifically to suck people into watching them in hopes of learning how to disguise fat thighs when you have nothing with which to disguise your fat thighs. Add the wardrobe shopping (wardrobe=not naked), forcing the poor woman to stand by and listen while strangers on the street said forced nice things about the underwear-clad picture of her on a nearby billboard, and the stereotypically trite gay man quips from old Carson and I was deeply disappointed in my choice of dreck.

There was, however, one redeeming factor. At one point, six or eight other underwear-clad women were brought in, and our lucky contestant, who was primarily concerned with the size of her hips, had to guess whether their hips were larger or smaller than hers. She guessed that all of the other women, each of whom had a very nice looking body, had smaller hips than she did. Of course it came to be known that each of the other women had larger hips than our heroine.

I liked that part because I think it is almost impossible to look at your own body objectively. I think we compare ourselves unfavorably to others, and that if we were able to look at another woman identical proportions, we would think her hips/butt/breasts/thighs/belly were just lovely even while we rued that thing or those things about ourselves.

Can you think of a person who is pretty much your size? Similar height, weight, body shape? Are you sure? It is really hard to say, really hard to be objective, and nobody will tell you if you ask because they are scared you will be offended. I wish women (and men too, probably, although they act less concerned) could all be assigned an objective body double. Someone we could look at and say hey, her Mommy Belly doesn't look bad at all, or her thighs are actually rather thin and be able to realize that if it looks fine on her, it looks fine on me.

I think we would put 85% of the diet industry out of business overnight.

Beth hooks you up

Internet! I am about to hook you up! Pay attention!

Beth Fixes your Ass

I have a problem with jeans. Ok, actually I have many problems with jeans. I have very short legs so even so-called "short" jeans run about an inch and a half too long, I have a big booty and chubby thighs and relatively small hips, which means that I have to choose between jeans that fit my hips well enough to actually stay up which then prevent me from sitting down or walking, and jeans that fit my heinie that have to be belted so tightly to keep them from plunging to my ankles that I am left with a belt-induced polterwang. Not really attractive, either way.

If any of that sounds familiar to you, check out DKNY Soho Jeans. I got mine on sale at Macy's for about $35. But! If you go in search of these jeans, make sure to buy the ones with $59 on the tag and not the ones with $48 on the tag. I originally bought two pairs that looked identical, all the same tags and everything, but one pair was $10 cheaper. The cheaper pair stretched out so much that I could have fit two of you in there with me. All I can figure is that DKNY also makes these jeans for outlet stores at a lower prices and much lower quality, and that both kinds are currently for sale at my (and possibly your) local Macy's.


Beth Fixes your Lips

I've started this thing lately where I am telling my children to deal with themselves and doing my hair and makeup every day. You know, like an actual adult or something. It is nice to no longer be the grungiest mommy everywhere I do. Well ok, sometimes I am still the grungiest mommy, but at least I am not always the bottom of the pile anymore. Also, we are rapidly approaching the point where it will be necessary to Do Something about my grays, and if I am going to Do Something I ought to at least be doing my hair, right? Right. But I've been having this lip issue, in that I hate lipstick and lip gloss and while I have accepted chap stick as my personal savior it doesn't do much in the de-grunging department. Enter Pixi Lip Blush, which is basically what it sounds like - just color without goop. I like it in "Purity" and it goes great under chap stick. It claims to last eight hours, but that is an absolute lie. It also feels a little tacky right after you put it on, but stick with it, it gets better. Costs $18, which I didn't notice until they were ringing me up at Target and I about died, but now I think it may be worth it. Almost.


Beth Fixes your Whole Face

Not that there is anything wrong with your face, it is lovely. The thing that has been wrong with my face is that I can't get my makeup off of it. I use this and I can't use most make-up remover because it fries my skin and even after scrubbing my face with my regular stuff (more on that later) I leave stripes of makeup on our white towels. Blech. But, these Neutrogena towel things take the makeup off without leaving me looking like I've spent 20 minutes being bitch slapped. They claim to remove waterproof mascara too, but even with non-waterproof mascara it takes a heck of a lot of scrubbing, so I'd imagine it does work on waterproof provided you have 30 minutes to devote to the process.


You Give Back to Beth, Who has Given So Much to You

Now that I have tipped you off on all my favorite things of the moment, it is your turn to help me. My face wash was discontinued a little over a year ago, and I drove all over town buying all I could find at 50% off, which rocked, but I am on my very last bottle, which sucks. I need a new one. I also need a waterproof mascara that neither flakes off like so much nasty black dandruff nor ends pooled under your eyes by 4:00 every day. Bonus points awarded to anything I can buy at Target.

Hey! I forgot the title!

I have a freelance client that owes me money. As in, we have a signed contract that says they will pay me x amount by no later than x date, and after a more than patient time after that date had elapsed I sent an email saying I hadn't received a check and could they please verify the date sent and mailing address and six days after that email, which was now two full weeks past the contractually-obligated pay-by date, I sent a follow up email and finally got a response that said oh, we can't find your paperwork, could you send it to us again?

Um, excuse me? You couldn't find my paperwork two weeks ago and so decided to just not pay me and also decided to not let me know about the lost paperwork? Were you hoping I wouldn't notice?

If they were otherwise the perfect client, I might be more inclined to say ah well, these things happen sometimes. But instead they are the client that asks for additional unpaid work with unreasonable deadlines and that has a content management system that makes me lose the will to live every time I have to use it and that represents the lowest-paying job I have accepted since graduating college. On the other hand, the work is far from difficult (I was going to say that it was easy money, but since you are apparently required to both work and beg for your money I changed my mind) and while Chris and I are doing fine, in this economy it feels foolish to walk away from any paying job.

So, presuming that the check actually arrives and is for the appropriate amount and doesn't bounce like an india-rubber ball (bonus points to the first person to catch that dorky reference),

Not what it looks like

They are all riding in Santa's sleigh. I mean, obviously.

Twit

People! Do you remember when I had a contest to write me a something to put on Twitter so that I wouldn't be a total blank, and you were all so lovely and witty and then I still never did it? Well, let me tell you that I have devised the perfect (and entirely true! which is a little sad if you knew what it was!) statement to put on Twitter, and it is oh so hilarious, but also an egregious overshare. And oh, but I am so torn between the hilarity factor and the you people will judge me factor.

Sometimes the internet is hard.

Bloody hell

This morning, Owen pushed a small chair from the living room into the kitchen and then climbed onto it so that he could reach the countertops.

I have decided to remove all furniture from his bedroom and just lock him in until it is time to drive him to college.

Prepare to seethe with jealousy

Tonight, actually in just an hour and a half or so, I am leaving the children with their father and heading downtown to a spa for free pedicures and free food and did I mention no children? And it is for work! I am finally getting my revenge for all those (really not so many, but definitely several) times that Chris has told me "Oh, I am going to be late tomorrow because I have to go to Happy Hour or a fabulous dinner at a fancy restaurant purchased by the company or a fabulous party with, like, eight-foot-tall chocolate fountains and shit, for work."

And I would not gladly trade jobs with my husband, because he definitely got the raw deal in this "one wage earner, one at-home parent" scenario, but I am also just slightly gleeful that he will get to see, for the first time, just how challenging it can be to feed himself and two children dinner (even when you order a pizza, because there are still fourteen other things that the kids need) and how annoying it is to not be able to eat a single bit of your own dinner without Owen screaming at you for not sharing it with him and how much fun it is to get a non-cooperative child into their pajamas while the other child is sobbing piteously on your lap and finally to experience joy of getting both kids into bed with no hope of adult back-up.

I'm sure it will all go swimmingly, but I'm also willing to bet it will score Chris a few new gray hairs. I'll be sure to toast his efforts with my first cocktail.

Owen, Month Twelve

Sweet Owen,

Happy Birthday, my little hobbit! Congratulations on the riotously successful completion of your first year. Your favorite part, by far, of being a year old is the decorations we hung in the house before your party on Sunday, and you have spent the last three days begging me to lift you over my head to grab the banners hung over your fuzzy little head.

You are a marvel. You talk non-stop, even giving your sister a run for her money. She has the edge in actual words, but you sure have stamina. You have some words too - hi, Dada, Mia, cracker, all done, yay, moo and achoo (you love to sneeze). You sign ball constantly to make sure that nobody misses the presence of any ball in the entire universe. You also sign milk, eat and more.

After your party as we were getting you and Mia ready for naptime, you discovered that you knew how to stand up. You've been doing it briefly for a couple of weeks, but this was the first time that it really dawned on you what you were doing. You've been practicing non-stop ever since. Just today you stood up on the floor, both wooden kid chairs, the couch, your choo-choo (which is on wheels, stop that!) and my stomach. You love to climb - stairs, furniture, people, walls. You crawl so fast that I sometimes have to run to keep up with you. I can see in your eyes sometimes that you are giving some serious thought to giving that walking thing a try, but so far you haven't decided that it is worth slowing down long enough to learn.

You love balls, books, balls, blocks, balls, trucks, balls, anything noisy, balls, anything that fits into anything else, and balls. You love playing with Mia and have gotten so you respond when we call for Abu (we play "Jasmine" a lot). When Mia hides, you come get me and point to where she is so I can find her. Your favorite game is when we take the gate at the bottom of the stairs down and let you make a mad dash for the stairs. Someone comes to grab you just before you start climbing and you laugh and laugh and do it again.

You have ten teeth with your two bottom molars due any minute, and you use them to eat anything you can get your hands on. Usually, you eat my food and scream if I don't provide a taste of whatever I have. Your favorites are peas, grapes, quesadillas, lentil soup, and veggie sausage.

You are still a total mama's boy and if Mama is around, nothing else will do. But when I am out of the picture, you are doing better and better about being on your own. We had someone else put you to bed for the first time last Friday, and you went into your crib without a peep. It is a relief, I admit, to be getting a break from the constant neediness of your baby-ness, but I am naturally a little sad to see that passing too.

Sweet Owen, this year with you has flown. When you woke me up at 5:00 this morning (we are still working on that) I could scarcely believe that it was exactly a year ago at that moment that my water broke, heralding your imminent arrival. Only one year ago right now you were still wrinkled and squished, only a few hours old and asleep in my arms. Your sister no longer remembers a time before you were born. While I remember that time, I can no longer conceive of it. I don't know quite what we all were before you, but I know that we weren't right, we weren't done.

Thank you, little monkey, for coming to us.

Love,
Mama

Owen 1, Cupcake 0

Obligatory picture of the (almost) one-year-old smashing his birthday cake.

Watching his sister and cousin open his presents.

And playing with his favorite gift.

Home Improvement 101

All homeowners know that the lovely paint job you work so hard on (or pay so very much to have done professionally) eventually becomes marred by the occasional blemish. Whether fingerprints from careless hands, scuffs from where you graze the wall with the vacuum cleaner, pureed peaches that the baby flings at the wall or the sharpie that your toddler stole from the kitchen drawer, these things happen to even the most careful among us. Fortunately, I have an easy method by which to touch up your walls and leave your paint looking fresh and new.

Step 1:
Dig the correct paint out of the back corner under the basement stairs. Clean off the cobwebs.

Step 2:
Mix paint well. You may want to take it to the store where you bought it and have it professionally shaken. Alternately you can seal it securely and give it to the kids to play with for an afternoon.

Step 3: Select your brush. You will probably find one in the bathtub or the pool bag.

Step 4: Locate your tallest child. Locate your tallest child's favorite stool. Place your tallest child upon their favorite stool and have them reach as high as they can. Make a small mark on the wall at the top of their reach.

Step 5: Paint everything lower than that mark. I mean sure, you can go along and just touch up the scruffy bits, but it will amount to the same thing.

Step 6:
Play the "Fuck with Your Husband" game by saying "Honey, I did something to the house today. Can you guess what it is?" Hours of entertainment right there, let me tell you, and he will probably give up and just buy you some jewelry to get out of it.

Owen Wednesday #41: Playing Together Edition

She only shoved him off the stool twice.

(The kitchen is here, since someone always asks.)

Jeopardy! Reprise

The question is:

What did Beth find under the stove while looking for the thermometer that she stupidly gave Owen to play with so he would stop whining for half a damned minute and hasn't seen hide nor hair of since?

Jeopardy!

What's the correct question for this answer?

"H," "S," a plastic potato chip, a pair of plastic "scissors" from Mia's doctor kit, 62 cents, a Gladware lid, and a large shard of glass, but not the thermometer.

Ah, coffee

Owen is sick. Yesterday he woke up at 4:00 AM, coughed for an hour, finally went back to sleep at 5:00 and then popped up at 5:15 ready to get a jump start on the day. I was not so excited. A massive sleep debt plus being awake for the day at 4:00 made for a very zombiefied mommy, so I decided to throw caution to the winds and drink my first cup of real coffee since January 2004.

Did you get that? Five years.

I gave up coffee when we started trying to get pregnant on the theory that I was going to be pregnant soon and have to give it up anyway so may as well do it now. Turned out I could have waited almost a year, but whatever. Giving up coffee was hell for a week - worse than quitting smoking in some ways. When I quit smoking, I wanted a cigarette, but I had a nicotine patch so other than breaking the behavior it wasn't too bad. When I gave up coffee I had to go to bed for a week. Seriously, I would go to work, go home, eat dinner, go to bed, sleep. When it was over, I swore I would never be a caffeine addict again.

That decision is reinforced every time we run out of coffee. Chris drinks coffee and I don't, so I don't so much notice when the supplies are depleted. Chris believes that all household chores are accomplished by magical psychic pixies, so that all he needs to do is bother to notice that we are out of coffee and it will be miraculously replenished by the next time he needs it. This leads to a somewhat frequent conversation where I tell Chris to go out and get himself a cup of coffee and drink it immediately because I am not willing to deal with Asshole Chris all day. I've gone so far as to make it a household rule that he must drink a cup of coffee within 30 minutes of waking up or else I will smack him and withhold sex for a week.

Quitting coffee sucked, and I had decided that I would never go back.

But oh, yesterday. Yesterday was a revelation. A dream. A shiny, rainbows and unicorns dream. I wasn't (so) tired. I wasn't (so) bitchy. The children were less annoying, playing with them was more fun, I got a buttload of work done. It is almost as if I drank a little cup of Prozac mixed with meth rather than a cup of (half) caffeinated coffee.

And I know how is escalates. I know that (half) cup of coffee to feel fabulous soon becomes four cups to feel normal. But I spent all day yesterday looking forward to the coffee I could have this morning.

Ah well. At least the cigarettes are kicked for good.

The "Beth is Very Ashamed of Herself Meme"

I had this grand plan of taking 10 interviewees and asking these deep, probing (hee, am 12) questions custom-tailored to each person that would cause them to produce the most amazing, thought-provoking posts ever authored and possibly cause them to re-evaluate their entire lives to boot. But then I kept getting volunteers, and they were people I really wanted to interview and my resolve began to weaken and I wanted to interview everybody. Then I remembered that I have two sick kids and two deeply-neglected freelance jobs and that I couldn't possibly come up with fabulous interviews for twenty-some people before the pool opens this summer and so I sent them all the same questions. Which sucks and is a total cop-out and I am sorry.

Then I figured that as long as I sent everyone the same questions anyway I may as well post them and that way anyone who is interested or wanted to be interviewed but didn't volunteer because I already had more than ten and they wanted to play by the rules could answer them. Which I think means that I am making a meme, and I despise memes, so I am ashamed of myself. Shame doesn't have much impact on me, though, so I am doing it anyway.

To play, answer the following five questions on your blog (or in the comments if you don't have a blog). A link back to me so I can come read your answers would be awesome, that plus a note in the comments that you are doing it would be even better since sometimes links slip through all my fancy-dancy filters and I miss them. When you post your answers, include the instructions from this post so you can then go forth and interview your own readers for fun and profit. Ok, for fun.

Ready? Here we go!

1. Remember the movie Brewster's Millions? That happens to you, except on a smaller scale. You receive a million dollars that you must spend in 30 days. However, you cannot have any assets to show for the money at the end of the month (and you can't buy something and then destroy it), you cannot waste the money, you cannot give it away, and you cannot tell anyone what you are doing. How do you ditch the dough in a month or less?

2. You are locked in a toy store overnight, with no way out until it reopens in the morning. What do you play with all night?

3. If you could have a dinner party with any three famous people, living or dead, you would be wasting your supernatural powers on hosting dinner parties. What would you do instead?

4. What's the best thing since sliced bread? Now, sliced bread ain't all that impressive, so what's the best mediocre, hum-drum improvement or advancement that has made modern life just ever so slightly more convenient for humanity, along the lines of saving yourself five seconds every time you want a piece of bread.

5. What's your best quality? The response to this question must be a simple declarative statement. You may elaborate on that statement, provided that your elaboration does not include the words "but," "however," or "although," or any other hedging, equivocating, back-sliding, gerrymandering (which is not at all appropriate in this context, but I think it should be, don't you?) or any other type of backing down from the simple declarative statement with which you began your response.

Inside the Blogger's Studio

The rules:

1. Leave me a comment saying you want to be interviewed. (I'll take the first ten or so.)
2. I’ll email you five questions of my choosing.
3. You update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. They will answer these questions. If they don’t, you can post naked pictures of them on the internet. (I can help with the Photoshopping.)

The following is courtesy of Sir Jason.

How do you maintain your sanity when surrounded by so much bodily fluid and knowing, every morning, that your day will involve various combinations of poop and boogers?

Let's see, so far today (and as I type this is it just past 8 AM) I have wiped two snotty noses on my sleeve, changed one poopy diaper, fished bits of partially-chewed orange out of Mia's mouth when she decided it was no longer to her liking and threw a screaming hissy fit about it and oh yes, had to take a break from typing this sentence to wipe up a puddle of yogurt/grape/cheerio vomit. Quiet morning, then. It just... isn't an issue. And while there are certainly days where I think if I have to deal with one more poopy diaper I am going to go well and fully around the bend, and I try to avoid changing the diapers of other peoples' children, when they are your own kids you just get inured to it.

Also, we used to have cats, and I had to deal with their poop every day of their lives. At least the kids will someday require no poop intervention from me.


What did you do before you were hired as a full-time mom and do you ever miss the other job?

I worked for the first company to sell retail internet service. Then I worked for the company that bought them and stayed through what was at the time the largest-ever case of corporate fraud leading to the largest-ever corporate bankruptcy. I mean, we handed those guys at Enron their asses on a silver platter. Looks like we have since been bumped down to third, but that record stood for six years. (God, that was a miserable time.) Then I worked there when they changed the name to the name of one of the large companies they had acquired along the way and left just before they were purchased by the former-Baby-Bell-turned-telecom-behemoth.

Anyway, I started off in Billing managing "major accounts," which at the time meant anybody who bought a T3, which retailed for $54,000 a month. Now they run you about three grand. Then I moved to Sales and did Project Management, which was part flunky, part making decisions well above my pay grade, lots of process improvement and sales rep training and putting out fires (if all else fails, pee on it). After the bankruptcy I bounced around a bit and had three or four jobs in the space of a year and then ended up doing what I had started out doing for the same sales team and I never once had to move out of my office. I loved that office. I haven't missed the job for a hot second.


How does your current life differ from what 10-year old you thought you'd be doing?

When I was ten, I thought I was going to be a professional poet. A good one. Like, a Nobel Laureate by the time I was 30. I'm a lousy poet. I also was convinced that I would be finished having my four kids by the time I was 30, and instead I had my first when I was 30.

Or else I was going to be an astronomer.


What were the best and worst experiences you've had via your blog?

I haven't had any really bad experiences via my blog, although other people's blogs have occasionally ruined my day. The first few trolls were a little rough on the psyche, but after enough of them they just start to seem funny.

Best experiences are all the times I've posted that one of my children turned bright purple with green spots and then started speaking in tongues and had all the lovely, wonderful internet people tell me that a) their kid did the same thing, b) it didn't last forever, and c) it is not strictly the result of my incompetent mothering.

Although tied with that are the comments and emails I have gotten who said they got some degree of relief or comfort or reassurance or just a laugh when they really needed one from some stupid thing I wrote here. The internet totally rocks, man. Except for when it sucks.


What question do you wish I'd asked, but didn't and how would you have answered?

Q. What's the best thing you've seen on the internet of late?
A. This.

Please note

I'm making the grocery list and have been googling for some new vegetarian recipes to try, and I would like to take this opportunity to point out one small detail that many online-recipe-posters seem to have missed: Bacon is not a vegetable.