Friday, July 30, 2010

The Ultimate Sacrifice

I sleep with a stuffed animal.

Meet Hippo:

I bought Hippo at a little souvenir shop in Gatlinburg TN during my first vacation with MG in 2004.  He's been my sleeping next to me longer than my husband.

He fits perfectly in the crook of my arm just under my chin.

I took him with me on my honeymoon and actually cried when MG suggested I give him up.

So yeah, he's pretty special to me.

Now, I know that motherhood is about sacrifice.

I knew I would have to give up a lot of sleep, a lot of free time, peaceful dinners, clean house and nights at the movies.

I was prepared to watch my waistline expand to new and frightening dimensions.

I was even okay with less than perky boobs.

But I wasn't prepared for this:

Picklebug squeals with delight when MG brings him upstairs in the morning and he spots Hippo hiding in the covers.  He immediately reaches for him and begins to gnaw on Hippo's sweet little ears.

How can I break up such a cute pair?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The 12th Little Fork

MG and I have a great relationship. We've been married for almost four years now and we are still very much in love and very happy together.

I think we compliment each other very nicely. His calm, cool demeanor is balanced with my hyperactive maniacal anxiety. I have greatly benefited from his diverse knowledge and appreciation of music while I think he would agree that he has benefited from my ability to coordinate his work outfits.

Khaki pants with a khaki shirt? No. White button down shirt with faded blue windbreaker pants? Are you serious?

But like every couple - there are some things we still need to work on.

And with the risk of sounding absolutely crazy (which I admittedly am) let me tell you about one of the "sticky" areas of our marriage.

It has to do with what is allowed to leave the kitchen.

Let's say, for example, you were running late for work, so you decide to pack your cereal and eat it at your desk when you get to your office.

What would you do?

I would throw some cereal in Rubbermaid container, seal it with a lid, pour some milk into one of the 3,472 re-usable water bottles we own and grab a plastic spoon from the drawer.

What would MG do?

He would take the ENTIRE box of cereal, the ENTIRE gallon of milk, one of my precious Fiestaware bowls and one of the nice spoons from our expensive silverware set.

And then he would leave everything at work for 4 months.

So then next morning, when I go downstairs to eat breakfast - there will be no cereal and no milk in the kitchen.

Me: "Honey, where is the cereal and the milk?"

MG: "We ran out."

This has happened several times over the past four years. And list of things he has taken from the kitchen includes an entire NEW bottle of ketchup, a bottle of pancake syrup, a package of cheese, and countless dishes, spoons and forks.

And I don't mean stupid cheap-o plastic dishes. I mean the nice dishes and nice silverware!

Every few weeks, when I go to make a cup of coffee to take to work and complain about the 8 missing travel mugs he will make an effort to round up all of wayward dishes in his office.

Sometimes it takes TWO Wal-Mart bags to carry them all home.

So imagine my frustration when I found the Fiestaware butter spreader in the bag of dirty dishes he brought home a few weeks ago.

I then repeated my rant about not removing special dishes from our house. We have plastic knives that would have worked just as well!

The discovery of the butter spreader also prompted me to count all the cutlery.

There were 12 knives, 12 big spoons, 12 little spoons, 12 big forks and 11 little forks....

11? Uh oh.

I ask MG about the 12th little fork and he swears he doesn't have it. He SWEARS that it isn't in his office. I search the kitchen, the dishwasher, the couch but I cannot find the 12th little fork.

So through gritted teeth I mumble something about how he owes me a new set of silverware and threaten to stab him in the thigh if I DO find that little fork in his office...

Today, as I am running errands around campus I pop in MG's office to say hello. And as we are chatting I absentmindedly begin opening and closing his desk drawers.

What can I say? I'm nosey.

And in the third drawer a glint of silver catches my eye:

Upon closer inspection I discover...

the 12th little fork*

Now please excuse me while I drive MG to the Emergency room.**

*The tiny green spoon next to the little fork is one of Picklebug's baby spoons. I noticed this morning that some of the baby spoons seem to be missing. Of course, MG denied having any at work...

What grown man needs a baby spoon at work?

**No thighs were actually stabbed upon the discovery of the 12th little fork.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Update & random thoughts that didn't turn into posts

I've been at a loss in regards to what I could share with you. I know it's been a while since you've heard from me.

Sorry about that.

Besides our fun vacation to Ocean Isle, NC - not a lot has been going on.

MG got not one, but TWO awesome job offers last week. After weighing the pros and cons of each job, he will be starting his new job as an in-home counselor on August 9th. I'm especially excited for him to finally be doing work that he is really passionate about.

Picklebug is now eating all kinds of solid foods and is almost sitting up. He turned 6months old on July 16 and is learning new things every day. He especially loves his glowworm and his books. He sleeps 12 straight hours everyday and is pretty much the best baby ever.

I've taken up knitting once again and have been working hard on a baby blanket for Picklebug. If it turns out okay I hope to make another one for a friend who is expecting her first baby right around Pickle's birthday!

Of course none of this is particularly interesting or exciting - but it's better than some of the other things I wanted to tell you about.

Like how I cleaned my ears last Wednesday and was amazed at the amount of "stuff" that came out. (Seriously. I LOVE cleaning my ears and I was so tempted to take pictures of it and make a whole post out of it. Your welcome.)

Or how tired I am of hearing about who has money and where so-and-so went to school.


Or how I think my milk supply is drying up and I'm worried I'll have to, *gasp!*, switch to formula.

Or what I might consider doing for a tax-free cool million seeing as how I'm so broke right now that I only have $17.23 until my next paycheck.

Or how many times a day I think about calling my mom and telling her about some of these random thoughts.

Or how excited I am to eat pancakes for dinner tonight.

I'll save those post ideas for another day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Once, in a desperate attempt to acquire the Tim McGraw single Don't Take the Girl, my friend LW and I sat on the ledge of the mall fountain and fished out nickles and dimes until we had enough money to buy it.

Only cool kids pay for country music singles with wet change.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Let's talk about breasts.

Breast. The upper ventral region of an animal’s torso, particularly that of mammals, including human beings. The breasts of a female primate’s body contain the mammary glands, which secrete milk used to feed infants. (Wikipedia)

In January 2010, when I gave birth to my son I decided to breastfeed him. I did this for several reasons.

First, everything I read said it was good for the baby. He would be smarter, sleep better, cry less, have less gas, a stronger immune system and even his poop would be more pleasant.

P.S. There is no such thing as "pleasant" poop.

I also knew that breastfeeding would be good for me. It would help me lose weight (BIG FAT LIE!), it would decrease my chances of developing breast cancer (and with two grandmothers and a mother in heaven because of it - why not?) and of course it would help me bond with Picklebug.

And perhaps the best part was that it would save money. I would buy little to no formula and I wouldn't have to worry about bottles. I did invest in a breast pump for when I am at work - but it paid for itself in the first few months.

In fact, after doing some calculations I have figured out that had I been using formula with Picklebug - I would have already spent about $750.00 on formula alone! Not to mention all the accoutrement's that are necessary when bottle feeding: bottles, bottled water, nipples, ice packs, sterilizers, etc. And who knows how much we saved in doctor visits!

So with all these obvious benefits, I made it my mission to be a breast feeding momma. And while it was really hard those first few months, I'm really glad I stuck with it. Nursing Picklebug makes me pause several times a day to really be with my baby. To snuggle him close, to smell his sweet scent, to kiss his tiny fingers and rub his tiny feet.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I didn't always feel this way about breast feeding.

Let me begin by pointing out the obvious: society has RUINED breasts for everyone that breaths air. I don't have to cite examples or tell tales of how much emphasis the media puts on breasts. Breasts are EVERYWHERE. Every ad, every billboard, every TV show, every movie.

You can't walk through the mall without coming face to face with a busty manikin.

People are so desensitized when it comes to breasts that I fear it won't be long before it's legal for women to walk around topless.

So if breasts are everywhere - why do some people have such a hard time seeing a woman nursing in public?

I'd much rather see a woman nursing a baby than be accosted by the sight of some girl trying to wear a shirt as a dress. (You ain't foolin' no one, honey. It's a long shirt. Not a dress. And the whole world doesn't want to see your hiney.)

Boobs are a functional part of my body. They are a means to provide my sweet baby with nutrition.

Every three to four hours.

Which means that unless I want to become an antisocial hermit-mother who never leaves the house, I'm eventually going to have to feed my baby somewhere other than behind my front door.

And if you know me at all you know I'm no hermit.

I remember being in college and going to the dining hall for dinner. I sat down with my friends and began to enjoy my corn dog and tots when I noticed a professor sitting about 6 tables down from me.

She was breastfeeding her baby, grading papers and eating dinner.

Now, I would love to tell you that the first thing that came to my stupid 20 year old brain was how awesome this woman was for being able to feed her baby, eat, and manage to grade tests.

But instead I immediately thought - UGH! Gross! That woman is flashing the entire D-hall! Go to a bathroom you hippie! No one wants to see that kind of thing in public!

Stupid Jen.

Last week I went to Books-a-million with my step mom and just as we entered the store, Picklebug let me know it was time for a snack by arching his back and making what we like to call "the pterodactyl screech."

Now, I've breastfed in public on numerous occasions - but I always try to do it in the "family room" at the mall or in a non-busy corner of a restaurant.

But Books-a-million didn't provide me that luxury.

So I sat down in the only available seat I could find. A comfy leather chair located near the busy cafe area in the front of the store.

To my left was a big, burly, hairy and very macho looking dude. Probably a linebacker. Or a Biker.

Or both.

To my right was well dressed woman in her mid forties reading the New Yorker. She smelled like vanilla and judgement.

Across from me was an attractive young guy with a MacBook on his lap and beautifully tanned legs.

And then there was me.

With my crying baby.

About to lift my shirt and serve up some lunch.

I could feel their eyes on me. Their uncomfortableness. Their displeasure at my choosing this space to take care of Picklebug's needs.

Mr. Macho mumbled something about the bathroom and left.


Ms. New Yorker pursed her lips and stared at her magazine.

And pretty legs just tried not to give into the temptation to ogle me.

And me?

I just did my best to carry on like it was no big deal. Pickle ate his lunch while I surfed FB on my Blackberry.

I had to decide a long time ago that other peoples comfort be damned! I'm a mom, gosh-darn-it and baby's gotta eat! Would they rather sit next to pterodactyl-baby?

In fact, if I could go back to that day in the D-Hall so many years ago, I would walk up to that multi-tasking momma and pat her on the back and commend her for not letting ignorant people like me stop her from doing the most natural thing in the world.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I've lived a variety of places over the past ten years.

I spent four years living in Boone, North Carolina.

Two in Oxford, Ohio.

And the past four years at my current location in Virginia.

But even though I've been away for almost 10 years now, I still find it hard not to refer to my little brick house in Lawndale NC as home.

Home Sweet Home.

And that's where I've been for the past 10 days.

Lawndale, NC isn't a very large town. And there isn't exactly a lot of recreational opportunities that world travelers might find interesting - but for me it's the perfect escape.

And a great way to reconnect to what is important.

Let me share with you a little of my Home Sweet Home.

First, there are the people who live there. A house is not a home without the warm bodies that inhabit it - something Home Sweet Home does not lack!

There is my dad Tim and my step mom Ronda, and my four brothers Justin, Chalmers, Josh and Micah. (It's especially exciting around the holidays - when including Mike, Owen, me, Grandma Margie and the occasional visiting friend/girlfriend - the number of people sleeping in our house can reach 10 or more!)

Oh, and there is our big, goofy, turtle-chewing, baby-bunny-eating lab - Max (or Maxwell, Maxwellison, Welly, Wellson, Mr. Sass, Paco-Paco, etc...) who might as well be my 5th (and favorite!) brother. He thinks he owns the big couch in the family room.

There are lots of things to do around the property. And lots of little nooks in which to spend the day relaxing. My personal favorite is by the pool:

Or in the hammock in the front yard:

There are four porches around our house - and all of them have little spots that are great for hanging out with my Macbook or a knitting project:

My visit this year including taking care of Owen and finding things that he enjoyed doing. One of which turned out to be swinging in his new baby swing that Dad bought for him:

My dad keeps a garden in the summer, so I enjoyed fresh peas, corn, squash, tomatoes and okra with almost every meal:

In the afternoons, Dad, Ronda, Owen, Mike, Max and I enjoyed hikes on the property behind our house. My Dad has spent countless hours carving various trails that cris-cross little streams and "waterfalls".

In the evenings, the whole family tends to gather in front of the TV for a movie.

**We used to play Scrabble, but Dad, Micah and I are such sore losers we had to agree not to play games unless it was one where everyone could win.

I typically finished each day with a relaxing bath in my step mom's jacuzzi tub (and take a moment to appreciate how HUGE this bathroom is!)

Now you can see why I was too busy to blog last week.

Sadly, Home Sweet Home isn't open to the public (although my step mom might disagree with that) but we always welcome visitors.

And I bet that once you visit, you might just begin referring to it as Home too.