Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oops. A Woman in her Thirties Does it Again

I don't like surprises. I can say that after having a lot of experience with them. I like being able to compose myself before any given situation; I like to feel like I have the slightest bit of control. Surprise me, and you're likely to find me a heaping mess of emotion on the floor. (It's true-- just ask my girls who threw me a surprise party before moving to China. I'm still recovering.)

It was this past Halloween and my period was late. The thought did not occur to me to take a pregnancy test (including the miscarriage, it took more than a year to get pregnant with Anna), but I figured I had better since our neighborhood block party was promising beer, and a woman in her thirties should always be sure. But there is no way, I thought to myself.


And here we are, at week twelve. Over the all day sickness (Seriously- who thought of the term 'morning sickness'? Must have been a dude.) But still not over the shock. And then, yesterday, a waving arm; a beating heart:

And a little bit of something that may or may not be an actual something:
And now-- finally-- the shock is starting to wear off. I'm happy, I'm scared, I'm excited, I'm completely overwhelmed, but mostly I'm finally feeling thankful. A woman in her thirties can't control everything. And sometimes, in those times when she can't, the most miraculous of surprises can appear.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Woman in her Thirties Doesn't Judge

Oh, I'm mad. I'm pissed. And when a woman in her thirties is angry, she fumes.

I just got back from a certain place that sells the world's best Peppermint Bark. I'll call it Billiams Aroma. I go there every Christmas to buy FOUR boxes of the stuff-- three for our neighbors, and one for us. It's kinda tradition.

If you've ever been to one of these places during the holidays, you know that you can smell the samples wafting through the corridors of the mall long before you approach. But every time you try to get one, they're always gone. Am I right or am I right?

By some miracle, there was a whole tray of samples on display when Anna and I walked in this afternoon. Brownies, topped with peppermint bark. A woman in her thirties might be a little iffy about taking samples from any store, but look. It's rainy and cold here. I'm hungry. And it's a rare occurrence that this woman in her thirties refuses a brownie.

Anyway, I picked up one of the samples, about the size of a short, fat baby carrot. I put a tiny piece on my finger and gave it to Anna, who promptly said, 'mmmMMM!' and smiled, and then I shoved the rest in my mouth, like the dainty woman in her thirties that I am.

'She must be your second,' the woman behind the cash register said. I didn't know I was being watched.

'No,' I said. 'She's my first.'

'Ooooh,' she said, her eyes filled with the judgement of the self-righteous. Then she turned to Anna and said, all condescendingly, 'Well most first time mommies wouldn't give their little babies chocolate at such a young age!'

The way she said it, you would think she just watched me sit my baby down to a dinner of pork rinds, nacho cheese, and Diet Coke. You would think that by virtue of this one miniscule bite of chocolate, I was setting her up for a lifetime of obesity and heart disease. You would think I was the worst, most terrible mother that ever walked into WILLIAMS SONOMA.

I was thinking (seething) on the way home about all the judgement a woman in her thirties faces. Nothing is ever right enough. Everyone else's way is the better way. We observe each other from these ridiculous glass houses, where we know we don't have it all figured out, but it makes us feel better to point out the ways the people around us don't have it figured out even worse.

And then it hit me that I'm just as guilty of it. Hadn't my first instinct been to think about how her kids were probably in day care, playing video games and feeling completely neglected? Hadn't it calmed me down slightly to think that my life was superior to hers?

This is a hard one, ladies. A woman in her thirties shouldn't judge... but she does. She doesn't realize it until she's judged herself. It sucks. But maybe it was a good wake-up call for me, to think about the ways that I could be better at this. Maybe I should go back to the store with a peace offering of peppermint bark for the cashier.

She can lick it off my middle finger.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Woman in her Thirties is Challenged

It's been a rough couple of weeks at the C house. Tears were shed. Tantrums were thrown. And Anna had a hard time, too.

It turns out that the culprit was an allergy to penicillin, the exact thing that was supposed to cure Bubbie's pneumonia. I'll spare the details, but I'll say this: I think Dante missed out on an opportunity for eternal torture in The Inferno. Caring for a sick child belongs somewhere between the infernal hurricane and the fortune tellers with their heads on backwards.

We're on the mend (meaning we are sleeping again!), but for this post I'll share some of my favorite images of the past weeks'.... challenge. A woman in her thirties uses euphemisms to the most, doesn't she? As in, 'Being a Mom can be a challenge, but she sure is cute, isn't she?'

The "My Fever is Finally Breaking" Glare:

The "Give Me One More Bite and I Swear I'll Puke All Over You" Stare:

The "Gimme the Sunglasses Unless You Want Me to Meltdown Completely" Look:


The "You'll Pay For This Someday" Look of Death:

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Woman in her Thirties Gives Thanksgiving the Bird

I had big ideas for this Thanksgiving. For the last two years, we have eaten here. Now I know what you're thinking. A woman in her thirties hosts and prepares a proper Thanksgiving. Believe me, I've prepared my fair share of turkeys, even when living in China. But the last two years I've come to the realization that I don't love Thanksgiving food. It's okay. But it doesn't seem worth the hours and hours of work to prepare all the food when neither I nor anyone in my household goes gaga over it. So it's off to Chinese food we've gone (or taken out, as my baby was not even a week old last Thanksgiving), and it's been great.

This year I wanted to start a new tradition in our family, especially since I was going to have the whole morning free. I signed us up for the Walk to End Hunger at the Giant Mega Mall of Craziness, under Team C. This post was going to be all about how a woman in her thirties teaches her daughter to be grateful; to give back.

And then Wednesday happened. Now keep in mind that Anna had FOUR immunizations the day before, so when she was running a fever I wasn't surprised. But there was definitely something different by Wednesday night. She had a slight cough, and I felt like I was counting down the minutes until her next dose of Tylenol. When she woke up at 9:00pm throwing up, I took her temperature and gasped when I saw 103 degrees. Off to the ER we went, only to find that her temperature when we got there was 104.7. If you're wondering what it feels like to hear that your baby has a temp of almost 105 degrees, it feels a bit like you've been punched in the stomach. By the Incredible Hulk.

There were many hours spent in the ER, many pokes and prods that I will refrain from reliving in detail. Let's just say that my little Pumpkin was very, very brave. And easily the cutest thing I've ever seen in a hospital gown:And after an X-Ray, the diagnosis was clear: Pneumonia. My baby has pneumonia. If you are wondering what it feels like to hear that your baby girl has pneumonia, it feels a bit like someone has carved your heart out with a spoon and handed it to you, even though your stomach is still killing you from that punch by the Incredible Hulk.

My big ideas to feed the hungry yesterday were clearly shot, so we spent most of the day snuggling in front of the TV watching Sesame Street. L went out to pick up Chinese food, and while we tried to salvage Thanksgiving by getting something special (Beijing duck), it clearly wasn't the same. Here is our feast, in all its Styrofoam glory:

So this Thanksgiving didn't exactly go according to plan. But I was thinking about it as I was falling asleep last night, about how a woman in her thirties rolls with the punches and makes the best of things. Sure, I hadn't planned on spending the night before Thanksgiving learning to use a rectal thermometer, but it's a good thing I now know how. And as much as I wanted to punch the nurses in the face every time they gave my baby another shot or drew more blood, I'm thankful they were able to figure out what was wrong. I'm thankful for antibiotics. I'm thankful for Elmo and Ellen DeGeneres, both of whom can make Anna smile when she's sick.

And as for a 'proper' Thanksgiving... maybe next year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Woman in her Thirties Plans Parties All By Herself*

Please note: Any sentence in this post that ends with a (*) is a lie. A woman in her thirties tells the truth. Ish.

Ever since Anna was born, I have been planning her first birthday party!* I love planning events and hosting parties, mainly because I'm so good at it!* All by myself, without any help from H, I came up with the idea of 'It's good to BEE One!'* I couldn't wait to start shopping on Etsy for cute bumble bee themed party favors and decorations!*

I spent a ton of time stressing out about this party.* I just felt like everything had to be PERFECT.* H was totally supportive of my paperless invitations, as well as my idea to buy all the food from Costco.* She thinks I have great taste, and knew that everything I picked was going to be fabulous.*

Here are some pictures from the big day. I was so excited we got our first snow on the day of the party!* (I had tons of time to take pictures, so these were definitely not hijacked from Auntie M's memory card.*)
Clearly, AB didn't enjoy all the attention she received on her birthday.* I'm so happy I did all of this by myself, without any help from my mother-in-Law, sister-in-law, husband, and friend H.* Can't wait to start planning for next year!*

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Woman in her Thirties is One

Dear Bubby Bubberoo,

(your pictures in today's post [with one obvious exception] are by Kim P of Mimsydotes. Seriously-- could she be any more awesome?)

Before I get started on your first birthday post, I feel like I should say something about the nicknames. You might have noticed that each month I've called you something different, from AB to Pookers to Chunkerson. You are probably asking, 'You didn't really call me those things, did you Mom?' Sorry, Bub, but the answer is yes. You are a baby of many nicknames. At least it's better than Chewbecca, right? Right?

Regardless, here we are, at your first birthday. I say 'we' because I'd never thought of birthdays as a family affair until having a baby of my own. Sure, it's awesome that you are one year old, but I never fully considered what that meant. You are one, which means I-- a silly, oftentimes lazy, somewhat insensitive, but well-meaning woman in her thirties-- have kept you alive for an entire year. If that is not a miracle in and of itself, I don't know what is.

This month with you has been all about talking. Whatever skills you lack in the walking department (P.S., really need you to get on that...), you more than make up for with all you can say. Your first word besides Da-Dee and Mo-Mee, the one that will go in the baby book, was 'Baby', and I think it gave you such delight that you've spent every moment since adding to your repertoire. 'Duck' (Cuck), 'Circle' (Cucole), 'Daniel' (Da!), 'Bubble' (Bub-BLE), and 'Lamb' (Nam) were close behind. Now if only you could describe which sippy cup you will use, so I can stop buying every single kind at Target in hopes you'll actually drink from it.

If there is one thing a Momma in her thirties says, it's that the time goes by fast. Anna (see? I call you that sometimes!), I've figured out that people say that because it's true. One year ago today, this happened:

And time both stopped and started at once. I put my career on hold only to find my new purpose as your Mom. You and I both spent many sleepless nights figuring out naps, eating, pooping, and all the other things a woman in her thirties takes for granted. I can remember the warmth of your head on my chest for the first time even still, yet suddenly here you are now:

And this is nothing compared to what the next few birthdays will bring. When I was in my twenties, I felt like I was constantly ready for the next thing, waiting for the next adventure. Now, all I want is to find the brake pedal and be here with you for awhile.

Anna B, you will never know how much we love you. Sure, we'll tell you and you'll hear the words, and sometimes you'll get close to feeling it, but you could never know just how much. There is no measurement for it, but this picture comes close:

Someday, maybe when you are a woman in your thirties yourself, you'll look at this and be able to understand how happy we are at this moment. How completely blessed we are to have each other as we go forward, wherever life takes us.

So with that, a woman in her thirties wipes away her tears as she finishes her letter to her baby girl. Year one is over; we did it. Logically speaking, I think it's safe to say this has been the best year of your life. What you don't know is that it's also been the best year of mine.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Woman in her Thirties is a Year... in Bunnies

My Spunkin turns one year old this week. Let the tear-filled posts lamenting the passage of time commence... now.

At my baby shower, K suggested that take a picture every month of Anna's life for the first year next to a stuffed animal to track her growth. Believe me when I say that it is crazy-- Ubeki-beki-beki-stan crazy-- that I actually did it. The animal I chose was the pink bunny from PB that L picked out for AB the day we found out it was a girl. Please forgive the shoddy photography-- a woman in her thirties is working on her camera skills.

Months 1-2
A woman in her thirties doesn't make excuses, but let me just say that breastfeeding was all-encompassing for me for a very long time. Sorry about that. So the first pic doesn't include the bunny, but it does include a Santa hat, which is equally cute if I do say so myself.
Month 3
Month 4Month 5
Month 6
Month 7Month 8Month 9
Month 10

Month 11
Month 12 (Shirt from T- in my next life, I'm going to be super thoughtful like my friends)
I'll add another one from today, since it's so darn cute:

So there you have it: A year in bunnies. You can stop growing now, Anna B. Thanks.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Woman in her Thirties Needs her Mom(s)

I'm not a huge fan of Halloween. I mean, it's okay. But aside from bags full of fun sized Baby Ruths, I don't see a whole lot to look forward to. Maybe a woman in her thirties who was drama club PRESIDENT in high school (sniff sniff) has had enough of costumes.

Despite being a little meh about the holiday, I live in a neighborhood where Halloween is taken very seriously. So seriously that there was a giant pumpkin for my little ladybug to sit on for a photo op (AB was neither impressed nor excited):

So seriously, that the local news was parked a few houses down to get in on the action. Notice Dan in the corner-- he made the 5:00 news:

I was all set to post about this on Tuesday, when I started to feel funny. You knew what I'm talking about. When you wake up and go, 'Ugh, I have a headache', and by 7:00 that night you're puking your guts out and calling your bff giving her way too much information about your symptoms (sorry about that, K).

A woman in her thirties has no time for the flu, but this one had me feeling like I'd been wrung out like a dirty dishtowel. Asking for help is never fun, but considering walking up and down the stairs was making me dizzy and drinking water was making me gag, I knew it was time to assemble the troops. And by troops, I mean my mother-in-law. My oh-my-gosh-I-don't-know-what-I-would-do-without-you mother-in-law.

My original request had been for her to come watch Anna for a couple of hours so I could rest and puke in peace. What she ended up doing was coming over at 10:00am to make homemade chicken soup and song you bing (I might have butchered the pin yin there, but basically they are pancakes fried with green onions. I haven't had them since living in BJ!)

All this while I rested upstairs and talked to my actual Mom, who was beside herself with worry and called every ten minutes to see if I was better.

As with all things, this flu seems to have run its course and today I'm feeling much more like the chipper woman in her thirties I am. But it has gotten me thinking about being a Mom, and how it never ends. How I've got one Mom far away, and one Mom close, and even though I'm an old woman in her thirties now, I need them both and they are always there. And how lucky that makes little old me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Woman in her Thirties Chokes

Monday afternoon, Anna and I were doing our weekly produce run at J-Bears. (Side note- a woman in her thirties does not buy salmon at the same place she buys batteries.) It was late for Anna's lunch, so I did what I see other Moms do all the time-- I let her eat a little snack as we shopped. The snack in question was those little freeze dried yogurt-melt deals, the ones reserved for the space program back in the 80's.

I had just placed a jar of cardamom pods into the cart (I'm embracing my Indian side since discovering curry isn't so bad after all), when it happened. I heard Anna let out a cough that I'd never heard before. I looked at her face and saw her mouth opened in a small o, her face turing bright red.

My pumpkin was choking.

This is the part of the story when I tell you that a woman in her thirties, especially one who JUST TOOK A RED CROSS SAFETY COURSE NOT TWO YEARS AGO, remains calm. She thinks about her training, expels the astronaut food from her daughter's throat, and moves on with her day.

Except that's not what happened. As my baby choked, I... choked. I remember sticking my finger in her mouth (hoping to do WHAT, exactly?) while I began to pant loudly. 'Ohmygod, ohmygod, help!' I was saying to myself, only I was also saying it aloud. A worker, who happened to be standing a few feet away, came over to me, helped me lift Anna out of the cart. 'She's breathing,' she said. 'It's going to be okay.'

As the worker got ready to push on her stomach, Anna managed to dislodge the piece stuck in her throat on her own. In doing so, she also dislodged the entire contents of the apricot/sweet potato squeeze pouch she'd had an hour before, all over her white sweater, my shirt and jeans, and into my hair. I have never been so happy to be covered in orange puke in my entire life.

I was a wreck when I got home. When I told L what happened, his first response was, 'She's never having those yogurt things again!' (this is funny, if you know L.) But the truth is, I can't blame Gerber. I was trying to do too much. I gave her something that I knew would be difficult for her to chew and swallow, even if she wasn't in a shopping cart. And worst of all, I panicked. I lost my cool. It could have been so much worse.

This week has been all about two things. One, signing up (again) for an infant safety course. This time with L, and this time with the added perspective of actually having a child of my own that might need my protection. And two, slowing down. AB went back to her normal, happy self within a few minutes after the choking incident, but it has taken me a few days to shake off what happened.

A woman in her thirties does better next time, I keep telling myself. And from the looks of it, Anna agrees.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Woman in her Thirties is Eleven Things

Dear Spookies,

In this penultimate letter to you, I've decided to write down eleven things you might be interested in knowing about the eleventh month of your life. If nothing else, let it serve to remind you that a woman in her thirties can use the word 'penultimate' in a sentence correctly. Vocabulary is important.

1. You have the flexibility of a gymnast. I haven't the slightest idea where you get it from, since touching my toes can prove to be somewhat challenging. Teacher B said yesterday that you need to get enrolled in a dance class ASAP. Let's work on walking first.

2. You know exactly who loves you. You've got your Nie Nie wrapped around your little finger, as well as our cleaning lady, Maria. No one ever gets anything done when you're around.

3. You can go from this:To this:In 2.2 seconds flat. Some warning would be good, Pookin.

4. You still don't have any teeth. I mean, I see them in there, but none of them have poked up. None. My Mom maintains that I had teeth by the time I was four months old, but then again, we're not working under the assumption that you're really my daughter, are we?

5. Last Christmas, when you were still itty bitty, I got a Nook e-reader. Someday you will find that very cute and outdated, but right now it's kinda the cool thing. Anyway, since then I've averaged two books a week, many of them read while feeding you and rocking you to sleep. My favorites have been The Invisible Bridge, Unbroken, Little Bee, and State of Wonder. Read them someday if you're feeling nostalgic for your babyhood.

6. You play a lot. Sometimes you will stop what you're doing and look up at me with a huge smile on your face as if to say, 'Did you see that, Mom? That was so awesome!'
7. You love to feed Daniel. This is a problem, since he is on a strict diet. But it makes you so proud to drop food to him that sometimes we let it slide.
8. You are a talker. All day, everyday, it's Da-DEE, Mom-MEE, and something that sounds like GdongGdongGdong. Often I will turn off the radio in my car and listen to you babble. It's more entertaining than anything I'd find on MPR.

9. You dance. You love the opening credits to The Ellen Degeneres Show as well as The Daily Show. I swear I'm going to video tape it one day and send it to Jon Stewart, in hopes he'll fly us out to New York to meet him.
10. Bath time is the best time at Club C. It will be a sad day when you outgrow this plastic duck tub. Much splashing and Gdonggdonging has taken place in it:
11. Month eleven has been just as wonderful as months 3-10, and a hundred times more wonderful than months 1-2. I am a thousand times happier today than I was yesterday, and a million times happier than I was the day before that. You are a thousand times cuter than I ever thought possible, which is three times cuter than the cutest baby in the world.

That is a lot of math for a woman in her thirties who never quite excelled in the subject. What I'm trying to say is that I love you infinitely.