Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties Plays Fantasy Football

Last year, I was invited to join L's family fantasy football league.  Though the pressure came in varying forms, I was adamant that I would not join.  There were a few good reasons for this:

1.  I know absolutely nothing about football.
2.  I do not care to know anything about football.
3.  See reasons one and two.  

Keep in mind that this pressure was coming from L's cousins, who are part of the University of Michigan brother (and sister) hood.  Remember this post, about maize and blue?  I can't keep up with that kind of enthusiasm, people.    

(Um, who is that child from not even one year ago??)

This year, for some reason (I'm going to go ahead and blame pregnancy hormones), I relented.  I was promised by several members of the Yeegue that I didn't need to know the rules to football in order to play.  

It's easy, they said.  You don't have to do anything, they said.  

Because I joined, L decided to join, too.  There is something you should know about L, something that might illustrate the yin and yang of our relationship.  Where I am among the most non-competitive people on the planet (really and truly, I can barely keep up with myself let alone where other people are in relation), L is one of the most competitive people I've ever known. Whether I liked it or not, I was going to live in a house where Sunday and Monday night football mattered.  

Or was it Monday and Tuesday?  Or Sunday afternoon?  I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT FOOTBALL.

(Gratuitous adorableness)

We picked our teams.  Well, L picked his team.  I went to a friend's barbecue during our draft time, and allowed the auto-draft gods to do what they would.  L came to the barbecue after the draft hemming and hawing about how I'd gotten such a great team, and his was terrible.  And I smiled, thinking maybe this whole fantasy football thing was going to loads of fun after all.  

As it turns out, YOU DO HAVE TO KNOW AT LEAST A LITTLE SOMETHING ABOUT FOOTBALL if you want to play fantasy football.  A basic understanding of what each position does is good.  Rudimentary knowledge of how points are scored is also nice.  Oh, and looking at the website is pretty important.  So while I watched L sit at my computer and tell me, week after week, that I might want to take a look at my team every once in awhile because several of my players were injured, I thought to myself what a terrible mistake I'd made by joining.  And then I cleaned puke out of my hair.  

That's when L offered to help.  Now I'd like to be clear for those members of the league reading this post:  There were no shenanigans going on here.  Not shenanigans in the true sense of the word.  L was only doing what I might have done, had I given a rat's behind.  The league caught on pretty quickly and called me out on it, which was the most fun I had during the whole fantasy football process.  I rejected trades and smack-talked about things I really had no understanding of.  L enjoyed it thoroughly.  

In the end, I placed 10th out of 16:

Which, when you think about it, isn't all that bad.  But more importantly, this woman in her thirties learned a little bit about football and how it's played.  I learned that players get awesome nicknames like, 'The Purple Jesus' and 'Megatron'.  I learned that my cousins-in-law are pretty hilarious.  

And next year, they're going down.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties, Halfway

Dear Monsieur Buddy,

Tomorrow, you are six months old.

With your sister, even at this point, I counted everything by weeks. If someone asked me her age, I could tell them basically to the day.  But with you things are different in so many ways, the first among many being that this morning I looked at the calendar and said, 'Oh my gosh... is it really the twentieth? That means MY BABY IS SIX MONTHS OLD TOMORROW!'  And then mental freak-out commenced, because time is escaping me.

I also realized that, with Anna, I spent a lot of time in these letters talking about her milestones.  (She slept 4 hours straight!  She rolled over both ways!  She gave me mastitis!  Again!)  It's not that I don't keep track of these milestones with you, it's just that yours come while I'm trying to wipe Anna's nose, pick up Play Doh from the floor before Daniel eats it, and somehow get a shower in before noon.  Among other things.

And you... well, you just hang out during it all, like the chunky little monkey you are.

Completely content.  Totally happy.

And even though the laundry needs to be folded and the grocery list needs to be made, and did you know that it's Christmas next week and I still have two gifts to buy, I'm here to tell you that even though there are many days when I would actually CUT OFF MY RIGHT ARM FOR A DECENT NIGHT OF SLEEP, I can still go to the place we were six months ago...

...when we brought you home in your premie clothes.  I can remember looking at your tiny little feet and realizing how completely lucky we were.  Both of us.

So now, on your official half-birthday, I'd like to take a moment to thank you.  Thank you for being so completely patient with your sister.

(Taken just this morning-- she really wanted to hold your hand.)

Thank you for being so mellow, allowing pretty much anyone to hold you or feed you, thank you for making it so I don't want to strangle any woman who says she had an 'easy baby', and thank you for reminding me that midnight feedings, when it's just you and me, can be some of the most peaceful times of my day.  

I am so lucky to Mom to you.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties, With a Heavy Heart

I took Aaron on Friday for his follow up appointment with the cardiologist.  I remember booking that appointment after he was diagnosed with PDA thinking, 'Five months is a LIFETIME from now.'  But, like so many things, it came in a blink.

'Turn on the news,' L texted me on the way, so I turned on NPR and heard all the horrors of Connecticut unfold.  I couldn't stop the tears from falling as I lugged Aaron his his car seat through the hospital.  On any other day, I would have joked about how heavy it was to anyone within earshot.  I would have said something like, 'This is why Moms don't really need the gym!'  And people would have smiled politely and wished me Happy Holidays.

After a good, long listen and a follow up echocardiogram, the news was good.  Better than good.  Aaron's heart is perfect; no procedure needed.  On any other day, I would have been dancing in the halls.  I would have Instagrammed a picture of his echo screen and said something like, 'Thump thump perfect!'

But instead, I just looked my baby's sweet face and thought, 'What is this world I've brought you into?'

I wouldn't pretend to know the answers about going out fixing what is broken in our world, but what I do believe is that it is a combination of lots of things.  Like the vessels in our hearts, all dependent upon each other to function properly.  When one piece is broken, the whole thing is in danger.  We all suffer.

And so a woman in her thirties writes this humbled by her good fortune in life, by the precariousness of all of it, by the darkness and light of the human heart.  How it can be fixed and broken at the same time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties Visits Santa

I had an ominous feeling last week when we ventured out to see Santa.  My sweet little Anna has, over the course of her two years of life, become a bit shy around strangers.  Even people who aren't strangers get the shaft sometimes.  On the plus side, it is the sweetest thing ever when she nuzzles her head into my neck when someone tries to grab her attention.  On the minus side, I wasn't confident she would take to the big guy.

A woman in her thirties understands this is totally normal behavior, by the way.  I wasn't the least bit concerned while Anna explored the department store beforehand. If we got a good picture, great.  If we got a bad picture, well, we'd chalk it up to a rite of passage.

 Here's what we got:

It went exactly as I expected.  Aaron was totally chill, just checking things out and happy to bounce on Santa's leg.  Anna... well... not so much.

Here's where things get dicey.  When I saw the pictures, I burst out laughing.  I mean, seriously.  That's a funny picture.  The look on her face, the look on Santa's face, Aaron's double chin... Come on.  That's funny.

'You think it's funny that you traumatized your child?' I heard a voice say.

Wha?  It was the voice of the elf, the woman who took the picture.  I was so stunned that I couldn't say anything at first.  I was holding Anna, whispering in her ear that everything was okay, and thought to myself, 'What is it about the holidays and people judging the crap out of each other?'

'We'll take that one,' I said, probably a little too loudly, when the 'elf' said we didn't have to buy the pictures.  Then Santa worked on the hard sell, trying to get me to buy some cheap light-up frame so we could treasure our holiday memory.

Honestly, I love the holidays.  I love Christmas.  I love the church part, I love the commercial part.  So when I got my bearings together after the adventure was over (Aaron screamed the entire ride home, by the way), I took a minute to reflect upon the picture.  Was I a bad Mom for buying it?  Was I a bad Mom for thinking it was hilarious?  Maybe that elf was right, maybe I'd irreparably traumatized my child....

Nope. It was still funny. And I'm pretty sure Anna will agree someday.  A woman in her thirties learns to love all the moments in life, even the ones that don't turn out perfectly.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties Dances

Remember that time if your life when you just did whatever you wanted without any inhibitions at all?  Remember when you could just let loose and dance and sing, and those moments were total and complete joy?

Me neither.

What I do know is that one of the best things about being a Mom is seeing that spirit in my children. I almost didn't sign up for music school with the kids this semester because I thought it was going to be too hard to wrangle both of them, too expensive, too cheesy for the likes of this woman in her thirties.

I brought out my camera this Tuesday to try to capture the light in Anna's face as she totally let loose and had the time of her life.  It's how it is every time we step into that room-- forty-five minutes of pure and simple happiness.

Here she is, impatiently waiting for class to start:

Standing in the middle of the circle, ready to dance:

 Is there anything better than a shaker?  I mean, really?

 Aaron, watching to the beat:


(Best picture ever?) 

A brief break to check on brother:

Drum time:

 Rattle-sucking time:

According the website, this class is supposed to be teaching my kids fine and gross motor skills and an appreciation for the arts.  I'd say it's working.  I'd also say that it's teaching me the same things.... and more.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties Likes it Hot?

I've been practicing yoga pretty regularly for about three years.  Aside from a doctor-ordered hiatus during my pregnancy with Aaron, I've tried to go at least once a week.  Before I go any further, let me be 100% clear:  despite all these visits to the studio, I am still really bad at yoga.  My body, particularly my old lady back and shoulders, make some positions impossible for me.  But I love the way yoga makes me feel, both during and after.  I like what it does for me mentally.  So I keep going.

Suffice it to say that things have been a little hectic around here for the last few months.  Hectic wonderful, but still hectic.  Carving time out for myself to work out is difficult, but I have found that if I don't do it I become kind of like one of those characters in a horror movie, the ones that always seem like they're barely clinging to sanity, the ones that always end up in the straight jacket by the end of the film.  In an effort to avoid that fate, I made time to get to hot yoga on Tuesday night.

Here's what's awesome about hot yoga: The heat in the room makes you more flexible.  The heat also makes it so you are less sore the next day, at least for me.  And every time I've gone to hot yoga the lights have been very dim, which is a good thing because it makes it hard to make out the smelly, sweaty people around you.

My class Tuesday night began like most classes do:  child's pose.  The teacher, in his perfectly-suited-to-yoga voice said, 'Let your forehead melt into the mat and leave your day at the door.  This hour is just for you.'

I breathed deeply.  An hour just for me...  I could already feel the sweat dripping onto my forehead, but that was okay.  This guy,  this teacher, was going to make it all worth it.

And then the rap music started.  Not even the bleeped-out versions you hear on the radio.  This was hard-core-make-you-blush rap.  I actually love working out to that kind of music, but hearing it during yoga was a little disconcerting.

'Down dog!' the teacher barked.  Gone was the sweet instructor from the beginning of class, the one I was sure was going to 'invite' me into a pose.  As he walked around the room, he started shouting orders.  'Heels down!' 'Fingers spread!'  'Get your EFFING BUTTS in the air!'

The whole hour went this way.  I was so confused most of the time, partially from the sweat flowing in rivers into my eyes, partially from the way in which I felt like I was in boot camp for the United States Army.

When the class was over, I had to take a few minutes to towel off and wipe up the sweat pool around me.  The teacher came up to me, shook my hand and said, 'It was an honor practicing with you.'


Usually a woman in her thirties can tell pretty quickly whether she likes something or not, but I can't even answer that simple question.  In some ways, the class was awesome.  Two days later, and my abdominals still feel sore.  But in some ways, the ways in which I felt like I carved an entire hour out of my life only to be yelled at, I didn't like it at all.  

Here's what I do know:  I've never been happier to walk into 33 degree weather in my life.  

And, more importantly, I maintained sanity at least one day longer.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties and her Mini-Me

Dear Mister Mister,

This week, you are five months old.

My little Mister, my Mister Buddy, my Mistermistermister. How can five months have gone by?

I'm going to start this letter off by telling you a secret.  Well, it's not that much of a secret, not to a few select people.  But it has taken me five whole months to wrap my head around, so here goes:

You look like me.

Now keep in mind that a woman in her thirties has a rudimentary understanding of biology, and somewhere ostensibly I knew that any child I had through my body might look like me.  But when your sister came out and looked like this:

(Anna at five months. That hair.)

I felt pretty sure that L's Chinese genes were going to always dominate, and that was just the way it was going to be.  

But, well, here you are.  Looking like me:

 (That's right, homies.  That's me.  You know you love it.  Mom, can we talk about the bangs, please?)

Anyway, your turning out looking like me has proven problematic.  When people tell me how cute Anna is, my normal response is, 'Yeah, I know.'  Not in a sarcastic way, in a she-really-is-ridiculously-cute way.  But now, when people tell me how cute you are, their remark is usually followed by, 'He looks just like you!'

Which I'm not totally sure how to respond to.  You look like me and yet you are completely, heart-meltingly adorable.  Pretty sure the two are mutually exclusive, but there you go.

I do a lot of talking about how great you are, so maybe I should use this opportunity to say a few things you need to work on.  You know, when you're up at night soul-searching.  

First, buddy, you scratch yourself constantly.  It's getting a little out of control.  

I've resorted to putting socks on your hands to stop you, but for some reason you still find a way.  Quit it, okay?

Next, there is the pooping.  It's not just the sheer quantity of disgusting blowouts, it's the fact that you seem to NEVER do them in anyone else's presence but mine.  I usually go to yoga Saturday mornings, okay?  Could you at least save ONE for your Dad?

And finally, there is tummy time.  If there is one way to make you mad, it's to put you on your tummy.  

Look, I'm sorry.  It's got to happen.

Five months seems like such a short time, but when I think about June and when you arrived, it feels like ages ago.  I hardly remember what it was like to be the Mom of one, mostly because you have brought me so much joy that it's hard to imagine my life without your smiling face and big brown eyes.

Happy five months to my little mini-me.  It's been crazy, and will probably only get crazier, but I definitely know how lucky I am that we're in this together.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Woman in her Thirties, On the Occasion of Her Second Birthday

Dear Bubbies,

On Monday, you are two years old.

Two years ago Monday, you were born.  You are this many (I'm holding up two fingers).  No longer this:

But this:

And this:

And this:
(Your first school picture. *Melt*)

You're going to have to forgive me, Bubbie, because this letter is going to be tear-jerker.  Probably not for you, and probably not for most people reading this, but for me.  Definitely for me.  Because I am currently writing this while you are off on a weekend getaway with your Dad, to be a flower girl in your cousin's wedding.  

And I am missing it.  And missing you.  

How do I even begin to talk about the last year.  Believe me, it's been a whirlwind for both of us.  Last year at this time you were playing with your birthday cupcake (and not eating it):

And I was... well, let's just say I was trying to keep my cupcake, along with anything else I ate, in my stomach.  I'd just found out that you were going to be a big sister...

... and I was scared.  It seems like forever ago.


You've done all the things a little girl is supposed to do by this point.  You walk, you sing, you talk.  And talk.  And talk.  Just yesterday, when I asked you what you wanted for breakfast and brought the requested yogurt to your highchair you said, 'Great job, Mommy!'

And every time you hear your brother cry you say, 'Aw, Mister!  It's okay, Mister!'

And every time Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood comes on you sing, 'It's such a good feeling, A very good feeling...' all the way through to 'I will, too.'

And it never, ever gets old.

But this is not to say that you are not a normal two-year-old girl figuring out her place in this world.  Over the past few months, you have become the pickiest eater I've ever seen, so much so that it's a wonder you're still alive based on your diet of string cheese, cottage cheese, milk, and the occasional pudding cup.

You don't even like juice.  Or pizza.  What you do like is PANERA mac and cheese, whipped cream, and anything confined to a squeeze pouch.  Oh, and hard boiled eggs.  Not exactly the most refined pallet, Spunkeroo.

And then there are the tantrums.  Keep in mind that when I told your preschool teacher you threw your first tantrum last week she looked at me like I was crazy.  ('My daughter has been throwing tantrums since she was nine months old,' she told me.  Oops.)  But you, my sweet, darling angel, my beautiful, perfect little cherub...

Really threw me for a loop.  So much so that I started torturing myself with more parenting books, books I promised myself I would stop reading because they mess with my head.  Did you know that in France every child sleeps through the night at three months old and not a single child throws a fit when she does not get her way, all thanks to 'the look'?

Me neither.  But we're working on it.

I have so many things to say to you on this second birthday.  That I'm so glad you are such a wonderful, devoted big sister:

That you are so ridiculously beautiful that sometimes it keeps me up at night, praying that you never, ever date.  Like, ever.  

That the mere sight of you in the morning is enough to make me smile, that when we play Play Doh together it is the most joyful time of my day, that when I pick you up from school and you run to me and say, 'Mommy! Mommy!' I have to catch my breath sometimes, knowing that it is enough, that you are enough, that if this world were to crumble tomorrow I would have known the happiest a person could ever be, being your Mom.  

Happy, happy birthday to my wonderful girl.  I love you as much today as I ever did, as I ever will, which will always be eternally.