The Half-Assed Housewife
 
I have always had a deep love for music. And, this is a secret, so don't tell my students...my love for music goes deeper than my love for books. 

I remember the first time that I truly listened to an entire band's album and realized that music could take you to a completely realm. It was 1995, and my parents just got me a Discman. Yes, a Discman. A portable CD player much similar to a walkman (remember those?). It was black and sleek and cool. You had to hold it flat in the palm of your hand, because even though it said "anti-skip" it really wasn't. And my parents not only bought me a Discman, but they took me to go pick out my first CD.

I thought I had always loved music before that day. I knew lyrics to songs like, "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred or "I Like Big Butts" by the ever-so-eloquent Sir Mixx A Lot. But most of my love for music extended into stuff my sisters or parents listened to because that was what was around, or whatever one-hit-wonder was playing on the radio.

When I went to go pick out a CD (at a music store that sold CD's and tapes), I was overwhelmed. Which CD do I pick? Which one would be worth my 1 CD allottment? This was a huge, life-altering decision that I did not realize would forever change the path that my personality would take. I chose Radiohead's The Bends. Why? I heard the song "Creep" on the radio. I liked it. I thought it was funny. 

When I brought it home, I put on my headphones and disappeared into my room. I listened to the song "Creep" over and over and over again. And at one point, I realized that the song wasn't supposed to be funny. It was kind of sad. And Thom Yorke's voice was so haunting when he said, "Whatever makes you happy...whatever you want....I wish I was special..." and I totally related. I think my pathetic little 11 year old self even possibly cried. 

For the first time in my life, I listened to an entire album. An entire album from beginning to end. Played in order. The way the artists wanted and meant for a listener to appreciate their songs. This was my journey. Oh god, I memorized every lyric, every chord change, every minute little detail of this album. And even though I thought it was so weird at first (it wasn't pop, and it was so different from anything I had ever encountered!) I grew to appreciate the loveliness of the songs. 

My next CDs were as follows: Red Hot Chili Peppers's Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Garbage's self titled album, Alanis Morisette's Jagged Little Pill, Fiona Apple's Tidal, and Shania Twain's The Woman in Me.  Okay, so I understand that Shania Twain seems a little bit off from that entire list, but I lived in Jacksonville, I listened to country, and I did learn a valuable lesson from buying that album. I learned that some songs in an album are just better than others. Which actually made me very wary about purchasing an album before listening to it. I actually developed a slight fear about purchasing an album before I listened to every song. Which sometimes bit me in the butt because I missed out on some great albums by easily dismissing the album so quickly. Beck, for example, has become one of my favorite artists over time, although I easily dismissed him in the beginning of my album listening career. I have also become an album snob. I never buy single songs. Ever. I buy whole albums. I buy whole albums and listen to them repetitively until I learn to appreciate every song on that album. I have come to dislike most Pop music because their albums seem more like samplers instead of a cohesive piece of art (there are some exceptions to this, of course--I still listen to Lily Allen, for example).

I truly hope that my sons--whatever music they decide to listen to--have that same awakening and realization and appreciation to music that my husband and I share. I hope they listen to an album one day, and feel that music can be something more than just background noise.

At any rate, I have created a playlist for my sons. This is not a "Best of" playlist that I have compiled. Instead, it is a playlist of fun/playtime songs. Some songs might have some explicit lyrics, so be warned if you decide to download these for your children, but I chose a lot of songs that have awesome playtime beats. I play this playlist to my son now, and I have to admit, I love the fact that he stops everything and dances when The Black Keys come on. He walks around with an iPod listening to music. Yes, we still sing "The Wheels on the Bus" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider", but normally I sing those songs to him. We play this playlist when I'm cooking, or we're cleaning, or when we're in the car. 

So, here it is...my playlist for my sons:

"Extraordinary Machine" by Fiona Apple
"Sinkin' Soon" by Norah Jones
"Cecilia" by Simon & Garfunkel
"First Day of My Life" by Bright Eyes (also my wedding song, so it's kinda special)
"Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley
"Dune Buggy" by The Presidents of the United States of America
"Bubble Toes" by Jack Johnson
"Splitting Venom" by Modest Mouse
"Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond
"I Turn My Camera On" by Spoon
"Baby's Got Sauce" by G Love & Special Sauce
"Love You Madly" by Cake
"Man Gave Names to All the Animals" by Bob Dylan (I also like Jason Mraz's version)
"I'm a Believer" by Neil Diamond
"Hang Me Up to Dry" by Cold War Kids
"Coconut Skins" by Damien Rice (the non-acoustic version)
"A-Punk" by Vampire Weekend
"Beverly Hills" by Weezer
"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" by Vampire Weekend
"Just Breathe" by Pearl Jam
"Missed the Boat" by Modest Mouse
"You're the One" by the Black Keys
"Mahna Mahna" originally by the Muppets but I play the Cake version


 
 
 
Every mother in the world I know has talked about it: that damn Publix Mother's Day Commercial.
I saw several posts on Facebook about it before I even saw it. Most posts pretty much cursed Publix & said something along the lines of "that commercial made me cry!!"
Seein these multiple posts, I prepared myself. I knew I would eventually see it. I told myself it'll probably make you cry. I thought if I knew it would make me cry, I would be prepared. Maybe just a sniffle. Maybe a little tear.
And one day, it happened.
Laying in bed with my husband, both of us absorbed on our iPads, only half listening to the TV, it came on. Since I wasn't paying attention, I didn't realize it was THE Publix commercial until I was halfway through. I was unprepared. It was an emotional ambush
It begins with a pregnant mother and daughter making pinwheels. Harmless enough. They grab mayonnaise (I think they use too much) and grab white bread (I would have used a wrap or flatbread or at least whole wheat) and they make their pinwheels. Baby kicks & mom says she used to sing to her daughter when she was a baby in her belly to soothe her (it only worked sometimes--she must not be a very good singer). Then mom proceeds to tell her daughter to talk to the baby; tell baby a secret or something about herself. The girl is hesitant and mom suggests she tell her about what a good soccer player she is, but the girl doesn't want to (probably because she isn't actually very good and plays for one of those wussy leagues where everyone gets a trophy despite of their mediocre ability to play).
I continued to watch the commercial with this sardonice running commentary in my head because this is not only the way I enjoy watching TV but also how I harden myself against things that might get me emotionally weak (I despise feeling emotionally weak).
I was successfully passive to be commercial until...that damn cute little girl touches her mom's belly and whispers her "secret": "You're going to really love our Mom."
And as for me: no tears. I succeeded. I did not succumb to this cheesy commercial--a ploy to make me shop at their establishment using pure ethos.
But then--images of Micah kissing my belly flooded my mind (he gave my belly 8 kisses the other day!!!)
And suddenly I started thinking of things my son would teach & tell the baby& suddenly...my husband was asking me if everything was okay and i was sobbing like an idiot, I said, "No!!! It got me!!! The commercial got me!!"
And the thing is...every time I even think of that commercial I cry. So thanks a lot Publix. Thanks for hiring such a successful advertising company that roped my feelings and invested it into your company.
Every time I see that damn commercial, like clockwork, I cry (I even start crying BEFORE the girl says it!!! I am Pavlov's dog!!!!)
And for some damn reason, I now want to make pinwheels at home. With white bread and mayonnaise.
 
 
iIn Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart, the protagonist's uncle tells the protagonist that "Mother is Supreme".
He explains how although in their patriarchal society the father makes the rules, it is always to the mother that one runs to during a time of need. If one is hungry, lonely, or in pain, it is the mother's comfort one seeks.
kThese words sang to me as I read this novel. It isn't that i think that women are more important than men, or that a mother is better than a father in any way. It's just that these words encapsulate the beauty of the relationship between mother and child. It is our wombs that house life from the earliest moment. Our bodies morph and shape themselves to provide the safest possible vessel to protect this being in its formative process.
No matter what our relationship with our children will be like in the future, nothing will change the fact that we were the sole caregivers of this human being in the most fragile moments of his/her life. Our bodies helped make his/her heart. We were the only ones around when it beat for the first time.
This Mother's day, I only want to do two things: I want to hug my son and thank him for the gift that he gave me by turning me into a mother. It is exhausting. It is frustrating. It is exhilarating. It is rewarding.
The second thing that I want to do is thank my mother for giving me life and being there for every part of my life.
She taught me how to enjoy reading: now I am an English teacher. She taught me to appreciate music: a commonality my husband and I share that helped us fall in love. She taught me that family comes first: and I will sacrifice anything for my children the way my mom has sacrificed for her own children.
With these thoughts, I wish every one out there a Happy Mother's Day.
 
 
While talking and carousing with a few of my knocked up girlfriends the other day, we started to swap stories of offensive and rude things that people do and say to pregnant women.
As my Zooey Deschanel-esque friend, Caro, so nicely put it, "I've spent a lot of time crafting my air of unapproachability. A lot. Now that I'm pregnant, everyone wants to talk to me. Air of unapproachability--gone."
I don't know what it is about pregnancy that makes every stranger feel like they can say the rudest, strangest, and intrusive things to someone. Is it because of this so-called "glow" that everyone sees? Is it a secret hormone that we are releasing into the air that makes the crazies come out? Or is it because we are now slow moving creatures that can't waddle our way out of a situation fast enough and are therefore easy prey to the public?
Either way, I have compiled a bucket list for those of you who are wondering what horrible things you can do or say to someone who is pregnant. Go ahead and try them out. Feel free to improvise.
These items are not a countdown and are in no particular order, so feel free to cross these off in any particular order, because whether we like it or not,people are going to say it to us anyway.
1) JUDGE MY BABY'S NAME.
Ask us the baby's name. Make a ton of suggestions. Be very upset if we do not want to tell you. If we do tell you, tell us exactly why you would never name your own child that name. Proceed to mispronounce or butcher the spelling of the name to everyone you know. Publish it on Facebook.
2) TELL US OUR OB/HOSPITAL CHOICE SUCKS.
Tell us who we should go to and what hospital you prefer. Don't care a rat's ass if they are not covered by our insurance. Disregard the fact that we have probably already researched who we like, and disregard the fact that we have decided that they are compatible with our own values. Remember: our values don't matter. You know, because we're pregnant.
3) WEAR A TON OF PERFUME.
Our senses are over sensitive. Our senses are on hyperdrive. It is only natural for us to not want to wear any perfume ourselves. Please wear enough perfume right before you visit us so that our unborn child can taste your perfume through the amniotic fluid. Take it a step further by wearing so much perfume after we give birth that when you hold the newborn, it smells like you when you leave. Secretly, we'd rather we smell you than our baby anyway.
4) TELL US WHAT WE HAVE TO DO.
We don't ask for your advice, but please share anyway. Tell me what book I have to read before I give birth. Tell me if I ferberize my baby I will pay for years of therapy. Tell me if I don't ferberize, I am enabling and coddling my child. Tell me to buy the most expensive items ever, just because how much debt I accrue is correlational to how much I truly love my child.
5) ASK US INTIMATE QUESTIONS.
Ask us if we are still having sex. Ask us what night we conceived and where. Ask us which position because that determines if it is a boy or girl. Ask us if the mucus plug has come out. Ask if the cervix is effaced and how much. You know, I often wondered if people were still going to be as concerned about the state of my cervix after I got pregnant as they were before pregnancy, and I am so relieved to know that people still care.
6) JUDGE EVERYTHING WE DO.
Tell us why it's so horrible for the baby if we don't exercise. Give me a death stare because I ran 3 miles. Tell me exactly why I shouldn't be eating what I am eating right now (it's not organic! It's fried! It's not gluten-free!!) Compare me to every pregnant person you've ever known or have heard of. Especially compare me to Heidi Klum and how she bounced back after pregnancy.
7) TELL ME HOW BIG YOU THINK I SHOULD BE.
Please choose from the following statements:
Wow, I thought you were in your third trimester!
You look huge!
You are way bigger than______.
You look like you swallowed a basketball.
You look great! No, you really do! Really!!
You must be ready to pop.
I bet you're uncomfortable.
Is it twins?
8) TOUCH ME.
Please grope my belly. No, it's not inappropriate. No, you're not invading my space. Yes, if you rub it, you can have good luck. In fact, fondle me now then buy a lottery ticket! Oh, ok...my turn! You know that if you rub my belly, I get to pinch your muffin top and jiggle your arm fat in return, right?
9) TELL ME MY MARRIAGE WILL CHANGE.
Duh. Obviously. Everything changes. But go ahead and use me as your own free therapist and tell me how your marriage sucks. (For the record, my marriage got stronger after my son was born, so I now get to judge you and your problems as you confide in me)
10) TELL ME HOW HORRIBLE YOUR BIRTH STORY WAS.
Frightened, nervous, and anxious do not cover the range of feelings we have (especially for first timers!) We are about to pop out a watermelon through our lemon holes. Please regail us with stories of how you did not reach the hospital; tell me about your painful, week long labor; tell me how your epidural was not working;  and  tell me how you tore so much down there that you now no longer have a difference between your vagina and your anus. It comforts us. I think it comforts everybody. Please keep telling us.
I think this about covers it. But don't just stop there. I think everyone can be a little more creative, though, right? I'm sure there's more that we can do to pregnant people out there.
 
 
For those of you who know me and my son intimately, his birthday has long passed. However, this blog post is not about him, but about the cute little theme I threw for him. 

I know that everyone loves Evites. I, for one, think that Evites are great. But for something with a little bit more pizzazz, I absolutely lovePaperless Post. Paperless Post has the feel of real stationery (something that I love and obsess about). When a person receives the stationery, an image of an envelope appears with their name on it. The envelope opens up and pops out an invitation. The invitation can even be double-sided. 

 
 
Chime in if you feel this way, but in a second pregnancy,  all the excitement of having a baby seems to have been birthed out with the firstborn child. Not like I'm not excited about this baby, but I've noticed myself being very much less preoccupied about the progression of my pregnancy this time around.

With the first pregnancy, I remember obsessively tracking the progression of my baby. Every week, I would get
a weekly email that I would sit and read, engrossed and awed by the miracle of my body and how I was creating a human being. I would sit quietly on my couch and read about how my baby was growing fingers (oh, it could hold my hand!) and how it could now open its eyes (can it see me?) and how it was the size of an avocado (what kind of avocado? I often wondered, but then decided it was probably a Hass avocado).


 
 
As an English teacher, I love names. I love the sounds of names, I love the meaning behind the names, I love names overall. So when I found out that I was pregnant for the first time, I instantly started considering names. I considered both male and female names and unisex names. I considered traditional, trendy, and new names. But even though I LOVE LOVE LOVE names, I found it ridiculously difficult to find a name for my baby.


 
 
I am not a car person. If you stood me next to a busy intersection and told me that you would pay me $1 to name the make and model of each car that passed by, I probably wouldn't have enough money to buy me a coffee at Starbuck's by the end of an hour. I can't tell you anything about engines, transmissions, or brake pads. If my car is making a "funny" sound, I normally can't tell because to me, all car sounds are "funny".

 
 
So, dear readers, I know that you know that my firstborn was sick recently. Luckily, we have, as my heavily accented (and, in my opinion, sent directly from Heaven) pediatrician said, "I believe we have cleared the wood." 
Thank you, everyone, who sent me words of encouragement and assured me that I am "normal" and not as certifiably insane as I felt I was becoming. 

I also would like to send out a public apology to all those of my friends (and family) who have told me that they are now terrified of having children just in case those children ever become sick. I would like to go ahead and say that although I experienced times of high stress in which I felt like my heart would explode due to elevated blood pressure, I would never trade in a nanosecond of this ridiculous life I have chosen. If I trade in the sickness and the poop and the sleepless nights, I wouldn't have the sloppy kisses, the mischievous smiles, and the crazy dancing sessions I get to share with my son. (Note: This is now; I withhold the right to retract this statement once said child has reached the so-called "tween" and teenage years. Then again, if I'm still dealing with poop at that age, then we have bigger issues.)

 
 
My son is a year old. I let him play in the dirt. I let him eat puffs off the floor (my floor at home, not like the floor at the grocery store or some public bathroom--I draw the line there). I let my son hose himself down in the garden. I let him lick the dog (well, at least, I didn't yell at him when he licked the dog, but I obviously was not encouraging the dog licking). I let my son play outside in the rain and jump in puddles. My husband and I throw him around like an acrobat (much to his delight and the disapproving eye of others). I let him fall & cry and bump his bottom and noggin. This has been his first year, and my husband and I have definitely had those moments where we look at each other and say, "Thank god we're such laid back parents!" (Insert hair toss in the wind and scoffing laughter at the uptightness of others).