Archive | April, 2010

Gratuitous, Part 2

27 Apr

Whine: There has to be a way to get through Target without Brother Bear alerting every pitying grandma and bewildered stockboy that I am violating his 8th Amendment rights. Because half-an-hour (ok, maybe it was an hour) in Target is the cruelest form of punishment.

Cheese: By the time he had hollered his way through the store with me carrying him and pushing the cart and spilling out my whole purse in the checkout line, one of the managers came over and said “Hon, you’re gonna need a carryout.” and called a handy little teenage boy over to shove all my groceries into the front seat of my car (although there was only frozen food this time, so I was left to weigh the pros and cons of eating the taquito still frozen.)

gra·tu·itous  \grə-ˈtü-ə-təs, -ˈtyü-\

2 a : given unearned or without recompense b : not involving a return benefit, compensation, or consideration c : costing nothing : free

No cheese was harmed in the making of this photo. Right.

As far as baby gifts go (and I’ve gotten my fair share in the last five years), I’ve come to realize that nothing says “Welcome, Baby” quite like a cheese plate and a bottle of wine. A plate filled with hand-selected cheeses, just for me, I mean, Brother Bear. For a coupon clipper like me, a cheese plate feels sinfully extravagant. Each piece tastes a little bit like guilt as it smoothly melts into my mouth and I wash it down with a sparkling sheraz.

This last month has felt a little bit like a never-ending cheese plate. Wonderful. Decadent. Embarassing. 

Every few days the doorbell would ring and someone would be standing there holding grilled chicken fajitas or sesame beef and broccoli or homemade mac and cheese still hot and bubbly from the oven. There would usually be a salad, with the tiny grape tomatoes sliced in half. Who has time to wash tiny tomatoes, let alone slice them in half?? And the brownies, we could talk all day about the brownies. And the cookies. And the pound cake. 

As I would let each day’s fairy foodmother in to drop off her bounty, she would step over the wet towels in the entryway and the laundry baskets in the living room and would shove the open chip bags aside to find counterspace for the feast she had prepared for my family, I was struck with a sense of guilt. These people have lives. Kids, babies, full-time jobs, papers to grade and/or to write, much more urget things to do than make sure each and every enchilada has enough cheese (and yes, they sure did!). Yet here they are serving my family.

It’s hard to accept help. To know that if it weren’t for some blessed woman making chicken parmesan amidst ankle-biters tearing apart her living room, my family would be eating a frozen pizza, again. Heated up if I was feeling generous. It’s hard because when I let someone help me, I feel like maybe if I had it all together I wouldn’t need to inconvenience them with my ravenous appetite.

So mixed in with the immense gratitude and the deliciously full belly and the relief that tonight’s dinner does NOT involve pepperoni, there’s a dollop of guilt, with just a pinch of shame. I shouldn’t need their help. I should be able to do this alone. But the truth is, I do need help and I can’t do it alone.

Presents keep showing up at my house, too. Books and magazines to read while I nurse the baby. Tiny little shoe-socks. Diapers galore. And money, too, because apparently people who have had babies realize these things ain’t cheap and feel sorry for me. The tooth fairy even stopped by one day with this, which is not baby related but very useful:

Cheaper than a root canal. Trust me.

This is my third baby. I don’t expect anyone else to be as excited as I am. I don’t expect anyone to help me. I don’t expect presents, although I do really like them. So all this hoop-lah has been fantastic and refreshing and appreciated, but I’m not quite sure what to do with it because I didn’t earn it. I get the uneasy feeling that I don’t deserve any of this.

And I don’t. Not because I’m a bad person and I’m unworthy (although I’ve got record high score at “I’m not worthy” the arcade game), but because true love and compassion and friendship don’t come because I deserve it. That would put me in the driver’s seat, always trying to earn more, always looking for my next handout of kindness. And deserving everything I get would rob me of this small little feeling that bubbles up from inside every now and again, this little tiny part of me that feels thankful instead of embarrassed or indebted.

After blessing upon blessing, help and handouts and electric toothbrushes, I’ve found myself heading to a new place. A place of gratitude. I’m pretty sure the friend who brought the king ranch chicken would rather me serve it with a pinch of gratefulness than a side of self-loathing.

So since this is my blog and I haven’t quite managed to write a single thank-you note yet, I want to say a very big THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR EVERYTHING. And not just for the dinners and presents. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog or for calling me repeatedly until I answer or forcing me to go to the park and even just reading this blog, because getting one more reader might be the most productive thing I do in a day. Thank you for being excited about Brother Bear, and fighting over who gets to hold him (even if you do live a thousand miles away) although he mostly just sleeps and eats and hollers in public. I can say this honestly, the last five weeks have been better because of you.

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Dear Whine and Cheese

22 Apr

Whine: Today I made the mistake of buying the sisters each a butterfly net. Then, once I got the nets off their heads (and mine, once) I spent the better part of my afternoon bug hunting with the girls. And by “with the girls” I mean me digging through the dirt with a stick and picking up worms with my bare hands while they called out encouragingly from the safety of the swingset. 

Cheese: I got a “Bravo!” and a “Take a bow!” and even a “You’re an expert, Mom!” Man, if I’d known worms would make me so popular, I would have bought a worm farm a long time ago.

So NOT my idea.

Many of you out there are wondering just exactly what it takes to survive as a multi-child mom. I’m no octo-mom, but being home alone all day with three little urchins requires some creativity, and I’m happy to answer your burning questions. (Actually, if they’re burning, you should probably see your doctor.)

Dear Whine and Cheese,

Since having my baby a month ago I haven’t figured out how moms actually eat. Doesn’t my baby realize that if I don’t eat, neither does he?

Sincerely,

About to Eat my Own Arm

Dear, um, Hungry,

You’ve asked the central question of motherhood. Whether you are struggling to eat because your jelly-bean-sized fetus is rejecting all nourishment or because every time you get some food multiple someones are a)crying, yelling and hollering or b)climbing on top of you trying to get a bite, you’ve got to figure out how to eat, lest the very underpinnings of our civilization (i.e., happy mommas) crumble and fall apart.

That being said, here are a few tips for avoiding the low blood sugar meltdown:

1) While you sit in your car to nurse the baby who screamed through all twenty-four aisles of the grocery store to the pitying (judgmental?) glances of midday shoppers, scrounge around through the jumble of bags until you stumble upon something edible, like a bagel or a candy bar or a few of both. Wash them down with a warm Diet Coke or the cup of day-old water that has hints of dog hair floating around in it. I’d go with the Diet Coke if I were you.

2) When a lovely, kind and compassionate person brings dinner for your family, immediately serve yourself a plate, shoot your husband and kids The Death Look and run to your bedroom. Enjoy your feast while you sit on the floor and watch the reruns of Hoarders on A&E, because at least someone’s living room looks worse than yours.

3)  Two words: Drive Thru. Because they can’t get to you — or your food — if they’re strapped into their car seats.

I hope this helps you retain all your appendages, for this week at least.

Yours Truly,

Whine and Cheese

Dear Whine and Cheese,

I’m now a mother of three. How on earth am I supposed to leave the house, let alone grocery shop?

Sincerely,

Old Mother Hubbard

Dear Mother Hubbard,

When grocery shopping it is important to remember a few things: your grocery list, your coupons (all expired, of course), and a few giant lollipops. Don’t hesitate to utilize the XXL-sized Racecar shopping cart. Just be warned that you will need to complete a driver safety course in order to maneuver the cart without knocking over the cardboard display filled with sample-sized bottles of Irish Spring bodywash that not one of those pitying midday shoppers will help you pick up. Also know that despite the ungainly size of the cart, no actual groceries will fit inside without a delicate house-of-cards-like arrangement. By the time you reach the check-out your chips will be totally crumbled and the labels will be ripped off all your boxes of cereal, but at least you’ll have food to rummage through when you’re stranded in a parking lot feeding The Hungriest Baby Who Ever Lived.

Yours Truly,

Whine and Cheese

Dear Whine and Cheese,

I’m thinking of having children. Should I have noise-reducing headphones surgically attached to my ears?

Sincerely,

La, La, La, I Can’t Hear You

Dear La La,

You pose a fascinating question. Certainly the sounds of early childhood can be overwhelming. The crying in the night when you just barely just fell asleep. The shouts of “she’stouchingmeWAAAHH” from the back seat. The disturbingly loud and metallic crinkle of the new biodegradable chip bag (seriously, SO loud!). The dollar store cd of kids’ songs whose squeaky fast-forward sound makes you wonder if when recording a cd for the dollar store you pay for the recording studio by the minute.

But if you were to muffle all the cries, shouts, crinkles and squeaks, you’d also be muffling the sound of the tiny sweet baby stretching and yawning next to you. And you might miss out on hearing your six favorite words: “Mom, I have to go potty.” (Even if it is a false alarm.) And when you’re up to your wrists in worm slime, you might need your ears free to hear the encouragement of your biggest fan.

So, La La, I wouldn’t attach the headphones, but I’d sure keep ’em handy for roadtrips. Or trips to the grocery store. It’s hard to push a huge grocery cart with your fingers stuffed in your ears.  

Yours Truly,

Whine and Cheese

Gratuitous

20 Apr

Whine: Four am is definitely not the time you want your kids to figure out that they outnumber you. Last night Mr. Dad and I had to switch from the man-to-man defense we’ve used up until now and implement the zone.

Cheese: (cue music) The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup. . .

gra·tu·itous  \grə-ˈtü-ə-təs, -ˈtyü-\
1. not called for by the circumstances : unwarranted

Cuteness

Serious Cuteness

More Cuteness

It's almost too much, the cuteness.

Gratuitous.

Sorry for the short post, but I figured with pictues this ridiculously cute y’all would just pretend to read the words anyway, so I figured I’d save us all some time and leave the pictures as is.

My Danish Wedding: Guest Post by Carrie

16 Apr

Whine: Michelle beat me to the recycled post punch.

Cheese: If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then she should feel extremely flattered. I’m full-on copying you, sister.

Two quick notes before I dust off an old post:

1)I recently received a box of Danish Wedding Cookies for my birthday, so those little white gems have been on my mind lately (and therefore make this post totally relevant).

2)This post was written before I met the Non-Danish Man of my sweet dreams.

Read on…

For as long as I can recall, I have had an inexplicable affinity for Danish Wedding Cookies (DWC). I have a vivid childhood memory of pilfering one of those gloriously pink boxes from the pantry and sneaking it into my parent’s bedroom, where I then hid behind the door and greedily demolished the entire box.

At some point in my early adulthood, I realized that I seriously needed intervention from DWC if I was to avoid an upgrade to the Women’s Clothing Department (WCD). I began to limit my purchases to only the most special of occasions, or ordinary occasions that otherwise warranted special treatment (i.e. PMS). This has seemed to work quite well for me over the past decade. Thus far I have been able to exercise a fair degree of purchasing restraint with the understanding, of course, that any box procured will be promptly devoured.

A few years back I decided that, when my time came to marry, I would celebrate in the style of a Danish wedding. Now, mind you, I have no idea what a traditional Danish wedding entails, nor do I truly care. But come that day, rest assured those confectionary wonders will be lavish in attendance.

Last week I was doing some routine grocery shopping and made a cursory run down the cereal/cookie/cracker aisle. As the Keebler Elves called out to me from the top shelf (in manner of Sirens), it occurred to me that I had not enjoyed a DWC in months. Not ever having been the sort to deny myself for any length of time, I decided to pick up a box. In the checkout line I noticed a thin film of dust coating the package. Not thinking much of it, I went forward with my purchase and anticipated tearing into the cookies later that evening.

Amazingly, I showed more restraint than thought possible and waited a full day to open the box. To my incredible dismay, it was the stalest lot of cookies I had ever encountered. The expiration date was 2 months past due. Now, I don’t know what the typical shelf life is on a box of preservatives, but I have a feeling that for something to actually be past its expiration date, its production was probably somewhere in the Medieval era. This didn’t discourage me in the least.

After eating a handful of cookies of questionable quality, I came to my senses and threw them away. I was walking to the dumpster with the trash bag when, in a moment of George Castanza weakness, I re-opened the bag and ate a few farewell cookies. I am a sick person.

I realize that most men, Danish or otherwise, are not attracted to women who eat cookies out of garbage cans (even remarkably clean garbage cans). Therefore, my Danish wedding may be a good ways off. Interestingly, I recently discovered that Mexican wedding cookies bear a remarkable resemblance (in both shape and taste) to their Danish counterparts. This opens up a whole new world of wedding possibilities.

Carrie (aka cdub), when she is not dumpster diving for her dessert, serves up hot coffee and lattes in her role as barista extrodinare. Beware if you find yourself in her drive-thru (DT) — you may end up as fodder for her blog: www.peopleofstarbucks.wordpress.com. Carrie also keeps the laughs coming with her self-designed line of snarky greeting cards (yes, those are REAL family pictures).

 

Cast of Characters

12 Apr

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Whine: I forgot how little nursing mothers accomplish. Trapped forever in my little angel’s three-hour loop of feed,burp,feed,change,feed,burp,get overtired and scream,sleep,start again. Where exactly does my lunch break fit in?

Cheese: If I ever did get to eat lunch, I would burn off those calories in a heartbeat. Being conceirge to a starving newborn has its perks, I guess.

There are some new readers coming around, so I figured a quick introduction of the major players here at A Little Whine and Cheese might be in order. I was going to do the intro then write a really funny post for those of you for whom this is old news, but, well, you read my whine, so this is all you’re going to get. At least there are some cute pictures to look at. (And if you’re just craving more info, like I’m sure you are, just click the highlighted links to my archives to read further on each character.)

Mommy: That’s me. Thirty-three year old “retired” school teacher. Decided to start blogging as a way to prove that it’s them and not me that are crazy, but spend most of my time discussing the bathroom habits of my family members. Mother to a brood of semi-domesticated raccoons, er, children. Married for almost ten years to Mr. Dad, the consummate Texas dude.

Mr. Dad: My best bud. Plays the role of sane and stable one (read: immovable like granite) in the house, as opposed to mine as the dynamic and energetic one (read: volatile and exhausting). He likes sports so much, I’ve formed a Sports Widows Support Group. Will also be the first to tell you very proudly that Texas is the only state in the union that was once it’s own country. (I told you he was a Texas dude.)

The awkwardly-shot self-portrait.

Big Sis: My VERY curious four-and-a-half year old. This child is crazy as all get out. Enjoys “inventing” things at the expense of my carpet, counters and couch cushions. Rarely plays with toys as they are designed, finding that today’s toy companies are completely lame and without imagination.

Before she put the basket on her head and named it her "Mind-in-ator"

Lil’ Sis: My fiesty little two-year-old. Alternately sweet/sensitive/tender and opinionated/independent/dramatic, we are entirely out of our league with her. She spends a lot of time following Big Sis around and trying to smother Brother Bear with snot-laced kisses.

Before she systematically emptied each and every egg into her mouth.

Brother Bear: The boy. Three weeks old today. Very sweet, but seems to think that awake=hungry=feed me now, lady. I find his exceedingly long legs a lot more tolerable now that he is not stretching them inside my belly.

Lost in thought. Probably thinking of how to get more food.

That’s the family in a NUTshell. If you’re new around here, thanks for stopping by, feel free to leave a comment, I’ll be around the blogging block to visit you (hungry baby permitting). And if you’re one of those who’s read me for a while or known me since birth (hi, mom!), thanks for reading a bunch of stuff you already know. Well, that’s all for now, I gotta go burn some more calories.

You Gotta Fight for your Right to Party. . . or Shower

9 Apr

Whine: I am still working on getting the hang of getting anywhere with all three children. It is that much more difficult when one of your children ties herself to her brother’s carseat with a red ribbon (that had up until that point served as a leash for her newfound pet dinosaur.)

Cheese: I am now faux-famous. Back when I had lots and lots of free time (you know, back when I only had two little wild things to keep track of) I submitted some video of myself to be used as a promo for The Ultimate Blog Party over at 5minutesformom.com (see sidebar). And although the footage of me is short, it is humiliating long enough to illustrate why my acting career never took off. I really, really hate myself on video, which is why after ten years I still haven’t worked up the nerve to watch my wedding video. So it makes total sense that I would ask Mr. Dad to film me 9+ months pregnant then send it to a complete stranger to put on her highly-trafficked website. Total sense.

Question of the Day

If you had five minutes to yourself (and by “to yourself” I mean in a room with the door locked while the heathens bang on it and holler) would you:

        a) take a really fast shower?

        b) eat half a bag of potato chips and wash it down with a few gulps of diet coke?

        c) ignore your hunger and lack of hygeine and watch a nostalgic 80s music video on youtube? (Of course it’s the Beastie Boys, what else could it be? )

        d) take a catnap while sitting in the dentist’s chair waiting for your x-rays to come back?

        e) write a quick thank you note for the cute baby clothes you received the other day?

Don’t worry, just choose the one you like best. There isn’t a wrong answer. Well, that’s not true. E is definitely a wrong answer. Very wrong. If that’s how your’e spending your five minutes, I’ve got a few baskets of laundry that need folding.

As a Mommy, most of the time I get is begged, borrowed or stolen. And it usually comes in five minute increments (or less, usually less). Today I put the baby in the bed, locked the bathroom door — ignoring the distressed cries of my newborn, who by the sound of him hadn’t eaten for days — and took a shower. You know, they say babies can smell their mothers from up to 20 feet away. So I got in the shower, hoping that if I scrubbed hard enough he wouldn’t be able to locate me for a few minutes. Like that worked. But at least I was clean.Well, cleanish, it was a five minute shower after all.

But now that I can officially claim three dependents on my tax return, I’m starting to figure out that if I need something just for myself, I’m probably going to have to either get very clever or use force. Like the time that I was pregnant and starving and in need of snack lest there be bloodshed, and as soon as I busted that cheese out of the fridge, the vultures (who had just had a snack) swooped in and started begging. So I locked myself in my bedroom until I ate every last bite. And then there was the time that I wanted to actually finish a phone conversation that I had started, but the “ambient noise” of the yelling and screaming had grown too loud to form a coherent thought. So I locked myself in my bedroom until I finished the conversation. As many times as I’ve employed that trick and had two pairs of little fists objecting, I’m surprised the door is still in tact.

And as often as I’ve had to fight for my right to change out of the dirty clothes I’ve been wearing in public all day or the right to use my computer without having to pull up Elmo videos, I’ve learned that those are not the only battles I need to fight.

I fight for a few minutes here and there with Mr. Dad. To catch up on the lastest in his sports obsession or to watch the redbox movie we’ve had so long we should’ve just bought it in the first place. To make sure we still remember what the other one looks like and that we are still capable of carrying on a thoughtful conversation that is not punctuated by rounds of E-I-E-I-O or requests for more juice. Because if I don’t have my partner at my side, I’m going to be one frantic mommy.

I fight for time to be myself. To read books without pictures and pray longer prayers than “Please, Lord, get me through the next ten minutes without killing anyone.” To think deep thoughts. And to write, usually not quite as deep thoughts, but generally coherent ones I hope. Because if I don’t remember who I am, then I’m kind of missing the point, aren’t I?

And I fight for friendship. I fly to exotic locales to celebrate my friends’ happy moments.  I allow widespread destruction so I can answer the phone. I sit on the computer longer than I should, looking at pictures of babies and weddings and cakes made and blog posts written so I can feel like I’m still a part of the lives of the people I care about, even if I am locked in my house more hours than I’m not. Because when I’m with my friends (in person or in cyberspace) then I know I’m not crazy. Or at least not alone.

As you can see from the video at the top, we Mommies are a harried bunch. And depending on how long it’s been since we last showered, we are often a hairy bunch. Which is why two lovely ladies invented 5minutesformom.com. It’s a place for moms to go for just a few minutes of connection, ideas, and fun. And this week there’s a party over there with lots of us mommies fighting for our rights. So stop by and spend five minutes there. Because when your occupation is Chief Domestic Officer, five minutes is all you’re going to get.

PS

If you’re here from UPB’10, welcome to A Little Whine and Cheese. Please leave a comment so I know you stopped by and I can return the favor.

PPS

I finally drank the kool-aid. After years of resisting the tremendous pressure, I have caved and created a twitter account. So if you’re the follow-y type, you can find me at www.twitter.com/littlewhine. I’ll try to be amusing, I promise.

My Monday by the Numbers: Guest Post by Michelle

5 Apr

Whine: I am usually the idea girl….but I was running on empty trying to come up with something clever and snarky to post over here.  So I had to steal from my old archives. This little piece is something from when I was on maternity leave with my youngest.
 
Cheese: I am getting more sleep these days…and occasionally even a few more things done. And that little sweet thing that was so much work as a little baby lump is now running around, climbing on counters and continually finding new ways  to ward off any productivity.

my monday by the numbers:

5:45am alarm goes off, if by alarm you mean screaming baby
7:12am time we actually get out of bed

7 – games of solitare
2 – games of solitare won
5 – number of diapers changed before lunch
2 – hours of bad daytime tv (bonnie hunt and crossing jordan)
3 – times that I thought maybe I should be doing something a little more productive than watching tv
3 – times that I convinced myself how comfy the couch was and that maybe being productive was highly overrated
8 – phone calls trying to sell me something
3 – number of times I was almost asleep only to be interupted by a phone call trying to sell me something
50 – percentage of my day spent with a child attached (literally)
4 – number of times I was spit up on enough to warrant changing shirts
o – times I actually changed shirts
2 – times that Tess smiled at me

3:36pm i put on clothes other than my pjs

2 – possibly the number of days since I last washed my hair
6 – level of bejeweled I made it to before Tess’s crying insisted on prematurely ending the game
63 – pages read (david sedaris rocks!)
8 – number of loads of laundry waiting to be done
1/2 –  number of loads actually done (only half because it sat wet in the washer for 2 days before I finally transferred it to the dryer.) 
3 – recipes I looked up online to make for dinner
13 –  dollars I spent on dinner order at Taco Casa

5:36pm dad pulls up in the driveway
5:37pm i make my quick escape for a few minutes of sanity and a latte

 

Michelle is a high school teacher. But since she teaches science and not literature, she feels no compunction to conform to societal conceptions of punctuation and grammar. But don’t let that keep you from reading her blog, which is equal parts hilarious and insightful, even if she doesn’t like commas.