Country-Fried Mama

A Yankee “mutha” raising kids in the deep, deep, DEEP South

Archive for February, 2009

A lot can happen in 15 years

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Feb-27-2009

Just when I was about to quit Facebook — divorcing myself from requests to list my 50 favorite types of cereal, to test my knowledge of Adam Sandler movies, to get my butt kicked in Scrabulous by people who know words like “qat” — along come a half a dozen friends I haven’t heard from in years.

This always seems to happen in bursts.  Months will go by in which I get sick and tired of the senseless responsibilities of maintaining my Facebook account, and then suddenly, hey, there’s Cathy from my PR job in Cambridge!  Hey, L.D. and Boogie from college!  A friend request from my high school swim coach!

I’m always excited when these requests pop up in my e-mail, but the reconnections are, unfortunately, usually superficial.  It’s hard to catch up after five years, 10 years, 15 years, especially via wall-to-wall communication.

I want to let all these folks know what I have been up to since they knew me.  I’m no longer the single working girl/insecure college freshman/terrible backstroker they once knew.  Now I’m a neurotic stay-at-home mom with two kids and I live in the deep, deep DEEP South.  (This is always the most shocking part of my story.  “How did you end up THERE?” my newly found friends ask.)

My response makes me feel like that woman in the Mirena commercial.  You know the one: she’s a perky blond in front of a perfect family, perfect house, talking about her perfect IUD.  “A lot can happen in five years…Get a promotion…Buy a house…Move to Memphis…Finish a book…Finish a sentence!”

I want to explain to my Facebook pals how I got here, but I can’t adequately do it in a short message. “A lot can happen in 15 years…Graduate from college…Fall in love with a co-worker…Move around the country…Quit three careers…Have two babies…Finish the laundry…Finish a blog post!”

But when I write a long message, I always wonder, “Does so-and-so really want this much detail about the last decade of my life?” Unlikely.

Delete, delete, delete.

Facebook has been good to me, I suppose.  I’m happy when old friends find me, even if our rekindled relationships are too often limited to snarky status updates and virtual snowball fights.  And my Facebook friends talked me out of getting a Kate Gosselin-esque haircut.  Thanks for that, guys.

I am so psyched to know you again Cathy, L.D., Boogie, Sue, and all of you who have (sort of) reappeared in my life.  I would rather go out for coffee with you than assign you quizzes demanding that you “Name That Disney Character!” or send you political flair like, “Democrats are sexy.  Who ever heard of a nice piece of elephant?”  But since I have removed myself to a city which you are not likely to ever visit, I suppose it will be hard for us to meet up at Starbucks and truly reconnect.

I’ll settle for Facebook, and be happy that we have some kind of friendship again.  And please feel free to poke me if you ever fear I am about to make an unfortunate hair decision.

A fairy tale

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Feb-26-2009

Once upon a time, there was a lovely Princess named Miss D.  She grew in grace and beauty, just like her hero, Princess Aurora.  Miss D. was a smart, funny, curious princess, but she lived under a dreaded curse.

Halfway through Miss D.’s second year, the young princess was visited by an evil fairy named Tempertantruma.  Tempertantruma was jealous of all of Miss D.’s fine qualities, so she waved her magic wand over Miss D.’s curly, golden hair and said, “Before your third birthday, you will fall under the spell of your own tears, and hurl yourself into inexplicable fits of crying, screaming, and kicking your feet against the floor.”

And so it came to pass that Miss D. would, from time to time and without warning, drop into a deep despair that caused her to curl up on her bedroom floor and scream for extended periods of time.

The princess’ parents searched in vain for the triggers of these events.  They seemed to increase in volume and length when Miss D. caught sight of her own crying image in a mirror.  And so, the king and queen declared that all mirrors be banished from the kingdom.

Alas, this did not completely solve the problem.  Tempertantruma’s magic was so strong, not even the promise of watching a show or eating a snack could sooth Miss D.’s woe.

The patient but weary king and queen were not about to wait for some prince to come along and break the spell.  Their only hope was that upon the princess’ third birthday, the curse of the terrible two’s would miraculously disappear, bringing joy and sunshine back to the kingdom.  Surely on that day, the royal family could get on with the business of living happily ever after…at least until Tempertantruma visits Princess Belly.

The princess and her sand table on a tantrum-free day.

Wordless Wednesday

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Feb-25-2009

M(mama) N(needs) O(outta here)

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Feb-24-2009

Our family calendar hangs on the back of the pantry door.  On it, I write all the dates I need to know (when Country Fried Daddy is heading out of town, when Belly has her next well-baby doctor’s appointment, when Miss D.’s swim lessons start) and all the events I want Country Fried Daddy to know.  For the most part, the latter consists of only one monthly event.

No, not that one.

I’m talking about MNO: mom’s night out.

Yesterday, I checked the calendar several times to make sure that MNO was, in fact, still there.  At 6 p.m., I called CFD to make sure he remembered.  He did.  At 6:15, I did the mama version of getting ready.  I wet my hair rather than showering.  I picked my outfit based on what was clean, not what was cute.  I moved my wallet from the diaper bag to the purse I used to carry before Miss D. was born.  I walked out of the house at 6:30, even though I was tempted to run.

Ah, the RUSH of leaving my house alone.  To leave without first packing a snack and sippy cup, without checking my diaper supply, without taking one step over the threshold only to turn back inside carrying a child covered in spit-up.  I felt drunk with the freedom of it, but decided it was acceptable to drive anyway.

I got in the car and flipped through the radio stations.  Country, classic rock, classic rock, country, NPR classical, country, classic rock.  I picked a classic rock station and was immediately transported back to high school.  Bad Company was on the radio then, too, back when I was reveling in the freedom of a driver’s license, a car, and a group of friends waiting for me somewhere.

There was no adolescent wildness during last night’s MNO.  We did not go drag racing behind the high school.  We did not dance on the tables at California Pizza Kitchen or steal posters off the wall or stay out past our curfews.

Sixteen-year-old me would have laughed at what 34-year-old me looked forward to as a big night out.  It was enough, though, to eat food prepared by someone else and cleaned up by someone else, to wear earrings without worrying that someone with freakish strength but no common sense would pull them straight through my ear lobes.  It was enough to laugh and commiserate with friends while our children showed their daddies what it’s like to be the only adult home in the house.  It was enough.

In the days leading up to MNO, I can’t wait to get out.  By the end of MNO, I am happy to be home.

After good conversation, lots of laughs, too much pizza, and a very large ice cream sundae, I came home and nursed Belly, helped a sleeping Miss D. back under the covers and hung out with CFD a bit.

It was a good night, enough to hold me over until those lovely letters turn up on the calendar again.

Change your body, change your life

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Feb-23-2009

We joined a great gym a few months before Belly was born.  It is a couch potato’s dream: little TV’s attached to every cardio machine and a cinema room where you can sweat in the dark and watch really bad movies.  (Does anyone really want to see the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?  I don’t think so.)

The place is full of cheesy slogans like, “Doubt doubt,” “Change your body, change your life,” and “If it hurts to tie your shoes, you know you’re doing something right.”

I am determined to change my body, if not my life.  I remember a me before pregnancy #2, before pregnancy #1, before that semester in Spain with the host family who thought American girls need to fatten up, before my freshman year in college when I hit the vending machine every single day.

It’s going to take quite a few trips to the gym to turn back time that far (and also perhaps some magic beans.  Or a fairy godmother.)

I’m pretty dedicated, but still, it wasn’t hard to come up with…

10 reasons why my couch is better than the gym

1.  There are so many mirrors at the gym, I can see my butt from six angles at a time.  This is not a problem when I am sitting on it.

2. On my couch, there’s absolutely no chance that I will drop free weights on my face.

3.  It’s hard to find a parking space at the gym.  I have a reserved space on my couch.

4.  There are three traffic lights on the way to the gym, and they always seem to be red.  It is a much easier commute to my couch.

5.  When I park myself on the couch, I never bump into another woman who got herself all prettied up just to sit there.

6.  I’m not tempted to weigh myself every time I sit on the couch.

7.  There are TV’s all over the gym, but no DVR’s.  I can’t watch endless West Wing re-runs on the treadmill, but I can on my couch.

8.  My kids might be tooting nearby, but it’s unlikely I’ll have to put up with anybody else’s serious B.O. on my couch.

9.  There is no voice screaming at me over techno music, “Don’t quit! Don’t quit! Don’t cheat yourself!” Nobody else is invested in how long I sit on the couch.

10.  When I sit on my couch, I don’t need to worry whether the last person who sat there wiped it off when he was done with it.

Full-contact shopping

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Feb-22-2009

I do not shop like a normal person.  I will go to ridiculous lengths to get a good deal, and I can’t stomach paying full price for much of anything.  I blame this on my kids, on living on one salary, on the economy, blah, blah, blah.  Really though, it started with my engagement to Country-Fried Daddy.

We were living in the frozen North back then, so when it came time to shop for a wedding dress, I went with my mom to The Filene’s Basement wedding dress sale in Boston.  They call it “the running of the brides,” and it is madness. Basically, twice a year this store sells designer wedding gowns dirt cheap.  When I went nine years ago, the price was $250 per dress.

My mother and I got into the city early on the day of the sale, and I should have known immediately that we were not adequately prepared.  Women were there with their entire bridal parties and their whole families.  Everyone sat in line quietly, sipping coffee, looking over magazine clippings, and showing their groups the target.

I didn’t really have a target.  I figured I would try some things on, see what felt right, and go with that.  I was a fool.

As the opening approached, people started pressing toward the gated entrance to the store.  Then a bell went off, and these women RAN toward the racks.  I think I was walking.  I have a slow-motion recollection of my mom in front of me, turning back and yelling something like, “moooove iiiittt!”

I caught up with her, started looking through the racks, then slowly realized everyone else was grabbing as much of that satiny white fabric as they could and piling it on the floor.

Women were haggling with each other.  “I’ll give you this size six, off-the-shoulder for that size four strapless.”  If you didn’t have something to trade, you were out of luck.

I slowly caught on.  I also slowly caught on that there were no dressing rooms involved in this event.  Brides-to-be were stripping down and trying on dresses in the middle of the store.  The smart ones had worn leotards.  I was not one of the smart ones.

I had started feeling like I would not have success at this bride-eat-bride sale, when I spotted a woman wearing the dress I hadn’t known I wanted.  She was peering at herself in the mirror, asking her friends for their opinions.  I walked over, clutching my mountain of discards.  She looked at her girlfriends.  She looked at me.  “Does it make me look hippy?” she asked.  I nodded and held my breath.  God help me.  I wanted that dress, and I got it.

The horrible thing inside me that told that poor girl she looked hippy creeps to the surface even now, especially during church consignment sale season.  Twice a year, the churches around here hold massive sales in which one can find children’s clothing, shoes, toys, Halloween costumes, and baby gear gently used and sometimes even new.  It is a cheapskate’s dream, but it also makes me feel frighteningly competitive.

The first, and arguably the best, sale was yesterday.  Keeping hold of myself during this event was exhausting.  I couldn’t stop looking at the other mothers and what they were carrying.

That sundress she’s holding, that looks like Miss D.’s size.

Maybe she’ll put it down.

Maybe I can distract her.

Maybe her kid will look hippy in it.

No, no, no.

Stop!  Stop!

In the end, I walked out with a big pile of clothes for Miss D., and one cute outfit for Belly. I got some great deals, but I still can’t stop thinking about what I might have missed.  I just know there is an adorable summer outfit hanging in some other kid’s closet right now when really, it should be here.

Bridezilla and Country-Fried Daddy:

A successful start to consignment sale season: 18 items for Miss D., one for Belly, and I didn’t have to insult anyone to get ‘em.

Yes, I’m writing about farts today

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Feb-19-2009

When we were expecting Miss D., Country-Fried Daddy and I spent a lot of time researching cribs, strollers, car seats, and other “gear” to get ready for the baby that was about to rock our world.  We also lurked around the children’s section of the bookstore, dreaming about how our child would, of course, love to read.

On one of those trips, CFD picked up a book entitled, “Walter the Farting Dog.”  Being male, he of course found this hilarious, and the book made its way into our baby’s library.

Fast forward almost three years, and we have a little girl who loves that book, and loves to talk about her farts.  During the many months in which I deluded myself that I could potty train this child, I would hear one rip and start towards her, propelled by fears of poo-poo on the floor.

“Don’t worry, Mommy,” Miss D. would say.  “It’s just farts.”

Belly is getting in on this action now, too.  She can’t “toot her own horn” about her toots, but she is tooting away nonetheless.

Belly has started doing push-ups, flexing her arm muscles and making me worry that she will be crawling earlier than her sister did.  The exertion of pushing her body up makes her fart for some reason, and she always looks disturbed when this happens.  She furrows her brow and looks around as if to say, “Who did THAT?”

Driving around town with these two is like hanging out with a bunch of fourth-grade boys at recess.  Miss D. farts.  She laughs.  Belly laughs because Miss D. is laughing.  Miss D. laughs in the crazed, “I-just-escaped-from-the-loony-bin” way she uses to make Belly laugh.  It works.  Belly laughs until she’s hiccuping.  And farting.

Laugh, hiccup, fart.  “Who did THAT?”

As it turns out, Walter the Farting Dog has a series of adventures.  In one, he valiantly propels a drifting cruise ship into port using the power of his intestinal distress.  A parrot on board squawks his assessment of Walter’s efforts with a line I often think of when the girls are doing their gassy routine.

“It’s not wind power,” says the parrot.  “It’s fart power!”  Indeed.

Wordless Wednesday

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Feb-18-2009

A perfect storm of discontent

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Feb-17-2009

When George Clooney and Marky Mark were filming The Perfect Storm, Country-Fried Daddy and I were living in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the setting of the book and the film.  We had a tiny, fabulous apartment right on the inner harbor.

I remember sitting in front of our living room window one afternoon, with the telescope I had bought CFD for his birthday, watching George steer the Hollywood-version of the Andrea Gail out to sea, over and over and over again as a camera crew shot the scene from a helicopter.

Soon after the movie came out, “perfect storm” became a ridiculously overused phrase to describe every terrible situation.  Even having lived in the city that spawned the story, I couldn’t stand to hear this cliche.  I still can’t tolerate it, but today, I am forced to use it.

Country-Fried Daddy is off on a trip somewhere in the frozen North this evening.  When he called to see how our day was, I said, “craptastic,” but I could have been more articulate by saying, “It was a perfect storm of discontent.”

I am so congested I am having trouble sleeping.  Belly was up last night from 1-3 a.m. and again at 6 a.m.  Miss D. refused her nap this afternoon.

These three events whirled into a perfect storm of unhappiness in this house today.  The children were irritable.  I was irritable.  We irritated each other into further irritability.

Luckily, the end of our perfect storm was not a tragedy at sea, but a blissfully early bedtime for Belly and Miss D. and a cold beer for me.

I might have another.

Happy half-birthday, Belly.

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Feb-14-2009

Belly was born six months ago today, after a scheduled and surprisingly easy labor.  The months since then have been somewhat of a sleep-deprived blur.  I find it hard to believe she is not a newborn anymore.  As I write this, Belly is sitting in her exersaucer, laughing hysterically at her big sister’s dinnertime antics.  I am amazed by this happy little pudge who has joined our family.  She has learned so much in six months, and so have I.

We both started small.  Belly learned how to hold up her head.  I learned how to take a shower while home alone with two kids.

We grew bolder.  Belly rolled from back to tummy and vice versa.  I learned how to grocery shop with one child strapped to my chest and the other subdued by the promise of a sprinkle cookie.

With these triumphs under our belts, Belly and I tried fancier tasks.  She learned to laugh.  I learned to breastfeed in public without caring what people thought.  (Okay, I learned to care less.)

Six months into our grand adventure together, Belly is learning new sounds.  She’s playing with hard consonants.  Her current favorite is “duh.”  I’m trying not take this as personal criticism.

At six months, I’m learning that I cannot do it all.  There will likely never be a day when my entire house is clean, my laundry is folded and put away, my children are in coordinating outfits, and my hair is fixed.  I might hit one of these at a time, but the magic day when all of this occurs simultaneously is not coming anytime soon.   That is okay.

It seems like a good day to make some goals for the next six months.  I hope Belly will learn she does not need to hang out with me at 4 o’clock in the morning.  I hope I will learn how to get all three of us dressed and out the door on time with less stress than we currently incur.

Belly is not learning anything that Miss D. did not learn before her, but it seems just as miraculous to us as it did the first time.

“Look, look what she’s doing,” Country-Fried Daddy and I will often say to each other as Belly blows raspberries or successfully reaches for a toy.

We are learning, once again, to be amazed by the simplest things.

I managed to get the girls into coordinating outfits for Valentine’s Day, with a little help from Bubbe.  (Thanks for the package!)

Half of this maniacal laughter is Miss D.  The rest is Belly, enjoying her big sister.

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