Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Birthday Blog


“There are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents ... and only one for birthday presents, you know. “ Author Unknown
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Well, I am officially another year older (and wiser?). As usual, my family, friends, and coworkers helped me celebrate the entire week leading up to the big day. My twin sister commented that we don’t just have a birthday, but an entire week of celebrations. As adults, we rarely have just one large birthday party with all of our friends and family. Rather, each day we celebrate with a different group- family A, family B, in-laws, friends, co-workers, etc.  I enjoy this method of celebration, as I get to spend quality time with each group of family and friends, as well as prolong the joy of gift receiving. At this point my week of celebration has ended and now it is time for reflection.

Old Soul

Since the onset of adolescence, I have been considered an “old soul”. I have always been mature for my age and more cautious and reserved than most of my peers. While they had sleepovers in middle school, broke curfew in high school, and had crazy, party experiences in college (and high school), I was uncomfortable with sleepovers, too afraid to break curfew, and worked too hard in college to party excessively. Although I enjoy letting loose and having fun, my friends used to consider me the “mom” of the group. Again, I am such a chronic rule follower that it sometimes gets in the way of having fun.

Age in the Workplace

It seems that young women are caught in a paradox in the work place. Many companies want the creativity, youthful energy, and relatively uncomplicated lives characteristic of young employees. However, as a young-ish professional, I have constantly found myself having to work against the stereotypes projected on me due to age. In order to “prove myself”, I have to work harder, dress more professionally, and conduct myself in a much more conservative manner. I selectively share elements of my personal life and become a much more serious, straight-laced, type-A personality when I am in a professional setting. Although I work with a wonderful group of people, I am positive that I have had to work harder to gain their respect than some of my older contemporaries due to my age.

Birthdays with Children

Celebrating your birthday with very young children is much different than celebrations sans tots. Before Macie I was able to go out, have as many drinks as I wanted, and not worry about being home at a certain time. My birthday was all about ME and I didn’t have to think about anyone else- except for maybe my twin sister. My past two birthdays with Macie have been mostly about her. Even though my husband and I went out this year to celebrate on our own (thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law for watching sassy Ms. Macie), the majority of the day was spent in our usual routine of childcare and entertainment. Basically, except for the late afternoon and evening, our routine was unchanged. I still had to cater to a bossy, demanding toddler, who screams “maaaam, maaam, maaam” anytime she needs anything. Want to know what the most annoying sound in the world is to me? I’m sure you can guess. Overall, my birthday has become less significant of an event now that I have a child. And that’s okay- my life is not all about me anymore. I am not the center of my universe- Macie is. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Although many people dread aging another year, I am thankful for my birthday because it means I am another year wiser. Each year I become a better person- less self-involved, more self-aware, more confident, and much more knowledgeable. Along with my increased cognitive capacity and maturity, I find myself appreciating life and the people in it much more. As I have progressed through my twenties, I have gradually become happier and more fulfilled. Contrary to popular culture, I welcome the aging process and all the benefits it brings.

Cheers to another year of self-improvement! I hope I am as optimistic when I reach 30. J

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa, Baby


Christmas is right around the corner and my family is celebrating Macie’s second holiday season. The gifts are bought and partially wrapped, the tree and holiday d├ęcor has been out since right before Thanksgiving, and we have been listening to lots of Christmas music. Having your child’s photo taken with “Santa Claus” is a popular family tradition during the holiday season. Last year it didn’t even occur to me to have Macie’s photo taken with Santa, as I did not want to endure a trip to the mall this time of year with an infant. When one of our favorite photographers, Jill Shadden, advertised her upcoming “pictures with Santa” mini session I jumped on the opportunity (In the Moment Photography- inthemomentstl.com). This meant that Macie would finally get to meet Santa and we could avoid the frenzied mall. It was a win-win situation.  

This past weekend we had a designated time slot in which to meet jolly old Saint Nick and we were in and out within thirty minutes. While we waited for our turn with Santa, Jill and her welcoming parents had toys out to keep the kiddos busy. Jill’s husband was dressed as Santa (I don’t know how she talked him into that) and they were both very patient with Macie’s lack of cooperation. Although Macie didn’t seem scared of Santa, she certainly wasn’t interested in him either.  After introducing Macie to Santa, we attempted to place her on his lap. The result was a short-lived tantrum as Macie wriggled her way to the floor. We tried distracting Macie with a reindeer stuffed animal and a Christmas book with limited success. Finally, we took a few photos of Macie sitting on my lap next to Santa and some of her sitting alone on the chair next to Santa. I hope Jill captured a few shots of Macie smiling, or at least looking directly at the camera, but I am looking forward to seeing a photo of Macie’s meltdown on Santa’s lap.

This holiday photo session was much more relaxing and pleasant than I expected. I am very thankful to Jill and her family for taking the stress out of this holiday tradition. When it was all said and done, Jill mentioned that Macie was not the only toddler having difficulty with Santa. Apparently, most of her toddler aged clients are less than enthusiastic about being forced to pose for pictures with an overdressed stranger. While this made me feel slightly better about Macie’s lack of cooperation, it also made me wonder why children are so scared of Santa. He is a round, jolly, old man waiting to grant your Christmas wish, not a slobbish, unwashed, drunken man waiting to steal your wallet when you turn around. Sure, Santa technically breaks into your house on Christmas Eve, but he leaves toys, eats cookies, and drinks milk. He’s not dangerous- he doesn’t trash your house and steal your TV.  Santa spends his night selflessly delivering toys to girls and boys. The least we could do is leave him a snack of milk and cookies…although I would prefer a margarita and chips and salsa (just saying). He is the ultimate humanitarian. And yet, so many young children are reluctant to interact with this saintly guy. I suppose this wariness is a good thing. Do we really want our children to be comfortable sitting on a strange man’s lap- no matter how jolly and rosy he appears to be? No way- that’s how children get abducted. Until Macie is old enough to buy into the “Santa” story and appreciate the experience for what it represents, I’m fine with Macie being guarded and uncooperative around Kris Kringel. The next few years of Santa photos won’t be full of glee and childish delight- more likely we will see vacant and/or confused expressions. Right now the photos are more for me that for her anyway….does that make me a selfish mom?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Domestically Challenged


To put it simply, I hate cleaning. Sophie Kinsella’s phrase “Undomestic Goddess”, the title of one of her novels, is a flattering way to describe my domestic abilities. It’s not that I can’t physically do these things….it’s more that I’m not inclined to spend hours maintaining a “perfect” home. Yes, I care that the floors are clean and things are put away (sometimes). But I don’t overly concern myself if the windows aren’t spotless, if the space beneath my couch is a graveyard for stray toys and dog hair, and if my stove is splattered with red sauce. I don’t dust everyday and baskets of clothes are not always folded as soon as they leave the dryer. I like my house to be orderly and picked up, but after putting Macie to bed at 7:00 p.m., I’d rather write, edit photos, read, or watch crappy T.V. than spend an hour cleaning.

Even though I stay at home half the week, I don’t consider myself to be one of those rock star housewives. Some of my acquaintances are the embodiment of domestic goddess. By 8 a.m. they have baked a cake, worked out, dropped the kiddos at school, and are perfectly coifed. Not me. Sure, I’m usually awake by 5 or 6 a.m. each day, but most of my time is spent meeting Macie’s many, and increasingly intelligible, demands. Most days I am in yoga pants and a tank top, with disheveled, pony-tailed hair, and no makeup. I often fit in a work out, but it is usually cut short by Macie demanding to be held. Cooking is on an as needed and limited basis. On motivated days I try to pick up after Macie, but I find myself cleaning the same mess over and over again. Most of the time I don’t waste the energy.

Challenges to keeping a clean house:

1.     Macie is like a search and destroy missile. Her mission is to extract every article from the recycle bin, her toy chest, the kitchen cabinets, her bookshelf, shoe basket, and DVD collection. Basically, she undoes my work in a matter of seconds.
2.     Gunner’s dog hair covers my floor. In order to keep the floors clean I have to Swifter multiple times a day.
3.     Josh is a slob. He leaves things all over the house without thinking twice. For example, he leaves shoes in the bathroom, dirty clothes on the floor in front of the hamper, dirty glasses all over the house, and his snack items and breadcrumbs all over the kitchen counter right after I clean.

Unfortunately, now that we are in the process of putting our house on the market, I have spent much of my free time doing the thing I loathe- cleaning. When we actually list the house I am going to have to spend hours each week washing, scrubbing, polishing, and vacuuming in order to maintain an immaculate home. Although my house is small, scrubbing the main floor is exhausting enough. How am I going to find the energy and motivation to keep the basement and sun porch pristine? I will be spending a lot more time engaged in these tedious domestic tasks, which does NOT make me happy. I guess I need to create a good soundtrack for inspiration. Any suggestions for cleaning music? Better yet, any of you domestic goddesses want to volunteer to help maintain my soon to be immaculate home?

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