Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Sometimes, I forget that I’m not a celebrity.  Every single day of my life, I feel like I’m being chased by the paparazzi.  No, I do not mean that I’m über-talented or ridiculously gorgeous or highly gifted or anything like that.  Please allow me to explain.

I have lived in the same city my whole life (except for a brief single-gal stint where I lived elsewhere for two years).  I spent three years (my very first job, in fact) working at a local sporting goods store and the following almost-decade waiting tables at a restaurant that was about a stone's throw away from that store.  I went to school for 13 years within a square mile of both of these jobs.  I attend church within that same square mile.  Some could say I don’t get out much.  All of this means that I can’t go anywhere without running into someone I know. 

I have a girlfriend who teases me about this constantly.  We’ll walk into a restaurant and I’ll scan my surroundings and choose my seat wisely—in other words, I’ll sit in the most inconspicuous spot where I am least likely to spied by a former customer.  Another friend of mine prefers to call this “hiding.”

So every Sunday when I do my grocery shopping, I usually see at least five people I know.  And that’s on a slow day! Sometimes (well, not anymore since my child will not take a bottle and I can’t be away from him for more than two hours), I will go to a far-away store just so I can fly under the radar. 

Many mornings at the gym, I used to have the same gentleman come stand by my machine, tap me on the shoulder and give me a big toothy grin waiting for some kind of acknowledgement.  So I’d have to take off my Beats by Dre headphones, lose my place in the magazine I was trying to read, and break my pace in the middle of my run just to have the same repeated conversation.  We don’t work out at the same time anymore, so luckily this doesn’t happen these days. 

It’s not that I’m antisocial or unfriendly or anything of the sort.  I have great reasons, and they usually fall into the following four categories: a) I look like crap or b) I’m rushing or c) I haven’t seen my friend in awhile and we’re trying to catch up or d) I’m enjoying some much-needed alone time.  Most times, it is Option A in combination with one of the other three possibilities.

So next time I see you in public, don’t be offended if I hide from you.  Just kidding.  :)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

15 Things I Would Say to My Pre-Pregnancy Self

I am not the type of chick who has regrets, which my good friend Jay-Z taught me in a song on his very first album many moons ago: “In order to survive, gotta learn to live with regrets.” However, I have lived a little life, and I have some advice that I wish I could give my pre-baby self.

1. Go take those “someday…” trips you’ve always wanted to take because, girlfriend, “someday” is now. Not only will traveling with your baby be more difficult, it will also sound just terrible.  Who wants to waste basically two whole days getting to Hawaii and then deal with the whole time zone thing and spend half the time in your hotel room trying to adhere to your child’s routine?  Go now! Go quickly!

2. Don’t wake up so doggone early all the time.  I know you love to wake up and work out and get your day off and poppin’, but it will not kill you to sleep in until 9:00.  It might do you some good.

3. Try really hard to start liking country music.  I feel like country is an acceptable genre that you can blast in your car (van?) while driving around with your kids. Yes, you may battle depression as you listen to them croon about how their dog died and their wife left them, but country music does not produce skanks like Katy Perry and Rihanna and Justin Bieber.  And that will be important to you someday.

4. Don’t worry so much about getting fat while you are pregnant.  Getting pregnant is not like signing up for an automatic 50-pound weight gain.  Just keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll be fine.

5. Become a teacher the first time around. Don’t be tempted by the “glamourous” (ahem) lifestyle of those in Advertising and PR.  Life is not an episode of Sex and the City and you do not live in Manhattan.  Become a teacher the first time around because one day you’ll appreciate that it’s a great job for a mom to have when her kids are school-age.

6. Try really hard to learn to appreciate zoos, museums and things of that nature.  Just because you’d prefer to be at a sporting event doesn’t mean that you should raise kids who are just like you. (I guess).  Try to appreciate educational and cultural experiences such as zoos, museums, theater and art.

7. Get to know your animals a little better.  Speaking of animals, you are hopelessly bad at remembering which animal is which, particularly farm animals.  Is a goat the same thing as a donkey?  Is a baby cow called a mare or a calf or a veal?  Are chickens the same thing as hens?  This will probably come back to haunt you when you have toddlers.

8. Spend more time with your friends.  Friendships change after you have children, and that’s a fact.  Invest more time in them now and your friends will be there for you when you have kids and long after they’re grown.

9. Try to become a better eater. And by this I do not mean “healthier” eater; no, you are a very healthy eater.  I mean don’t be so picky! Try new things and become a little more adventurous.  How will you ever teach your kids to love brussel sprouts if you won’t touch them with a ten-foot pole?

10. Become more creative or at least fake it. Not only are you not creative, you don’t care that you’re not creative.  So take a chance: refurbish that old table or copy that cool idea you saw on Pinterest.  Even if it ends up sucking, you have nothing to lose.

11. And learn how to sew while you’re at it.  Why do I need to sew? My mom knows how to sew.” But one day, you will want to know how to sew because one day, you will be someone’s mom and they will think the same thing about you.

12. Hang up those pictures in your house.  Or do any other house projects that you want to complete.  Not only will you not have time for it once your kids come along, but you will not want your husband wasting his time working on the house when he could be hanging out with you and your kids.

13. Don’t work so much.  You are such a hard worker and you are always the first one to pick up the slack for others.  It will not kill you to take an extra day off here and there.  Work will be there when you return and no one will die when you’re gone.

14. Stay up (and out) later. I know you tend to go to bed kinda early because you get up early (see #2 above!), but just try to stay awake late.  Once you have a little one, I guarantee you won’t make it past 10 pm.  Speaking of which, just because your friends are getting together at 9 pm, don’t automatically rule it out.  9 pm is not late and you are not old…so don’t act like it.

15. Be a little selfish. You, dear girl, are constantly giving yourself to other people.  I know you’d rather make yourself unhappy than bear the thought of possibly hurting someone else’s feelings.  But it’s okay to say no once in awhile.  Do something for yourself every so often.

And one more thing that I would tell my “old” self is that you cannot imagine how absolutely and completely in love you will be with your little boy from the moment you lay eyes on him.  Everything will change and you will never be the same again. And as scary as that sounds, that’s a good thing!  I promise.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ode to Routine

I’ve always considered myself a pretty chill, laid back gal; sure, I have a pretty good dose of Type A in me (an unhealthy obsession with making lists, for instance), but I think I tend to be rather relaxed and go-with-the-flow. EXCEPT, that is, for Buddy Boy’s routine. 

Because I’m home all day during the week, I can afford to be anal and neurotic with our schedule.  Feeding before the first nap starts at precisely the same time each morning and any visitors are strongly suggested to come between 11:30-1:30.  (Wow, just typing this sentence makes me realize that I must appear to be a rigid and psychotic freak). Afternoon nap starts at roughly the same time each day.  Bath time is precisely at 7 pm, followed by feeding, stories and sleep.  So if you want me to meet you for breakfast at 9:30…sorry, I can’t.  If you’d like to run errands this afternoon…only if it’s between 11:30 and 1:30.  If you invite me to dinner tonight…alright, but I need to be home by 7.  Sure, it makes for a rather solitary existence at times, but I don’t regret it for a second.

Recently, we attended our parenting group for a session on “traveling with baby.”  Well, that’s silly, I thought, who would travel with a baby? Let me tell you…I was in for a rude awakening! Apparently we are the only sad souls who do not travel with their child.  I thought that parenting was the great equalizer; I just assumed that once you have kids, everyone just chooses to sit at home on Friday night and no one goes on trips or vacations until the kids are a little older.  I guess I was wrong!

During the course of the aforementioned “travel with baby” conversation, we learned that three couples have taken airplane rides and most have gone Up North several times. When it came time for our turn to share, I sheepishly said, “Well, we go to Mass on Sundays and we sometimes go to Target.”  And, darn it, I look forward to these little adventures! Furthermore, it was suggested that traveling with your baby stimulates their brains in a way that hanging out at home just does not.  So for the past (nearly) five months, Buddy Boy and I have been holed up inside, safe from H1N1 and the polar vortex.  (This is not entirely true; we did go for walks each day before winter savagely killed this precious ritual).  Here I thought I was doing the right thing by staying home out of the cold and away from the germy masses and it turns out I’ve been robbing him of intellectual stimulation? 

While having conversations with some other moms I know, I discovered that maybe I’m just a weirdo and I march to the beat of a different drummer.  There is no “falling asleep in the swing.” (First off, we don’t have one; secondly, that sounds a little too loosey-goosey).  There is no “taking naps together.”  (For starters, I’d be afraid of rolling over on him; next, I don’t want him to be dependent on me for sleep; lastly, when else am I going to clean my bathroom?).  We did not have a bassinet; we got home from the hospital and Buddy Boy went right down in his big, cold, lonely crib all by himself.  (Clearly, I am the Mother Ice Queen).  In the first few months, one of my favorite things was for my son to take a nap on my chest.  Yes, it was sweaty and yes, my right arm fell asleep most of the time…but I loved those moments and will look back on them fondly for the rest of my life.  However, a 5-week-old taking a nap in your arms is much different than a 5-month-old taking a nap in your arms. I’ve found that my older baby does much better with a…you guessed it…routine!

So I guess the moral of the story is that every family is different.  As long as you’re doing what you think is best for your child, then that’s the best you can do.  Different strokes for different folks, and all that.  I may be singing a whole ‘nother tune when I have three of four kids running around…but until then, I’m sticking to our routine!

Monday, February 17, 2014

This One's for Leah

There’s something about a girl’s hair stylist that is just very personal.  In so many ways, it parallels a romantic relationship. Leah has seen me through breakups, new relationships, an eating disorder, new jobs, schooling (and more schooling) and meeting the man of my dreams.  She did my hair on the morning of my wedding and cut it after I returned from my honeymoon.  She gave me a confidence-boosting haircut two weeks before delivering my first child.  She always knows what I want and also knows what I hate.  She knows my family and all the main characters in the story of my life.  She asks the right questions, gives the right advice and I leave her feeling happy and refreshed.

Long story short, I had a baby nearly five months ago and am going through that balding/hair loss/new hairgrowth/maybe-I-should-go-get-some-Rogaine-for-women type of phase.  As I said, a very fragile time in my life.  I have a precious, healthy and very stubborn baby boy who will not cooperatively take a bottle and who likes to eat every two hours.  I have an irreplaceable hair stylist whose salon is, unfortunately, a 45-minute drive away.  And I was desperately in need of a haircut. You do the math.

I started asking girlfriends for referrals, figuring it’s just a haircut…I’ll be fine.  My sister-in-law, who has hair like a goddess—naturally blonde, luscious and thick, soft, wavy curls—gave her stylist a glowing recommendation; so I booked an appointment.  I waited until baby boy’s naptime and surfed Pinterest, searching for a ‘do that would suffice.  (Let me preface this by saying that Leah NEVER needed a picture of anything.  She just innately knew what I wanted, just like she had ESP.)  I found one that was pretty much what I was looking for: a chin-length bob with bangs…nothing too high maintenance or mom-ish. 

Fast-forward to Saturday morning.  I bounded out of the house (once again, at naptime) eager to meet the new and improved me.  I managed to snag a parking spot only a block from the downtown salon, certainly a sign of good things to come if there ever was one.  I walked in and immediately felt that sense of intimidation that sometimes comes with being out of place.  If the pre-child me was not cool enough for this joint, then the post-child, spit-up-smelling, breast-leaking me was definitely not cool enough.  Strike one.

An Amazon woman with Kool-Aid red hair came to retrieve me from the waiting area with a “Jenny?” and a fake smile.  My name is NOT Jenny; only my mom can call me Jenny.  Strike two.  I sat down in homegirl’s chair and instantly felt as if I might cry.  Am I going to have to tell my life story all over again? She doesn’t even know my name. I quickly explained that I was losing my hair post-baby and that I needed something to disguise my affliction.  (Strike three: she did NOT ask to see a picture of said baby).  I managed to pull my pictures up on Pinterest and she briefly glanced at them and nodded assertion.  Upon washing my hair with some vegan shampoo and conditioner (I know, I was confused, too), we got down to business. 

A short time later, I definitely had a new haircut.  I pretended to just love it as I left and ran to my car, trying not to cry.  It was a mom cut, no two ways about it.  I also weirdly looked like Bruce Jenner circa 2014, when he decided to grow his hair out after his breakup with Kris.  I thought I’d stop at my parents’ house and show my mom; when she said she loved it, I knew I was in trouble.  (For as long as I can remember, we have never agreed about my hair.  When I love it, she hates it, and vice versa).  I burst into tears and started sobbing just like a 4-year-old.  I was still crying as I arrived at home to a husband who was so kind to say that I looked beautiful.

Something this experience taught me: good haircut or not, this new chick could’ve been the Virgin Mary herself and I would’ve found something wrong with her.  I was just not ready to move on, not ready for a new relationship. 

Something else I learned: if you are lucky enough to find a hairstylist you love, don’t let her go, no matter what obstacles may stand in your way!