Wednesday, December 10, 2008

… Because we spend more time at work than with our loved ones

I have been in the “real world” for a few years now (it’s been 12 years now since I graduated from college) and in that time I have developed some workplace pet peeves. One of my biggest complaints is the Walking Dead who come to work hacking, sniffling, and groaning about how sick they are. Really? You feel sick? Then USE ONE OF YOUR SICK DAYS AND STAY HOME. I’d understand if we didn’t have sick days to burn, but we do! News flash to anyone who thinks they HAVE to come to work when they feel like crap because they just have SO much to do: you are not so important that the office can’t function without you for a day or two.

Other annoyances:

• When people sign emails with “Best.” Have we become so lazy that we can’t write two more words and sign off with “All the best” or “All my best?”

• Anyone who doesn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. What is wrong with you? Were you raised in a barn?

• Clients who lie about not receiving emails or voicemails.

• Cheap-skates who don’t donate to baby shower gifts but still have the nerve to sign the card and show up at the shower.

• When I can hear two coworkers on the phone IN A CALL TO EACH OTHER. Sort of defeats the purpose of the phone, doesn’t it? Either shoot her an email or get off your ass and walk over to her desk so we don’t all have to listen to your conversation.

• Speaking of Loud Talkers, there is one in my office—who has a wonderful, spunky, charming personality—but talks so loud that I can’t concentrate or think sometimes (and I know it’s not just me).

• If you don’t know how to do something, ask. Don’t pretend that you know if you don't. It will irritate the rest of your competent workers when you/we have to re-do everything at the last minute because it’s all wrong.

• When pregnant coworkers say, “Baby’s hungry” in order to justify whatever it is they’re eating. No, YOU are hungry, and that’s fine. Just eat the damn cheesecake already.

• When The Food Police feel it’s necessary to tell you what’s in your breakfast/processed meal/can of Coke and how bad it is for you. (Sometimes I don’t want to think about the nutritional value, I just want to enjoy the taste!)

• Chronic whiners. If your job sucks so much, maybe you should quit!

• The very annoying and very persistent “I sell home products in my free time and I will keep asking you if you want to buy some over-priced item until I wear you down” Consultant. How many times do I have to tell my coworker that no, I do NOT want to buy a candle (and no, I really don’t want to host a party), before she gets the hint?

• Malicious gossip. “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss other people.”

• We have two functioning dishwashers in the kitchen. If one is overflowing with dirty dishes, add detergent and start it rather than leave your dirty dishes in the sink. If the other one is full of clean dishes, put those away and put your dirty dishes in there. It’s not that hard.

• Anyone who has a superiority complex. Get off your high horse. We all put our pants on one leg at a time.

How about you? What are your office pet peeves?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rhymin' and Stealin'








I meant to post these after the concert Nov. 1. Tenacious D, Ben Harper, and the Beastie Boys. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My little Usain Bolt


Adam is finally sleeping in his crib from 8:15 p.m. to 6:15 a.m., thanks to the Fisher Price Ocean Wonder Aquarium.
“The gentle sights and sounds of a mesmerizing aquarium soothe your baby to sleep right in the crib. The fish swim, a crab plays peek-a-boo, seaweed gently sways, bubbles bounce, soft lights glow, and serene aquatic sounds ease baby into slumber.”
Best thing ever.
He’s also learning to walk, although walking is an understatement. It’s more like careening wildly out of control. His feet seem to move faster than his brain. Every day he gets a little more bold, but he's made it perfectly obvious that he's not in any rush to walk upright. I figure he prefers to crawl because when he’s on all fours, he doesn’t have to worry about toppling over. Plus he’s a ridiculously fast crawler. I like to think of him as my little Usain Bolt. (Only without the Jamaican accent.) Which reminds me, I read that Usain’s “secret” to being the fastest man in the world is eating chicken nuggets. Which is the only reason I let Adam eat them. (Right.)
Our little guy does everything Usain-fast. He eats fast, he moves fast, he talks fast. He also climbs stairs, turns pages in books, plays with balls and blocks and cars and Little People, says no (usually while vehemently shaking his head), says please when he wants fruit snacks (which comes out more like “pay”), helps me clean by moving a Kleenex/napkin/dish towel across the table/floor/our shoes/his nose, and loves to play hide-and-seek in his large carseat box (Aaron, genius that he is, turned the box into a fort.) He likes to look in the mirror, eat sand (and chicken nuggets), and sing. He sings every day on the way home from daycare. He also likes to dance. Aaron and I had him jamming out in the backseat once to the Beastie Boys. Is this a sign that he already knows good music when he hears it?
He may be a late learner when it comes to walking, but his vocabulary is coming right along. He has animal sounds for cow, chicken, cat, dog, horse, sheep, and my new favorite—the VACUUM. His vacuum impersonation sounds a lot like static on a TV channel. He calls me “mama” and Aaron “mama” (we try to remind him that Aaron is DADDY, which he says as “dah-ee”) and he says good morning (“morn”) and night-night. He says hi and bye-bye while doing a modified beauty pageant wave where he sort of twists his wrist and slowly waves back and forth, back and forth.
He was a lion for Halloween, courtesy of our daycare provider (she made the costume for her grandson, who wore it last year) and was a good sport about suddenly having a mane and a long tail. He even let me take about a hundred pictures of him without protesting too much. Our close friends AJ and John hosted a Halloween party for the kids, and everyone had a ball. Adam's friends Jack, Ryan, Charlie, Ellen, Greta, Nora, Leah, and Sadie were all in attendance. The costumes were all creative and adorable.
We also brought him to a Wild game, and he sat through two whole periods—absolutely fixated on the action on the rink—before he started getting antsy. Our friend Molly, who was kind enough to share extra tickets with us, was in awe.
He still does well on long car rides and he’s fairly good when we’re shopping, although he’s not as content sitting in a stroller or shopping cart as he used to be. I can’t bring him to the mall and leisurely try on outfits in the dressing rooms anymore—now he wants to get out and explore (which really doesn’t work so well in a dressing room). His hair gets more and more blonde with each passing month, and he regularly gets compliments on his pretty blue eyes.
I fall in love with him a little more every day and sometimes have to pinch myself that he belongs to me. I mean, how could I be responsible for creating such a beautiful little boy? I'm sure every parent thinks this at some point in time. The concept of giving another person life is too hard for me to wrap my head around so I don't dwell on it too much.
I can’t get enough of his belly laughs (best achieved through tickeling), his hugs and kisses, when he strokes my face and says “nice,” how over-protective he is of me when Aaron kisses me (yesterday he hauled off and whacked Aaron after he planted one on me), the way he throws his head back, closes his eyes, and smiles when he’s acting goofy, how he playfully hits his head and says “bonk” when he’s trying to make you laugh (he learned that one from Uncle Shawn), how he holds a remote between his ear and shoulder and thinks it’s a phone, how he says “vroom vroom” when he sees a motorcycle, how he equal-opportunity flirts with young pretty girls as well as old, wrinkly grandmas, how he likes to comb my hair after I comb his, and how he cuddles right before bed.

In other news:
• We were in the second row at the Beastie Boys concert Nov. 1. SECOND ROW. I could see the sweat on Mike D’s face. Also: Jack Black will always be my faux “boyfriend” (I do not think he's attractive, but he is HILARIOUS. I had two dreams that we got married prior to my actual wedding, and after seeing Tenacious D in concert, I am even more infatuated) and Ben Harper is damn sexy. I wanted him to remove his shirt while he was singing. I am sad to say that he didn't.
• We left Adam with my parents for four days to celebrate Tonya and Sam’s reception out in Idaho this September. They were happy to spend time with him and even more happy to hand him over upon our return. What can I say? The kid is adorable, smart, and funny, but he's also a lot of work.
While out in Idaho, we drank a lot, ate a lot, celebrated Tonya and Sam’s union at a beautiful reception (this was just the reception. Their wedding was out in New York City in June, and I was lucky enough to be part of that celebration, too), hiked around part of Lake Coeur D’Alene, went shopping in town, and went on a boat tour. In our group there were nine of us from Minnesota, two from Wisconsin, three from San Diego, one from Colorado, one from DC, and two from Illinois. We had a great time. Those memories will stay with me until I’m old and grey.


I also:
• Was asked to be my good friend Amy’s matron of honor in her wedding this May (she asked both me and our mutual friend Megan). I was flattered and honored.
• Joined a book club with my cousins and a few of their friends. So far, so good. Our first book was Twilight (go vampires!) Now we’re reading Love in the Time of Cholera. I also just finished Middlesex. Interesting book, to say the least.
• Went to Lutsen Resort with my immediate family, thanks to the generosity of my parents. Went kayaking, played disc golf, engaged in a few rowdy games of Apples to Apples, went swimming, searched for agates on the beach (Adam still loves looking for rocks), roasted marshmallows by a bonfire, and went on a guided night hike in Oberg Mountain. We stayed in one of the “luxurious” Cliff House Townhomes. I highly recommend it.
• Scored free tickets to the Renaissance Festival and celebrated the end of summer with my parents, Shawn, Trish, April, Aaron and Adam. I sum it up this way: delicious turkey legs, over-priced ale, cleavage, belly dancers, jousting, cleavage, strolling magicians, dust, bees, elephant rides, cleavage, role-playing lords and ladies, cleavage, and a mix of artisans, athletes, historians, dreamers, geeks, and people who wish Halloween lasted all year long.
• Made it to the semi-finals in a “Slapnuts” tournament (aka ladder golf, hillbilly horseshoes, testie toss), organized as an MS fundraiser by our wonderful North Star Roller Girl pal Mandi (aka Mickey Dismantle, co-captain of the Banger Sisters). Her friends were just as friendly and entertaining as she is. Aaron wore Adam in the Kelty backpack the whole time we competed. Our nickname was “Team Baby” and I gotta say, we were a force to reckon with.
• Had the use of The Retreat in Webster, Wis. during an autumn weekend when the leaves were at their peak of prettiness and the weather was nice enough to leave your jacket behind. We brought Shawn and Trish for an evening of cooking/eating, drinking, relaxing, playing games, and reveling in the beauty and silence of Mother Nature. Adam liked it there, too.
• Mourned the end of another fun kickball season.
• Helped throw a big party for my grandma’s 80th birthday.
• Went to a pumpkin-carving party at my former boss Stacey's house. Her friends were extremely nice and very intellectual.
• Helped elect our next president!!!
• Took a little road trip to Green Bay to visit Holly and Kevin, Kay and Joe, and Julie and Jim. Between those three college friends, they have NINE kids (one is still in utero). I am always sick of green and gold when I leave GB, but so glad to spend quality time with good friends from college.
• Organized a group of girlfriends to host monthly theme dinners during the long, cold winter. Successfully co-hosted Brazilian night with my friend Christine. (complete with Spanish guitar music, photos of hot Brazilian men/soccer players/ and sunny beaches plastered around her loft, and a menu of chicken empadinhas, caipirinhas with Cachaca, cocoa cake, and fruit dipped in chocolatey brigadeiro! Mmm mmm mmm)
• Got together at Katie's loft with wonderful Lillie friends (I love my CAKE girls, crazy Scott and J-dog!)
•Started having a solid night's sleep (finally!) after nearly 23 months. Either I was losing sleep due to being pregnant, nursing a newborn, or sharing our not-very-big bed with a restless baby.
After having Adam, I will never, ever again underestimate the value of a decent night's sleep.

And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.
~D.H. Lawrence

Ok, so maybe that poem is a LITTLE much, but hey, I've been sleep deprived for NEARLY TWO YEARS STRAIGHT.

I also like this quote:

Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. ~Thomas Dekker

And this one makes me laugh:

If people were meant to pop out of bed, we'd all sleep in toasters.


Good night, friends. Sweet dreams.



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blowin' my mind for the third time





There are many aspects of my teen years that I don’t have any desire to re-live.
Last night, though, I felt like I was in a time warp back to the early 90s and I was lovin’ it. I was invited to the NKOTB concert at the Xcel Energy Center—free ticket—and had a BLAST. There was a group of 13 of us in a corporate suite (with our very own bathroom, snack bar, and private space to jump around in), we pre-partied at a friend’s house, then kept the party going at the X. I promise I'm not an obsessed fan, aka "a blockhead"—I don't even know their most recent/popular song—but with the energy so electric, it was hard not to get caught up in it. It helped that the guys look and sound better than ever. I think the 13,000 screaming fans would agree with me. And could those women scream, although—unlike the early 90s—I don't think anyone was reduced to hysterical tears (I hope, anyhow, for their sake).
It was fun to see 20-and 30-something women all decked out in T-shirts and hats that said things in puffy paint like: “I’ll be lovin’ you forever,” “Joey’s Girl,” and “I Love Jordan.” Some of the T-shirts were originals from the early 90s, all faded and worn and probably not fitting quite the same as they did 20 years ago, and some of the buttons and T-shirts were from their 2008 tour—emphasizing the handsome grown-up NKOTB rather than the bubblegum baby-faced pop stars New Kids on the Block.
They may have a new name (sort of) and they may be pushing 40, but they really haven’t changed all that much. The boys—Danny (still the sort of ugly one), Jon (the shy one/now the gay one), Donnie (the bad boy), Jordan (the cute one) and Joey (the adorable one with the piercing blue eyes)—sang songs from their old records (Favorite Girl, Step by Step, Hangin’ Tough, You Got It (The Right Stuff), Cover Girl, Please Don’t Go Girl, Tonight, Games, etc.), changed costumes multiple times, and danced in perfect synchronicity. These five (or really three, when you consider the fact that Donnie, Joey and Jordan are really the main attractions) knew how to get the crowd going and KEEP the crowd going. In their hey-dey, they performed close to 200 (!!) concerts per YEAR. In 1991, they made more money than Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince. That same year, sales for the group’s merchandise were estimated at $400 million. (I admit it. I had the pillowcases, a poster, and a T-shirt.)
The New Kids have a special place in my heart for being my first concert ever. I saw them in St. Paul with my friend Karla when we were 14. We wore florescent windbreakers, Exclamation! perfume, and hair-dos that consisted of frizzy puffs of bangs and French braids secured with a scrunchie on the bottom. Karla’s dad dropped us off and picked us up, so there was no parental supervision. I can’t remember details of the concert, but I remember the feeling. I thought I was on top of the world.
On July 4, 1990 my closest high school friends (still some of my closest friends today) Karla, Amy, Tonya and I went to see the New Kids again at Harriet Island. The concert planners weren’t thinking logically when they decided on festival seating. Once the gate swung open, thousands of teenage girls ran like a herd of delirious cattle in the quest to find the closest spots on the lawn. As you can imagine, it was pure pandemonium. I think a few girls were even injured in the stampede. My good friend Amy lost a shoe in the madness. Lucky for her, I had an extra pair in my Esprit bag. (Who carries around an extra pair of shoes??) As the afternoon went on, we somehow made it into the VIP section where there were benches rather than the grassy lawn. We could see much better. Another of our high school friends, Treina, saw us from across the fence and started crying and yelling, “I love them more than you!” Once again, I don’t remember much of the actual concert, but I remember feeling blissfully HAPPY.
I also remember blowing my nose that night and getting a Kleenex full of dirt.
Fast-forward to 2008 and there I was again, at a New Kids show, surrounded by one-time boy-crazy girls who knew all the words to the old songs, girls who came of age around the same time I did. It was kind of surreal to think that these one-time boy-crazy girls have evolved into women with careers and financial responsibilities and mortgages and husbands and BABIES (!!), women who probably couldn’t fit into their 14-year-old jeans (sigh) but who can now legally drive, vote, gamble, and order a drink from the bar (woo hoo!) Women who no longer have to IMAGINE what true love is—we now know from experience—yet can still appreciate the innocence and fun of our first boy-band crush.
It was truly an awesome night.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Can she see dead people?

I went to a work-sponsored luncheon yesterday and the speaker was a “fifth generation natural-born psychic.” She’s a 60-year-old dynamo with a mane of crazy black hair and some of the littlest chicken legs I’ve ever seen (she’s a staunch vegetarian) and when she spoke, she was energetic, passionate, and crass (she dropped the f-bomb a few times and—while wearing a short skirt, no less—occasionally sat very, um, UN-lady-like in her chair. Think Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct). She’s an unapologetic strong-willed product of the 60s who brought to mind the expression “full of spit and vinegar.” It seemed like every woman in the audience was intrigued.
After she told us about her life, and how she developed her sixth sense, she took questions from the audience. One woman asked how she could quiet the noise in her head in order to meditate (since this woman had grown up Catholic, the psychic suggested reciting an old Catholic prayer over and over), another asked how a woman can develop her intuition (start with small things, like the outcome of a baseball game, before trying to tackle big, personal issues), another asked if a baby was in her near future (eventually, the psychic told her, but not until she visits another country first). The moderator of the luncheon asked if she’s ever seen ghosts (yes) and HOW, exactly, she knew she had this rare sixth sense (“You know how some people are natural writers or artists or dancers? I was a natural psychic. I just knew. I had the gift.”)
And then it got really interesting. One of my coworkers asked the psychic if she could “invite her in” to “read her aura” (the psychic had explained early on that she won’t read someone’s aura or palm or cards unless first given permission) and the psychic told her that she sensed there was a lot of pressure to have a baby. She then told her that she kept hearing the name Mary. “I can’t think of anyone named Mary,” my coworker answered. “Do you mean my MARRIAGE? I’m MARRIED.” No, no, it was a woman named Mary.
Knowing this particular (adorable) coworker and knowing a little about her relationship, it sure seemed like she was looking for some type of validation ABOUT her marriage. Instead the psychic told her that her husband is “really cute” and “they’d have a baby girl together.” Not quite the answer she was hoping for.
Another coworker, who looks very Italian, was asked if she knows a Tony. (What Italian doesn’t know a Tony?) Her brother happens to be Tony. The psychic then said that her brother felt tormented by her when they were growing up (her brother is 13 years younger than she is, there was no tormenting/teasing, just babysitting). She also said this coworker wanted to be a lawyer because she was always asking questions (she said she has never been interested in law), mentioned a tennis racket (huh?) and said she was scared of doctors (on some level, who isn’t?)
Another coworker asked if her husband should open his own deli in the skyway (the answer was yes) and yet another was told to re-do her stairwell (um, not really possible, since she rents an apartment). When a CLEARLY foreign woman “invited her to read her aura,” the psychic immediately asked, “How many languages do you speak?” (anyone could’ve figured out she speaks at least two) and when the psychic asked another woman how many kids she has, and the woman said she doesn’t have kids, the psychic blamed it on the fact that the woman’s table-mate was sitting too close to her and her “aura was bleeding” over to the next chair, which is why she was picking up her aura instead of the woman in question.
I don’t want to sound TOO cynical (is it too late for that?) but I have a hard time believing that this woman could look at a total stranger and sum up her life in a matter of seconds. There’s a part of me that WANTS to believe she really can “read” a person’s aura somehow, and there’s a part of me that thinks maybe some people really do have the ability to tap into their sixth sense (Gary Spivey is not one of them, I’m thinking more along the lines of psychics who help solve police mysteries), and there’s an even bigger part of me that’s like: You believers are GULLIBLE. I can’t blame them for eating it up, though. I keep thinking about Whoopi’s character Oda May Brown in the movie Ghost. Who doesn’t want to believe that living people can somehow communicate with the dead? Who doesn’t want affirmation that their dearly departed loved ones are safely on the “other side”? Who doesn’t want to think that a stranger might have the uncanny ability to see into our future and read us better than even we can read ourselves?
I used to watch John Edwards’ show “Crossing Over” until my husband asked me why this LEGITIMATE psychic was on the Science Fiction channel? He had a point. And then I later read somewhere that all of his shows are heavily edited to get rid of the “misses” – leaving the viewer with a sense that he’s never wrong about anyone, when in reality he has just as many misses as he does “hits.”
On the flip side, the psychic was extremely entertaining AND she donated all proceeds to a wonderful children’s nonprofit organization in town, and for that I commend her.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

So much for man's best friend

Let's just hope his bark is worse than his bite.



I normally love dogs. I grew up with a springer spaniel, Bandit, and later in life my parents had a Dalmatian, Lucky. I see my brother's dog, Bella, at least once (if not twice) a month. I have grown to love my friends' labs, setters, beagles, pugs, terriers, poodles, chihuahuas, collies, boxers, bulldogs, greyhounds, and mutts of all sizes. If we weren't always on the go, we'd get a dog. Most of them are loving, gentle, and playful. Yesterday was the first time I have ever felt threatened by a dog.

Around 7 a.m., as I was taking out the garbage in the back alley, I was startled by a loud (ferocious-sounding) bark. When I turned around, I was “greeted” not so pleasantly by our neighbor’s Rottweiler, Molly. (I only know her name because I hear the neighbors yelling at her so often.) She was growling/snarling at me (teeth bared and all) and within seconds I was cornered by my garage. My heart started racing. She did NOT look like she wanted to “play.” What do I do, what do I do? Wait here in the hopes that someone will be leaving for work and "rescue me"? Make a run for the house? Throw a dirty diaper at her head?

I had read somewhere that you’re not supposed to make eye contact, so I didn’t (making eye contact gives dogs the idea that you’re a threat). She kept growling and barking at me, which only elevated my blood pressure. I also remembered that you’re not supposed to panic. Animals sense fear. (I tried to stay calm but ohmygod was I freaking out inside.) I told Molly to “GO HOME!” a few times, hoping it would throw her off. I didn’t run away (I didn't want her to chase me) but instead stood perfectly still for what felt like forever, then walked, slowly, to the gate that was my refuge to safety. Amazingly, she kept her distance. Once I shut the gate, she sort of lunged for me and then, just as quickly as she'd run up on me, bolted off to terrorize someone/something else. In retrospect, I probably should’ve called the police. This isn’t the first time this not-so-friendly dog has been seen roaming around.

I was going to go right to work, but I thought I should warn Aaron and Adam. My hands were shaking so hard I could hardly unlock the front door. Once I was in my kitchen, I started sobbing. My nerves were shot. My heart was still pounding. Aaron was in the kitchen, getting ready to bring Adam to daycare, and I think I startled him more than Molly startled me. He consoled me like any good husband would. Adam looked at me with genuine concern in those big blue eyes and gave me a sympathetic smile (maybe that was just my imagination, but it’s a nice thought that he might have sensed my distress and tried to make me feel better.) It took me awhile to regain my composure, but after a minute I stopped shaking. I was still wiping tears from my eyes as I drove to the park and ride. Aggressive dogs scare the crap out of me. And there’s no shortage of aggressive dogs in our neighborhood. On our half-mile walk to Lake Phalen, we pass two Rotts and two Pit Bulls. They sound like they want to rip your throat out when you walk by.

The good news is, I survived to tell the story. The bad news is, not everyone does. Here are some pointers on what you should do, should you ever be cornered by a big, mean dog (and I truly hope you never are!), courtesy of “How to Handle a Dog Attack:"

Most dogs are not aggressive but rather just curious or defending what they perceive as their territory. It is important to be able to tell if a dog is just playing or is being truly aggressive.

* If the dog approaches you with its head held high or low, it is probably not going to attack. A dog whose head is level means business.
* A loping gait means the dog is playful and checking you out. An even, steady run means business.

If the dog lunges, place a direct hard kick to the chin, that can stop even a big dog in mid-lunge. If you miss, then protect your face and neck. If the dog is now biting you, poke the dog in the eyes as hard as you can with fingers/thumb, ... do it again -- harder! Judo chops may be easier and more effective than fists at hard angles up close.

If the dog is biting, the last thing you want to do is struggle or pull away, as this can cause open, torn wounds. If you stay still and protect your ears, face, chest, and throat, the dog will only be able to inflict puncture wounds on areas of your body that have thicker skin.

If the dog is biting someone else, do not pull the victim away for the very same reason. Try to force your arm in the dog's mouth. Push your arm in forcefully towards the throat to minimize damage to yourself. If you have time, wrap your arm in a shirt or jacket first.

If the dog bites you, remember that one of the most sensitive spots on a dog is his eyes. A quick jab in the eye will seriously disorientate a dog, allowing you more time to defend yourself.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Year in Review












Aug. 11 marked one year since Adam arrived. A YEAR. Happy birthday, Baby Boy!

In some ways it seems like a year, in other ways it seems like just yesterday. I can remember— with crystal clear accuracy—various details, while other “milestone moments” are a complete blur. It’s a good thing I recorded events in Adam’s baby book.

I recapped the "Year in Review" with photos, but for this post I'm going to go even further back than that, to when Adam was a teeny, tiny bundle of cells.

After writing a series of stories on infertility at the newspaper, I realize now that all of the stars basically have to be aligned in order to conceive a child, and I feel very fortunate that I didn’t have any problems getting pregnant. And even though Aaron and I were ready to have a baby, I was definitely in denial about being pregnant right up until I peed on the stick. Even when a plus sign showed up—as obvious as obvious could be—I read the directions about 100 times thinking it might be due to some fluke. (Lots of info about false negatives, not so much about false positives.)
Once I was able to comprehend the fact that we had created life (this still amazes me) I had a fairly textbook pregnancy, no morning sickness, headaches, back pain, or severe swelling. I ate pretty much what I wanted, with the exception of those few foods all pregnant women should avoid like fish (high levels of mercury can cause brain damage in a developing fetus), deli meat (Listeriosis, a form of food poisoning, can harm the fetus) and soft cheeses (unpasteurized cheese can harbor bacteria). I didn’t go through any sort of caffeine or nicotine withdrawal since I don’t drink coffee or smoke, and I didn’t really miss my friend Alcohol like I thought I would. I felt BEYOND tired those first few weeks—not just your run-of-the-mill tired, but the “I’m recovering from the worst hangover of my life and I could sleep for a week” variety of tired—but that’s a common complaint during the first trimester. Nothing out of the ordinary. The worst part of pregnancy for me was the mental anxiety. I became a pro at playing the dreaded “what if” game. What if there isn’t a heartbeat? What if my baby has a developmental issue? What if I have gestational diabetes? What if I’m put on bed rest? What if the baby arrives too soon? What if, what if, what if. I drove myself insane. Aaron finally had to tell me to stop obsessing and chill out. I couldn't stop thinking about my good friends who had suffered miscarriages and my college friend who went through the devastating heartbreak of losing a nearly full-term baby boy (due to a knot in the umbilical cord). But if it's going to happen, it's entirely out of our control, Aaron rationalized. All we can do is make healthy choices and hope for the best. And if something does happen, we will lean on each another, grieve our loss, then move on and try again. Yes, yes, yes, I knew that. But with every passing week I grew more and more attached. It was our baby, but it was my body, and I couldn’t escape my irrational fears. They followed me everywhere.
I felt like a manic depressive when Aug. 4—my estimated due date—came (woo hoo!!! The magical date had finally arrived!) and went (more waiting).
Adam finally arrived on Aug. 11, 2007, exactly one week past his due date, also known as The Longest Week of my Life. I'll spare you the details about my labor and delivery, but I will say—for anyone who wonders what a “real” contraction feels like—let me put it bluntly: It’s a sharp, intense pain that radiates through your stomach before hardening into a ball around your baby. You cannot have a conversation while having a contraction. It’s about a million times worse than a menstrual cramp.
Also? Bring music and Chapstick to the delivery room, and GET AN EPIDURAL.

Adam was 7 lbs. 10 oz. and 21 inches long with dark hair and olive-colored skin and a cute button nose and my dad's chin and MY GOD he was beautiful. The nurse cleaned up our baby before tightly wrapping him in a white receiving blanket and placing him on my chest. When Adam stared at me and let out a loud wail, I started crying. I looked up at Aaron and realized he was crying too. It was all so much to process. We were weeping out of happiness (we had a baby!), and a little bit of fear (we had a baby!), and because that beautiful, healthy little boy was our SON.

“I had a good life
Before you came
I had my friends and my freedom
I had my name
But this love is like nothing I have ever known
Come with me, son
I’m taking you home”

What a year it's been since that amazing day. And even with sleep deprivation, a ridiculous nursing schedule (every two hours), pumping at work, skipping out on happy hours, and basically adjusting to the "new normal," I have no regrets. It's been a wonderful year of milestone moments (Was that a smile? Did he just roll over? Look! A tooth! Now that we've weaned him to regular formula, is that a rash!? What? He's allergic to cow's milk? Let's see how he likes baby food. He's sitting up! When is this kid going to crawl? What do you call that? Adam, you like to splash in our tiny sink, why won't you splash in a giant swimming pool? He's flirting with another pretty girl! He's chasing the cat! He's dancing! He's crawling on all fours! He said "Mama, Dadda, Kitty, Nigh-Nigh, Bye-Bye!" He's pulling himself up!) and on and on.
I'm proud to be Adam's mom, and look forward to many more milestone moments in the future. This is only the beginning.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sonic Boom

Not a whole lot of people venture to St. Paul’s East Side for dinner, but that’s exactly what Aaron’s former boss and current coworker are willing to do this evening in order to check out the first Sonic drive-in. They’ve been so excited about eating here I swear it’s been on the calendar for 6 weeks. Forget gang activity, horrible assaults, murders, drug deals, drive-by shootings, and drive-by eggings (I was the victim of an attempted drive-by egging while running around Lake Phalen two summers ago, luckily the punk-ass teenagers had terrible aim. I couldn’t figure out where those golf balls were coming from—where was the nearest course?—until one of the “golf balls” exploded in a goopy mess on the trail ahead of me), now there’s a reason to show my East Side Pride! We have the FIRST Sonic in the entire state, and it’s practically in my backyard! Cherry limeades, Tater Tots, and big, juicy burgers, here we come!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Reflections

I was looking through old journals recently and realized, with sadness, that I started writing about my weight starting when I was 15. I went from 118 to 130 pounds between my freshmen and sophomore years in high school (after I quit the cross-country running team) and apparently thought I was a blimp. Here are a few things I wrote: "Nobody understands how I feel about my body. I HATE it. And when I'm not hating it I'm trying to ignore it." "How did I gain so much weight in one year? I'm two inches taller but that's still no excuse." "I used to be skinny. Now I'm HUGE."
"Why is thin so NECESSARY?"
Fast-forward 18 years and I still wonder that.
I work in a department dominated by weight-conscious women (a former coworker would watch us eat with longing in her eyes and drool practically collecting in the corners of her mouth to the point that no one wanted to eat around her) and the majority of the women in my life—close friends and family—seem to struggle with accepting their bodies. I admit, I'm one of the worst. For this reason alone, I'm glad I had a boy. I once read a statistic that 80 percent of fourth grade girls have tried some type of diet. We're talking 10-year-old girls. I'm sure many (most?) girls learn to accept or reject their bodies based on their mother's perceptions of weight. And of course it doesn't help that we're constantly subjected to images of rail-thin women in the media. It's not easy being a girl in 2008, and it wasn't easy being a girl in 1990, and I'm guessing it won't be easy for the daughters of my friends in the year 2020. I'm sure Adam will have his own adolescent issues, but I have a hard time believing they'll be too focused on his weight. (Unless he's a wrestler.)
Why are we women so hard on ourselves?
I have a friend who is GORGEOUS, the kind of girl who turns heads whenever we're together (and is so genuinely modest she doesn't ever seem to notice all the men admiring her). Most women would KILL to look like her, she is that pretty, and I recently discovered that she won't wear shorts or capris—even when the temps are in the 90s—because she hates her knees and "cankles."
I have another beautiful friend who, in my opinion, has a better body than some celebrities and she hates the way she looks because of her flat chest. She eats healthy, she works out (she recently competed in a triathlon), she doesn't smoke, she rarely drinks, she's long and lean and looks amazing whenever I see her. I don't notice her lack of a rack but she jokes about it all the time, I'm guessing to cover up her insecurities.
I have another stunning friend who obsessively watches what she eats and carefully removes the OLIVES from her martinis because of the "added calories."
I have wonderful, smart, amazing friends and it makes me incredibly sad to think of how we've abused our bodies ... the same bodies that went on to create lives, deliver babies, and provide those babies with milk and nourishment.
One friend used to chew her food and spit it out so she could "get the taste without commitment," one used to eat nothing more than a bagel and an apple a day, and another has been on more diets than I could ever possibly count. She's tried WW, Jenny Craig, diet pills, a crazy cabbage soup diet, no carbs, no sugar, and on and on. I think she's perfect just the way she is, clearly she doesn't see herself the same way.
I struggled with my own eating disorder when I was living with a guy who paid more attention to other women than he did me. Thankfully I met my husband right around then. I will always be grateful that he saved me from myself. I can still picture the two of us sitting outside after work one day. When I confided in him about what I had been doing, he kneeled down in front of me and took my hand in his, sadness and concern in those big green eyes, and asked, "Don't you realize how beautiful you are?"
Just one of the many, many, many reasons I love him so much.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rock and ROLL!

I am convinced that Adam is the fastest little roller in the Midwest. It’s kind of comical to watch, but he gets where he wants to go. He even rolled his little body right off our bed once. I was in the shower when it happened. When I left the bedroom, both Aaron and Adam were sleeping peacefully. When I returned, I saw Aaron on the bed and no trace of the little guy. My first reaction was that Aaron had rolled over ON TOP of Adam and was suffocating him. (We aren't big fans of the family bed, but right now the crib isn't working out so well.) I heard a noise and looked down, and there Adam was—lying face-up on the ground (on a pillow, thankfully. I had set two pillows next to the bed "just in case"), his pacifier was flung a few feet away, and he was smiling and babbling like he hadn’t just plummeted three feet to the ground. I screamed “AARON! ADAM FELL OFF THE BED!” so loud I’m sure I woke the neighbors. Aaron popped up, all disoriented, and bolted over to my side of the bed, where Adam was now staring at us, wide-eyed and innocent, like, ‘What’s the big deal?’ And ‘Hey, it looks different down here. And what’s that under the bed? Is that a big ball of dust? I should try to eat that.’
I personally think Adam enjoyed rolling off the bed. And that scares me. I don’t want him to be an adrenaline junkie dare-devil boy who has no fear. Next thing ya know he’ll be jumping out of planes or scaling Mt. Everest. If he's all about the risks and dares, high speeds and great heights and all that, put me out of my misery now because I will surely have a heart attack worrying about him in the future.

Besides rolling and walking with our help, he also points up to the “birdie” (or whatever word you use in that high-pitched baby voice), rips up Kleenex, or tissue paper, or napkins into many, many tiny pieces when given the chance (then tries to eat the paper), gives high-fives, bangs two wooden spoons against an overturned pot while taking baths in our kitchen sink (a future Ringo?), eats leaves and grass (his daycare provider has resorted to putting him in an exersaucer when the kids are playing outside because of the sheer amount of grass he ingests while sitting outside on a blanket), and claps his hands in excitement. His problem with clapping is that he doesn’t realize when he’s supposed to clap. Like last night, it was 3 a.m. and he was wide-awake, clapping.
Aaron and I also think he said “mama” when he was crying on Monday morning, but we’re not positive. He said it as clear as a bell on Monday, while stretching his arms out to me (I was leaving for work) and hasn’t said it since. When do most babies first start talking? My sister-in-law Amy’s super cute daughter Morgan, who is a few weeks older than Adam, can say duck, but then again, Morgan does everything long before Adam figures it out. Further evidence that girls are naturally smarter than boys?   

Adam has been a regular fan at our softball games, where he's a big hit with a few of the players. They play with him after the game (a favorite of Adam's is Uncle Shawny's "Five, four, three, two, one" rocket launch), and take turns holding him at the restaurant, which gives me a chance to drink my beer and eat my waffle fries and seasoned sour cream without worrying about him pulling things off the table. Aaron and I appreciate the extra help (Dileepa and Jodi are especially fabulous). My work friend/fellow SWAT player Kylie likes to say that Adam looks like a Cabbage Patch Kid. I agree. He does look like a CPK (minus the Xavier Roberts butt stamp). It's those big eyes and chubby cheeks; round head and sweet smile. He is so dang cute! Does that make me sound conceited? I don't care. He is adorable. Plus he's a happy baby, and he’s a chunky baby, and with that combo you almost can’t go wrong. (Skinny, crabby baby vs. jolly, chubby baby? Which would you rather hold?)

His hair has turned more blonde now than when he was first born, and there’s a slight curl when the back of his neck gets a little sweaty. Don’t ask me how Aaron and I wound up with a blonde-haired, blue-eyed child. (Aaron’s eyes are green and mine are brown.) So much for the punnett square I learned in genetics class.

I still take Adam with me everywhere. We're a good team. He seems to know he's in familiar surroundings at Target, Byerly’s, and Maplewood Mall. He even sits in the front of the cart now, his little legs dangling down, his body twisting every which way, rather than in his car seat INSIDE the cart. Knock on wood, but he has yet to make a scene while we’re out in public.

People have been asking Aaron and I (a lot) lately when we’re going to try for Baby Number 2. I used to tell people we’d start trying when Adam was a year old, but now that he’ll be a year old in mere WEEKS, I’m starting to rethink my readiness. Being pregnant for 40 weeks is a long-ass time, and I’m not looking forward to constantly worrying about the baby’s development in utero, followed by sleepless nights and never-ending feeding cycles, not to mention the sheer work of caring for two little ones. I mean, we’re just NOW getting into a steady groove, nearly 11 months later. Are we ready to change everything? How will we afford two kids? Can we love a second child as much as we love Adam? Wait. I already know the answer to that one. Yes. The heart has a limitless capacity to love. There is always, always, always more love to go around.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Loves the ceiling fan; terrified of the vacuum

Adam is nearly 10 months now and has officially spent more time outside of my womb than inside it. He's still very social, and transportable, and happy, happy, happy. He weighs 20 pounds (50th percentile), is average for height, and is starting to go blonde. His eyes are big and round and a beautiful shade of blue and chipmunks ain't got nothin' on those cheeks. He still enjoys traveling, which works well since I like to be on the go, and readily accompanies me (without fussing) on trips to Byerly's, Target, the mall, or local restaurants. He's in his element when he's able to people-watch. He is a very curious boy.
He now waves goodbye, gives kisses and hugs, points (his newest infatuation is ceiling fans), can roll a ball back and forth, shakes his head no, claps his hands, likes playing with buttons, bracelets, tags, and the faucet (we give him a bath in the kitchen sink), throws himself backward when sitting on laps (this one worries me. What if he does this when the adult holding him isn't prepared for it and flings himself onto a concrete patio or something?), drinks from a cup, scarfs down Cheerio's and Gerber's Fruit Puffs like they're the best-tasting treats in the world, loves playing peekaboo, listening to Raffi, and making a mess of his bath water, shakes with excitement when he sees "the kitty" (Pip), and trembles with terror when he sees our vacuum (I had the vacuum sitting in the living room last night and he couldn't relax until I put it "away" in the porch. For about five minutes afterward, he kept nervously glancing over his shoulder to see if it was still there), babbles—all the time—in his secret baby language, and has two laughs: the fake-sounding laugh (yeah, Mom and Dad, those ridiculous faces you're making are really funny) and the full-bodied chuckle (Stop! Tickeling! Me! Can't! Stop! Laughing! Getting! The! Hiccups!)
He's still not slithering on his belly or crawling on all fours, and I'm OK with that. It's sort of convenient not having to worry about him sticking those chubby little fingers in a light socket or eating the corner of a magazine page when I leave the room for a second. I might as well enjoy this lazy phase while I can. I mean, it's not like he's NEVER going to figure out how to get around (Right?)
His daycare friend, Zander, is two weeks older and is army crawling all over the place, he even crawls OVER Adam sometimes (like he's a bump in the road). You'd think Adam would be inspired watching his buddy zoom around the room, yet he remains unfazed. He's perfectly content to sit on the floor, surrounded by toys, waiting for the older kids to bring him what he needs. When he pays ANY attention to Zander, it's with a look on his face that seems to say, "Big deal. You can crawl. I'm so not impressed. Dude, you're totally wasting your energy." (Oh, he is so his mother's child.) When he's feeling really ambitious, he rolls from Point A to Point B, or pulls a corner of the floor blanket toward him to bring a toy closer, or bends way, way down, so his chin is nearly touching the floor from a seated position, to extend his go-go-Gadget arm in search of a certain object. He's more flexible than Mary Lou Retton. It's very impressive.
He's also in the "fling" stage of development, where he likes dumping toys out of containers and throwing them, particularly while in his exersaucer or at a restaurant. Especially at restaurants.
I kiss him all the time, constantly tell him how much I love him, and can't wait until 4:45 every day when I pick him up from daycare. When he realizes I'm there, he looks up at me with a huge grin on his face, reaches for me, then, once safely in my arms, nuzzles his face into my neck. It is such a tender moment. My insides turn to mush every time.

This spring, Adam also:
• gave me a reason to celebrate my very first Mother's Day as a mom
• graduated from his six-session "Water Babies" class
• was baptized at St. Mark's
• was diagnosed with croup (a virus leading to harsh, repetitive coughs that sound like a barking seal)
• battled through his first ear infection (his temp spiked to a scary 103.3 and he was very lethargic and whiney, poor little guy)
• sprouted a few teeth (probably related to the ear infection)
• welcomed his newest cousin, Logan Joshua, into the world on May 20
• went to Como Zoo for the first time with Auntie Tonya, Megan, Karla & Greta. (Loved the fish tanks, was sort of indifferent to the rest of the animals.)
• hung out with Grandma Patti so Aaron & I could go on a movie & dinner date one night & play SWAT softball another evening. We appreciated the opportunity to play softball together, rather than taking turns.
• had a slumber party in Forest Lake with Grandma & Grandpa S. so we could go to a friend's wedding up in Hinckley. (It was the first time both Aaron & I spent the night away from our little boy.) We missed him, but we all did just fine. To be honest, I don't think he even realized we were gone, he was having such a good time.
• spent a fun day/evening with his godparents, Uncle Shawn & Auntie Trish, while Aaron & I went to a friend's wedding in Wayzata. There was only one couple at our table who didn't have kids (I'm sure they REALLY enjoyed our conversations about breastfeeding, little boys "finding" their units, and thumbs vs. pacifiers). Five years ago we would've been appalled by those conversations. Ah, yes, times have changed, my friends. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, May 16, 2008

100 things about me

Long list ...

1. My mom said I used to love pouring Kool-Aid for the parents when I was in preschool. I've been social ever since.
2. We had a Springer Spaniel named Bandit while growing up. He was black and white and very naughty. In college my parents got a Dalmatian puppy, Lucky, who I grew to love despite his hyper personality. I get a little sentimental whenever I see a Dalmatian now. If we ever get a dog, though, we’d get a lab or golden retriever—and hopefully a mellow one!
3. I love this quote: "Sometimes courage doesn't roar. Sometimes courage is a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow."
4. I would love to visit the East Coast. The farthest east I’ve been is Florida, which is really more south. Some day I would like to visit New York, Boston, DC, and Maine.
5. I play either first base, second base, or left center on the SWAT softball team. I've been playing ball for as long as I can remember. I'm not good, but I'm not terrible, either. I can hold my own.
6. I love dressing up on Halloween, and I'm proud to have friends who are equally creative and will get into that holiday, too.
7. My favorite beer is Alaskan Amber. A close second is Summit EPA or Leinie's Honeyweiss (with lemon). Nothing tastes better on a hot summer day.
8. I love going to plays. I love the whole ambiance of theaters. I even dabbled in acting—playing the lead in the community theater production of "Maggie" in sixth grade. I played a troubled girl who escaped by living in a fantasy world. I shot my mom at the end. There were kindergarten classes watching. It was very controversial.
9. I went by Christina in third grade because my friend Annie told me "Chrissy is a baby name" and I figured Christina sounded more grown-up. In fourth grade, it was back to Chrissy.
10. I have a little bit of lead in my right hand from accidentally stabbing myself with a #2 pencil when I was in ninth grade. Aaron also has pencil lead in his hand. We were meant to be.
11. I love a good thunderstorm, as long as I’m home and my loved ones are with me.
12. I bowled a 160 when I was pregnant. First and last time that ever happened!
13. I can bait my own hook, but hate taking the fish off the line.
14. I'm Swedish, German, Norwegian and French.
15. I'm not very good at decorating. Or cooking. Martha Stewart would be appalled.
16. I saw Mitch Hedberg perform in Seattle a year before he died. He was hilarious.
17. I have worked at Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Chi Chi’s, Applebee’s, and Jake’s Sports Cafe. I am always nice to fast food employees and I tip 20 percent when a server deserves it.
18. I admire authors Lorrie Moore, Louise Erdrich, Alice Sebold, Stephen King, Amy Tan, and Jonathon Hasselford.
19. My grandpa had skin cancer, so I'm very careful to always wear sunblock.
20. I think roses are cliché. I would rather receive brightly colored wild flowers.
21. As hard as I try, I can’t do the crawl stroke in a straight line. When I'm in a swimming pool, I’m all over the place like a drunk fish, so I usually just do the sidestroke instead.
22. I would rather go on a double date with my parents than anyone else.
23. I believe in karma.
24. I can’t drive a stick shift. What if there’s an emergency and the only car available is a five-speed? I better learn.
25. One of my favorite smells is a bonfire. Reminds me of camping. I love camping.
26. I’m absolutely terrified of flying. I think about crashing and dying 80 percent of the time the plane is at cruising altitude. If there’s turbulence, forget it. I silently stare out the window and pray, consumed with worst-case scenario thoughts. Yes, I’m aware that the chances of dying in a plane crash are one in 11 million. That statistic doesn’t help calm my nerves.
27. I have a full-blooded sister, Mary, who my mom gave up for adoption back in the 70s. She found & contacted my parents when I was 18. Today we're close friends. Aaron & I are her youngest son's godparents.
28. I won a spelling bee in fifth grade and moved on to the regional spelling bee. I missed the word pennant.
29. My college photography professor asked me if I was wearing my glasses when I took photos because my pictures were always slightly out of focus. I was embarrassed to admit that yes, I was wearing my contacts, I was just that bad.
30. My first boyfriend, Brian, aka “BP,” taught me a lot about what I wanted in a relationship. We dated for five years (high school and college). He taught me how to appreciate “good” beer (Summit), alternative music (Beastie Boys! 808 State! Social D!), live on the edge, and find meaning in the little gestures. He took me to prom, helped me buy my first bike (RIP trusty Gary Fisher, sorry that my little brother Nick ran over you), taught me how to mountain bike in Hayward, introduced me to Urban Outfitters, Figlio, Davanni's and Cheapo Records, and took me to some crazy Minnesota parties. He was always very supportive of my writing, and encouraged me to chase my dreams. I’ll always have a soft spot for him, but we’re so much better off as friends.
31. I only gave blood once in high school. I wish I could do it regularly, like Aaron, but I get too queasy. (I tried to donate blood in college and they turned me away. They thought I was anemic. I’m not.)
32. I like touring Victorian-era homes, just like my mom. There's something romantic about that time in history.
33. I can talk to just about anyone, just like my dad.
34. I would rather wear pants, capris, or jeans than skirts or dresses. The one exception is weddings.
35. I just recently learned the value of keeping secrets.
36. I do not believe in a condemning God. I believe that God loves and accepts everyone, gay or straight, rich or poor, black or white. Aaron & I recently started going to a Lutheran church in my old neighborhood. It's the first time in a long time I enjoy going to church again.
37. I used to care a lot about celebrity gossip. I don't care that much anymore.
38. The first boy I slow danced with was Mike D. We danced to “I had the time of my life” from the movie Dirty Dancing. We stood about four feet apart. I was sweating and nervous. He was silent. It was not romantic.
39. I prefer a glass of white over a glass of red.
40. I can polka. And do the time-step, Roger Rabbit, Electric Slide and Macarena. I love dancing at wedding receptions.
41. When I was a brunette, two different men told me I looked like "Roz" from the TV show Frasier. Someone also told me once that I looked like Linda Blair from the Exorcist. (Don't worry. My head doesn't spin in circles.)
42. I own a lot of colorful bracelets and a collection of shot glasses.
43. I was on the track team in college. I competed in the 200-meter dash and triple jump. There are some days when I really miss it.
44. My first car was a 1993 Toyota Tercel wagon. I called him "Big Daddy."
45. I love the expression “Ever see a U-Haul behind a hearse?” In other words, you can't take it with you when you go. Material things don’t make the soul whole. Why does our society place so much emphasis on things, anyhow? It drives me crazy.
46. I like dark red polish on my toenails; no polish on my fingers.
47. My favorite children’s book is “Charlotte’s Web.” My mom loves that book, too. She even wanted to name me Fern.
48. My second love was JJ. He taught me that everyone has a story to tell, to never pass judgment until getting to know someone, to see the good in the most dire situations. He also taught me to really appreciate my family, and introduced me to some awesome ska bands and the art of making "good" coffee. He showered me with compliments and made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. I loved him intensely and actually felt sorry for people who didn't have our same spark. He went so far as having my birthday tattooed on the back of his neck in the form of a bar code. At some point I realized he was never going to grow up and I couldn’t live in his dream world forever. When we broke up, he told me his tattoo signified “the day his best friend died.” Right around then Aaron entered the picture & my life changed forever.
49. I ran a 10K race in Green Bay during the summer of 2006. It made me consider doing a half marathon. Maybe some day ...
50. My favorite lunch items: chicken wraps, Chipotle burrito bowls, Greek salads (no red onion), vegetable fried rice, and pasta salad. I could eat pasta salad every day in the summer.
51. I was a staff reporter/editor at Lillie Suburban Newspapers for five years and made some wonderful friends while working there. My favorite story was the day I shadowed a prison guard at the Stillwater maximum security prison. I didn't know I wasn't supposed to wear open-toe shoes and wore sandals. It was creepy how much the inmates stared at my painted toenails.
52. My mom taught me more about being a nice person and having good manners than she did about beauty. Her biggest lesson? Beauty comes from within. I'm glad I learned this at a young age.
53. I learned to snowboard in 2003. I learned on Mount Hood while living out in Portland, Oregon, with my best friend Tonya. We moved to Oregon with no jobs, no housing, and no friends. It turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime.
54. I like playing board games, but I'm not a big fan of card games, unless they involve drinking.
55. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.
56. My favorite TV show is The Office.
57. I lived with seven girls in college. Miraculously, we're all still friends today and get together at least once a year.
58. My “string sisters” are Megan, Karla, Amy, and Tonya. We received that nickname in high school after another friend told us we were “together so much, it was like we were connected by an invisible string.”
59. I feel blessed to have met—and married—Aaron. He is such a genuinely good person, and kind, thoughtful, sensitive, hard-working, sexy, funny, witty, and smart. I could go on and on.
60. I won an orange-peeling contest in eighth grade by peeling my orange in one continuous peel.
61. Does anyone actually like those nasty black and orange-wrapped peanut butter things that some people hand out on Halloween? Not all candy is good candy, and that candy is terrible.
62. I would much rather take the 270 bus to work than drive. Let someone else deal with traffic, unpredictable weather, and bad drivers. I'd rather relax and read my book.
63. Long hair is sexy; short hair is sassy. It always has been and always will be.
64. I don't cry often or easily. When I do break down, though, watch out.
65. I was on the North High gymnastics team from seventh to eleventh grade. I competed on vault, floor, and bars. At different points in my gymnastics career, I broke my ankle falling off the bars, and fractured two fingers doing back handsprings on floor. I never broke any bones doing vault, but did chicken out once and instead of launching off the springboard to do a front handspring, ran full-on into the vault and really hurt my shoulder. (Isn't there some law of physics I should have respected about sprinting and then trying to stop the momentum at the last second?) I learned a valuable lesson about confidence then.
66. I have naturally brown hair but have been experimenting with color and highlights ever since my sister-in-law Tricia started doing my hair ten years ago. Trish is not only a great stylist & my brother’s soul mate, but a wonderful friend.
67. I would like to go to Australia some day.
68. In college I had a purple Beta named G. Love. I neglected him one summer by being incredibly lazy and not cleaning his fish bowl. He lived (through the muck) for MONTHS. It was not one of my more proud moments in time.
69. I grew up with a big, fat, sweet cat named Peanut Butter. I have yet to meet a cat as cool as he was.
70. I got married on April 16, 2005. I had Adam on Aug. 11, 2007. Those two dates are the most significant dates of my life thus far.
71. I graduated with a journalism degree (emphasis in advertising) and a minor in sociology from UWEC.
72. It bothers me that smart, confident, outspoken women are regarded as bitches. I say to them: You go girls! Shatter that glass ceiling!
73. I miss my Grandma S. and think of her on a regular basis.
74. I still can't believe I get paid to write—and for a magazine, no less! I work with some amazing, talented people and have grown in personal and professional ways in the three-plus years I've been at GMG. I have a lot of "situational friends" (friends due to the fact that we currently work together) but I've also made some substantial friends through this job who will, without a doubt, be in my life until I'm old and grey.
75. My favorite ice cream is strawberry cheesecake or vanilla bean. My favorite dessert is tiramisu, banana cream pie, or brownie sundaes.
76. I once had my left eyebrow pierced. I took the piercing out for my job interview at Lillie and the hole closed shortly after that. The actual piercing didn’t hurt that much, but I wouldn’t stop bleeding afterward, and I know I freaked the #$*^ out of the girl who pierced me (at the Bionic Laboratory).
77. I'm close to my mom's side of the family. My dad's side is a little more complicated.
78. I am NOT an adventurous eater.
79. I love spending sunny summer days out on my parents’ boat.
80. I don’t like red or green bell peppers.
81. Aaron and I are the organizers in our extended group of friends.
82. I love our goose down comforter. We bought it with wedding gift card money. Best purchase EVER.
83. My all-time favorite concert was the Beastie Boys (In the Round). Other stellar shows: Soul Coughing, Prince, Semisonic, The Jayhawks, BoDeans, the Chili Peppers, Garbage, Prodigy, Matchbox Twenty, Maroon 5, Smashing Pumpkins, Dave Matthews Band, Guster, G. Love, Big Head Todd, Bon Jovi, Pink Martini, A Perfect Circle, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, John Mayer, and Lush.
84. I think snowboarders are sexy. Aaron is a snowboarder. Enough said.
86. I like the challenge of a good crossword puzzle.
87. I have a spider tattoo on my back, inspired by this quote: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
88. I enjoy going to Saints & Twins games. And tailgating. Baseball and beer and grilling sort of all go together.
89. I can’t make myself burp. I wish I could. I’m jealous that my baby brother Nick can burp the alphabet. Seems like a fun party trick.
90. I send out over 100 Christmas cards every year.
91. My dad taught me to be good to the environment. I recycle everything. I never litter. I take the bus. I turn off lights when I leave a room. I buy second-hand. I recently purchased some of those funny-shaped swirly lightbulbs. I live in a small house. I will also teach Adam to be good to the environment. I hope he listens.
92. I am a mother and love my son with every ounce of my heart and soul.
93. I broke 18 braces in the 3+ years I had a metal mouth. My orthodontist told me he was going to start charging per brace if I didn’t stop eating popcorn and candy (Now & Laters are not a good candy choice when you have braces.)
94. I went to England with Amy & Megan in 1997. It was an awesome trip.
95. I have traveled to Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Seattle, Boulder, Portland, Coeur d’Alene, Chicago, Holland (Michigan), and San Diego to visit friends. I wish these friends lived closer.
96. I fainted in my college “wellness” class when they were checking my body fat. The girl holding the calipers and pinching me over and over joked, “According to this chart you’re severely obese! That can’t be right. Let me try again.” I passed out then and never did find out my true body fat reading.
97. Whenever I’m with my younger brother Nick, I wind up laughing. A lot.
98. I laugh a lot with my older brother Shawn, too. My brothers have grown up to be great (very funny) men. The men in my family also love to hunt and fish and spend time in the great outdoors—passions they will share with Adam.
99. I can’t get enough of Adam’s laugh. Best sound in the world.
100. I am blessed to have family who are friends and friends who are family; a loving, kind, supportive husband; a wonderful (happy) little boy; my health (and healthy loved ones around me); a job in my field; a roof over my head; and the ability to see the glass as half full. No one ever knows when their "ticket is up," and when mine is up, I will be able to say I fully enjoyed the ride.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mama

"A daughter is a mother’s gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self. And mothers are their daughters’ role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships."

Happy Mother's Day to my kind-hearted, sweet, quiet, thoughtful, wonderful mama. She taught me to appreciate funny, outdoorsy men who actually help around the house, the exciting world of books & reading (I became a writer thanks, in part, to her), short hair, the value of a secret (though this lesson was a hard one for me), comfortable shoes, chowmein hot dish, the beauty of minimal (usually silver) jewelry, antiques (though not her creepy dolls with the real hair, cracked faces and little white teeth), shopping for good deals, and Hall & Oates. We have the same opinions about religion, politics, certain family members, and Gena Davis (she bugs us). I turn my back while changing in the locker room because I am modest, just like she is. I clear my throat like she does. I have her hair color, skin tone, long fingers, and monkey feet. We like the same books, movies (romantic comedies and Victorian or Renaissance -era flicks), music (we saw Prince together in concert and it was my mom who actually got me hooked on the Dixie Chicks), and food (nothing too exotic or spicy). We both prefer white wine over red, classic over trendy, Robert Redford over George Clooney. We laugh easily when we're together. There are never awkward moments between us. I have never felt annoyed by her, or frustrated, and if we've ever been in a fight, it must've been something silly, because I can't remember it now.
She taught me to have an open mind. "Never use the hurtful word fat," she'd comment. “Say overweight.” She told my brothers not to make fun of overweight kids, rationalizing: “Do you think they want to be overweight? Do you think they wouldn’t give anything to have your metabolism and wear the same size you wear? Do you think they wouldn’t trade places with you in a heartbeat if it meant they could be skinny?” She taught me to accept everyone—no matter their age, race, religion, or sexual orientation. She’d say things like, “Why do people think homosexuality is a choice? Why would you choose a life that’s full of obstacles, a life that's not socially acceptable? That doesn't make any sense.” She taught me that it's not OK when a man talks down to a woman. That if you respect your significant other, you won't degrade them. Ever.
I realized, for the first time, how much I leaned on her when I was a freshman in college suffering from my first (and only) migraine headache, lying in my dark dorm room with a wet washcloth on my forehead (after running down the hall to puke in the community bathroom). At that moment I wanted her there with me. I wanted her cold, soothing hands on my throbbing forehead. I wanted her to calm me with the reassuring phrase that everything would be OK. If growing up meant being sick and alone (and taking care of myself), I didn’t want to grow up. I wanted to stay safe in her world forever.
I wish my mom could see herself as others see her. She's too hard on herself about her weight, her job, her social skills. (She says she's envious of my outgoing personality; while I'm envious of her ability to refrain from gossip and not insert Foot In Mouth). She's so incredibly MODEST, about her natural good looks, her intelligence, her witty sense of humor, her patience, her independent attitude, her strong feminist ideals. There are few people who have that kind of modesty today. She's not only modest, she's a genuinely good person—one of the kindest souls I know—constantly doing for others, never looking for anything in return. Add to her list: good listener, advice-giver, travel companion, cook, gardener, and home-decorator. She's equally adored as a wife, daughter, sister, mom, mother-in-law, grandma, friend and coworker. I know because I've been told as much by my relatives.
My relationship with her entered a whole new level after I became a mom myself. There's this new intensity that comes along with sharing the experience of motherhood. I understand and appreciate the sacrifices she made for us, and I feel this connection with her over how much we love Adam. She doesn't try to tell me what to do, or make me feel guilty, or criticize my mothering skills. She is sincere and positive, supporting me, and taking care of me (all new moms need to be mothered a little), and offering up constructive suggestions—but only when asked for advice. There are so many reasons she's not only my mom, but my friend ... I only hope I can do as good a job raising my children as my mom did raising her own.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Who's so big?

I love this stage of Adam's development. He's not high-maintenance (meaning he still immobile so I don't have to worry about bumps and falls), he wakes up with a huge smile on his face and keeps smiling throughout the day, he still likes traveling and going places and meeting new people (not that he has a choice), he makes us laugh with his animated expressions and his funny faces, and he still likes to cuddle, especially right before bed.
I know some day he'll push away from me when I try to hug him, so I constantly smother him with hugs and kisses and take advantage of the fact that he can't roll his eyes and tell me to "STOP IT MOM."
He does "So big" now (on cue), and babbles all the time and sings along to the radio (in his own language), and sits without support, and rolls both ways, but doesn't scoot or creep or crawl just yet. Aaron has tried to "teach" Adam to crawl by putting him on his stomach, propping him up in the crawling "stance," then holding onto his chubby little thighs and imitating the back-and-forth crawling motion, but Adam isn't really into the lessons. After about 15 seconds, he does a face plant and cries out in frustration and immediately rolls onto his back. We've tried putting toys just out of his reach and he'll ignore the toys and play with his toes instead. I'm not too worried. I figure he'll start crawling when he's ready.
His favorite book is a dog book from Tonya that has soft fuzzy pages he can pet, and now he thinks every book is like this and tries to pet them all.
He loves my mom & dad's cat, Pip, and his face lights up when we say "Where's the kitty?" We do this sometimes when the cat is nowhere near us, and now that I think of it, that's probably kind of mean, like asking a kid "When is Santa coming?" when it's only June. He also loves his Aunt Trish and Uncle Shawn's dog Bella, who is extremely good with him. (Can't say the same for Pip, who is always a split second away from attacking.)
Adam's talent is how fast he can suck down an 8 oz. bottle. He can down a bottle in less than five minutes. I am not surprised. His dad won a beer-drinking contest in college.
He loves eating Stage 1 vegetables, but doesn't like any of the Stage 2 fruits. Isn't that weird? He'd rather eat squash, peas, or carrots than bananas, peaches, or applesauce. I was so excited to give him applesauce for the first time and his face was a look of pure agony. I laughed so hard I cried.
He sleeps through the night, in his own crib. He doesn't always like to go to bed (Ok, almost never) but once he does fall asleep, he (usually) stays asleep from around 8 p.m. to around 6 a.m.
We're finally going to finally have him baptized at St. Mark's. We looked into it after Sunday's service. Better late than never.
Oh yeah, we also had our first Water Babies class through community ed. So far he has learned the backstroke, butterfly, and crawl stroke. He will learn diaphragmatic breathing techniques next week. (If you think I'm serious, I also have some prime Florida swampland to sell you.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sometimes you have to sink before you swim

I love our friends, and I love watching our friends become parents. And now that I am also a parent, I love watching HOW my friends parent. Obviously, everyone adapts to his or her new role (because really, what’s the alternative?), but some adapt more effortlessly than others.
Take, for instance, our friends Holly & Kevin out in Green Bay. They have four kids under the age of five (on purpose!) and they make it seem so easy. First came Chloe, then 14 months later came Autumn, then along came Lilly, and most recently Quinn arrived to help balance out all that estrogen. We try to visit our friends at least once a year, and we’re always amazed at how ridiculously well behaved their kids are. I suppose some of this could be luck, or genetics, but I attribute it mostly to Holly & Kevin’s awesome parenting.

A little background:
When Holly was in high school her dad committed suicide. I don’t know all of the details, but I do know he was depressed over the prospect of Holly’s mom leaving him. I don’t know why she threatened to leave, and I don’t know if he had some sort of genetic chemical imbalance that could’ve been helped with antidepressants. I don’t even know the kind of relationship Holly had with her dad. Regardless, I have to imagine that losing your dad in such a tragic way has to affect your personality and your outlook on life, and I wonder if that’s part of the reason Holly is so good (and timely) about telling her friends and family how much she loves and cares about them. She understands better than many the fragility of life—and how fleeting it can be—and therefore takes absolutely nothing for granted.
Holly is also one of the hardest workers I know (and I know some hard workers). She got where she is today by working 60-hour weeks during college summers off—I don’t think she took out a single student loan—and once we were back in those little dorm rooms, she regularly skipped out on house parties in order to study. She never lost sight of her long-term goal to become a pharmacist. She worked harder than any other 18-year-old I had ever met, and still has that strong work ethic today as a night shift pharmacist at a GB hospital.
Kevin was a police officer before an on-the-job accident abruptly ended his career. He was responding to a high priority call when his squad car was hit on the passenger side, flipping the car onto its roof. Kevin, trapped in the car, suffered from head trauma (thankfully it was mild), lacerations, and a fractured rib and pelvis—which are all bad enough—but the worst injury was to his left hand, which was pinned under the car. Surgeons had to reattach a tendon and perform skin grafts in order to get his hand (somewhat) functional again. He needed several months of occupational therapy, but—being a leftie—could no longer shoot his gun, sadly putting an end to his days on the “force.” I think he refers to it as being “medically retired” from his police position. His friends may refer to it as “Lucky SOB gets to collect a disability paycheck without punching a time clock.” He still works, though, just not in uniform. He’s now his own boss as a stay-at-home dad. The setup works for now, but once Quinn heads off to school, Kevin has mentioned trying to get a teaching degree.
Holly and Kevin have been married for almost ten years and their relationship is rock solid. I know they have disagreements about how to spend their money, and I know they argue about stupid shit just like any other normal couple, but there's a certain chemistry there and a certain cohesiveness. They remind me of two perfectly matched puzzle pieces. They just fit.
Holly is extremely book smart (the girl retains everything, she’s like a sponge), naturally pretty (and modest, too, which makes her even more pretty), kind, outgoing, thoughtful, laidback, and just a little bit on the quirky side. I love her sense of humor.
Kevin is equally smart—though just in different subjects—and handsome, athletic, down-to-earth, likable, social, kind, funny, nonjudgmental (unless you’re a Vikings fan), and always willing to lend a hand. The guy has tons of creative ideas on how to save a buck, whether through conventional means (eBay, discount retailers, coupons, sales racks, cashing in his kid’s pop can tabs) or unconventional means.
Once, when he was going considerably faster than the posted speed limit—with Aaron in the car—they passed a police officer and Kevin smiled and waved enthusiastically.
“Who was that?” Aaron asked.
Kevin shrugged his shoulders. “I just waved like I knew him so he wouldn’t pull me over.”
And it actually worked.
Kevin also shamelessly flirted with the maternity ward nurses in order to get extra formula samples after his kids were born.
And that worked, too.
We love them and we love their kids. Chloe is articulate and bright and funny and sweet and the spitting image of her mom. She radiates energy and confidence, and seems to be strong-willed and independent like Holly, too.
When my good friend Jodi babysat for the girls (while Kevin was recovering from his accident and Holly had to return to work), Chloe insisted on putting on her two-piece swimsuit without Jodi's help. When she joined the group outside by the plastic pool, her suit appeared to have a huge hole in the butt. Weird, Jodi thought, she must’ve ripped it somehow. Since they were in the backyard of a residential area, she didn’t ask her to change. Only later, when Jodi was helping Chloe take off her wet suit, did she realize that Chloe had worn the bottom of her two-piece as the top half, and the top part of the two-piece as the bottom, thus explaining the perfectly circular hole.
Autumn is a total and complete sweetheart. Unlike her go-go-go big sister, she’s about as laidback as they come (the first time she met my parents, she plopped herself down on my mom’s kitchen rug as a signal that she wanted her diaper changed. She didn’t care who changed her and she didn’t care that she was in a strange house. I think she was two at the time). Her charming personality instantly catapults her from a cute kid to the CUTEST KID EVER. She won me over, at the age of 3, when she asked me to paint her toes. She climbed up onto my lap (I was sitting outside at a patio table) and propped her chubby little foot up on the table, liking me enough to:
A) Voluntarily sit on my lap
B) Try to make her toes actually look pretty (anyone who knows me knows I’m not very good with nail polish. Or hair braids. Or makeup, come to think of it.)
Every time I brushed one of Autumn’s miniature toenails with the purple polish, she’d giggle and say, “Tickles!” before nuzzling her head into my neck. Maybe it tickled because I was getting most of the polish on her toes rather than her toenails.
The last time we visited, soft-spoken Autumn took to Aaron. Before he got up one morning, she showed me a Valentine she had made at school, and in a semi-whisper, said to me, “We HAVE to show this to Aaron. He is going to freak out.
Thankfully Aaron played along, feigning shock and surprise when she approached him with the googley-eyed paper heart with pipe cleaner arms and legs.
Delicate little Lilly is absolutely adorable, with pinchable chipmunk cheeks and big round eyes. I don't really know her personality (yet), if only because the last few times we’ve been to visit she was just a baby, doing typical baby things. It seems, though, that she marches to the beat of her own drummer. And I know she really likes to eat. She even ate a worm once.
Sadly enough, we have yet to meet Quinn. He arrived March 1, 2007, five months before Adam’s rent was up on his temporary home, and we just haven’t found the time, or made the time, to head out there for a weekend.
We miss our friends.
I love how Holly & Kevin parent their kids. They have the financial means to spoil them rotten, but they don’t. (I have seen some spoiled kids, and these kids are far from it.) They don’t use control tactics, but rather serve as role models of respect—being firm, setting appropriate limits, and establishing consequences. They know when to step in and when to step back. They don’t always rescue their kids, which, in my opinion, make them better parents than those who constantly interfere and, ultimately, become enablers. Their kids learn independence. They learn, at a young age, that their parents will always be there for moral support, holding their hand and encouraging them, praising them and kissing them, but they have to take responsibility for their actions.
Once in awhile, when the girls don’t listen, Holly & Kevin let them learn on their own. In my opinion, sometimes that’s the most effective method. (Depending on the situation, of course.)
Here’s an example: When one of the girls tried to pick a rose from the thorny rose bush in their sprawling backyard, despite Holly & Kevin’s well-intentioned warnings to STAY AWAY FROM THE ROSE BUSH, THOSE THORNS ARE SHARP AND YOU’LL HURT YOUR FINGER, sure enough, she pricked her finger. And she cried. And you know what? She recovered. Her finger healed just fine. And she stayed away from the rose bush after that incident.


I wonder how people would describe my parenting style. Aaron is a natural with Adam, but I feel like I have to work at it. And while I might not be one of those naturally maternal types—like Holly, Karla, Kay, Mollie, AJ, Amy or April (my sisters)—I love that little butterball with every ounce of my soul. It’s different than the love I feel toward my immediate or extended family, friends, in-laws, or even Aaron. It’s a type of love I’ve never experienced before, so fierce and intense it feels like I won some kind of lottery. (I guess, in many ways, I have.)
Having a son does limit me from buying cute little girl outfits, and I know I won’t be able to counsel him in the same way I could a daughter (with the whole “I know, honey, I’ve been there” speech) but I also realize having a son gives me an opportunity to instill in him the types of values and morals I appreciate when I meet a decent man—respect, kindness, honesty, courage, perseverance, self-discipline, compassion, generosity, and dependability. Good men don’t just “happen,” they’re raised that way.
I hope to teach Adam to respect his elders, women, and anyone “different” from himself (he’ll grow up with a cousin raised by two daddies, a Korean “auntie,” and friends adopted from Africa & South America, so that’s gotta make some kind of impact, right?) I hope that he learns to love the great outdoors, whether through our examples of camping, snowboarding, softball, kickball, distance running, and long walks around the lake, or through fishing and hunting (following in the footsteps of Grandpa Sarinske & Uncles Shawn & Nick), or, heaven forbid, cruising around on a snowmobile or motorcycle like Grandpa Sorenson & Uncle Josh (only if he obeys the speed limit and wears a helmet). I want him to understand how crucial it is to be good to the environment. I want him to grow up thinking smoking is disgusting. I want him to avoid: that group of mean kids in school, loose girls, religious cults, driving while under the influence, growing a pencil thin mustache, beard, or mullet, derogatory rap music, the close-minded “philosophy” of Ann Coulter, vanity, greed, and sloth. Not necessarily in that order. I want him to be a sweet, affectionate boy who loves getting and giving hugs and kisses (hey, it’s my blog, let me have my dreams). I want him to remember to say “please” and “thank you,” wash his hands after using the bathroom, and cover his nose/mouth when he sneezes (and say “Bless you” to those around him after they sneeze). I want him to be focused and motivated in school, the kind of student who studies and tries his best, even when the subject material seems useless or complicated. I want him to be a thoughtful boy who understands the importance of having a little but giving much more; a generous son, grandson, nephew, cousin, and friend who shovels his elderly neighbor’s sidewalk, pulls over to help stranded motorists, and sends his grandparents birthday cards without being reminded. I want him to be like his daddy. I want him to avoid trouble (please, God, let him be a lover and not a fighter). I want him to remember what’s important in life (friends and family, the blessing of good health, a job that makes him smile in the morning, a genuine appreciation for the simple things, and a never-ending supply of faith and hope). I want him to have the courage to follows his dreams, whatever that means to him. I want him to be happy. And I want him to always remember just how much he’s loved.

After having him a part of me felt, as goofy as it sounds, complete. I mean, I actually relate to this beautifully written quote in the book Eat, Pray, Love:

“To create a family with a spouse is one of the most fundamental ways a person can find continuity and meaning in America (or any) society. I rediscover this every time I go to a big reunion of my mother’s family in Minnesota and I see how everyone is held so reassuringly in their positions over the years. First you are a child, then you are a teenager, then you are a young married person, then you are a parent, then you are retired, then you are a grandparent—at every stage you know who you are, you know what your duty is and you know where to sit at the reunion. You sit with the other children, or teenagers, or young parents, or retirees. Until at last you are sitting with the 90-year-olds in the shade, watching over your progeny with satisfaction. Who are you? No problem—you’re the person who created all this. The satisfaction of this knowledge is immediate, and moreover, it’s universally recognized. How many people have I heard claim their children as the greatest accomplishment and comfort of their lives? It’s the thing they can always lean on during a crisis, or a moment of doubt about their relevancy—If I have done nothing else in this life, than at least I have raised my children well.