Category Archives: Nonfiction

Growing Up

When I was 19, I used to think that I didn’t ever want kids. My “humorous” reason was that I was way too selfish and wouldn’t want to put someone else’s needs above my own. At 19, that was probably true.

When I was 24, I realized that I wanted to have kids, just not yet. I wanted to be married for at least a year before even thinking about it.

When I was 27, I was desperate to be a mom. I hated all my friends who were having babies.

When I was 28, our son was born, and we spent the first two nights in the hospital feeling totally shell-shocked and confused about what we had signed up for. The first few weeks were overwhelming, scary, and really made me question everything I had thought I wanted. Luckily that was all just the craziness of the first weeks of the first baby, and I’m happy to say that I don’t regret anything.

When I was 31, our daughter was born, and it was slightly less crazy but still overwhelming, and it’s been almost 6 months and we still aren’t sleeping super well and it seems that they never nap at the same time and there is always someone needing something.

But I think we’re done now…and it makes me sad to think that I won’t be pregnant again. The first time around, every stage was new and intriguing, and we saved everything religiously for the next one. This time, we’re starting to jettison things, baby clothes and toys and gear, just getting rid of things when she doesn’t need them or fit into them anymore. It’s hard to give away boxes of baby clothes in the mindset that there won’t be another one.

But still, I sometimes think about that selfish 19-year-old, and I think she had the right idea. Doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, being accountable to no one, spending time with Drew or with friends or even alone – it was so luxurious and I didn’t even know it. I remember in New York, when Drew and Jared would be working two shows on Saturday and Sunday, I could sleep until noon, and then spend the rest of the day lying around reading. I used to watch a lot of Law & Order: SVU while doing cross-stitch kits. It didn’t matter. I could do whatever I wanted. (I want to yell this at the 20-somethings I know who complain about being tired. You have no idea! Embrace it! Just take a nap and you’ll feel better! Go out to brunch or something!)

In the last three years, I have discovered that I have a well of patience that I didn’t know existed. I have also discovered a temper that I didn’t know I had. They both kind of depend on the amount of sleep and protein I’ve had in the last 24 hours. I am definitely a different person now. I think I’m more responsible. More willing to lower expectations. More grateful. I hope the changes have been for the better.

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Filed under Baby, Dreams, Drew, Family, Memoir, Nonfiction, Pregnancy, Self improvement, Sentiment

What I Learned from Meal Planning

I got this idea in my head that meal planning is a grown-up thing to do. I remember as a kid having a weekly (or monthly??) menu posted on the fridge, and then I think that for the most part we actually followed that menu.

I have said before (loudly and frequently!) that the hardest, most tiring part of being a parent is being in charge of someone else’s meals every single day, particularly when that person is a 2-year-old who primarily wants pappunoni pizza, watermelon, meenut butter and jim, or cake. So when meal planning, I tried really hard to take this opinionated little guy into account, and plan things that we could all actually eat together.

We did one week of following a meal plan, and here’s what I learned:

You can’t actually shop for the whole week at once.

This was my original grand plan. I had a gift card to Safeway and I went and stocked up on basics and necessities, and I was really proud when all I paid was $18 over the gift card amount. But the truth is, you can’t always buy produce on Sunday that’s for eating on Friday. We lost a couple things that way, and I had to do a second trip partway through the week.

I guess I should have known that. I’m aware of how quickly produce goes. But I got so caught up in the money-saving, time-saving, health-conscious extravaganza that I was taking on that I didn’t really think about all the logistics.

Cooking meals each night takes a lot of time.

It was really nice to have the pressure off at 5pm when the “What’s for dinner” conversations started happening. But, here’s the thing: Usually, B eats at 6pm and we just hang out with him, and then Drew and I eat after B goes to bed. So not only was one of us spending a bunch of time each night preparing a more elaborate meal than usual…but that time was happening between 5-6pm, prime play time.

Also, Drew and I probably forage for dinner 2 or 3 days a week. For example, last night he had eggs and chicken-apple sausage, and I had a sandwich. These took 10 minutes to prepare concurrently. So just in general, cooking a family meal every night added a lot of time to the in-the-kitchen schedule.

…But it is nice to have leftovers.

It was really nice to have interesting leftovers for all of us to take for lunch the next day. B gets a lot of repeat meals, so being able to throw something new in there was probably nice for him, and made me feel like I was being a good parent. Also, since I went on a big grocery shopping trip, I wanted to be able to parlay that into lunches so I didn’t have to spend money during the week.

There’s actually an element of “planning.”

I didn’t realize how to manage the details. I just threw things on different days, and tried to space out all the chicken. But now I know, if you have two meals that use basil, maybe put them closer together so your basil doesn’t completely wilt between them. Or, if you know Survivor is on on Wednesday nights, don’t plan something elaborate that you’re going to have to be either cooking or cleaning up while the show is starting. And give yourself an “egg sandwich” night in the middle of the week, as a break from all the “shepherd’s pie” nights.

Sometimes something comes up.

There’s a lot more life getting in the way than I realized. When planning, I had to work around such things as Easter, dinners out with friends, and other events. We ended up doing this on the least busy week possible, so that we could really give it the old college try, but there always seems to be something coming up.

We also have a slight disadvantage in that Drew doesn’t get home before 5pm, and I am usually at least half an hour behind him. When I think about my parents or my friends, many of whom are teachers, I realize that they have a major heads up over us in that they are home earlier in the day. One friend of mine posted a recipe on Facebook, saying that it was super easy because you could just stick it in the oven and come back 2 hours later. While I do appreciate the ease of that, and plan on taking advantage of it on a weekend, I just don’t have 2 hours’ worth of cooking time on a weeknight.

Overall

It’s really nice to just have a plan in place. And to have that plan include vegetables, which are already in the fridge and ready to be cooked. Without a plan, we have nearly nightly conversations that go, “What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know, do you have any feelings?” “I don’t know, I just want you to pick something.” “Well, I don’t know…” So going a week without having that conversation was really nice.

Some nights, B would eat what we were eating and it was like this magical curtain of “we’re doing it right!” fell around us. Some nights he was not interested at all and we had to settle for “oh well, we tried.”

I tried to make another weekly schedule but then it just kind of fell through. Maybe next week we can get back on the wagon, because I think overall it was beneficial, albeit tiring.

Help me out with next week, and leave me a comment with your favorite plan-in-advance weeknight meal! (Bonus points if a toddler will eat it.)

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Filed under Children, Drew, Family, Food, Humor, Nonfiction

Here We Lent Again

Happy Ash Wednesday! It’s time to frantically figure out what to give up for Lent this year!

I actually started thinking about this a couple weeks ago, when I noticed at work that someone had brought in some Mardi Gras-themed pastries from a board meeting. But it’s nowhere near Mardi Gras! I thought. Then I looked at a calendar. But it’s not quite — well there’s still a little time — I mean, who even likes King Cake? Well, the colors ARE nice.

In the past I’ve given up Facebook, and arguing with Drew. Last year I gave up chocolate, and although that was an appropriately difficult thing for me to give up, I didn’t want to just repeat something from last year. So, after some hurried thought (and finishing some Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch last night), I think I’m going to give up ice cream.

What are you giving up this year? (Or, as I know some people do, are you taking on something additional during Lent?)

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Filed under Beginnings, Food, Holidays, Humor, Nonfiction, Religion

I Got Layers

I got a haircut today, perhaps the first one in a year. And I was thinking about how it’s basically my fantasy to have a hairdresser standing behind me in the mirror, looking thoughtful, and then they say, “Would you trust me to try something different here?” I would be like, “YES!” But what happens instead is they ask what I want, and I stammer out some haircut terms I’ve heard on TV, and then I either walk out looking much the same, or maybe with shorter hair.

Today, I look much the same. But in a good way. I like my new layers, and I enjoyed the “treat yo’self” feelings of someone else washing my hair. But it still makes me think of this blog post I wrote in 2008 about getting my hair cut in New York, the first time (since the age of 6) I got bangs.

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Hairdressers, and the Women They Laugh At

America’s Next Top Model.  Project Runway.  Tabatha’s Salon Takeover.  What Not To Wear.

These are just a few of the shows on TV now that take ordinary people who look like me or only slightly better, sit them down, and employ a professional to tell those ordinary people exactly what is going to happen to them.  Be it color, cut, makeup, or wardrobe, those people can rest assured that they are not being judged or made fun of, but that said professionals are there to help them look beautiful.  Is it really hard to believe that while watching the stylist of ANTM hack off Samantha’s long blonde hair, or give Elina a curly red weave, both of which come out looking amazing, that I can only say wistfully to anyone who will listen, “I wish Tyra Banks and her stylists would show up here and make me over!”

Alas, walking into a salon is not a screen test to get on one of these shows, and after today, I think I have nearly as high a level of Salon Anxiety as I do of White Coat Syndrome.  (White Coat Syndrome being, of course, that uncontrollable anxiety around doctors, even when they are doing the most unobtrusive of check-ups.)  For weeks – possibly months – I have been talking to myself about getting bangs.  Studying other’s people’s bangs, trying to fold my hair across my forehead looking into a mirror, and going through magazines and online articles about Best Bangs For You.  Finally I made an appointment at Nola’s in our neighborhood (it’s Salon backwards, how clever is that?) and I went down there this afternoon.

They are all legitimately Irish, which is charming as all get-out, and they’re very nice people, but I do not speak the salon language.  I had, however, spent days prepping my explanation of what I wanted, so that when she said, “What are we doing today?” (in an Irish accent), I replied without hesitation, “I would like to keep most of the length, but do some shorter layers for body, and also I think I would like…bangs.”  (Note: I had promised Liz I would say “fringe” but I was too nervous.)

She sat me down and started combing and everything was great, until she held a up a piece from the back and looked at me in the mirror and said, “How long would you like your layers?”  And I couldn’t even respond, I had no answer.  I pretty much said, “I don’t know.”  I don’t know!  Long enough to keep with the length – short enough so they are layers?  Why can I not go into a salon and say, “Make me pretty”?  I think she might have laughed at me a little bit when I said I didn’t know – I think this was the same girl I had last time, months ago, and we had a similar run in: When it was time for the blow-drying, she said, “How would you like it dried?”  And I said, “So it’s…dry?  And pretty?”  And she said, “Would you like it straight, or flips…?”  And I said, “Flips?”  And she said, “Flips?”  And I said, “Yes, let’s do flips,” which ended up being curls at the end, which looked lovely, but she did laugh at me a little bit then too.

So today she had to tell me how long she would do the layers, and I said that was great, and she continued cutting.  When she got to the bangs part, she combed them out and then said, “You’re sure?” in the way that you would confirm the first cut of any big operation, and I said, “Yes,” and then watched my blonder front hair fall into my lap.  She blew them out and sort of curled them under after she had finished everything else.

I love the layers, partly because they are all flippy at the ends (see? flips).  The bangs I am not so sure on.  To my still a little shellshocked eyes, I look like a cross between Peg from Lady and the Tramp, and a 12 year old at a school dance in 1998.  Drew, who says he would tell me the truth but who I don’t completely trust in for the whole truth, says it looks like Anne Hathaway’s hair in The Devil Wears Prada.  He just knows I think she’s beautiful though.  So I am still unsure about them, although I sort of wish I had gone with my hesitant instinct and not done the bangs – I can always start pinning them back and let them grow out.  C’est la vie.

Also, why is it that no matter how much makeup I put on, I get in the chair with nothing to look at but my face and my wet clumpy hair hanging all over or clipped on top of my head – and I am always ashamed with how I look.  It must be the wet clumpy hair, but I can never prepare myself for that.

In short, please, TV (Bravo in particular), stop lying to me and making me think that hairdressers want to tell me exactly what they are going to do to make me beautiful.  Also, if there is anyone out there who is a hairdresser, I will pay you good money to be a Tyra Banks to my Lauren.  Doesn’t that sound like a good deal?  Also, Liz, I hope your wedding is themed “Full House children” because then I will fit right in.

[The best part is, I then included a picture of myself with my new bangs, which I remember thinking was so weird-looking, but it really just looks like me now, except like seven years younger. Oh, and these are the bangs that ended up growing out and disappearing. This new iteration of bangs that I have now started in 2010.]

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Filed under Beauty, Being a girl, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, TV

Parenting is a ball

Tonight we went and had dinner with Drew’s parents, his brother, and his brother’s fiancee. We were having a great time, powering through the fact that our little munchkin apparently skipped his nap today. He was a little whiny during dinner, but when the cake came out (our nearly-sister-in-law’s birthday was this weekend), B perked up and ate a whole (small) piece of cake with an adult fork. How cute!

He chased the dogs around and played with toys and looked at the fish in the pond. Everything was going so great.

Then he picked up a piece of pottery (which I suspected he thought was a ball, and would bounce) and he hurled it onto the floor, where it shattered. I attempted a time out (always tricky at someone else’s house) while Drew cleaned up. Then we got him out of there.

Once he knew he was in trouble, he remembered how tired he was, and was mad we were leaving his grandparents behind, so he was off-and-on upset all the way home and then into pajamas and then into bed. (Where he immediately fell asleep. So…)

I went to take a shower, and I wanted to do something nice for Drew, so I tried to use B’s bath crayons to write a nice, loving note on the shower wall. I used orange because it’s what was in there. I’m glad it wasn’t red.

Because no matter how hard I tried to smoosh the crayon into the wall so it would stay there, it slooooowlyyyy ran down the wall in streaks, making the shower look like a murder scene. Like if the cast of Real Housewives got murdered there.

So now there’s a drippy, orange love message on our shower wall, and I just hope he sees it soon enough before it fades into smeary nothingness.

Some days you win, some days not so much.

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Filed under Children, Drew, Family, Memoir, Nonfiction, Not awesome

10 Years of Movies on Christmas Day

It’s been our tradition, every year since Drew and I got together, to go see a movie on Christmas Day. For a while it was big movie musicals – then we went through a weird period of kind of depressing movies. Theoretically this year we would have brought it back around with Into the Woods, but then we ended up seeing it earlier in December.

But in honor of our 10th Christmas together, let’s just call Into the Woods our Christmas movie this year (although the plan is still, ever-optimistically, to watch something at home tonight after B goes to bed. Haha).

Here’s our list of movies we have enjoyed for the past 9 December 25ths.

  • 2005 – The Producers (Daly City, CA)
  • 2006 – Dreamgirls (Queens)
  • 2007 – Sweeney Todd (Queens)
  • 2008 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (42nd St)
  • 2009 – Sherlock Holmes (Lakeport)
  • 2010 – 127 Hours (San Francisco)
  • 2011 – War Horse (San Bruno)
  • 2012 – Les Miserables (San Bruno)
  • 2013 – Saving Mr. Banks (Lakeport)
  • 2014 – Into the Woods (San Francisco)

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and may you be able to go see a movie if you want! (Into the Woods is great, fyi.)

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Filed under Drew, Holidays, Memoir, Movies, Nonfiction

Heartwarming Christmas Stories, Vol. 1

We’ve been trying to really do up Christmas this year, so I thought I would share some heartwarming Christmas stories that show off what it is to have a toddler.

On Friday morning we took B to meet Santa. We’d been telling him about Santa and “prepping” him to say, “Hi Santa, Merry Christmas, this year I’ve been a very good boy and I would like __________.” (Whatever the blank happens to be: books, a puzzle, a dog, more letters, etc.) (Of course there was no chance he would say all that, but it’s fun to practice anyway.)

So we get there and we’re first in line, because I’m overzealous and I think that everyone’s going to the mall to meet Santa on a Friday morning. So without anyone to use an example, B was not happy to be sitting on a stranger’s lap (I can’t say I blame him) and he basically made this face the whole time:

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I love this photo so much.

And PS. he was totally fine once we got him out of there. Like, completely happy.

On Friday night, we finally cleaned off our kitchen table, which has been accumulating STUFF for, like, weeks. And somewhere near the bottom of one of the piles, Drew found a sticker advent calendar, which I think my parents brought over for us around B’s birthday. So Drew sat down with B to catch up on advent stickers, and we’ve never done stickers before, so neither of us was sure how it was going to go. But B patiently took each sticker that Drew handed him, and stuck it on (or near) the paper tree. Drew and I were all heartwarmed already. But it gets better.

The next day, we did one sticker (in classic advent style). Fine.

The next day, we did one sticker…and then B started saying, “More, more,” and I tried to explain the premise of the advent calendar, but that he could LOOK at the stickers. And then he took the page over to Drew and said, “Help” (which he has just recently started saying). And Drew was like, “Oh that’s adorable.” And then B said, “Peese?” And we both knew it was all over. Drew and I decided that since we had already messed up the first 12 days, what did the second half of the advent calendar really matter, when your toddler just asked you for help please? So they did the rest of the stickers, which was really one of my favorite things that happened this weekend.

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The third, and possibly most heartwarming, story is from Sunday. We were doing laundry at Drew’s grandma’s condo, where the laundry room connects the house to the garage, and has a door on either end. I was detained elsewhere for a minute, when I got a phone call from Drew. I answered and he said, “He locked me in the garage! And then locked himself in the laundry room!”

I opened the door to the laundry room, where B was just standing, looking around. And then I opened the locked garage door and found Drew cracking up. What would he have done if I wasn’t there?

So Merry Christmas everyone, and I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season, whether or not you have a toddler around to spice things up. =)

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Filed under Awesome, Family, Humor, Nonfiction, Sentiment