Monday, September 28, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me?

Someone (I don't remember who) said when adults make a big deal about their own birthdays, it's
because they are afraid no one else will.  I think the person meant to insult me, but I cop to it. It's true, no one will ever get a chance to forget my birthday. (September 30, FYI.)

My little ego can not even imagine the crushing pain of sitting through September 30th (did you already forget?), hoping all the right people remember. 

Because life is fun and complicated, I am terrible at remembering to wish other people Happy Birthday. It's time for me to get better at that. Let's call it a 40th birthday resolution. Trust me, I'm writing "birthday calendar" on my to do list right now.

Now that it's only two days until my birthday, my 40th, the one I've been making such a big deal about, I think I am legitimately psyching myself out.  I feel like I need a sleeping bag to hide in or a new life philosophy or intensive detoxing and physical therapy. I need change! Or insulation.

These feelings could be 90 percent hormonal, also.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A girl at 2

Mamie's favorite things at 2:

  • Coloring/stickering
  • Building with blocks and sorting things
  • Reading
  • Playing outside
  • Carrying her animal friends around by the arm/neck/flipper

My favorite things about Mamie at 2:

  • She's becoming more person-ish
  • The way she throws her arms up and says "Yeah!" when she's excited or "Tada!" when she's proud
  • Her appreciation for music and dancing
  • Her independence
  • How easily she smiles
  • She's fearless

The frustrations of mothering this 2-year-old

  • She's fearless
  • Keeping her hair tamed
  • Keeping shoes on her feet
  • Meals that end with food on the floor (97%)

The joys of mothering this 2-year-old

  • Hugs and kisses on demand
  • A stack of books to be repaired because she reads them so hard and carries them with her everywhere
  • I always get at least a day to think I've figured it all out before she changes again
  • She represents infinite potential, and I will take credit for all of it

Monday, September 21, 2015

What I'm reading: A short list for me

Today I'm am only reading two books! Last week, however, I read 11 death-themed books in three days (for an upcoming article). That was definitely daunting. Nick and I had also been watching 2-3 episodes of The Wire every night. That kind of immersion really sets your mood.

But anyway, what am I reading today?

1. So You've Been Publicly Shamed

Hang on a minute, I have to go read everything Jon Ronson has written.















2. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Book Proposals & Query Letters

I'm not ashamed to admit I'm a fan of this series. I start out an idiot on most subjects before I become the genius you know and love. I've read a whole pile of books about book proposals in the last few weeks, planning to be an expert soon.

Friday, September 18, 2015

7 things I wish I could ask editors without seeming needy and desperate


  1. Did you get my email? Because I thought you'd be all over this idea.
  2. Did you really enjoy reading my work, even though "it's not a good fit at this time"?
  3. Do you know anyone who knows anyone who would like to read my book proposal?
  4. Can we be friends?
  5. When is it ok for me to ask you for more money?
  6. Can you tell me when this is going to run so I can stop checking every 15 minutes and work on something else?
  7. What websites, books, magazines should I read to do a better job for you?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How to finish your kid's baby book

(Hint: You just decide it's finished.)

Is it safe to say baby books are meant to be unfinished? Don't we all agree that one day we will look at the unfinished baby book and chuckle about how we couldn't breathe during the first two years of Junior's life, much less compose a perfect keepsake?

Before Mamie was born, I bought two baby books, because I was so cavalier about expressing my creativity in motherhood. One traditional book had all the fill-in-the-blanks, and the other was more artistic, for doodles and long form essays on what makes baby laugh.

Working on these baby books has been on my official To Do List for two years, and this is the day I declare them DONE. In six days, Mamie will not be a baby anymore. I have written endlessly about her these last two years, posted 1,000 pictures on Facebook, and I feel her babyhood is officially commemorated. Her "baby books" are about 50 percent complete.

OMG it just occurred to me that two half-finished baby books is equivalent to one finished one!!!  I did it!!!

Monday, September 14, 2015

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood: 7 awesome things very near my house

September 14

Friends who visited recently were surprised San Antonio is so “cool.” I don’t know what preconceptions people around the country have about our town (or if they have ever thought of it at all), but you might be surprised to know San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the country. Yeah, kids, we’re a real city.

Here are some of the crazy awesome things to do in my neighborhood, like within walking distance, or a 5-minute drive.

  1. Moshe's Golden Falafel -- Nick, Mamie and I have eaten here at least once a week since it opened! It's magic.
  2. Landa Libary and Playground -- In my opinion, this is the most beautiful and kid-friendly branch in San Antonio, and it's three blocks from my house. It played a major role in our decision to move to this neighborhood. Not even kidding.
  3. Barbaro -- Fancy pizza, brunch and drinks walking distance from home. My biggest complaint is that they only make lasagna for their late night menu.  Barbaro, I can't go out at 11 p.m. please make me lasagna at a more reasonable hour for old people.
  4. Olmos Perk -- Good coffee, friendly staff, and the perfect place for mama to take a break when the babysitter is at home with Mamie.
  5. Taco Taco -- "Best Tacos in America" or so say some. There are no shortage of good tacos around here, but these may be the best breakfast tacos, and they certainly have the best tacos within a ONE-BLOCK RADIUS of my house.
  6. Period Modern -- If you are a fan of MCM furniture, you are jealous this awesome store is down the street from me. The guys who run it are so laid back and BS-free, they have fantastic taste, and are full of details about their pieces. It's the first place we look when we need furniture.
  7. Brackenridge Park -- Shady trails, playgrounds, the Zoo, a train, botanical gardens -- we don't take advantage of this enough, considering I could probably see it all from my roof.  I blame 100-degree temps, but it's great about half the year!
Come visit me.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

This is 40: Kind of like getting your hand stamped at the club

September 10
This is one 40-year-old's version of getting a hand stamped the club: I wrote "DT" on my hand
to remind me I have diabetes and high triglycerides. Yes, I ate the Zebra Cakes.

As I mentioned, I'm traveling all this week through rolling biscuit hills split by streams of sausage gravy. I mean the deep south. But this month, I am tasked with lowering my blood sugar and triglycerides! I need to avoid sweets and fried food. Is it possible to eat healthy food while on the road? Technically, yes, it is. It is technically possible to get fruit or nuts at gas stations, to get salads at fast food places.

While it is possible to purchase better options, is it possible to make your brain tell your hands to pick those things rather than french fries or doughnuts? I've been testing myself, not always winning.

WINS

  • At the airport, I chose a turkey wrap over Raising Cane's chicken fingers (a.k.a. Guthrie's chicken pre-tenders).
  • Ate an exceedingly healthy and wholesome meal at True Food Kitchen.
  • Ate a salad for lunch yesterday.
  • Abandoned a McDonald's drive thru, thanks to calories posted on the menu.
LOSSES
  • I have eaten a year's ration of Chips Ahoy and Little Debbie's.
  • I ate fried fish, french fries, and hush puppies (BUT I planned on this and it was my one big fried meal for the whole week.)
  • Too many Diet Cokes.
I still think I am keeping the temptation mostly in check. Here's a list of my favorite Road Foods that I have not eaten on this trip:
  1. Slim Jim
  2. Bugles
  3. King sized candy bars
  4. Boiled peanuts (deadly to my child, will never eat again)
  5. Pork rinds
  6. DQ Blizzard
  7. Donut sticks
  8. Doritos
  9. Jelly Belly
  10. Pop Tarts

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

This is 40: Top 3 reasons I want to live in Atlanta

September 9

No we are not planning to move, but spending a few days in Atlanta reminded me of why it is at the No. 1 spot on my list of cities to live in.

1. Friends and family

This one could be at least 10 of the top reasons I want to live in Atlanta. We have exactly zero family in San Antonio. It turns out, not many people raise their kids without a single extended family member nearby. But if we were in Atlanta, we would be a short drive from 30+ close friends and family. And the friends and family who aren't in the southeast territory? That's where my second top reason comes in...

2. Non-stop flights to practically anywhere

I know this is a very privileged problem to have, but San Antonio is pitifully lacking in non-stop destinations. If we were in Atlanta, it wouldn't take an entire day of baby shlepping to get anywhere. Hop on Marta, hop on a plane, get where you're going, have fun!

3. Weather I can comprehend

There are trees and shade. At sundown the temperature drops so you get an opportunity to forget how brutally uncomfortable a humid 90 degrees is. Know what's worse than a few hours a day at a humid 90 degrees? A soul scorching 12 hours of 95+ degrees every day, in a place with no breeze, shade, or rain. I've lived in San Antonio 8 years, and I still don't understand why humans ever settled there.

It's going to get really confusing in a few days when I post "10 things I love about my neighborhood." I do love many many things about San Antonio, just not the geography or climate. Science!

Monday, September 7, 2015

This is 40: I might never sleep again

September 7

I just woke up from a nightmare in which Mamie ate peanuts and was anaphylactic.

It was a stress dream, not a premonition.
It was a stress dream, not a premonition.
It was a stress dream, not a premonition.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

This is 40: The weird feeling that people are watching me

September 5

It was also a weird feeling that time Mamie and I
shared screen space with Anna Faris and Chris Pratt.
No, I'm not paranoid, except that I might be. I'm adjusting to a strange shift in my new writing career wherein thousands of people are looking at what I write. Specifically, I am referring to an essay I wrote for Cosmo about Mamie's name this week: I Love My Kid's Unusual Name. As I write this, less than 48 hours after it went live, the article has had 94,000 views. That's not viral, but it's getting more attention than anything else I've ever written. 

I have my theories about why: people want to know the name so they click; people love to talk about their own names. That's totally rational, and it does not make me break out into a sweat right now.  However, when I saw the views surging into the tens of thousands overnight, I did break out into a sweat, fear for the safety of my family, and question my selfish ambition!

Still, I hope success gives me many many more opportunities to freak out in the middle of the night.


Friday, September 4, 2015

This is 40: An epic tour of the southeast


September 4

Months ago I decided I wanted to celebrate my 40th by seeing as many friends and family as I could. Tonight we start the first leg of this adventure in Atlanta! I will be in Atlanta until Monday (along with thousands of Dragon Conners... Connists... Connoisseurs?) Then Mamie and I will spend Monday night in Birmingham, and go to Atmore for the rest of the week before we drive -- the two of us, Anna and Mamie, alone in a car for two days -- back to San Antonio.

We will collect post cards and lottery tickets from four different states! We will take selfies with everyone! I will harp on and on about how I'm turning 40, and I don't know how to accept it!


Thursday, September 3, 2015

This is 40: A trip down Memory Street to the corner of Infertility Avenue

September 3

Over 2.5 years ago, I kept this super secret diary of my fertility treatments:


It's short, but so funny to go back to where my head was back then before we knew Mamie was coming. I daydreamed about what it would be like to take her to the beach! Guess what?  I had NO FREAKING IDEA how wonderful and nerve-wracking absolutely everything would be.

And I can read those medical updates now knowing that they worked, but back then? It was a monster few months of fear and uncertainty. In fact, Nick might reread all this and point out that I was the monster.

Can you believe we're going to try this again? Remember how old I'm going to be this month? I would love to hear about all the women you know who had babies after 40! But only the ones who felt great afterward and didn't fall over dead from exhaustion.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

This is 40: A morning routine that works if you work it



September 2

My alarm is set for sunrise. Once a week, I update the alarm to coincide with the creeping sunrise, because I believe in nature's awakenings. I also believe waking up before the sun is an abomination. Fortunately, Mamie agrees with me most days.
Maybe the alarm goes off, maybe it doesn't. Maybe there was no alarm because my phone died when I fell asleep listening to podcasts last night. Maybe I slept through the alarm but had one of those cool dreams about ripping a haunted alarm clock apart because it won’t stop beeping. Maybe I wake up 30 minutes before the alarm when Nick comes in from his run listening to Judge John Hodgman without headphones. 
At some point I awaken.
Is Mamie awake? If she is awake, how long can I pretend she is not awake before I have to go get her? If I wait past the critical point on her boredom meter, I will find her sans pajamas. Any further than that, sans diaper. She will hear my footsteps, and pretend to be asleep. She will point at the discarded clothing and say "uh oh." I say, "Oh no, your pajamas fell off again?"  I don't know which of us is fooling.
The first goal of the day, above all, is to avoid having to wash the sheets, blanket, and 12 friends in her crib.
Mamie eats breakfast -- yogurt or Cheerios or banana or oatmeal or a combo. I do not eat while Mamie eats because then she only wants to eat what I'm eating, even if it's exactly the same.  She stabs her finger at the table and says, "Right there!" so I know where she expects me to forfeit my food.
I drink coffee for breakfast or put a few spoonfuls of instant coffee in a smoothie. It goes with everything. 
Here is a recipe for my delicious smoothie:
  • banana
  • a few glops of plain Greek yogurt
  • a spoonful of flax meal
  • a spoonful of unsweetened coconut
  • a spoonful of instant coffee (I wasn't kidding.)
  • a few glug glugs of chocolate almond milk
  • ice cubes because I like it frosty
Buzz in the Magic Bullet and bam! Breakfast.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

This is 40: How turning 40 is like turning 2



September 1

We started the day with a great playdate. Let's not forget that while I spend this month making a big deal about my 40th birthday, Little Miss Mamie will also be celebrating her 2nd! This is prime time for her to enjoy playing with other kids and start learning how to negotiate different personalities. 

Mamie's personality? What is the opposite of timid? 

What I've noticed is she doesn't quite know what to do with kids who are timid. She will go straight up to any kid anywhere, and she's all, "Let's do this." I've seen a few kids shrink away. I want to teach her to be sensitive to other personality types, recognize when someone needs space, adjust how strong she comes on. Essentially, I want her to develop charisma and interpersonal sensitivity that most adults lack. I want her to be intuitive about the needs of people around her.

Oh wait, were we talking about Mamie or Mommy? I wonder just how much turning 40 and turning 2 have in common.

Both milestones are marked by intense emotions that may be expressed through crying, mania, or unreasonable grumpiness.

We are both becoming more physically active.

We are both trying to sleep less so we can do more.

We have both taken up coloring as a daily pastime.


Maybe I am recapturing my youth...