Tea for two.

We have now added puking and pink eye to our list of ailments over here at Chez Clueless But Hopeful. We should be quarantined indefinitely.

I know I don't live in True Winter but still. Can I whine a bit and ask: "Is it spring yet?"

Also, who needs crappy plastic junk when you have a box of tea bags and a laundry basket?

Apparently, Sweet Dog only likes Lemon Ginger and Vanilla Roiboos.


Mama doesn't get sick days.

Well, I have succumbed to the flu that CG came down with last week. I guess the bright spot in this new development is that I can stop washing my hands incessantly now that we've all got the same crud.

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself today, all "mama doesn't get sick days" about it. But the truth is, I haven't ever really "gotten" sick days. Before I was a mom, I was a self employed dancer/Pilates instructor/massage therapist. I took class, rehearsed and performed through colds, flus, strep throat, you name it. I worked people out while trying not to hock a loogie on them; I gave massages where I stared at the trashcan and wondered if I've have to use it. I did cancel clients and skip class when I really couldn't hang but it was more often that I just dealt with it. It sucked but working through sickness was a part of life. Just like it is now.


In other news, we just watched "Hustle and Flow" and I'm shocked to say that I actually found a somewhat violent movie about a pimp really uplifting. How crazy is that? Oh, and if you haven't seen "Once" yet and you are AT ALL moved by passionate songwriting and love stories YOU MUST SEE IT.


Money can't buy me love. But can it buy me 5 minutes of peace and quiet?

We all survived the weekend. The rain is supposedly going away, Z's health and mood have both improved, CG is feeling a bit better and I still haven't gotten sick (*knock wood*toss salt*cross fingers*).

However, this weekend's rain/sickness/poor mood miasma made me do something I swore I would never do.

I tried to spend my way out of the dreariness.

People, I am NOT a shopper. I do not "go shopping" for fun; I "go shopping" because we would eventually starve/go naked without the contents of a specific store. And I always thought it was bizarre (and somewhat lacking in moral fortitude) that parents just buy tons of CRAPPY PLASTIC JUNK so that they can IGNORE their kids for a few more minutes. Or HOURS.

And yet, there I was yesterday, heading to Target without needing ANYTHING. Literally; I couldn't justify going for toothpaste or toilet paper or laundry detergent. We needed NOTHING. I went shopping for the sole purpose of buying my child something that would keep her happy and quiet long enough for me to PEE BY MYSELF and possibly read most of the Sunday NY Times in peace. She has been crazy CLINGY in her sickness and as much as I love to her pieces and mist up at the sight of her sometimes, I also would really love to SCRAPE her off of me for just a few minutes these days.

I went to buy me some CRAPPY PLASTIC JUNK.

Because clearly the solution to being cramped up in a cluttered house is to BUY MORE CRAP.

I was tres bummed to find the toy shelves of Target seriously picked over- at 2 pm on a rainy Sunday, after a week of rain. You mean I'm not the only one with this BRILLIANT idea?? EFF. There were no Little People sets that she didn't already have. There was no facsimile of the awesome pop-up tent that my parents had in New Jersey. There were no new baby dolls different or interesting enough to justify purchasing, even in this time of NEED.

I came home with an aqua doodle something-or-other that held her attention for about the length of time I spent opening it.

So, what did we learn? STOCK UP on the crappy plastic junk ahead of major rainstorms. That and aqua doodle sticks happen to fit perfectly up a toddler-size nostril. (Well, technically, Z learned that while I tried to KEEP HER from learning it.)


Why I can NEVER live in the Pacific Northwest.

It's been raining here in LA all week and I know this is a good thing and our aquifers and plants and trees all need it.

You want to know who doesn't need it? A mom with a small, cluttered house and a cranky, sick toddler who wants to go "owside!" but once brought outside finds it uncomfortably, inconveniently "wet!" yet doesn't want to go back inside. I believe the instructions I was being given were akin to "stop it from raining, Mom". With a few toddler profanities thrown in.

Trust me, I would stop it if I could. If only to let Z run around in our backyard to burn off whatever strange, sick-toddler energy she's got going on this week.

You know it's bad when you aren't even looking forward to the weekend. With CG coming down with a new flu today (effing EFF!), more rain in the forecast and Z still making truly disastrous diapers on a regular basis, it's looking like more of the same only without new Daily Shows to watch during naptime.

And we're going to have to cancel our babysitter for tomorrow night. For the third time this month. Apparently we're NEVER going on a date ever again.

Wake me when it's Monday. (Now THERE's a sad statement.)


Today's Google list.

1. Z has been chattering away to herself A LOT lately. Sometimes she sounds JUST like the homeless people in my old San Francisco neighborhood.

Google search: "symptoms early multiple personality disorder"

lesson learned: Stop freaking out because she's chattering in jibberish.

2. Twenty months of diapers is getting a little old.

Google search: "early potty training bad?"

lesson learned: Yes and no and we'll just wait.

3. She's had an ear infection and a new tooth on deck so we're engaged in our very own drug trial comparing the benefits of Tylenol vs. Motrin.

Google search: "excessive infant tylenol"

lesson learned: Don't google that before bedtime, after you've given your kid her third dose for the day.

4. I'm so over the three weeks of sickness (we were well for 1 day before coming down with something new. ARG.) and a week of rain (wah, LA rain, wah).

Google search: "vacation rentals maui"

lesson learned: We can't afford the daydream-inspiring houses on the beach and none of them include a live-in nanny. LAME.


I'd love to blame the curb.

Dear Z,

Yesterday, we took a fall.

I was pushing you in the stroller, without Sweet Dog for once (she had her very own playdate which you didn't quite understand). It was sunny but cool and we were headed back home because your aunt, uncle and cousin were coming over for dinner. We were rushing.

(Is it ever a shock when these stories include "we were rushing"?)

I had taken one of our longer loops which I knew was a risk. All day you'd been tired, a bit fussy, not terribly agreeable. A 45 minute walk was ambitious given your mood but I chose it anyway because it was such a beautiful day and I wanted the exercise.

My first mistake.

I was singing (our one and only effective distraction technique for your impatience) and my out of breath, slightly off-tune rendition of the "Wheels on the Bus" was wearing thin with you. "Almost home" I said as I navigated a nasty tree-root-created sidewalk hazard a few blocks from home. The same hazard that tripped us up last summer. The one that sent us both flailing on the sidewalk, your face and my leg bruised but okay. The one that causes me to shudder and relive that moment EVERY single time I pass it as I remind myself to PAY ATTENTION (bleepity bleep) and keep you safe.

We were "almost there!". I was "looking both ways!". I was taking a oh-so-slightly different angle off the curb because I was rushing and you were impatient and out of snack and I was out of breath and out of things that make sounds on the bus.

I didn't notice that there was a section of curb missing. My second (fifty-first?) mistake.

We went down.

You first.

Me on top of you.

There were no sounds.

(There are NO WORDS.)

Gasping. Pleading. Lifting you up.

Blood on your face.


You cried, shocked, and licked your bleeding lip. I reached for my cellphone and called for backup- your dad- telling him to meet us on the corner.

We checked your teeth, your tongue, your pupils. You had some road rash on your chin and a cut on your lip. I started to cry.

At home, Dad cleaned you up while I hid my tears from you. Within a few minutes you were off playing with your tea set and I was still crying, filled with guilt and terror.

I will be more careful. I will buy a safer, longer jogging stroller. Maybe I'll just stop taking long walks with you entirely since you are getting impatient with the stroller and your impatience gets to me. I lose focus, cut corners (literally), go just a little too fast.

I will not be able to get the tumbling, sickening image of the fall out of my head.

I will not sleep well for a while.

You are okay and I am so grateful.

And I am so, so sorry.


your Clueless But Hopeful Mama


It's a red, numberless world.

(So I got an email from a friend gently suggesting that yesterday's post was a bit off in tone. She suggested that I not get all "wah, I was TOO fit, WAH" too often, lest I piss someone off. Oops. Sorry. I was trying to speak my truth but perhaps I missed the mark this time.)


The other day I went to pick up Z at School and I made the usual chitchat with one of the teachers about how both Z and another girl (we'll call her Maisy) are due to move up to the next classroom. The one with the little low potties (aw!) and the little low sinks (aw!) and the cheaper price tag/huge yard with a slide/set nap schedule (Z and CBHM: "YES PLEASE. GIMME NOW.")

The teacher very sweetly said to me: "Yeah, Maisy is SO ready. She knows her colors and her numbers 1-10. She's SO ready to get out of here and be with the older kids who are more on her level."

And I, being the crazy person I am, totally took offense.

I mean, maybe Z isn't great with colors (everything is "red" in her world currently) and doesn't know her numbers (Jesus. Am I supposed to be working on numbers with her already? It's not like we don't TALK about numbers but I'm not especially focused on smushing calculus into her little brain yet, you know?) but that doesn't mean she too isn't ready to be with the "older kids who are more on her level". At the very least, I can totally attest to the fact that she is SO ready, has been in intense training really, for the SLIDE.

Maybe Maisy should stay behind and tutor the 6 month olds on their frickin' colors. We wouldn't want them to FALL BEHIND.


The post-dance post.

When unpacking (yes, FINALLY), I found that I needed to get rid of some old clothes to make room for the Christmas bounty. This is, essentially, a good problem. But what it means is that I am taking a hard look at a lot of pre-pregnancy clothes and finally accepting that I should get rid of them. Even though I love them, even though they are in good shape and barely worn, even though I can kinda squeeze myself into them. The fact is that many of them simply don't look good on me anymore. And that's because my post-pregnancy body is also my post-dancing body and I can't seem to wrap my head around that latter bit.

I started dancing when I was 5 and didn't stop (save for some involuntary, injury-related sidelining here and there) until I was 33 (and about to get pregnant, move, buy a house, change my whole effing life). So for most of my life, my body has been my instrument and I was obsessed very, very interested in it working well. This meant I not only took dance class and rehearsed but also spent hours at the gym and taught Pilates and took long hikes on the weekend and biked around the city and took yoga and and AND. And I had the small waist, strong legs and unwavering, unquestioning body confidence to show for it.

Focusing on the utility of my body was a great thing. It got me out of the downward spiral of disordered eating that is rampant in the dance world (and held sway in my head in college); it made me strong inside and out. If a piece I was working on was really fast paced and intense, I went to the gym and did cardio. If I had to lift people and do a lot of partnering (this being modern dance, I was required not only to be lifted but also to lift my fellow dancers, men included), I went to the gym and did a lot of weights. If I was injured, I went to the pool and did deep water aerobics with the grannies. It was all about getting to the next show as strong and healthy as possible.

Obviously, my big issue now is: what do I do now that there is no "next show"?

I'm feeling sad about my body (perhaps 'vain' would be the word?) for the first time in a long time (not since I was 100 pounds and felt disgustingly fat. Ah, GOOD TIMES.). I miss my old abs. I miss my old butt. I miss my old legs. I feel saggy and lumpy and I'm NOT used to it. 20 months after Z's birth, I still can't in good conscience wear a few of my old clothes that I love dearly (I'm looking at YOU, clingy brown Ella Moss dress and YOU worn-twice Joe's jeans.)

My body has changed and it's not realistic to imagine that I will ever be in the kind of shape I was Before again. Before, I used to spend hours a day engaged in intense physical activity. Today, I try to do something physical every day. When I can, I go to the gym or use the Pilates equipment at the studio where I work part-time. When I can't, I walk Z and the dog, I do a DVD in our living room during naptime, I blast Justin Timberlake and dance around the room with Z watching me, amazed (or possibly wondering what brand of crazy her mom is and if it's genetic or, worse, CONTAGIOUS.).

I am getting settled into my post-dance life. It's a relief to not have to constantly manage the cycle of physical pain and injuries. This post-dance life is SO full. But my post-dance body is proving to be a little harder to adjust to.


My very own sociopath.

Last year, around this time, (you know, when Z stopped being a blob and started being a very small, very whiny person) I noticed that some babies seemed empathetic. Specifically, they would cry, or at least frown, when other babies cried. It was sweet and reaffirmed that empathy is a universal capacity in all of us, arising naturally in infancy.

Except, it seemed, for Z.

When babies cried, she'd maybe glance at them and then turn back to her toys. Lately, she's taken to saying "Wah! Wah!" and rubbing her marshmallow fists at her eyes, mimicking the babies who cry during every rendition of "The Wheels on the Bus". It's a little less like empathy and more like .... derision.

So for the last year or so I've gone about my life, doing laundry, walking the dog, cooking dinner all while being seriously concerned about the possibility that I may have birthed my very own sweet, adorable sociopath.

This past weekend, it seems that I got a reprieve.

Z's taken an interest in Curious George and has particularly focused on The Curious George Book of Opposites. In this book, George is DRY, out of the water and then falls in the water and gets WET.
And this makes Z CRY. At first she would just look upset and I would quickly turn the page. But lately, I've been holding still at this page. Letting the tears come. Letting the empathy sink in. Or is it fear?

Unfortunately, there was some early evidence that Z doesn't LOVE water.

But I'm allowed to cling to this as evidence of empathy, right?


Ask and ye shall receive.

I apparently upset a loyal reader with my bait and switch title yesterday. So, in honor of my dear friend Sas, I will get down to the really important business of discussing the Clueless But Hopeful Mama list of the Ten Greatest Dance Movies of All Time (with bonus points added for kissing.)

1. Fast Forward. This is, hands down, the best dance movie ever made (*very straight face, don't EVEN mess.*). Eight Ohio teenagers leave their hometown for big bad New York City and the famed "shoot out" contest. There is a beautiful, talented man as their fearless leader (Wherefore art thou Don Franklin??), romance (bonus points!), a memorable sweatshirt-and-Chuck-Taylors number, and -best of all- dance wars. Could you ask for more? No, no you could not. If your video store does not have this in stock, beg. Or I will send you my betamax tape of it.

2. Dirty Dancing. I can't tell you how many times I've seen this movie and it still manages to capture my attention. The music, the unforgettable lines ("Nobody puts Baby in the corner", "I carried the watermelon", etc. etc. etc.), the HOT SWEATY ROMANCE WITH PATRICK SWAYZE (BONUS POINTS! BONUS POINTS! BONUS POINTS!). I may have to go slip that DVD on right now....

3. Footloose. Kevin Bacon dancing in tight jeans in a warehouse. I rest my case. (A single bonus point for some romance because Lori Singer totally bugs me.)

4. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Who knew Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt could dance (decently)? Cute movie, not a lot of romance but great, great, GREAT 80's fashion and vocab. Put your ponytail to the side and slide on some leg warmers!

5. Step Up. Yum Yum YUM, Channing Tatum can dance and he's so deLISH that you totally forgive any lame plot issues or wooden acting (Rachel Griffiths looks like she's sleep walking.). So worth it for the dancing and romance (EXTRA bonus points for real life romance between the co-stars!).

6. Dirty Dancing Havana Nights. There a cameo from Patrick Swayze, there's some great dancing and the plot actually doesn't totally suck (for a dance movie, that's saying a lot.) Plus, Diego Luna is a bit young for CBHM but he's SUPER TASTY nonetheless. This would have been WAY higher on the list if THEY ACTUALLY KISSED MUCH. Is it too much to ask for a little bit of kissing?? Sheesh.

7. Flashdance. I'm sorry to say that J.Lo has totally ruined this movie for me. And I'm still a bit bitter that they had a dance double for Jennifer Beals. Either get an actress who can actually dance or don't do a dance movie, you know? It's obvious to anyone with a brain that this is a different person dancing and that is why I am also pissed at Save the Last Dance and will make it share the number 7 spot. I love you Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas and the plot didn't totally suck but I hated seeing a dance double.

8.Center Stage. In honor of you, Ms. Sas, I'll give this movie it's own spot, even though they use a dance double for Z Saldana (Hey Z, great name, too bad you can't dance!). There IS fun dancing (Susan Stroman's choreography is so cinematic), some romance (Sasha Redetsky IS yummy), and BIG bonus points for giving a role to Ethan Stiefel. But the plot, the acting.... ug. They could have made it sooo much better.

9. White Nights. Holy crap! I can't believe I've gotten this far without Misha! Barishnikov is a legend for a reason and this movie is only the tip of the huge iceberg. Plus it's got Gregory Hines, Isabella Rosselini and Helen Mirren. But it's a bit too serious (NOT ENOUGH KISSING). So #9 it is. (Sorry Misha! Love you!)

10. Oh crap- there are so many movies left! Saturday Night Fever, Breakin', You Got Served, Fame. I'm afraid you will all have to settle for honorable mentions because this spot goes to..... Billy Elliot. Now, there is no romance. BUT. There is AMAZING dancing from a KID, great acting, interesting plot, and a total feel good ending. Jamie Bell will always have my heart.

Well, there you have it. If you've read this far, you deserve a little reward.

Here's an old pic of Z, who is being indoctrinated into the Dirty Dancing hysteria early.

(Oh. My. God. This was taken when she was almost 6 months old, nothing but rolls of pudge and couldn't sit up on her own. My widdle baaayyby!)


Clueless But Hopeful movies would all include dancing and kissing.

Last night I picked up my new book group book: "Suite Francais". It was written, and set, in 1940's Paris on the eve of the Nazi occupation. (It will become obvious that perhaps this is not the best book for someone like me to read but I think it's going to be a great book so I'm along for the ride.) I didn't get more than a page into it before the words brought on a familiar pang.

"They had to dress their children by torchlight. Mothers lifted small, warm, heavy bodies into their arms: 'Come on, don't be afraid, don't cry.' An air raid."

Suddenly, I was there (in black and white, of course, it IS 1940 after all), leaning over a crib, dressing my child quickly with trembling fingers. Even though I was really lying safely tucked into my bed, hopped up ("hopped down"?) on Nyquil, I felt a shiver go through my body and then a slowly building ache for those mothers and their babies. When I fell asleep, I had haunted dreams of grabbing for little hands that kept slipping away.

As you might be guessing, I've always had a vivid imagination and had a hard time telling fantasy and reality apart. Cinematic portrayals of violence have always been difficult for me. The slasher/chainsaw/Freddy kind are fine, it's the torturous, "Silence of the Lambs" kind of violence that I can't stand. (I tried to watch that movie twice and couldn't get through it. I am still haunted by scenes from "Requiem for a Dream", "Pulp Fiction", and "Cape Fear". I know, without knowing anything about it, that I can never see a movie with the title "There will be blood", no matter how great Daniel Day Lewis is in it. And I stomped out of the room during the first five minutes of "A History of Violence" screaming "They're threatening a little girl with a gun? What the F&%$!? This is supposed to be ENTERTAINING?!! What the F%#$ is wrong with you F*&#ing people?!" Luckily, we were watching it at home so the only person present for my little episode was CG and he's seen so much worse, he barely batted an eye. And yes, you are forgiven for thinking it is sorta my fault for BEING THE ONE TO CHOOSE said movie given its title and my crazily extreme completely reasonable reaction to violence.)

(Did that just win the award for longest parenthetical statement or what?)

But even books do it to me. And since I became a mother, forget it, I'm a total wreck when anything even remotely hard happens to a child.

Our book group just finished "My Sister's Keeper" and "The Memory Keeper's Daughter". (We decided since we couldn't keep the titles straight, we should read them at the same time and get any confusion cleared up.) There is precious little violence in either of these books, but I felt so deeply for each mother, even the ones who made disastrous, selfish, or just plain sucky choices. There is so much loss and grief in each book and the mothers are at the center of it all. I kept thinking: "What would I do in that situation?" and "Oh God, please don't let that happen to Z/me. I don't think I'd survive."

I think it's a good thing to feel this connected to mothers everywhere, fictional or real. (The evening news is not a good thing for me at the moment. Anytime they show injured soldiers I think "That's someone's baaaaby" and reach for the kleenex box.) I just wish I had a little more control over it.


I gotta work on my quick answers.

Z: "Dat?!"
Clueless But Hopeful Mama: "That? Um, that's a beer. It's like.... Daddy water."

Z: "Dat?!"
CBHM: "That's a battery. There's energy all stored up in there and then you can put it in something and get the energy out....it's kinda like MAGIC."

Z: "Dat?!"
CBHM: "This is US weekly, which is a trashy magazine that Mommy uses to escape reality. It's a horrible rag that's bad for your self-esteem and replaces any relevant intellectual discourse in our society with salacious celebrity gossip and rumors ... and I LOVE IT."

Z: "Dat?!"
CBHM: "That's Mommy's private parts. You have one just like this."
CBHM: "It's beautiful, really. And it can do great things like have babies..... and, uh, PEE."


I'm one of those total panty-twisters who loves to immediately unpack as soon as I return home from a trip. Unfortunately, this is yet another neurosis I must surrender to motherhood. Our bags are still partially full, with bits strewn around the outskirts by frantic hands searching for matching socks, favorite sweaters and cell phone chargers.

I've been totally out of sorts since returning home on Wednesday. Perhaps the fact that our 5 and half hour return flight turned into an 8 and half hour flight due to mechanical issues that kept us on the plane, at the gate, for three extra hours has something to do with the rough reentry. (Who me, bitter? NAH.) Or maybe it was the fact that the airline totally broke our stroller when they gate checked it. Or maybe it's that I have succumbed to yet another head cold after a brief two-day respite since my last two-week-long head cold. Or maybe it's just that I am back home, back to reality, back to bills and cooking and laundry and endless wintry, rainy days. (Wah. Don't I get sympathy when it rains in LA? I mean, it's supposed to be sunny all the time here. Eff the aquifers, I want sun!)

I was so sad to send Z to daycare on Friday. After our two weeks on the east coast, I was feeling super attached, like maybe I want to go back to staying at home with her full time. Like this really is the most precious work I can do. Of course, what really happened was that I got used to sharing parenting 50/50 with CG every single day as well as having grandparents, aunties and uncles around to entertain, distract and cajole Z. Staying at home with her by myself day after day, week after week is not good for me and I know that. But it sure was nice to have lots of time with her and everyone else as well.

Plus the only tears she shed at daycare on Friday were when I came, all guilty and desperate for baby kisses, to pick her up early. She barely glanced at me, went back to her dolly tea party and howled her indignation at having to leave.

Ah, the ungratefulness!

On to photos- I finally unpacked the camera as well!

This was a common sight on vacation. The girl didn't really need presents, just a set of stairs.
But if you're thinking of getting her a present, her uncles would do just fine.
They have a similar sense of humor, I think.
Z LOVED the kitties she met.
But she wanted to treat them all like dogs.
The whole cat-standoffish-thing never made sense to me either. You mean I won't get slobbery kisses and get to scratch her belly till we both fall asleep?
Z gleefully "drove" a bus in the Please Touch Museum in Philly. I can safely say it was the highlight of her vacation.

Okay, that's it. I have to officially move on from vacation and finish unpacking.

Either that or I just shove what's left in a closet and deal with it once the Nyquil has been put away.


'Tis the season to declutter.

I'm a little sweaty and excited. I feel purged and renewed. I gaze upon my recycling bin full of victories with pride.

I just 'declined' myself from 12 different catalogs that arrive on, what seems like, a bi-weekly basis.

A good friend sent me info about this site a few weeks back and I filed it away for future, non-holiday-frenzy contemplation. When I returned home from our lovely two weeks on the east coast, I found that not only had the post office FAILED to hold our mail (!@*$#*&$!@) but the pile my dear neighbor so sweetly collected for us contained a metric ton of the same effing catalogs that I get every effing week. "ENOUGH", I cried!

So on to Catalogue Choice went I.

If you care about remedying the cluttered state of your tiny house (or is that just my resolution?) and/or the overtrashed, undertreed state of our planet, this site is for you. If you find yourself receiving "Country Curtains" even though that very title makes you gag, this site is for you. If you regularly gaze upon 4 copies of the same effing Victoria's Secret catalogue, this site is for you.

*deep breath* Okay, enough with the hard sell. Sorry. I'm still a little flush with power and adrenaline.


Vacation, all I ever wanted. Vacation, happy to get away.

We've been here at my parents' house in New Jersey for almost two weeks now. It's been long enough for it to feel like this is just how we live. We have roughly four meals a day. There is no end to the snacking. A handful of Christmas cookies are totally a reasonable snack. Working? Working out? Paying bills? Doing chores around the house? Trying to keep Z on a schedule? Teaching her play by herself and not need constant attention? NOT SO MUCH.

We've been here so long it's actually stopped being weird that I'm sleeping in my old girlhood bedroom. Granted, my twin bed has been replaced by a - more fitting to my girth and the presence of my husband - queen sized bed. And my ballet posters and high school mess have been replaced by tasteful decorations and a blessed lack of knickknacks. But lest I forget the wreck of a teenager I was, my prom and formal dresses still hang in the closet (I can't get rid of those! Z might want to laugh at them some day!) and my mom pulled out a bunch of my journals that I had left here (Probably because they are only partially full. I had a short attention span when it came to journals and every time someone gave me a new one, I'd drop my current one and pick up the next.). The journals are sitting by my bedside so that I can drift off to sleep at night knowing the specific reasons why December 21st 1987 was so lame that it deserved the dreaded C- grade.

We've had a great time here: hanging out with my parents, my husband's family, my almost-94 year old grandfather, and my friends from high school, most of whom I had lost touch with in my twenties but somehow reconnected with once we all had kids around the same time. We went to the Natural History Museum in New York and the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. (Both of which I HIGHLY recommend to anyone with a toddler. I also recommend that you don't go to the former anytime between Christmas and New Years or the latter on New Years Eve if you are at all agoraphobic/claustrophobic/ can't-effing-stand-crowds-a-phobic.) Z rode the NYC subway and loved it, signing and saying "more" at every stop. We began to teach her the most important lesson of NYC subway life- MAKE NO EYE CONTACT AND DEFINITELY DO NOT TRY TO PLAY FOOTSIE OR PEEK-A-BOO WITH ANYONE.

I've been living on the West Coast long enough that this place feels familiar but strange, not quite like home. I hear some harsh South Jersey/Philly/New York accents and giggle to myself, wondering how that ever used to sound normal. I lamely brace against the cold when we go for walks ("I mean, how cold can it really be??") and my normal desire for an endless jaunt turns into a quick duck back inside for some hot tea. The streets of Philadelphia and New York seem strangely narrow, dark and dingy; the buildings, impossibly old.


This is the first Christmas vacation in recent memory that Chic Geek has not spent the majority of his time holed up in a room, basking in the glow of the computer, preparing for an annual, really annoyingly-timed academic conference that takes place the first week of January, conveniently scheduled to maximize its holiday-buzzkillness. CG has actually been able to hang out! Sleep in! (when I let him.) Watch movies! Play games (I'm pretty sure we all wet our pants just a little during the last round of Pictionary in which CG drew a DEAF person reading BRAILLE.)! Read books! HAVE A VACATION! (Halle-frickin-lujah!)

After two weeks, we're ready to go home. We miss Sweet Dog and worry that she's been irreparably damaged by our absence (CG's BOSS is taking care of her. FOR TWO WEEKS. "No pressure, Sweet Dog, just be perfectly well behaved OR DADDY GETS FIRED."). We're looking forward to seeing friends back home and settling back into our beloved little house. We're ready to stop eating so much and, uh, getting back to the gym. I can't wait to leave the house for a walk and NOT be able to see my breath.

But I will miss this time spent with family that we don't get to see often enough. I don't exactly need to live under the same roof as my parents again but it gets harder and harder to be so far away. Plus, who's going to bake me coffee cake from scratch? Who's going to fold my laundry and put it on my bed? Who's going to watch my kid while I read a book? My mama is too far away. (But thankfully, we learned that all her tests turned out normal. YAY.)

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