Frog. Especially the phrase "frog off" such as when I take a stuffed frog on and off my head in front of Carolyn while we videotape her talking about said frog.
I'm making definite movement into the land of adults. Why just today I finished my cover letter for freelancing at the Pantagraph, I set up times to get involved with the local Newcomers group and I had a weird experience at the park.
No creepy guys involved.
At the gym, I've been chatting with one of the childcare workers. I'll call her Elizabeth, because I'm pretty sure that's her name. She also has two daughters - 3 and 7 months.
And she's really nice. Elizabeth is the only adult I talk to on a regular basis, regular being for five minutes while I get Penny in her carseat.
So I'm at the park and there she is. We talk for about an hour. Finally, someone I connect with and she lives a half mile from my house.
Elizabeth is not exactly my mirror image. She's a proud SAHM with a dedication to her craft. She's super nice (a woman was leaving the playground and Elizabeth told everybody how nice the woman seemed. Not a catty bone in her body). I think she might be religious. She seems really outgoing and confident.
See what I mean?
I hope when she finds out how cynical, offbeat, awkward and mean I can be, she still wants to be friends. After all, 2-year-olds don't drink coffee, so we housewives sometimes take what we can get.
We were busy girls today. The gym. A couple of stores. Lunch.
OK. I guess we weren't that busy. But here I am, morning gone.
I'd like to take a moment to recognize the significant contributions of one Steve Gardner. Loving husband and father. Busy executive. Cool guy.
When I was pregnant, most of caring for Carolyn fell to him. He was, like, the best. He took her out almost daily and they became best buds.
Obviously, I think very highly of Steve.
But, it pains me to admit there's something about him that irks me to no end. His ability to sleep.
I wake up when Penny rolls over. I wake up when the heater kicks on. I wake up when a dream reminds me I didn't finish the dishes last night.
Steve, on the other hand, could sleep through a newborn baby screaming as if on the verge of death.
Oh wait, he has.
We love him anyway.
We're getting ready to go to a wedding this weekend. It's my first time in Cincinnati. I'm very excited.
You know when you're working in an office, and you're really sick, but you don't want to spend your precious sick days on being sick (if ya' know what I mean), so you go to work and do a half-hearted job because you're trying not to throw up on your computer?
You know that day?
Well, when you're a housewife those days happen too. Yesterday, I did a few loads of laundry, I sort of picked up the toys laying around the living room and I ran the dishwasher. Problem was, my heart just wasn't in it.
Today is much better. I might even pick up a broom.
So anyway, I'm having a crappy morning as is, so I decide that's not going to stop me. Turn that frown upside down, right?
I decided I'll go to the gym and then Barnes and Noble, where they're having some kid stuff. It's raining and I feel like crawling into bed with a bottle of tequilla, but working out works too.
Starts out simply enough. I'm on the trendmill, watching Hollywood get fat, get skinny, get fat again on some E! show. Ahhh. Gotta love Hollywood.
Then the lady on the loudspeaker comes on, which I have NEVER heard before. It's for me. "Christine Gardner. Please go to the childcare room."
So quick am I that I don't even stop to wipe down the machine. Carolyn's arms broken. Penelope swallowed a nickle. Whatever it is, I'll be there in a flash.
Well, Penny was poopy. Whew. That's not disaster. I told the lady I'd be back in a minute with the diaper bag.
I run to get it and in that two minutes, they come back on the loudspeaker demanding my RETURN to the childcare area.
I was yelled at on the loudspeaker!!
So I decide maybe the gym wasn't the best idea, but we should definitely go to the bookstore. The poopy diaper was just a way of geting us out there on time. Fate was on my side.
Well, there were roughly 300 children seated in a circle at Barnes and Noble, each just as angelic as the next. The mothers had makeup on, their hair fixed and their children were smiling and coloring pictures in an organized, polite fashion. I realize Carolyn's shoes are coated in mud and she's running away from me screaming the word "juice" over and over again.
I am wiping the floor with a children's wipey, tears about to stream down my face.
Well, now Barnes and Noble is out. I literally sprinted from the store
So here I am, thinking maybe the kids need a new, less crazy mommy to take them out. I'm thinking maybe daycare is the way to go. I'll get a job and let strangers raise my children.
With daycare, there's a possibility the girls will turn out fine. With me, it's just a matter of time before a police officer is standing outside my door. "This belong to you maam?
"Yes," I'll say. "I'm responsible for that."
I think the hardest part of my easy life is the drudgery. There are long periods of silence, or reading children's books, or building awesome towers.
I'm a daydreamer by nature, so in recent months my mind takes long vacations away from reality. I invent characters and have them interact with each other in case I ever get around to writing a novel. I think of news stories I'd like to write, deciding who I would interview and what questions I should ask. I think of something my mom might have told me in 1995, obsess about why she would say such a thing and wonder how long she's harbored a deep-seeded hatred for me.
When I was a reporter, returning from a meeting or interview, this talkive mind of mine worked great. I had whole stories written before ever sitting down before a computer.
Now I fear I grow slightly more crazy each day.
Housewives of the world, what do you fill your minds with? Is this why God created soap operas? Do I need to subscribe to People Magazine as a means of escaping the endless lists being replayed hourly on the Chris Channel? Is this why women have so much drama in their lives, generally speaking?
Or maybe it's just me and I'm crazy already. Whatever. When I'm 50 I'll have a novel just waiting to see paper. How many sane people can say that?
It's a funny thing about friends – sometimes it just seems an unlikely pairing. Like wine and pizza. But as all MY friends know, wine goes with everything, so I guess that's a bad example.
My dear friend Courtney got me thinking about friendships. I remember the very first time I met her, I told all my co-workers (which were, of course, guys) that she was going to be a great friend of mine. They all laughed that crazy, female notion off. How could I possibly know that?
Well, dudes, it was true. Even as our path diverge and we find ourselves in very different lives, probably with very different priorities, we go on sending out witty e-mails to each other as if we just had coffee this morning.
Now, I find myself friendless in this new city and I wonder about those women whose opinion I value. Is it possible for me to find friendship in a club with playgroups and cooking clubs. Isn't there some chemistry, not unlike that found in love, that decides who we will befriend.
Or is it, not unlike love, a situation in which two people are looking for the same things at the same times in their lives? Paths crossing and all that.
Who knows. I only know these two things.
Number one. I have friends from my past whose lives are so different from my own I can't imagine what it's like for them. I admire them and envy them. But at the end of the day, I think I've got it pretty good.
And two. There is no way my only adult conversation is going to revolve around telemarketers and the creepy guy on the way to the park. These friendship clubs exist for a reason, right? We'll just have to see how it goes.
There's something very satisfying about building a train rail and seeing those little blue and green trains go up hills and under tunnels. Probably some God complex thing going on there. It gets really bad when Carolyn wants to help me build the block tower and I say "No. Not there."
That's just not right. But doesn't it look COOL??!!
The library in Normal is nice, but I miss Battle Creek. You can only take out movies for three days and it costs a dollar. And the movie sectioin is totally disorganized. But the little kid play room is nice and the book selection is pretty good.
My final observation is about pork chops.
Unless you buy those beautiful, thick chops and brine them, season them, fry them and bake them, they just come out tough. My 20-minute chops, taken from a recipe by the fool-proof geniuses at Cooks Illustrated, were like leather. Steve loved them, but not for me.
Anyway, the mustard sage sauce rocked.
That's blah and ugh.
By afternoon, I was desperate. We walked around Kmart, just looking at stuff. I bought a tie-rack for Steve, a book for Carolyn and some baking soda, which I used to make chocolate chips cookies when I got home.
And so is McDonald's, by the way. I meant to try the Thai place, but I looked in the backseat at Carolyn and Penelope, remembered that commercial for fish sandwiches I saw earlier today, and was helpless.
After all that food, I feel disgusting.
Back to the gym tomorrow.
You know, things like Jell-O molds or casserole molds are no longer in vogue. Beyond the 1950s, these lovely crafted meals went the way of boxed dinners and frozen fish sticks.
It's too bad. When done correctly, I imagine these meals are as beautiful as they are tasty. But I can only imagine because the ham, rice, and mushroom soup mold I made tonight crumbled under the pressure.
Actually, I had crumbled. But no tears were shed. It was still delicious. The homemade mushroom soup was much better than the canned variety. Next week, I think I'll try my hand at a Jell-O mold, with little pieces of fruit and nuts dangling, as if by magic.
The girls and I went to the library this after noon. Snow is expected tomorrow, and lots of it. So beyond a trip to the gym and maybe an afternoon snowman, there won't be much exploring tomorrow.
Below? Not my mold.
March 20. The first day of spring. Of course, snow is in the forecast.
We had a busy moring, running around for groceries and cleaning supplies. Here's my dirty little secret of the day... I went to Wal-Mart.
Oh how I hate Wal-Mart. It gets me to thinking that all photo frames should be $2. Who needs a beautiful piece of art when we can have, like, 100 picture frames adorning our walls.
In my defense, I needed bleach, SOS pads and milk. What is a semi-busy houswife to do??
Then Carolyn, Penny and I went to the post office. We started heading toward the library when the cold winter, oh sorry, "spring" wind started hitting our rosy cheeks and we abandoned the plan in exchange for a little train building action in our warm and cozy basement. Not a one of us was wearing a winter coat. Bad mommy. Bad.
I better get started on dinner. I'm making a 50s style dinner of a ham and rice ring. It calls for canned mushroom soup, but I think I'll prepare my own to cut down on the sodium, so I need to get working on it pretty soon.
And I figured out a great way to cut down on oil when making Carolyn's favorite lunchtime snack, quesadillas. Brush the tortillas with oil instead of pouring it directly into the pan. It works great....