Sunday, January 29, 2012

My Little Love

My daughter strongly resembles me, so much so that multiple strangers have commented on the likeness.  She's got some of her daddy, too -- I've certainly got no claim on the infectious dimples -- but her hair, eyes, and button nose look like miniature versions of my own, and her facial expressions often leave me reminiscent of my own baby pictures.

Our personalities, as far as I can tell now, are more divergent.  I'm quiet and shy, impatient but rarely outwardly so, and emotionally reserved; Elise lets it all hang out.  She may not always feel like engaging with you, but if she does, she's completely uninhibited and outgoing.  She gets frustrated quickly and loudly.  When she hears music, she dances, whether she's at home, at Kohl's, or at Sunday Mass.

But I still see similarities.  I like to think of her as outgoing, extroverted, and friendly -- and she often is -- but even when we're hanging out with other kids in a playgroup-type situation, she mostly wants to do her own thing, in a way that I recognize from my youth all the way up to this very moment, as I type this sentence, alone and utterly pleased about it as I sit in a little coffee shop.  And I may not be showy with emotions, but my sentimentality runs deep, and when I see joy or anger or hurt shoot through her eyes, I feel them in my own heart, too. 

Looking at my daughter, I find I often run the risk of seeing her as a little me -- I've even thought of her in those exact words, which I shouldn't.  But I see her innocent little face, too young to dream of anything but the happiness she already knows, and I feel like I have a second chance. 

And then I think -- a second chance for what?  For living a life without mistakes?  For getting everything right the first time and having no regrets?  For living untouched by sadness and pain?  My mother's instinct wants all of these things for my daughter, but my common sense knows them to be impossible in this world.

Regardless, the chance isn't mine.  Elise's life does not represent an opportunity to live vicariously as her, but to live more fully as myself -- mother to her, wife to Colin, daughter to my parents, sister to my brother, and so on.  Me.  With all my inadequacies and my insecurities, but also all my talents, my joys.

Chief among those joys is watching my little girl grow up -- seeing her personality emerge, noting her preferences, developing our mother-daughter bond.  And truly, I think that last part is what has left me the most "surprised by joy."  Because as I was growing up and then getting married and then actually going through pregnancy and I imagined my "child," she was simply a little blank in my mind: I knew I'd love her, but I never really thought that much about how she'd love me. 

How about you other moms out there?  Do you ever find yourself thinking of your children as little yous?  Only to realize that the beautiful mother-child relationship exists because there are two distinct people involved, not just a big and little version of the same person?

Friday, January 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

Gracias, Jen!

1. Tuesday was my half-birthday.  It isn't much of an excuse to celebrate, but I'll take any, so I made rosemary chicken and hot fries.  I usually combine Frank's Red Hot, buttah, and garlic to make my hot fry sauce, but I picked up a jar of locally-made hot wing sauce at the natural foods store not long ago and I wanted to try it out. 
Nope, not gonna use my fancy graphics program (MS Paint) to remove that "Dragon Heat" stuff.  Why would I?

I was extremely excited about this wing sauce, because I got it for dirt cheap.  Instead of costing 7 dollars and change like it usually does, it was 29 cents!  (Actually, 28 cents, because I got a 5% discount for paying with cash.)  It expired in October, but that doesn't mean anything, right?

Anyway.  This stuff ain't called "Fire in the Hole" for nothing.  Shazam!  It's excellent hot wing sauce, I must admit.  But I could only tolerate so many hot fries, which was a number LESS than the number I made, so that was sad.  And Colin wasn't about to pick up my slack.

2. I'm writing this on Thursday night.  It's 6:57, Elise is watching Sesame Street, and Colin is snoring loudly on the couch.  I think Elise is a bit disturbed by this.

3. Annnnnd now it's Friday afternoon.  I just read this piece by Marc Barnes of BadCatholic, which is incredible.  An excerpt:

In somewhat of a profound mystery, Love urges us to treat another like a newborn. It is Love that inspires us to reject the lie that human beings grow old, and thus boring, and instead to call a human being what they are: Baby. Love is not blind, it is the gift of sight! It removes the cataracts of boredom and repetition, allows us to see each other for the first time.

For the Christian, this should be no surprise. Look at what our our great Lover and Bridegroom calls us to become: Little children. Look at the name we are blessed with: Children of God. There are no adults in the eyes of God. Why? Because God is Love, and Love sees for the first time.
Read the rest here.

4. We're supposed to get a Trader Joe's here.  Eventually.  The original expected opening was last fall, but construction hasn't even begun yet.  Arg!  I've never been to a Trader Joe's, but they sound awesome.  Actually, as I type this, I'm starting to suspect that I have already written about the whole affair.  But Google says no.  Alright then, I'll try not to write about it again...until I have more news, anyway.

5. Your loyal blogger here (just feeling stupid about starting so many takes with "I") is in desperate need of a new YSU sweatshirt.  The one I own I got a few months before I started college, and somehow the poor thing has all kinds of little stains on it.  And some larger stains too.  And I gotta represent, right?!  This one has both "glitter" and "pink" in its description, making it a front runner.

6. You know what I just cannot get interested in?  Expensive purses.  You know what totally isn't a problem?  That.

7. I would very much like a fruit roll-up right now, but we don't have any.  We never do.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dear Fellow NFPers,

Do you ever blow your nose...

and find yourself looking into the tissue...

only to catch yourself and think,

"Oh wait, that's the wrong mucus"


I'm sorry, but I do it frequently and it makes me laugh.

Friday, January 20, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thank you to Jen for hosting!

1. Tomorrow, my husband and I celebrate 4.5 years of marriage.  This is particularly significant (to me, an overanalyzer) because we dated for 4.5 years before getting married, so half of our relationship will have been spent as a married couple.  (Well, really it was 4 years, 6 months, and 10 days after we started dating that we got married.  So I guess on January 31 it will REALLY be half.  Close enough!)

2. We're finally getting some significant snow around here.  I haven't minded the mild winter at all; I'd just as soon have it be 50 degrees until mid-March, but I would like to take Elise out for some snowy fun.

3. My daughter is 18.5 months old, and I just counted and realized we've traveled with her seventeen times since she was born!  This is coming from someone who went on (I think) eight trips in my life before getting married, so it feels like a lot to me!  (I'm thinking overnight trips more than an hour from home.)

4. Okay, press the shame button here: does anybody else dislike shopping for gifts?  Don't get me wrong: it's not that I don't have the gifting spirit, it's just that I'm terrible at figuring out what to get people.  So I flail and bumble around miserably for weeks leading up to the gift-giving occasion, only to desperately purchase something lame at the last moment and then feel embarrassed to give it.  There have been so few times in my life that I really felt like I figured out a great gift for somebody.  Colin's dad's birthday is next month, and he is probably the toughest recipient on my list.  Well, our list.  But I take the lead on gift-buying in our marriage, and I tell ya what, it can be like the blind leading the blind around here.

5. I just found out it's National Cheese Lovers' Day.  A rather bitter pill for me to swallow, since the Meyer Dairy was OUT of my most favoritest hot pepper cheese this week and I had to buy some absolutely tasteless Monterey Jack from Wegmans.

6. The other day, Colin and I were talking about inviting over our neighbors, a young newlywed couple.  We've only talked with them a couple times, even though they have lived next door since August.  Boo.  At one point, we ruled out having them over after Elise goes to bed, since our house is small and we're pretty sure it would be too loud.  "See, if we had a McMansion, we wouldn't have this problem," Colin remarked.  Just one of the oodles of offhand remarks he's made this week that sent me into peals of laughter.

7. An update on Elise: she's talking up a storm now!  She's constantly adding to her vocabulary, and it melts my heart. She loves playing the piano, stacking up alllllllll of her books, and -- I must admit -- watching Elmo.  She asks me throughout the day, "watch? watch?" and I know she wants to see "Mo"; often she'll ignore the other parts of Sesame Street.  Don't worry, I don't let her watch too much. :)  She's a stinker about eating vegetables (read: she eats literally none), she loves anything cheesy (puffs, crackers, cheese itself), and she could eat meatballs 'til the cows come home (except they won't, 'cause they're ground up in her dinner).  She is utterly smitten with her daddy, and she asks about him all day, even more than she asks to watch Elmo, which is a feat.  We're still nursing and it's still her favorite thing.  I've cut her back recently because I was getting worn out, and when I say "cut back," I mean we're down to 4-6 sessions a day. 
I love her.
Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Yippy-skippy!  I'd like to thank the always-lovely Holly from Perfectly Imperfect for tagging me in the 11 post meme!  I'm so happy that she did, because I've been going through a heck of a dry spell lately, so the inspiration is most welcome!

1. You must post these rules.  [CHECK.]
2. Each person must post 11 things about them on their blog. [CHECK.]
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer. [CHECK. BOOYAH!  Except...instead of tagging, I'll let you readers decide if you want to join in or not.]

11 Things About Me:

1. I just finished watching Battlestar Galactica with Colin a few days ago, and I've been dying to blog about my reactions to the finale and the series as a whole -- but would this be interesting to my readers?  It would be rife with spoilers by necessity.  Weigh in if you're interested!

2. I've probably mentioned this here before, but Elise and I are watching Sesame Street right now and I'm once again reminded: Oscar is totally my favorite.

3. I love grandfather clocks.

4. My feet are very narrow, and it is nearly impossible for me to purchase dress shoes.  I currently have NO decent ones because I can't find any that fit.

5. My favorite color has been purple since I was 4.  However, that's not my favorite crayon color.  Odd?  Perhaps.

6. I'm currently reading Return of the King, and I'm happy that I'll soon be able to say that I have finally read the whole LOTR trilogy.

7. I loved being seven.  Second grade was the best!

8. I've always been a big fan of the infinity symbol, which is essentially an 8 on its side.

9. I have been wanting Steak 'n Shake for years, probably ever since I moved to central PA, and it hasn't happened because we don't have one around here.  Some! Day!

10. My Confirmation saint is St. Cecilia.  I chose her because she is the patroness of musicians, and playing piano was a big part of my life at that age (13).  I don't get much time to play anymore (Elise always wants to join in), but I still love music and I'm glad I chose her for my patroness!

11. I have been working on this blog post for over a week.  *facepalm*

Answers to Holly's 11 Questions:

1. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?  Wait for it, Lindsy...CERULEAN!  Oh, hands down, my most favorite Crayloa hue. It's approximately the color of Cookie Monster.
Elise growls when she sees him, and it's adorable.

2. What's your favorite winter activity?  Just plain playing in the snow.  Rolling around with it, giggling like a nut.
Can't wait to take her out this year!

3. What's a song that reminds you of your childhood?  There are so many, like anything by the Beach Boys or Johnny Mathis (yes, my parents listen to music that's a little old even for their generation).  Or the silly song my friend Maria and I made up when we were 6 or 7 years old, or the songs my brother and I made up.  Christmas music, too!  And all the pieces I learned on piano!  But seeing as how I should stop blabbering and just pick one -- I'll say "Here I Am, Lord," the hymn.  I know a lot of folks aren't big fans of that one (and from a musicality standpoint, I understand), but it was the first church song I ever learned, and I'll never forget it. 

4. Post a picture of what you think your dream house would be.

I've never developed a detailed "dream house" schema, but this one nails a lot of my preferences: 4 bedroom colonial, front porch, garage (be still my heart!), first-floor laundry, walk-in closet in the master bedroom.  And it's located in a place I wouldn't mind living. :) I shan't reveal its location because I've already gotten my hopes up too high, and dishing about possible places where we might move when my husband hasn't even had any interviews yet is certainly jumping the gun!

5. What's your guilty pleasure?  Heheh, I got too many of them.  Most are food.  A current pick:
It sin't easy bein' Weezey.

6. What did you want to be when you grew up, and are you still trying to fulfill that dream? I wanted to be almost anything you can imagine at one point or another: teacher, journalist, biologist, actress, director, photographer, lawyer...the list goes on and on.  But the one thing I always wanted to be was a wife and mother.  That dream continues to be fulfilled every day. :)

7. What's your ideal vacation?  EUROPE!  I've never been to Rome and that's the place I
want to go most in the world, but I'd also love to go back to France (specifically Paris and Nice), and I'd love to go to Ireland.
Yeah.  LOVE to go to Ireland.

8. Would you rather live by the beach or the mountains?  Beach!  Honestly, I don't want to live on either coast.  Too far from my family.  I'm thinking more like Lake Erie beach! :) But mostly I just don't want to live near these pansy-butt Pennsylvania megahills anymore.

9. Why did you start blogging, and what keeps you doing it?
I originally started back in early 2004 because I wanted to write about my thoughts, feelings, experiences, other 18-year-old shtuff, etc.  That blog went pretty strong for a couple years, then slowly petered out.  I relaunched with this new blog for a number of reasons, the most significant among them being I'm lonely as heck!  Other inspirations: I wanted a writing outlet; I've enjoyed reading others' (primarily Catholic faith-based blogs) since the early days of my marriage, and I wanted to join in the fray.  I keep doing it, albeit sporadically, because I enjoy writing and interacting with my dear readers.

10. What's a food that you just can't stand?
  This list is longer than I'd like to admit!  Let's go with mayonnaise.

11. What do you do to get yourself out of a bad mood? Pray. If, God help me, I remember.

Now it's your turn!  If this looks like fun, please join in the fun and leave a comment letting me know.  I'll be happy to link to your blog!  
11 Questions for all y'all*:

1. What is your favorite holiday, and why?
2. How do you most like to style your hair?
3. If you could live anywhere in the US, where would it be?
4. What's your favorite recipe that either you or a family member makes?
5. What was your favorite class that you took in either high school or college?
6. Would you rather go shopping, to a sporting event, or to a museum?
7. Post a photo of your favorite movie character.
8. What is your favorite type of jewelry (e.g. necklace, earrings, bracelet...if you want to talk about specific styles, that's fine too!)?
9. What is one part of your life that you hope will change in the next five years?
10. What do you like best about the city you live in?
11. What is the ideal outdoor temperature? 

*I'm such a poseur.  Totally not southern at all.  But I didn't want to say "you guys," and I've always lived close enough to Pittsburgh that I could have been a "yinzer" but I'm not.  Perhaps I should have gone with the central PA variant "youns"?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Years Updates, Of Sorts

Oops! 2012 already!

I didn't stay up 'til midnight (turned out I was awake then, however, because Elise let out a single yelp at 11:40 and after I lay quietly for a while, eyes shut, Colin came to bed after gaming, and I realized it was already 12:07).  Yep, rang in this year in style, that's right.

Still haven't gotten around to resolutions, or goals, or whatever.  Can't promise to blog every day (ha!) or do one of those 365 (366!) photo things, since I've already missed some days.  Dum de dum.

This year could totally turn our lives upside-down...or it could not.  Colin is graduating in May, and he'll either do a post-doc here afterwards, or be offered an assistant professor position somewhere else, which would mean moving and starting our real settled life as a family.  Of course, the prospect of the latter gets me downright giddy.  But I can't put all my eggs in that basket!
I had a scary incident in the car the other night. I was driving to a Bible study at our church, and it turned out the roads were a lot icier than I'd thought, because I skidded and ended up completely about-facing.  On the five-lane main road in town.  Thank God no other cars were near me; I could have easily killed someone, including myself.  And thank God Elise wasn't with me, or I'd have felt a million times more terrified and guilty than I already did.  Turns out the Bible study was canceled anyway, because the lady who leads it was rear-ended (and also, thankfully, was unscathed).
We went to South Carolina this year for Christmas.  Colin's parents are retired near Hilton Head, so we joined them and his two older sisters (one from CT, one from VA) for about a week.  We had a lovely (and warm!) stay.  We drove both ways overnight, which I'd highly recommend to anyone with a baby/toddler who sleeps in a carseat with a 12- to 13-hour drive ahead of them.  It was exhausting, obviously, but completely worth the minimal disruption of Elise's schedule.

Hold up, bird!
Highlights included Christmas Mass (of course, but I do really love the church down there), taking Elise to the beach, watching Lord of the Rings, hanging out and playing board games, and even getting a little date time with my hoo!  We hadn't done it since March, folks!  So it was high time.  We went to a little chapel, shopped at the outlets, and had some awesome Mexican food.  Yippee!
Elise won't nap without a sleep-inducing car ride anymore.  The last couple days I've refused to indulge her, hoping that she would be able to relax and fall asleep without it.  Nope. Today I caved, bundled her into the car, chauffeured her along one of our typical routes around the rich-people-houses street, and delicately transferred her inside so she can nap as I type up this magnificent blog post.
Yesterday I felt like I was a pretty good mama most of the day, attentive and gentle and all that, probably in response to how grateful I felt for still being alive after the icy scare the previous night. Today I've forgotten all about it and behaved terribly.  We went to a consignment store for jollies this morning, and just before we were about to leave I checked out the jewelry.  Snap!  Elise pulled a necklace right off its tag, breaking it.  And it wasn't a pretty necklace, it was a hideous orange monstrosity.  I was positively fuming over having to "spend my last dollar" on this piece of garbage (I don't carry much cash: it was $3.50).  It was a great example of how I'm a poor, lousy sinner of a mother who gets angry with her toddler for being curious.
My husband was able to take off two weeks from work for the holidays!  In my wretched ungratefulness, I tend to focus on all the negatives of being the wife of a graduate student and forget all about the positives -- great working conditions, the opportunity for my husband to learn constantly while working, and the flexibility!  It was beyond glorious to be all three of us together so much.  Elise and I sure miss him now that he's back to the grindstone.
But, um, his dissertation defense is next month?!  Can it be true?!!!!!
Happy new year, and best wishes for 2012!