Friday, July 30, 2010

To Hold On


Inflatable boat handles

Side of the pool

Plastic toy telescope

Small animal magnets (that keep getting lost)

Railings on stairways

My shirt

Or my pants

Or if not those two, always my hand

You hold on to these things because you need time. You need time to find out, to study, to watch what it all does before you let go. I understand because I'm your mom. I see how you love after the fact. I know you hear them when you repeat what they say. You ask all your questions when they're all gone. People make you turn away.

When you are ready you will let go. You will start conversations all by yourself.
You will shake hands and you will embrace.

But for now you hold on until you see what they do.

May they all surprise you in the end.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Right Hook, Left Hook

Last night my husband fell asleep before I did. This is how it always is. It's never been any different. Not one day in the history of our days or nights together have I ever been able to fall asleep first. And if I did it was most definitely Grigio related and/or I had just given birth but as I recall he was still sawing wood before I had a chance to brush my teeth for the night on those three occasions.

So he's asleep and I'm not. It's getting chilly and our thermostat was not an accounting major. I have to turn up the AC (oh the irony) and decide sneaking out of bed is best so as not to awaken the sleeping husband body. I achieve departure unnoticed and return feeling victorious. In one instant I am mentally high-fiving myself, in the next instant I am returning fire.

"What THE?!?!" I hiss.

"Garrr-dooo-bleee nyaaah," the sleeping husband groans as he springs sideways to grab me by right shoulder and hip bone.

"I'm fine. I'm not falling out of bed!" but my words are missed on the subconscious one. He slurs more protective jargon and claws at my arms with the kind of brute energy that makes me realize he is all Marine, and a scary one at that, if he ever wants or needs to be. I cannot not move. Even from the depths of REM he renders me immobile and still.

"Honey! Wake up! I'm fine, it's me and I'm not falling off the bed, there are no children, no dogs, no stray blankets or crackers falling off the bed either!! Get off mee!" I yell in the most hysterical attempt of mute ever imaginable to no avail. He continues to contain me in his sleep.

So there we are beating the sh*t out of one another in the middle of the night while the contestants of Top Chef figure out what to do with ostrich eggs and duck balls.

And I do mean beating the sh*t out of each other. He, with his over protective zombie punches and crazy slurs. Me, with my pissed off girl hooks and angry elbow jabs. It was quite the scene. I know it lasted for a while because I can hardly move my right arm today.

I wonder how his left side is doing. I wonder if he even remembers. I wonder what the hell I'm so mad at that I'd take offense to his trying to save me from the three foot drop off our bed into a fluffy embrace of clean laundry on my side.

Seriously, what kind of woman punches back when a man is trying to rescue her from danger?

Probably exactly the kind in need of some rescuing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In the Middle of it All

What happens when you hand over your camera to a little person with a view from the middle of a big person's world? Magic, I tell you. Unposed, unpremeditated, unexpected silly faced magic.

Monday, July 26, 2010


It is (mostly) true for me that things materialize if I will it, earn it, and am patient for it. This time, though, I lost faith. I really did not believe I would make new friends no matter how big I smiled, how long I lingered, how many granola bars I shared. I'd get close, exchange numbers and then things would fetter away like a pretty dust storm at dawn. We didn't click. It wasn't happening naturally. It wasn't happening artificially. I was not making the connection.

Then, just when I almost threw in the towel, Saturday threw me a bone. A very nice woman I met at the pool a few weeks ago was enjoying time in the shallow end with her boys and her husband. As always, we sent and received friendly smiles and chatted idly about the weather. Unwilling to eat more rejection dust, I stared at my toes and motioned toward the big pool where my family waited for me. Then it happened. This very nice woman gave me something I've been hoping for and pining for over a year. She asked me to be in her Book Club.

"Yes!" I probably shouted. "I'd love to be in your Book Club!" I definitely gestured way too emphatically.

"Do you meet every couple of weeks to talk about them?" I ask like a complete bonehead loser Book Club novice.

"Yes, and there's most certainly a wine requirement," the nice woman says.

"In that case, I'm most certainly in," I tell her and try to bite my tongue so I don't scare her away with too much joviality. A little dork goes a long way.

Obviously Saturday threw me bone. Now it's my job not to gnaw it to death with grateful praise and general happiness. I will do my best to be subtle but holy crap am I elated to have not only one new literary hungry friend but two of them to drink wine with while analyzing depth of character both on and off the page. I am so totally in and so very thankful for the life jacket showing up just when I was going under just a little bit too long.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lies, All Lies

This doesn't make me want another baby.

This does NOT make me want another tiny little teeny weeny sweet sighing little precious baby.

And this? This does absolutely nothing for me.

And neither does this? (Oh my GAWD- hold me.)

And you're just crazy if you think I might covet huggable, kissable, squeezable, edible this.

Because as you know, that honeymoon phase passes quickly around here and this is what they turn into before my milk dries up:

(Serving a time out for throwing something sharp.)

(Behind bars and happy about it.)

Whew, that was a close one.

I think I heard my husband throw up all the way from the Pentagon.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordlessly Wednessly

Before Story Time with Daddy:

Abby brings her own stool. (Both literally and literally.)

After Story Time with Daddy:

Abby cleans up her stool (only literally so far for the kind outside her Pampers) while Daddy is lulled to sleep by his own make believe.

Night Night, Daddy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Game Changers

We all know having children will impact our snuggle time with the spouse. I expected that. What I didn't expect was that my children would not only impact but impede my ability to make new friends easily at our new home (sure, blame it on the kids). I am finding it damn near impossible to carry on an adult conversation beyond, "Oh, how old is she? Four months? You look fabulous. Okay, bye!" because either new acquaintance had to tend to her baby or Abby was peeling off her swim diaper again in the shallow pool.

The thing I love most about being a stay-at-home mom is that I always have people to hang out with. The bad thing is that my people are under four, like to pour pee-pee water down my shirt, and refuse to wear a bathing suit top because her brother doesn't have to. Also, let's face it, my people are territorial. They do not share my attention so well. They love to have mine eyes on them and only them. For me to fraternize with another adult at the pool is an adulterous act and will be punished accordingly. Probably with an untimely meltdown or dramatic head butt to the hard concrete edge of the pool. Probably ending in me excusing myself from the only adult conversation I'll have that day to find where the hell I buried the band-aids (her) and Advil (me.).

Either way you look at it, kids are game changers and I must learn this new rulebook on how to make new friends and keep one or two so I'm not alone at Barnes & Noble perusing the 2 million piece 3-D puzzles of DC when my people have tired of me and graduated to painting easels and 2 million piece 3-D puzzles of their own.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Blooming Regrets

I'm pretty lucky in general and can honestly say I don't have many regrets. There is one, however, and it is rather mundane but oddly bothersome when I look back at wedding pictures.

When Hubby and I were engaged in the summer of 2001, he was one of the many servicemen and women who were immediately deployed after 9/11. He was on an aircraft carrier and not able to maintain daily communication during those critical first few weeks. I knew he was okay in the beginning because he did call to let his family and me know he was already en route to an "undisclosed location" (yes, there.) and emails would be sporadic at first but eventually more commonplace. In the meantime we all prayed a lot, held each other together and wrote tons of letters to mail off in a fat Christmas mailer when the snowflakes began to fall.

Also in the meantime, to keep me distracted, I planned a wedding. Our wedding.

Through emails and short telephone calls when Hubby landed somewhere for a day or two leave we pulled off enough communication to decide the big things together. However, all these years later I can clearly see how distracted I must've been because some of the decisions I made single handedly now seem so unlike me, so out of my own character.

In one of our many emailing sessions, we chose to have an outdoor "garden" wedding. Easy breezy, no frills with very few flowers. To keep in line with our mutual decision, I chose to go light on the bridal flowers, bouquets, arrangements, etc. Great, save money and go green!

But, for some unknown reason I chose not to have blue or purple flowers. Somewhere along the way, in my hazy brain, I came to the ridiculous notion that blue and purple were synthetic and not organic enough to be included in our simple outdoor color palette. (Here is where I must say the bridesmaids dresses were literally "sky blue" and show themselves as teal in pictures (seriously, I question my own sanity back then) instead of powdery periwinkle).

To this day it was one of the poorest decisions I've ever made. To this day, I don't love our wedding pictures because the omission of those rich dark blues and purples is too depressing and incomplete for me to stomach. To this day I wish I could go back in time and ask the florist to do an entire bridal bouquet in nothing but magenta and royal blue flowers.

To this day, I feel very fortunate that it's one of my biggest regrets. While life isn't perfect or smooth or always lovely, it is damn good. It is blue and hot pink. It is rise and fall and rise again. It is simple, outdoors, garden variety beautiful and there is no room for regret if you play your cards right. Actually, what I'm finding is that there is no room for regret if you just play your cards. The right happens eventually.

My Blooming Regrets :)

Friday, July 16, 2010


While Grayson was having his swimming lesson this morning, Abby and I watched a few bees hover over lavender flowers by the baby pool. They hummed along busily while piling yellow nectar on their knees. They all looked like small roller derby racers with knee pads. It was amazing. It was also pretty insane to see where they had to store their groceries. Makes me feel extremely spoiled that I get a nice cart on wheels to schlep my wares to and from the car. Imagine how many fewer (how much less? how fewer? I'm no longer a student of the English language and it shows) calories we would all consume if we had to pack our soup cans and fruit cups on our hip flexors in order to get them home. I will remember that today when I have a hard time leaving the cookie dough in the store. Would I really want this if I had to wear it home?

Sadly, I'd probably still opt for cookie dough over soup cans.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Karen Rocks

The girl's face at 4:04 says it all.

Jewel Covers Jewel ... in Disguise Click here

I still think she should've ripped off the prosthetics and shocked the crowd that way b/c some people still didn't put it together at the end. Of course those people probably don't remember they were even there to this day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One Year Ago

A year ago, almost to the day, we moved from our lovely home in Pennsylvania. It was a tough day and looking back at the pictures it seems absolutely impossible that 12 months have come and gone. We have been in our new home for four solid seasons and you know what? It feels like I have been holding my breath the entire time. I don't know why. I don't even have a guess. I suppose there is a large part of me that is still in denial. That still will not admit we are here and have moved on. Maybe if I hold my breath long enough, Marni will come walking through my door in her pink Kung Fu shirt and cherry flip flops. And Vinny will be scootering on his motorbike around the neighborhood like the sweetest dork in the universe. If I just don't allow air into my lungs that I'll see Cara and Andy strolling up the street toward our place with Lily in her plastic car and Josie on her new bike. If I'm careful not to inhale then Larry will still be on his front porch sneaking a cigarette while staring at the ominous purple sky. Marylin will pull up at exactly 6:10 in her huge silver truck like she was born on a ranch in Wyoming even though I'm pretty sure she was born in PA. Brian will be bouncing and zigzagging through the street with his skinny limbs flying toward the basketball hoop. If I just don't breathe in and then out again, we will still be home.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Hi again. Figured I'd ask my favorite readers what you guys think of the overhaul here on One-Sided Momma. I know, I know, I am all over the map lately with design, backgrounds, font colors, etc. that you probably need a Dramamine before you click your way here but hopefully this one will stick for a while. I added some tabs (after title and title pic but before actual postings) for a little more meat to these small potatoes. Be sure those will change as I'm still figuring out what is most instrumental in being authentic to myself and on this blog. Afterall, if I can't do that here then you'd expect me to go out, attend playdates and make human to human contact with strangers, wouldn't you?

Anyway, feel free to leave comments anonymously if you hate the renovation, love it, like it, or didn't even notice it. I promise to have on my big girl pants when I read your comments. And a big bag of honey mustard pretzels but that was a given.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A New Pocket of Sunshine

Since having children, it's easiest and best for me to think of my life in stages. In pockets to be more exact. It helps me deal with the constant flux of changes babies & children bring with them upon arrival. (Much like being tossed about in a washing machine, you barely have time to make sense of things before you are spun through another cycle.) Like when the kids were babies I thought in terms of breastfeeding. Everything was loosely based around their eating times and my ridiculous Bethenny Frankel tatas. Most other events fell somewhere before or after their nursing sessions. It was a "Big Boob" pocket. Once that was over, we entered into the "Messy Toddler" phase where we have remained ever since. These pockets can last a few months or a few years. They can also overlap with other pockets like they are doing right now. Grayson is graduating from the Messy Toddler phase and entering into the "Big Kid" stage while Abby is still yucking it up pretty good with pasta, chocolate pancakes, and sidewalk chalk. She has a couple more years in the Messy Toddler pocket so I'm keeping my Tidesticks close. Lucky for me, I am being eased slowly into a new pocket of sunshine. It's the pocket of independence.

Through his language, his actions, his new found bravery with new life experiences, Grayson is slowly exiting his small warm safe nest of little kidness. He is embarking on independence and much to my surprise, I'm not grieving his toddlerhood just yet. I'm so excited for him and this period of growth for him that I am filled with hope, support, and enthusiasm for what is ahead. It helps that Abby is lagging a couple years behind him, allowing me to overlap time zones and comfort zones while getting my feet wet in another arena altogether. In fact, I'm sure if it weren't for her keeping me firmly grounded in toddlerhood we would totally have a new puppy living amongst us because four years was just too fast of a spin cycle for this momma.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Little Guppy

Yesterday was Grayson's first day of swim lessons.

I only took four pictures, jumped up and down clapping like a circus poodle twice, and hyperventilated when he put his face in the water once.

I am proud of both of us but mostly I am proud of him.

"He is strong," said the swim instructor in a thick Russian accent.
"He is very determined too," he added on his way back to the office. The instructors probably say that about all the children, especially on their first day. But when I hear it from him I smile in acknowledgment because I feel it is true.

My son is strong and he is determined. He is also uncomfortable in the water but spent 30 solid minutes acting like he wasn't. Strike that. He spent 30 solid minutes NOT acting, but being brave and trying new things even if it made him nervous. These lessons have already proven to be the best money spent on a sport activity because they are giving him the confidence to push himself beyond his comfort zone to discover what strengths might be hiding beneath his surface. Strengths that will mean more because he finds them than just when his mom or dad say they're there.

Oh, plus, did I mention? That swim instructor? Is a Bulgarian Olympian. 2000 Sydney, Australian Olympics. I didn't even know that when I signed Grayson up! Thought I was just talking to a foreign exchange student here to earn a few bucks from our local yocal pool for the summer. I found out after his first lesson. Thank God too. There could've been real potential for me to ask for his autograph, thus putting me in the complete Spaz-of-a-Mom category till the end of time. I'll ask him at tomorrow's lesson instead.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Sorry I was MIA yesterday. I didn't intend on taking a day off from my favorite thing in the world (favorite aside from my family, elastic waistbands and anything French vanilla) which is blogging but I had a good reason. At least I think it's a good reason. Here, you be the judge. Some time yesterday Grayson came to me and said, "Mommy, I have something to show you."

"Is it going to be gross? I'm kind of over gross."

"No Mommy, it's not gross but it IS creeeepy."

"Well this I gotta see."

We ran around to the backyard where said creepy thing was found. I was mentally prepping myself for creepy. A deceased baby bunny with flies buzzing around? A small nest of birds with cracked embryos spewing into the grass? I'm ready. Give it to me, Kid.

We arrive on the scene and he points to this.

And in case the gravity of this image has not hit home yet, here's a closer look of its old skin. You know, the old skin that it sloughed off because it GREW LARGER, eats Yorkshire Terriers whole and probably lives in my bathtub drain?

Now, one in relation to the children.

Now one to understand the girth.

(Keep in mind that my fingers are the size of large Vienna sausages.
Okay fine, extra large.)

Ever since this new discovery of our most recent tenant, I have been doing nothing but FAH-REEEEEAAAKING out. I called my husband who has been on travel up north all week.

"Honey, Oh my God, Honey - you have to see this thing. It's an anaconda, it's a freaking saber tooth copperhead sperm whale giant Brazilian Portuguese speaking snake and it's LIVING in our AIR CONDITIONER!!!! Seriously, I am not making this up. It is HUGE and you have to see this. Hold on, I'm sending you a picture of it. Call me back when you get it. CALL ME BACK BEFORE NIGHTFALL IF YOU LOVE ME!"

It's important to stay calm in the face of adversity. I'm nothing if not an excellent example for the children.

Twenty minutes later I get a text back on my phone that says this:
"Big one, honey."

Thanks Mister Verbosity. Don't know what I'd do without your running commentary on how to proceed with this current dire and life threatening situation. Good thing we have technology or else I might not trust my own visual standard of space and time and confuse this snake as a little one or a medium one or one that is slightly less than big but larger than "Get the rifle, kids!" Fine, I will take matters into my own hands.

So I grabbed my Nikon and shot this bastard from every angle known to man and sent it right to my landlord. Because he has time for me and will certainly respond accordingly with the exact urgency and concern in the tenor of his voice, right?

He never called back.

So here I am, home alone with two small children and an imagination overwrought with images of Labrador and/or sweaty-headed-child eating snakes. Every single drain in my house is a potential gateway or welcome sign for this thing to slither on in and bask in the tropical heat that is our upstairs floor. There is not one ounce of me that can relax long enough to sleep without images of it curling up next to Abby in her crib for body heat. I even made Grayson sleep in my room last night just so I would hear him scream when the reptilian monster began swallowing his little toes. Have you people ever seen Nat Geo? This happens, you guys. And it is rumored to happen to people with a penchant for dramatics and strawberry flavored Cheerio crumbs in the carpet. We are totally screwed.

Again, it's crucial to keep things in perspective so as not to alarm the children or make them aware of the fact that their mother has negative coping skills for bigass snakeskins found millimeters from their (oft used! holy @#%@$^!) basement door. Holy Mother Nature, you suck sometimes. The Cadillac bee-like cicada killers all hopped up on HGH in our front yard were certainly enough without adding the lizard king in our back yard. My flowers haven't been watered since June because those effers buzz louder than my Sonic toothbrush with new batteries. While the exterminator promises me that these guys are harmless, it's a tough thing to remember when they zoom around my babies' heads like kamikaze zeppelins with stingers.

So please forgive me for not writing yesterday. I was busy building an underground tunnel to a gorgeous high rise in the middle of Central Park. I highly doubt Jake the Snake will find us there. Unless of course he's already taken up residence in my suitcase. Which is in Grayson's closet. Which is dark and humid and...oh my god, someone pass me a machete.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cloudy with a Chance of Sugar Cookies

So, remember how I mentioned my two brothers visiting us from New York? Well one of them was kind enough to bring with him a souvenir from his last beach trip to Panama City, Florida. Remembering that I asked him to please "bring the beach home with you" he brought a small vial of sand and seashells just for me to hold in my daydreamy little hands.

Apparently, I should have never let it go because less than 24 hours later the entire contents were dumped into a small body of water from the busy hands of one young Grayson Cousteau.

(at least he's putting the lid back on like a responsible little delinquent)

Once I discovered what happened, I gently reprimanded by explaining that you can't put anything in Snapper's fish tank. "However," I added, "sand and seashells were a happy mistake."

Wrong word choice. I'm pretty sure the only word he remembered from that life lesson was happy because maybe five minutes later I found another situation; similar but with a more sophisticated palette. Same fish tank, same poor fish, different ingredients. Grayson treated Snapper to milk and cookies. He tossed the rest of his sippy cup's milk (gack, the backwash!) and peppered the tank with pink, blue, and yellow sugar cookie sprinkles from the pantry. If it wasn't like watching Flipper try to swim in the sky I would've pulled up a beanbag chair and enjoyed all the pretty colors twist and freckle about in the rainbow milkwater.

But I lost my sh*t instead.

"Grayson! What did you DO?!?"

"Mommy, he likes milk and sprinkles. I was giving Snapper a...."

"A heart attack?!?! Grayson, he's going to suffocate in there!!! DO YOU HEAR ME CHILD? He's not going to make it - We have to get him out of there before he DIES!!!!"

And then I ran around like Snapper had less than 3 minutes to live in a bath of milk and sugar. I grabbed the tank, remembered our disposal is broken (we are breaking the spirit of this house but that's another post altogether) and sloshed the tank around the upstairs until I decided my bathtub was the smartest place for an emergency detox procedure.

Grayson hung low like a scolded hound dog and finally disappeared somewhere under the covers.
I ran downstairs to get the colander, plastic cup, and a thousand paper towels. You can never have too many paper towels. I wasn't going to be knee deep in blue rocks and fishpoo without nature's finest quicker picker upper.

Fifteen minutes later Snapper emerged in a sparkly new tank with even a little plant and pirate rock renovation. I studied him as he gulped at the new water with alarming speed which made me question his vitals.

"Grayson?" I found him in the guest bedroom with bedsheets pulled so high his toes poked out.

No answer.

"Honey. I'm sorry for scaring you earlier (and scarring you earlier but that's fodder for your own retaliatory blog in the distant future). It's just that I wasn't sure if Snapper was going to make it if I didn't hurry. Did I scare you?"

He yanked the covers from his face to reveal a sweaty head and an impish grin. "No Mommy. You don't scare me. I like it when you're mad. I think it's funny. Is Snapper dead?"

"No. Not yet. I mean, I think he's going to be okay. The jury's still out but I think we saved him in time."

"I'm sorry I gave my milk to Snapper, Mommy. I wanted him to play in the sand and hide under the milk. I didn't know it would make it white in his tank. Why did it make it all white in there, Mommy? Why did the sand just fall to the bottom but the milk made it white all over and why didn't Snapper like the white water and how come..."

"Honey? Let's take this inquisition upstairs. Let's see if you can talk and scrub a sandy bathtub at the same time."

We so need preschool. We're beyond ready.

Especially Snapper.

Independence Day

Last year, at our old house we could watch an impressive firework display from the comforts of our deck and some coolies in the back yard. We held a party every year and we loved seeing our friends "Oooh" and crane their necks backward with a smile as the sparkles sprawled across the night. Aftershock booms stopped then restarted our hearts while car sirens nee-oooh'ed in the background. There was no better seat in the house.

This year, however, our view was very different. We packed the family up to get a glimpse of fireworks launched from the National Mall. We drove downtown with the rest of the Tri-State area and found our way to the top of a 3 storied Macy's parking garage. People had lawn chairs, blackberries, and clear plastic cups. We weren't in Kansas anymore.

Though perched high on a crowded cement lookout, somehow seeing the firework show in DC this year had its own charm. It helped that my brothers from New York drove all the way down here to spend it with us (okay, to see lots of other family too but we scored their visit on the 4th). They could've watched big lightshows and heard thundering booms from their own cityscape but chose to hang out with us four in the Nation's Capital instead. We may have been more than a mile away from the festivities but the fact that we could make a party out of a parking lot was proof that it really doesn't matter where. It only matters who.

Hope yours was spent with loved ones too.

The Uncles flanking Abby & Dada

Abs, Hubby, Me (why do I look like I'm in a nightgown?), Uncle Donnie, Uncle Alex, G

Me, the back of G's head, and a spectacular backdrop.

New friends (from New York!) made that night while our toddlers weebled and wobbled around the parking lot together.

Uncle Alex offers a special customized seat.