Saturday, December 28, 2013

27 minutes in Target ...

We've got a limited amount of time. He sends me ahead to return the humidifier while he monkeys with the base of the car seat, which seems loose. We're anticipating a return line that snakes this way and that but when I get inside the cashier is all "can-I-help-the-next-person?" and that person is me.

I don't have the receipt, but the timing is perfect for this oversight: 1. Maybe I got it as a Christmas gift; 2. Maybe Target's not in a position to get all hardball and rules-y with customers. I'm already loitering near a sweater, 40 percent off, when Chuck walks through the automatic doors.

I make the universal sign for "grab-a-cart," (I've got the stroller), and he does a spin move. We cruise as a single file unit to baby supplies, Chuck nicks a support beam with a wheel, I cackle, and he explains the difficulty of maneuvering between on-coming traffic and the pole.

I grab a 90 pack of Size 2 Pampers; Chuck motions to the 132 pack: I return the 90 pack and grab the 132 pack. We browse the highchairs and decide to double back to this purchase at the end of our shopping trip. We zip down a couple aisles and I grab a jumbo box of pump bags, which will hold the milk I coax from my breasts using a futuristic sucking machine every day around 2 p.m.

Bam-bam. Two items off the list.

We're a bit like Ponch and John, the two of us, cruising the aisles of Target. I've got the stroller and the baby, Chuck's got the cart. I call over my shoulder "We can trade if you want!" and he says "No," and adds something about how pushing the cart is relaxing.

Toilet paper. A fist shake to the heavens. Toilet paper companies seem to think that success is a thick and soft product akin to rubbing one's butthole against quilted rabbit fur. Toilet paper companies have never seen the sledge that refluxes into our laundry room because everyone needs to crap like a Rockefeller.

We've been experimenting with single ply and frankly it's cruel. We study the packages and Chuck makes a sweeping gesture with his arm:

"All of this is off limits" he says, eliminating half the stock.
We settle on a lesser grade of Cottonelle, but only commit to a small package.
We take on the role of toilet paper testers, in search of the perfect and responsible ply.

While deliberating, I've pitched a load of paper towels into the cart and as we circle out of this corner of the store I toss a couple Glad containers over my shoulder, too.

Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam-Bam. Five items knocked off the list.

The aisles are crowded near the humidifiers, so we have to circle the block, but we find the one we want on an endcap so BOOM. It's over to kitchenware for a new frying pan and we puzzle through nonstick claims and quickly pick a winner. Chuck suggests getting another, something smaller, and I just say nah.

The vacuum cleaners catch Chuck's eye, so we jerk right and follow with another quick turn but there are people and carts and it looks like a hassle, so.

Onward, is Chuck's call, he didn't plan to buy one anyway.

Now we double back for the highchair. Here we break off: Chuck heads to that aisle, I detour into baby clothes to see if a favorite piece of winterware, in the next size up, is for sale. Nope. When I turn the corner, Chuck's already got the boxed chair halfway back to his cart.

I sprint to catch up.

We've got a head of steam. His cart is teeming with oversized packaging and he's awkwardly carrying highchair, our baby is beaming at me, her hand in her mouth at least up to her wrist bone. A man sees us coming, he knows the score, and he jumps into the teen clothing department with an audible "uh-oh."

The first register we see is wide open. We settle up with the cashier and I clear a path through the people toward the parking lot. Chuck follows. We get the packages to the car, then into the proper Tetris formation and buckle ourselves into the front seat.

I look at the clock.

"Holy shit. That took less than a half hour," I say.
It feels like we should high-five.
"And the highchair was on sale," I say.
Maybe a fist bump.
"And I never even mentioned how great of a parking spot we got!" I shout.

There will be time to experiment with another solid food before Chuck goes to work.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Five minutes, beep ...

Baby asleep on pillow on lap. Lap is in bed. Calf feels wet, getting wetter, spilled water bottle. Water starts where Chuck's back goes, rivers to where I will later tonight rest my sleeping knee. Swear. Set bottle upright. Scootch gingerly to side of the bed, so as not to wake baby. Creep slowly to crib, set her down, eyes pop open, mouth flips to frown, she wimpers.

Swear again, so discretely it sounds like I'm cleaning my teeth. Strip bedding. Push on mattress, doesn't seem saturated, phew. The whimpering increases in urgency. Promise her things to quiet her. "Back in a sec," hush, coo. Bedding is awkward. Like carrying a deflated hot air balloon. Trip from bedroom, down stairs. Burst of cold air. Parent's return from Sam's Club.

"What's that beeping?" mom twists face like it's a smell.
"You didn't turn off the monitor?" answering question with a question. Point at monitor on the table.
"Something something high-tech," she says.

Bumble down more steps. Beep. Squish wad into dryer. Beep. Start dryer. Beep. Blood begins to boil. Imagine drop kicking monitor into snowbank, hammering monitor with something with "sledge" in title. Beep. Wonder why no one has turned off the blasted beep monitor. Remember neither parent knows how monitor works. Beep.

Up steps. Snatch monitor from table. Strangle power button until light fades to dark. Plug monitor into charger. Wimpers are now wails. She's wailing. Back upstairs to wet bed and weeping child.

Later, while trying to wrap Chuck's present in too little paper, turn those horrific five minutes into delightful tale of misfortune for audience of parents.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Try Saturday the 14th (Or, how I became Andy Rooney) ...

A woman going 30 miles per hour in an SUV in the snowy mall parking lot ruins my life by reminding me that human beings are horrible and that I must somehow protect a tiny innocent while co-existing in the very same lot. 

She blew through a cross walk. I was incredulous; she was talking on her cell phone. I gave her the finger. It was primed. I'd just given it to a teenaged boy who was driving the wrong direction. Neither saw it. Still. 

Fate threw me a bone by delivering a sweet parking spot so close to the doors that I had to check 4 times to make sure it wasn't disability parking. I almost asked a guy: "Is this a for-real spot or am I dreaming?"


"No one ever holds the door for strollers," I confessed to a woman who held the door for me and my stroller. She rubbed my back in little circles. I thought "Sometimes you just need someone to rub your back with little circles. Maybe even a stranger."


Two kids, rather employees, at Dick's called me ma'am. Haven't we outlawed ma'aming yet? Can't we say to the dictionary people "Plus 'twerk' minus 'ma'am'"?


I bought a baby snowmobile suit that was outgrown before it even snowed. Tags on, no receipt. The policy at The Children's Place: It can be exchanged for the exact same item. Exact same. No store credit. No exchange for item of equal value. 

The truth is, I don't even want this snowmobile suit. It looks marshmallow-y and uncomfortable. Her limbs won't be able to bend, it will ice over with mislaid drool, it will be awesome between the house and car, but she will roast as I wander through Target. I've been a kid. I know. 

"You're in luck," an employee tells me. "We have the bigger size. And it's the only one left."

That one is barely bigger. 

I'm sure there is a reason for The Children's Place's draconian return policy, but I can't go business major enough to figure it out. 

"Great," I say. "She can wear this one for the next three days."

But I'm smiling because it's not this woman's personal return policy. I do make a note to never shop in this place ever again which is fine because I have the internet and The Children's Place always feels chaotic, like shopping out of the trunk of a Pontiac. 

Baby clothes politics. 


The woman handing out chocolate samples at Yonkers completely ignored my I'll-Take-a-Chocolate face.

But I saved so much using coupons that I damn near got a free sweater. And I think she dropped her tray, anyway. 


This past summer when I was doing a lot of mall walking and stroller pushing I used to come home enraged and say things like: 


The accessories are packed tightly together with very little aisle space. It's hard enough to navigate with a stroller, let alone a full-sized chair or Rascal. 

Which brings us to Hollister. 

This store has a tiny porch out front. You have to go up the porch steps, then down the porch steps to get into the store. I'm sure this aesthic is super "let's buy board shorts" or whatever. 

There isn't a ramp. There are main level doors, which are closed, and it's hard to tell if they're functional. If you want to use them, do you just holler inside: "Could someone get the doors, please?"

My niece has some Hollister items on her Christmas list and three times I've stood outside the store with a stroller and wondered how to get inside. And I've wondered, again, how I'd get inside if I was a 12 year old in a wheelchair. 

So I decided I wouldn't shop there. Clearly this is an asshole company that thought putting steps where none are needed was more important than accessibility. That's nice. 

But then I just wanted to get inside so badly that I couldn't help myself. I tilted the stroller to a severe degree to go up the two steps, then did it again to go down two steps. I was in. 

I felt liberated. And very smug. And I wheeled my stroller all around that tiny store and thought: NO WHEELS HAVE EVER BEEN HERE BEFORE. I'M NEIL ARMSTRONG!


I came home, fastened the baby into her monkey chair, and set out to make stew. I pulled out a pack of sausages, purchased two days ago, from the refrigerator. The expiration date caught my eye: Oct. 2013. 

I decided to go meatless with my stew and found that one of the main vegetables, also a recent purchase, had rotted. 

I found my receipt, so I can return the meat. But mostly I fantasized about asking to see the owner of the grocery store, then walking him through the place stopping along the way to examine the food. 

"Which one of these green peppers would you buy, Mister? This one, which looks pre-gnawed? Or this one with the elephant-like flesh?"

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Inspired by: "Last Christmas" by Wham ...

Before the broach, before they adjourned to the mountain retreat, there was George Michael squinting into a mirror at the salon.

"I want it to look like the hood on a posh woman's fur coat," he says. He makes the universal sign for a blooming mane. His hands unfold around his face. 

She's skeptical. Hip pitched. She studies his head in the mirror and absentmindedly chews on the teeth of the black pick. 

"You'll have to condition it," she says finally. She has a warning tone. 

He clasps his hands in front of him. Beams. 

"I promise to condition," he pledges with a schoolboy cadence. 

"And blow dry," she says. She points the pick at his reflection. "You'll have to start blow drying your hair."

He leans back, his brows fold in. 

"What kind of animal doesn't blow dry his hair?"


The "Inspired by" series is, well, it's fan fiction, okay? Whatever. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Things to watch while convalescing ...

Before I had hernia surgery -- before I knew I was about to have hernia surgery -- I got this fortune from an super disgusting meal I ate in the mall food court:

So I had a vacation and it wasn't necessarily enjoyable. In fact: I'd maybe prefer to give birth to a child lodged sideways than have another hernia. I'd say this is the most uncomfortable recovery process I've encountered in all of my years of having a body. It probably wouldn't be as bad if I didn't naturally try to rest my child upon the exact hernia spot and if I wasn't accessorizing with a car seat that weighs more than I'm supposed to be carrying right now. But I'm walking upright again, so there is that.

Anyway. Here's what we consumed while I sat on the couch not changing diapers or carrying laundry baskets:

"Malcolm in the Middle": This is an on-going feature at our house, the go-to show when there is nothing else on deck. This might be the funniest that TV has offered.

"Frances Ha": I wanted to see this hipster bait so bad, but I kind of feel like I didn't watch it closely enough to like-like it. Young New Yorker hops from apartment to apartment take-take taking and alienating herself from her friends while not being a very good dancer at all.

"MasterChef Junior" This was not as awesome as when we got addicted to the reality show "Kid Nation," but it was good enough to marathon the entire season in a single sitting.

"Top of the Lake": This is a super good, super bleak series and is set in possibly the most hostile town ever imagined. Pregnant 12-year-old disappears in a women-hating community and Peggy from "Mad Men" tries to figure out what the.

"License to Drive": What a pleasure to, for once, say "I wonder if that's streaming on Netflix" and have the answer be "Yes."

Also: Corey Haim constantly makes this face:

"Somm": A bunch of dudes study to take the Master Sommelier exam, which is notoriously tricky and very few people pass. The doc follows the eclectic mix of friends as they prep. Totally fun. It'll give you a reason to describe something as tasting like "fresh cut hose."

Our Pet Human (in her 19th week) ...

This comes courtesy of the Norwegian Wonder.
It has been just more than a year since I sent a blurred photograph of a wet First Response stick to my dear friend in Minneapolis. I was about 50 seconds pregnant at the time, a fact I imagined was going to immediately make itself known all over my body. Acne, puffy parts, pickle juice stains.

I had no idea how to get through Thanksgiving. My dad, after all, is retired law enforcement. He's a trained observer. My mom has wanted another grandchild for so long that I imagined she would be able to see the kumquat's heartbeat through just the force of her wishes. Meanwhile, I'm a wretched liar trapped in the body of a person who loves to spill info about herself. I wrapped both of us in layers upon layers of black sweater in case my turkey bloat manifested in the shape of a baby bump. And I avoided wine and eye contact.

I suppose it will be months of this: Last year at this time I was *this* pregnant. It has been some year, let me tell you, full of all sorts of life lessons about body pillows and Ortega sauce.

And this one: No one can tell you're pregnant at six weeks.


Me: Something I'm wearing smells like poop. I think it's my sweater.
Chuck: Maybe it's your underwear.


Chuck: "... being a parent *is* rewarding, but only assholes talk about it."


Just when it really seemed like we were getting into a rhythm, that we were maybe even good at this, something changed. There is so much more going on now than eat-poop-sleep-poop. The PBG developed all these new tricks, ticks and bits of neurosis and it all sort of feels like standing in a batting cage while a malfunctioning robot pitcher whizzes balls at your head, two robot handfuls at a time.

After carrying the PBG around 24/7 for the first part of her life, she has suddenly become exponentially more independent. She slouches in her exer-saucer like a business executive after a long day at the office. I call it the "Fat Cat" chair. She tries to dismantle her activity center -- with her mouth. She was making cat-like screeches in her bedroom and Chuck thought she was in distress. Instead he found her going front-row, New Kids on the Block all over her mobile.

And then there is this hum she makes for 20 minutes, a sleep alarm that indicates she's about to conk out.

"Does yours do this?" I said to a woman in the baby department at Target, as the PBG broke a record for making the longest vowel sound ever moaned in public.
"They all do it," she said.

On the other hand, it's interesting to have this kind of expert intel on another person. She was fussing in the car one day and I knew exactly what was troubling the lass. It was the stuffed frog that dangles from her car seat.

Me: Is she crying because she can't get the frog into her mouth?
Chuck: Yes.

In other news, she has a constant beard of spit, refuses to sleep on her back -- and sometimes just refuses to sleep(1) -- and loved Miley's appearance with the space cat at the American Music Awards.

(1)When you brag on the internet that your baby sleeps very well, it just alerts the fates to the fact that someone has been having an easy go of it. And then that gets remedied.