Archive | August, 2013

The Perks of Being a Work-Away Mom

28 Aug

It’s a conundrum many a mama faces: stay at home with the new bundle of joy or return to the daily grind. You might be totally gung-ho one way or the other when baby is just a plus sign on a stick, but when the little pooper arrives, followed quickly by the 12th week of FMLA-mandated maternity leave, things aren’t so clear. How can you leave this precious angel in the hands of strangers all day? (Or on the other hand, you might be chomping at the bit to get out of the house. Or a little of both).

I’m Switzerland in the Mommy Wars, so you’ll have to decide for yourself (my best advice is: you’re going to screw something up no matter what you do, so just do what you want. If there was a perfect choice to make we’d all be making it, amirite?). However, if you do make the call–whether from personal choice or necessity–to return to full-time, out-of-the-home work, rest assured there are some benefits. Sure, there’s the usual personal fulfillment, lean in, yadayadayada WHATEVER aspect to the question. But even more important is the benefits you don’t hear about. Stuff like…

You get to pee alone at least 85% of the time.

Not a problem.

And use both hands to get your pants up and down.

You change a lot fewer diapers.

And go through fewer of those expensive Diaper Genie liners.

Experienced hand-holding.

You have extra hands to help with big milestones like talking, walking, and potty training. If you, like me, are totally clueless about when your kid is supposed to be able to do all these things, you can just take the mean, median, and mode of his “classmates’ ” abilities.

Or ask the nanny, who let’s face it, probably has more and more recent kid experience than you.

No need to freak out.

Even if you miss a “first,” your kid’s caretakers are nice enough not to mention it so it can still be new to you. And even if they do gloat about witnessing Junior’s first step, it’s still totally exciting when you see it for the first time personally, TRUST. Also, they know CPR and first aid and might possibly be less frenetic should the need to use it ever arise.

cpr-back

Unlike – ahem – some mothers, who nearly throw up just looking at this picture.

People ask you about your child without the need talk about theirs.

The MMO folks aren’t listening–either because their currently living the same thing, or they’re too busy preparing what they’re about to say about their own speshul snowflake.

Adult conversations with people other than your spouse.

Sure, they may be about how to send long distance faxes and what the weather will be like for afternoon rush hour, but at least it’s not about Elmo, Dora, or alligators vs crocodiles (or God forbid, poop).

Childless shopping.

It may not be at a completely leisurely pace if it’s crammed into a lunch break or a quick stop on the way home, but at least it’s whine-free (but maybe not wine-free).

I wonder if this oatmeal will fit in my cup holder…

Less home work.

Yes, SAHPs work just as hard–possibly harder–during the day than people with full time jobs. Yet they still tend to get stuck with the bulk of the drudgery (even when the working half is around) just because they’re “home all the time” (right). When you work a full day, that lame-ass argument is totally negated. Equal division of chores: it’s not just a pipe dream!

You get to wear “real” clothes.

Wearing yoga pants every day is overrated (and yes, I have actually done it).

Grumpy mornings.

On those days one or the other of you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, passing off your kid to someone else for a few hours can do both of you some good. Don’t hate the truth.

She’s calling to see if the nanny can come a little early today…

..and the best part of working away?

Coming home.

Seeing each other after a long day apart is akin to the excitement of Christmas morning for both parties. Christmas every day? I’ll take it.

What I’m Reading: The ever-popular “other side of the story” story

23 Aug

The Paris WifeThe Paris Wife by Paula McLain

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wouldn’t call this fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway’s early career and marriage any great work of literature, but it was an interesting and lyrical read.

The Lost Generation makes for a fascinating subject, all the more intriguing for its being true–which is sometimes hard to believe. Nevermind the traveling all over the world partying hard on practically no money, there was the marriage itself–the center of the plot. At first I was just irritated with Hemingway, characterized (probably faithfully) as the brand of pig-headedness, selfishness, and insanity often typical of artistic genius. But when the affair arrives, as it must, Hadley drove me just as crazy.

I guess maybe it was “the times” (as my husband suggested when I was recounting the book), but sorry, I can’t buy it–that Hadley would remain friends with the other woman, that the three would travel together after the affair came to light, that she would just lay there in the same bed as her husband slept with his mistress.

I’m not referring to the truthfulness of those events, but the literary believability. In other words, it might be historically accurate that Hadley didn’t slap a bitch, but McLain didn’t give a compelling enough character justification for me. In fact, even in the epilogue (my least favorite kind..long, expositional narrative) it becomes clear that Hadley is entirely defined by Ernest, even 35 years after a four year marriage. By asserting that she and Ernest know she’s more than just “the Paris wife,” she proves that in fact, she isn’t.

For a book whose sole purpose is to flesh out a marginal historical figure, the reader gets a Hadley with surprisingly little sense of self.

Postscript: I am, however, inspired to revisit Hemingway’s writing. The real main character of this book is what they refer to as “the work,” and it’s the anchoring star of the constellation of the story’s events. I disliked Hemingway’s style during the obligatory lit/comp reading assignments, but I’ll add him to my try-again-now-that-I’m-more-grown-up list. 

View all my reviews

Weekend Getaway

12 Aug

We took a trip to the Smoky Mountains last weekend to ride the “real” Dinosaur Train, T’s current franchise obsession.  Because of our work schedules and budget, we could only stay one night, but it turned out to be the perfect little getaway!

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Bryson City, NC is about three hours from Atlanta, driving mostly via those endless roads that have about four numbers and two names each. I just call it memory lane, because on the way, we passed the college P attended when we were doing the long-distance thing, and the turn off for Highlands, where we did summer stock together for a few years when we were PYTs and T was just a fleck of glitter in our eyes.

We arrived at our destination, the Hemlock Inn, right before the dinner bell on Saturday. You think I’m joking. Hemlock Inn is a bed & breakfast that also serves dinner, and they for real ring a legit bell to call people to meals.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

It was a charming little place, and about as close to roughing it as this girl gets. That is to say, they had indoor plumbing and actual beds, but no central A/C and no TVs in the rooms. But there was an awesome private screened-in porch on our room. Plus, who needs TV when you have a panoramic view of the mountains from the rockers on a huge wraparound porch?

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There was also a library, free board and lawn games, and a TV common room if you really can’t quell the urge. Meal times were rather fraught for me, since the family-style dining experience required sitting with a bunch of strangers and engaging in my least favorite pastime, small talk. But the food made up for it. It was served on a gigantic lazy susan that makes it painfully obvious when your greedy ass goes for seconds–which was inevitable. The staff is crazy-ridiculous, bend-over-backwards friendly. Which almost made up for the fact that the whole digs was teetotalling. It just didn’t feel like a vacation without a cocktail. #firstworldproblems

There was also a little hiking trail attached to the property, which we enthusiastically ascended after breakfast the next morning, killing some time before our 2:30 ride on the D-train. Enthusiastically, that is, until we got to the top. The man that lived there (??) had a little yippy dog that pounced on T, and then he offers us this pleasantry as we set off on our way down: “Y’all watch out for Rattlers and Copperheads now. The Inn likes to tell people there aren’t any Copperheads here, but I killed three on my porch last week!”

Greeeaaat.

Might want to check the other side of that log first, big T.

Might want to check the other side of that log first, big T.

After we’d safely made our way back to the room and taken scalding showers to rid ourselves of sweat, bugs, and poison ivy juice, I asked Patrick if we planned to do any more nature activities, trying to figure out what to wear, and he goes “I hope not.”

We’re such an outdoorsy clan, we Youngs.

Then it was on to the Dinosaur Train! All ABOARD!

The Smoky Mountain railroad is right in the downtown of Bryson City. You might, in fact, call it its raison d’etre. We browsed through the train museum and bought the requisite souvenirs before boarding the train.

First Class, SUCKAS

First Class, SUCKAS

T, who missed naptime, promptly fell asleep on the train.

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He didn’t miss much. Side note: for those of you familiar with D-train, the time tunnel was totally lame. You closed your eyes and shouted a lot.  But when we arrived in the Cretaceous period, there were a lot of cute little activities. There was following the footprints to the dino that left them.

Up high, Troledon.

Up high, Troodon.

There was digging for treasures in the sands of time.

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To some children who shall remain nameless, it was more fun to bury the fossils than dig them up.

There was, of course, the prehistoric slide.

And by of course, I mean unfortunately

And by of course, I mean unfortunately.

And we got to meet Buddy the T-Rex.

I've been there, bBuddy.

I’ve been there, bBuddy.

There was a lot to do; we stayed busy the whole time.  The ride did feel like a trip back in time–maybe not to the Cretaceous, but at least a few decades. We passed over a river where the bank was sedimented with layers of – get this – cars that had fallen off the road above and smashed into the side of the bank. T managed to stay awake this time and we got humongous ice creams to cap off the trip. I think T was as excited, possibly more, by the double chocolate chip cone then by the train itself.

And of course, they like to hit you up for one more swipe of the credit card when they present you with a professional photo, all printed and inserted into a keepsake card, for your optional purchase. P pulled a Debbie Loetell (aka my mom) and took a picture of the picture so we wouldn’t have to buy it.

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Before you judge, would YOU have paid $22 for that? Think about it.

So next time you’re in the Smokies, we highly recommend the Hemlock Inn, and a ride on the Smoky Mountain Railroad if your family includes little ones and/or nerds. Definitely a good time had by all!

Music Midtown

5 Aug
Music Midtown

Paul s Boutique gray top
$30 – pauls-boutique.com

Boots booties
modcloth.com

Charlotte Russe vegan purse
charlotterusse.com

Stream of Consciousness

2 Aug

The real question is: can I get back up?

5:25 PM

I can’t make a habit of coming to class twice a week like this or I’ll be broke–but hey, at least not as fat. Actually, I’m looking better than I did in class on Tuesday! Maybe it was just that stupid shirt after all…that’s the last time I buy something without trying it on, no matter how close the day care is to closing.

5:28 PM

Wow, everyone in this class is older than me. Except that girl in the blue shirt that just asked me about what shoes to wear. Shrugs and sorrys girl, this is my first time taking this class too. She put her stuff right next to mine, maybe we’ll strike up a convo on the water break and be dance buddies! I’m wearing my new jazz sneakers regardless, since they just happen to arrive today.  Why not live a little?

5:31 PM

These shoes are pretty snazzy! WHUT WHUT

5:35 PM

Ohmygaaaaaaah there is no grip in these shoes! If I fall and bust my ass should I stand up and take a bow or pretend it didn’t happen?  That lady looks like she has the same ones except she isn’t sliding. Maybe they have to be broken in.  I could definitely wear them out to the car. I knowing wearing dance shoes on pavement is a cardinal sin, but they’re soo cute.

5:40 PM

I totally got this. This class is easy! Sheesh, can we speed things up a little? I’m trying to get a workout here.

5:41 PM

Wait. Slow down. Ball change what?

5:52 PM

It’s cool, it’s cool. Nobody saw you check out your side profile in the mirror. Although perhaps you could be less obvious with the sucking in next time.

5:59 PM

I wonder if she’s making this up right now, or if she made it up yesterday in her living room. When I was teaching, I could never choreograph off the cuff. How do people do that?

6:07 PM

I am NAILING this! And I’ve got energy to spare! Look how high my leg is going on the hitchkick, and I didn’t even stretch!

6:11 PM

Yes! I didn’t mess up even a little for the video! OK maybe a little, but not like, obviously noticeably or anything. I wonder what that video’s for, anyway?…I’m not sure I want to end up on YouTube. Or not until I come to at least two – no – three more weeks of class.

6:20 PM

I AM A DANCE GODDESS

6:25 PM

Maybe I should start teaching again. I probably should. Or at least choreograph something else.

6:29 PM

AAAAGGGHHHH of COURSE I mess up when everrbody here for the next class is watching me. Ohmygaa I doubt they’re even watching you, Janie. What are they taking? They all look super-dancery. I keep ending up in classes with people wearing running shoes.

6:35 PM

I know I told P I’d be home at 7:00, but if I change my shoes reallllly slooowly I might catch the start of this contemporary class and see if I’m too rusty to pick up on it next week…Hey! The instructor’s coming this way! She’s smiling! She’s totally going to tell me how awesome I am! She’s going to thank me for coming and invite me back! She’s probably going to ask me to sub next week!

6:36 PM

Oh. Oh.. Yeah, I guess that girl in the blue shirt was pretty good. Sassy and all. Even if she didn’t wear any shoes and avoided eye contact during the water break.  LOL it’s cool, I’m sure they didn’t even notice you looking up like a dog expecting a biscuit. HA! I think she was right in the teacher’s sightline too, so, yeah. Makes total sense.

6:37 PM

I’m good too.

6:38 PM

I’m OK. I’m still pretty good.  I mean, I’m 30 now.

6:39 PM

It’s about getting fit anyway. No cancer!!!! I will be doing the funky chicken at T’s children’s children’s wedding!

6:40 PM

……I wonder what’s for dinner?