Birthday party: aftermath

I tried.

We were in Harris Teeter (glee!) last week, and we took a stroll past the cakes section. "Look, buddyo," I sez to the kid, "look at the cakes. Do you want a princess cake for your birthday? Or this one with the cars?"

"Oh Mama nooo I want cake cake is right dere but that cake nooo."

"Okay, so what about this one with the palm trees and the fish and--"

"Oh Mama I need a cake and a BLUE CAKE yes yes BLUE CAKE and LELLOW TOOOO."

Well, all righty then, blue cake it was to be. I bought a white cake mix, some seriously large bottles of food coloring, and some vanilla frosting, even though we had chocolate left over from Rob's cupcakes (this would also give me a reason to eat the chocolate with a spoon, because who needs more than one container of icing in the fridge? I ask you.). I figured I could color the cake blue, the icing yellow, and POOF there would be Norah's dream birthday dessert, easy as could be and about three times cheaper than the one with the Barbie stuck in. Less booblicious, of course, but that is a sacrifice I was prepared to make.

Today dawned, and Norah opened her little presents (and, I'm pleased to announce, she prefers the wee metal pots I got for her play kitchen to anything else. BOO-YAH, Elmo and friends!) I woke up all smoochy and lovey and thinking about my Precious Baby Child Who Has Grown All Up, and Norah even humored that with a few extra cuddles. She's not a terribly cuddly child in the morning, so I know she was either being sweet or shooting for more presents. Either way.

I got out of jury duty today (did I mention I had jury duty? probably not, I was probably blog-slacking the day that came, but OH MAN was I pissed about it - thank goodness we were all excused) so we spent the morning at The Mall playing with Victoria from down the street. We came home, and I had every intention of getting going on the BLUE AND LELLOW CAKE MAMA, but that was before my neighbor dropped her kids off for some emergency babysitting. Even on my days off, kids haunt me. I may never escape!

So blah blah blah, the cake didn't get done until very late, while I was also making dinner and helping Rob shave the dog (no, that's not euphemism, we really were shaving the dog - it's really hot here, you know). And then this happened while I was trying to ice it:

My cake got a crevice. A rather unattractive one, might I add. So of course I filled it with frosting, which peeled up a bunch of blue crumbs and made that section turn an unpleasant shade of green. You know there's no fix for that situation, other than to cover it up with more, and before I knew it I had used up an entire can of newly yellow Creamy Vanilla, and I still had a half-naked cake. After a frantic trip to Food Lion and crafting an entire top layer out of frosting, I got this:

I tried.

But it turned out okay, see?

Apparently, the blue monster was good enough, because Norah went ahead with the candle-blowing-out business, and was actually pretty into it... so into it, in fact, that she slooowly lowered her chin directly into the frosting. After about 15 minutes of trying to get her tongue out far enough to lick it off (sorry, kid, but your career as a frat party entertainer is just not going to pan out) she took a huge bite, looked directly at me, and said, "Yo ho, yo ho, happy to Norah!"

I don't know what I like better: the fact that she finally got that whole "happy birthday to you" thing, or that she wished herself happy birthday pirate-style. That, in all her two-year-old glory, is my girl.

Birthday card

(This is the story of Norah and how she came to be, and it's quite long, so I understand if you decide to skip it. I'm feeling all nostalgic-y, seeing as how her birthday's tomorrow, so you can either jump in and love it, or catch me on the next update. It's cool, either way.)

I like coffee ice cream, even though it gives me serious dog breath. On June 27, 2005, Rob and I went to The Mall (which I always capitalize in my head because that's just how glorious this place is - it's Valhalla with Motown on the rock-shaped speakers) and hit up the Marble Slab Creamery. MSC is just like Cold Stone, except that it's at The Mall, which naturally makes it nine thousand times better.

I blame Norah's two-weeks-premature birth entirely on that ice cream. Either she wanted more and knew that it was Out while she was unfortunately In, or she was getting back at me for eating an entire waffle cone of it, giving us both the aforementioned dog breath. Whatever the reason (she still won't tell me), she decided that it was in fact time to cut loose, and my water broke at about 3:00 AM.

They don't tell you what that's like in baby-having class, not really. Our nurse, who was a leetle too focused on visualizations and imagining myself on a sailboat while the labor pains ate me from the inside out, sort of glossed over the whole water-breakage issue. What I didn't know was that I would run frantically to our shower, yelling, "Seriously! I think I'm wetting the bed and I CAN'T STOP GODDAMMIT ROB YOU GET IN HERE AND TELL ME WHAT THE HELL THIS IS." I think I was more upset about my water breaking than I ever was about the labor. My dignity, man! My dignity was in shreds!

Two hours later, we got the green light to go to the hospital. The 120 minutes between the first call and the green light call were spent in the bathtub, fretting. I tried to focus on what we had learned during our single baby-having class: sleep until it's time to go, because you are going to need the rest! Don't freak out when labor starts, because you've got time, so take a nap! Move your already-packed luggage to the car, idle around a while, play a few games on the XBox and make yourself some cheesecake! You're cool!

What we're going to do now, baby-having-class-curriculum writers, is we're going to put a live person into your body who is desperate enough to escape said body to shatter the very sac that gives it life. YOU NAP WHILE WORRYING ABOUT ALIEN SPAWN BREAKING OUT OF YOUR ABDOMEN. I did not nap. I stood in the shower and decided that labor pains weren't really that baaaa----

And then they were in fact that bad, so once the doctor gave us the thumbs-up, we piled into our aging Volvo and headed for the hills of north Durham.

That whole "two weeks early" thing got us in some trouble, namely:

  • We had never toured the hospital. I didn't know if we were going to Labor and Delivery or the cafeteria, either of which I would have taken at that point. I'm a nervous eater.
  • I didn't know my doctor. I was still scheduled for two more appointments with the practice's two remaining doctors. Ha ha, guess who was on call? One of them. Nothing says "relax" like a complete stranger walking in, foisting your legs apart, and saying, "Nope, we're not quite there yet. Would you like to see this, Dr. Harrison? It's very interesting, what's happening HERE..." Luckily, it turned out she was quite nice, and I didn't want to tear her face off for much longer.
  • Rob's insurance was due to start on the first of July, and so it hadn't kicked in, and we were still on the COBRA plan that my old employer had set up. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking COBRA -- but in the time it took us to fill out the necessary paperwork, I think I gave birth and taught Norah how to drive. It got very interesting when the poor check-in guy kept asking for cards I clearly didn't have (but I remembered those slippers in my hastily packed bag, oh yes I did) and I couldn't explain myself between yelps. Finally he ushered me into a wheelchair - and how fun was THAT, let's not lie, it was a total kick in the pants in the middle of all this chaos - and got me upstairs.

There was a bed, I know that, and after some clothes-changing and a few trips to the bathroom to alternately pee, puke, and panic, I was in it. And then there was peace, broken only by the contractions and Law & Order on the TV. Sometimes the nurses would come in, do a little poking under the hood, and determine that things were progressing as they should be, but otherwise I'M TOTALLY LYING ABOUT THE PEACE THING, BECAUSE OH GOD IT HURT. Shortly after threatening a very nice nurse with imminent demise, someone found an anesthesiologist. He might have been a janitor, for all I know, but they found him and at that point I would have taken a hammer to the forehead, just to help me forget the cramping in my belly.

Brief time-out to say this: I am so all about the natural childbirth. I say, if you got the cojones, you go for it, ladies. But I'll be the first one to admit that I ain't got 'em, and the rest of this story is going to go infinitely better because of that man with his nice spine-piercing needle. I do applaud anyone who can do it without the drugs... I just didn't want to. There you go.

Anyway. The nice man and his nice needle came, and only one of them stayed, and was I ever glad it was the little shiny one. Because I'm fairly tall, they went ahead and cranked that sucker up, and after a minute or two I was a-okay. And seriously, I was. I remember everything, I was alert and happy, and no one had to die! Win-win! Law & Order ended and another one began, thus bringing me the realization that Dick Wolf actually owns television, and baptizing Norah in the sweat of Lenny Brisco and Ed Green. If she remembers one fleeting moment from her birth, I'm pretty sure it's going to be the fact that when the doctor finally said go, Mama said, "Right now, or when this one's over?"

Too bad for me, the doc meant right then. I had been in labor for almost exactly 11 hours, most of which had been a cakewalk. I got my feet up (note to Rob: please tell me you've gone ahead and blocked that pretty picture out of your memory, because I have never felt quite so large and... inverted) and we went for it, and with only a few seconds of OH DEAR THAT REALLY DOES KIND OF HURT, we had a baby.

We had a baby.

She was redheaded. She had long fingers, her father's ears and her mother's earlobes. She was long and beautifully built, and red as a tomato. She cried for about a second, and then started a sweet little meh sound that I will never forget - Norah's first conversation, and she already had a lot to say.

Despite all the chaos and the pain (which was already disappearing from my conscious memory), we had a baby. She was lovely, and I was fine, and Rob was there, even though our bedroom carpet was soaked, our insurance was a total clusterfuck, and somehow we'd forgotten to turn off the TV and The L&O Sound was still bomp-bomping out from a crackhouse in Queens. We had a baby, and everything that was scary and bad and awful was piddly in comparison.

So that all happened a while ago, and now the lovely (red) baby is still as lovely, if somewhat noisier and more mobile. The lovely baby says things like "hellafint" and "copacopter," and has entire conversations with her crayons. The lovely baby eats chicken vindaloo with as much love as she does macaroni and cheese (which she used to call "vackaveen," which is now how a buddy and I greet each other, because it's just darned fun to say). The lovely baby is my best pal, my little cheerleader, the one who keeps me from getting lonely on the long nights when her daddy is stuck at work. The lovely baby looks just like me, and at the same time, just like her father, especially when they're sleeping with their mouths open - which reminds me how much I love him.

And how much I love you, little girl. Happy birthday.

To the international sportsman

Happy birthday, buddy. Thanks for bending to fit my whims.

(via Schmutzie)

It's too hot to be anywhere else

I have two herb pots on the steps, great big dirty herb pots that are certainly overcrowded and choking the very life out of the oregano. One pot has said oregano, thyme, parsley, and a three-foot basil bush in it; you would think that the herbs, they would be gasping and screaming for space, but they're not. They're thick, lush, lovely things - apparently, herbs are social animals, and really enjoy their cocktail-party-style living space. The other pot is exactly the same size, and is where the Mint Monster lives. Mint is not as mingley as the other herbs, so it went ahead and took over its pot, preventing me from adding anything else. It's a selfish thing, it is.

I love these herbs. LOVE THEM LIKE CHILDREN. For years now, I've been trying to grow things - I go out, I buy hundreds of dollars worth of plants, dig various holes in the ground, stick 'em in, and watch 'em die. Every. Single. Year. This year, however, things are alive! The herbs are alive! I'm not sure if I should take credit for improved gardening skills, or offer up Norah in thanks to the fauna gods (although, given her habit of ripping plants out and eating them, the gods might not be too interested in having her).

So I went out this morning, picked up the humongous watering can, and tried to water my children, because it's still HOT here and they're getting a little wilty around the edges. I filled it up with the hose, congratulating myself on remembering to water and being all Mother of the Earth Growing Stuff. And I tried to pour it out, and nothing poured. It dripped. I then stopped congratulating myself, and became rather ashamed for not watering often enough and letting spiderwebs build up enough to block the water.*

* In retrospect, I know this is entirely unlikely. But I had no idea! I mean, come on - what the hell grows up inside a watering can and prevents water from flowing? We've got some big-ass spiders around here; the spiderweb theory made as much sense as the Maneating Fungus theory I had a few minutes later.

I unscrewed the top of the spout and GAAAAAAAHK, there was a frog. I'm not ordinarily afraid of frogs, but it was just such a surprise - what, the watering can looked like a condo? Some other frog hung a "vacancy" sign and was charging rent? I got over the shock and turned the can to show it to Norah, who shrieked one clear, high shriek that dogs are still hearing in Iowa and bolted back into the house. You see her little leg in the photo? It's blurry because of the sprinting.

I named him Earl and gave him a poke, and he jumped out into the rain gutter, where he hopped under the street in the drainage pipe and presumedly met an Earlette, I don't know. The watering can worked, the herbs are perking up as we speak, and the Earth Mother vibe has been restored. I guess he was just happy in the can, and I understand that much - Rob's at work until tomorrow, and we're reveling in our day off, lazing around the house under the a/c vents and wondering when we'll have to jump out and make progress. For now, though, we're just chillin' in the spout.

Supreme hotness!

I got spotlighted (spotlit?) on the Foliosnap website! I've been using Foliosnap for my work site for a few months, and I absolutely adore it - it makes me look like a bad-ass web designer, when in reality I am nothing more than a bad-ass template tweaker. I have confessed it, internet, and there it is: I FAKE IT.

Must go get the car serviced, since I'm down to one petit monstre today, and she just happens to be my own, so life is good. Mundane, but good.

'bout time, kiddo...

... just ask your mother.

Congratulations to my internet friend and fellow Catonsviller, whose long job as an incubator is finally over - and whose life is about to get that much cuter. Le bebe decided to take an extra nine days to make an appearance, and if you've never been pregnant and can't imagine what the big deal was, let me just stop by sometime and sit on your stomach for a while, and then kick you in your sensitive parts. THAT'S JUST HOW IT IS. Now go hug your mother.

I'm so happy for you, MB.

Come on now, it ain't so bad.

I'm feeling somewhat exhausted and threatened by the idea of a long, hot summer with five, count 'em FIVE, kids. The older kids that I'm nannying had a swim meet today, and I spent several hours too many in the HOT, watching two of them frisk in the baby pool (turns out the littlest girls on the team don't actually swim at the meets, ha ha ha!) and the other one lose mightily after forgetting to put his goggles on his eyes, leaving them suctioned to his forehead until his brave dive into the pool twisted them up on his face, which left a red mark that'll be there for days. All this merriment and joy happened in the 95-degree heat, while I had the youngest child - an infant - strapped to my belly in a baby carrier. "Swim meet" is clearly some kind of parent code for "sunscreen-scented hell," and I so did not get the memo about THAT one.

But. I lived, and I should not bitch, because I get to sit here with my feetsies up on the coffee table, blogging and watching the TV Guide channel's expose on George Clooney. Intern George, if you will. Life's good.

Princess Nonos says, "Let us rejoice!" because she has a new favorite possession, a princess crown that is alternately the Best Accessory Ever and Satan's Plaything, From Which We Shall Run Screaming. I don't know what it is about this kid - some days, she's all about whatever object she happens to be holding. This BRACELET, Mama! This bracelet SO PRETTY AND BYOO-FULL! Just try to put the byoo-full bracelet on her the next day, and watch your own face roll off in melted waves from the hysteria. The crown, I'll admit, has been more love than hate - although it's early in the crown's life with us, and there's still time for it to become possessed with the spirit of evil. Ask Nonos, she'll tell you.

She also has her Thomas book in this picture, which is one of her best favorites thus far, and one that drives me insane. I don't really care about the fact that it's about trains and not princesses or fluffy bunnies or whatever the item du jour in Girlytown is - I actually kind of like it that Norah will point out trains, tractors, or bulldozers with as much joy as she'll express over a butterfly with rainbow wings. I'm just tired of reading the cutesey little story over and over again. On the up side, I can now identify several different pieces of railway machinery, including signal lights both broken and functional. That Thomas, teaching valuable lessons all over the place.

So I'm off to remain motionless on the couch and wait for Look-A-Like to come on, but before I go (and because I'm going through a showoff phase, and I like to talk about myself! on my own blog! imagine!) here are some pictures from a baby shoot I did on Sunday:

I call this next one "WTF Face." Although, by the time this kid reaches the age of IM, they'll probably just go ahead and read each other's minds without even bothering to abbreviate.

She's cute, though. And it keeps me going, the cute. There MUST be something cute about my nanny kids, right? RIGHT?