Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I've Hit a Slump

It's hard to get out of a blogging slump. I must admit, part of my problem is that Jamie keeps stealing all my pictures. And he's become a prolific blogger and it's stolen some of my blogging joie de vivre.

Anyhoodle, onward and upward. I usually have a running list of things to write about. I've been like this for years. I get most of my good ideas in the car. That's a bit annoying. It's hard to even jot down notes when you're driving. Lately, I've come up with some ideas:

Our NASCAR Fry's
A Tiny Log
A Buddy Log

Then--my slump. And two of those topics are basically the same. Not to mention not very content driven. Besides, I'm reading a good book right now. So it's hard not to read. But to satisfy people who come for pictures of Stella, here's one of my recent favorites--even though Jamie's already posted it on his site! I love the look on her face:

    Here's a list of things she's doing lately:
  • dragging her skinny little bod
  • eating Trader Joe's Ohs by picking them up with her own fingers
  • eating large amounts of bananas and pears
  • sitting up a little
  • rolling all over the place
  • grabbing things
  • smiling and giggling all the time
  • going to the doctor for her six month appointment where we were told that she's long and skinny which was "expected" according to the doc
  • stealing my heart

Gotta go, Jamie's prying eyes are looking at my screen!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Blogs: Conquering the Communication Divide Between Husband and Wife

Want to know how to find out what your spouse really thinks about? Read their blog:

Friday, May 26, 2006

Where Tomatoes Come From

When Jamie and I moved into our house we had a pitiful but generous backyard. It reminded me of a moonscape. It lacked anything but space and splotchy piece of concrete. The story of its development in one of blood, sweat (mostly Jamie's) and tears (mostly mine).First of all, it blew my mind that a house that had existed almost thirty years had nothing, absolutely nothing in the backyard. It was obvious that at one point there had been some attempts at making something happen. Someone had installed a pretty intense sprinkler system--obviously to no avail since there was no grass. There were not even weeds.

Our first backyard accessory was our dog Buddy. This was a passionate decision made one Sunday afternoon following minutes of thought and discussion on a trip to the Humane Society. Buddy had captured our hearts with his post-surgical cone and the way he barked at us from behind the hurricane fence inside his concrete pen. We decided to bring him home. We didn't have a fence that properly enclosed the backyard, so Buddy got around those first few weeks. All our neighbors soon knew his name.Our next project was building a fence. Jamie and my dad constructed one in an afternoon. Did I mention this fence was installed because we acquired our second dog, Tiny? We didn't want him loose as he was only 1.5 pounds. Logically, as a homeowner, we made decisions on how to progress based upon the pets we owned.

(Here's where you can insert story of an annoying cat we owned for twelve hours. I think we called him Simba. He wanted to cuddle all night long and lick our hair as well. We thought he'd make a good outside cat.)Our first summer in this house my dearly beloved built me two little gardens. He did this when it was piping hot outside. He did this so I could garden. Isn't love grand? Isn't Jamie? We also had a patio cover built. That was nice as we live in the desert where it's hot and shade is a commodity to be bought and sold (especially at bus stops!).

The biggest thing that Jamie did was in March of 2005. (Well, the biggest thing he did was probably in February of 2005, but that's another story!) Jamie hauled twelve tons of dirt from our frontyard to our backyard with a wheelbarrow. Then he laid sod. Later that year he fixed our sprinkler system. Along with the trees my dad planted for us in April of 2004, that grass made for one nice backyard. It's a great place to sit in the early morning and evening. It'sdefinitely increased our enjoyment of our once soul-less moonscape.

Our backyard is now a thriving metropolis of fauna and a few select flora. Our most majestic showpiece is currently the one edible thing that has bloomed:In addition to that, here is Tiny showing the sprinklers who's boss:

And here's Stella enjoying her backyard. She could sit out there for hours watching. She's an observer. She takes it all in. She likes her toys for a while, but when she gets really antsy, nothing takes the edge off Stella like a little Bumbo time out back.

Stella as Maddox Jolie-Pitt

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I've Read Me Some Things

From an eBay auction:
"You will fall in love with this great set of numbers and letters as you play with your child."

You will buy my blocks. You will continue to outbid yourself in pursuit of my blocks. You will give me your PayPal account info.

Regarding failure:
"I felt very horrible when I failed math that year. I felt like a failure."

When I achieve I feel like an achiever.

The college aspirations start early:
"I had been accepted into the Arizona State University which is something I have dreamed about the moment my mom gave me breath."

How can you tell someone is Irish without hearing their accent? Read their writing:
"I have always had an amazing connection with me mother."

When things get tough remember:
"The best comes out when something is on the line."

Does this include sobriety tests?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

All the Same All the Time

We are now to the point where the weather forecast in Phoenix, according to Google weather, looks something like this until October:

Therefore, we will head to Seattle on June 6th for a little of this:

And we will go here:

Blogger King: Have It Your Way

Well, I guess I know what makes people happy:

It seems that I can say whatever I want as long as there are pictures of The Girl to distract my reader(s). Therefore, I love our president. I admire his unwavering persistence. Call me what you want. I am so glad that Al Gore didn't win in 2000. I am even more glad that John Kerry didn't win in 2004. I am glad that someone who shall remain nameless called and conferred with my husband and I about voting in 2004 and we were able to assure him we were voting for Bush and that he didn't have to change his mind even though his daughter was trying to change it up to the last second.

Well, I sat here for a moment and tried to decide if I had any other controversial beliefs. I think that all my beliefs are controversial, so I won't use my daughter as a pawn. I will continue by saying that she has recently begun consuming large amounts of banana, pears and apples. I am no longer her only food source. This is bittersweet.

And lastly, please look at how long and skinny her bitty legs look in the last photo. She's a little string bean! I've received forty-three emails* requesting more photos of Stella. I am Blogger King. I allow you to have it your way.

*Actual number may be smaller. Author tends to exaggerate.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Things That Stella Enjoys

1) Magazines and newspapers--specifically "kneading" them (see 8)
2) Rolling
3) Other children
4) Her toes
4a) Simultaneously sucking her thumb and a big toe
5) Lolling about in only a diaper in the warm Arizona climate
6) Our backyard cavalcade
7) Our dogs
7a) Seems to prefer Buddy
8) Kneading flesh with her hands and razor sharp fingernails
9) Making her mouth into the shape of an "O" and saying "o o o o" with her deep little voice
10) Baths
10a) Spa-glow with baby lotion after bath
11) Reuniting with her dad

Upon Returning From California: An Epistle

From: alishialinn
Subject: Rest ASSured
Date: May 22, 2006 8:23:25 MST
To: kellybrookeg

OK, first: my house was a PIT when I got home. And I was exhausted AND the dogs next door barked when I was taking a nap AND I had to drop Jamie off at church on my way home FROM THE AIRPORT and return to get him around 7:30 pm AFTER Stella had taken her bath and was home and back into her stuff and was in NO MOOD to be put in her car seat AGAIN! AND there was no food in the house to eat that wasn't rotten except yogurt. (Don't even get me started on the rotting food that Jamie doesn't seem to notice and therefore doesn't throw away!)
AND THEN (like all the capitals? they're for EMPHASIS!!!!!!!)...
AND THEN I had to get up to take the car to the shop this AM at 6:30 AND THEN the termite guy shows up to treat some termites that we have (they make lovely pets--very low matenance! ok, i'm so tired i cannot spell that word and usually--i can!) AND THE TREATMENT PROCESS? IT IS LOUD. Stella lurves it.
And then, this week on Wed and Fri we're having acoustic garbage removed from some of our ceiling which involves more loud work and plastic and equipment and men and inconvenience and WHAT WAS I THINKING????
And I really have to poop but don't want to while the termite guy is here because what if he needs me to sign something. And my gosh, the cramping from the coffee and the poop!
And did I mention his loud work made a SHELF FALL OFF THE WALL IN THE NEXT ROOM???
And my wisteria tree is getting yellowish leaves and Jamie forgot to water my plants out front and my houseplants but thankfully they bounced back!
I think I'll blog thsi.

But besides that it is overcast today--which I loves here in Phoenix.

P.S. The termites ate the baseboard in Stella's room. This requires that ALL baseboards in the house be fashionably updated replaced.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Do you ever awake in the middle of the night? I don't mean that half-conscious stumble to the loo for a little pee or food-poisoned purge, I mean do you ever wake up because the (derogatory noun) dogs next door bark? Or perhaps it's the police helicopters flying overhead? Or maybe an ambulance? One could say our neghborhood's in need of a little gentrification.

When I wake up there are a couple of scenarios that routinely play out:
1) crazed, extrapolated situational worrying
2) upper eschelon problem solving
3) raging anger

Recently I experienced number two and three.

The other night I awoke due to my newly heightened mother-senses. Stella stirred. And being that she's been on edge lately I wanted to be ready to intervene in case there was the need for comfort. I wanted to prevent the eery nighttime cry.

The cry she emits upon realizing that she is awake and alone reminds me of an emergency siren. They're some sort of get-under-your-desk-and-prepare-for-a-natural-disaster or a run-to-your-missle-silo-it's-nuclear-fallout! type of siren. Equally unnerving is her cry--it makes my heart race. However, this certain night the stirrings were merely facilitating bowel sounds. I was fortunate enough to be able to partake of a middle-of-the-night-stacatto-farting session.

That night instead of my heart racing it was my mind.

I could not stop thinking about things. Really important things, too. Things like, "Will Jack Bauer be able to help President Palmer in season three of 24?" "Will the yard ever be landscaped?" "Will Jamie's plane crash on his way to Ireland?" "Should Stella be immunized?" "Will Stella lose her shit on the plane ride to California? And will I be sitting next to a businessman with no tolerance who stares askance at my child and huffs when I need to use the toilet?" "Should I start instituting a siesta into my summer schedule now that it's hot?" How is it possible to think so many unrealted thoughts in the middle of the night? Wasn't I just in REM sleep? Shouldn't my mind be cloudier, less nimble, less able to problem solve?

Moving on to situation number three. When I am awakened by the neighbor's dogs barking I usually begin a lenghty little rage session. I start to imagine all the things that I could do to solve the problem (this is a result of all the cooperative learning during high school and college--I am a problem solver, people!). Should I go outside right this minute in my underwear and shout? No, I think I will go outside right this minute and spray them with the hose. There are rotting oranges on the kitchen counter--I will throw one at them. I will write them a letter.

Once that decision is made I commence in writing the letter in my head. I try different opening lines:

Dear Neighbor,
I'm not sure if you're aware that your dogs bark in the middle of the night. Oh wait, I did write you a letter in March. Do you recall?

Dear Neighbor,
Here is a copy of the petition that I will be filling out and filing at the county prosecutor's office in honor of you and Lucy the barking dog.

After a while, my exhaustion gets to me and my prose becomes less and less diplomatic.

Dear Neighbor,
I hate your dogs. I'd kill them if I could. That big white one is ugly and reminds me of a really ugly animal.

Or perhaps I'll send them a postcard while I'm in California:

Dear Neighbors,
I'm on vacation--FROM YOUR BARKING DOGS! The weather is here. Wish you were barking.

Then I imagine different pranks I could play on them.

I would like to make a high quality recording of their dogs barking and play in outside their window at 2 am. I would like to feed their dog laxatives. I would like to get their phone number off their car for sale and crank call them when their dogs bark at 2 am after I first block my phone number.

Just thinking about it makes my heart race.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

He's Got a Ticket to Ride

This summer Jamie has won two scholarship opportunities. The first one is a Catholic writer's conference in New Jersey. The second one is through the National Endowment for the Humanities to go study William Butler Yeats (not John Keats!) in Galway, Ireland. While I'm excited and proud of him it means that he will be away for a long time--relatively speaking in the life of an infant. He will miss an entire month of Stella. She could be potty trained when he returns.

The fact that he earned both of these opportunities this summer is one of those funny timing things. He's applied every summer since we've been married (which, gosh, is SO LONG--two years!) and wasn't previously accepted.

Because of Jamie's academic tendencies, these opportunities will be good for him in the long run. However, he's going to miss his first real Father's Day. And, people, he's a good father. When Stella sees him her face lights up.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It's Not Allergies

My eyes itch. And it's because I'm tired. Stella has begun her own routine. It involves getting tired and grumpy around 6:30 pm, falling asleep around 7 and waking up the next morning around 5:30. Did I mention her 3 am snack? She's gone through the night without eating for weeks--almost months--and now she's hungry. I know she's on her way to eating solids, but she wants nothing to do with rice cereal.

So, my eyes itch because I'm tired. This is the kind of day where I'm glad I didn't keep working because, seriously, how? I'm just glad that Jamie gets up early during the week to get ready for school because today that meant an extra hour of sleep while she exersauced and Bumboed out back with her dad--and I missed a poopy diaper!

This is from Stella's post-bath nightly euphoria time where she rolls around all giggly and cute for about ten minutes before she starts to unravel and demand to nurse, suck her thumb and close those big blue eyes.

Coming soon: the first airplane ride to California on May 17th! Will she cry? Will she like the ocean? Will we never be invited back? You'll hear it here first!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Relative of the Week: The Grandmas

In honor of mother's day, here are the Mothers.

We cannot prefer one grandma over the other, can we?

Stella has two: the Keek and Go Go.

They both love her all the time and make her cry some of the time. This is because Stella is a Sensitive Child. Jamie's mother was told by his Montessori teacher that he was a "homebody." I think it's safe to assume that Stella has this tendency. Let's just hope she doesn't go all Emily Dickinson on us. Of course we don't want any little Katie Holmes either.

What do grandmas do? They coo and swaddle. They kiss and hug. They fuss and fix. These are necessary things--nay, important things. This is what makes one a GrandMother.

I receive emails on a regular basis from both grandmas that inform me of the aesthetic superiority of their grandchild. This is still possible as Stella is The Only Grandchild that currently exists on either side. This is nice. It means she gets cool presents like quilted pink Ralph Lauren shoes with feathery little puffs, little green seersucker dresses, little pink seersucker blazers and college funds. (Yes, poodle. She already has more money saved for college than we have saved period.)

And here's the Other Mother in need of...something. Makeup, pain killers, a smile that is not lame:

This picture is at the very end of the long saga called birth which was preceded by dinner at Ra for sushi--because these intense muscle contractions are not labor pains, so let's go have some sushi! In fact, when we're finished, let's walk over to Barnes and Noble and browse the magazines because even though I'm a few days overdue, there's no possible way these could be actual labor contractions.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"Hello? If There's Anybody Here, You Can Come Out. I Won't Hurt You."

When I was a child I developed a fascination for all things small. How ironic that I ended up so very large. I loved The Littles. I watched that cartoon every Saturday. Of course, we also watched The Smurfs, Richie Rich and the one with the rich kid and his Indian (as in the continent) friend with the turban. The name escapes me. This was back when cartoons were a Saturday morning thing. Oh, the anticipation. It involved pillows in front of the TV and a game my brother and I liked to play called "Feet Foot" (anyone else play this game?) and if we were at my dad's the potential for Smurf Berry Crunch cereal.

I digress.

I loved small things. There were two dollhouses at the Scottsdale Public Library. They had wallpaper and electricity and tables that were set with plates and silverware. There were miniature cat and dog food bowls--no detail was overlooked. I loved going to the library and seeing these houses.

I also liked to "save" small insects that were dying in the swimming pool. I would swim around trying to cup bees, crickets and ants in my hands and toss them on the pool deck. I would swell with prode and accomplishment. "Another ant will live to see another day. I've done a good thing."

I would even find these little plastic hairpins laying around and fill them with watet. I would lay them beside an ailing cricket so that it had some refreshment close at hand. I would try to place these little insect triages out of the walkway so they wouldn't survive a near-drowning only to get stepped on. I would leave them while I went to swim and come back later to check on their progress. When the little insect was gone I always assumed rehabilitation and I would feel a sense of relief. It never occured to me that perhaps this little bug was snatched up by a bird or carried away in a gust of wind.

When we lived in Wisconsin there were always plenty of caterpillars around. One of me "little" activities was to create hotels for them. This involved a couple sticks and some leaves. I would pierce the leaves with the sticks and jam the sicks into the ground. This would create a little elevated spot and I would put the little caterpillars in their hotel and carry on with my activities. Once again, it never occured to me the precarious, vulnerable position in which i placed my guests.

Finally we arrive on my most proud revelation of childhood: audibly addressing the little people that I was convinced resided in my walls. When I was alone in my room I would try to get them (the Littles, of course) to reveal themselves to me. "Hello? If there's anybody here, you can come out. I won't hurt you." I would sit quietly on my bed straining to hear any discernable noises. Was there any scurrying or scratching? Was there a place for them to come out if they so pleased? Unfortunately, no. There was no Tom and Jerry mousehole from whence the little family could emerge and spark a deep and symbiotic friendship with me where they provided me with awe and fascination and I brought them my mother's used thread spools and thimbles that they could convert into various household items.

When I think back on those days I get excited for Stella to grow up. I'm anticipating her imagination. I am so thankful that I can remember what it was like to manufacture my entertainment from the creatures and materials around me or that I had the ability to really ponder the existence of small intelligent beings. It is very precious to be able to remember what it was like to wonder as a child. And what a gift childhood is for those of us who have memories of wholeness, health and imagination.
Three years old. No doubt I thought that little dog I'm clutching had "feelings."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Husband Bribes Wife With Pot and Curtails Munchies With Sonic

While I Detest WalMart-and-All-It-Stands-For, after all that's a highly contagious and trendy belief disease these days, I have no shame in the fact that we flagrantly drive past two Home Depots and a former neighborhood hardware store to reach Lowe's. "Don't blame me, I'm merely a passenger," I sheepishly sheep.

We drove to Lowe's last night and burned precious fossil fuel all the way there, all the way to Sonic and all the way home. This was done in the name of buying large, decorative, glazed pots to house our burgeoning jasmine plants in the backyard.

The pots are a part of the pacification process that continues in our home while Jamie plugs away at the carport remodel that will EVENTUALLY house his 4,000 or so books. I can hardly wait. It's not that I hate books. But let me entreat you with a photo essay I will call "Corners of My Home." This is an homage to all the bloggers out there who share sweet, demurely decorated corners that inspire awe and envy. These pictures will inpire a different kind of awe and envy. Specifically, "Awe my god, I'm glad my husband doesn't have that many books." And the less common variety, "My husband's EnvyDVs don't take up as much room as them books do!"

Without further adieu I give you....

Corners of my home

If there's one thing that I can brag about, it is the size and breadth of Jamie's library. And until the carport is completely transformed, I will continue to capitalize on the opportunity to receive pots and plants. And Sonic tater tots.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

In Which the Days Fly by Faster Than Stella's Naps

Suddenly it's May.

That means that we institute the practice of the siesta here in Phoenixville. Our little Buddy and Tiny transition from their dogsicle stage to become hot dogs. They pant their way around the yard and when admitted to the Land of the A/C they collapse upon the tile.

I must start using two sets of keys. Much like our friends in the north must heat the car in the winter before beginning activities, we must cool the car in summer. All unnecessary trips are jettisoned for the luxury of indoor activities.

I remember being pregnant this time last year. I was just beginning to emerge from my "morning that lasts 24 hours sickness." Our cat had a batch of kittens on Mother's Day and I watched her give birth twice. She made it look so easy. It was like she was birthing a hairball. A couple full-body contractions and it was over. She even partook of the--we'll call them leftovers.

It was starting to get hot in May 2005. I wasn't very big yet. I was still teaching. We had a party in my ESL classes and my students brought homemade Mexican food. Unfortunately, it was in the classroom for about two hours before we consumed it. Oh, and the air conditioning was broken in my classroom. Oh, and I didn't have my food handlers card. Oh, and I got food poisoning. Oh, and the thought of tostadas and sour cream is now a foul memory. Oh, and I'm dumb. But I got to stay home from work because I was so sick. Oh, and the power went out at our house and thus the air conditioning ceased it's miraculous operations. And I cried. And missed Jamie's swanky end of the year party. Because I was violently vomiting Gatorade.

And so flies the time of having fun. Now look what it brought me: