sometimes it's best to leave the photo albums alone

Do you ever pretend like you're in a movie?

Please say it isn't just me.

You know, you sit in the passenger seat of someone's car and dreamily gaze out the window at passing scenery while some melodramatic song plays in the background that perfectly echoes your life situation? And you can just see it on the big screen playing in movie theaters across America?

Well, sometimes I pretend my life is playing on big screens across America.

I put the baby to bed and straightened up the living room. James was working late and I had an hour to kill. Normally this is no problem as I bask in isolation the way one basks in a bubble bath, but I was feeling oddly emotional and needed someone around. It's been a bad week and I've been feeling sick and Gracie's scary reaction from the night before had turned me inside out with panic. The doctor checked her out and all was well, but it was taking me time to fully calm down. I was still antsy with nervous energy from the whole ordeal. I paced the living room and put a She & Him record on (because I'm hip). I walked past the bookshelves for the umpteenth time before I finally sat myself down on the floor and pulled out the photo album I've been wanting to look at again but have been avoiding as I'm never quite in the mood to be emotionally slaughtered. It's full of pictures of my birth through high school that my grandma had collected and then sent me last year, and nothing gets me going like memories.

I flipped through the photo album while raging nostalgia intersected with my emotions from the past 24 hours, and I turned into a blubbering mess while looking at pictures of playing in the backyard of our California house--so many snippets of life of which I have just slivers of memories. Then there were the plaid pants I wore while standing in front of the tree in my grandparent's house at 4 years old, playing the piano in junior high, playing drums in high school. And of course, while this is going down and I'm battling some serious emotions, Sentimental Heart starts playing and I think, hey! This song is very fitting. It's totally like a movie right now. Or am I on the Truman Show and everyone's watching this and judging the fact that I keep standing up to change the record back to my favorite song every time it ends? I can't help it! It has the most perfect piano intro and a melody that hits just the right spot in my soul.

Sometimes I get a little carried away with my imagination (only child problems, though I use the word "problem" loosely).

And then I found a picture from the end of 10th grade...exactly 10 years ago. My hair was long and I weighed just slightly more than a feather. I lived among the cornfields and drove a little red Volkswagen. I thought I would be going to college in California, and I had a crush on every boy I saw. I remember getting that picture taken at school. If you would've told me that in 10 years I would be sitting on the floor crying my eyes out while my baby sleeps and I miss snuggling her and Zooey Deschanel croons me into a bundle of emotions and the nails I painted purple look like I spilled grape jelly on them.....well, I would probably believe you.

If you would've told me I ended up going to college in coastal North Carolina, married a boy who spoke with a twang (yippee!), I moved back to Ohio, had almost zero of the same friends, and was no longer driving a Volkswagen, well, I would've had a conniption fit over everything but marrying a guy with an accent. All I really wanted in a future husband was an accent.

I kid. But not really.

Anyway, I eventually started looking at pictures of my pregnancy and texting them to James with captions like "CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT WAS GRACIE? WAS THAT REALLY HER IN THERE?" I switched from the record player to youtube once James got home, and after listening to I Thought I Saw Your Face Today (the most perfect song ever written), the video changed to a clip of Zooey on Jimmy Kimmel talking about her pregnancy. And then I started crying because I thought I missed being pregnant until I remembered no, Michelle, you do not miss being pregnant. But do I? No. I don't! But tell my emotions that!

And then Zooey gets to that part in the song where she whistles, and something about it socks me in the soul and I want to dance around the living room and cry simultaneously. And Zooey's hair looks perfect which makes me want to cry again. And then I listen to her sing that song again and hit replay over and over and pretend America is watching me do this and shaking their heads the way we all did when Michael Scott played the same 30 second song clip over and over after Carol broke up with him.

Long story short: looking at photo albums when you're emotional is like going to the grocery store when you're hungry. Before you know it, you're eating cookies on the floor and have no idea how you got there.


currently, vol. 13

Feeling: Traumatized? Exhausted? Tis been a hellish week. I put on a different pair of glasses Sunday afternoon, same prescription as my other pair, and yet that somehow caused another case of vertigo. Thankfully it wasn't as bad as last time, but it kept me on the couch for several days as it progressively got worse until I finally took some medicine Tuesday night and slept it off. Gracie had her 4 month vaccinations yesterday, and all seemed to go perfectly until she woke up from her nap having a terrible and scary reaction to one of the shots, which had me in tears on the phone with the Nurse Practitioner and James running to the pharmacy in the middle of a nasty thunderstorm. I took her to the doctor this morning and she's back to normal, but I'm traumatized. That was the first big scare with her and I feel like I'll never be able to calm down.

Craving: pita chips and roasted red pepper hummus are all I care about.

Watching: A lot of The Dick Van Dyke show lately. TV Land was pretty much the only channel I watched as a kid, and I loved this show. It's on Netflix now and I've been watching it here and there. It's so clever and has me cracking up all day, except the theme song has been stuck in my head for THREE DAYS. James and I started watching The Newsroom and HOLY MOLY IS IT GOOD. There's some salty language and I don't agree with all their stances, but it's just so well done. Jeff Daniels is a boss. The only other thing I've seen him in is Dumb & Dumber, and I think I got whiplash from the violent change of character. 

Listening: to the the TV, because it's nap time which means I'm wasting time with things like Celebrity Wife Swap. All in the name of emotional recovery.

Drinking: Why is this even a question? Coffee. I'm always drinking coffee.

Reading: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. So creepy. So good. Maybe don't read it before bed unless you want to have wild nightmares.

Cooking: these barbecue peanut sweet potato burgers. So good. We make them all the time.

Thinking: that I understand why people have video baby monitors. The last thing I want to do is trek upstairs again to check on the baby. I still don't think it's necessary, but for another baby, I might splurge if we're still in a 2-story place.


They're still kind of creepy.

But they're a leg saver.

But still creepy.

But so am I.

(Don't tell.)


gracie's singin' in the rain nursery

I brought out my big guns camera to take these pictures, but we got into a fight with each other (user error problems), so please enjoy these highly professional iPhone renderings.

I'm available for weddings and engagements at your convenience. My cat Noel is also available for photobombs.

I always pictured myself creating a modern nursery. Clean lines with lots of grays and blues and greens. Those are the colors I gravitate toward, plus I don't like a lot of pink and frills or cartoony, overly babyish things. But once I got pregnant, I couldn't get myself excited about that idea, but I had no other ideas.

I was balled up in my chair at work one day, fighting nausea and texting Sarah, when she asked me how I wanted to decorate the nursery. The only thing that had struck a chord with me was a picture of a rainbow-colored raindrop mobile I had seen years ago. I had also been tossing around the idea of a turquoise and red color scheme. I still had no idea if I was having a boy or a girl, but I knew I could make it work either way. As we were texting, I suddenly remembered I had an old Singin' In The Rain movie poster I had never hung up since we moved. And it's blue and red! And the raindrop mobile! It was like a lightbulb went off, and it all came together in my head. I tried the idea out on her, wondering if it was a crazy idea, but she loved it. So I ran with it. I finally felt really excited about creating a room for the baby.

We were on a super tight budget, but I am here to say that it is totally possible to create a cute room without spending a lot of money. I am so proud of this room. It won't be winning any awards, but I think it's cheerful and perfect.  I used Singin' In The Rain as a loose theme and went with the whole vintage vibe. I pulled random things I had lying around the house that fit the vibe. I found some glass coke bottles I had saved from a farmer's market by the beach in California. I framed old sheet music my Grandma had given me last time I visited her. I found some funky fabric (pink llamas!) on Etsy and threw it in embroidery hoops. I waited for after-Christmas sales and scored some prints and pillows on Etsy for a good deal. Our very fancy diaper pail is a dirt cheap trash can from Walmart. It works! There are so many expensive baby things you really don't need.

Family and friends knit and crocheted blankets and toys. I found a changing table that matches the crib on Craigslist. It was in rough shape, but James repainted it and fixed it up. I searched high and low for a dresser on Craigslist or in a thrift shop, but I found nothing, lost bidding wars, or sellers never responded to me. We eventually bought an unfinished pine dresser from Ikea. James painted it red, and I quite literally grabbed knobs willy knilly at Hobby Lobby, and I love how it turned out.

We snagged the white rocking chair off Craigslist and I adore it. Noel's contribution was clawing the knit pouf half to death (first child problems). 

I bought some grey curtains on sale at World Market, which turned out to be much skinnier than I thought (reading comprehension problems), and I glued some turquoise pom-pom trim to the inner edges. There's a door behind the rocking chair that leads out to a balcony, and I threw up a spare white curtain to hide it and help with temperature control. The rocking horse was mine as a kid, and my parents surprised me with it on my birthday. 

We bought this $18 bookshelf from Walmart, and even with those odds stacked against it, I don't hate it at all. I know you are probably aghast at the major lack of books, but I have an explanation, My parents have boxes of all my old childhood books. I didn't want to buy her lots of books when I have so many great ones. It's just that they've...gone missing. I'm saying my prayers every day that they turn up soon, because this child needs Dr. Seuss and Nancy Drew and The Boxcar Children in her life. 

Yes, that IS Pride and Prejudice and Kitties. Thanks for noticing! Also, the crocheted Chummy from Call the Midwife that appeared on my doorstep the day I woke up in labor.

I embroidered Gracie's name on some fabric, and I still need to add her birth details to it. I found a French alphabet poster in a stationery shop for only a couple dollars, shrieked, and immediately bought it. My mom bought me the turquoise kitchen cart from Ikea as a housewarming present when we moved, and I'm using it to hold her swaddling and receiving blankets, of which she has many. 

Crocheted narwhals! 


Do I have talented friends or what?

And that is the birth announcement I sent 3 months late (time management problems).

I have several pictures of James and me in her room, and I'm not sure why. It just happened. Welcome home, Gracie! Here are pictures of the people who made you. Never forget.

My parents bought us the crib, and I love it more than anything. I would sleep in it if I could. I'm not a fan of plain wooden cribs and wanted something colorful. I found this turquoise one, and she'll be sleeping in it until she's 10 so I can look at it every day. 

So that's it! I love it. It's simple, but it celebrates so many of my favorite things: old movies, all things vintage, rain, color, and cat photobombs. And I think Gracie loves it too. She loves to lay in her crib and look at the raindrop decals, and she grins every time she looks at the gallery wall. It all seems to suit her perfectly. 


wednesday with michelle & gracie

every mom to young kids needs this shirt

Gracie has been napping for over an hour.


She has not napped at all this week. Like, at all. At all.

Which means I'm going to update you on all things exciting and thrilling. Because I have the time!

My mom and I kind of have a standing date every week. We get lunch, hang out with the baby, drink coffee, and talk. Sometimes we go do fun things, sometimes we sit on the couch and discuss the day's hard-hitting issues like reality tv and what we ate for breakfast and who we unfriended on Facebook that week. I love my mom. But really, most of our time is spent loving on the baby and telling her she's the prettiest, smartest, cutest, most wonderful thing alive.

We are obnoxious.

We got Mexican food for lunch yesterday, and since I'm off the dairy, I had no choice but to eat a bucket of chips and salsa and order fajitas. FAJITAS. The word itself sounds like a party. I ate roughly 3 plates of food while No Naps McGee took a jaunty 20 minute snooze, the only nap I could squeeze out of her all day. She was unknowingly the center of attention as strangers gushed over The Hair, and I smirked the smirk of a mother who threw up for 6 months in order to make The Hair a reality.

The bucket of chips and salsa and heaping plate of fajitas kept me full for approximately an hour. Here's the thing I didn't know about breastfeeding: it makes you hungry. Starving. Ravenous. And here's the other thing: Gracie went through a 4 day stint of nursing every 45 minutes to an hour during the day. It was the growth spurt from down under. My already ravenous appetite skyrocketed, and I ate through the entire kitchen. I shoveled down food as fast as I could and still managed to lose enough weight to keep me pulling my jeans up all day yesterday. But the fajitas probably fixed that problem.

I didn't dare leave the house with her during the 'spurt, as she was constantly wanting to eat, but she suddenly started stretching out her feedings back to every two hours on Tuesday evening. It was a luxury unlike any I have ever known. WHAT IS THIS FREEDOM? Since that left me feeling loosey goosey and high on liberation, my mom and I put the baby back in the carseat and schlepped her to Target. A lot of women go to Target for the cheap clothes and the home decor. We go for the La Croix.

(pausing real quick because you-know-who is squawking in the crib)

Do you know about La Croix? Flavored sparkling water. Every flavor you can imagine. La Croix is the fajitas of the sparkling water world--sizzly, fizzly, zazzy, and delicious. Target has all the flavors you never knew you wanted, and both our stockpiles were running dangerously low. We grabbed our favorite flavors while Miss No Naps fought with the strength of a thousand armies to keep her eyes open and also to reprimand me the second the cart stopped moving. When we went to check out, the conveyor belt had a wall of La Croix boxes stacked on it. The cashier said she'd been wanting to try it and asked us what are favorite flavor is. "Strawberry Pineapple!" I said. "Wait no, Passionfruit! Maybe Cran-Raspberry? Wait mom, don't you like the Apple Berry one? Grapefruit is good too!"

As you can see, we were very helpful.

(pausing to fish some cookie crumbs out of my bra...a common problem these days)

We came home to the stench of all stenches. It smells like something is rotting. Dying. Molding. Decomposing. But mainly like rotten produce; I'm just being dramatic. Anyway, I followed my nose, and my nose led me to nothing. For the past 24 hours I have sniffed everything in the vicinity of The Stench and still can't find its origin. The trash was just taken out. There is nothing going bad in the fridge. It's not the dishwasher or the garbage disposal. The floors are clean. My mind has been sufficiently boggled. At this rate, I have no idea what to do but continue to burn my lemon vanilla candle to mask the smell and find a new place to live.


state of the motherhood address, part 2

One year ago today I found out I was pregnant. It had been like any other Tuesday, except it felt like my body was going haywire and I was devouring bag after bag of salt and vinegar chips. I came home from work that evening and whipped up some veggie enchiladas. James handed me a box of pregnancy tests and told me to take one. I took one, but it malfunctioned. It gave no indication if it was positive or negative, so I took it as a sign that it was negative and finished making dinner. I finally took the other one awhile later, and as you all know by now, it was positive. I gave a shriek of terror. I cried. I jumped for joy. I started shaking. I laughed. I started thinking about college tuition in 20 years. I cried again. And then I cried for the next five months, mainly while lying on the bathroom floor after throwing my guts up.

I couldn't even begin to fathom holding my own baby. A baby was all I had ever wanted, yet I was in complete denial about my pregnancy until I was sent to the hospital a week later after failing to keep down even a sip of water for days. When I had my first ultrasound at almost 7 weeks and saw a beating heart, it was the first time in nearly 2 weeks that I forgot about the nausea. Sometimes I still feel like I'm babysitting her and wondering when her real mother is coming to pick her up. The mother who has to worry about how to raise her and discipline her one day. That's not me, right?

But I'm so glad it is. When I quit my job, I wondered if the lack of adult interaction during the day would drive me insane. And while I miss the banter and joking around, I don't miss anything else. Except not being covered in spit-up. This is still exactly where I want to be. Unless we're talking about a cabin in the mountains with a live-in barista, in which case hook a sister up. But these slow days at home with a baby are a perfect fit for me. They aren't easy, but they're exactly what I want.

Sometimes I miss my freedom. A lot of times I miss it. I miss doing what I want, when I want. I miss showering without worrying if the baby woke up from her nap or planning my errands around her eating schedule. I miss sleeping as long as I want on the weekends and reading whole books in one sitting. But once I finally get an hour to go out by myself, I find myself missing her and feeling like a vital organ has been removed. Some days I count down the hours and minutes until bed time, and then after she's been down for an hour I watch every video of her on my phone and James has to restrain me from running into her room and hugging her.

A lot of moms talk about how desperately they want their baby to stay little and not grow up. Much to my surprise, I don't feel that way at all. Yes, I cried the first time she slept in her crib. Sure, I look at her newborn pictures and get emotional over how tiny she was, but I love that she's growing up. The older she gets, the more fun it gets, the more natural it feels. I look forward to taking her to the park, pool days in the summer, bike rides around the neighborhood, and family movie nights. I want to teach her how to cook (once I teach myself...kidding! sort of), I want to teach her how to play the piano if she's interested. I want to teach her how to read. I don't want her to stay a baby forever. I want her to grow up. Just not so grown up that she moves out. That I will forbid.

So many things have changed this past year, from my body (oh how it has changed) to the spare room, once full of guitars and drums and an air mattress my friends and family would sleep on while visiting, that has been turned into a nursery (pictures finally coming atcha next week!). I've weeded a lot of people and things out of my life and let others back in. I'm learning that I'm a better mom, wife, and person when I carve out time every day to do something I love. I sleep much better if I clean the kitchen before I go to bed. I'm learning more and more how to keep my wits about me while I'm starving, because it never fails that the second I sit down to eat something, the baby needs me. But show me a picture on Instagram of a sleeping baby while mine screams her head off in the crib and I'll pull your hair out. Yesterday was a bad day, ok?

Everything is a phase. I read that somewhere while I was pregnant, and I repeat it to myself every day. The nursing strike is a phase, just like the eating-every-45-minutes-during-a-wicked-growth-spurt is a phase. The sleep-deprived newborn days are just a phase. The all-day fussiness is a phase. Sometimes reminding myself of that is the only thing that gets me through the day.

And when all else fails: cookies.