Margot Mondays – adventures in baby-proofing

21 Jul

Sam: This is it.
Frodo: This is what?
Sam: If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.
Frodo: Come on, Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road and, if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Margot learned how to scoot a few days ago and it’s only a matter of time before she’s a crawling machine. Mostly she makes a beeline for the coffee table, which used to be a normal piece of furniture in our lives but is now a dangerous, pointy, eye-gouging Unit of Doom. Yesterday we watched her wiggle worm her way across the living room floor and toward the dining room. Our intrepid explorer was so pleased with herself, but she took a beat to turn toward us to make sure we were watching her. I joked with Mike that our little Samwise Gamgee was leaving the Shire. One more squirm and she’d be the farthest away she’d ever been.

And so we made the trip to Target and bought all sorts of things. Table bumpers and pads, doorknob and socket covers, cupboard latches, corner buffers, and even a few whosits and whatsits. Mike spent the obligatory amount of time underneath the bathroom and kitchen sinks, cursing and sweating because screwdrivers weren’t screwing and nails weren’t nailing. We still need to find a way to secure the television and bookshelves but we’re on top of it.

The only view I have of my daughter of late is of her moving away.

The only view I have of my daughter of late is of her moving away.

The old me was really annoying.

16 Jul

I woke up in the middle of the night the other night and had a thought that seemed brilliant. “What if,” I thought, “I logged into my old LiveJournal account and picked something I wrote when I was 25 or 26 to share on my blog?  Wouldn’t that be interesting? Wouldn’t it be a nice way to talk about how far I’ve come, or to reminisce about what my life was like while I was living in England? How cool would it be to look back at myself as a newlywed with a freshly minted MA degree and endless possibilities ahead of me?”  

It certainly sounded good in theory.

And then I logged into my old LJ account. Turns out 25-year-old me wasn’t all that compelling or profound. Actually, 25-year-old me was in a really negative head-space. I complained about England. I complained about my peers, my internships, and my first jobs out of college. I made too many pop-culture references and used words like “j-amazing.” I typed out introspective song lyrics just because. I took many quizzes where I learned things like what color crayon I am and what color my heart is. I was neurotic and spazzy in the worst way. I spent a lot of time wasting my time.

That’s who I was. As much as I’d like to pull a reality villain excuse out of my hat, to claim that it was all producer editing or something like that, this was me. I was negative and, well, awfully uninteresting.

It is eye-opening to think that I did all these wonderful things and never really appreciated them for how wonderful they were: a year living abroad, trips to France, Scotland, Ireland, and Italy, being newly married, moving back home and being near family. It’s a wonder my husband still loves me and my friends have hung around after all that.  What did I have to be so unhappy about?

Oh, to be 25 again? Really I’d rather not.

And will I someday look back on this blog, long after the doors have shuttered and the lights are out, and think the same thing? Is this just how it goes?

Questions for future Loni.

This is the face of an annoying girl in Paris.

This is the face of an annoying 25-year-old girl in Paris.

Margot Mondays – Shhh. She’s sleeping.

7 Jul

There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

For the first six weeks of her life Margot was what doctors like to call a “terror.” I say that as her mother, as one who loves her beyond all things and wouldn’t change a hair on her head. But that doesn’t make it any less true. She was an absolute terror. She screamed. I cried. Mike did his best to make sure she wasn’t screaming and I wasn’t crying, but it didn’t work. She screamed. I cried.

We said we’d never co-sleep. Never ever ever. We quickly learned that it was the only way she’d sleep. We bought her a Rock n’ Play and a Pack n’ Play. The former we dubbed her Torture Chair and the latter we called her Torture Bed. You’d get that kid within one foot of either and she’d begin Purple Crying like mad. We made do as best we could and eventually settled into a routine. Mostly that meant a lot of late-night Netflix. It’s sad how quickly you can run out of decent shows to watch.

And then, like magic, at six weeks a switch got flipped and she turned into Ultimate Dream Baby. It was nothing we did, and this entry is not a “how-to” writ large. One day she just, for whatever reason, chose to prefer being set down.

All of a sudden she liked her Rock n’ Play, so she slept in it every night. And then, just as quickly, she began falling asleep each evening at around 7:30 pm. One day we learned that we could lay her down in her bassinet wide awake at 7:15. She’d smile, coo a bit, squirm some, and then gently fall asleep. And then she started sleeping through the night – 7:30 pm to 5:30 am. Just like that. So that’s the story of how we Mr. Magooed ourselves into having a great sleeper.

The final frontier for us was transferring her out of the bassinet in our room and into the crib in her nursery. I’ll admit that we dragged our feet on this one. There was something reassuring about having her at arms’ reach, at hearing her fumble for her pacifier in the middle of the night and put herself back to sleep. It had to happen, though. Like everything before, she handled the move like a champ, treating it like a fun, new place, smiling, and drifting off to sleep.

Still, I’ve spent the last few nights hoping she’d wake up and cry just so I’d have an excuse to put her back in her bassinet… I’m still waiting.

She sleeps.

She sleeps.

Things I like (Wednesday morning commute-inspired)

25 Jun And then, later that same day, we went out for oyster po'boys and johhnycakes with maple butter.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in my world. I’ve neglected Margot Mondays the past two Mondays, I believe. I promise to pick that up again next Monday.

In the meantime, I wanted to make note of some Very Good Things. This morning, as I was standing in the middle of the traveling sardine can I call the Santa Monica Blue Bus, shoulder to shoulder with people I don’t know and with some guy mouth breathing all over my neck, I tried to channel my happy place despite living a real-life “Elaine-Benes-Stuck-on-the-Subway” scene. It was hard, but I think I pulled it off.

Here are the things that got me through my midweek commute:

1) The Los Angeles Public Library has created a Literary World Cup to coincide with the goings on in Brazil. Recent pairings have included Yasunari Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes (Japan) vs. Laura Restrepo’s The Angel of Galilea (Colombia) and Đuka Begović by Ivan Kozarac (Croatia) vs. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Mexico). I’ve added so many books to my ever-growing list as a result of this. Way to go LAPL!

2) Two weekends ago we spent a sunny Saturday at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. It was crowded and the churros were stale, but then these things happened and I was so glad we came:

The jellies were her jam.

The jellies were her jam.

Sea Bass are really, really large.

Sea Bass are really, really large.

3) We celebrated a wonderful Father’s Day for Mike. I’ll post more on this next week, but to say the weekend was food-centric would be a wee bit of an understatement. Turns out that when you ask men what they want to do for their very special weekend, they usually respond with “I don’t know…Food?”

Margot and I made Mike eggs benedict for brunch.

Margot and I made Mike eggs benedict for brunch.

And then, later that same day, we went out for oyster po'boys and johhnycakes with maple butter.

And then, later that same day, we went out for oyster po’boys and johnnycakes with maple butter.

4) Oh, and it was my 33rd birthday that very same weekend. I felt a little guilty about stealing Mike’s thunder (it was his first Father’s Day and I’ve already had, like, 32 birthdays), but he still managed to remind me of why I love him.

On Friday night he came home with nail polish for me. I wonder whether he just grabbed the first three he could find, or if, as he says, he actually stood there and picked them out. Either way, purple rules!

On Friday night he came home with nail polish for me. I wonder whether he just grabbed the first three he could find, or if, as he says, he actually stood there and picked them out. Either way, purple rules!

And then he made me a homemade peaches and cream cake. Whipped cream frosting and everything.

And then he made me a homemade peaches and cream cake. Whipped cream frosting, peach puree, and everything.

And then I got some loot. New Midwestern cookbook, fancy cheese, flowers, and topaz stacking rings (Margot's birthstone).

And then I got some loot. New Midwestern cookbook, fancy cheese, flowers, and topaz stacking rings (Margot’s birthstone).

5) Speaking of Mike, he achieved a milestone in his PhD studies and advanced to candidacy! I knew he would, but still. Exciting stuff!

6) My LA Kings won the Stanley Cup. On my birthday. We watched every game with bated breath and I even watched local news coverage of the downtown celebration parade and rally twice. Yep, I heard mayor Eric Garcetti’s “f-bomb” twice.

GKG!

GKG! Image found here.

Santa Monica Big Blue Bus? I’ll see you at 5.

This one’s for you, Dad.

12 Jun Dad walks me down the aisle.

I speak with my Dad on the phone about once or so a week, and during our last conversation he tried to get me to swear I wasn’t going to get him anything for Father’s Day.  I’m pretty sure he tries to get me to say that every year. I did send a little something small to him (sorry, Dad!), but since it’s so very small I’m also giving him this.

My top 10 memories of my Dad (in no particular order):

10) When I was maybe six or seven my Dad used to take us to this park in Waukegan, IL, just north of Chicago. I vividly remember how he used to play catch with us, and how he would throw the baseball so high up in the air that I couldn’t see it anymore. I thought he was a superhero for that.

Dad and I at a Dodgers game in 2012.

Dad and I at a Dodgers game in 2012.

9) Speaking of when I was little, Dad was (is?) forever playing jokes on me. He could make these whistling noises that sounded like bird calls. Back when having a car with automatic windows was new and exciting, he’d surreptitiously roll down the window while whistling and then try to convince me a bird flew into the car. I fell for it more than I’d care to confess. I was never all that bright, was I, Dad? :)

Dad walks me down the aisle.

Dad walks me down the aisle.

8) I could always rely on my Dad to chaperone my school field trips. There were a couple I know he really enjoyed (trips to Ed Debevic’s and lots of Cubs games) and some I know he didn’t (the art museum). Still, it always felt special to be the one with a parent there, and I know my friends thought his jokes were funny, even if I didn’t.

Dad plays ball with a strange dog in Apple Hill, CA.

Dad plays ball with a strange dog in Apple Hill, CA.

7) My Dad has these sayings that have sneakily integrated into my adult life. Like, the other day at work I caught myself saying to someone “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” He never did succeed in getting me to be 100% punctual (just ask my husband), but that one I do remember and try to live by.

Mike and Dad trim up the tree.

Mike and Dad trim up the tree.

6) I didn’t have anyone to take me dress shopping for my junior prom so my Dad gamely signed up for the job. He joked on the car ride to the mall that I’d probably fall in love with the first one I tried on, convince myself it was too soon to actually buy one, force him to take me to 74 more shops, and then go back for the first dress. That’s exactly what happened and he didn’t complain.

Dad and I in Bodega Bay in 2009.

Dad and I in Bodega Bay in 2009.

5) My Dad is a big fan of sending greeting cards to people. He always has been, always will be. And he’d meticulously select cards for people for more obscure holidays like Halloween or St. Paddy’s. When I was little it felt like we were standing in the card aisle for eons. I even once accused him of picking out cards and sending them to people he didn’t even know. But you know what? I always look forward to getting cards in the mail from my Dad. Somehow, as if there’s some wizardry involved, he always manages to get a card delivered on the EXACT day it should. Mike and I marvel at that. Also, for several years in a row my Dad and I sent one another the very same Halloween card.

Mike and Dad enjoy apple cider donuts.

Mike and Dad enjoy apple cider donuts and, I don’t know, talk about sports probably.

4) For several years while I was in college my Dad and I settled into a routine of celebrating the holidays just the two of us. We’d make a giant turkey or ham and then choke down leftovers for days and days. It never did occur to us to do something more simple than that or to buy a smaller turkey. We also suffered through more than one cooking disaster. It’s okay, though, because it was just us. No pressure. No noise. Just football and puzzles.

This shot was not staged.

This shot was not staged.

3) Dad has always believed in me, even when I wasn’t certain of myself. He knew I’d win all the scholarships I applied to (didn’t even grab a program on Award Night in high school. He wanted to be surprised when they called my name). He knew I’d get into IU and that I’d do well. He knew that if I’d chosen to marry Mike that he was a good guy and that we’d be fine. He put me on a plane to California without voicing an opinion or a concern. I knew he was nervous, but he trusted me to do my best and get along fine. He’s supported every decision I’ve ever made.

Wedding.

Wedding.

2) Dad and I have a lot of inside jokes. I’ll provide them to you context-free so that they can stay that way: “Mumble mumble what?” “Uh, let’s go break stuff.” “Dad? Dad? Nevermind.” “We’ll see.”

The best seats in the house, right Dad?

The best seats in the house, right Dad?

1) And, of course, there was that time I lost the tv remote. We looked absolutely everywhere. We tore the house apart – throwing pillows and moving furniture. After several hours, and when my Dad’s annoyance level was on maximum overdrive, we finally drove across town and bought a new one. Two or three days later the remote turned up. In a bag of BBQ potato chips in the cupboard. No joke. I must have knocked the remote into the bag on the floor and then closed them and put them away. It’s something only I would do.

Dad makes the wedding toast.

Dad makes the wedding toast.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Margot Mondays – updates and presidential tidings

9 Jun

My summer is shaping up to be a bit different from what I’d imagined. For starters, my husband, Mike, was just offered a chance to work in the field in Greece for six weeks starting in late August. He also might still be going to Turkey for his usual work. These are great opportunities for him, to be sure, but I can’t help but sort of mourn the summer I’d envisioned. I’d really hoped to maybe visit my dad at or around the 4th of July. I’d also hoped to fly home to see my sister and her awesome family, my grandparents, and Mike’s family. It would have been Margot’s first time in Indiana, and the idea of actually being at home to enjoy warm temperatures, summer corn, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, and lightning bugs for the first time in four years was happy-inducing.

I know it would have been a lot to do. Possibly even impossible.

Such is life when married to an archaeologist. I’m super proud of him and, while it likely won’t work out for us to visit him in Greece this summer, it’s good to know that his research and work opportunities are booming. These are offers you just don’t say no to, and it’s great to know that, next year, when we have more notice and a better idea of his plans, we can go as a family.

The good news is that I’m tentatively planning a visit with my sister and niece, either out here or back home. It’ll have to be shorter than what it would have been, but I’m grateful it’s on the table. I also have lots of family on my dad’s side flying out to visit over Labor Day weekend (including my dad). It’s a short trip but it’ll be wonderful.

*****************************************

A couple of months ago I learned that if you send a birth announcement to the White House they’ll send a message back. I’m in the process of making Margot’s baby book and I thought something like that would be so neat to include. So I stuffed an envelope with one of her many leftover birth announcements (we went a little overboard on ordering those), jotted down a message to our President and First Lady, and sent it away the very next day.

I also sent one to Disney. More on that later.

I also sent one to Disney. More on that later.

Weeks went by and I forgot about it.

And then one day, as I dashed to the mailbox with arms full of diaper bags and groceries, I found this waiting for me along with the usual bills and newspaper ads:

It brought me up short. How cool!?

It brought me up short. How cool!?

Such a nice message, right?

Such a nice message, right?

I know that these things are all done in some other office, possibly by volunteers or maybe it’s even almost fully automated, but it was such a fun thing to get in the mail. Official correspondence from the White House!

We took pictures of Margot holding her letter until she started trying to eat it (so six seconds later). I’m excited to add this to her baby book.

Oh, and the one to Disney? The one I sent to Burbank, just on the other side of town? I haven’t heard back on it. Oh, well. The president is much cooler.

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5 Jun Kate: "Where did that come from?" Sawyer: "Probably Bear Village. How the hell do I know?"

“I saw a guy lying there with an ankle holster, so I took his gun. I thought it might come in handy. Guess what? I just shot a bear!” — James “Sawyer” Ford, LOST

Mike and I missed PaleyFest this year, what with having a very young infant in our lives. I’d always said that a LOST panel would be my white whale, that I’d have no choice but to move heaven and earth to be there. That’s life, though, because this year they celebrated the 10th anniversary of my favorite show and I missed it. Sawyer was there. Hurley was there. Jin and Sun were there. I was not there.

Oh, well.

The Paley Center came to the rescue in the form of a small exhibition featuring set pieces and props* from the show. For FREE.

Mike plays with Margot while I ooooh and ahhhh.

Mike plays with Margot while I ooooh and ahhhh.

"Dude, you got some Arnst on you." -Hurley

“Dude, you got some…Arnst on you.” -Hurley

Bottle green is very in.

Bottle green is very in.

Everybody Hates Hugo

Everybody Hates Hugo

The actual casket John Locke was in. (sobs)

The actual casket John Locke was in. (sobs)

Mr. Eko's walking stick.

Mr. Eko’s walking stick.

Penny and Desmond and "Henry Gale's" map to the hot air balloon.

Penny and Desmond and “Henry Gale’s” map to the hot air balloon.

Kate: "Where did that come from?" Sawyer: "Probably Bear Village. How the hell do I know?"

Kate: “Where did that come from?” Sawyer: “Probably Bear Village. How the hell do I know?” Kate: “The gun, not the bear.”

I still hum the LOST "sad theme" when I'm at an airport.

I still hum the LOST “sad theme” when I’m at an airport.

The closest I'll ever come to Sawyer.

The closest I’ll ever come to Sawyer.

I still haven’t been able to bring myself to re-watch the series. I, for one, loved the finale, so that’s not the reason why.  I guess I’m still just too emotionally attached. Wink.

This little outing marked the 4th weekend in a row that we’ve taken Margot to a museum exhibition or national park (Getty Villa, Skirball, Joshua Tree, Paley Center), and I’m keen to continue. Where to next?

*I would be remiss in not mentioning that many of the set pieces and props will be for sale during the Cancer Gets LOST Charity Auction in September, with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society.

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