Blog a la Cart

Month: February, 2010

Murphy’s law is a bitch.

I want you to close your eyes for a moment and transport yourself to an empty home in Los Angeles – a home where the echo of a baby’s bouncing feet is near deafening; a home devoid of worldly possessions; a home where a tall, unshowered woman is weeping not-so-quietly in a corner; a home where a man is standing in the kitchen, cooking eggs using a piece of bread (the butt end no less) as a spatula , and eating a wedge of cheese as if it were an apple. Straight up palming that hunk of cheddar like a baseball.

Welcome to my world.

I may be sitting in the center of an empty room drinking table wine straight from the bottle. I’m doing my part, like James and his improv utensils.  There is a reason that moving is one of THE most stressful life events – up there with death, divorce, job loss. All those awesome warm and fuzzy things that people SO look forward to in life. Oh wait…

Let me walk you through the events of the past few days as I nurse this bottle, shall we?

Thursday night James sliced off the pad of the left pointer finger cutting an avocado THROUGH THE PIT. Don’t even get me started on that decision-making process. I came into the kitchen to find blood splattered across the counter tops and James hunched over the sink, white as a sheet, bodily fluid pooling down his arms, whispering, Ash, I need a chair. I need a chair, now. You see, James experiences a vasovagal syncope, as in he PASSES THE FUCK OUT!, when exposed to needles and/or blood. So near slicing off a piece of anatomy = *James**Head**Floor.* Like that one time, when I was in labor, and the nurse decided to change my IV line right in the middle of a contraction, a contraction wherein I was sent straight to Hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and James keeled over because HE couldn’t handle it. Yeah. Yeah, that was some fun ass times.

So basically James can now go rob a bank whenever he pleases thanks to his lack of fingerprints, but can’t lift a finger (har har) to move, oh I dunno, THE WHOLE HOUSE, the day before said move is to occur. His timing is like a white kid at a sock hop. Impeccable.

Then, this morning, the day before we are to wave goodbye to our lovely, eco-friendly Prius and bestow the glory of her carpool stickers to some fellow Angeleno who similarly spends days of her life stuck on the parking lot that is the 405, our soon-to-be-only vehicle won’t start. So as the movers descend on our home, we similarly welcome a AAA tow truck.

And then, THEN, it pours rain. RAIN! As in, precipitation, in Los Angeles. THE DAY OF OUR MOVE! And it rained all. damn. day.

God is taking one giant crap on my face for evening mentioning the A word on this here blog, isn’t s/he?

Back to polishing off the pickles and lunch meat and jar of sour cream and other assorted perishable goodies in the fridge before we truly check out tomorrow. TUMS are in hand in preparation for this dietary adventure.

I may or may not hurl myself over the crate in protest. You think I’m kidding.

Today it all becomes real.

This evening Ursa will depart for the east coast. The first of the Cart family to say good-bye to California. She will be  staying with my parents who excitedly have been anticipating the arrival of their grandpuppy. No seriously. I think they’re more thrilled about the access they’ll have to my dog and child than they are about the access they’ll have to me, ya know, THEIR child, thanks to this relocation. I try not to hold these things against them. Except in therapy. Then all blame can just be deflected from me to them. Totally fair.

ANYWAY, we’ve been preparing Ursa all week for this journey. We even put Addison in the crate with her to make her feel more at ease. Should I not admit to caging my child? Probably not. Should I not document said caging? Definitely. Did I? You bet.

Today, I thought it appropriate to document my girls together in the backyard of the house where we became a family. This will probably be the last time we are all together in Southern California because I refuse to ever send Ursa on a plane. ever. again. My maternal guilt is already through the roof. James has forbid me from coming with him to the airport tonight because I think we all know how this scene would play out if I did: There would be a dramatic hurling of a 6 foot body over the dog crate  – more likely, a crawling inside of the crate and a tender cradling of canine-human spoon. James doesn’t want to have to deal with the TSA arresting his wife days before he quits his job and she’s supposed to take over as primary breadwinner. So I’m forbidden.

Fair enough.

Although, I’ve made Ursa promise that she is going to live FOREVER, so she’ll totally be retiring with me and James to our seaside home in La Jolla in forty years. So I really shouldn’t make such mellow-dramatic claims as we’ll NEVER be together again as a family in California. Because living forever? Totally feasible. Tots.

Back to the photo shoot. It’s a gloomy gray day here – a rarity in LA LA – but all too appropriate on a number of levels. One, the weather is symbolic of my overall mood and emotional fragility (Yeah, I just said it. I think we’ve all learned here folks that I am a DRAMA QUEEN! Let’s accept this and move forward). Also, Ursa, given her inky black coat, is near impossible to photograph. Particularly in sunlight. She comes out like one big ol’ Rorschach test. So today’s clouds were a gift for documentation.

Of course, trying to photograph a now mobile, ADD baby with a cracked-out, equally distractable retriever is nothing short of impossible. Getting Addison to eat green-veggies or James to not leave his car keys in the refrigerator or me to speak at a reasonable volume would be more realistic achievements. Truly. And then, Ursa, because the term “easy” or “gentle” or “chill-the-fuck-out” are and shall never be in her vocabulary, knocked Sunny to the ground on more than one occasion. Family photography is dangerous, y’all.

Now I must go and cradle that dog to my bosom because I am filled with anxiety and dread that something terrible is going to happen to my first child during her cross-country journey. There may be a few tears shed. But I speak the obvious.

I love you, my beautiful girls.

Button Bouquet

Love enlivening your home with flecks of color from a vibrant bouquet of flowers, but find yourself devastated when it whithers in barely a week’s time? With today’s DIY Wednesday you don’t have to worry about such floral demise. Just scrounge up a bowl of stray buttons and get to crafting! Soon enough your home will be abloom with a cheerful bouquet!

Stash of colorful buttons
Green floral wire
Wire cutters or sturdy scissors

1. Select 4-5 buttons to stack together to create your “flower.”
2. Using wire cutters, cut a piece of wire that when doubled over is the height of the flower that you want to create.
3. Fold the wire in half.
4. Slide buttons onto the wire. The first button on the wire will be the button at the top of your flower.
5. Once buttons are slid to the top of the wire, twist the wire pieces together to make the “stem.”
6. Create as many as you’d like, and assemble your bouquet!

Here’s to flowers that will stay vibrant and lively, and won’t attract friends of the stinging-variety.

Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Weeks Cart

Symbolic, or something.

In a glass cage of emotion (and I can’t even blame the hormones)

I think that I have made it more than apparent that I’m, shall we say, *struggling* with this cross-country move (and by struggling, I am in need of a generous dose of percocet paired with a glass bottle of wine). I no longer sleep. The anxiety-induced insomnia is far too severe. And I spend every-waking hour (which is like, ALL OF THEM. ALL TWENTY FOUR) scurrying from one task to the next. I do love me some TO DO lists, but it has reached a level that even I, the list queen, cannot enjoy. Between the thesis, the packing, the husband that works 12-hour days, the crawling baby, the nutty dog, and the tender goodbyes, I am a woman on the verge. And then today, I came down with a cold, because, obviously. That God that I don’t believe in is giving me a swift kick in the ass as if to say, Best believe, bitty! But if there were a God, s/he would never do that, so we’re back to square one. (And I think I should save my Atheism for another day). ANYWAY!

What I’m saying is that there is a lot going on. One too many things I’m having to process and make sense of, all at the same damn time, and it’s more than a tad overwhelming. And to top it all off, because why not have yet one more emotional breakdown on top of a fairly consistent regime already, this weekend I finally “dealt” with the fact that I have stopped breastfeeding. Something I stopped about a month ago. And yes, only now, am I wrestling with the emotional consequences of this decision. I stopped immediately following my whirl wind trip east with the baby to participate in the final round of interviews for this job. For my trip out to Massachusetts I flew on a fully packed plane, in the window seat, with a screaming infant, and a bare breast, and two dudes to my right, and I’m awed that I lived to tell the tale. I arrived to my parents’ home, shell-shocked, and told James quite matter-of-factly that I would not be returning home to California, thank you very much, and that I was sorry that his child would grow up without a father figure (because obviously if I didn’t fly back to California it meant we’d never ever see each other again. RATIONAL is my middle name).

My parents, sensing the instability of their eldest’s nerves, stepped in, demanded I head out to Willytown without the baby, and promised that Addison would survive in my absence. So I did. I spent 48 hours, the first 48 hours since about month 8 of pregnancy, totally by myself, totally without responsibility, totally without disruption in the wee hours of the night, and sweet lord was it glorious. Selfishly, wholeheartedly glorious. I lay in the hot tub of my hotel room, a vision of bubbles and relief, and literally soaked in every second of that freedom. I then didn’t sleep a wink that night because every inch of my soul missed my daughter. But I guess that is part of being a mother. That entrenched, inexplicable connection with your child. Especially while still in the throes of breastfeeding.

While Sunny and I were apart, she survived on formula and fruit. And when I returned home from my interview, my parents were in a rhythm with the bottle, and my supply was low due to the 48 hour drought, so I just kind of stopped. I didn’t actively think through the decision. It just happened. The plane flight home was far easier because I didn’t have to perform a strip tease with my now very mobile, demanding baby. Then I got the job offer. After that, the chaos truly set in and I required far more assistance from our babysitter and friends. Plus, Addison had FOUR teeth and was more wriggly and restless than ever. So the choice to stop breastfeeding just seemed to make sense in light of it all. It felt right. And appropriate. And well-timed.

Except, I miss it. I miss it with every ounce of my person. I miss those quiet moments spent holding my child. I miss being able to comfort her so readily. I miss the connection I felt with that little person in a capacity that no one else shared. I miss her dependency. I miss her contented, milky smiles and the sweetness with which she would hold my hand. I miss it. Everything about it.

And oh boy, did all of those feelings that I had so buried in the chaos of planning this next stage of our lives reel their ugly heads this weekend. After rocking Addison back to sleep after a fitful 2am upset from teething, I cradled that sweet, sleepy babe and realized that moments such as that were so rare and precious in this current stage of her development. And that moments like that were far more frequent when I was still nursing. I came back into our bedroom, crawled under the covers, and just SOBBED it out. I’m talking snotty, wailing, HEAVE-crying. It was one of those moments where words were fruitless. James just quietly rubbed my back and let me mourn the passing of time.

I’m certain that there will be many more ugly-cries in my near future as I continue to say goodbye and move forward. And sadly, now that the babe is off the boob, I can’t just idly blame my jacked up hormones. Damn it.

But putting it to words at least helps with the grieving. And it gives me one more thing to cross off my list.

Blogging it out? CHECK!

9 Months.


Mommy’s pretty sure that she is creating a monster by her constant and uncontrollable usage of this nickname, BUT I CAN’T HELP MYSELF. You are my little princess. When you were just a blob of an infant, BUG! was the only phrase that came to my lips when referencing your little bitty person, but now that you are mobile, and engaging, and PULLING UP, as in, TO STANDING and waving at your mommy with a mouthful (read: FOUR) teefers, PRINCESS is the new, more appropriate descriptor. You are our princess in every sense of the word. Mommy and Daddy are OBSESSED with you. Not in a creepy, stalker sense. Okay, maybe, just a little. We just can’t get enough of you. Everything is a joy. From finding you babbling in your crib, sitting up and playing with your stuffed animals in the morning, to watching you joyously shovel Cheerios in your mouth and then ever-so-generously offer them to your appreciative puppy, to witnessing your crazy army crawl to seek out any and all electrical wires that are just SO DAMN EXCITING (screw those child approved toys), to your cackle of delight as you hurl yourself off the edge of the bed into daddy’s arms, to when you stand at the edge of the bathtub, completely nude, beaming with anticipation as the water fills the tub for your nightly bath, to when we finally lay you down at night and you curl up like a stink bug with your cow-spotted blankie and just hum your way to sleep. Sure, you yell in a capacity that sometimes shatters glass. And there are days when you have ZERO interest in napping because the world is just too thrilling a place to waste a moment on slumber. And sometimes you will pull mommy’s hair, or cry uncontrollably if NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION TO ME, damnit. But that is just part of what makes you, you. You are a hoot. In the words of my great-grandmother, who would use this phrase to turn even my Uncle’s devious, rebellious behavior into a positive for my long-suffering grandmother.

Oh I do love a child with spunk!

It’s a very strange thing to mark your 9-month birthday. To think that you have been in the world for as long as you lived inside my belly is a very wild thing indeed. There are times where pregnancy seems like a lifetime ago, and other moments when it feels like just yesterday, Daddy and I were seeing you for the first time as a bitty little peanut on a sonogram screen and dreaming about the little person who was about to change our lives forever. And you have. And you are going through your first big life change as we move across the country. I have become ever-so-attached to this house because it is the home where we became a family. It is the home where we made you a part of our lives. I am having a really difficult time thinking about moving away from your nursery, that delicious room of cow-spotted joy and pregnancy-nesting-compulsion. It was such a total thrill to put together your room and prepare for your arrival, and it has been an even greater thrill to watch you inhabit the space and make it your own. Your attachment to that adorable cow-quilt is one of my favorite developments from this past month.

While I have been in a glass cage of emotion, I know that wherever we live it will feel like home because we will all be together. And I cannot wait to have you spend more time with all of your crazy, wonderful uncles, and aunt, and your Momar, Doda, Ghillie, Ranger and GREAT-grandparents. Because that’s what life is all about, the people.

You’ve helped remind Daddy and me of that. So thank you, Princess. And Happy 9 Months!

143 Mama

Circle Scarf

The circle scarf has been the IT fashion accessory this winter season, offering tons of tubular styling options. Gone round and round about whether or not to drop dollars on essentially a scrap of cotton fabric? It couldn’t be more simple (or inexpensive) to make your own circle scarf out of an over-sized men’s T-shirt. Grab a pair of scissors and go loopy!

XXL Men’s T-shirt (with NO side seams)
Pair of scissors

1. Find a super soft, super big XXL men’s T-shirt with NO seams along the sides.
2. Fold the T-shirt in half length-wise to help you cut out your scarf.
3. First, cut a straight line along the bottom hem.
4. Then, cut a straight line just under the armpits of the T-shift (see diagram below).
5. Finally, experiment to your heart’s content with this versatile fashion accessory.

Truly, it’s that simple. No need for loopholes, well, except the one that you’re making.

Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Weeks Cart

Happy President’s Day because nothing pays homage to our forefathers better than a pink party dress

Today was President’s Day. Which meant that the average American worker got the liberty of staying at home, in stretch pants, gorging himself on junk food and American pride. Sadly, James is not the average American worker and his commie company had him in the office at 8am. Nonetheless, I held it down with some breakfast burritos and our lovely out-of-town guests in his stead. Nothing pays homage to our forefathers better than greasy Mexican food and a PINK PARTY DRESS! (see below) I dolled Sunny up in this here ensemble because, well, frankly, in 4 months when it is SUPPOSED to fit her, it won’t. And Williamstown may or may not still be a thick tundra of snow. In May. So I figured that we should make the most of it in today’s 75 degrees of perfection. On a HOLIDAY no less.

Have I mentioned I’m never leaving Southern California? Oh yeah, because I’m not. I was on the phone with the dog shipping company this afternoon (guess they are commie bastards too, eh?) and the woman was all, So you need the dog to travel next week? and I’m all, UM NO! That’s crazy talk! and she’s all, Ma’am, you do realize that NEXT week is the 25th of February, the day you said that your movers were scheduled? and I’m all, FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

Yep, that pretty much sums things up. That and the fact that I have the cutest baby on planet Earth. Objectively speaking of course.

My smooth criminal

For Christmas, two of Addison’s uncles gifted us with a speaker system to allow for a more advanced audio experience in our household. This has turned out to be a HUGE hit chez Cart. We just plug our iPhones in, turn on Pandora, and voila! musical variety abounds.

I adore seeing  Sunny respond and react to music, just further proof that music really is such an innate human passion. They’ll be times when the iPhone stops to ring in a call, and the Bug will stop in her tracks, and glare grumpily at me all, UM EXCUSE ME! I was bouncing, here! Or in the car, if I forget to turn on the radio, she will squeak and squawk until the instrumentation hits her ear drums. And let me just say that Darlingside‘s single, Surround, has a 10-0 success rate in quieting her baby fury when she is SICK OF RIDING IN HER CAR SEAT! DAMN IT! Boys, you have your biggest fan in the littlest body.

Today, we were in the mood to do a little danSing, so I threw on some MJ, because, obviously. Who but the King of Pop to kick off our Friday morning?! Plus, I am doing my duty as a kid of the 80s to keep his legacy alive in a generation that will grow up sans his influence. She’s already mastered the moves to Thriller. HELLO! Far more important than crawling. And sometimes we wear just one glove on our baby hand, not because we’ve “misplaced” the other one in the throes of toys and stuffed animals and packing mayhem, but because it’s important to practice, learn, and experiment with such former fashion trends. Also, because when we get to Massachusetts, gloves won’t be just a fashion statement but a requirement, so best to play around now before that bare hand is threatened with frostbite.

Anyway, Smooth Criminal hit the airwaves, and Addison went B-A-N-A-N-A-S in her bouncer. She’s been getting a tad hefty for that sucker for some time, but today I thought that she might very well launch herself out of its primary-colored embrace. The joy with which she grooved to MJ was nothing short of hysterical so here is a brief video of the action.

Please note that I am behind the camera danSing furiously in my underwear and one of James’ ratty undershirts. Barefoot. Unshowered. And it’s 12pm. Because life in LA LA and as a WAHM is nothing short of perfection when there are no standards for cleanliness or professionalism.

How am I ever going to adjust to life working out, ya know, among people and society? Shit. I did not think this through.

James, you are one lucky tainthead (a term he so endearingly called me yesterday while we discussed the logistics of the move and “our” TO DO list which was really his HONEY-DO list). You’re going to get to experience all the magic of danSing in your undies at noon on a Friday with your baby. Okay, maybe not your “undies” but, you know. I couldn’t be more jealous, or more thrilled, for you. I just wish that everyone experiences this level of pure joy at one point in their lives.

Soaking it all up.

You know you live in So’Cal when…

Your near 9-month old baby practices yoga, on a daily basis. Child’s pose? Check! That one where you lie on your back and hold your feet and rock from side to side? Check! Downward facing dog? A favorite. See below:

Similarly, James has been demonstrating a maddening fitness affinity. This is a a man, mind you, who gained weight right along with me during 9-months of pregnancy. I’m talking, a man who would “take one for the team” and when I was in the mood to consume four separate pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in one sitting would do so in kind. Such a thoughtful partner that he did not want his wife to be the only creature resembling a great white whale in the household (if you’ve looked at the birth photography photos, YOU KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT, chubba-chubba-chunks). This is a little thing called sympathetic pregnancy, and sympathetic he was. 40 lbs of sympathetic.  I thought that perhaps, for the first time in the history of EVER, I might lose the weight faster than him because I, ya know, pushed out 9 lbs of baby and a lot of other stuff, and then had the advantage of breastfeeding which gave me a negative 500 calorie advantage per day. Damn the speedy male metabolism! James went on nay 1 lazy jog and curbed his sugar eating habits, and BOOM! that 40lbs was gone in 2 weeks. WTF?! Meanwhile, here I am, 9 months later, down close to 50 lbs but with an abdominal area that reminds me of The Smooze (throw-back 80s reference to My Little Ponies, WHO IS ON IT?!).

Then James had to really drive home the point by declaring two and a half weeks ago that he was going to run a half marathon, yeah, in two and a half weeks. At the point of announcement, he had done ZERO training. I’m talking maybe one 4-mile run per week, and if ambitious, a hike with the baby strapped to his back. I mean, I know she is close to 20 pounds, but that does not constitute training for a marathon, even a half So I laughed, and said sure sure, and waited for some sign of effort or training to go into effect. A couple more runs were had, but again, meager. On Saturday night, I noted that James consumed a hefty bowl of carbonara, i.e. pasta, and bacon, and cheese, and cream, and egg (read: HEART ATTACK IN A BOWL) and not exactly the carbo-loading a fitness-buff might recommend. So when Sunday morning rolled around, I assumed that that silly little 13-miles would remain merely an ambition. But no. The alarm went off at 5am. James stumbled out of bed. Rolled up to Pasadena. And what did that crazy asshole do? He ran 13 miles, THE ENTIRE 13 MILES, and returned home, WALKING! As in functional! As in not a cripple tied to a wheel chair as one would assume when one DOES NOT TRAIN PROPERLY FOR A MARATHON! Motherfucker. He ran it with two of his bosses (who I might add HAD BEEN TRAINING FOR THE PAST TWO MONTHS) both of whom are limping and moaning and groaning in soreness and pain two day later. Not James, no, he’s all, I could’ve had a faster time, but I held back to hang with Bossman. I totally could’ve kept going too. I think I should do a full this summer.

I find this so incredibly maddening because I never, ever, EVER could accomplish such a feat with such little planning or effort. It would take me the full training schedule, and even then, I would be lucky to even finish with all appendages intact. I thought that James might “learn a lesson” or something from this nonsense about how we all can’t just be naturally fit and gifted, that something like this takes proper training, BUT BALLS! FOILED AGAIN!

Now I’m going to go drown my disappointment in a bowl of chocolate chips (yes, because I am too lazy to make the cookies), and maybe a plate of nachos, because I AM SO READY FOR LIFE IN NEW ENGLAND.

Damn you fit Angelenos. Damn you.