Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wait a minute. I have to buy her a wardrobe?!!

The weather has changed and so has Amelia. She turns one on Friday, but her clothes are not turning one with her. I've just realized all those cute outfits so many generous people gave her at birth are all gone. Plus, the girl is tall, so we are going into the 18 months size. Add to all that, the fact that she is going to walk by the winter time, so she needs shoes and a coat. And guess what, I have to foot the bill.

I love shopping for her. There is so much out there for girls but I feel like I'm under the gun. Amelia needs all the basics and then some. If you have ever been to Chicago in the winter, and for your own good I hope you never have too, you know she will need layer upon layers of clothing. I'm facing this clothing nightmare as I worry about the state of the economy (i.e. how are we going to afford life after the debacle in Wall Street).

So now I feel like those people who get all the help once the hurricaine hits but a year later, they still have no home and the help is gone. Or when a loved one dies and everyone calls all the time but the calls end after a couple of months. As you can see, I like to exaggerate to prove a point. I don't need help. I can thankfully afford her clothing, but the task is daunting.

But like every day of this past year, I've learned something from this marternal experience. The next time my friends are pregnant, I will wait until the baby is one to give them a gift. A certificate at a store so they can buy the kid a wardrobe after the first birhtday.

Lesson learned now I have to go shopping. Ay Mama!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Crack is whacked

Low rise jeans should be banned forever. Not only for mothers but for women of every age, every race, every body type, everywhere in the world. I've championed this cause even before I thought about getting pregnant.  Women have been showing the ugliest part of our "tush" for almost a decade now (I exaggerate to prove my point) and that has to stop. I don't care how hot you are, showing your crack is whacked.

I have thrown money at the problem. I've been to Jean shops in NYC and Chicago where the denim experts were trained to solve my jeans problems.  They would always bring me the least low rise pair of the bunch.  I would sit on a chair in the dressing room (litmus test for the jeans) and my crack would stare right back at me. 

The last straw happened a couple of weeks ago, at my friend Lisa's birthday party. I sat down on the floor to change Amelia's diaper.  By the way, changing an eleven month old baby's diaper is like trying to subdue an unruly inmate high on cocaine. (I've seen it on TV)  She throws her body all over the place and takes off crawling with her bare butt exposed. She has no problem showing crack yet. Changing trays at public bathrooms have become dangerous. But I digress...

So there I am in my least low rise pair, with the obligatory long top to cover up and even so, Lisa's eleven year old cousin had to discretely tell me "you might want to pull your shirt down." Lord knows how long the party goers were getting a nice look at the ugliest part of my lower back. 

My husband had rushed into action a week before to cover me up at a coworker's party as I knelt down to pick up the baby.  Enough is enough!

So I went to GAP and tried on their mid rise Classic and Essential jeans.  High rise seems to be a curse word in the fashion world.  Natural waist is a term only to be found on the L.L. Bean or Land's End catalogs.  So I tried the Gap pairs and looked at my butt in the mirror. There it was the very matronly, shapeless, scary Mommy Jean.  If you don't know what they are, look some clips up on you tube.  I learned about the term on an Saturday Night Live skit.

I asked a sales associate and he came through for me.
Me: "Do these look like Mommy Jeans"
Him: "Yes, a little."

Say no more.  So I've ordered an expensive pair on line that actually say High Rise. Let's hope they are truly for all "Mankind" as the label suggests. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or if you've found a solution of your own, help a sister out. My butt and I and probably my embarrassed little girl will thank you. Ay Mama!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"She's got earring's" and other cultural shocks

As soon as the pediatrician gave the go ahead, Amelia got her ears pierced. She already had five pairs of earrings waiting to beautify her earlobes.  This is a common practice in my culture. In Puerto Rico, depending on your gender,  you either get circumcised or your ears pierced when you are born. But I never thought I would get so many comments on Amelia's earrings.

"Oh, she has earrings!"  "A baby with earrings. How cute".  They really mean how strange because it seems in the Anglo Saxon U.S.A., this is a very strange thing.  Mothers of older girls really hate it because their daughter usually ask why Amelia has her ears pierced and they don't. I'm sure they've already explained to them that Amelia's Mom is from another country where they don't mind causing pain to babies' earlobes. 

The cultural differences are even more emphasized because I married into a nice, midwestern Jewish family.  I was born and raised in Puerto Rico so my references to baby rearing and accessorizing go back to my island. 

For example, Amelia has been wearing a bow on her hair (or wisp of hair) since I could clip it on her. Now she likes to eat them hence no more bows.  Thank God she has earrings or she would look like a boy. She wears dresses with bows and ribbons on them, sent from PR and usually made in Colombia or Peru. The bow on her hair have to match the dress. 

My husband's family was fine with the earrings and loves the dresses. I have a in law cousin who loves bows.  The one thing that freaks them is the white linen outfits. Puerto Rico has a warm climate, so babies often wear white linen outfits that make them look like members of the Spanish monarchy. (We were a Spanish colony before being a US colony).

Every time my husband's family sees Amelia in a picture with a white linen outfit, they ask if we have christened her. Yep. That big elephant in the room we don't discuss with either side.  Amelia hasn't be christened or named at Temple. But it seems one side of the family is under the impression that when we fly over the Atlantic, all bets are off, and the Catholics win. 

Now that the kid is bigger she doesn't fit in the linen gowns, so the question is off the table, for now. Or so I think because I hear my husband still giving the same answer since Amelia was born and I've been in charge of her fashion sense. "It's a Puerto Rican thing".  That's why I love the man.  He always has the right answers. Ay Mama! 

The flying slipper

I just wanted to get a manicure and an eyebrow wax.  I had made my appointment late enough so my husband could have his appointment at 11AM.  I kept the baby all morning, through her lack of napping, went out to lunch with her, my girlfriend Sandra and her 2 daughters.  And made it back with plenty of time to take a shower and go get my stuff done.

But my lovely husband did not show up until a quarter to two.  My appointment was at 2:30 and Amelia would not go to sleep so I could take a shower. I put her in her crib, let her cry her butt off and showered.  By the time he showed up, I had 15 minutes to get to my appointment.  I was going to be 15 minutes late. A no, no for a manicurist who is booked solid on a Saturday. 

So I couldn't get my manicure or my eyebrows waxed. I called my spouse and sternly let him know what had happened. He's a sharp guy so he could tell what I meant was "you left me at 10:00 AM for an appointment at 11. Ran errands, bought yourself a nice salad and pranced home 30 minutes before my appointment".

Needless to say, when I came home, Steve was avoiding eye contact for his own good. And that leads to the title of this blog.  While I was blow drying my hair, I started a conversation with him, but he would answer while moving all over the room and staying as far away as possible.  When I asked about his behavior he said "I'm staying in constant motion so I can avoid getting your heel up my butt".  

In my English as a second language mentality I answered "but I'm not wearing heels". And then the Puerto Rican in me kicked in. "What you should be afraid of is the flying "chancla". Loosely translated "chancla" is a house shoe or slipper, a Puerto Rican mother's weapon of choice.  That thing is stealth like and has a boomerang effect. It finds the target, does the damage and returns to it's master.  

My mother used it to break fights between my brother and I. I swear that she would rub it against us while we slept so that the "chancla" could recognize our scent and never miss.  No matter how fast my brother and I ran, the "chancla" would get us. 

I'm not advocating violence against your husband and/or your children.  Most Puerto Rican mom's I know use it out of desperation and trust me, it doesn't even hurt.  It's more of a statement of discipline than an actual act of violence. But it's never a bad thing to have your kids or your husband under that threat.  That way the "chancla" will never leave your foot but only you will know that. Ay Mama.


Friday, September 12, 2008

He's going to hit us

It happened like the insurance commercials say it does. In slow motion, I saw how the cab was going to hit us.  I even said it out loud: "he's going to hit us". And he did, hard. Typical rear end accident on a Chicago rainy day.  It could have been a commercial. It happened on the emblematic Michigan Avenue. 

I saw Amelia's scared face on impact. Arms up as if being held up, followed by that fearful cry that can tear your heart apart. I get out of my SUV and check on her. She looks fine. Safe in that car seat that Steve researched his ass off about before getting. How lucky am I to have Mr. Consumer Reports for a husband? 

Then I confront the cab driver.  My CRV, which I bought from a sales guy that almost guaranteed that this thing could tell when I was going to have an accident and save my family's life, was almost intact. The cab's grill was on the ground.  The cab driver's first words: "F&^%!"  The curse word most used  by those of use who have English as a second language.  I answered: "Yeah". 

It was a stupid fender bender but I was shaken.  When something like this happens and your child is with you, you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.  I took her out of the car seat while two very helpful Chicago cops got the cab driver's info for me.

Then we went to the nearest station to file a report.  That's when the funny thing happened.  There I am trying to get a scared and screaming Amelia into her stroller.  Another very nice Chicago cop is letting me invade his parking spot with all my stuff.  I told him about my fender bender and he realizes who I am.  Tells me it will be a matter of just filing a report. No biggie; just a hassel. He looks at the baby and tells me how he can't believe she's so big already. Blah, blah, blah.

As I thank him profusely for letting me take my time and I'm ready to rush into the station, he asks me for a favor. He gives me his address so I can mail him a publicity picture for his daughter and him. I said sure, but he continues his monologue under the rain about how he knows how to say my name and how his daughter doesn't. And how she calls me Ana Banana but he knows it's Ana Belaval.  It's raining on Amelia and I. He's nice and dry in his cop car. Funny, right.

Anyway, Amelia was so happy at the station, she was even laughing with the guy that hit us. She's fine, I'm fine and now, I'm having some wine. Ay Mama! Oh, and the picture will be in the mail by Monday.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You will never go alone

Remember how you used to cherish your 2-5 minutes alone in the bathroom while your 0-6 month old just stayed in place in the living room. Well, kiss that good bye when the kid goes mobile. You know that saying, (probably a quote from the Bible I should know about since I went to Catholic school for 12 years) "you will never walk alone", well there should be one for mothers that says "you will never go alone".

I don't want to get graphic, but I really needed to go today and since Amelia follows me everywhere, there she was about to play with the waste basket in the bathroom. Until she realized I had a magazine (now, I think that paints the picture just fine). Well, my adorable, paper obsessed, future magazine editor cannot resist that glossy material and she climbed my naked half to grab the pages. 

It was a ridiculous scene, but I literally had to go with it.  I don't know about you, but I usually have to concentrate to go, not anymore my friends.  I think at this point I could go anywhere, surrounded by everyone.  I exaggerate but you get the idea.

Now I understand why my mother would send us kicking and screaming to ride the horse with my Dad every Saturday. She would stay home, walk around in her underwear and blast the Julio Iglesias record while she organized her closet.  I sacrifice my  mother's privacy to let you know that once you have a child, you will have to send them away to feel like you can have time for yourself.

I can't wait until Amelia starts calling me Mama and talking, but maybe I can wait, since I don't know how well I will handle going to the bathroom while having a conversation with her. Ay Mama!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

She looks just like her dad!

I love my husband. He is one handsome dude but after nine months of carrying our child, I have to admit I wanted the baby to look like me. Not a chance. Even in the 3 d sonogram I could see the girl was taking after her Daddy. "No problem", I thought. Steve has beautiful blue eyes and, in my culture (or at least in my family), one of the benefits of marrying "un americano" is the possibility of having a blond and blue eyed member of your family.

But after 14 hours of labor I gave birth to my father in law. That is who Amelia looked like as a new born. She even frowned like him. Again, my father in law is a very handsome man, but after all that pain, all that labor, the kid should have been my spitting image. How ungrateful can nature be?

What made it worse is that everyone who visits the new mom tells her about it. "Oh my God Ana, she looks just like Steve". Strangers would look at the two of us by ourselves and wonder if she was mine, until her Dad arrived. My mother, who knew what a hormonal mess I was at the beginning even called Amelia "little Howard", my father in law's name.

A word to the wise, even if the Mom is not a hormonal mess who can't sit down to feed her own baby, keep those comments to yourself. Tell her the baby is beautiful. And if she asks who does he/she looks like: LIE! Just say, "it's too early too tell" or the always safe "she's a combination of the both of you".

Those first six weeks of post labor hell, I kept looking at Amelia wondering when would I see anything that would resemble me. My best friend from home came to see us for Thanksgiving and saw a picture of me as a newborn, lying on my side. She could tell I was a little hurt by the fact that the baby looked nothing like me. She was nice enough to look at the picture and say that Amelia had my ears. That is a true friend.

Two months after she was born, Amelia smiled. And there they were: MY DIMPLES! Yes, she is my child. Those 2 indentations on her cheeks were all mine. And that's all I needed.

At 11 months, she still looks more like Steve, but I like to think that my personality is coming through. She is loud, friendly, loves the mirror, loves to laugh and smiles all the time. My parents say I wasn't even that sweet and funny as a baby--but I, in my revisionist history, say I was. Come to think of it and in all honesty, my brother was the friendly baby. Ay, Mama!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wine will get you through it

I'm sitting in my new balcony, overlooking Lake Michigan.  Humid yet gorgeous summer evening. A rare treat in the windy city.  I'm having a glass of wine, breathing in the sights.  Not really... 
I'M ESCAPING!! Hiding, if you will. From my almost 11 month old bedtime tantrum.  

I know it sounds horrible. I'm drinking wine by myself and I have left my husband peeling and deveining shrimp, while he listens to our wonderful screaming soundtrack of the last 11 months. As I've said, we have moved, so the first couple of days the sleepless nights had to do with the change of location. Now, three wonderful teeth are coming in.  Yes, nature is cruel to her and her parents.  But also, my child doesn't like to go to sleep. Has never liked it.  I think we have had 2 months where she actually falls asleep without screaming her ass off for a half hour. Then, as if a switch has been turned off, she's knocked out, hopefully for the night.

I know I'm not alone.  I come from a family of babies who slept a lot less than Amelia.  And that's when you need that family support.  Let me tell you about my cousin Vanessa. She has three beautiful children that she stayed home to raise. She has belonged to the Junior League, her local Ballet Board and thanks to her dedication to all the schoolwork, teenage drama and extracurricular crap, her kids have flourished.

But before you hate her or throw up, my cousin Vanessa has complained every step of the way.  The woman keeps it real. She adores her kids but she has no qualms telling you motherhood is hard as all hell. She is my kick ass older sister when it comes to motherhood.

Case in point: she came to visit with her youngest daughter.  She stayed with us so she had to be a part of the evening screams. I was embarrassed and ready to go get the baby out of the crib  so my guests wouldn't go back to Florida and tell the rest of my family what a horrible mother I was.  Well, Vane said "Serve yourself some wine and this too shall pass".  Words of wisdom, I know.

Before you call the Department of Family Services on us, we don't mean hit the bottle every night until the kid goes to college.  Just do what you need to do to survive. Some friends of mine take a shower to drown out the crying. Some experts recommend that actually. Some of my friends just rock the kid to sleep until they get over this phase.

I pour myself a glass of wine and wait the half hour I know it might take her to cry it out. I also sing to myself, walk around the house and stare at the video monitor hoping that telepathically I can send some ZZZs over to that baby. Ay Mama!