Music Wednesday: Merry Christmas you bastards!

Yeah, ok, so I didn't quite manage to write this post for Sunday or Monday as promised, but such is my flakyness. Regardless, it's here now, with your requests as well as my own favourites.

May @Problem Uterus suggested Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and Barenaked Ladies' "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen":

I don't care what anyone says, Christmas isn't Christmas without a little Bing.

Little Drummer Boy
(with David Bowie)

White Christmas

My new sister in Mid-Atlantic statedom, Cali, wanted Happy Christmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon (I'm assuming, rather than the Celine version) and "Christmas Time is Here" from A Charlie Brown Christmas:

Since we don't get that 1964 jem "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in the UK, I must rely on YouTube for my annual fix. Hurray for "Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Silver and Gold":

Eliza's Mom, always the musical brainiac has suggested The Killers' "Don't Shoot Me Santa", and yes, EM, they are wearing some pretty vile/fabulous Christmas sweaters! Her other recommendation, because she pretty much rocks, is Porn Orchard's "Christmas Sucks":

And because I'm a big old dirty hippie who loves folk music, here is Kate Rusby's version of "Here We Come a Wassailing":

I could go on and on, because despite my gruff, cynical exterior, I love Christmas and all its pageantry, with Christmas music ranking right up there in my all-time list of favourite things. I won't project my holiday love any more, except to leave you with what is obviously the best contemporary Christmas song I know, and Major Bedhead and Molly agree with me - "Fairytale of New York", by the late, great Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues. Cover versions follow, just for fun:

Billy Bragg and Florence and the Machine

Paloma Faith ft Scouting for Girls

KT Tunstall ft Ed Harcourt

Martha Wainwright & Ed Harcourt

Happy Holidays to you all!


Not so musical Monday

At 10pm I sat down for the first time since I got home at 5.30pm. I did manage to eat dinner in that time, a rather delicious Katsu curry I started making as soon as I got in. Regretfully, my dinner consumption usually takes about 40 minutes and involves minimal sitting. Instead it's grabbing a bite here and there when not being moaned at by the Tiny Dictator that her belly is rumbling, but somehow it knows it's not hungry for dinner but sweets. Arguments ensue, I'm told that I'm not very nice and have thus lost the friendship of my only daughter for being so bold as to ask her to eat her dinner.

After preparation of two lunches (tuna sandwich for me, homemade cheesy pasta with tuna for her), two lots of dish washing later with a quick tidy of the kitchen, and it's 10pm. The Dude was insistent that I should go to bed and watch an episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" with him, but who wants to go from work - kitchen - bed - work with no proper relaxing in between? Now he is relegated to the bedroom and I get to cosy up with the laptop and a new (to us poor UK residents anyway) episode of SVU. I'll go to bed at 11pm anyway, but somehow that extra hour of alone time will hopefully be enough so I don't wake up tomorrow with a major case of the post-Mondays.

This is such a stupid Mommy blogger thing to say, but fuck it - what do you do to not feel as if your life is just one endless cycle of things that wear you out? I just cannot physically find the time to do things I need to do - Christmas cards for example. When? I suppose I could take a few hours one night and work on them, but at the risk that everything else would fall behind. I bring work home with me most nights, but I rarely get a chance to sit down and do it. Dinners and lunches need made, kitchens need to be cleaned, dishes need done, toys need to be picked up.

Somehow I don't feel stressed out with the hectic nature of the moment, I'm just tired. I can't believe I used to have time to sit down and write here two or three times a week, let alone reading what other people are writing. I can't work out what was different then, as I have the same job, same kid, same husband doing the same job. When are things not like this anymore? Retirement? Jesus...

Jumping subjects entirely, I'll be doing a Music Monday next week (21st) featuring holiday music. I have some ideas of my own, but want some other recommendations. What songs put you in the holiday mood? Email me before next Sunday, barrenalbion at gmail dot com, or leave a comment here.

I'm going to go put my favourite Christmas sweater on and brainstorm.


Vignettes of a trip abroad

The jig is up. I haven't blogged in fifty years, so if you are unfortunate enough to remember who I am, you probably don't even remember my allusions to a secret. The secret is, I flew to the US a couple of weeks ago for a real, live job interview. I *still* haven't heard whether I got the damn thing or not, though I suspect much like the magic period that turns up right when I waste urine and a tenner on a pregnancy test, I'll get an email right after I hit publish. Before you ask - I have no idea how I did. I am confident in how I presented myself in the four hours of various kinds of interviews I've had with my hopeful employers-to-be at anonymous university outside Philly, but you can never predict such outcomes, can you?

I was only in the States for a few days, but sans The Baggage, I managed to squeeze more into that period than I usually do in a month-long trip. I have a cluster of trip tidbits that I wanted to mention, so I'll just dispense of proper grammar and paragraph structure and just list things numerically. I may have disappeared from blogging for a bit, but worry not, my laziness remains intact.

1) On the flight to the States, I watched three films - The Time Traveller's Wife, The Ugly Truth, and a third which I have just now forgotten. Regardless, I have a lesson for you. If you have just left your family for the first time ever having only been away from your child for a maximum of 9 hours, DO NOT watch The Time Traveller's Wife. If you do, you will sit snivelling like an idiot, wiping your nose on the airline-provided blanket, ignoring the sidewards glances of the guy seated on the other side of the aisle, with your finger hovering over the "stop" button in case it all gets to be too much. I read the book and know it's a bit draining, so how I managed to not transfer this knowledge to my film decision making, I don't know.

2) The night I arrived I met the wonderful, glorious, hospitable, gorgeous Tash. I've neglected to meet up with her on past trips, and though we did not get to an XPN event, I greatly enjoyed the limited time I spent with her. I'm still paranoid that she probably felt I was way too comfortable, as I pretty much helped myself to her computer, drank her tea, and got all cosy in her kitchen. The lovely woman pretended I wasn't the rudest person in the world, and in my defense jet lag messes with my head a bit. My sense of tact which is always present starts to dissipate in fairly large increments once I've been awake for more than 18 hours. Tash's house is quite possibly, nay, IS, the most beautiful residence I have ever set foot in. I offered to move in straight away, and Tash gracefully deflected the offer and moved on to another matter quite quickly. We even hugged before I left, and let me tell you, I'm not much of a hugger so that Tash is one lucky broad.

3) My Kindle, which does not have 3G access when in the UK, enabled me to sit at lunch the next day and download books. It will take me years to get over the marvel of being able to sit on your toilet (if you so desire), order a book, and start reading it 30 seconds later. Unfortunately for constructiveness and my marriage, I downloaded Dragonfly in Amber. I've gushed about this series (Outlander) before, and just like the first book, I cannot.get.enough. I don't know what it is, because some of it is hokey as hell and the sex scenes just make me laugh, but they are so addictive. That, and I desperately want to have lots of The Sex with Jamie. It's weird to lust after a fictional literary character. I spend way too much time brainstorming about who would best suit Jamie in a film version, then pleading desperately with fate to actually make a film version. I don't think I'd be able to watch it, lest I suffer from some sort of death by rapid orgasm and expire in a public movie theater.

4) American rest stops. I love them. I don't know what it is, and maybe I've been away too long so as to find such ordinariness compelling, but I could sit in one for hours. I stopped in a wee one on the PA Turnpike to get a coffee, and my eyes couldn't dart around quick enough to take all the American goodness in. I think it's just such a symbol of Americana, with so many different types of people moving in and out with such rapidity. There's something so old school and mid-20th century about it.

5) I met someone else on my trip - see, I told you I was industrious! Guess who? She lives out Philly way, sassy as hell, and has been a blogging friend of mine since her first infertility blog when she called herself "Holly". It's STATIA! Let me just say, I'm the first one to admit that my real self is not nearly as outgoing and bold as my blog self, but Statia is the real deal. Blog Statia is real Statia. Bitch. We met for coffee in a great little coffeeshop round her way, and she even paid for my drink. She's a classy broad, that one. The best part is, even though I was dressed like a common post-interview streetwalker, she didn't even ask to cop a feel before she bought my drink. So well-mannered. Much like my time with Tash, my visit with Statia was hours upon hours too short, but we crammed in a lot of talking into not much time. I'm endlessly pleased that I bothered to fit her in this time, even if it was mainly to shut her up about my apparent constant dissing of her when Stateside. I loved that we were able to keep the antagonistic banter up in real life, as if we'd known each other for years. Oh wait. We have.

I'm sure there is more to my trip that would involve tales of my Mom's alleged ghost, by which I mean one which haunts my Mom's house, not the ghost of my still-alive Mom (who is here in the UK as we speak), Aunt Florence's recent begging episode, my mental insistence that if I get this job I should reward myself with a slew of art, and my annoyance with my home city that it is now cool - despite not being remotely so when I actually lived there.

My goal in life now is not to get this job, but rather to read some goddamned blogs. I miss blog-reading, but my life in the past six months has been entirely composed of visa paperwork, job searching, job applications, resume and cover letter modification, email correspondence with job folk, child rearing, home maintenance, work stuff, and a touch of animal husbandry. I can't wait until I have a series of evenings in which I can sit on my ass and read blogs. It would be like a dream come true.


Music Monday: In with the new

It's been awhile since I've gotten my shit together enough to do this. I regularly send myself emails with band names and song titles in the hopes that one day I'll put it all together for an MM post. Hey - what do you know...today is that day!

Choir of Young Believers: Next Summer

Raul Malo: Every Little Thing About You

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros: Home

Fanfarlo: The Walls are Coming Down

Imogen Heap: First Train Home

Editors: No Sound But the Wind
(this one is for you Rachel!)
-Also, has anyone seen how friggin' good the New Moon OST is? Damn.


Florence & the Machine: Raise it Up

Ellie Goulding: Under the Sheets

I hope that keeps you busy for awhile. Check some of these out, even if you usually skim by my MM posts. There's some good stuff in there!

Next post - the news? Who knows? Not I...


You've got a ... friend?

Here it is - I'm a shit friend. I'm a shit friend in real life, and I'm shit in the virtual one. In my head I try, but when it comes right down to it, I'm lazy and far too scatterbrained to maintain the sense of dedication and loyalty that is required in friendship.

I'm sure one or two of you will emerge from the shadows to refute this to spare my feelings, but don't bother. We both know that you've sent me lengthy and important emails that I've either taken a year to respond to, or never bothered to at all. In some cases, you've been worried about me and enquired to others as to my whereabouts, concerned that one of my morose posts has lead to my self-imposed exile from society. The kicker is - I know about this worry and STILL don't take two minutes to let you know that I have not done a swan dive out my third story window. I am that filled with disregard it seems.

Don't worry, it's not the sheltered, hidden nature of the internet that encourages me. I've always been like this. When I was 19 and was going to college in my hometown, one of my best friends who moved away to a college a few states away came back to visit and never called me. I was offended, until she pointed out that I never really responded to her repeated emails, so she didn't bother contacting me. Fair enough. Eventually I made it up to her by emailing regularly, if only for a little while. Ironically, we find ourselves in this same awkward position these days - we're Facebook friends due to our 20 year history, but she ignores every attempt I make at contact. I get it, I've been fired. I've sacked others before, now it's my turn to be on the other side.

My family always trades tales of my complete inability to maintain any type of correspondence relationship. As you may imagine, moving 4000 miles away has not helped matters. I read the emails they send, then when I fail to respond, tell them months later that life was just so hectic, blah blah blah. Yes, my life is a touch busy, but no more so than anyone else's. I work full-time and have a kid. So do millions of other people. Not only do those people manage to do degrees, take tae kwon do, and cook delicious dinners, but they also email their friends every once in awhile in order to maintain long-standing relationships.

I do feel terrible about it all, though apparently not bad enough to modify my behaviour. I go through bouts of talking a big game, pretending that I'm on top of life enough to make more of an effort, but progress is fleeting. It's upsetting enough doing this via emails and phone calls, but I'm also dreadful at sending post as well. Birthday cards? Maybe, and most likely to be a month or so after your actual birthday. Present for the new baby? Ok. It will be for your toddler and not so much a newborn, but I'll get around to it. Eventually.

I do wonder what all of this says about me. In my head, I'm a good person. The Dude is forever telling me that I shouldn't think of other people so much, or be so generous. How these traits co-exist with my complete inability to not be an inconsiderate shithead, I have no idea. I think perhaps it's because it's all theoretical with me. I do feel horribly/fantastically about your difficult/joyous time. It will probably depress/elate me by association, and I'll tell The Dude how very sad/happy I am for you. The glitch, the immense stumbling block of insurmountable adversity, seems to be my ability to tell you that I feel that way. Even if I manage to get that out of me, there will be no ongoing dialogue, because I'll just leave it at that. The intent to do otherwise will be there, but....

I could go on and on with a lengthy list of those I've wronged in this way. I see your names every single time I look at my mounting unread feeds, and I'm sorry. I do wonder what I do to deserve such loyalty, as my inability to comment on your blogs and reply to your emails is not commensurate to your dedication to me. I apologise the use of "dedication", but other than the even scarier cult-like word of "devotion", I can't think of an appropriate, much more mild word.

So, to all of you, mea culpa. I'm not going to pretend things are going to change, because they won't. Well, when I put it like that I sound like a prize asshole, which is perhaps the whole point. Anyway, I am sorry. I would love to be an attentive, ever-thoughtful friend, but I don't think that is how I'll ever be, regardless of how much I want it.

Lest anyone think this reads like a suicide note, particularly bearing in mind my recent hysterical posts, don't worry. This is something that is always on the tip of my fingers waiting to be unleashed. In actuality, some good news has shined on these shores. Possibly. A bit early to say, but all will be evident in the next couple of weeks either way. Regardless of the outcome, you can then send me your usual fabulously supportive messages, and I will then not respond. That's just my way.



I left something out last night in writing my miserablist post, for good reason. I got in my head that I could be pregnant, so I had the added pressure of the test-or-not-to-test situation. Being cynical old me, despite the physical signs which were to the letter echoed in a post by a newly pregnant blogger, I already anticipated a negative.

Life is never to fail in its disappointment, so when I tested this morning, I was met with a rather forceful "Not pregnant" on the pg test screen. Whose bright idea was it to get something which puts my failure into words for me? As if the lack of a second line isn't enough, I need the cruel truth glaring at me in text form.

The three of you who are still following my blogshite will know that this is the only month that we have been trying as such. Can you imagine the luxury and bold taunting of fate which would be involved in a natural conception within the first month of trying? Haha! Clearly one of the side effects of Celexa is delusions.

My issues with a prospective pregnancy are manifold, but the gist is this - failure is the story of my life right now. Can't get a job? Check. Can't reproduce? Check. Can't manage to get your husband a Visa because you are either a fucktard or don't make enough money or possibly a fucktard who doesn't make enough money? Check. I know it's my hypersensitivity talking, but when things are shit, it seems its opposites slap you in the face everyday. Other people are getting jobs in the fields they want; my absolutely clueless manager maintains her job easily, thus depriving me of a position that may actually get me the jobs I'm trying to get; others' fecundity is suddenly very obvious to me again, just like the old days.

I've posted before about how proud I was to have left Infertile Bitter Old Crone territory, but I've found myself swiftly back in there, after ONE MONTH. I guess my departure from the club was only ever going to be temporary. You think you have it bad having to read all of my moaning - pity The Dude. He has to put up with me moping, crying, and being all woe is me day in and day out. Oy.

I've saved another aspect of my immense daily failures for another post - friendships and consideration for other bloggers. That post will feature tumbleweeds rolling by, as the whole point of the post will be how I totally suck at supporting other people, and a byproduct of this failure is that the smart ones aren't bothered with me anymore anyway.

Jesus - THE MISERY. Is 7.45am too early for a non-drinker to start on the hard stuff? Insert your eyerolls here; I sooooo deserve it.



In my brief blogging absence, I've been pondering what to write about. Some good ideas have occasionally popped up, though the stumbling block seems to arise when it comes to actually writing. It's a step that is difficult to skip in blogging. As soon as Google finds away around that, I am so signing up for the Beta.

I still have those ideas rolling about my head, waiting for me to have an evening in which I sit down with the laptop and want to do more than haunting gossip websites. However, I was forced out of hiding by BlogHer, who threatens to do my kneecaps if I go two weeks without posting. I need that extra $25/year, so here I am.

As those I interact with on Twitter will know, this past weekend sucked ever so slightly. I had to call an ambulance for The Dude on Saturday night, Sunday morning P woke up vomiting, and yesterday the American Embassy bent me over a table like I wasn't even one of their own. FYI - apparently having funds more than 10 times the poverty guidelines is not sufficient a financial basis to start over in the US. Now you know.

Strangely enough, I'm more scarred by the Embassy experience (which I wasn't even present for) than The Dude being carted off to the hospital with chest pains. That right there is at least 8 kinds of fucked up. In case you're wondering, The Dude is fine and was fortunate enough to experience esophageal spasms rather than a heart attack. It's all good in the hood now.

I'd like to recount my discussion with the 999 dispatcher for interested parties, as you couldn't make this shit up:

Her: Could I have your postcode please?

Me: Yes, it's SE4 0YU (not really, but let's pretend it is)

Her: Hmm. No address is coming up. Are you sure this is the postcode?

Me: Quite. ::spells it again using NATO phonetic alphabet::

Her: Yes, that's what I'm typing luv. It's not coming up. Are you sure dear??

Me: Very. ::provides AND spells full address::

Her: It's not here luv, at all. Is it a new-build?

Me: No, it's an old building. Not much around here is a new-build.

Her: Luv, there is absolutely no record of this building on our system. At all. Don't take this the wrong way dear, but - go and get a bill and repeat to me the address listed exactly as it is on the bill. Can you do that dear?

Me: ::first checking that The Dude was not yet dead after all this nonsense::
Ma'am, I don't mean to be disrespectful, as I appreciate you're doing your job, but I can assure you that as a literate person residing at this residence for 6 years, I am supremely confident that my address is exactly as I have recounted to you.

Her: Ok then luv. I know you're not trying to be difficult. OH! Here it is! It was in the system wrong! Hur hur! Now, about that ambulance...

How is that for a story to tell the grandkids?

When The Dude rang me from the Embassy to tell me of the fuckery surrounding his Visa, I cried and yelled into the phone. No, really. Bear in mind that his Visa has been approved pending the submission of suitable financial sponsorship, but I have spent hours and hours gathering all of this information for them to look at it for 2 minutes and say it's not sufficient. I was so enraged I couldn't even talk to my Cheese Wife last night, as if just by being American it's her fault the Embassy told me my ass was too broke to sponsor my alien husband. Bastards.

I would like a good rest of the week please - I don't know what that entails, but I'd prefer a lack of ambulances, vomit, and bureaucracy if at all possible.


Small, small world

I must tear myself away from obsessively watching the 12 photo slideshow of my dream house which I discovered on my lunch hour today, so in an effort to divert my attention, I thought I'd talk about small world-ism.

The world is a massive place, stuffed wih billions of people. Yet, in my 31 years I've encountered quite a few small world-isms, and heard some from others which make me feel as if the world's population must be rather overestimated. That, and perhaps the world, like my ass, is flat.

My first run in with small world-ism didn't actually involve me, not directly anyway. My uncle was a cop in downtown D.C., and pulled over a man who made an illegal left turn. Upon inspecting the man's driver's license, my uncle noticed that he was from Harrisburg, PA, hometown of amazing, witty, and charming folk. They got to talking, as it transpires, the illegal turner was our family dentist. Of all the cops in DC, he chose to make a wrong turn in front of my uncle.

The other day, again, on my lunch hour, I had a random look at a work-related email that I would usually delete. A name on a spreadsheet attached to the email caught my eye, as it was a unique one that matched that of a girl with whom I went to high school. I do some grade-A stalker googling, and it turns out, this girl, now presumably a woman, is in fact from my dinky wee high school near the capital of PA. She wandered out of our small town, got her PhD from a university down the road from me here in the UK, and is now registered at my university. It would be weird to meet another Pennsylvanian here, let alone an acquaintance from my own high school.

I've saved the best for last, and as it involves a blogger, you simply must pay attention. Soon after I started blogging, I was waxing unlyrical about my life here in the UK. One of my most very favourite bloggers ever, AmyEsq (Amy or those associated with her, if you read this, please tell me if/where you're blogging now - I've had a brain lapse), commented that she was pretty sure she was familiar with one of my photos, that of a pier. We exchanged some emails on the subject, and as it happens, Amy's husband, a young British guy of surely dazzling intellect, went to university in my UK seaside town. The university I slave for. As a matter of fact, he was a student of my department, with lectures in my building! Tell me, does it get more small world-ish than that?

I'm not trying to increase audience participation, but I would like to know of your small world-isms. That way when I'm at a party and can think of nothing to say, I can label you as "my friend" so that I can recount your tale and others can gasp in astonishment at its wonder.


Music Monday: Running Music II

My brother, kind music-loving soul that he is, recently made me a running CD. It's just as well, as my current one is stale, to say the least. With C's contribution, I'm up to 62 songs.

Ladies, I bring you, "SWD is the WMD". SWD - that's me, that is.

Radiohead: Bodysnatchers

Moby: Extreme Ways (sorry about the shoddy video - all others had been disabled)

Ludacris: Get Back (My current foul-mouthed favourite. Those with sensitive ears and more sensitive sensibilities are best off avoiding this one)

Elbow: Grounds for Divorce

Rage Against the Machine: Guerilla Radio

The Killers: Jenny Was a Friend of Mine

MGMT: Kids

Incubus: Megalomaniac

Lupe Fiasco: Pressure

The Roots: Rising Down

Ben Harper and Relentless 7: Shimmer and Shine

N.E.R.D: Thrasher



For once I am inspired to write, but my energy levels are not complying. It's my ridiculously busy time of year, and today was my first full work day in my office in over two weeks. I've been flitting about, rushing here and there, and once at home doing the same thing until Bossy Boots goes to sleep at 8-8.30pm every night. Wah, wah, wah.

This is a bit of a waste of a post, as it's largely going to consist of me moaning about shit, sorry. I am apparently just about ready to start my period you'll be pleased to know, which means I am in total insane snappy lady mode much to The Dude's immense and all-consuming joy.

My first pet peeve may seem random - mail order brides. Ok, that probably isn't very PC anymore, but I'm sorry, that's what they are. You can call it what you want, it's still buying a woman and trapping her in a life of domesticity and breeding so your nasty old ass can bang some young hot thing. In exchange, she gets to live in England, and...and...something. I am pretty confident that I live in the mail order bride capital of England, as I see mail order brides and their crusty husbands on most days.

I'm sure these women left dreadful lives behind, but they come to the UK and endure endentured servitude for the privilege of residing in the UK. Is it worth it? The Dude's family, acquainted with men who have bought women, see it from a very live and let live perspective. They view it as saving a poor soul who would otherwise be living in a shanty town, occasionally gathering rubbish to trade in for a few cents. Here, they get the glory of living in a council flat with some old bloke who couldn't find a woman to marry without cash exchanging hands. Bliss!

2) Men who grab or scratch their junk in my presence. Dude, I would balk at my husband doing that when we're hanging out at home watching The Office - do not DARE stand in front of my desk and adjust yourself. I do not want to think of your twig and berries at all, and I certainly don't need to be reminded that they sometimes itch or need shifted. For some reason, Middle Eastern students do this all the time and I so want to kick them out of the office. However, at the heart of things I'm just a dainty little mouse and would fear the confrontation. Shame, since I could do with out the junk shaking.

3) Sidewalk hogs. I get that you want to walk alongside your friends, but if someone is trying to run or walk by you, get out the way! Three of you do not need to walk next to each other at all times so that I must pick up my child and walk into the street to bypass you. Also, if I am running toward you, please, just walk single file for a moment so I am again not forced into the street. Not too long ago I shouted at some old dears for not budging an inch when I tried to run by them. Gone was that reserve mentioned in number 2 - it must have been period time then as well. Stupid old cows.

4) The constant assault on working MOTHERS by the media. Working parents are not a problem, just a mother. I know this subject only affects a smattering of you, but I'm blogging about it when I get my brain and energy back, so prepare yourselves. Or as I typed originally, "yourselfs". See what I mean?

5) Loud talkers. Shut the fuck up - no one cares about what you're saying nearly as much as you do. There is a person in a position of power at work who barges in our quiet, constructive office and announces her arrival like she's on some red carpet. Get over yourself.

6) Periods. Harbingers of doom. Signifier of barren wombs and bad attitudes. Cramps. Crying because your husband decides to do us all a favour and go grocery shopping before he collects you from work rather than after when he knows you'll be tired. No, not grateful tears, angry tears because you wanted to pick out your own hummus.

7) The evil age of 3 - P is hilarious, amazing, and clever. However, the tantrums and smart assery of this age, jesus chrysler it's hard work. This kid, after being reprimanded for being dreadful, says things like, "I've had a horrible day because you and Daddy were cross with me" and "I don't like you very much right now Mum, and I don't want to be your friend because you shout at me." We are only cross with her when she deserves it, and I am not a shouter unless she's running onto oncoming traffic. This is not to mention the screaming, dear god, the SCREAMING. Four is good, right? Right?

8) The sun. It's autumn in England (actually, is it officially?) but the sun shines every damn day and it's still 20 degrees Celcius. Every day. You could roast a chicken on a spit in my stupid office and it's insufferable. Unlike my Cheese Wife, I cannot tolerate the sun. I hate the thing. Give me a cloudy and cold day over a sunny hot one any day of the week. Lordy, I am so goth.

Phew. I feel better now. Apologies for the absolute rambling nature of this post. Once my head is back I'll try to do a post good and proper. I think. Maybe.


Girls' Day Out

Due to a school closure, P and I had long-planned today's Girls' Day Out. When originally asked what she wanted from the day, all I got from P was, "I want to do some playing." Really kid? Playing? You don't say! What else do three year olds do but eat, sleep and play?

We crammed a lot into our time; bus rides, the park, lunch, shopping for cheap tat jewellery at Claire's and a bucket of dinosaurs from the toy shop, a viewing of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and a gourmet cupcake purchase for The Dude. She selected one with bright pink frosting, rightly assuming that the colour would please him greatly.

I am utterly, all-consumingly shattered right now, but high on the fact that I have a daughter I can do these things with. I'm not much of a girly-girl, ok, other than my fancy shoe and Johnny Depp fixation I'm really not at all a girly-girl, but I love visions of lunching and shopping with P - two girls out on the town.

I am rather sentimental about it all at the moment anyway, so pardon me for sounding like the classic working Mom, proud of the fact that she's spent ONE WHOLE DAY with her child alone. A colleague recently lost her two year old due to SIDS, so I've been quite precious when it comes to P as of late. I don't know this woman very well, but she's about my age, and she was pregnant with her first not long after I was. I never saw her daughter until the week before she died, when I passed them as I was leaving work; I was holding P, she was holding her daughter. I was comparing her daughter's size to P's, as I do obsessively - a residual long-lasting effect of having a baby born early with serious reflux.

I know it sounds so stupid, but with death I always struggle with the whole notion of here one moment, gone the next. With children this is multi-faceted, because I have spent far too much time trying to remotely fathom what the mother is going through. I don't even have the words to describe how little I am able to comprehend the whole situation.

This is why I'm teary each time P says something like, "We two girls love each other Mum!" and "I'm so excited about Girls' Day Out! No boys allowed, right Mum? No Dad, RIGHT MUM?" In ordinary times my heart would twinge slightly, now I inadvertently go to that dark place I'd rather not go and wonder how I would deal with never hearing similar things again.

It doesn't bear thinking about, but I don't know how to banish those thoughts from my head these days. At night I try not to listen to each breath she expels from the next room; as soon as I start, I'm awake for ages ensuring that one follows the other as it should. I attempt to convince myself that such dreadful occurances are thankfully rare, but I've always been cursed with the overriding thought that if these things are going to happen to anyone, they'll happen to me. I also hate myself for being so melodramatic about it - these concerns of mine are based on the actual experience of someone I know, and I am carrying on about what ifs. This poor woman has to live it, and here I am agonising about hypotheticals.


When is the time

After at least a year or more of mostly internal deliberations, I've arrived at a decision. I think it's time to try and surrender my uterus to a sibling for P. It's only within the past six months that I've felt remotely interested in trying for another baby, but my concerns about the logistics of life have gotten in the way.

I voiced my doubts the first time round as to whether I was ready, or even truly wanted a child. I'm still unsure how much of it wasn't due to my long-term ability not to not be able to get pregnant and my innate hatred of failing to accomplish something I'm intent upon achieving. Regardless of my reasons for pursuing treatment, it's a decision that enriched my life to an extent I wouldn't have thought possible.

Because of this, it's hard to genuinely believe that I am confident in my decision. It's strange - something happened along the way that made me go from being all, "Second kid? Fuck no!" to "Ohmigod. Babyeeees are soooo cute!" in a short space of time. I suppose things settled in such a way that I felt comfortable where I was as a mother, thus allowing me to consider that I could do this again. If I allow myself to deliberate too much, I worry that my optimism is a bit too bold, and a year, or a year and a half from now I'll read this again and laugh at my abject ignorance.

Even once I thought I was ready for a second child, life got in the way. Where would we live? Certainly not this dinky two-bed flat which is bulging at the seams with the three of us. As our plans are to relocate to the US in the near future, there would be no point in buying a bigger place in the UK. Job? I am applying for jobs in the US on a weekly basis, desperately hoping that someone will finally think I am capable of being employed in that country once again. Having a kid would obviously delay that for awhile. Quite awhile.

Recently I've decided to stop analyse so friggin' much and just jump right in. You can only debate a subject's pros and cons for so long before it dawns on you that there is no path to the right answer; it will never present itself. The pros are unchanging, the cons generally strong enough to withstand every angle of pondering. We'll move eventually, I'll get a job in the US at some point. However, we all know these girl parts weren't so keen on reproducing when I was in my early 20s, so now at 31, depressingly, the clock is ticking.

I'm giving myself some time to get used to the idea, perhaps a couple of months. I need to try and wean myself off Celexa, which may be the biggest challenge with this whole gig. Those in the know - does one really need to kick the SSRI habit before trying to get pregnant, because, um...EW! I'm having some anxiety issues at the moment WITH my pharma pal, I would not be remotely interested in having Teh Secks if I was too busy having panic attacks and doing my fainting goat impression. I may as well just skip the hors d'oeuvres and go straight to the IVF.

Who knows what the future of this blog may bring? Will I be talking about pussaries again? Taking photos of my beloved Puregon Pen partying on my gut? Regardless, hopefully it will all lead to my pregnant lady boobs being ogled again by construction workers. After all, that's what we're all really fighting for.


No Easy Feet

This post is about running, which is why I called it "No Easy Feet". Get it?? Get it?? Yeah, ok, it's lame. It is all I could come up with aside from "Fuck my shoes", which would possibly get me banned by Blogger and would certainly not have my post appear on the BlogHer ad strip. Instead, you get poor punning.

So yes, running. I totally fell off the wagon when in the States, running only once. That one time was sufficient for me; it was hot as hell and I'm pretty sure every trace of liquid present in my body pre-run was shed along that 5K trip. As I have mentioned before, I ate my prodigious ass, stomach, and upper thigh weight in naughty foods, and gosh darnit if you can't tell in my mid-torso corpulence.

I don't regret it, as my usual monk-like asceticism regarding food was finally relieved and goodness was all that sinfully bad food delicious. It just meant I'd have to work harder when I got back to the UK. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten that my running shoes (Brooks GTS for those taking notes) take a good 3 years to become adapted to. When I bought them in June, I went from easily running my normal distances to struggling to do half thanks to the adjustment period.

My problem is that I have arches under which you can drive a medium-size truck. I'm also a redonkulous overpronator, so I need the running shoe equivalent of those black boots with the leg braces attached. I'm pretty sure a civil engineer was drafted in to design these shoes, they are so intent on correction of poor form. Pre-Brooks shoes, I was wearing an old pair of Nikes with collapsed air cushions thanks to my overpronation choking the life out of the cushioning. It took me at least two weeks for my body to adjust, in which time it felt with every run that I had cinderblocks attached to my feet.

Now I'm back at that point. I'm keen to get this thing moving again, but it's such a chore at the moment I'm using the will to run. I get to about 1K before I'm cursing my ability to be even slightly spritely. I feel heavy, as if I'm clomping along the seaside like an oafish, out-of-shape lump. I keep telling myself that I worked through it before, I will do it again with some time, but it's hard to maintain that attitude when you can't even run 5K without wanting to tear your legs off.

I don't know why I'm blogging about this - short of gifting me a pair of normal feet there isn't much to be accomplished by rambling about it. If anyone else has had to suffer through a shoe adjustment period, I'd love to hear about it. While you're at it, if anyone can tell me what they do to persevere through a workout despite your tired self wanting to give up, I'd like to hear about that too. Shoes aside, I'm having some trouble just working through difficult parts of my runs. It's not a matter of endurance, but rather me lacking willpower to carry on when challenged. Despite all my big talk on here about exercising, I'm a dreadfully lazy person and often just stop when I can't be arsed anymore. If someone has a magic way of sticking it out, teach me your ways! I'll be waiting here, wearing my shoes, thinking of going running, but opting to watch Rock of Love 3 instead.


The times they are a' changin'

Not too long ago, there was this:

Almost a year later, it was time for me to go back to work and stick P in Nursery: Das Gulag. At 11 months, this was her first full day of hard labour:

Yesterday, my baby started her first day at Big School. Big School dictates that one must wear regulation school-specific apparel, only available to be purchased from the school directly or one large department school. One must have a red leotard and matching red ballet shoes, again, purchased from a singular store, and one store alone. Hair, if below shoulder length, must be pulled up, but only using a navy hairband! Shoes, black, cannot possibly be patent, and have to feature a t-bar design. Any other shoe construction pattern is unacceptable. In the winter, if one must wear a scarf, said scarf must be the school's own design. The saving grace, at least for another year, is that she needn't wear the school blazer, available at the earlier-mentioned department store for the bargain basement price of 80 British pounds. We'll be getting out a loan shortly in preparation.

So here she is - my wee "big" girl in her uniform, complete with her first pair of Docs. You can put my kid in a uniform, but I'll make sure she has a hint of subculture peeking out somewhere.


Can I have that?

It's time. I've sat on my Flo stories from our US trip for a few weeks now, and it's patently unfair to deprive you all of their magnificence.

I really cannot be arsed to find the old links with all the tales of Flo and my odd family, but there is a label for this post, and momentarily I'm going to go back and label all my family-related posts as something dazzlingly creative - "FAMILY". I have a reader base of about 12 and a half people, all of whom know the ins and outs of my family dynamics, so if you've stumbled here after googling "What does IVF mean?" or "first comes love, then comes marriage" (the two most popular searches leading here), please check out some of those links - I promise you won't be disappointed.

Would you believe that though I only saw Flo and her gentleman caller once during our nearly month-long trip, that I have stories to tell? I'm cheating a bit, as one happened after we left, but it's too good to leave out.

Flo was, as one would expect, invited to P's American birthday party. We had quite a few guests, so I didn't have an opportunity to spend much time with any one person - a blessing not so disguised. Flo was inoffensive for most of the occasion, that is, until she told my brother that he should abandon his girlfriend at the party and mingle a bit more. The woman's physical composition is surely at least 80% narcotics, so I don't know why we are ever surprised at her lack of tact. My brother's girlfriend, T, is new to our family events, poor soul, so it would have been desperately unfair to leave her drowning in the sea of abject insanity that is my family.

I think that had she said it in a joking tone with no intent to offend, you would be under the impression that it's just a passive aggressive comment and move on. However, Flo does not mince words. The passage of time has dulled my memory of what I was told of this event and thus I will paraphrase, but roughly she said to my brother quite pissily, "You hardly ever see your family. Maybe you should stop hanging out with T so much and go talk to them." Ahhh...you gotta love her.

Flo wasn't done with T yet. Flo's creepy ass, most-likely-Asperger's "friend" has an odd preoccupation with what T eats and how she exercises in order to maintain her nice figure. Flo caught wind of this conversation, which has also taken place at another gathering, and by all accounts was really giving T the old hairy eyeball. You know, because T, an attractive 26 year old, secretly wants to get with a guy in his late 50s who wears glasses like this:

Hats like this (unironically, I might add):

...and his tube socks pulled up to his knees - likely wearing sandals as well. Who wouldn't want that??

When it was time for her to leave, Flo asked my Mom if she could have a "little bit" of food. Obviously she wasn't going to leave without asking to take something with her, which I suppose is better than just assuming an item like she usually does. This time, a "little bit" translated to most of the cold cuts (Central PA loves their lunch meat - holla!) and a vat full of fruit salad. We weren't quite aware of the large amount of missing meat until we tried to make some sandwiches later that evening. My brother was livid, because there isn't much that boy likes more than his food.

Fast forward a few weeks - I'm on the phone with my Mom. Flo had just been down for a visit, and they had an uneventful and rather brief visit. My Mom just found out she won a gift basket from a local business, and when she returned from collecting it she was showing it off to Flo. Rather than sharing in her excitement, Flo just looked at the basket wide-eyed and said, "What can I have?" The woman is in her mid 50s; even P wouldn't presume an item from someone else's presents could be hers, and she's a dictatorial three year old.

I despair of Flo, but goddamnit if she doesn't make trips to the US more entertaining.


Music Monday: Loves Music, Loves to Dance

I guess that since I'm kind of a mother who blogs I should, at times, blog about my kid. I have one you know. She's three. Yep. She thinks she's 15, but I'm pretty sure I didn't have her when I was 16, so I'm confident she is in fact three years old. The line, "No, you didn't offer a choice!" when told to choose between not shouting (keeping recently purchased Peppa Pig DVD)/shouting (returning the Peppa Pig DVD) is not something which usually slides off the lips of a three year old.

My kid loooooves music, and cuts a rug at every given opportunity. The music-listening I attribute to me, the dancing, to her grandmother (god help us). Unfortunately she seems to have her father's taste in music, with slight mother-influenced picks here and there. I decided the other day that now that she's three, it's high time I made her her very first mix cd. I felt like Rob Fleming/Gordon until I actually started adding the tripe to the CD to burn. Then I just felt cheap and dirty. I managed to squeeze some of "my" music in there which will hopefully redress the balance.

Regardless, it's not about me. I'm all for P listening to grown-up music, and much as it pained me and made me feel a bit Tipper Gore, I even got the clean versions of the songs. Oy, it has come to this.

P invites you to get down at your computers at the tunes she loves. That, or turn your speakers off and pry your eardrums out with skewers. Either or, really.

Track 1: L.E.S. Artistes: Santogold

Track 2: Dancing Queen: Abba (I'm more of the Priscilla Queen of the Desert, "NO MORE FUCKING ABBA!" line of thinking, but what the kid wants, the kid gets)

Track 3: Bulletproof: La Roux (or in P parlance, "Hoolaypoof")

Track 4: Hollaback Girl: Gwen Stefani

Track 5: Hips Don't Lie: Shakira

Track 6: Ring of Fire: Johnny Cash (aside from occasional confusion regarding who is Obama and who is Johnny Cash, she generally knows who JC is)

Track 7: I Kissed a Girl: Katy Perry (I hate myself for this one - bisexuality as a gimmick drives me mad)

Track 8: In For the Kill: La Roux

Track 9: Beautiful Dirty Rich: Lady GaGa

Track 10: Boys Boys Boys: Lady GaGa

Track 11: Paparazzi: Lady GaGa

Track 12: LDN: Lily Allen

Track 13: Mamma Mia: Abba (I had to put this on her CD so she learns more lyrics than the "Mamma Mia, here we go uh-gain, my my dah dah dah dah dah dah" and repeat)

Track 14: Mama Do: Pixie Lott

Track 15: Furry Happy Monsters: REM

Track 16: Umbrella: Rihanna

Track 17: So What: Pink

Track 18: Lollipop: The Chordettes

Track 19: You Are My Sunshine: Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan

Do your kids listen to kid-specific music, or are there other heathens like me out there that largely shun such things in favour of music of the parents/radio?



I am back on the soil of Albion, as bloated as a goose fattened for Christmas. I ran once in my trip to the US and ate copious amounts of junk food, so I suppose this is my comeuppance for lethargy.

Jumping from excess to books, perhaps not seamlessly, I'm going to rabbit on a bit about what I've been reading. As you may know, I got a Kindle for my birthday. I stroke it lovingly every evening, whisper sweet nothings into its USB access port, and write it tender poetry every fortnight. It's a marvel of modern invention and I might make it an honorary second child.

My mind is awash with the many possibilities of what can be put on this thing, and I was initially unsure what to make my first official purchase. However, I am easily swayed and bow very easily to peer pressure, and young Molly had been talking favourably about Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series for some time. Neither one of us are fans of the romance genre, but as the series is also classified as historical fiction, we have assumed this umbrella instead, choosing to assiduously ignore the dreaded "r" word.

Let me just tell you - I couldn't get enough of the first book (Outlander) in this series. Despite being jet-lagged, forced into going back to work within 24 hours of my return from a month-long trip to the US, an at-times needy husband, and a demanding, tyrannical toddler, I read this book in less than a week. This book is nearly 700 pages long friends. That's some heavy reading for a flighty, ADD-addled person like me.

I admit, there are some cheesy as hell sex scenes. To wit:

"'Aye, Sassenach,' he muttered, answering my movements rather than my words. 'Ride ye I will!' His hands dropped to my breasts, squeezing and stroking, then slid down my sides. his whole weight rested on me now as he cupped and raised me for still greater penetration. I screamed then and he stopped my mouth with his, not a kiss, but another attack, forcing my mouth open, bruising my lips and rasping my face with bearded stubble. He thrust harder and faster, as though he would force my soul as he forced my body. In body or soul, somewhere he struck a spark, and an answering fury of passion and need sprang from the ashes of surrender. I arched upward to meet him, blow for blow. I bit his lip and tasted blood.

I felt his teeth then on my neck and dug my nails into his back. I raked him from nape to buttocks, spurring him to rear and scream in his turn. We savaged each other in desperate need, biting and clawing, trying to draw blood, trying each to pull the other into ourselves, tearing each other's flesh in the consuming desire to be one. My cry mingled with his, and we lost ourselves finally in each other in that last moment of dissolution and completion."

In Gabaldon's defense, can a sex scene in a non-erotic novel be written well sans "thrusting" and "savaging"? There is no "throbbing" in this passage, but I'm sure it's around somewhere.

Now I'm trying NOT to buy the second book in the series right away, because that's surely lame, right? Molly and I are book snobs perhaps, but seriously, it's hard to admit you really enjoy a book whose first edition cover was this:

It looks like one of my Mom's beach romance books from the early 90s; books that she fondly referred to as "crotch novels". That's one classy broad right there.

I have some works more appropriate for a book snob on my Kindle - Anna Karenina, The Early Stories: 1953-1975 (Updike), Jane Eyre, Native Son, Pride and Prejudice, Sister Carrie, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and a number of books obtained from what might be the best e-book website ever - http://manybooks.net/ . I've gone majorly nerd overboard there and I don't even want to visit there now as I know I won't go to bed until at least 3am if I do.

What are you reading? What do you want to read? If you have some written guilty pleasures, what are they? This isn't a pathetic appeal for comments, I want to know. Well, that, and I miss you. Not having a regular line to tweets and blogs for over a month has made me all wistful and what not. So, what say you?

*UPDATE*: Because I need more books like I need my left ovary to be more posterior, I stopped by my favourite charity shop today and bought four more bloody books. Oops. For the princely sum of £7.50 ($12.40) I now have "World Without End" by Ken Follett, "The Shipping News" by Annie Proulx, "The Edible Woman" by Margaret Atwood, and...and...er, "Lord John and the Private Matter" by one Diana Gabaldon. God help me.



I usually stay a safe distance from Facebook quizzes*, as they are often riddled with spelling and grammatical errors along with a penchant for grade school-like phrasing.  I don't really need to know what Sex and the City character (Miranda) I am anyway.  However, I noticed my Cheese Hand did a political quiz and I just had to have a go.

I have an abject fear of doing quizzes like this and finding out that I'm much more right than originally thought.  I dissect the questions to ensure I'm answering them properly, because seeing a graph with a red dot lingering perilously close to "Neocon" would no doubt trigger a brain aneurysm or other striking brain bleed.  Thankfully, I scored quite left, notably in social and cultural issues - who knew?

The purpose of this is not to flaunt my liberalism to gain hipster cred; that's what my Johnny Cash middle-finger-at-San-Quentin t-shirt does for me.  I'm just concerned that Neo-Con Pru is right around the chronological corner.  My Mom is an ex-hippie, those who know my real name would have some indication of this.  Somehow, over the past few years particularly, she has become increasingly conservative despite erroneously believing that she remains very liberal.  

Mom is retired, but works as an educational consultant for developmentally delayed children.  One of her clients is a little boy with a less than ideal home situation - his mother is mentally disabled, a drug addict, and rather keen on pregnancies.  Lots of pregnancies.  She's 21 and has been pregnant five times.  The house is apparently a complete mess, with roaches scurrying up the wall and floors sticky with unknown substances.  I think it's evident that children should not grow up in such an environment, but my Mom seems to believe that as someone hired to help this child with his developmental issues, she should also act as a social worker - she has actually told the mother that she should "keep her legs closed."  

I always confess to being less sympathetic to poor (as in quality, not financial circumstances) parents who manage to reproduce successfully numerous times despite not being in an ideal position to do so - it's my job as a recovering infertile.  The difference between my Mom and me is that I would never, under any circumstances, actually TELL the offending person this.  Being all liberal and shit, I acknowledge that it's not my responsibility to tell anyone how to live their lives.  Aside from professional boundaries overstepped, I can't believe she has justified to herself that it's ok to pass her own views so strongly on this woman.

Within this discussion, she mentioned that some people (presumably women) should be forcibly sterilised, thus eliminating the possibility that so many people will become rubbish parents.  I couldn't quite tell if she was exaggerating, but I don't doubt that she wasn't.  Not long after she trotted out tired cliche of "People need a license to drive a car.  You even need a license to fish!  Somehow, you don't need a license to PARENT!"  Goodness.  I suppose she has at least contributed to the assembling of some meaningless phrases for the inevitable weekly Letter to the Editor submissions she will be writing in a couple years' time.  

After presenting her case to The Dude and me, she remained convinced that she is in fact, "really liberal."  I happen to think that this is simply in relation to the population around here, which isn't saying much.  My Mom believes herself to be liberal due in part to her presence at PrideFest a couple of weeks ago.  She, in her words, has "no problem" with homosexuality, so the gay population of the world should release a big sigh of relief there.  It's so magnanimous of her, I know.  Speaking of her abiding liberalism, I bet even some of her best friends are black!

I feel horrid picking on my Mom as it's just another one of her eye-rolling idiosyncrasies, but I can't help feeling this is my future.  Are the liberal among us staring down the barrel at impending conservatism?  Am I a mere two decades away from ranting about how most women just use abortion as a method of birth control?  Will I take a quiz on the '29 version of a social networking site which firmly allies me with neocons?

*My real-life exists on FB, so any of you blogging types who know me there - please don't mention this little place!


Music Monday: Summertime

This is my third post in as many days I think, so I'm going to cheat a bit. Light years ago my brother, breaking his arm patting himself (I actually typed "hisself") on the back, sent me an email with all links and summaries included for a Music Monday. I've given MM the short shrift lately, so now that I'm on holiday and doing precisely nothing every day, I thought I could do some cutting and pasting to get this topic off the ground again.

So here we go. Brother's comments included.

Lemon Jelly-The Staunton Lick--This song always calms me down and makes me feel great, no matter what.


The Verve-Bittersweet Symphony--No explanation needed. Classic.


Marc Broussard-Home (Let it be known that the album version is fucking stellar but most of the rest of the album is crap) You can watch the actual video on youtube, you just can't embed it.


Led Zeppelin-Fool in the Rain


Oasis-She's Electric--Crank that shit up, the first 10 seconds are amazing full blast.


Bob Marley-Stir It Up--Most any Marley song will suffice in the summer time. If you can't find joy in his music, I don't know how you find joy in life at all.


M.Ward feat. Zooey Deschanel-Never Had Nobody Like You


Gov't Mule-Soulshine


Jay-Z feat. Santogold-Brooklyn We Go Hard


Wilco-You Never Know. Fucking. Awesome.



Now she is three

A mere hour and 21 minutes ago marked precisely three years since my baby was born. Some of you have been readers of my rambling since I was doing my IUIs, so to have a three year old on the other side of four IUIs and an IVF means I've been at this for rather awhile.

Before I got pregnant, The Dude and I would imagine our potential offspring. Despite numerous hours dedicated to the imaginary child's traits, we never could have predicted the child we now have.

P is stubborn, willful, spirited and at times, conniving. She's a challenge, but in a strangely enjoyable way. P ensures that I am not a complacent mother, and I admit to being somewhat surprised at how much I crave to spend time in her presence. She can infuriate me in one moment like she did yesterday when refusing to try on summer sandals, to creating a mad rush of all encompassing love, as she did the next when this exchange occurred:

Me: "P, Mummy has to say that she doesn't like you very much right now."

P: ::saddest frown you've ever seen::: "That is NOT a very nice thing to say Mum!"

Parents gush about how beautiful their children are, something I'm not immune to. However, the beauty that I see is in the sheer amazingness that this small, developing person is the product of me and The Dude - she's not our tiny, wiggling baby, but rather our little girl finding her way in the world as its complexities present themselves to her. I often stroke her bare legs as she falls asleep, marvelling that much smaller versions of these strong, athletic limbs not long ago beat the hell out of my insides.

I'm not good at attempting to be serious and lyrical, and I know that no combination of words I could devise would ever fully encompass the wonder and adoration I have for P. She makes me laugh, often to the point of tears, and she makes me angry, also, on occasion to the point of tears. I am still not a gushing, obliging mother who years to spend every waking hour with her child, but I never thought I'd be capable of a love like this.

Happy third birthday, sweet P. You are my sunshine, always and forever.