Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gimme some sugar, baby

Yesterday, Mr. Shoes and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. I have this weird thing where I like to look up what the traditional anniversary gift is for each year. The gift for 6 years happens to be candy. Excellent. We're pretty broke right now and had decided to skip any anniversary hoopla this year, but candy is a pretty inexpensive gift idea.

Mr. Shoes, being the incredibly romantic and wonderful man that he is, decided to run with the candy theme. Over the past couple of days I have been showered in several different types of dark chocolate, which Mr. Shoes knows I love almost as much as I love him. One night last week, I came home to find our bed littered in dark chocolate Lindor Truffles and "I <3 U" spelled out in rose petals. Last night, he brought home more roses and a massive bar of Lindt Supreme Dark chocolate. After getting Littleshoes in bed, we enjoyed some champagne and chocolate covered strawberries together. I won't get into details about how the rest of the night went, but it was pretty sweet as well. :wink,wink:

Mr. Shoes asked me a few months ago if I had it to do all over again, would I still marry him. Without hesitation, I answered, "Of course!" He also asked me recently if I still love him as much as I did all those years ago and again I answered, "Yes. Of course."

Truth is, I love him even more now than I did then and the love we have for each other has grown so much more complex over the years. What was once a simple infatuation for this man has evolved into a multi-faceted mosaic of emotion and adoration. He is my lover, my best friend, my provider and protector, and the most amazing father to our son. I can't remember my life before him and don't even want to imagine it without him. I would marry him a thousand times a day, every day, until the sun fell from the sky.

Sometimes, I'm completely astounded by the fact that, after 9 years together, we are still so head-over-heels in love with each other. Other times, I just thank my lucky stars and hope it goes on like this forever. Or at least until our diamond anniversary!

Update: My fantabulous husband surprised me again this afternoon and brought me lunch, a big bouquet of daisies, and (yep, you guessed it) even more dark chocolate up to my office. I'm the luckiest girl on the planet. Be jealous!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ghost Town

Wow. I have seriously neglected this blog. I read recently that 1 in 4 people start a blog and abandon it in the span of one or two posts. With the millions of people out there stumbling around on teh internets every day, that makes for a lot of "dead blogs."

When I started this, I swore to myself that I would not let this become yet another unfinished project like the knitting, the furniture refinishing, and, even more poignant, Littleshoes' blog (started for the grandfolks who now hint heavily about the fact that he has mysteriously stopped posting) - all taken up on a whim and then left to collect dust.

I'll make no lame excuses about how I just haven't had the time to post. I'll just try and get better.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Coffee's Kickin' In...

I have not always enjoyed drinking coffee. Just a few years ago, I wondered why anyone would actually like drinking something that tastes like it could strip paint. For the longest time, I only drank the stuff for the high doses of caffeine it provided. Little did I know that not all coffee tasted as bad as the stuff in the office break room.

After giving birth to Littleshoes, having a pot of coffee in the mornings became de rigeur and I realized then that the stuff, when done right (and is not the cheapest thing the company can buy in bulk), actually tastes pretty good. I've really come to enjoy sipping on a cup of joe. Especially on Sunday mornings - while everyone is still rubbing sleep from their eyes - sitting out on the porch with a smoke and a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee feels a little like heaven.

So, ever since becoming a regular coffee drinker, I've often wondered about one of its lesser talked about properties.

Coffee makes me poop.

After doing a quick Google search, I see that I'm not the first person to wonder why coffee seems to have a somewhat "laxative" effect on most people. When typing in "why does coff..." Google's intelligent data field immediately spits out a list with "why does coffee make me poop" and "why does coffee make you poop" and, the more refined way of putting it, "why does coffee make you go to the bathroom."

I have yet to find any definitive answer to this question. Some of the theories are interesting and definitely plausible, but, apparently, no one in the scientific field finds the quandary compelling enough to do any real research on the topic (at least, not that I found on the 2 or 3 pages of Google search results that I bothered to look at).

Apparently, the most common theory is that the caffeine acts as a stimulant on every part of you, even your inner most recesses. This makes the most sense to me, considering I've noticed an increase in the effect when combining coffee and cigarettes (which seem absolutely made for each other, Jim Jarmusch even made a quirky, but excellent film revolving around the two, but that's a whole other topic). Nicotine also acts as a stimulant in mammals and would explain why those Sunday morning sojourns to the porch always end quickly with me running to the bathroom.

Another answer I've seen often is that coffee is a known diuretic. I always thought that referred more to #1 than #2, but some people seem to think it affects both. The only answer I was able to find by someone calling himself a doctor (and I say that with an eyeroll and a huge helping of skepticism because, let's face it, this is the internet) was that caffeine increases the production of stomach acid which could assist in the sudden evacuation of the bowels.

Whatever it may be in my coffee that makes me have to poo, I'm thankful for it. I've always had problems with regularity and can't seem to make the add-more-fiber-and-water-to-my-diet-thing work. It's nice to know that, when the stressors of adult life get me backed up, I can always count on my morning cups of coffee to get things movin' again.

As much as I know you'd love to hear more about my poo habits, I gotta wrap this up because, well... the coffee's kickin' in.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Colors Of My Skin

When I originally had the idea for this post, I wanted to muse more on the topic of body modification and the workplace. My boss informed me about a month ago that the business is not doing well lately and I may be unemployed soon. Which means interviews. Which means covering up my body art for the sake of gainful employment.

I’m fully aware that tattoos, especially on women, still carry quite a bit of social stigma. For the most part, older generations still associate tattoos and other body modifications as a sign of ignorance and the uneducated. Or worse, criminality. Up until recently, there was a valid basis for this kind of judgment. It would be safe to say that, 20 or 30 years ago, most of the people you saw with visible tattoos were degenerates with a criminal history or a member of the armed forces. Now that we’ve reached the 21st century, however, more and more people of all backgrounds are choosing to permanently modify their bodies in some way.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by body art. I couldn’t wait to turn 18 so I could get my first tattoo (a tasteful grouping of small butterflies on the outside of my left ankle). I still recall the rush of excitement I felt when that needle first hit my skin and being so proud of my new ink. My mom cried when she saw it. She was so upset and wondered loudly why I would do something so horrific and permanent to my body. But, even she has slowly come around to understand that it’s a very personal experience and choice and now even brags about my art to friends and co-workers (especially my traditional “MOM” tattoo). She’s even talked about getting one herself from time to time, although I doubt she’ll ever actually go through with it.

A woman I know, a very successful real estate agent, just got her first tattoo at the age of 60 and is already planning her next one. My older sister, a stay-at-home-mom who was a marketing professional in her previous life, recently had her first tattoo experience at 31 and can’t wait to get more. I watched a show a few months ago on one of those “educational” channels regarding the history of tattoos and one segment focused on a particularly accomplished heart surgeon who was working with a renowned artist on a massive back piece of an anatomically correct heart and circulatory system. I saw an older check-out woman at Target last week with the tail of a tiny dragon poking out of the sleeve of her red t-shirt.

So, if people of all walks of life are making the choice to beautify their skin with ink at such an exponentially increasing rate, why is it that society is so slow to shed the archaic ideology regarding tattoos? Mr. Shoes and I aren’t what I would call heavily tattooed, but we both have a couple of visible tats. I notice the gawking stares we get while out and about and definitely noticed an increase in the judgmental looks since having Littleshoes. I often wonder why they don’t just wag their finger in shame at me!

Women with body art are definitely more apt to be looked at as more of a side-show freak than men. Mr. Shoes received a lot of his tats while overseas in the Navy and, when given the chance to explain his art, he receives nods of understanding and acceptance. I, on the other hand, do not have the luxury of a military career to justify my ink (and, now that I think about it, I doubt that would even be justification for some people for a woman to have tattoos). I’m sure I could go on and on about the double standards between men and women, but it is true that those of us of the fairer sex are looked at more negatively than our masculine counter parts when it comes to body art. We are perceived to be trashy, promiscuous, and of questionable morals.

I’m not saying, by any means, that all women with tattoos are the most upstanding, intelligent, pillars of society. I’ve seen firsthand the reason for the stereotype. I’ve also known a lot of classy, smart, successful women with tattoos. One might be prompted to argue that these are just the exceptions to the rule. I say, there is no exception and there is no rule. Just as with any other stereotype, it’s hurtful and prejudiced.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking to hope that views on tattoos are changing, but I believe they are. Slowly but surely. Maybe one day I’ll be judged by my resume rather than the ink on my flesh.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Am The Peacekeeper

And no, I'm not talking about this crappy 1997 B movie. (Okay, I've never actually seen this movie, but I think I can safely assume any movie starring Dolph Lundgren and Montell freakin' Williams is probably pretty crappy.)

After a conversation with a co-worker this morning in which I referred to myself as a "peacekeeper," I had a small moment of self-discovery. I seem to be having a lot of them lately and wonder if it has anything at all to do with the fact that I'm getting closer to turning 30. Anyway, we were discussing the fact that, in our office of three women, I have somehow become the one that the other two both confide in and am sort of a go-between for them (they don't really get along due to an unfortunate screaming match that apparently happened while I was out getting lunch one day and, therefore, not here to "keep the peace.")

It dawned on me that my work situation is a lot like the relationship I had growing up with two sisters, "Big A" and "little c." Big A is almost 3 years older than I am and little c is almost 6 years younger. So, the age gap between Big A and little c is almost 10 years. My co-workers, "Big D" and "little m," also have quite a large age difference - Big D is 45, little m is 23 or 24, I'm not quite sure. Adding to the similarities is the fact that Big D was here first, I came about 2 years later, and little m started here just a few months ago. So, that makes me the middle child.

I was curious to see if this "peacekeeping" mentality was inherently ingrained in me due to my birth order position and hopped on google to research more into the topic and the theory of Middle Child Syndrome. What I found was fascinating...

According to this article, peacekeeping is just one of the traits I have that I can contribute directly to being a middle child. I can also blame it for my lack of direction, my indecisiveness, and my detachment from most emotional relationships. Additionally, this article goes on to explain that my birth order may be the reason I was always more of a loner and prefer to stay behind the scenes rather than bathe in the limelight.

All of that sounds pretty negative so far, right? Well, I'll have you know that middle children are also known to be more creative and artistic types and usually have a go-with-the-flow mentality. And who doesn't like those kind of people? I've always gone through life with a "whatever's clever" kind of attitude, which can be a good quality or a negative one depending on the situation. On one hand, I'm fairly adaptable to change and my feathers aren't easily ruffled. On the other, and I hate to admit this, I can be somewhat of a doormat at times.

In any case, this is all just one example of the never-ending nature vs. nurture argument, but I really think there's a lot to be said about the Middle Child Syndrome. And I'm not just saying that because I am one. Really, I'm not!

Side note: During my extensive google research on the topic, I came across this site and thought, "Wow! A whole site devoted to the Middle Child Syndrome! It must be a wealth of information on the topic." And, while sadly it wasn't the fount of facts I was hoping for and I'm still not real clear on what it has to do with MCS at all, it was still an amusing respite from today's mind-fuck, self-discovery moment.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Word to Your Mother

Note: I meant to post this yesterday, but with all the Mother's Day festivities and a toddler who decided to completely skip a nap, never had the time. So, a day late and a buck short, a Mother's Day themed post...

Today is Mother's Day. All week I've been reading quotes and poems about mothers and motherhood. One that I've seen often is this:

A man's work is from sun to sun, but a mother's work is never done. ~ Author Unknown

I can't help but think of how hopelessly outdated that quote is and yet, so true at the same time. From what I've heard from other mothers I know in real life and online, I'm extremely fortunate to have a husband who is, for the most part, an equal partner in the parenting of our son. He changes diapers, kisses boo-boos, and reads that bed time story for the thousandth time without a hint of boredom in his voice. He has been a fantastically involved father from Day One and the relationship he has with our son shows this.

It's easier to expect a sharing of the parenting duties when both of us work full-time jobs. Neither of us has an excuse for not working what I like to call "The Second Shift." Just because you've worked an 8.5 hour day, plus time spent sitting in traffic, doesn't mean you get to come home and sit on your ass for the rest of the evening. Dinner still has to be made, laundry washed, dried, and put away, dishes cleaned, a toddler to bathe... the list goes on. At the same time, those few short hours in the evenings are all we have with our little boy during the work week and I'd hate to waste them on chores. I'll be honest, my house is rarely (if ever) spotless, our clothes are clean, though not always immediately folded and put away, and we get take-out far too often.

This is where the 2-man parenting team really comes into play. While I'm getting dinner started, Mr. Shoes will be down on the living room rug wrestling with Littleshoes or explaining the fundamental differences between Spiderman and Wolverine (which is very important). After dinner, Mr. Shoes will clean up while I play Jaws with the rubber ducky in the bathtub. Bed time always consists of lots of hugs and kisses from both of us. These are the things that will (and do) mean the most to us when the boy's all-too-short childhood is over. Not to mention the fact that it's so much easier to actually get the chore stuff done without feeling like we're neglecting him and his development in the process.

On the other hand, a mother's role is so dynamically different from a father's, as is the connection a mother has to her child. To further illustrate my point, another quote:

Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own. ~ Aristotle

Mothers spend nine months growing and nurturing the child in their womb and begin to make the sacrifices necessary to become a parent right from the start. When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately began to put myself second because that little person depended solely on me to make sure he had every possible chance at survival. Pregnancy was an amazing journey. Feeling your child move and kick and hiccup inside you is an indescribable sensation and one only a mother can know. A mother knows more about her child before he or she is even born than anyone else involved in that child's life. That bond, that physical, emotional, and spiritual connection is present from the very beginning and only grows stronger as time goes on. It makes me sad to think that father's can't experience the same thing.

That connection, that overwhelming love a mother feels for her child, no matter what, is why a mother's work is never done. I will spend the rest of my life living and breathing for my child and hoping that I can raise him to be kind of person who believes the impossible can be possible. It's a tough job, but it has its perks.

And, although the sentiment is nice, I don't need an entire day devoted to appreciating the mother I am. I'm lucky enough to have a husband and son who make me feel like a goddess every day, from sun to sun.

Friday, May 8, 2009

First Things First

Since this is the first post to my brand spankin' new blog, I guess I should do the obligatory introductory post.

Let's see... I'm a 28, soon to be 29-year-old working wife and mom living in the 'burbs of Dallas, TX. Sometimes I feel that my life is pretty typical for someone of that description and sometimes I feel that life is anything but typical. For the most part though, things are pretty routine and I like it that way. I will most likely be blogging about life with my 2-year-old son, my husband, a cat who hates me and the daily grind. Or just anything that pops into my head. Whatever.

And, since I use paperbagshoes as a handle here and there around the internets and get asked this question a lot, I'll go ahead and get this out of the way:

What is the meaning behind Paper Bag Shoes?

When I was a wee little girl, maybe 5 or 6, I was waiting on my mother to get off of the phone so we could go do something. I don't remember exactly what I was so anxious to go do, but I remember being really exasperated at the fact that I had to wait for her to get off the phone. She was on the phone with her mother, my g-ma, so you know how long those conversations can go on for.

Anyway, to pass the time I decided to do a little craft project. I grabbed a couple of those brown paper lunch sacks out of the pantry, some kid-safe scissors, and some good ol' Scotch tape. Then I went to town making me some shoes (basically, I just stuck my feet in the bags and then taped them up around my legs). I thought they looked pretty good and wanted to go test them out in the yard. I went shuffling around in the driveway and down the sidewalk. Turns out, once they get wet, paper bags don't make the best material for footwear. After just a few minutes my toes were sticking out the ends and there were shreds of soggy brown paper falling off every where.

So, I go back inside to check and see if Ma was any closer to getting off the phone and/or see what else I could get in to. As soon as I walked in the door, Ma was looking at me inquisitively. She had heard some strange shuffling sounds from me walking around outside and was curious to see what it was. When she caught a glimpse of my paper-wrapped feet, she immediately started laughing hysterically. Laughing so hard she had tears streaming down her face and my g-ma on the other end of the phone was terribly worried that something was wrong.

She finally calmed down enough to tell g-ma everything was fine and got off the phone. She ran to get the camera and had me pose for a few pics, as she was sure she wanted to document this moment for posterity. (I would totally post a pic if Ma could find it.)

It's become the stuff of legend now and Ma loves telling the story of my paper bag shoes. She still giggles when she tells it. It's a little like one of those defining moments in my life, I think. I like to think I'm somewhat of a creative person and I love to make people laugh and maybe it all started with those paper bag shoes.