Saturday, March 31, 2007

I give up



Hi, my name is Bridget, and I'm short.

It's taken me almost 25 years to fully come to terms with this fact. Sometimes people say I'm "cute," "tiny," or "petite," but over the years I've come to realize that what they really mean is that I'm short.

In the past, I've tried everything to get around accepting my height. When I was young enough to think that we decided how tall we grew (those milk commercials lied to us!), I decided I'd be about 5'8. When it became obvious that that wasn't going to happen, I could at least say that I was taller than my mom and my sister (and I still am). And of course, I say I'm 5'2...but it's possible that I'm rounding up.

I also used to be scrupulous about wearing only shoes with heels. Not gigantic heels, but at least an inch or two of lift. Those days have finally come to an end. I broke down last September and bought these lovely shoes:

They were so comfortable, and so easy to put on, and so versatile, that I just had to overlook the fact that they add nothing to my height. And I haven't regretted it. I went out and bought another pair the other day while they were on sale, to have on hand when my current pair wears out.

And now they're coming out with all these cute ballet flats. I think I'll buy a pair to celebrate my coming to terms with myself. Because really, they are just so darn cute!

Bonus: did you know that the upper part of the shoe (where the bow is on this particular model) is called the vamp? I didn't, until today.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Unanswered questions

We received a notice from our homeowners' association in the mail yesterday. I don't know who runs this thing, but they need a lesson on the proper way to draft a memorandum. Because after reading it, I had more questions than answers.

"The time is approaching for the 2007 Annual Meeting. At this time there are 2 vacancies on the Board.

Anyone interested in running for the Board, please notify [the HOA].

They will be placed on the annual ballot for voting. No nominations will be taken from the floor at the Annual meeting."

The questions raised by this brief memo include:

1. When, exactly, is the meeting? They don't tell us anything except that it is approaching.

2. And now that I think of it, since when has there even been an Annual Meeting? Is this the first one?

3. What are the responsibilities of being a member of the Board? I really have no idea, and I wish they had at least outlined the duties of the position briefly.

In their defense, we've only lived here for a year and a half, so maybe we're just new to this and everybody else knows everything already. In which case, I'm sorry for being so curious.

Maybe I'll run for the board and get put in charge of writing stuff like this.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Tale of Three Massages

Before Friday night, I had never had a massage in my entire life. I know that lots of people have gone lots longer than 25 years without having a professional massage, but for me, it felt like it was a long time coming.

That's because if things went the way they were "supposed" to, I would have had three by now. The first would have been back in Provo, Utah, when my work gave me a gift certificate for a free one-hour massage. Somehow, I ended up giving it to Jeremy. I felt like he would enjoy it more, and he probably did.

The next missed massage opportunity is still a sore spot (ha ha). The place where I gave birth to Miriam was in the habit of giving every post-partum mom a full-body massage the day after going through labor. But Miriam was born on a Sunday, the next day being Labor Day, and thus the massage people had a holiday from work. Sigh. In retrospect, I think my entire body was probably in way too much pain after (horror story alert to any women who have yet to give birth) a THIRTY-SIX HOUR LABOR to handle a massage (even my teeth hurt), but now I'll never know.

So the massage on Friday night was long sought-after. The impetus was that Jeremy's parents were in town and we gave up our room to them. And then it's possible that they snored quite loudly and kept us up for part of the night (or most of the night, if you ask Jeremy), but I wouldn't dare write that on this blog. Regardless, Jeremy's mom felt guilty the next day and gave us a few dollars to get a massage at the mall.

Yes, the mall. There are these Chinese guys (they actually are Chinese men - I am not using the term loosely) who have a roped-off area near the children's play place (strategic positioning, if you ask me) where they give short massages. And they are very, very good at what they do. Their skills were apparent even to me, though I'd never had a massage before. That night, I slept through the entire night without getting up, which is the first time I've done that since being pregnant with Miriam (who herself only started sleeping through the night last week).

I'll leave you with two other instances in which I deserved a massage, based retroactively on this precedent:


1. When we shared a Russian train compartment with two friends, one of whom snored all the way to Siberia.

2. When we slept on the couch in the living room of my Slovakian cousins, in Slovakia. I say "we," because it was Jeremy and me on one non-fold-out couch that was slightly tilted toward the floor, so I kept almost falling off. During the night, the middle couch cushion fell out, and we couldn't figure out why it was so terribly uncomfortable. Meanwhile, my parents, sleeping in the same room on a couch that did fold out, took turns snoring through the entire night. At dawn, when the roosters started cocka-doodle-doo-ing and the cows started mooing, I looked over and saw Jeremy sitting on the edge of the couch, his head in his hands, in a posture of complete and utter defeat. If any night's sleep ever needed to be remedied by a massage, it was that one.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Free as a bird

Jeremy's parents are in town, so I went running yesterday afternoon without Miriam. I felt absolutely naked running unencumbered by a jogging stroller. It was just me, my iPod Shuffle, and my canister of mace that Jeremy bought me. And it was glorious.

It rained yesterday morning, so the air was fresh. But the sun had since come out, so all the birds were singing and green foliage (what little there is here in the desert) was starting to appear. And I could devote all my energies to exercising, without having to worry about managing Miriam's snacks, sippy cup, level of sun exposure, or other miscellaneous fussing.

Added to all of this was the pleasure of having recently downloaded the soundtrack to Pride & Prejudice from iTunes. This purchase was a year in the making. I held off for six months after having seen the movie about a year ago, and then finally broke down and bought the piano music. After six months of playing that to death, I decided to buy the soundtrack so I could listen to someone else play it on the piano for a change. I also downloaded Evanescence's "My Immortal" and Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up." Trust me, the only reason I'm admitting to buying those last two is that they remind me of my Amideast students in Damascus. (We used to take popular songs and figure out the lyrics as a kind of English exercise.)

So my solo run was accompanied by some lovely, ponderous music. I felt like an Elizabeth Bennet of sorts, scampering about the countryside. I think listening to hyped-up music while exercising is overrated. I've really enjoyed listening to softer, thinking-man music while running. Before these most recent purchases, I've been listening to Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, a group called Pristina, and some of Guster's quieter music.

Of course, the real reason for all of this may be that even while running, I have to keep the music volume low to a) listen for potential attackers stalking me (there's this one homeless guy by the bridge that I've been keeping an eye on) and b) be available to Miriam's requests for more drink/snack/sunshade action. But at least I can pretend it's because I prefer it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tons o'pictures

If you're interested in seeing a truckload of pictures from our travels in the Middle East, check it out:

Bridget's Google Web Albums
Turkey

Syria

Jordan

Egypt

Lebanon


The tags are still a work in progress. Enjoy!

Strangers at the park

It's a sad commentary on our society that I am wary of any male hanging out by himself at the park.

We go to the park a few times a week, sometimes with other moms and sometimes as a family. I'm not so worried when I have Jeremy with us, but when it's just a bunch of young moms and their young children, I go into Mother Bear mode. The park our church mothers' group meets at is very pleasant, but it has the misfortune of being near a main road. As a result, lots of passers-by cut through it to use the toilet facilities.

So there are often random strangers hanging out near the play equipment, and it bothers me. But not enough to actually say anything to the "offender," because what, exactly, would I say? And therein lies the rub. I end up paying almost as much attention to them as I do to Miriam.

Apparently, it bothers one mom more than me, because the other day, she actually approached a solo male standing near the play equipment and asked him what his business there was. He had been standing there for some time and was obviously not accompanied by a child. We moms had whispered about him amongst ourselves when finally, this one mom went over and confronted him. He gave some story about waiting for a friend who was in the bathroom (we hadn't noticed anyone with him), but sure enough, about 15 minutes later, a lady came out of the bathroom and they walked off.

The thing is, it's a public park, and people are entitled to use it. Even lone males without children who may or may not have a nefarious purpose. So for Miriam and me, it will always be CONSTANT...VIGILANCE!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

An exercise in futility


Miriam is all about playing outside these days, so we decided to buy her some kind of tricycle or ride-on toy. We discussed it as we rode our bikes to the park yesterday (Miriam was in the bike trailer). Imagine our surprise when, arriving at the park, we saw about fifty little kids riding every kind of tricycle, big wheel, bike, and ride-on toy you could think of. Someone was having a birthday party at the park and apparently, the invitation said to Bring Your Own Bike.

So in addition to playing on the park equipment, Miriam got to take a look at what's out there in the children's bike and trike department. A few of the moms even let her try out their kids' vehicles. One of them was a motor-powered mini jeep. Miriam controlling her own motor-powered movement was a hilarious sight, but we wanted her toy to be more of an exercise and play thing, not just a ride.

Later that day, we went to ToysRUs. The only other time we've been in that store was to buy Miriam a set of blocks a few months ago. That's because I hate ToysRUs. It's like living in a neverending Saturday morning cartoons commercial. You just feel so bombarded by brands, gimmicks, and obnoxious packaging, immediately upon entering the store.

The situation is dire: you know how in most stores, aisles are organized by subject, and have little signs telling you what you can find there? Well, at ToysRUs, those signs say things like "Dora the Explorer," "Winnie the Pooh," and "Backyardigans" (I'm not sure about that last one). That's right: instead of going to the store wanting to buy, say, a sand play set, you go there wanting something that has Dora on it. Then you walk down her aisle and figure out just what, specifically, you're going to get. Shudder.

Despite all this, we managed to find where they had a large collection of trikes and ride-on vehicles. Unfortunately, all they had were hud toys. A hud toy is a toy that is so garishly ugly, so overflowing in needless bells and whistles that its simple, original purpose is obscured (for lots of examples, just look at the vast majority of "infant activity centers"). All we wanted was a simple, normal, non-battery-requiring ride-on toy, such as this one, at our church building in Jordan.

But all they had were ride-ons plastered with Barbies or princesses or firemen (with accompanying stupid songs) or Elmo or Thomas the Train Engine, etc. etc. We tried out many of them but in the end decided that we could not, in good conscience, bring any of them into our home.

So what did we walk out of ToysRUs having purchased? A play shopping cart. But NOT the one that boasts of containing "over 20 individual play food items!!!!!!" You'd think that would be a liability in kids' toys, that they have lots of parts to scatter around the house and lose. Apparently not.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Welcome to the mall, Mom


That's the motto of Tucson Mall. Yes, really. Their other motto is, "What if Mother's Day were a place?"

I've never been a big mall person, but I have to say that I'm impressed with Tucson Mall. We rode our bikes there a couple of weeks ago (it is located conveniently off the River Path) and I was surprised at all the family-friendly amenities we found there.

There were the usual perks, of course, like strollers available for rent, and changing tables in the bathrooms. But Tucson Mall also has those little jumpseats inside of regular toilet stalls. That way, Mom can go to the bathroom without having to worry about the little one rampaging around a disgusting public restroom. (These are situations you never realize exist until you are a mom yourself.) The only other place I've ever seen those are at IKEA.

There are family restrooms, another nicety previously seen only at IKEA. But there is also a nursing lounge. Wow!

The customer service desk gives out little kid activity kits. And - though apparently this is normal and I just didn't know about it - there is an indoor playground at the mall. It's a really neat playground, too, sponsored by a local hospital with play structures in the shape of medical instruments (the non-scary ones). Miriam loves it. Plus, there is hand sanitizer at the entrance, and comfy padded benches around the perimeter to sit on. What more could you ask for?

So now the mall is somewhere that I don't mind going. It's not that I hang out there on a regular basis, but if some shopping has to be done, I'd rather do it there than anywhere else. Because I know that Miriam can have a good time and that all my needs will be taken care of.

And I'm going to stop now because I'm really starting to sound like a commercial. Bottom line: Tucson Mall is awesome, and they've done a great job catering to us moms. Thanks!

Friday, March 02, 2007

My heroine

I'm on a bit of a Jane Austen kick lately. I don't know exactly what prompted it, but it might be that Jeremy almost bought me the new Pride & Prejudice movie for Valentine's Day. But then he couldn't find it at Costco or Target and it ended up being the thought that counted.

I've read all of her books, except Lady Susan, at least once. And I've seen all the movies, including the A&E/BBC productions, and even that dreadful adaptation of Northanger Abby that came out a decade or so ago.

I finished reading Mansfield Park the other day, and now I've started on Persuasion.

I took this quiz online and got the following result:

I am Anne Elliot!


Take the Quiz here!


I think I can live with that. If nothing else, Amanda Root was a fantastic Anne.

But then I took this quiz, and it came up with:

Which Jane Austen heroine are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

So who knows. Somehow, I'm rational with a strong sense of duty, but I am also emotional, dramatic, and passionate. The clincher, though, might be this: my favorite scene in an Austen movie, ever, is definitely the part in Sense & Sensibility where Marianne cries after Willoughby on a rainy English hilltop.

Marianne Dashwood it is.

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