Last weekend brought another wedding we opted not to go to, and in fact–and I’m not sure if this had to do with COVID or not–the reception venue was changed the night before because the original venue wanted everything over and done by like 7:00 or something ridiculously early. The result was mostly outdoors, I think, and I would’ve been more at east going in that case, but alas.

Paul’s sister Julie was coming to town for it, though, and we’re still okay with getting together with a small group, particularly immediate family, so we made vague plans to get together at some point for her to see Charlie. In the meantime, Katie asked if we’d be at the wedding because she had some hand-me-downs for Charlie from Arlo, and I said no but hey, we might be getting together with Julie if you guys want in on that, and that’s how we ended up having a low-key chili dinner at Jacob and Katie’s. It was nice to hang out, see each other, and get both boys with some aunties and uncles and, of course, each other, although they’re both too little to really care. Arlo did reach out and touch Charlie’s arm, though, and us girls all died a little.

I intended for us to leave after Charlie ate a little bit more of his bottle near the end of the evening, but instead, he decided to spit up all over himself and me. And so I rode home with my pants off, and I learned to pack myself a change of clothes when we’re out, not just him.

We’ve also popped over to both our parents’ houses for visits. This weekend, since I was off Monday and my mom was babysitting Eliana, we stopped over to get her together with Charlie. It was a pretty cute, chaotic, hilarious day. Eliana’s walking and talking, so she’s kind of all over the place. She seems to enjoy Charlie as much as a one-year-old can enjoy a three-month-old, and she got down on the floor with him and would babble.

My mom told me the next day that she was looking for him, and then they called him on her toy phone.

I’m generally only off on Mondays two months out of the year, and it ends next week. I did take Tuesday off, though, so the plan is to head back then. Besides, my mom needs outlet covers and we have plenty to spare.

When it was time for Eliana to leave to meet Kelly and go home, we packed up Charlie and headed to Paul’s parents’ house and hung around a bit and had dinner there. We’ll probably head back there on Tuesday, too. When we’re in the area, especially since both families live there, we try to divide our time between the two so everyone gets to see Charlie. We’ve been told that we don’t have to do this, but I’m not stupid. I know the first time we go to one house and not the other–keeping in mind only one of the grandmothers would care–it’ll be A Thing.

I keep forgetting to mention this, but Paul has finished writing a novel. He’d set a goal to finish it by his 30th birthday, and while he didn’t make it, he did finish it two days later, which I say isn’t bad at all considering Charlie would’ve been a moth old at that time. I haven’t read it yet, although it’s sitting in my e-mail. His sister Emily has, though, and says it’s pretty good but needs another several thousand words. Ah, the trappings of having multiple writers in the family.

We actually have a nice little writing group going that meets Saturday nights virtually through Discord. My time is clearly limited and writing isn’t quite on the back burner for me, I would say, but it’s not a priority at the moment, either, and so I’ve only tossed two pieces to the group. But everyone’s talented, helpful, smart, and insightful–and hilariously, Paul are the oldest by a fair margin. With Emily being several years younger than Paul, the bulk of it is friends of hers from college and work, so they’re all around 22, 23, I would guess, and here we are at 30 and 31 with a new baby, who occasionally contributes some coos to the discussion. But hey, we have fun and benefit from it. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

Saturday 9: Do You Want to Dance?

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

This week, we’re inspired by The Divine Miss M’s plea for a definitive answer. Here are nine random “yes or no” questions. Naturally you’re welcome to elaborate, but if you want to zip through with a Y or an N, that’s fine, too. 

 1) Do you check your cellphone first thing in the morning? 
Yes

2) Are there dirty dishes in your sink right now? Yes

3) Have you laughed yet today? Yes

4) Have you written a check in the last week? Yes

5) If you met someone who shared all your strengths and weaknesses, would you like him/her? Uh…I think so, although I will admit that some of the issues between my mother-in-law and I have to do with the fact that our personalities are actually quite similar but manifest in different ways.

6) Is a bride ever too old to have a big wedding? No!

7) Do you put potato chips in your sandwich to make it crunchy? I was gonna say, “Ew, no,” and then I remembered I come from the area famous for putting fries and coleslaw on a sandwich.

8) Have you ever taken a nude photo of someone (not a baby)? Technically, I think so.

9) On Monday, will you be playing Bud and Mimi’s cool new meme, Monday Madness? (Our last shameless plug, I promise.) Maybe!

Friday 5: Go Fry an Egg!

  1. Where would you go if someone asked you to go jump in the lake? I guess I could drive 20-minutes-ish out to Canonsburg, but I think I’d rather drive the hour and a half to Deep Creek in Maryland.
  2. Where would you go if someone asked you to take a hike? Realistically, one of the nice paved trails around here, but ideally, somewhere in the woods.
  3. Where would you go if someone asked you to take a long walk off a short pier? Deep Creek again, I think.
  4. Where would you go if someone asked you to go climb a tree? My backyard!
  5. Where would you go if someone asked you to go fly a kite? The park where we go walking, I guess, but it’s tough because there are lots of trees everywhere. There’s lots of trees almost everywhere around here.

From Friday 5.

Saturday 9: Frankie and Johnny

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) When this record was initially released in 1966, it never cracked the Top 20. Critics were harsh, saying that Elvis had not kept up the times. How about you? Do you consider yourself up-to-date on today’s music? I definitely try to be! I write about music, or often did pre-COVID and the cancellation of concerts, so I try to at least listen to whatever new artists are getting buzz.

2) The song is about a woman named Frankie and Johnny, the man who does her wrong. Who is the most recent person to do you wrong? (It doesn’t have to be in romance; it could be the person who cut in front of you in line at the supermarket.) Look, I know by commenting on a Facebook post by my district’s rep and disagreeing with him was setting myself up for attack, and I’m not even that mad at the people who are arguing about nuances of law and procedure, but fuck the dude who told me I’m living in another universe.

3) Elvis sings that Johnny cheated with “a chick named Nellie Bly.” The real Nellie was an estimable woman, a pioneering 19th century journalist. Can you think of another song that mentions a real person? My husband was on a Johnny Cash kick recently and was enjoying his song “Custer.” It is…not flattering.

4) This song was recorded for a movie by the same name. Elvis played a riverboat gambler. When did you last play a game of chance? It’s been a while! I’m not into the lottery and although I do enjoy casinos, I haven’t gone to one probably in a few years.

5) Actor Harry Morgan had a supporting role in the movie. He’s remembered as Officer Gannon on Dragnetand Col. Potter on M*A*S*H. Gannon was a good cop but could be particular about his food and surroundings. As a career soldier, Potter didn’t mind roughing it every now and again. Which character are you more like: fussy Gannon or outdoorsy Potter? A little of both. I like to be comfortable, but I can handle sleeping outside in a tent and not showering for a few days.

6) Elvis’ leading lady was Donna Douglas. She filmed her part during her summer hiatus from TV’s The Beverly Hillbillies. Have you ever had a summer job? I spent a couple summers writing for my local newspaper.

7) Though not remembered as an actor, Elvis was a bona fide movie star. In 1966, he was listed (with Paul Newman, Sean Connery, John Wayne and Richard Burton) as one of the world’s biggest box office draws. Who starred in the last movie you watched? I can’t remember the last movie I watched! I’ve been watching more TV lately.

8) In 1966, Lauren Bacall appeared on the cover of Timewith the headline: “The Pleasures and Perils of Middle Age.” She was 41 years old and starring in a hit Broadway play. In the article, she explained that in middle age, she had come to understand that “character and a sense of humor are the two things that will carry you through.” Tell us about something you understand better or appreciate more today than you did when you were young. My husband and I joke about how as kids, we used to hate it when our parents ran into someone they knew and talked forever but now as adults, we totally understand why. I also have a sense that, like…a lot of the things we place so much importance on don’t actually matter. My best friend and I one night somehow got on the subject of college and failing classes, and I said that at the time, failing a class seemed like the end of the world but how bad would it really have been? It would’ve sucked, sure, and thrown off a GPA and probably delayed some plans, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a fraction of your life and experiences. On top of that, now that I’ve experienced the death of a parent, so much seems trivial. My husband found out last year–around the same time my dad was diagnosed with cancer–that he would be losing his job and brought up the possibility of moving, and my attitude now is that it’s not worth leaving our close friends and family, especially now that we have a baby and have a niece and a nephew. We weren’t put on this planet to work eight hours a day at jobs we don’t like, especially if we’re doing that far away from the people we love.

9) Random question: Have you checked out Bud and Mimi’s cool new meme, Monday Madness? No, but I will!

Friday 5: How Are You Feeling Today?

  1. What were you most recently anxious about? My son is about to turn three months old, and a couple nights last week, he actually slept through the night, including last night. But being a paranoid mom, I still woke up a couple times to check on him. Even when a break from 2 a.m. feedings is much needed, it was our norm, so a deviation from that is almost concerning.
  2. What were you most recently apologetic about? Choosing not to attend relatives’ baby/bridal showers and weddings or being very selective about which ones to attend. I firmly believe we shouldn’t be having events like this at all, but I feel bad for missing them. I recently went to a baby shower that was outside and may be attending a Halloween wedding, and then I just feel bad for going to one event and not the other. Living in an area where this is dismissed as “paranoia” doesn’t help.
  3. What are you feeling cautious about these days? Ha, see #2. Also, with a new baby, I’m very aware of the fact that people really want to hold babies and like to get right up in their faces.
  4. Heading into the weekend, what are you confident about? I’m doing this on Monday, but thinking back to Friday, I was confident in a nice weekend with seeing the family we’re comfortable with visiting.
  5. What were the consequences (good and bad) the last time you felt adventurous? I would tell you if I could remember when that was!

From Friday 5.

Saturday 9: So Emotional

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here. 

1) Whitney sings that she keeps her lover’s photo beside her bed. What’s on your bedside table? We don’t actually have one! The bedrooms in our house are pretty small, and at the moment, our 10-week-old son’s pack-n-play that he sleeps in is right next to the bed. Normally, though, there’s still no room for one. There’s actually a heat register right behind the pack-n-play, it’s just not a concern right now due to it being summer. Plus there’s a tiny bathroom off of our bedroom that the pack-n-play is also blocking, so we’re just living without the convenience of it until the baby transfers to a crib in his own room. But I would like to do some measuring to see if there’s a way we can rearrange things that’s a little more functional, but not until after said baby crib transfer. It just won’t really work until then.

2) She’s getting frustrated, waiting for the phone to ring. If your phone were to ring right now, who would you expect to be on the other end? Either those damn calls about an extended warranty on my car, some other spam call, or my mom.

3) The video was filmed at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA. It seats 6,200. As the nation reopens from Covid19, would you feel comfortable sitting knee-to-knee with a stranger in an arena like this? Nope. I have very strong feelings about this country’s apparent decision to pretend the pandemic isn’t even happening.

4) This week’s featured artist, Whitney Houston, appeared on the daytime drama As The World Turns. She played herself, performing with Jermaine Jackson at the Miss Cinderella contest in the fictional town of Oakdale. Have you ever been hooked on a soap opera? I’m a General Hospital fan.

5) Whitney had a sweet tooth, and her favorite breakfast cereal was Fruity Pebbles. Do you often eat cereal for lunch or dinner? Usually in the morning, I breastfeed the baby, then get to work, so I eat something small at my desk and graze throughout the morning. So if I eat cereal during the week, yep, it’s for dinner. But on the weekends, I might have some for breakfast.

6) At Whitney’s wedding to Bobby Brown, her bridesmaids all wore lavender dresses and the groomsmen had custom made alligator shoes. Have you ever “stood up” for a friend or relative? If so, do you remember what you wore? I was supposed to be one of the maids of honor in my best friend’s wedding, but they ended up doing it kind of shotgun-style because he was in the military. I was a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding, though.

7) In 1987, the year this song was popular, Cher won the Oscar for Moonstruck. Her most famous line was, “Snap out of it!” When you think of Cher, do you first think of her movies, her TV show, or her music? Music, for sure, and I’m glad I got to see her live on her last tour!

8) Michael Douglas won the Oscar that year for Wall Street. His most famous line was, “Greed is good.” His character goes on to say that, “Greed in all its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge — has marked the upward surge of all mankind.” Do you agree? Kind of, but I also think that’s romanticizing a very ugly trait that causes lots of problems in the world.

9) Random question: When you woke up this morning, were you ready to get out of bed? Or do you wish you could have snoozed for a bit longer? Oh, definitely wished I could’ve snoozed, but I’m trying to get the baby on a schedule built around my work schedule, which means the best time to feed him in the morning during the week is 6:30. So no sleeping in for me.

Friday 5: These Acquaintances of Mine

  1. Among people you know, who’s always got the best stories? Ooh, I don’t know. My husband has good ones, but at this point, I’ve heard them all a thousand times. Same with a lot of my friends.
  2. Among people you know, who’s got the worst sense of direction? Oof, maybe me. I honestly can’t think of anyone who seems to be as bad at it.
  3. Among people you know, who’s most likely to have the latest tech? Maybe one of my cousins? I know a few people who would jump on the latest smartphone but not necessarily other tech.
  4. Among people you know, who’s the best dresser? Either my cousin Sammi, my cousin Meredith, or my friend Emily, kind of for different reasons. Meredith and Emily tend to be on kind of the “cooler,” more expressive and bolder end of things while Sammi’s style is a little simpler and sleeker.
  5. Among people you know, who arrives latest to a gathering? Me. Sometimes one of my friends if it’s a party or something.

From Friday 5.

We got two nice walks in the park in over the weekend. I was hoping to get a third, but it didn’t work out. I’m okay with it–I’m quite happy with the two we got. I’m also desperately clinging to summer by insisting on a trip to Sonic or something while we’re nearby. It’s a good thing I never got their ocean water drink while I was pregnant, otherwise Paul might’ve been going to Sonic every night. But my mom mentioned having had one of their cherry limeades recently, and it planted the seed.

Most of the weekend was pretty quiet and lazy. I popped out for a little bit on Sunday to run some errands, and we had a small get-together for Labor Day. We took advantage of the warm, sunny weather and our deck and had both of our immediate families over, so we got in some quality time with Eliana and my mom had an afternoon with both grandbabies in one place. We ordered a pizza and pretty much just sat outside and enjoyed that with some adult beverages.

For my baby shower, my sisters-in-law on Paul’s side gave me a gift certificate for a newborn photo session (we did the same thing for Katie’s shower earlier in the year). Pre-COVID, like when Eliana was born, most hospitals would have a photographer come do a little shoot in your hospital room. Kelly has really nice pictures of tiny Eliana, and I loved seeing that in them, Kelly and Eliana were wearing the matching robe and swaddle set I’d given Kelly at her shower. But when the pandemic hit, that all stopped. When I had Charlie, we weren’t allowed any visitors, and Paul wasn’t allowed to leave, basically, and of course no photographer anymore. We had one of our nurses snap a family photo in matching outfits my mom bought us–a robe for me, a swaddle for Charlie, and a “Dad” shirt for Paul–and we took some pictures of our own, which I think in a weird way captures the entire moment well. Our hair is unusually long and disheveled, and it’s a lot of candid shots. But when I finally got my shit somewhat together, I got in touch with the photographer. Unfortunately, I was too late for newborn shots, but fortunately, the photographer was very accommodating. She suggested two sessions, either over the next few months as Charlie grows and hits milestones or a family session, then something else later, maybe around 6 months, with Charlie on his own. I really wanted something professional done before Charlie gets much bigger, especially as he’s in the 99th percentile for length thanks to his 6’5″ dad, so I sprung for the family session.

After everyone headed home yesterday afternoon, I tore apart my closet trying to figure out what to wear. I’ve lost most of the baby weight, but I’ve got just enough hanging on–and the workout routine I established about a year ago got wrecked first by nausea and fatigue while I was pregnant and then by COVID just when I was ready to get back into something light, and I refuse to set foot in a gym right now. We’ve started our weekly walks in the park and we have my dad’s old weight bench, but with a baby to breastfeed and being back to work full-time, it’s not always easy to squeeze in a lifting session, even if it is just right in the garage. So I’m not in the shape I’d like to be in, but I’m trying to be easy on myself. I just had a baby, and even before that, last year was chaos. Still, there was a lot of trial and error in finding something weather appropriate that looked nice and I felt comfortable being photographed in. Charlie’s wardrobe options were limited, too, because of his size, but we got him in a cute set of dinosaur suspenders that I was afraid might be a tiny bit too big but served him well. And of course, Paul was ready in five minutes.

I may not be feeling my most confident right now, but I am excited to see the pictures. The plan is once Charlie is close to 6 months old and is moving a little and able to sit up on his own, we’ll go back for more.

This weekend, I start my Saturday rotation at work for the month, and aside from our park trips, we’re probably homebodies for the foreseeable future. Don’t want to catch (or spread!) that ‘rona, even if the governor is easing up on restrictions for restaurants.

Saturday 9: Work Hard, Play Harder

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) We’re celebrating the last holiday of summer by going country. Who is your favorite country music artist? I’m not much for country, but probably Johnny Cash.

2) Gretchen Wilson sings that on Tuesdays, she gets up before dawn. This morning, did you awaken on your own, or did you need an alarm clock? My nine-week-old son woke me up, so…both? Neither?

3) She tells us that she doesn’t waste her time on manicures or spay tans. How about you? Have you recently spent any money at the salon? No. I haven’t gone even for my hair since March, and in my case, I had an appointment in April that got canceled, so it’s actually been longer. But I’m going next week! The friend that I used to go to quit her job, and frankly, I don’t trust most salons with coronavirus. But I know the guy my mom’s gone to since I was a kid is enforcing social distancing and mask wearing and I trust him with my hair, so I’m okay with going.

4) She sings that she’s the first to clock in at work. Have you ever worked a job that required you to punch a time clock? Yep, my current one.

5) Gretchen Wilson says she is a big fan of McDonald’s and tries to eat there once a day when she’s on tour. In terms of sales, America’s 3 most popular fast-food lunch destinations are McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway. If you could choose a gift card to one of those three, which would you select? Definitely Starbucks. Now that I can relax my caffeine restriction a bit, I’ve been guzzling macchiatos whenever I get a chance.

6) Gretchen has endorsed Redneck Riviera Whiskey. What’s your favorite adult beverage? Mojitos, I think. I’ve been dabbling in some canned beverages lately, but I still haven’t been drinking much.

Since this Monday is Labor Day, the holiday established to celebrate the American worker … 

7) Approx. 10% of Americans are self employed. Have you ever been your own boss? No. I’ve done some freelance work, which is very self-motivated, but you’re still turning work in to an editor and there are still guidelines to follow that someone else is enforcing, so I don’t think it counts much.

8) According to Monster.com, 50% of workers have left a job to get away from a boss. Are you one of the 50%? Nope.

9) Farmers feel the impact of extreme weather events. Have you ever had a job that required you to be outdoors most of the time? No.

Friday 5: Expertise

  1. What are you skilled enough at to get paid for, but do for your friends for no charge? I don’t do it as much anymore since we’re all in the workforce now, but I used to proofread all of my best friend’s papers in college and I take a look at her résumé whens she’s job hunting. She had one professor who was really difficult, like worse than any I ever had in a damn English program, so I really combed over the ones for him. Part of me regrets never trying for a job in my university’s Writing Center, but at the same time, I don’t know that I would’ve had the time.
  2. What did you used to be very knowledgeable about but aren’t anymore, because you didn’t keep up with latest developments? Web design, and I just happened to be talking about this in the last week! I taught myself web design, but after I let the blog(s) from my late teens die, I stopped keeping up with it. I wouldn’t mind getting back into it if I had the time, and by that I mostly mean if I wasn’t prioritizing, say, writing and side hustles. Oh, and a kid. And speaking of college, I actually took a basic web design class because it counted towards science credits and I knew I could get an A.
  3. What are you skilled enough at to get paid for, except nobody actually pays anyone to do it? One could argue the same as my answer to #1. I’ll be the first to defend English degrees and talk about how I absolutely have no regrets, but its skill set is undervalued. People want it but are unwilling to pay for it.
  4. What have you become super interested in only recently, and what’s something you know about it? Parenting, I guess? I recently learned that babies shouldn’t be in a car seat for more than two hours, which somehow never comes up in all the car-seat safety literature.
  5. Who do you admire for his or her vast knowledge about a topic you care about? One of my sisters-in-law is a vet tech. I always had an interest in animals but ruled out being a vet mostly because I didn’t want to have to put them down. She’s obviously good to go to with questions if one of the cats is acting weird or about behavioral things, but there are other things she knows from other related classes I’ve been known to ask her about. For example, she’s the reason I don’t buy organic milk anymore, and while I was never against antibiotic use in farm animals, she did tell me about how from the viewpoint of animal welfare, not using antibiotics is often sentencing animals to a rough death. She’s told me a few things that as a vegetarian, I want to know to make informed decisions about what to avoid, especially with lots of food-related buzzwords. I want to know if something that’s marketing itself as being a more ethical alternative is bullshit. But my favorite is probably the time I asked about eggs. I know egg color just depends on the type of chicken, but I asked why organic and cage-free eggs are brown and others white. The reason? People just think there’s something more “natural” about brown eggs. It’s probably the single dumbest tidbit I ever got from her.

From Friday 5.