Friday, September 27, 2013

Hey Macklemore, can we go bulk shopping?

Wow. Let's lighten the mood around here, am I right? I appreciate the concerned emails and phone calls, but I promise that I'm totally fine and not likely to be murdered any time soon. I'm way more concerned that I almost choked on my toast this morning. For all the choking toddler patrol I do, you'd think I'd learn to take smaller bites. Speaking of large chunks of food that knock the wind out of you, yesterday we went to Costco.

We, meaning Stephen, Ivy and myself. I'm a really great shopper. When I'm alone. Going to Target while Stephen is at home with Ivy is my favorite Me Time activity. I'm there so often  that one of the cashiers whose name I don't know but I'm guessing it's Dolores, tells me all the latest celebrity gossip she's learned from skimming through OK! Magazine on her breaks. "Did you know Simon Cowell got his best friend's wife pregnant?!", she asked last time I was  in.

But Costco is a two man job and we can't very well  leave Ivy at home with the dog, so the three homo sapiens in our household make a family outing out of it. It rarely does much for familial unity.

There's something about Costco that puts me on edge, and judging by the looks of confusion on the faces of fellow shoppers, I'm not the only one. Maybe it's because it's September and half the store is already a Christmas  display. Maybe it's because the powers at be rearrange the aisles weekly, making it impossible to find chocolate chips. Maybe it's because  it feels like shopping for the apocalypse and you find yourself asking questions like, "When the zombies take over, do you think we'll need three pounds of cinnamon?".

We were about thirty minutes in to our Costco quest. At some point Ivy had grabbed a photo of cigarettes  and kept pointing at it and saying "mmmmm yummy" . Stephen was wondering how we managed to fill a cart so quickly. And I was just trying to find peanut butter. So I grabbed the first four pack I saw, not noticing it was Kirkland natural brand. I handed it to Stephen, the peanut butter connoisseur, whose reaction was  "No no no no." "Then find it yourself!" I barked. And then we both stood there in shock for a second while Ivy pointed at cigarettes and yummed. What had we become? What had this place done to us?  Were we those people now? "Yum!" Ivy said. We grabbed some Skippy, paid, and exited the store to the parking lot where the sun shined and there were no Christmas decorations in sight and we were a happy, functional family again.

I guess we learned a lesson? Maybe not. I don't know. But we're  well  stocked on food and still married so I'm going to say the outing was a win. Just a little touch and go for a minute there. Until next month, Costco. Hopefully you'll have your MLK decorations out.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Have a heart

I've gone back and forth on blogging about this. My primary hesitation is that I don't want relatives to panic. So let me make this very clear: I am fine. Very safe. There is no imminent threat. Really. I  promise.
My secondary hesitation is that this post will be kind of a bummer. But it's something that happened and something I've been thinking a lot about, and if a blog isn't for sharing happenings and thoughts, then well, I guess I've been doing this wrong for the past five years. No use changing now.


Remember the guy who created an image of my head on Hitler's body? It wasn't very nice, it was a little crazy, but it was kind of funny, and after a while I forgot about it. But then someone brought this to my attention:

Obviously, my boss took immediate action and contacted the authorities, and the web hosting company pulled this lunatic's site. Again, I'm fine. This was months ago. I'm still very much alive and in no danger. I am, however, a bit disturbed. I'll remind you that this user was banned for bullying and profanity. By banned, I mean he was no longer allowed to participate in the forum that I moderate. So to really boil this down, I stopped this guy from writing the F word on one tiny page of the Internet, and now he fantasizes about murdering me.

There is no doubt that this guy is crazy. But I wonder if he's so crazy that if we met in real life he would admit that he daydreams about shooting me in the head. I really don't think so. I think he only dares proclaim such things through the anonymity of a pseudonym and the silence of a computer image.

I'm of that strange generation who spent half our youth without the Internet and the other half online.  Maybe  I'm looking at the past through rose-colored glasses, or maybe I was an oblivious teenager, but I remember a lot less nastiness in the pre-social media days. I didn't know everyone's opinion on everything. Now I do know, I swear, every single person's opinion on everything that has happened, or will happen, ever. Political discussions meant communicating face to face and catching the nuances only expressions and vocal intonation offer, lending a better understanding to why someone might think it's necessary to carry a gun, or maintain the welfare system, or dare to disagree in any way. Now political discussions are ALL CAPS and days of Facebook notifications. Ten years ago if someone thought an article was stupid, they would think to their self, "This is stupid," then throw the newspaper in the trash and move on with their day without having to share their hatred with the world. Now, true story, the other day I was reading an enjoyable article, and in the comment section someone wrote "If anyone has ever told you that you are an intelligent or humorous person, they lied to you." A human being actually wrote that to another human being. Before the birth of the Internet I never received a death  threat. That's not the case now.

But I love the Internet.  I love being able to communicate with friends and family without using my phone (I can only call or receive calls if I stand right next to my bedroom window).  I can write and be read without going through the long and often heart-breaking process of submitting works for publication. I can learn anything about anything without leaving my couch.  I can work from home while my baby naps.  I can find a recipe for baklava and keep up on the news in Syria.  So maybe we take the good with the bad.  Maybe we ignore the crazies and stay connected to the good. Or maybe we run away to New Hampshire and live in a cabin off the grid, a la Walter White.  I honestly don't know which is the better option at this point. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What's in my bag?

Hey guys! It's time for another installment of Fashion by Meg*. I just returned from New York Fashion Week** where I saw the latest in cutting edge apparel and accessories. I thought I'd take a quick minute to share my personal favorite accessory for when I'm on the go, my handbag.

This is my bag. I bought it for $30 at Target.

It is not real leather.

So what does a Fashionista such as myself carry in the season's hottest satchel?

Two dried out baby wipes.

A fruit snack stuck to a penny.

A zoo receipt.

Ivy is not in my purse, but really wanted to be photographed.

A totally up-to-date calendar

My iphone, the case of which is cracked here

and broken here.

Two diapers. 


Two different shades of lipstick. I've worn  each once.

A pamphlet in Spanish about the Target Red  Card so the old guy cashier will finally stop bugging me to get  one. I don't know why it's  in Spanish.

Two nearly empty lotions.

Two pens. One works.  

My pristine wallet. 

Until next time, Fashion Lovers!
Loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove you!

This post is sponsored by no one though I wish it was because I would probably get a free bag out of it. 

*This is not a thing
**This is a lie

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Who'll stop the rain?

This is (was) a park

The other day I was walking from my car to the entrance of a store when a woman rolled down the window in  her car yelled at me, "I really love your hair!". A second woman followed me into the store, tapped me on the shoulder and said "I really like your hair. Can I take a picture of it?". Then,  after I made my purchase and started to walk away from the counter, the cashier said, "I'm digging the fancy green," in reference to the green pants I happened to be wearing because all my other pants needed washing. As I stood in line in a second store waiting to buy groceries, the woman behind me said, "I like how green you are." Neither my standard green jeans or my typical bob haircut are exceptional or noteworthy in any way. People in our town are just incredibly nice. So nice that when Ollie, Ivy and I were out for a walk and Ollie took care of some business milliseconds before the sprinklers turned on right where the mess needed to be bagged, a man across the street saw my look of panic and yelled, "Don't worry about it, I'll take care of it!" so the dog, toddler, and I could flee the scene relatively dry. I like to think of myself as a decent  person, but I really don't think I have it in  me to clean up someone else's dog's poop.  That's straight up altruism. 

So the floods in Longmont this past week are very much a case of bad things  happening to good people. The best people.  Our family is fine.  We live on one of the highest points  in town in a second story apartment. Our biggest inconvenience has been delayed text messages. And while we're extremely grateful for our well-being, and enjoying the time spent together while Stephen's classes are canceled and the CU campus closed, a half a mile to the west basements are full of water, and areas of land are submerged, and major roads remain closed. A few miles further west and entire houses are ruined, victims are gathered at the YMCA, and rescuers are searching for the unaccounted for. 

And now I should end this post with a take away or deep philosophical statement I don't know what that should be. It's raining again, so the Walter family will be spending the day eating popcorn and watching Muppet  movies. I guess I just hope that every lovely person I've encountered in this small, quirky place will also be spending the  day warm and dry. And I hope the sun comes out soon.

Monday, September 9, 2013

She's never had a tough crowd

To the complete surprise of no one, we failed to switch to milk in the sippy before our pediatrician appointment.  I made the shameful confession  to Dr. R and she offered an understanding smile. She then explained that milk is nothing more than a source of calcium, and if Ivy refused it in a cup, that was okay, she could get calcium from yogurt or cheese. It was like hearing that everything I've ever known has been a lie, in the best possible way. Gone were our days of warm bottles every three hours, of buying a new gallon every couple of days, of trying to plan meals between bottles so Ivy would eat. Feeling light and free, I  headed home resolved to throw away the bottles.

That went over like a lead balloon full of Earth's hundred heaviest humans, each holding an anvil.  After an hour of Ivy standing by the fridge, opening and closing her hands in the gimme motion and wailing "Mommma  mommmma mommmma NO NO NO NO!" I caved.

So we've compromised and are holding steady at one bottle a day. It seems to be going alright. Though she hasn't taken to the milk filled sippy, and sticks her tongue in disgust anytime I trick her into trying it, she has been a lot better about trying new foods and drinking her water. That's not to say we haven't had a few moments of frustration. Like this morning. To be fair, Ivy hadn't gotten off to a great start after getting her leg stuck between crib railings. She was understandably grouchy, and  like I need my special mommy bottle (DC) during moments of distress, so she craved some warm milk relief. I stood in the bathroom doing my hair and Ivy, holding a bottle filled with water,  marched to the spot outside the door where I could best see her in the mirror, gave my reflection her best angry eyes, and threw the bottle. Then she picked it up, glared at me with even angrier eyes, and threw the bottle again.

My biggest downfall as a mother is my inclination to laugh when my child misbehaves. Ivy is so unintentionally hilarious when she turns on the drama that it takes all my strength to keep my scolding voice from cracking with giggles. Like this morning at breakfast when Ivy was trying to simultaneously throw a tantrum and eat cheerios (again, it wasn't our best AM). I had to excuse myself to another room to get all my smiling out before attempting to discipline. And then with the bottle protest I had to turn away, laugh as silently as possible and then deal.

Then there's those times when I just can't deal. When she attempts to be hilarious and succeeds. Like when she tries to put sunglasses on Ollie or wears her potty (never used) as a hat, or stands up in the middle of a diaper change and runs around the apartment half-naked.

I never expected to be so challenged or so entertained.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Triangles are my favorite shape

I married a musician. A drummer, if you're into specificity. So a good chunk of our dating days were spent at venues all across the Salt Lake valley.  I sipped crappy Diet Coke at many a bar while watching Stephen drum with whatever band he was part of at that time (he went through a few). Sometimes we stood together in  a crowd watching other musicians perform. Shortly after we started dating, Stephen took me to see Andrew Bird for my birthday. We were Twilight Concert Series regulars. It was usually as easy as  "Hey (Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, Sonic Youth) is playing tonight. Want to go?" And we'd get in the car and go. Then we graduated and got married and got grown up jobs and  Stephen started law school  and we had a baby and we ran out of time and money and inclination to spend our weekends playing or seeing music. Stephen left his drum set in Utah.  I slowly replaced my radio presets with NPR 1 and NPR 2 and stuck with the same three Pandora stations for years, just to have something to listen to while running. Together we talked less about bands and more about Ivy and Ollie and tax policy what we want to watch on Netflix. So it was unusual that we were listening to an All Songs Considered podcast in the car together. I guess we weren't so much listening, it was just kind of on while we were in  the car.  But then a song played and we both stopped talking and stared  at each other and asked, "Who is this?" It was Alt-J. It was amazing.

As soon as I learned Alt-J were coming to Denver, I knew we had to go. I bought the tickets for Stephen's birthday. I made arrangements for a sitter. And then of course a million different conflicts arose and we thought maybe we should sell the tickets? No, we could make it work, so after Stephen had had a long day  on campus and I had had a long day mothering, we dumped Ivy and Ollie on our very kind relatives and raced to the venue two hours late. "We're too old for this," I told Stephen, before we walked into the venue  wearing twice the amount of clothing as anyone else there, and smoking a lot less pot (read: none, Mom). We'd just missed the opening act, and stood watching roadies prepare for the headliner. Within five minutes I knew the cardigan was a mistake. All around use were sweaty, drunk hipsters, and I started to think we'd made a huge mistake in pretending we belonged there. But then the lights dimmed and fog rose and the bearded front man walked out and in that wonderful Brittishy way said, "Hello, Denver!" For the next ninety minutes I didn't care that both Stephen and I were sweating from head to toe or that I was getting real up close and comfortable with what must have been a college freshman or that someone spilled beer on my shoe. Because Alt-J was that good. The music was that beautiful and captivating. I remembered our dating days in years gone by and got real sentimental remembering Stephen and drums and the shows we used to see.  I didn't care that we were the Ugh parents among all these youths. For ninety minutes it felt like we belonged. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I'm not an appy person. I could probably survive on a phone that makes calls, sends texts, checks the weather, and lets me post instagrams. I download a new app about once every three months, and it's usually something Elmo related to keep Ivy entertained during church. So I don't know what came over me,  or what made me think  I needed another distraction in my life, but for some reason I downloaded Candy Crush.

Oh. Man. This game. THIS GAME. It's perfect. It's Tetris without the hassle of turning and placing pieces. It's Angry Birds without the required finger athleticism. It's puzzles on puzzles on puzzles and it's everything my jig-saw, cross-word loving soul has ever dreamed of.
Have I sold you? Do you have the app store store open with your finger  hovering over the free install button? Stop. Don't do it. It will ruin you.
I used to be satisfied with my life. I was content to spend my days playing with my kid, walking my dog, working my challenging yet stimulating job, cooking dinner, talking with my husband and reading a chapter in a book before falling asleep. Oh how my life has changed. Now I spend my days looking for any excuse to crush some candy. The game has become my reward for even the least noteworthy tasks. "I emptied the dishwasher," I think to myself, "I deserve a treat." Five rounds of CC  later and I'm having to pull myself from my phone to load the dishwasher or check messages or eat lunch,just to reward myself again after completing any one of those minor accomplishments. Watching movies with Stephen used to be a rich, rewarding cultural experience. Now it's a solid chunk of time where I can play my game, listen to dialogue and ask Stephen, much to his chagrin, about anything nonverbal I may have missed onscreen. Family car time has become Meg plays candy crush time.Like an alcoholic looks forward to social outings as an excuse to drink, so do I look forward to being a passenger in a car as an excuse to try just one more time to beat level 63. For the entire seven hour drive from Utah to Colorado, I was crushing candy. "But wait," you other crushers are probably saying, "How do you play continuously when the game only provides five lives at a time before making you wait another thirty minutes? You're not actually paying for more lives, are you?" Please. No. I'm addicted, not stupid. I've gotten around the life reloading waiting period by downloading the game on three, yes three, different devices. My phone, my ipad, and Stephen's phone. Do I feel shame in asking Stephen for his phone when I've maxed out my lives on the other two machines? Yes. Does it stop my from asking? No. While I haven't spent any actual money on extra lives or boosters, it's a high price I've paid. It's my dignity I've lost. My ability to live my life without an intense desire to see a screen full of colorful shapes explode in sugary confetti. My nights that were spent dreaming of something other than rows of candy collapsing in on each other, a feeling I chase like a junkie does a high.
"I'll stop playing when I've beat the game," I tell myself. But I'm starting to think there is no end. A thought that both excites me and scares me.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've done a really great job writing this post and I deserve a treat. I'm coming for you, level 65.