Deep thoughts.

I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon pondering baby formula. The Babe has been off the boob juice for a few months now, and happily guzzles whatever brand of formula we happen to put in her bottle. This amazes me, because all baby formula smells like drinkable drywall that’s been painted with vomit.

To be fair, the Babe also happily chews on Husband’s soccer cleats. So perhaps her palate is not discerning enough to be trusted as a true arbiter of taste. But then again, maybe formula doesn’t taste as bad as it smells? Or maybe it does, but that’s what breast milk tastes like, too? And what goes into the process of making formula, anyway? I know it’s as close nutritionally to breast milk as possible, but what about the taste? Do they also try to make it similar tasting? And wouldn’t that mean that someone at Nestlé has been hired to be a boob juice/formula taste tester? How do you end up with that job? Really piss someone off during your interview?

After about an hour of discussion, I finally looked at Husband and said “I’m just gonna taste it.” I unscrewed the bottle and took a small sip. Not surprisingly, it tasted like liquid drywall with a touch of vomit. Sweet vomit.

Not to be outdone, Husband grabbed the bottle and took a swig. He paused for a minute, swallowed, and then ran for the sink to flush out his mouth with water. I think he considered plunging his face à la Ace Ventura.

So the lessons learned here are simple:

1. Baby formula tastes as bad as it smells.

2. Babies still like it. And seem completely healthy and happy because of it.

3. Go to college so you don’t have to grow up and be a boob juice/formula taste-tester.

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Number Two.

Ohhhhh blog, how I’ve neglected you. It’s been days since I posted anything fun here, days! And to be honest, with each blog-less week it was starting to feel like my well of inspiration had run dry, just a few sad months out of France. I mean, really–there’s only so much I can say about cleaning bananas out of the ears of a sweet child who looks increasingly like Marlon Brando circa Apocalypse Now.

But I missed writing! I missed sharing the sometimes hilarious everyday insanity that made up my life in Paris. I felt committed to jumpstarting this blog again, if only I had some good material: A funny story. A goofy encounter. Or, you know, another baby.

Yes folks, that is in fact another baby human in my uterus. That’s how far I’m willing to go to keep this blog alive! At least until the baby comes out and I have no time to do anything but wipe other people’s butts.

I know what you’re thinking: I am super dedicated to my readership (all 4 of you). So dedicated that I’m going to have this bébé all the way over in Austria, which means I’ll most likely have some big nurse named Helga barking at me in stern German to poooosh! And if that won’t make for good blog material, I don’t know what will.

So enjoy! I’ll promise I’ll be posting more updates about Number Two and The Babe and my exciting foray into the world of Irish twins. While getting ready to move abroad. Again. You’re welcome!

The root of my Madness.

It’s March. Do you know what that means? It means March Madness has begun! It means Husband will spend approximately 3-4 hours a night studying basketball stats! It means my first-round picks will still be better than his! And it apparently also means 80 degree weather.

That last one is kind of a bummer, because I’m gonna feel pretty guilty sitting inside all day for the next couple weeks, glued to the TV while the daffodils bloom and the sun shines down gloriously on Washington. Maybe we can pull the flatscreen onto the deck for the late afternoon games.

March is a holiday season in this household.  A special time to reflect on free throw percentages and mascot fierceness. A time to renew my faith in bracketology and hold out hope that my picks will reign supreme again, like they did that one time in 1997.

I can’t tell you why I love college basketball so much. I personally suck at basketball. I was once told that I shoot baskets like I’m mad at the backboard. But I suspect it has something to do with rocking a mini Duke cheerleading outfit in the Christian Laettner heyday.

And before you boo and hiss at the thought of that, understand that my elementary school self just wanted to support my big sister’s college team. I didn’t even know any other teams existed. In fact, I’m pretty sure I only watched games in the hopes that the players would spontaneously burst into a choreographed rendition of “Greased Lightning.”

They never did. But the games were still kind of exciting. I liked the idea of rabidly rooting for your team, like you actually had something personally invested in the outcome. So I kept watching. And my love of the Madness grew until I started playing sports in high school, when my savage competitive spirit was finally awakened by the sheer frustration of wearing a skirt while chasing around a ball with a goofy curved stick. I started filling out brackets. One year I ended up beating out all the dudes writing for the sports section of our high school paper. And it’s been a love affair ever since.

So good luck to all you March Madness fans out there. May lady luck smile upon your brackets and push your cinderella to the finals. Unless you’re in my pool, in which case I hope to crush you mercilessly.

Oscar couch commentary.

Here’s a representative snippet of the running commentary from our couch last night as we watched the Oscars red carpet:

Me: “Holy Nick Nolte!”

Husband: “Whoa. Is he drunk?”

Me: “Probably.”

Me: “Oh Penelope, that hairdo is no bueno.”

Husband: “I bet that guy freebased cocaine on the way in.”

Me: “Um, that’s Jason Segel. From the Muppet Movie.”

Husband: “Whatever.”

Me: “Oh Brad…why the Legends of the Fall hair?”

Me: “Wait, how do you say ‘mustache’ in German?”

Husband: “Schnurrbart.”

Me: “Oh Bradley…why the schurrbart?”

Husband: “Holy JLo!”

Me: “Is it just me, or is half her nipple hanging out?”

Husband: “Definite nip-age.”

Me: “Ew. Well, at least she doesn’t look like the caped crusader. I’m looking at you, Gwyneth.”

Husband: “That dress sucks.”

Me: “I love you Glenn Close! But the bottom half of your dress is wacky.”

Husband: “She has huge tatas.”

Me: (eyebrow raised)

Husband: “What?”

*            *             *

Next year I think we should take over for Joan Rivers.

I always wanted to wear a uniform.

better than mom jeans!Whoa. Guess I needed a few weeks to recover from the 9 year old birthday party. But I’m back! And I’m ready to share with you what I wear pretty much every day. It is what I have started calling the Mom Uniform. I did not know it was the mom uniform until Husband, after a week of seeing me in the same black yoga pants, said “You look like a Bethesda mom now!” I do not know if that’s a good thing.

The Mom Uniform was confirmed several days later when my sister, herself a mother of 4, walked in my door wearing the exact same ensemble as me, down to the cream hoodie and black puffy coat. Again, I do not know if that’s a good thing.

What I do know is that this uniform serves many purposes. It’s often the result of a morning workout cut short by The Babe that turns into a jaunt to the grocery store and 10 more errands, and then before I know it night has fallen and I think “hey, these are kind of like pajamas!” Even more often it’s the result of wishful thinking, the kind of optimism that leads me to believe that simply putting on the workout clothes will lead to some sort of exercise later in the day. Or that wearing spandex and sneakers somehow makes the walk around Target a legitimate calorie burner.

But really, this outfit is supremely comfortable AND practical. Stretchy for all your sagging post-baby body parts, yet sleek and sporty. Nothing has to be dry cleaned, nothing will be ruined if The Babe decides to make it rain carrot purée. Sunglasses help with the cool factor while also hiding the bags under your eyes. Could it get any better??

Well, I know it could get worse. If I start wearing mom jeans, someone please slap me.

Weekend getaway.

It was my niece Anna’s birthday on Saturday. She turned nine years old. To celebrate, she wanted nothing more in this world than to spend the night with all her friends at Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park in Williamsburg, Virginia. So my sister rented a van, invited 6 other 9 year olds along and asked if I wanted to come to keep her company.

Now usually when someone says “indoor water park” and “car full of third graders,” I immediately think “seventh circle of hell.” But I have gone six months now without being away from Husband or The Babe for more than a few hours. And Husband hasn’t spent more than a few hours alone with the babe. Which means Husband was due for some serious babysitting and I was ready for a little me time. A getaway where I could sleep in, read crap magazines without someone drooling on them, and spend an extended period of time without having to wipe another human’s butt.

So I actually jumped at the chance to go along on the water park slumber party adventure. Can you smell the desperation in that sentence there?

And now that I’m back, I can say that I am really glad that I went. Not because I got to spend quality time with my sister or be a part of my niece’s birthday memories. Nope. I’m glad I went because I’m pretty sure that without my added adult presence, those girls would have run my poor sister into the ground. Or tied her up and left her in the back of the van while they shouted like banshees in the hallways and rode the Howling Tornado Tube Slide as much as they wanted.

Because you know what? 9-year old girls at a slumber party are insane. They have the attention span of gnats. Gnats with ADD. And they like to talk fast. And loud. The majority of communication seems to be achieved through high-pitched squeals, unless there is “drama,” and then everyone takes on a very grave and serious tone to work out their issues about seating arrangements and sleeping arrangements and sharing ipods and what to do after dinner.

Perhaps the most disappointing discovery of the weekend was that 9 year old girls at a slumber party hate sleeping more than infants. Especially when said girls are hopped up on ice cream, cake, and arcade games. They simply couldn’t be soothed into the slumber portion of the party, not with cozy sleeping bags, not with firm threats, not even with Selena Gomez movies.

So approximately 2.5 hours of sleep, 24 donuts, 6 pink gift bags, $80 worth of game tokens, 6 robot ice-creams and one inexplicably clogged toilet later, we packed up and headed home. I think the party was a success, judging by all the snoring going on in the back seats as we headed up 95. It certainly succeeded in making me determined to find a way to keep The Babe a babe for as long as possible.

Go ahead, stand in line at Georgetown Cupcake.

get in mah bellahPlease. And send all of your visiting friends and family there, too. Maybe they’ll get on TV or something while they’re waiting for tiny, fancy-pants cupcakes served by perky Georgetown undergrads.

Me? I’ll be down the street having a real cupcake at Baked and Wired. A huge honking cupcake wrapped in a rustic parchment paper cup, stuffed with fresh strawberries or topped with chocolate icing so thick and smooth it could be mistaken for pudding. I’ll be shopping for homemade treats with names like “Chocolate Cupcake of Doom” and “The Unporked Elvis.” No mention of prestige ingredients (although I know they’re in there). No fussy decorations or perfectly piped frosting. Just a big messy hunk of love that shoots you back to the third grade and makes you wish your mom knew how to make these cupcakes instead of the crappy ones from the Betty Crocker box. 

And it’s not just the cupcakes. A lot of locals just come for the coffee and tea. I don’t drink coffee, but I still managed to make almost daily visits when I worked across the street. Homemade zucchini bread will bring you to your knees. Chocolate chip cookies, cream cheese brownies, homemade pie…are you kidding me with the pie?! And don’t get me started on the housemade granola, aptly named “Hippie Crack.” Seriously, don’t get me started or you might have to stage an intervention. 

But it’s also the atmosphere: laid back, offbeat, always friendly. Local artists decorate the walls. Except where the growing napkin-poetry collection is posted in the back. There’s a hot-pink beach cruiser out front, next to a chalk board that sometimes lists the day’s specials, but more often just shares a random message to make you smile. Or laugh out loud.

It’s just everything that Georgetown Cupcake isn’t. There’s no hype. A lot of hipsters, but no hype. And some damn good cupcakes. 

So good that Husband and I served them at our wedding. We had one giant cupcake to cut into and serve each other. We cut it in half and each finished our halves

So good that I engineered a cupcake taste-off at my old office across the street, complete with several rounds of head to head tasting and a full taste analysis report. 

So good that I became completely obsessed with winning the giant cupcake they used to raffle off each Friday, and would put my name into the bowl multiple times and refuse to leave my desk at 3pm when the drawing was held, just in case they called. When they never called, I daydreamed about stealing it. 

And now that I don’t have pain au raisins to keep me occupied, I have cupcakes on the brain. Thank goodness they’re on the other side of town.