Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Goodbye Boys"

Brandon is all geared up for Fantasy Football to begin. He has been in the same league with the same  core group of 8 guys and another 4 that rotate in and out for the past 6 years. Yesterday he posted "A History of the League" on their group's Yahoo homepage. This is the manly version of blogging- writing stories to fellow men in an all men group, and the stories must revolve around manly things like chest hair and football.

Their league has not been without controversy. I volunteered to play Fantasy Football with them in 2009 when they needed 1 more to get to 12 players. They took a vote as to whether or not I was allowed in... Because I'm a woman. Nevermind that I have played Fantasy Baseball with half of these guys since 2007, oh no. Not football though. Football is for men. Fantasy football, apparently, even more so. I lost on a close count of 6-5. I would say I'm not bitter, but my mom taught me not to lie.

 For those who don't know, Fantasy Baseball is where you create your own team of players that really play in the major leagues. For example, Jason Heyward and Brian McCann both play for the Atlanta Braves in real life, but in our Fantasy Baseball league, they got drafted by and play for "Jeff George Fan Club" and "B-Stro's Big Balls" respectively. Myself and 11 guys face our imaginary teams off each week and earn points based on items like hits, homeruns, and strikeouts thrown.



Since Brooklyn was born I've had a hard time keeping up with certain things; Fantasy Baseball is one of them. Last year, I won 3rd place overall. For the chauvinists- *tongue out* haha. I beat 9 boys. Including my husband. This year though I can't even remember to sign in and make sure I have starting pitchers in the right spot. Instead, I find myself placing importance on things like cooking, making the bed, washing clothes...

I used to be such a tomboy. I even remember arguments with Kerie Sorrells and Rebecca Holland over which one of us was the MOST tomboyish. I also remember the day Jillian Prado decided she was a tomboy too. Our retort? "No you're not- you wear yellow". Because, as all 4th graders know, yellow is a girly color.

I'm 25, and finally leaving my tomboy ways behind. In honor of this, enjoy my re-write of Margaret Wise Brown's classic children's story, "Goodnight Moon".

In a room full of toys
there was a computer
and a woman of poise
who was remembering--

her time with the boys.
Then there were dangerous games, which sometimes involved flames
And pants but no dresses, and very short tresses.
And pizzas and chocolates that made for sticky pockets
And a real life frog and playtime in the bog
And fighting and biting and someone would hurl.
But now I must start to act like a girl.

Goodbye toys.
Goodbye boys.
Goodbye loud laughs with the boys.
Hello poise and new feminine joys.
Goodbye games, good riddance flames.
Hello dresses, hello tresses.
Goodbye frog, goodbye bog.
Goodbye fighting, and goodbye biting.
Goodbye making someone hurl.
I think now I'm ready to act like a girl.

Goodnight friends, take good care.
Goodnight tomboys everywhere.


***
Though, truth be told, it's not all out of my system. College football in T minus 1 day!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brandon's Future History Class, or How to Get Obama Re-Elected

Brandon cracks me up. Here's an excerpt from our conversation the other day.

Tracey: None of these Republican candidates are any good. They all make me go, "Yick!"

Brandon: I know what you mean. I'm not crazy about Obama, but he's better than any of the presented alternatives so far.

T: You think he'll get re-elected?

B: Probably. Especially if... *lightbulb turns on above his head* Do you remember when Obama and McCain were both on ESPN talking about what needed to change in sports? Obama wanted to put a playoff system in college football. THAT'S IT! If he wants to get re-elected, all he has to do is pass a law that says college football must have a playoff system. Every man in the country would vote for him.

T: I would too.

B: I can picture it now... 30 years down the road, I'm teaching about the 2000's in my US History classes. The kids are saying things like, "Aw, why do we have to learn about the 2000's. They're so boring! Nothing happened! I mean, there was that terrorism thing, but that's it". And I'll say, "Oh no. *insert stereotypical American hymnal here, playing softly in the background, increasing in volume until reaching a triumphant finish* You've forgotten about the Election of 2012. The country was sick of the current president, but were torn by the lack of appealing candidates on the other side. And then, President Barack Obama declared, 'We must have a playoff system! The BCS is corrupt and we're tearing it down!' The country suddenly rallied around their leader and since then, the team who has deserved to be crowned National Champions has been, and Obama has forever become the best president of our lifetime" *insert a soundclip of cheering*.

Pretty hilarious view of the future. Also kind of sad. We don't vote for president, but we vote for American Idol. We won't watch State of the Union Addresses, but Monday Night Football gets top ratings each week. If our politicians actually put sports or entertainment policies into their agenda, they may actually get more support from the common man (and woman- let's not be sexist, we watch sports too!)

Play ball, Obama, play ball.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pride.

It was just like an episode of  "Community". It starts out with a minor dilemma which turns into a much larger problem that becomes resolved with some wise words from close friends. The reason why my day was much more like this cool TV show and dorkier ones like "Full House" is that my cast of characters is much more colorful and my life is full of movie references. Today was no exception. And the title of today's episode: "Pride". (Brandon just asked me if I was blogging, and what about. I told him. He then said, "Oh, you're talking about black swimmers?" "Pride"  See? Movie references.)

Many of you who read this blog may already guess what I'm talking about, or remember the story I told you at the baby shower today. For the rest of you, here's an embarrassing tale of one of the shallowest and most selfish moments I ever had.

I woke up this morning and realized my hair looks even worse when I sleep on it. Great. So I get a shower, dry my hair, but we're running late so I opt to put my makeup on in the car. This is an important plot point, because if I had finished my makeup at home, I probably would have never gotten in the car in the first place.

By the time we reach church, my makeup is done and I see myself in the mirror. All I see is someone ugly. Awkward. Weird. Thanks, Satan, for the happy thoughts. Really nice on a Sunday morning. So I should have said, "Back off devil, I'm going to church", but instead I gave in and started crying. I asked Brandon if we could go to church today somewhere new where no one knows us. Then I said I just wasn't going to church. After some back and forth about feeling ugly and not liking myself very much today, he agreed to leave me and go into the building with Brooklyn.

I didn't have my wallet though, so I couldn't go anywhere. He left me his keys so I could have the AC on, so instead of worshiping, I sat in the car listening to Kelly Clarkson. And trying to repair the van's DVD player, but I didn't have a screwdriver, so I was using my tweezers instead. I got one of the screws out and then lost all my drive for it. This is off topic and another story entirely.

I took a nap and woke up when Brandon called me. He said, "Everyone thinks you're sick and they want you to feel better". He comes out to the car with Krytondra, who proceeds to tell me I'm ridiculous, and beautiful, and that she won't go away until I believe her. After many embarrassed hugs from her and Clancy (now by this point, of course, I'm embarrassed because I'm in a dress and heels sitting in a van for two hours doing absolutely nothing productive all because I didn't like my haircut) we go out to eat and I start feeling much better.

TALK ABOUT PRIDE. I didn't like the way I looked, so I chose pride over God. I didn't go to church, a safe, sacred place, because I was afraid I might start crying if anyone talked about how I looked. It's like Krytondra said today: Satan attacks you, like a lion. He comes at you with so much force and with exactly what will get you down, and once he gets you, he piiiiiiiles it on to make it worse. He did a good job on me the past few days. 1)Get frustrated with comforter situation. Check. 2)Get a bad haircut. Check. 3)Take a job only to turn it down later in the day and feel like a lousy flip-flopper. Check. 4)Try to fix your bad haircut and make it still only look decent. Check. 5)Take it out on your husband. Check, check, triple check. 6)Pull problems that you've hidden away off the shelf and get upset that you still haven't lost all the pregnancy weight. Check. Could he find any more ways to make me feel insecure or crappy?

It just goes to show that you can't think you've ever conquered something. I started taking medicine for anxiety and depression while I was in college.  I had been told growing up that I had anger problems and that if I didn't straighten up, I would be taken to see a counselor. It was used as a threat when I was younger, so I certainly wasn't going to go punish myself on my own accord, right? Wrong. I finally went to a psychologist and got some medicine. That was one of the best decisions of my life. Now I'm myself, but with a clearer mind, knowing all the positives that were not reaching my brain, for whatever reason, before.

See how easy that was for me to type? No, you couldn't see me type. But trust me, I type fast and it only took about 3 minutes or so to think of all that and put it down. No big deal. I'm over this issue of pride now, right? Wrong again. (That's 2 incorrect assumptions, for those of you keeping score at home).

A few years ago I wouldn't even talk about it. No mention. I didn't want to admit there was something wrong with my mind! Not me- I was an AP student, went to a top university, have a master's degree... all prideful. One day I realized that I wasn't helping anyone by taking medicine. Just myself. And that's selfish. So now I talk. Once I talk, others who have had similar problems will talk too. They can be brave enough to set aside their pride and get the help they need.

I talked to Brittnie Blackburn about that today too. She writes a blog and admits some very personal things about anorexia to the online world. Why? Because she's awesome, and has also gotten rid of her pride. She thinks: so what if people know about my past issues? Maybe what I have to say can help someone else. I agree. Why hide the problems we've had in the past? No one's perfect and we need to stop acting like we are. Without doing that, we can't fully be supportive friends and family.

I didn't really mean to get on a soapbox about that, so here's the conclusion to today's episode: I learned my lesson (they always do at the end of that 1/2 hour segment). Namely- pride is absurd. Pride took me from worshiping my God today and I hate that. Pride took me from loving myself. Pride took me from being happy. And get this: Satan was proud he succeeded. Doesn't that make you shiver? I'm not going to let him take away my peace any more.

BAM. Sup NOW Satan?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Comforters and Being Comforted

A few days ago, my sister Lindsay told me I was more of a Lucy Ricardo than a Laura Petrie. I do too many things wrong and have disaster upon daily disaster occur in my home. They're more horrific for me and hilarious for you, hence my life is more like "I Love Lucy" instead of "The Dick Van Dyke" show.

I was stubbornly disagreeing with her until today.

We decided to wash our bed's comforter, because we hadn't since we moved in to the new place. Note: If your comforter's tag reads "Machine Washable" don't believe it. Take it to the dry cleaner to be safe.

A queen sized comforter was rather large for our new washer, but we made it fit. Took 3 rounds of drying to get the job done, but it got done. I put it on our bed and noticed that large patches of it looked crinkled and dried up. Upon further investigation I deduced that the detergent had gotten onto the comforter and not gotten wet, so even though we washed the bedspread, it didn't really get cleaned. And now I had a comforter filled with dried up crusty detergent.

I did what any knowledgeable housewife would do: took a bottle of water and sprayed it all over and tried to forcibly uncrinkle every wrinkle. After struggling, pulling and feeling like I had been on the bench press for 1/2 an hour, I gave up and put it back in the washer, just to rinse it. No more detergent.

Apparently, my washer was unhappy that I didn't feed it any soap, and it took it out on my beautiful comforter as well. It was like one of the Sesame Street skits where Prairie Dawn begs Cookie Monster not to eat the letter of the day but he does it anyway, getting crumbs and pieces all over as he roars and devours his feast. When I smelled smoke I ran to the laundry room and discovered two gaping holes ripped into my wedding gift bedspread. Ruined.

Comforters=not comforting.

This bothered me more than I should have let it, but I decided to get out of the house to get my mind off it. I'd been thinking about a change in style for a while too, so I went to JCPenney to get my hair cut. And Brooklyn cried the whole time, probably thinking a lady with scissors close to mommy's head is NOT a good idea.

I guess the hair stylist was going to fast trying to get rid of a client with a crying baby in a nearby stroller. I guess I was preoccupied with getting Brooklyn home and getting her to take a nap. Regardless of whose fault it is, my hair looks terrible, and I was already gone out of the store before I realized, "Umm, that's not what I asked for". How do asking for "bangs" sound like "botch the side of my head with a comb-over?" So unhappy. I may have well as asked for her to dye my hair red. And I was about to have another "I Love Lucy" moment by cutting it myself to fix it, though I knew that was not a good idea, when Brandon came home. (I even thought to myself: "Worst case scenario I have a funnier blog" and then immediately thought, "That is idiotic reasoning") I hate it. Not sure what to do about it, but I just feel ugly. Not to mention I was labeling home movies today and I saw myself. All I could think of was Chandler telling Monica that the camera adds "a couple... hundred pounds" when watching the video of the prom. Just a nasty feeling day. And Brandon told me I can't hire Brice Waldron to come over and look at all my clothes and jewelry and be my personal stylist because then I'll just be sad about not having the money to look as cute as she always does.

However, Brooklyn did call me "Mama" for the first time today. I put her in her crib and let her try to cry herself to sleep for a nap this morning. After about 10 minutes of plain whining, I heard, "Mama... mamamamama". She's made this noise indistinctly before, which was fun to hear anyway. But today: it was for real. I walked in her room and picked her up. She looked at me, said, "Mama!" with a big goofy grin on her face, and then lay her head on my shoulder. That was comforting.

 How could I not love this little monkey?

*Sigh* It's just been a rough day, but I'm trying to think positive and about the things that matter. I have a kid who loves me. My hair will grow back and I can buy a new comforter. Or not. Because it's Houston- do any of us really need comforters? Then again, I had a fireplace in my last Houston apartment. Really? The very definition of unnecessary.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

On the Love of Cats

Many say that dogs are man's best friend. I see why this is a trusted saying. Dogs are playful, energetic, messy... things that men are. Cats, on the other hand, are sneaky, sly, stubborn... things that women are. Using this logic, cats would be woman's best friend, yes?

I have two cats that I thoroughly adore. Sasha will be 8 next month and is a beautiful tabby. I got her my senior year of high school when she was a teeny tiny stray kitten. I came over to a friend's house to work on an English project and was very upset. I was crying about something and my friend's mom (who I had never met) looked at me square in the eye and said, "Would you like a cat?" Ta-da. I put this tiny pocket kitten in my purse and brought her home. The dogs at my parents house sniffed around the bottom of my door because they sensed a foreign presence, and the next day Sasha went to live at my best friend Jacqueline's house.

Let's pause for a moment: this woman, whom I had never met mind you, offered me a pet cat because I was crying. She had already given me her favorite teapot earlier that day when I told her I didn't drink coffee. Woman was nuts. Kind and generous, but out of her mind.

Fast forward to the fall of 2009 when I was living alone in Houston while Brandon finished up at A&M. He warned me that I was going to become an old cat lady if he died first, and it didn't even take me that long. A tiny black kitten came around my apartment so I fed her. I named her Little Bit and promised Brandon I would just keep her as an outside cat. That lasted until the first weekend of December when we had a snow day. "She'll die if I leave her outside" was my reasoning... of course, she is a cat. They have fur. God gave it to them so they can stay warm. Oh well. Good enough excuse to bring her inside. It wasn't until a few days later when I took her to get spayed that the vet tech called and said, "Actually we're going to have to get him neutered". Oooooh. Glad I went with calling him Little Bit and not Missy as I once thought.

Turns out Little Bit was a stupid name anyway, because he's a good 2 inches taller, 2 inches longer and pound heavier than Sasha. We've taken to calling him LB. Especially in Houston, because we were in the Alief district, so he was all thug life back then. He loves sitting in our bedroom window, which in our old apartment overlooked the pool, so Brandon often referred to him as "Lord Byron, keeping watch over his estates and all of his loyal subjects" <--- imagine that in a pretentious, regal accent.

But I digress. Animals are amazing creatures. You know Christian, a lion who was raised in London, was taken to Kenya and actually recognized his former owners months after he was left? What love! It's unconditional, it lasts forever, and asks very little: feed me, give me water, pet me and please don't lock me in the closet even though I hide in your clothes all the time and you don't even know I'm there or mean to close the door on me (This last request is the toughest one to fulfill).

Everyday I have two cats fight over who gets to sit closer to my face. Annoying, yes. Precious, also yes. Sasha had a habit of sitting on my textbooks when I was in college so I would stop reading. Little Bit sleeps on a pillow in my arms each night.

I used to feel silly praying to God thanking Him for our cats, because after all, they're not really family, right? I mean, they're just animals. And finally, God hit me with a thought: what do you mean they're just animals. Didn't I create you on the same day? Didn't I make everything on this Earth for you to enjoy? So do it!

So I do. I love my cats. And moreover, they love me for it. Brandon loves them, even though his family doesn't understand why pets are so special. Brooklyn loves them, even though they are both mildly afraid of her. I would be too if I heard a small human with hyperventilating laughter coming right at either my head or tail.

I had to take Sasha to the vet today for her shots. She fought he getting in the carrier. She cried the whole way to the vet. She ran and hid under the bed when we got home. And tonight as we watched a movie, she sat next to me, purring and rubbing her head against mine. Even after I kidnapped her from her warm, sun-drenched spot on the couch and allowed strangers to poke and prod her, she somehow realized that it needed to be done and she won't hate me for it.

Are we so different from animals after all? Don't our children act the same way? I'm not going to bust out in a chorus of "Circle of Life" or anything, but it's food for thought. I began this post by comparing men to dogs and women to cats. Quick side note: I used to think all dogs were male and all cats were female. I also used to think that roosters made dark meat and hens made white meat. We all make mistakes. But seriously: we are animals. We are the highest order of animal, yes, but deep down we really aren't that different at all. Maybe that's why humans and their pets (or animals and their "pets", as Pongo calls them in 101 Dalmatians) love each other so much. 


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

HULK BABY

All day long Brooklyn has been convincing me she is part Hulk. Why?

She rips her clothes off any time she can (granted, this is probably due to her itchy eczema skin, but...)

She can let out the most massive roar when she is unhappy. Like a possessed werewolf. It's usually when I'm trying to do something sadistic like change her diaper or put her down so I can make her a bottle of milk.

She has more strength than I can imagine possible for a 10 1/2 month old. She's like an ant who can lift ridiculous times her weight.

And the most impressive: she eats like a monster. I kid you not, she and I had the same portion sizes for dinner tonight. The kid ate an entire chicken breast. With two teeth.

If there isn't already a reality show for baby super heroes, we need one. Brooklyn is destined for stardom :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Concept of "Settling Down"

A thought came into my mind today: I lead a double life. I was thinking about how old I feel and how old I act and then said, "No, Tracey, not always. You can act and feel really young sometimes, like a double agent. For instance, Saturday night you went to the young marrieds progressive dinner and... stayed out until 10 PM..."

Hmm.

Yes, that was the exciting climax of my day week.

So I've come to realize I am no double agent, I am simply "settled down". This phrase has frightened people for generations (usually single, swingin' guys). I used to be wild. I used to be crazy. I used to do things I don't want to admit to people anymore. I used to stay up all night long for no reason at all.

Compare to now. Brandon and I practically jumped up and down with giddiness when we realized the people living in the apartment before us left their washer and dryer for us= Appliance joy. I rejoiced last week when realizing we have a net loss of 91 dollars with all things considered (me not working, no tolltag cost, 1/2 the gas, few small lifestyle changes)= Budgeting win. My daily outing is to the mailbox= Postal pitifulness. We eat dinner at 6:00 PM every night= Food monotony. And to top it all off, last night Brandon and I were debating over what to watch: 1)pre-season football, 2)MLS soccer, 3)Cubs vs. Cardinals (baseball) or 4)a movie. We chose 5)a 2-hour documentary on PBS of Harry Chandler and his family and how they ran the LA Times. Add those all up and the sum you get is roughly 90. As in, I am apparently 90 years old, in spirit. All I'm missing is the weekly trip to get my hair done in the classic Johnson women bouffant.

The funny thing about all this is that even as I write it, I'm having fun. Settling down isn't bad. So what if I spend my days folding laundry and changing dirty (really really absurdly stinky) diapers? Who cares if I actually like trying to use a cookbook and an iron (not together, though). Because in between all the chores, I read to my daughter. I chase her around the apartment. I jump on the bed with her. I sing and dance around the room. I play soccer with my husband with a little Disney princess ball. And I beat him once (He doesn't like to talk about that, though).  I live and I laugh and I love.

Maybe I do lead a double life after all :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Tale of the Dancing Queen and Her History of Money

I went up to Needville High School yesterday. This is where I worked for the past two years as the speech and debate teacher. I loved teaching speech, but debate was time consuming and after a while I found my heart just wasn't in it. Turns out competing in something and coaching it are very different, and when I got the choice to resign and take an extra few thousand dollars in order to stay home with Brooklyn, the decision wasn't all that hard.

I worried about money a little, but the more we looked at our budget we realized that with what we were saving in daycare, gas, tolltag usage, etc, it wasn't going to be nearly as much of a lifestyle change as we realized. Then Brandon got the news that he is officially coaching 3 sports this year (baseball, basketball and tennis) which means there's some extra money for us and I don't need to worry about trying to find odd jobs like judging at debate tournaments on the weekends, tutoring on Skype, or interpreting at night. It's nice not to worry. Nice not to work.

Lie. I like working. I always have. And I'm a pro when it comes to finding random ways to make money.

Example?

Now introducing the one, the only TRACEY the dorky show choir queen of choreography!! Yes, it's true. I will be choreographing this year's brand new Needville High School Show Choir concerts. Can I dance? Nope. Is there anyone in the world who doesn't know this? No, including my friend the choir teacher who has hired me. But luckily there is a difference between DANCING, and Show Choir- one takes talent and skill, and the other takes energy, a willingness to act a fool, and a love for having fun. <---- that's me to a T, which stands for Tracey, duh.

Lindsay thinks this is my most random job ever, but I'm not so sure. I worked a few months as a Mary Kay consultant, which I feel is even weirder than choreographer, because I dance way more often than I wear makeup.

In 2008 I did my taxes for all my wages earned the year prior. I had 11 W-2's. (This one went to eleven!) Let that sink in. Care to see?

Chicken Express
Cinemark
Marble Slab Creamery
Sign Language Interpreting Services
Texas A&M University
Brazos Valley Cornerstone Christian Academy
A&M Church of Christ
City of College Station
Build-a-Bear Workshop

Unfortunately I can't remember any more than that, but I know there were more. Makes it look like I couldn't hold a job, right? Wrong.  I'm just obviously sadistic because I worked over half of these jobs at the same time while planning my wedding and also taking 21 hours at A&M/Blinn.

Yesterday I felt bad for being at NHS and not setting up my classroom, prepping a syllabus, and stressing over roster lists and class sizes. Now that I look back, especially at 2007, I think I've earned a break. Here's to trying to be thankful that I find weird jobs, but at this juncture in life I don't have to. Brooklyn is my job, and being a mommy is the best job to have.

However... I am a dance, dance, dance, dance, dancin' machine, and I love it so much I'd do show choir choreography for free. Just don't tell Rodney I said that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Keeping Up with the Joneses. Or Maybe the Petries.

So I feel like I'm just jumping on a bandwagon. And that I'm back in 10th grade on Xanga. It just seems natural that now I am a full-time stay-at-home mom and do-it-all housewife that I spend (waste) time writing a blog. What harm can it do, right? Those dishes can wait.

Speaking of dishes, I am not a good cook. I once ruined scrambled eggs. It's true. I was trying to surprise Brandon by making his favorite meal (breakfast). He was surprised, alright. Oily eggs, burnt toast, thick uncooked pancakes... I cried and cried and it was all he could do to hold back his laughter. I am trying so hard to get better- plan meals, look at recipes before I go shopping and not 20 minutes before dinner so I know I have all the ingredients I need before I begin, making sure I cook something other than chicken each night...
We also got Netflix recently, and I'm already on season 2 of "The Dick Van Dyke" show. I want to be Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore). She has is all together! She always looks beautiful, she's witty, clever, intelligent, and I'm convinced she's the perfect wife. Um, not for me. I'm not looking for a wife, I'm looking to be a better one. So she's my muse.
Because of all this, I decided to make blackened talapia tonight. I followed the recipe, had all the right ingredients, cooked it in the right pan (don't take it for granted that I don't always know what that is) and for the right amount of time. Of course, it turns out that a recipe for blackened food should be cut in half if you're only making 3 fish filets instead of 6. This would be time for what the twitter world calls a "hash slash" or something like that. Insert: #failoftalapicproportions Brandon said it tasted like the salt gods were punishing him for not having enough sodium in his life up until this moment and they were really letting him have it.

Maybe tomorrow we'll just have sandwiches.