Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On Snobbery

I'm a coffee snob.

Well, no.

Well - I mean, I am a coffee snob. Where I'm going with this, though, is that I'm a coffee shop snob. Which is weird, because I would buy a latte from a man off the street if I hadn't had caffeine before 11 AM.

Still, I have a tendency to change my order based on my opinion of the coffee shop I'm standing in. If the baristas behind the counter are harried, covered in spilled syrups, clearly having a bad day and there's a line halfway out the door I'm going to order coffee and steamed milk. I make roughly the same decision if the person behind the counter seems to understand as much about coffee as I do about football; I'm not going to order anything I'm especially particular about from someone who has no idea what I'm trying to say. It's like when there are football games my in-laws go to; they know I'm not going to have any idea what went on, so they don't try and tell me anything about yard lines or downs or whatever it is those men in tight pants are doing out there. They just tell me about the tailgate and how much fun they had and we're all good here.

There are certain Starbucks locations in Greenville that I know are good (or when I go to the Barnes & Noble on Haywood, where I used to work). In those places (especially when ordering from friends), I tend to preface my order now with "Okay, I'm about to be that person," and then I just go ahead and rattle off something insane.

Right now, several planets have aligned (pumpkin spice is out, I have a baby so I can't caffeinate myself to the same level, I'm burning excess calories like crazy so I can actually drink whole milk for once) and my order goes something like this -

"Hi, I need a grande half-caff pumpkin spice latte, half the pumps, please? Oh, and whole milk/soy milk (depending on the day)."

By the way, a whole-milk pumpkin spice latte is basically ordering hot ice cream, and I'm pretty sure it's considered hedonism. It honestly might be illegal. It probably should be, since it's basically a drug.

Also, I get that the internet is in the midst of a gigantic battle over whether to hate pumpkin spice or LOVE IT, but as far as I'm concerned order the coffee you love and joy will follow and who cares what the person behind you in line wants, as long as they're nice to their baristas?

If they're not nice to their baristas, try to step on their feet or maybe spill something on them if possible*.

They deserve it; those baristas work hard. Especially during the Christmas season.

So... there it is.

I'm that awful person in front of you in line with the hideously complicated drink order. You know, the person you're rolling your eyes at? (By the way I SEE YOU BACK THERE DOING THAT.) The fun part is when Jason is with me, because then the order goes something like this:

"Hi, I need a grande half-caff pumpkin spice, whole milk, no whip, half the pumps. Oh, and... a tall black coffee."

And everyone knows which drink goes to whom.

There are some coffee shops where I know being that person who orders the crazy complicated thing just mostly means I'll have to repeat it six different times to three different people, I'll only get about two-thirds of my order correct and there's a distinct possibility everyone in the entire store has simultaneously decided to burn me in effigy.

At those places, I just order coffee.

Because I want to live.

Granted, there are some independent places in town that I love, where the baristas are on top of it. Coffee Underground, for one, being my favorite place to get coffee in Greenville. (They serve an awesome brunch, too). 

I never really considered it snobbery until yesterday when Jason and I ran to Target with Audra to snag a mirror so I can see her little face when I'm driving. I had this particular thing I wanted in mind; a half-coffee, half-steamed milk thing with a little syrup but not too much, maybe soy milk... when I caught myself taking a look at the blank-faced barista (and the other employee who stood silently staring at us, who let us know 'someone' would be over to take my order but then went back to standing idly, just... staring at us... and who never actually moved during the entire process).

When the barista did make it over to take my order, I simplified.

I just got a latte.

And I loved that latte, but that's not the point.

I realized that having worked as a barista has turned me into an insufferable coffee shop snob, the kind of person who watches them wipe the steam wands down (and would notice if they didn't), who wants to customize their drink order until it takes longer to order it than it does for them to make it. The kind of person who changes her order based on where she is and if she thinks it will come out right.

 I wish I could tell you that I'm ashamed of myself.

I probably should be ashamed of myself.

Is there a support group for coffee snobs?

* if you actually take this advice, I will not be held legally responsible for the fistfight you get into in the Starbucks seating area, so don't point your fingers at me folks. Try to videotape it, though, because I think we all know that's gonna go viral.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One Month


So here's some things about my baby at one month old (as of today in the evening, although officially she'll be a "month old" on the 5th. But four Tuesdays ago I had her, so I'm counting it as a month, damn it.):

- Her... her face exploded. So did the skin on her arms and legs and feet. Seriously. "Skin like a baby" shouldn't mean soft and smooth and perfect, but acne-coated and covered in milk spots. And spit-up. And peeling skin.

- She's started to really look you in the eye. Sometimes I play the face-game; I make weird faces, but simple ones, at Audra and if she's really paying attention she'll start to mimic the expression unconsciously. Being a mom = this seems super fun to me and probably bores the living daylights out of anyone else nearby.

- Her first big trip out of the house? To the local library! So we're starting her off right. Although she DID sleep through the whole trip, so I'm not sure if she really picked up on any of that wisdom or knowledge stuff I was kind of hoping for. On the other hand, I realized that in a couple of years I'll have a reason to wander around the kid's section of the Main library, which is super adorable, and NOT look like a creepy weirdo.

- Sometimes she does little gassy-smiles, but today I was playing with her and she made that face right up there, and I don't think it was gas, because it seemed to be in direct response to me making her Simba plushie "talk" to her. Or maybe it was just gas. ... but maybe it wasn't. I WANT TO BELIEVE.

 - She flails around all the time. Constantly. She punches herself in the face without meaning to, she kicks at things. She makes little sounds in her throat that I love, little grunts and mutters and mumbles. Sometimes she'll accidentally bat at a toy we have hanging nearby and then freeze, studying it as it swings back and forth, clearly trying to figure out what just happened.

- My in-laws have offered to babysit so Jason and I can go to a party together in a couple of weeks. I am currently in the process of trying to decide if I can even handle that. They'll take such good care of her! But... I'd be like an hour away for FOUR HOURS. But they'll fawn over her and show her off! But AN HOUR AWAY FROM MY BABY. But I haven't seen these friends in forever! But my baby! But my friends! BUT MY BAAAAAAYBEEEEEE. So... you see how intelligent and brilliant new motherhood makes you.

- I was asked the other day if I miss being pregnant and knowing she was 'safe' in there, inside me, feeling her move. I looked down at my baby, she grunted in my general direction, and I thought, I wouldn't trade anything in the world for being able to see her face. Even knowing that in a couple of years she'll learn all kinds of interesting sass-back. Even knowing in a few more years she'll be slamming doors in a rage. Even with the terror of understanding that one day, she'll probably want to go to prom.

- This baby lives in onesies. I have lots of adorable little hand-me-down dresses (and a few new ones!) and whatnot, but I can hardly bear to put them on her. Onesies are so much easier in my brain, even though they're really about the same amount of effort in the end. Plus most of my onesies are gender neutral, which my brain just handles a little bit better. I can't wait for her to be big enough to wear some of the 3 -6 or 6 - 12 month stuff, though; we're got some awesome things coming. I know there's this thing about "omg people think my baby girl is a boy!" and sort of being freaked out by that, but... babies all kind of look the same to me? So that concept doesn't bother me at all. Onesies for everyone!

- I made it basically my entire pregnancy and almost her whole first month of life without buying a single piece of clothing for her. Yesterday, I finally caved and took advantage of Carter's Labor Day Sale and bought a big ol' slew of things. But they were so cheap with the sale! Including her waking-up-Christmas-morning outfit. Which made me realize that her first Christmas is coming, and she's not going to remember it, but I'm still going to try to take pictures of her every. single. second. All of you whose phone numbers I have, you should probably dread winter coming. SO MANY TEXT MESSAGES ARE COMING YOUR WAY.


- SO. LITTLE. SLEEP. For us, at least.

Audra? She gets plenty of sleep.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

5 Things: Postpartum Daydreams Edition

1. My baby is two weeks old as of Tuesday.

We had our second appointment with the doctor, and were told that things are clearly going well; she's put on a pound from where she was when we left the hospital, which means we hit the Gain Back To Birth Weight Or More by Two Weeks Milestone, which may be a real milestone but may also be something I made up inside my head to stress myself out about.

While I would love to use this space to brag about all the new things she's doing, I'm afraid it runs us into a bit of a wall, because she is still new and most of what she does is eat, sleep, and need a change of diaper. She is spending longer and longer awake during her alert times, either watching us with intense fascination or flailing her limbs around trying to figure out just what is controlling them.

We are still mostly tied to the house - any trip longer than about an hour, hour and a half has to be meticulously planned for and we end up cutting things short, or just one of us runs the errands while the other stays home.

In her welcome-to-the-world post, you can see how small Audra was the day she came home from the hospital, and compare it to now.

2. This tunic/dress from Boden is basically my drooling thing-I-want-most for fall. Their entire fall line appears, at this point, to have been designed expressly for me. It's like some kind of terrible temptation from an exceptionally British devil or something, just dangling in front of my eyes.

I mean, look at this sweater. And this shirt. Or this tunic, which seems kind of perfect for new-mom-can't-be-bothered-to-dress-up. Or these gorgeous shoes.



I received Boden's Autumn catalog Tuesday, and that blue dress above immediately caught my eye. They had it styled with a yellow cardigan, which I already have a yellow cardigan so clearly this is fate, right?

Look at it! It's the perfect shade of blue, and it's covered in little birds, and I can wear it over jeans or leggings with my fall boots and and and and and

... and I am currently combing through our budget, baby or not, to see if I can afford it.

I am nothing if not a dreamer.

3. I had to make a run to the bank (and, uh, Starbucks) this morning and in the process heard an interview with singer-songwriter Jessica Hernandez, who performs with her band the Deltas, on NPR.

The song I've linked here is "Sorry I Stole Your Man", but I suggest you also look up "Cry, Cry, Cry" as well, for a sense of her abilities. She has an insanely gorgeous voice - it sounds to me like a mix of Amy Winehouse and Adele, whiskey-soaked and on fire. Her band is very retro, with trumpet and saxophone and a really nice old-school sixties sound. I loved just listening to the interview. Hernandez was actually pretty funny.

Here's the NPR interview. 

Give it a listen!

Then go buy her album upon its release. The EP is available now, though.

4. Because I have decided to be that mom, I knew I wanted a personalized necklace for after Audra was born. I didn't really like all the ones I was finding that looked like everybody else's personalized necklaces - you know, the ones with nests and birds or things. Some of those are really pretty, but they just weren't really working for me.

Then, for a baby shower gift, one of our friends gave me a gift card to etsy.

And I bought this necklace.

It's perfect for how I dress - the colors compliment most things I own. The little charms are a green j, a yellow-gold a, and a turquoise k (you can't see the k so much because of how the charms are placed, but it's there!)

I know that dangly necklaces are sort of a ridiculous proposition when you are mother to a small baby, but I will be at work for eight hours a day, so I figure I'll still get plenty of wear out of my giant collection of dangly pendant necklaces.

Until I forget to take it off one day and Audra and her prodigious Herculean baby-strength tear it off my neck.

Seriously. Babies are way stronger than they should be for how small they are...

5. First off, that photo is not mine, but comes from the site I'm about to link to. We have a jalapeno plant this year, and it has been ridiculously prolific. We love jalapenos, so that's mostly worked out for us, but it continued to be prolific while we were in the hospital and then in the days after we came home, and we had built up something like seventeen jalapenos we needed to use.

So Jason and I declared teamwork time and made these baked jalapeno poppers and ate them for lunch one day.

 I put a little ranch dressing on a plate, loaded myself up with the poppers, and we just demolished a whole baking tray full of them.

They were delicious.

We did change things up a bit; we used some low-sodium breadcrumbs that we bought while I was on bedrest towards the end of my pregnancy (and on a doctor-ordered low-sodium diet). I think next time instead of mixing with cheddar cheese I'll mix the cream cheese with pimiento cheese.

Or... just use pimiento cheese.


Now I'm impatiently waiting for more jalapenos to be ready...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Technical Difficulties

Our apologies.

We will return to our regularly scheduled blogging as soon as we can take our eyes off the baby for five seconds.

Eh, who am I kiddin'. This is our regularly scheduled programming now. 


I'll try to write about something that isn't my baby. Soon. I'll do that very soon. 

 I, uh... 

I promise.

(fingers crossed behind my back)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

You Were Going to Meet Her Eventually

This is our beautiful Audra Grace.

She made it into the light and the harsh and the constant, unending diapers Tuesday evening. This is not the place where I tell a "birth story" and share with you the gory details; I have never been one for the sharing of gory details, and it's not going to start now. Suffice to say, it was both easy and the hardest thing I've ever done, that I was both elated and injured and that I am excited and terrified.

I will tell you one thing about my daughter's birth; you have got to have someone who will fight for you, because you will be too exhausted and too done being pregnant and too scared of what could happen to fight for yourself. Jason was on top of every single thing they said to me, asking for clarification, offering to help the nurses and doctors, making them explain and not just do - we had some of the best nurses I've ever dealt with in my life, but especially when you're high-risk there's a level of brisk efficiency that can leave the patient feeling a little worried and run over.

Jason made sure we understood every single thing and befriended the nurses with his usefulness at lightning speed. There is nothing that earns a nurse's love so quickly as being a patient's support person who is totally willing to do whatever it takes to take some work off the nurse's hands whenever he can. I was too scared of the complications to have stood up for myself; to have Jason right next to me meant everything in the world for my ability to make it through.

I'll say one other thing; if you have a nurse who, less than three days into your baby's life, is trying to tell you that you won't be able to feed them or making it seem like every problem is the end of the world or who makes you feel even a little bit like you can't do this; get a new nurse. We had a ton of wonderful nurses (in our hospital, you get one nurse for you and one for the baby, every twelve hours there's a shift change, so we saw several nurses) and exactly one terrible nurse. Unfortunately, she was the last nurse we dealt with. Fortunately, too, I guess - if she had been the first nurse I spoke to, I would not have made it through the first night. She was absolutely terrible - panicked and worried and every single thing was a huge deal and a failure, and she made me feel terrible, and if that happens to you get a new nurse or ask to speak to someone about it. I didn't, because I had a good nurse coming in at the same time building me up, but you should. 

Don't let them tell you you can't do this, and they should never, ever vocalize any idea even remotely like the idea that you can't do this.

I hope her method of nursing did not discourage the other mothers in my floor - due to my complication issues I ended up in the "high risk" ward afterward, although I was the lowest-risk woman there. I can't imagine the effort and trauma some of these women had gone through just to bring a baby into the world, to be faced with sad puppydog scaredy eyes telling them something is just wrong with them, fundamentally, in their physical position as a mother. 

(Did I mention Jason has been my tireless champion through the whole thing? Even with Sadface Nurse. Especially with Sadface Nurse. He would gladly have punched her in the face for me, and that means everything in the world in situations like that.)

Audra came out weighing exactly one ounce more than I weighed at birth - and an ounce less than my sister's daughter weighed at hers, which I find really interesting. My medical issues that led to my bedrest are starting to fade a little each day. I have been running mostly on hormones and shockingly little sleep.

Last night we had our first set of cluster feedings and a bout with a painful tummy that had us all just about at wits' end. My parents drove into South Carolina for the birth and so I've had them here and it's been lovely; between them and my great in-laws who live nearby, there are so many people who want to see the new baby and it's so nice to just sit and be tired while someone else holds her and I can zonk out, mentally if not physically. My friend Sarah has come over with her 15-month-old Molly twice and been my constant source of "this is normal, this is normal, you are not crazy, here look at my cute kid to remind you why you're voluntarily giving up sleep for the rest of your life". Between her advice and her willingness to bring me coffee, that woman may end up with some kind of medal.

My sister is a phone call away and I've spoken to her and she's been my other sanity lifeline. There is so much that seems like it should just happen, and it just doesn't, and no one really tells you that it won't. You're just supposed to figure it out by flailing around wildly, and it's nice to have someone who knows me as well as my sister does on the other end saying, "Nope, you're okay, this is okay, this is going to be okay."

We did just about hit our point of people-saturation Thursday night; I've joked that I want to put a sign on the door telling everyone that they must call first to schedule an appointment. Then they offer to bring me Starbucks and all my resistance just melts right away. I love people! But there is just this level of exhaustion I was both prepared and not prepared for; I knew it was coming but was just entirely unaware of how deep in my bones the tired would go. You just can't know it, really. So there would be this point where I would just be staring at people wall-eyed, trying to figure out if I had actually heard what they just said or maybe had just dreamed it so I didn't dare respond just in case it turned out I was replying to thin air.

It's kind of funny; I've been preparing to do this, to have this baby, since I was 22 years old and Jason and I got married. Six years later (almost to the day), and here she is. She is clearly my baby; she loves to sleep with her little fists curled under her chin and one foot out from under her blanket, exactly the way I do. Jason is the ideal; he is better at diaper changes than I am (in my defense, I was trapped in bed for the first day and a half of her life in the hospital and couldn't do them), he can swaddle in ten seconds or less. I spend a lot of time just watching what he does.

Sometimes "what he does" is insist I take a nap while he takes care of the baby for a couple of hours and refuse to take 'eh, I'm okay I promise' for an answer. 

As such, I am rediscovering the ability to take a nap.

We learn many many things as new parents; I've decided the most important thing I will learn is how to drop off in thirty seconds or less literally any place in the house I'm in.

Now if I can just figure out how to get the baby to do that...