One Fabulous Thing

…because each day has at least one.

03.25.2010 Games People (Hopefully) Play March 29, 2010

Filed under: Friends — onefabulousthing @ 10:16 pm

I am realizing that some of the things I select as the One Fabulous Thing of the day have the quality in common that they are, in fact, “things.” That is to say, material objects that cross my path. I am also realizing that some of these things are items I purchase that hint toward the life I would like to be leading, but maybe not exactly the life I am leading.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with this per se, because material items can serve as tangible stand-ins for things that are more ephemeral. I do believe in the Art Buchwald saying, “The best things in life aren’t things,” but I don’t think it’s always an either/or propostion. An example of this is the Fabulous Thing for today: The game Anomia.

I read a reference to this game online today, and after reading the description I ordered a copy. The first thing that attracted me was the description of the game itself, which is centered around random knowledge and information. That is a game that is right up my alley. A few years back, I impressed not only a potential suitor but my own sister with the volumes of random crap I was able to pull out during a winning round of bar trivia (Viva la Team Awesome-O, if any of you are reading!). This marginally-useful but endlessly amusing skill is something that many of my friends share, and it has led to many fun rounds of Trivial Pursuit, Scattegories, Catchphrase, and Cranium over the years and around the country. My husband and his friends are no slouches in this category either.

This is what I was thinking of when I impulsively hit “send” and ordered myself this game: how fun it would be to have all of our friends and family sitting around our (mysteriously much bigger in my fantasy world) living room, playing this game. Of course, they are separated by a lot of distance from one another and from us; but the hope remains that there will be times when they are closer and the kids will be in bed and there will be enough good drink and good food and we won’t all be too tired, and there will be this great game to play and laugh about for hours.

Then afterward, when the people shooting the beer commercial have left, and our friends have gone home, we’ll have a ton of new inside jokes with references to trade on for years.

So, Fabulous Thing #84: A small investment in memories that haven’t been made yet.

 

02.21.2010 Baby People February 24, 2010

Filed under: Family,Friends — onefabulousthing @ 9:18 pm

Today was the joint first birthday extravaganza for the seven babies from my New Mom’s Group. All seven babies and all fourteen of their parents convened at the home of one of the little girls, armed with a gift and a  contribution to the potluck. The adults snacked on things that could be eaten with one hand, got some fruit and hummus and guacamole and chips into the kids in some semblance of a lunch, and set them up with a bunch of age-appropriate toys that talk, teach the alphabet and numbers, and spin and open and close in interesting ways.

Here’s what the babies really loved: going into the bedroom of the little girl who hosted the party and taking turns rocking the ottoman for the glider. Taking laundry out of the laundry basket and playing peekaboo with last night’s pajamas. The little girl who hosted carried around a paperback copy of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and graciously allowed the other babies to pull the diapers out from under her changing table. Have you ever seen the PuppyBowl that AnimalPlanet shows during the SuperBowl every year? It was a lot like that.

What I enjoyed so much about the afternoon was watching the babies interact with each other. The last time they were all together in that same house, they were less than three months old and laid in a circle like beetles on their backs, limbs flailing around and emitting muddled humming and squeaking sounds, while we mothers leisurely ate sandwiches. Their “interactions” were nothing more than a few accidental glances at one another and the occasional graze of one baby’s hand against another baby. Today, they made each other laugh. They played with toys together. They looked on in concern when one of their ranks got upset and cried.

I love that my kid has this cohort of agemates to share babyhood and toddlerhood with. Of course, I am ever grateful for their mamas; but today brought a new appreciation of my son’s emerging personhood. It might sound like a really obvious thing, but watching the babies today made me think about how my son and the six of his friends are going to be increasingly social and interactive creatures out there in the world. My son will have relationships with people that I will be only a peripheral part of, and I am happy to get these early glimpses into how he might behave and interact independent of me. What I have learned so far is that he wants to be doing what everyone else is doing, and man does that kid like a game of peekaboo.

The party culminated with a cupcake eat-off, and I am also proud to report that my kid didn’t leave a crumb of his cupcake behind.

So, Fabulous Thing #52: Baby social experiment success.

 

02.17.2010 Where Everybody Knows Your Name February 20, 2010

Filed under: Food,Friends,Work — onefabulousthing @ 12:02 pm

I first went to the café near my office a few years back, with the woman who was soon to become my officemate and sanity-saver. It is appropriate that I also have her to thank for introducing me to this fabulous place. The café is near the water, in a small neighborhood that has a completely different feel from the busier section of town where we spend most of our workday.

The café itself has a good amount of seating in the form of mismatched tables and chairs in styles that range from 50’s Modern Diner to Victorian Tea Room. The walls are covered with paintings and photographs from local artists, all for sale. Because of this, the décor varies from time to time as pieces are sold and replaced with new ones. There are piles of the local free papers, a bulletin board for community notices and ads, plants, a menu written on chalkboards behind the counter, and a rack with selections of artisan breads from a local famous bakery for taking home.

Over the last few years, the café has become the place where the two other women who make up our management team and I have our weekly supervisory meetings. It is away from the office so we are less likely to be interrupted, there is ample space for spreading out paperwork, and in the warmer months there is outdoor seating that makes our meeting feel like a mini-vacation from work. The people at the café never rush us out, and over the years have come to expect us on Tuesday afternoons, with some surprise visits in between when we are able to sneak away. They’ve seen us strategize about ways to avoid layoffs, and through the process of selecting new hires when we have been able to expand. They saw me through my pregnancy, and met my son when I brought him there for lunch with my workmates during my maternity leave. They saw my workmates through their pregnancies, and today met their new daughters when we had lunch together.

Lest you think that the food is secondary to the atmosphere, it is not. Think interesting combinations of high quality meats and other sandwich fillings on artisan breads, decadent paninis, satisfying homemade soups, some light middle eastern fare, and amazing macaroons and other sweet treats. The regular order for our group right now is a grilled cheese panini with tomato and bacon with a side of soup (clam chowder if it happens to be a Friday) and iced teas with lemon. The people at the café know our orders before we even step up to the counter.

This café is my third place. Not in the manipulative, intentional way of a Starbucks or a Panera, but in the organic way that a place with a comfortable atmosphere and good food pulls you back over and over again. I often see the same customers there when I go, so the appeal seems to be pretty universal. I know the people that work there by name, and they know our names as well.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m on my own at work these days while my two regular lunch companions are on maternity leave. Today, they brought their new baby girls to meet me at the café. I haven’t had much (any) time to go to the café since they have been out, so walking in the door and smelling the coffee and the panini press while seeing my two closest work friends, relaxed and happy with their warm little bundles on their laps, just about brought tears to my eyes.

Work talk was brief but restorative, mama talk was plentiful, the paninis were delicious as always, and I even got a newborn fix in while I held babies so their mothers could eat more easily. The people at the café were appropriately admiring of the new additions to our group, and as always didn’t rush us out. It was exactly what I needed in the middle of the week.

So, Fabulous Thing #48: Reconnecting.

 

02.06.2010 Hunting and Gathering February 7, 2010

Filed under: Friends,Style — onefabulousthing @ 9:25 pm

Today, I broke with Saturday morning tradition and did not go to Music Together with the kid. Instead, I went shopping with two other women, and the kid stayed home with his dad to rest up for a family party later in the day. We had a mission to accomplish: to buy a gift for my husband’s aunt, who is getting married in a few weeks. After some discussion, we decided to put together a basket of bed and bath items intended for the small lakeside cottage that she bought last year. She and her intended did not register, so it was up to us to select things we thought they would like.

First stop was Kohl’s, for some sheets. We found some nice ones there, and the best part was that they were over 50% off due to an Early Bird Special sale that Kohl’s had going on. I also snagged a new sweater and two other tops, which will make good additions to my work wardrobe. Purchases made before 1pm on Saturday for some items had deep discounts applied. I ended up “saving” more than 125% of what I spent, which from what I understand is not uncommon at Kohl’s, but is sort of ridiculously fantastic.

Next stop was to the small village of shops by my house, for some luxury bath products. Contrary to my fears about shopping at such places, the people working inside them were perfectly lovely and there was no awkward pressure. We were able to find bath fizzy things, scented linen wash, cozy slippers, candles, and other pampering items for the basket.

A lot of you may be thinking, “Errands? That’s what’s so fabulous?” and yes, I guess it was just errands on a Saturday morning. But we found what we were looking for. Easily, perfectly, and on sale. Our shopping mojo was with us and there were no disagreements or “I guess that could work…” statements. I even remembered to pick up a cute card for the baby shower I am attending next weekend, and I never remember to pick up cards ahead of time. It’s a nice feeling when that all comes together, especially when most of the things are intended for someone else.

So, Fabulous Thing #37: Finding the things you are looking for out in the world.

 

01.16.2010 Before, During, After January 18, 2010

Filed under: Friends — onefabulousthing @ 2:11 pm

This post is a bit delayed because of the fabulous thing about Saturday: spending a night away from home, in an amazing hotel, with two women who I have known since the very beginning of college. We are about to reach the point when we will have known each other for longer in our lives than we have not, and it is the type of relationship where we start talking the minute we see each other, and still have things to say as we get into our cars the next afternoon to head back home.

The past few years have been significant ones for the three of us, for reasons good and bad. I’ve been contemplating how to write about these things, but the details are not significant and not solely mine to share. One thing that emerged from our conversations this weekend was the issue of scars. Scars like these ones, and these ones, and this one, and all of the other ones that you can’t find visual representation of on the internet. Scars that weren’t part of our lives when we met so many years ago, but are now representations of the things that are taking center stage in our present lives. Illness, surgery, nightmares. Survival, birth, taming the monsters in the closet.

Would I say that the fabulous thing is that we’ve all emerged stronger, wiser, better people because of these things we carry with us, inside and out? No, I wouldn’t. I think we would have become just as strong, wise, and good without all the stuff in the way. I don’t like the story about needing to overcome adversity; I much prefer the story about good people getting what they deserve.

The One Fabulous Thing is that we all have each other, still. These are my people, from before the name changes and careers and babies and scars. They were my people through those things, and they will be my people for a long time to come. This trip marked the beginning of a hopeful tradition that will find us three sitting in the lounge of that fancy hotel as little old ladies, still chattering away about the full lives we’ve had and what’s coming next.

So, Fabulous Thing #16: Finding, and keeping, your people.

 

01.11.10 Cheap Laughs January 11, 2010

Filed under: Friends,Happiness — onefabulousthing @ 10:28 pm

Today was the kind of day that made me want to cheat with my blog entry, and talk about how fabulous it feels to give someone a present that they really, really like. Two problems with that plan: 1) That picture was taken yesterday, when we gave the baby his birthday present early, and 2) Yesterday wasn’t even his birthday, so we were really just giving a kid a new toy. Seems a little bit too much like a setup to count.

So today wasn’t great. Today is the first day that I have really struggled to come up with One Fabulous Thing about the day, and the first day I have felt so uninspired. There were moments that were great – rolling a ball back and forth with the kiddo who acted like I had just invented fun, my husband choosing to skip the meeting he had tonight to come home instead – but the wonderful, lucky thing about my life is that these types of things are a part of most days.

OK, so typing that out is helpful actually. Concentrating on the good things, even the good things that I have just integrated into my experience of everyday life, is helpful.

Also helpful is having a friend mention how funny a few of the sketches from last week’s Saturday Night Live were, and reminding me of the comedic genius that is Andy Samberg. Of particular note are I Threw It On The Ground, I’m On A Boat, and Jizz In My Pants. I had not seen I’m On A Boat until she referenced it, and I am glad that I have now.

One of my many shortcomings is that I have a really hard time summarizing things, so I won’t even try. I will say that laughing so hard I lose my breath a little was unexpected at the end of the day today, and it went a long way toward helping me unwind. The fact that I can call up these gems for free in a few seconds anytime I need a quick pick-me-up is pretty fabulous.

So, Fabulous Thing #11: Hilarious comedy clips on the internet. (What? They can’t all be pithy sayings)

 

01.08.2010 Piece of Cake January 9, 2010

Filed under: Family,Friends — onefabulousthing @ 12:46 am

I will admit, I had a feeling I knew what I’d be writing about today a little ahead of time. There was a chance that something else fabulous would happen and I’d have to write about that instead, but that was not the case. So I was left with a bit of a softball for a Friday night.  Phew.

A lot (too much?) is made in the media about the alleged ways that women like to tear into each other over their different choices and values, especially when it comes to motherhood. (It goes without saying that there is no equivalent representation for fatherhood).  There are the so-called Mommy Wars, divisions over breastfeeding versus formula feeding, attachment parenting and cosleeping versus sleep training in a crib from birth, and whether to start solid food at four versus six months. To take the media’s word for it, we are even divided in our philosophies of the “right” way to become mothers – unmedicated homebirth versus scheduled C-section, et cetera.

You’d never believe it if you had been in my living room tonight, or at any gathering of the women from my New Mom’s Group over the past year.

At four weeks postpartum, I got my act together just enough to venture out and join a group for new mothers and their babies. Mostly I did it as a way to give some structure to at least one of the days of the week during my maternity leave, but I was also open to meeting other mothers and getting some good intel on baby-related activities in the area. Instead, I met six women and their adorable babies who would become my sanity-savers throughout the course of the next year.

It was one of those experiences where the chemistry of the group just clicked. Immediately, we started taking stroller walks with the babies and getting together outside of the formal group meeting time. We started doing meal exchanges, each cooking large batches of one thing then portioning it out to everyone else so we all cooked once and ended up with seven meals. When the babies got older, we did this with homemade baby food. We met for coffee after work, cookouts on the weekends, mom’s nights out to fun restaurants after the babies were in bed. This December, we did a gift exchange for the kids.

This is a group where we may not see each other for a month or more, but when we do it’s like continuing a conversation we just left off. It’s comfortable, and easy, and exactly what everyone should have in their lives during that vulnerable first year as a parent.

Here’s what the seven of us have in common: we’re women, mothers, and we want to do the very best by our kids and families.

Here’s what the seven of us differ on: most other things.

Some of us breastfed, some of us formula fed. Some of us returned to work full time at three months, some later, some part time. Some of us co-slept, some of us didn’t. But we’re all closing in on the one-year anniversary of becoming mothers this month, and we’ve all made it just fine with the paths we’ve chosen. Having the support of one another as we work through the endless transitions and guessing games that are the hallmarks of new parenthood has been wonderful. Having that support without a heaping side order of judgment and questioning of each other’s choices has been absolutely priceless.

Next month we’ll get together to celebrate the first year milestone for all of the babies in a joint first birthday party. As much as I am looking forward to celebrating my son’s first birthday with our families, the party with six of his oldest friends and six of my newest will be exactly how I want to celebrate my first mamaversary.

So, Fabulous Thing #8: Getting by with a little help from my friends.