Sunday, December 31, 2006

Yet Another Blogger With Yet Another "Year-in-Review" Navel-Gazing Drivel of a Post

Starting a new year is always a good time for some retrospective introspection, and hey! I'm all up for that!

When 2006 began, I was still on maternity leave. I was at that point where I'd gotten the hang of things and was enjoying Max's infancy (because I so did NOT enjoy his first two months). I was due back at work in about a month and half, and I was already dreading it. Even though part of me felt ready to go back, the other part couldn't handle the thought of leaving Max.

But well, back to work I went, and it was fine. Max took very well to his Mimi (nanny), and that really helped me feel good about the whole situation. In going back to work, a big part of my life centered around my breast pump. From learning to use it to using it three times a day, it was a major commitment that I both loved and hated. I hated the way my boobs felt when I would first pop them out and the cold air would hit me; I hated the feel of the first pull as the pump got started; I hated having to clean and sterilize three million parts every single evening; and I hated the panic I would feel whenever I didn't pump as much milk as I thought I should. But I loved the support I received from my department boss and co-workers; I loved being able to pump, period, when so many moms can't because of unsupportive workplaces; I loved that thanks to pumping, Max continued to receive my milk and so I didn't have to supplement; and I loved that even though it was basically a pain in my ass, I was able to stick to it.

Since it was Max's first year, there were lots of big things: eating solids, teeth, learning to sit, crawl, stand, walk, etc., and each milestone was exciting and adorable and sad. There were definitely many times in those first couple of months after I went back to work when I found myself wishing I didn't have to work. I missed sitting around with him all day long (even though I bitched plenty about it), and I just wanted to be around and watch as Max became more engaged with the world around him. Still, I was able to deal with those feelings and as time passed, I settled back into work and into my new role as a working mom.

Another big topic of 2006 was my boobs - for me, anyway. My obsession with them actually began during my pregnancy, when they grew so much and so quickly that it freaked the hell out of me. They started 2006 out enormous, and ended up back to their old size by November, but boy, they do NOT look like what they used to. I hated them when they were huge because they just seemed so disproportionate with the rest of my body. And I hate them now because just don't look like they used to. I was perfectly happy with the small ones I had: they fit my body perfectly, gave me nice-but-not-slutty cleavage, and were just regular, pretty things. Part of my boob-related annoyance has been how much time I've wasted stressing out about them. Who knew I cared that much? I certainly didn't. I didn't grow up with any hangups about them, I never really used them to draw attention to myself - so I'm the most surprised to realize just how much I care about them.

So, how to make it all better? I couldn't do anything until I was done breastfeeding, and that was just in October. Now that I see what I'm left with, I plan on getting myself some good bras. But you don't understand. I need magical bras, ones that will lift and hold and be comfortable. Ones that I can wear with tank tops, going-out tops, and anything else that I wouldn't have even worn a bra with before I got pregnant. Once the move to our new house is over, I plan on devoting a few weekends to a massive hunt for the magical bras of perfection. One thing I'm pretty certain of is that surgery is not an option, at least not right now. Besides the fact that it's just not me to do something like that, I've spent far too long believing that only deeply insecure women get their breasts done to do it myself without some long, deep introspection about it. Of course, I mainly feel that way about young women getting their perfectly normal boobs done for no apparent reason, and I'm way past that, so we'll have to see. Time and further deterioration of said boobs may have me running to the nearest plastic surgeon, but for now, and for the next few years, no. For now, it's just not me.

Moving on - I changed jobs in 2006, after a little over three years in the same place. It was a tough decision to make, because although I had some shitty days, overall, I was happy there. There were definitely some benefits that I very much enjoyed, and I was at a place where I had more responsibility (but not more money). Still, it was an institution ridden with problems that just ate away at me, and I realized that if I made the decision to stay "for good," there was really nowhere for me to go, as promotions take forever (unless you're the favorite of someone with power, which, big part of the problem), and raises are a bitch to get. So when I got an offer that seemed like a good challenge and a good career move, I decided it was time to act, to take a step closer towards achieving my goals.

Also in 2006, Ben hit 30. I was planning a big party for him, but between actually turning 30 and some shitty family stuff that had recently happened, he wasn't in the mood to celebrate. So I scaled it back and did just a small family thing for him, because he hit that milestone and landed a job he really wanted, and I still wanted to honor him somehow. So between turning 30 and dealing with the shitty family situation, 2006 has been a rough year for him. Naturally, this has affected our relationship, and 2006 tested us in many ways. Not just because of what he's been through, of course, since I'm also quite a pill to take on a daily basis. During the last few weeks, I fee like we've made a turn for the better, and it's had me thinking more deeply than usual about marriage, commitment and lasting love. I don't publicly write about my relationship with Ben, and I don't think I ever will. Marriage is just too fragile a thing for me to put out there. Ben and I - we've been through too much for me to be able to or want to do anything except protect what we have. So these thoughts that I share now - you're really not going to get this kind of thing much, if ever again.

In 2006, I realized once again just how much of a commitment marriage really is. Every day is a commitment - waking up with the person, doing what has to be done to keep the life you've built together running smoothly, and feeling content as you lay back down with them at night. Ben and I, we have different perceptions of what a family is, due to how very differently we were raised. So in the past, when we've talked about things like commitment and family, we've often found it hard to agree with each other's point of view. And yet, however much we've disagreed in theory, with Max's arrival, we've finally realized that WE are a family, and the feeling really hit home this year. If there's one thing I'm absolutely grateful for, it's the way that giving up is never an option for Ben. No matter how bad things get and how despaired that makes me, he's never looking for a way out, and instead of building a wall against me, he just wants things to be better. Like, he's in this, and in it for real. His commitment is real. And through the strength of his commitment, I've gained a whole new perspective on us, on marriage, and on what it means when you vow "for better of worse." We're a work in progress - but this year I realized that we're a lot deeper and a lot more willing to stick together than I had given us credit for.

So, while 2006 wasn't an awful year, it wasn't among the best, either. I have high hopes for 2007, and wish that yours is one full of joy, laughter and compassion. Oh, and my blog, which you should read every day and make a central part of your life.

Posted by Tere @ 12/31/2006   | | | links to this post

Friday, December 29, 2006

Thoughts on Working Outside the Home

Between some e-mails I’ve been exchanging with a friend who’s also a mom and a blogger and the conversation about Work Outside the Home Moms (WOHM) going on at Mom’s Daily Dose, the topic has gotten me thinking. I’m thinking, mainly, that while I don’t say it point blank, a lot of the stress and angst I throw up all over this blog are pretty much due to being a WOHM, and the constant struggle to keep up, to be both a good mom and a good employee (and oh yeah, a good wife, a good daughter, a good sister and a good friend).

But here’s my deal: I WANT to be a WOHM. I enjoy working. I like putting on non-mommy clothes and some make-up, I like leaving my house, I like being around other adults, I like working in a creative environment, and I like the respect my brains and skills earn me. Even if I didn’t need my paycheck, I would still find a way to have some kind of work outside my home, but then it would probably be on a part-time basis. I know many women struggle with working vs. staying home. I know there are people out there who believe the best kind of mom is the one who’s home all day long with her kids and that to be a mom with a job is to basically be a shitty mom. And while I totally respect that, this is not my struggle. I feel absolutely no guilt about this. And while the fact that I don’t have a choice in this matter helps, I also know that having a job makes me a better mother. Let’s face it, people: I’m impatient and temperamental. As much as I adore my son, as much as he has made me a better person, if I had to spend every single moment of every single day with him, I’d be an irritable, frustrated, sour old bitch. If this makes me a shitty mom to some people, so be it, but it’s the truth. Some women can do it day in and day out and do it beautifully – bless them and all, but I’m not that woman.

I’m not stupid, though. I know full well that as long as my main priority is my child, I’m not going anywhere big in the working world. The real bitch that we moms who work outside the home have to deal with is the fact that if we’re highly ambitious and focus on our careers, our kids will suffer; and if we focus on our kids and are physically present in their lives as much as possible, our careers suffer. I’m not saying anything new here, and while I blame the American corporate culture for this bullshit, I’m not taking it up as my cause. I am, however, rebelling against it in my own life and am trying to create whatever situation I can so that I can, in fact, have my cake and eat it too.

My dream is to just work for myself – as a writer, of course, but I’m flexible and open to any other creative-type thing. But assuming I can’t make that happen for a long while, then my highest ideal as a WOHM is to be in a situation where I am the master of my time. That’s what it boils down to for me. I believe I can work and find some fulfillment (even if I’m not “rewarded” with big money or a cool title), and I can be a kick-ass mom at the same time – if I can use my time however I see fit. It’s the structure of a regular job that I find completely inconvenient and that contributes so much to my frustration. At the same time, though, I know that I’m the kind of employee who can’t handle disappointing her boss or worse, who’s considered unreliable; so what I really fear and what really frustrates me is finding myself in a situation where my boss considers me unreliable or a “bad” employee simply because I have responsibilities as a mom. I fear that so badly, and I hate how that makes me feel.

I’m in a job now that promises to allow me to find the balance I’m looking for. Even though almost everyone comes in late and leaves late, I get to come in early so I can leave early. But on the days when Ben doesn’t work and is Max’s primary caretaker, I can come in late and stay late like everyone else, which is not required but helps me feel better and helps me show that I want to be part of the team.

And, if it ever gets too complicated (which I SO hope not), I will just have to move on to something that’s closer to my goals. Because however much I enjoy working, Max remains my priority – and there’s no way I’m sacrificing him for anything else.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/29/2006   | | | links to this post

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Final Word on Vaca Frita

The search is over - I’ve found the best vaca frita in Miami.

Listen people, in my 29 years, I've had more vaca frita than anyone should be allowed. It is my most favorite of all Cuban dishes. MOST. FAVORITE. I order it everywhere: here, here, here, here, here and here (the original one; the one in Kendall sucks), to name a few. Oh, and at my parents' house, of course. Of all these, La Habana Vieja was hands-down my fave.

Until today.

Today, I ended up having lunch somewhere I'd never been at before. Naturally, I had the VF. People. People. PEE-POLE. It was perfect. Tender, with the perfect amount of crispiness, and enough grease to be wonderfully greasy without being gross. Without doubt, this one is a winner. THE winner. Havana Miami Restaurant rocks that VF like nobody's business.

I'm telling you, Miami's best vaca frita has been found. Now go have some and be prepared for the melt-in-your-mouth heavenliness. But, um, call me first, o.k.? 'Cause I'll want to go too.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/28/2006   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Make Me Over, PLEASE

I want a makeover. Nothing drastic, just something to make me feel like *me* again. Specifically, I want:

1. My thighs to disappear, or at least, to be slimmer and firmer.
2. Same thing for my butt.
3. Same thing for my belly.
4. A new hair color, though what color or how dramatic I'm not sure.
5. A couple of new outfits that actually flatter me.
6. Some magical way to feel pretty and interesting again.

So basically, I need to get over myself and hit the gym. And I need to find a quiet space to find some aspects of myself again. And I need to make some changes that are pretty big, deep and scary, and which I currently have neither the strength nor know-how to make, so... yeah.

The truth is I'm too consumed with just making it from one day to the next to give the big picture the attention it deserves. But I'm going to have to find the time and energy, right?


Posted by Tere @ 12/27/2006   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Notes on the Weekend, Plus! I'll Feed You if You Help Me

This was the first Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) where the dinner/party was just my immediate family. One of my sisters and b-i-l hosted everyone, and they decided they wanted only their immediate relatives. So it was them and their kids, their parents and their siblings and siblings' kids. We were like 21 people (we're Cuban, that's as small as an intimate gathering gets, o.k.?), and I have to say, it was so nice. Between us all we have seven kids, and they were busy running around and playing, and it was just very laid back and cozy. Dinner was so pleasant - one big table where we could all sit and talk and joke around (as opposed to the three or four long tables these affairs usually necessitate). We realized during the dinner conversation that we have all been a family for 20 years now - the amount of time my sister and her husband have been together. So basically, my sisters and I have grown up with him and his brothers. And now, our kids are being raised as cousins and playmates.

I have to admit, though, that part of the reason I appreciated the scaled-back party was because lately it's really hard for me to enjoy myself in a social setting. Max has this boundless energy that keeps him moving and moving and fucking moving - with no purpose, no direction, no sign that it'll stop - and I spend every moment on top of him. I can't hold complete conversations, I can only sit for two minutes before I have to get up again, and since he's only 15 months old, it's not like he understands that I'm tired and frustrated. I know I'm not the first mother to go through this, and I know that this is part of the age he's at now - but it doesn't make it any less frustrating. I'm seriously exhausted, people, and at this point I'm extremely frustrated that no one seems to get how bad it is. If I complain, my relatives give me that "Please, stop being such a fucking drama queen" look, roll their eyes, and move on. That's real nice and all, but the fact remains that Ben and I are both working like crazy, we're both planning a move, and we're both sick as hell. I don't get to stop. I don't get to take care of myself and take a break so that I can recharge. By the time Max goes to sleep, I am so unbelievably exhausted that I can't do everything that needs to be done. I'm nodding off in the middle of my chores, but I have too much to do, and by the time I stop, it's late and I'm only able to get a few hours of sleep before starting all over again.

So I either need someone to give me fucking hand, like, for real, and watch my kid for a day or a weekend so I can get shit done but still manage to rest or get better, because this damn infection/flu/thing that doesn't allow me to breathe is just refusing to disappear on its own; or my kid needs to find one damn toy that he can settle with for like, 10 minutes, so that I can at least get the dishes done, Jesus H. Christ.

Damn, I had to step away from the computer there for a couple of minutes. I have to say, that nice little rant really hit the spot!

So... moving on to other news: I'm hiring. I need a handyman to do some shit in my new house. For free. Seriously, I'm not kidding. Here's the official ad:

Job Description: Handyman/person needed to help tired, clueless mom and her "I'm just not going to get around to this" husband get their new home in ship-shape. I need someone who can re-paint the kitchen cabinets, install three ceiling fans, including one to a ceiling in a room that currently has no light fixtures in it, and do some magic on the wood floors. The wood floors suck; the problem seems to be that years of wax on it have crapped it out. Handyman/person must know how to strip wax and fix it. My brother-in-law told me "It's just the wax, you just need a wax stripper," so handyman/person must be able to figure out what he meant by that and get to it. Also need some help with the old apartment, namely, to do some touch-up painting, a little patch work on a couple of walls, and fixing an outlet that blew out when my husband was trying to change it from a two-hole plug to a three-hole. Warning: the wires are all crumbled up and unidentifiable.

Compensation: Free food while you work; pleasant, undemanding bosses (well, me - my husband can be prone to hovering around, so I'll keep him busy with something else. Although, I like things done right and with care, so if you can't put some love into it, I suggest you pass this job up), and many plugs for you, your business, your work and your wonderful personality here on this site. Will also cook/bake anything you'd like for you to take home, but if it's something I've never cooked before, I can't vouch for said food's quality.

When Do I Need You?: Weekends in January. The quicker you can do it, the less time it'll take.

I know, this is just too good to pass up, isn't it?

Posted by Tere @ 12/26/2006   | | | links to this post

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Merry

I had all these cute plans to greet my readers who pop in on Christmas with an adorable and/or funny picture of my son doing something.... adorable and/or funny. But I haven't had a chance to download any pictures.

Plus, I'm lazy.

So you'll have to settle for this: my Christmas Eve Day began with copious amounts of vomit and peaked with a crib full of diarrhea.

Have a good one!

Posted by Tere @ 12/25/2006   | | | links to this post

Friday, December 22, 2006

Say Hello to my 200th Post

And to celebrate, here's Max being his usual self.

He is currently obsessed with slides. Squeals when he sees one, can't get enough of them, must go over and over and over and over and over until one of us passes out.

That was a great departure from the doom and gloom I've been posting lately, huh?

Posted by Tere @ 12/22/2006   | | | links to this post

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm Trying Really Hard to Not Be Devasted Right Now, But it Might Be Time for Plan B

Due to the latest restrictions imposed by the CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs), our plans to adopt a little girl from China are in peril (not sure how much peril just yet). The CCAA will be implementing stricter qualifications for prospective adoptive parents - this is in response to the huge amount of applications coming in; basically, they need to implement some new restrictions to eliminate people. Among the people who now won't be allowed to apply to adopt a Chinese baby are people who are obese, over 50, and single.

O.k., I could totally be knee-jerking to the news, but I've been following this for a while, and now that it's basically official, it's taking all my self-control not to freak out. Most of the new restrictions don't apply to Ben and me, but there are a couple that concern me, as in our case they could be left to subjective interpretation. I'm actually about to contact the agency we're working with to discuss our particular situation to see what they say, because I'm not about to go through with this just to be rejected.

Also, among those fabulous plans we had for 2007? Was to begin the adoption process.

I need to prepare myself for the fact that after all these years of wanting and planning, the new rules may disqualify us. The worst that'll happen is that we won't be able to adopt for a number of years, which is not terrible, but we want to do this NOW. NOW. NOW. NOW.

It's not just me being a baby about it, it's that we don't want Max to be 9 years older than his next sibling. So realistically, to have kids who are close in age and who can play and grow together, blah, blah, blah, we want/need to start the process now. And also, we've been dreaming of this little girl since we got married. We've been waiting for my 30th birthday (minimum age of adoptive parent) to send our dossier to China that same day. And now?

So I need to gear up for the worst and start with plan B. Many years ago, we had discussed adopting a second child, a boy, from Kenya. That's really the only other place we've discussed. We've always felt that we wanted to adopt from a country that's not "popular," so that eliminates anywhere in Eastern Europe and most of Central America. Back when we decided we'd be adoptive parents, China was not as popular as it's become. Of course, we've grown accustomed to the thought of adopting from China and it remains our first choice, despite its popularity.

Still, we have to start considering other countries from which to adopt our little girl. So what other ones should we consider? Thanks to all the attention celebrities have given them, African countries may not be a realistic option anymore. Even so, I've been nurturing a secret little spot of love in my heart for my potentially future African son, so I don't want to consider the continent just yet for a daughter. Vietnam? India? I'd love to hear from adoptive parents to see what countries they chose and why.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/21/2006   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Speaking of Christmas Decorations....

I got tagged, so here you go. You will leave this post feeling like you know me better than ever before - lucky you!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or put them under the tree unwrapped?
Chantel is crazy – Santa wraps!!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White when I want to feel classy, colored when I want to be fun.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No, but when I was a fall-in-love-at-the-drop-of-a-hat teenager I had the secret fantasy that someone - anyone - would hang some up and that a cute boy would be so taken by me that he'd try to get me under the mistletoe so he could have a legitimate excuse to plant one on me.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Some time in early December, except for this year because of the whole decorations drama we all suffered.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
The big, succulent pork, lying on its belly, waiting for me to nibble its ear.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child.
The excruciating anticipation of X-mas Eve – those final hours of waiting until getting back home to check if Santa had come early; of getting ready for bed slowly, and lying in bed just waiting, waiting, waiting, the excitement eating me alive.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
9 or 10, and though I could be wrong, I think it was when my sister made me confess to my mom that I knew about “the period” and my mom figured she may as well tell me about sex and Santa, too (and you wonder how I turned out this way).

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
I think I have in the past, like the year my sister and b-i-l were flying out on X-mas Day to see his family. Or when Ben can’t wait and convinces me to open “just one”.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
I like a combo of balls and ornaments that have meaning for us.

11. Snow. Love it or dread it?
Have never experienced it, so what can I say? It’s all beautiful in my head, but in reality is probably crap.

12. Can you ice skate?
Yes, I love it.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Anything having to do with Barbie. I’m still waiting for Barbie’s Dream House.

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you?
The days I get off from work.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Raspberry-Chocolate Rugelach, but my m-i-l makes it all the time, so I don’t have to wait all year to enjoy them.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Noche Buena – no matter where it is, it’s always a crazy jumble of too many people, too much food, and crazy children running all over the place.

17. What tops your tree?
Wonder Woman (see below)

18. Which do you prefer - giving or receiving?
If I were a humble, generous soul, I’d say giving. But I’m not. So – receiving. GIMME, GIMME, GIMME.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I like most of them well enough.

20. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
A Christmas Story & A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Posted by Tere @ 12/20/2006   | | | links to this post

Cute Baby Makes it all Better

While I'm busy dealing with my first week at a new job, throwing crap out to prepare for our move, and making final preparations for the holidays, Max will entertain you with his total cuteness.

First up is Hanukkah. See how much he's into the lighting of the menorah? See how much he cares about the fact that he's squirming against me and pulling my hair?

There's a toy in that box, but he preferred to push the box around the house.

His poppy and nannie (Ben's dad and step-mom) gave him this little alphabet toy, which he won't stop playing with. He's figured out that when you put the letter magnet in the slot, a voice sings about the letter. I now have 300 magnets thrown all over my living room. He doesn't really look like he cares, does he?

We kept the decorations simple this year, due to a decorations-related temper tantrum I had a few weeks ago, combined with my not wanting to spend my every moment at home telling Max not to touch the tree, combined with this awful cold that won't go away that's leaving me more exhausted than usual. So I didn't go all out, but I think Baby Jesus would approve anyway.

The tree no longer looks that poorly decorated. I looked at these pictures and realized that I'd done an awful job, so I tried to fix it. I'm not very good at symmetry.

Coming next: Max rocks the playground slide.

Posted by Tere @ 12/20/2006   | | | links to this post

Sunday, December 17, 2006

And Then God Punished Me

I look back at my last post, and I laugh. Oh, I was such a silly girl - showcasing my frivolity and greed for all the world to see. Really, this blogging business, where I share some pretty private stuff (though nothing truly secret - at least not from Ben)? It's begining to rear its ugly karmic head.

Less than 24 hours after that post, the bomb dropped: our landlord is going condo and we have to move. That one piece of info set off a chain reaction that basically concludes with this: 2007 - the year of poverty. Or close to it. The expense of moving alone pretty much screws all my fabulous plans for our finances. That budget I worked out? The one that achieved a near-perfect balance of paying bills off, spending, and saving? The speech I gave Ben about "we have to grow up and be responsible and suck it up and do this"? I may as well forget it all.

Seriously, I'm so pissed at how things like this keep happening - just when we've gotten our footing, when we've taken some big strides and are in a good place and ready to commit to just doing what has to be done to improve certain aspects of our lives, one kind of bomb or another drops and we're set back 500 steps.

The good thing about shit like this happening is that it's a chance for Ben and me to come together to find solutions - it's kind-of a test of our mettle. So we had a couple of very good, constructive conversations, and we both committed to forge ahead with our financial plans despite this setback. We'll pick back up where we left off by mid-year (we hope!) and so maybe we'll still be able to see a difference before 2007 is out.

Oh, and we found a house. To rent, since asking us to become homeowners over the course of a couple of days would be a bit much, wouldn't you say? It's in a great area (one we'd be open to buying in when that time comes, and exactly one block from my parents), it's large and charming (and by "charming" I mean old. We keep falling for old places with kitchens and bathrooms that haven't been redone since the house was built). We decided we didn't want to wait around to see what happened with our current building, and this house was not going to last on the market, not at the asking rent.

So now we just have to bust our butts to do this move and to pay, pay, pay and save, save, save. The financial strain is a crappy thing, but the good thing is that we've been able to set some good goals and have some pretty cool things to look forward to.

And that Gucci purse? There's always my 31st birthday. Or my 32nd.

Posted by Tere @ 12/17/2006   | | | links to this post

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ultimately, the Whole Point of this Post is to Confirm that I'm a Hypocrite

As usual, I'm trying to figure out what's driving this weird shift I've noticed about myself, and whether or not I like this and want to go along with it or not.

Whatever the actual cause may be (though I'm going with my theory that I'm getting older, have been a career woman for 10 years, am growing in my womanhood, am a damn good mom, and so maybe I've kinda earned this), the truth is that I'm beginning to seriously eye and want certain luxury items. Specifically: really expensive, high-quality designer purses and shoes, and diamonds. Real, shiny, glorious diamond jewelry.

I cuurently own none of the above things, with the exception of my engagement ring. And maybe that's the problem. I just have days where I'm tired of never spending more than $30 on a purse or more than $75 on shoes or more than $50 on jewelry. Those are my real budgets on these items, btw (except for the one nicer pair of boots I buy every few years). I try to be frugal while seeking out pretty, unique things. But you know what? There are so many great things that are so fucking expensive! And I guess at the end of the day, there's a small part of me that whines "Why can't I have any of those things?"

The biggest problem with this shift is that it makes me feel like a total hypocrite. Not only do I find no actual value in designer goods, but I usually have pretty mean thoughts about people who surround themselves in designer crap when they can't afford it. I judge people on that. I find it shallow and trivial and just plain sad that someone would actually care about the label on their clothes, purses, sunglasses, etc. - and worse, that they think something like that is important or that it somehow validates them. I usually think people like this totally lack character.

Mind you, if you're seriously wealthy - if you grew up in money and this is all you know, or you make enough money where designer things are not "luxuries" to you - then more power to you. Go for it. Enjoy yourself. My problem is with people who make a low-to-moderate income, live with their parents, have credit card debt up their asses, but don't think twice about dropping $350 on a purse on a pretty regular basis. People who dress head to toe (or practically) in pricey shit but who have to charge all those things or who don't pay things like an electric or car insurance bill because their parents do it for them. Maybe my real problem is with the way people place all that materialistic crap before being responsible adults - and that's a rant best left for another day.

But before all you Coach-toting girls go all nutty on me, I want you to know that I totally get the concept of a girl treating herself to something really, really nice. In fact, maybe I'm experiencing this desire for quality goods because I finally, really get it. But you know it's one thing to splurge on something you're totally drooling over, or to have your man or mom give it to you as a very special present - and it's another to buy yourself this stuff on a regular basis, because you'll like, die if you don't have it, when you don't make enough money to maintain that lifestyle without going into debt over it. (And let me be the first to say that not only am I familiar with credit card debt, but we've also bitch-slapped each other many, many times - so although none of my debt included designer shit, I speak from experience).

This all being said, my first honest-to-goodness über-luxurious, I-am-such-a-great-person-and-I-so-totally-deserve-this treat to myself will be this delicious purse that I am obsessed with - which I will not only pay for with cash, but will also give to myself to commemorate my 30th birthday next year. Guilt and second-guessing be damned, as G-d as my witness, I'm going to give myself at least one truly luxurious gift.

Ben, however, will have to take care of the diamonds.

Posted by Tere @ 12/15/2006   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Note on Blogger Beta


For my blogger friends who have made the switch, I want you to know that I have been repeatedly trying to leave you comments, and that they just don't go through.

I've tried to do it signed into my account, and it acts like I'm not signed in. So I try type my username and password right in the comments section, but it just keeps popping back up with "check your pasword" over and over again (and yes, I'm typing my password correctly). So then I've tried to do it as "other" and it just doesn't go through - it keeps refreshing the comments page and does't add my post - just leaves it as text that's still being written.

I'm annoyed. This blows. I can't comment! ARGH!

Posted by Tere @ 12/13/2006   | | | links to this post

I've Got My Standards

So this morning PCD and I were talking about a co-worker who had just been in our office. We were basically agreeing that he's very skinny. PCD said she thought he was a little too skinny, and I agreed with "one of my deal-breakers is skinniness - I can't date a guy who's skinnier than me."

The fact that I'm not single or on the market is besides the point. I find myself many times thinking with my “single girl” cap on - a harmless habit where I make statements like "I would never date a guy who..." or "If a man ever tried that shit with me, I'd dump his ass" despite the fact that I won't ever date a(nother) guy, period, nor will any random guy do anything to earn my dumping him.

Still, that got me thinking about the silly little rules I have in my head when it comes to this. I mean, I couldn't date a guy skinnier than me because I would feel fat all the time, and who wants that? Similarly, I could never date a guy who's "prettier" than me because - call me old-fashioned or self-centered - I think the woman should be the object of beauty. A man's looks can be handsome, distinguished and full of character, but I want to be the one who is considered "pretty" (that may have more to do with my center-of-attention disorder, but whatever). I also can't date a guy who's hair is longer than mine. This is a big one for me. I have no problem with a guy who has long hair - in fact, both TFBIETL and (Kinda)Good Ex have long hair - but it just can't be longer than mine. That's just wrong. I would feel like a man, then. Or un-feminine. Or ugly.

I have others, but those are my top three superficial deal-breakers. Now you tell me, people, what are yours?

Posted by Tere @ 12/13/2006   | | | links to this post

Monday, December 11, 2006

In Which I Show Just How Big a Hypocrite I Am

I did it last year because it seemed I’d be an awful mother if I did not chronicle my beloved son’s first Christmas with this most hallowed tradition. I was in no mood to pay $11 for a freaking 4x6, or to endure a long line of whiny kids and their incompetent parents. But I did it anyway (actually, I went nice and early on a weekday and there was no line - or annoying kids).

I ended up with this, a bewildered-looking Max who nonetheless looks so cute on Santa’s lap that you just want to cuddle him and which makes me think, all right, not a crappy parent, yet!

And that was that – or so I thought. I basically figured that one picture would be enough, at least until he begged me for another. I’ve spent a year snickering that I would never subject myself to that nonsense again – mainly because it’s an overpriced, cheesy thing to do. Like, of course you have to take your kids to see Santa! It's the American tradition! Ugh. It’s just not for me.

And then.

I –for some reason I’ve yet to discern – decided that Max should have his picture taken with Santa. Again. I think it was something in my head about seeing him in the same pose with the same Santa and marveling at how much he’d grown in a year. Because pulling out a picture of him this time last year and then just looking at him wasn’t good enough.

So we head to mall yesterday and of course, there’s a line. Not a long one, but a line nonetheless. The people with Santa at that moment were taking forever – like, they were doing way too much to accommodate their whiny kid, who didn’t seem to be scared of Santa; he just seemed to be a whiner. While Ben is all pissy about how the parents are dealing with the situation, I figure my son could be that kid, and I start to take care of the problem before it becomes a problem. And I fail. I point towards Santa and make a big deal about Look! It’s! Santa! Yay! And I launch into an explanation about how kind Santa is and how much fun he’s going to have with Santa and how wonderful everything is – you know, things this child cannot possibly comprehend – but he seems to be staring at Santa with interest, so I think I'm getting through.

And then it’s our turn and I have to actually bring him near Santa. For the first time in his life, he actually clung on to me. Every time I leaned in towards Santa, and he’d squirm and wrap his legs back around my waist and his little hands would scratch at my neck as he clawed to get a good grip on me. The first time I leaned was enough to elicit tears. Big, copious tears. And loud crying. Very loud crying.

So we try to distract him with a stuffed reindeer and a bell – more tears. I start talking softly to him about how mommy is right with him and look, mommy is going to sit near Santa, see how much fun this is? More crying. Actually, he shrieked with terror when I sat down next to Santa. But as I kept reassuring him and holding him, he began to quiet down and look at Santa again. When I tried to shift him onto Santa’s lap, the shrieking began again. So the photographer goes, “I guess mommy and daddy will be in the picture, too,” and I’m like, No Way!! But it was that or nothing, so Ben comes in and we pose and try to keep Max from crying and also to get him to look at the camera.

The end result?

As I told Ben, this picture is such a lie. We never look like that. We don't pose by tilting our heads or smiling demurely. We never all come out this cute - one of us always has an eye closed, or hair out of place, or a weird facial expression. The only thing that correctly depicts us is the wrong-choice-for-this-kind-of-picture-outfits, but we also had no plan to be in the picture. But hey, at least we match. The people in this picture seem warm, like they coordinate their outfits and get portraits done every holiday and then hang them up all over their house. Like the dad is a gentle giant, the mom an excellent housekeeper and the son wouldn't know how to throw a tantrum if he tried. Which, all fine things, but things we are not.

But, there you have it. Look at my boy. Look at how big he is now. Look at the difference a year makes. It brings tears to my eyes.

But that's it - no more mall pictures with Santa. Seriously. I mean it.

p.s. Why has no one told me that my face has gotten so fat??

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Posted by Tere @ 12/11/2006   | | | links to this post

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Thing I Hate About Living in Miami #984

All those ridiculous comemierdas who go shopping in 4-inch heels. Please. You look like a fool. It's just the damn mall.

Seriously, why? You can't tell me that walking around the mall in high heels for 4 hours, pushing a stroller and/or carrying bags, is comfortable. Also, your limping and funky walking gives your discomfort away.

So stop it. Stop it right now. You look silly and we're all snickering behind your back.

In other mall-related news, I did all my holiday shopping today. Once again, Target is a total loser for having just one piddly section (an aisle end display) of Hanukkah stuff, most of which was pathetic. I complained about it last year to corporate, and they had the nerve to respond that their stores offered "plenty" of Hanukkah stuff. Whatever. I'm too tired to get into my schpiel about how retailers don't hesitate to cram Christmas and Baby Jesus down our throats, but heaven forbid we can get some dreidels or gelt. I may not be Jewish, but I think it's offensive how these mass merchants are so blatantly indifferent to Jewish holidays. Interestingly enough, my husband the Jew is not as pissed about it.

The best part of this long, exhausting day was that I stayed within mybudget. My sisters' gifts will actually put me a bit over budget once I get those, but this is the first year that I give myself a strict, frugal budget (times are tough, yo, and I have a very large family), and I stick to it. Wow. I'm totally patting myself on the back for this.

I'm also patting myself on the back for the extreme efficiency I excersied today. I did what I had to do, I didn't dick around, but I put a lot of thought into each and every gift.

I just have to decide on couples gifts for my sisters/brothers-in-law (hello, hardest gifts to buy this year!), and I'll be done.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/09/2006   | | | links to this post

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Celebrity Odds & Ends

I know I haven't really gotten into this before, but I'm a bit of a celeb junkie. To the point, at least, that I love VH1's Best Week Ever, read US Weekly and participate in a few celeb-related blogs.

And lately, a few things have caught my attention and I can no longer ignore them; they must be addressed.

To wit:

What exactly is Wilmer Valderrama up to with the kiddie schtick? First, I saw him on the Disney Channel with a new cartoon, Handy Manny. Like, it's his cartoon, he (supposedly) created it and at least voices Manny. Then, he's in that holiday movie about the kids at the airport. What gives? Did he realize he wasn't going to cut it as a heartthrob and settled for the kids' market? The problem is, when I think of this guy, I think of the lothario who allegedly banged Lindsey Lohan, Jennifer what's-her-face Hewitt, Mandy Moore, etc., and who's reguarly photographed partying in L.A. Nothing wrong with that, but it really doesn't jibe with his sudden foray into the kiddie market. It's actually a bit creepy.

Speaking of creepy kiddie things, my son is absolutely fascinated by a TV show that freaks the hell out of me - Go, Baby. It's basically a short cartoon that comes on between The Wiggles and that show that's on at 7:30 a.m., and it's obviously made for very young souls, considering that the gist of it is "Baby" sitting in the sand with a bucket or taking a bath or wearing a party hat and clapping his hands over the party that's about to take place. The animation itself is very disturbing - Baby and his friend Sophie look like real babies, but they're, um, not, and it all makes for creepy viewing. The really freaky thing, though, is what I'm classifying as a subtle form of racism: "Baby" is black and "Sophie" is white (& Asian). Why doesn't the black baby have a name? Why is the white baby identified by a name and the black one is not? I actually had a conversation with my boss about this, and perhaps his guess is the right one: that it was just Baby at first and they added Sophie later and couldn't call her baby as well. I'm sure there's some kind of perfectly acceptable reason for this, but at the end of the day, the black baby doesn't have a name and the white one does. I'm just sayin'.

Next, Jessica Simpson. I don't give a fuck about her or her nonexistent career, nor her failed marriage. I care about her sister even less. But throughout their very public decline from mildly cute teeny bopper b-listers to perfect examples of how talent is unnecessary to become rich and famous, I've noticed a very disturbing thing about them: they are cowards. I know celebs put a spin on every damn thing that goes wrong and goes public in their lives. But usually, their publicists manage to put out some excuse or story that combines fact and fiction into a nice little package. But these Simpson girls are one of a few celebrities (Jennifer Aniston being next on my list) who just out and out lie. Or rather, since all celebs lie, they lie badly. Like, who believes the shit that they come up with? And it isn't only that; what gets me is what little integrity they have about it. The one who fucked up on SNL did the most cowardly thing and pointed the finger at a member of her band and blamed him for her fuck-up. Then it was her acid reflux. Then it was something else. Please. Jessica is just as bad, with excuse after transparent excuse for her every flub. I know, how stupid of me to expect these vapid celebrities to have any integrity, but these girls were raised - supposedly - in a Christian community by a minister father. *Snort* That's the irony of it all - their parents, who at first presented themselves as these humble, ethical Christians created these egotisitcal, insipid monsters, and they happily ditched their ministry for the Hollywood high life. What a bunch of shitty people.

And speaking of shitty people. That Britney Spears. It's become evident to me that she has become the people's dancing monkey. When the people were fed up with her white trash marriage, fashion sense and general stupidity, she was defiant, snapping her gum in Matt Lauer's face. But once she was forced out of the public eye to, you know, give birth and mind her babies, a change took place. She came out a month later looking better than she had in years. The people cheered and rejoiced. And, considering how long it'd been since the people reacted so positively to her, dear Brit was overcome, and she gave the people more. She looked better. The people cheered on. She dumped that fool of a husband. The people went wild. She came out looking (in her eyes, presumably, but definitely not mine) hotter. She was everywhere, looking much happier and relieved than ever. She was giving the people what they wanted: the pretty princess America had taken on as their own, free of that greasy ass of a husband.

But then. Then she took it too far. Poor girl is so clueless, so unused to using her brain, and so addicted to flashbulbs, that of course she overdid it. Partying every night. Dressing like a tacky ho. Hooking up with the most useless human being ever. Flashing her chooch for all the world to see. And the people recoiled. They cried out against her, began to take back all the good things they'd said about her. And what did our dancing monkey do? She pulled back. She took some nights off, she didn't parade all over town with her new BFF or without her kids. She did what the people told her to do. And that's how it will be with her until she grows up or goes broke or is completely rejected by the people: she will do their bidding. Her life thus far has programmed her to inevitably fuck up, for she lacks common sense and has been surrounded by sycophants who blow smoke up her ass and don't dare to set her straight for way too long. But she will forever make her next move based on what the people demand of her. We wanted her to clean up some. And she did. We wanted her to ditch the loser. And she did. We wanted her to share her new-found freedom with us. And she did. But she just can't help fucking it up. And as she continues to live out her life in public, the damage now is done, and she will forever rely on the people to tell her what to do, and she will answer to them, even though she really doesn't have to. Because she will do anything to be loved and accepted - even become a fool for her audience. Celebrities are sick like that.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, there's this: I walked into my living room recently and One Tree Hill was on TV. I've never watched this show. It looks stupid. But I'd seen the lead guy in the tabloids due to his super-short marriage to his co-star, alleged cheating, divorce and sudden engagement to a girl barely out of high school. But I'd never paid any real attention to him. As I was watching the show, though, I realized the most unbelievable thing ever. Am I the only one who's noticed this?

This guy:

is a dead-on younger version of the world's best forensic investigator:


I'm in utter shock.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/07/2006   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Awesome Coolness Joy Joy Joy

I'm still feelin' all crap-like, but something quite awesome has happened:

Friday, January 26, 2007 - INDIGO GIRLS at Pompano Beach Amphitheatre!

(excuse me, please) AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Listen, I had to miss The Samples back in May - I'm still not over that, and never will be, because they just don't come here - ever.

So this totally makes up for it (almost). I haven't seen them since they played at the Gusman in November 2004 - not only did I once again meet and chat with Amy, but we took some pictures (again!). And thanks to Ben telling me to stop being such a wimp, that the concert police was not going to get me and, I don't know, humiliate me or throw me out, we actually ended up right in the front row for that show.

And this time?

It's all taken care of - I'll be in the center section, row 8.


If anyone out there is going too, or is as crazy a fan as I, please let me know so we can e-mail each other and squeal with delight and make plans to go together and wear matching shirts.


Posted by Tere @ 12/06/2006   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Seriously, We're Quite Adorable

I've been feeling like shit, people - royally - due to some crappy things that have transpired over the last couple of days (family bullshit). Seriously, it's been very dark and depressing, to the point that I'm hating the fact that the holidays are coming - I wish more than anything that I could just pass out and come to after the new year. I'm hating life right now and feel like there's no resolution or good to come of any of this.

But then one of my dearest friends sent me these pictures she took this weekend, and I felt just a tiny bit better.

Thanks, Mel. I needed that.

Posted by Tere @ 12/05/2006   | | | links to this post

Monday, December 04, 2006

Here's One of Those Cool Things About Work I Said I'd Write About

For all you fans of Pitbull (or iPods): just in time for the holidays, elhood and Pitbull have teamed up to give away 25 iPods in 25 days.

Each iPod nano be autographed by Pitbull and preloaded with his new album, El Mariel.

So go, register, have fun checking out all kinds of videos and songs - and maybe win yourself a shiny new iPod.

EDIT: There's going to be way too many elhood-related things to share, so I've started a new blog for just that purpose. For now, the events are specific to Miami and So Fla, but that will change soon enough. Contests and similar opportunities are open nationwide.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/04/2006   | | | links to this post

Starting Somewhere

I'm going to take credit for this because, well, I feel like it. Also, because as the wife of this newly minted blogger, I'd like to think the fun I have here has inspired him to share some of his work with the world.

That's right: Ben, of Ben & Tere: A Comedy of Errors in Three Parts, has launched his own blog. I proudly share with you you gotta start somewhere.

You know, Ben was off this weekend on a mountain biking trip with his friends, and it was a good chance for me to (cue the violins) appreciate how much he does to make life easier for me. It's not just that he is a wonderful dad who does more than his fair share of child care, it's that he gives me, our relationship and our son the highest priority in his life. And I'm so grateful for that.

There's so much more I could say - about Ben, our relationship, what we've been through and what lies ahead - but I'm sure you'll understand if I share that just with him.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/04/2006   | | | links to this post

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Big Fat Good News

Well people, it looks like your good wishes and finger-crossing worked, and for that I thank you. I am now ready to reveal my good fortune to you.

It's not just that I've gotten a kick-ass new job. Nor that I'm going to be working in the music/entertainment industry and I'll get to meet and work with up and coming and established musicians alike. Nor that I'll also be managing the day-to-day communications matters within the company. Nor that I'll be in charge of maintaining the community aspect of the website, which means I get to create and implement all kinds of cool shit.

It's that I get to blog. And get paid for it.

I'll get to blog. And they will give me money for it. I feel like I hit some kind of jackpot. One of the founders of the company had me in mind from the moment they decided to create this position. Like, they wanted me specifically. What's more, they know me personally, know me very well, and they still wanted me! It's both flattering and terrifying.

Not only do they know about my blogs, they like them. They don't see a conflict between my job and the blogs (of course, I won't writing about work here, unless it's to direct you to the site or tell you about some cool-ass event).

I know I'm being vague on actual details - it just makes for long writing that may not correctly express what the job is, so please forgive me for that. I can best summarize it by saying it perfectly combines my writing, PR and creative skills, and that I'm really a perfect match for what the job calls for.

So, as of December 18, I'll be working be with great people in an exciting environment doing the kind of work that will be so fun and at the same time will challenge me and also allow me use my talents and skills in very creative and innovative ways.

While the part of me that's always known I'm hard-working, creative talent who should, like, be treasured and rewarded by her employers is thinking "It's about fucking time!", I still feel a little scared and extremely grateful right now.

So, let's just hope I can be a success at this and that this is the start of many wonderful things. 'Cause that'd be really nice, for a change.

Posted by Tere @ 12/01/2006   | | | links to this post