I carefully set out three pumpkins on the front porch, one of which is a toothless gourd Greg carved in honor of Baby C. I dump three bags of candy into a bowl and resolutely set it by the front door. Then I worry that the chiming doorbell might wake the napping baby, so I grab a book and a glass of apple cider and sit out on the porch, ready to oooh and ahhh over the little neighborhood goblins.

And I wait. And I wait. Then, crunching leaves--here comes somebody! Nope, just a dog walker.

Where the heck are the trick or treaters? When I was a kid, we trick or treated all the way home from school, and kept going well past nightfall. Today, though, my neighborhood is quiet.

I resist the urge to pass out candy to the commuters walking home from the metro. I eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Then I read my book in the mellow afternoon, watching little bugs glint like dizzy dust motes in the last sun of the season. And I relax, for the first time in... a year?

Happy Halloween.

'Twas the 28th of October

The Playgroup is coming!
The Playgroup is coming!

I gallop through the house, alerting all and sundry that we are about to be invaded. Baby C doesn't look up from the Cheerios she's eating off the kitchen floor. The cat opens one eye and goes back to scratching my sofa. Their message is clear: any preparations will be my responsibility, unless you figure (as I do) that the baby eating food off the floor negates the need to mop it.

I'm not worried about the six babies. It's their mommies who may not come in peace. Our playgroup met for the first time last week. Our hostess' abode sparkled. Current baby pictures hung on the walls, and dinner simmered aromatically in a crock pot. Now, it's our turn.

The only aromatic thing in the kitchen emanates from the garbage can. I glance at my bare bookshelves and calculate whether I can shelve all the books that have been in our basement for the past year. Probably not. Then I debate the merits of cleaning and decide against it. If I start mopping for this crowd now, there's no telling where it might lead by the time Baby C hits kindergarten. I settle on sweeping up the crumbs the baby missed, banishing the cat upstairs, and replacing the Pearl Jam CD with Kindermusik. Now, we wait.

God Bless Us Every One

Tore myself away from my new Facebook addiction to inform my loyal readers about the issues of the day. According to the parenting listserve to which I subscribe, the issues of the day are how to keep squirrels from eating one's pumpkins, and the distressing news that the local mall pink slipped a favorite Santa Claus. Apparently, the guy had his own beard and has been delighting the kiddies for 18 years. He's even a carpenter during the off season, although no word on whether keeps elves. One mom lamented, "That Santa was particularly twinkly."

Upon reading the news, Miracle on 34th Street flashed through my mind and tears started to form (I've been very teary since weaning the kid, and that's my favorite Christmas movie).

Then I dug a little deeper. Turns out the mall broke Santa's contract because Santa and his real whiskers wanted $175 an hour this year. No wonder he was twinkly.

With the pumpkin problem solved (spray WD40 or blood meal to detract squirrels, or, as one woman suggested, you could always get your husband to shellac it), there is now a local campaign underway to bring back Santa. Did I mention that Santa hired a PR firm to aid his cause?

Is it too early for a holiday drink?

One Year Ago

Today marks the one year anniversary of the last movie I saw in a theatre. Michael Clayton. Greg and I went to take our minds off the imcomprehensible idea that we would be parents the following morning. I remember shifting uncomfortably in the seat, unable to find a position to ease my backache. As I half watched George Clooney, I wondered what kind of mother I would be.

One year later I can tell you I'm the kind of mother who has every intention of baking her kid's birthday cake from scratch (it will be her first dessert), but who finds that her baking powder expired SIX years ago mid-way through the process. Sigh. I had thought that mothers automatically turned into organized women with freshly stocked pantries. Then again, one year ago, I was also convinced that Baby C would be a boy.

Carpe Diem

My first blogiversary, like much of the past year, passed without me even realizing it. I've emerged from the shell-shock of very early parenthood, and events that fill my days seem to me to be less interesting to others. I treasure them nonetheless, taking mental notes that would be tragic for me to forget.

Must remember: the feeling of Baby C's warm hand on my chest as she falls asleep during these last days of nursing; how her legs kick in excitement when she sees her "da"; how she squeezes my arm when she's tired; her love of "dak" (rubber duckies); how she smiles at her six-month pictures that line the staircase wall; how she waves "bye-bye" long and solemnly; how she claps when I say "yay!"; the smile cracking her face when she swung for the first time at the playground; how she gives "kisses"--open mouth with more tongue than a 13-year-old boy; how she hums "nummmmmmm" as she eats; how she stationed herself under my parents' end tables to play; that her favorite toys are her stacking cups and her ball; how she grabs the poor cat’s skin in both fists; how she chortled and giggled as my father chased her under the dining room table; how she loves yogurt; how I was afraid she would never roll over and now I wish she would stop, at least during diaper changes(it's like trying to put Pampers on a squirrel); how frightened was when my uncle proudly presented her with a hobby horse, and how it took her a week to work up the courage to pat it; how the German lady in the Nordstrom's elevator noted Baby C's serious observation and said approvingly, "It's good that she's reserved, but I can see a smile in her eyes"; how she held up her arms for my mom to hold her tight; how every little thing is a cause for wonder that begs to be shared with her mama.

She's learning faster than we can teach her. Today, Greg's mom asked her where her mouth was. I was in the middle of saying, "We haven't learned that yet" when Baby C pointed right to it. Huh. Wonder what else she will show me she knows in the years ahead?

She still has her gummy smile. We thought she was teething as early as last spring, but she has nary a tooth. I don't need to make a mental note to remember it, though. We have over 1000 pictures from the last year. I just need to figure out how to keep on top of them all. Any ideas?