Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Adventures in Babysitting

I have some modest babysitting experience, most of it from middle school watching my nephews or a neighborhood kid or two. But no one really asks me to babysit their kids anymore. Even less people ask Ray.

And yet, I love kids. Other people's kids mostly. But still... kids. Love. You know.

So I was pleasantly surprised last week when my friends Erin and Adam found themselves in a bind and asked me if I could watch their twin girls. I happily obliged. And since there were two kids and only one of me, Ray graciously volunteered to tag along so I wouldn't be out-numbered. 

"She must be REAL desperate to be asking me to babysit," I told him. "We can rummage through their fridge and make-out. It will be just like we're in high school."

Sunday morning we woke up early (we had to be there at 10:30, whew!), and headed to our babysitting gig.

When we got there their dad was carrying a girl on each hip as he told us what time they eat and nap, what games they like and how to entertain them. It was so adorable I could hardly stand it.

Then it got real. Real teary.

The girls went in to complete hysterics at the realization they were going to be left with us and cried  "Dada dada dada dada" the entire time Adam was trying to leave. As he was walking out one girl was clutching a toy in each hand and begging him to stay while the other was sobbing for something that sounded like "bab bab bab-babeeee bankeee."

As he escaped out the front door I saw a slight smirk spread across his face.

"Poor things," I'm sure he was thinking.

About us.

After a few minutes of panic on our part at the thought that they might not stop crying, Ray and I quickly settled into a groove with the girls. 

We plied them with puzzles and books and it was no time until they were sweetly and calmly sitting next to us enjoying the afternoon. And after much interpretation and some 1,000,000 Pyramid guessing - Me: 'I think she's saying baby. Is there a baby here, Ray? Did you see a baby somewhere? Can you take us to the baby, little one?' Ray: 'I think I know! She wants the baby from her crib, or maybe the blanket. I'll go get them!' - we even soothed the crying one.

(I was prepared to run out and buy her a baby - real or in doll form - if that's what it took to quiet her heartbreaking cries. Yes, I am sucker.) 

We spent the rest of the afternoon super busy. We read, played 'tiny fake kitchen,' had lunch and I even changed their diapers so Erin wouldn't have to when she got home. (Confession: We had to Google how to work the Diaper Genie. We were baffled. Ray Googled and read directions while I wiped and changed them.)

We've never had so much fun. Truly. The girls were an absolute delight, and for a childless couple who have little interaction with children, it was a rare treat. They were so sweet and affectionate and fun. I think we were both a little disappointed to not have more time with them.

And let me tell you something else, I have never been more baby crazy than when watching Ray lift them into their high-chairs for lunch and carry them upstairs for their naps.

I've never really been one for kids of my own, but I swear I felt myself ovulating just seeing him put tiny cut-up pears on their little lunch trays while calling them "sweet pea" and running after their blankees and baby dolls. Swoon. Had Ray been wearing a plain white t-shirt so his biceps were perfectly showing as he flexed while lifting them, I would have exploded.

Forget Anne Geddes and her weird images of babies coming out of flowers, Ray doling out pears to these baby girls is where it's at. 

In fact, if you're a woman of baby-making age then I am sorry to inform you but you just got pregnant from looking at this photo.

I hope it's twin girls. Ray and I are available to babysit. Just sayin.'

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Enjoying The Ride

"Name me someone that's not a parasite, and I'll go out and say a prayer for him."
Bob Dylan, Visions of Johanna

Tonight is my Christmas Eve. I am waiting with eager anticipation for Lance Armstrong to come down the chimney... in the form of the Oprah interview tomorrow night. I haven't been this excited since that whole Petraeus thing broke out.

I even considered having a party for the occasion but decided against it because I don't want a bunch of people talking during the interview and keeping from enjoying this magical moment. So I will be at home curled up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate. I hope Lance and Oprah both cry… while wearing Livestrong bracelets.

Everyone else is just as excited as me, it seems.

While waiting to buy coffee this morning I couldn't help but smile while reading this breathless, sensational contempt of Lance on the front page of USAToday. 

"After a decade of denial, Armstrong is still looking out for No. 1: Lance. Which is why he deserves nothing but disdain. ...The worst cheater in the history of sports has come clean not because it's the right thing to do, but because he must believe it's the expedient thing to do."

The writer goes on: "He also all but destroyed the entire sport."

Disdain deserving!
The worst cheater EVER! In history! In all sports!
Destroyed an entire sport!

It's all very… emotional. And I can't get enough of it.

Who cares if Lance has finally admitted to being a liar and a cheat, what folks are particularly upset about is that he's a world class a-hole.

Lance is just one blip on the steroid map of sports, but people are coming undone, calling for blood (his dirty, dopey, EPO spoiled blood!) and demanding that everyone take a moment (including Oprah) to remember all those who he screwed over on his head-stomping way to the top (er, bottom).

People are pissed. And that's my real interest here. People still give a shit about Lance Armstrong? Huh. I didn't even realize he was still infamous. (What's that kid doing these days, anyway?)

His 'wins' and 'success' story are so far gone, so long ago 'won' and tarnished, that I sort of forgot about him. Now he is back on the front pages. Does this mean I can wear my yellow Livestrong bracelet again? Are those back in fashion now that he's is back too?

Long ago I was a conflicted Lance Armstrong fan. Not because he won the Tour de France a million times or rocked yellow, a color that doesn't do anyone any favors really, but because of his book with Sally Jenkins, It's Not About the Bike.

It's still one of my favorite all time reads, be it memoir, non-fiction or now I guess, fiction. (They can re-release it as fiction now, right?)

Even though my fandom (it's relative, he's no Madonna or Dolly Parton), was untenable all those years ago because his cheating was already widely known and well documented, I still championed his Livestrong cause. I appreciated that his charity raised money and helped people affected by cancer of all kinds, not just certain types. Livestrong gave people who's cancer didn't originate in the breast community too. Just look at those millions of bracelets. (But hey, we want our dollar back, Lance!)

His story really isn't anymore interesting than anyone else's fall from grace story. Lance Armstrong: Liar, cheater and a straight-a asshole. Eh. Kinda boring. But you know what is exciting, when people cry to The Oprah. Or jump on her couch.

I'll make popcorn.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Shelter From the Storm

It's been a huge few months.

I had a pretty big surgery in December, which left me laid-up with a 12 inch incision down my abdomen, and in the midst of recovery from that (I still am) we bought a house.


I prayed for this house.

What I should have been praying for was that the surgery I was about to have went well. But a month ago I was wide awake all night praying for this house.

Since we moved into our tiny one-bedroom apartment while we house hunted, Ray had been searching the MLS every 20 minutes or so ready to pounce on new listings.

He was so frequently searching I began to worry.

Are you miserable here? Would you rather than die than come home? Do you want to move to a larger apartment until we find a house? 

He was basically like: Gina, our stove is a Hotpoint. It's electric. I can't live like this.

So the house hunt proceeded in earnest.

When this one came on the market we looked at it immediately and made an offer.

And so did several other people. Ugh. After six months of searching we finally found a house we loved, and everyone else loved it too - let the bidding war commence.

So I laid in bed thinking I should be praying for my health and a successful surgery but instead I was praying for a house. In the midst of praying for the house I was having a philosophical debate in my head on what it meant to pray for something like a house, versus something more important, like good health, or peace, or the end of hunger.

But I don't feel materialistic, I thought. I drive an old car. I buy my clothes at Target. I've been saving money for this for 10 years.

Argh! Concentrate, Daugherty. The house! Your health! Peace! Pray for all of it, whatever!

Ultimately, the night of the bidding war, if I'd have thought The Secret would have worked, I'd have tried it. (I think you just read the book and awesome things happen to you, right? I gotta get on that.) Praying, meditating, good vibes to the universe? Sure! I was throwing it all out there.

After a few days of agony and waiting, we were under contract. 

Two weeks later I was in surgery (it went well) and I spent a maddening six days in the hospital. The one bright spot was when Ray would come to see me we'd talk about the house - Where we would put the furniture. How we would decorate it. What projects we would do first. When we'd have our first party. How he and the movers would have to do all the lifting and moving because, hey, I got this giant incision and can't sit up yet. (Not having to do any of the moving was an unexpected freebie for me.) 

The house gave me something to look forward to during one of the scariest, most anxiety producing times of my life. It was the perfect distraction for both of us - house inspections, constant loan paperwork, packing, Christmas. Oh shit, it's almost Christmas?! But I'm virtually bedridden!

We closed two days after Christmas and moved the next day. I hobbled around with my giant incision and handed out Gatorade to Ray and the movers. It was an important role. 

And now here we are, the insanely proud owners of this sunny, 106 year old two-story. It felt like home as soon as the movers drove away.

See ya, movers! Oh wait, that's Ray
At a century old we anticipate all kinds of things that will keep us busy and probably cost us plenty over the years. Unlike new construction, it has all kinds of quirks and weirdness we'll have to repair and paint and worry about.

For example, it has a fireplace in the living room that doesn't work. You know why it doesn't work? Because it burns coal. Coal, my friends. You should stop by and have a look. I can bet you've not seen a 106-year-old coal burning fireplace before.

And also unlike new houses, it has history and personality and lots of people have lived their lives here and experienced untold joys and sorrows and wonderful memories.

We are happy to be the newest caretakers of this old place. It's going to be great.

And the biggest relief of all, Ray no longer has to cook on an electric Hotpoint. Though first we're going to have to figure out where to put the antique typewriter... and about a million other belongings that are in boxes or have landed in unusual places.