My First Encounter With A Celebrity

This is today’s WordPress Post-A-Day topic: Describe your first encounter with a celebrity. I don’t think this was my first encounter with a celebrity, but it’s the first one I remember, and it’s not quite a celebrity.  I guess it’s more like my first encounter with ‘celebrity’ in general, not a celebrity per se.

 My first job out of college was doing PR for the Archdiocese of Miami.  I mostly handled media requests and wrote press materials, coordinated press conferences – that kind of thing.

I was sitting at my desk around Christmas when I got a call.  Here’s how it went:

22-year-old-me: “Hi, this is aliciamariel.  How can I help you?”

Producer: “Hi, um, yes, this is Joe Schmo.  I’m a producer with the Daily Show, a cable television news magazine out of New York City.  I was wondering if you have a priest available to talk to us about the meaning of Christmas and what is important about the season, and the tradition behind it.  Do you have someone available this afternoon? Our reporter is only in town tonight and we’d really like to have you talk to us.” {I just love the assumption that I had priests in a warehouse that I could just pull out when I needed one.}

Me: “You mean The Daily Show?!?!  Like with Jon Stewart?!?!” {I am not ashamed to admit that I totally lost my PR girl cool with this one.}

Producer: “Uhmmm…you’ve heard of us?”

Me: “Well, yeah…I’m not a nun, you know.”  {Seriously.  I said that.  I’m still shocked to this day that I didn’t follow it up with a resounding “Duh!”}

After that, the producer cracked up.  He knew he’d been busted, but I still heard him out.  And I might have still presented the ‘exciting national-coverage media opportunity’ to my boss, and I might have been internally super giddy when I saw her eyes light up at the possibility of being linked to such a media placement (she’d have taken all the credit, of course, even though I would have done all the work) and all the chaos that would ensue with that. 

I was good, though, and told her what the show actually was and that this was not a media placement we wanted. And I got some brownie points for being ‘in the know.’ But I was sooooo tempted to book it anyway.  I hope my halo was a little shinier after that little sacrifice.

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Cookies for dinner. Don’t judge.

You know those cookies you make when you have a little bit left of everything, so you get your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and dump everything in it?  So you end up with an amazing concoction that you will never ever ever be able to replicate because it’s just half-handfuls or so of whatever is yummy in your pantry?  Yeah?  Well, that’s my dinner today.  Because that’s the kind of day I had today.  The kind that makes it okay to have incredibly unhealthy, artery-clogging, uber fattening cookies for dinner because it was just that bad.

It doesn’t help that yesterday was rough.  Not bad, just rough.  I worked about 15 hours, with one hour of a break in which I dashed out to get some teacher appreciation gifts.  This consisted of me whizzing about the bath store doing a very convincing impression of the Tazmanian devil.  I must have looked pathetic, because the sales girl actually took pity on me and gave me some free gift bags.

I came home at about 10:30, had a tiny bit of time with my husband, worked for a couple of hours on a presentation that I was dreading, and went to bed for a whopping three and a half hours, because the hubs had to leave at 4 a.m. to catch a flight.  And of course at that point, there’s no point in going back to sleep.  I knew at that if I did go back to sleep, I wouldn’t wake up until noon at the earliest. 

So, let’s recap how I start off the day: over-tired, stressed, doing the single mom thing for the next few days, about to do a presentation (which I haven’t quite perfected), and I can’t find any clean clothes that will work for the presentation (I did find something clean and acceptable), and I’m running late.

Fortunately, Lil Man is an angel, giggly and happy to work with me as I twist and turn him to get his diaper changed and his clothes on, and get him ready.  He eats breakfast quickly, and in giggles (how can cheerios be so funny?), and we somehow make it out the door at a decent time.  I find awesome music on the radio and I start getting energized and my mood starts lifting.  Then I get to Lil Man’s school and find out that his favorite teacher, the love of his life, is leaving the center.  I’m crushed, ready to cry.  She’s taken care of him since a few weeks after he started at the center.  When she was switched out of his classroom, she came in on her lunch break to play with him.  I’m torn between being relieved that he’s too young to really get what’s going on, and feeling sad that I can’t explain to him and wonder if he’s going to miss her and think he did something wrong.

Off I go to work, where I spend the morning preparing and dreading my presentation.  I finally get to the meeting and begin my presentation.  I think I’m doing alright and then….I get the effing crimson waves.  FML. And apparently, I was still able to do an alright job with the presentation, because immediately following the meeting, I was asked to take on a project almost overnight.

Finally done for the time being, I go pick up my little guy.  He’s wearing his cookie monster shirt and starts showing me his toy du jour as soon as I walk in the classroom.  Life is good.  We get home, and apparently, rotisserie chicken is even funnier than cheerios. We play outside in the gorgeous weather.  We chat with the neighbors over the fence.  We play and giggle and he spends a long time on my lap and we take turns reading his favorite books.  At bedtime, we cuddle for what seems like forever, and he gazes up at me, smiles and cuddles a little closer.  Seriously – I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.  I squeeze him for a few more minutes, and lay him down in his crib.  I can’t complain about the end of this day, can I?

Except that it’s not the end of my day.  I still have a couple of hours of work ahead of me, and I miss my husband terribly.  Oh, and the dog needs…something.  Xanax is my guess, but we don’t have a prescription. I go downstairs to do some work and get bogged down in stress.  I remember the frozen cookie dough in the freezer and think to myself “Eff all this.  I’m doing it.”  I pop the cookies in the oven and let the house fill up with the sweet scent of cookies in the oven. 

And here I am, midnight looming, purging my stress out to the Internet, about to have dinner.  Yes, my dinner of choclate chip(mini and regular)/ caramel bits / coconut / almond / toffee / pecan cookies and milk.  Because it’s been that kind of a day.

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I’ll Admit It: I’m Addicted

I’m not sure if this is normal, but one of my pregnancy cravings stayed with me.  Even now, two years later, I can’t get enough of this:

Yes.  Cocoa Pebbles.  Not Puffs, Krispies, Bits or anything else.  It has to be Cocoa Pebbles.  The one with the Flintstones on it. 

Every time I tell someone I like (more like love, adore, can’t get enough) Cocoa Pebbles, the first thing out of their mouth is “Not Cocoa Krispies?”  No, no, no, no.  No.  Did I effing stutter?  I do believe I know how to read the cereal box.  It’s Pebbles. Definitely Pebbles.

Or they’ll say they don’t like them because they don’t like Fruity Pebbles (which suck, by the way).  How does that even make sense?  It’s like saying you don’t like Coke because you don’t like Sprite.  Same company, but pretty different product. Why do people gotta hate on my Pebbles anyway?

The fact is that they are delicious.  If you have any doubts, pour some over vanilla ice cream.  It’s quite heavenly, I must say. Or make Rice Krispie treats with these instead.  But you really don’t need to do anything more than put them in a bowl and splash some icy cold skim milk on them.  Sometimes simplicity is best. 

The hubs used to give me the hardest time about my little indulgence, always telling me that Krispies were better.  Finally, after Lil Man was born and pregnancy hormones weren’t involved in the decision, I got some Krispies so we could compare/contrast (yes, we’re nerdy).  Guess who ate some crow along with his cereal that night?  That would be the hubs.  He’s now a convert to Pebbles.  Amen, halleluiah!  It might have caused problems in our marriage had he not seen the light.

Ooh. They’re just so good.  Crunchy, sweet, and apparently gluten-free to boot.  Who knew?

Does that make them healthier? Because if that’s the case, then I might just go have some more.

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One Year of Being A Working Mom

"I'm ready for school! Let's do this!"

I remember the couple of days leading up to my first day back at work.  I was going back and forth about whether I could do it.  At times, I felt that if I didn’t get out of the house, I’d never smell like anything other than baby poop ever again.  At other times, I felt like the worst mom on earth for even thinking of dropping off her little baby at daycare, no matter how amazing a school it is.

I remember giving Lil Man a bath, and trying to explain to him where he’d be going, and all the friends he’d meet, and making sure he knew that I’d be back faster than he’d realize to pick him up.  He’d been giggly (as much as a four-month-old can be) and splashing, until I opened my big mouth.  As I spoke to him, I began to lose it, which made him look at me like the world was about to end.  I quickly wiped my tears and decided to enjoy the last few days I had with him, because I was never going to get them back again, and it wasn’t worth focusing on the scary thing that was coming our way.

I had wanted this, right? Didn’t I choose to go back to work so that I could give my child the same experience I remember having when I was little at my preschool.  And yes, I do remember being two and three years old and going to preschool.  I friggin loved it. 

The first day finally arrived.  I remember thinking it was so weird getting dressed that morning.  I had to look professional, still be somewhat comfortable, make sure what I wore was somewhat baby-proof, and I had to be able to nurse and pump in my outfit.  Oh, and try to look cute.  And get the baby ready.  And make sure for the millionth time that I had the eleven million parts of my pump ready to go.  And that I had my laptop and my lunch.  Somehow, my husband and I figured out how to get out the door on time that day.

"Where's that wind sock!? Where's that wind sock?!"

We walked into his classroom – his new home for most of the day – and he was instantly mesmerized by a windsock hanging on the ceiling.  As I put all his stuff away, made sure I had labeled his bottles correctly, filled out his daily sheet and did all the other stuff I needed to do, I kind of hoped that Lil Man acted like he needed me.  He didn’t.  All he needed at that point, was a comfy boppy and that windsock.  I was a little heartbroken, but at the same time, I’m glad that he was mesmerized and engaged the second he walked in.  That’s why I chose that school in the first place, right?  Actually, that’s why he’s going to school at all.

It’s been a crazy year, full of ups and downs and all that other cliché stuff that people say.  There are definitely parts that I hate: I wish I hadn’t had to pump for so many months.  I wish I had more hours in the day to devote to my family and my home.  And I miss him terribly every day I’m at work and the daily photos that they send have become like crack to me.

But for the most part, being a working mom (at least at this point) is the best I can do for my child.  I don’t have the knowledge or energy to do an eighth of what he is able to do at school. He really loves his school, his friends and his teachers. How they incorporate all sorts of different activities, then tie them into one overall lesson, and how they hit all the different types of learning truly boggles my mind.  Like today – they made instant pudding and crushed oreos and made dirt pots so they could tie it into what they are learning about spring.  So, in this 20 minute activity, he learned about measuring, chemistry (seeing the liquid turn to pudding), and practicing their gross motor skills (pouring, mixing, crushing oreos, layering them).  Not bad for a one-year-old.

I love that from the beginning, before he could move, he’d call for me as soon as he saw me come into his classroom to pick him up.  As he learned to move, he’d make a beeline to me every afternoon.  And now, when he sees me, it’s a full-out run with arms stretched out for me to wrap him up in mine and pick him up for some serious squishing.  

And I like going to work and being me – not someone’s mom, or someone’s wife.  Just me.  I like having conversations with other adults and being able to have a meal without worrying about Lil Man choking or throwing food at the dog.  And it’s awesome to know that I will not likely get covered in snot for at least a few hours of my day.

Sure, it’s hectic and complicated, but what my little guy is getting out of his school, makes it worth it.  Plus, those hugs at the end of the day….pure bliss.

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Travel Tales of a Toddler – Part 2

::at another secret Toddler General Assembly clubhouse::

Hi everyone! I am so stoked to be back home!  You all heard about my first flight last week, right? Thank you so much for all your suggestions on how to be really rotten on the flight back.  Let me tell you what happened.  I think you will be proud of me. 

Did you guys know mama and dada ditched me?  Me?!?!  I know! I couldn’t believe it either.  They said that they were going to some party far away, and that I wouldn’t like it.  As if there could ever be a party worth going to without me.  Really.  What could they possibly be doing that they can’t do with me around?

But I had a pretty good time with my grandparents.  They like to spoil me a lot.  So when Mama and Dada came to get me, I didn’t pay attention to mama – only to dada.  But only lasted a little bit.  I had to put mama in her place, but I missed her, so I couldn’t stay away too long. 

The next day, Mama told me that we were coming home!  Yay! I couldn’t wait to get to our house and our dog and my school and all my friends!  We went to that place called the airport.  It was nuts.  It had lots of stuff to look at.  And it had a huge fountain in the middle. Mama said that the people who put the fountain in did it to drown out all the noise, but that it’s really to drown out the choice words that people say in that area because it’s so crazy at the security lines.  Can you imagine being able to choose words?  Sigh.  Maybe someday I’ll have a choice of my words.  I only know a handful right now.  I don’t think I’d ever want anything to drown out my words.

Then we stood in lines for ever, and by the time we got to the airplane, we didn’t have any time for me to run around and check out the airport.  This made me very grumpy.  So once we were on the airplane, I decided to be whiny and squirmy.  I mean, seriously.  Mama and Dada should know that I need to run.  Keeping me strapped in a stroller for so long and then trying to keep me settled down on the plane is just plain unfair.  Mama and Dada tried everything to get me happy.  But I stayed strong.  I squealed and I squirmed the whole time.  I didn’t tear the magazines, but I did throw them everywhere.  And I didn’t dump cheerios on the heads of the people in front of me like I had planned, but I spilled them all over the floor, under the seats and everything.  Dada was sooooo annoyed, but I thought it was funny. Aren’t you guys proud of me?  

I had a lot of fun, too.  Mama and Dada had new books for me and some toys, but they didn’t keep me interested for very long.  Mama had this really cool crayon thing that she could erase.  It wasn’t supposed to be messy, but I got crayon stuff everywhere – even on her new pants!  I get bonus points for that one, right? 

I think I did alright with my Toddler Pact.  I wasn’t totally rotten, and I didn’t make Mama cry, but I think I gave her some gray hair.  At the end of the flight, Mama said that if she had to grade me (huh?), it would be a C (whatever that means), and that we weren’t going to fly for a very, very long time. 

Then, just to make sure that they know that I am, in fact, the supreme ruler of the household (like all us toddlers are), I fell asleep as soon as we got to the car.  Mama had tried so hard to get me to sleep on the plane.  I was really sleepy, but I was able to resist and stay awake and cranky the whole flight.  They needed to learn a lesson.  Not letting me play is not a good idea.

So, what do you think?  Was I worthy of the title of Toddler?

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Talkin ‘Bout the Big Day

Well, the big day finally came and went.  Yes, it was my best friend’s wedding day (the one where I was a bridesmaid), and it was absolutely perfect.  She was the perfect bride, the setting was beautiful…everything was simply perfect.  In the almost-20 years I have known this girl, I have never seen her so confident, radiant and comfortable in her own skin.  My heart swells when I think of her on her wedding day, knowing that she is just on top of the world.

But that’s not the big day I’m talking about in this post – partly because it was her day, not mine, and partly because I don’t have any good pics.  I’m talking about my big day.  The one that’s been 16 months in the making: the one where I got to sleep in and enjoy being with my husband.  Oh, my.  This might actually almost top the wedding day. Almost.

Leaving Lil Man overnight for the first time was heartbreaking.  Luckily, I pretty much had to hit the ground running as soon as we arrived in Naples (FL, not Italy…I wish) for all the wedding festivities, so I didn’t have time to focus on how much I missed my Lil Man.  As soon as I crossed the city limits the tasks and activities started.  It was checking into the hotel, with half an hour to spare before mani/pedis with the bridal party (which of course ran late).  Then I had 20 minutes to get ready and drive to the rehearsal.  Amazingly, I made it, arriving at the location much like Maria arrived at the convent when she lost track of time while singing in the hills in The Sound of Music (remember, right after the nuns sing “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?” and she runs in and pumps the water pump to wash her face?).  This was followed by a trolley tour, sunset on the pier, and dinner, which was followed by me stumbling (because of my fab shoes, not because of drinks) back to our hotel sometime close to midnight (which is about the time I normally go to sleep, so no biggie there.).

The wedding day saw me waking up kind of early to do some work, get my polish redone (I massacred my nails that badly in just one night.  I’m hopeless.), quick lunch (a Publix sub! yay!), hair appointments with the bridal party, getting ready, then the wedding, photos, reception, etc…and again, stumbling into the hotel room, this time after midnight, and because of shoes and drinks (but just a couple…I promise).

But the day after was mine, all mine.  Well, and the hubs’ day, too.  Our day.   We woke up when the sun was burning hot and already high in the sky.  We didn’t have to wake up to a screaming toddler ready to start the day.  We didn’t have to change diapers, or worry about making a kid-friendly breakfast.    We went to lunch and didn’t have to remember to bring a sippy cup, or make sure Lil Man wasn’t target-shooting other patrons with his mac and cheese.  I didn’t even have to deal with car-seat straps.

What we did do is actually talk during lunch (and sip some wonderfully frozen drink concoctions that I miss oh-so-much now that I live in NC).  We stopped wherever we felt like stopping because we didn’t have to worry about how long we were dragging Lil Man around or about taking him in and out of the carseat.  We enjoyed spending time together.  We were able to sit quietly and calmly and watch the gorgeous sunset on an almost-deserted beach.  We were able to go to dinner after the sun went down, because it wasn’t past anyone’s bedtime.  We were able to stay out late, because nobody would be waking us up at 6 a.m. ~ at least not if they cherished their life.

It was a leap back in time (about 16 months, but wow how different it was back then!), and it was wonderful. I really need to set time aside with my husband to just be us.  After all, how is our relationship going to last if we ignore it or take it for granted?  It was nice to visit that lifestyle for a couple of days, but it was also nice going back to our reality. I missed my little boy terribly, and was happy to get back to him.

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Travel Tales of a Toddler – Part 1

:: at a secret Toddler General Assembly clubhouse::

Psst…hey you, come here.  Yeah, you, the kid that ate my crayon yesterday.  Yeah…you’re lucky I’m just visiting this chapter clubhouse, because you’d be paying for that right now.  But that doesn’t matter. I got some big news.  BIG.  Get the others, and meet me by the sensory table.

::at the sensory table::

Alright, now that we are all here, I got some big news.  I know where we can get unlimited animal crackers.  Remember how I told y’all that I was going on something called a trip on something called an airplane?  Yeah…this is where I found the treasure.

Yesterday, Mama woke me up and got me ready to go to school, but we kept driving and driving until we got somewhere new that was loud and noisy, but there was lots of cool stuff going on, so it was kind of fun.  We stopped at a counter and mommy asked some nice ladies that were all wearing the same ugly clothes about tips for traveling with me, and they said “Don’t do it.”  I thought they were talking about leaving me at this weird place, so I gave them the stink eye and wouldn’t smile for them.  We then had to stand in some lines and stuff, and then we were on these weird chairs all smooshed together.  I got to sit on mama’s lap. 😀 

Playing with the tray table and talking to a new friend.

There was another one of us sitting nearby, so of course I had to send a greeting, in accordance to the Toddler Pact.  As soon as I saw her, I started yelping hello.  Soon, she responded, even though she had been sitting quietly with her mom and dad.  We had a nice conversation across the airplane.  She’s a good kid.  You wouldn’t believe the stuff she told me.  I got bored with her, so I stopped talking, but she kept going almost the entire flight. 

Of course, I had other Toddler Pact duties.  I messed with the little tray table and the shade on the window and the magazines until I heard the old man in front of me say “Here we go.  This is going to be fun.”  I didn’t know where we were going, but I was hoping our idea of fun would be the same.  Something tells me that he didn’t mean it.

After that, the plane began to move, and Dada started giving me animal crackers.  This is it, y’all: the BIG news.  When you are on the plane, all you have to do is squeal, and animal crackers just appear.  Seriously.  There were more of those suckers than I even knew existed. Even if I knew how, I couldn’t have counted them. Frosted, too.  I’d never seen that kind.  So now you know where to find them.  I had so many that my belly got full.

Cookie crumb dreams!

After the airplane was up in the air and we weren’t all tilted and wonky, I fell asleep the whole entire flight.  I was on Mama’s lap, all cuddled up and snug as a bug.  I was covered in cookie crumbs, but it didn’t bother me.  Did you know that sleeping with cookie crumbs all over makes your dreams sweeter?  Mama has never let that happen, but once I can talk, she and I are going to have to discuss cookies before bedtime.  It wasn’t until that stupid pilot guy jerked the plane at the gate that I woke up. Mama kept kissing my and rubbing my cheek the entire time, which was kind of annoying but nice at the same time.

I know, I know.  I broke the Toddler Pact.  I know that I was supposed to scream and squirm the entire way.  I know I was supposed to try to set the record for stink eyes given to my parents.  I know I was supposed to be so rotten I’d make my mama cry.  But I just couldn’t.

But stay tuned.  I still have another airplane ride to get back home.  I plan to make up for being such a good baby on the first flight.  I’m thinking about a giant, epic POOPSLOSION, the likes of which you haven’t seen yet.  And of course, the mother of all tantrums.  You think I can handle a two-hour tantrum?  I’m also going to tear every magazine and book within reach, and drop cheerios on the heads of the people in front of me.  Oh, and I can’t forget about the projectile vomiting. 

What else should I do?  While you’re thinking of answers, let’s recite the Toddler Pact:

As a card-carrying Toddler, I promise to:
explore everything within my line of sight,
especially if it means breaking stuff
giggle whenever the mood strikes
drive the old people to the brink of insanity,
and then shower them with kisses
always spread love, hugs and snot
So is my solemn pledge to the Toddler General Assemby.

::secret handshake::

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