Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Unfriendly Skies

I have been dreading my two-week trip to North Carolina for weeks. Not the actual vacation, but the journey—the journey I was taking solo with a 13-month-old child. Since Mister Ferguson decided to go on a ski “mancation” to Whistler, my baby friend and I decided to head south for a visit with my family. The prospect of warm weather and Carolina BBQ excited us both, so we booked a plane ticket and packed our daisy dukes, flip flops and sippy cups.

Checking in and getting through security was not as bad as I thought it would be—although folding up a stroller, taking off my shoes and feeding both items through the conveyor belt while holding a toddler on my hip was quite a feat. Luckily, Mister Ferguson was flying out roughly the same time we were, so he was there to assist me through that whole process. Unfortunately, we were headed in different directions. Once he boarded his plane destined for blue skies and fresh powder, I was on my own.

I treated both of us to McDonald’s breakfast because when you have an early flight, you have to have a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. It’s the law. Biddy enjoyed an Egg McMuffin and half of my hash brown. We sat and talked about what was going on in day care—who was biting who, who was getting ready to walk and who just couldn’t get off the bottle. Just kidding. Our mother-daughter breakfast consisted of Biddy throwing her food on the floor, laughing hysterically and randomly shouting at other travelers while waving her sippy cup full of milk in the air like a tiny drunk person.

When I realized that I was actually getting ready to take this pint-sized heckler on a crowded plane, I started looking around for the duty-free store so I could find some Bailey’s for my coffee or vodka for my orange juice—just a little something for Mommy’s sippy cup. No such luck. I’m a nervous flyer to begin with, so at this point my anxiety level was at an all-time high.

Neither one of us is accustomed to waking up at 3 am, so by the time we boarded the first plane to Charlotte, we were both a little glassy eyed. Our seat was in the next to last row so we kept walking, walking, walking to the back—the whole time Biddy was reaching out and petting the lady in front of us.

Children under the age of 2 fly for free on US Airways, but they have to sit on your lap. Surprisingly, the airline does not count them as a carry-on item. You can buy your baby a seat on the plane and bring a car seat, which initially sounded ridiculous but is now looking like a better option for the next trip. She’s used to sitting in a car seat. She’s not used to sitting in my lap for an hour and a half.

As a mother, it’s impossible to imagine that someone would not find your child as adorable/smart/entertaining as you do, but those people are out there. I know this because we sat right next to them on the plane.

Before the flight, I had Googled “tips for flying with a baby” and had also asked several friends for advice. I was told to have snacks and several new little SILENT toys to keep introducing throughout the flight. So I crammed Goldfish, animal crackers, squishy balls, keys, stuffed animals and binkies galore into a backpack and actually threw in my Kindle (wishful thinking).

I was as prepared as a mother could be. I had anticipated everything except for being seated next to the two biggest assholes flying from Pittsburgh to Charlotte. I have been on the receiving end of many, many stink eyes in my lifetime, but nothing compares to the look our seat mate gave us when we sat down. Staring straight ahead and pretending not to notice, I put Biddy on my lap and went about my business. I got out the first toy, buckled my belt and hoped for the best. Apparently not satisfied that her dirty look had adequately conveyed her displeasure of being seated next to an infant, our seat mate loudly exclaimed to her companion, “Next time I will specify that I would like to be seated as far away as possible from any kids.”

My daughter, who likes everyone, decides this would be a great time to grab at the lady’s magazine. Now I am really freaking out because Biddy has no idea what the word “no” means and it really is impossible/pointless to discipline a one year old (no matter what her pediatrician says). The lady gets really agitated and says, “It’s going to be a looong flight” to her friend. I am apparently deaf/non-existent at this point.

To add to my little nightmare, the pilot comes over the loudspeaker and announces that we will have to sit on the runway an additional 15 minutes while the plane is de-iced. Yay. Biddy is beyond exhausted and is acting out like I have never seen. I’m trying to rock her, hold her still, sing in her ear. She is bucking like a wild horse, arms and legs akimbo. I am dangerously close to tears but somehow hold it together long enough to hear another sigh and “It’s going to be a looong flight.”

I get it. The lady paid a lot of money for the ticket and would rather sit next to someone more Wall Street than Sesame Street. Not the warm and fuzzy grandmother type I was hoping for. In a perfect world, there would be a separate plane for people travelling with children where they could all laugh, cry, kick and scream together. But I don’t own US Airways and I don’t make the rules. I was obviously struggling to maintain my composure and keep my child from running down the aisle. If I could talk to her and tell her to behave I would, but she DOESN’T UNDERSTAND ENGLISH or any other language for that matter.

Biddy is not a cuddler. She has never fallen asleep in my arms and she rarely sits on my lap for more than a minute. She likes action and is constantly on the move. The more I tried to restrain her in our seat, the more she struggled to get free. Despite my best efforts, her foot lightly grazed our surly seatmate’s knee during one of the more intense moments of our grappling session. This prompted a third, “It’s going to be a looong flight.” No shit, lady.

By the fifth time she said it, I had had enough. This woman was a bully. She didn’t have the balls to tell me to my face that my child was being annoying, but had no problem announcing it to the entire plane. The last time she said “It’s going to be a looong flight,” I looked her right in the eyes and said “It sure is!” She didn’t say it again.

That’s the thing about bullies. When you stand up to them, they don’t know what to do with themselves.

Mercifully, when the plane took off five minutes later, Biddy fell asleep and didn’t wake up until the wheels touched the ground. My arm asleep from the weight of her head, I sat in silence, grateful for a quiet moment to think up meaner comebacks to my seatmate’s insults. I caught her sneaking glances at my sleeping baby several times during the flight, making sure she wasn’t going to wake up and disturb her again.

When we got off the plane, we had to wait for our stroller along with everyone else who had to check bags at the gate. It was still all folded up when they handed it to me, so I had to balance Biddy and wrangle it open at the same time. Although it is a simple process, my first two attempts failed. There were no less than 15 people standing there waiting for their bags watching the whole thing. Amazingly, not one person even attempted to help. I eventually got it open and we made our way through the Charlotte airport to our connecting flight.

We had a row to ourselves for the 30 minute flight to Wilmington, so Biddy was free to flop around like a fish out of water the whole time. I was SO happy and relieved to see my parents waiting for us at baggage claim. Although it was only 11:00 am, I felt like I had been going at it for 24 hours.

When we got to the house, I gladly handed Biddy over to my parents so I could decompress for a while. While I cooled off my nervous energy with a bottle of Chardonnay, Biddy was more productive and decided to walk for the VERY FIRST TIME! No kidding, we were there for less than 20 minutes and she just took off. You know what they say, you can’t keep a good woman (or toddler) down!

Moral of this WHOLE LONG STORY: If you happen to see someone at the airport travelling alone with a toddler—DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE! If you’re seated next to them and don’t want to be, keep your mouth shut. I promise that however uncomfortable the child is making you feel, the mother is going through hell. I have been on both sides of the fence, and given the choice, I would gladly be the inconvenienced traveler. It’s not that I don’t love Biddy—it’s just that I love her SO much that I am willing to buy her an airline ticket that entitles her to a seat all to herself!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tiddy Robbins

The one thing I really like about running long distances (and there really is only one thing) is that it gives me time and clarity to sort out any issues in my life and put them into perspective. And this past Saturday from roughly 8 to 10 am, in rolling farmlands in the middle of nowhere, I was doing just that.

Mister Ferguson and I woke up around 5:45 am, picked up my running partner Julia Goolia and headed to the Shamrock Shuffle, a ten mile race that is held in Harmony, PA (about 45 minutes away from Pittsburgh). It was cold but clear when we huddled in the barn to get instructions from the race leader. She told us good luck and where to locate the starting line. Almost as an afterthought she added, “Oh yeah, the township police have forbidden the use of ipods on the race course. Anyone caught using an ipod will be disqualified from the race. You need to learn how to run without help, anyway.”

Um, hello? WTF was I supposed to do with that? I can’t run a mile without my ipod, let alone ten. I need Girl Talk, Kanye and Jay-Z to get me up those hills! Panic set in and my heart started racing. I opened my mouth to protest, but the lady meant business. She made it sound like she was going to do a body cavity search on each and every one of us.

It took me all of five seconds to decide the rule was meant to be broken. As I took my place in the back of the pack, a girl asked me what I planned to do about the ipod ban situation. I told her, “I don’t give a shit, I’m wearing it. They’ve already given me my t-shirt and it’s in my car. I’m not going to win the race, so they can disqualify me if they want.” In a show of solidarity, the girl and her friend also strapped on their ipods. We weren’t going down without a fight.

Turns out, it wasn’t as big of a deal as we thought it was going to be. I high-fived several policemen on the course and they didn’t say a word about my headphones. I wasted precious energy worrying about this nonsense—precious energy I desperately needed to complete the race.

The course was impossible. One steep hill after the next, the miles dragged on as I tried to concentrate on my music. It’s amazing how you can focus on the words of rap songs when you have nothing to distract you. In an effort to change things up, I had downloaded some new songs from itunes, including “ET” by Katy Perry and Kanye West. The song is either about having an out-of-body sexual experience or sex with an actual alien. I can’t decide. There are some truly bizarre lyrics, including my favorite line by Kanye, “I’m going to disrobe you, then I’m going to probe you.” Classic love song. Wish it had come out around the time of my wedding.

Distance running is definitely physically demanding. However, you also have to be mentally tough and/or bat shit crazy to take on a marathon. There is a point when the physical part fades somewhere into the background and it’s just you and your thoughts out there. That’s when you really get to know yourself. At mile six, I was obsessing over the interviews I had completed for my dream job the previous week. Had I said the right things? What could I have done differently? Why hadn’t they called me yet? Maybe I wasn’t qualified. Self doubt and fear crept into my mind and began to affect my race. What was I doing out there? This race was full of hills. Would I even finish?

As if on cue, Puff Daddy’s new song, “Coming Home” came on my ipod. You know you’re in bad shape when you’re drawing inspiration from Sean Combs, but at this point I was grasping at anything to help me finish the race. The line that got me moving?

Ain’t No Stopping Us Now… I love that song
whenever it comes on it makes me feel strong
I thought I told y’all that we won’t stop

Looking at it on the page right now it makes me laugh that these words had such a profound effect on me last Saturday morning, but they did. At that point I knew that I was going to finish the race. I knew that I would get the job if it was meant to be and if I didn’t, I would get another one and it would be just as great. I spent the last four miles thinking about all of the things that have happened to me over the past year and how I could apply my new wisdom from Puff Daddy to other areas of my life. A little over a year ago I was afraid of childbirth, afraid of becoming a mother, afraid of starting to run again. Yet, here I was, completing a ten mile race, with a happy and healthy 13-month-old little girl waiting for me at the finish line. And I realized that as long as I believe in myself, the best is yet to come.

We were all pretty beat when we climbed into the car to go home. Mister Ferguson announced to us, “If we’re going to keep running these races, I’m going to have to get a pair of tighty-whities.” We all cracked up and I told everyone about a running thong I had seen in a catalog that week. I don’t know about you, but unsightly panty lines are the last thing I’m worried about during a long run.  I can't think of anything more uncomfortable.

It’s Tuesday morning and I still haven’t heard anything about the job, but my positive attitude hasn’t waned!  I will keep you posted.  Wish me luck. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

What's Your Status?

My 13 mile long run was cancelled today because my running partner Julia Goolia is under the weather. She sounds terrible. And although I wanted to get it over with, I can't say I'm disappointed. Seriously--long runs suck the life out of me. Instead, I spent the morning with Tony Horton getting my P90X on. We own the whole set, but I only like the plyometrics video because it is super hard and makes my legs stronger for running. The rest of the videos are full of push-ups and pull-ups which I am not ashamed to admit that I cannot do.

After the workout, I got out my laptop and logged onto Facebook, which I check before any other site out of habit. There is just so much information available in one place. Some important, some not. For example, I found out Michael Jackson died and what 35% of my Facebook friends had for lunch in the same newsfeed.

My Facebook friends vary. Some post status updates hourly, some monthly, some yearly. What's interesting to me is what one deems important enough to post as a status on Facebook. One of my "friends" is always sick and spares no details about her many ailments. Over the past year, I have been constantly informed about the color of her snot, the consistency of her bowel movements and what medications she is taking. I'm not sure if she's looking for attention or a diagnosis.

Another feels the need to comment about the weather EVERY SINGLE DAY. I'm pretty sure he's not a meteorologist, but he would be perfect for the job. My favorite is when he curses Punxatawney Phil for giving us a false reading on an early spring. That damn groundhog! I don't know about you, but I expect accuracy from my rodent weather predictors.

These two are wedged in between the political commentators (left and right wing), those who "check-in" everywhere they go, the farmers of Farmville and those who simply post song lyrics as their status. I don't want this post to come off as me being judgmental about Facebook status updates, because trust me, I'm not. I find them all fascinating. Yellow snot..Obamacare..barn raisings..dinner at Olive Garden--without all of this, I would have no newsfeed.

The following are five actual status updates from people on my Facebook:

1. Im having a tatoo party at my house tomorrow. My friend is a tat artist and is coming over and doing really good but cheap tats. Txt/call me if you wanna come! It's gonna start at 4pm and run till everyone is done. I need like 5 ppl for me to get mine for free!!

2. Relief! Not only did my abscess break on it's own and give me major relief last night, it just did it again! That means I don't have to drive to Monroeville to see the endo today. Hopefully my tooth cooperates and I stay pain-free this weekend!

3. Its so cold out tonight I wish someone would teach me how to Snuggie.

4. Looking for a place to rifle hunt near kanawha county. Please let me know. Doe, buck, doesn't matter. Let me know. I feel like I am putting an ad in classified section of newspaper. My dad will be with me because I can't drive at this time. Let me know.

5. So my daughter just asked me if she can burn incense in her room during the mummification ceremony she is about to perform for Strawberry Shortcake.

I sure hope she gets that tooth fixed and that guy finds somewhere to hunt. I'm getting ready for the tat party so I've got to get off of here!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Carte Blanche

Yesterday I went to Wal*Mart to pick up some items for dinner. It was “make your own pizza night” at the Ferguson household, a sneaky way for me to put dinner on the table without actually cooking. I simply purchase pizza ingredients at the store and line them up on the counter. Everyone gets what they want and I avoid slaving away in the kitchen. Win-win.

Back to Wal*Mart. As I entered the store and started wrestling a cart away from the chain (they are always stuck together), a girl who looked to be in her early 20s and weighed about 100 pounds walked in. She took one look at me (at this point I have one leg up on the cart for leverage and there is a vein bulging out of my forehead) and announced to no one in particular, “Shoo. I’m too tired for this.” She proceeded to walk to the other side of the entrance, hop on one of the motorized carts and drive off into the store.

There was NOTHING wrong with this young lady, yet there were no signs on the motorized carts specifying that one must be disabled in order to ride. Shoo. I was tired too! And for a fleeting moment I considered jumping on one of those bad boys and picking up my groceries. But I felt bad about possibly taking a cart from someone who needed it and also self-conscious about the stares I would definitely receive, so I freed my cart and pushed on. Out of curiosity I kept an eye out for the girl as I shopped and I spotted her several times—casually browsing through the aisles while happily bullshitting on her cell phone. Poor, worn out little thing just needed a break. I understand. My early 20s were exhausting too.

Speaking of exhausting…my long runs keep getting longer each week. Thinking up new topics to blog about keeps my mind occupied for half the time. The other half needs music to keep going! If you are in need of some new workout tunes, check out Girl Talk. The artist is a guy from Pittsburgh who mashes different songs together in a way that seems impossible and the result is really kick ass and motivational. There is really no way to describe it, so you will have to listen for yourself. The good news is that it is free and you can download it here. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Return of Tiddy

Hello friends. It’s been about two years since my last blog and all I can say is that a lot has gone down here in the Ferguson household since then. Let’s catch up…

When we left off, I was gearing up to run the Pittsburgh Marathon. I am happy to report that I completed the race! It was long, boring and it rained pretty much the whole time. My race time sucked and I am obviously an idiot because I’m preparing to do the whole thing over again this year.

Almost immediately following the race, I got knocked up and ballooned to almost 200 lbs. Not an exaggeration. Last February, I gave birth to a sweet baby girl and named her Biddy Ferguson. Since then, my life has been full of diapers, bottles, footie pajamas and Cheerios. Cheerios are so gross because they kind of smell like urine and they get stuck to everything.

Now Biddy is one! And while not anywhere close to being self-sufficient, I really feel like she is starting to make her way in this world. She doesn’t talk per se, but she grunts and points when she wants something—which is a hell of a lot easier than trying to decipher cries. I remember when I was pregnant and people would tell me I would “just know” what she wanted based on what her cries sounded like. Not true. The only distinction I can make between her cries is when she’s “kind of pissed” and “really pissed.” I have realized over the past year that I am not a mind reader and the sooner this little lady can start communicating her needs and wants, the better! Luckily, she’s a delightful, fun-loving girl who is always ready for a new experience or a snack.

Obviously, having a baby is a major life-changer. I was prepared for that, thanks to everyone who felt the need to tell me, “You have no idea what you’re getting into. Things are really going to be different when the baby comes! Your life will never be your own again.” This is by far the most annoying statement one can make to a person getting ready to have a baby. I mean, I was already freaking out about the fact a BABY was going to COME OUT OF MY VAGINA. I didn’t have the emotional capacity to think beyond what would happen after we brought the baby home. I just figured we would wing it. So far, so good?

I’ve gotten a few lectures from Mister Ferguson on watching my language around Biddy because she is really starting to pick things up. I’m working on it. But recently, I realized it’s not only words she’s absorbing. Last weekend, I was standing in front of a mirror in my ski pants and sports bra. Before I put on my shirt, I started patting my belly and pinching my fat like I always do—bad habit. As I reached for my shirt, I saw Biddy sitting on the floor next to me with her shirt pulled up and patting her belly. It was both hilarious and eye-opening. At that moment, it became very real to me that my words and actions will help shape my little girl’s behavior, personality and self-esteem. And that scares the shit out of me.

So that’s what’s new with Tiddy. As you may have noticed, I redesigned the site and I’m very excited to be internetting again! As usual, I will be here to bitch about my weight (back to pre-baby, but not ideal), talk about new products and services, running, music and whatever else I’ve got going on! If you have any topics you would like me to blog about or questions, please contact me. Talk to you tomorrow!