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I think the vacuum industry is trying to drive me crazy. Iím on my third vacuum now. This one is supposed to be stronger than a tornado. In fact I think itís called The Tornado. I vacuum, literally, everyday. And somehow my baby finds stuff to put in her mouth. How is this possible? I have a perfectly good machine-or so the ad said- and yet, my floor is never clean. Maybe my baby is blessed with incredibly good vision, because, let me tell you, I can get down on the floor with her and not find half the stuff she does. She can find a speck of glitter from Christmas two years ago. The way I see it, you can get a vacuum that sucks up all the little stuff but leaves the lint, or a vacuum that sucks up the cat, but leaves the little stuff. Maybe, they just want us to each have two vacuums and vacuum twice a day. Iím telling you, itís some kind of industry conspiracy. They prey on the sleep deprived sanity of new parents. And maybe the carpet people are in on it too. Otherwise, why would a carpet create so much lint? I donít even have a shag carpet. I donít know, maybe my baby is just gifted. I think Iíd rather have a clean carpet.

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I hate portrait studios. I really do. I love the pictures of my baby, but I really hate the process. The first problem is they always schedule their appointments 10 minutes apart. Who has ever gotten 5 perfect pictures of their little angels in 10 minutes? So I show up on time for my appointment and there are still 3 people ahead of me who havenít even started yet. Now I have to entertain an 8-month-old baby for a while. Well, changing her diaper and changing her clothes will certainly provide entertainment for everyone else as they watch me try to convince my baby to stay on her back or not pee in the stroller before I get her diaper on. This usually leads to a 3 minute discussion with another mom on why on earth I would use cloth diapers and ends with her looking at me like Iím a freak (just donít blame my child when all the parks are turned into landfills). Our next game usually goes like this: Baby takes off headband, Mommy puts headband back on baby. Baby takes off headband and puts in mouth while Mommyís not looking. Now we have to try to convince the baby to keep a wet headband on her head. Now itís Mommyís turn to play a game as she secretly wonders what bad parenting made these other waiting children, who are running around grabbing stuff, such monsters. Now Mommy has to pull the frame display from Babyís hands. And so on. Finally! Itís our turn. We push our Suburban of a stroller into the tiny little studio and the photographer says, "So what poses would you like?" I looked right at her and said, "Youíre the photographer, you tell me." She does seem to come to some decisions and tells me how to place my baby. One shot, she wants her on her stomach. I told her sheíd try to get away. The photographer told me to not let her. Yeah, Ďcause I want a picture of my screaming child trying to get away from me holding onto her leg. Next she wanted flowers in the picture. Simply perfect. Except my baby wants to put everything in her mouth. So photo girl tells me to take it out of her mouth. I comply. Baby puts it right back in her mouth. Photo girl tells me to take it out, I comply, and I think you get the idea. I just wish that they would understand that you really canít tell a baby not to do something and think theyíll listen. I will admit though, my childís a ham and as soon as that first flash goes off and she realizes itís a camera, she smiles like no tomorrow. Unless, thereís a flower that catches her attention.

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I love my husband. He has many wonderful qualities. He also has a few quirks. The most prominent one is his delight in doing voices. He talks in everything from a Scottish accent to Homer Simpson. And boy, does he congratulate himself on the ones he does well. What this means to me is I can no longer watch TV or travel because everyone elseís accent grates on my ear. Every accent except Southern Californian (yes we do talk differently) now sounds fake to me. And he doesnít do it in the privacy of our home either. Let me give you an example. Minutes after my child was born and laying in that warmer thing my husband was talking to the baby in one of his voices. The nurse actually asked where he was from! I then had to explain that he is native So Cal and just does voices from time to time. Like I needed an embarrassing moment after giving birth. Iíll admit, not to him but to you, that he does do them well. But anything can set him off for days. After seeing Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me I couldnít even be in the same room with him for about a week until he got it out of his system. Last year he was introduced to my friendís husband. Well, her husband happens to be from Ireland. Now my husband bugs me all the time for us to get together with them so he can hear him talk. Like I need him to encounter more inspiration. Oh well, at least life is never dull with him.

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Weíve all heard of "Voyeur Dorm" that has 24 hour live feed from a college dormitory. Thereís also "Kitty Cam" that focuses on a cat all day who mostly sleeps under a table so you canít see him anyway. And thereís a 24 hour live feed from a watering hole somewhere in Africa. But I have something better: "Baby Cam". Oh, itís not on the internet, itís in my living room. When we were pregnant and out shopping at Baby Universe we were looking at monitors. They are all pretty much the same. A base unit that goes in babyís room and a walkie talkie type thing that goes with Mom and Dad so in order to hear babyís every single breath lest they stop doing so. Well, Safety First decided to feed our paranoia and came out with a baby video monitor. Now, I can hear every little thing and see every little thing as well. Of course, if I canít tell in the monitor that sheís breathing, I still have to go into her room and check. It can be fascinating at times. For instance, when my baby wakes up, she doesnít immediately cry unless she needs something. Instead she plays with her pacifiers. I always keep a few in there so I donít have to hunt in the middle of the night. What she does is have one pacifier in her mouth and one in each hand. And then she bangs the ones in her hands into the one in her mouth. And this will entertain her for a good 10 minutes. Never would of known without Baby Cam. We figure itíll come in real handy when sheís older. You know. You hear the crash and call out "What was that?" and the child always takes a second too long to answer. And then you hear a small voice "Nothing." With Baby Cam you have a chance of seeing what nothing was. My husband wants to use it when sheís dating. To keep track of those "study" sessions. I donít think Iíll be ready for him to go to prison for attempted murder though, so maybe weíll discontinue Baby Cam by then.

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Stuff. I never knew how much stuff I had until I took on the task of packing up all my stuff just so I can unpack my stuff in a different location. My family is moving for the first time since my husband and I first moved into our apartment together. Before that, we both came from our mother's homes and therefore have not had the pleasure of moving our combined stuff before. At this exact moment there are fifteen packed boxes in my dining room. Plus another ten or so in our storage cabinet. I actually have boxes with smaller boxes of stuff inside. Let me tell you, our place is still full. I don't know where we got so much stuff. And I certainly don't know how we managed to put it in our one bedroom apartment. I tried to categorize the boxes. Like putting all our picture frames in the same box. After it was sealed, labeled, and moved, I walked back into our bedroom and saw two more frames. Here in the living room I'm looking at another one on the wall while I type. So these three frames will now have to find homes in other boxes with stuff that doesn't match. I'm very afraid though of packing a neccesity too early. I had packed all my kitchen cookbooks and appliance manuals only to remember I needed to bake a cake for my mom's birthday. Searching through boxes under the table is not my idea of fun. I've come up with a method of when to pack, though. I go by the layers of dust. I figure the dustier something is the less use we must have for it. The stuff with the really thick dust was packed a while ago. I'm now getting to the stuff with a decent amount of dust. Next week will be the stuff with a light coating of dust. Night before we move will be the dust-free stuff. It'll be a testiment to my housekeeping to see if there is in fact any stuff without dust.

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Every now and then Iím reminded why I had a baby in the first place. Earlier, I was going through our now familiar routine of my trying to explain to my baby that a nap is the cure to a tired body while she was vehemently protesting. I was getting very exasperated and started to say Sweetheart! Why donít you understand.. and I got no further. It was at this moment that my precious chose to put her arms around me, kiss my cheek (in her own way) and pat my arm. And to top it off, she also closed her eyes and went to sleep. Short essay this week, I have to go watch my baby sleep.

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Becoming a mother has certainly taught me many things. I've even learned some new things about myself. For instance, I am simultaneously fascinating and boring. Allow me to elaborate. My child will willingly play by herself while I clean the house. She follows me from room to room, but for the most part entertains herself with taking things out that I just put away. When I am done with the morning's housework I really like to just sit down and eat breakfast at my computer. The moment I sit down, my child wants me like she's never wanted me before. She crawls over to me, and stands holding on to me and just whines. And when the whining is ignored, she starts to cry. If I don't start eating faster she will even resort to a wail. As soon as I'm done I scoop my pitiful child up and hug her and kiss her to make up for the 10 minutes Mommy took to eat. We will then move to the floor to play. Play mainly consists of my not so light child crawling all over me and blowing rasberries where she can, standing on my hair and anything else that comes to her mind. This will last all of 15 minutes. Then she will crawl away, turn her back on me and play with her toys. When I am sure she has no interest in me whatsoever, I go back to my email. This irks her to no end. She doesn't want me sitting at the computer, no sir. I must sit on the floor and watch her ignore me or else her feelings are hurt. Yep, motherhood has taught me many things, like breakfast waits till her morning nap.

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I constantly hear on those special reports on the news that we, as a nation, are getting fatter each year. After having my baby last January, I certainly am contributing to that statistic. What I want to know is why clothing stores are advertising that they now carry size 00? That's smaller than a single 0. Let me give you and idea of how small that is; my sister is 13. She's a small 13 year old. So small that her friends call her anorexic (don't you love junior high kids?). She can fit a 00, barely. These are not children's stores I'm trying to shop at. Granted they aren't conservative women stores either but they do carry clothes that are made to appeal to the under 30 crowd, of which I am a member. So I have an idea how to make sizing on women's clothes a little more realistic. Only women who were never models and cross-dressing men should be allowed to design women's clothes. If the people who design the clothes actually wear them then maybe they will actually fit right. Maybe they'll stop making clothes that are too long for a 5' 8" tall woman. Maybe they'll stop making pushup bras in size 42EE. And maybe, just maybe, they'll stop making jeans that make my butt look big.

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I live in Southern California where we are known for our wonderful weather. It is nice most of the time. We have a week of spring, months of summer, a week of fall and a couple months of winter-albeit a mild winter compared to say, the East Coast. It's nice here and I have no desire to leave. However, our weathermen practically declare a state of emergency when it rains here. One day there was something like 5 percent chance of rain. I never even saw a cloud. Our wonderful news stations actually sent a reporter out to find where it was raining and we, the viewers, were treated to teasers of these slightly damp reporters proclaiming in an ominous tone "Storm Watch '99!" It's a few drops of rain, people. Water! You'd think our little cloistered world was coming to an end. Today the temperature is a little below 70 degrees. I saw a news byte telling me to watch the news so they could tell me when this "sweater weather" was going to end. It's December, we're supposed to wear a sweater! It is unbelievable how little prepared the media would have us think we are. I do own a coat and an umbrella. And our cars come with windshield wipers (some cars have headlights with wiper blades, I kid you not) so I think we can all handle a little water falling from the sky. Of course, it's not just the weathermen. We have one station that insists on doing these "man on the street" interviews about anything and everything. Today's topic was about a little earthquake we had. It wasn't a big deal, just a little three-point-sixer. The station had a waitress and an actress on to tell us what it felt like to them. Anyone who has lived in So Cal for more than six months knows what an earthquake feels like. Unless you are directly on top of the epi-center, your rocking chair isn't going to move in a 3.6. Why the heck am I supposed to care about someone working the afternoon shift who barely felt a thing? Just because she was walking down the street at the exact time the reporter was around means she has some inside info? It's crazy around here I tell ya. Don't even get me started on how they cover car chases.

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Ah, Christmas, what a joyous season. Or so the Hallmark commercials would have you believe. My joy started November first with a search for the perfect Christmas dress for my dainty daughter. I gave myself a whole month before she was scheduled for the priceless first Christmas family portrait. The perfect dress just does not exist. This one's too ruffly, that one's too plaid, this one's too plain, you get the picture. Three days before the photo appointment, we finally found it. The store had her size and it would make her look like an angel. The price tag however, proved to me that it was not perfect afterall. But, she only gets one first Christmas so we did what any red-blooded American would do, we charged it. Next, came the actual Christmas shopping. Since my daughter is almost one, I just bought things that came in the most attractive boxes because I know that's all she'll want to play with anyway. Let her grandparents buy her toys, I got her hatboxes. In order for my child to fully experience the holidays, I've been playing Christmas music non-stop because she does love music. I dance around the living room with her and sing-along for some wonderful mother-daughter memories, and she cries. I stop singing and she stops crying. So much for my ego. The season is said to be a magical one, and let me tell you, it is. My child must be using magic because everytime I turn my back she is playing with the strand of tree lights that I carefully put out of her reach. I think the cat knocks it down to her just to drive me crazy. I just hope the magic can continue because something possessed me to invite ten people to my house for Christmas dinner and another nine people for dessert. I've never cooked for more than four in my life. I think I'm suffering from delusions that we'll have a nice Norman Rockwell family Christmas. With my family it will probably be more like the Griswolds in National Lampoon's Christmas vacation.

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Some things have happened recently to force me to realize that I am maturing. Little things, like the fact that I watch more VH1 than MTV and the fact that I've caught myself watching Lifetime (television for women) on more than one occasion. I've also noticed that I now consider actors and actresses who used to be so much older than me right about my age. I have a friend five years younger than my mother. I no longer qualify to read "Mademoiselle" magazine, little things like that. I'm not exactly sure what to make of all this. I know I'm going to get older, but I guess I assumed, like most people, that I would stay "young and hip". Oh, I know they say you're only as old as you feel, but some days I feel like I'm sixty. My back aches, my knees creak, and going to bed at ten o'clock no longer feels early. I think my best indication of my age, so far is not only am I staying home on New Years Eve, I'll probably be asleep when the chaos starts at midnight. Actually, my husband and I came up with a plan for New Years Eve. We volunteered to babysit our friends' kids. Of course, we're charging fifty bucks a head. This way, I don't have to go anywhere, and I'll make a little money at the same time. Tricking my friends; maybe I'm not as mature as I thought.

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Past lives of 2000

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