Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lost & Found – An Obligatory New Year Post

I think I found it.  I didn’t really know it was missing. 


I spent all of 2011 pregnant or with a baby attached to me.  I had a couple of good friends with whom I hung out tons last year and they’ve drifted away.  A baby can be pretty isolating.  Not being able to run races, dance, drink, stay out late, or even shop on my own has kept me at home, tending my family.  It has led to frustration with my life and myself (too much alone time is bad for me), and frustration with Tony, even though he is supporting me the best way that he can (he can’t feed the baby, but he sure does try to let me have a walk with the dog every night or other such quick sans-child activities).


But what I really needed, what has really changed my whole perspective in just a few short hours, was some fun girl time.  It started with a quick dress shopping trip on Wednesday to attire myself and two others for a wedding tonight and continued with a bachelorette party on Thursday.  I was sober sister, which can be frustrating, but it wasn’t.  It was a whole ton of fun, and I danced and sang and squealed and loved my friends and it was a total blast and I now feel refreshed.  I’m all right again. 


I tried to explain all this to Tony and he said, “Why do you think I would rather play basketball than work out at the gym?”  It seems that this communion with other men, sweating and jamming elbows into each other and exchanging new swear words or whatever is the equivalent to me spending time with the girls, just being a girl.  For a few hours, not being someone’s mom or wife, but just another girl, out to have fun.


So that’s it.  That’s the only resolution I really have for 2012: to have more fun with the girls.  Oh, there are all the other things we will do anyway and for which I don’t need a resolution, of course.  I will love my boys, we will take more vacations, we will fly to Phoenix just the three of us, Tony and I will take the boys to France, I’ll lose the baby weight, etc. - but those are all plans.  There are big things in store for the Cooks.


I’m a bit sad to see 2011 go.  I turned 30.  I had a beautiful, healthy baby boy (who is now sitting up unsupported and is still so, so happy).  My other little boy turned three.  Sometimes I wish I could just stop the clock and have more hours in the day to play with them.  Of course, other times, I wish I could speed up time to get to bed sooner.  All in the life of a mother of young people (I was going to write “young mother” but that isn’t true, really), I suppose.  At any rate, I can’t change it, so I’d better roll with it. 


Cheers to 2011!  Welcome 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas in the Northwest

Isn’t that the worst Christmas song you know?  Ugh.


Fortunately, the scenery isn’t nearly as tragic as those lyrics:


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I have no idea where the camera is, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have even one photo of Charles during the Christmas present-a-thon.  It does, however, have about a thousand photos of him playing on the beach.  He now tells anyone who will listen, including me, “we live at the beach.”  No, honey, we do not.  “Let’s go home to the beach, mommy.”  Sorry, kid, our home is in Mount Vernon, where there is no beach and currently no snow, but where I don’t have to keep the dog tethered to a stake in the yard and I don’t have to live out of a suitcase, so I think we’ll stay here, thanks.


The decision to NOT live in the Ilwaco/Long Beach area was not one we made lightly – after all, both my and Tony’s parents are there, it’s a beautiful part of the country, and we really like it there.  But also, there is no symphony.  There is no college.  There is no array of AP courses and millions of clubs and YMCA and oh so many other things that we can easily get here.  There is also not the same standard of living for CPAs. 


We had a chance to revisit the decision this weekend in light of some friends who live there and, we suspect, at least one party is no longer happy with it.  Maybe.  We don’t know, but we’re speculating that the insular nature of the beach might be at the root of their marital problems, and isn’t it interesting that they probably had the same conversation we had about living there but came to a different conclusion? 


Anyhow, Christmas.  Too much sugar, delight on Charles’ face, no injuries.  Pretty much a win.  I spent a considerable portion of the drive home pulling myself out of the pits as I thought about this whole gift-giving process.  I am a giver, and I take time to try to find the “perfect” gift for people, one of many reasons that the number of our gift recipients has diminished in recent years; I only have time to find the “perfect” gift for close family and friends.  And I don’t hit it out of the park every time, but I get more hits than strikes, overall. 


I think I’ve figured out that I feel love when I get gifts and praise.  So, you know, when I don’t get a gift at all from someone I really care about, it makes me feel pretty worthless, as though the gift, or lack thereof, is a comment on how little that person loves me.  Or maybe a comment on how I am not a good mother or wife and I am still so fat and I got an ill-advised haircut and I don’t dress well because everything gets spitup-stained and nothing fits and I don’t contribute enough to the family that I don’t deserve a present.  Now, I KNOW this is bogus – the person in question is not a giver, never has been, never will be, and I should suck it up and get used to it.  Random, non-birthday, non-Mother’s Day, non-Christmas gifts are all the more special that way, right?  Well, not really.  I mean, of course they’re special, but well, I’m trying to explain feelings here and I’m not doing a good job, so suffice to say I felt a bit like shit yesterday for a good while.  And then I felt even shittier for feeling like shit about a goddamn gift when I know I have it so much better than so many, many, many people in the world.  And wasn’t I the one to make a promise to God that if my kids turned out healthy, I would be happy to be a fat, ugly, worthless nobody for the rest of my life? 


And, on top of it all, is Christmas about the gifts?  Well, no, of course not. 


So, I sucked it up and made cinnamon rolls for the boys for breakfast and then did my workout and then promptly ate the two remaining cinnamon rolls thus ensuring that I stay fat and slobby and gross so that I don’t get any future presents.  I will just have to work harder at the office so that I can make enough money to buy my own presents in the future.  I think I’ll develop a shoe habit, just as soon as I have the cash and am not carrying around a ticking time bomb of spitup anymore.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Glad That’s Out of the Way.

It occurred to me, sometime on Friday morning, that this is likely to be the first Christmas in FOUR YEARS that I will not be sick or otherwise suffering. 


Three years ago, Charles was 6 weeks old, had colic and horrendous diaper rash, and I was so sleep deprived that I didn’t know which way was up.


Two years ago, I caught a stomach bug that had me moving from bed to bathroom and missing out on all Christmas goodies, family, and friends.  And then my poor brother caught it after Christmas.


Last year, I was pregnant and very, very ill.  Christmas was the last straw before I called my doctor and sought drugs to tame the misery that was Jamie’s growing body.


On Thursday night, I got sick.  Pretty violently, actually.  Not stomach sick, thank goodness, but I woke up around midnight shivering uncontrollably.  I was shaking so hard I thought my teeth were going to crack against one another.  I forced myself out of bed to put on socks (I NEVER wear socks to bed) and a sweater and down some Tylenol – the rational part of my brain knew that I must have had a fever.  An hour later, Jamie woke us up by vomiting the entire contents of his stomach all over me and Tony.  I cleaned him up and then almost passed out. 


Friday I spent in bed, Jamie with me.  I lost my voice.  My skin and muscles ached something awful.  I am still hacking like a 30-year smoker.  But.  But!  I am feeling much better AND I got the illness out of the way before Christmas, which means I will likely enjoy this Christmas more than any since four years ago.



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Monday, December 12, 2011


I feel so boring lately.  Life continues apace, with Christmas presents piling up under the tree and outdoor lights up on the house (which add to the chaos surrounding people who drive through our neighborhood reaaaaallllyyy sloooooowly and always freak me out because for a minute I don’t know what they’re doing and I think maybe they’re casing our house).  Tony took his Master’s in Tax class final the other day and then finished the outdoor landscaping project I strong-armed him into doing, riiight before it got too cold to mix cement.  The nights are long and the days are short and I struggle with keeping everyone doing something until it’s time for bath.


Does anyone else have this problem?  It used to be that we’d go outside after dinner and at least take a walk as a family, if not play in the yard or something, but it’s too dang cold for that now.  So now what?  If we don’t have some sort of activity, Charles gets steadily crazier until I’m worried he’ll give himself another black eye (yes, another.  Yes, I have photos.  No, I will not post them – they’re hideous) or knock down the tree or launch a toy through a window or something, while Tony grabs the nearest newspaper (we get two, and there’s always a backlog) and checks out for a bit.  My impulse is to clean when there is nothing else going on, but cleaning doesn’t exactly involve “minding the children,” so I can’t do that.


But oh, when bathtime does come?  It’s awesome.  (These photos pretty accurately capture the differences between Charles’ and Jamie’s temperaments.)


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Yeah, we got a bath seat.  And we love it.


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(But maybe Jamie will be more of a giggler later?  I just can’t remember when Charles decided that life was one big ball of awesome, meant to be seized with both hands and adorned with shrieks of laughter.)




I was so excited that Charles was singing on stage in the church Christmas program this year.  Inordinately excited.  Stupidly excited.  And you know what?  He didn’t sing, but he also didn’t cry.  And if you ask him, he sang REALLY LOUDLY.


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Everyone else enthusiastically jingled, and he just sort of stood there.


I am really proud of him.  He’s clearly the best looking kid up there, but he’s also really afraid in new situations, and I know that was really scary for him.  But he stayed up there, anyway.


We try to give Charles gentle pushes to try new things, but we never force.  He usually comes around.  We went to the YMCA Christmas party for kids the other night, and they had a “Santa’s sleigh” paddle boat in the pool with lights and dry ice and several teenaged lifeguards ferrying the kids around the pool.  We waited a LONG time in line.  And when we got to the end, he was too scared to get in the boat.  So we left, it’s cool, we didn’t push.  About 15 minutes later, he started to cry because he wanted to ride the boat.  So back we went, to wait some more.  He was still too scared to get on it, but he likes to look, and that’s okay.


One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to just let your kid go at his or her own pace, I think.  So many of us try to make our kids do things, or do them the way we think they should be done.  One of the activities at the Y was making a reindeer bag – basically, decorating a paper bag with sticker eyes and nose, drawing on a mouth, and adding pipecleaner antlers.  I handed Charles the sticker eyes and said, “you can put them wherever you want, Charles, it’s your reindeer.”  The woman helping at that table looked up and said, “wow, that’s really nice to hear.”  I guess other parents were putting the sticker eyes in the “right” places for their kids?  How sad, to squelch their creativity, to undermine their developing motor skills.


I remind myself on a regular basis that the experiences we have when doing an activity with Charles are not about me, they’re not about “doing it quickly” or “right,” they’re about Charles learning.  And so I have to check myself.  I can explain to him that Santa is kind, Santa is funny, we love Santa, but if that kid does not want to sit on some strange man’s lap, who am I to push?  If he doesn’t want to do every single activity at a free YMCA event, what do I really care? 


I think it is easy to get frustrated with children when their feelings and impulses run counter to ours as adults, but they have to learn, and we have to be patient.  And I think Charles is pretty well adjusted because he doesn’t have unfair expectations put upon him, and he enjoys things like the zoo even more because we don’t make it a point to see everything, only the things that he loves.  Which usually means we end up spending a lot of time in the reptile exhibit.


I guess what I want to say to all those parents I see pushing their kids around out there is, chill out!  It might not be fun for you to watch a paddleboat go around and around a pool while listening to the same 10 Christmas carols on repeat, but to your kid, it’s magical.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Can I Open It, Pleeeeeease?

A package just arrived in the mail.  A big package.  A package that I did not order.  It is not addressed to me. 


But still.


I want to open it.  I want to OPEN IT NOW. 


I love Christmas for a lot of different reasons – and not one of those reasons is “getting presents.”  But one of those reasons is “receiving mail.”  It doesn’t matter to me if I am the one who ordered the contents of the package, or that the contents are a gift for someone else, I love mail.  I love opening mail.  Letters, boxes, magazines, catalogs.  Oh, this time of year is so awesome for all the mail it brings.


Hmm, I should probably get to work on my Christmas cards, send a bit of mail myself.




Wanna see my little piglet?  He is such a squealer!



Okay, okay, here are some more adorable photos:

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Because He Could, I Guess?

Sometimes you look up from where you re enjoying you breakfast on a wintry Sunday morning to see puzzling things.  Or, at least, you do when you live with Charles:


Monday, November 21, 2011

Worries and Woes

Sometimes, I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.  Kids, you know?  Feeding, clothing, cleaning, developing them.  There’s just so much, and it barely leaves room for me, and I sure as hell don’t think I deserve to think much about me during this season of my life.


Tony and the boys went to Leland’s to watch football yesterday, while I took two hours to clean the whole house (much of which was dirty again by the evening because of dirt on shoes and dog feet), do laundry, dishes, and go to the store.  You know the story: mom gets time to herself, mom does nothing but work for other people.  Anyhow, so I was called back to feed the kid in the middle of the shopping trip, which caused me to forget several items on my list.  Tony, bless his heart, doesn’t mind taking the kids for the afternoon, but he gets so engrossed in the football game that he doesn’t pay attention to them.  So, I’ve been notified that we are no longer welcome for football games if I’m not there to take care of the kids.  There goes my two hours of “me time” (and by “me time” I mean, working for everyone else rather than doing something that is selfish and just for me) every week.


And Charles is so clingy right now – when he gets hurt (which is six frajillion times a day), he screams/whines “I wan’ mine mommy!”  Simultaneously heartwarming (he wants me!) and annoying, because no one else will do, even if I’m nursing Jamie or making dinner or going pee, it never fails to make me feel a twinge of guilt.  Is he getting enough love?  Is he secure enough?  Does he fall and get hurt and then look around and worry that I’m not there to comfort him?  And then, when he’s going to bed at night, he begs me to sleep with him.  “Nuggle me, mommy.  Seep wif me.  Jus for a little while.”  If I lie down with him, I can’t do the household chores that need doing or spend time with Tony.  If I don’t lie down with him, he cries softly, eventually falls asleep, and I feel like a wicked person when I check on him and see his angelic face snoring into his pillow.  What kind of an asshole am I that I can’t lie down and snuggle my son to sleep?  Do I think that this will last forever?  Do I honestly believe I have all the time in the world to do this?  We all know he’s going to wake up tomorrow and be over it, over me, over us.  And then, when he’s 30 and has kids of his own, he won’t hug me anymore. 


Jamie eats so much and SO frequently these days.  We’re both recovering from a nasty cold (yesterday, Tony said something about how it sounds like I smoke twelve packs a day, and even though neither of us knew how many cigarettes are in a pack, we’re pretty sure that a person would have to smoke one after another 24 hours a day to make it through twelve packs a day, but yeah, the cough sounds that disgusting) and that really threw his sleep schedule off.  No longer does he sleep for three to five hours for the first chunk of the night, oh no.  Now he is awake and hungry every 45 minutes ALL DAY LONG.  I am exhausted, and when I am exhausted, I forget things. 


I’ve been pumping one side while Jamie nurses on the other every morning, resulting in about 5 ounces of milk that I bag and freeze every other day.  It’s a good system, and I’m hoping it will keep me from having supply woes later when he is in daycare.  Here’s how it goes: I sit down with the pump on one side, start nursing on the other and then attach the pump to my breast with the hand that isn’t holding Jamie.  I pump until he de-latches, set the bottle back on the pump, put myself back together, grab a burp rag, and burp the baby.  Then, I usually find somewhere to set Jamie down while I clean up the pump and either stash the milk in the fridge for the next day or transfer the contents to a bag and then the freezer.  Except for when I am tired and forgetful, and then I leave FIVE WHOLE OUNCES of pumped milk (liquid gold!) sitting on the pump because I am too caught up in getting teeth brushed and clothes changed and backpacks together and coffee in my to-go mug and I FORGET THE MILK.  I forget the precious milk that is so hard to pump and costs me so much in energy and calorie usage (dear Lord, why have I not skinnied up already?) and brain cells and I LEAVE IT THERE to go bad and be thrown away when I get home from work.  And then I hate myself a little bit, do a lot of mental self-flagellation, and die inside. 


I forgot the milk this morning.


Seriously, why am I so forgetful about this?  Do I have some sort of mental block?  I don’t forget to put on mascara.  I don’t forget to feed the dog.  But I forget the pumped milk, which I know I will pay for later when I am pumping all day and all night long just to get enough to sustain Jamie during part-time daycare. 


Also, do you think babies can be bored?  I get the distinct impression that Jamie is bored out of his skull with us.  He really loves his exersaucer, so thank God I decided to get that out from the garage, but if I lay him down under his jungle-gym thingy, he plays for a bit, grabbing at stuff, and then settles down with his thumb in his mouth, looking at me expectantly.  We play, we read stories, we go for walks, and he couldn’t care less.  He sucks his thumb and falls asleep.  He only gets really jazzed when Charles is around, kicking and gooing (probably trying to ask me, in his baby language, for protection from the unintentional violence of Charles’ affection).  My baby is bored with me.  Gol-ly, I knew I was getting old, but this is ridiculous.  It only makes it worse when I take five minutes to stuff lunch in my pie hole and Jamie is just looking at me, waiting for me to entertain him.  I would almost prefer wailing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Four (and a half) Months!

The other small person in our family had a checkup, too.  Healthy, happy Jamie weighs in at 15 pounds, 8 ounces, and is 26 inches long. 


November 002

He’s only rolled over, like, twice.  Too much work, you know?


He’s his own boy with his own personality, but it sure is tough to keep from comparing him to Charles at this age.  I guess that’s normal, when you have more than one child.  As much as you totally understand that they are completely different, you still search your memory and your blog archives to see how they track compared to the other(s).  And it says a lot about how skewed our perception of infants was when we had Charles; I mean, I know he was a big boy, but Jamie is top-of-the-charts and still comes nowhere near Charles’ stats.  Charles was 19 pounds at four months of age.  NINETEEN.  Makes our chunk of Jamie seem small.


I tell you what, though: I can’t find those 3.5 pounds in photos at all.


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March 19 001


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March 19 003

The same rubber-band arms, the same chubby cheeks.


Jamie has really perked up in the last month, as one would expect a four-month-old to do.  Well, really, he’s almost five months old, now, but we were late with the doctor appointment so we could combine the kids’ checkups.  Anyhow, Jamie has started to recognize people and things, and he’s moved onto that stage of what Tony calls “It Doesn’t Exist Until I Put It In My Mouth.”  He’s also laughing and smiling a ton, which is just so rewarding.


I’ve fallen into the trap of babying him a bit more than I probably should just because, well, he’s the baby.  With Charles, as the first, I was constantly reading and researching the stages of development, moving him and challenging him to do the next thing.  This time, I’m not working as hard, and so I haven’t, perhaps, kept Jamie as engaged as I could have.  He’s just so mellow, it seems sort of natural to let him play with his toys.  Not to mention that it’s convenient – the fact that he plays alone while Charles never really did makes it easier to take care of Charles, the dog, dinner, laundry, etc.  But last night, after pouring over blog archives (what a great resource), I realized that at 4 months was about when we started putting Charles in the exersaucer and scooter.  So, I got those toys out.  And Jamie loves them, of course.


It’s really great how you get just what you need.  We had a horrible experience as new parents with Charles.  Tony doesn’t remember most of his first six months.  I remember lots of good times, but also lots of tough nights.  Colic, chronic diaper rash, lots of feedings for a growing boy.  But Charles is a really fantastic kid, and if all those experiences were what was needed to add up to the three-year-old I have today, then I wouldn’t want it any other way.  And the fact is, we were NEW.  We didn’t have other kids who needed our attention.  We had nothing but time and energy to devote to Charles’ needs. 


Now?  We have Jamie.  And he’s easygoing, mellow, sure, but he’s not lacking in interest.  He’s silly and funny, vocal and active.  He’s cuddly and self-soothing.  He sleeps a lot better than Charles did (even if he still wakes up every two hours to be fed, he doesn’t fuss as much as Charles and he goes to bed for his first 2-hour chunk early), he doesn’t have the colic or diaper rash (thank you, cloth diapers), and it is such a relief.  What do people do when they have their easy baby first and their tough baby second? 


I’m glad I don’t know.  I’m glad I have Jamie.  What a love he is.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


“"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best -- " and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called” –A.A. Milne


It’s no secret that I like surprises, and I like parties, and I like holidays.  It’s the planning, rather than the realization, however, that really turns my crank.  For this reason, I always thought that a fun job would be Event Planner, but I am not foolish enough to think that it doesn’t come with several huge downsides, including the loss of weekends forever and bridezillas and crazy people.


The downside to this personality trait is a bit of a let-down when things are realized.  Are you following?  Because big things have happened in my life lately, and now that I’m on the other side, I feel a bit, well, not anticipatory, and I LIKE to anticipate.


It’s not that I’m not happy I’m here, it’s just that one of the things that makes me really happy is missing.


It might also have something to do with the fact that in my big anticipatory states, I have been the center of attention.  I’m not naive; I know that one can only be the center of attention a few times (really) in one’s life, and most of those acts necessitate turning the spotlight on someone else shortly thereafter, but it’s tough when you experience a bit of loss, a bit of mourning for that attention.


When Tony and I got married, it was all about us, and mostly me.  I loved it.  I loved planning it, I loved living it.  And then, I went to school and I missed it.  Nearly a year of preparation and then it was done!  And it was marvelous, and we had photos and gifts, but it was over.  Fortunately, I had graduate school to work on and look forward to, and that filled some of the void.


But the bigger struggle for me has been babies.  Once again (well, twice again, now), for the better part of a year, I planned for and anticipated having a new baby.  And then he was here!  In my arms!  And suddenly, all that planning is put to the test and we get to live it and breathe it and clean it up every single day and it is truly fantastic.  Oh, I love my boys.


But I miss being pregnant.  Not for the soul-crushing morning sickness, or the weight gain (it’s nice to see the scale inch in the other direction), or the stretch marks (I got ONE GIANT ONE, which just isn’t fair, I’m telling you, as it is a monster that will eat your face if you stare at it long enough and will be the bane of my bikini existence assuming I ever get back to bikini size), or the pressure on my ladybits, or the huffing and puffing up flights of stairs, but for the air of excitement.  Preparing for baby!  People asking me when I was due, how far along was I, did I know if I was having a boy or a girl!  Anticipating labor.  Anticipating a squishy, million-degree, mewly newborn.  Folding adorable tiny clothes that you dream about remembering your child wearing, even though you know from experience that sleep deprivation will cruelly rob you of the best memories.


And now that’s gone.  And I fill my days with work and household chores and kids and it’s not about me and the life I am creating anymore, but rather the boys. 


That’s as it should be, of course.  Ask me about my boys!  Do it!  I’ll tell you how awesome Charles is lately, and how Jamie has started to recognize people other than me and thus lights up with a big, open-mouthed smile when they enter the room.  Those kids deserve all the attention they can get because they are seriously cool and I never thought that having them around would be this much fun.


And Tony, too!  He just got a new job that will mean great things for his career and work/life balance!  Attention to him!


But what about me?  I have nothing interesting to tell you about me.  So I guess I kinda miss being pregnant because it gave me something interesting to talk about, it meant that I was more than just the drudgery of daily life.  And before I got pregnant, I had activities and events, fun things to anticipate.  Now, I anticipate trying to lose the baby weight and that makes me sad.


I think that most people like anticipating great things, even if they’re small things.  Do you anticipate new movies in the theaters?  New books?  I anticipate new books because I don’t have time or babysitters for new movies, but then I usually talk myself out of buying the new books I want to read because I’m too frugal for my own good.  Or maybe you are lucky enough to have a date night with your sweetie once a week or once a month (we don’t do this.  Should we?  Well, probably, but the kid won’t take a bottle, so our together time is limited to Netflix after the kids go to sleep and a little “How tired are you? *wink, wink*” “Too tired and I smell like baby vomit.”). 


I know how Huey Lewis feels… I want a new drug, too.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Birthday 001

This cake was agony, from the beginning.  Charles HAD to have a dinosaur driving a car.  There was a choice between new or old buttercream frosting – and I chose poorly (if you’re getting a cake a Haggen, go for the old, the new is pretty gross in large quantity).  Another kid stuck his fingers in the cake (right under the 3 candle) and nearly caused a meltdown.


When all was said and done, however, he was completely enamored with it.  Success!


The past year has brought some major changes to Charles’ life.  Potty training, a new baby brother, the resulting potty regression, eventually figuring it out again.  First plane ride, a ton more awareness of things around him and experiences.  Trips to the zoo, aquarium, kite festival, and countless adventures to the beach, the park, the swimming pool.


He’s still in the 90th percentile for growth at 38 inches tall and 39 pounds, just barely under the weight limit for our old Britax Roundabout car seat.  I figure that just about the time we transition Jamie from the infant carrier, we’ll upgrade that seat for Charles (it’s in the truck – he has a Graco Nautilus for the car).  He’s in the EXACT same size of clothing that he was at this point last year, but he sure fills it out differently.  He’s longer and leaner, though still sturdy.  His speech expands every day, and almost everything is understandable now, with very few words in an alternate toddler language.


He loves to run.  He knows how to ride a bike (with training wheels).  He jumps and swings and is generally the most physical kid I know.  He’s learning his letters, though it’s slow going, and he knows his shapes very well.


I’m so proud of him.  I couldn’t have asked for a more loving, silly boy.  Charles is so happy all the time, he makes me happy and keeps me positive.  How lucky we are.


Birthday 026

122Cook Pumpkin Patch

181Cook Pumpkin Patch

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Birthday 010

Friday, November 4, 2011

Doing My Part to Prop up the Economy

I will admit it: I have gone completely overboard for Charles’ 3rd birthday.  Watch while I try to rationalize it:


If we’d just done a small party at the house, I would have ended up cooking and cleaning for any number of people who came.  I would spend money on the food, and LOTS of time on the cooking and cleaning.


It’s cold outside (really cold) and so an outdoor party for a November birthday just isn’t in the cards.  For Jamie’s birthdays, we’ll go to the park or something every time.


The kids at Charles’ preschool love the opportunity for a party, and the piñata was a great way to use up all the rest of our Halloween candy.


Jungle Playland will be fun for everyone, and Charles will burn off all the cake he eats playing all afternoon.


Do you want to know the real reason, though?  I love birthdays, and I think a big deal should be made out of everyone’s birthday.  It’s amazing to make it through another year!  For me and Tony and for Charles.  I love making him happy and I love celebrating his life and another year of joy and fun.  Will he remember this birthday?  Maybe.  Will I?  You bet. 


For all I am extremely frugal, and for all the planning I do for the future, saving and allotting and working, I also try to live my life thinking, if I were to die tomorrow, did I do the best that I could while I was here?  And we have the means to throw a pizza party at a fun location for Charles and ten of his friends, so we’re going to do so.  And his cake will have a dinosaur driving a car, just like he wants.  And he won’t even care, at this age, that our “present” to him is a weekend revolving around him having fun and celebrating his life, and not a tangible item.


And maybe, someday in the future, I will tone down birthday celebrations.  After all, when my boys are teenagers, they probably won’t want a party like I like to throw.  That would be uncool.


So, for now, let’s have piñatas and brownies, cake and pizza!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Storybook Ending

“Don’t take Jamie,” Charles tells me as I wander in during Daddy Stories (Mommy Stories are first, followed by bellowing “Daddy’s TURN!” as loudly as possible down the stairs).  “Just leave him right there,” he says to me, insisting that the only place James belongs is right next to him in bed.


The boys stare at Tony with rapt attention, Jamie contorting his little body to get a better view of the book. 


Tony whispers, “Look at this,” as if to say it louder would break the spell.


I pick up the camera.  Charles spies it and says, loudly, “CHEESE!” 


“Oh no!” I think, as I snap the photo, “I’ve ruined it.”


But I didn’t.  They turn their little heads back to daddy and proceed to listen to the rest of the story.



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Little Privacy, Please, And Also, I’m Tired

I just picked up about ten pounds of dog poop from the back yard.  I’m estimating, but I think that’s pretty accurate.  After all, it was less than my sixteen-pound baby but more than a five-pound sack of sugar. 


I’m on intimate terms with the bodily functions of the majority of my household.  I can tell you how Charles, Jamie, and Buster are feeling just by how often they’ve pooped or peed and what the consistency and color of their excretions were.  And that is something I just never realized went hand-in-hand with motherhood.  I mean, I wipe three asses in this household and physically pick up poop from another!  Thank God Tony can handle his rear end himself, right?


The truly ridiculous thing about it is that, in teaching Charles how to take care of himself, he now wants to “help” me in the bathroom.  This imitation is, of course, all part of normal preschool development, but it’s still weird.  I can’t honestly think of the last time I went to the bathroom alone for any reason, but Charles wants to turn it into a party.  He’ll open the door and ask, “Are you going poop, Mommy?”  Then, he’ll say, “Tell me when you’re done, I’ll help you wipe.”  Oh, sweetie.  The last thing you want to do is volunteer to wipe someone else’s ass.  Save up your turns for when you have kids.


That reminds me: is it in boys’ genes that they must take a long time in the bathroom?  Seriously, Charles will sit for ages on the toilet, doing his business.  Tony once said that sometimes it just takes awhile, but I don’t find that I ever need more than a couple of minutes.  So maybe it’s just boys?  By the time they’re teenagers, I will have to claim a toilet as mine and mine alone just so I don’t get locked out of all three toilets in our house at once for half an hour while they do their marathon poops.  Sheesh.




I’ve been on the phone for most of the day, fighting with phone companies about getting phone and internet to our new office building.  As it turns out, business phone/internet is LOTS worse than residential utility services but the same sort of scheduling: instead of “We’ll be there between 2 and 8 pm,” they say, “We’ll be able to do that between 2 and 8 weeks.”  Well, that’s not f**king good enough.  Our business runs on a website, internet-based credit card processing, and VOIP phone and fax lines.  Without internet, we are screwed.  I have been on the phone many times a day for weeks now.  But today, today, I feel like crying each time I talk with someone.  Our installation is currently set for December 6, and there is so little communication within the utility company that no one can get ahold of the construction people to escalate my order.  Will we lose so many customers due to down internet and phone that we have to close?  Only time will tell!  Step right up and enjoy the ride!


Add to that the fact that the ONLY thing Charles wants for his birthday is a cake with dinosaurs driving cars and flying airplanes on it, and even though I thought I had this one covered, it fell through.  At ALMOST the last moment.  I have until Friday to make this happen, so I’m scouring the internet for a decent photo and working within the many suggestions people have given me, which include gluing toys together and taking a photocopy of a shirt. 


What’s really hurting about that right now is that I just want to do this one thing that he wants for him.  He couldn’t care less about new toys, but he wants dinosaurs driving cars and airplanes on his damn cake.  It’s his exuberance for life that frequently keeps me afloat, and I want to make him happy.  But no!  In addition to all the crap at work and frustrated phone calls, I now have to scramble on the cake, something that was already on my “done” list!  Oh, baby Charles.  His dancing put a smile on my face today when nothing else could.  I’ll get those dinosaurs driving cars, I swear.


Do you ever just feel ineffectual and unappreciated?  For all I know of my family’s poop habits, I don’t get a whole lot of praise for what I do.  And if you’re a mom, you know how much that is.  Me, all I want is some extra love and thoughtfulness – the same sorts of things I give everyone else in my family – but for all the nice things I do for them, I’m feeling like there isn’t much done for me.  Certainly no one is making me feel any better about the size of my ass, which, at my rate of weight loss, looks like it’s here to stay.  I guess I have to wait until Mother’s Day to get any love and appreciation.  But then again, probably not, because children don’t understand that holiday and Tony doesn’t believe in it.


And that brings me to the great unjust rule of parenting: your kids will never know how much you did for them or appreciate it until they have kids of their own.  Mom and dad, I love you.  Thank you for everything you did for me, every sacrifice you made.  I get it now, and I know it was difficult.  I’m sorry.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Scary Squad

This might come as a surprise to some of you, but I did not dress up for Halloween.  Perhaps the first time ever?


Let’s face it, I’m not doing so hot right now.  I am still 25 lbs up from pre-pregnancy weight.  I’ve been losing weight at the rate of 0.5 lbs per week since my six-week postpartum checkup, which is not very fast at all, when you think that in ten weeks I have only lost five pounds.  I look hideous, even though I do a pretty hardcore workout two or three times a week, plus running and walking when I can fit it in, which is less often than I’d like because now it is cold and dark and cold and cold.  The pressure of work is nearly too much for me; we have been in the process of moving Goodwinds to a larger location for a couple of months now, and what started out as negotiating leases (no easy task) has turned into managing cash flow (moving can sink you, and leveraging ourselves further is not something I want to do) and construction and fighting with the utility company to get phone and internet service.  You know, because we run a web-based business and it would be “helpful” or something.  Or vital.  Or impossible to continue doing business without.  Take your pick, I guess.  Before then, Leland was out on vacation and then Paul, so September was crazy, too.


There are the cakes to bake for school and church parties, there’s Charles’ 3rd birthday to plan.  There are my parents and their dog to host while they’re in town helping us move, and there’s the horrible eating I do while they’re here – we eat lunch out every day and dinner isn’t nearly as lean and easy as I would normally make it.  Then, next week, we have LOTS of people in town for Charles’ birthday, and isn’t it so wonderful that he has family that is willing to travel to celebrate with him?  But what am I going to cook? 


And then there’s the sleeping.  I don’t get much.  James goes to bed early these days, waking up for the first time around midnight.  From that point on, he wakes up every one to two hours, which is a lot, especially after four months of this.  And I shouldn’t complain because I know it could be worse; it was SO MUCH WORSE when Charles was this age.  But still.  AND he is a champion pee-er, soaking through diapers and clothes several times each night, throwing the whole get up-change diaper-feed-sleep thing off a bit.  Woe is me if Jamie wakes up completely during any of those stages, and a full outfit change will do it.


Long story long, I haven’t had the brain power to devote to a costume.


My how things change.  The week before Charles was born, I wore two costumes for Halloween.


At least the kids dressed up.  And we don’t have to do any work with trick-or-treaters anymore.  Charles took right over in that arena and it was adorable to watch.


Here’s Train Engineer Jamie:


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And Spiderman Charles with a whole bunch of cake on his face:


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I told Leland that I was just going to go as “Harried Mother” and he asked me what I was the other 364 days of the year.  I guess it’s not a costume if you wear it all the time, huh?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Real Job

Re: my last post…


Did you (like the rest of the world) read this compelling, tear-inducing article in the NY Times?


Sometimes, like everyone, I imagine, I need a giant smack on the head about priorities and overthinking and worrying and spirals of doom.  This was that smack.


My real job with these boys is love.  I guess everything else will work itself out.  No, I won’t stop obsessing, I’m sure, but maybe I’ll tone it back a bit and focus on the loving just a little bit more.


247Cook Pumpkin Patch

Friday, October 28, 2011


Charles was too scared to go into the dark garage this morning to get into the car.  He had a nightmare last night, the details of which are unclear, but must involve a monster of some sort.


“Remember when I saw a giant green monster upstairs and it was scary, mommy?”  (“Remember…” is how he starts every sentence these days.)




While Charles almost-three-year-old brain is busy grappling with what he saw in his dreams and the concepts of “imagination” and “not real” (just think about how tough that would be to understand if you just started dreaming for the first time), Tony and I have found ourselves in many, many, many conversations lately on subjects that are much scarier in reality.  I think that’s something that must happen to everyone as a parent, the gradual realization that as your children grow, so must your role as parent, and lo! there are many more things to worry about than just nutrition and playtime and sleep schedules and growth charts. 


I recently read this article on empathy and reading, turning my ambition to read novels with my kids (Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, etc) as they get older into a true goal.  Can’t you just see it?  The whole family snuggled on the couch or in bed, reading a chapter or two or three a night in some of the most fantastic books every written for children, talking about the feelings the main character has and the situations with which he is faced and how he deals with them?  Idyllic, certainly, but not unreasonable if you make it a priority to read with your kids throughout their kid years (it probably is unreasonable to expect this to go on in high school).


Then, there is the concept of mixed dominance and what it means and how to spot it and what to do about it.  This is something that was just brought to my attention that I’m glad I heard and investigated because awareness of it now, fixing it early if it manifests in Charles or Jamie could save us a lot of heartache down the road.


Do you eat dinner together?  We do, and I now know that it is something that we can never, ever give up, even when things get crazy busy.  After all, kids who eat dinner en famille are more secure and therefore perform better in school, are happier, and more successful, etc, etc, good things.


The schools in our area have stopped teaching cursive, and I understand their position.  In this age of technology, papers will be typed and submitted via email by the time a kid gets to middle school, so the resources to teach cursive writing are better spent elsewhere.  But what about the cognitive function that cursive supports?  I’ve also heard evidence that learning cursive can help with visual-cognitive development and stave off certain learning disabilities.  So, that settles it, I’m going to teach the boys cursive; it’s a huge undertaking, I’m well aware.


Then, there are the other monsters in our lives: the sex offenders, the drunk drivers, the gangs, the kids who “aren’t very nice,” as Charles puts it whenever someone pushes him on the playground or acts out violently (there are lots of kids like this – fortunately, Charles doesn’t act out in that way yet.  I worry that the example from other kids might rub off on him, however).


We have a lot to deal with as parents.  I have many goals for myself as a parent and many goals for my kids: to teach them well, to equip them for life, to make sure they have the best chance of success, to help them become independent and self-sufficient, to help them become good citizens of our world.  What this will mean for me and for Tony is being extremely involved in our children’s lives and arming ourselves with knowledge to fill in the gaps where the schools can’t go.  It means teaching cursive, and looking for mixed dominance, and reading together, and cooking together, and eating together, and playing together, and keeping the TV off, and essentially committing to home-school my kids in addition to their public school education. 



Charles cried when I dropped him off at preschool today.  He is still scared of the giant green monster, even though I told him that it was imaginary and that Buster would bark and protect us from monsters, and mommy and daddy are always available for hugs to vanquish monsters, too.  I can keep the TV off at home, but I can’t control what the other kids say to him, and I think some of them are either better equipped to talk about scary things or they’re desensitized.  Either way, I think we’ve entered into a new season of understanding for Charles and we’ll have lots more talks about imagination and real vs. not real in the immediate future.


Boy, I wish there was a handbook for this parenting thing.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Three Months 025

I’m sensing a recurring theme: Jamie tolerates Charles.  Oh, he bestows many of his smiles on his gregarious older brother who tries to involve him in everything, but he is wary (and with good reason – Charles wouldn’t deliberately hurt him, but he doesn’t know his own strength and frequently tries to pick up Jamie).  Every night, every single night, Charles asks for Jamie to sleep with him.  We agree to let Jamie lie in bed with Charles until story time is over, at which point, Charles says “leave, Mommy, let Jamie stay with me.  Go downstairs.”


I am thankful for Charles’ doting on Jamie.  But I am also watchful.



Who can help me?  I’ve been doing Baby Boot Camp for several weeks now, and it is a HARD workout.  Not such that it hurts at the time, and the exercises are gentle so as not to harm my postpartum body, but I am frequently sore the next day and I definitely sweat during the hour-long class.


Here’s the problem: although I drink what seem to be gallons of water before, during, and after the class, I almost always get a killer headache the next day.  Last Wednesday (class is on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings), I ended up in bed with a migraine most of the day.  Luckily, Jamie is going through a bit of a growth spurt (his cheeks have become so chubby in the past few days!) and he wanted to sleep most of the afternoon with me.  Today is Sunday, and I fought off a headache this morning.


So what’s going on?  I’d really rather not be trapped into a cycle of work out – get headache the next day – take drugs in increasing quantities until they work or I fall asleep – workout again.  Do any of you moms workout and nurse and if so, how are you eating to keep up your strength?  Do I need more carbs in my protein-and-veggie heavy diet?  More beer?  More chocolate?  Do you think the headache is something other than diet-related?  Perhaps I need more massages… yeah, that’s probably it.  Someone tell my husband!




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This is what he does all day lately.  Sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep.  If I sleep with him, he won’t even wake up when his diaper is soaked and leaking through.  Sometimes, as long as I keep hold of him while I’m doing it, he won’t even wake up when I change him and bring him back to the couch or chair with me.  I’ve had a lot of naps and read a lot of books lately.




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Charles took this photo.


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But I took this one.




 Three Months 029

And this guy rolled over from this position the other day!  Happy milestone!

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Still Haven’t Got the Hang of It.

Having already experienced years one through three with a boy child, I thought I might be better prepared for this second baby.  But oh, rookie mistakes abound.


For instance, we have tried to have the babysitter give Jamie a bottle exactly twice, which is exactly the number of times we have left the house without him for a “date” (quotes because the “dates” were fundraising events for local good causes, and we didn’t exactly have QT together).  Both of these “dates” were past the three month mark and were made possible by the best babysitter ever, no I don’t want to share, don’t ask me for her number.


Perhaps predictably, Jamie refused the bottle both times.  I say “predictably,” but what I mean is, “I had no f***ing clue this would happen, Charles always ate no matter the delivery method.”  But other people predicted it for me.  “You mean you have never given your son a bottle?  I bet he won’t take it from the babysitter.”


In a DUH moment, I realized that his summary rejection of all things pacifier probably translates perfectly to his rejection of the bottle.  After all, they are pretty much the same thing, only one dispenses milk, while the other frustrates the hell out of hungry babies (what?  Does your baby use a pacifier for soothing?  I don’t want to hear about it).  So, I had myself a good cry after Jamie drained me when I got home last night, thinking that he might never let us have a night out alone because he can’t drink from a bottle.  And by “never” I mean “until he eats solid food, which I realize isn’t that far away but still seems like a really long time.”


What I should have done was give him one bottle a week from the very beginning just to get him used to it.  Instead, tonight we are taking Jamie with us out to dinner while Charles stays home with the babysitter.  Let this be a warning to any new moms: start a bottle early lest you be permanently attached to your infant.  Unless, of course, you have better, more considerate children than I do who easily switch from breast to bottle at any point in their development.


Another rookie mistake: not recognizing the signs of teething.  Increased drooling and slobbering?  Check.  Change in poopy diapers?  Check.  Gnawing on everything, from shoulders to fingers (his and others’) to toys?  Check.  Fussiness complete with shrieking that redefines the word “shrill?”  Check.  Little tooth nubbins?  I didn’t notice those until the fourth or fifth day of all the other symptoms.  Mom of the Year.  My poor kid could have been spared the pain of teething with liberal doses of infant Tylenol, but no.


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Get it together, mom.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This Guy

Three Months 008


… has gained 7 pounds since birth.  He now weighs 15 lbs, 3 oz. 


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He’s got a ways to go before he catches up with this guy, however:


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Thursday, October 6, 2011


After nearly three years, I thought I had my kid figured out.  But then, that’s what they do, they keep changing, evolving, growing up.  Their personalities change, if not their temperaments. 


Now, I have known, ever since I was hit with a little perspective during Charles, ahem, trying infant months, that he is a sensitive guy.  He wants people to be happy.  He genuinely cares about others.  He’ll likely grow up to be very thoughtful and empathic, much like his uncle.


But the care he has for Jamie?  I was, and still am, blindsided by it. 


You see, friends of mine have kids who hit and kick their younger siblings, who saw them as rivals from day one.  Not Charles.  No, he seems to understand that Jamie is, as much as anyone will ever be, his companion for life.  You’ll never know anyone as long, or share as much history with anyone, as you will your sibling(s).  And as Jamie grows and is more obviously a little boy every day, Charles has taken on an almost caregiver role with him. 


I left Jamie on the floor and Charles playing with toys the other day to troop downstairs with some laundry.  When I came back five minutes later, this is what I saw.  I don’t expect anyone but grandparents to watch a full minute and a half of Charles reading to his brother, but the whole video is adorable.



P.S. Charles dresses himself.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Three Months Old Photo Roundup

We are busy, busy, busy, busy here, what with having a three-month-old, going back to work, entertaining an almost three-year-old, doing Baby Boot Camp, travelling, and just generally keeping house.  But you know what?  It is totally worth a few minutes of my day (and, I hope, a few minutes of yours) to take a look at this awesome kid who is growing so fast and is so super cute and ILOVEHIMSOMUCH, OMGxinfinity.


Three Months 005

“What’re YOU lookin’ at?”


Three Months 008

The fine art of couch-sleeping (I was right there the whole time, don’t get your panties in a bunch about improper infant sleep arrangements).


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“Sigh… the car seat again.”


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“Wait, are we going somewhere cool?  Maybe to pick up my big brother?  I love that kid!”


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Bedtime!  The only way Charles will go to sleep anymore is if Jamie joins him for at least a little bit.  I can’t decide if we should buy bunk beds next or just a big bed for them to share.


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Look at that chub!