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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