Wednesday, October 31, 2012

TV Free

Happy Halloween, y’all!  I’ve been in costume since 7 am, and I got up at 5:25 to make sure I was fully costumed before my morning meeting.  That’s dedication.  Although, I will say, it’s not so much a burden to be dedicated to Halloween.  It is one of the best holidays.


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Oh, sure, I like all the holidays.  Who doesn’t like celebrating?  Post-college, I made sure to celebrate Tuesdays and other random days of the week just for something to fete.  I was making no money, living far from family, and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, so yeah, I partied all week long with celebratory drinks simply because it was never again going to be this dateThis Tuesday.  Or whatever.


Charles is Batman today.  He has a lot of costumes – he maybe gets that from me.  I picked up the Batman costume at a consignment store for less than $4 and found a mask and cape at Wal-Mart for cheap.  And I can hardly wait to shop tomorrow when costumes will be marked down like crazy!  Yesterday Charles was Iron Man, but one of his Baby Boot Camp friends was Batman, so he wanted to do that today.  He frequently wears costumes to school and has been Spiderman and Thomas the Tank Engine recently.  He also has a pirate, magician, and knight costume.  We are well stocked.


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Jamie threw a fit about wearing a costume.  I promise that he has one, too, but he doesn’t yet know how to appreciate Halloween.


Of that whole list, Charles only really knows about Thomas the Tank Engine and Spiderman.  Thomas, because we have some Thomas DVDs and it is on Netflix and we have loads of Thomas books.  Spiderman, because I picked up six reading-level-2 Spiderman books at Costco for $10 awhile back because all of his little friends at school love Spiderman.  And then Charles got Spiderman shoes the last time he wore out a pair.  He’s not so much growing out of shoes at the moment – he is truly wearing them out. 


Aside (this blog is full of ‘em): I was kissing an owie on Charles’ leg the other day and realized that the kid is STRONG.  I mean, he has some serious muscles.  And it’s no wonder!  He is non-stop all day long.  To sustain his level of activity, I would be ripped, too.  His shoes pay the price for all that running and jumping and sliding and dancing. 


I’m occasionally called back to the reality of the fact that we don’t watch TV in our house.  We don’t have cable or satellite, and our Netflix use is very limited (mostly limited to me and Tony on evenings when Tony doesn’t have homework – which is, like, rare these days).  We also don’t go to the movies very often, and I would never think of letting Charles see Spiderman or Iron Man or Batman.  He recently got to have a treat of a movie before bed and chose Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you know, the old clay-mation one, and was so scared by the Abominable Snowman that he asked me to turn the movie off.  How could he ever be okay watching any of these live-action comic book superhero movies? 


And yet, it is clear that his classmates do watch these movies and even enjoy them.  Do they not get scared?  Is Charles just sensitive?  I don’t think that’s it, but maybe.  Regardless, we’re going to continue to limit movies to our version of age-appropriateness and TV to nothing.  There might come a point when Charles and Jamie feel left out because their classmates all watch 90210 (or maybe that was just me – my family didn’t have TV when I was in junior high and high school, and I haven’t had it since, so I don’t know what’s popular – probably all the kids are still watching 90210 and Sex in the City, right?) and they don’t, but it’s more likely that they won’t ever really know what they are missing.  After all, they’ll be in sports and have other activities.  And I’m hoping that when they get a bit older we can have a family movie night every week or so – that way, watching the television will always be a treat and something that we can kind of call “family time.”


The other effect of no TV, of course, is that I am pretty out-of-touch with pop culture.  My references are all a few years old, since I only watch shows on Netflix.  And even then, we pick and choose shows so we almost never watch what has been popular.  I have a feeling I will see some costumes this year that make no sense to me because they come from a show I haven’t seen.


Do you watch TV?  Have cable?  What do you let your kids watch?  Are we that far out of the norm on this?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Brotherly Love

Charles: You know what I call Jamie?


Me: The most adorable little brother in the whole world, whom you love so, so much and who is your bestest best friend forever?


Charles: Nooooo!  I call him Jamie Pooper!


Me: Well, that’s accurate, at least.


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And Jamie’s all, “Get me out of here!”


The boys have reached the point in their relationship where I have to leave the room, routinely.  The play so hard, you guys.  I’m always afraid one of them is going to get hurt, but I know that I have to let them wrestle and fall and jump.  Last night they played a “game” in which Charles came tearing through the house, Jamie following him as fast as his little legs could carry him, and then Charles would fall and slide on the laminate floor.  Jamie would do this adorable controlled fall to his padded little butt and then look up at his brother while Charles dissolved into peals of laughter. 


It’s so stinking cute, the way they play.  Jamie can almost keep up, but Charles doesn’t seem to mind – he loves playing and loves the company and loves being in charge.  It’s always, ahem, active play, too, with squealing and thumping and things falling down.  It is, apparently, a great game to throw as many toys and shoes down the stairs as they can find. 


But I still don’t get it.  I would never think to show affection for another person by wrestling with them, deliberately tripping them or pushing them down, or by taking their toys and throwing them as far away as possible.  I guess that’s just boys for you.  That’s why mom tends to hang out in the kitchen, occasionally offering up such gems as, “Don’t pull your brother’s arms like that!  Don’t take off his clothes!  Don’t jump on the clean laundry!” until I just decide that’s it’s not worth it to pay any more attention to their shenanigans.  Eventually, they’ll come ask me for food and then we can be a little bit civilized.  For a minute or two.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Tough Topic

Aw, geez.  Being a parent, right?  So hard sometimes.  But that sinking feeling that descends the minute you lay eyes on your newborn child, that feeling that says, “YOU are responsible for this little life.  YOU have to protect this baby,” well, we need to nurture, embrace, and FEED that feeling.  We need to always be on our guard.


I think we get complacent after a bit.  Oh, there are times when that feeling comes back, like when your baby stumbles on the stairs or falls off of the couch, or your three-year-old attempts to cross the road without looking for cars, and THANK GOD you had a tight grip on his hand because you can SEE it, you can see their smashed body in some alternate universe that exists in your parental heart.  Then, you get a little more protective for awhile, a little more neurotic.  But you know, too, that you have to let out the leash bit by bit, you have to let your kids make their own decisions and get hurt and get up and brush it off only to fall again because that’s how they learn.  You can’t protect that little life everywhere, all day long, and so you take a step or two back.  And we work hard to teach our children safety, to instill in them a healthy respect for gravity, a fear of strangers and dangerous situations through conversation, through developing a trusting relationship with our children.


But get this: one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they are eighteen years old.  And if you’re not parenting with that in mind, yours could be one of the statistics.


And those statistics get worse: 70-80% of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use.  Approximately 20% of the victims of sexual abuse are under age eight.  More than 60% of teen first pregnancies are preceded by experiences of molestation, rape or attempted rape.  30-40% of children are abused by family members.


Tony and I attended a child sexual abuse prevention workshop last night where we were first horrified, then mollified, by the realities of child sexual abuse.  Since my Rotary club first started talking about doing this training, I have had two adult friends tell me that they were victims of abuse as children, and one friend reveal that her daughter was a victim of abuse.  The mollification at this training came though the revelation that what we can do as parents to stop child sexual abuse for our own children is So. Damn. Simple.  We had already started on the right path and didn’t even know it.


Since Charles was very young, we have taught him the proper names for anatomy.  We figured that we, or another adult, would be much more likely to take action or recognize a bad situation if Charles knew to say “somebody touched my penis” as opposed to “somebody touched my (insert cutesy/avoidance word here, like ding-dong).”  Tony and I have discussed, even though our kids are very young, being up front about sex and sexual function and actively starting those conversations with our kids before puberty.  We try to have a trusting, open family where no topics are taboo.  I have asked Charles, “Has anybody ever touched your penis?” and Tony and I have both talked to him about how it is his alone and no one else is allowed to touch it, and that he should tell us if someone touches it or asks to see it.  That he will never, ever get in trouble if he tells us.


But then there’s the other stuff.  The stuff that’s tough because we want to go out once in awhile, we want to be able to leave our children with somebody so we can have a life outside of parenthood.  So it’s about eliminating the opportunity for someone to sexually abuse our kids.  It’s about vetting our babysitters and then going on to check in with them, to ask for specifics about what they did while we were gone, to ask our kids for specifics.  To not allow our children to be with adults one-on-one unless they are fully and completely trusted and even then to pay attention to our kids.  To look for signs that things aren’t right.  To ask questions.  To check in frequently to make sure they aren’t being abused or groomed.  “Has anyone ever asked you to take your clothes off?  Has anyone ever touched his or her privates in front of you?”  To listen to our kids, to what they say and how they say it and to ask where they heard sex talk that is inappropriate for their ages.


God, it’s so hard, isn’t it?  It’s so hard for me to write about this because it is such a taboo in our society.  We don’t want to talk about it, we don’t want to admit the possibility that there might be family members or friends we don’t trust with our kids.  We don’t want, for some reason, to talk about body parts and good touch/bad touch with our toddlers.  But it is so important.  So, so important.  I think we need reminders like this every so often, though: reminders to embrace that feeling of responsibility so that we will take the necessary steps to protect our children.  Because I’m sure the fallout as a family after the fact is much worse than talking to our kids and eliminating opportunities for someone to prey on them ahead of time.


Do you want to know what training we took?  If you are local, you can do it through the Brigid Collins Center, and if not, Darkness to Light has affiliates administering this prevention program across the U.S.  I don’t usually get too preachy here, but this really spoke to me because it is so awful.  And we wouldn’t wish it on any child.  The cost to society is high, and it IS preventable.


Tell me, how do you talk to your kids?  Any tips?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Please Allow Me to Ramble

Ever since I started having babies, I think about names a lot.  I notice them more, you know.  Like Sarah, for instance.  My sister-in-law is named Sarah, and that’s a lovely name, and in our school there were a few Sarahs, and that was fine.  There weren’t any other Amelias, but my best friend was named Keely, and there were two of those.  But then, Sarah (Tony’s sister – she just had a new baby, so if you like reading about new babies and want to know what life as an American in Japan is like, check out their blog) married Andy, and Andy’s brother also married a Sarah!  What are the odds?  So now they have to identify by middle names.  And now, I don’t think you hear the name Sarah very much for little girls.  I do know a baby named Sarah, and it sounds refreshing and sweet on a baby. 


A little like my name, as a baby, sounded old-fashioned and interesting.  Now, Amelia is very popular (number 1 girl name in Great Britain!), so I think that imparts a different meaning on it – you know, it’s not so exclusive anymore and sounds more modern, I guess?  But today I met another Amelia and at first I was all, “hey, there aren’t many Amelia’s our age!  This is cool!”  And then I realized that she was EASILY ten years younger than I am.  How’s that for a slap in the face (for both of us)?  I guess I still think of myself as younger, but no, I am solidly in my thirties now and I should probably get used to it, especially because the girl (the other Amelia) gave me the most horrified look.  I quickly backslid with some nonsense, “Oh, I mean, older than little!  You know, there are a lot of little girls named Amelia, but not very many adults… When I was growing up, there weren’t any!”  I should have just shut up after the first faux pas, clearly.


It makes me wonder if certain names will ever come back into style.  Like, our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ names (William, Catherine, Madeleine, etc) are popular now, but not EVERYBODY’S grandparents’ names are popular.  My grandmothers were named Thelma and Lorna.  I have a feeling those names are never coming back.  What about Tiffany?  That just smacks of the late seventies/early eighties to me, even though it is a perfectly pretty name and I know some very nice Tiffanys.  It will be interesting to see what styles of names our children like.


I met this other, new, older (but not as old as me) Amelia today at the mall, where I was actually shopping, rather than visiting the Children’s Museum or attending Baby Boot Camp classes (which are inside now that it is raining all the time).  Tony stepped out of the shower this morning and asked me to pick up some Dude Lotion for his face, so I took it as license to buy myself new lotion as well.  I enjoy scented lotion, especially since I haven’t purchased perfume since before Charles was conceived (babies and perfume don’t mix.  For that matter, pregnancy and perfume don’t mix, either), but I rarely find time to go into a store where many fancy bottles of scented lotion are arranged precariously in towers juuuuuust within reach of a toddler’s grasp.  So today I did, and now I won’t just smell like breakfast every morning.


Breakfast… if only I weren’t so groggy around breakfast time, I would create more exciting dishes.  This is why brunch was invented: to give us time to wake up before cooking an extravagant, delicious meal (that, and as a complement to bloody marys and mimosas).  But today I whipped up something I used to make in college all the time: scones.  This morning, it was pumpkin scones, to be exact.  They’re so easy!  Not like Pinterest makes them out to be!  I swear, Pinterest is going to turn us all into neurotic cooks who fear that we’ll never make anything good again!  What did I do?  I put some Bisquick in a bowl, added a couple scoops of pureed pumpking right from the can, some cinnamon and sugar, some milk, and mixed it all up.  Baked it at 425 for 10 minutes.  Smelled great and tasted better.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Spirit of Christmas

It’s about this time of year that I begin to seriously think about holiday gifts.


Oh, I know that Christmas is still two months away, but I like to get a head start.  For one thing, I LOVE gift giving.  The whole process of thinking about other people, searching out ideas for gifts in multiple categories that jive with their personality, shopping, and wrapping – it all excites me.  For another, I don’t have much time or money, so I like to narrow down the list of potential gift recipients from, you know, EVERYBODY I HAVE EVER MET EVER to… my family.  And a few close friends.  Finally, Charles birthday and Tony’s birthday (and now Juliet’s birthday!  Happy birthday, new baby niece!) fall late in the year, so I am already thinking of birthday gifts for them.


We are, due to Christmas falling in the middle of the week and both Tony and I having restrictive work schedules, holding Christmas at our house this year.  If the weather’s bad, no one will come.  My in-laws might not make it anyway because my mother-in-law might have to work as well and my parents won’t want to drive in the snow because my dad likes to wear his tires down to bald, so even though they have 4-wheel-drive, sliding and spinning out are real possibilities for them.  So Christmas gifting is turning into a mostly-about-the-kids affair, which is fine by me.  I’ll focus on getting one good photo of the kids for the photo album and making delicious food, and they’ll focus on tearing into presents and eating delicious food.


-Aside: this will be the first year we’ll get to attend the candlelight Christmas Eve service at our church, and I’m kinda excited about that!-


So, what am I getting the kids?  Well, Charles’ Grandma Jane and Grandpa Roger got him an air popcorn maker for his birthday, which is awesome for me, as now I will get to make popcorn balls for Christmas.  I got him this game for his birthday:



which I think will also be fun for Jamie.


I won’t tell you what I am getting Tony for his birthday or Christmas because he can read.  But the kids can’t, so I’ll continue with them.


I’d like to get them more books for Christmas, and probably will.  Shopping for books is so much fun and there are so many good ones out there.  Charles recently received this book from his Grandpa Roger, since his grandparents can’t be here for his birthday, and he loves it so much already.  I’d like to also order some Look and Find books for him, like this one:




Charles got a similar one from his Great-Aunt Lisa for Christmas last year and he still loves it.  Any other kid book suggestions from my booky friends?


I’m planning to get these cars for Jamie for Christmas:






Jamie could use some more clothing, as he’s still in a size (18 months) that Charles breezed through, so I don’t have as many hand-me-downs as one would think.  Once we reach size 2T, I have so, so many clothes for him that we might never have to buy more, but until then, I get to go baby-boy-clothing shopping, something that is always loads of fun.  I just wish I had a shopping buddy, you know?  It’s never as fun alone, especially since I can never seem to pull myself away for longer than an hour.  But!  There are many hours between now and Christmas, so I’ll make it!


What do YOU want for Christmas?  No, I really want to know.  What are you getting your spouse/children/dog?  Tell me, please, I love to ponder gift ideas.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

One Too Short, One Too Long: More Book Rants

I just finished a book that had SO MUCH POTENTIAL and here I am, 18 hours later, still stewing about it.


It’s no secret that I read, a lot.  I prefer fiction, but I enjoy non-fiction, too, especially in the history genre.  I like literary fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance… really, anything from the highfalutin classics to honest trash.  And yeah, I judge the books.  I’m a critic, even though I’m pretty sure I couldn’t write a novel worth shit.  But I choose books to fill a certain need in me, and I’d say that because of it, I’m pretty well-read.  I read romance when I’m feeling lovey, or weepy, or (let’s just call it what it is) PMSing.  I read history and other non-fiction when I feel like my brain is turning to mush from dealing with the quotidian tasks of a wife/mother/employer so that I can flex my mental muscle, so to speak.  I read most everything else for escape – because it’s fun to lose myself for an hour each evening in a world of someone else’s creation.


And not all books are great; I know that.  I recently recommended Outlander to a friend and she expressed frustration that the main character, while plucky, was also incredibly stupid about some things.  Well, yes, and unfortunately, by the fourth book in the series, I find that she is almost too dumb for words.  Would you take it on faith that the love of your life had died in a famous battle two hundred years previously even if you didn’t see it with your own eyes?  Would you not even think to research his life to see if anything was left over in the 20th Century?  Well, Claire didn’t, and so she missed out on spending 20 years with her husband.  And she is supposed to be sensible.  Shoot!  That’s not just insensible!  That’s against human nature!  Who could honestly resist looking up all the sordid details of their husband’s gory death in the historical record?


Like I said, sometimes novels are good, not great.  Outlander is good.  Engrossing, fun, escapism.  I liked it a lot and I read the whole series.


But boy does it make me angry when the potential of a book is squandered.  I just finished The Peach Keeper and I am pissed off at the author.  Oh, I’m sure she’s a perfectly nice lady.  But this book!  It had everything going for it: plot, mystery, ghosts, love stories, interesting characters… but nothing, NOTHING, was fleshed out.  This book could have been twice as long and that would have made it better.  I found myself wanting to know the characters more, to understand more of the backstory that was hinted at throughout the novel, to read more about the ghosts and the superstitions and the romances.  Instead, it all just fizzled. 


I wonder what it would be like to be a publishing editor?  I would have asked the author to expound upon just about everything in this story.  It could have been good.  Great, even?  We’ll never know.


I recently finished IQ84, all three volumes, and that had the opposite problem as The Peach Keeper.  It was SOOOOOO LOOOONG.  I told my sister-in-law that it exemplified Japan as she and her husband had described it: a pace so totally different than that of Western culture that it is unfathomable to those of us not living there.  Everyone, EVERYONE, was described in minute detail in IQ84.  Everyone had a detailed backstory and there was so much in the book that was superfluous to the plot that I would find myself falling asleep over the book every night.  This is not the usual for me – in fact, last year for Lent, I gave up reading past 10:30 pm because my habit is to read “just one more chapter” until it is so late that I have no hope of being well-rested in the morning.  But IQ84, as interesting and florid as the writing was, was pretty boring in spots.  Does this mean that I do not recommend it?  No, not at all.  It was a good book.  Read it, if you like Japanese literature, or are curious what Japanese literature is like.


I started a Fannie Flagg novel last night and quit after a few chapters.  Life’s too short to keep reading a book you don’t like.  Now searching for the next good read…

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Autumn Doldrums

I’m cold all the time, you guys.  Like, is this an issue for anyone else?  My desk job keeps me freezing – I feel like I need to sustain vigorous activity all day long if I want to be warm.  Instead, I just try to drink enough coffee and then enough water that I constantly get up to go to the bathroom.  It’s not vigorous activity, but it’s better than typing for keeping me warm.  And because, up until this week, we had beautiful, un-fall-like weather, I’ve been hesitant to break out the warm sweaters and boots.  Call me crazy, I usually love autumn clothing, but I’m resisting this year.  It’s tough to give up on that Indian summer we enjoyed through September.


I’ve hit a bit of a lull this week: there’s a big project looming at the office, but I am further down the critical path than the project right now, so I’m waiting, waiting, trying to foresee possible issues and worry my way into an anticipation of every potential problem with the project so that I become a giant ball of stress, freak out my employees, and do everything perfectly in minimal time.  Good idea, right?  I thought so.


We’re on a bit of a hold at home, too.  Tony is studying a lot for his midterm, which takes place next Tuesday, and I can’t even begin to imagine how tedious it must be to pour through the reading for whatever deep-reading of the IRS tax code this class might cover.  Add to that the fact that the professor has limited grasp of grammar and punctuation, and seems to be imprecise in his online lecture, and you have a Tony who is a bit overstressed.  I know all of this because I sit on the couch and read before bed, or fold laundry, or whatever, and he huffs grumpily over another mistake in his reading materials.  Those who can’t do, teach, I guess.


Next week begins several weeks of evening commitments for both Tony and myself, something that is a bit tough on the kids and the at-home parent, but which can’t be avoided if we want to have our own lives.  I’m convinced that we’re setting a good example for our children by having interests outside the home.  It doesn’t make coordinating dinner any easier, however.


The boys are okay, but not great.  Charles has a bit of a cold and has been reluctant to do some of the things he normally begs to do, like go to the Children’s Museum after preschool.  He’s eating a ton, though, and sleeping a lot, so it might be that he’s about to grow again.  Jamie is possibly cutting more teeth.  After about two weeks of sleeping through the night (and waking at 4 am because that is wake up time!  Obviously.), he woke up last night at about 1:30 am screaming and jamming his fingers into his mouth.  I picked him up from his crib, gave him a drink of water, and cuddled him in the rocking chair until he fell back asleep.  Except that he didn’t, really, because as soon as I set him in his crib again, he woke up screaming, clutching for me.  By that time, the dog was up and pacing around the bedroom door, clearly wanting to be let outside.  I set Jamie down and let Buster out.  All the while Jamie screamed like I was pulling out his toenails with a pair of rusty pliers.  When I picked him back up, he looked at me, pointed in the direction of my room, and insistently said, “UUUNH!”  Like, mom!  Take me to your bed now!  That kid knows what he wants.


He spent the next few hours in our bed, but we put him back in his crib at 4:45 am when he thought it was time to get up for the day.  Ultimately, he slept until 7 am.  Charles joined us in bed around 5:30, though, so we weren’t without a sleeping child between us for long.


I used to feel guilty about having the kids sleep with us.  After all, parents are not supposed to co-sleep with their children.  Don’t all the books say so?  Foster independence and self-soothing and blah, blah, blah by making them stay in their bed.  I got over myself and those books I don’t read anymore, though.  Charles will not want to come join us in bed in a few years.  Until then, if it promotes security in his nearly-four-year-old world, what’s the problem?  When he starts kicking me in the head, we move him.  Jamie’s little, and he likes to sleep next to mama.  Why in the world would I be a big meany and tell him “no”?  If he’s restless and not sleeping, he gets put back into his crib to cry and fuss and stick his thumb in his mouth and put himself to sleep, but if all he wants to do is snuggle with me, I’m okay with that.  What can I say?  I love those kids more than life itself, and I want to keep them near.


Our days march on.  I’m struggling through the end of a book right now, and then I have several more already downloaded and ready to go.  I do not yet have a Halloween costume.  I’m open to suggestions.  I do not have a good plan for Charles’ birthday.  Anyone want to spend election night at Chuck E. Cheese?


Please, someone, regale me with an interesting story or two.  A joke?  A book recommendation?  Thanks.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Small Victories

A week ago, I ran a 10k.  I had a goal.  I did not beat that goal.  I really wanted to run it in under one hour, which would be totally doable.  For someone else, that is.  I managed a time of 1:01:20, or an average 9:53-mile.  I might have made it, but when I started to head downhill on the far side of the bridge, I slowed waaaay down.  People I passed on the hill were passing me – so frustrating!  I can’t run downhill, I guess.  It just hurts.  Perhaps this is why I always start out on the gentle downhill slopes around my house so I can do the grueling hills on the way back in.  Not a big help in a 10k that has about a half-mile downhill, though.  When I got to the end and saw the time clock above the finish line, my heart sank.


But I was only disappointed in myself for a little while.  That runner’s high is something else, huh?  The day was beautiful, the view over the Astoria-Megler Bridge was lovely (I would say “breathtaking” but, well, I’ve seen the view a lot.  It’s spectacular, no doubt about it, but I am sort of desensitized), and we had a wonderful time eating a large post-race meal with the extended family.  So there, self-disappointment.


I don’t think I’ll run another one until next year, maybe.  My knees hurt all day Monday.  The last thing I want to do is tear up my knees, so I’ll stick to my 2 – 3 mile runs for the time being.


In other news, that is significant to me, but perhaps to no one else outside of the immediate family, I finally got rid of the smellies in our cloth diapers.  I don’t know what the deal was, but they stunk.  It was as if they were already dirty, right out of the washer.  I tried all sorts of detergents and rinses and I stripped them again and again and again, but in the end, good old Charlie’s Soap did the trick. 


Tony’s been busy with school and basketball, so I’ve had lots of quality time with the kids lately.  Behold, the wonder of brothers, ice cream, cupboards, and tractors:


October 012


October 026


October 043


October 052


October 003

Thursday, October 4, 2012

One Pot of Coffee Was Not Enough

I feel like my brains are slowly leaking out my ears this morning.  I have a low-grade headache, probably because my shoulders and eyes are sore from computer work, or maybe because my neck seems slightly out of joint, or because I had a glass-and-a-half of wine last night (you lush!) before bed, and it was cheap, Grocery Outlet wine, so there’s no telling what’s in it.  Maybe not even grapes.


The headache is exacerbated by the fact that my kids got up at 4 am and 5:30 am.  The youngest at 4, and my dear, sweet husband got up with him to try to soothe him back to sleep.  That man is awesome for getting up when the last thing I wanted in the world was to move from my cozy cocoon of a bed, but let’s be honest here: Tony is the Jamie Whisperer.  Even when Jamie was in utero, he would instantly quiet his kicking and turning when Tony placed his hand on my belly.  Tony would be watching the kicks, the jabs, the alien-trying-to-escape distortion of my pregnant belly.  All the poor man wanted to do was get his hand kicked by the baby, but Jamie would suddenly stop moving, every single time. 


It still works to this day.  Oh, the kid cuddles me and loves on me.  If we bring him into our bed for any reason (like this morning, when he decides that he’s fully up and we try to convince him that, no, he’s not), he likes to snuggle up with me, not with Tony.  But for going-to-bed-at-bedtime purposes or waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-for-water purposes, there is no one who can soothe that savage 15-month-old faster than Tony.


That’s why Tony went into Jamie’s room at 4: because neither of us were ready to get up, and of the two of us, Tony has a better chance of putting Jamie back to sleep.


However, Jamie was having none of it.  I think we made it in bed with him until about 5 am, he kicking me in the back, pulling my hair, talking to me, etc.  If you live with a toddler, you know what it is like: squirm city.  And then he would pop up to a sitting position and pat my face, cooing “mama!”.  I wanted to feed him to the wolves (if we had any wolves, which we don’t, we only have a large doofus of a dog who would be totally willing to eat an intruder but who will turn his nose up at the offering of annoying toddler flesh) for being so damned cheerful so damned early.  Fortunately for me, 5 am was when Tony was going to get up anyhow (he’s crazy) (but I’m sure you knew that), so I didn’t feel terrible about asking Tony to just take Jamie downstairs and feed him breakfast.  I mean, Tony was going to eat breakfast anyway, right?


Except that then Charles woke up.  And he wanted to be in bed with me, which was fine, except that he didn’t want to go back to sleep.  And then Jamie wandered back up the stairs and got into bed with us because that’s where the party was, of course.  He and Charles shrieked and played in the pitch dark of my bed while I pleaded with them to quiet down and I rolled over and tried to fall back asleep because that ALWAYS works, right?  I don’t know why I even bother.  I should have just gotten up at 4 am for all the non sleep I got after that point.  The problem with that would have been that I was far too groggy and headache-y to function on any level at 4 am.  Least of all the level at which one prepares food.  Or coffee.  I was not getting out of bed without coffee.


I think Tony got out of the house around 6:30 am – a time at which I prefer to still be abed, but this morning at 6:30 I was finishing my cereal with yogurt and trying to find a combination of over-the-counter pain medication that would knock out the headache but not make me non-functional or barfy.  Because by that time, Spiderman was all dressed up and ready to rid the world of bad guys and Jamie was on his second or third helping of breakfast (the kid can put it away). 


Having been up for over four hours at that point, Jamie fell asleep on the way to daycare. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

If You’re Going

If you’re going to Portland (Oregon), I suggest the following things:


  • Visit an old friend, one you haven’t seen on, oh, eight years or so.  Pick up your verbose relationship right where you left off, to the detriment of a good night’s sleep (even if this is the first overnight trip you’ve taken since the birth of your youngest child and a full night’s sleep was part of the attraction of leaving in the first place), but with perhaps a touch more depth than before.  You are, after all, much older now and with more varied life experience.
  • Make sure that said friend is the type who will make you feel uncommonly welcome.  Examples of how to do so: bake special cookies for you; open lovely bottles of wine to share; purchase gifty things from beauty stores for you.
  • Spend time in the following places because they are delicious and/or beautiful and/or really interesting and/or great places to facilitate nonstop conversation: Cadillac Cafe, The Chinese Garden, Petisco.
  • Remember to get one photo to memorialize the weekend because you knew you’d be angry with yourself if you didn’t.


photo (10)


What?  What?  There are other things to do in Portland?  I do not believe you.