Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Things

For no particular reason, here is a list of things I love.

-Lindt chocolate, particularly the Petite Desserts line.

-Rearranging furniture.

-The colors blue and green.

-The smell of spearmint.

-Sepia photography.

-Built in window seats.


-The new kind of Scrubbing Bubbles, which actually does work well enough that you don't have to follow up your spraying with a scrubbing (provided your tub is reasonably clean to begin with.)

-The new kind of Pledge, with this "protective seal" (I don't know or care what that means) which supposedly guards against fingerprint/food/kid grime. So far, it seems to live up to this claim.

-Irish step dance.

-Caesar salad.

-Baby teeth, which always look like white little pearls.

-Little white twinkly lights, even when it's not Christmas anymore.

-Arrested Development. It still infuriates me that that show got cancelled.

-Gazebos. They remind me of my grandma, who always called them "Kazebos," which caused me to confuse them with kazoos for a long time.

-Dollhouses. I am still powerless before them; I must sit and arrange the tiny chairs and tables and place all the people where they belong.

-Visiting the Biltmore estate in Asheville, NC. I always leave feeling vaguely that my true self should have been born a long time ago. And been insanely rich, of course; obviously my true self wouldn't have been born a SERVANT to the Vanderbilts.

-The way Adelay gets so excited about being given Dum Dum suckers at the doctor's office and stickers from the teller at the bank. It actually makes me a little sad, too, even as it charms me. I think I just wish I still got excited that easily.

Monday, July 28, 2008

And The Winner Is...

Number seventeen! Come on down front, lucky number seventeen! Also known as Astarte! Sorry it took me so long to get the results posted- crazy, crazy last few days with end of soccer camp, family obligations, swimming party, etc. I know, though. Everybody's summers are busy. It's no excuse to be neglecting the ole blog so blatantly.

In regards to the contest, I just have to give an honorable mention to Kelsey, who, in the first comment, guessed my nephew Luke's name correctly! So Kels, you will also be getting some little prize, because that is just psychic! I had goosebumps.

I have no idea what these prizes will consist of, honestly. Perhaps I'll send you every single Barbie or Disney Princess related item in our home, just so I don't have to look at its cloying pinkness anymore! Or maybe you'll be the lucky recipient of Addy's Lil' Iguana Safety DVD, which she adores but which scares the living crap out of me, and not in the way that it intends.

I am lame and tired, lately. I'll think of a topic to post about, but by the time I drag myself online, it is gone, and in my head nothing remains but swirling visions of ice cream, the sofa, and reruns. I sure do miss my wit and humor and relatively broad vocabulary. In its place has taken root a sort of contented, almost drugged-up sleepiness, a jumble of mental post-it notes, and the always nagging priorities, "Get Adelay potty trained (for the love of all that is holy!)" and "Get Eli sleep trained (can't have another baby while you're still getting up to nurse the last one!)"

Not that I am pregnant. But it is an ever-constant thought, the spacing of the next hypothetical baby. Also constant is the fear that I cannot HANDLE a next baby, no matter when it might come. But I still want one. Ah, the greedy, irrational heart, right? Always grasping for more even when both its hands are full.

On potty training- have I already asked for advise? What's that, you say? MULTIPLE TIMES already, I have asked? Well, then. I won't mention how tonight I was reading Addy a lovely bedtime story about ballerinas in pink fluffy tutus, and at the end, when I asked her tenderly if she wanted to dance someday like the girls in the picture, she smiled just as tenderly at me and announced, " I POOPED!"

Nope, I won't even mention it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Love Presents! (Because "I Love Packages" Didn't Sound Quite Right)

I had such a fantastic day. These kinds of days, the ones that are so golden from start to finish? I save them in my mind, to take out and stroke and sigh wistfully over when I'm having a three-loads-of-pee-sheets kind of day. I will be stroking this one a lot, I think. (Cracking up over my own delightful junior high school boy humor.)

Why was it so golden, this day? Because I BOUGHT A COUCH today, people. A beautiful, beautiful, very expensive couch for like A FOURTH of the asking price, on clearance at Macy's. I had goosebumps at my own luck in finding it, and that it was just the right color to go with the love seat I needed it to match. AND THEN my Pay It Forward contest prize came in the mail from Sara at Incubation Nation, and it was all such fun, fun stuff, and from Target, I think, which made it all the more special since I live in a Wal-Mart dominated area and rarely do I get to pass over the threshold of a Target.
AnyWHAYS, thanks so much, Sara, especially since if I were thirty eight weeks pregnant, the chances of my dragging myself to the post office would be slim to none. Without further ado, may I present my haul:

Delicious chocolate covered espresso beans and a journal

Adelay, prancing around in her new tutu (which she refused to take off, even when we went to the mall to purchase the couch.)

Me, dorkily modeling the fluffy purple tiara which Adelay graciously allowed me to borrow.

And just for funsies, a picture of all the cousins from Saturday (note how Eli appears actually LARGER than Adelay.)

So, here's MY Pay It Forward contest question- respond to be entered. What's the name of the little boy cousin in the green and blue shirt on the left in the picture above?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekend Fun!

Well, that was a heck of a way to make a couple hundred bucks, but by golly I did it, ninety degree temps and wilting humidity be darned (that was a lot of Doris Day type euphemisms for one sentence.) By "did it" I of course mean, "did it inasmuch as the actual sale was in my driveway and I did help put things out, take people's money, and pack things away." But my mom put the ad in the paper, put out the signs, and dragged all her stuff over, and did a lion's share of initial set up as well as attending the sale while I ran back and forth trying to parent as well as make money, so, I should say that I couldn't have done it alone and you are INSANE if you try to do a garage sale by yourself with small children. The end.

We had a semi-hellacious car ride to Michigan yesterday morning, followed by a full day of rain, forcing twenty five people to mingle in approximately fifteen hundred square feet. It is experiences such as these that make me hesitate when thinking of having more kids, but they fade quickly and mercifully from memory, much like certain aspects of childbirth.

Anyways, not much to say other than that: hot, busy, probably going to remain busy for some time what with soccer and a possible trip to Canada next weekend (more car trips why God why?) How about you?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oh Right, That Reunion I Freaked Out About!

I came, I saw, I conquered. Or, you know, I pulled up in my Focus wagon, hauled out two cute little kids as distracting props, and held my head high despite distinct insecurities.

It was fine, you guys. The dreaded Boyfriend wasn't even there (though I found out later that he WAS in town, he just decided at the last minute not to come. I am sincerely, guiltily hoping it wasn't for fear of seeing me.) About three fourths of the class showed up, and quite a few have gotten married, considering how young we still are. There were lots of little kids running around, and lots of adults standing around lamely with sweating plastic cups in our hands, complaining about the humidity and telling our story ("so I ended up dropping out of college...")half a dozen times as we made the rounds.

It's funny how little changes. Astonishing, even. Sitting there eating, it felt like being in the lunchroom with these people again. Same seating partners, same loud, cackling girls at one end of the table, while the quiet girls and the smart girls and the shy girls roll their eyes at the other end.

Since there was no drinking, the party was slow to take off. A few people milled around reluctantly, but most stuck to the same people they already talk to once a week. But after a while the need to impress/avoid one another wore off, and that old high school vibe returned. UNFORTUNATELY. There was a mofo WATER BALLOON FIGHT, people, complete with drenched tee-shirts and maniacal giggling and breasts a-bouncing as their owners fled the onslaught of BOYS!!! chasing them. Guess which end of the table instigated that one.

Addy had a hysterical meltdown when the first balloon got smashed, and clung to me, sobbing real tears, for the duration. "No hit!" she managed to choke out occasionally, glaring accusingly at the screaming balloon wielders as though she were viewing Saving Private Ryan and not good old fashioned summer fun. So I ended up stuck in a corner for quite a while, calming her down, but I did have a genuine and pleasant conversation while there, so it ended well.

Mostly, I just left feeling SO HAPPY that I am where I am right now, with the family I have. I feel like I literally dodged a bullet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hold Me

I... I am having a yard sale this Thursday and Friday. I don't really know why. Apparently I harbor latent masochistic tendencies. And then Friday night, after closing up shop in the driveway, we are going out of town (three hours away) to visit Jim's family for the weekend. And Jim's still got a week and a half of soccer camp (two hours in the morning, two hours in the evening.) But! The den is coming along. We're craning our necks and shielding our eyes, squinting at the ever-more-discernible vision of "finished" that is glowing tantalizingly there on the horizon.

I guess that's all. It doesn't sound THAT rough, written out. I don't know why I feel so disorganized and unravelled right now. I think, sadly, that I'm just kind of an uptight, stick-up-her-arse kind of person when it comes to tidiness and organization, and it just rocks me to my core to have the house in upheaval for weeks at a time like this. My inner voice of serenity (..."to accept the things I cannot change!") is telling me to embrace the chaos and just roll with it, but it's going on four weeks now and I am no more tolerant of the plaster dust than I was to begin with.

So, that's all, I guess. Oh! On Sunday I went to see one of my friends from school who lives about an hour from here, with NO KIDS and WITH another friend! (I mean, I went with no kids and with a friend, not that my friend lives with no kids and with another friend...) I spent HOURS eating and shopping and going to a movie and admiring my friend's new house. It was the best day of my life. Or, you know, this month, anyways, for sure.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Judgement Call

Swistle has once again hit the nail on the head, most recently with her post about priorities and choices. Reading it led me on a tangential train of thought, beginning with Swistle's musings on finding the time to do what we love even at the expense of doing other, equally good things, and ending with what a friend and I were just talking about today while we were doing our grocery shopping.

We were buying baby food, and she kept apologizing about the fact that she felt compelled to buy organic while I was blithely stocking my cart with jars of Parent's Choice. "I hope you don't feel like I think YOU should buy it, too," she was saying. "It's just my thing! I don't judge people who don't care about organic stuff!" And I was laughing and saying, "I don't feel judged! I hope you don't feel judged by MY compulsion to dust everything once a week. That's just MY thing!"

Then we were comparing our shopping cart covers for the babies- hers is mainly of the germ-prevention kind, a barrier between Gabe and any icky surfaces. Mine is a giant pillowed contraption to keep Eli from hurting himself when he (inevitably) begins flailing around in fury, and also to make it a comfortable nap area if he feels so inclined. We both started sort of apologizing to each other then, too, reassuring one another that the other person's cart cover was perfectly nice and acceptable!

Why do we feel so compelled to defend our choices to other people? Why do we feel worried that they are judging us by choosing something different, or that they might feel judged by OUR different choice?

Well, I think it's because we DO compare ourselves to others, to a certain degree, all the time. We try not to, sometimes, and we are partially in denial about it because of our culture's emphasis on diversity and tolerance, but the universal truth is that people observe other people's lives and choices and compare them, favorably or otherwise, to their own. It is human nature.

Sometimes it's a good thing, and encourages us to explore and stretch ourselves. An example of this is a party I attended recently, where I observed the enormous supply of crafts the mom had for her two kids. As I admired her stash, I of course also felt guilty; I mentally chided myself that I "should" be doing more crafts with Addy. But then I dismissed the guilt, and decided I should do crafts only if I thought Adelay and I both WANTED to do more crafts.

A few days later, I went to Hobby Lobby and purchased, not an entire room full of supplies, but one simple project, which we did together the next day and enjoyed. I ended up doing most of it, though, and Addy got about ten minutes of enjoyment for an hour's worth of glitter cleanup. So I decided that art projects do not need to be an everyday part of our world, at least not right now. That is my choice, and I own it, and I do not apologize to anyone.

But there is, of course, a downside to this observation/judgement cycle. That's when we start deciding that our own values must be EVERYONE'S values. Because I enjoy scrapbooking, you must do it, too, or you are a thoughtless mom who doesn't cherish her kids' fleeting childhoods! Because I bake everything from scratch, I love my kids more than you moms who buy Little Debbies! Because I iron my kids' clothes before school every day, you are a slob who lets your kids go to school looking like ragamuffins! And so on.

It's just so lame and tired, all the one-upping and the self-righteousness when it comes to women's, and particularly moms', priorities. The facts are as follows: we all get twenty four hours. We all would like to do- and think we SHOULD do- about twice as much as we actually have time to do. We all have some money. Some of us have less than others. And we all have obligations and responsibilities. Some of us more than others. So we make judgement calls. We prioritize, and we do what we believe to be in the best interest of ourselves and our families and our kids and our pets and our bank statements and the environment. Sometimes all of those things can't get equal priority. Sometimes something has to give. Sometimes we are too tired and stressed to think too hard about it, so we make snap judgements ("Here! Have another fruit snack!" or "Let's just put it on the credit card!") that we might not necessarily be proud of later. Sometimes, for better or worse, we put ourselves first. There has to be give room for these moments. There has to be grace, from ourselves and from others.

So let's save the judging for the pedophiles and the crooked politicians, and cut some slack for each other.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Role Model

I just came in from mowing the lawn. It is about ninety degrees today and the sun is still high, so I felt absolutely justified when I dove face first into a pint of Ben and Jerry's Butter Pecan. Then Eli woke up.
My son spotted the container and began grunting and thrashing in his high chair, frantic for a taste. He is no ice cream virgin, my boy.

I have a feeling Jessica Seinfeld wouldn't approve.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Kind of Like Twitter, But Not As Cool

-Three weeks of soccer camp (Jim coaches high school girls) is kicking our family's collective ass.

-Week three of den remodel. Rest of house is like a ticking bomb of toys and extra furniture, threatening explosion with any false step.

-Am preparing for yard sale next week. WHY LORD WHY? (Because I want money to replace a loveseat in the den. And we are a bunch of smart, unAmerican stick in the muds who try very hard not to put things on credit. You know, except for when we DO. But we make an effort.)

-I forgot how much I hate PMS. Or how much PMS hates me, perhaps. Either way, it's enough to make one wish for pregnancy.

-Addy has taken whining to a whole new level lately, my WORD. I hate how often I hear my voice taking on its stern, no-nonsense-now-young-lady tone. I sound so old and grumpy. Like a... Mom.

Bonus Unrelated Anecdote: The other day, while pushing the kids around the neighborhood in their stroller, a car slowed down next to me. The guy rolled down his window and said, "Michigan? Really?" I should mention that I was wearing blue pants with Michigan written in maize on the seat. ON MY BUTT, ok? Which means, guy was rolling down the street looking at my butt? And stopped to chat with me about it? We don't actually live in Michigan, by the way. So I guess the sight of team related attire for said state confused/agitated this guy? But nonetheless, WTF? I shrugged and said, "My husband's family is from Michigan." The guy persisted to BADGER me about it before finally, after repeatedly getting one-word responses from me, drove away. Fracking people, seriously.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Can Of Worms

It occurred to me this morning that I haven't done a serious post topic in awhile. As I enjoy stirring things up, I felt the need to dig around in your collective psyche and force you to examine perhaps long-buried memories in the quest for the truth. Also in my own selfish quest for parenting advise. So without further ado, here is my Deep, Thought-Provoking Question for the day:

What do you think is the biggest mistake your parents made while raising you, and do you think you've avoided making that same mistake with your own kids? Or, if you don't have kids yet or don't plan to, ever, have you made/avoided making that mistake with other people in your life?

Conversely, what was the BEST thing your parents did for you along the way? And what do you think is your own greatest strength in parenting (or life in general)?

*Feel free to answer anonymously, if you want to.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wide Open Spaces

Greetings from construction land.

See that wall directly to Jim's right? Well, it is gone now. And I just took a picture to show you, but Blogger is being a wench and won't upload it, even though it JUST UPLOADED THE PICTURE ABOVE. You'll have to take my word for it- it looks better. Very open. Very lack-of-dividing-wall-ish. Also, all the ceiling tiles have been pulled down, all the paneling is ripped off, all the nails (approximate number: 8,716) picked up, the carpet has been shop-vacuumed multiple times, and the electric from the offending wall is rerouted and a new overhead light installed. One wall has even been drywalled! So, lots of progress. But still, lots more to do. Drywall the rest of the walls and the ceiling, obviously, mud and sand, prime and paint, and then rehang the trim. And there's some little nitpicky stuff with leveling out the doorway where the wall came out. BUT. The end is in sight.

Hmm. If Addy yells, "Mommy, where ARE you?" one more time, knowing full well where I am, I'm going to scream. Every time, I call back pleasantly, "I'm in the den, honey, what do you need?" and every time she replies, with escalating levels of aggrieved impatience, "MOOOMmy, where AAAARE you?!"
Mommy's hiding in the den with my secret chocolate bar, sweetie, where else have you ever known me to be?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Path of Least Resistance (Or, Sleep Training For Wusses)

Teething sucks. Or, infancy sucks. Possibly I just suck. All I know is, Eli's sleep habits are beginning to get me down. He's never been what I'd call a good sleeper, but the past week or so, it has been a freaking three ring circus trying to get him in the perfect state of sleep readiness: Addy in bed, house is quiet, he is full, but not TOO full, burped, changed, relaxed, thumb in his mouth, eyes drooping, water cup at the ready in his crib. I rock him and sing to him and gently lower him into his bed and... Bam. As soon as his butt hits the mattress his eyes are wide in outrage, his mouth a perfect O of screaming, his back arched and limbs flailing. From slumber to meltdown in point five seconds. Over and over we repeat this cycle, from an hour to three hours depending on how tired he is. And then he is up one to three times in the night. It is getting Officially Old.

I should mention that we have never been cry-it-out fans. It seems a little cruel- he is a BABY and we are his PARENTS. Comforting him is our job. It's what we signed on for. Usually we operate by a little parenting theory called Whatever Seems To Be Working This Week. We don't attempt to set arbitrary schedules and then mold our kids' sleep patterns around them: if anything, we go the other way, and have tried to set our timetable based on their tendencies. For Addy, this has worked just fine. Eli, however, is a different breed. He would stay up until one in the morning, I think, if permitted, get up three times at night, and then wake up around nine and not nap until five PM or so. It's just not a timetable that works for the rest of the family. So, we are in new territory, and while we have sort of dabbled in enforced bedtimes and limited crying it out (ten minutes at a time, for example) we have never actually let him scream himself to sleep. We always end up either actually rocking him to sleep, or rocking him to an exhausted enough state that you can lay him down and tiptoe away.

But tonight... I just did it. Because I knew he was full, I knew he wasn't thirsty, I knew he'd recently pooped, I knew he was sleepy, I knew it was ten forty-five PM. I also knew he hates going to sleep and that his gums are likely sore, but I knew there wasn't shit I could do about it other than giving him his ba-ba with cold water and the gum massaging nipple, which I did, and rocking him to sleep, which I tried to do several times to no avail. (I could have tried pain meds or Orajel, but I have had no luck with either of those in the past. The Orajel freaks him right out, and analgesics seem to keep my kids up rather than make them sleepy.) So, I had had it. I was ready to be DONE for the day. I was tired, too, and hadn't had any grown up time with just Jim and me yet.

So I kissed him, sat him in his crib, turned on the lullaby CD, and left. He jumped and screamed in his crib for a solid half hour, you guys. It was, to say the least, not relaxing. A seriously crying baby can make a half hour seem like about two hours, and it can make you feel like the worst, most heartless person in the world to deliberately ignore a crying child. Your own crying child. But... I tried to help him fall asleep gently for a LONG time. I swear. I have never let him cry that long. I always assume after about fifteen minutes that he just plain isn't settling down and I go in and cuddle him some more. A few times I've tried laying down with him, but that doesn't seem to work unless it's the middle of the night and he's already BEEN asleep. So I just rock him and walk him and sing to him and pat him and sigh and try to convince him of how sleepy he really is.

Sometimes he is so hysterical he won't calm down until we remove him from his room altogether, back out to the living room to play on the floor for awhile or cuddle with us and watch TV. Often he just doesn't seem sleepy- he'll have seemed sleepy an hour earlier when we first began the process, but I guess all that screaming wakes him up. So he has to tire himself back out with toys before we can start the ni-night routine again. It tries the patience sorely, this up and down, back and forth business, when all you want is to be done for the night, and to kick back with a nice rerun and an Adult Beverage.

So tonight was the night I finally snapped. I did it, and now everyone in the house is quiet and sleeping. But... My baby cried himself to sleep. That hardly feels like a success.