Monday, December 20, 2010

At Least I Can Cross This Off My To-Do List (Once I Add It)

We leave shortly for our trip up to Massachusetts - less than 36 hours, in fact. I should not be blogging, I should be packing. And also picking up, since the house is due to be cleaned tomorrow. Thank goodness, as the amount of salt in our entryway (which I could have cleaned, but did not, for unknown reasons) is astonishing. Two inches of snow, and I believe the state of Maryland has probably emptied an entire salt mine in response.

I digress. I am online for two purposes: 1) to upload some new pictures of the kids (though I hope that they will be far surpassed in quality by pictures to come from the actual holiday, a hope that I know will be dashed); and 2) to buy some new songs on iTunes and update my iPod before THE BIG CAR TRIP. So, let me commence with #1, so that we may get on with #2.

Lucy rocking a high ponytail and a sweater dress, although you'll have to take my word on the whole "dress" aspect of the outfit

Finn has latched on to this little fellow, a likely free Snoopy doll (origin unknown), and carries him everywhere. Snoopy has become his baby and patient in all manner of parenting and injury/hospital-type imaginary games

Lucy caught on to baby fever, and both kids had me swaddle their "babies" for most of Saturday

Finn learned that one must get used to carrying one's baby EVERYWHERE. Or else they CRY.

Lucy and M. hanging out with a swaddled Mickey Mouse. You should know that I kindly cropped M.'s belly out of this photo before posting - the man is in desperate need of a sweater or two that is not too short.

This child absolutely refuses... look at me...

...when I try to take her picture. So frustrating!

My three favorite people (and a piece of rice cake)

They will one day kill me for this, but LOOK AT THOSE ADORABLE BUMS!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

And The Answer Is...

I will do my best to take some presentable photos of my kids this weekend, and post them for my deprived family. I had high hopes for the daycare Christmas party, at which Santa made an appearance. Last year I got pictures of each child sitting with Santa, and while Lucy WAS crying, it was only a little bit, and still made for a cute picture. This year, she can't stop shouting "Sa-ta" (Santa, obvs.) excitedly everytime she sees a likeness of the Man in Red, so I thought her clear enjoyment of the season would make for an even better picture. Alas, our track record with posed photos held, and though I dressed both kids up in adorable Christmas-colored ensembles, Lucy apparently refused to get near Old Saint Nick. And by "refused," I mean "screamed in horror." Apparently she likes her Santas to be of the non-living variety. Finn apparently did great, per usual, but I haven't seen a picture yet.

In the meantime, I shall follow up on my quiz from yesterday:

1) My relatives were part of the Underground Railroad - TRUE. And I think I'm NOT misrepresenting anything here, but please keep in mind that this is information I learned prior to college/grad school drinking, two pregnancies and motherhood, thus all memories from that time are susceptible to fuzziness. The Jenkins family of Andover, MA was known to be part of the Underground Railroad, helping escaped slaves hide on their way to Canada. Harriet Beecher Stowe even stayed at the Jenkins house not long after writing Uncle Tom's Cabin. All this is true, I just couldn't find a family tree online to verify that the William Jenkins that did all of this is actually an antecedent of my grandfather. But I am about 87% sure that is true. Andover was not that big a town at the time, so the likelihood of many Jenkinses is low. Also, William's house was on 89 Jenkins Road, and I know my family had a homestead on Jenkins Road (which we no longer have), so it all SEEMS to match up, despite my doubt in my synaptic connections.

2) I hitchhiked in the Pyrenees mountains - also TRUE. I was thirteen, and the story also involves a mountain-side fire, lots of blisters, getting picked up by what I hope was an entomologist who was wearing a belt of vials with bugs in them, and cramming way more people than I thought possible into a small white VW Bug(ha! a bug - never saw the joke in that before). I was with my sisters and our host family daughter Paloma, and we were supposed to be taking "a shortcut" to get back to her parents' car once our mountain picnic had ended. Oh, and I spoke very little actual Spanish. I won't go into more detail, but it was a very, very interesting experience.

3) I had my first car accident the day I got my driver's license - FALSE. It was the day AFTER I got my driver's license. And all I have to say about that is that parking lots are scary. In particular, the parking lot behind the CVS in Andover is far too small for the number of spaces and rows they have crammed in there. Also, I was clearly lacking in the part of my driving education that involved teaching me to check the front corner of the car when backing out of a space, rather than just staring fixedly out the back window of the car as I was doing. Also, lucky for me, there was an actual person inside the car that I hit, as he was apparently just waiting for his wife to pick up a few things in the store. So I got to do the "exchange of information" in my nervous, fumbly, 16-year-old way, except that I didn't even know if I HAD any car insurance, and certainly didn't have an insurance card. I had to call my mom (my memory tells me I did this on the way home, but that can't be possible because I didn't have a cell phone then, you know, BACK IN THE DAY) and ask if she had put me on the car insurance yet. Luckily, she had, though nothing ever came of the accident (seriously, it was a TINY dent. And the car was not nice to begin with).

4) I've met two justices of the Supreme Court - TRUE. On separate occasions. I met Justice Kennedy when I was in grad school - I'd won a scholarship, and the foundation that gave it out held a reception for us IN the Supreme Court, and Justice Kennedy shook my hand and gave me a medal. I met Justice Souter when I was a tween or young teen, I can't remember exactly how old I was. My sisters and I had traveled down to D.C. for some sight seeing with my grandparents, and while there, my great-aunt, who has lots of GOP connections and is involved in New Hampshire state politics, arranged for us to meet her friend Justice Souter in his chambers. My super-shy self imagined asking him his opinion on abortion (knowing that he was a conservative jugdge) but didn't actually say anything. I just let my sisters do the talking, per usual. I'd like to kick that girl, the girl I was then (and still sometimes - often? - feel like). OK, maybe flaunting dubious Democratic stances (and by dubious I mean that there is no way I was informed enough to really decide if I was a Democrat or not at the age of 12 or so, and yet I had decided I WAS. I still am one, though I am hopefully a little better informed, and so I am not calling Democratic stances THEMSELVES dubious) was not a good plan anyway, and thus better off left unexecuted. But think of the questions I COULD have asked! Like "Have you ever changed your mind on a decision after the fact?" or "What is your favorite part of your job?" or "What case stands out most in your memory?" Had I been enterprising, I could have turned this into a seriously good project for History class, or Social Studies, or whatever the hell I was taking then. I was not enterprising, though.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Show Me The Mommy

My sister sent me a few photos from my visit with her last weekend, so I thought I'd play along with LauraC's Show Me The Mommy Friday theme.

Here I am with my adorable 6 month old neice, Josephine. In the background you can see my nephew Ned in his spica cast:

This was before I drank nearly a bottle of wine (nearly?) - I won't show you the "after" picture! In my defense, three kids are exhausting, even when they aren't your own :-).

And to update you on my holiday party dilemma, the statements I sent in for our "team building event" were:

1) My relatives were part of the Underground Railroad.
2) I hitchhiked in the Pyrenees mountains.
3) I had my first car accident the day I got my driver's license.
4) I've met two justices of the Supreme Court.

Can you tell which is the lie? Family members (especially sisters!) are not allowed to answer.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fact or Fiction or Just Plain Boring?

My work holiday party, ahem "Team Building Event" is this Friday. Is it strange that it is sending me into a "woe is me" spiral?

No, this is not a Bah Humbug moment, my hesitation has nothing to do with a reluctance to celebrate the holidays. Rather, the source of my angst is the "Team Building" portion of the event. As was done last year, we are all supposed to participate in a game whereby we e-mail three true statements and one lie about ourselves to the game coordinator. Then, during the party, handouts of all the compiled statements are given out without associated names, and we are supposed to ask our fellow guests questions in order to determine who belongs to each group of statements, and which statement is the lie.

Last year I didn't hesitate much, just picked three true statements and a lie and sent them away. I believe they were: "I am the oldest of four children" (I thought this might throw some people off because they might know I am a triplet, but may not know that I have a younger brother), "I was born in Vermont", "My favorite beverage is tea" (the lie - it's either coffee or wine, but definitely NOT tea), and one other similarly veined statement that I can't remember because, like the other three, it was BORING.

And then I got to the party, and everyone else's statements were like "I'm a certified scuba instructor" and "I sat in Ricky Martin's lap" and "I speak four languages" and "I did some awesome thing that you didn't do." OK, so the last one isn't a direct quote, but basically, everyone else seemed really interesting and/or accomplished. While I... did not.

And now we are doing it again. I clearly feel the pressure to put some really awesome facts out there, things no one would ever guess about me, things that show how crazy or daring or smart or accomplished or awesome I am. But I'm drawing a blank here, folks. The most remarkable things about me are not really my doing, or they are way too embarrassing or work inappropriate to admit. Yeah, so I once bonged a beer in just a few seconds and then chased it with a flaming shot of 151 rum (and in the process kind of set the table on fire), but do I really want my co-workers to know that? Pretty sure that belongs firmly in the "no" category. Plus it's lame to clame college drinking experiences as something remarkable when in your mid-thirties. I can't really use the fact that I'm a triplet - thought it's usually a crowd pleaser, it would too easily identify me, and I had no part in making that happen. I wasn't valedictorian, I haven't met anyone particularly famous, I'm not particularly accomplished, I don't even play any musical instruments.

What would you say, if you were in this situation? What are three truths and a lie that people might not expect from you? Maybe they'll give me inspiration.

I'm probably the only staff member who's blogged about the party, maybe I can use that...

Nah, don't want them all headed to this site :-).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I can't write a real post because I forgot my camera this weekend

so I have no new pictures of my adorable nieces and nephew whom I visited on Friday and Saturday. Plus my sister plied me with too much wine, so I think I lost some brain cells. Instead I give you these questionable musings:

Why do stores place items for sale in displays that you don't come upon until after checking out? Grocery stores are prime offenders, but a few other retailers also employ similarly strange tactics (ahem, Old Navy). Are you expected to spy an item after paying, realize that it is something you can't live without, and then re-enter a checkout line in order to purchase it? Ooh, sparkly lip gloss and a huge bag of popcorn with butter flavoring, damn it, back in line for me!

I feel similarly bewildered regarding protocol for any non-traditional items that can be purchased at the grocery store, particularly those that are placed outside at the front of the store. Propane gas tanks, bags of mulch, large plants, bundles of firewood, even sets of patio furniture complete with umbrella. As far as I am aware, people don't contemplate buying a garden bench and then think, "Ah, yes, let me just head over to the grocery store for that." So I can only assume that the grocery stores are just hoping you will come in for the usual food-type things they are KNOWN for, and then succumb to impulse purchases for all those random other things you can find there. So, please, educate me - are you supposed to grab those things on the way IN, and then make your way around the grocery store for the food items you likely came to buy in the first place? You can't really wait until the end to go outside and grab the Adirondack chairs, because by then you have a cart of food items that can't legally be removed from the store if they haven't been paid for yet. But lugging large items around in the store will take up most or all of the room in your cart, making grocery shopping less than easy. Are you supposed to just check out twice, once for the strange/large stuff, and once for the food?

I advocate for separation of shopping, which will solve this confusion and maybe bring world peace. Food in the food stores, plants and patio furniture at Home Depot. And never the 'twain shall meet.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Swear I Don't Always Complain

1. I am coming to the realization that I'm going to have to say an early goodbye to a pair of my work shoes. They are Aerosoles' Envy shoes in black croco leather. Style- and comfort-wise, these shoes may indeed invoke Envy in others (OK, not the highly fashionable, perhaps, but some?). What won't, though, is the aroma that is currently wafting up from inside of them. Any tips on how to rescue stinky, stinky shoes? I have tried baby powder, but that just makes for a nauseating and confusing combination of baby powder and stink that is not the slightest bit masked. I am quite sad, because I've only had the shoes for several months, and even for my admittedly stink-prone feet, this seems like a rapid demise. Likely hastened by my predilection for wearing nice shoes without stockings in the summer because really, who wants to wear knee-highs in August?

2. I am currently sitting in a hotel room in Virginia, quite close to Dulles Airport, for a brief overnight work meeting. I have been looking forward to this for the last several days, as sleep has been hard to come by and oft interrupted lately. Tired does not begin to describe how I feel. However, I have been blessed with a neighbor who relishes in TV watching and phone conversations, and a room with little to no sound proofing between the "adjoining doors" feature of the room. Lest there be any confusion, I do not know my neighbor, and have no love for the standard hotel feature of room adjoinment. In addition to paranoia that someone will be able to break in to my hotel room through the door, I can now add "sound so unfiltered it provides one with the virtual experience of having a roommate" to my reasons for dislike of the room adjoinment set up.

3. I tried taking a bath to get a respite from neighbor noise, a treat I pretty much never, ever get at home. I was also hoping that it would keep me warm while I waited for the room to adjust to the thermostat temperature I set. Unfortunately, the tub is not a deep one, and rather than being warmed by it, I just became super conscious of each part of my body that was sticking up out of the warm water - my knees, my shoulders, my wrists and hands - I tried fitting as much of my body underwater as possible, but even for this shorty it was not possible to actually get warm. The bath was a short one.

4. Then I realized that I had forgotten to pack any pajamas. And I'm just not comfortable sleeping in the altogether, home, hotel room, or other. So, I'll be sleeping in the workout clothes that I've been lugging around with me to and from work for the last week and a half, but FORTUNATELY (though not for my health and physique) have not actually used yet.

The potential for a good night of rest is still unknown, but it's not looking good. Between stinky shoe smells (I may need to lock them up in my suitcase because I swear that I can smell them right now and they are like 15 feet away from me), noisy neighbors, adjusting room temperatures (I'm sure I will wake up - if I sleep - to find myself in an 80 degree room and a sweaty mess, though I shiver now), and the rustling that will happen every time I roll over in my high performance material workout clothes, I may have been better off staying at home and taking my chances with two kids, a cat, and an occasionally-snoring husband to interrupt my sleep.

By the way, did you know that there is apparently a key that you can press on a keyboard that will instantly publish your Blogger post when you are no where near done with it, forcing you to scramble to complete and edit the post that you meant to spend much more time perfecting? I should know, I've done it at least twice now. Sadly, I have no idea which key it is that performs this magic trick, I just know that it is somewhere on the righthand side of the keyboard. Bloggers, beware! Or at least, be better typers than I am!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells

Ever feel like Christmas shopping is less about the people on your list, and more about the obligation of gift-giving? I know this makes me sound scrooge-ish, so I'd like to assure you that I really do like giving people gifts, especially gifts they actually like. But Christmas shopping - I don't know, I just find it harder and harder to enjoy it each year. I think part of it is the idea of having a list of people to buy for. And I should note that I don't actually have a written list, this is more of a mental/metaphorical list. There are so many people to shop for, and I'm terrified of forgetting someone (Note to self: You really should have an actual, literal list). The list of people I buy gifts for has grown exponentially in the last 6-7 years, and I just cannot keep track. Nor can I make up my mind about what to buy anyone.

So instead of enjoying the shopping process, I race from aisle to aisle, website to website. Is this the right gift? Well, *I* like it, but what does that mean? Would anyone else? Is it too much? Not enough? Should I get one more thing?

Christmas shopping is a nightmare for the indecisive.

And it really seems as though everywhere I turn, I truly am being asked to add to my shopping list. For example, kids bring daycare, and daycares have teachers that deserve to be gifted at the holidays. All 4 of them (since each kid has two), and then there's the support staff and director that shouldn't be left out. Not to mention the charity drive at work, and the charity drive at daycare, and the secret santa toy Finn and Lucy will each have to bring to the daycare Christmas party, and the check for the cleaning lady, and the bonus for the cat sitter, and the gift card for the babysitter...

So, hey, Merry Christmas!

Sorry, maybe I am a little Scrooge-y after all.

I have decided that if reincarnation is a real thing, I'm going to be reincarnated into a profession where people are obligated to buy me gifts at Christmas. Target gift cards, here I come.

Eh, I'm kind of in a bad mood lately, which is likely coloring this post and my Christmas attitude (it really is my favorite holiday, swearsies). I am completely lacking in all motivation - dieting, exercise, work, being a good wife, being a good mom - I am not having success or enjoyment in any of those areas of my life.

But I got my hair cut today, and that made me feel better. And it is not entirely the result of the hairdresser's comment that I have a head completely free of gray hair (yes, it is true, and yes, I am knocking on wood. And yes, I did let her know that as the mom of two young children, I felt as though the gray was certainly on its way), but that didn't hurt. So maybe things are looking up.

Hey, pictures!

Trying on big bro's Halloween costume

Getting ready to gab on the play phone

Posing with Optimus Prime, a new toy obsession courtesy of McDonald's

Guitar lessons from Dad

Lucy demonstrates questionable babysitting skills with Curious George


Friday was Pajama Day and Bring Your Teddy Bear to School Day - aren't they cute?!

And, lest you think that Lucy is a complete angel who never gives us any cause for irritation, a little clip of a Lucy tantrum. Brought on by we can't remember what, but good god, it is hilarious. Also note that before M. got the camera out, she was actually kicking the floor.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's All Worth It

Proof that having two kids is better than one, even when one of those kids is four:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Cooking Has Begun!

Our Thanksgiving weekend started a bit earlier than expected, because M. and I decided to keep the kids out of daycare today. When I picked up Finn yesterday afternoon, there was an unmistakable, icky odor permeating the air of his classroom. Turns out one of his friends had come down with some kind of stomach bug that had him losing it out of both ends.

Since my kids (especially Lucy) seem to come down with stomach bugs if you look at them cross eyed, we opted to try to save ourselves from misery and limit their exposure to the germs. M. and I both managed to do a little work, but kid wrangling (and a very, very necessary nap that I took) kept us from fitting in a full 8 hours of work today. Hence the early start to our holiday weekend.

On the plus side, I was able to start my Thanksgiving cooking a couple hours earlier than expected. Just to set the stage, we are hosting a low-key dinner tomorrow with one of my best friends and her husband. M. and I are cooking just about all of the dishes. Then Friday we all head to Baltimore for Thanksgiving #2 at a mutual friend's house, and I'm cooking a couple of dishes (an appetizer and a dessert) for that. Should be a fun, overly caloric weekend. I'd say relaxing, but the kids will be with us, so...

A rundown of the recipes I will be cooking over the next 24 hours:

Roasted Cauliflower

Israeli Couscous with Apples, Cranberries and Herbs (I'm making this with pine nuts instead of almonds)

Apple and Cheddar Scones

Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Goat Cheese

Green beans with almonds and shallots (no recipe, just kind of winging this one)

Chile Citrus Turkey Breast (M. is in charge of this one, and he is roasting it rather than grilling)

We will also have olives, manchego cheese, crusty bread and Marcona almonds to nibble one, and a pumpkin pie that is, alas, not home-made (from Whole Foods). I'm not superwoman, after all...

For Friday's meal:

Crispy Butternut Wontons with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Peanutbutter Dark Chocolate Puddings

These recipes all swayed me with their lovely, lovely pictures on the web. I'm sure I won't be able to do them all justice, but nothing an extra glass of wine can't fix :-).

For now, I've just started with the wontons. The sauce and filling has been made, they will be stuffed and baked tomorrow. And with any luck, M. and I will also manage to cook all these other delightful (I hope!) dishes.

I hope you all have a wonderful start to the holiday season. And I say "start", but must confess that I have already been listening to the Holiday Traditions station on XM radio when I'm in M.'s car.

(As a side note, is anyone else irritated by the song "I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus"? We have it on a kid's CD of Christmas music, in addition to all the adult versions that end up getting played. In my mind, the song is either encouraging a kid to realize that Santa is Daddy, or that infidelity is OK as long as Mom is cheating with Santa. Seems inappropriate to me, but perhaps I judge too harshly?)

And hopefully, at the end of this looooooonnnnnnggggg weekend, I will be thankful that the M family managed to stay stomach bug-free?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Still Feeling My Way In The Dark With This Parenting Thing

I don't want to seem biased here, writing glowing posts about Lucy and her scrumptiousness and not Finn. He does find ways to delight me every day, but to be honest, we are going through some tough times. Suddenly at four, the tantrums/fits have kicked back up again. He has become very sensitive to tiny little idiosyncratic details, like the old goldfish I refused to let him eat a couple of weeks ago. In fact, this morning I let him pick up and eat a pancake and Cheerios off of our wet cement front steps (meaning, outside, after about 24 hours of rain. NOTE: According to M., I need to clarify here that the stoop was wet from 24 hours of rain, not the pancake and Cheerios. Those were dropped onto the stoop and picked up soon thereafter, somewhat within the 2-minute-rule window) when I heard his voice start to raise several octaves after I attempted to stop him. He was getting quite frantic about the prospect of not eating THIS EXACT SNACK, even though I offered to replace it for him. I chose not to fight that battle, despite the number of bugs and dirty shoes that have passed over those steps, but I can't avoid every single one.

It's the age, maybe? Although it's hard to distinguish it from the last age/stage, or the one before that. Are we making any progress? Sometime it still feels like I'm raising a 2-year-old still, but one who can talk really well. And maybe that's what's so frustrating - it seems like he SHOULD be able to understand my lectures, like he SHOULD be able have a little control over his reactions, because I asked/told/ordered him to. He speaks in full sentences, he tells jokes, he remembers all manner of random facts, he can play board games and do puzzles and even read and add a little. He's like a person now, you know?

But he's still only four. I need to remember that, and adjust my expectations. I've never done this before, I don't really know what he should know by now, what he should be able to do right now. And I think I'm expecting too much. Finn can calmly and rationally apologize for bad behavior the next day, if I bring it up after he's had some time to get a little distance from it. But he cannot see the effect his behavior has on others in the moment, and he is unable to stop himself once he gets started with the crying and unreasonable demands and shouting of such phrases as "I JUST WANT TO TELL YOU SOMETHING! YOU ARE INTERRUPTING ME!" and the serial repetition of whatever injustice he feels he is experiencing. And really, that's my problem. That should be OK, because he's four.

I think?

Tonight Finn was charming. He wheeled a stuffed Elmo doll around in a huge dump truck, pretending various pretend-y things, like that Elmo was hurt (he bleeds black blood, apparently) and in need of hospital care, or that Elmo was a baby who must be fed milk and bread. Then he left Elmo in my care so he could "go on vacation" (ahem, where is my vacation where I get to leave my children behind, eh?); far, far away to the beach, where the have miniature golfing. Then he went into the kitchen with his toy golf set and played golf. He came back demanding to know where Elmo's food was, his tone accusing me of neglect, of starvation. He is now currently sleeping with Elmo in his bed, along with a fake loaf of bread stuffed in Elmo's perpetually open mouth.

This kid raising thing, it really is a roller coaster. And we're not even at the hormonal years yet...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lucy, For Now

Barrettes fall out within minutes. She has this way of brushing her hair out of her face, with both hands, that kills me. She will sometimes hold still for a single ponytail on top of her head. Other times she squirms away, dashing out of reach as soon as I come close. I need to wrestle her down and hold her still with my legs.

She wakes up cranky now, if she's not really ready to be up. No more quiet babbling over the monitor. She sits up when she sees us, hands us her pink stuffed bear, her Elmo doll, then puts her hands on the mattress and lurches to a stand. She likes to bring her stuff with her when she gets up.

Or she hides her eyes from the light, tells us, "No." Not ready for the day just yet.

Lately she has been waking up at night. A little bug has her pooping at two in the morning. When it's not that, it's teething. I dress her in two piece pajamas with penguins on them, so I can check her diaper without undressing her. They are a little big. One morning last week, I went in to wake her up, and her pants were around her knees. She had scooched out of them during the night, but it didn't seem to bother her.

She still throws food off of her tray when she doesn't like it. She's gotten pickier with her eating. A wider variety of food ends up on the floor now. Her favorite is still fruit, any fruit. Followed closely by gummy vitamins, I think.

She watches TV with her brother, with more attention than I thought possible. She likes it all, she is easy to please.

She comes in the kitchen, repeatedly, while I cook dinner. She rummages through the pantry, looking for a snack. Asking for more snack, even when her bowl is still full. She says the word "snack" a lot. Then she plays with her play kitchen, pretending to wash dishes in the sink, eating "soup" with a spoon out of the fake salt shaker.

She loves to push around her shopping cart, placing all manner of toys and random things inside.

She loves Iron Man, and Batman, and Spiderman, because her brother does.

She loves her brother.

She insists on brushing her own teeth, asking again and again for more toothpaste. Her "brushing" consists of sucking the toothpaste off of the toothbrush. She pretends to spit, like her brother.

She tries walking up stairs holding on to the railing now. She still lets me help her walk down the stairs of our front stoop. As soon as she hits the walkway, she takes off running, unsteadily, toward the neighbors' houses and the frighteningly-close drainage hole, away from the car. Toward the playground. She loves the slide, hates the swing. Would much rather walk in the street than on the sidewalk.

She says more words than I can count. This weekend she learned to say "Morning" when I tried to teach her to tell her daddy "Good Morning." She acknowledges a dirty diaper with a cute little "Poopy?", like it's a question. As if one could be unsure of that smell.

She gives kisses and hugs when asked. She says "Hi!" to strangers at the store. They cannot resist saying it back. She loves to point out the moon, airplanes, balloons. She looks up a lot.

If you tell her she's hurt you, she'll say "wa-wry" (sorry), and leans her head forward for a hug. You can tell it's a hug, because she makes that squeezy noise, the one you make when you give someone a big bear hug. Or if you're constipated.

Her favorite color is yellow (yeh-yow), or maybe green (geen). But definitely not red or pink. If you ask her if she's OK, she'll say "Yeah." If you tell her to wait a moment, or explain something to her, she says "OH-kay", almost a three-syllable word the way she pronounces it. We all take turns getting her to say it, even Finn, because it's beyond cute, this way that she has.

She loves books. She holds her pointer finger in the air and asks for "one more?" through the pacifier, each time you finish one, even if it's the fourth bedtime book. She colors, and laughs a LOT, and lisps when she says "Bus," and dances, and won't let us sing AT ALL, and tells us "No" ALL THE TIME, but says "Yes" every now and then too.

She is so, so easy to love.

At the very end of this video, you can see how Lucy brushes her hair out of her face. You can see the penguin PJs, too :-).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Something My Non-Parent-Self Never Realized Would Be Different, Post-Kids

This used to be one of my favorite weekends of the year. An extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning. Less painful risings at the start of the week. In my 20's, it also meant a whole extra hour of drinking time, should I feel like staying out 'til closing time.

Now this weekend is dreaded. Now, I do not stay up later, knowing I can just hang out in bed a bit longer the next morning.

Now I have kids.

They do not understand the concept of "fall back".

They do not really even understand the concept of time.

On a good weekend morning, Finn might stay in bed until 6:30.

Oh, 5:30 am, I do not want to see you tomorrow morning. I sure as hell do not want to see 5:00 am.

Though it *should* still feel like 6:00 am to me, it will not. Intellectually, emotionally, psychologicially, I will KNOW that it is only 5:00 am.

I will need lots of coffee.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Parenting Milestone

Today marked a milestone in parenting for me. It was not a good milestone.

I picked up Finn and Lucy right around 5 pm from daycare today. All was well, and the kids were being extra cute. Finn, in particular, was wearing his camo winter hat and dancing out of his classroom to a strange recording of a Pink song sung by kids. Totally adorable. We got to the car, and as I was buckling Finn in to his carseat, he notices a two-week old goldfish on the seat next to Lucy and asked to eat it. I said no (see: two-weeks old, above) and tossed it on the ground (you know, for the squirrels...). And suddenly, Finn went batshit insane. Screaming, crying, kicking my seat, and lacking utter reason.

I knew from previous experience that he can, and likely would, continue this screaming at the top of his lungs the. whole. way. home. And frankly, I couldn't take it. I'm tired of not knowing what will set him off, what will change him from a perfectly pleasant person to an insaniac. I wanted a peaceful ride home, a chance to listen to MIX 107.3's Chili Amarr's Late Breaking Show Biz Headlines. I wanted QUIET.

I'm not proud of what occurred next, though I do feel justified. I slammed on my brakes, yelled at Finn to shut up, used the "S" word. All of which I have probably done separately in the past (except the slamming on the breaks part, I think that was new).

And then, I did it. I threatened to kick Finn out of the car. I even went so far as to drive across the street to a quiet side neighborhood, pull over, and get out of the car. Ostensibly to unbuckle Finn and make him start walking.

My mother used this tactic quite frequently. She even actually followed through a number of times. I remember in particular one day where she made us get out of the car as she was driving us to Sunday School. In that case the plan backfired, as we started to walk home instead of onward to church (which I'm sure was a large part of the original argument).

This is yet another parenting technique I swore I would not use. Oh how the mighty crumble.

But you know what? It worked.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Night Gumbo

OK, a few random housekeeping and rant-y items:

1. Regarding my search for meatless "meat" products - thank you all for your suggestions. I believe I am on my way to a solution, at least with regard to veggie sausage products. Just tonight I tried the Trader Joe's brand of Italian meatless sausages, and I was quite impressed. The texture was not rubbery, and the flavor was good. They look like complete yuck before cooking (really, really pale), but cooking them in a skillet with some oil gave them a nice color. All in all, I was quite happy with them - it's just unfortunate that I can only by them at Trader Joe's. I have also bought some TJ's meatless Chorizo to try out this week, and will likely check out the other suggestions as well. But my anxiety over this issue is already easing, thankfully. I still have no good solutions for the veggie hot dog problem, though...

2. Let's talk shoes for a moment. Specifically, toddler girl shoes. Oh my lord in heaven, are they freakin' expensive or what?!?! My little girl has been blessed with tiny, thick feet (with her 85% growth rate, this makes her look a bit like a Geisha girl - minus the blond hair of course - as she totters around on teeny feet). Extra wide shoes are just no where to be found, except online in two places: 1) Stride Rite - and they basically have sneakers only, one pair of which we have already purchased; and 2) - plenty of Mary Jane style shoes, some even available in the small size 4/5 Lucy sports, but they range in price from $36 (only those on sale) up to nearly $60. Gasp! I feel guilty spending that much on myself for shoes, and I usually wear shoes for at least 2 years (and some have been hanging on for way longer than that, grossly). Lucy's shoes last tops 4 months. Do you all really buy such expensive shoes for your kids? If not, what do you do instead? Anyone with experience buying extra wide toddler sizes? I plead for help before the holiday season is upon us!

3. My dieting was severely derailed this past weekend, and hasn't fully recovered yet. Which is so, so unfortunate, because after about 2 weeks of dieting I was down about 4 pounds. Now I'm pretty much back at my starting point (can we say YO-YO?). It began with a fundraiser buffet lunch at work - homemade macaroni and cheese, baked beans, desserts, nary a salad in sight... and no way to track calories without some serious effort on my part. I felt compelled to participate because a) it was for a good cause (to raise money to buy holiday gifts for military families in need); and b) M. refused to make my lunch the night before. The binging continued with birthday cake, take-out Thai food, Dunkin' Donuts, appetizers, wine, etc, etc - all in the name of entertaining our guests, but all of which I happily partook of. I'm having trouble getting back on track - the last two days I've started out counting my calories, but by noon I've slipped up and, out of guilt, ceased with the counting. I think part of my lack of will power for this is tied to a lack of exercise - I've only managed to jog about 4 times since my race, though one of those times was a 4 mile jog tonight, so hopefully that will help. I also need to start heading back to the gym during the work day a couple days a week to build up some muscle that will help me burn fat. Sigh.

4. This could fall under "Things That Annoy Me," but I forgot to include it in my list last week. And that is, apparently the Diaper Champ has been redesigned, and in my estimation, it makes for a much poorer diaper pail. Perhaps not the most interesting topic, but I feel that I must go public with this information. Now, we have used the Diaper Champ since Finn was brought home from the hospital, and we have always been very happy with it. First, you can use regular tall trash bags with it, no need to purchase some other wonky bag system. Second, it did a pretty good job keeping in the stink. Keep in mind that no diaper pail is perfect in this regard because toddler poop, it is some nasty smelly stuff. We have always viewed diaper pails as somewhat of a consumable, though - after a little while, an air freshener tucked in the bottom of the pail is necessary to keep the room stink-free. And eventually, it needs to be replaced, as no air freshener in the world is strong enought to contain the smell. I'd say after 4 years of diapers, we had 3 Diaper Champs. And we just bought our 4th two weeks ago. This time, though, it's... changed. First, it's smaller. And the top is different - and the way it has been redesigned basically means you can't throw a dirty diaper in it with one hand - you need two hands, one to open the lid and the other to throw in the stinky diaper you are holding. And worst of all, we christened the brand new DC with a poopy diaper at around 6 pm. By 11 pm that night (Lucy was night-waking at the time), I was ready to gag the moment I walked in her room. One day old, and already stinking! An air freshener has been deployed, and it's helping for the time being, but I fear that the day when we must abandon the Diaper Champ is coming soon. Perhaps this is incentive to potty train Lucy a little early? She already tells me when she has a poopy diaper, after all... (further proof that she is a genius, IMHO).

OK, enough for now. Must keep M. company as he hurls insults and incredulous snorts at the news coverage of the election night.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Kids in Costume (and more)

Halloween weekend 2010 was a success by all accounts. My parents were in town, and the two extra sets of hands/unqualified attention for the under 4 feet crowd were a clear bonus.

We began on Friday night with some small gifts for the kids (mandatory grandparent gifts), and a birthday cake to re-celebrate Finn's 4th birthday:

A Batman cake

That went over very, very well with the guest of honor

Lucy refused to eat any cake (weirdo), so she managed to stay this clean

Finn did not fair so well

But at least he was a cute mess

Saturday morning brought soccer class for Finn, which, though cold:

A bundled Grammy gabbing with Lucy on the sidelines

was also fun. Finn's class had their first real "game", aka two different classes that tried to score on each other. There was much confusion about which goal each group of kids was supposed to aim for, and plenty of wandering attention spans, but it was adorable:

Finn is the one in the green shirt and camo hat

Lucy was her usual effervescent, hard to control, keeps-you-running self:

Pic of M. chasing her far and wide while the rest of us cheered Finn on

Saturday afternoon I escaped with my mom for mani/pedis and some kid-free grocery shopping (trust me, that IS a luxury). Then it was time for pumpkin carving, spearheaded by the surgeon himself, Bumpa:

Assisted by Finn, of course

My mom and M. took on the role of event photographer, so that left the role of "getting in the way and whining" to Lucy

And the unenviable role of separating the slimy pumpkin seeds from the even slimier pumpkin guts to me

Finn and Bumpa are posing with their finished product here

And Lucy helped Grammy prepare the pumpkin seeds for roasting (seriously, how cute is that?!)

The pumpkin made a suitably scary jack-o-lantern once lit up after dark

Sunday morning we headed out for breakfast at the local airpark, and dined on eggs and pancakes while watching little prop planes take off and land. Then M. and my dad took off for a game of golf (and I would be a remiss wife if I didn't sneak in the fact that M. managed to hit an 89, despite being very cold and utterly out of practice). A quick dinner for the kids, and it was time for costumes and trick-or-treating!:

Lucy was a fairy-princess-type thing - basically whatever cheap little bits we could find that we thought she would not cry about wearing (and would be able to keep using as dress up clothes for years to come - how's that for frugal?).

Finn, as previewed a couple of weeks ago here, continued his superhero obsession by dressing up as Batman

Attempts to get a picture of both kids in costume, together, failed


Not a failure? The actual Trick-or-Treating. Both kids had a great time, didn't shy away from saying trick-or-treat or thank you (when prompted) to all the many strangers, and lasted a good hour out on the streets. The evening basically ended when Lucy pooped, necessitating (by virtue of smell) a return home to assess the loot.

Now I have a whole bucked of candy and a half-eaten birthday cake to get rid of. Help!!

p.s. - all photos taken with my dad's camera. Makes me want my dad's camera!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Things That Annoy Me Part 1

1. People Who Back Into Parking Spaces.
My thoughts on backing into parking spaces are these: The amount of time you "save" by pulling forward out of a spot when you leave the parking lot is completely obliterated by the extra time you spend parking in the first place. Plus, you are way, way more likely to park crappily (next-door-neighbor, I'm looking at you!), and be off-center between the white lines, probably making it difficult for some poor parent to get their heavy, squirmy, cranky child into or out of a carseat. And I think you are a show-off.

2. The Disappearance of My Favorite Meatless "Meat" Products.
Boca and Morningstar Farms, I'm looking directly at you!! Oh, my dismay at finding out that Boca Italian Sausages and Morningstar Farms Veggie Dogs are both discontinued. Don't they realize how hard it is to find a decently-textured, good-tasting replacement meat product is?? Most of them are pure crap. And you don't discover this until you've spend $5 on a package, and forced your entire family to eat flavored rubber or something that falls apart with a mere glance for dinner. Please, please let me know what your recommendations are, if you have any. I have tried Tofurkey and Morningstar Farms Italian sausage (both crap), as well as several types of veggie dogs (can't remember which ones, which in itself is a clue that none of them were winners). Halp!

3. People Who Send You an E-mail Just to Respond With a "Thank You".
I'm going to 'fess up here and admit that my organizational skillz are not A-1, at home or at work. This includes my e-mail inboxes, both work and personal. In fact, I currently have 752 messages in my Outlook inbox, waiting to be deleted or filed (and in a few cases, answered, though I try to stay on top of that at least). My sent box is far, far worse (I practically never file that stuff). I feel, though, that I must partially blame our e-mail hungry culture. The massive strings of e-mail communications I get copied on, message after message, one person answering, then another, then another - it drowns me. And often times, all these people aren't really saying anything inherently different from the last person, so it's all just white noise. But the worst, worst offender is the "Thank you" e-mail. I'm all for niceties when someone goes out of their way for you, but this is my job. I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do, what I'm paid to do. If someone asks me for information by e-mail, and I provide it to them the same way, I declare now that I DO NOT NEED TO BE THANKED. PLEASE. Don't thank me. It's just one more e-mail I have to delete.

4. Dieting.
Oh, the hunger. It may be making me a smidgen cranky, hmm?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Birthday Debrief and a Room Makeover

Finn's big birthday gift from us was a bedroom makeover. We absolutely love, love the pictures and curtains in his room, which he's had since he was a baby. We picked out the pictures ourselves (we went with a children's literature theme), and painstakingly stained plain wooden frames before he was born, sitting on our little apartment balcony in the hot summer. My mom made his curtains and a matching wall hanging herself, and when Finn was little we used to say goodnight to all the animals on them, one by one, as part of our bedtime routine. But apparently, fond memories don't cut it in the preschool room. Finn's been letting us know, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways (meaning saying things like "Mommy, my curtains are BABY curtains."), that he has outgrown his bedroom decor.

He wants a superhero room, with Spiderman curtains (ah, no - not doing theme curtains, curtains are far too expensive for that). Oh, wait, he wants a Lightening McQueen room. Or Transformers. Or no, wait, a Monster Truck room!

Regardless, it was clear that tasteful and subtle was OUT, and loud merchandise-themed stuff was IN.

Aside from some probing on our part, Finn didn't really have any input into his room's makeover. In fact, he didn't know that he was getting a new bedroom at all - it was a birthday surprise. I ordered and shopped and collected things ahead of time (goodness, look at how on top of things I was!), then M. and I took the day of Finn's birthday off from work so that we could transform the room while he was at daycare.

In true home improvement fashion, we did our best to capture the before and after of the process, for your viewing pleasure.

Finn's Bedroom: The Before Video

Finn's Bedroom: The After Video

That same morning I frosted and decorated cupcakes I had made the night before. M. and I took them to Finn's preschool class in the afternoon, along with goody bags filled with the cheap stuff kids seem to love getting (tattoos, stickers, silly bands, lollipops, etc). Shh, don't tell him, but this was our way of getting out of throwing him an actual birthday party (eh, maybe he'll get one next year). Finn knew we were going to bring cupcakes, and apparently he was so excited that he didn't sleep during nap time. He was on cloud nine, acting like a hyper goofball and showing off for his friends while we were there. I think some of the excitement and anticipation stemmed from Finn's belief that he wouldn't actually turn 4 until he had his birthday cupcake. No amount of my explanations that the whole day was his birthday, or that technically he turned 4 at 12:30 pm since that's when he was born, shook that belief. He also managed to make a huge mess with his chocolate cupcake.

After the cupcake celebration, we headed back home with Lucy and Finn to open birthday presents. Predictably, every gift except anything clothing related was a big hit. Gotta work on those present-opening manners before Christmas rolls around, so I don't have to hear the whining when something isn't an actual toy, or feel embarrassed by his reaction. Then we brought Finn upstairs for his birthday surprise (he refused to close his eyes, though). And surprise it was - our efforts were rewarded by a very, very happy 4 year old. I guess we managed to pick the right theme after all.

Lucy entertained herself during the present-opening with a lollipop from a leftover goody bag

Wondering what his surprise might be

Seeing his new room for the first time

We capped the evening off by heading to Red Robin for an early birthday dinner - Finn's choice, he loves their kids' pizza. Yes, we went to a burger joint so he could get pizza. We let the waitstaff know it was his birthday, and they came by at the end of our meal with a team of singing servers and a big ice cream sundae. Finn hid his face into my arm and was as shy as I would have predicted, but I caught several little smiles despite the shyness - he loved it.

And, he loved the sundae (surprisingly, he was willing to share it with his sister)

Despite claiming to be too excited to go to sleep (see smile below), and avowing to look at his new room all night long, Finn managed to head off to dreamland within about 5 minutes of lights out. All in all, a pretty good day for all of us!