Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in review

2013 was our first and last full year as a family of three. In 2014, our family will grow to a family of four. Here is a quick look back at some of this year's highlights:
 Brandon learned to walk and talk (and run and climb).  
 First birthday! Brandon turns one. The cake is not a hit (with him, at least).
 We take a family trip to Kansas City. Brandon is a menace, but he's so damn cute that I can't stay mad.
 Brandon is our little deejay. He switches out CDs, turns on the iPod, and dances to "Blurred Lines."

 We visit Washington in September. We announce that Brandon is going to be a big brother.
 Brandon loves animals. He rides a pony at daycare, pets the goats at the Pumpkin Patch.
 We find out our future child is another boy! We all rejoice.
 Shortly after this costume viking hat, I buy him a knit viking hat. Brandon is adorable as a viking.
 First time trick-or-treating! He loves going from house to house.
 Brandon wins "best dressed most dapper boy ever" award (in my mind).
For the first time, we spend Christmas morning together in our own home. We're creating our own family traditions and memories. Steve and I realize we're grown ups now. No turning back.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

knee deep in creeps

Perhaps these kids aren't spaced apart quite far enough. Don't get me wrong - they're not Irish twins and they are just barely far enough apart that I don't look like one of those nuts who doesn't believe in birth control. But they will be two weeks less than two years apart. Which makes some things a bit inconvenient. Like having two kids in diapers at once. Or having to buy Brandon a bed rather than convert his crib to a toddler bed since Holden will need it.

I was shopping online tonight for this bed for Brandon. I started off tamely enough: Google Shopping, Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock. Then, I got desperate. I started trolling local eBay auctions and Craigslist. I hate Craiglist. A guy at my work posted one of our open jobs on Craigslist and asked me to call back the applicants. I refused. I wouldn't and couldn't do it. I told him he could. He didn't call them, either.

Have you heard of the Craigslist killer? Or the many other crimes of Craigslist? Looking at these pictures of disassembled beds against unfinished cement basement walls gave me the heebie jebbies. I had to get up and walk away from the computer for a few minutes to feel clean again.

"What were you doing in there?" Steve asked.
"Looking for a bed for Brandon," I answered innocently.
"Where at?" He asked.
"I started on Amazon, then ended up on eBay and Craigslist," I answered, ashamed.
"You were on auction sites?" He asked, horrified.
"Don't go there. Once you do, you're knee deep in creeps."
I agreed. I'm going to take a break from internet bed shopping for awhile. Maybe I'll check tomorrow's newspaper classifieds and see what gems I can uncover.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

3 more months

Pregnancy is getting old. This is my third pregnancy, and with each subsequent one, I grow an additional twenty pounds from the last. I think this is my last pregnancy. And not just selfishly because my body will be over 200 pounds soon, but also because I've always wanted two boys and soon I will have just that. We will wait a little while after Holden is born before coming to a firm decision, and then, snip snip.

I am the largest I've ever been, and let me tell you - it's uncomfortable. Even unfolding myself from the car is a hassle. Climbing up a flight of stairs feels equivalent to scaling a wall. Pregnancy is such a weird stage - a stage of waiting. You can dream about and make a list of "after pregnancy" to do items, but there's not much use in starting many of them while you're still pregnant (like starting to limit sweets - that won't happen).

I feel like the rest of my life will start after Holden is born. Until then, I am in a weird state of limbo. I have dreams of taking my two sons to the children's museum, the zoo, large parks. I dream of running again, of not having acid reflux anymore, of working less hours. They are dreams which can come true, but not today. Today, they are locked away in a time capsule, waiting to be opened after another season comes and goes.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Some things never change

When Steve was a child, he watched Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol every year. This year, Brandon is watching it with him. This kid won't stay put for anything other than Mickey Mouse, but somehow, he is contentedly watching Mister Magoo with his daddy.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas memories

Every year on Christmas Eve, mom would make goodies while Evie's Christmas Memories played on the graphanola. She went all out: she made no bake fudgies and fudge and stained glass windows and homemade candies. Us kids would help her in the kitchen and then dust and vacuum and scrub the toilets for the company we were going to have that night. I remember watching out the window for them to get to our house, anxiously wondering if each set of headlights belonged to their car.

We didn't see my dad's family at all really, except on Christmas Eve. I have four cousins on my dad's side, all older than us by quite a ways - they were adults before I wore a bra. It was always awkward when they first came in, and I remember looking forward to the hour or so into the evening when things loosened up and we brought out the marble board or Deanna would color with my sister and me in our room.

I would round the kitchen table time after time, gorging myself on the salty chips and sugary desserts. Mom would have a pot of apple cider with cinnamon sticks in it simmering on the stove and I would ladle myself some of that, too. Evie was still playing on the graphanola when everyone left. Then, each of us got to pick out one present we could open. We dove right for the selected presents - we had each plotted which one it would be over the past two weeks by rattling and shaking boxes and rearranging tissue paper.

When it was time to bed, my sister and I would pull out our sleeping bags and lie with our heads near the closed door. Mom and dad would peek in and we'd pretend to be asleep. Then we listened to them setting up downstairs for the next morning. We'd listen to Christmas music on the clock radio and eventually, although we didn't think we could, we would fall asleep.

I have a family of my own now and the only traditions my kids will know are the ones Steve and I create. I want them to remember fondly the hominess of the Christmas season spent with family. So this year I decided to do a small scale version of my childhood Christmas Eve on the Sunday before Christmas. I emailed my mom for the recipe to the stained glass windows I love so much. I bought all the ingredients and kept her email open on my Kindle next to the stove while the butter and chocolate chips melted.

I'm not a domestic type of woman. But yesterday, I was determined to give it a whirl. I reread my mom's instructions about a hundred times. I poured over every word as if they were instructions to land a plane and I was the pilot. I studied and analyzed each preposition (does it mean sprinkle on or should it be in?). I measured and double checked. Then, while they were hardening, I baked batch after batch of sugar cookies. The stained glass windows turned out just like my mom's.

Steve's family came over and we grazed on food and the kids played with each other. They chased each other and shrieked and giggled. They didn't want to leave. When Kylie was walking out the door, I'm nearly positive I heard her say, "this was the best day ever." I smiled, while shoving yet another stained glass window into my mouth. Just what I had hoped for: Christmas memories children will blog about someday.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

That wasn't an answer

I have always been decisive and opinionated. There are few things more obnoxious to me than an answer like, I don't care, sure, or you decide. I have always known what I like. To me, knowing what I like is the obvious answer over trying out something I might not. Of course, there are times I'm forced to try something I didn't know I liked, and then I add it to my roster. But for the most part, I don't waste my energy on trying something that could be a bust when I know I can get something I will enjoy. Some people don't get me. Most, actually. But finally, I read something by someone who gets it:

"I just don't want to have bad experiences. And I don't want you to have them, either." After four decades on this earth, time was no longer infinite to him. Those mediocre dinners and pointless films become less forgivable. In a grudging way, I suppose I admire this kind of moral absolutism, this willingness to stand one's ground despite raised eyebrows. It's better to be with a man who knows exactly what he likes than with some of the anything-goes guys of my past. The only thing more exhausting than being around someone with iron regulations is being around someone with none. It takes guts to stand by your principles, as uncool or outrageous as they may seem.
~Why is My Mother Getting a Tattoo by Jancee Dunn

As people age, they undeniably become more opinionated and decisive or "set in their ways." Sometimes younger people don't have the experience and knowledge to make wise decisions, yet. Maybe I should remember that when I get one of those indecisive non-answers. But it's hard for me to be patient with this flippant I-don't-know-any-better attitude. I don't know why everyone else takes so long to get to where I've been since I was a child. Maybe I'm precocious. This eighty-year-old woman is trapped in a thirty-year-old's body. Will all the other thirty-year-olds start acting eighty already? I'll give you a jigsaw puzzle to jump start your catch-up.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

not once bitten, but twice?

Brandon is at the biting age. Not that he's biting, but getting bitten. Which is a bit shocking to me, because I thought my kid was more the bullying type than the type to be bullied. Just this morning he stole the banana from the mild-mannered kid sitting next to him. Yet two days this week he has come home with a full dental imprint on his arm. And daycare won't tell me which kid it is that bit him. His incident report said "Brandon was standing close to Friend and Friend didn't like it."

Who the fuck is Friend? I want to know. The girl I ask won't tell me. She's tactful and diplomatic as I'm sure she was told to be. So I resort to elementary school tactics and start naming off kids. "Was it Dan?" I ask. "That kid is probably jealous that my son is so much cuter than he is." I say that or something else overly snarky about an innocent one-year-old boy. "It wasn't Dan," she answers.

"So it was Sam, then?" I press. "Sam would never bite," she answers. Which I know is bullshit, because I just spoke to Sam's dad earlier that day and he told me Sam has been biting like a vampire. This girl won't give up a name for anything. She's the kind of person you want to know if you're looking for a partner in crime. Loyal to the end. I've got to admire her commitment. I make a mental note to get her phone number later. You know, just in case.

I'm Nancy Drew and I'm on the case. If I have to, I will bring in enough plaster of Paris to get a full dental impression from each kid, then compare it to Brandon's arm the next time this happens. Steve said it best: there should be some sort of a consequence for the parents of the biting kid. "They should pay our tuition for a week," he mused. That got me thinking - $176 will certainly buy enough plaster of Paris to solve this mystery. Or, for about 20 bucks, I could probably get one of the daycare girls drunk enough to talk. I hear the bar next to the daycare makes a mean Snake Bite.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mom Goggles

First of all, I have to plug a completely underrated show. The Goldbergs. The cast is a bunch of nobodies (unless you know the daughter from X Factor and the dad from Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I don't expect any of you to watch as much TV as I do), so I don't think the show is too popular. But it's fantastic. The characters are all vastly different and entertaining in their own right. And who doesn't love a show set in the 80s?

On last night's episode, they introduced us to Mom Goggles. Which is basically like beer goggles, yet for your kids. You know, when us moms think that everything our kids do is adorable or smart or funny, even if it isn't? Yeah, that's me. I think my kid is the smartest 1-year-old in the world. Maybe he is. And maybe the reason he doesn't complete the puzzle in this picture is because he leaves to poop. That didn't make the video. Because even with my Mom Goggles on, I know some people just don't get my kid's awesomeness yet. But one day, they will.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Best dressed

I'll admit it. I take great pride in my son's appearance. My kid is not going to be the slob wearing pajamas to daycare or with snot and slobber all over his shirt. My kid is much too cute for any of that. I don't want him to get a complex already and end up living at home in my basement in 30 years. So he wears decent clothes and we gel his hair when his cowlicks are too long to lay flat without it. He is a damn fine little man.

I pick out stylish clothes for him and make sure he's not wearing conflicting colors or prints. I buy non-babyish baby clothes and stay away from pastels and the animal shit. He doesn't re-wear stained or ripped clothes. He is my dapper little boy. And today, someone commented. 20 months of life and someone finally noticed how smashing my son is! Not that I do it for the praise.

A mom at his daycare asked me where I get Brandon's clothes and said he always has the best outfits. I agreed. He does. She told me she wanted to discreetly ask if we were done having kids so she could buy some of his old clothes off of me. They're not for sale. They're for Holden. He will be just as stylish and dapper as Brandon. Not that I care whether anyone notices. Not that that comment today made my day or anything.

Quick! Someone steal my credit card before I log on to H&M or Gap and go nuts.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


We watched The Family Man the other day. I love that movie. I have a theory that that movie would be a huge hit if it had a different leading actor. If Ryan Gosling or Bradley Cooper or Jon Hamm played the lead role.  No one likes Nicholas Cage. But it is a great story nonetheless. Towards end, when Nicholas Cage is telling Téa Leoni about the life he had before he was a family man, this is how she responds:

Kate: I think about it too. I do. I wonder about what kind of life I would have had if I hadn't married you. 
Jack: And? 
Kate: Then I realize I've just erased all the things in my life that I'm sure about. You and the kids. 
Jack: Good things.

I love that. I don't know if it's natural, but being a (previously) fiercely independent woman, I sometimes wonder about if life had turned out differently. If I would be married or have kids or live in a house or be happy. And what Téa Leoni said is exactly what I know. If I didn't have Steve and Brandon and baby Holden, I wouldn't have anything solid at all. My boys are the first people I have ever felt loved me unconditionally. They know I'm stubborn and opinionated and moody. They love me despite my shortcomings. They don't only accept me as I am, they love me as I am.

My whole life I have felt pushed and prodded to be someone other than myself. To be someone different - someone that people will like and accept as normal. I always feel pressured to act more pious or diplomatic or agreeable. It all feels phony. And I've come to realize that it's hard to be anyone other than yourself. To be these different versions for different people is exhausting. It emotionally drains me and I am stressed out and anxious and frustrated as a result.  And I wish I could say I no longer have to be those other versions. But I am. So it is home where I find my solace. My boys here love me for the authentic me. They are the only things in my life that I am sure about. Good things. 

(Sureness: Middle English, from Old French, safe, from Latin securus; see secure.)