Tuesday, April 8

Male-funk-etching: an update on my life

My lil leprechauns on St. Paddy's Day
Male-funk-etching: the new DIY sensation! No, not really. Although it's a pretty apt malapropism for what being a mom to sons is like.

Notice the forehead bruise. Also, for more photos of Oliver in boxes, follow me on Instagram.
So a few weeks ago I got fired from my blog ads company for not posting enough. I was like, Up Yours! But I was also like, Yeah I Know. I'm sad that I haven't been regularly recording all the things that have been happening since becoming a mom to two; on the other hand, I've been busy being a mom to two and really enjoying it. (Note: I'm regularly active on Instagram as fiercebeagle)

Doing voices. Mom of the Year!
I started this blog when Ethan was just a few months old, and now he's six. Oliver is 16 months, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Children are the worst! (for getting older fast, and also getting pee speckles on everything) 

When I first started writing this blog, Ethan couldn't talk. Now not only does he talk with an uncanny and sometimes disconcerting vocabulary, he even formulates and executes his own pranks, the latest of which I like to call "Look at My Butt." In which he asks me to look at his butt, and I naturally do because I'm a concerned mom who's all "What's wrong with your butt?!?!" Then he literally farts directly in my face.
Both napping? This is the definition of The Best.

It feels like two weeks ago I posted my tips about [redacted: rhymes with tips; punny], a primer on breast feeding. And now Oliver...is still breast feeding, because he's a comfort nurser and a late teether. But he's also doing things like running around, climbing on everything, throwing overhand (baseballs, my phone), generally inducing near-heart failure in me daily. Oh! He also throws tantrums: rapid stomping, limp-arm flailing, squawking, screeching. He has Opinions, which is a real shame if you ask me.

Because why not.
Ethan's education is getting more complex. As a guilt gift for some recent invasive dental work he had to have done (First Child Mistake: letting your kid go to sleep with a bottle), I bought him a book I knew he'd love: an oversize tome on human anatomy. And I was right, he was thrilled with it. He's interested in the inner workings of things, and he collects spare computer parts to build "a supercomputer." Okay, then!

At the coolest dentist office ever.
While Oliver is learning about not pooping in the hall (true story; naked-baby time gone awry), Ethan is getting subtler instruction on things like obedience, the value of things, etc.

They're plotting, I can tell.
Example:

Yesterday, a rainy rainy day, I was opening the blinds and noticed Ethan's rubber boots splayed in the street just beyond our driveway. A brief line of inquiry led to the discovery that instead of bringing in his boots like he was asked, he placed them on the bumper of Noah's truck and kept playing. He also placed his semi-new light-up Spider-Man shoes back there.

Long story short, Noah found both shoes, several miles apart, a few miles from home. One appeared to have been run over. Although still more than wearable, one of Spider-Man's eyes was cracked and lights up nonstop now.

"It's male-funk-etching," Ethan noted.

That time he literally almost passed out when a loose tooth started bleeding.
When as a family we reviewed what Ethan learned from this fiasco—he's midway through a no-TV-for-three-days consequence, and he knew he'd have to contribute some of his own chore money to pay for new shoes, which is now unnecessary—our fine parenting skills were vindicated.

"Next time if I disobey," he stated, "I'll put them in the trunk."

Wednesday, January 15

Next time I'm going to write out talking points and do some trills to loosen up before dialing

Does not have an app that automatically mutes the mic when you start to sound stupid.
I'm pretty much over my talking-on-the-phone-to-strangers anxiety (now, at the age of 30—although heaven forbid I have to cancel something via telephone), but I just found myself about 15 seconds into leaving a voicemail and just completely fumbled it. I was prepared to talk to a person, where there's some back and forth and I'm not carrying the conversation on my own.

Instead: wild, verbal flailing.

Is it weirder:

1) to just stagger my way through to some sort of cobbled together end? Like, "Anyway, my next pap smear isn't until February, so just give me a call back about that retaining wall for our yard whenever you can."

Or

2) make the rewinding-a-cassette-tape noise and start again from the beginning?

Or

3) Stop, and say, "I feel like I'm veering off track here. What I really meant to say was, Hi my name is Erin and I'm inquiring about your carpentry services. Please give me a call at your first opportunity."

Or

4) hang up mid-sentence, call again, and use an alternate voice to leave a more appropriate message?

Perhaps the simple fact that I wrote this list with these options gives you some insight into how bad I am on the phone.

Edited to add: I just got a call back from the first contractor I left a message for today—the message that wasn't a total gaffe—and it was the guy's wife calling to tell me he had a heart attack and died two weeks ago. So. I'm hanging up the telephone now, literally and metaphorically.

Sunday, January 5

As a Beans' Rights Activist, I'm against the Whole30

Poor, innocent legume. Who is he hurting?
This past holiday season year, I've been...how you say...hoglike. I mentioned in my last post gaining back the 12 pregnancy pounds over the course of the year. Part of it was because I'm like, Hey I'm breastfeeding, part of it was not giving a flying fig because I'm caring for four children every weekday afternoon (mine, and my niece and nephew) so it's like whatever I can cram down the hatch in a speedy manner is aces in my book. Part of it was...no, that's all of it.

So I decided to do the Whole30 challenge. I asked Noah to join me, and since he's really good at self-shaming and flagellation, he was on board immediately. We started on January 2, thinking we could get the entire 30-day program in before the Super Bowl.

It's really not all that bad. Well, correction: the first five-ish hours were really not all that bad. Then 3 p.m. hit and I was like Why Did I Do This / This Is Stupid / I Hate This / You're Not the Boss of Me. The thing is, I didn't want candy or cookies or ice cream or whatever (although, I mean, I would have taken them). What I really wanted was a slice of whole-wheat toast with some peanut butter on it. I neeeeeded some flippin flappin carbs! And not the bad kind! But that's the thing. The Whole30 made me feel like whole-wheat toast was a bad carb, mostly because that's what they told me.

And then they're like, "It's only 30 days, don't be a wimp." Which is true, to an extent. But I also believe it's disingenuous to say that because Paleolithic Man didn't eat grains—or legumes, or dairy—that our bodies will merely go through "detox" and then be gloriously at peak performance.

Paleolithic Man, let's face it, lived a long time ago. There's been a lot of wheat and dairy up in here, and humanity seems to have done just fine on average. I might even dare to say we've come to physiologically depend on the carbs in whole grains and the proteins in milk and beans. I'd like to take this moment to add that Paleolithic Man also didn't eat ghee (which is butter with the milk proteins removed), which is an approved Whole30 food.

As soon as Noah walked through the door from work on Day 1, I began my earnest Power Point presentation outlining my problems with the program, many of them already stated above.

The life of a caveman sucked, let's be honest. I mean, that's why they became human! Look at my brow line! And while we're on the subject, do I even believe in cavemen? What if I ascribe to the Young Earth model, what does the Whole30 have to say about that? I didn't realize they were against freedom of religion in addition to the carbs. Who ever found anything wrong with challah?

I'm not totally against the notion of the Whole30. It's the teetotaling of many nutritious foods and the length of time I'm really against. With that in mind, I'm proud to say that I completed the Whole5to7hours, and I feel great!

Tuesday, December 31

2013 in review

This year, in a nutshell.

Love.

Everybody wins.




What were your highlights of 2013?

The rugrats.

My favorite hairdo of the year.

Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions? Will you make more?

I don't remember if I made any, so...yes. I kept them all. This year I want to resolve to not eat like a fatsy buns.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

My good friend Elizabeth had baby Lydia in July.

Did anyone close to you die?

A number of pet fish died in my proximity.

What countries did you visit?

I was in Nassau for approximately 20 minutes.

What would you like to have in 2014 that you didn't have in 2013?

Time to myself. A bigger living room. Vegetable plants that actually thrive. 

What dates from 2013 will be etched upon your memory, and why?

This question implies I have brain space left for numbers of any kind.

What was your biggest achievement of this year?

Hmm...creatively speaking, finishing the two quilts I started for the boys in 2012. That's like a full 70 square feet of achievement.

The smaller and far less difficult of the two quilts.
What was your biggest failure?

Probably gaining back the 12 pounds I lost after giving birth last December. Seeing as I only gained 12 pounds during the pregnancy (gestational diabetes ftw!), it's like I've been pregnant all year, weight wise.

What's the best thing you ate?

That's difficult to answer; see the previous question.

What's the best thing you bought?

Noah bought me a vintage Singer sewing machine that has revolutionized my career as a sewist. There's nothing I can do to make that sentence sound less ridiculous.



What did you get really, really, really excited about?

That sewing machine. The possibility of obtaining more space, house-wise.

What do you wish you'd done more of?

Blogging. This has been an excellent year, but I haven't documented much of it. I've been too busy/tired/content/breastfeeding to post as regularly as I want, and to flesh out the blog as a creative space for myself.




Compared to this time last year are you a) richer or poorer? b) happier or sadder? c) thinner or fatter?

a) richer
b) happier
c) fatter

Did you fall in love in 2013?

Yes, with my second son. I mean, I was there already when he was born last December, but the more time I get to spend with Oliver, the more I love him. 

What was your favorite TV program?

Call the Midwife. Watch it, I tell you!

How did you spend Christmas?

With our families, who we are fortunate enough to live close to.

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

I turned 20-10 this year, and I spent time reminiscing about my 20s with Noah, who has been my companion throughout.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2013?

"Find pants that don't constantly reveal your crack and post-baby bulge."

What kept you sane?

My church family/zoloft.

Tell me a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

Don't waste time doing things that merely fill space. Only surround yourself with people and things that have meaning to you. You'll be happier that way.

I made our costumes this year.

I was one happy pirate.

Thursday, December 5

The Best Year: Oliver turned 1!

Oliver turned one yesterday.
 

Oliver turned one yesterday.

I've now lived through the birth and first year of two sons, and I can say with authority that these are the best worst years ever. The best because of everything that happens, and the worst because so much happens too fast.

Back when I started this blog, when Ethan was just a few months old, I posted daily. Over the years my time and energy have been divided among other worthy causes, so the blog has taken a backseat. I've been busy enjoying life, doing less writing about it. Consequently, I've written less about Oliver than I did about Ethan.

Believe me, though, it's not for want of material.

Oliver has been a joy since I first saw those amazingly pouty lips. He's done almost everything sooner than Ethan did, probably because he has Ethan as an example. The one exception: teeth. Oliver still doesn't have a tooth in his head, which makes that mischievous grin of his all the more endearing.

Oliver is proof that love can be exponential when done right. It was impossible to imagine feeling the amount of love I have for Ethan for anyone else, and then Oliver was born, and I just...did.

*   *   *

He's a ridiculously happy baby. He certainly has his moments of frustration or fussiness, but they're few and far between for now.

He's a bit of a daredevil. He's adept at going up and down stairs, he loves climbing in general, and I'm thinking it's only going to get worse from here.

He snuggles. I can't imagine anything better than that little head on my shoulder, a little fluff of hair in my nose, those cheeks and lips in easy kissing range. You know you've arrived as a trusted friend when Oliver snuggles you.


He is totally enamored with Ethan. In his eyes, Ethan makes the world right. When his big brother pays him attention or picks him up (which is a recent development), he laughs out of sheer joy.


He scolds the dogs frequently, particularly my parents' dog Cooper. He's picked up on the constant pain in the neck that Cooper is, and shakes his fist and shouts "De da!" at him every time we walk into their house. Literally every time.

He knows how to say Mama (or Mamam) but rarely does. He usually reserves it for when he's in his crib and wants out, so he wails for me, "Mamamamamama! Mam! Mamam! Mam!" Naturally I always go get him, even if he really needs a nap.

He makes what I call "sad shapes" with his mouth whenever he's upset or doesn't like something (the nose gets scrunched, too, when it's displeasure rather than hurt). The top lip stretches down and the bottom one out when his heart is breaking, they get squished together and pushed out in the world's most luscious baby fish mouth when he's frustrated, etc.

*   *   *

I'll be back soon with a month-by-month Oliver photofest, the way I did with Ethan. In the meantime, I'm busy putting together goodie bags and party decorations for the far-less-stressful-than-the-first-time First Birthday Bash.

Monday, November 18

A supposedly fun thing that I'll definitely do again if it's with Disney

Remarkably good spirits for like 0 o'clock at the airport. Check out Noshember Beardy, also.
Classic. The extreme wind made for a very sloshy first night aboard the ship.
Ethan enjoying Aladdin's carpet ride at the Magic Kingdom, the day before the cruise began, because full-on Disney Vacation Club is how we roll.
The view from one of our TWO four-foot-diameter portholes. Meh.
I'd never been on a cruise before—I mean, I'd taken a day cruise in Alaska's Prince William Sound, complete with glacier ice in my Coca Cola Classic (because I was young enough that I could drink Cocoa Cola Classic without paying for it in belly fat; now, I reserve Coca Cola Classic for when I really need The Hard Stuff, such as on our flight home from vacation). So the cruise.

The chandelier in the ship's lobby.
Noah's mom had been planning a Disney cruise for all of us—her three sons, two daughters-in-law, and four grandkids—for a loooong time. Very sadly, she fell and tore a ligament about a week before the trip, was and remains hospitalized, and wasn't able to go with us. However, Noah's wonderful 17-year-old cousin, Jett, who was our ring bearer, came along in her place. And we were all perplexed and amused when on our first night cruising, the server brought out a cake and the staff sang happy birthday to Jett—Debbie's 60th birthday was listed, but Jett's name had replaced hers. So we celebrated Jett's 60th birthday, with Debbie in our hearts.

Jett feeding Oliver. Isn't he adorable? And I mean that about both of them.
Jett back in 2004, with his sister Coral, who was our flower girl.
Twas a three-night Disney cruise, stopping at Nassau and Disney's private Bahamian island, Castaway Cay. I knew almost immediately that all other cruise lines would forever be ruined for me. Guys, Disney stuff is pristine. Pristine, I tell you! Ain't no grubby handprints on the walls, ain't no rusty portholes—heck, I even saw a "cast member" sweep up an inch-long piece of string from one of the lobby's elaborately colorful plush rugs.

Too bad the food sucked. NOT! (Eventually the millenials will make that a thing again; I'm staying ahead of the curve. Remaining relevant.)


Our stateroom was large and beautiful, the staff were accommodating and friendly, the nightly shows were spectacular feats of talent, the kids were pretty well behaved as a rule. We were only diddled out of $4 on Nassau, even though we never got beyond the port (more on that in another post).

Word to the wise: after having two babies, you can only take a decent photo in a damp swim coverup if you angle yourself in really awkward ways. If you don't feel like a twit, you're doing it wrong.

Me and my dudes.
Castaway Cay was delightful, one of my favorite moments being when Ethan and I sat in a clear inner tube and paddled alone all the way out to the buoys separating the swim lagoon from the snorkeling lagoon. The water was almost crystal clear, we could see all the way to the bottom, and we floated along in the Caribbean like it was just the usual.


Still, returning home was sweet. And not just because air travel with kids is a nightmare and a half. (After about five minutes, the kids are like, "All your base are belong to us," and we're all, "Pwned.") No, the best part about being glad to be home is that even without all the luxury and the wait staff and fine cuisine (although my dad's cooking pretty much is), we're happy when we're together, peaceful in our nest.

Monday, October 28

I start all mine with the help of Prancing Flame, the pegasus


Noah, stoking the fire, using the wood and charred paper I put in there earlier that never actually caught: What are the three things you have to have to make fire?
Me: Water...
Noah: ...
Me: Not water. I don't know why I said that. Um, tinder.
Noah: Yes, but a more generic term would be...
Me: Wood.
Noah: ...fuel.
Me: Number two, oxygen.
Noah: Yes, oxygen. And finally...
Me: Electricity. The spark of Zeus. A lighting strike?
Noah: Or, heat.
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