Thursday, July 30, 2009

Balancing Act

When Ben picked me up at BlogHer (curbside service-- he also dropped me off-- love that guy), we spent a crabby half an hour running around the hotel searching for a bellman, someplace to buy milk, and a changing table. Then we valeted the car and walked around Michigan Avenue with Harry and Jack. We fed them lunch at Potbelly (because they are only barely mall food court material, and we couldn't bear the thought of dealing with them at an actual restaurant) and took them to the park to check out the giant bean.
Ben rocks the Vera Bradley bag, huh?

Harry wanted to pose in the flowers, which cracked me up. Probably because he always gets his picture taken against the cheesy spring flower backdrop at the mall photo place we use-- it just seemed like a natural place to pose.

Total tourists.

I'm kind of hoping neither Harry nor Jack gets my big butter paddle front teeth. Yikes. But still, I kind of like this picture.

We drove home after the park, the kids nicely unconscious in the backseat, and we went straight to a pizza place on the lake, deciding to try our luck at a sit-down restaurant.
This picture and about forty others just like it was taken outside the restaurant where screamy Jack and I hung out(after twice trying to come back in the restaurant and rejoin the rest of the family) while Harry and Ben ate. And ate. And ate. And had refills on their wine.

Ben thought I would come back inside. I thought Ben would call and tell me we should switch when he was done eating. We both thought the other person was an idiot, and we fought for the next 8-ish hours because at the end of the day, we are BOTH grudge holding assholes. But now that I think about it, Ben's argument sounds more rational. I will so regret ever typing that.

We have been ridiculously busy these days. Traveling on the weekends. Working long hours. Generally getting our asses kicked by a new StudyBlue launch and summer school. Steeling ourselves for the fall when I'll be working a real job for the first time ever (or at least since I used to work at the mall after I graduated from undergrad).

One new policy we have instituted that has changed our lives for the better? We write our menu for the week (including side dishes) on the fridge on Sunday, and every night after the kids go to bed, we cook dinner for the next night. It cuts into "sitting on our asses and staring at the TV and our Macs" time and it has caused us to drink more wine. But it's also allowed us to cut out takeout entirely, has reintroduced us to real preservative-free, unprocessed, chemical-free(ish) food, increased our daily vegetable intake 3 fold, and has made the burden of feeding the family a completely equal one. As a result, we've both been able to work a little later, but we have dinner on the table within moments of walking in the door and getting mobbed by the kids.

Also, chicken taco meat tastes better when it has a day to soak in its Old El Paso flavored juices.

Anybody have any tips for keeping our crap together when we're both working this fall?

Still broken. Still funny.*

Ben is at the plastic surgeon no doubt ogling giant fake boobs in the waiting room and hoping against hope that someone is there for her post-op check up and will give him a feel or a peep.

I am on my way to class, where we are going to have a scintillating conversation about this blog post about abortion and national health care. Feel free to comment in my comments about the issue if you read it and have thoughts.

Also on tap for today's discussion? OctoMom. I love my job, and I love talking about these things with really smart kids.

How creepy is this picture, by the way? Also, if you click it and embiggen, you may notice that Ben's nose is a teen, weeny, little, itty bit crooked. That's because he's broken it like 3 other times (once since we've been married in a slightly too-rough version of bone ball, once as a kid playing basketball, and once in gym class when he got smashed with a badminton racket), but last night's face kick? Really knocked it off center.

Something else you will notice? That creepy street performer gave my kid his creepy street performing gun.

* you know who doesn't think this whole thing is funny? our moms. sweet, huh?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Tonight, I was cleaning the kitchen like always and heard Ben, Harry, and Jack screaming with laughter upstairs, like always. There were a few ominous thuds, but those, too, are part of our nightly routine. I came upstairs struggling under the weight of my huge work bag and the vacuum cleaner, Jack's night time bottle wedged under my chin. Ben met me at the top of the stairs, and I thought he was there to relieve me of my burdens and open the baby gate, but Harry accosted me before Ben could make his move and screamed, "Daddy's bleeding!"

I looked at Ben and noticed that his eyes were watering and that he appeared to be looking at me with a sidelong gaze. Except his head was facing forward.

"Why are you crooked?" I asked.

"By bose," he creaked. "I thibk Harry b-r-o-k-e by n-o-s-e."

"Why are you spelling?" I asked.

"Because," he said. "I dob't wabt to bake hib feel bad. We were just playing."

They were playing Harry and Daddy, where Harry is Daddy and Ben is Harry. Harry-as-Daddy had just requested wine. Ben-as-Harry offered to procure it, and Harry broke character (and Ben's nose) by refusing the offer with giggles, a chortled "I can't have wine!" and flailing legs.

To my credit, I waited until Ben left for the doctor's office before I laughed so hard I cried. Harry saw my watery eyes and asked if he broke me, too. Then he kicked Jack during a pre-bath wrestling match and screamed so loud I heard him over the vacuum that he broke the baby.

Luckily, no one was broken during the filming of all-cousin-pool time on Friday

As usual, Jack avoided the pool. He hates water so much I sometimes think he's rabid.

Look! It's a mini-Jen and a mini-Ben in a mini-house. How teeny and adorable.

While I was blogging it up on Friday, Ben and his mom took the kids to see their great grandma.

I love this picture because I can tell how freaking annoyed and blotchy (Ben gets blotchy when he's unsettled) Ben is. Sure enough, I asked him, and he said Jack would not get off that swing, but he looked like he was going to fall off any moment. If I were there, we would have totally had a fight because I would have been like, "What's wrong?" and he'd say, "Nothing." So I'd say, "No really, what is it?" and he'd say with a little more feeling, "Nothing!" I'd be all, "But you're making a face like something's wrong," and he'd scream, "God Damnit! Nothing's wrong!"

Okay-- Ben's home with a puffy, crooked nose and a semi-black eye and an appointment to see an ENT for a "reset" tomorrow. Awesome.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

BlogHer 09

As an academic, I have been to my fair share of conferences, and BlogHer was sort of like those-- lots of people with name tags and free tote bags, swag from vendors hanging out in an exhibit hall, lots of hotel coffee, panels to attend during the day. But the people were mostly women and lots of them wore babies and almost none of them were wearing suits. The free tote bags came with Anne Taylor USB drives (ha!), and my vendor swag included play-doh and a vibrator.

The panels were different, too. Not so much on the expert presentations-- more like conversations privileging experiential knowledge and revolving around audience Q&A. This was one part refreshing and one part excruciatingly annoying because it was sort of like following a mess of Twitter feeds only in person and with someone slightly too self-important wielding a mic.

Even though this blog is totally about me and my kids I had to opt out of the Strawberry-Shortcake-sponsored "mommyblogging" track after just one panel (although I did get Strawberry dolls for the kids and she totally smells the same way she did in 1983 which was almost strong enough to cover the smell of Jack's poop in the car on the way home but not quite and we had to change him at an oasis. Yuck) because it was just, um, not for me. And then I felt like a total asshole for not wanting to identify with the mommy bloggers until I noticed that all the big important mommy bloggers I read were participating in other panels on other tracks and were not caught up in the strawberry scented mommy track, either.

I really came to BlogHer because I wanted to meet my blog friends in real life, and I had so much fun with Becca, Sarah, and Amy.

It was great to room with other bloggers who were happy to spend a little quiet time with our laptops after fun nights of parties. I didn't have to hide the amount of time I spend online, and we could all geek out together.

It was also really fun to just gawk at the whole mess-- the velvet rope party to which my RSVP was lost (I pouted while my friends went in and then went to the bar for a ginormous bloody mary and had a great time at the party next door which had free booze, cookies, and a chocolate fountain), the super famous bloggers (some drunk on their own notoriety, the rest just drunk), all the preshus little babies in slings, the fashion choices, and a shirtless Carson Kressly.

I was a little surprised to see this asshole, though

We went out to dinner with Amy's super cool friends on Thursday and it was so fun to be able to cuss a lot and not have to cut up anybody's meat but my own-- also to have a cheese platter that did not include anything made by Kraft.

Sarah, Becca, and I were so jazzed to see Thomas

Not only did we go back to our room to upload and tag Facebook pictures after the parties (zOMG we are awesome),

we also took 8th grade slumber party-esque pictures of each other

and ordered room service dessert that we photographed before eating.

And then the next day, we went to panels and exchanged bogger business cards, and walked around the city and got dressed to go to MORE PARTIES (including the one that I couldn't get into).

WTF is up with my face here? How awesomely coordinated are we, by the way? I also had on turquoise shoes, just to complete the tableau.

Love this. Moments after these pictures, we entered a twitter-run best legs contest. Vodka lemonade, anyone?

A super fun weekend all around. Not sure about the actual conference or the pretty nasty politics of the blogosphere, but meeting these fabulous women I have been reading for years? Worth it a million times over!

And now my carriage is a pumpkin and I am elbow deep in someone's else's crap again, but it was a lovely 48 hours in fantasy land.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Next spring, when the summer timetable comes out, and I start talking about what session I want to teach, remind me that I do not want to teach any sessions. Remind me that even though my class can actually be about my research passion (way more hot and heavy than a research interest) that even though my students will be brilliant and talkative and able to help me see oft-read primary texts with fresh eyes, that even though the sessions are short, I DO NOT WANT to teach in the summer.

Because summers are for pancakes with faces and popsicles

and road trips where someone asks if he is there fifty nine hundred times and then passes out about the time you need to stop to pee.

Summer is for checking the cellulite on the back of your legs compulsively before loading up seven tote bags of stuff to go to the pool (only to get there, watch some kid crap in the water, and have the whole park close for the day while your preschooler asks repeatedly why someone pooped in the pool and maintains this line of questioning for 3 days at east).

It's for barbecues, Summer Shandy, ill-advised white jeans, and layers of sunscreen that you hope will make up for the years of baby oil and 8-hours days at the pool when you were a kid (not life guarding. just lounging. and charging lots of food and drinks for you and your friends on your parents' account.)

This summer? Is for BLOGHER!!! I am so exited, and I promise lots of pictures-- more than you want, even.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A man of few words

It's no secret that I am crazy in love with jack. His sweet-smelling sleep, soft milk breath, toothy smile, stompy walk, old man hairline, and cute little cackle are the reason we will have 3 or maybe even 4 kids instead of just Harry and Jack. He's that cute. I think he's smart, too, although I can't be totally sure because he hardly talks. I remember waiting for Harry to start talking--and I know that he said a lot more at 15 months than Jack does-- and being so relieved when he acquired language so efficiently. I knew that he was normal, you know?

Jack can identify all of his facial features and some body parts, and he can do anything you ask him to-- he can even follow 3-step directions without a problem. Last week at Little Gym, he sat down on the floor just inside the door and stripped off his own shoes and socks. When we went into the gym, the teacher had hidden the bells that the babies ring to start class under a pile of scarves. He asked the babies to look for the bells, and Jack was the only kid who did-- he ran right to the scarves and threw them aside. When he found the bells, he started handing them out to his classmates. It was adorable.

But still, no talking to speak of. If he wants to hear music, he points to the iPod and requests "mu." He can say the usual baby words-- dada, mama, baba, night night, bye bye, no no, yeah. He says Jack and Har, and he points at the door and barks out. He also calls his dinner yum yum, and he asks for a hat by smacking his head and saying ha.

Hmmm. Maybe he talks better than I think. (Also, the way he nods his head yes is the best thing ever-- very slow and emphatic-- like when I asked him if he wanted cold pizza on Sunday morning, and he nodded his head off as he ran to his high chair.

Mostly though, he points.

Here he's saying holy shit there's a giant lion RIGHT THERE!

Do you freaking idiots really think I'm big enough to slide by myself?




Wumpy flappy. Snurp.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kid Pics. Lots. Good ones.

We stayed with my parents this weekend because Ben went to St. Louis with his friend Eric for debauchery and baseball. I have a totally scintillating week of posts and pictures about it, so get excited. Most people are trying to make their blogs like super awesome this week so that when they meet people at BlogHer who will be clicking on their blogs for the first time, their blogs look super awesome and, like, interesting. Not me.

The other night, my dad and I took the kids to the park (and my brother Ben met us there right after we almost killed Jack by sending him down a covered twisty slide he was wayyyyyy to small for-- he bashed his forehead like 6 times as he tumbled down the tube-- and then lost Harry for a couple of minutes). My dad has a fancy camera, so he took some really great pictures. Wanna see?
Harry WOULD.NOT.WALK from the car to the playground

Jack before the goose egg and the fall that temporarily destroyed his balance. Oops.

Harry had a really sweaty and excellent time

Jack still loved slides after his ordeal.

His love of my sunglasses has been well documented, but I couldn't resist

Lots of geese live around the lagoon, and Harry COULD.NOT.STOP walking in goose crap. So Ben had to carry him. Moments before these pictures, Harry dropped a blue snow cone on Ben's head.

Baby jail

Harry played with this little 6-year-old girl for quite some time. He was listening so intently to her. Turns out he was listening to her say the word "butthole" which might be the funniest and most versatile word he's ever heard. Classy.