Monday, November 30, 2009

NaBloPoMo debriefing

At the beginning of the month, I had high hopes for intertextuality. I wanted lots of hyper links to my old posts, to other blogs, to things of note on teh interwebs. And really that should have been simple-- I mean, there is a button on the top of the page that inserts links, for goodness sake. But, alas, I was too lazy most days to make the connection. Am too lazy now even to search through this month's archives for posts that used links. FAIL.

Oh! But did you read this post from Becca? Of all the great posts I read this month, "Ouch" is my absolute favorite.

My other favorite thing about NaBloPoMo was the plethora fantastic blog posts flooding my google reader everyday. In years past, I have felt overwhelmed by the volume of blogging in the month of November, but this time, I felt connected to the stream of blogsciousness. In addition to my old favorites and a blog I've recently started reading, I discovered/became a more vocal commenter on three others.

Hmm. So maybe I did find that intertextuality after all.

I am glad, too, to have documented a random month in my kids' lives and to have found time to write everyday. Next semester, I am going to use that writing time for, um, scholarship, but I'll credit the discovery process to NaBloPoMo.

I bought Tinsel: A Search for America's Christmas Present by Hank Stuever today, and I am so excited to spend some time away from my screen reading it. BUT there are some blog-worthy things in my life right now-- I am having a problem keeping my eating in check and am afraid the weight I lost last summer will creep back on, for example. Also, this little guy

who still doesn't say very much is getting evaluated by our state's early intervention program on Wednesday and will start speech therapy if he qualifies for services, so I am sure I'll be back-- needier than ever-- soon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday wrap up

Wednesday and Thursday night at my parents' house, Ben and I counted down the screamy seconds until Harry and Jack went to bed and then we immediately got silly drunk and played euchre with my dad and brothers until we fell asleep (some may say passed out). Way too fun. We cussed a lot. Said really vile things to each other. Used the phrase "suit f*cked" more times than we ever should (shouldn't probably ever say that, actually). Ben and Ben even chest bumped after each point they scored on Thursday night (right after we all ate giant plates of cold leftovers-- I had stuffing, cheesy potatoes, and chocolate cherry cheesecake, a winning combination. I looked over at Jon and assumed he was eating pumpkin pie, but he was actually devouring a triangular slab of chopped liver. No utensils. This made me happy because I was afraid our card-playing behavior was sketching out his girlfriend who was being subjected to her first Thanksgiving with my family. But if she still liked him after he licked liver off his fingers, we were totally off the hook. And I think our refusal to pretend to be nice or polite at any point in the night is a sign of how much we like her-- we already feel like she's part of the family.)

Jack and Harry were super helpful on Thanksgiving day:

Pretty table

My mom modeling the apron Bomma made her

Family portrait with Buzzes.

Poor Brae-- Harry and Jack competed for her attention and space next to her ALL NIGHT LONG. The next day, I got DVD footage of Harry saying how pretty she is.

Jack, up to no good.

Harry had this elaborate plan to pass out muffins (not intended for T-day consumption-- more of a next-day breakfast) out to everyone at the start of the meal. We tried to dissuade him, but he freaked. MUFFINS NOT OPTIONAL.

Jack climbed up on a chair and started to eat one.

then he threw a couple in his matzoh ball soup. And then our dumb asses took him out of his chair so he could help pick out his food in the buffet line, and he went apeshit and refused to get back in the chair, so Ben and I were pretty much SOL after that

The next morning, Harry demanded that my mom cook him breakfast (not like she just made a huge meal or anything)

and we continued our tradition of being awesomely polite guests by stopping by Ben's parents' house for some leftovers for lunch.

Harry modeling his new hat and gloves-- love it

the best picture of Ben EVER

Thanksgiving was fantastic. We had the best time ever eating lots of food, drinking lots of adult beverages, and playing lots of cards. Also? I am demonstrably the best euchre player in the family. Possibly in the world. Chest bump that, Bens.


Sometimes I think Harry and Jack might really be puppies.

Border collie puppies-- you know, the ones that are smart but destructive and full of nervous energy who tear crap up if they are left to their own devices.

Maybe I should crate train them

But still. When they are sleeping. Oh when they are sleeping.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Smooth Operators

The other morning, Harry woke up in a heinous mood.

He stomped into our room, yanked back my covers, and wedged his way next to me in the bed-- as is his custom at 5:45-ish everday. Then he grabbed my face in his fat hands, pulled me toward him and said "I waaaant my MILK."

"Okay," I replied, slowly sitting up. "I'll go get it for you." I am as dumb as a bucket of hair in the morning, and I would have done anything to make the whining stop. Padding downstairs to turn on the coffee, grab some milk, and jack up the heat didn't sound too out of line.

Harry burst into tears. "No!" he insisted. "I want Dada to do it. You stay here with me."

Ben groaned himself away and locked squinty eyes with me: it was shaping up tp be one of those mornings when you think you might sell your 3-year-old on the street sometime before lunch.

He cried six more times before we were even out of bed-- once because Jack had the audacity to LOOK AT HIM and TOUCH his PILLOW.

I tried a hundred things to make him happy, but he was unrelentingly terrible.

"How about a smoothie?" I asked in desperation, sure that something that lame would never work.

He closed his cryhole and said, "Sure."

He was so happy to peel the banana and dump in the blueberries that he even let Jack push the "blend" button. Jack was entranced, and the whole time the blender blended, he tried to make the same noise as the machine-- too funny (also annoying until I put the blender on "pulse"-- then it was just funny again)

Since that morning, they've eaten 3 bunches of bananas, 2.5 huge tubs of yogurt, 2 bags of frozen strawberries, 2 bags of frozen blueberries, a bag of frozen raspberries, and half a plastic-bear-ful of honey.

As you might imagine, they are very regular.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Off Roadin'

Lately whenever we go from the garage to the house, Jack points sadly at his little red car that he got for his birthday and says quietly, "Zzzzzzhhhh," which is the noise he makes when he wants to drive or ride.

But it has been too something for him to ride lately-- too late, too wet, too cold, too busy.

Finally after his nap one afternoon before we subjected both boys to a marathon shopping trip, we told Jack he could go play with his car.

Then we remembered his Batman Power Wheels motorcycle that Ben's parent's got him for his birthday and is just about the coolest toy ever

As you can see, much awesomeness ensued.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fat kid in a little suit

Thanksgiving, circa 1985-ish

My brothers and me-- I was 7; Ben was 3, and Jon was 2.

Shortly after this picture was taken, I pushed past a houseful of guests to be first in line for the Thanksgiving buffet and heaped my plate high with turkey, chopped liver, stuffing, cranberry orange relish, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole-- you get the idea. I marched into the library where the folding kids' table was set up, delighted that I didn't have to waste time talking to my brothers or any guests, plopped both my plate and my fat little self down on the bench, shot my cuffs, picked up my fork, opened my mouth, and raised a heavy, quivering bite of buttered roll and gravy-drenched meat to my eager lips. And then the table collapsed under the weight of me and my leaning tower of flesh and carbs.

Happy Thanksgiving. May you eat like no one's watching.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jack: A Healthy Eater

I just signed Mr. Healthyeater up for one morning a week of nursery school at Harry's school. There's a cute little classroom for kids ages 18 month to 2.5 years-- mostly siblings of kids enrolled in the real school. It's a really great transition into the school's 2 year-old-program (the same one that Harry loved last year).

I almost didn't sign Jack up because he takes a morning nap with me at home while Harry is in school, and the "class" he'll be in is going to actually cut into my me-time. How selfish am I? Still, all the other parents couldn't say enough great things about the program, so I went for it. I actually had some stress-induced nightmares about the sign-up process because there are only 8 spots, and you had to call (or wait in line) at 9 this morning. I called from the elliptical, you know, since I was sweating anyway.

Jack is very excited to go to school. Every time I tell him he s going to school, in fact, he runs to get his coat. I say "in January," and he looks at me blankly. Silly babies. They have no sense of time.

All of the crap Jack is eating in these pictures is organic and has no yucky chemicals or preservatives, if that makes his chocolaty diet any better.

School for my little frozen bon-bon eater. Who knew?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The best DIY pedicure!

Once sandal season is over, I hate getting pedicures at salons. Not because I hide my feet all winter. On the contrary-- I typically wear Uggs sans socks and spend my days barefoot inside. Also, thanks to Little Gym, I have to bare my feet once a week in front of others. I could just wear socks, but I LIKE to have pretty feet. I dislike salons because I have to wait so damn long for my nails to dry OR wear flip flops and freeze my toes off.

Also it's hard to find the TIME to go to the salon-- I am sure I squander way more time than it takes to have my nails done each week, but for some reason, salon pedis just feel like they take FOREVER. And when I have a babysitter, I feel like I should, you know, go to work.

So I have perfected the art of the DIY pedicure in 10 easy steps.

1. Be a multi-tasker and do the prep work of trimming and filing your nails, removing old nail polish, applying cuticle oil, etc. while you're dealing with the kids, since this part isn't really fun anyway.
2. When you have 20 or 30 minutes to yourself, grab some magazines and your iPod, a bottle of baby oil,the $2 Walgreens knock-off of St. Ives Apricot Scrub (which is murder on your face by absolutely perfect for sloughing the dead skin off your feet), a pumice stone, a foot file, a nail file, a bottle of lotion (I like something pepperminty), one of these little metal tools with the tiny little scoop thing on the end that roughs up the surface of your nails and pushes back your cuticles, OPI nail polish (the BEST stuff out there), an express dry topcoat (I like the $.99 Wet'n Wild version), a large glass of wine, and some towels.
3. Sit on the edge of your tub and soak your feet in the hottest water you can stand. Squirt a crapload of baby oil into the water. Read your mags and listen to your music for at least 20 minutes. Also drink your wine.
4. Scrub, file, and pumice the heck out of your feet, paying special attention to the bottom of your big toes, your heels, the sides of your feet, and anywhere else that gets dry.
5. Pat your feet dry and liberally apply lotion
6. Use the cuticle/nail rougher thing
7. Apply 2 coats of OPI polish and one coat of clear. Make a mess-- it does not matter how good your nails look at this point. There can be globs of polish in your cuticles, polish rubbing off on the sides of your toes, polish on your skin-- whatev.
8. Let the whole mess dry. I usually let it dry overnight and make sure I paint my nails at least 2 hours before bed to prevent any sheet imprints in the polish.
9. Next time you take a shower, use your thumbnails to scrape off any excess polish. Not only will this clean up your bad paint job, but it will make your cuticles look totally fabulous, which gives the DIY pedicure a salon-pro look.
10. Use the apricot scrub and the pumice stone in the shower everyday to maintain smoothness for the just-left-the-manicurist's-chair look that lasts the life of your paint job.

So cheap! So relaxing!
What about you? Any great beauty-on-the-fly tips to share?

Here are Harry and Jack clowning around campus on Sunday:

Monday, November 23, 2009

On (not) losing it

Yesterday was a red letter day. Yesterday, Ben had a speech tournament on campus, and I was home with the kids all. day. long. He left before they woke up and came home after Jack went to bed, and I took them to the grocery store, and made them 3 hot meals, and played with them all. day. long.

I know what you're thinking: this is a red letter day? She wants a medal for this? I do this everyday!

Yes, I know, totally mundane, and I do it most days of the week, too (although Ben usually is home for the morning scramble and the bedtime routine). But yesterday was different. Yesterday, there was NO YELLING, no timeouts, not threats to take away toys, and no toy confiscation.

In short, I kept my shit together all day.

They were shocked.

Not really shocked-- I mean it's not like I am usually a raging shrew or something, but we all had a much more fun day because I lowered my expectations.

Like the expectation that they would get dressed at a reasonable time.

Or that I could get them both in the frame without using the flash

Mostly, though, I let go of the idea that they would play nice, that we'd have fun all day, that my day would be enjoyable and relaxing every second, that I'd be able to clean the house etc.

3 is an interesting age. Harry is so smart and funny but also such a defiant little pain in the ass. I have begun over the past couple of weeks to think that the problem might lie with me and my expectations of his behavior. When he acts out or refuses to listen or is especially annoying, it usually corresponds to my own bad mood, to being yelled at or threatened with toy removal, etc. So I have been trying really hard to not let things escalate at all. I have been using humor to jolly him out of a case of the crabbies even when I want to yell at him for being such an annoying whiner. Instead of asking him to do something that he is just not going to do (pick up the giant mound of blocks in the middle of the room, go get his own cup if he wants a refill, stop jumping off my bed-- things that have in the past devolved into awful power struggles where I end up yelling and Harry ends up acting more and more frantically annoying), we do it together from the start.

When he screams this loud, ugly, earsplitting scream every time Jack looks at his toys (and he does this-- or did it-- a lot), my first impulse that I usually gave into was to yell, "Stop screaming!" Ironic, huh? I have found (and this is not rocket science, so feel free to roll your eyes out of your head) that a nice, pleasant, "Use your words," actually works better! He calms the fuck down and asks Jack really nicely to go away and leave him alone, and JACK DOES.

Sometimes my first response is to yell, and I have to bite the inside of my mouth or take a huge, deep breath. Sometimes my knee jerk reaction is a timeout , but really? I think timeouts are ineffective as a punitive thing and better as a time for calm reflection and getting your shit back together. So I take them for myself-- I put the gate up at the entrance to the boy' room and brew a cup of coffee an drink a few sips of it and just chill the heck out until my 5-minute timer goes off.

I am not perfect-- far, far, far from it, so far that perfect is all the way across the map, so far away that with my paralyzing fear of flying, I know I'll never get there.

There are all these articles going around about how yelling is the new spanking. It's totally taboo to spank, so parents yell instead, is the argument (which I think is flawed on several levels). We are a no-physical punishment house, but we have also seen how ineffective timeouts, yelling, and threats can be. These new anti-yelling articles claim that yelling causes irreparable damage to a child's psyche, and this is probably overstated as well. And all of these articles are written by medical men whose children are probably being cared for at home by their wives while they luxuriate in their child-rearing expertise. And is there yelling in these homes? I don't know, and neither do the guys who wrote the articles, probably because THEY"RE NOT THERE dealing with small obnoxious children all damn day. Reminds me of a story a women's studies professor used to tell about being a neighbor of John Rawls, who hung out in his office writing about justice as fairness while his wife did the work of raising a passel of Rawlsians, instilling them with the tools to build the comprehensive moral doctrines Rawls theorized.

Anywho, it's been about a month of looking at parenting differently, and I credit the introspection provided by NaBloPoMo for a jump start. I'm actually really proud of myself because I have been seeing the beauty and the comedy in almost every moment. Like yesterday at the grocery store when Harry head butted me so hard in my down-theres I almost puked. How lovely. How funny. How droll. I have being trying to be a better, more fun, more patient mom. There's been a lot less yelling, more laughter, less behavior problems, and more silliness all around.

Baby steps.
And if I am going to go apoplectic with rage, foaming at the mouth and screaming obscenities while the veins in my neck and temples bulge (an exaggeration), it's when I am getting them dressed or when we're trying to leave the house with all of outr stuff. Any tips?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Behind Jack's scenes

Ever since the boys got their winter drippy nose (oh shut up! like your kids NEVER have seasonal runny nose and gross slime coming out of their faces and a little cough and NO THEY ARE NOT SICK and yes maybe if I stayed home full time they'd be less germy but probably NOT since they have a nanny, go to the gym playroom, and one of them is in school, so it's just a WINTER RUNNY NOSE) (yes, I am a little annoyed about the constant snot. Maybe a wee bit defensive, too). (I guess if I stayed home, stashed an elliptical in the living room, home schooled, and never let them out of their plastic bubbles they'd avoid the drip.) (zOMG! The Boy in the Bubble! Remember that movie?? Terrible, just terrible.)

Anywho, ever since he got a runny nose a while back, Jack has been in love with the tissue box, and he attempts this dangerous climb about 2600 times a day.

note the supah classy storage of Harry's potty seat-- that's where it GOES, people.

Then he falls down once he makes it to the carpet

and looks surprised every time

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Guest Blog by Forrest Gump

I call this picture playing with toothbrushes.

Because they are paying with toothbrushes.

That's all I got to say about that.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lots of cussing, or Ben told me so, or Fuck it! As long as we're bedraggled and bleeding at the mall in our PJs, let's take a picture with Santa

It's odd that I don't cuss on this blog because if you know me in real life, you know that I have a mouth like a sailor. I just kind of feel like not everyone who reads this blog like swearing. Also Ben told me not to because it sounds trashy.

But today, I say fuck that because my experience at Picture People yesterday? Holy shitballs, it was fucking terrible.

Gather round the interwebs, my lovelies, and I will make liberal use of the f word and tell you all about my Chrismukkah card experience, which should make the card more special when it arrives in your mailbox or when I scan it and post it when I have run out things to say this month.

So, we had two perfectly nice candidates for Chrismukkah card pictures. A really cute one of the boys sitting back-to-back that I fucking forgot to upload before I went to the office, so you won't be able to see it because my laziness is the reason for this whole damn mess that is about to unfold. And this one:

This picture is scanned and whenever I tried to drop it in a cute little card on Shutterfly, it looked like total shit because of all the dust on my scanner and because it is also blurry. Also? None of us looks like that anymore because we have all changed our hair. And Woody is not part of the family, even though he thinks he is.

So, we decided on the cute picture of Harry and Jack, and I jumped on the Picture People's website to make a card.

Only you can't make a card online at Picture People.

So I wrote down the photo number and called the store, thinking I could just order on the phone.

Except you can't order pictures on the phone at Picture People.

So I made an appointment for a time when Jamie would be watching Harry and Jack, so I could drive 35 minutes to the other side of town and view my old pictures at Picture People and make some Chrismukkah cards. I was really annoyed that you can't use any coupons on previous sittings, so I'd have to pay full price for my cards (paying full price for that shit really makes me mad-- part of the reason I even like Picture People is the silly amount of coupons they send to my email).

Only I forgot that Jamie had to take the GRE this week and wouldn't be baby sitting during the time I was supposed to be making my Chrismukkah card.

So I decided that since I had to take the boys with me, I should dress them in snowman jammies, bring along milk, cookies, and my adorable Crate and Barrel snowman plates and mugs, and stage a scene where they pretend to drink Santa's milk and cookies and come up with a delightfully smart ass caption for my card. I mean, as long as I had to drag them with me, why not make some special memories and an even better card??

Apparently, I forgot a few other things as well: my common sense, that it's not even Thanksgiving and there was no need to rush into making a card, that Harry and Jack apparently hate to have their pictures taken and freak the fuck out every time we try, that I would be wrangling them solo, that my Crate and Barrel winterware would definitely get broken, that chain store photographers are trained to catch only certain moments and would surely miss all the cutest smiles and silliest faces, that the old picture was actually perfect because getting 2 kids to smile at the camera at the same time is a bona fide Chrismukkah miracle.

Ben remembered all of those things, though. He even told me about them. The asshole.

Bu I would not be dissuaded and once I set out to check our card off my to-do list, it became an obsession, and I couldn't think of anything else until it was done. I didn't even enjoy the Biggest Loser-- that's how preoccupied I was.

Harry was stoked when I picked him up from school and changed him into his PJ's-- he even accosted his Spanish teacher in the hall to learn the spanish word for them and he delighted in how much his Uggs look like slippers. They both slept the whole way there and were delightful as we pulled into the parking lot and they serendipitously awoke. Harry even broke into an a cappella rendition of "Jingle Bells" on our way through the food court, and jack clapped his appreciation. The moment the double stroller wheels crossed the Picture People threshold, though, shit went down.

We waited for 20 minutes before the "photog" was ready even though we were the only people in the store.

Harry at 8 cookies at the very beginning of the shoot and spent the rest of the time twitching from the sugar rush and acting out some elaborate game where we has santa marching like a dinosaur.

Jack never once looked at the camera and broke a snowman plate right away.

The "photographer" missed about 64 awesome shots because they weren't Picture People approved poses.

Then we waited for another hour after the pictures while the women working at the store tried to upload them to the computer. An hour. During which time Jack popped a balloon with his sharp fingers and made every child in a 3 store radius cry.

The highlight of our wait was when a woman came in to view pictures of her 6 week old and 3 year old and burst into loud, hiccuping tears because there wasn't a good shot of her boys together. I totally judged her and thought "Dude, baby blues much?" until it was my turn and all of our pictures sucked.

I didn't cry, but when the girl helping me told me Chrismukkah was not an option, and I had to choose between Christmas and Holidays, I said, "I can't stand this another minute," and took my double stroller full of screaming kids to the rainy parking lot, where I struggled to push it in a straight line and called Ben to scream at him for being right.

He suggested that I go back inside. The asshole.

I did.

The girl was not surprised to see me, and she let me bypass the part of the sales pitch where they bring out all these silly framed pictures (which I usually TOTALLY buy but had no patience for yesterday). When I told her what I wanted the caption of the card to be, she looked at me blankly and then typed in a really lame and inappropriately capitalized greeting. I went with it because the kids were screaming so loudly and I looked at them to threaten their lives if they didn't shut the hell up (NICELY, though) and noticed Harry had blood all over his face.

The counter girl noticed, too, and said, "Do you want a bandaid?"

At the mention of the word bandaid (of which he is terrified because to him they connote grave injury), Harry burst into hysterical, inconsolable tears. So I just got the fuck out of the store and waited for the cards to print-- which is why the caption is so inane.

I tried to convince the kids to put their fucking clothes on-- you know, because we were at the MALL-- but they were just scratching and wailing, so I figured fuck it-- let's go see Santa and get some H1N1 from his filthy beard and suit.

The Big Guy made the afternoon merry in an instant:

I am sure in a few years, I will have forgotten the staged PJ picture and will wonder why my bloody preschooler and his smiling little brother were at the mall in their jammies and shoes. I'll tell you why-- because we are CLASSY.

Jack doesn't look dangerous, does he?

But he is! Look at Harry's face!!

I collapsed on the bed among the clean laundry and let the children run wild for a few hours when we got home. Clearly, they had a blast.