Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My daughter the documentarian

interview with a potty In most unfortunate timing, I have two big freelance jobs to do this week--just at the moment when I desperately want to catch up on all the posts calling my name from Bloglines and go visit all the new people I met this weekend. It will be a few days, but I promise I will catch up soon.

In the meantime, please enjoy this video Jo made. She's not afraid to ask the hard-hitting questions.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The first, last, and only 8 things I am going to say about Blogher

take me seriously pleasePhoto by Kari (who wins the award for best promo swag). Like my sticker? Very professional, right?

1. I saw Amy Sedaris. So that brings my Sedaris family count to two. Only 4 siblings to go! (Note to Jenny: It's just a platonic thing with me and Amy. Don't hurt me.)

2. Butterball Turkey was a sponsor so in the exhibitor area, they had a platter set up with a fully cooked and stuffed turkey on it. It looked really real. I think it was real. But they never carved it. It was just for atmosphere.

3. I learned how to tweak my template a bit (bye bye pink background) and I'm going to do some more.

4. As ever there was quite the discussion about blog ads and whether or not they are kosher, especially on mom blogs. So I'll warn you now that shortly, I'll be running BlogHer Ads. I really like their ad network because it helps spread the traffic wealth. I know I won't make more than a few pennies off the ads but I like the idea of putting my post titles out there as a way to attract new readers.

5. I'm pretty sure the W Lakeshore has never had so many babies in residence.

6. I brought my kids souvenirs from Bubba Gump's. Is that bad?

7. My copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is still not here yet. I really thought it would arrive while I was gone. I'm not sure how much longer I can avoid spoilers.

8. I got to spend a lot of QT with some people, a little QT with many more, met some new people whose blogs I can't wait to check out, and missed a few altogether (oh One plus Two where were you? but thank you for writing such a lovely post about how it feels to be there).

So that's it. You can spot me on Flickr but don't believe a word of what Prescott says here. I actually could barely eke out the MJ tune. (It turns out that ABC is not as easy as 123). I did way better with the B-52's.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


This is my 250th post. I let my one-year anniversary and my 100th post pass unnoticed, I think because they didn't seem worthy of the occasion. But 250 strikes me as a nice big number. And with BlogHer starting today, I'm about to go all reflective on you.

I started blogging because I'd been hooked on reading blogs for a long time. Once I learned that my friend Julie had taken the plunge (boy, did she ever!) I had to get in too. I had once hesitated because I thought that to be worth anyone's time, my blog would have to be hysterically funny or super-opinionated, or that I'd have to have some kind of incredibly dramatic story arc going on, but I couldn't resist any longer. I wanted in on the party!

I don't think I am or have any of those things (at least not on a regular basis). But somehow I've found almost 250 things to say.

  • The one with the most comments: my recent third-kid angst post
  • The one time I tried fiction: with so-so results
  • The one that gets the most Google hits: actually from the photo tag, if you can believe it
  • The one that's about ice-fishing: part 1, and a brief follow-up
  • The one that maybe you haven't read that I particularly like: a mommyblog moment
  • The one where you make me laugh, a lot: superior monkeys!
  • The one with the goofy penguin picture: and one of the few places where you can see my face
If you've been reading, thanks. If you're new, I hope you'll come back again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Don't be sad if you're not going to BlogHer

tree climbing dudeBe sad because you're not going where my sister is going this weekend: To the annual meeting of the International Society of Arboriculture.

First of all, it's in Honolulu. Better yet, it's the scene of the International Tree-Climbing Championship. She'll get to see the head-to-head secured footlock race, the aerial rescue competition (during which, she tells me, participants can earn extra style points by shouting encouraging words to their imperiled dummies--"I'm coming for you, buddy! Hang on!"), the work climb, and more.

Oh, and my brother? He's in the Italian Alps right now. But I'm not so jealous of him because he's seeing everything from the seat of his bike (and through the flaps of a tent). That's not really how I roll.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Down at the Feed & Seed

Given/received among the neighbors this weekend:

  • 2 plates homemade beignets
  • 2 bottles homemade beer
  • 2 Fla-vor-ices
  • 1 cigar (that was from Vern to Jeff even after Jeff accidentally aimed a sprinkler right into Vern's window)
  • 1 escaped dog
Yes. It's awfully nice to have good neighbors. It's too bad that once the deep freeze hits, we go weeks without seeing or speaking to each other. Then again, maybe that's why we're extra-friendly in the summer. 'Cause we know that in the winter we can keep all our beignets to ourselves.

Friday, July 20, 2007

That fresh-from-the-dentist feeling

Remember that line, designed to sell toothpaste? I had a cleaning yesterday. To me, "fresh from the dentist" means "sore, pale, slobbery, and partially numb." Not a feeling I try to replicate on a regular basis.

Also noticed while in the chair: The Cure on an easy listening station. Oh god I am officially OLD.

Moving on. I was about to write a whiny post on clutter and how annoying it is and how I am seriously considering a ban on All Horizontal Surfaces just to try to stem the tide.

Then I walked into the basement and found the Leaning Tower of Dog Poo, presumbly left there to help me Get Some Perspective, Sister. I have never seen so much crap in my life and I can't believe it all came out of one 40-lb dog. I think she must have recruited some friends to contribute to the cause.

Ahem. Anyway. Thank you all very much for your very kind and supportive comments on my last post. As I replied to a few of you, I haven't given up on this entirely. Although I may have to wait to reopen the subject until well after my husband's solo weekend with the kids while I'm at Blogher.

Speaking of which, let me give you a few tips, in the spirit of BlogMe07: I currently live in a state which could earn you 5 points. I have a white cell phone (10 points). I have two first names, each of which could earn you 15 points. My shoe size is 6.

{insert final segue here. As an aside, here's a hilarious factoid about my dad. His new favorite thing to do when he's on a trip is a Segway tour. Ladies, I think a picture of a blogger on a Segway would trump just about anything else, am I right?}

Recently one of the big companies in our area decided to stop its charitable giving to arts organizations. This is a devastating blow to many small arts groups who depend on a bit of corporate generosity to make ends meet every year. Since we are a family who loves art, music, and theater, I'd been thinking about ways we can help. Then the Parent Bloggers Network came to the rescue telling me about iBakeSale--basically a way to earn cash-back rewards from online purchases and steer them toward a favorite charity (or your own savings fund, which you can designate for college tuition or a spa weekend away with the girls--it's up to you).

So I'm going to pick a local group and direct my pennies their way. I hope it will help. If you want to set up your own virtual bake sale, click over to PBN to find out how.

And remember, on Fridays I'm in love. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pink, blue, and very, very green

This news--this surprising, exciting news--makes me desperately jealous.

Please know that this doesn’t diminish the happiness I feel for Julie and her family, and the hope that the pregnancy, birth, and beyond are smooth sailing for them all. Please know that I am deeply, humbly grateful for the babies I have; I know there are many others out there who would be thrilled beyond measure with two healthy children. Or who are very happy with their tight-knit mom/dad/one kid trio.

But every time I learn of a new pregnancy, that splinter of envy grows, until it becomes a sharp, jagged shard I can no longer ignore.

My husband is unmistakably done having children. And I’m struggling to accept that that means I am too.

He adores our children. He takes good care of them. He beams with pride at their accomplishments and their cuteness. But he sees parenting as a burden, another item on a too-long list of duties. For me it is, most of the time, a privilege and a blessing.

Along with that third baby I’ll never have, I mourn the partner who never finds the delight in the everyday; who wishes each stage of baby- and toddlerhood away before it even begins; who’s missing, I believe, the forest for the small, needy trees.

I remind myself that no more kids means no more morning sickness, pumping, sleepless months. It means less money spent on child care now and college later. It means we can all fit comfortably in our house and our cars. It means more travel, more free time sooner rather than later.

I weigh all that against the honor and the joy of adding another person to our family – and it just doesn’t compare. It doesn’t compare at all.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Singing the show-tune blues

The lion prince and princessLast month we took the kids to see the touring production of The Lion King. We had bought the tickets nearly a year in advance, knowing that Opie would be barely two years old on the date of the performance. We figured we'd decide whether to take him or not once we had a better read on his behavior, and if we thought he couldn't hack it, we'd leave him home with a sitter and sell or give away his ticket.

As the date approached, we decided that even though he is two and all boy, he might be trusted to behave during the performance. He loves music and is fascinated by live performance. He loves animals. He had done very well at his first movie matinee in April. The audience at the Lion King would be full of families and kids, and the venue even allowed snacks in the seats. If he did melt down, one of us would suck it up and take him out to the lobby.

We prepped both kids extensively. We listened to the soundtrack constantly (feel free to quiz me on which track is "Hakuna Matata" and which one is "I Just Can't Wait to Be King") and watched the movie several times. We drilled them on the rules (Opie informs you: "be KYE-it an' sitinmyseat"). And we packed a few Nuks along with the snacks.

And he did it! (Am I leaving Jo out? It's just that we never had a moment's doubt about her, couch potato princess that she is.) For the first few minutes of the first act, he pointed at the exit and told me he wanted to "GO DERE" and "GO HOME," but he soon settled into my lap with his hands primly folded and watched everything without another word. During the second act, he was a little more chatty, piping up occasionally with questions and comments, but overall, he was an exemplary little audience member.

Since that day, both kids are even more LK-obsessed than ever. We still listen to the soundtrack all day long: In the car. At naptime. At bedtime. During dinner. While playing outside. (You should hear Opie's operatic rendition of "When I was a young wart-HOG!") We "read" the souvenir program book just as often. Nearly daily, both kids ask when we are going to see Lion King again.

Which brings me, at long last, to my point. The tour is coming to a city a few hours' drive from us in the fall. We thought it would be a fun treat to take the kids and spend the weekend. Last night I investigated ticketing options--until I came to this roadblock: "Patrons must be age four or over. No one under age four will be admitted."

And in an instant the whole trip was off. Look, I totally understand that they don't want screaming babies or disruptive toddlers to ruin the paying customers's experience. But I'd like to be able to decide for myself whether my kid's attendance is appropriate. I am, after all, the one who is shelling out $75 for his ticket. Or not, as the case may be is. I'm very disappointed that our whole family has to miss out because of this stupid rule. And I'm really angry at the clueless parents whose kids' behavior must have prompted it. If they'd had the good sense to control their offspring in public--or remove them from the scene if necessary--my children wouldn't have to miss out.

The tour is coming back our way (to another, closer city) early next year. Maybe we'll try again then. If that theater doesn't allow nearly-3-year-olds, I may spring for a fake ID for my show-tune lovin' tot.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

File under: Missing the point entirely

Not me. Her name is Sheryl
Parental Units: C'mon, we're going to the farmer's market.

Kids: Yeah!!! Mini-doughnuts!

Um. Yes. Also, what else do they have at the farmer's market?

Kids, in chorus:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Random-8-er link-a-later

(Not to be confused with Tow Mater or Linkletter).

Quite by chance I was tagged by Jeff (not the one I'm married to) for the 8 things meme, the one with all the rules. Since I've already done 7 random things (teen-style) and 7 facts/habits and 5 more things you didn't know (travel edition), this time I decided to spin off Jeff's idea of randomness and linkage. So here are 8 blogs from my blogroll, selected at random (I even did it all scientific!), and how they got there.

1. Binkytown: I started reading Binkytown when we were matched in the Blog Exchange way back in May 2006 (read my post and hers on the topic "Mother May I"). I've been stalking her ever since and not just because we live close to each other and have binky-addicted boys the same age. She has a wonderfully authentic voice and as I just commented on one of her recent posts, she does a lovely job of zeroing in on those small, significant moments of motherhood and writing about them.

2. Blooming Yaya: Another Blog Exchanger -- we swapped on the challenge of "post inspired by a song" and I don't think we could have come up with two more different posts on that angle. She's a mom of three, a very thoughtful and honest writer; go visit if you haven't already.

3. Chaos Theory: Holy cow, where would my blogroll be without the Blog Exchange? Last fall we debated the subject of ads on blogs: yea or nay? Luckily, Sherry was gracious even though I took an opposing position (one that I must say I didn't really believe in!). She is undertaking a big project at the end of this month and could use everyone's support--and maybe some ideas for posts.

4. The Gimlet Eye: I first met Dawn at BlogHer last year. She is not only funny and supersmart (as a mom with two kids in child care, I love reading about her work in early childhood education), she has really hot shoes.

5. Greeblemonkey: I think Aimee commented here first and after a few visits to her bee-yoo-ti-ful blog, I added her to my must-read list. And must-see, because her photography is not to be missed.

6. The Karianna Spectrum: Another BlogHer find! There is never a dull moment at Kari's, with two adventurous boys and more than her fair share of twists and turns. She turns it all into entertaining, and poignant, blog fodder.

7. Magpie Musing: Here, I think, is someone else whose comments here led me back to her blog, and now I'm there every day. Magpie shares my thrill at finding quirky tidbits in the New York Times and elsewhere in the world of words.

8. Nonlinear Girl: I believe she found me first and for that I'm glad. This blog is a winning mix of cute kid, family memories, deep thoughts, and a weekly random quote and unrelated photo, which charms me every time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Good fences make good... uh...

Who else has trouble defining boundaries with neighbors when kids are involved? Overall, I am very glad that we live in a friendly neighborhood, with lots of other children and also parents of grown kids who love to have little ones around. Surrounding our house we have:

  • Next door, Vern (I kid you not) and his wife and three grown daughters, all of whom have names starting with L. (I am the only one in our household who can tell these three girls apart and match the correct name with the correct person.) They are always willing to stop and admire while Jo shows off some new trick or Opie tells a longwinded story. Recently he asked repeatedly, "Where's Mr. D?" When no one understood him (or more likely, answered him to his satisfaction), he bellowed, "Where's BERN?!"

  • On the other side of Vern's house, Mr. and Mrs. B and their three high-school/college-age sons. Adore, worship, and idolize are not really strong enough words to convey how my children feel about Mr. B. If they so much as hear his laugh echoing across the yard, they freeze in their tracks and their ears perk up like jackrabbits. Mrs. B. is a close second because she unfailingly provides Fla-Vor-Ices anytime Jo and Opie are within 50 feet of her.

  • Next door to the Bs, a cool fifty-ish mom who lives in an awesome three-story Queen Anne with beautiful gardens. She once invited Jo (and me and Opie) inside to see her cats. When she told Jo that one of the cats must be hiding under the beds, Jo immediately toured the entire house from top to bottom looking under every bed.

  • Next door to us on the other side, toward the front, a family with four kids between the ages of 2 and 6 has just moved in. Since the side of our house that includes the kids' bedrooms overlooks their yard, we are already quite familiar with all of their cool outdoor toys, including a battery-powered Lightning McQueen car.

  • Next door to us in the back, another family with kids ages 2 and 3 who are very much interested in our dog.

  • Across the street from our back gate, Jo's friend Joe (for the longest time they called each other "Jofus" and "Jofie"), and his two younger siblings.

So you can see why nearly every time we go outside, I am harassed with requests to visit any (or all) of the above. Never mind whether we've been invited, whether we've been there every day for the past week, or whether it's 10 minutes before dinner--we have friends and we "just want to see if they're outside." I'm finding the fence, while good in so many ways, makes this just a little more awkward. Because now it's more of an effort to get into a neighbor's yard, and it makes it seem that much more deliberate when we all turn up on someone's lawn. They say they are happy to see us but can that really be true? We almost never get the return visits so I have to wonder. KnowhutImean?

Monday, July 09, 2007


I was born 3 weeks late. The story goes that the varnish on the floor of my nursery took that long to dry, so I refused to come out.

On the eve of my birthday, I am told, my parents went to the drive-in to see M*A*S*H, drink beer, and eat popcorn.

So just for today, you can call me Hot Lips.


Sweet Tooth Award And look--Lara gave me a present!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I'm a little concerned that she might have been switched at birth

The other day our neighbor remarked on how athletic Jo is. And it's true. Though she would, if allowed, happily watch 8 consecutive hours of TV a day, once she does get out and moving, she really does move. The palms of her hands are currently pocked with half a dozen blisters (or "slivers," as she calls them) from her incessant trips back and forth across the monkey bars -- this summer she's become totally adept at swinging from rung to rung, tossing her hips from side to side to gain momentum. She swims fearlessly and tirelessly. Recently, she mastered the hula hoop in less than a week; now she can keep the hoop spinning for two minutes straight, even recovering if it drops below waist level.

Opie, too, is as sure-footed as a child his age can be, jumping heart-stoppingly from the benches in our backyard on the brick patio and scampering up all the ladders on our playset without losing his balance.

This is all very foreign to me.

I was the kid who was so scrawny she couldn't stay afloat at swimming lessons. The one whose dance teacher not-so-gently suggested she not return to class. The one who, during gym class softball games, "played" outfield for both teams (way, way outfield) to avoid ever coming up to bat. The quintessential weakling nerd.

I definitely don't know how to raise a jock. But I'd be thrilled to have the opportunity to try.


Bonus mommyblogging moment:

JO: Where's Daddy?

ME: Out with some friends.

JO: What's he doing?

ME: Playing a game. It's called poker.

JO: Are we going to watch him on TV?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Why don’t you just let him cry?

How about because I’m not a heartless bitch? How about because he’s a tiny baby and he needs me? How about because I didn’t sign up for the shortcut route to motherhood, aka “how to ignore your infant’s needs for your own convenience”? How about because he’s hungry, or scared, or lonely, or cold, and he doesn’t know how to talk? I’m his mom. I think I know him a little better than you do.

Spare me the “he’ll never learn to fall asleep on his own” crap until my kid is bigger than a loaf of bread, OK? Unless you’re right here under my roof, all night, every night, figuring out that this cry means “I’m starving” and that cry means “Don’t leave me,” that he burps best if you hold him like this and that he likes the blue blanket best, then keep your helpful hints to yourself.

You asked me how he was sleeping, I told you, now I wish I’d kept my trap shut. I didn’t ask for advice. A little sympathy would have been OK. A remark that I could just “give him a bottle” would not. My kid is not waking up at night because he is breastfed. He is waking up because he is a little baby. Do you actually think I would stop nursing because of your brilliant suggestion? Breastmilk is the best food I can give him, and I’m not going to stop just because you think a can of formula is magically going to zonk him out for 12 solid hours a night. It worked for you? Fine, keep on believing that tired old myth. I'll stick with what I know my kid needs--whether you like it or not.

I wish I could have just handed them this instead. Today’s Parent Bloggers Network Blog Blast posed the question: What’s the most annoying question you were asked as a new mom, or while you were pregnant? Post yours--and the snarkiest answer you can muster--and submit it to PBN. There are prizes involved (beyond the satisfaction of telling someone off). Get all the details.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Our little patriots

aren't we fancyReady for the Little Red White & Blue Parade

Honestly, it's positively Rockwellian how cute this town is on the 4th of July. Last night, Jeff looked out the window at 10:15 p.m. and said "How come all our neighbors are hanging around in front of their houses?

Well: Because of the light parade, of course!

light fantastic

I snapped one crummy picture--that's a truck towing a boat full of kids pretending to fish. We also had the county Democrats, the local Republicans, the mayor, a fire truck, and the "fairest of the [county] fair" princess.

This morning, we started with the kiddie bike parade in the park across the street from our house. There will be music, games, carnie food, and pony rides there all day. Our tarp is sitting by the lake waiting for us to arrive for fireworks tonight.

God bless cotton candy

Hope your 4th is just as sweet!

Monday, July 02, 2007

I scream, you scream

In solidarity with the new girl, via Julie:

put me back in!That's Opie, one day old, meeting Jo for the first time and none too pleased about it. I should have known right then that this one would be trouble. And he was. One angry little dude, for about the first five months of his life. We I swaddled and shushed, swayed and walked, nursed and nursed, and still he cried. I remember scouring the Mayberry phone book at 3 o'clock one morning, searching for a baby nurse service. AS IF.

Do you know what the rest of the words to the old song are?

I scream you scream
We all scream for ice cream
Rock my baby rock

And that's what we did, my boy and I. Today he is (mostly) sweetness and light on two sturdy legs. And if I could? I'd do it all over again, one more time.