Friday, April 29, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter baby

Just because, Nico's Easter photos from last year:

A few pics from his 15-month photo shoot, taken by EvilDucky's super talented dad:

Easter morning:

First family egg hunt! (Indoors because it's been raining for forty days and forty nights.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

To my future daughter-in-law

Or son-in-law, whichever. Love is love, all God's children.

I hope to raise a man who is kind and respectful, firm in his beliefs, gentle of spirit. A man who will raise you up rather than tear you down. A man who knows how to admit when he is wrong.

As a feminist mother raising a son, I plan to teach him that girls can play with trucks and boys can play with dolls. He will learn to treat people with respect, to keep his hands to himself, that it's not okay to use his size to overpower someone smaller and weaker than himself.

I want to instill in him a sense of wonder, the value of fairness, a kindness toward all. I hope he inherits my organizational skills and his father's knack for balancing a checkbook. If I have a say in things he will put the toilet seat down, hang up his clothes, and never drink straight from the carton.

But oh, there is one thing you will probably hate me for, one thing that you will bitch about to your friends when he's not around, I just know it. You'll ask yourself how any sensible woman could ever raise a child with such a horrendous lack of propriety. And really, it was an accident. I never meant for him to connect the two, you see, but the only place he's still and distracted enough for me to cut his fingernails is in his high chair. At the dinner table. Yeah. I'm really sorry about that. Really.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The breath is the fire

I've been going to the gym once a week pretty consistently since September for cardio bootcamp. (I think toting Nico around during his weekly swimming lesson should count as exercise for me, too, since I spend half an hour towing him around the pool so he can kick and lifting him up onto the side to "jump" in over and over.) I haven't seen much as far as noticeable changes in my body. I'm still large of thigh and embarrassingly ginormous of breast. My post-baby gut keeps on hanging on. True, I'm back into my pre-pregnancy pants size (though not all of my actual pre-pregnancy pants). The workout pants I bought when I went back to yoga class after having Nico now fall halfway off my ass if I'm not careful. I guess officially, I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight. But really, I don't see much difference.

I feel the fit, though, I do. I'm lifting heavier weights during circuits at boot camp. When I tried a new cardio kick class via a groupon at another gym, I found I could keep up without wanting to die. I'm probably in the best muscle-shape and cardio-shape I've been in since college, even if my actual-shape is decidedly fluffy. Underneath all the chub, something is shaping up. (Also, I might still have back fat and a muffin top, but damn, my shoulders are starting to look awesome.)

Here's something else:   I like going to the gym. No, I love it. I never thought I'd be a gym kind of person, but here I am. It hurts, and I like it. Sometimes I'm still self-conscious about how I look, about how slow I jog during class, about my still-shot abs, but I keep going back. Probably I'll never be really thin again, considering how long it's been since I could claim that adjective, but I'm going to keep pushing, I'm going to keep getting stronger, and who knows...maybe one of these days my fat yoga pants will just drop right off.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Something different

I've only posted fiction once or twice before. I always feel weird about it, like somebody might steal it and then write a book and make a fortune and I'd be SO PISSED. But really, what are the odds? Or someone will read it and think I'm a shitty writer, and then I will be crushed! But who cares, at this point? And so, from an exercise at tonight's writing group, the first one I've been to since college:

        "Where were you last night?"
        Tucker Grace paused, his shoulders stiffening slightly, then finished washing his hands and face. He grabbed a towel from the towel bar and rubbed his skin dry, his gaze sliding up to the mirror over the sink. His girlfriend's reflection watched him reproachfully, her thin arms folded tightly across her chest. She was dressed in a faded blue tank top and a pair of Tucker's boxer shorts, her fair hair piled in a messy knot on top of her head, her face free of makeup. She looked so young and vulnerable that Tucker softened, watching the lines of his own face relax.
        "Sorry," he said, tucking the towel back through the bar and turning to face her. "I got caught up."
        Her arms clenched tighter, her fists burrowing into her sides. "Caught up with what?" The unspoken with whom? hung in the air between them.
        "Just work stuff."
        "All night?" Her eyes were suddenly shiny and Tucker felt exasperation rising.
        "I'm sorry," he said again, forcing it back. "Let me get a shower and then I'll take you out for breakfast."
        "Do you want to stay here instead?"
        "No, it's fine. Whatever you want to do is fine."
        She slipped out of the bathroom and moments later Tucker heard the bedroom door click shut. He sagged against the vanity for a moment, face in his hands. He knew two things, suddenly. One: he was in too deep already. Two: she would never understand.

Reading:  The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin

Playing:  a Led Zeppelin mix

Monday, April 11, 2011


We took an offset weekend (Sunday / Monday) trip to visit MB's family in the country. It was obscenely hot on Sunday (for April, anyway), but other than that it was a good time. Cell service is terrible down there, so I spent the weekend mostly unplugged. I tried checking Twitter once when we arrived at MB's grandparents' house, but realized it was futile after about fifteen minutes, chucked my phone into Nico's bag, and didn't dig it out again until right before bed when I remembered it needed to be charged. I got to enjoy good company, ate homemade dumplings and peach cobbler, and finished the Pioneer Woman's book, so I think that qualifies as an excellent weekend.

Nico spent his time being toted around, admired, and generally adored. He also was presented with his fourth ride-on toy. He already had a Mickey Mouse themed car, a minimalist but highly maneuverable red Radio Flyer thing, and a fire truck. Now he's added a John Deere ATV to his fleet. It's a little ridiculous and we probably should thin them out, but he seems to like all of them and I have trouble getting rid of things that were given to him as gifts. Two of them are at my parents' house and two of them are here, so for the time being I have decided that having two ride-on cars parked in the mostly-empty playroom is just fine.

Nico also got to see real chickens for the first time, and I'm happy to report that he recognized them from the photos in his books:

Edited to add one of my favorite Nico photos to date, taken by MB's cousin:

Friday, April 08, 2011

Photo Friday

paper hearts for Leah

View the entire Photo Friday collection on Flickr.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Since my formerly full time job (Job A) was cut to part time in January, things have been getting worse over there. I don't want to get into specifics since writing about work at all makes me nervous, but basically almost all the positive things I once could enjoy about working there have been stripped away one by one. Some of it is so stupid and so petty and so unbelievably micromanager-y that I wish I could lay it out for you just to get some validation that it's fucking ridiculous, but...well, right now I still need this job. Meanwhile, luckily, the second part-time job I was fortunate to get at another organization that I really like (Job B) has been going very well. I've been wishing for several months that I could just go over to Job B full time and simplify my life. Keeping two jobs straight is a lot more tiring than I expected, especially since having only one job has been a fairly recent development for me. I can't figure out how I am working less hours for less pay but have fewer days off and feel more exhausted at the end of the week.

Today two things happened that nearly pushed me over the edge. I actually got really angry, and that's not like me. I'm pretty even-keeled and I usually keep my mouth shut even when I do get irritated. But oh, I have been pushed to my limit already and today was too much. I should probably feel bad that I kind of unloaded on my supervisor since the initial job cut was not in any way his fault, but I don't. It started when I asked if there was any chance of getting one full weekend off in May and getting shot down. That wasn't that big of a surprise, though I told him straight up that working six days a week (I often only have Monday off) sucks. I could've sulked about that for a while and got over it, but then he said exactly the wrong thing. He tried to express sympathy by saying it was too bad I had to work weekends at my other job, but pointed out that he couldn't really do anything about that and that Job A is my "real job, anyway."

I told him -- pretty calmly, under the circumstances -- that it isn't correct or fair to say that Job A is my "real job" when ( 1 ) I work just as many hours at Job B, ( 2 ) It's Job B that allows me to continue to afford my mortgage, and ( 3 ) Job B was there for me when Job A totally failed me (i.e. utterly screwed me over after six damn years). God, the whole conversation still pisses me off, like twelve hours later.

Then not too long after that, it was basically laid out that the goal of the organization is to transition my job -- once I am (allegedly) restored to full-time status -- away from the type of work I am focused on now, the very last aspect of this job that I am able to enjoy. Away from the work I have built my career around. Away from the work that compelled me to take this job instead of going to graduate school back in the day. Away from the work that I am damn good at, that I love, that has honestly come to define me. And that was it, I knew. My heart is done with this. What was once a career and a passion has sadly become just a job. (And of course, really, yes, I'm lucky to have any job, let alone a job I can still derive some joy from when I'm not being pummeled by the day-to-day erosion of something that once made me so happy I could almost cry thinking about what it's become.)

After this all went down and I went on with my day, trying to just buckle down and do all the stuff I had to do even though I just wanted to be anywhere else, I kept thinking about an email my good friend Rachel sent me a few weeks back. She told me about her own struggle with a shit job in a shit economy after she finished law school and how she eventually came to realize that her job was just a paycheck, that everything else in her life was the real point, the real purpose. That if having a shit job was the worst that happened, she was going to be okay. Until it gets better, she advised, "The job is just a paycheck and whatever small joys you can squeeze out of it until you get home to what really matters to you." I told her after she sent it that I needed to make that my mantra, and it came back to me today.

I worked the rest of day and rushed off to pick Nico up and cart him to his weekly swimming lesson at the Y. He hadn't napped well today and was crabby. He groused in the backseat on the drive over and then flailed and complained in the locker hall outside the pool. I was pretty sure we were going to have to leave class for the first time due to a meltdown. But that's not what happened. Instead, we had one of the best lessons we've ever had. He let me float him on his back for the first time. He flirted with the lifeguards, kicked his legs, paddled with his arms, was a trooper every time I dipped his head under. Since it was the last class of this session, they turned on the splash park at the end. I thought it might scare him when the jets started up and the big bucket array started dumping water, but he loved it. We walked down to the shallow end and he spent fifteen minutes holding tightly to my hands and toddling through fountains as high as his head. He walked through them again and again, put his toes over the jets, stood in the spray.

I looked down at his fiery hair, at his thin toddler shoulders, at his tiny shark swimming trunks, his little bare feet. I looked at the water bubbling up, at his funny little Frankenstein walk, at his utter captivation. And I honestly didn't think about anything else. I did wish I had a camera so that I could record this unexpectedly transcendent moment, even though a photo wouldn't have really done it justice. I wanted to share this heartswelling thing with everyone, I wanted MB to be there to see it, I wanted to show the whole world this beautiful boy of mine, this beautiful little soul I'm somehow lucky enough to be entrusted with.

After they shut off the splash park, after we took a warm shower and I dressed him in his firetruck pajamas and carried him out to the car, we drove home beneath the most beautiful sunset I've seen in a long time and I felt content. Nothing about this morning had changed, but it didn't really seem to matter so much anymore. I remember now what really matters.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Raise the stone and you shall find me;
split the wood and I am there.

I first published this post on October 15, 2006. I have never reposted something before, but I dug this up after reading this post and loved the photos so much I wanted to pull them to the top again. The world really is awesome.

Friday, April 01, 2011