Sunday, July 31, 2011

Adventure! Excitement! Geriatric cashiers!

Nico and I spent Saturday morning at the county fair and while I don't suppose it was the greatest adventure of our lives, I do feel it was a suitably enriching experience for his little brain. It was also hotter than Satan's nutsack, no lie. But Nico had a good time running around loose amid the tractors and rattling the pens of farm animals while I practiced not helicoptering him. We met up with Julia and Nathan and also with one of the mom / kid pairs from our nursing group, which definitely made the experience a lot more enjoyable for me. Maybe for Nico, too, but at this age it's hard to tell. He did take a three and a half hour nap afterward, which I take as a good sign. Anyway, pictures or it didn't happen:

I don't remember what he was looking at in this one,
but I love his "Say whaaaat?" expression.

"Hey, Nathan, watch me poke this goat."

There was a barrel train, pretty much the cutest thing ever.
The other two toddlers were thrilled. Mine? Skeptical as hell.

Cutest thing ever, though, yes?
(And he ended up liking it just fine once it started moving.)

This morning Nico got his 18-month photos taken, and I can't believe how much of a kid he's getting to be...barely any baby left!

After a post-modeling session nap, MB and Nico and I went out on our weekly grocery run. We ended up in the slowest checkout line in the history of the world. Seriously, it was brain-meltingly awful. Nico and I left MB to wait in line and went to return something, and I remember looking at the clock and it being 5:45. After our return was done I took Nico for a walk around the store, found a cute wooden puzzle I thought he'd like, stood in line to buy it in the jewelry department, and then went back to check on MB and found that only one person had been checked out since we left, 25 minutes earlier. ONE PERSON IN 25 MINUTES.

Thank the sweet baby Jesus that right after that, the chatty old lady cashier was replaced by a teenager and the line started moving, but Nico was already losing his shit (and so was I, let's be honest). And that's how I ended up kneeling on the floor of a Walmart (in capris, oh my God), helping my kid work a puzzle that I had bought and ripped open on the spot so he didn't burn the place to the ground with the force of his bored, tired toddler rage. Of all the things my pre-kid self swore I'd never do (along with "whip out a boob in front of God and everybody," which I think we took care of within three or four hours of his birth), "kneel on the floor of a Walmart in shorts" was probably pretty high on the list. In the moment it felt like a big profound metaphor for motherhood, but unless I come down with a weird rash tomorrow, I'm going to admit that it wasn't really that bad.

Tomorrow we have a play date, a lunch date, and Nico's 18-month well child appointment, so all in all it should be a much more hygienic day. Happy (almost) August, everybody!

Reading:  The Mermaid Garden by Santa Montefiore

Playing:  Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons

Friday, July 29, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bang Bang Bang


I had a package that needed to be mailed today, so Nico and I took care of it on the way to our play date this morning. I figured 10 AM on a Monday was a pretty safe time to go to the post office, but boy was I wrong. When we arrived there was a non-moving line of about a dozen people. We ended up waiting there for at least 15 minutes, creeping slowly through the line. Nico was squirmy so I risked putting him down. He actually did really well, sitting on the floor to play with his trucks and staying with me as the line moved. At one point he started rolling one of the trucks to me and asking me to roll it back. This worked a few times, then he overshot and the truck went several feet past me. A woman about my age in line behind us pushed the car back, and then continued to push it back and forth with Nico for a few minutes. When it rolled past her, she turned to the nicely-dressed older man behind her and said, "I guess it's your turn now!" and then he rolled the car back and forth with Nico once or twice. So many stories on the internet are about people being intolerant toward children in public, so it was a really great surprise to have people in a busy, irritating, long-wait situation be so nice to my kid, just for the sake of being nice.


Nico seems to be suffering from some sleep regression lately, and though I keep telling myself it's a phase, it's a phase, it's got to be a phase, when he wakes up screaming at 3:30 in the morning, it feels like this is never going to end, oh my hell, send help. He's been a good sleeper for ages, and usually when he does wake up a little Ferber-approved pat on the behind is all he needs to settle himself back down. For a long time, he didn't even need the butt-pats and would soothe himself to sleep within a minute or two of waking up during the night. Now, though, we're into the realm of crying so hard while I'm in the shower that he almost barfs before I get out and hear him and hurry to his rescue. And as we've discussed, anything that involves the potential for barf is not a-okay with me. I guess I'm not really going anywhere with this, just trying to remind myself that it's a phase (it had better be a phase) and on the bright side, at least if I have to go in and rock him back to sleep I get an extra limp-limbed curly-headed warm-baby cuddle.

Rabbit hole

I was singing to Nico after the aforementioned near-barf incident and reflecting that about half the songs I know for lullaby purposes are religious in origin. That got me thinking, and I couldn't seem to stop. I was raised Catholic but don't consider myself Catholic now, or even Christian. I don't have any specific life-changing story or reason, I just don't find church spiritually fulfilling or feel particularly connected to God when I'm there. I do enjoy the tradition of, say, midnight Christmas Mass, but I think that's more for the nostalgia and the memories of Christmases past with my family. MB was raised Christian but as far as I can tell his parents sort of bounced around between various denominations. Some more information that may or may not be relevant: almost no one in our immediate families goes to church, either. We don't pray before meals though grace is said before holiday meals with both extended families. We don't read the Bible or display religious things in the house or say bedtime prayers.

Now that I have a kid, I sometimes wonder if he'll miss out on something if we don't start taking him somewhere for church. I don't for one second believe that he needs church to be a good, moral person, but I wonder if (properly liberal and inclusive) religion would give him another lens through which to view the world as he grows. After all, as a friend pointed out, he'll never get all the Biblical reference in Shakespeare if he never reads the Bible. On the other hand, I went to a K-8 Catholic school, and I didn't get most of the Biblical references in Shakespeare, either. I still got an A in the class. I will admit another fear that I have: I'm afraid if we don't take him to church, he'll fall under the thrall of one of those creepy culty teen-proselytizing megachurches when he's a teenager. (It's not an entirely ungrounded fear; it happened to one of my cousins in high school, though she seems mostly normal now.) I suppose I'm risking preachy comments in order to ask if any of you out there are like us -- God-believing but not big God-in-the-home folks who don't take their kids to church -- and how you feel about the whole church / no church issue. I'm curious, is all.

Reading:  The Mermaid Garden by Santa Montefiore

Playing:  Lovestrong by Christina Perri

Friday, July 22, 2011

One point five

Nico turned 18 months old last Friday, and though I had hoped to mark the occasion with a masterful and sweet milestone letter, I failed utterly. Friday I was tired and figured I'd do it over the weekend. Saturday was one of the most challenging days we've ever had, and I figured I probably wasn't in the right mental space to write a sappy letter right after having exceeded my Cranky Shrieking Tolerance and fled the house in search of silence and an ice cream cone. Monday I moved 3800 pounds of bricks with my dad in the afternoon while it was 108 degrees outside. And so it went, until I got to today, a week after the blessed occurrence, with still nothing to post.

While Nico and I ate a dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches this evening, I thought about the letter I was going to write, how I wanted to brag about him eating real people food and how well he's doing, about his cute new words, about how sometimes he's challenging but he's also awesome. And then, about halfway through his sandwich, apparently the cough / frog in the throat caused by previously trying to hork down a giant piece of crust and gagging on it caught up with him and Nico proceeded to barf up everything he'd eaten since we got home (to wit: half a grilled cheese sandwich, half an orange, copious amounts of Goldfish crackers).

And so after changing him into a new outfit and trying to comfort him, I spent the evening rinsing chunks of pre-masticated grilled cheese off his clothes and the towels we used to clean up the mess (though I did think seriously about throwing away his pants and bib and never speaking of it again) while poor MB -- after working a 12-hour day -- disassembled Nico's entire high chair so it could be cleaned. Because, you see, Nico has a charming vintage high chair, lovingly sanded and refinished by a friend who upcycles furniture, carefully re-upholstered by his grandma and myself, a chair with umpteen nooks and crannies, a chair that utterly lacks a convenient removable washable cover. Meanwhile poor Nico was sequestered behind his baby fence, wailing because he just wanted to cuddle and both his parents were busy with barf detail. Oh, and at one point I dropped one of the high chair bolts down the garbage disposal. At least it wasn't running at the time. Needless to say it was a spectacular disaster of an evening.

You know what, though? Even after a night like we had, even after having to mop up barf (which has always, always been my Achilles heel when it comes to caring for kids), even after a week of whining and varying degrees of toddler assholery, after all that, I still couldn't be more grateful or more pleased to be this dude's mother.

And maybe that's the lesson I'm supposed to learn this month, that even when things get dicey, I'm still incredibly, stupidly lucky and I still love each day with my crazy, sometimes incredibly gross little family.

Nico, you're a true toddler now, constantly coming up with new words and new ideas, tearing around on your own two feet, exploring and testing and pushing and learning and sometimes falling. You're absolutely car-crazy, you still love books, you often ask to wear shoes and throw a fit when it comes time to change your diaper. You eat fruit and sometimes vegetables and chicken fingers and cheese and cheese sandwiches and Cheez Its and Kix and goldfish crackers and lasagna and yogurt. You sometimes say "More, peese" when you want something and sometimes just unleash an unholy volley of whining. You recently started saying "library" and "pirate ship" and "airplane" and "hippo" and it's all so cute that I died and then came back to life just to hear you say them again. You give hugs and kisses and high fives, you can count to two and identify a dozen different shapes, but you also hit us quite a lot and always guess blue when asked "what color is that?" even when it's definitely not blue.

(You're right, though...that one is blue.)

You're sassy but also sweet, smart but impossibly stubborn, sometimes a little too clever for your own good (like the other night, when you climbed out of your crib, oh my God, I'm so not ready for that). Occasionally you act like a very small mad dictator and I wonder how we're ever going to make it through your toddler years. You're getting to be such a big boy and as much as I revel in it, I also sneak into your room sometimes after you're in bed just to see you in your most baby-like moments, sleeping with your butt up in the air and your curls all wild in the dark. You're by turns impossible and funny and fantastic and I love you, I love you, I love you.

Thank you for being awesome, thank you for being mine, and above all thank you for being you. I love you best of all the babies that ever were, even when you laugh at my misfortune.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bullet points with butterfly wings

I really like my new job and kind of hate that I can't say much about it. I will tell you that summer camp has been eating my brain, but it's over after tomorrow and I'm optimistic that I'll make a full recovery. I took your advice and approached the dad half of that nice couple at swimming lessons plus another friendly mom with a child of appropriate age about playdates. Both parties were extremely receptive, so we'll see if anything comes of it. Even if we never get together, at least I'll know that I tried.

And I realized just now that I never posted anything about 4th of July weekend. It was awesome, we had a great time visiting MB's family, and I have a bunch of pictures I should post. I'm up too late as it is, though, with one more day of brainsucking summer camp awaiting me, so let's move on to the bullet points:


According to some people who seem to want to make the rules on the internet, I shouldn't watch Hoarders lest I want to be a horrible evil rubbernecking exploiter. But I do watch it for it's trainwrecky can't-look-away properties, and because I swear it actually is teaching me some stuff. Maybe it's psychosomatic, like the time my dad saw one too many commercials about arteriosclerosis medication and announced that he needed to see a doctor because he just knew he had it, but I see some of the hoarder-type habits in myself sometimes. And I do tend to be really motivated to work on my decluttering project after watching a few episodes. That whole thing is actually going really well. I haven't made it to 50 things on my list yet, but the basement is the emptiest it's been since we moved into this house.

Party animal

Nico was invited to my friend Julia's little son Nathan's second birthday party this past weekend and we had a pretty good time. MB and I tried and tried to get Nico to nap beforehand and he wouldn't so of course he fell asleep in the car before we even made it out of our neighborhood. He ended up sleeping in Nathan's bed for the first hour of the party, which actually worked out well since he missed the opening of gifts and therefore wasn't tempted to try and swipe any of Nathan's really awesome new cars. He was extremely clingy upon waking, but Julia's mom is some kind of toddler whisperer and played trucks with him for a few minutes, and before long he was running around through the entire party of adults with no trace of bashfulness. We thought he'd enjoy playing in Nathan's awesome kiddie pool, but he was much more interested in running around the driveway and pointing at all the cars. I think he had fun, though, doing his own thing. He did really enjoy working Nathan's new puzzle, and as the only non-adult guest he made out like a bandit with party favors, coming home with a Toy Story mylar balloon, a Mickey Mouse plate, and an orange pickup truck for his Tonka fleet.

Kicking and screaming

I finally joined Pinterest and Google Plus, though I admit I probably don't have much time for the first and I don't really understand the purpose of the second...isn't facebook enough?

Earlier, at my house:

MB: Want me to roll the car? Can you say roll?

N: Roll?

MB: That was a great drift. You'll do that one day, buddy. In a real car.

V: No.

MB: For money.

V: No.

MB: And pink slips.

V: No.

MB: In Tokyo!

V: NO. Well, in videogames. Maybe.

I shouldn't have laughed, but I totally did

One would think I'd have learned something from the great wipe debacle of '11, but apparently I did not:

Sadness & woe

Nico helped himself to that whole box of tissues while I was baking brownies to share with BoMB and his awesome girlfriend. They're leaving tomorrow morning for Memphis so she can start her PhD, and as happy as I am for them, I am pretty much bereft. We hang out with them at least once a week, Nico loves them, and they're just all-around good friends...and now they're going away for at least five years. Of course they'll visit, and I hope we'll visit them sometimes. But still, FIVE YEARS. Bereft, I say!

Reading:  For Matrimonial Purposes by Kavita Daswani

Playing:  Lovestrong by Christina Perri

Friday, July 08, 2011

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

We interrupt this unintended blog silence

to ask a question of the other socially awkward folks out there. There's a mom and dad at swimming lessons with a boy about Nico's age who have been really friendly for the past five weeks, to the point of always seeking us out to say hello and such. We haven't actually talked, other than to find out the names of each other's children, but they seem like they like us. Should I offer them my email address for future playdates at the last class next week? And why does this feel like dating?

Because on the one hand, I suppose if they think it's weird and stalkery for me to give them my email, I probably won't ever see them again. But on the other, what if they sign up for the next session too and it's all awkward? Seriously, though, who wouldn't want a playdate with this dude?

Friday, July 01, 2011

Photo Friday

I'm so happy this one turned out! My iPhone took a better
shot than my little digital point-and-shoot, surprisingly.

View the entire Photo Friday collection on Flickr.