Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'm probably not supposed to say this on the internet

in case I jinx myself, but I am enjoying the hell out of my toddler these days. And I know parents got on just fine in the days before digital cameras and blogs, but I'm really glad that it's so easy for me to document his smallhood, because it's all moving pretty fast. I try to take a few photos every Monday so I can send them to MB at work, and this week I ended up with a whole series that I kind of love. Sure Nico can be completely impossible at times, but he's also so much fun right now.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wasn't hodgepodge a category on Jeopardy?

Do want

Clearance shopper extraordinaire Swistle posted about buying a really stinking cute quilt at Target for a rock-bottom price. I went to ogle the quilt online and sigh over the fact that it would be silly for me to buy one in case I have a girl next time, and discovered TWO full-price sets that I would love to buy for Nico. Sadness! If anyone sees either of these on clearance, please text me right away:

Victim of the classic overhype

Several people recommended Bridesmaids, including one friend whose opinions on books and movies I can almost always trust, so I rented it from iTunes last night. I have to say, although I loved just about all of Kristen Wiig's scenes (especially those with Maya Rudolph) and enjoyed the charming and sexily-accented Chris O'Dowd as love interest, the movie overall was not as good as I expected. I realize it's "just a comedy," but is it really not possible to write a witty adult comedy without diarrhea as a punchline? I wouldn't say I disliked it overall, but I'm very glad I did not pay to see it in the theater as I'd originally planned.

Lives up to the hype

I don't actually know if it was hyped a lot, but I finished the NYT Bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children this weekend and I really liked it. The somewhat open-ended conclusion made me wonder if the author had a sequel in mind, but even if he doesn't, I'm not left feeling unsatisfied. (It looks like his publisher has encouraged him to write one...I hope it lives up to the first.) Apparently the film rights have already been sold, and I suspect it would make a really good film in the right hands. It's a weird mix of sci-fi and sideshow, historical photos mixed in with the text, and I do recommend it. Here's a book trailer if you're into that kind of thing, and also a neat short video about the author's trip to find footage for the trailer. (Apparently there are spoilers in the comments, so be cautious.)

Warning: (cute) snake photos

One day this week, a woman walked into my office at work and handed me a tiny snake in a popcorn tin. It was a king snake, a very cool native species that we didn't yet have represented in our menagerie, so the boss declared we could keep it (we usually don't). The very next day while I was out in the field, someone else came in with a second tiny king snake in a shoebox, so now we have two. King snakes are really kind of bad-ass, because they're immune to the venom of native venomous snakes and therefore can eat just about any other snake they want. They're also supposed to be pretty calm and low-key in captivity, so that should be nice.

So far the first one is ridiculously feisty and tries to chew on our fingers when we pick her (it?) up, and the other one is really calm and will just relax in your palm. The teeth on these guys are so small that a bite literally does not hurt a bit, I promise.

To make up for the snake photos

A crappy phone pic that I love for it's hilariousness - Nico striking a sassy pose in a pair of vintage pajamas:

They don't fit very well, but they have cars on them and they're painfully cute, so he wore them anyway.

Reading:  Hunting Unicorns by Bella Pollen

Playing:  various mix CDs that live in my car

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Campers have s'more fun *

We took Nico on his first real camping trip this past weekend, since I don't think last year's swanky cabin trip (awesome as it was) really counts as camping. We went with two other couples to one of my favorite parks, which is about halfway between here and Chicago (home of Nick and J-Dog). I didn't really get nervous about the trip, but I admittedly did have moments of thinking I hope this isn't a disaster. We packed carefully, tried to anticipate Nico's needs, and hoped for the best and it really paid off for us.

We took Friday off work so we could leave in between breakfast and lunch, and stopped at about the two-hour mark to eat and hit up Walmart to replace a forgotten hoodie and buy Nico a cool flashlight and some glow bracelets. Nico happily read books and pointed out trucks until just before we got to our stopping-off town, had a bit of a meltdown at the store when we wouldn't let him keep the flashlight without paying for it, and then slept angelically in his carseat for the last hour of the drive. Once at the campsite, we were able to turn him loose for the most part while we set up the tent and unpacked the car. He did have some trouble with minding the boundaries of our site and not going out on the road that first evening, so I (shame!) stuck him in a baby leash so that I'd be able to sneak up on him and snag the end of his leash when he got too close to someplace he wasn't supposed to go. He didn't seem to mind, really, and the next night he minded the boundaries just fine and didn't need the leash at all.

He didn't want to sleep in the tent by himself that night (or the next), but I can't really blame him for that one. He ended up sleeping on my lap by the campfire for a few hours and then slept through the night beside me on our flattened-out sleeping bags once I went to bed.

rocking the baby leash and his "very nice hat"

On Saturday, we went for a hike after breakfast. We planned to do a three-mile hike that was classed as "moderate to rugged" but ended up on the wrong side of the bridge and decided to go ahead and do my favorite trail, a 1.7 miler classed as "very rugged." I remembered the three near-vertical ladders on the trail, but I had forgotten about the 140 steps. Luckily the steps aren't contiguous, and you get to go down about half of them either way you go. The views were awesome as always, and hauling Nico in the baby backpack turned out to be a lot easier than I expected. Even the stairs weren't so bad, though MB did assist by walking up behind us and boosting the pack a little bit for me. Some of my favorite shots from the hike:

After lunch, the others went on a horseback ride and Nico went on his first pony ride. We weren't sure how he'd react but he loved it, though it's hard to tell from the photos. It went so well that we talked about taking him back for another ride on Sunday morning, but it ended up raining in the wee hours so we decided to just pack up our damp belongings and head home.

There were a few rough moments, but overall it was a really great trip and I'm honestly looking forward to taking Nico camping again. I'm actually kind of bummed that we most likely won't get to camp with him again until next year.

playing a little cornhole

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of camping with my parents, and I'm so happy that we're going to get to build similar memories with Nico. It will be so much fun to share the stars and trees and trails and campfires and closeness of our family of friends with him as he grows. I have a feeling we have a lot of fantastic adventures ahead of us.

(more photos on Flickr if you'd like to see more of my cute kid and the nice scenery)

* Title stolen from an adorable T-shirt that my friend Tamsyn sent to Nico for the trip, which sadly did not arrive until Monday afternoon.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I've always been prone to what can best be referred to as the Church Giggles - when you start giggling at an inappropriate time, and then you can't stop because it's so inappropriate. Also, the annoying pre-laughing at the punchline giggles, where sometimes I'm trying to tell a joke and I start giggling uncontrollably so that by the time I get to the end, I can barely speak (annoying!). Tonight while I was singing Nico's bedtime songs, Indy wandered past the open doorway, and it reminded me of an incident earlier in the evening.

Nico and I had walked over to the playground down the block for a bit, and left Indy in the yard while we were gone. When we got back, Indy was so thrilled to see us that he started leaping around and, before I could stop him, jumped up to pinball off of Nico. Except Indy weighs 55 pounds and Nico weighs 27 pounds, so he pretty much utterly bulldozed Nico. Nico went down in the grass, Indy bounded off with me shouting "No!" after him, and then Nico - bless his heart - got up laughing and chased Indy down the sidewalk. And I know it's not really funny, I should be thinking Oh, what a close call! and wringing my hands or something...but, dude. I thought about Indy wiping Nico out and because he didn't get hurt, it was funny, in that horrible-but-funny way that videos of little kids getting wiped out by animals are always funny, where you laugh and you think I shouldn't laugh because he could've been hurt, but I can't stop laughing.

So when I saw Indy walk by the door, the comedic qualities of the moment in the yard hit me, and I had a brief Church Giggle fit. I think I would've made it through, but Nico saw me struggling not to grin, and he started grinning at me. That set me off again, and then he started giggling, and we ended up in this Church Giggle Feedback Loop. It started with me probably being a bit of an asshole mom, laughing at my poor toddler getting flattened by his own dog, but it morphed into this incredibly sweet moment. At rest and in his frequent moments of serious consideration Nico looks just like his father, but in motion, his expressive face is a mirror of mine. His crinkled eyes, his wide grin, the dimple in his cheek -- seeing it reflected back at me along with his infectious toddler giggles was pretty great. I thought to myself, "This right here, this is reason enough to have a kid."

(so far unscathed by his insensitive mother)

Reading:  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Playing:  The King is Dead by the Decemberists

Monday, September 12, 2011

Things I learned this weekend

by velocibadgergirl, age 30

Wearing cute shoes is a good way to feel sassy.

Riding in a limo is fun even when you aren't drinking.

Drag shows are hella awesome.

Drag queens are so fabulous I can't stand it. Most can dance circles around me, and will be wearing amazing fuck-me boots while doing it.

When I dance to rap music, the resulting photos include slight but still-shameful Inadvertent Duck Face.

My friends are the raddest, most fun chicks a girl could hope to know. Love you guys!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Up the water spout

I think my job is inuring me to danger, to a...well, dangerous degree. Yesterday I was gathering supplies for an impending outreach program. I got some stuff out of a cabinet in the classroom, got some other stuff from the maintenance room, and then got some other stuff from another place. As I was leaning over to get something at my last stop, I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye, something on my arm. I turned to look, and there was a goddamn spider crawling across my upper arm, just below the sleeve of my shirt. Now, it wasn't what I would call a huge spider, because a month or two ago I went out into the lobby to capture a wolf spider, compared it to the standard-sized drinking glass in my hand and said, "I'm gonna need a bigger cup." (We kept her in a jar and fed her live bugs that we caught in the office, and were all very sad when she died.) But! With the legs, the spider was probably about the size of a quarter, maybe a bit bigger, so you might well call it huge. In any case, there was a large-ish spider crawling on my person and my entire reaction was to turn my head a few inches to the right and blow the spider off my arm with a puff of air. I didn't even jump when I saw it, you guys. I think I'm becoming way too used to these sorts of things.

Reading:  Hunting Unicorns by Bella Pollen

Playing:  a Led Zeppelin mix

Sunday, September 04, 2011

This used to be my playground

I took Nico to the awesomely toddler-friendly park playground on Monday. (It has ramps instead of steps and is surrounded by a fence, plus all the slides and monkey bars are short.) We were only there for about half an hour and it was only our second visit, but he's asked about it every day since.

This playground was built on the site of my favorite childhood playground, which was the most fantastic pre-safety-standards 1970s / 1980s playground of all time. It had two really tall slides, fireman poles, metal climbing gyms, concrete animals to climb on / crawl under, and this big silver triangular thing with an unclear purpose. It was huge, pitched at an impossibly steep angle, and got really hot in the sun. We always approached it via a running start and tried to get momentum to carry us to the top. I never made it, though I think one of my cousins did once. I'm more than a little bummed about that amazing playground being razed to build one that big kids probably find ridiculously dull, but I also kind of love that Nico loves the new incarnation. I suspect we'll be spending a lot of time there this Fall.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Thursday, September 01, 2011


The leaves are starting to fall from the trees at work, just a little. I know it's because it hasn't rained much and the trees are just thirsty, but it gives me hope that autumn is coming. Meanwhile, tomorrow's forecast high of 101 degrees laughs in my face.

Are you ever seized with random moments of regret for objects you let pass you by without snatching them up, or things you had but didn't hang onto but should've? I found an empty turtle shell once, the time I volunteered at my old beloved summer camp. I left it at my cousin's house in the country because it was still a little funky, and someone threw it out. Tonight, out of nowhere, I was filled with chagrin that I didn't just bring the shell home to my own house and leave it out in the yard somewhere until it was non-smelly. What a waste...I'll probably never find another whole shell like that again.

Nico knows all of the letters of the alphabet now, at least all the capitals. According to my mom, he repeatedly demands requests that she sing the "ay cee song" while pointing to the letters on his ABC puzzle. While she sings, he spins in a circle and then staggers like a very small drunk. When he's not making himself dizzy, he has learned to run across the house, tiny legs taking comically tiny steps. He can also walk backward and I know it's a cliche but, man...when did my bitty baby turn into this big, vibrant, beautiful, chattering boy?

I have three days in a row off with both my boys this weekend, for the first time in I don't know how long. We don't have any special plans for the weekend proper (see forecast temperature of 101 degrees), but on Monday we're taking Nico on his very first amusement park / water park trip. I'm pretty good at keeping my expectations in check and not getting bent out of shape when Nico is nonplussed by experiences I was sure he'd enjoy, but I really (REALLY) hope he likes it. Anyone else have fancy plans for the holiday?