Sunday, August 25, 2013

six months

six months

Dear Elliott,

Sweet little mooseling, you are the happiest, most easygoing baby I have ever encountered. You do have rare fussy spells, but they're uncommon and usually pass quickly, leaving a sunny dimpled smile behind. When I come to pick you up from Grandma and Grandpa's at the end of the day, you break into a huge smile upon seeing me, excitedly flapping your arms and bouncing your legs as if you could lift off and leap into my arms. I'm happy to lift you up and bury my face in your sweet neck, your not-quite-bald fuzzy head. You're the best kind of second child, blithely riding along on all your busier brother's adventures. And you do literally ride along, going most places strapped to my chest in your Beco. Sometimes you want out to explore a little on your own, but mostly you're happy to watch the world from your snug carrier, taking breaks sometimes to drink a bottle or catch a quick nap.

You're a big moose of a baby, with a perfectly round face and glorious soft fat thighs. At your last well baby visit you measured in the 90th percentile for weight and were off the chart for height. At the children's museum a few weeks ago we met a walking, talking toddler who weighed two pounds less than you. It's funny to see you in all the clothes your brother was wearing as a crawler, while you still haven't even ventured up onto your hands and knees at all yet. This past week I brought the twelve-month clothes down from the attic, worried you'd outgrow my favorites before you even got to wear them.

You still prefer to nurse only when it's easy, but when you do nurse you nurse well. I'm finally making enough milk to keep you fed and your thigh rolls fully stocked. Now that you're six months old we'll probably start offering you fruit and cereal soon, but I'm not in a hurry. While it hasn't always been easy, I'll forever be grateful that I was able to breastfeed you. I hope we get to continue for quite a while.

Over the past month or two you've started to interact more with your world, and you're always eager to grab things and put them in your mouth. You can roll easily both ways but aren't quite ready to sit up on your own. Much to my chagrin you love television, and will twist your little body into impossible yoga contortions to try to watch TV in restaurants or at home where I've placed you deliberately facing away from it. You're the star of our monthly book discussion group, charming all the ladies with your pleasant behavior, gummy grins, and appropriately-themed onesies. Your chronically crusty eye seems to have suddenly and completely cleared up, from a frightful mess one day to totally normal the next. Today you splashed happily in your little bathtub for the first time, after initially not being a huge bath fan. I'm hoping we can start baby swimming lessons in a few months and that you'll enjoy them.

You still love your bouncy chairs (though I think you'll probably outgrow them soon), and will happily bounce yourself for quite a while. You're unfailingly patient with your brother's displays of affection. You've started self-soothing by sucking on the middle two fingers of your right hand and as much as I cringe to think of the future orthodontic bills, it's really adorable.

Life is definitely busier with two kids and there are days when I feel like we barely got to spend time together. Sometimes on those nights, I'll sit in the rocking chair in your room for an hour or more, holding you while you sleep, just trying to drink in a little bit more of you before the next day rolls around and sweeps us up again. I don't feel you're neglected, but I do miss having the time to read you book after book or take long, lazy naps with you the way I did with your brother. I try to trust that the unique gifts you have as my second child will make up for the things you don't get since you're not my first.

When you were born, I thought you'd be my last baby. Your daddy and I had agreed (reluctantly on my part) to stop after two kids. Now we aren't so sure, and while we're not ready to commit fully to having a third, we're also not shutting the door. I try to enjoy everything about your babyhood both in case you are my last and just because you are such a wonderful baby. If we do have another, count that as a credit to you, because you're so spectacular that I wish I could have five more just like you.

I'm endlessly curious to see how you'll differ from your brother as you grow and how you'll be similar. Before you were born, when I imagined you I always pictured you as a smaller version of him. I knew that you'd be different, but since I'd only ever had one baby, that's the baby I imagined again. People say you look similar, but I don't see it too much (other than the roundness, which he also had at your age). I think you look more like me, or at least you've got some of the best of my features. Of course I'm biased but I think you might just be the cutest baby of all time. You're a bright ray of sunshine, illuminating all my days (and blessedly few of my nights), and I'm so very grateful for you.

You are a blessing and a gift and a wonder.


six months ago

one month

six months

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August goals

August goals

I'm stealing this idea from Jennie via Alexa and posting some goals for the month. Hopefully having them posted here will keep me more accountable than putting them in my phone or writing them down on paper. In no particular order:

1. Sort / cull / store outgrown kid clothes

2. Pull out next size for both kids

3. Frame and hang Elliott's hospital photo and footprints

4. Choose outfits for boys' photos on 8/25

5. Choose photos for living room and order

6. Basement storage organization project

7. Hang thermal curtains in staircase window and Elliott's room

8. Read one non-bookclub book

9. Get allergy note and tickets for amusement park trip

10. Catch up on boys' monthly letters

11. Back up all iPhoto albums to Flickr

12. Call cable company for a quote

13. Make deposits into kids' savings accounts

14. Set up September playdate / girls' night / game night

15. Write to MIL

16. Get back on a normal sleep schedule before preschool starts. 

Monday, August 12, 2013



This is impossibly dorky, but it's been bugging me lately how arbitrary the rules are when it comes to which animals are anthropomorphized in cartoons. Not that any particular animal being allowed to talk bothers me, but I have to wonder if there were ever any arguments in writers' rooms over the raging inconsistencies. I think the classic debate has always been why Goofy can talk but Pluto is Mickey Mouse's pet, but the one that has me pondering is Nico's favorite show, Kipper. If you haven't seen it, I do recommend it for small folks. It's a nice, friendly, quiet kind of show. Most of the characters are sweet and no one screams or sasses. The main character is Kipper the Dog, and he has several dog friends, all of whom are almost completely anthropomorphic - they walk on two legs, talk, live in houses, etc. They don't wear clothing as a rule, though they will dress up in costumes sometimes. Kipper's other main friends are Pig and Arnold, a pair of anthropomorphized pigs. So dogs and pigs are people-like, no problem. In a few episodes, Kipper shares his house with a mouse who talks, but doesn't otherwise act humanlike. So I suppose you'd say the mouse is sentient. In another episode, Kipper gets a pet hamster that is just a normal non-talking hamster. Mice, sentient; hamsters, not. And there's an episode where they attempt to rescue a cat from a tree and the cat is totally non-sentient. Dogs, human; cats, not. Also, they visit a farm that has all the normal non-sentient farm animals, but no pigs since pigs are apparently people. It doesn't keep me up at night or anything, but it's SO ARBITRARY.

Another set that I find odd are the bears from the Little Bear books. They're fully anthropomorphic, though Little Bear's animal friends talk but do not walk upright or otherwise act human. Little Bear's parents wear clothes, but LB runs around as God intended. There's even a story in which he asks for clothes to stay warm in the snow, only to have his mother kindly demonstrate that he doesn't need clothes because he has a fur coat. Then whither the DRESS, Mother Bear?

How do I love thee, Target? Let me count the ways.

1. I finally found white crates for the changing table! I've had navy ones in there since Nico was a baby and though I know it should not matter one bit what color crate the baby's diapers are in, I've always wished they were white instead. Now they are!

2. My love for latch-top totes continues apace. When I used to watch Hoarders I was always horrified when the cleaning crews would throw perfectly good plastic totes into the dumpsters. I regularly shouted at the television, "Do you know how much those things cost? And they're perfectly good!" I may have a problem. I admit nothing. This is what Elliott's room looks like right now because Target had a tote sale for back-to-college and both kids just went up a size. My empire is built on a system of well-sorted carefully-stored hand-me-down children's clothes.

3. I found "some ecard" brand stuff in the dollar bins. I hope you can read these, because they're awesome. Some people I know are going to be getting these in the mail very soon.

4. I also got little four packs of Dr Seuss crayons eight for a dollar, and really nice Dr Seuss erasers six for a dollar. My only regret is that the bin for Dr Seuss stickers was empty. I prefer to send non-candy treats for treat-bag-requiring holidays at preschool, but I also prefer not to spend a frillion dollars on non-candy treats.

Real-life marginalia

I'm fascinated by the little notes and bits of things left behind by people who take a minute to bother. No surprise, considering I loved that poem off to the right there so much that I named my blog from it. I've been collecting pictures of real-life marginalia for a while and probably won't ever have enough for a post of just those things, so why not add them here.

Looking for Alaska quote written in the front of Paper Towns

I guess this one's not really marginalia, but it did make me laugh.

Happiest baby of all time

That is all.

Reading:    The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

Playing:    Long Live the King by the Decemberists

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The dudes' abode

The dudes' abode

K / @TwoAdults shared a really fun tour of her house and I've been enjoying the other posts following the same idea. I'm crazy-nosey and love peeking into internet folks' houses so I figured I'd give you a peek into mine in turn.

This is our house, or was our house when we bought it in February 2008:

This is our house now, more or less…I took the photo two(?) summers ago after the roof was re-shingled but it looks about the same now. We had it stripped and repainted and replaced all the windows during the summer of 2009 while I was pregnant with Nico.

I don't know what the style is called…Colonial Revival, maybe? It was built in 1940. The exterior of our house had to grow on me, honestly. I'm a bungalow or old farmhouse girl through and through, but after looking at 30 houses this was really the only option. We had grand plans of redecorating the entire place, but there was a surprising lack of money once we moved in, and then we started having kids which turned out to be a little bit expensive. Who knew?

I mostly love our house. If I could go back in time, I might try to hold out for a four-bedroom, but at the time we were certain we only wanted two kids so we settled for a three-bedroom. We aren't 100% sure we'll go for a third kid, but we've decided not to shut the door entirely, so that's something I kind of wish I'd seen coming. Anyway, let's get on with the tour. We almost never use the front door since the garage is around back.

If you walk in our back door (which is actually on the side of our house, not the back), you come into a very small landing. The kitchen is in front of you, up two steps. The door to the basement is to the right and the half bath is on the left.

I love this little bathroom. As far as I can tell it's original to the house and it makes me feel a bit sad for how sharp the rest of the house probably looked before it was redecorated questionably in the 70s. Once we pay off the baby, I'd like to de-wallpaper and paint the walls in here. I also need to figure out if it's feasible in some way for me to strip the paint off the door and doorframe. Tips are welcome!

Welcome to our orange kitchen. It's offensively orange! The wallpaper is a cartoony Holly Hobby type quilt print. The linoleum is cheap and was installed in the most half-assed fashion imaginable (Instead of cutting it to size, they stuffed the rolled up edges under the cabinets). Someone on facebook asked incredulously how I can stand to look at this every day. The answer is that (A) one becomes desensitized after a while and (B) the price of a full kitchen remodel is even harder to look at, so I carry on bravely. My only real complaint about the setup is that it would be a huge pain in the ass to replace the non-working dishwasher that came with the house, so we probably won't be able to get one until we fork out for a full overhaul. Which will probably be never. If you're standing where I was when I took this picture, the fridge is to your right and then the pantry; the stove is to the left and then the breakfast nook.

Awesome 1963 stove with double oven. If this thing ever dies I will probably cry.

Breakfast nook, which we use as a mudroom / storage room. When we were house shopping we knew we wanted a big dog, so in every house we looked for a spot to put a really big crate. This was a clear winner in that regard. In an alternate universe where we have all kinds of money to burn, we're going to build a deck onto the back of the house and put French doors in here leading out to it. In this universe the dog is worried about me taking a photo of him while he eats. This is not the little side addition visible from the front of the house…we'll get to that later.

Fridge, the only appliance we had to buy when we moved. Pantry door with apropos sign since we use the back door.

Our house is kind of laid out in a big open square, so if you're in the kitchen with your back to the side door, the doorway to the dining room is in front of you and the door to the foyer is to your right. Here's the foyer off the front door / stairs to the second floor:

Anytime someone knocks on the front door and Nico is home, he runs over and peeks out the mail slot to see who's outside. A photographer acquaintance recently captured this and it's one of my favorite pictures ever:

Here's the living room looking in from the foyer. Behold our collection of ginormous baby containment apparatuses! We're also using the ottoman that matched Nico's long-defunct nursery glider because we haven't bought nice ottomans for the living room yet. I blame MB, who stalled on buying some nice matching brown ones at Target until they were sold out. (Sorry, dear. It's true.) The curtains came with the house and we kind of hate them, but we haven't gotten around to shelling out for new ones. The doorway off in the upper left leads into Nico's playroom. The dining room is back and to the left.

Nico's playroom is one of my favorite spaces in the house. This is the little side-addition space you can see when you look at the house from the front. It used to be a side porch that the previous owners had enclosed and connected to the HVAC system. We originally intended to use it as an office and space for our evil cat, but we never used the office since we had laptops. Then it became the catch-all hoardy junk room of shame. Then we got rid of the cat. Then I cleaned it out and turned it into a playroom. It's not very big, but every time I go in there it makes me happy.

Here's the dining room, taken from just outside the playroom. The piano never gets played but I have great intentions of one day getting back to it. My mom bought it for the house I grew up in, and it's the piano I played as a child.

I like the buffet a lot…not sure it qualifies as a built-in since it obviously was added after the house was built, but it's nice for storage. Unfortunately it's also an unmitigated Crap Magnet (™ Temerity Jane). I also like the light fixture pretty well, but it puts off roughly the same amount of heat as the surface of the Sun.

Close-up of the wallpaper. When we moved in, this was my least favorite wallpaper in the house and that is saying something. It grew on me surprisingly quickly. I'm not sure if this is original 1940s paper or a later addition, but in the far distant future when we have stripped every scrap of wallpaper out of the rest of the house, burned it, and danced upon its ashes, I think this will still be on the walls. It does remind me of the plants that shoot spiky balls in the underwater levels of Super Mario Brothers, though.

If you turn and look back into the living room, this is what you see. We used to have a second bookcase in that open space where the lamp is, but our new couch is so ridiculously large that there wasn't room for it.

We're not going down to the basement. There's a very cheaply "finished" section that really barely counts as finished. In that imaginary money-having world, we're going to get it waterproofed and remodeled into a family room. In this world, it's full of stuff and it's really ugly. We do have a separate laundry area and storage space, so that's nice. There are lots of spider webs. Let's head upstairs instead, shall we?

The wallpaper pièce de résistance, plus the affectionately-nicknamed Kermit carpet:

May I magnify your horror by informing you that the entire first floor used to be outfitted with that green carpet? We never saw it, but shreds remain caught in the baseboards here and there. At least once a month I consider ripping out the carpet, but then I think it probably will provide a decent cushion if one of the kids falls down the stairs and I leave it. Looking up the stairs, there's a small built-in cabinet at the top which I love, and a lower door to a laundry chute that we don't use because I'm afraid our clothes would get stuck in the walls somewhere. That doorway you can barely see leads to the full bathroom.

Bathroom. Neither ugly nor particularly attractive. Has inherited mildew in the shower that we can't kill. Gives me daydreams of ripping it all out and installing a big soaker tub.

If you go down the hall past the bathroom, there's a cool built-in linen cabinet on the left and Nico's bedroom is straight ahead. Cabinet, Nico's doorway:

All of our furniture is kind of a hodgepodge. The bed in here is half of a bunk set my parents bought used when I was a kid. The other half is in Elliott's room. I don't love them but they were free. My favorite piece in Nico's room is his dresser, which I picked out at Goodwill in college and used until we moved into the house. I loved it so much that I literally sat on it while my dad went up front and paid for it so that no one else could buy it. MB has always disliked it, so I sent it to be the baby dresser and started using another one for myself when we moved.

Our room is next to Nico's. The master bedroom is stupidly huge. We have a queen bed and a giant crib in there and still have space for a half-court basketball game. I actually wish the builder had given some of the space to the third bedroom because poor Elliott's room is disproportionately small. When we have all that money to spend, I'm going to see if I can find a creative contractor who can move the wall two or three feet in and give E a bit more space. The ceiling is wallpapered. (So was Elliott's ceiling and so are the ceilings in the kitchen and half bath. Former owners LOVED wallpaper.) And don't you love our classy top sheet? The dog sleeps on the bed all day and I don't want his hair getting all over the bedding. The brown dresser in the room is mine. It belonged to one of my great aunts. I might have to add a photo of my nightstand. It's the same light green as Nico's dresser (which is why I loved Nico's dresser on sight) and it was the first piece of furniture I ever picked out for myself. My parents took me to the furniture store when I was about four years old and I can remember seeing the little chest on a dolly being wheeled out to my dad's truck. If we ever buy nice matching nightstands for our bedroom I'm keeping my green one, too.

Finally we come to Elliott's room. MB has vowed never again to paint a two-toned room. We decided to leave the twin bed set up when we converted this from the guest room to the nursery. Good thing, too, because I slept in there with Elliott for his first ten weeks and still sometimes end up in there. My favorite thing in the room is his custom nursery art above the dresser, made by a girl I used to work with…you can't really tell, but it's actually hand-painted pieces assembled together in a sort of collage on a watercolor background. It's exactly what I wanted as soon as I found out I was having another boy. (She is available for commission work, so let me know if you'd like her info. She's crazy talented and super nice!)

So that's our house! It definitely has some challenges but overall I really like it. It's a solid place that has some character and charm without being a total fixer-upper. It may end up being the only home we ever own since we opted not to do the starter home thing. Time will tell, I guess!