Monday, March 27, 2006

and the difference between two and twenty is?

At 20 months, Henry can pick up my pint glass (of water, of course) and chug it without spilling a drop. He loves to dance like a maniac. He enjoys making funny faces to entertain others. He flirts with the ladies like crazy. He has a very high tolerance for slamming his body into just about anything and bounces back quickly. Naked is his thing. He climbs on top of any and all furniture any chance he gets. And he loves wearing a bucket on his head. If only he were 3 feet taller this kid would kill at frat parties.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

i'm not one to just post links, but...

i've got issues

I have been mulling over a post about how overwhelmed I am with balancing my job and freelance design work and taking care of Henry lately and how I am falling short on the work responsibilities but I just don’t have it in me to work through it all. Instead I keep thinking about the play date that Henry and I had this morning with a friend and her son who is exactly the same age as Henry.

I like this friend and her son very much. We chat and drink diet coke (a guilty pleasure I tend to indulge only at her house) and the boys play together great. The only problem is that after we get together I spend a day or so feeling weird. We mostly talk about the kids and our husbands and we tend to be on the same page wrt most toddler behavior issues. The problem is that our kids are at really different stages developmentally and I feel like every thing I say about what Henry is doing lately comes off as a comparison. I hear “oh, wow” followed by a pause way too often for my comfort in these conversations. Henry has a lot more words and has been running around for a long time while her son has been super slow to walk and is very cautious and timid about almost everything. That is starting to change and his doctors seem to think he’s fine. (His dad’s also an overachiever doctor and freaked out about almost everything related to his development but that’s another story.) I find myself thinking about what I am going to say much harder than I want to and downplaying things Henry does that I think are totally amazing. I even tend to bring up things he isn’t so great at in an attempt to build up her son and I feel so lame for it. On the flip side, her son is a giant compared to H, which is my area of concern so I end up feeling as bad about my own silent comparisons as I do about her not so silent ones.

Henry is amazing and great and so is her kid (and every other kid I know) and I just want to hang out with them and not think about how different they are. I fear that this is only the beginning of the comparisons and I am sure that my issues are way more about me than they are about him. I suppose that’s the opportunity we are given as parents- work on our own issues and then maybe our kids won’t have to.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

for the love of conveyor belt sushi

For awhile now Jason and I have been censoring our language around the kid. No, not fuck, shit, goddamn or even bastard. Though I am silently grieving the day I will have to give up those gems, knowing it is just around the corner. Words that must be omitted or spelled in Henry’s presence include tv (spelling doesn’t work so well with that one so we call it the big black box), park, swing and outside, for they will cause an immediate need to have said item absolutely immediately.

Ok, fine. But not so fine is that I am now considering changing my driving habits, or more accurately, routes due to his strong and vocal desires. It started a month or so ago with the library. We used to go to tiny tots reading and play time and Henry loved it. We haven’t gone in awhile, in part due to all of the illnesses we were picking up, but I drive by the Hollywood library with him multiple times a week. And each time he starts saying his word for library (something like bree) first with optimism and then with desperation as we keep driving by. It has only degenerated badly when he is very tired and/or hungry but I have started to dread it. Then, just last week, after a particularly big lunch elsewhere, we drove by Sushi Land and H freaked out yelling “eat!” repeatedly and with dismay when it became clear we weren’t stopping for mediocre but oh so convenient sushi right that minute. What next!?

Monday, March 20, 2006

17 hours without the boy

I wasn’t sure it was really going to happen but Henry had his first sleep over this weekend with my parents. Jason and I went out to dinner and talked for hours about things of greater and lesser importance. When we got home we were practically giddy and kept saying things like, “we can make noise,” “we can turn this light on.” We agreed that we felt almost guilty but just almost. It was a really nice break. Sadly we both woke up at night feeling a little off and then the damn dog (who usually wakes up around 7:30) woke up to go out at 6:20 (Henry’s usually wake time!). We gladly went back to sleep after that and then walked up the hill to our local tea place to eat and chat. My parents even drove him home and Henry was in a great mood. They looked a little worse from the wear but said they had fun. He did wake up once and then had them up at ten to six but I am not going to feel bad. We really needed it and appreciated it. I hope we can make it a repeat event.

identity crisis

Me: So, I was reading that Mrs. Wishy-Washy book from the library with Henry today and he pointed to Mrs. Wishy-Washy and said “mom.” It kinda freaked me out, like he associates me with an overweight pasty white cartoon woman with a scarf on her head.

J: Uh, huh.

Me: So, I said, “no, not mama.” So, he said “daddy.”

J: And you were ok with that, weren’t you?

Me: Pretty Much.

These days Henry’s taxonomy includes mamas, daddies and babies (anyone smaller than a mama or daddy even if they’re bigger than he is). I noticed the begining of the categorizing months ago when he would point to the back view of the hand drawn muscle diagram on the cover of an anatomy book and say “daddy” over and over again. Hmmm.

Friday, March 17, 2006

freaky friday

Holy crap. I still have an hour left before I have to pick up Henry and I am closing in on the last of my work for the week. I may not have any real work to do this weekend! I can’t believe how long it’s been since that’s been the case. I do have several freelance projects piled up but they are manageable and... and... and... Henry is spending the night with my parents this weekend! Without us! It will be the first time we’ve been apart over night and although I relish the thought of going out to dinner and sleeping in (!), I know it’s going to feel really weird not to have him with us. I guess I’ll deal with that when we get to it. For now, I am psyched and the sun is shining.

The one funny thing about the sleepover deal is that my mom seems to be really nervous about it, like she doesn’t know exactly what to do and there are a million details she needs to know before hand. This makes some sense. I know the sleep habits of small children are serious business. Believe me, I know. But Henry already falls asleep over there two afternoons a week and absolutely loves everything about my parents and their house. And most significant, the kid likes to go to sleep when tired. He actually asks to go “night” and cuddles up with his toys and blanket and that’s it! It has been a long, hard road getting there but it’s awesome now and I don’t think she has anything to worry about. I really hope I’m right.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

rethinking children's songs

I have read a number of posts around the blogsphere lately about good children’s music and I have a number of favorites myself. But instead, I thought I would share an album worth hating song by song. In my book, a slight few of the songs are fine and worth listening to but the sappy sweet versions of even those are hardly bearable. The rest are downright bad and some of the lyrics are truly frightening. You might say that given the title it couldn’t have been good so why am I even bothering? Jason brought it home from the library with a stack of other music and I let it play too long before I realized its creepiness. I don’t think it helps that I hadn’t heard most of these until now and this is my attempt to exorcise it from my psyche.

Walt Disney Records: Children's Favorite Songs, Vol. 3 : 23 Classic Tunes by various artists

2. Shoo, Fly, Don't Bother Me- “Shoo, fly, don’t bother me for I belong to somebody.” WTF is that about?

3. Oh Dear, What Can The Matter Be?- Basically, Johnny promised to bring whomever is singing the song a bunch of dumb crap (including “a trinket to please me”) from the fair and he’s been gone a long time. Oh dear!

5. Hush, Little Baby- So the daddy is going to fulfill the child’s every material wish and if that fails, at least she’ll be “the prettiest girl in town.” And we all know how important that is.

6. Did You Ever See A Lassie?- Uh, nope. Don’t think so.

7. Grandfather's Clock- The grandfather gets a clock on the day he was born and it stops ticking on the day he dies. They keep singing “Tick, tock, tick, tock. His life seconds numbering. Tick, tock, tick, tock. It stopped short, never to go again,
when the old man died.” Over and over again. It freaks me out.

8. Clementine- Clementine is the daughter of a miner and she drowns and he is so sad he kills himself so he can be with her. It includes this little gem, “There grow roses, ‘mongst the posies
 fertilized by Clementine.” Again, freaks me the fuck out.

9. Michael, Row The Boat Ashore- Apparently this was a rowing song sung by black slaves, which was interesting to research a bit. This version happens to have a freaky little girls high-pitched voice in it that’s creepy like the song of kids voices they used to play in graveyard/alien kid scenes in “the x files.”

10. Alouette- Funny French. A jaunty little song from children to a bird about all the ways in which they are going to pluck it.

11. With Apologies To Mother Goose- Ok, fairly entertaining, probably the best thing on there (and that’s not saying much).

Ok, I’m starting to bore myself and probably my one reader so I am going to skip the rest of these and finish with the one most insane “children’s song” of all times, #14.

14. Billy Boy- This one really gets me. It a call and response sort of thing between a dude and some young girls. He has been to see/seek a wife and they ask him questions about how pretty is she and can she bake a cherry pie. Of course she could and apparently she has ringlets in her hair and a dimple in her chin. The clincher is that after ever line he says, “she’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.” Uh, yuck. You don’t ever really figure out how old she is and there’s some number nonsense at the end that may mean she’s not that young but still I find the whole thing the yuck!

Monday, March 13, 2006

mama tired

This really should have been my first post. A month or so ago I drove by a parked car with a bumper sticker that said “mama tried” in bold letters. All my poor sleep deprived brain could process was “mama tired” and I thought something to the effect of "right on, no kidding, sister." This is particularly funny to me because I have seen that message on car bumpers for years and listened to the referenced song (the grateful dead version that is) more times than I care to admit during my college years. I realized my mistake almost immediately but I have since driven by that same parked car at least a half of a dozen times and the first thing I see every time is “mama tired.” I guess sometimes the truth is just inescapable.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

working toward normal

Although I put in a few hours of work this weekend and have another couple to do right now, I had a really nice weekend. A good balance of productive and relaxing. It has been so many weeks since I had the energy to get much done that I had forgotten what normal feels like. Well, almost normal I guess. I had no idea a cold could possibly hang on this long. A friend of mine called tonight and bitched about how tired she is and how she’s never had a cold this long (since last week!). I kept saying, yeah, I know I’ve been sick since early December. I mean, she knows how many times we’ve all been to the doctor and that I am constantly trying not to complain about how bad I feel but she just kept going on and on. She was talking about how terrible it was to have a sore throat for four days and I had to say, yeah, seriously, I have had a sore throat for five weeks straight. I was consciously trying to be sympathetic and supportive and not compare my cold to hers but after months of Jason and Henry and I all being totally down and out I just couldn’t get over the bitching about a week long cold. She clearly didn’t get it and didn’t want to. Whatever. Rant complete.

So, I would have to say that the highlight of the weekend was getting out and doing some yard work. I cleaned up a bunch of dead plants and branches and weeded and planted a few new annuals or “color spots” as the gardening industry lamely calls them. It was pleasant and the results will make me feel good for weeks to come. The best part was that Henry came out and played around in the dirt with us this afternoon. He would have little to do with the play sand shovel I brought out for him and wanted a bigger trowel or to drag the rake around. He got dirty and had a great time. It gave me a little glimpse into what I hope this summer will be. More time in the back yard and going to the park and out on hikes. Obviously Henry won’t be doing much hiking on his own two feet but he is getting increasingly coordinated and able to navigate the world. And even better, he is getting pretty good at following instructions or at least understanding instructions- it’s a start. Last summer he still couldn’t walk and I worked a lot and generally felt sort of trapped. I vow to make this summer better in every way and today showed me that we are definitely on the right track. Strangely, it did snow several times last week in Portland so all we need now is some consistently better weather and we will be set.

Friday, March 10, 2006

snack-sized containers are the new socks

Or something like that. Personally, I haven’t lost a sock in the laundry since we moved into a house with our own washer and dryer but for the life of me I can’t keep Henry’s snack containers and their lids matched up. At this point we have about ten containers and at most four lids floating around. It doesn’t help that he likes to hide things but even he can’t be that creative.

In more pressing news, I have decide that I need a vacation. For a while now I have been talking about quitting my job (which still may not be a bad idea) but I can’t figure out what I want to do instead. The current situation is a very flexible and the money is decent and I am good at it so it’s not so easy to leave. I have been really bummed about the amount of time I am spending on work and how working at home has allowed it to eat into all hours of my days and evenings all week long. But recently I realized that I am starting to have the same feeling about other aspects of my life. Like none of it is fair and I am working too hard and am too busy all the time. On one hand, it may be worth looking at my overall lifestyle and expectations for myself, but on the other, what in the heck do I think I should be doing with my time. The fantasy answer is taking a lot of naps and not having my time spoken for. Well, that’s not going to happen anytime soon no matter what I do. Even if I won the lottery and hired a full time nanny, I would be bored in about a week (well, maybe a month). I am way too compulsive to sit around and do nothing anyway. So what I am landing on here is that I need a break and hopefully life will seem much less unfair. I realize that we haven’t had a vacation (aside from holidays with relatives- not a real vacation by any stretch) in many years. And haven’t had a full night’s sleep or slept in past 7am without interruption for two years. I have been trying to get my mom to agree to let him sleep at their house for weeks now but she’s being very annoyingly reluctant. But I think even some time away with Henry would be great. So, the next step is to figure out when and how this is going to happen. I don’t imagine this is an immediate option but even a weekend night or two at the coast might be a good start.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

come on, like me god damn it

Generally I don’t mind filing out tax forms. Actually, I find it kind of satisfying in the end. I like accuracy and definitive answers and filling in little boxes. When I was about 9 I wrote a book (for school) of poems that included one titled “I love tests.” I really was that big of a nerd.

In any case, I am filing out an IRS form that proves we should still be considered a nonprofit after our initial four years of operation. (oh my god I have been wasting my life at this for 4 years!?) Pretty straight forward but we have a weird set of income sources that don’t exactly correspond to the IRS categories. Most of this is taken care of by our accountant but since 2005 taxes haven’t been done yet and this form is due, I find myself trying to figure this shit out on my own. So I end up calling our accountant to help me sort it out. I seriously can’t think of anyone else that makes me feel like such a moron. She is so serious and short (verbally that is, but also happens to be quite a small person) and clearly didn’t want to deal with me. She wasn’t mean or unprofessional or anything specifically bad. And I think she’s really a very good accountant and I sort of like her just fine but I feel like I am about to cry. Maybe it’s me not her. Maybe it’s both of us or that when I talk to her I feel like I should really know more than I do and I’m pretending and she knows what a big idiot I am. I feel like I should have all the answers but how in the hell could I? Sometimes I don’t feel like I even know the right words to ask the right questions.

Clearly this is going nowhere fast in terms of my enlightenment about my current questionable state of mind. I think I’ll blame the IRS and perhaps hormones and chocolate deprivation and leave it at that…wait, scratch that, I think I want this woman to like me and she is so damn professional she can’t spare any niceties and I figure if she thinks I am really smart and on top of it she will like me and be nice to me. In reality thought I don’t suspect she is actually “nice” to anyone. If I didn’t have a reason to write this/place to put it, I would have just sat around freaking out and eating chocolate chips. Blog therapy. How about that?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

my apologies

If Henry’s pretend phone conversations are any indication, I must sound something like the following on a regular basis.

Um. Hi. Uh. Yeah. Uh. Uh-huh. Hmm. Mmm. Ha ha ha ha ha (insert fake laughter). Um. Huh. Yeah. Um. Uh-huh. Yeah. Bye!

Monday, March 06, 2006

by 4:30 butter was a reasonable plaything

So, I finally joined a gym again after almost two years without regularly scheduled exercise. The first year after Henry’s birth, I was too tired to care and last summer we got out and about fairly often. This winter however, I have been a total sloth and it’s time to fix that. I hate few things more than having my options restricted and there’s no way I can even think about trying to get pregnant again without losing some significant weight. The good new is that I love this gym. It’s a racquet club that must have been all fancy in the 70s and is now a little dated but well-equipped and has funny little features like a sunken seating area with fireplace in the lobby stocked with middle aged guys drinking bear after killing themselves on the racquet ball court, and a tv in the women’s locker room.

The only time I can get in to regularly work out is around 7pm as Henry is headed for bed. The only major issue I’m having is figuring out how to eat dinner at a reasonable time so I don’t get on the treadmill stuffed and lethargic. So, the goal is to eat dinner around 5:30, which is actually probably a good solution for Henry too. Nice idea but the execution so far is lacking. Henry gets harder to entertain as the afternoon wears on and he is no longer content to play while I cook. Instead, he must be at counter height to observe everything I am doing and discuss whether or not every single item in the kitchen is hot or not multiple times. Generally I am fine with this. I like having him interact with me and experience new things and I love the idea of teaching him to cook. But tonight when a freelance graphic design client called to discuss a new project while I had my hands in the sink and looked over to see Henry simultaneously grabbing for my open drink bottle, the meat thermometer, an open can of tomato sauce, and a stick of butter, I quickly swept all but the butter away from him and it felt like a perfectly logical decision. At times like these I have to wonder if even considering having another child is a good idea.

In the end, the kitchen was somewhat trashed, dinner was done and eaten by 6pm, little harm was done to person, property or dairy product and my child remains happy. I do have to ask myself though if parking him in front of Blue’s Clues for a half of an hour would have been such a bad thing. Honestly, I’m not sure.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

look out folks, she's got herself a blog

After six months of reading about other people's lives, I figured it was about time to step up and put my own out there. Let the fun begin.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

about me

Sitting down to write about myself I realized that the first sentence really defines how I see myself. Not that first sentence but the one that starts I am a 33 year old ___. It is definitely not my job title. It is not wife. It is not any particular hobby or skill. My first inclination was to insert mother but what would it have been three years ago before I was a mother? Honestly I don’t know. Of course I could just say woman and move on but that would be too easy. I am generally not one who goes for easy. I do, however, generally know what I like and don’t like. Maybe that’s me in a nutshell- a 32 year old female in search of who I am and what I want to define me. I like to think I can do better than that but if I ever hope to finish this I should just let it go for now. I am also not one to let things go.

I live in Portland, Oregon with my husband of 9 years (together 13), Jason, my 4-year-old son, Henry and my almost 2-year-old daughter, Mia. I work almost full-time for a small non-profit related to community involvement in land planning. We do good work and I have a lot of influence within the organization (I am a cofounder) but I have little passion for it. This is somewhat of a problem for me but it is currently so convenient and flexible that I can’t give it up just yet. Having children has made me a far better person (no, really) but I still feel overwhelmed many days, particularly now that there are two of them and only one of me. My husband is a great father, particularly to babies, and a sweet, goofy, loving partner. He is ridiculously handy. He also drives me insane sometimes. Seeing a trend? Yes, I am a little on edge and a little melodramatic but working on this every day.

I majored in art at a small classical liberal arts college and still consider myself an artist but lately art for art’s sake has taken a backseat to working on my house, doing a myriad of crafty projects, graphic design work (for freelance clients), and cooking. Everything in my life has taken a backseat to having babies and taking care of them I suppose but time is short and the years are already flying by so I don’t mind too much. I am finding myself in the process and know that I will find passion beyond my family and friends at some point. I just don’t know when.

This blog is mostly an outlet for tales of mommy woes and joys because that’s what is often at the forefront of my thinking and it’s easy to write about. However, I think of this as a place for me to write about my experiences and thoughts and feelings about whatever seems relevant in the moment and I am going to try to remember that even if it is a bit more work to get it down at the end of a long day.