Tuesday, August 29, 2006

my artist

He so proudly declared "apple, mama" after he drew each one. I couldn't be more proud.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

all in a day's work

The bedtime routine around here has changed and evolved over time and sometimes it is better than others. We go through phases where Henry is happy to get in his crib (after the whole routine) and others where he’s not. Lately he has been yelling for about 30 seconds after I put him in his crib and head for the door. I don’t like it and feel crappy leaving while he yells maaaaamaaaaaa. I feel such a sense of satisfaction when I lay him down and cover him up and he says night night and stays there to quietly fall asleep.

The whole reason I am bothering to write this down is that a very interesting thing seems to be going on. I put him in his crib and he stands up and I give him a drink of water, he drinks it and he acts done and then as I walk away he jumps up and down and screams “driiiiiink of water” and then “maaaaamaaaaa.” Both only once for a few seconds then lays down and goes to sleep. If I go back and try to give him more water he takes it and then does the same thing when I leave again. This has been going on for over a week so I have been lingering and asking for another kiss and saying night night, and offering more water, etc. to see if I can avoid the yelling part. The amazing thing is that he is starting to tell me he’s going to yell and jump. Like, “ha, ha, mama, Henry scream aaaahhhh. Ha, ha. Henry jump.” And tonight he went so far as to point to the door. I asked him if he wanted me to go and he smiled sweetly and said, "yes, mama go." And then he jumped up and down and screamed just like he said he would before laying down and going to sleep. For him, it's all part of the routine.

I can’t help but think of the old Warner Brothers cartoons with Sam the sheepdog and Ralph the wolf. They kept up their whole chase and attack routine until the lunch whistle blew and then they would sit down and eat together. Sometimes I guess you just have to go along with the act.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

henry the two year old

This wasn’t intended as a post but since all I have been doing is complaining here lately and haven’t written much about my favorite subject, here is more than you likely care to know about Henry in his most recent incarnation:

August, 2006

Dear Henry,
In the absence of a detailed baby book, your daddy and I sat down to write a few observations about you now that you are two years old. You are so much more and do so much more than this list but here are a few things that come easily to mind when we think of the little person you are these days.

You are a very sweet happy boy most of the time.
You are good at throwing and kicking a ball.
You like to hit big golf balls with your little clubs and are getting better all the time.
You love to draw, particularly with a purple marker. You ask me to “purple draw” and often draw circles and tell us about them as you draw.
You play with Play doh almost every day.
You eat a diverse range of foods, including many vegetables such as beets and beans and tomatoes.
Your favorite foods are sushi and macaroni and cheese.
You are quite social and say “hi” and “bye” to people most everywhere we go.
You like to share (toys, food) with other kids and adults.
You love all things related to trains and are very good at putting together and playing with your wooden trains. You point out engines and cabooses.
You love the park, especially climbing up and sliding down slides.
You put on and take off your “green shoes” by yourself.
You make little jokes and laugh at them.
You like tractors and construction equipment and can tell different kinds apart.
You like to tell us how big things are with enthusiasm.
You love having us read books to you and repeat back content and look for specific pages.
You are great at picking out images in “I spy” books.
You have eaten pounds of berries (blue berries, strawberries and currants), peaches, and tomatoes this summer.
You love going to G.G. and Bop Bop’s house and have spent the night there 3 times over the past year.
You are interested in bikes and motorcycles and school buses and fire engines.
You follow Dee Dee around and try to play with her.
You have excellent fine motor skills and are very accurate with a spoon and fork.
You have been drinking out of an adult cup without spilling for a very long time.
You flew on airplanes several times this summer and loved every minute of it.
You are good at remembering and repeating people’s names.
You know all of your body parts.
You like Blue’s Clues and Teletubbies (“tubbies”).
You name grocery stores and specific restaurants and the library when we drive by them.
You say “Henry’s turn” when you want to do something.
You roll your eyes when something is funny as well as just to make us laugh.
You say “oh yeah” frequently.
You pick words out of songs and try to sing along.
You love the big bad wolf song and ask to hear it daily.
You like to give hugs and kisses, and most recently, butterfly kisses.
You can count to ten but like to stop at six even when there are more or fewer items.
You know colors accurately (blue, yellow, orange, white, pink, purple, black) but are calling red green lately and making us wonder if you can tell the difference.
You don’t like raw greens like lettuce, or onions in miso soup, or bean sprouts in pad thai.
You don’t like going to bed on occasion.

As we came to the end of our list we realized that we hadn’t written down anything you don’t like and we had a hard time coming up with much. You a truly a very easygoing person. The last two were all we could think of. No wonder we think you are so amazing!

Mama and Daddy


Friday, August 25, 2006

in-law visit update

Here we are on day 6 of the 9-day visit and we’re all still alive. I have not been the nicest person I could be but I’m not being too much of a bitch either. Jason’s parents are trying to be useful and their annoying nature cannot be helped. They love Henry tons and that’s what counts. Unfortunately, they have been unintentionally sabotaging our schedule left and right and I end up having to deal with the hungry, tired, over-stimulated kid and they don’t. Jason’s grandmother on the other hand is so fucking judgmental about everything and everyone all the time I can hardly stand it. Thankfully she took a side trip to see other great grandkids in southern Oregon for a few days and just returned this morning. Sadly she brought Jason’s cousin with her and he is an arrogant, rude, judgmental ass. He’s the high school jock and college frat boy who never grew up. He’s a corporate lawyer with a trophy wife (who is actually quite nice) and he isn’t nice to his kids. I only saw him for about 10 minutes today and I’m still annoyed. Anyone who calls a 2 year old (especially mine) “stud” repeatedly should be kicked, hard. I can’t believe that I let a seven-foot tall jackass in plaid shorts and shiny metallic silver tennis shoes bug me so much.

I do have more interesting, less bitchy things to report but I think they’ll have to wait until I have my life back next week…


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

amazon dot com, or, stay off my bad side, bitches

The second title option is a little misleading because even when they are on my bad side, there's not a damned thing I can do about it. I just felt like saying bitches.

The good: aside from the feeling that I should be supporting a local bookseller, I really like buying from Amazon. I like browsing and reading reviews of questionable value and comparing things (such as particular genres of cookbooks) any time of day or night. I like that I can get good prices and free shipping on books and the occasional DVD or toy. I like the wish list feature for tracking things I may want to buy in the future. Generally my orders are quick and easy and arrive when promised.

The bad: the few times that I have had problems with an Amazon order, customer service sucks. First, it is very hard, if not impossible, to find a phone number for customer service and is not particularly easy to email them. They seem to believe that every question has been answered previously and can be found in their helpful online help database. No so.

Most recently, I had three email exchanges with various people who didn’t help me at all with an issue concerning my bank account information that really pissed me off. I ended up being told to call their credit card/bank processor and getting nowhere. The credit card company finally gave me the Amazon phone number and an Amazon guy immediately told me the problem was on their end and not to worry about it. It would be fixed in a day or so. A day or two later I got another email explaining all of the problems on my end that could of occurred but, wait, my order had been processed and it was all ok. No culpability or explanation at all following the handful of alarmist emails they sent over three days. It ended: “Rest assure, all account information provided to Amazon.com is stored on a computer that is not connected to the Internet. Thank you for all of your patience and understanding. I do hope that you will honor us with another opportunity to prove the quality of our service to you in the future.

It is of course very likely that I will “honor them with another opportunity” at my business and I will do what I can to “rest assure” about the whole thing but I needed the chance to rant first.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

because I AM a crazy jerk

When Jason is working for/with people, which is most of the time, I try not to call him very many times (if any) during the day, mostly because I don’t want to seem doting or crazy or like a jerk. But on rare days like today, when he is working alone, I have no problem calling him all day long with the most minor questions, comments and observations. I figure that after 10 years there’s no hiding my true self from him anyway so why hold back?


in my defense

My in-laws really are quite lovely people, generous and supportive for the most part. The real problem (in addition to the electronic bird) is that we have just seen them too much lately. When Henry was born, Jason’s mom told me they were going to try to visit (or get us to visit) every 3 months. Ok. Not so bad really. Up until recently the trips have been pretty short and they take us out to dinner and spoil Henry. There’s a little friction here and there but it’s tolerable. Feeling a little bad about my previous bitching, I thought about these visits a little more carefully and realized that we saw them in December, they stayed with us in late January, they stayed w/us a few days in April and we all drove to the coast for the weekend, they came up in June and we went to North Dakota with them (inc. many, many hours in a mini van) and they stayed here for a week into July. And now they are coming back this weekend for 9 days with Jason’s opinionated grandmother. Thankfully they aren’t staying at our house. I simply couldn’t take it.

So, that it. It’s just way too much of an okay thing. That whole every 3 months plan is sounding pretty good right now. This summer has already flown by too fast for me to spend another week feeling strung out by the needs of too many people. My plan is to spend small amounts of quality time with them and figure that they are on vacation in Portland not at my house. They can see Henry as much as they want and I might even cook a meal or two but that’s about it. Hostess and tour guide I will not be this time and I think we will all be better off for it. Really I do. We'll see how my little experiment works out.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

a new ring of hell

We received a surprise package the other day. It was a gift from my in-laws- an i-sight camera for the computer. So, yay. New technology, right? Not so much. I am sitting at my laptop screwing around while Jason sits at his computer w/Henry on his lap “video chatting” with the in-laws. I might die. Seriously. This is the second time this has happened today and they have a stupid mechanical parrot that repeats everything they are saying but garbled and even crazier than they are. They are talking over each other and counting and asking dumb questions and singing dumb songs. Now one of them is turning on and off a flashlight and on and off and on and off and talking about how it’s going on and off and on and off. Come on people, my kid is not retarded. I know I could leave the room but I sort of don’t want too and sort of can’t. I also know that this should be a nice thing and that I am easily annoyed and ungrateful and bitchy and whatever. But that dying thing. It seriously might happen. Pray for me. Update: Jason just asked me to gouge his ears out with scissors. At least I'm not alone. Oh, and Henry really does like it. Maybe he is retarded.


Monday, August 07, 2006

feeling low and an ugly cake

This has been one rough month. The sun is shining and work hasn’t been too hectic, we haven’t had to travel and everyone is well. So what the fuck is my problem? Well, I’m not exactly sure. At this point I don’t even care. I have spent way too much time crying and lying around to explain and really I don’t want to. I think that I have just been too busy to crash for so long that when the break appeared my body and mind took it against my will. I think I turned a corner this weekend and things are looking much brighter but man does summer depression suck ass.

I know this is all random and out of nowhere but I just haven’t had the will to post lately. I have spent the last few weeks being sad and having extreme hormonal swings that have caused me to ask myself whether or not I am pregnant daily (including a number of very specific and suspicious symptoms but no positive test). I think it is shaping up to be some horrendous PMS and I am looking forward to the end of it. I am taking the opportunity to lay low and take care of myself as much as I can. I just hate the feeling that I am missing summer, which is so precious around here.

On a semi-related note, I decided to bake a cake yesterday (the hottest day in weeks, yay!) to 1) test new silicone pans, 2) try using rolled fondant, and 3) try a new cake recipe. I had a fine time and didn’t get too annoyed at numerous pitfalls and here's what I learned. The silicone pans stuck as bad as metal one would have and were kind of wobbly. The cake layers turned out a little thin and lopsided and cracked like hell coming out of the pans. One accidentally misplaced drop of black food dye made my yellow butter cream for decorating turn gray and I was only able to salvage it with a lot of red that left it looking like a dark old rose color. No so nice. The fondant rolled out easy and looked pretty good (even given the lopsided cake) but we all agreed that it didn’t add anything in terms of flavor and had a weird texture. I don’t think it was worth it. The cake tasted pretty good and lemon curd and lemon butter cream were definitely the right choices. So, some lessons learned and some cake to be eaten. Here is the final result.

I would have spent a bit more time decorating if Henry hadn’t woken up just in time to watch and scream “EAT HAPPY CAKE” repeatedly at me in those final few minutes. That and the ugly color made it hard for me to care. It tasted pretty good nonetheless.

Here’s to more happy days and better looking cakes.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

on the feeding of toddlers and oneself

I remember being excited when Henry started showing an interest in “solid” food. It was around 6 months or so and I was eager to introduce him to new foods in the way that I though was best. I cooked and mashed up sweet potatoes and winter squash and thought I had it all figured out. Not so much I discovered as I am still learning every day how to best keep the kid well fed in a way that works for both of us today.

This is not a tale of woe though. Henry is a relatively good little eater in general and is on occasion enthusiastic about trying new things. Food is somewhat of a loaded subject for me. I think that I am pretty balanced what I eat and how I feel about food these days but that wasn’t always the case. I grew up in a house where sugar and processed foods were off limits for the most part and stereotypically I went nuts at friend’s houses when I got older. The joys of “sugar cereal” and cake mix and ice cream for snack and white bread and cookies always available. The story is pretty predictable and I went through lots of ups and downs regarding nutrition as I got older. I became a vegetarian when I was 14, which lasted for almost 14 years. As a high school athlete I was obsessed with being healthy and gave up wheat and dairy. In college I was vegan for a while and dogmatic about vegetarianism. The whole time I battled my desires to eat crap and only won some of the time. Hmmm. I didn’t mean to go on about me so much but there you have it.

In any case, I like to think that I have a pretty balanced and sustainable relationship with food and eating these days. I have always loved to cook and feed people and must admit that I enjoy making good food and receiving positive feedback for it. That’s where the rub with small children seems to come in. No matter how much effort I put into making something I think Henry will like, there is always a good chance that he will reject it upon sight. So, I tried harder and focused on things he had proven he likes. Anyone who has a child over 18 months or so is probably laughing by now. It just doesn’t work that way. The boy may love something one day and hate it the next. He may even ask for it and then reject it with a head shake, rolled eyes and noooooooo minutes later. One day he may eat a plate of beets or raw zucchini and the next he will reject his favorite toast. There was a phase many months ago during which the kid ate way too many hotdogs (free-range, organic turkey, blah, blah) and I felt like a failure. I won’t even get into the days he hardly eats at all. I’m not particularly worried about his health or the variety of foods he is eating but I am frustrated with the seeming randomness of it all.

I try not to make special meals for him and usually that works fine until it doesn’t. It can all be maddening. But, I think I have somewhat figured out the issue and it’s mine not his (surprise, surprise!). My approach has been flawed emotionally and logically. For one, I am too eager to please and have been trying to avoid that pang of rejection when he refuses something (how’s that for self analysis?). Second, there is no fucking logic here and I just need to get used to it. I need to embrace the randomness of his whims and just keep trying the same things whether he liked it the last time or not. He just may like it this time. Food cannot be a battle. The newest realization on all of this is the wildcard of context. Henry will eat things at other peoples’ houses that he won’t eat at ours. It fits in with the whole toddler exploration mindset. He’ll eat something while I’m eating it but not alone. He wouldn’t touch slices of tomato on his plate at dinner the other day but when he climbed up on his stool at the counter he ate an entire half of a tomato bite by juicy bite. I think the lesson is the same old lesson I have been working on for a long time. Experimentation and variety and balance and moderation. And most importantly, I’m just not going to stress about it anymore. The end (she says hopefully).

If all else fails there are always the fallbacks- macaroni and cheese and sushi (but not together)!