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Archive for June, 2009

Here in the Gunter household we are counting down to Cabin Vacation ’09 and in preparation for this event I have been indulging in one of my favorite pastimes. That’s right, List Making. Oh the beauty of a bright shiny list, in all it’s gloriously splendid potential. There really is no greater feeling than getting things out of your head and onto paper in an orderly numbered fashion. (Do you see how I embrace my lameness? Shut up, it’s a beautiful thing.) With categories and subcategories and blah blah blah I know I need to get a life.

In my extreme geekery, I had carefully folded and saved the Cabin Vacation ’08 List in a safe spot (the recipe box because, let’s face it, if I don’t cook I should use it for something, right?) and we took it out for reference in making this years list. After perusing the section aptly titled Keaton and all 500 of it’s subcategories, we were floored. He had countless rows of yellow legal paper devoted to what we needed to pack to keep him happy for one week. Sections included Feeding with subcategories of “Solids”, “Breast”, “Bottle” and “Accessories”.  And that was only the tip.

For gear we packed a jogging stroller, an umbrella stroller, a Baby Bjorn, a Mai Tai carrier, a sling and I’m not positive but I’m pretty sure there was also a mini remote controlled hovercraft (oh, kidding-but that would be all kinds of AWESOME). For sleep we brought a vibrating bouncy seat, a pack and play and an Amby baby hammock. For play we brought an exersaucer, a hanging door jumper, a Bumbo seat and dozens of toys and books. How much shit does one baby need for one goddamn week?!, you are asking and I tell you we used and needed 95% of what we brought. Keaton was SUCH a hard baby to please and would get bored or fussy if he wasn’t being held, and even then it was hard to keep him happy. This was also just a few short weeks before we ended up sleep training him so we were still doing the absolutely AWFUL routine of shushing (as in SHHHH, baby! SHHHHH, baby! as loud as we could) and jogging in place with him for 45 minutes or more to get him to fall asleep.

It was so much work. I remember Bill and the Deputy Chief Fire Idiot coming back from settling our accounts at the end of our stay and chatting about securing the cabin for next year. I wanted to punch Bill in the mouth and shake his shoulders while shouting I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN! I restrained myself, but all the same- I was pretty sure I was not going to put myself through caring for a cranky baby in the northwoods ever again. Especially since we had to drive 4+ hours each way with said cranky baby. A cranky baby who did not like being in the car for 5 minutes let alone an extended period and he let us know this by screaming until his head popped right the eff off and we had to stop off at some shady small town hospital so they could sew it back on. Twice! True story!

Anyway, you know that hormone that woman have to make them forget the agony of childbirth? I have that in rampant stores and turns out it also makes you forget the horrors of traveling with cranky babies because come last January I was all Oh my God, we better find a cabin to stay in for Cabin Vacation Oh Nine, Haste and ye hurry!!! So, here we are making our lists again and you know what we need to bring for Keaton this year? His blanket and his nuk, The End.

The difference the last six months has made was staggering and something we hadn’t really contemplated too hard. Neither Bill nor I like to reminisce about the early days of Keaton. It’s so sad, but it really turns my stomach into mushy butterflies and makes me tense and angry when I think about how unbelievably hard his infancy was. I can’t even communicate in words how much better he has been, despite some impressive attempts by his molars to derail us, the last few months. Keaton is still a needy and sometimes whiny little guy but, oh, the difference between 18 month old Keaton and 7 month old Keaton is so ridiculously ginormous. At 7 months, I was terrified that he had some sort of neurological disorder that made it physically impossible for him to be happy, or even content. At 18 months he spends so much of his day giggling and smiling and being a general goof-ball. I just can’t believe he became this person based on his babyhood, but so very thankful, whatever it was that was making him so miserable, has figured itself out.

So this year we will pack the Ergo carrier for him and a jogging stroller for the kids to share. He will eat what we eat and the only accessory we’ll really need are toddler spoons and sippy cups. He will put himself to sleep, easily and peacefully in his pack and play. He will entertain himself with the sand toys and, let’s face it, probably the toilet and various garbage cans because for whatever reason, that’s what he likes (hmmm, future sanitation worker?). We just flipped his car seat to front facing a week ago so everything he sees is new and interesting and he loves riding in the car and singing along to whatever music we put on, be it Mama Mia or Jack Johnson.

It feels like I have been in some really sadistic version of baby boot camp for the last 3+ years and making this years list has made us stop, look around, and see that we are finally coming up for air. We are more mobile, more free to do the things we want to do without having to re-arrange our lives to figure it out or rent a fricken U-Haul to get us there. We still have to cater to the kids which includes nap times and family friendly events but our lives as adults, as individuals- not just caregivers or parents- are slowly shifting back into perspective, and you know what? It feels good. Not quite as good as making awesome lists, but still, pretty damn good.

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I know posting has been a little light the last week or so but I can’t seem to shake this virus that has rooted itself quite firmly in my body. In June. For three weeks. This really is all kinds of annoying and wrong but it is what it is and hopefully it will kindly go the fuck away very soon.

Yesterday we did something Bill and I had been looking forward to ever since that second line appeared on the pregnancy test; we took Rowan to her very first movie in a theater. Bill and I love movies and love the experience of seeing them in a big dark theater with the popcorn and the excitement and the magic. We’ve been patiently waiting, since Rowan’s third birthday, for a movie that was appropriate to take her to. We were hoping something like Pooh or Piglet would come out since most animated films these days are geared toward 7-9 year-olds and all other kids’ movies seem to be geared toward the tween set. No such luck, though and here we were, almost to Rowan’s 4th birthday without yet getting to take her to the cinema.

So instead of being responsible parents and waiting until something more age approproiate came out we said screw it and took her to UP. We’re not super restrictive with movies, I think because we both have such strong, positive memories of experiencing films from a young age. Rowan has already watched the DVDs of Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Annie, and countless animated Disney movies. She’s not a highly sensitive kid, in that regard. The scary parts have never seemed to bother her and the adult innuendos go right over her head. Movies are also viewed as a treat, something she gets to watch as a reward for good behavior or a fun, lazy weekend activity.

We had also waited because although Rowan does well at home watching movies, she rarely sits through the whole thing. She often gets up and plays with her toys or dances around during viewings. And the talking. She constantly chatters away, asking why Dorothy is making a sad face, how Burt flew up to the ceiling top and why the heck does Ms. Hannigan gotta be such a hater? We were pretty sure other theater patrons wouldn’t be super thrilled with munchkin-voiced commentary.

Yesterday though, we had the opportunity to spend the full day with Rowan alone, something we haven’t done since the dawn of Keaton, who was very happy to spend the day with Grandma and Grandpa. We explained to Rowan what a movie theater was like and at first she seemed really excited but when we told her she might have to wear special glasses for the 3d version she got nervous. She’s never even been able to keep sunglasses on her face for more than a few minutes at a time- she just doesn’t like anything on her face or head. So we went to the regular old 2d version which was fine with me since The Pink Eye, that I’m now pretty sure is some sort of super-virus eye eating disease was still bothering me.

Rowan did absolutely awesome. We got a big popcorn, a pop and Dots, in the tradition of spoiling her rotten for her first big show. We were walking to the theater after we bought the food and I had taken her to the bathroom , and she saw a poster for The Wild Things and was all I know that monster! We have him at home! He lives in my book! Then we settled into our seats to watch 436 commercials and 47 previews. After every one she yelled, “What’s on next?!”

After the movie (finally) started she sat on the edge of her seat the entire time and this tiny 27 pound child ate 400 pounds of popcorn. Then when it was gone she called out during a quiet part of the movie, “Mom! You ate all my popcorn!” Nice, kid. She sat in her seat almost the whole time and only asked for Woobie towards the end of the movie and cuddled on my lap. She didn’t even have to go to the bathroom, although she did make her dad go out and get more food mid way through. The movie was really cute, even making me, the queen of heartlessness tear up at the progression the life of a married couple takes.

After the credits started rolling she said, “What’s on next?” and when we told her it was time to go she said she was staying until the Wild Things came on. Though it was tempting to leave her in the theater until October, sure she could live off popcorn and the kindness of strangers, we opted to take her with us. We went to a local burger joint for dinner where she ordered a Kitty Cocktail for herself and ate cherries and tator tots. The bartender had put on Michael Jackson’s greatest hits so we danced in our seats and played I Spy and ate really greasy food.

We got a little glimpse into what our life may have been like if we had stopped with Rowan. Where the ratio is two to one, and how much simpler a almost four year old is than a one and a half year old. How much more mobile you feel, and how a 3.5 year old is so much more like a human being than the tiny tornado that is a one year old. After dinner we went to Bill’s parents to pick up Keaton and Rowan ran in and gave him a big hug and kiss. In the car she had told us she was lonely without him there with her in the back seat, singing along to Adele, giggling together and passing pretzels and crackers to one another. Keaton returned her hug with a gigantic Keaton Grin and quickly hugged her back, starting a game of tackling, spinning and giggling between the two. And I just got that wave, that rush, of how lucky we are to have them and of how lucky they are to have each other.

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In honor of the life of Michael Jackson, teen idol, barrier breaker, alleged molester, King of Pop- I would like to share a little story about how he helped shape my childhood.

Once upon a time there was a wee little lass of oh, let’s say five or six who had three nasty, wretched older siblings. These three nasty older siblings just happened to be in possession of a little known album called Thriller, the title track of which had an accompanying music video. YOU know the one I’m talking about, right? The really fucking SCARY one with the deep voice and the warewolves and the MUAHAHA- ness of it all?

These three MUCH older, shoulda-known-better a-holes were charged with baby-sitting the wee little lass, who may or may not have been the world’s most annoying little sister, but who’s keeping track of that really. Anyway the house we were living in at the time had an unfinished basement that was home to a colony of fierce wolf spiders but was also none-the-less a play place for us. We would often play Little House on the Prairie down there, my sisters always making me be Nellie or Nancy because they were chronic jerks but I’ll save those tales until Melissa Gilbert kicks the bucket.

Anyway, this old, cement block walled basement had the light bulb sockets with just the string hanging down- no reachable switch to flip off or on in an emergency other than the one placed at the top of the rickety, painted blue wooden stairs. The kind that aren’t able to be grasped by the greedy hands of a Kindergartener, unless they have a clear view and a running start. You see where I’m going with this, right? Those complete jerks (I will say it was most likely sibling 1 and 3 who probably thought of and carried this out. Two was a little more sensitive), lured me down there, probably with promises that I would get to play Laura or Mary or for Christ-sakes even Carrie would be better than Nellie (that whore!) so I willingly went down the basement steps.

After I made it safely down the steps, one sibling flipped the only “switch” light off, slammed the basement door and positioned themselves against the other side, barricading me in, while the other sibling turned on Michael Jackson’s Thriller full blast, while my six year old self screamed and sobbed in the pitch black of the spider infested basement whilst trying in vain to jump around to locate the strings for one of the hanging light bulbs.

I honestly don’t rememmber what I did to piss my older siblings off this bad, and admittedly I’m sure I did something, but I tell you it took me until my mid-twenties to be able to make it through that whole song again without having a full fledged panic attack.

So yeah, thanks for the memories, MJ. May you rest in peace and may your children find peace after your passing.*

*For the record, despite the attempts by my older siblings, I really love Michael’s work and have the utmost awe and respect for the majority of his amazing career. Except for the crazy parts, not a fan of those so much.

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Internet, I don’t know what I was thinking. Way back in the cold, snowy month of February I signed Rowan up for her preschools summer Spanish program. They offered two, two week programs, of which we could only do one, because the second ran into CABIN VACATION OH NINER, (HOLLA!!)…um, yeah. Then towards the middle of May I had one of those totally unnecessary parenting panic moments when I thought if I didn’t get Rowan signed up for swimming lessons RIGHT NOW she would surely drown this summer or at least have some lake water go down the wrong tube (the horror!) or something so I quick signed her up at our local Courage Center for a 9 week summer preschool swimming course.

So, not so bad. Still leaves plenty of time for sitting around doing lots of summer nothings. Except then we went to pick Rowan’s dance pictures up and saw that the studio offered a summer dance program for two weeks. Rowan loves dance and had I foreseen this, I would probably not have signed her up for Spanish, of which there is one week overlapping. Any normal person would probably have decided to skip the dance but nope, not this idiot.

Last week Rowan attended dance 3 days a week for an hour, plus her Monday evening swimming lesson. This week she has dance and swimming on Monday, Spanish on Tuesday, Spanish and dance on Wednesday and Thursday (and they overlap so, ah, sweet. Lots of driving) and Friday we’re done. Until next week when it’s just Spanish (and swimming!). I honestly didn’t plan to enroll my three year old in a marathon of summer extracurriculars but things just kind of happened that way and all at the same time, because of course, all the programs around here run from the end of June through July so I guess it was bound to happen. There was a little reality check when she fell asleep on the 5 minute ride to swimming last night. Poor kid. At least she seems to really enjoy all the activities, even if the getting there part gets kind of hairy. I promise to hold off on the violin and Mandarin lessons until the fall.

In eyeball related news, turns out it was not allergies, or a reaction to sunscreen (which it kind of still was, but shut up about that already). It was actually pink eye. I can tell you this with some degree of certainty because The Pink is now residing in MY eye. Along with the goo and the crust. Ew. Luckily our pediatrician prescribed us drops just in case “The Allergy” turned out to be “The Pink Eye” so now I get the pleasure of trying to get these lovely drops not only in mine own eyes but the eyes of a toddler. A toddler who really, really does NOT want any such drops within 5 feet of his eyes. He has resorted to trying to bite my fingers off if I try to get at him with them, and my boobs can tell you that Jaws Baby Shark Breath is not someone you want chomping on your extremities. Even if you do get past his teeth and his flailing, clawing, helicopter arms, the boy knows how to clench his eyes shut so ironclad that no drop may enter them. Like at all. Ever.

So amidst all The Sick and The Preschooler’s Schedule (please read as Shegual, for haughty British effect), we have managed to get in a little R&R around here, mainly in the form of the kiddie pool…

Fill 'em up...

Fill 'em up...

and dump 'em out.

and dump 'em out.

Follow the leader in a man made puddle.

Follow the leader in a man made puddle.

Rowan poured water over her head to help herself grow, "You know, like flowers and stuff!"

Rowan poured water over her head to help herself grow, "You know, like flowers and stuff!"

She pronounced it a success.

She pronounced it a success, "Look! I growed!

Rowan still hasn't gotten the hang of pedaling her trike. Luckily her brother is always good for a push.

Rowan still hasn't gotten the hang of pedaling her trike. Luckily her brother is always good for a push.

She has, however, proved very adept at aiming the water squirter her father brought home for her...

She has, however, proved very adept at aiming the water squirter her father brought home for her...

Go ahead and ask him how that's working out for him.

Go ahead and ask him how that's working out for him.

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A Picture

and a father, are worth a thosand words…father3father4father7father5father8father10father12father15father18father19father20father21father1father2father17Happy Father’s Day!

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Anni1

We were doing this.

So much has happened since we walked, triumphant in our love and fancy clothes, back up that aisle. Up and out into a marriage that we both knew wouldn’t be easy. I feel like we fit, in these last five years, what most people do in maybe their first ten. Sometimes it has seemed like a crash course that neither of us are faring particularly well at navigating and other times I feel like we have each others interests, actions and love down to a science.

I can tell you how you like your coffee and why showering is a necessary part of your day. I can tell you about the callouses on your feet and the freckles on your shoulders. I can tell you how you feel about fidelity and how you feel about cheese. I can tell you about why you chose the career you did and why your family will never come second to anything.

What I can not tell you, what I really don’t know, is why you chose me to build and spend your life with. You’ve given answers over the years, some of which I roll my eyes at and some of which I blush and quietly accept. I think it will always be a mystery to me, but I’m so very grateful you did and so very grateful for you.

Happy 5 years of surviving me. Now go have a drink. You deserve it.

Love and cuddles,

Your Wife

(Wow. I just got you a blog post instead of a card. Whatever, it’s a DIGITAL anniversary card and I used extra SYNERGY and INNOVATION in its creation. Get with the 21st century, all the kids are doing it. Also, I WIN at marriage.)

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But! At least it is a BLUE barrette! That kind of makes up for it, right? RIGHT?

But! At least it is a BLUE barrette! That kind of makes up for it, right? RIGHT?

I may have mentioned that we are terrified to take Keaton to get his haircut due to the screaminess of the screamy screams he serenades the fifty block radius with whenever he encounters a scissors near his precious locks. There is also the fact that we are not eager to spend 15 bucks (plus a giant tip for the poor sucker that drew his name, and oh God do they deserve that tip) on something that makes all of us so miserable and something that will need to be re-done in just a few weeks time. Like, here, let me pay you to stab my eardrums repeatedly because I’m thinking that might be more pleasant.

After securing Rowan’s hair in a ponytail at the breakfast table, I looked over at Keaton who already had syrup all over himself and thought, Why not? Who will ever know it has come to this? (pssst: The Internet, that’s who, you idiot.) And I clipped that thing in, rather pleased with my handiwork and sat down to eat. Then I noticed that the bib I had absentmindedly put on him read “Diva in Training!” (Not Pictured to save some sense of male identity for this poor child) and I thought, No, Christy. You have gone too far this time.

When Keaton was 6 or so months old I gave his hair a little trim. It turned out not terrible so I didn’t really think about it a couple months later when it needed to be trimmed again. Only Keaton had gotten a lot more wiggly and hard to contain in those two months and he ended up resembling this guy:

Only it was shorter and, um, worser.

Only it was shorter and, um, worser.

It was so bad I solemnly swore that I would never touch a tiny hair on his pretty little head ever, ever again. Only desperate times, people- if you know what I mean…

Here the subject has been subdued with high-fructose corn syrup as to demonstrate the lengthiness of his bangs.

Here the subject has been subdued with high-fructose corn syrup so as to demonstrate the lengthiness of his bangs.

So I did it. I put a scissors to his shaggy bangs and I don’t regret it, I tell you! YOU would have done the same thing for someone you loved! I had NO CHOICE. He’ll understand, won’t you boy? Tell the people that one day you’ll understand!

Woman, do I look like I understand?

Woman, do I look like I understand?

Wait? What was I saying? This sucker is just so dang good I completely forgot how you mutilated my head. Again.

Wait? What was I saying? This sucker is just so dang good I completely forgot how you mutilated my head. Again.

It doesn’t look that bad, right? I mean, maybe we should just wait until it dries to cast any stones, here.

You understand that you have just paved the road to Mullet City, don't you mom?

You understand that you have just paved the road to Mullet City, don't you mom?

Yes, son, yes I do. I'm so very sorry.

Yes, son, yes I do. I'm so very sorry.

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