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Posts Tagged ‘please don’t judge me’

Let’s get the awkward part out of the way and admit that Mama did a really crappy job of keeping the Internet abreast of all your one-year-old antics. Which… part of me is grateful for because life with three kids and a new house is no joke. We are constantly busy, constantly running and any down time I have right now is way better spent sitting on the floor in a heap of cars and trains with you snuggled in my lap. It also makes me sad because WOW did this year fly by at breakneck speed and I just want to hold tight to the little person you are right now. I love having a log of all the adorable and frustrating things your brother was doing at this age so I sort of feel like a failure for not keeping it up as I know all too well these moments that seem so sharp and unforgettable now will fade with time.

So! How do I sum of a year full of amazing you? Let’s start with your favorites:

Ezzy2_Poster

You’re favorite books: {Firstly, let me just say how grateful I am that you love stories. Getting Keaton to sit for books was impossible until he was 4 and now both of your siblings prefer to go off on their own and read to themselves so having another reading buddy is awesome.} You love; But Not the Hippopotamus, Each Peach Pear Plum, Ten Little Ladybugs, Goodnight Gorilla, 1,2,3’s with Charley Harper, Bear Takes A Trip, Wild Things, and I Love You Goodnight. You have to have 3 books before nap and bed and every time we get to number three you say “Laaaaaast book, Okaaaaaaay?…”

Favorite foods: Olives {the Felland is strong with this one}, beef sticks, spaghetti, fruit snacks, starburst, cake, berries and noodles. You have a major sweet tooth and I love that you change your voice when asking for a treat to see if my answer changes. You start with a whisper “a starburst please?” then, “A starburst? “a STARburst please?”, “starBURRRRRST?”

Favorite drink: Juice. Juice. Juice. JUICE! I only give you one or two small cups a day and you POUND them. You’re going to be tons of fun in college, I can already tell.

Favorite things: You love your blanket and nuk. So many times I go to look for you and start panicking when I can’t find you only to discover you between the couch and the coffee table laying with your blanket over your head. “Ezra! What are you doing?” Then a muffled, “I SNUGGLIN’!” Like, Duh, wasn’t that obvious, mom?

Favorite songs: ABC’s, Itsy-Bitsy Spider, and your very favorite, “What Does the Fox Say” WHY GOD, WHY? {Well, I know why, because it was on a Glee compilation CD your dad made for me and Rowan hates that song so Keaton would sing it to annoy her and you loved the big reaction it got so it quickly became your favorite, much to our chagrin.}

Favorite Games: Buttons, Ring Around the Rosie and the one where you and your brother run and chase each other screaming at the top of your lungs must be super fun because no matter how many times mama yells at you two to JUST STOP you guys keep at it.

Favorite Place: OUTSIDE! You have loved outside since you were a baby and every minute not spent out in the great outdoors is a minute wasted. You also love going to Grandma and Grandpa’s and to the park. You also love to go in Rowan’s room, but that’s a bit of a sore spot for your sister since you also like to destroy her Lego sets and steal her American Girl accessories. If I could count the times I’ve said “No-no rowan’s room” to you over the last 6 months it would, well, it would be a lot.

Favorite shows: I will say in the last couple of weeks you’ve started to branch out and begrudgingly allow some Daniel Tiger or Curious George but for a solid 5 months the only thing you’d sit for was Elmo’s World DVDs and sometimes Sesame Street because Elmo makes frequent appearances. Elmo is your everything. Rowan was like this and it drove me nuts but I’ve grown to love the furry red guy and know that all too soon you’ll become obsessed with Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Amazing accomplishments and Firsts:

You are fast. Super fast. Like I have to legit run my hardest to catch you.

You are pretty fearless at the playground. I’m sure this comes because you have older siblings but you climb high and fly down the big slides. I see the look of horror in the eyes of the parents and grandparents of other toddlers that I would dare let you go on the big equipment but eh. You know what you’re doing and I’m not going to stop you so I just smile back at them.

You drink out of a cup like a boss. I don’t want to name names but 2 of your siblings couldn’t hold a damn cup without spilling it spectacularly until they were 4. Sometimes I still don’t even trust Keaton with an open cup. You might dribble a little but otherwise you do awesome with a big cup and prefer to use them over sippys.

You love to stack blocks. And knock them over. And stack them again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I love how you say pumpkin, pronounced punkaaan. This is apropos of nothing, it just makes me really happy. If you had a toddler resume I would put this under one of your strengths.

You can count to 20; sometimes correctly, sometimes 1,2,3,5,7,8,9,15,18, 20!! You love to count.

You’re starting to learn your colors.

You handle the insane amount of car-time like a pro. From waiting in the parent pick up line to hauling your sister to and from dance, we easily spend 5-6 hours in the car a week and while you do get grumpy sometimes, it’s nothing that a little “Fox Say” and a fruit snack won’t fix.

Your language/communication is great. You still put “a” in front of almost everything. You speak in 3-5 word sentences, are starting to use pronouns correctly and you are very good about voicing your wants/opinions. This is a double-edged sword because you think just because you know how to correctly ask for chocolate you feel you should receive that chocolate every single time the spirit moves you and yes, son, in a perfect world that is how life would operate but out here in the real world, it’s just not how it works.

Some struggles, or UNfavorites we’ve experienced…

You’re a hitter. Not a hurty one… you don’t do it out of aggression, you do it solely for the reaction ad mostly you focus this behavior on your brother. We calmly but swiftly separate you and firmly go through the “Hands are not for hitting” spiel so then you’re like, fine “Sorry, Mama” here’s a fake hug that I don’t mean and then you kick because kicking is not using your hands, then we calmly but firmly go into the “Feet are not for Kicking” speech to which we get another half-hearted apology and fake hug and then you proceed to stick your tummy out as far as it will go to push with it and then we maybe not so calmly remove you and get a little screechy about NOT HURTING OUR FRIENDS WITH ANY PART OF OUR BODY, OK?!!! I know this is just a stage and consistency is key but it’s driving me BANANAS.

Related: You throw things when you’re mad. I… don’t like this at all.

You have trouble warming up to people. When new or unfamiliar people try to greet you, you hide behind me and shout ALL DONE until they quit looking at you. It is somehow very offensive for a stranger to say hello and let me just tell you it’s more than a little embarrassing when a cashier or friend of mom’s comes up to us and says “Oh he’s so adorable, look at your big blue eyes!” and you screech ALL DONE at the top of your lungs at them as they step back and look horrified. Rowan was very friendly to anyone, Keaton was clingy and a little shy but always sweet, you…. you… well, you are many wonderful things but sweet is not a descriptor I would often use for you.

I know these few paragraphs don’t do justice to the little person you have grown into the last year. One minute I’ll look at you and you’ll seem so small and the next, it’s like you magically stretch and you seem so giant to me. Sadly I know there are already things I’ve forgotten over the months. Just like with your big siblings, I sometimes close my eyes tight when I hold you and say “remember this, remember this moment right now” because I so badly want to stop time and keep you small and precious but the wish is fleeting… we love watching you grow and learn and explore all the things you’re curious about. We love seeing you try to imitate your big siblings, sometimes successfully, others not so much. We love seeing you smile and laugh, which you make us work for but oh, is it ever worth it. Mostly we just love you, Ez. And we wish you the very happiest of birthdays and an adventurous, marvelous year of Two.

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Listen. I know, Flashing Cursor. I realize I’ve been MIA from this blog for months. I am aware I used to take great pleasure in writing about all the ways my children outsmart me on a daily basis. All the ways they made me feel so loved and then so completely useless and then wait, nope, there’s the love again~ often in one breath. After briefly considering canceling my hosting when it came up for renewal a month ago, I decided I would give it another year and see what I had left in me for this space. I really don’t know. But for now, I am here and I promise not to make any promises about how often I’ll check in, because that seems to just guarantee I’ll never write again.

So this is what I can tell you now… In less than 2 hours, my two giant children will join the household for the summer. This is maybe a little scary and maybe a little awesome. I like having all my chicks with me for the most part. I love lazy days, jammies til noon, lunch when…ever, beach and park trips, art supplies strewn about the table and intricate figurine set-ups taking over my gardens. It makes me smile, it makes me sigh. It makes me miss being a kid.

Like all parents, I don’t enjoy the whining, tattling or the incessant arguing but unfortunately, it comes with the territory of multiple kids. We’ll get through, I know, but I definitely don’t have to be excited about it. Mostly I am nervous about Rowan’s insane dance schedule over the next two weeks. She has summer dance and nationals practice that leaves her at the studio from 10:45- 5:30 or later most nights. Then I have to kiss my little guy’s sweet cheeks enough to last me 9 whole days without him while we’re in Florida. {Clearly I did NOT think this through. I’m already panicking and searching for plane tickets for him, shhhhh don’t tell Bill. He’ll think it’s funny when Ez shows up in my carry-on, right?} The longest I’ve been away from Ezra is overnight. I’m legit freaking out right now.

But! If we can make it through June, and the first 4 days of July, we’ll be in the clear to laze around and enjoy Summer at our new house. It seems amazing to me that I didn’t write about such a huge life change when I have multiple {really, like DOZENS} of posts devoted to poop on this blog. I wish I could detail the simultaneously dawn-out saga/whirlwind this whole process has been, but the most important thing to know is that we are all so very, extremely happy to be in a beautiful new home that is just the perfect fit for us. Hopefully more on that to come {if I can get my shit together, so again, no promises}.

For now, I will leave you with these two…

Who completely OWNED 2nd grade and Kindergarten.. with nary a yellow or red light between the two for an ENTIRE year, like WHOA.

Who completely OWNED 2nd grade and Kindergarten, with nary a yellow or red light between the two for an ENTIRE year, like WHOA. So proud of them!

And these two, who melt my heart, pretty much on a daily basis…

I think lucky is the word I'm looking for. Yep.

I think lucky is the word I’m looking for. Yep.

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I guess it’s pretty clear that Ezra has been the star of the show here for the last 16 months. This is for two reasons, one of them being that it’s really sort of tricky to navigate what you should share about your kids once they get older and the second is TIME, as in, I don’t have any to write more than one substantial post a month. To remedy this, I’m going to try to do a quick family update each month when I post my photo sets so I can write down some of the cool/annoying/awesome stuff the rest of us are up to and at least give the illusion that our world doesn’t revolve around a despot toddler king {which it 100% does}. Ezra will still have his own post for the time being because he is my babaaaay and I’m not ready to let that go just yet.

So Let’s start with me. As it turns out I’ve become a bit obsessive and have absolutely loved documenting our every day family life over on Instagram for the My 365 Project. It has been a HUGE push to better my photography skills which are now somewhere between Does Not Suck and Can Sometimes be Okay When I’m Not Screwing It All Up. I take out my big camera pretty much every day and I love reading articles and watching video tutorials when I can squeeze them in. Recently I watched one about Newborn Photography which blew my mind… too bad there were so damn many precious, tiny babies in those videos, distracting me from actually retaining any of the information.

Here are my favorite shots from February 14, {the whole set is here}:

3.5.1 3.5.2 3.5.3 3.5.4 3.5.5 3.5.6 3.5.7 3.5.8 3.5.9

Other than being a chauffeur, homework overlord and packer of backpacks for the older two, I’m enjoying the calm before the {dance} storm. Competition fees have been turned in and we’re hoping one of the costumes will be handed out for decorating this week sometime. UPDATE!!: I now have a fringey pile of orange and pink and approximately 800 stones to affix to it! {Also: Sweet baby Jesus in heaven, please bless our room mom for not including those teeny/tiny/miniscule devil sequins, I am forever in her debt, AMEN.}   So: YAY! Let’s get this done! And: Oh God. I’m going to die from E-6000.

Here Lies Christy, who at 2am after 14 straight hours of gluing varying sizes of irritatingly small, iridescent stones, mistook her wine for the E-6000, gluing her throat shut. It was a good death. RIP.

Moving on to Bill… You remember him right? That guy I married? I wouldn’t really know since he’s done nothing but workworkwork for the last few months. Thankfully, he’s able to do part of this in the evenings on our couch but still, it’s been a really busy time for him both with work, personal projects and the side stuff. We divide and conquer from the hours of 4:30-8pm and then it’s back to his laptop until 11ish. Since he likes to watch stuff while he works, we pick a series to binge-watch so at least we have the pretense of together time. Against my better judgement, I let Bill choose the show this go-round and he picked Breaking Bad. We tried this show once a couple of years ago and after the third episode I told Bill if he wanted to keep watching it that was fine but I just couldn’t spend my relaxing time watching something so painful that I wanted to throw myself off a bridge after each episode. And yeah, I know, Best TV Show Of All Time, Is One of The Greats, yada-yada-accolade-cakes. I get that, I really do. My opinion though {which was right on the money after those first 3 episodes {re:THE PAINFULNESS} and unchanged when we watched it all the way through}, is that the first 2 seasons were pretty meh, save a couple of episodes, then in the third season they turned the characters into 100% unlikable, reprehensible shells of humans. There was no fading into gray for me, really. They went from conflicted, desperate and confused to The Most Terrible People and by the last third of the 4th season things blew up.

I’m not going to turn this family update into a BB recap but since it has dominated my time with my husband for the last 2 months I will say this. The writing and acting in the last 2 seasons was truly smart and really just downright phenomenal. But. And this is a big, huge, hairy but. I can’t handle watching shows where everyone is awful. There is no one to root for on this show, save maybe one, and even this guy has done so many despicable things and suffered such terrible losses, there’s no way he’ll ever come out functional. This makes each episode something you have to suffer through. Maybe other people could root for Walter White {but you’re probably a closet sociopath, FYI}. Not me though, not even at the end and I think it’s sort of troublesome if you actively want your protagonist to bite it. I get the whole idea of the “anti-hero” but man, I just found the whole thing to be so reprehensible, and even though I appreciate the art of it, {TL;DR!} you could not pay me to watch that shit again.

Okay, stay tuned for next month’s Bill update when I talk about True Detective, Scandal or House of Cards, because that is what our marriage has turned into at this point.

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Rowan: My first born has been a busy little bee with school and dance. She officially turned 8 and a half which is still just so weird to say. My kid is like, old and stuff. School has been going really well. So well, I feel like anything I write here will just sound like obnoxious bragging. I can take pretty much zero credit for this anyway, it just turns out I am raising the non-magical Hermione Granger, complete with tears when school is cancelled for the 6th snow day of 2014. She’s tested out of the curriculum reading assessments through third grade. She gets herself up early so she can read for fun and while math isn’t her favorite and she has to work hard, she gets great marks. She has an excellent memory so history tests are super fun for her and she aces them. Most weeks I forget to go over her spelling words with her {super mom, I know} and she has brought home a 15/15 every week, save one, the entire year. Do you see what I mean about the bragging? I sound like a total asshole right now but I don’t care. She works hard. She’s so independent. And I’m so proud of her.

Here is Hermione/Rowan reading a math book. For fun. Listen, guys. I know I was there and all when she was born and I'm fairly certain they placed her directly into my arms but there is just no possible way she can be my kid.

Here is Hermione/Rowan reading a math book before bed. For FUN. Listen, guys. I know I was there and all when she was born and I’m fairly certain they placed her directly into my arms but there is just no possible way she can be my kid. Like ZERO percent chance. Back me up, everyone who knows me…

Conversely, dance has been rough for her this year. I touched on this a few months ago, about the challenges of the flexibility amidst the other choreography and how it’s been tough for her. Rowan isn’t a Career Dancer. She doesn’t have the natural flexibility. She doesn’t have a family member that was or still is a dancer that can help her at home {for free} with the intricacies. She doesn’t have room in her house that she can practice without hitting the couch or a coffee table or another human. She also doesn’t have parents who have a huge disposable income for $50 worth of private lessons a week. Though this has always been the case for her, it was made really apparent this year as so many of the girls at the studio are doing this extra stuff. Rowan has always been very happy to just be a part of the group and work her hardest but based on all the extras the other kids are doing she’s starting to fall behind and feel what she’s contributing isn’t good enough for her team.

In most cases it’s not a matter of dance mom one-up-man-ship, but that all these kids really love dance, want to do their very best and they have very supportive parents that are making that happen for them. And while I personally feel some of it is getting a little out of hand, if it works for the individual family then that’s thier choice to make . Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for us which will be a tricky road to navigate if Rowan wants to keep dancing competitively. In the meantime we’ve done what we can to help her through. We share private lessons with others so they’re not so spendy. We go to open gym so she can work on flexibility instead of paying $30 an hour to work one-on-one with a gymnastics coach. She shows up every day ready to work her butt off and she really does. We practice at home, couches, coffee tables and other humans be damned. I feel guilty, like I’m not doing enough to support her sometimes, but the reality is, dance isn’t our family’s only reality and I just have to make peace with that and hope Rowan understands when the other girls are progressing in a way that she isn’t.

I will say that the coolest thing to witness was a few weeks ago when parents were invited in to watch and the instructor was working on turns with them, which need some work all around. Some of the girls have been doing these turns for well over a year or two in various solos and small groups but a little over half have just started them in earnest since January and Rowan was having trouble finding the rhythm of them. She struggled the Tuesday before big time and when her teacher asked her to do it in front of everyone I held my breath, fighting the urge to throw my hands over my eyes but… she did okay, and compared to where she was the week before, okay was AWESOME. And when she was done her teacher gave her an approving smile and the other girls clapped for her and it was so, so sweet. She really is in with a great group of very kind kids, which is important to us because she spends so much time there.

3.5.12

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After a completely activity-free fall, Keaton has been enjoying swimming lessons, a basketball clinic and joining the boys/partners dance at the studio. Swimming has been going well for him I think, but it’s stressful because Bill has to handle the two boys while I take Rowan to ballet. Ezra goes to baby swim from 6-6:30pm and Keaton does level 3 from 6:30-7pm. I haven’t seen Ezra at all and have only been able to watch Keaton 1.5 times which makes me feel shitty but just the way things worked out this time around.

Basketball was… sort of hilarious. Keaton definitely has an aptitude for sports; he has a good eye and great coordination. Since he’s never had trouble picking these sorts of things up, I thought this would transfer to basketball but it totally did not. The six sessions he had, he made a total of 8 baskets. He is not tall, on the contrary, he is a peanut compared to the other boys and while his fancy footwork was awesome while playing defense, you could totally tell they were the feet of a dancer, not a ball player. Still, the whole point was to get him out of the house for a couple of hours on Saturdays and to have fun, and both of these things were accomplished so I’ll call it a win while recognizing that we are NOT raising a hoops star.

3.5.10

In January we were asked if Keaton was interested in doing the big boys’ number at the studio. At first he didn’t want to do it and I practically had to drag him there but after a few practices he fell back in love with the booty-shaking and I’ll admit, it’s been pretty fun to watch him again. It was most definitely the right decision for him and our family sanity to pull him from the line numbers but I’m glad he’s still able to dance in some capacity~ plus it will give him something to do one of the days we’re in Florida for Nationals this June.

School has been going really well for him. He loves his teacher, his classmates and has gotten a green light every day so far. His reading skills have really taken off in the last month. He can now read Frog and Toad style books all by himself and while getting him to stop jumping around the living room like a maniac can be hard after a long day at school, once he gets settled in he really gets into the story. I’m so proud of how great he’s doing although I will say, he has been having some attitude and listening problems at home that are driving both his father and I nuts. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he is the child that requires the least amount of our time and energy. He’s so laid back and easy-going so we tend to just let him do his own thing which sometimes results in him feeling left out, and then he acts out, not terribly, but just enough to push our buttons. I hate that it’s come to this so we’re trying to make an extra effort to spend one-on-one time with him in hopes that the attitude and listening issues will work themselves out.

Okay! Wow! I’m… gonna stop now. That was really, really long. I had a lot to catch up on but the good news is, that shouldn’t be an issue if I keep this up month to month. Of course this is me we’re talking about so no guarantees. Hope everyone made it though February alive and here’s looking to somewhat of a thaw by the end of March.

 

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Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been seventy and surely would finally be blissfully earning the moniker we gave him much too young, “The Old Man”. My dad would’ve been a good old man, the best really. He already excelled at it by his late forties and that sort of thing only gets better with practice.

For his 70th, I’d like to share a story from my 15th.

Once upon a time, there was a horribly selfish 14 and 364/365 year old, who was incredibly PUT OUT by the fact that her dad was going to miss yet another of her birthdays. You see, my dad {yes, I will be playing the role of The Selfish Brat for this story} was the secretary for something called the International Claim Association, or ICA. {Which, totally unrelated but worth mentioning~ when I was a young thing I was a little hazy about all of this so I used to tell people my dad was a lawyer for the CIA. Untrue! But probably impressed a lot of very confused people.} In fact, my dad was an attorney for a life Insurance company so he was deeply familiar with the claim department of his company which led to his involvement in this organization.

Let me just break here to say, none of this matters. Except that it did because the committee meetings for this particular organization were often held the second week of September which also happens to hold an extremely paramount moment in history: the date of my birth. And because these meetings were often held at warm, sandy-beach locations, my mother naturally wished to accompany my dad and where did that leave me? A neglected orphan cruelly left to suffer yet another birthday alone {or, you know, in the company of very loving, capable grandparents and older siblings who more than made an effort to give me a special day, WHATEVER.} {I should also note that while my dad did very well for himself and his family, 5 kids in parochial school and all the various other expenses so many grunions incur, of which there were numerous and plenty, is not easy on the checkbook so taking us kids along was just not a viable option.}

By the time my 15th birthday hit, I was OVER it. Had it been a year later, I probably would not have cared, being at an age where spending the day with my friends would be much more important than hanging with my family but at 15 I was not quite there yet and the memory of my 12th, and golden, birthday still stung. On that occasion, not only was I was missing my dad but out of the goodness of my mother’s heart {she stayed home this time}, she agreed to baby-sit my severely ADHD cousin who had been served sugar and Mountain Dew at a Boy Scout function and who subsequently had to be locked out on the porch for fear he would destroy our house. It was an unpleasant experience and I told my dad he wasn’t allowed to miss anymore of my birthdays until I was over 18. I’m sure he didn’t actually agree to this, but somewhere in my head he did, so when I found out he would again be attending the ICA meeting over my birthday I was… displeased.

He left a day or so before the 12th of September. I can’t remember the conversation we had or the hug I’m sure he gave me, despite the fact that I had not stopped giving him The Filch Eye since I found out he was leaving. On my birthday, from Wherever, USA {I can’t even recall which warm, sandy location he was visiting this time} he called and I told him, after careful consideration, I would forgive him for ditching me if he brought me home something really, really special. Something to make up for not only missing this birthday but the handful of others over the years. He just chuckled in his way and told me to “be good”. I took that as a confirmation that he was going to bring me home something awesome. Something truly spectacular. And really? I should not have been this naive. I can say with almost 100 percent certainty that my father didn’t pick out any of our gifts growing up. I’m positive that task was delegated to my mother and she did a fabulous job at it so I don’t know what I was thinking. By the end of my dads trip I had myself pretty well convinced that he was bringing me the 1995 equivalent of a time traveling, golden unicorn that shit money. {Spoiler alert! That did not happen. Disappointing, I know.}

Anyway I had built this whole thing up in my head, so sure, sososososo sure, that my dad wouldn’t want to disappoint me and would have been sufficiently guilted into picking me out something fabulous. And sure enough, when he got home, he intimated to me that he did pick me out something special. All my teenage angst and rage dissipated, I was immediately filled with love! admiration! and awe for this wonderful man. This beautiful father who brought his newly minted 15 year old daughter a special gift. He passed me a smallish green box. Oh! Jewelry! I hadn’t even thought about that! Diamonds? Sapphires? Oooooo definitely sapphires, they’re my favorite and also my birthstone which makes them awesome AND meaningful. I was so in love with the contents of that box for roughly 20 seconds and then…

I opened it.

And it was a fish.

A fish made out of shells.

It wasn’t even a pretty fish.

It was a dumb fish.

It was the goddamn dumbest, ugliest fish I had ever seen in my entire life.

I hated it.

I hated that fish more than anything I had ever hated before and I was an angsty teenager so I hated A LOT of things.

Here is where I’d like to tell you that I pushed that hate deep down. Deep, deep down. And graciously smiled and hugged my dad for picking something out just for me. I did not do that. “What the hell is this?” may have been uttered. Also “A fish? You thought of me and bought… a stupid fish? Really?” I was not happy and after making sure this wasn’t a gag and my REAL gift wasn’t waiting for me outside, I left the little green box on the counter and stormed off to my room.

Such a brat. A complete, utter, ungrateful brat. To my mom’s credit, she was patient and understood why I was upset. Later that night, through the crack in their bedroom door, I heard her explaining to my dad that no 15 year old girl wants a fish made out of sea shells for her birthday. “They want CDs. They want pagers. They want Abercrombie shopping sprees. They really don’t want decorative fish.” And in true, unperturbed Garry form, he said quietly, “I thought it was nice.”

I did not forgive him easily. I did not take that dumb fish out of its box for weeks on principle. Eventually it made its way to my room, I’m sure my mom brought it there, and at some point I took it out. Inside was a little stand so it could be displayed and well, time is a funny thing, that ugly fish made it into that stand and was placed on a shelf in my room. I still hated it. It reminded me not only of being disappointed in my dad but of my own shitty behavior when I had received it… but there it stayed. Mostly forgotten, occasionally despised, for the rest of my years at home.

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After he died I found myself in my old room. For the few months following the unexpected, I had abandoned my cozy loft apartment that still had my cats and my fiance, to give support to my mom in the wake of a loss that seemed as long and wide as all eternity. There, on my dresser was that dumb, ugly fish. And I picked it up, and ran my fingers over its cool, smooth surface, its sharp angled fins, and I cried. And I clung to it. I imagined my dad wandering off into the hotel’s gift shop. I saw him walking slowly along the shelves, scanning the various kitschy objects. Picking trinkets up, putting them down. I saw him pick up the ugly fish. I saw him smile at it. I felt him run his fingers along its surface. I heard him say, “I’ll take this one. For my daughter, she turns fifteen today!” And then they put that atrocious thing in that small green box and now here it was, 8 years later, a gift from my dad. A part of him here, waiting for me to love, and to appreciate the love it always had for me.

Ugly Fish {that’s its name… after all, a spade’s a spade} has spent every night since, these 10 long years of missing him, on my nightstand. It is a reminder to be gracious. A reminder that I was loved. A reminder of my dad. And I love him so much. And the dumb fish too.

Happy birthday, dad.

2.10.1

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I distinctly remember the moment Rowan turned on me. My sweet, happy child, the baby who people always asked, as she smiled toothlessly at them, “Does she EVER cry? She’s so easy-going!” Just after she turned 14 months, I was walking through the mall when she arched her back in my arms, the toddler signal that she wanted to be released to try out her new-found ability to walk on her own two feet, a little trick she had only learned a few weeks before. I didn’t want to set her down but she was persistent so I plopped her at my feet and reached for her hand. In the past she had willingly grasped it without argument but as I bent down to enfold the tiny bit of pudgy knuckles in my grip, she was… not there. In a 10 second time frame she had made her way 20 feet ahead of me and holy crap, when did she learn how to run? Arms flailing, pigtails flying in the wind, she was FREE.

I spent the next, oh, 4-5 years of my life painstakingly trying to contain that girl’s independent spirit. Trying to find the balance of not squashing it all-together, but getting her to just please put her shoes on without a 20 minute argument/meltdown. Keaton was such a miserable little guy for his first 14 months but miraculously, somewhere just before 15 months he transformed into this happy-go-lucky, easy-going little fellow that, sure, pulled a few typical assy toddler moves {in contrast to his sister he was super clingy}, but he didn’t have the attention span nor the motivation to have tantrums and also was not driven to destroy us like his sister was during the toddler years.

So now here we are with Ezra, at this pivotal moment of toddler development and I am maybe a little frightened of what the coming weeks/months/years have in store for us. If there was a spectrum, with Keaton at one end and Rowan at the other, Ezra would most likely fall two-thirds of the way to the Rowan end. He was a happy baby, but not quite as easy-going and smiley as she was. He is independent in many ways, but much more reliant on me. They are both very, very stubborn. The main difference though is that he is way, way, way less verbal at this age than she was and he is very, very physically strong. This is maybe causing me not an insignificant amount of fear for what it will be like to actually have to take him out in public, something I’ve not attempted on too grand a scale since he became mobile. I guess what I’m saying is, uh, if you have any calming, soothing vibes lying around, I would greatly appreciate if you’d throw them at my toddler every chance you can get.

12.30.11

Now! Here’s how Ezra spent thirteen months…

* He learned to navigate going down the stairs backwards. He mastered climbing up them about thirty seconds after he learned to crawl at 8 months but after a few failed attempts to get down them face first, he just didn’t attempt it, which was kind of nice- I never even had to gate them off. If he went up to the loft, he’d just stay up there until he got bored, then he’d whine and I’d go up to retrieve him, and he just left the stairs going down to the entryway alone. Our house is 90% baby-proofed so he can really wander around wherever he wants and we don’t have to worry too much about what he’s getting into as long as the bathroom and bedroom doors stay shut. A day or two after he turned 13 months he finally figured out that he could make it down the stairs himself and after a few slow, tentative tries, he quickly learned to position himself on the top step, get on his belly, get a shit-eating grin across his face, push off with his arms and WHOOOOOSH,  he flies down backward at break-neck speed. Every time {no really, EVERY TIME} I run because I think he has fallen to his death but, no. There he is standing at the bottom, the grin still firmly planted wide on his cheeks.

12.30.9

{Full disclosure, he did fall once and crack his head good on the bannister. He got a bad bump but when I called the pediatrician they told us he was most likely fine as he wasn’t wobbly, sleepy or throwing up so to just wake him up a few times in the night to be safe. The bump was already gone by the next morning and it didn’t slow him down a bit, although I watched over him pretty closely for the next few days, impeding on his fun.}

12.30.7

* Into everything. Here is a comprehensive but not exhaustive list of things Ezra likes to get into {it grows by the nanosecond}: cupboards, bins, drawers, nightstands, make-up, toilet and accompanying paper, diaper stacks, diaper pail, cords, outlets and power strips {don’t forget to drool all over your hands or just go ahead and lick the sockets!} his siblings’ dressers which he pulls open and just starts FLINGING neatly folded clothing out of like there is goddamn buried treasure at the bottom and ohshit here comes mommy, better start flinging faster, must fling it alllllllll…., dog food and water dishes, bookshelves, old DVDs, whatever has been carelessly left on the first two inches of any higher-up table or counter-top, any glass that has been left out must be dumped unceremoniously, Barbies thrown asunder, sword bin ravaged.

12.30.8

I am pleased to report that while we do occasionally have to gate the tree off in the mornings while we’re all running around and upanddown and upanddown the stairs, Ezra has mostly left it alone, or at least there hasn’t yet been any major tree related disasters. He will walk over and bat at the branches while staring at us, testing how long it takes to get the firm No! or uh-UH! but that’s about it.

* Lots of firsts this month! First carousel ride, first time decorating sugar cookies, first time eating Christmas cookies, first candy cane, first ride in a sled, first time wearing boots and snowpants. You pretty much rocked all of it, except maybe the boots which you just… did not understand. When I stood you up after putting them on you, you flopped back to the ground, unwilling to put your trust in the clunky things. Oh well, this being Minnesota, you have a whole loooooong winter to get used to them.

12.30.3

* What is up with the sock thing, Baby? For whatever reason you hate them and figured out that if you take them off in front of me I just put them back on you so now you not only hide to go pull them off, you then hide the socks. I’ve found them in my nightstand, inside Tupperware containers, inside the child-proofed cabinets {uh, how are you doing this?} and in several random drawers. So far this is my favorite… I … don’t think this is what they mean by hanging your stockings…

12.30.1

* Language. This is still a tough one. You say your own versions {that mostly only I can decipher} of cracker, cookie, stop, drop, pretzel, nosey, uh-oh, nie-nie, cheeks, sock, thank you, kiss, and some other randoms but still don’t use mama, daddy, baby, please, up, more etc. It’s so frustrating because you understand almost everything we say. You follow commands! You will materialize out of no where, pointing to your mouth, if someone says marshmallow. If I ask for a hug or a kiss you gladly give it. If I ask you to go get your milk, or cup or shoe or ball you don’t hesitate! But you just. won’t. say. the. words. yourself. Grumblecakes. You still MEOOOOOOW. Incessantly.

12.30.2

*Throwing food. This has BY FAR been the most frustrating thing this month. We can no longert put food on Ezra’s high-chair tray so he can feed himself because after one or two bites he picks up a piece, holds it out to the side and stares at us blankly as he drops it to the dog. It’s BEYOND infuriating. {For us, obviously Luna is decidedly OK with this arragement.} To save food I began just sitting with him and putting bites directly in his mouth but now he just removes them, full of baby slime, and throws them over anyway. He refuses all vegetables and in true toddler form, has become pickier and pickier everyday. We’ve reverted back to the pouches of over-priced baby squeezers because he can feed them to himself, doesn’t throw them until they’re empty and at least there is some freaking spinach in them. I need to do a big diet overhaul for all of us in January, a big part of which will be to break this food throwing habit. Also, his facial eczema has only gotten worse. We cut out whole milk and most cheeses but fell woefully short on removing other dairy with the craziness of the holidays. So lots of food trouble-shooting ahead, after I get the big kids back to school.

12.30.4

* As far as breastfeeding goes, Ezzie dropped his day feeding completely so we are now down to one nursing session in the morning. I don’t know how long we’ll keep this up, I have a feeling we’re down to our last few weeks of breastfeeding which, sunrise/sunset yadayada.

* His molars are coming in soooooo slooooooow, and have given him a perpetually runny nose that is driving us all bonkers. The top two have broken through and are making their way down, and his gums on the bottom are so damn swollen that I forgive him for being a cranky jerk most days.

* Ezra went to the church nursery for the first time this month! Admittedly, we do the church thing mostly for the kids. I’m not saying all hope is lost, but after being part of the shady-ass Catholic church for 30+ years, I’m finding it really hard to immerse myself in any religion for all the rage and anger I harbor for the terrible things that institution covered up and their disturbing stance on the civil rights issues of today. I do love the very open and accepting little Episcopal church we’ve joined and I’m so glad my kids have a group of wonderful role models to spend a couple of hours or so with each week but, well, let’s just say I wasn’t heartbroken that Bill has taken over church duty for the last six months as services and Sunday school fell right in the middle of naptime. Now that we are OFFICIALLY down to one nap between 11:30- 2ish though, we’ve started to go back as a family. Ezra went willingly to the nursery the first two times but has since decided that having mom or dad chase him up and down the halls is much preferable to a roomful of toys and doting teenagers so we’ll see how long my comeback lasts.

12.30.10

Oh my Ezra. My very favorite time with you this month has been just after we wave through the window to the big kids as they get on the bus. I heat up my coffee and plop down on the floor. Sometimes we listen to This American Life or Radio Lab podcasts, sometimes we don’t. And then? We snuggle, or roll the ball, or tickle, or sing, or stack cups or build blocks or play horsey. I repeat words, you stare at me quiet and stubborn. You peek-a-boo from behind the couch or from behind your own chubby fingers. We laugh and laugh. The breakfast dishes are still in the sink, the laundry loads need to be switched, no one’s bed is made but I’m teaching you how to blow kisses and wow, I’m not giving up this moment for anything.

12.30.5

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This boy.

So much, all at once.

Slashing, pewing, round-house kicking.

Jumping, wiggling, couch-flips.

Spinning, twirling, split-jumps.

Hugging, snuggling, kisses blown.

A spy. A ninja, both regular and turtle. A Jedi. A Stormtrooper. A puppy. A little boy whose mom died in a tragic motorcycle accident. A police officer. A fireman. A big guy teenager. A SYTYCD contestant who always gets a ticket to Vegas. A doctor. A patient. A baseballer. A footballer. A basketballer. A soccer baller. Not a hockey pucker, mom, I don’t like to skate. An olympic diver.

A dreamer of dreams so big and so small.

Kindergartener.

A little brother, a big brother.

A middle child.

Writer of names and random pronouns.

Reader of Dr. Seuss, Mo Willems, and whoever wrote all those stupid Star Wars books.

Lover and love of everyone around him.

Beautiful face, beautiful heart.

Energetic boy. Sweet boy. Our boy.

This boy.

We love you, Keaton.

SIX!

SIX!

Now blow out the candles on your cake... ah. shit. Well, we all know mama's not great with the numbers...

Now blow out the six candles on your cake… ah, shit. Well, we all know mama’s not that great with the numbers…

There we go. That's more like it, six year old.

There we go. That’s more like it, six year old.

Gratuitous lash picture...

Gratuitous lash picture…

Happy Birthday, Big Guy.

Happy Birthday, Big Guy.

 

{* Last two pics, Christine Welsh Photography, First three pics, Christina “I can’t count to six” Gunter Photography}

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This is how I spent my day internet…

11.24.1

That’s right. With the Monster Closet of Death. Oh God. It is just a wall of eight years’ worth of LIFE. I’m pretty sure I swore I’d never let it get this bad again but you know what happens when you create another miraculous human life? You also accumulate miraculous amounts of shi- I mean stuff. Lots of shitty stuff. Oh crap, I think I was trying to avoid cursing there. Oh well. So you know that moment when you finally clear out the closet but then all of its contents are spread out in gigantic piles all around your house and all you want to do is cry and move far far away from it all? Yeah. That’s what I was feeling here:

11.24.2

…Punctuated nicely by my second born, who kept creeping ever-so-quietly behind piles of junk, jumping up and shouting BOOOOOOO at the top of his very high-functioning lungs. I briefly threatened to look up orphanages in the phone book but then he said “What’s a phone book?” and I lost my will to threaten him further, for the laughing and the wonder at how much different life is for these small people. After MUCH to-do and a little help from Radio-Lab, This American Life and two Bloody Mary’s, I finished…

11.24.3

I know that all said and done it doesn’t look that impressive but trust me on this one. This is a closet that slopes downward under our entryway stairs. It is neither wide nor long enough but it happens to be the ONLY storage space for a family five we have in this entire house. I want you people with basements, extra rooms and/or storage closets full of shit to close your eyes and imagine putting all of that in one tiny, angled walk-in closet. It is the ultimate game of tetris, especially when you have to pull out your seasonal things every 2-3 months and if that seasonal item has migrated to the back GAME OVER CHRISTMAS IS RUINED, ALSO YOUR LIFE.

Balance in the force of the entryway was also restored and we are now semi-ready to put up Christmas decorations next Friday and host our family for Keaton’s 6th birthday..

11.24.4

Well, I’d write more but I need to go get really drunk* so I can effectively rid this day from my memory. I hope you understand, Internet.

*And by “get really drunk” I mean, have a glass a wine and fall asleep on the couch. This is what drunk is to old people.

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