Mar 31 2009

Little Pitchers

Last night, Cole asked if I was going to use his Spiderman toothbrush on his teeth (which was totally a set-up because what OTHER toothbrush would I be using?). When I said “Yes,” he looked up at me with his delicious, brown eyes and stage-whispered “Oh, you are SO dead.”

Then, this morning, as I was trying to get him dressed, he yelled “You’re FIRED!” and threw back his head and cackled.

He’s also been actually listening to music and has been accurately repeating words from certain rap songs (we have a lot of rap fusion-type stuff on our mp3 player, mostly because it’s fun to dance to), though so far he has not repeated anything really objectionable.

He is very aware, and picking up more than we realize. I’ve had to warn John recently that we have to be extra careful how we talk to each other, because we tend to use a lot of sarcasm and generally be faux-assholes around each other for our own amusement, but Cole, though he picks up the words and phrases, DOES NOT understand that we are joking.

I know that Cole doesn’t know what “You’re so dead” or “You’re fired” mean. He’s simply repeating something he’s heard to people with whom he feels safe (me and his Daddy) to test them out in a social situation to help him work through what they mean. When I tell him that “You’re so dead” is not a nice thing to say, he understands a little more about what it means and when it should not be used. I’m glad that he’s experimenting with us rather than with the kids at school (or his teacher… GAH!).

I hope that I’m doing the right thing. I talk to him about the not-as-nice things that he says and, without getting angry that he’s said them, tell him that they aren’t nice things to say and that he shouldn’t say them. I don’t ignore them, because then he doesn’t learn, and I don’t get angry, because then he only learns that that particular word or phrase has some power over me.

But this part of parenting is harder than it looks from the outside. There are so many things that we do or say as adults that we don’t think about and that kids don’t understand because they don’t have the same context and experience.

What would you do, as a parent, in these situations? Ignore? Punish? Talk through it? Laugh (it’s hard not to)? Why?

Mar 30 2009

Guilt

I still have two Grandmothers, but for years I’ve felt like I only have one.

My father’s mother is just about exactly what you’d hope a Grandma would be- she frets unnecessarily over us, sends us things covered in flowers and baby animals, cherishes pictures and gifts we’ve given her over the years, and loves the dickens out of us. She sends Cole money for his savings account every month, and makes sure to have a card and/or present in our mailbox on time for every holiday and birthday. She usually gets up to see us about two times per year, and would be here more if it wasn’t for her husband’s fear of flying (they drive from AZ each time! Scares the shit out of me.) It would only be better if she could live closer. In the same state would be a start. I love her so much, and I dread the day that I get “That Phone Call.”

My mother’s mother, on the VERY opposite other hand, has always been distant. She lives on the other side of the country, for many years lived in Africa, does not make any effort to come out and see us (the last time I saw her on this coast was at my wedding when my parents paid for her to come out- that was 8 years ago), doesn’t make much of an effort to see us even when we get back there (I saw her briefly almost 4 years ago when I was pregnant with Cole and vacationing with the family at the Jersey Shore, and even then she and her husband spent more time talking to my husband than to me), doesn’t write, doesn’t call, doesn’t send Christmas presents or birthday cards, not even to Cole.

Really, it’s not much like she’s a Grandmother in anything but a blood way.

And honestly, all I’m looking for is a little effort. I don’t really care if she sends presents, but a phone call or a letter once in a while would be nice. I thought things would get better when her horrible, overbearing husband died, but no. They haven’t.

And fine- if she doesn’t want to be in my life, I’m okay with that. I haven’t come to expect anything more from her. I don’t need for everyone, relatives included, to like or love me. I don’t expect for everyone to want to talk to my son on the phone or wish him a happy birthday. That’s okay.

But when she has a “long talk” with my father over the weekend, and whines to him that she’d really love to get a phone call or letter from me because she misses talking to me? Forget it.

I have made efforts. I used to write to her frequently, but got absolutely nothing back. I’m sorry, but I need more than that. When she doesn’t respond to me for years, I feel like I’ve wasted a whole lot of time, and I don’t really feel obligated to waste more. If she wants a letter, she can write to me this time. If she wants to talk, she can call. She knows my address, she knows my phone number. I feel like her begging for contact from me is, at this late point, pure posturing.

And yeah, I kind of feel like a schmuck. She IS my Grandmother, after all. And this comes right on the heels of my dear friends losing their Grandfather over the weekend, a Grandfather who was probably never the best at that whole Grandfather Role-thing, but whom they are now missing all the same. Will I miss her when she’s gone- my Grandmother who was never really there? Will it really be any different? Will I feel like an asshole for missing out on any chance to communicate with her, as one-sided as it may be?

I don’t know, but I do know that I’m tired of feeling hurt; tired of feeling like I’m not worth her time. She can make this move.

Mar 27 2009

Dreams of Vacation

We’ve been given the opportunity to have a long-weekend vacation while my father takes care of Cole, and now it’s all I can think about. I don’t know when we’ll go, and I don’t yet know where, but I can’t wait.

It feels a little harsh to be so excited about a chance to be away from my son, but it’s really more about the chance to be alone with my husband for more than a half-hour at a time. I think a couple of uninterrupted days with lunches and dinners at places that don’t have kiddie menus or booster seats will be really good for us. Before too long, we won’t have this kind of chance again for another few years, so I’m incredibly excited to take it.

I know Cole will have fun, too. He LOVES his Pop. Last weekend, he had an unplanned sleep-over after my father’s birthday party and he didn’t want to leave again when I went the next day to pick him up. He’ll be having a sleep-over tomorrow night, too, as I work my feet off for the local Waldorf school annual auction until midnight. I told him about this weekend’s sleep-over opportunity, and he was pissed when he realized that I didn’t mean we were going over to Pop’s house THIS MORNING. Like, NOW, mama. I’m trying not to take offense.

But really, I’m thrilled that he has the kind of relationship with his grandfather that I always yearned for from mine (who died when I was 4). And it’s even better that it affords me the opportunity to take some quiet time with my husband for the first time in 3.5 years.

So I’m thinking about Bodega Bay. Crab sandwiches. Clam chowder. Pan-seared scallops. Baby beet salad. Braised beef shortribs. Carrot cake. Chocolate-hazelnut pots du creme. Homemade potato gnocchi. Beautiful beaches. Quiet B&B.; Lots of reading. And SLEEP.

I know my husband is thinking that there is something terribly absent from that list, but I don’t need to be so blatant. I know I’m thinking that I may be just a little too focused on food.

Mar 23 2009

Menu

I made all of the food for my dad’s party on saturday (except for the cheesecake and the salads), and it was DAMN good. I highly recommend:

Sausage, Cheese, and Basil Lasagna

Spinach, Pesto, and Cheese Lasagna

Dark, Moist, (Flourless) Chocolate Cake

Vanilla Bean Pound Cake (But I fudged the recipe a bit)

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie with Crumb Top (Made it with Joy’s cream cheese crust instead)

Whiskey Whipped Cream

I also had fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream (which I did not make).

Both of the lasagnas and the chocolate cake will be on my go-to lists from now on. The lasagnas were EASY, too.

Mar 23 2009

Balancing

Losing 8 hours at work – Getting cool, part-time, second job

Having to pay taxes – Having bank unexpectedly send a check for home-tax overpayment

Having to fix the car – John suddenly getting sufficient extra work to cover the cost

Taking all Saturday to make food for my father’s birthday -
Food being awesome, party much appreciated, free over-nightbabysitting, sleep-in Sunday, free KITCHENAID MIXER anda Pasta Maker!

Each time it feels like we’re getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop, something comes up to shield or cushion us enough so that we can keep getting by. I don’t know if it’s luck or Karma or just really fucking awesome coincidences, but I certainly appreciate it. Each night that I can relax enough to not have an anxiety-riddled pregnancy dream (and, therefore, ULTRA-realistic) is a REALLY GOOD NIGHT, and would not be possible if these balances were not happening.

No, were not riding out these hard times without wobbling, but we’re staying on the board and that’s what matters most right now. Balance. Balance.

You know what else is good? Homemade cheesecake and homemade sweet-hot gherkins (OMFG!). I am so pregnant.

Mar 19 2009

“I’ve got a ticket come ride with me”

So I guess my 4-day work weeks officially start next week, and I’m- and this is somewhat unexpected- rather relieved and delighted, actually. I think things are going to work out really nicely, all things considered.

And, though I am riding the ridiculous loops of the pregnancy-hormone roller-coaster NON-STOP today, I am really loving that the internet exists, 1) because it’s helping me get my mind off of a few things and 2) because it’s giving me a lot of hope that I can have a different relationship with my daughter than I had with my mother, which is something that, down REALLY deep, I knew before, but it’s nice to see that others have managed it before me.

(Wow- was that all one sentence?)

My mother and I have continued to have a rocky relationship, though we are back on speaking terms. But I have decided that I will try to take the best of how she was a mother to me, and add all of those things that I have always felt were missing to the way I will parent my children. It’s all I can think to do, because no amount of fretting will change my childhood. I can just vow to do my best to be a good mother.

Speaking of good parenting (HA!), Cole managed to cut his own hair last night before I could stop him. He was lingering in the bathroom after using the toilet, and was awfully quiet, which immediately caught my attention. Suddenly, I heard a little *snick* and hollered “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?!” Because I was in the middle of eating my dinner, John jumped up to check and yelled back “HE CUT HIS HAIR.” Shit.

So I got up to see the damage- which, as it turned out, was minimal and not at all obvious if you didn’t know what it looked like before- and John said “How did he even get scissors?”

Um… oops.

See, last weekend, he got a haircut from his barber. While I think she’s awesome and love that she only charges $10 for a cut, I HATE how she does Cole’s bangs. So on Tuesday night I had cornered him in the bathtub and trimmed just a little off the front to make them look more even.

And forgotten to hide the scissors again.

But at least he didn’t get far, and it gave us a chance to do the “NEVER EVER CUT YOUR OWN HAIR” talk without having to, like, shave his head or something because the damage was too bad. And it’s not like we were having family portraits done any time soon, anyway. So really- best-case scenario on this learning opportunity, I think.

What was I saying about trying to be the best parent I can be?

Mar 17 2009

The Other Mother

Cole: Mom! I have sticky hands!
Me: Oh rea…
Cole: I’m like a TREEFROG!
Me: Awesome.
**************************

Cole (picking up play phone): I’m calling the COPS.

**************************

I don’t know where he gets this stuff, but he has us laughing daily. He’s clever, and he has a better memory than I’ve EVER had, something he must get from his dad.

Ever since we went to see Coraline in the theater (which Cole really enjoyed), he has been talking about his “other mother,” “other father,” and “other grandfather” (the especially weird thing about that being that he doesn’t even call either of his REAL grandfathers “grandfather.” One is Pop and the other is Poppa [name]). He tells stories about them, like that his Other Father brings him toys, his Other Grandfather told him how to chop down the tree out front, and his Other Mother loves me (his REAL mother- I can prove it, I have the scars).

Is it silly that I’m a little annoyed by this game? Is it silly that I feel jealous of these fake characters, and that I wonder why he feels the need to make them up, as if the real family he has isn’t enough? I love his imagination, which is getting bigger and grander every day, I just hate this particular game. It makes me feel like I’m competing with an imaginary person for “Cole’s Best Mother of the Year.” I’m not good at competition.

I know, I know- I’m overreacting. And when he brings me the stories of his fantastic family, I don’t really play along, but I don’t try to quash the game, either. Sometimes I ask him questions about these fake people, trying to spy on my competition trying to ferret out the reason for the game, but I can never get much information out of him other than what he originally offers.

I told my mom that he was playing this game, and she reminded me that I, too, had an “imaginary” family when I was about Cole’s age, but that I had shockingly complete and thorough information about them. I told her that I had a mother before her, and that I had been out picking mustard seeds when a rattlesnake bit and killed both of my parents. My mom could ask me any question about that family and I had the answer.

The particularly disturbing parts of my story to my mother were that 1) I knew that rattlesnakes were deadly, and 2) I knew about mustard seeds. She had no idea where I could have gotten either piece of information, particularly because I was home alone with her all day every day and didn’t watch any tv beyond Sesame Street and Dance Party USA. My mother, of course, is convinced that I was recalling a previous life, but I’m not so convinced.

I’m just wondering, did your kids or kids you know go through this? I know that kids can have elaborate fantasy lives, but I guess I didn’t realize it could start so early, and I’m wondering if fantasy other families are common or if I should worry.

(Maybe I should bake a cake tonight. Do you think his Other Mother can bake cakes like mine? I MUST be better at something!)

Mar 16 2009

Now and Then



On the left, 21 weeks this time around. On the right, 22 weeks with Cole.

In general, after this review, I think I actually feel a lot better about how I look this time compared to last, not that it even matters that much.

And, is it just me, or does it seem like I’m carrying this baby differently?

Mar 16 2009

I’m Like a Giant Bird

(And I may peck your eyes out if you cross me.)

Over the weekend, I laid down new cocoa hulls in a planting bed, finished building furniture for Cole’s room and started re-organizing it, pulled down all of the baby clothes and did a bunch of laundry, washed my car and John’s, and completely detailed the inside of my car- even going so far as to heft the vacuum INTO the back to get it as thoroughly clean as I possibly could.

I’m not nesting at all.

I remember being hugely pregnant with Cole and getting down on my hands and knees late at night because the baseboards and bathroom floor were not going to clean themselves, you know! It’s already starting this time. I can’t stop myself. Each weekend, and several weeknights, I have been pushing myself to fatigue doing all of those little chores that obviously CAN NOT WAIT or, at least, I can’t get out of my head until I do them. I have plans, folks, big plans. Plans that would be MUCH bigger if only our pocketbooks were a little fuller.

I want to paint the kitchen cabinets red, finish painting the chairs, find art for the living room walls, re-do all of the closets, get all of my filing done, transition my work office to my home office, plant a small garden, fix the back yard, build the crib, wash and sort and fold and obsess over and wash again and sort and fold and obsess over all of the tiny baby clothes, clean the $60 Papasan bouncer that I got for $15 (YES! SCORE!), fret over baby stuff, try not to buy baby stuff, pick baby names, re-mortgage the house, scrub every surface, do a complete re-model of Cole’s bathroom, and install hardwood floors. My goals are modest.

(The things in that list that will most likely NOT happen- painting the cabinets, painting the chairs, finding art, a good re-do of the closets, fixing the yard, bathroom re-model, hardwood floors. These things take money and a tolerance for chemical smells that I can’t even begin to manage while pregnant. This just means that I will have anxiety about them constantly until Roo is born and I can’t get enough sleep to think about much other than boobs and diaper changes.)

In money saving news, we have so much stuff left over from Cole’s tiny-babyhood, and so much of what I liked even then was unisex, that we are SET for clothes for at least the first few months. Sure it would be nice to have a couple more things, but only because I’m lazy and would rather avoid doing laundry for as long as possible. Looking through all of the stuff we still have was really a relief, as I was, apparently, more stressed about clothing this child than I realized. Though I always held it in the back of my head that Roo will be born in late July and so could, theoretically, make it quite a few months clad only in a diaper. In fact, I may try to do the same. Don’t stop by the house unannounced, is all I’m saying…

Mar 12 2009

Great White Blob Sighting

21 Weeks

That must be distracting.

I’m now in my 6th month, and I think that’s the first picture I’ve put up. Kinda sad, in one way, though it’s probably better this way. I can only expect your poor eyes to take so much.

In all honesty, I don’t really feel too badly about how I’m looking in the body region right now (the facial region is a different story, and one I’m not emotionally prepared to relate). I’ve been told by strangers both that a)I look small for my weeks and b)that I “sure have popped out fast!” Whatever. I am what I am. Despite admonishing me for gaining 6 pounds in one month (despite losing 8 the month before, making the total weight gain for 5 full months of pregnancy 5 whole frigging pounds), my midwife tells me that I am growing along perfectly. I trust her 25+ years of experience over a stranger’s assvice ANY day.

Let’s see- some quick math here, just while I’m thinking about it. From now on out, I am expected to gain roughly 1 pound per week for the rest of my pregnancy. So, 1lb/weekX19weeks=19lbs+5lbs=A LOT LESS THAN I GAINED WITH COLE, THAT’S FOR FREAKING SURE. SOOOO not worried.

Lately, my biggest complaint has been the straining of my back and ab muscles to keep up with baby shifting and weight gain. One day (like yesterday) I will be MISERABLE and the next I will feel perfect. As pregnancy complaints go, it’s not a huge one. I can still get around, still build the shit of of some Ikea furniture, still go to work, still lift my son, still cook dinner… wait… oh gahd! The pain! I can’t POSSIBLY cook dinner tonight! Or ever again! Or do laundry! Or yard work! Oh! OWWWW!!!

*SOB* I’m so sorry, John, that you’ll have to do EVERYTHING from now on, but I know you love me and want me to be safe and want our baby to LIVE and OH! WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!

(Somehow I don’t think he’s going to buy it.)