Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Oliver got a ridiculous amount of toys this year. He is pretty happy.

Merry (belated) Christmas, everyone.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The definition of sleeping in has changed slightly.

This morning, like most mornings, Jared and I set Oliver up with his choice of breakfast and went back to sleep for a little bit. A few minutes later, Oliver came into our room and spied the big box of a Christmas present too large to wrap. He set to work on opening it.

By employing sneaky parent technique #7 (pretending to be asleep) I was able to watch his attempts.

He'd knock the box over and shout, "YIKES!" as he was almost crushed by a box bigger than he is. Each tiny piece of cardboard paper he could rip off was instantly labeled "trash" and he had to go throw it away before he could rip another piece off. I think I got to lie in bed for another half an hour while he peeled the outer layer of paper off the cardboard, muttering to himself. He frequently encouraged himself saying, "Oh, good job!" or  "It's working! Yes!"

Finally, I peeked out of my half-open eyes and saw him trying to gnaw open a corner of the box. Like a dog. He spit out little pieces of cardboard. "Yuck. No no no."

Then I laughed, and he knew I was watching him.

"Oh, hi Mom! Open this box! ITS FOR ME!!!!"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Oliver's friends.

We got a catalog in the mail today from the city. It listed all of the winter activities and classes going on, and I thought it would be a good way for Oliver and I to make friends. I spoke to him about it this evening.

Me: Would you like to take a class? And meet friends?
Oliver: Uh huh. Good idea.
Me: What kind of class? A dancing class?
Oliver: Uh huh.
Me: A music class?
Oliver: Oh, music! Uh huh.
Me: A swimming class?
Me: That sounds like fun, doesn't it? We will meet friends and you can learn how to swim.
Oliver: Oh! My friends! (opening up catalog, pointing to picture of children in pool)  These my friends! In the pool!  My friends. I like them.
Me: But you don't know those people. Maybe they would be your friends, though.
Oliver: No. They my friends. They come over.

Five minutes later...

Oliver: Mom, open door!
Me: Why? What door?
Oliver: Open door for my friends!
Me: Your friends are coming over?
Oliver: Yes! Play with my toys. Open door!
Me: Oliver, we didn't meet any friends yet. There isn't anybody here. No one is coming over.
Oliver, crying: No, Mom! No! I NO HAVE FRIENDS!

Doing things again. Shoot.

I took a break from doing stuff and that was nice. The house has been a bit messy and laundry is a little behind but it was nice to do nothing. Yesterday, I ended my streak of doing nothing by doing something - namely a lot of laundry, fixing the garage door, securing a doorknob, etc.

You guys, I have never spent so much time in Home Depot. I didn't "get" that store until now.

I almost forgot about Christmas shopping, so I've had to start that now. I was beginning to make lists in preparation for our Christmas trip, but Oliver is not helpful.

The first list I made was scribbled on. The second list somehow ended up in the dog's water bowl. The third was crumpled and thrown away. I went to grab a suitcase to start packing some things up, and Oliver locked me in the garage. Again. He thought that was quite funny.

It's like he does not even want us to go. All of these weeks he's been asking for cousin Margaret and Uncle Matt and presents, and now, suddenly? Nothing. I can ask him if he wants to go on the plane to Florida and he says, "No. That's okay. No thank you. I stay home. New house."

I really really hope he changes his mind. There is nothing worse than convincing him to change his mind once he's gotten it made up.

For instance:

"Stand by the Christmas tree and smile!"
"Yes, smile just like that but do it by the Christmas tree. Not in a cardboard box."

" ...  Nevermind."

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmastime, revisited.

I recently wrote about how hard Christmastime usually is for me, and how I wanted to try and change my feelings towards it. Last night, as I was driving home with Oliver looking at the Christmas lights I realized how much of a non-issue this is becoming.  The worst part was laying it out in the open and admitting that I was a grinch, admitting that I wanted to change parts of myself to make things better for Oliver.

Admitting that things are wrong with me is very hard for me to do.

But now that I've done it? So far, the hardest part of trying to change has been admitting that I had parts of me to work on. Like so many of my problems, starting the battle is harder than actually fighting it. I'm actually looking forward to Christmas this year. I don't want to smirk at people who are out wearing Santa hats. I've been making detours through neighborhoods so that Oliver can look a the lights. I am going to make this Christmas my best Christmas ever.

To be honest, Oliver is making this so easy for me. He shouts "Look, CHRISTMAS TREE!" for any sort of tree with some semblance of Christmas decorations on it. In the car he asks to turn on the Christmas songs and commands to all passengers, "Everybody, dance!" His first choices on TV are the old claymation Christmas specials with Rudolf and Frosty. This morning when he got up, he asked me if Santa is coming to our house. It made me want to cry, because I forgot how much kids can believe and hope for things without fear of being wrong or silly.

How could I not feel some of his excitement? How could I harbor anything to hinder that joy?

My parents offered to watch Oliver tonight so that Jared and I could get some alone time and go out on a date. But once Oliver left, I turned on the computer and found his half-watched Christmas movie. It made me start to think about him, to think about our drive home last night in the dark with the Christmas music on, and I made a little change of plans.

Tonight we are going to go get one of those silly fake Christmas tree and light it up. We'll have it assembled, skirted, and waiting for him to adorn with ornaments and top with a star. I just know he'll love it. And if he enjoys it and it makes our family happy, it's worth the money spent.

I want him to come home tomorrow, spy the tree waiting for him in the living room, and shout just like he always does, "Look, Christmas tree!"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


These next couple of weeks are my time to rest and relax before any more big undertakings. I've got nothing major planned until our Christmas trip to visit Jared's family. I didn't realize it until I finally got a chance to breathe, but I was starting to get worn out. Now that I've been able to sit around and do nothing, I can feel how tired I was. It's probably  a good thing I couldn't feel it when I was so busy - if I were tired, there was no way I could have gotten everything done.

To give out some big news to some of you reading this blog, we're expecting another baby boy this coming April. Up until now we've been so busy moving and house buying and unpacking and Thanksgiving-ing that I didn't really reflect much on my pregnancy. It's kind of a luxury, not having to think or worry about it all the time.

Part of the difference between this pregnancy and the last is probably that things are much more stable in my life now. I know we have a safe, permanent place to stay. I know we'll find a way to pay for all of this. I know what having a baby and being around to take care of it is like. I won't be losing my non-baby friends because if they weren't standing by me the first time, they're already long gone.

Instead of all that constant worry, I am just going about my life. It is so much easier.

When I go into the OB's office, they have to laugh at me. They ask how many weeks pregnant I am and I have to scratch my head and think real hard to remember. I still mix up  and forget my due date. But to be honest... it's hard for me to remember something that's just always there in the background. I know it really doesn't mean that much, so I just don't care. Last time around I was so fixated on that dumb date that it took forever to come. And then when it came and went for two weeks with nothing... that was torture.

Trust me, forgetting is just so much easier.

Only recently have I been forced to contemplate this new baby. It's getting harder to turn over in bed. My stomach sticks out above the waterline and freezes when I'm in the bath tub. I go to zip up my coat against the wind and remember, "Oh yeah... that stomach's there. Can't zip."

This little break has been nice because I've just been sitting around and eating and reading. I've actually been paying attention tot he baby moving, it's more often and stronger than I previously thought. Last night, I called Jared in and he got to feel our second son kick his hand for the first time.

And, trust me, I'm not one of those int he camp of "pregnancy is wonderful and beautiful" because... it's just not. At least, not to me. The idea  of a person growing in me still kind of creeps me out, and anything that involves months of barfing is anything but beautiful.

But maybe last night I could sort of see where those hippie earth mothers were coming from. It was kind of neat to watch Jared see, for that first time, that there really was something in my stomach besides a bunch of tacos and ice cream.

My plan for the next few weeks is to continue doing nothing while I still can. I've done enough for a while.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Season. Already.

Every store we've been to lately has had some sort of Christmas display up. And I hate it.. not because I think they're starting too early, not because I am out to complain against the commercialism of Christmas or anything like that... Just because Christmastime is very hard for me. It reminds me of feelings I'd like to be over by now, but just can't seem to let go.

I can't remember any specific presents I got on any specific years. I can't remember anything especially funny happening or any really great meals we had... I only remember how strained it was between everyone in my family. Being the baby, everyone tried to shelter me. I had no idea why everybody had such a hard time getting along because no one would say anything to me. But they didn't have to. I wasn't stupid, I could tell things were wrong, words or no words.

The older I got, the more I was able to see for myself. I got better at eavesdropping on people's conversations, filling in gaps with my own logic.  Eventually, certain family members just stopped showing up to family functions. And I still didn't know why. I just figured they didn't care. In a way, I figured they didn't care about me, the only one left at home. I never even learned why until I was getting ready to leave the house myself.

I used to look forward to a break from school, but that was it. Once we were home, I was stuck. My parents were stressed. Constant, forced togetherness made us argue. Christmas shopping and wrapping needed to be done and everyone had to bend over backwards not to upset the precarious balance. Were all of the presents "even" and "fair" between all children? Did I say something wrong that so-and-so isn't speaking to me?

It was a hard place to be for me. Instead of looking forward to opening presents by the fireplace, I was bracing myself for the storm.

But now, things are different. I am on my own. I can host events myself, and I can invite everyone. Show up or not show up, everyone is always welcome to my home and everyone can get along for a few hours if they choose to come. If they choose not to come, I'll see them another time. That's it. That is my rule. Their decades-old issues between each other do not concern me, they do not define the individual relationship I have with either party.  Truthfully, I may not even want to spend time with some of my family sometimes, but they are my family and I am capable of setting differences aside for a few days.  Shouldn't everyone be able to do that?

And even though I know things are different now, it is hard to forget how it was. It has been hard for me not to instinctively put on my grinch face and just try to get through it all as fast as I can.

Oliver has no memories of Christmas at all. He just knows that he likes the lit displays in department stores. He points out Christmas lights on our drives around town. He talks about Christmas trees and ornaments and Santa and presents. He has no idea that Christmas would be anything but pretty lights, food, and presents. That's all I've told him.

And for him, that's all it should be. A time to be with people you love and enjoy a nice day together. I just have to be careful not to poison it for him. I don't want to say anything negative. I don't want to get all stressed.  I just want to show up to wherever the festivities are and watch him open presents and have a good time together.

How is that so hard for me? Even if I do manage to exchange my dark memories for future excitement and hope... how do I explain the family gaps to Oliver? The last thing I want to do is tell him nothing, to leave him in the dark to feel like he did something wrong.

I want to be transparent with him. I want him to know how things are in his world, whether or not the situation lies in his control. I don't want issues to come out of nowhere and blindside him. I want him to see that everyone has problems and  he isn't in charge of fixing them all. It is best just to have that honesty and openness for everyone involved.  I do believe I can teach that to him and I do believe I can demonstrate that for him. But it is going to be the hardest thing I've ever done. If it means that Oliver will have great memories of Christmas, it will be worth every day of the struggle.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stocking the pantry, and starting over in other ways.

We've lived in three different places in the last year. It's been hard work.. harder than I even realized until I sat down today and felt like I'd been working for the last year nonstop. We bounced from wedding planning to house hunting to moving in someplace new not once, but twice. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, not this time. We're in a good place and the work that we put in will be benefits for us to reap in the future. I know that. I'm glad for that. On multiple occasions Jared has come home from work and looked up to me at the top of the stairs,  looking over the dog and the toddler clamoring to greet him in the entryway to say to me, "This is our life." 

Today I made a schedule of things I wanted done by Thanksgiving so that I can sit back and relax while I have company and just be proud of our new home. The first thing I wanted to do was restock our pantry and get back into the swing of cooking real, homemade meals. No more frozen stuff, no more premade grocery store dinners, no more fast food. It really took a lot out of me to eat like that throughout these weeks of moving in and living without working appliances. I feed people as one of my ways of taking care of them, and not feeding my family was making me feel depressed. Fixing the pantry was just the first step in my mind to getting back on track.

While growing up, the pantry was one of the many things that my mom did for us that I didn't even notice or appreciate. She didn't shop that often, but we always had food. I could always make some sort of dinner in her house. I never ran out of toilet paper, paper towels, light bulbs, batteries, tomato paste... I could open the door and there it was for me. If she didn't have the exact thing I wanted, I could usually find a pretty good substitute. My mom's pantry was so expansive that my sister used to come home from college and go "grocery shopping" in it. She would return to school after each break with canned soup and jars of sauce.

I never realized that this wasn't something every family did. I didn't know that there were people who didn't have backups, buying only enough to make a recipe or meal before going back to the store for more. When Jared and I moved into our first place, the thing that made me feel most adult and secure in our new home was putting together those cupboards full of food. It was comforting to open the doors and see options, see that there were things I could make to feed us that night and the next, to know we wouldn't be starving at least for this week.

When we were particularly worried about becoming parents, I would get up and make food for us. We would sit on our rummage-saled furniture, sometimes at 1, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning eating tacos, brownies, corn bread, chicken pot pie.  The pantry and the food in it gave us that escape, something to linger over while we hatched our plan B and contemplated next moves. That food was a non-judgemental safety net and all we had to do was open up a few boxes, measure out ingredients, warm up the house with the glow from the oven, and eat together.

I want to be able to give that same thing to Oliver. I want to teach him to feed himself and others, and I want him to be able to walk to the pantry and open it up wide for inspiration. Even if he never takes to cooking, that food will still be there for me to give to him, to instill in him the notion that some things are constant in life. There will always be someone to sit around the table with, and there will always be food here to share with them.

Because, to me, there is no place that seems more like home than a kitchen table with home cooked food upon it and a group of people gathered around it. The boxes might be half unpacked and the home repair list might be long, but we will still be at home.

"This is our life."

Jared is so right... This is our life. And it is so good.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


For Halloween, Oliver wanted to be a zebra. I thought it would be really easy to find a zebra costume for a toddler. But it wasn't. So I made one.  I took a plain white sweatshirt, painted on some zebra stripes and added a bit of fluffy trim for the mane. The ears are pieces of felt.

It's a little bit ghetto, but he was happy with it. And everyone knew he was a zebra when we were out, so I consider it a success. I tried to meet the new neighbors but I don't remember a single name anymore. But at least we introduced ourselves.

I took pictures on Halloween, but they weren't on my camera. I had to have Jared get a disposable one because I didn't know where my charger was. Oliver wanted to wear the costume again today, so here is a re-creation of the night until I get the disposable camera developed.

Ever seen a zebra watching TV?

Zebra and unenthused don't-disturb-my-nap dog.

I don't know if you guys know this or not, but you can click on the photos to see them bigger. Just a tip for those less computer savvy followers.

Happy belated Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's been too long without a dog.

After having the dog for only a couple of days, I can't believe how much I missed the dog life.  It's nice to  have somebody to follow me around during the day. She keeps my feet warm on the couch. If I hug her she licks me once, a nice polite and non-slobbery lick. She watches NOVA with me. What more do you want in a dog?

Last night when Oliver went to bed he requested Mya to help tuck him in and read stories.  Mya watches Oliver as he eats, just hoping he'll drop something and that she can grab it before Oliver does. If they both reach for a dropped piece at the same time, Oliver wins. ALWAYS. She knows she can't have it if Oliver wants it. How does she know this? I don't know. Obviously, we haven't had a chance to really train her. This is how she came to us.

Please drop that pizza, please drop that pizza, please drop that pizza....

We took her to Petco this afternoon to pick up a nail clipper. She greeted the other dogs politely and enjoyed being petted by other customers. She sat nicely on the backseat while we drove. When I opened the door to let her out, she didn't rush out until I had her leashed and stepped out of the way.

When we got home I planned out a long strategy for clipping her nails. I've never had a dog that enjoyed nail clipping.  I sat down next to her and pet her paws while she slept. She got used to me petting her paws so I quick pulled the clipper out of my pocket, hoping to get the biggest offending nail I could before she ran away or freaked out.

Well, I got the clipper out, clipped on nail quickly and she gave me this look to say, "Are you kidding me? You are so weird. "

She put her head back down on the couch and rolled onto her side so I could clip the rest of her nails. Just like that. No big deal.

This dog is some sort of miracle dog, you guys.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's a girl!

Last night we added somebody to our family... Meet Mya.

We finished the adoption process and brought her home last night. I've never brought home a dog that immediately was so friendly and comfortable in the house. We looked at a lot of dogs, but she was the winner. She's gentle with Oliver, she's not barky, she's house trained, she's a nice manageable size.. A good family dog.

The real test of excellence came when we were on the car ride home with her. We realized that Oliver hadn't had any dinner, so we stopped at Arby's and got him a roast beef sandwich. I handed him the sandwich and there sat Mya, watching every bite Oliver ate. But she didn't even try to steal it from him.

Nobody really knows what she is, but our best guess is that she's a beagle/corgi mix.  She doesn't bark like a beagle or herd like a corgi, though, so who really knows.  She's three years old, a surrender from a family that kept her outdoors all the time. I don't know how she has such a great personality after being tied up outside for that  long, but she does.

Last night as we pulled into our driveway Oliver announced, "New house, Mya! Come on!"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A house by ourselves.

After spending so long in an apartment, it's hard to wrap my head aroudn the idea of a house... where all four walls are ours.

When we came in late last night, Oliver was singing and jumping on the wood floors, making loud clompy noises.  My first thought was, "Shhh! You'll make our neighbors angry!" But then I remembered... this is our house, our basement, we can jump and sing all we want!

We moved our wall art in and they all have velcro tabs on the back. We've been so used to not nailing things into the wall that I didn't even think about it when I put "velcro hangers" on our shopping list. Nails are now an option!

As with any new place, we've learned some things pretty quickly. Oliver can unlock the doors and escape from the house if he wants to. (I guess that's not a huge surprise.) The toilet sounds kind of like the Loch Ness monster. A floor vent makes your feet REALLY toasty while you're standing at the sink to wash dishes.  A glow in the dark bar on our ceiling fan makes a hipnotic/dizzying circle on our ceiling while we're trying to fall asleep. The storm door makes a horrific squeak if you try to open it slowly.

All of these things we'll get used to and then we won't even notice them anymore. We'll forget about them completely until somebody comes over and makes a comment about how hot their feet are getting, startles at the door squeak, freaks out when they see Oliver running out onto the deck by himself...

Moving into a new place is hard, but at least it's exciting this time because it is our own. I'm looking forward to learning all of the good restaurants around, rearranging our furniture, picking out paint colors, owning a dog, knowing we'll be in this place for a long time... It will be good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This post sponsored by PETA, I'm pretty sure.

For our birthdays, Jared and I went out for dinner and ate a guinea pig.  And really, that is pretty unique in itself but the best part comes when I tell you how they prepared it. Allow me to try and paint a picture for you with my words, as I forgot my camera. (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! The most important meal of my life and I didn't bring a camera. I will never forgive myself.)

We ordered cuy,  a traditional meal of a few South American countries, especially Peru. We were told to expect a whole guinea pig which had been marinated for 24 hours and then roasted to a nice crisp. We were not told to expect to be blown away by his presentation.

First of all, this was not a small guinea pig. This was a body builder amongst PETCO guinea pigs. (They did actually fly the pig in from Peru for us, though. So it's not like I stole some child's would-be pet or anything just so I could stuff my craw. But, you know, if it came down to it, I totally would if I had to. Who am I kidding?) It came out on this huge platter surrounded by saffron rice, some sort of starchy South American corn variant, and cilantro potato balls. In the very center was the star of the show, Fluffy.

You guys, he looked so regal and majestic. HE WAS BEGGING US TO BE EATEN. Because he still had his whole face and paws and everything in tact, you could see that he was smiling, a nice big (rodenty buck) toothy grin.  He was so happy to be celebrating our birthdays with us in such a special way! What a selfless little trooper.

And since Fluffy really wanted to go all out for the celebration, do you think he would just come out flopped on a platter willy nilly without any special touches? Oh no. Not Fluffy. He brought his A game.

Up through the side dishes arose our majestic pig dinner, reared back on tiny hind paws like the most loyal of steeds clashing in an epic battle. In his front paw he clasped a tiny sword with a cherry skewered on it. Lest his head be bare and plain, he sported a jaunty little party hat that rested cheerfully atop crispy little pig ears.  Itty bitty razor-sharp claws dug into the bed of lettuce at his feet, giving him the purchase to look us in the eye, standing proud and tall before us. His tiny whiskers survived the flames that crackled his skin to a savory crisp - a very distinguished and tasteful beard for a rodent indeed.

I'm telling you, a finer creature I have not ever eaten before. We were the envy of the entire restaurant.

Imagine this guy with more ornate side dishes, 10x more fashion sense, and a 90% cooler pose. Then you're getting close to our Fluffy.

RIP, Fluffy. You were tasty while you lasted.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Apple Orchard

We went to the apple orchard... umm. I guess it was almost a long time ago now. And I'm just putting pictures up now. I know, I know. Better late than never.
Helping Josie pick apples.

Josie's turn in the apple tree.

Oliver's turn in the apple tree.

Enjoying an orchard stump.

Mamaw and Grampum with grandchildren.

Pony rides.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Overwhelmed. By a lot.

I'm having a rough week. I just feel.. swamped. I wanted to stay home and clean last weekend but I thought it would be better to get out and do something fun and non house/work related. And that was good and I did have fun, but then I got home and immediately wished I had worked on the house. What kind of crazy is that?

I need to pack everything up to move. Again. I'm still calling appliance delivery guys, utility hook up people, internet providers, moving companies.  I've been harassing the 900 people involved in selling/buying our house to make sure they all do their job at this last minute before we close on Monday. We're literally cutting time down to the last hour on our closing and that makes me nervous. So many other things have gone wrong that I feel like we're cursed. I shouldn't have to keep track of everyone and watch their every step, but as past workings have shown... I do have to. It's not my job, but I need to do it anyway.

I've gotten behind in my housekeeping and now I just look at my list of everything that needs to be done and I am freaked out by it. It makes me feel panicky. And I know that just picking a place to start and working piece by piece will get the job done, but it seems impossible.  I do what I feel is a huge chunk of work, and then I get up to look at the results... And I don't see any. All I see  are the food scraps under Oliver's chair that I missed, the garbage that needs to be emptied, the clock telling me I should have started dinner by now...

The laundry still piles up even while the washer is running. The dishes stack up with every meal.  I swear that I just dusted the shelves and the TV, but the next time I look they're blanketed again.  All of these things I do over and over, with Oliver following in my wake waiting to undo my work, whether intentionally or accidentally.

On top of this all, Oliver has been acting up. Maybe he's acting up because I am stressed out, maybe he's just deciding to be two. But I can't stand it. After doing well and using the potty 1-2 times a day, he's decided he hates the potty. He will not go. He does not want treats for going on the potty. He is not after special stickers or popsicles or applesauce anymore. He just doesn't care. I can ask him if he feels like he has to go and he says, "No. I don't like it!"

I'm trying to be nonchalant about this, as everybody tells me to do, but it's tough. I feel like our progress is gone. And maybe if it were just this issue, I would be okay. But he's being contrary in everything that he does. He won't let us change his diapers.  He's been intentionally dumping things out, throwing around piles of clean laundry I've just folded, hitting me when he doesn't get his way.

I try not to overreact to these things, but more often than not I have been.  On top of everything else, I feel like I can't be dealing with Oliver's suddenly developed behavioral problems too.  And again, I know I should be calm. I know I should react quietly and patiently.

I just don't know how to do that when I'm feeling so stretched by the rest of my life.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Family Zoo Day

We hadn't done anything fun as a family for a while so we decided to take Oliver to the zoo. The weather was perfect and it wasn't too crowded.


Turkeys! In the distance! I found them!

"Over here, Mom!"

The lynx stalked Oliver like it wanted to eat him. Oliver said, "Oh! I like it! Cat!"

Goats are great.
Add caption

"Pretend you're a chicken, Oliver!" "Bawk bawk bawk!"
"Biiiigggg tractor, Mom! I ride. Oliver do it."

To be honest, we were having such a great time that most of the time I forgot the use my camera.  But, of course, I filmed the best part of the entire zoo.  The goat feeding.

For some reason, everyone thought it was hilarious that he loved the goats so much. I mean... isn't this why people come to zoos? To see the goats?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

House, you're getting on my nerves.

I got so mad at doing house-related stuff that I thought I would take a break and read a magazine. We get Parents magazine for free, and I thought it would be a nice mindless read.  Well, it was mindless. Too mindless. I pity the people who actually read that magazine and follow its advice.

I learned that I'm supposed to lock up: VCRs, toilets, the silverware drawer, cotton balls and other bathroom items, all appliances, the fridge, and practically everything else in the house. The magazine suggested "buying furniture that is round, without any corners" to avoid the risk of "impaling toddlers." But wait! Think you should go out and buy big, cushy furniture? Think again! "Potentially hazardous items" could get lost in the couch cushions and fall into the hands of your toddler, who no doubt is going to immediately attempt to throw it down the hatch to either be poisoned by it or choke on it.

Every time your guests leave, you're supposed to vacuum under the chairs and couches in case they drop anything harmful.  Have a rolling office chair? Tape pool noodles to the feet of it. Because that will totally be worth it and achieves... what? I don't even know.

Have gliding drawers or keyboard trays? Get rid of them. Buy new ones! You can afford that, right? They could pinch your precious toddler's fingers, and he'd never get over that. Are there parts of the house you can't see from certain locations? Channel a parking garage and install mirrors throughout the house so your house won't have any blind spots! Ever!

Can you imagine how crazy you would think somebody was if you walked into her house and found everything padded, locked up, and cornerless? How would you feel when you realized there were strategic mirrors placed all around so she could keep her eye on every corner of the house?  Ridiculous. That sounds like a nutso to me.

See somebody give her toddler a little bag of pretzels? Call CPA. Doesn't every great parent know that kids are never allowed to handle bags of any kind?

Sure, I get that you need to take some steps to protect your children. Yeah, lock up chemicals. Lock up sharp things. But whats wrong with watching your child? Or simply teaching your child that there are boundaries they can't cross and things they can't do? After all, this article was written for children 2+, not for babies who don't know any better.

It's a wonder Oliver is even alive when you consider that I did almost none of that stuff.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Houses need a lot of stuff

I started doing an inventory of the tiny things that the house needs and the list is getting pretty long. Kind of like how my Christmas lists were when I was 12. I wanted everything. Now my house is a greedy 12 year old whining for fancy things like light bulbs. And blinds. DOESN'T OUR HOUSE KNOW THERE ARE DEPRIVED HUTS IN AFRICA THAT DON'T EVEN HAVE FLOORS?!

Jeez, our house is self centered.

Anyway, on the off chance that any of you have this stuff laying around in your "give away" pile or want to give us a unique (read: useful, not boring at all!) housewarming/Christmas gift... well.. You know. I'm just throwing this out there. You know. HINT HINT.

1. Carbon Monoxide detectors (qty: 2)
2. Lightbulbs (The kind that destroy the environment, please. qty: 10-2,000)
3. A lawn mower. (Goats not allowed by our neighborhood association.)
4. Cut firewood. (Also, we appreciate people to haul in the firewood.)
5. New stair treads and risers. (And/or the labor to install them mostly straight like!)
6. A giant pretreated 2x4 to cross brace our deck. (What, everybody doesn't want that?)
7. A snow shovel. (For the servants to use, of course.)
8. New locks! (Because, trust us. We have soooo much stuff people wanna steal.)
9. Outdoor outlet plate cover.
10.  Blinds. (qty: 2. Believe it or not, we have blinds in every single room in the house but in two bedrooms, the places you'd think you'd want them the most.)
11. A closet door.
12.  A couch. (Or, you know, furniture in general.)
13.  Shower heads. (qty: 2. Why are there no shower heads in this house?)
14. A downspout gutter curve.
15. A microwave. (And, you know, while we're at it, it could be a stove/microwave hood combo.)

So, there you have it. Isn't that a great list? I probably only forgot an additional 50%.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


 Frequently Oliver becomes obsessed with a word  or some tiny action for a week or so. Use of this word/action triggers uncontrollable laughter and/or shouting.  This week, his word is yikes. Through breakfast, bath time, story time...

"Watch out, (fill in the blank)! YIKESSSS!"

This is "Yikes" time in the bath tub today.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Buying a house.

It turns out that buying a house mostly means signing a lot of junk and making appointments with 30 billion people. It kind of sucks. I'm tired of doing all of this, but at least in less than 30 days it'll be done. I mean, hopefully. I assume. We've been really busy, and I'm behind a couple of posts but I'll be sure to get up our apple picking experience and his birthday party.

Oliver's birthday weekend went great, he had a lot of fun. Yesterday we told Oliver to find all of the pacifiers throughout the house and gather them into a ziploc. He found them all, put them in the bag, and then we went to the store to buy something with all of his old pacifiers.

"You don't need pacifiers anymore, Oliver. You're a big boy. You can get a big boy toy!"
"Uh huh."

We drove to Toys R Us with that sack of pacifiers and he walked all around the store looking at things. It was a tough decision between all the Thomas the Tank things and all manner of cars/trucks/construction vehicles but he finally chose a mine  addition to his Thomas set. He had a great time looking and "testing" all of the various things, but nothing compared to a mine that featured a waterfall and a talking Sir Topham Hatt.

I went ahead to explain to the cashier that our son would be handing over a bag of pacifiers as payment, and she totally accepted that. She did not think we were crazy. In fact, she was very nice about it.

Oliver plopped the bag down on the counter without hesitation and walked out with his new Thomas mine. He played with the toy while we ate dinner.

Then, last night at bed time, he didn't want to go to bed. He asked for the pacifiers, and I told him they were gone. I may also have spun the lie that they are going to be used for little babies who need them.

"Get back pacifiers! Get back pacifiers! Mine!"

I told him that if we got the pacifiers back, he'd have to lose his precious mine toy. When I said that, he decided he didn't need the pacifiers, after all. He did, however, continue to wheedle his way into a later bedtime. He's an excellent negotiator when you take his limited vocabulary into consideration.

"Stories? Please, mom. PLEAAASEE."
"Fine. One more, VERY short story."

After the story finished,
"Mom! Thirsty. Water, mom? Water? Thirsty..."
"Here is your water."
"Song? Sing songs?"
"I will sing you one song! Then I am leaving! That's it!"

The song ended, I got up to leave,
"MOOM... Diaper change. Diaper change."
"I just changed you. Goodnight."
(Muffled from the other side of the door after I walked out.) MOOOOMM. NOOOO.. NOOO, MOM!

He did, however, go to sleep. Eventually.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Birthday Specialness

I've been building Oliver up for his party for weeks now. I want him to be excited to celebrate a day that is just his. I want him to know he is special and even though I try to show him every day, Saturday can be a day to go over the top. We can play trains and dance to music and he can have chocolate milk by the sippycupful.

We won't be celebrating very many holidays with him, so why not do birthdays big? I don't mean big as in expensive big, because presents aren't what he really needs. I mean big as in, this is a big deal! You are a big deal! I wouldn't miss this for the world! Today everyone will tell you how awesome you are and how happy we are that you're here!

He's been asking for cake and french fries for days now. The anticipation is about as great as it can be in a 2 year old with a next to nothing concept of time. We talk about how we're going to visit the zoo. How he can open presents and they will be his to keep. He knows people will call him so he can talk on the phone.

For at least a month we've been practicing the answer to, "How old will you be?" On Saturday I'm confident he will shout "I am two!"

I just can't wait to give him a day that is all happiness, even if he won't remember it. I want to see how excited he gets when he comes out of his room and there are streamers and presents and cake waiting for him. He brings so much happiness into other people's lives that you'd be crazy to say he doesn't deserve it. This kid deserves a million birthday days.

A wheel.

I was assembling Oliver's birthday gift (a balance bike) while he taking a nap. I heard him climbing out of bed and quickly threw a blanket over my progress, realizing only after Oliver made it to the living room that there was a wheel 5 feet away in the middle of the carpet.

Oliver immediately noticed it.

"Oh, Mom! A wheel! A wheel! A wheel!"
"Yes, it;s a wheel. I wonder where it came from. You need to go take your nap, now."
"Okay. Bed. Wheel."

He wanted to take the wheel to bed with him so he could play with it. I didn't know what to say so I said some sort of version of the truth.

"No, that wheel is for your birthday! You can't have it until you are 2. I'll get you water instead."

So now I put him back to bed thinking he's going to get a wheel for his birthday tomorrow. And you know what? I think he's probably satisfied with that gift.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

If you hear Oliver yell, "Watch out!" you'd better duck.

Today is one of those days where I've been dragging to do nothing. Oliver, being the understanding child he is, decided that he would entertain himself this morning and put all of our clean silverware into the dishwasher. Then he closed it, turned it on, and came to me yelling "I DID IT!"

I said thanks and let it run, not wanting to get into the argument that would ensue if I told him he wasn't actually helping.

"Treat? A treat?"

He wanted a treat for "helping" me out. I said fine, you can have one cookie.

"Ok. Uh huh. Four cookies!"
"No. Just one cookie."
"Big cookie!"
"They're all the same size."
"No, BIGGGG cookie."

I handed him an Oreo from my personal secret stash and he said, "Oh, GREAT!" and ran off to eat it. Five minutes later he came back demanding more cookies. I said no. He yelled "YESSSS!!!" at the top of his lungs 5 inches from my face. He yelled so long and so loud that his face was red and his whole body was shaking with exertion. I tried to ignore him but really, that's pretty funny. I turned on the computer and told him I was busy.

He asked for a cup of water 5 minutes later, so I gave him one and he was appeased.  I went back to reading an article but was interrupted when I heard Oliver yell,

"Watch out, Mom!"

He threw the cup of water onto me and ran away laughing.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Exciting day.

When I woke up today I heard the construction people working outside our apartment and put my pillow over my head. Then I thought about it... Great! Construction! Oliver will have something to do today.

Without exaggeration, Oliver has been standing at the window watching the backhoe yelling, "Hi Scoops! Hi! WOWWW!" for an entire hour.

I took that as my chance to get some things done around the house, and it's gone pretty well. I came back to check on Oliver and see the progress of the pipe-laying to find that the senior neighbors are just as interested as Oliver. They're sitting out in the scooters or lawn chairs watching the action too. Those construction workers must feel like heroes.

This week we received word that HUD accepted an offer we put on a house. So, assuming we get a clear inspection back, we'll have a new house within 45 days. I asked Oliver if he wanted to move into the house and he said, "No, Grandma's!"

So.. that's where Oliver stands on the issue.  I think he'll like the house though, anyway.

Monday, August 22, 2011

On writing.

This morning I was in a crabby mood. I wanted to write and complain about everything "wrong" right now. I wrote a few sentences of complaints, and that was it. I ran out. No more things to complain about. Was I really so upset about 2 sentences' worth of bad news? How couldn't I see that before? How silly of me.

The good thing about my writing here is that this phenomenon happens often. When I write something down and reread it before clicking "publish" I am forced to see how stupid I am to be complaining about my life. How little my problems are compared to what could be wrong. It's easier to see the humor in my situation when I'm reading through it instead of experiencing it first hand. I become a spectator, and what was once my anger becomes no more than words on a page. It is easier to let go.

In some ways, writing for me is better than talking to friends. In an attempt to console you, friends will tell you that your anger is valid, that they would be mad too. They empathize with you because they like you. And while empathy can be nice and helpful, sometimes it just gets in the way of getting over yourself. By writing here to no one in particular I can hold up a true mirror to myself.  No judgments are made for or against any side, it's just all the facts laid out in front of me.

The blog doesn't say, "Yes, I'm sorry that happened to you. It wasn't your fault." It doesn't say, "You were in the right do to that! I would have done the same thing." It just holds my words up there for me to reread, to reanalyze, to see from a new perspective. And sometimes it's just what I need.

It's good to be reminded sometimes of how good my life is.

This morning, like every morning, Oliver crept into our bedroom and climbed up on our bed. Instead of demanding breakfast or telling me to get up, he nuzzled his face against my neck, whimpering and wiping snot all over me. I wanted to be mad because the snot was all over and I wasn't ready to get up. Doesn't he know better than to come wipe snot all over people?

Actually, no he doesn't. He's just a little boy and he only wanted me to comfort him. How nice is it that my small boy wants to hug me to feel better. How nice is it that my hug does make him feel better? That he wants me to comfort him, hug him, hold him... That is amazing.  Even if we're both sick and snotty, he wants me and for now that's good enough. It doesn't get any better than that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Evening discussion.

After coming home from the grocery store, Oliver and I sat down to a pre-dinner snack of cantaloupe. We sat across from each other at the table, eating our melon in silence, juice dripping down our chins.  Then Oliver says,

"Hi, Mom."
"Hi, Oliver."
"(Is the) cantaloupe good?"
"How was your day?"
"Good, Oliver. Thanks for asking."

And then we went back to eating in silence, the only noise between us the juicy squish of Oliver gnawing on huge chunks of fruit.

A few minutes later I replayed the conversatioon in my head and started laughing out loud. Really? My toddler just had that conversation with me? You're kidding, right? Squeaky voice and pronunciation aside, that is the exact same conversation I might have with a 30-something dinner guest.

Oliver saw me laughing for seemingly no reason and asked, "Mom? (Are you) Okay?"

Why yes, Oliver, I'm just fine.

Monday, August 15, 2011


I simultaneously hate and enjoy teaching Oliver to do things for himself. On one hand, it means that whatever I teach him to do by himself is no longer my responsibility. Lord knows I have enough to do already.

On the other hand, it means that Oliver will extrapolate on his new skills and  use them in settings that I deem inappropriate for a less than two year old child.

For example, I  taught him to unzip his clothing, and he taught himself to unzip the suitcases and leave all contents strewn about. I taught him to pour dog food into the dog's bowl and he taught himself to pour yogurt into my potted plants. I taught him to wash his hands and he taught himself to wash the controller he'd grimed up with his PB&J fingers. In the toilet.

The list goes on. Today he showed himself to the door and tried to make a break for Grandma's.

Me: No, Oliver. You do not run out the door to go to Grandma's house by yourself.
Oliver: I do.
Me: No.
Oliver: ...yes.
Me: You need to go back home.
Oliver, writhing on the floor: I CAN'T!

Did I teach him to unlock our door? Not directly. I did teach him to unlock our mail box. I did show him how to open his little plastic tool box... Apparently, those things are close enough to unlocking a real door that he can improvise enough to do the job on his own.

More than a few times I've heard the door slam shut and had to chase him down the hall back into our apartment. The only thing stopping him from actually walking to Grandma's house is that he cannot yet reach the lock release on the building's man entrance door. And that, I'm certain, is only a matter of time. As a deterrent, I've taken to booby trapping our entrance way, littering the ground with the noisiest, most temperamental toys we've got. His stride isn't long enough to step over, so he invariably sets off a barking dog or a revving engine before he can reach the door.

It's not the prettiest strategy in the world, but it works. As long as we remember to lock the door and keep tall, climbable structures away from the door he's pretty well kept.

But... as sometimes happens when a person gets up at 6AM every morning,  forgetfulness does happen. And then your neighbors have to return your child to your doorstep while you mumble excuses.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


It's not even 8:00am as I write this and I'm already wishing for nap time.  Yesterday I bent sideways to pull Oliver up onto my lap and pulled something in my back. Now it hurts if I reach the wrong way, and I can't pick up Oliver. It's good that we switched him into the big boy bed because now he can climb in himself. Ive been changing him and eating with him on the floor so I don't have to lift him. It's kind of pathetic.

Then, in a move I knew was stupid, I watched Jared's show right before going to bed and it gave me terrible nightmares coupled with fun back pain. I must have been up 6-7 times last night.

Oliver decided he had to get up at 6:00am. Jared and I both were too tired to fight making him go back to bed so we put Toy Story 3 on the laptop between us in bed. He watched while we slept.

Only 8.5 more hours until Jared comes home.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cookies for Breakfast.

I was getting ready for the day when I noticed that Oliver was mysteriously silent in the other room. I walked out to the kitchen and found him up on our high bar stool chairs, chocolate smeared on his face and belly.

Oliver climbed up onto the stool, climbed up onto the counter, grabbed the bag of monster cookies, and then sat back down at the counter to have a civilized breakfast.  That part just kills me. The fact that he felt like he had to sit on the chair and eat them at the counter. Like an adult. Like Jared & I would.

When I confronted him about climbing onto the counters, he didn't have much to say for himself.

In fact, I think he was quite proud.
"Were you eating a cookie?"
"Well, at least, was it good?"

I told a friend of mine this story and she said, "How do you keep yourself from laughing at situations like that?"

I don't.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why am I still up?

Oliver went to bed a bit after eight tonight in his new, exciting, fantastic big boy bed. I set up his room for him and when he walked in he exclaimed, "Big bed! Neat!"

He didn't try to get out when we told him it was bed time. He crawled up into bed, covered himself with his blanket and said goodnight to me. I haven't heard a peep since then. What a wonderful little boy.

It's past midnight now. Why am I still awake? I don't know. Something stupid inside of me is keeping me up, making me remember when he was little littler. When I was scared to leave him in that huge crib (that now seems small) all by himself when he first came home from the hospital. How I worried about leaving him overnight at my parents' for the first time. When I worried he would be scared to sleep in his new bedroom for the first time after we moved.

I worried today that after making this switch that he would fight it and be up all night, wandering into our room at all hours... but so far, he hasn't. He was excited for change. He  embraced it and now he's doing just fine, like so many other obstacles he's encountered.

This is just one more thing I've worried over for nothing. I need to give him more credit and accept that he is his own brave person now.

I've gone in twice to check on him, and he's still just as I left him - tucked in a far corner of his bed, holding on to a plastic dump truck with a sippy cup of water under his arm.

I very rarely go in to check on him anymore, but every time I do it reminds me of how I used to walk into his room when he was a newborn. I used to be able to walk in and trip over dirty laundry and make a huge racket, but he'd remain fast asleep.

Now if I try to sneak into his room and I make even the slightest noise he lifts his head up and says, "Mama? Hi."

I know it's so cliche to say that kids grow up fast, and I'm not even really saying that I miss those newborn days because I so enjoy the way he is now but... seriously. Something so trivial as changing his bed can make me remember so much. 

It's crazy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Conversations with my (not actually) two year old.

Dinner is always interesting with Oliver. He wanted to call his grandma on the phone, but she was out. We made a video message for her instead. This is what typically takes place around our dinner table each night.

If you watch, you can see that he has a couple of problems with counting the numbers two and four. Why two and four, you ask?

Somehow, in his head, Oliver is convinced that he is two. He isn't. But he's still convinced. Whenever he counts and the number two comes up, he must tell everyone that he  "...is TWO!"

Finally, we overcome the issue with two and three comes out okay, but four is another temptation. It sounds like he's yelling "Eeee, Eee, Four!" but he's really (trying) saying "I am THOR!" He cannot distinguish between "Thor" and that stupid number after three.

Why does he say this? Because my mom bought him a toy hammer, and he loved to carry it around. Jared, seeing the tiny boy with a giant hammer, told him he looked like Thor, the hammer wielding Norse god.

Not pictured: My child.
Seeing how hilarious we thought it was when he yelled "I.... am.... THOR!" he now takes every opportunity to do just that. And if you have to do that in the middle of counting? Well, you have to.

In fact, when the second video starts, you catch the tail end of another "I... am... THOR!!!!"

Here are subtitles for the second movie:

Oliver reaches for the pitcher on the table.
Me: No, don't touch everything. You're kind of gross. You need to take a bath.
A spoon falls to the floor.
Oliver: Ooooooo-oops!
Me: Oops.
Oliver: It drop!
Me: Yeah, it did drop.
Oliver: Woops! (unintelligible) ..Yogurt? Yogurt! Yogurt. Yogurt. Yogurt.
Me: You want yogurt now?
Oliver: I like it.
Me: I know you like it.
Oliver: But. But I('m) yucky.
Me: But you're yucky. laughs
Oliver:  But..... ....Juice. Juice.
Me: Now you want juice instead?
Oliver: Uh huh.
Me: What kind of juice do you want?
Oliver: Orange juice.
Me: You want apple or grape?
Oliver: App-changes mind Grape!Uh huh.
Me: Uh huh. laughs Alright, well.. Let's clean you up a little bit and then you can have a little bit of juice, okay? Say goodbye to Grandma.
Oliver: Grandma, bye Grandma!

Don't you all want to come over to dinner now that you see what you're missing?

On raising a nonchristian child in our Christian world.

99% of our family disagree with us on our religious stances, or lack thereof.

I.E. We teach Oliver nothing religious and actively shield him from participating in overtly religious practices.

Why? Because. Because we think it's best, of course. We do everything for him because we think it's best. We don't hate Christians or people of any religion. If our friends and family believe it, that is their right and I'm happy for them. But for them, it's a major stressor that we don't share their beliefs and that just seems unfair.

Both Jared and I were troubled by religion when we grew up. I don't really want to speak for Jared's exact experiences, but I know we were both scared into belief by constant threat of hell. It was terrifying. I never believed any of the other things I was taught in Catholic school, yet I was still scared of hell.

I was taught, over and over again, that if I died with a mortal sin on my soul I was going to burn and suffer for all eternity. Life was never "good for you, you're a great person!" it was always "Good for you, you've avoided eternal punishment! ....For now."

Intentionally skip Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation? "Maliciously" lie?  Dishonor your parents? Feel those flames licking your skin - Or at least that's what they told me.

If I felt like Oliver could understand and process the information to make a decision and choose Christianity, I would absolutely allow him those influences.  But since he can't? It'll have to wait.

I don't want him to feel like I did. To be the only kid who really didn't believe, even in Grade 1. To feel that incessant guilt for not believing, despite trying. To never feel good enough because you don't believe. To want to believe just so everyone would stop bothering you. To try and try and try to believe just so you could fit in. To sometimes fake belief to get by.  To constantly feel guilty, afraid, unsafe - even when you've done nothing wrong and you're perfectly safe.

Worse still, I do not want other people  to lock him into a room and force him to accept Jesus as his personal saviour. I do not want other people to constantly pick at him, to wear him down on his beliefs before he is old enough, wise enough, sure enough to defend himself. I want him to know that he doesn't always need to defend himself, that sometimes it's okay just to know he's right. To know that his beliefs are his choice and no one can change them for him without his permission. I don't want anyone to make him feel like he is a bad person just because he is not Christian. All of these things I've personally experienced, and it hurt me. Jared has been hurt in similar ways.

We do not want that pain, that fear, that guilt for him.

Once he reaches an age where he can decide for himself - when he understands that not all grown-ups are infallible - well, then he can learn. Then he can decide. And if he chooses Christianity, Islam, Judaism... Great! We will not try to dissuade him of his beliefs. We will congratulate him on searching for himself and deciding what is true.

Until then, we're teaching him what we think is right:

Be nice to people, be nice to yourself.  Try to be fair when you can, but when you can't accept that that's life. Do not harbor hate, not towards anyone. Thank people when they give you something. Clean up after yourself. Eat your vegetables.  Take care of your family.  Try your hardest in everything you do. Accept what you're given and work with what you've got.  If you want things to be different, do something to change them yourself. Be truthful. Be happy in all things. Ask for help if you need it. Respect that other people's differences and similarities make them who they are.

Above all, we want him to do these things not because he is living in fear but because they are good. Because he is good, and he should know that.

If we instill those beliefs in him and he lives by those truths, what more could we ask of him? Oliver is a great, happy, loving little person right now, and I have no doubt that he will continue to be.  I think we must be doing something right.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A new house, but not the last house.

We're sort of moved in. By that, I mean that we have a considerable amount of our junk in this new apartment and a less considerable amount of our junk in the old one. Most of our stuff is still in boxes. And our furniture is in no way arranged. But there's a frozen pizza in the freezer so what more do we need?

Oliver seems unfazed by the move. He enjoys weaving through the furniture jungle and sitting on the floor to watch the same (and only unpacked) DVD over and over again.

 Here is what he has had to say about our new (temporary) digs:

"Outside? Outside?"
"Okay, you can go outside on our deck."
"Duck? Quack."

While looking out hte window at the swamp across the parking lot, "Ducks! Geese! Trees! Flowers! YEAAAHHHHH!!!"

"Do you like your new room?"
"Yes, we brought your trains to your new room."

And, about 1 million times, he's said, "Grandma? Grandma? Outside to Grandma? Play? Come. Play."  The best feature about this place is that he can walk over to Grandma.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wherein our child learns to lie.

Jared and I were getting ready to go run errands today. I walked out of the bathroom and found Oliver sitting on the dining table, up to his arm in a bag of Goldfish crackers. I looked at him, and he knew he was being naughty. He said to me,

"Go away!"

Realizing that I could at that point evoke no serious disciplinary tone, I said nothing and walked back to the bathroom.

"Go look at Oliver," I said to Jared.

Jared walked out with me and found the same scene on our table.

"Uh oh!" Oliver shouted at us cheerfully.  There was a momentary pause wherein he was weighing his options of what to do and say, and then he smiled at us. A coy smile. A knowing, manipulative smile.

".... I'm stuck? Yes. I'm stuck."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

At the pool.

We're in the middle of finding a place to move and all so I've been neglecting my duties on my blog. I'm sorry. Be pacified with these images of the boy child taking a dip in our pool this week.

Walking to the pool. Cool. Confident. Calm.

Hey pretty lady, come here often?

Realizing how splashing gets your face wet.
"I will sit in your pool, woman, but I am very skeptical."

Dear Mom, I love you.
Dear Dad, Not so much.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


A lot of people asked about our wedding reading, so I wanted to post it here. It was an excerpt from a children's book titled "I Like You" by Sandol Stoddard Warburg. Here is the text in its entirety.

I like you because you are a good person to like.
I like you because when I tell you something special,
you know it’s special.
And you remember it a long, long time.
You say, Remember when you told me something special
And both of us remember.

When I think something is important
you think it’s important too.
We have good ideas.
When I say something funny,
you laugh. I think I’m funny
and you think I’m funny too. Hah-hah!

I like you because you know where I’m ticklish.
And you don’t tickle me there,
except just a little tiny bit sometimes.
But if you do, then I know where to tickle you too.
You know how to be silly
That’s why I like you.
Boy are you ever silly.
I never met anybody sillier than me
till I met you. 

I like you because
you know when it’s time to stop being silly.
Maybe day after tomorrow.
Maybe never.
Too late, it’s a quarter past silly.
Sometimes we don’t say a word.
We snurkle under fences.
We spy secret places.
If I am a goofus on the roofus hollering my head off,
You are one too.
If I pretend I am drowning,
you pretend you are saving me.
If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag,
then you are getting ready to jump.
That’s because you really like me.
You really like me, don’t you?
And I really like you back.
And you like me back and I like you back.
And that’s the way we keep on going every day.
If you go away, then I go away too;
or if I stay home, you send me a postcard.
You don’t just say,
Well see you around sometime, bye!
I like you a lot because of that.
If I go away, I send you a postcard too.
And I like you because
if we go away together,
And if we are in Grand Central Station,
And if I get lost
Then you are the one that is yelling for me.
And I like you because
when I am feeling sad
You don’t always cheer me up right away.
Sometimes it is better to be sad.
You can’t stand the others
being so googly and gaggly every single minute.
You want to think about things.
It takes time.
I like you because if I am mad at you,
Then you are mad at me too.
It’s awful when the other person isn’t.
They are so nice and hoo-hoo
you could just about punch them in the nose.
I like you because if I think I
am going to throw up,
then you are really sorry.
You don’t just pretend you are busy
looking at the birdies and all that.
You say, maybe it was something you ate.
You say, the same thing happened to me one time.
And the same thing did.
If you find two four-leaf clovers,you give me one.
If I find four, I give you two.
If we only find three, we keep on looking.
Sometimes we have good luck,
and sometimes we don’t. If I break my arm,
and if you break your arm too,
Then it’s fun to have a broken arm.
I tell you about mine, you tell me about yours.
We are both sorry.
We write our names and draw pictures.
We show everybody
and they wish they had a broken arm too.
I like you because
I don’t know why
but Everything that happens is nicer with you.
I can’t remember when I didn’t like you.
It must have been lonesome then.
I like you because because because
I forget why I like you, but I do.
So many reasons.
On the 4th of July
I like you because it’s the 4th of July. On the fifth of July,
I like you too. If you and I had some drums
and some horns and some horses,
If we had some hats and some flags
and some fire engines,
We could be a HOLIDAY.
We could be a CELEBRATION.
We could be a WHOLE PARADE.
See what I mean?
Even if it was the 999th of July,
Even if it was August,
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November,
Even if it was no place particular in January,
I would go on choosing you.
And you would go on choosing me.
Over and over again.
That’s how it would happen every time.
I don’t know why.
I guess I don’t know why I really like you.
Why do I like you.
I guess I just like you.
I guess I just like you.
because I like you.
I like you and I know why.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Yesterday we were married. It was amazing. I didn't really think it would be any different for me than any other special occasion, but it was. I worked hard and I was so nervous because all of the choices were mine (ours) and everyone knew it. I personally made most of the decor, we chose the venue, the food, the music, the vows, the readings.... all of our very personal choices were going to be laid out in front of everyone, and I didn't want them to cheapen it or make fun of it. I was scared people would ruin things that were special to me by laughing at me.

But you know what? Nobody did. As is usually the case, I worried for nothing.

Sure, things went wrong, but our wedding was perfect. It really was beautiful. I heard all day yesterday how much everyone appreciated all the work I put into it, how beautiful I looked, how handsome our family is, how lucky we are to be together.

And I believed them! It's so easy to brush off compliments as people just being "nice" but yesterday I felt people were so sincere. Our families were all together and everyone got along. Everyone had a good time. Nobody noticed the mistakes. It was perfect, it really truly was.

Last night as we were walking out of the elevator, my mother in law stole the hotel sign which read, "Congratulations, Jared & Andi!" She told me to put it in my scrapbook, but that's not really my thing.

This morning as I lay in my huge, gigantic hotel bed next to still-sleeping Jared, I thought about that moment. Should I be putting together a scrap book? Most people do. Is that what I should do?

I decided no, I don't have to. I decided that I'll probably forget all the details - who sat with whom, what our decorations looked like, what kind of food we ate, what everyone wore. But there is just no way I can forget how happy I felt when we left our party for the first time as husband and wife. And that's what matters, right?

I'll remember walking down the aisle, scared to have all eyes on me, bawling like a baby. I'll remember making Jared start to cry too, and laughing because I felt better not being alone in my tears. I'll think about looking out and seeing everyone there being happy for us and celebrating us - not anything we did, not turning another year older, but actually celebrating us for who are together.

I'll also remember the way everyone around us came together and helped. The way my sisters gave me a pep talk when I thought I would throw up, telling me to eat something, drink some water, everything will be great. The way our families , and really, the whole group of guests watched out for Oliver, hung decor, ran errands, handed out tissues for my tears, showed up to support us.

I'll remember Oliver. How he walked over to Jared to be held during our ceremony. How he danced for everyone's delight. How he sat for hours playing in the fountain, destroying his suit but having a great time. How people complimented us on him, how he's turning into such a good person, and he is.

But most of all, more than anything else, I won't forget how happy I was. How amazing it was to sign the license with my brand new name for the first time. How easy it was to smile at everyone. How I felt so easy with who I was at that point in time. That truly was perfect.

When Jared and I left the party we sat on the giant hotel bed together and ate our fancy room service desserts.

"We're married now."
"You know what?"
"I'm happy."
"Me too."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Final Countdown

So, I'm getting married in like 6 hours. I think I'm starting to get nervous.

I'm pretty sure I've forgot some things, but that's okay. That's how we roll.

Let's rock this shit.

-Andi, for the last time as a single woman.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fishy still lives.

Fishy is still alive. He must be a fighter, one of those rare carnival fish that clings to dear life for ten years. Oliver taps on his glass and slams things down on the counter and it hasn't had a heart attack yet. Every morning I wake up and check that he's not floating belly up, but so far so good.

Monday, June 6, 2011

He won a fish.

Wedding stuff has had me so crazy that I don't even recognize myself.  My dress is probably ruined. The cake order was screwed up. There is family drama. Last minute vendor scrambles. Money issues. I am having a hell of a time planning for just ONE day. That's all it is. One day. You'd think I could handle that, right? Right. I can handle that. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll handle that.

But for today I'm going to ignore that and eat pizza. I assembled some IKEA furniture and played cars with Oliver instead of doing table numbers. Or guest lists. Or seating charts. Or anything, for that matter.

Last weekend was my father's coin sale so we were helping out there. Sorting coins out isn't really a thrilling activity, but it was probably just what I needed. It took enough mental alertness that my mind couldn't wander to wedding stuff, but it was easy enough that I didn't feel stressed. When we closed up our booth, we went out and enjoyed the church carnival food and games. Oliver cheated a little bit, but he won a goldfish. (He named it Fishy.) I ate nachos and raced Jared through an inflatable obstacle course. It was nice.

Today we stayed in the air conditioning and played cars on his new (rummage saled) road map rug. I had a really hard time getting out of bed this morning because from the moment I woke up I was thinking...

Too much to do.
What will happen with my dress?
I need to do laundry.
I need to do dishes.
Do we have the money to pay Doobie's ER bill?
Have to refill Doobie's prescription.
My head hurts.
There are no groceries in the house.

And on and on. I couldn't stop thinking about stuff so that, instead of sleeping in, I was just lying in bed thinking of everything that wasn't right and that needed fixing.  In my rational brain, I know nothing is wrong. I know that even if the whole wedding is a catastrophe, it will be a success as long as we're married at the end of the day. I know that in the end nobody is going to remember the table numbers or the cake flavors or anything like that. I know all of that and yet I can't convince myself to behave like I know that.

I'm freaking out and I'm falling behind. My diet has been terrible and I've probably gained back some weight I worked so hard to lose. The laundry is so piled up that I'd bet we have at least 7 loads.  We need to grocery shop but I'm loathe to spend money, even though I know groceries are a necessity.

I'm trying to let these things go and just do what needs doing, but I can't.

For instance, I knew this morning that I should just get up and start working but I couldn't make myself get out of bed. I was stuck there, adding item after item onto my mental to do list. The more I added, the more inclined I was to bury myself under the covers.  Getting started is so hard.

But tomorrow, at least I have a plan. I'm going to my silly old lady aqua aerobics class. I'll talk with Martha about her bunions and hear Eunice's arthritis-based weather predictions. I'm going to sit in the hot tub for ten minutes before showering. I'm going to drive home with my happy iPod mix playing. Then, I'm going to watch Oliver during Jared's phone interview. I'm going to go to the seamstress' shop and see if I can't salvage anything from my wedding dress. I'm going to come home and do laundry and clean the house back up to a reasonable standard of living.

Tomorrow I will get back on track. But tonight I am going to feed the fish and go to bed early.