Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shoes

Midnight found me routing around in my closet trying to decide which of my many, many, many pairs of black pumps to pack.  The patent leather were obviously inappropriate, as were the four-inch peep toes.  So of course  the patent leather four-inch peep toes would not do either.

The Anne Kline sling backs are so lovely and timeless, but just a smidge too tight after having two kids and while too tight are okay on occasion, on this particular occasion too tight would not work.  Too much standing and milling.

That left me with the sensible two inch heels which are always comfortable but make me feel like a grandma; and the three inch snake skin textured pair, which I love because the texture makes them statement shoes, and they are not so high as to be inappropriate, but high enough to make me almost six feet (also a statement.)

Sensible shoes or statement shoes.  Who really cares?  No one is going to be looking at my feet.  This is just the kind of crap you focus on when you don't want to focus on leaving your kids for two days to go somewhere you don't really want to go because it's so cold there; to do something you don't really want to do because who wants to do these things;  to say goodbye to someone you don't want to say goodbye too because you are nowhere near ready; to face a reality that you do not want to face that has been patiently waiting for you some three hundred miles to your north and easily ignored with the holiday bustle.

And so tomorrow Nelson and I head to New England to say goodbye to my very beloved uncle and my heart is broken in so many piece and I'm wearing the fucking statement shoes because they make me feel good when all I really feel is terribly, terribly sad.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Snow Kiss Red Christmas
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View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

RTT: Confessions of a shopaholic

Time to get  your random on, kids.

randomtuesday

*My sister-in-law is coming up tonight and she and I are going to go to dinner and go shopping for stocking stuffers for the kids. I have to buy a couple for more toys (a couple of new monster trucks; a bucket of toy soliders for Oscar; a couple of hockey sticks for the boys); a gift for my brother-in-law (we know what we are getting, we just have to buy it); and gifts for my in-laws.  Yeah, I saved the easiest for last, right?  My father-in-law claims he wants nothing, just having us all home for Christmas is enough.  My husband will want to get him something, but I'm actually leaning towards having the boys make him something.  I think that people reach a certain age or point in their lives where "gifts" are not as important as gestures.  Becky mentioned this around her birthday a few weeks ago and I've long thought that was true.  We'll give them a handmade ornament from Oscar, a photo of the boys (in their dorky sweaters, which you'll see later this week), and I'm not sure what else.  Ideas are welcome.

*Apparently I let Oscar watch to much Canadian-made children's television, because between Dino Dan and Little Bear my three-and-a-half year old has develop quite the classic Canadian accent.  He's all rounded o's and flattened a's.  He might even be turning into a Canadian.  He's been talking about getting hockey sticks from Santa all week.  Oscar is already unfailingly polite.  The next thing you know, he'll be tacking "eh?" onto the ends of his sentences.

*Even though I'm basically done Christmas shopping, I can't seem to finish Christmas shopping.  Amazon keeps sending me these amazing deals and I feel the urge, no the NEED to buy more things.  Like, look at this deal on Mega Bloks:

Those Mega Bloks are 52% off!!  That is a major deal.  My kids already have a huge bag, but they love them so much, maybe I should get them another bag?  Or, is there a kid I can buy these for?  Will someone buy these blocks, PLEASE?  I feel like this deal is going to waste and it is killing me.

And, look at this Shake-and-Go Thomas for 33% off: 


Miles loves Thomas.  LOVES HIM.  He may need this Thomas right?  For get the fact that he just got this  Thomas Flashlight, or this quarry or this station for his birthday this weekend.  Forget all that.  This deal is just too good, right?  He NEEDS MORE TRAINS.

*Yes, we had Miles's birthday party this weekend and it was a fraking trainaplaooza.  The child was in seventh heaven and has been playing with his new trains non-stop.  When he got this Melissa & Doug Wooden Farm Train he nearly jumped out of his chair and I'm not even kidding.  He went airborne.  If I had uploaded the photos yet I'd show you.  I also made him a kick-ass train cake.  It was amazing.  It was a pretty great party.  Well, except for the part where Miles showed complete disinterest-boarding-on-hostility to any non-train related gift.  My sister-in-law got him this really cute rocket (and my kids LOVE rockets) and Miles looked at it was scorn and shoved it across the table.  He didn't even want to be near that thing (though he did play with it for a while yesterday.)

That's all my randomosity for today.  More RTT over at Keely's.  Canadian beer, too.

Disclaimer: All links provided got directly to my Amazon Associates account and should you choose to click through or purchase any of these items, I will receive financial compensation.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Two

Happy second birthday to the best surprise I was ever lucky enough to receive.  You continue to surprise me and fill every day with joys large and small.

Were it not for you, I wonder what I kind of mother I would have become because you have taught me so much. You taught me to slow down; to laugh more often and more loudly; to take time to appreciate life's small wonders and small boys.

On one hand, I want to freeze time, or bottle you, Miles at Two, to save forever and ever.  You love trains and your brother and being tickled and laughing and snuggling and eat almost anything I put in front of you.  Yogurt is your favorite though, followed by pineapple chunks and your brother's leftover peanut butter sandwiches.  Your favorite movie is Toy Story and your favorite TV show is Thomas the Tank Engine.  You love to wear hats; the sillier the better.  If you are going somewhere, you are running.  Always running.  I want to tell you to "Slow down!" and "Not so fast!" but the truth is I love how eager you are to catch up to your brother and do and learn new things. It is something I hope you carry with you throughout your life.

And, that's the other hand.  As much as I want to hold on to the sweetness that is 1Miles at Two, I can't wait to see what you are going to do next. You are exceptional.  I cherish each day I watch you grow and change and I anticipate tomorrow's little boy, and, eventually, the man you will become. 

I love you, sweet Miles.  It is one of the great honors of my life to be your mom.  Carry on.

Four days old


Six months old

One year old

Eighteen months old

TWO!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kitchen cosmetology

When I polled Facebook last week about whether or not I should cut Miles William's hair myself, the response was an overwhelming "What the hell are you thinking that is a terrible idea."

Unless you count shaving my best friends' heads and/or dying their hair in high school (and really you shouldn't), I have no experience doing hair.  And, if you know me, you know that I have immense respect for the profession of hair styling.  I think hair is important.  You wear your hair every day.  It is one of the first things people notice about you.  It's worth time and money to have it look it's best.

Knowing this, it may shock you that I considered cutting my kid's hair by myself.  Here was my thinking, though: If you have a toddler, particularly a toddler boy, you know that when you take them to the salon/barber you pay $25 for a hair cut that is going to be crooked and uneven.  Not because the stylist does a poor job, but because kids wiggle when they get their hair cut.  Crooked bangs and uneven hair cuts are par for the course.  You can't really expect more than that.  So I decided that if I was going to pay $25 for someone to give Miles a crooked hair cut, I could do that myself.

So, against the advice of the internet, I gave Mile's his very first jacked-up mom hair cut.  Now, I know that just last month I was proclaiming I would never cut it, but I promised Captain Dumbass that if he started looking like Celine Dion's kid, I'd cut it.  Well.  I forgot to take a before photo, but suffice it to say with all this dry weather, Miles' curls were not holding up and it was falling about two inches below his shoulders and well below his earlobes.  It was bad.

Here is is about a month ago, eating a cupcake:
Look at how disheveled it is.  You can see how long the front is, and how wily and out of control the back is. And this is when his curls were still holding.  This was an entire month ago, so things have only gotten worse.

So, yesterday, while he was slow and feverish, I sat him down in his booster seat, armed with scissors, a bottle of water, a lolly pop, and a hairbrush, and I cut his hair.

The results:
What's on his face? That would be yellow marker, lolly pop and HAIR BLISS.

The back:

Pretty good, right?  I'm pretty much Vidal Sassoon, people.

I'm not going to lie.  It's not perfect.  The left side is a little longer than the right.  But, he is little and his hair is curly, so it works.

So take that, haters.  Home mom haircut WIN!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

RTT: Christmas, Christmas, Christmas (and also, you annoy me. Not you. You.)

It's beginning to look a lot like Random Tuesday....

randomtuesday

Okay, so, Christmas!  It is upon us!  We've finished most of our shopping.  We still have to buy gifts for our brothers and my in-laws; stocking stuffer; Santa wrapping paper and tags; and that's it chumps.  Well, Nelson hasn't bought me anything but he prides himself on waiting until the last second, even though I provide him with suggestions and he has the internet at his disposal.  But, hey, why do now what you can put off until the last second, right?

Miles turns two on Thursday.  If I never blog again after that day, it is safe to assume that I have died over the heartbreak of running clean out of babies.  Oh, and after declaring that I'm not cutting his hair?  He's been waking up with baby dreadlocks every morning so it looks like a hair cut is in the near future.

Do you belong to any group or community listservs?  If you do, let me advise you on a little listserv etiquette.  Should someone on the list post some news of a personal nature (announcing a pregnancy, birth, new job, other good/bad news) and you would like to respond to this news, you don't need to his reply all.  The rest of the list members don't need or want your congratulations crowding their inbox.  Just reply to sender.  This is really the only person who cares about your good or sympathetic tidings.  Hitting "Reply All" in these situations is like only doing good deeds when other people can see you.  It cheapens the sentiment.  Reply all should be reserved for general announcements and situations that require group participation.  The whole list does not need to hear you telling someone how awesome they are.  That's annoying.  I mean, it's not annoying when YOU do it, just when everyone else does.

My cat is tearing the hell out of my tree.  She's leaving needles and branches all over the floor every freaking night.  I'd be totally over it if I didn't love Christmas so much.

You know what else I love? Christmas music.  I can't get enough of it.  I like nearly all Christmas songs and all variations of Christmas songs without exception.  Well, there are some exceptions. Maybe I'll tell you about them later.

It snowed last night!  Like an inch, but still SNOW!  When Oscar saw it this morning he was certain that Santa had come as well.  He really closely associates Santa with snow due to last year's Snowpocolypse (part one. Part two is here.)  The truth is, last year was probably the first white Christmas we've had in DC in a decade.  I hope he's not terribly disappointed when he realizes that there is no Santa/snow connection.

Enough for today.  Go check out the other Random Tuesday players over at Keely's place.  It'll get you on Santa's good list.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

So, how do we feel about this sweater?

You may have heard the East coast/mid-Atlantic/southeast is experiencing a wee bit of a cold snap, as in "SNAP!  Bitches, it's cold out here!"

So, you know, BRRR.

Now, DC gets cold.  Not freeze-your-eyelashes-Canada cold (admittedly Keely is way colder than I am right now), but respectably cold.  It's not uncommon for temperatures to be in the 20s or the high teens around here, but not until January or February.  Our Decembers are usually closer to the mid 40s.  We're dealing with 20s and 30s and lots of icy wind, so again, BRRR.

I somehow forgot to buy Oscar any appropriate cold weather clothing this year.  I mean, he has jackets and hats, but no sweaters or fleeces.  Stuff that you wear indoors.  We live in a old, drafty house, and I keep the thermostat on 67 (yes, BRR) so sweaters and fleeces are a must.  Miles has plenty since he's in Oscar's hand-me-downs from last year, but little Oscar is freezing his patootie off.

He has a couple of things; a dinosaur sweatshirt I bought him for $3 at Tar.get; a hand-me-down fleece; his dorky moose sweater; a red sweater from last Christmas that's only a smidge too short. He certainly needs more though and while my mother-in-law and my sister usually get the boys some clothes for Christmas, we can't wait.  It's cold NOW and it's supposed to be a cold winter.  

This has lead to sweater shopping.  I had seen some sweaters in Tar.get but they were thin and not that cute and acrylic.  Acrylic pills and these sweaters need to get through two kids, so the sweaters need to be 100% cotton or a wool/cotton blend (wool is too itchy for them on it's own.)  I went to ON online and they are having a BOGO on sweaters right now, so I got him four.  They are those thin French-style sweaters but I'll put them on him over a T-shirt and a long sleeved shirt, so he should be fine.

I also found another sweater.  I can't decide if I love it or hate it. Here it is: 
So, on the one hand, I like the idea of a zippered cardigan.  It makes layering even easier.  I can put this on him over a long-sleeved tee, and if he gets hot he can take it off himself.  The mock turtleneck style of the collar looks good on Oscar because he has a long neck.  I like the look of the bottom of the sweater; it looks like it will hang just right and not blouse up at his waist (Oscar is a skinny kid so that blousing look makes him look like he has stick legs.) I like that it is black because black goes.  I like the red stripe. I like that it's on sale.

So, it's a cotton/acrylic blend and I'm pretty against that for previously stated reasons, but all of the positives listed above may rule that out.  It is on sale, but not on clearance.  But I'm really not sure about the skulls.  Do I love them or hate them?  Now, if you have a little boy, you know that little boy clothing is overrun with skulls and crossbones these days.  It's a pirate thing.  Normally, I think that it's pretty cute.  I just don't know if I can get behind skulls and and crossbones on a kitted sweater.  It just does't seem to "go." Then, on the other hand, what I kind of LIKE about the skulls is that they don't seem to really "go."   It's like taking scary looking skulls and putting them on a sweater and putting that sweater on my cute little boy makes that sweater kind of hip.

So, how do we feel about this sweater? 


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bananas

Every year when we get our Christmas tree, our cat Audrey goes bananas. Like totally bonkers, running up the walls, sliding across the floor, hiding beneath chairs and diving out to scare our dog.

Right now?  She's eating the tree.

Yesterday?  She CLIMBED the tree.  The decorated tree.  It was like a tree earthquake, shaking and jingling.

I remember last year, or the year before, we couldn't find her all afternoon and then as I was walking by the tree I saw these glowing eyes.  It was Audrey.  She'd climbed the tree and was lounging on one of the branches like some kind of mountain lion or puma or something.

Aside from her wee kittenhood and one brief 45 minute incident when I was 8 months pregnant with Oscar, Audrey has lived the entirety of her life indoors.  She definitely wants to go out, and kind of half heartedly tries to escape.  We can't let her out though because out house backs up to a busy, four lane road and our actual street, while not busy, is on a public transportation bus route and our house is situated one block from the police station and two blocks from the fire station, so there's a good bit of fast driving.

Also, Audry is a small cat.  An itty, bitty kitty.  I know that's not typical for indoor cats, but our girl tops the scales at a whopping 7 pounds, so she's much tinier than the strays that wander our neighborhood.  We have a neighbor two houses down that catches strays, gets them fixed, and regularly feeds them, so there are LOTS of strays.  They'd tear her limb from limb.

And so, little Audry is stuck indoors all the time, year round.  She sits on the back of our living room couch or the basement couch, gazing out the window.  She becomes transfixed by birds and squirrels and other cats.  But she will never breath the sweet scent of freedom.  At least not if we can help it.

So when our fresh tree arrives, it's as close to outdoors as she gets.  The smell of the pine awakens her senses and she becomes a Wild Cat for a few weeks, a cat possessed, knocking things off tables, racing in and out of rooms, flying up and down the stairs.  For 11 months out of the year I barely know she exists.  She doesn't even meow.  But come Christmas time, it's like she's everywhere.

Now she's curled herself up in my living room curtains for a snooze (speaking of curtains, are we over them?  I'm thinking of doing Roman shades in the whole house.  That's what I've got in my bedroom already, and I love them.), although I suspect she's really secretly awake, watching me.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The halls? They be decked.

Don't you just love it when a day goes great?  Better than expected even?  Me too.

I'm a planner.  In fact, I tend to be an over planner (does such thing exist?) particularly when it comes to family fun.  I want to maximize the fun, people!  Let's have fun!  FUN!  HAVE SOME!  NOW!  WITH FAMILY!

Here's the truth though: Fun need not be planned.  This may be shocking to some of you.  Those of you who are not shocked are probably super glad that you are not my spouse/children right now.

Yesterday was Nelson's birthday.  He slept in and I stumbled downstairs at 7AM with two very perky little boys.  I puttered around for a few minutes, then made coffee.  Then I played Buzz Lightyear with Oscar for a bit while my coffee brewed and then I sat down with a hot cuppa and went through my favorite baking cookbook (King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking)* to find some muffins or bread to bake for breakfast.

I decided to make Morning Glory muffins.  If you've never had them, Morning Glory muffins contain carrots, apples, nuts, seeds, coconut, raisins, cinnamon, ginger, and are perfectly most and really filling.  The version I made had sliced almonds and sunflower seeds.  It was a magical combination.  I don't love to make them because unlike a lot of muffins, Morning Glory muffins take a lot of time because you have to shred an apple and two cups of carrots. I have a food processor, though, so it was pretty fast.

Nelson woke up just as the muffins came out of the oven.  He loved the muffins. I loved the muffins.  The kids loved the muffins.  It was great.

Nelson and I were both able to shower and get the boys dressed with no hassles; we made it out the door by 11AM to being our tree quest.  I even remembered snacks and water.  We went to Homegoods first so I could get a new tree skirt and by the time we got there the boys were sleeping so Nelson stayed in the car with them and I got to shop in Homegoods BY MYSELF.

When I finished, both boys were still asleep.  We hadn't decided where to get out tree, but Nelson and I hashed it over for a few minutes and decided to try the little farm market where Oscar and his class went on their pumpkin field trip in October.  We knew it was locally owned, we knew where it was, and we knew that there was another tree lot close by if the farm market was not selling trees.

As luck would have it, they had a tree lot.  Unfortunately, yesterday was a cold and windy day and the farm market seemed to be located at the very peak of some kind of cold/wind apex.  We were bundled up, but man was it cold.  We ended up carrying both boys around the lot as we scouted for trees.

We decided early that we wanted a scotch pine.  It's a taller, long needled tree that has a very traditional Christmas tree look and I think they are the perfect combination of tall and fat.  The way the lot was set up, the shorter, cheaper trees were nearest the parking lot.  We are cheap tree people, but I always like to look and see what the most expensive trees look like and imagine who is buying them and where they will go, etc.  In truth, it was a little too cold for this, but the kids weren't complaining and Nelson wasn't complaining, so we looked.

And that's when we found The Tree.  We were in the 8-foot tree section at the scotch pines and they were lovely and tall and full and majestic and only $36?!  We were deciding between two (one was a dark green and one was a bright green), so, we let Oscar choose (he chose the darker one).  We got it.  An 8-foot Christmas tree.  I paid while Nelson loaded the boys and the farm stand people loaded our tree.

In the car on the way to Target to get some lights for our windows (we scored the last two boxes of colored lights, holla!), Oscar said, "It's the perfect tree!  It's not too tall and it's not too fat! It's perfect, I love it!"

He's right.  It's perfect.

*This link is to my Amazon Associates account.  Should you click and/or buy this item, I will receive financial compensation.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Leverage

Oscar knows exactly how to push my buttons and exactly when to push them.  He is a very sweet, smart, affectionate little boy and he really knows how to grate my very last nerve.  I try, I really, really try, to maintain my patience with him, but I'm not always successful and that's just the truth.

Nelson was out of town earlier this week and the boys are always particular squirrely when he is away.  It's like they can tell that I'm exhausted a little twitchy and they just hammer on me.  I was getting them ready for bed the other night while Nelson was gone.  They were hanging on the bed while I was trying to pick their dirty clothes up, and Oscar says to me to get my attention, "HEY!  HEY!"

It was like nails on a chalkboard.  I really, really hate when Oscar is rude or displays poor manners, even to me, because I can just imagine him shouting "HEY! HEY!" at his teachers. Just the though of my kid being so rude mortifies me.  I said very calmly, "Hay is for horses.  Little boys say excuse me when they want someone's attention. Please say "excuse me."

To which he responded, "HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!"

He just wouldn't stop.  I was so tired and so cranky and wet from giving them their bath and still had a night of dishes and picking up toys and just GETTING THEM TO SLEEP ahead of me.

So, I did something mean. It was really mean.  I didn't give it a lot of though before I did it, but as soon as the words started leaving my mouth, I knew I was being awful but I couldn't seem to stop myself.

"Oscar."

"HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!"

"Oscar, please stop."

"HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!"

"Oscar!  That. Is. Enough."

"HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY! HEY!"

"Oscar.  Do you know your friend Santa."

BAM! I had his attention.

"Yes."

"Well, did you know he has a list?  It's a list of little boys and little girls.  He keeps track of who is naughty and who is nice and the kids who are naughty don't get any presents."

And do you know what he said?

First, he burst into tears.  Then he sobbed, "I want to be the nice!  I want to be nice!  I'm nice!"

Wow, did I ever feel like a colossal asshole.  What on earth was I thinking saying that to my sweet boy, implying that Santa would not be visiting because of his poor behavior?  I started backpedaling immediately.

"You are nice!  You are! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, you are so nice.  You could NEVER be on the naughty list.  You are a good, good boy, okay?  You are good, you are getting lots of presents, okay?"

He calmed down and then we all read books and both boys went down pretty easily.  I felt terribly guilty and I promised myself that I'd never use Santa as leverage against my kids ever, ever again.

I thought it was over.  But, Oscar, being three and all, has not let it go.  He asks me five times a day, "Does Santa think it's nice for me to jump on this couch?" "Does Santa think it's nice for me to share with Miles?" "Does Santa think I'm naughty for crushing my Goldfish with my feet?"  I tread carefully around these questions, telling him, "MOMMY doesn't think it's nice to jump on the couch," and "MOMMY thinks it is very nice when you share with Miles."

And so I'm reminded daily of my poor, in the moment, under pressure parenting decision.  I wonder if this is one of the things he'll remember, one of the hallmark's of his childhood, when his mom (kind of) told him if he was naughty there would be no Christmas.  Maybe he will, maybe he won't.  Either way it's pretty certain that I'm going to keep stumbling through parenthood, making mistakes that may or may not  hurt my children; that may or may not create lasting memories, good or bad.  I worry that I'll damage them, that something I say or do will break their enormous spirits or their tiny hearts.

It's been kind of a rough week.