Sunday, January 27, 2013

Natural Consequences

Oh, hey, remember Halloween?

Guess I forgot to post any pictures of the big day since Clementine's birth overshadowed the whole Halloween holiday this year. But Darth Vader and Yoda deserve some time in the spotlight, too. Okay, great. Moving on.

The other day I was at the park halfway monitoring some Star Wars tag playing/torture from afar when a pack of playgroup looking parents wandered my way. I overheard one dad explaining his parenting philosophy while his two-year-old toddled along beside him. "We practice natural consequence parenting," he began. "If you leave your toys on the floor they get broken. If you don't eat your dinner you get hungry. It's simple, really." The rest of the group nodded in approval and chimed in with their own pearls of wisdom which I promptly tuned out.

Hmmm. I sat there thinking about this. I guess I am only a fan of natural consequence parenting when it doesn't a) inconvenience me or b) reflect poorly on me, which is pretty much never. When my kids leave their toys on the floor they don't get broken, oh no, I step on them and hurt my foot AND FURTHERMORE I have to look at the mess and/or worry that someone will stop by and SEE the mess. Gah. When my kids don't eat their dinner they whine for hours until they are put to bed and then wake up at the crack of dawn wailing for cereal. Not only is this inconvenient, I worry that the neighbors might think we don't feed our children. (And we really don't need them giving us any more Asian pears.)

Nevertheless, I do sometimes fall victim to the natural consequence parenting when I am having one of those pick-your-battles kind of days. And that's pretty much every day with Sawyer when it comes to getting dressed. Nevermind that he's been getting dressed EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS ENTIRE LIFE, and nevermind that we always win in the end. He would rather pitch a thirty minute fit (and risk a garage time out) than spend two minutes getting his clothes on. Clearly he is also picking his battles. So you can see why we rarely question his wardrobe choices because really, if that kid is at least wearing pants, I feel like I've done my job.

Except he doesn't wear pants. He wears shorts year round. On a particularly cold day last week, I had to walk the dog because Brent injured his foot playing soccer. I was also not exactly in my prime because of a horrible medical procedure of which I will spare you the details, but if you've been reading for awhile you know that I have endured a variety of indignities when it comes to my feet. So we were both gimping around and I was the martyr who sucked it up and dragged kids and dog out into the cold for the walk.

I bundled up Clementine and found my hat and gloves and, because I am a good mother, I suggested to Sawyer that 29 degrees and foggy was not exactly "shorts weather." I dutifully nagged him about wearing a hat and gloves and finding a real coat, but eventually I gave up and he followed me out the door in a hoodie and a pair of shorts.

We got to the park and unloaded from the car. I sent Lu in first while I wrestled the baby into the pack and coaxed Sawyer out of the car. By the time the kids and I began our walk I had lost sight of the dog in the dense fog. I figured she'd just circle around and meet up with us so we just kept on walking even though it was really, really cold. The wind picked up and Sawyer started complaining about his freezing hands and I was starting to not be able to feel my feet. I whistled for the dog. I yelled for the dog. No dog. Sawyer went from whining to sniveling to crying in record time. And still there was no dog. For the next 45 minutes I wandered through the fog calling for that damn dog. Sawyer was most unhelpful, crying about being cold (no shit) and getting stuck in one of those three-year-old loops. "Call Oakridge." What the hell is he talking about. Oakridge? I wondered. Well, we did get the dog from some people from Oakridge. "Can you please call Oakridge, Mom? Mom, where's Oakridge? Is Oakridge in Oregon? What planet is Oakridge on? Can you just email them, Mom? Mom?"

Naturally my phone was in the car, so when I finally decided it was time to throw in the towel and admit to somebody that I'd lost the dog, we had quite a trek. A long trek in which many, many more questions about Oakridge were asked. I knew Brent wouldn't be able to help with his hurt foot and so I called my dad. He didn't have a car that morning but was all set to get on his bike and ride across town in the freezing fog to help me out. What a guy.

I called Brent to break the bad news. Except that he already knew I'd lost the dog because our vet had called. Some lady had found Lu and brought her there. Our dog was in a cozy, warm kennel waiting for us to come pick her up.

With numb, icy fingers I buckled an even icier Sawyer into his car seat. Clementine was so warm and snuggly in the pack that I almost couldn't bear to take her out and put her into her seat. But I did, because again, good mother! And we drove maybe a half a mile to our vet's office. The parking lot was empty and I contemplated leaving the kids in the car so I could just run in and grab the dog, but good mothers don't do that so I helped Sawyer out and then went around to get Clementine. And that's when I noticed that I hadn't buckled her into the car seat. Sigh. No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to win.

It must have been a slow day at the vet. Everybody was just sort of standing around like Lu was the most exciting thing that had happened there in awhile. Several jokes where made about me having my hands full, etc. The receptionist insisted on helping me out to the car, so I gave her Lu's leash and she grabbed Sawyer's hand. "Oh my, you've got cold little hands," she remarked brightly.Then she peered over her glasses at me. "He's not exactly dressed for the weather, now is he?"

Lady, you have no idea.

Natural consequences, my foot. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sewing and Such

I usually start to get itchy this time of the year. Not scratchy itchy, but itchy instead for something to look forward to. Like spring. But we still have a few solid months of grey left before I can even think about seeing the sun again, so I decided to focus on what has previously been an unsung holiday around here: Valentines Day. I stayed up super late one night watching Anchor Man and cutting felt for this heart garland. I should add that I nearly cut off my fingers during fits of hysterical laughter because- my god- have you seen this movie?

I have been sewing a bit for Clementine these days. I made her this doll for Christmas. Does she look familiar? I am a one trick pony.

And I've been using up smaller pieces of cute fabrics on these shirt/dresses. I admit to having fabric hoarding tendencies so it's always an accomplishment when I dust off some fabric that's been taking up valuable real estate in my closet and actually make something for a change. And then I found this tutorial for the baby mini skirt which is completely and utterly ridiculous but after years and YEARS of sewing button up shirts, because really, what else is there with two boys, I am all about the baby mini skirt! Even if it is totally pointless, I just can't help myself.

And speaking of the button up shirts, can we please have some consistency with collar making instructions, pattern writers of the world? I swear I have followed ten different sets of instructions for this and each time I inevitably begin to question the logic of the steps but, like a fool, I just keep going- even though something doesn't seem quite right here- until I get to the basting. I never baste. It's my way of sticking it to the man and living dangerously at the same time. Fuck a bunch of basting.

So when will the pattern makers figure out that less is really more when it comes to collars? Burda 9747, I am talking to you.
(I feel sorry for kid modeling view B. His mom must have put him up to this.)

Every year I forget how much I hate you and, like a moth to a flame, I use you for the Christmas jammies. And it's only when you start in with the collar basting instructions that I remember how lame you really are. You make my kids look like Ron Burgundy. And I am not laughing.

So anyway, on this Valentines Day kick, I found this rad Star Wars valentines tutorial where you print pictures of Star Wars Lego figures and then use a little glow stick as the light saber and I got super excited because crafty and cool at the same time! Won't all of the other preschool and kindergarten parents be impressed? Except the weird thing was that neither of the kids were into it at all. Once they realized that I was just going to take pictures of their existing Star Wars Lego figures and not buy NEW Star Wars Lego figures they quickly lost interest. And then Jack got all huffy set out to make his own cryptic valentines out of Star Wars stickers, computer paper and a Halloween pencil. I have learned not to question his method when it comes to this sort of thing, so we will just roll with it and see what happens. I can just imagine his kindergarten colleagues bringing home their shoe boxes full of valentines and their parents wondering Just who is this "Jack R." with the weird valentines?  Didn't his parents see the tutorial about the glow stick light sabers?

Speaking of school, we recently had to enact a wardrobe variety ordinance in our house. Both Jack and Sawyer would wear the same outfit every day if we let them. Jack is fond of a blue underarmor shirt with grey jeans while Sawyer prefers a Yoda t-shirt and a pair of blueberry stained basketball shorts, rain or shine. I am all for the kids expressing themselves via their wardrobes, but a little variety is nice from time to time. And how about all of those fabulous awkwardly collared button up shirts? I sure would like to see those in the rotation once in a while. I have tried to (GENTLY!) explain to Jack that since he's in an immersion program and will be with these kids for the next THIRTEEN YEARS (!!) he might not want to pigeonhole himself as the kid who always wore the blue shirt in kindergarten. And please, whatever you do, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, do not try to tell the kids that you had two identical blue shirts, because your middle school peers will see right through that, kid. Trust me.

This valley fog has been really getting to me. Maybe I've read "The Fall of the House of Usher" too many times, but it's seriously started to creep me out. I just couldn't hack it any more and we had to get out of dodge. We heard that the sun was shining at the beach so off we went. This is what we left behind.

Jack was wearing his blue underarmor shirt even though it wasn't a school day. But then of course we ran into his teacher at the North Jetty (OF COURSE!) so I am sure she too will remember him as the kid who always wore the blue shirt.

We all had a good time frolicking around on the beach and basking in the sunshine despite the fact that Brent and I are both hobbling around on hurt feet (more on that later). The kids built sandcastles and ran down the dunes, the baby slept in the pack, the dog ran circles around us for at least an hour. Everything was just fine, splendid actually, until we lost Sawyer. He was only missing for about five minutes but during those five long minutes I realized that the North Jetty is just about the worst place you could lose your kid. And I also realized that losing my kid is my greatest fear. So that pretty much sucked.

But then we found him. He was actually pretty easy to spot in his bright yellow t-shirt with a rooster in sunglasses that says "I'm here for the chicks." I guess the Yoda shirt must have been dirty that day.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Snotty Mom

Right after Clementine was born I started reading a book called Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us. Yes, yes, I know. The irony, blah blah. Anyway, the book was really funny and I kept laughing out loud as I was reading. This was driving the kids crazy. "What's that book? Why are you laughing so much?' Sawyer demanded over and over again in spite of the fact that I was BLATANTLY ignoring him. Jeez, take a hint, kid. Jack came along and misread the title. "It's called Snotty Mom. Mom's reading a book about boogers!" And then they dissolved into a heap of giggles and left me alone to keep reading and snort-laughing in peace.

Sh*tty Mom is the book you wish you had read before you had kids. Back when you were a judgmental jackass who could not comprehend why someone would let their bedhead kids run amok in a grocery store wearing Halloween costumes in May.

Or maybe that's just me. I seriously used to wonder why people didn't comb their kids' hair. How hard can it be? I wondered. It's just hair.

I'm passing the book along to my cousin who is about to have twin boys. Because I am pretty sure she, like all first timers, thinks she will be combing their hair. And that their socks will match. So yeah. Ha ha.

For some reason I thought that having three kids would make me a better parent. You know, like I'd somehow really understand parenting. I'd have it all down. I'd be an expert. A veteran mom. A spewer of wisdom at the playground. Somebody with their mommy shit together.

But instead of getting better, I think I am actually getting worse. Sh*ttier, some might even say.

For example, Brent and I decided to save a few bucks by feeding the kids french fries and milkshakes for dinner. Those kids' meals are a racket.

Oh, and that infant carseat adapter for the stroller is for rookies.

Even our morals have been compromised! Jack subscribes to a free Lego magazine which comes a few times a year. They always have these Lego Challenges and readers can send in pictures of their Lego creations and win prizes. Brent and Jack always pore over this magazine when it arrives and Brent inevitably mutters about how the parents must be helping these kids. "No 6 year old could build that," he grumbles. And so on.

The last challenge was for some sort of fire fighting equipment and Brent and Jack sequestered themselves in the playroom with an iPhone until they emerged with this.

I wash my hands of this entire Lego Challenge.

Sometimes I leave my baby lying naked on the changing table. But Brent propped one corner up with a folded blanket, so it's all good, right?

We taught Sawyer to fetch us beers from the garage by color. "Can you get me one of the purple beers with the yellow light?" for Jubelale. Celebration is "The red one with the snowy house." Last year he learned to retrieve the bottle opener and this year, as a special treat, we sometimes let him open them.

I have not driven the car with my baby in the Ergo yet, but I'd be lying if the thought hadn't crossed my mind. Many times. We sometimes do time outs in the garage. I have packed peanut butter and jelly on a hotdog bun for lunch. And we may or may not have left the five year old home alone while we took the other kids for a walk last week. I don't want to incriminate myself here.

And then there is my friend Peter. His kids are angelic little sweethearts who do as they are told, who get along, who are super athletes, who have manners and actually use them in public. Unlike my children who still need to be prompted for the five thousandth time in that stupid singsongy voice that all desperate manners-pushing parents eventually adopt "What do you say when Grandma gives you an ice cream cone?" "What should you say when you want something?" When on the inside we are screaming, "WHAT THE FUCK!? HOW MANY TIME DO I HAVE TO FUCKING REMIND YOU TO SAY PLEASE AND THANK YOU!?"

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Peter and his awesome kids. We all went to this free soccer clinic put on by the Portland Timbers. Jack and William got to rub elbows with some players and practice drills with the coaches. While Caroline, the obedient child and thoughtful sister, cheered on her brother from the sidelines, Sawyer pitched an endless fit about not being able to play, flopped on the floor, fell off a bar stool, and went on two time outs for sticking his tongue out at me.

OMG, somebody please comb that child's hair! How hard can it be?

When it was all over, I began herding everyone toward the exit, contemplating just how much garage time Sawyer had racked up for himself during the hour we were there. But then Jack and William noticed that kids were lining up for autographs from the players and even though neither of them seemed to know what an autograph was, they wanted one.

Brent and I were fumbling around with the diaper bag/camera/Ergo/baby/three-year-old as the line grew and grew. We were just trying to get the hell outta there when Peter, the moral compass of the group, sent the kids over to the front of the line. 

"Did our kids just cut to the front of the line?!" I asked incredulously.

He shrugged his shoulders and we both turned away in case any line-abiding citizens were looking around for the cuplrits' parents.

And so Jack and William met Timber Joey and learned what an autograph is and collected some cheap, plastic Timbers memorabilia. By the time I noticed that Sawyer had weaseled his way into the whole thing, I just didn't care about the rules at all anymore.

If we can learn one thing from this experience, it's that being a shitty parent from time to time does not necessarily mean you will have shitty kids.

And that maybe I need a new moral compass.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013: Year of the Cream Puff

The best thing about 2012:

The first day of 2013:

Ringing in 2013 was a pretty tame affair around here. Second in tameness only to New Years 2003 when my brother Nick and I were in Edinburgh for the "world famous" Hogmanay festival and we did not realize that there would be NO BOOZE for sale AT ALL and so we froze our sober arses off wandering the streets and looking for the widely publicized but highly elusive Boy George concert. At midnight we were hugged and kissed by random kilt-wearing strangers who reeked of scotch while Boy George relived his glory days on a giant screen above us. We never did find that concert- drunken Scots aren't the most helpful or easy to understand in such situations. 

Since Brent and I had no swanky New Years party to attend this year, I insisted that we have at least have a special dinner to commemorate 2012. A special dinner where everyone complained about the veggie tart and both boys spilled their water within thirty seconds of each other.

And yet I was still determined to make it SPECIAL and so we made Jack eat his obligatory five bites and loaded everyone into the familymobile, heading to Sweet Life for dessert. Brent and I shared a slice of raspberry cheesecake because we are romantic like that. Sawyer opted for mango gelato because he is random like that. But Jack, well, Jack has a problem when it comes to dessert. After some panicky indecision and a brief lecture on why buying him an entire cake was out of the question, Jack settled for a chocolate cream puff that was roughly the size of his head.


My mom was a sucker for stray cats. We had A LOT of feline friends come and go when I was a kid, but I remember one cat in particular because he was feral. We would amuse ourselves by feeding him little pieces of lunch meat and watching him freak out, hissing and spitting and yowling as he greedily devoured his treat lest anyone tried to steal it from him.

And that is, sadly, exactly how Jack ate his cream puff. The people sitting around us were trying hard not to stare as he grunted and slurped his way through that giant pastry, smearing chocolate on his face and cream on his jacket. Brent and I were totally embarrassed. "Dude, slow down. Can you even taste that?" Brent asked him. I swear I could hear Jack growling as he continued to stuff his face with that cream puff. This was seriously one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen in my life and Jack earned himself a new nickname that night.

Once we got Cream Puff and Nelson (think Simpsons) home that night, Brent made them put on their headlamps and go run around the block to burn off some of the sugar while I put Clementine to bed. They each fell into a diabetic coma soon after. 

So we then spent a quiet evening drinking beer by the fireplace and watching Downton Abbey. There were no trips to Urgent Care and no one was hungover the next day. So yeah. Being old and lame is actually kind of cool sometimes.

I do have a resolution for 2013 and it's all thanks to my friend Doris, who is also the fairy godmother to my children. Despite my lousy track record with this sort of things, I think I just might be able to make this one stick. My resolution is to do more thrift store shopping! In the past six months I have scored so many sweet deals that I don't think I can ever go back to real store shopping. I will NEVER again pay retail prices for things like athletic shorts or soccer cleats. Snow gear? Helmets? Board games? Check. Check. Check. Patio furniture! Cast iron cookwear! Little pink sweaters! MY GOD, THE LITTLE PINK SWEATERS! I could go on.

 (I paid $8 for this Lego table! I think it has saved my sanity. Well, as much as it could be saved. At least I am not stepping on Legos anymore. $8!!)

Hopefully my resolution will end up saving our family some money. So we'll have more to spend on things like cream puffs. Or insulin. Or scotch. Happy 2013!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas Booty

One last photo op before we took down and hauled out the tree today. It's always kind of depressing to box up all of that holiday cheer but the house feels fresh and clean and bigger today than it has in weeks.

It was a warm and cozy Christmas with fondue and fireplaces and family. Late nights and big meals and two little boys who were beside themselves with excitement over the whole thing. Chicken hats and cannelloni, a replacement weed whacker from a grandma who believes in second chances and lots and lots of Star Wars stuff.



 I did manage to finish the jammies, bit by bit during the days leading up to Christmas Eve. A seam here. A seam there. Then when we realized that Clementine didn't have a stocking and so I quickly sewed her a sweet little doll. She will get her stocking next year, if I remember in time. Poor third babies really get the short end of the stick, I am realizing.

 She is such a good baby. We became somewhat alarmed two weeks ago when she got fussy. I think we might have PTSD from Sawyer and all of his screaming for the first FOUR MONTHS of his existence. But Clementine was just gassy and once we figured out that she needs to belch like a beer guzzling frat boy after each feeding, she has been much, much happier. All smiles for dad and the hint of a giggle for big brother Jack.

I am going to go out on a limb here and talk about something that no one wants to talk about. I have a pretty good idea of who my readers are and who might be offended by this, but I am willing to risk it. Friends, family, friends of friends, family of friends (hi Connie!), coworkers, former students (who knew Mrs. Ross likes to say the F word so much?), random perverts who googled "hippie nudists" or "naked pee pee boy" and got my blog, and others. But I am going to do what has to be done here.

Today we are going to talk about my butt.

(Oh sorry, did you think we were going to discuss gun control? Maybe next time.)

In case you have never noticed (please tell me you have never noticed!!), I have no butt. No booty. No junk in the trunk. No cushion for the... Well, you get the idea. In addition to being unattractive, my flat butt is also the source of some serious discomfort for me. Remember my falling down pants? This is a battle that I fight on a daily basis. No belt can keep these britches up for long. It's a constant tugging and squirming and sagging. Not pretty. I am not even going to tell you about the underwear situation because I still have my pride. Barely.

No jeans were made for the buttless. Shopping for pants, jeans especially, is an absolute nightmare for me and whoever has been dragged along to discuss back pocket positions and embellishments and whiskering and which wash is most flattering. And this is an exhausting conversation because NO JEANS EVER LOOKED GOOD ON MY FLAT ASS. Ever. So then I hang my head in defeat and buy nothing.

But that's not all! No padding on my posterior means I cannot sit for long on wooden chairs. I start wiggling around and have to sit on my hands until those pointy butt bones cut off the circulation to my fingers and then I have to be that weirdo who is standing around at the back of the room during the staff meeting.

You know that they have butt implants, right? Instead of getting a boob job, I could get a butt job. 

Let's segue, shall we? I promise we will talk about my butt again real soon. Our friends always host a wild New Years party in their awesomely cavernous Victorian era house. This gathering often results in a horrendous hangover and/or stitches in Brent's forehead. This year they had a Christmas party instead and made it a white elephant gift exchange. Now I am usually pretty bad at this sort of thing, but I found canned spotted dick at Fred Meyer and was feeling good about my white elephant contribution.

It was one of those games where you can steal other people's gifts a certain number of times or whatever. Instead of paying attention, I was wearing a sleeping baby and nonchalantly hovering over the hors d'oeuvres table, stuffing my face while the game was being played. Brent played our number and got some sort of slot machine liquor dispenser which would soon be collecting dust in our garage. There were boisterous shouts and peals of laughter coming from the living room as the game wore on. Meanwhile I kept on eating Cheetos. Suddenly I heard Brent shouting my name, an eruption of hysterics, and he came bursting through the door triumphantly waving a little black victory flag.

Only it wasn't a flag at all. Brent had stolen a spanx-style butt enhancement garment! We were now the proud owners of padded underwear!

And now, because I apparently have no shred of decency left, I will post pictures of my butt on the internet. Mentally prepare yourself for what you are about to see.

I know, right? I KNOW. 

(I had to ask Brent to stitch the photos together like this. When he finished I wanted him to put a before and after label on each one. "Uh, I'm pretty sure you don't need to do that," he replied.)

So here's to 2013! The year my pants will finally stay up. (I hope you got everything you had ever wanted for Christmas, too.)