Monthly Archives: May 2016

I’m a consumer consuming. Or a consuming consumer. Either way, I’ve got it bad.

I have become a woman obsessed with using her phone. Once the kids get to bed, it’s: which site am I going to go to next upon which to waste hours and hours of time and energy? 

The past few mornings I’ve woken up feeling extra groggy, and I’m starting to wonder if this is the cause. Well, either binge surfing the net, or the added caffeine and sugar I’ve slowly let creep back into my diet after months and months about being vigilant about avoiding it.

It’s just there’s SO MUCH out there to read and see and peruse and browse and buy. I’ve got world news to catch up on, celebrity news, local news. Facebook news, Instagram posts. 

And then there’s the most recent obsession: the Bloglovin’ app. It’s an app that lets you plug in all your favorite blogs so you can follow them directly and get all recent posts in one place. Right now I’m subscribed to about twenty food blogs. And a couple of writing blogs. LOVE wasting time here.

When I’ve checked all of this stuff out, there’s always Pinterest and Etsy and Wayfair and Overstock and Craigslist and Facebook yard sale groups to check in on to find ideas and inspiration and items with which to fill our new home. So far I’ve purchased nothing. But the temptation is strong. Real strong. 

I’m feeling the need soon for another of my necessary iPhone abstinence sessions, which I self-mandate every now and then. 

But for now, I’ve got to run and check out these Memorial Day sales online.

Peace out.

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My son can successfully identify his penis, but not his mother and father.

It seems I’ve fallen off the writing wagon. Last night I favored listening to an engaging Radio Lab episode. And the night before last I accidentally got consumed by looking at area rugs on my phone. Two hours later I decided going to bed was a higher priority than writing a blog post.

Tonight, I’m trying to fit it all in while the kids take a bath. 

Speaking of bath, let’s move on to the topic of tonight’s post. My currently naked son has been able to identify his penis for nearly a month. Wahoo!

Like most males, he’s fond of his manly bits. He likes to touch and explore his anatomy in between diaper changes, in the tub, and generally, any time he’s naked. I’ve been naming his parts for awhile now, and this is the only one which he can successfully point to or look at when I ask, “Where’s your penis?”

However, ask him where his belly button, or eyes, nose and tongue are, and he looks completely baffled. 

Also, it should be noted that, nine times out of ten, when you ask him: “Where’s mama?” Or, “Where’s daddy?,” he just puts his hands on top of his head. Doesn’t even look in the direction of the mentioned adult. The other one time he raises his hands straight up in the air— a vestigial action from his very first parlor trick “How big is Rowan?!”

Just perfect.

When it comes to Mr. and Mrs., where have our manners gone?

When I was a kid, my parents—my dad especially—insisted we use ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ when referring to grown-ups. Our older nextdoor neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Bechtold. My parents’ friends and co-workers went by names like Mr. Harris and Mr. Chalfant. 

If we ever slipped up and dared to be so bold as to refer to one of our parents’ friends as Ken, or Bill, or Dave, we’d simply get ‘the look’ from our father or else an incredulous ‘excuse me?’ followed again by ‘the look.’ In any case, we knew we needed to rectify our error.

Gulp

Looking back, I appreciate so much how we were expected to address grown-ups by their respectful titles. I love the notion of instilling that same ideal in my own children. However, the times have changed, and beyond that, we’re not off to the best start.

Many of the grown-ups in our kids’ inner circle insist on going by their first names. Babysitters of past and present went and still go by first names. All of our old neighbors introduced themselves to our children using first names. In fact, when we suggested otherwise, they scoffed at us. Call me Larry. Betty. Isabel, they said. In the end, we compromised a bit with names like Mr. Larry and Mrs. Betty. Miss Isabel. 

Nora’s first two teachers also went by first names Meghan and Eileen. No surnames. Something I know my dad disapproves of in general  (teachers going by first names) since I got to witness his reaction when I told him. Love that he’s so traditional. Old school. Stern and all about being reverent.

I don’t know. It just seems so weird to me to introduce our own friends as misters and missises (is that even a word?). We seem too young for all that. But my parents and their friends were our age when we were kids.

I still feel slightly uncomfortable referring to my in-laws by their first names because it’s so ingrained in me to use proper titles. It’s like I’m breaking the rules or seomthing.

And yet, I just can’t imagine referring to my friends in my kids’ company as anything other than their first name. If I even tried to, I think I’d bust out laughing at the formality of it all. But, I like the idea of it. What to do?

I’m thinking I might just keep everyone the kids know now grandfathered in just using first names. And then maybe everyone new we meet from this point on can become Mr. So-and-So and Mrs. Such-and-Such. 

In the future, the kids will remember everyone as belonging to either the pre-when-my-mom-was-hip-and-breezy era or the post-when-she-tried-to-be-all-formal-and-proper-and-whatnot era.

They won’t be confused at all. It will be fine. Trust me.

Saturday grouchies.

Usually, the weekend grouchies don’t set in for me until about 3:00 on Sunday afternoon. This is the time I start feeling the pressure of the upcoming week and the heavy weight that comes with the realization that all of the weekend chores I hoped to accomplish are just not going to get done.

Then, it’s like a mad rush to go grocery shopping, throw in as many loads of laundry as I can before bed, tidy up the various toy-littered surfaces of the house, and make a quick plan for dinner which always ends up being a fiasco because there was no plan to begin with, and the kitchen is once again going to get destroyed, and be in need of some major clean-up for which there is Just. No. Time.

So I tend to get a bit grouchy. So does Liam. We need to be better about planning for the grouchies so we can plan to avoid them by having a better plan. Does that make sense?

Saturdays, for the most part, are bliss-filled. Today, however, was an exception to that rule. We had lots going on. And the busy-ness—I think—made it easy for the grouchies to creep in a day too early. Well, that, and having a low tolerance for likewise cranky kids.

We began the day’s events with a trip to a local farm to buy some plant starts for the garden. Liam and I were busy on the drive trying to have an important conversation about all of the things we need to do before and after our upcoming move. Have I mentioned we are buying a house? No? I’ll save it for another post.

Anyway, we were trying to take advantage of precious time spent in the same place at the same time during daylight hours. Only—we were being constantly interrupted by our chatty little girls. They were whining about being hungry, despite the fact they’d just finished eating breakfast within the past thirty minutes. They wanted the volume turned up. Turned down. Song changed. And, of course, to ask a million questions about a million different things. This was the start of the irritation that seemed to grow as the day went on. 

At the farm, Nora entertained herself with a roll poly she found. But Frances insisted on being held (she’s very shy, and so crowds often overwhelm her). Juggling plants and wallets and keys and Frances was a bit of a challenge. So was maintaining my patience.

After the farm, we drove to a farmer’s market. The girls whined the entire trip about how long the drive was taking. Also, they reminded us about how they were STILL HUNGRY. The ride was made longer by the fact that Liam and I were so engaged in our conversation, that we missed our exit and added another ten minutes onto our already long-ish trip. Irritation grew a little more, like Pinnochio’s nose after his first lie.

I had high hopes for the farmer’s market. I was just saying to Liam this week that I’d like to start finding some markets since growing season has begun. It seems silly to be buying all of our produce from the grocery store when there’s much better stuff to be had. However, upon walking around the market, I soon discovered—that although there was lots of great looking produce and a variety of available items—the prices were a bit too steep. Nothing like the Lancaster market we left behind. Boo! 😩

I ended up buying three small heads of different lettuces for $9, just because we had made the trip, knowing full well that the giant box of organic salad greens from Stop and Shop are $3 cheaper and last all week long for lunches for both me and Liam, whereas the three small heads of lettuce might be able to stretch for three days. Bummer! At least the kids got a cookie snack from a kind stand owner who took pity on their frail frames. Not

And then back in the car, post cookie, they were back at it, proclaiming they were starving again. Next up, Liam dropped us off downtown an hour before the girls and I were scheduled to take in a show at the local theater. We grabbed some lunch, which the girls just picked at, despite their self-proclaimed hunger and deprivation. 

We made it to the theater on time to catch the Pinkalicious musical, which both girls were SO excited to see. However, as soon as the show began and the lights dimmed, and the extra, EXTRA loud volume of the cast members’ voices began talking and singing, Frances freaked, and jumped into my lap. 

She spent the first part of the show with her head tucked into my chest, body clenched and hands covering her eyes, cowering into me from fear of all the sensory input around her. I think the energy with which she was resisting her environment caused her to pass out, because she fell asleep for the second half of the show, even though the noise was at decibel level ninety. (I should google fact-check decibel levels now to see if ninety is what I’m going for, but ain’t nobody got time for that). Nora loved the production.

After the show, we had to hang out downtown for a bit on account of the fact that we needed a lift back, and Rowan had fallen asleep at home with Liam. So, we walked to get ice cream. And then wine. And then to the library.

So pink-a-licious!


After Liam came to get us, we stopped at the local food co-op to pick up some meat to grill for dinner. While we were there, an employee told us about an event they were having for members that evening that involved free food. Of course, we headed back into town to take advantage of that!

The girls wanted nothing to do with the delicious falafel and chicken schwarma that was being served. Rowan enjoyed it as much as Liam and I did. That kid will eat anything. And he did too. After the free dinner, he tried to indulge in some dirt dessert. And then he was off to play in the stones and mosaic glass that was all over the ground. Because that seems like a safe idea for an art park where kids play.

After recognizing Frances’s embarrassing saggy diaper, and her imminent meltdown, we decided to head home. We were delayed a bit when Frances decided she did not want to come with us if we were not going to carry her, and then promptly parked her saggy bottom in the sidewalk, refusing to budge.

When we were nearly out of sight, Frances panicked and caught up to us. But not before a handful of parents probably judged us for threatening to leave her behind. I want to be a mindful parent. I do. But sometimes it’s just so hard.

When we finally got home and fed the girls, I poured a glass of wine and sat down in the reclining chair to read a food magazine and relax for the first time since my morning  cup of coffee.

And then, the baby—who up until that point had been content and busy—decided to crawl over to me, whine until I picked him up, and then tug at my shirt repeatedly, communicating his desire to nurse.

At least if he nurses, I can relax and read, I thought. Wrong again. No matter where I moved the magazine, the baby swatted at it. If he wasn’t using his hands, he was flailing his feet at its pages. I sighed a deep, frustrated sigh, and then looked across the room to catch Liam chuckling heartily at me. Then I burst into laughter too. Apparently, it just wasn’t meant to be.

We will have to try again tomorrow. Slow down and not have so many plans. Hey! At least we have a dinner plan—meat on the grill that was meant for tonight, but never eaten on account of the change in our dinner plans. Things are looking up already!

Heard around the house.

This evening Liam came home late, so I was by myself with the kids for a bit. I fed Rowan early and then brought him upstairs to have his bath while the girls were just beginning to sit down to eat. After awhile, I heard them abandon their meal and begin playing something fun, as their conspiratory squeals of delight could be heard from below.

After I got the baby to bed, the girls came up for their turn in the bath.

Me: “Frances? Did you finish your dinner, honey? Or is there still food in your bowl?”

Frances: “Me and Nora spilled some water all over the place, but then we cleaned it up with some towels. So don’t worry.”

Okaaaay. Love the confession and brutal honesty at this age. When I asked her again if she finished her dinner, she replied that she hadn’t. Which is why now—at 8:47 tonight—she is downstairs with her father eating a banana with peanut butter instead of lying in bed with me.

                      ———-

Nora: “Mama. When I grow up I don’t want to be the driver of a garbage truck. I want to be the guy on the back. But not a garbage truck. I want to be a recycler. You know, so I don’t…stink.”

Makes perfect sense to me.

                      ———-

Nora: “Mommy? When is Grandma’s birthday?”

Me: “December 23rd. Two days before Christmas. She’s a Christmas baby.”

Nora: “Just like Jesus! But Jesus’ birthday is on Christmas. Not two days before. Mom? When is Mary’s birthday? Not our old babysitter Maire. But, you know, Jesus’ mom?”

Me: “Yes, I know which Mary you meant. But I’m not sure. You should ask your dad.”

Nora: “But how does dad know our old babysitter’s birthday?”

Me: “I thought we were talking about Jesus’ mom.”

Nora: “Oh yeah.” Giggle giggle.

Me: “Because your father went to church school. If anyone knows Mary’s birthday, it should be him.”

Nora: “Oh. Okay.”

Love putting the hubs on the spot!


Living by the water.

For years the hubs had been telling me that my hometown—the place we lived for seven years together up until this past October—was growing on him. 

“I love Lancaster,” he’d say. “If I could just pick it up and move it near the ocean and my family, Id never want to move.” (I’ve found that people who grow up near the water always have a special place for it in their souls).

Well, now two out of his three wishes have come true.We are living near the ocean and we are much, much closer to his family. Like, a mile away from his brother, and not too much farther from both of his parents. 

Sadly, it means I’m away from my family, and also my hip hometown. Our new town—although charming and not lacking potential—is nothing like the thriving downtown we left behind. I miss Central Market, coffee shops, restaurants, and the constant buzz of local activity.

But I will say this: living by the water is pretty fantastic. 

I always thought I’d like to live in the mountains. My two favorite places I’ve ever lived EVER were in Vermont and New Hampshire, surrounded by mountains and fresh water. I’ve always enjoyed hiking and much prefer lake and river swimming to the salty ocean water.

However, this morning—along with many mornings since we’ve moved to the Connecticut coast—I enjoyed an early walk along a nearby road overlooking the water. There’s something so energizing about waking up and starting your day outside, surrounded by natural beauty. I admit, the salty smell of the sea and the funkiness of low tide is starting to grow on me.

It may never smell like my first home. Amish country and cow manure is pretty stiff competition. And while Liam may still fake retch and dry heave once we venture back and cross into Lancaster County, the fresh smell of cow shit spread on a farmer’s field will always bring on a slow an easy smile for me. Aahhh, home.

Maybe one day we will move back to Lancaster. Or have a home near some mountains. For now, though, I’m feeling grateful for our chance to experience life along this salty coast.

Oops.

A post a day in May, did you say?
I did. I did say that. And then last night, I fell asleep promptly at 7:30 pm with the girls, and did not rise again until midnight (thank you, Rowan, for sleeping so long without wanting to nurse). It was the kind of night where teeth did NOT get brushed, contacts got ripped out and thrown on the floor (I should be embarrassed to admit this, but strangely, am not), and daytime clothes were slept in for far too long than was comfortable. I hadn’t anticipated falling asleep. And I fell asleep HARD.

Needless to say, I was not waking up from THAT kind of sleep to write a blog post. So, oops.

                  ————

This evening I’ve been filling out paperwork to register a certain little five-year-old for kindergarten. How can this be?! I can’t believe I have a school-age child. And, I’ve been just AGONIZING about where to send her.

In our town we have several magnet schools. So families have to apply and get accepted through a lottery. We’ve been accepted to one school and Liam wants us to consider the parochial school he went to as a kid.

I’m sure my parents never thought twice about school choice—not that it was even an option for us then. But I’m also sure they didn’t worry too much about us being successful or fitting in. Or being challenged appropriately vs. feeling bored. 

Mothers of my generation tend to worry about this stuff too much. And, well—I worry about fifteen times as much as the most worrisome mothers of my generation. So yeah, it’s been a struggle.

Anyway. I’m sure Nora will do fine wherever she goes. And if not, we’ve got options. And options are always good, right?

I told Liam earlier that I just want to homeschool. He gently reminded me that I only like the idea of homeschooling and not the reality. There’s a reason I married this man.