So the Fish Said...

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem, I whisper with my lips close to your ear.

- Walt Whitman

Meet the Fish

I want to get a pet duck and keep it in the bathtub.
I am addicted to chap stick and altoids.
I am freakishly flexible.


World's Most Beautiful Child

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World's Most Handsome Child

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Other Important Things

Clive Owen

Clive Owen
Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend


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Also, golly gee willakers

Well heavens to Betsy, I think this is the first time I've sat down with five minutes to myself since Thursday. Please note that I have gotten roughly eight hours of sleep total over the past week, which may lead to being totally incomprehensible and also to throwing out exclamatory statements last in vogue a century ago. Let's catch up, shall we?

On Friday, my mom and I took the kids to a local farm to see the animals. Except that it was hotter than hell so we let Mia wander around for a few minutes and then bribed her with a popsicle so we could all go sit in the shade. We soon retreated to Target where my mom allowed Mia to choose any toy she wanted for herself, which is how I came to share my house with a really horrifying animatronic baby doll, since named Polly. (Hey, Firefox spell check doesn't recognize "animatronic." Seriously, spell check. It also wants me to capitalize "popsicle." I think spell check is fucking with me.)

Before we bolted the farm, however, I ran into an old friend who I haven't seen or spoken to in a year or so. It used to be that when a year passed you would catch up by finding out who had changed jobs or gotten a new girlfriend. But not it's more "hey, good to see you, and oh, I spawned again." Weird.

After Target, my mom watched the kids (I know, she's the best) while I went on a lightning round shopping expedition to find a bathing suit for the beach and some clothes for my bottom half that I wasn't too embarrassed to wear in public. And I am nearly impossible to embarrass, especially when it comes to anything to do with fashion because I just don't care, so the fact that I hated leaving the house in anything I owned is just an indication that literally every pair of summery pants or shorts in my possession had large holes, usually concentrated in the ass area.

Shopping is a very different experience after the kids arrive. I used to be very picky, sometimes even leaving something I liked in the store and going back to visit it again wearing different shoes. But on Friday, I just hauled piles of clothes into the fitting room and if I could button it, I bought it. Tried it all on again at home and lots of it is going back, but I ended up with two pairs of shorts and two pairs of capris, and frankly that is more than I need since we all know I will wear the same pair of pants continuously until somebody pukes on them. ("Capris" is also beyond the scope of my spell check. Am beginning to think my spell check needs an intervention.)

I did find a bathing suit. It has a skirt. I am officially unredeemably uncool now, aren't I?

Saturday disappeared into that time-sucking void that opens in the middle of your living room when you reproduce, lots of laundry and a trip to the pool, as I recall.

Then yesterday, my mom took me to see Mamma Mia (the stage show, not the imminent movie) (told you Mom's the best) and left both children in care of my husband for five hours. And nobody died. Nobody was even crying when I got home (I knew the kids would be fine, but half expected to find Chris in tears). It is so much nicer to come home and hear that everything was fine than to hear that Owen screamed for three hours straight. The show was lots of fun, but reawakened the part of me that has always wanted to do that. What? You didn't know that in my heart of hearts I really want to be singing and dancing in front of a couple thousand people? It seems a little silly to still be considering that as a possible career move as a 33 year old mother of two, but there it is.

And huh, yup, it seems that I am even boring myself here, so let's wrap up and I will explain later why there is no Mia Monday today, or last week, or next week, or anymore. Well, here's the short version: my little girl, she is growing up.

And, um, whatever. Kisses.

Brilliant!

Here is how I am going to get rich. I am going to start a company to provide Night Nannies to new moms. These will be lovely and charming women (who are also fatter and have worse hair than you, because who needs that sort of pressure?) who come to your house at midnight and care for your baby for a few hours. Like, when the baby starts screaming his head off 20 minutes after you fall asleep, your Night Nanny will go get him and say, in a gentle and loving voice, "Now now, dear, your poor mother just spent an hour nursing you and you cannot possibly be hungry, so let's just sneak away quietly and let that dear woman get a little sleep." And then Night Nanny will take said baby to the corner of your house furthest from your bedroom so you can't hear him fussing and you will get a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep and suddenly there will be flowers and bluebirds and food will once again have taste and you won't have to lie in bed weeping from exhaustion at 2 AM begging the baby to please for the love of all that is holy go the fuck to sleep already. Not that I would know anything about that last one. No.

But brilliant, yes? And I'll make a killing, because right now I would happily sign over the deed to my house in exchange for two consecutive hours of sleep. (Not much sacrifice, really, since the bank owns more of the house than I do, but you get my point.)

On a related note, does anybody have any idea how to transition an, oh let's say four-month-old baby from sleeping swaddled to sleeping un-swaddled? Poor sweet Owen currently can't sleep either way. When he's swaddled, he wakes up all pissed off that he can't move his chubby, fat-dimpled little arms, and when he isn't swaddled he wakes himself up by jamming eight fat little fingers straight up his nose.

Owen Wednesday #19: Baby Got Back Edition

Things pissing me off

(What, you want content? Try another website, my friend, because you are barking up absolutely the wrong tree here.)

Anyway, things pissing me off right this very minute:

  • The t key on my keyboard which only generates a t every third or so time that I hit it. Coming soon, the only blog in the internet entirely devoid of ts.

  • My children. Yes, I love them more than my very life, more than air, more than chocolate, more than wine, but would it really kill anybody to cut mommy just the tiniest bit of slack once in a while? Why yes, apparently it would.

  • My stomach. I am going to be at the beach in 11 days and my stomach is unfit for anything other than a caftan. Do they make swim caftans? Meanwhile, I am eating my weight in Hershey's Kisses while I type this. What? The t thing really stresses me out.

  • Ditto my ass.

  • Mia's gastroenterologist. Is that how you spell gastroenterologist? Who cares. Mia had more blood work done because two levels were low the first time, so last week the nurse called me and we had this conversation.

    Nurse: Well, this one thing is normal.
    Beth: That's good, how about the other thing?
    Nurse: What other thing?
    Beth: The other thing from last time?
    Nurse: Oh yeah, that's low too. Lower than last time, actually.
    Beth: Ok.
    Nurse: Ok.
    Beth: And what might that mean, exactly?
    Nurse: I don't know.
    Beth: You don't know?
    Nurse: I don't know.
    Beth: You are calling me with test results and you are unable to give me any inkling as to what the significance of those test results might be?
    Nurse: Well, there's a lab slip in here. I guess they are going to mail you a lab slip?
    Beth: I'm going to need a little more to go on here.
    Nurse: I'll have someone else call you.
    Beth: You think?

    So then the someone else calls, and we have this conversation:

    Someone Else: See, if it is too high it can be a sign of this problem. But it isn't too high, so that's good.
    Beth: But it is too low, right?
    Someone Else: Yes.
    Beth: And that means?
    Someone Else: Probably nothing.
    Beth: But it was too low the first time, and you decided to retest it.
    Someone Else: Yes.
    Beth: So there must be some significance, otherwise why bother with the second test?
    Someone Else: Um.
    Beth: So what I would like to know is, if it isn't nothing, what might it be?
    Someone Else: Well...
    Beth: Well?
    Someone Else: I'll just fax these labs to your pediatrician.
    Beth: So you don't know?
    Someone Else: I don't know.
    Beth: Fabulous.

  • Our trash collection company. And I mean, I am in an absolute feud with the trash collection company. Good thing I live in the suburbs, because if I lived somewhere with mafia-controlled trash collection I would have had a cap in my ass weeks ago. (Is that even correct usage? I am so not up on my organized crime lingo these days.)

  • I hurt my back on Saturday and can still barely stand upright. When did I get this old?

  • My hair has started falling out in clumps, welcome to four months post-partum, but the grey ones never fall out.

  • There is not a single brownie in this entire house. I checked. Also, no wine. Not that I would drink the wine now, understand, but it can be comforting to know that it is available for later, should the need arise.

  • I went outside for five minutes and have 26 mosquito bites. Mosquitoes look at me and see one of those all you can eat 24-hour Vegas buffets. One is on my forehead. That's hott.

  • The mailman. See, I live at 123 Rosebush Lane. There is a nearby house with the address 123 Rosebud Avenue. I frequently receive mail for the lovely people at 123 Rosebud Avenue, which I immediately return to my mailbox, sometimes with a helpful note regarding it's misdirection, so that it can be correctly delivered to my neighbors in a timely fashion. The mailman invariably takes this mail away and then returns it to my mailbox a day later. This is likely not really my personal mailman's fault, but he is the most visible representative of the vast, faceless mail delivery cabal, and therefore the recipient of my ire.

Coy

(Photoshopping courtesy of Chris, because I wanted black and white but thought it was a crime to lose those eyes.)

Can't do this in front of the children

AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think it would be literally impossible for this day to get any more frustrating. Anybody wanna take a guess at what's going to happen now that I've said that and jinxed myself?

Also, can I get a bottle of vodka on an IV drip?

Owen Wednesday #18: Modes of Transportation Edition

When you are four months old, getting around can be tough. There are options though:

"Walking"

Hitching a ride

(Let's all pretend we don't see me in these pictures, mkay? I tried to crop myself out, but it just didn't work. And as long as we are pretending, let's go ahead and pretend they are in focus.)

Leg chub as flotation device

None worthy of a post

  • Gandhi is stalking me. Totally.

  • Mia had blood drawn again today (still nothing to worry about, just following up on some results from last time that are almost certainly nothing). It was much better than last time. I mean, it absolutely sucked and there was much screaming, but they were fast and better prepared and she got over it as soon as I handed over the lollipop. And then we left and I was carrying Mia and pushing Owen in the stroller and realized that my daughter's blood was running down my leg. Not, in truth, all that much of it, but when it is your child's blood exiting your child's body the smallest amount looks like a raging torrent.

  • Owen is sleeping for shit lately and it has been weeks since I got two consecutive hours of sleep. I'm not going for advice, just pity. Like "Poor Beth" or "you are a saint for dealing so very well with this" or "wow, your ass looks great in those bloodstained pants, but don't you think you could have found a minute to change sometime in the past 12 hours?".

  • I had another couple of these, but Owen is awake again. Poor Beth.

Mia Monday #126: Paint Edition

How we spent the morning.

About your Dad

(Aside to the internets: The Hotty Pediatrician has approved using sunscreen on Owen, so please do not feel that you are personally responsible for explaining to me that he is too young. Thanks.)

Dear Mia and Owen,

I want to tell you a little story about your Dad. I want to tell you this story because I know there will be times in your lives when Dad annoys you, or when you think he is totally lame (or whatever they are calling lame once you get old enough to think your parents are lame). And when you have those times, I hope you will think about this story and cut your old man some slack.

Yesterday, Mia and Mommy had a Girls' Day Out and Daddy and Owen stayed home together. Unfortunately, yesterday saw the arrival of one of Owen's rare bad moods and he spent three solid hours screaming at Daddy. And Owen can scream like the dickens when he sets his mind to it. Poor Daddy didn't want to interrupt Girls' Day Out, so he tried everything he could think of. He changed Owen's diaper, tried to give him a bottle, tried to interest him in toys. Daddy tried watching cartoons and tried putting Owen down for a nap (three times). He tried to take Owen for a walk, which seemed like it was going to work out, until he put on the sunscreen and Owen started screaming again, so Daddy decided that the sunscreen must be hurting Owen and gave him a bath. Nothing worked for long, and by the time Mommy and Mia got home, Daddy looked like he had gone ten rounds with a rabid wolverine. (Owen, however, was happy as a lark.)

The point of telling you this, is that Daddy may not always know what to do, and he may not always do the right thing, and sometimes what he does may even make things worse, but he will always do everything in his power to make you happy. You may not always appreciate that about him, but I think you will someday come to believe it is one of the best things about your father.

Love,
Mommy

From the French

Mia's latest version of Frere Jacques:

Frere Yaka, Frere Yaka
Dormez you? Dormez you?
Owen has a penis, Owen has a penis
Ding dang dong, Ding dang dong.

Just your average Thursday

  • I was sitting in the playroom with Mia after lunch and suddenly developed an absolutely splitting headache. I sat for several minutes and marveled at how such an intensely painful headache could come on so quickly, and then remembered that I was wearing this toddler-sized accessory on my great big melon head.

    Attractive, certainly, but not worth the pain.

  • Mia remarks several times a week that Mommy has a great big melon head. So glad I taught her that one.

  • Mia can't quite pronounce "tiara," so when referencing the bit of headgear pictured above she talks about her "tranny." And that, frankly, is one of the things that makes parenthood worth it.

  • Owen had his four month checkup today and obliterated ("tipped" doesn't seem to cut it) the scales at 19 lbs. 2.5 oz. and is 27 inches long. I find this incredibly rude, since he is definitely going to pass the 20 pound infant seat limit long before Mia hits the 30 pound booster seat limit. Can anybody recommend a good convertible booster seat? One of those that starts as a 5-point harness and then the top pops off and it is a booster? (This would be for Mia, not Owen, am not an idiot. Well, am sometimes not an idiot.)

  • I find it a bit disconcerting to discuss my breasts with the Hotty Pediatrician. Functionality thereof only, mind you, but still. Odd since I happily discuss my breasts at great length with the entire internet.

  • Hot damn but I can't type today.

  • Up until yesterday, my all-time favorite sweet [adjective] [religious figure] construction was my friend Laura's "Sweet fancy Moses." Ah, but then the lovely stinkerbell popped up with "Sweet buttery Jesus," and that immediately took over the top spot.

  • Words you never want to hear wafting gently from the monitor during quiet time: "Mommy, there's poop on my bed!" If anybody needs me, I'll be doing laundry.

Ad nauseum

Quick internet poll:

How many consecutive times do you answer the same question before you start spouting bullshit? Say, for example, that the question of the day is "Mommy, where did the dinosaurs go?" How many rounds do you do on extinction and evolution and fossils before you just say "Target, babe. The dinosaurs went to Target."?

Owen Wednesday #17: Pretend There Isn't Vomit on my Shirt Edition

See what I mean about the eyes?

Owen, Month Four

Sweet Owen,

You are four months old today, and it is hard for me to know how to capture this moment in time as you seem to reach a new milestone every day. There are even days when I notice in the evening that you have become more adept with your hands since morning or that you are able to support yourself a little longer when sitting up unassisted. (Yes, you sit. Only by propping one chubby arm atop a chubbier leg and a mild breeze throws you off balance, but you sit and you love it.)

One of the biggest changes this month is that I would trade a kidney for three consecutive hours of sleep. These days, you wake up 20 minutes after I fall asleep every night and then every two hours like clockwork for the rest of the night. We've even spent several early mornings camped out on the couch watching infomercials as you struggle to find a comfortable position that will allow you to get back to sleep. At first you were sick and your stuffy nose woke you up, and now you seem to be teething - so vehemently in fact that I am expecting four molars to break through any minute now, and sleep has fallen by the wayside. I think that you also learned that at 2 AM you can nurse without Mia bouncing on your head or me popping you off to go retrieve a juice box and you like to take advantage of the opportunity.

You are starting to really enjoy your toys, especially your elephant, your bee, Mia's beloved Muhammad Ali, a variety of teethers, and even the Ball of Wonder. Mia likes to tear whatever you have out of your hands, and you usually handle it with good grace. I tell her not to take your toys, but I think you may have to live with it until you are big enough to communicate that concept yourself. You like to ride in the stroller and to go to the playground and watch Mia climb and run and slide. You even enjoy a few very gentle pushes on the baby swings.

You have an amazing smile that you wear frequently and that reveals your as yet unbroken gums and the small dimple in your left cheek that is going to drive the girls crazy when you get older. You love to talk and yell and have increased your vocabulary from vowels to "g" to "d"and "r." You aren't really supposed to be dropping those consonants yet, but you are. You have also moved from baby giggles to actual laughter, a sound that likely only a mother (and father) could love, but we adore it. At dinner the other night, your father nearly choked on his food and made a series of choking sounds and you cracked up like it was the best joke you had ever heard. I think you thought he was speaking your language.

You generally have at least four fingers crammed in your mouth and tend to be covered in a thin layer of drool and vomit. You always have fuzz from your pajamas stuck between your toes. You are the world's largest naturally occurring stockpile of ear wax, and you are the cutest damned thing on the planet, hands down.

Owen, I've been trying not to get too attached to your blue eyes, for fear they would fade and I would have set myself up for a disappointment I don't really feel. But they truly are amazing eyes. Brilliant, piercing blue, although really there is probably more white than blue, with lapis rings around the outside. There are plenty of blue eyes in the family, but yours seem to be a gift straight from your great-grandfather Al, who died before you were even conceived but who had been desperately wanting to meet you for years - the only boy of this generation to carry on his name. If you one day come to believe in Heaven, you may be assured that Al is up there smiling down at you and that, for a time at least, you had his eyes.

It always goes so quickly, I know, but I cannot believe that you have been with us for four months already. I can't fathom how soon you will be eating and really sitting and crawling and walking and heading off to college. I know I will always look at these early days with you as one of the great treasures of my life.

Love,
Mama

Mia Monday #125: Blackout Edition

Mia spent dinner last night reading the condiments to us. Not the words, just the letters, but it was still a talent we didn't know she possessed. Now she can't be stopped and I have spent the entire morning finding capital letters for her to read.

These are from last week's blackout, excuse the blurriness but there were tornadoes threatening us so I didn't have much time to concern myself with lighting.

The Great Escape

I went out today for the first time since Owen was born. Well ok, not really, I've been to the grocery store and Target while Chris was home and the kids were napping, and Chris and I have gone out together once or twice and I even made it for a pedicure a couple of months ago, but this was the first extended outing with no kids and no errands. I went with my mom and sister-in-law to get pedicures and then to lunch. And it was wonderful - nice to see them without constant demands from the children, nice to eat a meal where I didn't have to get up eight times to fetch additional milk or grapes, nice to keep my shirt on for nearly four straight hours.

And then, nice to be home in time to jump in the wading pool with Mia and Chris, nice to have missed out on trying to cajole Mia into eating lunch, and nice to be back to see Owen's first ever back to front roll over, which landed him face down in the grass and was he ever pissed.

And suddenly, I have reserves of patience that have been missing for months. It's easy to forget, but sometimes there is no better way to be a better mother than to get the hell away from your kids for a while.

Vote early, vote... early

This is my dining room.

Everybody has a portacrib in their dining room, right? It isn't like we use it for anything else. Well, Mia uses it because her play kitchen is on the other wall. And the curtains are god awful, yes, they are on the list. And the furniture used to be my in-laws' and they had it in storage for 20 years and gave it to us when we moved for free, so if you hate it I don't want to hear about it, and anyway the tabletop is really beautiful, remind me to post a picture of that sometime.

None of which is the point, so let's get back to this is my dining room.

Now, what would you hang over the credenza? Something like this:

Or something like this:

I'm ordering today (there's a sale) so you have until, oh, 9:00 PM Eastern to vote. Don't let me down, internets!

Outage

We had some weather around these parts yesterday, the sort where I ran upstairs to grab napping children away from windows and walked the yard afterwards stunned that all of the many trees on our property were still standing. Many of our neighbors were not so lucky with the trees, including four huge ones around the corner that were entirely uprooted.

I've always loved power outages. Although as an adult there are far more hassles than there were when I was a kid, like worrying whether the milk is still good and making an emergency run to my in-laws' after dinner with a quart or so of frozen breast milk that needed a functioning freezer.

But the good parts are still there - the feeling that you have slipped out of time and are suspended somehow in a twilit pause. I spent a couple hours yesterday afternoon playing with Mia in her playroom - no laundry to do, no email to check, just costumes to wear and Little People about whom to compose elaborate life stories worthy of any daytime soap. Owen was napping in his swing, battery powered and therefore the only noise in the neighborhood other than the occasional car and the mob of birds that emerged after the storm to inspect their own damage and compare notes.

Mia has been fascinated by flashlights lately and was all too happy to use them to navigate the house, and was even more amazed by the candles we lit as the sun set. Dinner was take-out and followed by Mia's first ever screening of Cinderella - viewed on a laptop by candlelight. We put the kids to bed with no monitors, their doors open to try to catch any meager breeze, allowing me to stop in to check on them every few minutes as I don't think I will ever lose the urge to do.

Chris gets cranky when the power is out - can't survive that long without the internet - but I think it is calming. Which side are you on?

(And P.S. How do I get Mia to keep her damned fingers out of her damned nose? Dammit.)

Owen Wednesday #16: Tough Guy Edition

I wish I could blame this one on Mia, but it was all me.

War

Hey, you know all that Mommy Wars crap where we are all supposed to be judging and hating each other? Except that really we are all supposed to say that judging other moms is crap and we would never do that and that we personally think that whatever you choose to do with your life and your kids is fabulous and perfect for you and a-ok?

Well, I am totally judging you.

Wait, hear me out on this one, because I think you are totally judging me too.

This mommy thing, this is the biggest thing I will ever do in my life. Yes, I absolutely will do other things that I hope will be good and valuable, but since I am unlikely to cure cancer or single-handedly bring about world peace, I can't really imagine anything I could do that would be more important than raising two entire people to be kind, empathetic, confident, what have you, adults (who can then tackle cancer and world peace).

And I'm trying really hard. I'm working at it, and I'm examining my choices and trying to make the right ones, and when I make the wrong one and, for example, spend the first year of Mia's life too scared to leave the house with her, I try to find a way to do better. I think I'm doing a pretty good job. I think I'm usually doing the right thing, I think I have at least a 70% chance that neither of my children will hate me with a fiery passion as adults.

Because I am so invested in this job, because I agonize about my parenting choices, when I see someone making different choices, I make judgments. They aren't always negative judgments. Last week, Mia refused to put her pants back on after a diaper change and I started getting very snappish with her. A friend who was here for a playdate cut in with a laugh and smile to ask Mia if she was such a big girl she could put her pants on all by herself. Which Mia was all too happy to prove that she could. And I thought wow, that was a much better way to go. She is much better at this truculent toddler thing than I am, and maybe I can learn to do it her way instead of just getting frustrated and bitchy.

I have one friend who is the only person who ever tells me that she disagrees with my parenting choices, and it is one of the things I like about her. She thinks I cater to much too Mia's bedtime and sleep whims. I know she thinks that because she has told me so, gently and kindly, without rancor or recrimination. She disagrees with me, she thinks I'm wrong, but she doesn't think I'm a bad mother or a bad person, just that in this area I make bad choices. And knowing that helps me. It helps me to hear that someone I like and respect has a different opinion, and not just in general but specifically about a choice I have made. Because maybe she is right. Maybe I am too easy on Mia, maybe her method would work better for me. Maybe not. But if I can be open enough to accept kind and concerned criticism, maybe it will make me a better mother.

Or maybe it would just piss me off. Or hurt my feelings. But I'm a grown-up, I can take it.

I think I know how we got here. I think we have all forgotten how to disagree. I am very rarely told that I am wrong, but I am fairly frequently told that some opinion I express has deeply damaged and offended someone who read it, or that I am an ignorant cow for making the choices I make. I think it makes us so scared to express our opinions that we get situations like the one I recently heard about where a friend of a friend has her four-month-old baby on a diet. She doesn't want her baby to get fat. And none of her friends will tell her that she is wrong, because they don't want to hurt her feelings. But hey, she's wrong. She's wrong and someone needs to tell her so.

I'm not recommending we all become the Hat Police and walk up to strangers in the street to criticize their parenting. But with our friends, I think we have an obligation to talk openly about our different choices. I think if we really want to support the moms we know and love, it means expressing our opinions. Nicely, of course. I usually go with "Huh, I have a totally different approach to that."

So feel free to judge me. I'm not scared of opinions.

Mia Monday #124: Mia and the Bear

For all those who wondered, the massive amounts of parmesan cheese procured last week were to support Mia's habit. She eats it on everything. Well, not on fruit, but only because she hasn't thought of that yet.

Glee

Owen laughed last night. We've had some giggles before, but this was his first undeniable peal of laughter. It sounded like a lunatic seal choking on a kazoo. I nearly dropped the baby several times because I was cracking up at his ridiculous amazing laugh.

It just about makes your head explode, doesn't it? Hearing your baby laugh?

I told Mia about it and said that if she did something funny he might laugh for her too, so she's been telling him knock knock jokes all morning.