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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Menace

We had a class this morning. When we got there, I put Owen down on the floor for a minute to take off my coat, and in the ten seconds I took to do that he crawled over to another baby and bit him. On the cheek. Hard. I had to peel his jaws off the poor, screaming child, and an hour later the other baby was still sporting a bright red impression of Owen's six evil teeth on the side of his face.

First person who tells me to give Owen a frozen washcloth gets slapped. Now, where is the duct tape?

This, that, the other

After posting pics of Owen in his lobster suit yesterday, I got an email from my neighbor-in-law (she married the guy who used to live next door to me, is there an easier way to say that?). She has a daughter six weeks older than Mia and a son ten days younger than Owen and the exact same combination of Halloween costumes.

Chris stayed home today to take care of Owen for a bit while I did something with Mia, and we came home to find Owen standing up at the coffee table (the same one he is fond of eating, looks like we have an infestation of beavers) and Chris swearing that he pulled up there himself. Which would have been the first time ever that he achieved a fully-upright position all on his own and which Chris has since witnessed several times and I have not seen him do once. Usually the shoe is on the other foot and I am the one saying "Chris, I swear, the baby has been doing X all day today" while the child in question fixes their father with a shit-eating grin and refuses to perform. I don't like being on this end, and it just reminds be that while in many ways I'm the one with the crap job around here and can't even pee because Child 2 will follow me into the bathroom, find something to pull off the toilet and cram it straight into his mouth, in most ways I am the lucky one.

Speaking of Child 2, he is getting four teeth right now (second middle set on the bottom and the blasted canines on the top) and it makes him want to bite me. Not while he is eating, I cured him of that one right quick by refusing to nurse him after he bit me and he learned fast that babies who want boobies do not bite them. But nursing is the only time he doesn't bite me. The rest of the day he literally chases me around the house and as soon as I let him catch me he sinks his six very sharp little teeth into my poor soft flesh. A dose of Tylenol plus an application of Orajel buys me about an hour of safety and then he is at it again. Any suggestions? I feel like he can't really help it, he is hurting and just trying to feel better, but damn the child needs to stop.

Owen Wednesday #35: This Looks Nothing like a Crab Suit Edition

Mia is going to be Ariel for Halloween, and poor Owen is supposed to be Sebastian the crab. No self-respecting Sebastian would ever show up in a lobster suit.

Screaming Mimi

So hey, how do y'all handle tantrums? And I mean full-on, blow-out, breaking windows and peeling paint tantrums?

See, I don't read parenting books anymore because every last one seems designed to make parents feel ineffectual and inferior, and while Mia has certainly had her moments before now, it is only in recent weeks that she has discovered the joys of hard core tantruming. And I'm at an absolute loss.

My usual approach to irrational fits is to distract her with something else. Gosh Mia, I'm so sorry your chair was an inch and a half out of ideal alignment, now let's go make Play-Dough worms. Or even, gee babe, life sure us hard when you are forced to pick up and put away the occasional toy, now who wants a cookie? But lately? Hoo boy.

Let me give you yesterday as an example. We had somewhere to be at 10:30, so I took the kids upstairs to get them dressed. Mia wanted a shirt with a picture on it, so I presented her with her options, she reluctantly chose one, and I went off to try to get Owen down for a nap. Mia then decided she hated her shirt and came to complain to me. I told her to pick a new one and change. That was not acceptable and the screaming started. And I mean screaming of the sort that I half expect the neighbors to call the cops and report me for it. I was stuck with Owen, so it went on for a few minutes. When I went to try to help her she wasn't having it. She didn't want help, didn't want to do it herself, really seemed to just want to sit there and scream. Eventually she moved on from hating all her shirts to hating all her clothes and by the time Chris came to investigate the howling he had heard all the way in the basement she was totally naked and screaming to beat the band.

He got her calmed down and dressed, but five minutes later she was flipping out about the shirt again. We did eventually get her dressed and out the door and she was fine all through our outing, through our trip to the pediatrician, through lunch, through quiet time, after quite time, and then at 3:30 it started all over again. Still about the shirt, still screaming and crying loud enough to pop eardrums. She went on for two hours. Chris and I tried helping her, tried ignoring her, tried everything we could think of. I finally went up to her room, forced her into some clothes and carried her down to her playroom. At which point she calmed down, wiped her nose, and headed off with her Dad to play Legos.

This morning, we had a repeat performance, all about her clothes again. Since it worked yesterday, I just picked something, got her dressed, and told her to deal with it. Which she did, once she realized I was done dealing with it.

But I just don't know. Is that the right thing to do? I know a lot of this is just being three and I think it must be hella frustrating to be three and know and understand and be able to do so much and still be so dependent on adults for everything. And I think she is just trying to have some control and some opinions and some power, and I am trying to let her have those things wherever I can, but I can't have a naked kid screaming in her room all day long.

I'm at a loss. What do you do? What would you do?

Pants on Fire

As yet another birthday rapidly approaches, I have decided it is time to start lying about my age. Rather than claiming to be 29, I am going to start telling people I am 38. Even after four years (and counting) of near-constant sleep-deprivation, I think I look pretty good for 38.

Although, thanks to the baby face I hated earlier in life, I think I still make a convincing 29. At least, I could if I had some makeup and a night or two of sleep.

How about you? What are your high and low believable ages? You don't have to tell me your real age if you don't want to, but it will make it more fun.

Worth it

Two things today that made me think, oh yes, having two kids is totally worth it.

1) The older kid thinks it is a really fun game to hop out of her chair at dinner and retrieve whatever the younger kid has just thrown onto the floor. Bought me five consecutive minutes of sitting down and eating with both hands free - doesn't happen often.

2) The kids are starting to play together, which they both enjoy but also means that they are starting to get on each other's nerves. They were on the floor together tonight and I was watching closely to prevent any further pinching or hair pulling, and instead, Mia gave Owen a huge hug and a kiss. It brought me to tears. I know it won't always be this way, but right now I feel like one of the best things I will ever do for my kids is give them someone who adores them so much - each other.

Then and Now

October 13, 2006


October 22, 2008

ETA: Yes, that is my garter from my wedding. At least, it used to be. Now it is Mia's tiara and she wants to wear it to school.

Owen Wednesday #34: Man on the Move Edition

The only four out of thirty that aren't totally blurry from him trying to get the camera.

Revelations

The kids have been sick. It seems clear that the rest of the year is going to follow a standard pattern where Mia goes to preschool, Mia gets a cold, Mia is sick for two days, Mia gives her cold to Owen, Owen is sick for a week. And I would like to take a moment to offer a hearty "damn you" to everyone who was incapable of reading the directions on a bottle of children's decongestant and got them taken off the market.

Since Monday, along with having copious amounts of snot wiped on my clothes, skin and hair by my loving children who just want to share, I have cleaned my kitchen, washed, folded and put away eight loads of laundry, vacuumed the entire house twice, dusted, picked up toys at a constant rate, and turned a couple of pounds of sweet potatoes and avocados into baby food. And while all of that needed to be done at some point, none of it needed to be done while I had two sick kids trapped in the house, one of whom hasn't slept more than 20 minutes straight in five days. Yesterday, as I was reaching for the mop with Owen strapped to my back, it occurred to me to wonder why in the hell I was doing this instead of cutting myself some slack and plopping us all down in front of the tv for an hour or so. My conclusion is that I am more of a control freak than previously suspected. And since I can't control my kids getting sick and can't do anything to make them get better and can't even run to Target just to get out of the house for an hour, I control the only thing I can control. Which, apparently, is my grout.

***************

Owen was just miserable yesterday. Whiny, clingy, sobbing miserably if I put him down, leaving actual puddles of tears and snot and drool in his wake as he crawled after me on those rare occasions when I did put him down. His eyes were glassy, his cheeks and nose were bright red, his temples were radiating heat. (Hey, is this just my kids or what? When they get fevers their foreheads are as cool as the proverbial cucumbers and their temples are hot enough to melt steel.) I kept taking his temperature (in the armpit, because ewww) and it kept showing normal. Normal. Normal. Now, I am all about medicating children when it comes to pain or fever and spring for the Tylenol bottle at the first sign of either, but I don't want to medicate them unnecessarily. So with a normal temperature, I didn't give Owen anything. Just hugged and kissed him and put him down for a 15 minute nap every hour or so. Finally at 5:00 I realized that dammit, I don't care what the thermometer says, this kid has a fever. A dose of Motrin and an hour later, he was devouring his dinner and giggling at his Daddy.

He had a fever. I need a new thermometer and to trust myself more.

***************

The thing I want more than just about anything right now is a period of Nap Overlap every day. This almost never happens anymore, because Mia almost never naps anymore and Owen never naps during her enforced "Quiet Time." But something brilliant has occurred to me! Mia naps once or twice a week if I'm lucky and the rest of the time just plays in her room for an hour or so, which I call "resting." But since she isn't sleeping, I can make her do that whenever I want, and I want it to be when I am just about to put Owen to bed. Ta-da! Thirty minutes a day where both kids are, if not sleeping, at least not climbing all over me and sticking boogers on my cheeks.

***************

Does anybody know how to get my kid to stop eating the coffee table?

Two sick kids, no sleep, shut up

You people crack me up. I do this whole post about how I ain't never gonna Twitter, and a bunch of you go and follow me on Twitter. I'm up to 76 now. I mean, even my own husband did it, and he certainly gets more than enough of me as it is. You just can't help it, can you? Admitting that you have a problem is the first step.

When I first started reading blogs, one of the very first posts I read was all about how the author liked soup. Soup. 500 words on soup. And not even 500 inspired words on soup, but just "hey, I like soup, it sure is tasty." It was six months before I ever read another blog, because I just don't care that much about soup. And Twitter, to me, seems like a bunch of people talking about soup, but at least they can only do 140 characters instead of 500 words. Now obviously I came around on the blog thing and there must be something to Twitter than I just don't see because you all like it so much and I know you to be smart people, but I just don't get it, and I don't think I ever will.

That said, I am torn between "Twitter is boring" and "Stop following me" for my token tweet. Actually, I am torn between "Twitter is boring" and "Stop following me" and just leaving it eternally (by which I mean another eight months or so until you all get bored with it and move onto something else because Twitter was soooooo 2008) blank as some sort of protest against dedicating so much bandwidth to soup.

Hey, is consternated a word? Spell check totally says no, but spell check also doesn't recognize contractions lately so I am beginning to doubt that spell check is the infallible modern oracle I have always presumed it to me. Anyway, I am consternated that you all said I couldn't email my ex-boyfriend. Because I totally should email him, and I didn't see how you could be so smart and still so wrong. And then I realized that I left out a few highly pertinent facts. First, we dated when I was fifteen. Fifteen! There are no skeletons in this particular closet. He wrote me some poems, we watched some tv, we went to a movie or two, and then I dumped him. That and some decidedly non-strenuous kissing was the extent of the relationship. Also, Chris met him, and his wife, years ago and when I told Chris I had found this particular ex online and was so gonna email him he didn't even look up from Twitter to register even the mildest of interest. There, see? You have changed your minds.

Finally, hey! You know what I did? I decided it would be really fun to put Owen to bed all weekend with angry and ravenous wombats in his pajamas, which is the only possible explanation for why he's accepted screaming all damned night long as his personal savior. Cruel of me, really.

I love the internet

Hey! You wanna know what I just did? I just googled my ex-boyfriends!

No seriously, I had never done it before, and it was fun. Well, a little fun. One of them is married to a woman who works with my mom, small world, etc., etc., so I get updates on him whether I want to or not. And one of them apparently does not exist in internet land, but I did find his sister who is even more gorgeous than she was in high school and therefore more gorgeous than any woman has any right to be and is also apparently a Harvard Law grad, which was also not a surprise. Her Facebook page didn't link to her brother through, mores the pity as I was curious to see whether he ever gave up the mountain man beard.

But then! With my last ex-boyfriend (yes, there were only three), I hit paydirt! I got a recent picture and where he is working and could even tell you exactly where he is right this very minute since his daily schedule at work was online. You wanna see him? Yes you do. Here:

Doesn't he look nice? Don't you just want to hug him? You do, don't you? Don't though, his lovely wife may not like it.

I was going to email him and then didn't, because while I would love to say hi I worried it would be one of those email things where we trade a few notes right away and then it gets longer and longer between emails but we feel like we ought to be keeping up and then we just feel vaguely guilty and awkward about it until we both decide to just pretend it never happened. So I didn't. But these things always get the better of me, so I probably will within the week.

On another note, I have 38 followers on Twitter. That is not notable, except that I have never twittered in my life and have never even entertained the intention of twittering. Twitter, you see, is tedious and boring. (Not that you are tedious and boring, of course, it is the medium that it tedious and boring.) There are, however, a few people who I occasionally check out on Twitter and I got the idea one day that I may at some point want to respond to something there and so I signed up, but that particular impulse died on the vine and I have never done anything on Twitter other than sign in a few minutes ago to see how many "followers" I had. And there are 38.

I get the emails periodically that someone else has started following me, and it always makes me feel a bit guilty because there is nothing there. Not that I am so exciting or I think that anyone needs any more of me (heaven knows you get more than enough of me here), but I think it must be a very minor let-down to add someone and then have them be a total blank. Also, it bothers me to think that there are 38 people out there sort of waiting for Godot, because I always hated that play.

And so, I am having a contest. I am looking for a single, what do you call it..., tweet. Just something I can put there so as not to be a total blank. And I want you to write it for me. And anybody who comes up with the best one will be responsible for what is likely to be my one and only tweet and will also win a prize specially selected by my and guaranteed not to include my half-box of unused breast pads unless you specifically request such unused breast pads and even then only if I can be reasonably assured that you want them for typical breast pad reasons and not typical pervy reasons. Not that I can imagine any pervy reasons for wanting my unused breast pads, but just because I can't doesn't mean you can't.

It seems you have two missions:

1) Write me a tweet.
2) Tell me I should email my ex-boyfriend.

Go!

(P.S. Did you know that they have Cool Whip in a spray can? WHY DIDN'T ANYBODY TELL ME???)

Slam-dunk

Dear Senator Obama,

Last night over dinner my husband and I were talking to our three-year-old daughter about the final debate and trying to explain what the election was and why we would be voting for Mr. Obama instead of Mr. McCain. My daughter doesn't know much about politics, but she knows about rhyming. Ok no, she doesn't know anything about rhyming, but she is obsessed with trying to master the concept, and that is why she came up with a new slogan for your campaign that I am sure you will want to begin to use exclusively. I am so sure you will love this new slogan and want to launch it immediately that I have taken the step of having my talented husband design a new poster for you, suitable for mass distribution. We will not discuss what I have had to pay my husband for his design services, although I am fairly certain it is not regulated by campaign finance laws. Anyway, as you are busy I will cut to the chase and present your new slogan. You may thank me later with an appropriate cabinet-level position. Possibly Secretary of Brownies?

Kind regards,
Beth Fish

Owen Wednesday #33: Brothers and Sisters Edition

Mia was so bored.

Sob

My beloved $300 laptop has blue screened on me six times in the last four hours. Am despondent. Also, it ate my post for today, so now you are despondent. Let's all hug and drink heavily and try to make it through this difficult time.

Owen, Month Eight

Sweet Owen,

You are eight months old and a man on the move. You made your first few tentative "steps" in a full-on, tummy-up crawl position last week, and since then there is no stopping you from getting where you want to go. You still usually squirm, roll and belly flop until you reach your goal, but when the prize is good enough (a pint-sized basketball, the remote, the vacuum) you hike yourself up and crawl, really crawl.

You are a noisy little bugger these days. You squeak and chirp and squeal and babble and sing. You talk to anyone who makes eye contact, and often also to anyone who doesn't. You especially like to talk to my breasts when I am trying to feed you and will sometimes babble away so long that you forget to eat and just wander off instead. You sometimes keep going even while you are eating and I have to remind you not to talk with your mouth full. You have two distinct laughs: your normal, baby-sounding laugh, and your laugh reserved for things that are especially hilarious or when you get your hands on something you know you aren't supposed to have. The second one sounds like a pissed-off squirrel.

When asked, you can locate Mommy, Daddy, Mia and blocks. You love socks, toes, hair, balls, anything with push buttons, computers, and the bubble screen saver on Daddy's laptop. You love to stand up, either holding onto someone or clinging to a piece of furniture and can even stand unassisted for a few seconds until the wiggles get the better of you. You are turning into a daredevil and love to be thrown in the air, spun in circles, flipped upside down, and bounced bounced bounced until your bouncer collapses in exhaustion. One of your favorite things is when I hold your hands and put your feet on top of my own and "walk" you around the house.

You have six hard-won teeth and all indications are that at least two more are on the horizon. Your hair is long enough that most of it has started to lie down, and depending on the light it ranges from white to medium blond. Your eyes are the same clear blue they've been since birth, giving you a strong resemblance to any of a number of your male ancestors. There is a family war raging about who you most resemble and who, exactly, was the source of those eyes.

You love pureed green beans, which are disgusting but there is no accounting for taste. You gnawed your way through an apple slice this month as well as a couple containers of puffs and the occasional bit of cracker you found on the floor.

You were definitely a Mommy's boy this month. The combination of teething and separation anxiety combined to make Mommy's arms the only acceptable place to be. You are sometimes content to play on the floor and even, if you are quite sure that Mommy is nowhere around and therefore not an option, happy enough to play with someone else. But you have spent most of your time glued to my hip with your fingers jammed in my hair or my ear or my mouth and protesting loudly and longly if I dare remove you from your perch.

I have decided that I will no longer discuss your sleep habits with anyone other than your father and your doctor, because nobody else cares, they just want to feel superior. (Or else, I'm a little bitter.) Suffice it to say that it could be better, but also it could be worse and we are all making it through and most of the time getting nearly enough sleep, so good enough.

Baby boy, you are huge, an absolute beast. We grow 'em big, it seems. But where your sister was so fat that she could hide things in her fat rolls, you are just large and solid. Not skinny, to be sure, but not all that chubby either. Just long and thick and dense and back-breakingly heavy. And since I carry you around all day, I have you to thank for my killer biceps.

My secret squirrel, this has been a hard month on all of us. You and Mia have both been especially needy these past few weeks, and it has made all of us a little worn out and a little grumpy and a little short-tempered. I worry sometimes that you are suffering for being the second born, but when you curl up under my chin with your hand on my cheek and coo yourself to sleep, I suppose that you must be muddling through and we must be doing all right after all.

Nine, and counting

I've been trying to explain to Mia that it is Mommy and Daddy's anniversary today. She says, "What's anniversary?" And I say, "Mommy and Daddy got married nine years ago today." She says, "Was I there?" And I say, "No, honey, you weren't born yet."

So she thinks for a minute, and says, "I got married six years ago to Carly. You weren't born yet." And I say, "Oh?"

She thinks for another minute and says, "What's married?" And I say, "Married is when you are a grown up and you love someone and you want to make them part of your family so you decide to put up with each other's crap for the rest of your natural lives.*" She says, "Can I get married too?" And I say, "Yes, if you want to, when you are a grown up." She says, "When I'm eight?" And I say, "A little older than eight."

She says, "Can I marry Daddy?" And I say, "No, babe. I already married Daddy, and I don't intend to let him go."

She says, "That's selfish. Is that selfish, Mommy?"

Indeed it is.

* I didn't really say that last bit, give me a little credit.

Owen Wednesday #32: The Teeth Edition

Unsteady

We've taken three giant steps back on the preschool front. Things had been getting better, Mia was calmer about it, less stressed, less crying. And then we found out last week that, while she has stopped crying at home, she has not stopped crying at school. And rather than varying between slightly willing to go to school and nearly enthusiastic about it, she has returned to saying she doesn't want to go and breaking down in tears when I drop her off. And I watch all this and think to myself, oh my god, I'm ruining her life!

But then she comes home and spends the rest of the week playing "preschool" with her Little People and stuffed animals. And it isn't a preschool where all the children sit around and cry. They read books and play on the playground and have snack and play games and miss their mommies a little bit but still manage to have fun. So then I think that preschool really is a positive experience after all. Or she spends half an hour in the car ignoring her screaming brother to tell us jokes of her own creation ("Next time won't you eat a house! Next time won't you eat a piece of mulch!") and cracks herself up so hard that half the time she can't even get the words out. So I think hey, this kid is totally ok. She's happy, she's fine, and preschool is good for her.

But I just don't know. I think that preschool is good for her, I think it will ultimately be a really positive experience, I think that we chose the right place to help her through this in a loving and caring way, I think that pulling her out would just reinforce her fears of the world beyond Mommy and I think continuing to tough it out is the way to go. But I'm just guessing here, and I've really got very little to go on and maybe instead of helping her overcome her insecurities I really am ruining her life?

Meanwhile, Owen, oh sweet, happy, charming Owen, has turned into a beast. He has all these teeth that just won't give him a break (canines appear to be on the horizon) and he's in the throes of separation anxiety so severe that he requires constant, full-body Mommy contact else he screams and sobs. And he's so close to crawling, but can't quite do it yet and it pisses him off royally. And I keep refusing to give him pizza. So he cries all day, mostly, breaking only to bite me often and hard or to take an occasional 30 minute nap, but never when his sister is sleeping.

So I spend most of my days bouncing between two sobbing, howling children and trying to help them both and doing right by neither. When I finally get them (usually temporarily) to sleep at night, there's the dishwasher to unload and the laundry to sort and fold and the toys to corral so you can walk through my house without tripping on a glass slipper and falling to your death. It feels, often, like bailing a sinking ship with a sieve.

I've developed a mantra, of sorts. May these be the biggest problems my children ever have. May this be the hardest part of my life. It doesn't help, really, but it is humbling enough to occasionally gain some perspective.

Neener neener

Oh yeah, I totally had dinner last night with Aimee Greeblemonkey and you didn't! Or actually, maybe you did, since we had the kids and therefore had dinner at 4:15 or something, it is entirely possible that Aimee met normal people later and had dinner again.

We went for tapas, and I remembered yesterday that the last time we met blog friends for tapas we were both pregnant within a month. I warned Aimee and she was pretty sure that she's covered, but Chris will be in the guest room until New Year's, just to be safe.

Owen Wednesday (Shut UP!) #31: Everybody Needs a Naked Baby Edition

Um, mom? You aren't really going to post a picture of me naked on the internet, are you? I mean, someday I'm going to have a girlfriend or something and I'll hate you for showing her my butt. Seriously, don't even think about it. I mean it. I'm not kidding here.

Dear Owen - That's for biting me eight hundred times this week. Take that. Love, Mom.

Oh yeah! Well fine then. I just peed on the rug. Take that!

So yeah, he wins. Also, Owen is prepping for his stint on MTV Cribs. Here he is kicking back with his homies.

Finally, I've started a new paid blogging gig which will interest only a very few of you. If you are D.C. Metro and have young kids, check it out for ideas for mostly local things to do with the kiddos. If you aren't local, but just want to check out my first post and tell me how much you love me (you can lie, I'm cool with that), it would help make up for the fact that the children have been incredibly challenging this week and I am still on antibiotics and can't have any wine. And if you just want to help me make it through the Princess Years, you can offer your tips here. And now I'll not mention it again. Or at least, not much.