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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You think, I shop

Alrighty people, I know I only use this blog anymore to get you to think so I don't have to, but that isn't going to stop me from doing it again. My brother and his lovely wife are expecting their second baby in October (OMG! NIECE! NIECE! NIECE! NIECE! NIECE! I am about to have a brand new NIECE! I am slightly excited.). I need a second-baby gift. They already have one daughter, and I give them every scrap of Mia's clothes that isn't so stained it isn't even fit to use for rags, so I feel that giving clothes would be carrying coals to Newcastle. I would like to give a baby blanket with her name embroidered on it, which I also gave to my extant niece, but THEY WON"T TELL ME HER NAME! Which is really damned rude, even though it is exactly the same thing I did twice. My standard second-baby gift is a tasteful selection of size one diapers, but since this is my NIECE I would like to do slightly better than that.

And that's where you come in. What did you really need for the second baby? What was totally worn out from kid #1, or what helped you manage with two kids, or what was just fun to have brand new instead of reused from last time?

And on a completely unrelated note, a Mia moment that I feel has to be shared with the world. At dinner the other night, Mia told me to "cross Salmon-I-Am off the list." To which I replied, "huh?" And she said, "My kids [her imaginary friends] don't like Salmon-I-Am, cross it off the list." She meant, of course, that her kids don't like salmon and it should be crossed off the list of acceptable foods. But come on, Salmon-I-Am? I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Salmon-I-Am. This is an awesome kid.

Insert Obligatory Cell Phone Picture Here

The best I can recall, given that it was five years ago, the last concert I attended was Hootie and the Blowfish. Don't judge, please. I went along with someone who had an extra ticket, and I like to go out and will go just about anywhere and do anything that isn't sitting in my living room.

Last night saw my triumphant return to concert-going, and at the same venue.

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This picture didn't come out nearly as well as the ones I took of the eight couples directly in front of me who spent the whole concert making out, but nobody needs to see that, so I'll spare you.

Oh, it was the Black Crowes, and while it sounded to me like they played the same three songs over and over and every song had a 15 minute jam session in the middle, it was still a decent show and a nice night and an excellent use of a babysitter. We even went with another couple, like actual grown-ups or something.

And now, if you will excuse me, we have five playdates in the next four days and the first one is arriving in 15 minutes.

Further advice needed

Dear Internet,

Thank you for you pit stank recommendations on last week's post. I passed them along to my friend, and she told me that she has been considering consulting a doctor about this, as several of you suggested. However, my friend has a problem with doing that, and I told her I would throw it back to you guys for more advice, since you are all so smart.

So, you know how when you want to go to the doctor you call them and tell the receptionist you want an appointment and she asks why? My friend hates that. I mean, if you need an appointment because you think you have strep throat, that is one thing, but what if your concern is of a more personal nature and discussing it with the doctor is going to be bad enough and you don't really want to get into it with the rude woman answering the phones? And then, once you get the appointment and you go in, you have to fill out some stupid form and then you have to tell the nurse in some detail why you are there and, while she is willing to have me discuss her stanky pits with the entire internet, my friend is not so excited about having quite so many live and in person conversations about it. And my friend wishes that she were the type of woman who, when asked this question, could just say "Oh Honey, I have the stankiest pits that have ever stanked a stank, and I need Dr. Whosiwhatsis to hook me up with some of the good stuff," she just isn't the kind of woman who can be so brash and unembarrassed about it, and that is, frankly, preventing her from making an appointment. She has considered the option of just bringing it up the next time she is in, but my friend is blessed with overall good health and rarely feels the need to consult a doctor for herself.

So, how does one do this, do you think? You know, so I can tell my friend.

In other news, this is how my driveway looked at 8 AM Saturday morning:

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And this is how it looked at 4 PM Saturday afternoon:

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I spent the whole day thinking of Anne Lamott, except that instead of "Bird by Bird" it was "Wheelbarrow by Wheelbarrow." Someday when the children are screaming that they hate me, I will remind them of the time we hauled 25 yards of mulch (that's 12 and a half pickup trucks worth) from the driveway to the backyard to protect their precious heads and bones and teeth when they decided to fling themselves from the top of what turned out to be the distressingly expensive playset. I'm sure they will keep right on screaming that they hate me, but at least I will feel better about it.

(Please excuse my poor Photoshopping skillz, but I am just paranoid enough to not put a picture of my car on the internet.)

Friday Random

My shopping list for today

  • strawberries
  • swim diapers
  • wheelbarrow

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I bought a couple pairs of capris at the beginning of the summer, since I was too thin for the fat pants I bought last year (hallelujah), and there was this one pair that I never wore because they needed to be ironed and I iron about four times a year. They have these turn-up cuffs with these loop things that you button to hold the cuffs in place, and you really need to turn the cuffs and iron them or else they look awful. Anyway, I decided to go ahead and iron them a couple of weeks ago so I could wear them once more before it snows, and I couldn't find them. They weren't in the ironing pile, weren't in my closet, weren't in Chris's closet or any of our drawers. I was flummoxed. So then today, I was going to add my missing pants to my random post, and as I was sitting on the floor with the kids, Owen reached up the leg of my pants and started playing with something. That something turned out to be the loop that holds the cuffs up. I was wearing my missing pants, and have been all summer, and didn't know it. I know this is a very dull anecdote, but it is a rather excellent exemplar of how my brain has ceased to function in the past four years.

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We are having 25 yards of mulch delivered today. That, my friends, is a lot of mulch. Who wants to come over tomorrow and help put it around the swingset? BYOW (bring your own wheelbarrow, we have plenty of beer).

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I have a friend who, during the summer, develops a rather perturbing pit stank issue. This is strange, in that she is in all other respects a delicate flowers. She recently tried a new anti-perspirant, which the internet recommended to her a few months ago, and it seems to be working. However, it also stings like a bitch and is giving her a nasty pit rash. So, reduced pit stank vs. pain and bumpiness. She's having a hard time choosing, really. What do you think she should do?

Owen, Month 18

Sweet Owen,

You are eighteen months old. I just re-read your seventeen month letter, and I am tempted to just say "ditto, and then some" and stop typing. You have devoted the past month to honing and perfecting your new skills. You can walk down the stairs just like a big boy without holding onto anything, at least until you miss your footing and go plummeting into Mama's arms. You are all about the sentences, Dada's shoes, Owen's turn, baby's beer (that one was shot down, sorry). You say and sign please when prompted and sometimes even on your own, say and sign thank you when told to, and now say and sign sorry when you are sprung from Baby Jail.

Oh yes, Baby Jail is back. You love to pull Mia's hair, pull her clothes, pinch her, bite her, and hit her, and it is either let her beat the tar out of you until you get some sense in that adorable little head of yours or shove you in Baby Jail for a minute or two while you chill out. At first you screamed your head off every second. Now you scream for a bit, wait quietly for the end of your sentence, offer a sincere apology, and then usually go right back to committing whatever crime landed you in jail in the first place.

You are incorrigible. You never met a "no" you couldn't ignore or a rule you couldn't break. The bungee cords tying the chairs down are no longer enough to keep you from climbing onto the kitchen table, and I'm thinking I'm going to have to just remove them and we will all eat standing up. When we go to our Mommy & Me class, all the other toddlers sit quietly in the circle and clap when told to and play nicely with their bouncy balls while you careen around the room like a drunken maniac and comply with the assigned activity only when it involves high fives or bubbles. To get around the ban on biting, you give toothy zerberts instead and then offer a wicked grin since you know you are technically just barely on the right side of the law.

You are 32.5 inches tall and weigh 25 pounds 5 ounces. You eat just about everything, sooner or later. Any fruit, most vegetables (you've even given asparagus a couple of shots), nuts, cheese, pasta, and you love the samosas we order from a local restaurant. In fact, last time we ordered them I didn't get any because you ate all of mine. You love anything you can dip into something else, as long as Mommy does it first, even spicy samosa dip and very vinegary salad dressing. You like to eat anywhere other than your high chair, but the best place is Mia's chair, which annoys her no end. You like to stand below the cabinets where you know the treats are stored and beg for a cookie. You also like to pretend that you really want an approved snack stored on a different shelf, get a boost up so you can survey your options, and then lunge for an M&M.

You are the king of the tantrums lately. When Mama says no cookie you stand in the kitchen and scream. When you want to go outside you cling to the doorknob and scream. When Mama says you may not pull everything out of the refrigerator and throw it as hard as you can to the floor to see if it comes open you scream. I tend to ignore you, since intervention is always unsuccessful, and these tantrums invariably end with you running for me at top speed, jumping into my arms, curling yourself up in a tight fetal position and trying to burrow directly into my neck. I hate the tantrums, but it is nice to have a reminder that even for a desperately independent little boy who can do absolutely everything himself, thank you very much, sometimes a big hug from Mama and wiping your nose on her shirt is the one thing that makes it all better.

The biggest tantrums though are when you get up in the morning and Mia is still in bed. You are willing to give her a few minutes, and after that you just stand at the bottom of the stairs and scream her name until she wakes up and comes to play with you. Your sister hung the moon and the stars, and she adores you too. I hope we will be so lucky that you will always feel this way about each other, but if not, then I hope you at least get back to it later in life. You are old enough now that you guys can play together a bit, and every time I see it it makes my heart grow three sizes.

You are very interested in identifying body parts - ears, eyes, nose, teeth, mouth, hair, hands, toes, tummy, and bottom, for which, rather than pointing, you shake that little booty and giggle with glee. You have the greatest smile to ever grace a face. Your eyes remain as electric cornflower blue as ever, and a summer in the sun has rendered your already-white hair a neon-glowing dandelion gone to seed. Your arms and legs have thinned out considerably, but you still push an impressive pot belly ahead of you everywhere you go. The backs of your ears are like tiny little pockets of milky, minky softness, and the folds of your neck right below those ears are the most delicious smelling things in the world.

Love,
Mama

Tunnel, Possible Light at the End Thereof

Owen, age eighteen months and one week, slept through the night last night. Ten hours. First time ever. I'm feeling an unbridled optimism such as I haven't known since Mia pulled the same trick at 20 months.

Also, I'm thinking of writing one of those helpful baby sleep books: How to Get Your Baby to Sleep in Two Years or Less. I think it will be a huge seller.

Beth Goes to the Dentist, and Other Stories

Mia and I went to the dentist today, and my the internal monologue accompanying my bi-annual re-acquaintance with my dentist went something like this:

  • Damn, my dentist is sort of hot.
  • No, my dentist is undeniably hot.
  • Why didn't I remember that my dentist was hot?
  • This is the sort of thing one would remember.
  • I mean, he's been my dentist for a couple of years now.
  • And yeah, definitely hot.
  • How could I have missed this?
  • (My dentist begins speaking.)
  • Damn, my dentist is sort of annoying.
  • No, my dentist is undeniably annoying.
  • The annoying totally counteracts the hotness.
  • My dentist is not hot.

Probably for the best anyway, as I suspect there is some sort of One Hot Medical Professional Per Person quota system, and I'd rather use mine on someone I see regularly, like, say, a pediatrician, maybe, instead of on someone I see just twice a year.

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In other news, Chris sent me to have a massage on Monday (and then he cooked me dinner) (no, you can't have him), and the massage guy told me I was getting a "Swedish massage with peripherals." I was pretty shocked, really, as this was at a national chain spa and also it seemed out of character for Chris to arrange for me to get "peripherals" from some random dude, but then it turned out that it was really just a warm towel for my feet and crap like that. I suggested they be more specific in future, just to avoid this kind of confusion.

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In the past week, Owen has learned how to turn doorknobs, remove "child-proof" plugs from outlets, and operate two separate kinds of cabinet locks. So when I'm not using him I just duct tape him to the couch. Works out very well.

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Quick Quiz! Looking up property tax records for old boyfriends to see how much they paid for their houses is:
a) harmless curiosity
b) the sign of really needing a life
c) stalking
d) you can do that? Sorry, I gotta go.

Pediatrician, by the numbers

Pounds gained in past year by child who does not eat: 7

Inches grown in past year by child who does not eat: 2

Pounds gained in past three months by child who does eat: 0

Inches grown in past three months by child who does eat: 0

Injections administered to screaming children: 6

Number of band-aids immediately removed from injection sites and eaten: 2

Number of specially-selected and purchased for the occasion princess and fairy band-aids applied: 4

Number of times the Hotty Pediatrician confessed his undying love in an unfortunate and embarrassing but also rather flattering manner: 0

Number of years it has taken for the Hotty Pediatrician to make actual eye contact with me on a somewhat regular basis: 4

Number of chemical-laden chocolate milkshakes the size of younger child's leg procured as food-is-love compensation for above-mentioned injections: 1

Number of times younger child has screamed Empty! More! after consuming his allotted three gulps of milkshake: 946

Number of strawberries placed on plates alongside chemical-laden french fries in an effort to pretend this is a healthy lunch: 5

Number of strawberries consumed: Who do I think I'm kidding?

Number of french fries this dieting Mommy has consumed so far: 0

Number of cold, ultimately disappointing and not worth it french fries I will likely cram into my mouth during naptime: 40

Hate mail

Dear Disney,

I hate you. I hate your message. I hate the way you scramble and scrounge to market your schlock directly to two-year-olds who don't know any better. I hate the way you've given all of your princesses eye lifts and cheek implants and boob jobs so that they resemble a troupe of sixteen-year-old strippers with poor taste in eye shadow. I hate "Any Girl Can be a Princess." How about "Any Girl Can go to College" or "Any Girl Can Learn a Useful Skill" or even "Any Girl Can be Kind and Caring and Generous and Not Worry About Clothes and Boys." I hate that you have the undivided attention of so many little girls, including my own, and you use it to deliver such a purely negative message. And I hate what you've done to Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland.

However, I do appreciate that you don't put ads in front of your On Demand shows, or in the middle of your On Demand shows. So congratulations, Disney, I hate you, but I hate Nickelodeon a little more.

Warm regards,
Beth Fish

Shameful admission

There comes a point in almost every relationship where the other person turns to you and asks what is, for me, the Great Dreaded Question. No, not politics, not religion, not whether you believe high fructose corn syrup is in actual fact the anti-Christ. My Great Dreaded Question is this: "So, what kind of music do you listen to."

Seems innocuous, doesn't it. But I have no response.

I've always enjoyed music, was pretty heavily involved in the performance thereof during my childhood and adolescence, and to this day, thanks to the vagaries of memory, can still sing in eight languages. But I've never been "into" music. In high school, when the boy I was madly in love with was waxing rhapsodic about Morrissey, I told people I thought Morrisey was the shit. (Don't think I've ever actually listened to Morrissey, at least not knowingly.) When the guy I was dating was into the Grateful Dead, lo and behold I was into the Grateful Dead. When the guy I was dating was a huge fan of The Replacements, I refused to even listen to their music and instead just mocked their name. (Like that little relationship wasn't doomed from the start.) Left to my own devices, I listened to show tunes, Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel. You know, stuff my parents had around, mostly. I was an innocent. I was busy with other things. I never felt the need to rebel through music. (Since my entire family reads this blog, and since I never got caught, we will leave the ways in which I did rebel shrouded in the mysterious fogs of history.)

Ok, I wasn't totally under a rock. I went to college singing Hunger Strike and Wooden Jesus, and once freshman year had a guy tell me I was the sexiest woman he had ever met because I knew all the words to Ten. But still, I listened to whatever was on, liked some, didn't like some other, didn't really care.

And then I met Chris. Chris who is, I don't know, what's the music equivalent of a foodie? Music is critical to him. He's deeply involved in it, he listens deeply and broadly and intelligently. He collects facts and figures. He has ideas and critiques and entire philosophies about music, and he's a rock star guitarist to boot. And he married me, and I never did and still don't much care.

But it seemed to raise the stakes for me, so that the Great Dreaded Question is even more dreaded. For a while, I answered by exclusion. "Well, I don't care for Country." Then I would try to make an effort and name something I had heard recently and liked. Until the day I offered up Sarah McLaughlin and was soundly mocked and ridiculed (by a loser, but still). It was then that I realized that this question isn't, or isn't entirely, about a swapping of musical tastes and suggestions, but instead is often a social barometer. Do we have something in common? Do you have good (as in, similar to mine) taste? Are you cool enough to talk to me?

I can't handle the pressure. The truth is that I can't even self-select music. The music on my iPod is whatever Chris puts there. I open up iTunes and am so overwhelmed (it is Chris's music, I assure you that it is overwhelming) that I just close it again. How am I supposed to find what I like? How I am supposed to find that one song I want when I don't know the title or the artist of the chorus but only that one line I loved that got caught in some grate in my head while all the rest went sluicing down the drain? What kind of statement is this music or that music making about me? I don't generally care what statement I am making, but it makes me uneasy to not have any concept about what it is.

When people ask me these days what kind of music I listen to, I tell the truth. Backyardigans, princess music, and the soundtrack for movies and musicals that Mia has seen. Mia is currently the sole arbiter of my taste. But someday, I won't have the children to fall back on any longer, and I will once again feel the need to run from any and all small talk, for fear of hearing The Question.

So instead, this is my confession. Hi, my name is Beth, and I don't care all that much about music.

Suburban Bliss

We told Mia in April that she would have a swingset in the backyard this summer, and after blowing several promised delivery dates (Mommy learned a lesson there, oh yes), we have finally delivered.

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Now, who wants to come over and play?