Monday, October 31, 2011

It's because he makes a lot of mischief when he wears it

I'm not sure I'm ever going to get this costume off of him.  He slept in it Saturday night.  (Also, we're now referring to it as his Max costume.  I'll let you figure out why.)



And today:

Adele isn't quite as enthusiastic about her costume, but she's still a trooper.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Homemade Friday: Gramps Cardigan

I’ve said it before, and, knowing me and my habit of repeating myself over and over again, I’ll probably say it again.

Baby sweaters are so awesome to knit.  It’s almost like instant gratification in that it takes such a short amount of time compared to grown-up sweaters.  Plus any mistakes on the fit don’t really matter, unless it’s ridiculously too small.  But if only a little small, no big deal.  And if it’s too big, well, they’ll just grow into it.

I apologize for the crappy picture.  I was already 30 minutes late
to the shower when I realized I hadn't taken a picture of the finished
product.  But you get the idea.

And even the fiddly ones are a joy to knit because you know that the end result will be worth it, unlike several fiddly grown-up sweaters I’ve ripped apart because they just weren’t working.

This particular sweater, the Gramps Cardigan from Tot Toppers, I knit for a friend, Amanda, who’s baby is due the end of November.  Little Thad will need something to keep him warm since he’s making his appearance in late autumn, right?  

The pattern was pretty straightforward and I think I only had to pull it apart and reknit it once, so that’s helpful. 

I started and finished it months ago so my memory is a little hazy.  But I can tell you that this is a sweater that gave me lots of pleasure to knit.  It’s so sophisticated and soft and little.  It's detailed without being overdone.  I knit the newborn size, but as always my gauge is a little larger than most.  Also, I don’t like to knit swatches to check my gauge.  Am lazy.  So this may not fit him right away, but that’s okay.  He’ll grow into it.

I’ll probably end up knitting one for each of my kids, too, once I get done knitting my must-knits.  Christmas is coming up, you know.

Yarn is my go-to baby sweater yarn, Knitpicks Shine Sport in willow. 

I love this little sweater.  And I can’t wait to see the little guy in it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I’m beginning to think too many of my stories begin with “This one time when I was really drunk …”

I got out of bed a couple of nights ago after learning via twitter that the northern lights were visible in the south.  I didn’t actually make it outside, however, as I was scared just walking through my darkened house by myself.  You know, on account of the zombies.

I have a, shall we say, vivid imagination.  I picture bad things happening and can visualize the end result.  ‘The Walking Dead’ is not helping with my comfort levels.  But luckily those zombies can’t bust through locked doors.  Obviously this means that all zombies cannot burst through locked doors so at least there’s that.

I stopped watching scary movies after ‘The Ring.’  That thing freaked me out FOR YEARS after I watched it.  And that was it.  I made it a personal goal never to watch scary things again.  I’ve since become a little lax on that mantra, preferring to take every show and movie as it comes.  But basically I avoid torture porn.  And any preview for the ‘Paranormal’ movies.  I mean it.  If it's on and I can't change the channel I'll either leave the room or plug my ears, close my eyes and sing 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.'  Cause that’s just messed up.

But ‘The Ring,’ man.  I don't even remember what it was about exactly.  It's possible I blocked it out.  One time when Chris was off gallivanting in Alaska and I was by myself, pre-children, I drank a whole bottle of wine.  (I was lonely.  Don’t judge.)  After going to bed I woke up in the middle of the night to pee (because of the wine).  I didn’t turn on any lights because I didn’t want to wake myself up and so left the bathroom door open so I wouldn’t be in complete darkness. 

And I saw her. 

Well, really, I visualized what it would be like to see her when I was completely alone and also drunk and then I saw her.  VIVIDLY.  Crawling in the hallway outside my bathroom door.  I had to picture myself stepping over her to leave the bathroom because even in my drunken stupor-induced hallucinations I have to be correct and literal.  I made it back to my bed, shut my eyes, pulled the covers over my head and pretended like I hadn’t just had a mental breakdown.

This was at least three years after seeing the movie.

Even now I’ve just worked myself up writing about it.

When I was little my parents let me watch ‘Critters.’  Have you seen this movie?  Little alien porcupines come to earth and eat people.  High cinema, is what I'm saying.  At one point a demon porcupine is under the bed of one of the characters.  So yeah, limbs are not allowed to hang over the side of the bed to this day.  They get tingly and I imagine something reaching up to take a nibble.  (Thanks guys.) 

Also, I saw ‘Jaws 3’ when I was 7 or 8.  Thus began my fear of the water and my shark nightmares.  We had a window in our bathroom and while taking a bath I’d picture the whole house as being under water with a giant shark swimming past.  Sometimes they’d come up out of the drain.

I'm still traumatized by a dream I had as a kid.  My mom was swimming in a large indoor pool and for some reason she had extra-long Crystal Gayle hair.  An orca began swimming behind her and the water turned bloody.  She got out of the water and was shorter, like that grandfather on ‘King of the Hill’ who had his shins blown off.  She still had her feet but she’d lost her shins. 

That’s weird, right?

So water is another of my fears.  I just can’t stop thinking that there is an entire world underneath, one that I’m not able to sufficiently run away from if the need arose.  Like, can you really out-swim a shark?  And if you’re dragged underwater by a giant manatee (Shut up.  They’re freaky.) there’s only a certain amount of time you have to get away until you run out of breath.

Plus there are so many different species of fish and such under there that I’ve never even heard of, many with teeth.

I tried to go scuba-diving with Christopher once in a lake where we shared a tank of air and I used one of his extra mouthpiece/hose things.  My body just wouldn’t work.  I couldn’t sink, for one (that could have been because of the extra layers of cushion I’ve got, but I’m going to say it’s because of the fear).  And I started hyperventilating and popped right back up to the surface.

So you see, I’m the type of person who scares herself into thinking a shark is swimming behind her in a pool.  Obviously I have to just climb out at that point.

Welcome to my crazies.  Let me show them to you.

My first birthday.  Also probably the last time I was without fear.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Motherhood & More: It's OK to take a mommy break*

My parents have said the first time my older-by-two-years sister stayed the night away from them was the night I was born.

I … did not wait that long.

I had no set date for when I would allow my son, my first baby, to stay the night away from us. I figured it would be awhile, maybe a couple years, like my parents.

The night he was born I insisted on having him in the room with me because that was what I thought I was supposed to do. It made no difference that I hadn’t had any sleep the night before, as I was writhing around in pain and, you know, laboring. No, I was a mom now, which meant sacrifice and, basically, torture.

So of course my new little bundle of joy was a screamer. He wanted to be held and refused to sleep in his basinet beside me. I was terrified to fall asleep holding him because of all the horror stories of suffocation and dropping and whatnot. And so I attempted to stay awake, upright, holding a newborn.

I think I gave up at 3 a.m. and rang for the nurse. She took him away and I was blissfully slumbering for at least a couple hours until she brought him back to eat.

That was my first guilt-inducing decision as a mother.

But still, after that, through the months of no sleep, I didn’t ask for the help I needed. It’s hard to admit you need a break from your children because so many people, even, unfortunately, other mothers, are quick to judge you as lacking in the parental skills department. But there it is.

I need a break from my children.

I need a break from the constant neediness, the behind wiping, the feeding, the cleaning up after, the arguing with, all of it. All of it.

But as a new parent, I felt guilty. And as I said, I didn’t ask for help until Sebastian was almost 1 year old. He stayed with my mother overnight, and was fine. Everything was fine. He was happy to see me when I picked him up but enjoyed his spoiling. And my husband and I were able to focus on ourselves for just a little bit. We were able to reconnect and talk about something other than dirty diapers and tooth development.

By the time my daughter was born I was an old pro. She was sent to the nursery the first night she was born so I could attempt to sleep. And I think she was around 3 months old when I asked my mom to watch her overnight.

I wanted and needed a break.

That’s totally OK, no matter what anyone else says. And while I might not approve of my husband’s idea of sending the kids off to grandparents every other weekend, I might consider every third week.

Being a mother is hard. Being a parent is hard. Let’s not make it any harder on ourselves than it has to be.
If you have someone or something available to make life easier, then take advantage.

And please, please don’t feel guilty.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on October 26, 2011. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Random Monday: In which I discuss accidental self harm

1.      I accidentally just punched myself in the nose.  Hard.

2.      I mean really hard.  Hard enough to bring tears to my eyes and have me checking over and over again to see if it was bleeding.

3.      It wasn't.

4.      This, of course, was after I’d knocked my temple on the corner of one of our cabinets hard enough to make me see stars.  I have a long, thin knot on my head now.

5.      I always wondered what it would be like to see stars.  

6.      Now I know.  Kind of sucks.

7.      I think I have an inner ear problem that is upsetting my balance.  I also get dizzy whenever I put my head down.

8.      Maybe I should get that checked out.

9.      Usually everything happens in threes – Three deaths, three weird, unexplainable occurrences, three painful, idiotic, accidental self-injuries.

10.  I’ll probably lose a limb next.

11.  I love these random posts because I don’t have to be linear.

12.  Not that I necessarily am any other day, but at least on these days I don’t have to pretend.

13.  Like, I could start talking about cheese now if I wanted to.

14.  I don’t.

15.  I could also talk about that time I was 7 and broke my front tooth by running face first into a metal basketball pole.

16.  There was no blood then, either.

17.  I was playing tag and it was base.

18.  Obviously I’ve had this self-diagnosed inner ear problem for years now.

19.  So what’s your favorite cheese?

20.  I’m not sure I could narrow it down.  I’m a fan of most cheeses.

21.  Except Limburger.  

22.  I bought it one time because I’d never had it before.

23.  It made our whole refrigerator smell like ass.  

24.  Literally.

25.  Hey!  Look at my cute kids.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I also have a picture of her daughter but thought posting it would be mean

I had a fourth grade teacher who hated my guts.  (Apparently I have an issue with teachers.)

No, really.  Just ask my mom. 

My parents were never one to blindly believe what we said regarding persons of authority, and usually the authority figures won out in the ‘who’s right’ contest. 

But this woman was so nuts even my mom agreed.  She had a personal vendetta against me and I never quite figured out why, unless you count me ‘going’ with the boy her also-9-year-old daughter liked and occasionally ‘went’ with as well.

Evil (also - girl eating a banana.  Her name was Tess)

His name was Steven and he was kind of dreamy, dark hair, dark eyes, perpetually tanned skin.  Also a little bit of a man-whore.  As much as being 9 would allow.

True story – when he broke up with me one time (because I think we broke up and got back together a total of 12 times throughout our doomed courtship) I tragically sat on the steps and sobbed because that’s what heroines who’ve lost the love of their lives do.  And these were for real sobs – loud, wailing, brutal sobs.  My mom found me there heaving and blubbering and told me that all of it wouldn’t matter when I was older.

I told her she just didn’t understand.

I can only imagine how difficult it was for her to contain her laughter.

So my teacher, Mrs. Locke, had some sanity issues and was maybe a little too involved in her daughter’s life.  Luckily this girl wasn’t in the same class as I was, but she was always there spiritually.  Mrs. Locke one time put two strikes next to another girl’s name on the punishment chart for sitting next to Steven.  Three strikes and something bad happened, like a note home to your parents or being forced to write an essay or something.    

Now I’ve mentioned my fear of authority.  But when certain authority figures reveal themselves to be crazy, nutjob, jerks then all bets are off.  I do not recognize their authority; I inwardly roll my eyes and tell them off in my head.  Sometimes I have been known to let inappropriate comments slip out because I’ve been saying them so long and so loudly inside that my mouth cannot contain what my brain is shouting.

But I’m sure I held my tongue with this woman. 


She routinely tried to embarrass me, to call on me in class, or just to find things to chastise me for.

And yet she saw fit to invite me to her daughter’s birthday party.  I’m certain it was just to try to rub it in my face that Steven was no longer my boyfriend.  And as shocked as I was to be invited, I was even more shocked to see my teacher in her own house.

That shit’s weird.  Some boundaries shouldn’t be crossed.

We went on a field trip once to My Old Kentucky Home and my mom was a chaperon.  After hours and hours of drudgery and hatefulness from this woman, finally my mom said “You’re just going to have to try to stay out of her way, Jaime.”

Wise words, Mom.  If only I didn’t have to spend all day every week day in her presence … 

Luckily the batshit insane woman left after only one year so no one else at Flaherty Elementary had to deal with her.

I think she actually did quit for ‘mental reasons.’ 

It’s hard to see the boy your daughter likes going with another girl, I guess.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

20 pounds, 8 ounces

She's gained almost a whole pound in the last month.

And I didn't even have to give her buttered apple pie.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What kind of bees make milk?*

I may have baby fever.

(Don’t tell my husband.)

This happened to me last time I weaned a baby.  Four months later I was pregnant with the second.

That will not be happening now.

Life is just starting to become easier.  We’ve hit our stride and schedules are down and I’m not ready for all that to be upended again.

But my baby is no longer my baby.  And that makes me sad.

Nursing a baby has always come easy to me.  I’m not bragging, I’m just in awe of what our bodies can do.  So from the moment I found out I was pregnant with the first I knew that I wanted to breastfeed.  I hoped that circumstances would cooperate and, if they weren’t, was prepared to freak out and consider myself an awful mother, probably the worst in the world. 

Luckily I’m not quite as dramatic as I used to be.  But, so far, that aspect of motherhood has worked out.  I nursed both kids for 13 months, through the terrible, first-stage, let’s get used to this together cry-fests and immense pain, through teething, and thus biting and immense pain, and  finally through disinterest, and immense, emotional pain.   

I dealt with that last one more with Sebastian than Adele.  He just lost interest.  Since he was in daycare he mostly took bottles of pumped milk and nursed at night and on the weekends.  Taking the bottles away was simple, and finally he was only nursing at night before he went to bed.  And then he just didn’t want to anymore.  I think part of it was he couldn't sit still long enough.  I was sad, much more so than I thought I’d be.  But I also wasn’t.  My baby was growing up, but it felt so good to have my body back after almost two years of catering to someone else. 

And then, as I said, four months later I was pregnant again.

With Adele I worried because I am home with her.  I’ve nursed her far more than her brother and I felt like it would be more of an issue, more difficult to wean her.  She seemed to rely on me more, to need me more. 

I’d started months ago making sure she was going to bed awake, that she wasn’t using me to put her to sleep, but she was still nursing at least three times a day when she was a year old.  And so gradually, I started to wean.  I began by taking out the morning nap feeding.  She also was transitioning to one nap a day at this point so I held on to the afternoon feeding a little longer, just to make things easier.  But then it was gone, too.

And so we were down to one nursing session a day, at night before she went to sleep.  I worried and fretted and stressed about ending this one.  But I shouldn’t have. 

One day, last Wednesday, I just decided that that was it.  The last one.  She would be fine.  Thirteen months was good for her brother, and 13 months was good for her, too.

And so we are done.  She’s growing up.  She no longer relies on me, physically, for sustenance. 

And I felt good the first day.  Relieved, almost.  It’s hard to not feel totally like yourself for two years, to constantly have to monitor what you eat and drink, to check medications before you take them to make sure they won’t affect your baby. 

I loved nursing, and will most definitely nurse any other children I have.  But I am happy to be finished.

And then there are those cravings. 

The craving for another tiny little one curled up close.  For the sweet, new-baby smell.  For the tiny clothes and socks and swaddle blankets.

My chest hurts when I think about it. 

I will not be having another baby soon.  At least that’s the plan.  I am not ready to give up this little bit of ease we’ve gained in the last few months, and I know my husband isn’t.

But still.  Babies.  I can’t wait to have another one.

(Don’t tell my husband.)


Friday, October 14, 2011

Homemade Friday: Kale smoothies

I have a lot of kale.  I mean a lot.  Behold: 

I actually like kale just stir-fried or mixed with tomatoes, cannellini beans and pasta, but members of my family are not quite as excited about that meal as I am.  So I needed to find a way to use up some of these monstrosities.  I do plan on chopping, blanching and freezing some, but wanted to get the most health benefits I could now while it's fresh because the freezing process takes some of that away.

Also, I've started to worry about the kids getting enough vegetables.  Most of our dinners seem to be one-pot meals where everything is cooked down, mostly because it's easier and quicker to do that.  But I don't feel like we're eating enough fresh vegetables and fruits.  It kind of sucks being the sole person responsible for the diets of young people.  I can't just feed them chicken nuggets everyday, no matter how easy it is.

And then I thought of smoothies.  I'm sure we've all heard of green smoothies.  As far as I can tell it's basically just fruit blended with greens.  And since I happen to have an abundance of greens, it all worked out perfectly.

I started Monday with a basic kale banana smoothie.  In addition to kale and bananas it has honey, milk and cinnamon. 

It was amazing.  Really, really good.

So after that I worked with kale, plain yogurt, blueberries, grapes, bananas and a little bit of honey.  The honey makes this one extra sweet, and probably isn't necessary.

You can't taste the kale at all.  Okay, I take that back, I can taste it a tiny bit, but the sweet overpowers it to the point that they complement each other. 

They've been our mid-morning snack or a part of lunch all week.  I think we'll keep it up.  

Adele loves them.

Sebastian loves them.

Chris loves them.

And most importantly, I love them.

The only problem is that the little bits of kale get stuck in your teeth so be sure to check that out before you go out in public.