Sunday, September 21, 2014

a pair of disconnected thoughts

1. There's a mom at preschool who is fully committed to early 90s fashion. It took me a little while to verify, but after observing her at morning dropoff for two weeks, I'm pretty sure she hopped off the fashion train at a station she loved somewhere around middle school and never saw the point of getting back on board. She has the big curly hair with crunchy teased bangs, big T-shirts, clunky white sneakers. I think maybe she was wearing slouch socks the other day. Her two nearly-identical blond sons sport MacGyveresque hair that is spiked on top and flirting with mulletdom in the back. They wear little denim jackets and have very 90s names along the lines of Ricky and Danny. Their school bags are even decorated with fabric paint. I find her fascinating, truthfully. First, I'm wondering where one even shops for 1994 clothes these days. (Though I used to know a girl on a message board who was stubbornly hanging onto all her clothes from middle school so she could wear them again when she finally lost weight. And all I could think was, there is no way the clothes you wore in middle school will ever be in style again. Though, I could be wrong.) Second, it's mystifying to me that she either doesn't notice that no one else is dressing this way or loves the look so much that she doesn't care. I kind of love her commitment, though. Fly your flag, preschool lady!

(And my own style is definitely "generic mom trying to find middle ground between looking decent and being comfortable," so I'm sure I shouldn't judge.)

Oh, but I got this really cute shirt at Kohls the other day and it apparently brings all the foxes to the yard. The bibliophile saw one lounging on my front lawn when she arrived for post-dinner hanging out time last Monday.

2. The other evening I got my super classy microwave pesto bowl dinner together and went to sit at the table to read while I ate it. As I was sitting down, I suddenly realized what my completely-unstaged dinnertime tableau looked like, so I had to take a photo:

It reminded me of this one time when Nico was a baby and I went through the drive through at Starbucks to get a drink. First of all, I drive a CR-V in this color. At the time, I had an apple green hoodie and Nico had a lime green blanket that I'd throw over his carseat. Though green is my favorite color, this confluence of green things was a coincidence - I didn't seek out a green car; the hoodie was from Goodwill and was my only color choice; the blanket was a gift. Anyway, the Starbucks drive through dude popped his head out the window to tell me my total and stopped. Then in this perfect Bill and Ted stoner voice he said, "Whoa...everything's" After our transaction was completed, he thanked me and then said, "Stay green!" To this day, I think of that incident every few months and laugh all over again.

Reading:  Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Playing:  a clubby mix CD from evilducky

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Here we come to a turning of the season

By the calendar autumn doesn't begin for another two weeks, but Nico officially starts his schoolyear tomorrow and that's the end of summer as far as I'm concerned. We had the best, most fun-filled summer we could've hoped for this year, and I am a little sad to see it end. Of course, fall is my favorite season and we have some really fun stuff planned, so I'm not too sad. After an unheard-of streak of awesome weather, it finally got hot and muggy and slowed us down, but we managed to see the summer off in style. We are ending this fantastic run with two kids who are looking absurdly big and leggy, leaving me with even more of a feeling of moving toward a new and interesting chapter in this great adventure of ours. I'm not in a hurry to see them grow up, but I am looking forward to seeing what surprises they have in store.

Monday, August 25, 2014

18 months

Dear Elliott,

Today you are eighteen months old! You have grown into a little force of nature these past few months. You still have cheerful moments, a wonderful giggle, and a radiant smile, but you also have this fantastic glower, intense little eyebrows, and a tiny iron will. Like me, you have a quick temper but get over it pretty fast. You occasionally throw spectacular tantrums, folding dramatically to the floor and wailing while you kick your feet. You make spectacular excited / surprised faces sometimes when things make you happy. You definitely have some words, and you understand lots more than you say. You constantly surprise me. You are mischievous and headstrong and funny and beautiful and I feel so fortunate every day that I get to be your mother.

Other things about you as you reach a year and a half...You still really love mini muffins and when you get to Grandma's in the morning, you trot right to your high chair and demand that we open the container. ("Muh! O muh!") We have to cut the muffins into quarters so you don't stuff them whole into your cheeks. You're a champion eater overall right now, and the only thing you've ever rejected is cheese pasta, even the good kind from Panera. You can drink from an open cup if someone holds it for you, and call all drinks "Ba!" whether they're in a cup or a bottle. You love to splash in water and will usually try to drink it - so far this month you have drunk from the bubble rock at the little landscaped creek we visit, the fountains at the zoo, two swimming pools, and the water room at the children's museum. At swim lessons you'll industriously paddle your little arms through the water and sometimes kick your legs. You'll take my hands and step happily off the wall during jumping-in practice. You're trying to work out how to blow bubbles and it's adorable. You're bold on slides and stairs and have seemed to enjoy our last few visits to Pump it Up. You carry flannel blankies around now, though you don't seem to have a particular favorite.

You are in some ways my mini me and in some ways wholly your own creature. You are so unexpectedly different from your brother and yet the perfect complement to him. You are smart and stubborn and sassy. We have so many adventures ahead of us, little one, and I can't wait.


Here are some photos of the other dude, too:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Muffin men

Back at the beginning of June I made some mini muffins on a whim, so that I'd have something easy and portable for Nico to eat at my desk at work each morning before summer camp started. It turns out my kids really like mini muffins. Like, really like them. They've eaten so many that I seriously considered ordering a bulk case of muffin papers from a restaurant supply company. At first I made box mixes from the store, but then I started feeling kind of guilty about it. I tried the basic plain muffin recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook with chocolate chips thrown in, but they were awful - the texture was all wrong. I'm not sure if I lost count and added and extra scoop of flour, or what. Has anyone ever used that recipe and liked it? I haven't made another attempt since I was so annoyed by the wasted supplies and work that first time.

When I can get nice zucchini, I use the Better Homes & Gardens zucchini bread recipe and add chocolate chips - the boys have no idea they're semi-healthy. I've been buying this "simple mornings" mix that claims to have no artificial ingredients for a blueberry option, though I'd still like to come up with a version I can make myself. And last night I made banana muffins from this recipe and holy cats, the house smelled AMAZING. I could easily eat the entire batch myself if I let myself get started. It's really good as bread and even better as mini muffins, it turns out. (I add a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon to the recipe since cinnamon makes everything better. Oh, and I bake all the minis for 15 minutes or so, regardless of what the recipe claims to be the correct bake time.)

I have a really good pumpkin bread recipe for when zucchini season ends, but if the children keep eating muffins like they're eating them now (four per kid, every morning), I'd love to have some more semi-healthy options. So, hit me with your favorite muffin or quick bread recipes, pretty please! Two muffin-loving small boys thank you.

Turns out if you leave two small children alone with a bowl of mini muffins, they will eat all the mini muffins.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Things coming, things going

1. O captain, my captain. What a sad news day this has been.

2. I found my ring! And happily, not in a diaper. I was changing Elliott for bed on Friday evening and used the last wipe. When I picked up the box to put in more, it rattled and lo, there was my ring stashed inside. Sweet relief!

3. I'm giving away a book, so leave a comment over here if you're interested.

4. I was invited to a grownup lady playdate to watch the first episode of Outlander on Starz. I read the book way back in high school and kind of loved it. The show so far is very good. I am not 100% sold on the casting of a very handsome but not very gigantic actor to play Jamie. I was initially also nonplussed by his non-flaming red hair (I'm a little biased on behalf of redheads, you know), but after squinting at his cast photo online a few times, I think once they're not in the dark / rain (which may never happen, because: Scotland), it's going to turn out to actually be red hair, albeit a little duller than what I always imagined on Jamie. After watching the show, I pulled out the book for a re-read yesterday and I think I'm going to enjoy it all over again. Suddenly I'm wishing I hadn't purged the second and third books in a book clear-out a few years ago, though honestly I don't know that I'll have time to wade through three giant novels.

5. We had what will likely be our last playdate of the summer this morning, and what also will be our last regular playdate with a group of friends we started building when Nico was a wee bitty baby. I met one of the other kids and her mom at our breastfeeding group and we've been getting the kids together for several years now, once a month on Mondays. It was so bittersweet to see them playing together so well after so long, knowing that by September three of the five kids will be in preschool on Monday mornings. We're hoping to meet up for some Monday afternoons instead, and I'm really hoping that works out.

Last Monday we had a last summer playdate with another friend of Nico's, a kids / mom family I really, really like and only met about a year ago through a mutual friend who has since moved away with her two kids exactly my kids' ages. This keeps happening to me! The still-local little boy is going to Kindergarten this year and will be in school all day from now on. I'm hoping we can meet up on some school holidays and that his mom and I can keep in touch and keep our toddlers playing together. It all feels very sunrise / sunset at the moment, though. To assuage my melancholy, here's a video of Elliott from this morning:

We were at a little garden with a fantastic constructed creek that the kids can wade in, a place I stumbled across less than a month ago and have taken the kids to twice already. Nico told me today he wants to go to the creek every day, so I think we have a winner on our hands. So far our summer has been gleefully wonderful and it probably deserves a post of its own but for now, I think it's bedtime.

Monday, August 04, 2014

The precious is lost

I was getting the kids ready for a pool party yesterday afternoon and set my wedding ring on Elliott's dresser while I put on his sunscreen. I let him run around in his room in his diaper while I went to put on Nico's sunscreen and mine, and it was quite a while before I remembered I'd left the ring where he could reach it. Of course when I went back it was gone. We were in a hurry, so despite my creeping sense of slightly forlorn dread, we left and I figured I'd look for it later. When we got home, I picked up all the toys and books on Elliott's floor and looked under all his furniture and found nothing. At this point I'm thinking he either swallowed the ring or dropped it down the air vent. Is it awful that I'm really hoping he swallowed it?

It's just a plain white gold man's wedding band - which I wanted because it matches MB's ring - so it would actually be really easy to replace. But of the three rings MB has given me, the wedding band is the one I'm most sentimental about, the one I'm most attached to. It's the symbolism, you know? This was the ring he put on my finger when we stood up in front of God and everybody and promised to love and honor until death do us part. And so begins Poo Watch 2014. According to a friend whose daughter swallowed a hair clip last month, if he did swallow it I should see it again around day three. So on Thursday in time for our tenth anniversary, perhaps?


Reading:  Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis

Playing:  Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits (1991-2001) by Barenaked Ladies

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Spite cheer

I had an incredibly stressful, shitty day at work, so bad that at one point I was literally shaking with anger and frustration. It was an ALL CAPS kind of day. It was terrible, horrible, no-good, AND very bad at times, and to cap off the circus of shitty, the end result is that I have to sit down with an employee very soon and outline why her behavior led to this terrible, horrible, no-good very bad meeting and hope she doesn't make excuses / get loudly defensive / cry. SHITTY. SHITTY DAY. I could go on at length but I won't because (A) blogging about work is a bad plan and (B) probably no one wants to read a bunch of all-caps complaining about work. So, in the spirit of Swistle's brilliant spite charity, here's some spite cheer: some things that made me happy today even though I was also really, really pissed off.

1. I now own this shirt, and even though it's not the best look for my boobs, I care not. Because it's awesome.

2. I ran into my cousin at Old Navy and we ended up having this text conversation as we shopped separately afterward:

3. I carry this cigarette case in my purse to hold gift cards and store customer cards and things that I don't want to cram into my wallet. I got it from my great-aunt's house when she had to move into a nursing home and I just liked the way it looked / found it useful / like to think of her sometimes when I use this small, useful thing. Hilariously, I've had it for years and never realized it was a cigarette case until my officemate saw it last week and asked why I had a cigarette case. Then tonight I got it out at Barnes & Noble and the cashier - who was an adorable hipster Johnny Depp (if so young as to be practically fetal) - thought it was vintage and awesome.

4. I took this photo of Elliott at another touch-a-truck event this past Tuesday morning, and I just love it so much.

5. I caught this A-plus quality air butt last night:

6. I got this from Johnny Depp at the B&N cafe and I ate the whole goddamn thing. My feelings are delicious.