Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Benedict the Yellow wins it all

My fantasy football team, Benedict the Yellow, pulled through a tough match up last night to win our league for the season. Thank you. I know, it was an impressive performance, probably made possible by the imposing picture of Ben that I have as my team's icon on Yahoo.

What I really want to talk about with this post, though, is my husband and fantasy football. I have been merciful all season long, choosing not to blog about the truly ridiculous things Austin says about it. But as the newly crowned winner of our fantasy football league, I think it's time for that to change.

In fantasy football, there is something called "smack talk" in which you apparently try to impersonate an ego-inflated NFL player and post insulting comments for all your other friends in the league. I am pretty sure this is Austin's favorite part of fantasy football, or at least the part that he is best at.

Here are some of his smack talk season highlights:

"John, does he have compromising pictures of you or something? How could you lose to someone who started 2 people who didn't even play?"

"No playoffs for you, husky rusky."

"Fantasy football is not supposed to bring a marriage together." (This he actually told me in bed one night instead of posting it on the league message board.)

"8-2, son." (In response to someone pointing out that he had just gotten lucky being in first place at that point as his actual number of points scored was 6th out of 8 in the league.)

"You better worry about even making the playoffs first. On an unrelated note, did everyone see that i already clinched a spot?"

When a good friend failed to make the playoffs like Austin did (top 4 spots) he rubbed it in, saying, "Great job on securing the 5th seed in the playoffs. I look forward to playing you. . ."

And of course today he tried to rob me of my hard earned victory, saying, "I taught her everything she knows." That is, of course, blatantly false--he's so competitive he has not offered me a word of help all season long!

But the very worst thing he said all season was the week we had Molly and we happened to play each other. While we were in the hospital his friend posted "what are the ethics about beating a women about to have your baby? Should you throw the game? Just a thought." Austin replied, "if she had bore me a son, I would have let her win."

Now do you see what I live with???!!! :)

Of course, the one redeeming factor of Austin's ridiculous bravado is that everyone in the league was glad when I soundly stomped him last week and went on to win it all this week. After all, they figured, who better to rub his loss in but me?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas


Christmas was quite a blur in our household this year. Austin was really sick for the whole week before and several days after (today is the first day he's getting better!), and our trip to Vermont got canceled amid the recent East-Coast snowstorm. Even though where we live and where we were going only got about 2 inches of snow each, it was nearly impossible to get from one place to another without passing through an immobilized airport or driving on a potentially sketchy road. There were definitely a lot of highlights, like Tucker's enthusiasm and Molly's adorable presence, and getting to see cousin Emery. So it wasn't all lemons, but it was definitely crazy and stressful at several points!













I think Molly looks like a little candy cane in this outfit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reasons why I love the gym

1) They take my kids.
2) I get an uninterrupted shower.
3) I have 30 minutes for uninterrupted reading if I use an elliptical machine (you might think this is not high-quality reading time, but this is not the case... I've read scholarly articles as well as Mark Twain's Joan of Ark and didn't enjoy either any the less).
4) If I take a class, there are other adults with which to have conversations that go beyond whether they need to use the potty or if they need their nose wiped.
5) They take my kids.

I may well turn into a gym rat.... :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My son is certifiably nuts


... or at least he can eat them now!

Tucker ate peanuts for the first time yesterday, and again today with no ill effects. He is creating a long list of nuts and seeds that he can now eat: almonds, pecans, walnuts, sesame, cashew, poppy. It's highly unlikely now that any of the ones he hasn't eaten will be a problem.

He still can't eat sunflower seeds, but that is a much less daunting task to avoid than all nuts everywhere. I'm going to need to get him a Reese's peanut butter cup and feed it to him somewhere where he can't contaminate our house and put Austin's life in jeopardy. :)

Molly June Bug is Two Months Old


Molly had her two month check-up yesterday and weighed in at 13 lbs 0 oz (Austin won our bet on what she would weigh for the first time ever). That makes her a big baby girl (90th percentile)! As we were leaving the doctor said that he'd see us when she was 6 months old. I was surprised because usually there's a four month check-up as well. Turns out, he looked at her and had simply forgotten that this was only her two month check-up. Molly is a whole pound and a half smaller than Tucker was at this age, but she started out smaller, too--they both added exactly 80% to their body weights in the two months since they left the hospital.

Molly is still an amazingly easy baby. For awhile there it seemed like she was discontent a lot of the time that she was awake (not loudly discontent, just not super happy to be doing anything except being held), but that seems to be fading away. She's starting to have lots of the fun wiggling-on-the-ground-making-fun-baby-noises time, which I remember fondly from when Tucker was that age. She still doesn't take a pacifier, but we haven't tried very hard because she's not loud and demanding and in pain like Tucker was from his digestive problems. She does like to smack on her fist.

She is still a great sleeper. Her bedtime is between 6 and 7 pm and I'll wake her up to eat before I go to bed and she'll often go 7 hours now till she wakes up (last night it was 8 and a half!). That would be sleeping through the night for normal people who don't go to bed as early as we do. During the day she prefers napping in her car seat to the crib, but that's okay with me at this point. I think she is stingier on smiles than Tucker was, but it's hard to remember exactly... I know she will continue to wake up more in the next six weeks and I think we'll see a little more of her personality.

What strikes me the most about having an infant again is how much easier it is than last time. A lot of this is how different Molly is than Tucker was. But I think a significant part too is how less bewildering parenthood is the second time around. Last time it seemed so difficult to get groceries with an infant. This time I barely notice having an infant when I do errands, because it's so much easier than having a toddler. I may need to drag around a heavy infant carrier--but she never talks back, never has opinions, doesn't run anywhere, doesn't throw tantrums. And to top it all off, she's cute and a good snuggler. She's definitely a keeper. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Clutter, Part 2

My friend Alison in her comment yesterday has ESP on where I was going with the second part of this clutter post: kid stuff. Toys are a whole category of stuff that stumps me as a clutter-clearer. People who visit tell me that our house isn’t over run with toys like some houses they’ve been to. Maybe. I find this not a particular compliment for us, but more an indictment of how kids are growing up today. Too many toys aren’t a plus for parent OR child. Besides the parental frustration of an endless amount of mixed-up junk that gets piled around randomly or that forms a skim over all available surfaces, too many toys frustrates a child’s ability to focus and play creatively. There really is such a thing as too many choices.

I do the old take-toys-away-while-Tucker’s-asleep trick and have a stash of toys in the attic to cycle in as new every few months. I have gotten more merciless on culling for good the toys that Tucker has never been drawn to (though I make sure to ask the thrift store ladies not to put out our toy donations until we’ve left the store). I also am starting to be wiser about some categories of toys.

Trucks: really, all of these do the same thing in terms of play-value so only one or two favorites need to be out at one time, at least now that Tucker has other interests.

Art supplies: NEVER buy the 64 pack of crayons, at least for a preschooler. Fewer things means they are easier kept track of and better cared for and more easily replaced when they are used up.

Gifts: I’m trying to think more in terms of non-durable goods. For Tucker’s stocking I’m focusing on things that have a shelf life, like fun band-aids, punch ball balloons, animal crackers, glitter pens and coloring books… things that will be special and thoroughly enjoyed but won’t add to the sheer quantity of stuff in our house long-term. Another tactic is to give experiences or extra special clothes that he will eventually grow out of (ie Mickey Mouse slippers), and less of those things (however nice) that hang around indefinitely.

I may even institute a one-toy-in-one-toy-out policy except for Christmas and birthdays, and start engaging Tucker more in this process of giving things away. I also want to be more consistent in the New Year about teaching Tucker to take better care of his stuff so that sets of things remain together and can actually be used.

Quote of the Day

"Where is my football player's hat?" Tucker asked while he was still in bed this morning.

He peered under each bed in his room. "It is not under here," he announced. "I hope it is in the freezer."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Clutter, Part 1

One of Gretchen Rubin’s favorite activities in the Happiness Project is purging the house of clutter. She, like me, fit in that dubious category of people who enjoy organizing purely for its own sake. Clutter-clearing is her own addition to her Happiness Project; apparently, none of the sages of old (or even modern happiness researchers) has devoted time to the subject of getting rid of the stuff that weighs us down. Getting rid of clutter as a means to boosting happiness, is basically saying that our physical surroundings matter to our internal state. I think her words are that outer order leads to inner calm, or something along those lines. (To digress, this is actually a very Anglican idea, that the physical world matters to the internal world, that you are affected by whether you wear jeans to church or your best clothes, your posture during prayer, etc.)

She talks about different categories of items that shouldn’t have a place in your life. One is aspirational clutter: things you have because you’d like to be the sort of person who uses them, even though you don’t actually use them. In my case this might be a shirt that is a bit too fashionably tight or low-cut… it looks nice, but I never actually feel comfortable wearing it. I forget her catchy names for the other types of clutter but they include nostalgic clutter (the shirt you used to really love), washed-up clutter (the shirt that has stains on it), and duplicative clutter (five pairs of black pants when you only ever wear two).

Basically, the idea is to have high standards and not surround ourselves with things that we a) don’t like, b) don’t use, c) aren’t nice, or d) are easily replaceable (if a future need might arise). Obviously this is not brain science, but it’s amazing how many things I took to the thrift store using this criteria. The wedding present that was nice but I never used, which felt like a burden because I should have used it (because it was nice). The empty binders hanging out in my desk drawer even though I haven’t needed a binder in years and don’t currently have a need for a binder. The dog brush we never use because we got one that works better. It really is amazing and strangely liberating to let those things move on to their second life.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas dilemmas

These days I can’t seem to complete a trip to the gym without nursing Molly in the childcare room. This makes trips to the gym inevitably longer than expected, but what doesn’t take longer than expected these days?

The women who work in the childcare room are across the board fun and welcoming. I enjoy our few minutes of adult conversation while I’m marooned in a nursing chair. Today the topic was Christmas.

One lady shared her three Christmas dilemmas. The first is trying to convince her three year-old son that Santa will be able to come down the chimney even though the couch is pushed up against the fireplace (to prevent their one year-old from repeatedly climbing into the fireplace.) Apparently the son is still not convinced so their furniture will be rearranged on Christmas Eve.

Secondly, she has put all the presents under lock and key in interesting hiding places to prevent said three year-old from wreaking havoc. I have never met this little boy but he sounds a bit like a terror—she describes him as “high energy”—and has shamelessly been opening any package he can find, even if she is in the same room.

Her third dilemma, the one that has her really stumped, is how to properly convey to her son that there isn’t a religious meaning for Christmas. “We’re not religious people,” she said, “So I’ve tried to tell him that Christmas could be any day. That people just picked that day to celebrate Christmas for political reasons. It’s just an arbitrary day; it doesn’t have any meaning.” This apparently leaves her son in a muddle, muttering confused statements about which days are which. Her husband tells her she is using two many words and trying to explain too much. But she is concerned. After all, his grandparents are religious—the boy might figure out that under the hubbub of presents and wrapping and sugary treats that the holiday is actually celebrating something more than Santa Claus and a mystical idea of generosity and love.

The Happiness Project

If you haven't read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I highly recommend adding it to your 2011 reading list. The author spends a year synthesizing and digesting the latest research about happiness as well as the wisdom of the ages on the subject, and then tries to incorporate the findings into her life.

In case you're wary, this book is not of the self-help genre. It's an interesting, quick read about one woman trying to change her life without substantively changing her life (i.e. moving to a tropical island and retiring).

Some of her insights that struck me as particularly profound include:
*You can choose what you do; you can't choose what you like to do.
*One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
*Do good, feel good.
*If it takes less than a minute, do it now.
*And much, much more (of course).

[Spoiler alert.] She concludes at the end of the year that she is indeed happier, and that the single most important element of her happiness project was not any of her specific happiness resolutions but her daily chart to record how she was doing keeping those resolutions. If you manage what you measure, then you have to measure whether you're going where you want to be going, and that very act of measuring will do a lot to propelling you to where you want to go.

I'm not sure if this works for people who aren't type A. Why? I suspect it takes a type A sucker like me to be anal (some might say "particular") enough to make a daily resolution chart and actually use it. But if something works for someone else, I think it deserves a try before you dismiss it: the old if-you-want-what-we-have-then-do-what-we-do philosophy.

So, I've made my own resolutions chart and so far I'm liking using it. Knowing that I get to give myself the proverbial gold star at the end of the day if I do what I aspire to, really is keeping me doing the things I want to be doing. Ridiculous but true.

And if you're wondering about this recent flurry of blog entries that actually involve substantive thought, guess what? One of my resolutions is to write something every day. (Not necessarily on the blog, of course, but until I get a more substantive project I think more will end up here than has been here in awhile.)

Check out Gretchen Rubin's blog: www.happiness-project.com

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Siblings playing

Tucker loves to surround Molly with toys so that they can play together. He's usually good about leaving space so that they toys don't fall on her and crush her (as you can see, quite a hazard).

Molly is quite content about the whole situation usually.

O Christmas Tree


We decorated our Christmas tree on Sunday, earlier than usual this year because we're going up to Vermont the day after Christmas to see my family. This is the second year that we've cut our own from a place an hour south of us that has trees so perfect it almost defeats the purpose of the holiday excursion. Last year we literally got out of the car and selected just about the first one we saw because they were all perfect. This year we decided to walk a little farther, just to make an excursion of it. The result, of course, was the same: a beautiful tree.

It's possible to select a huge one but I try to be restrained and pick a normal sized one... it's just so much easier to decorate and set up and haul around. I don't think I enjoy the epic ones any better anyway. Here's our photo journal of the tree trimming process....

Watch out for the pole vaulting mad man! (I don't think Tucker realized the long stick was to measure the tree with instead of jousting down the long tree aisles.)

Little Molly, you were a trooper in the cold.



Molly intently watched the decorating process with her adorable church clothes still on.


Christmas decorating is not complete without attacking Daddy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Advent note

I wanted to share an interesting tidbit that I learned this weekend about my favorite advent hymn "O Come O ComeEmmanuel." [If you're not familiar with the hymn, I'm pasting the lyrics at the end of this post.] Apparently, the hymn itself is a 19th century translation of a 12th century Latin hymn. But the roots of the song actually go back much earlier, to the sixth century when many churches observed the last week before Christmas by singing a series of seven antiphons (short passages based on Scripture sung in a call-and-response fashion). The seven antiphons sung that week were called the "O Antiphons" as they all begin with "O" at the beginning of the verse, emphasizing the longing of advent for the coming of Christ. Those antiphons were later made into the modern hymn. If you check it out, you see that each of the seven verses begins with one of the O Antiphons. How cool is that? Sixth century tradition still observed today--some things you really can't improve upon.

Incidentally, all of this knowledge is from our music director, Ken Myers' bulletin note on the subject. (And you thought church bulletins were boring!)

While we're on the subject of Ken Myers' wisdom about music, I wanted to share a statement of his from the annual meeting that struck me as profound. When talking about the music ministry at All Saints, Ken said that worshiping God with music is one of the things that we know we're going to do for eternity, and so it's important to learn about and practice now. Huh.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The smartest thing he's ever done... is just so dumb

Let me tell you about my dear Ben. So many adjectives describe him: faithful, handsome, yellowest of the yellow, passionate [about eating], ready to retrieve [sporadically].... One adjective that really is not where he excels: intelligence.

And so, let's talk about the smartest thing he has ever done.

Yesterday evening a wonderful saint from our church offered to watch Tucker and Molly so I could go to a Christmas party the same night that Austin needed to be at our church's vestry meeting. As our friend was pulling up, we lost electricity (with Tucker in the bath, of course).

Under the cloak of darkness, two frazzled parents failed to see that the playdoh was still on Tucker's table. Keep in mind Tucker hadn't actually been playing with the playdoh, and it wasn't technically even out; it was still safely enclosed in the ziplock bag that it had arrived in (a gift from Tucker's teachers), with two cookie cutters firmly lodged in its center. But it was at canine mouth height.

Fast forward four hours.

Ben's water bowl is strangely empty. He keeps needing to go outside. He drinks compulsively when we put water back into his bowl. And, oh yeah... where is that playdoh? No longer on the table.

Austin and I looked at each other with sinking hearts, hoping to spend the night sleeping in bed instead of either on the couch or at the emergency vet. The last time Ben ate playdoh, he ate only part of a batch, and it was not his finest moment nor our finest night. This time, the missing playdoh amounted to a batch and a half, with two plastic cookie cutters in the middle of it, encased in a plastic bag. The outlook for the night looked dim.

As we trudged up to find our toothbrushes and decide our next move, I saw it. A glorious ripped-open bag of pink glitter playdoh staining the couch in my office. I haven't been so excited to see such a gross mess in a long time. I looked at Ben with admiration and sheer joy at this strange new development in his character: self-control.

Ben has never, ever, ever failed to eat something that he could possibly get down his gullet. Socks. Plastic bags. Corn cobs. Dirt. Trash. Kleenex. Baby bibs. Playdoh. Whatever.

My heart swelled with pride that my 10 year-old dog finally said no, that even in the midst of the kill he could look at a bag of pink glitter playdoh with two plastic cookie cutters and think: maybe it is not in my best interest to eat all of this. It was epic.

Of course, he ate enough to have horrible diarrhea that required three passes at cleaning the kitchen floor this morning to make the area livable again. But at least we all got some sleep (and he didn't die of kidney failure or a digestive obstruction).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dear Ben


I own the couch, not you. Glad we're clear on that. Now if you could just stop snorting at me when I sit down....

xox Mom

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Inheritor of Thine Everlasting Kingdom


Father Glenn jokes that the babies who come into the Kingdom screaming have more original sin. Molly, in characteristic fashion, came into the Kingdom snorting. I'm not sure what the implications of that are. :)






Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A little boy's dream come true


Helen took Tucker and I to decorate a gingerbread house the weekend after Thanksgiving. This was unlike any gingerbread decorating I had ever encountered before... they had taken out all the hard parts--all you had to do was come and select the candy you wanted from a lavish spread and apply it to a pre-constructed house with bags of icing all laid out.

When we walked around selecting our candy, Tucker's eyes were unbelievably big. He was like little Charlie entering Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory. It took him half an hour before he realized he was allowed to eat the candy, not just decorate the house. (He quickly made up for lost time after that!)

The other highlight of our gingerbread house adventure was Santa and Mrs. Claus wandering around the room to talk to the kids. Tucker was mostly frightened of Santa, but in an awe-struck sort of way.






Smiling for the Camera


Molly gave me her first truly social smile on Sunday, which was an utter delight to this Mama's heart. She is still stingy with them, and in fact hasn't flashed a nice big smile for her daddy or big brother... yet. By the way, check out how hard Molly's been working on getting some nice, chubby cheeks!






A new trick: learning how to suck her fist

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quote of the Day

At church today when the offering plate was being passed, Austin didn't put anything in (giving once a month is easier than writing more frequent smaller checks).

Tucker turned to him, wide-eyed and very intense and asked loudly and accusingly, "Do you have any money for God???"

Austin quickly produced a dollar bill for Tucker to give to God. I think it's time to start a new tradition of getting a quarter from his piggy bank for the offering each week--this kiddo doesn't mess around.

Going to college

video

This is Tucker "going to college." Why, you may ask, is my son talking about college already?

The other day he emerged from his room wearing cool-kid jeans (a little loose and sitting a little low on his hips) and a hoodie sweatshirt. He looked so old to me all of a sudden. I told him he looked like he was about to go to college and that I wouldn't let him go, I was going to gobble him up and keep him home with mommy. He has no idea what college is, of course, but he thought it was a fantastic new game--he tells me he is going to college and I feign shock and despair and tell him he can't go and I'm going to keep him home with me.

Yesterday two of my friends from college visited. Before they came I told him about the upcoming visit, and that I knew these friends from college. He got so wide-eyed that they were from the mythical place called college and we had the following discussion:
Tucker, looking a little betrayed: Mommy, did you go to college without me?
Me: Yes, sweetie, you were very, very, very little when I went to college. You were too little to come. [Understatement of the year]
Tucker: If you ever go to college again, I will get to come, right?

Of course, my love.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Football

This video is of Tucker trying to change the channel on the TV so he could watch football... on Monday at 6 pm. He has become convinced that if he holds the remote to the VCR pointed at the TV and chants "football" that football will come on. This crazy belief has nothing to do with his father's tendency to secretly hold the remote that changes the channel and change the channel back to football when Tucker does his football/remote chant....

video

Parenting Surprises

Molly is a mellow baby. When she wants to eat she lets me know at low-decibel noise levels. She will even wait patiently while I get ready to nurse (Tucker preferred to scream if food didn't enter his mouth instantaneously). Last night she took patient to new levels.

I heard her squawk once or twice at 12:40 but she wasn't insistent, so I went back to sleep until she was insistent. At 1:40 I woke up again and heard her squawk a couple times only slightly louder. It was earlier than I hoped she would eat, but I was awake and she was awake and it was possible she could make it the rest of the night if I fed her then.

I went into her room and picked her up and discovered she was soaking. I mean SOAKING. We keep our house at 63 degrees and so she wears a sleeper, then two fleece blanket sleepers on top of it. They were all just dripping with water.

I went to change her and what I found made me laugh out loud: she was not wearing a diaper. The diaper hadn't fallen off, it wasn't full... it was entirely missing. Most of the time I would chalk this up to Mommy brain, but this time I had an even better excuse: it was Daddy who put her to bed. :)

Quote of the Day

"How tall are you?" the dental hygienist asked Tucker.
Not missing a beat Tucker answered, "Taller than Daddy."