Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh, dear.

Well, here we are again, for the third time in less than two years. First it was from Raleigh to Massachusetts, then across town, and now back to North Carolina. Hickory, to be exact. That's part of why I haven't written--it's gone on the back burner while I try to figure out what the hell is going on. This is because we don't actually know when we're moving. I'm flying home, one-way, on Tuesday. But I don't know when our stuff will be moved, when my husband will be down, or anything! It's this frustrating limbo period, and it's going to resolve itself suddenly, and then BAM! we'll be moved. It's our first time using a moving company and I feel like I can't do anything.

In other news, Calvin's word count is up; in addition to Mama, Daddy, Nonnie, and Pops, he's saying Oma, dog, banana, and hey/hi/hello. He throws me his juice cup when he needs a refill, and eats with a fork if I load it for him. He knows where his bellybutton is, occasionally his nose, and he knows what phones do. He's allergic to something (possibly a contact allergy to tomatoes) but he eats lots of different things; he watches Sesame Street, Mickey Mouse, and Phineas and Ferb; he likes reading board books (sometimes on his own, especially the one with the photographs of babies in it); his favorite CD is Lykke Li's "Wounded Rhymes" and his favorite lullaby is "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show. He takes one nap a day when I can get him to, goes to be between 8 and 9, and wakes up around 9 most days. He knows how to take batteries out of things, turn things on and off, use controllers of various types, and generally investigate his surroundings.

Until I know what's going on I feel like I'm in suspension. Things need to get moving soon.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


It's pretty safe to say that you can measure a person's level of fame by the amount of information in their Wikipedia entry. You're not truly important until your link on Wikipedia goes to your own page. If I were ever to have a published book, for example, I would get a Wikipedia page. This is not an assumption. It's a certainty. I'd create it.

Once when we were in college, my best friend edited the Wikipedia page of my high school to say "The school's most famous graduates are Jessica Stephens and Amy Duncan." We weren't famous. Wikipedia (or someone) took it down.

If you click on any links to Scott Disick's name on Wikipedia, it links you to the page for Kourtney Kardashian. Yeah, I wasn't 100% sure who he was either. He's Kourtney's baby daddy. That has to suck. Apparently he's on the reality show all the time, and he's some kind of...actually, I don't know what his job is...but all you get is a link to your girlfriend's page. You are Not Important, sir.

(And the reason I know that is because I was looking at information about Kim Kardashian's wedding, and then I clicked on links, and it was just a spiral, but you know that eventually all links lead you to the Philosophy page. Wikipedia is deep, yo.)

If I ever do have a Wikipedia page, I want to put something strange on there, like "Amy is an avid collector of miniature things." I'm not, but it would be a cool way to start a collection. I could keep a shelf of miniature things that people sent me based on the information on Wikipedia. It would probably include a variety of things, from miniature marshmallows to dollhouse furniture to tiny action figures. I would be thrilled if someone sent me a teacup pig. You know I've always wanted one. That could go on my page, too. "Wants a teacup pig."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Carl Sagan, Halloween, and Toddler Trickery

Today I thought I'd tell you about the title of my blog. It's a piece of a quote from Carl Sagan's Cosmos, the best TV series about the universe to exist, ever. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is going to be reviving Cosmos sometime in the near future and I AM SO EXCITED. But back to the title. The quote I have on the blog (look right) is one of my favorite Sagan quotes, and the one that gives me the title is: "Every cell is a triumph of natural selection, and we're made of trillions of cells--within us is a little universe." There's a kickass compilation of Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and other great scientists autotuned and set to music, called The Symphony of Science. Check it out. Anyway, Carl Sagan is highly respected in this house.

So if there's a universe in each of us, then the three of us in my little nuclear family are actually a multiverse, but whatever, it's cool. I'm listening to a dubstep remix of the Imperial March from Star Wars. That's unrelated.

OR IS IT? This is a perfect opportunity to transition into the fact that Calvin was an Ewok for Halloween:

And he made out like a bandit! We went with Jack and Sara and Zach, and it was a lot of fun if kind of cold. There was snow on the ground, which should never happen. He was good for most of it and then we came home and hung out with some of Brandon's work folks.

Finally, a point on the cognitive development of a 16-month-old: He tries to go down the stairs, and when I say "NO!" he picks something up off the ground like "What? Stairs? Never! I was just looking for this broken bubble wand here. Yep. That's it."

Friday, October 28, 2011


In news of Calvin's sleep habits (which I'm sure concern all of you greatly), he's FINALLY, for the first time in his life, gotten to a point where he actually likes being rocked to sleep. This is good because have you met my child? He doesn't cuddle. Any moments of cuddling are relished by his affection-starved mother, who gets apoplectic over a three-second hug or a minute of stillness on her lap. And he buries his head in my shoulder, pulls up a blanket, and falls asleep on me! GLORIOUS.

The downside is the drool.

Oh my God, so much drool. It's not even just damp, it's damp and slightly sticky because he brushes his teeth now with this fruit-flavored Thomas the Tank Engine toothpaste (OK, it's Orajel, but it has Thomas on it and it's called "Tooty Fruity" which always makes me think of the IHOP Rooty Tooty Fresh 'n Fruity breakfast, which I've never actually ordered, but has the worst name of any menu item I can think of off the top of my head at this second and I truly believe IHOP made it up just to give their waitstaff the pleasure of seeing who'll actually order it by name because it sounds so utterly ridiculous.) Anyway it makes his drool smell like fake fruit, and as you know spit is not water, so I have this SPOT on my shoulder where he rests his face.

Also, he's not actually asleep, he's in his crib going "Eeee! EEEE!" and I don't know why. He was totally asleep, and then just lying there when I set him down, and he seemed like he was going to go right back to sleep, and now he's...chatting. ("Nananananana.") Also adorable. I'm not biased.

Since Brandon is at D&D tonight I feel the need to be productive. I do this sometimes; get the urge to clean things or do something so I feel slightly more awesome. I'm actually going to. Really. As soon as I finish writing this. Maybe. I'm bad to say I'm going to do things and then forget to do them, or have an excuse, or just...not do them. BUT I WILL. I will unload and reload the dishwasher! I will clean off the kitchen table! I will clean up the living room! I will find the back to the remote control! And then I will come upstairs and get rid of all the trash! And pick up the toys! And take laundry downstairs to wash but probably not start a load because it will be late by then! I don't think I have time for all this ambition.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home

We went to Raleigh last week and it was AWESOME. I gained five pounds. We stayed with Kim and Jessee most of the week, and got to meet their adorable baby Owen, and apart from the first night Calvin slept really well. He's cut a second molar, which I think was paining him, but it's through now. He also got to know Adelaide, their Weimaraner, which was good because he's a little hesitant about dogs. It was only when she barked or knocked him over that he freaked out, and when she was outside barking he actually laughed. He also took to the dog bed quite well.

We spent some time at the State Fair, which was AMAZING. I love the fair so much. Here is a list of the crap I ate:

-chocolate covered banana with peanuts
-cupcake shaped like a hamburger
-part of a Krispy Kreme bacon cheeseburger
-part of an elephant ear (the fried dough, not the animal part)
-cotton candy
-some of the chicken and fries I got for Calvin's dinner

I feel like there was more but maybe not. It was all so heavy. I wanted to get a Cheerwine slushy but I never did. Maybe next year. BECAUSE THIS IS HAPPENING NEXT YEAR TOO. We managed to find Calvin a HEALTHY snack! The guy at the chocolate covered strawberry and banana stand gave us a stick of strawberries sans chocolate, so Calvin had strawberries for a snack. He ate 4/5 of them, and threw one on the ground. BECAUSE HE IS A PUNK. And he believes that when you're done with food, you throw it on the ground.

My parents were there for the first couple of days. We took Calvin to Marbles Kids' Museum where they got to see firsthand how much he loves to splash and play in water. They babysat him for us one night and we went to see Moneyball, just the two of us. It was our first "date" in a LONG time. And it was really nice, just to go and sit in the movie theater, and not worry about the baby. We didn't even have to get him until the next morning. They kept him overnight. AWESOME.

But then we had to come back, and Brandon's back to work, and I'm back to trying to clean the house (which I consistently fail at, but it's looking better today than usual, although I am sucking at laundry). It's cold here, but the leaves are changing, and my child looks like a person instead of a baby, and we carved pumpkins on Sunday and I made one that looks like Elmo. So things keep moving along, like they do, toward some inevitable end.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall in Massachusetts

I know my last post was about North Carolina, but today I was in the mood to write about one of the few things I actually like about living in Massachusetts, which is fall. The weather cools off pretty quickly--although it's been warm for much longer than it seems it should have been, it's going to be in the low 60s all week--and there's apple and pumpkin picking, which you can't beat. I have a plan to go apple picking, get a good carving pumpkin, and eat cider doughnuts after we get back from Raleigh. There's a great farm in Northboro where we went strawberry picking back in May, and we'll probably head up that way just because I liked it a lot.

Fall is my favorite season. I have a tendency to get colds in fall rather than spring, but I don't even care! (Except when I give them to the baby. Which I have. I feel terrible about that.) It cools off, the leaves are GORGEOUS--and somehow, in New England the leaves seem so much more vibrant, and there are old farmhouses and cider mills and crazy rural stuff that go so well with the changing leaves--and I can start wearing sweaters again. I like wearing sweaters and jeans because I like how they cover up my flaws. I also like that in fall and winter, I'm only kind of pale, not ghastly. Pale in winter WORKS.

And I like buying winter clothes for Calvin. Fall is the time when winter clothes start appearing, so I get to go stock up on fleece pajamas and rain gear and long pants and sweatshirts and the like. He's got a rain jacket and a puffy winter coat now, and if I can find his damn tiger hat he'll be almost set. My only concern is snow boots. I haven't bought any yet, because I think they'll be $20 and I'm not sure how much use he'll get out of them. Of course, it's going to snow up here, but I'm still clinging to the hope that we'll be moving back to NC soon. I suppose it couldn't hurt. He can wear them even if it's not SNOWING, just cold, and it may snow some down south. It did last year.

There are a lot of things I don't like about living up here, mostly because it's so far away from home, but I like fall. I'm glad we're experiencing it again, at least one more time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

About North Carolina

Hey y'all. I miss North Carolina; were you aware? I've been thinking about all the things I miss and that I can't wait to have when we visit Raleigh in two and a half weeks. It's going to be amazing. We're going to hit up the NC State Fair, and eat lots of horrible food (both at and outside of the fair), and see our friends, and I get to drink Caribou Coffee and Cheerwine and Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale. I love October in North Carolina.

And I love all the other months, too, because the weather's not too cold in winter and the leaves are beautiful in the fall and the summer is so oppressively hot that you want to jump in a pool--you don't even want to sit inside all day in the air conditioning, because you know you should be in a pool--and in spring, the pollen is so thick that it coats your car and turns it this funky greenish-yellow and you have to wash it but it's cool because you do that outside, with the hose on the side of your house, and somehow the pollen exacerbates my allergies a little bit less than it does up here, and there's that weird sulfuric smell from the Bartlett pear trees but they look so pretty.

You know what I miss most about North Carolina, though? My family is there. My friends are there, all the ones who came out and helped us move just over a year ago. There are so many new babies for me to meet and hang out with and get to know. There are weird local things, like fish camps, that you have to live there to understand. There's the beach on one side and REAL mountains on the other. The beach has dunes and proper waves and soft sand and afternoon thunderstorms, and the mountains have the Nantahala River and hiking trails and campgrounds and scenic overlooks and waterfalls and Canyons, oh dear God I need to go eat at Canyons again before I die.

I love North Carolina because they do barbecue two ways, and then South Carolina has its own equally awesome way, and I can go visit someone I like and get a different kind of barbecue every time. I love it because people actually wave at you when you walk down the street, and you don't feel like you have to cover it up when you talk like a hick because no one makes fun of you for it. I love that you can buy Martha White cornbread mix, and that you can get proper biscuits and gravy, and when you order breakfast you can choose home fries or grits. Not that I ever choose grits. I don't actually like them. But my dad does.

I want my son to grow up a little slower, a little sweeter, because he lives in the South. But I also want him to know what's wrong with it, and not to be caught up in the backwards ideology that tends to overshadow everything that's so great about my state. I want him to learn to respect people, regardless of how they look or what they believe or who they love. I hope that I can raise a child who becomes a man who can help change the things that are wrong, or at least support that change, because I think that then North Carolina would be perfect.

Of course, we have to get back there first. But we're working on that.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Things We Lost In The Hurricane

1. Power
2. A modicum of sanity

...that's about it, actually.

So we've been without power for two days, which is boring. We cleaned. Calvin climbed up AND DOWN the stairs. We lit candles. We tried to sleep with the windows open and our neighbor's generator sounding like a weed eater all night. I woke up in the middle of the night convinced that the night light I had rigged for Calvin out of an LED headlamp and the shade from my reading lamp was going to catch on fire, even though it doesn't even get warm, and had to go check on it at 3:20AM. We woke up with the sun. Brandon went to work. Calvin and I hung out and cleaned his room and napped and went to lunch with Brandon at work and drove around.

I don't know when the power will come back on but it's amazing how much I miss internet and TV. Honestly, the thing I really miss is that I only listen to music on my computer, and I can't do that now.

Right now I'm hanging out at Molly's hotel room, which they got because their condo is a billion degrees with no a/c. Our house, fortunately, has lots of trees to shade it and is well enough ventilated that it's not thoroughly unpleasant, but there's wi-fi at the hotel so I can write. And check facebook. And my email. There's nothing of consequence in my email. Sigh.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

There was this girl...

Sometimes I remember stories about people that I kind of knew, in passing, and I retell them, but I refer to that person as "my friend." Mostly because it's shorter. I just wanted to make it known that if I am telling you a story about "my friend," there is a decent chance that the subject of the story was not actually my friend, but it's a lot easier than saying "this person I kind of knew in college through my roommate, who was in the same major, but who I wasn't really close to." Then I forget what the story was about before I even finish introducing the subject.

I am not going to tell you a story about anyone else right now.

Today we took Calvin down to Plymouth, and ended up going to White Horse Beach. It's on the bay, so there aren't really waves, but there's sand (and rocks, but mostly sand) and there's water, which Calvin splashed around in until I got worried about it being SO COLD THAT MY FEET WERE NUMB and took him out. Then he tried to eat rocks and check out the cooler belonging to the people near us and play with Abi's bellybutton. So we're totally getting a pool for him. He loves the water, and I can't even tell you how happy that makes me. Next summer, I am teaching him to swim. I think you can actually teach a two-year-old and have it take. I'll need to look into that.

We also got the most delicious Thai eggrolls and seafood and cupcakes. Plymouth is bad for my figure.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dear Internet,

OH GOD I MISSED YOU. It's only been a week or so that I haven't had the internet (actually, it's only been about 5 days) but WOW. It's hard when you're so used to something and suddenly you don't have it anymore.

Calvin's WALKING. Yeah. Seriously walking, all over the place. He climbs the stairs in our new place, and climbs onto the couch, and is all-around terrifying. I'm so proud of him. He also has a new tooth, possibly two, and is taking a nice long nap (which I tried to do too, but the Comcast guy came and I had to find all the cable/internet components and...yeah.)

So we moved. I'll take pictures of the place when I actually get done cleaning it. I should be cleaning right now but...internet. My parents were here for a week and ALL WE DID was move. We did nothing fun. We were hoping that Monday could be fun day, but we ended up having to clean the old apartment, so it didn't happen. But everything got done in time and we should be getting our whole deposit back, which will be a couple hundred bucks in the bank. I love surprise money.

That's all for now. I'll try to write more detailed entries later but having a mobile child requires a lot of supervision, and in between times I have laundry and cleaning and a whole lot of other stuff. So I'll go be responsible now.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I read this article on Jezebel and it made me really happy. I think the epidural was the second-best part of the whole labor experience, and I stand by my decision to use it. This lady just explains how I feel better than I can :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sixteen Stone*

I decided to stop wanting to be thin and start trying to actually achieve it. I hate to admit it, but I weigh more now than I ever have in my life, and I can't exactly blame the pregnancy. Two years ago, I was at my goal weight and I felt good about things. Then I got pregnant. For the first few months of being pregnant, I actually lost weight, and even by the end of it I weighed less than I do now. But we moved to Massachusetts, and having the baby meant I was looking for fast options for food so that I wouldn't have to work at it so hard, which mostly meant cooking bad food or eating out, and I started baking because I was bored, and then winter came and we went into this awful hibernation mode because there was SO. MUCH. SNOW, I'm heavy.

So my mother and I have a bet that whoever loses the most weight healthily gets $100. I hope I win because I can't really afford to pay her if I lose, but I'm ahead right now because this is getting out of hand.

I don't know why, exactly, I've always been so concerned with my weight, but I can honestly say that I've never been fully happy with how I looked. Even at my lowest points I felt fat--I don't think it's anything like body dysmorphia, but I do think it's an attempt to reach an unattainable ideal. I actually am big-boned. I'm never going to be a waif, and unless I really exercise a lot (which I don't enjoy) I won't have a great athletic body. It's really hard to find role models for the type of body that I'm actually able to have, but I think this is it:

I think she's absolutely beautiful, and what's more, I think I can get my body to look like hers. The sad thing is, modeling people told her she was fat, and she whittled herself down to nothing before she snapped back. I can't imagine perceiving this as fat. I can't even think of this as "plus-size." It's just...pretty.

Anyway, so those are my thoughts on weight. I've lost five pounds this week by making a minimal effort, so we'll see how it goes from here on out.

*not my actual weight

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Yesterday Calvin had blood drawn and today he had three shots. He's grown into higher percentiles, which is fun, but boy does he scream when he gets stuck. The blood drawing nearly killed me; the shots today I was prepared for.

The first part of his blood work was fine, though.

This week I get to wean him off of formula. I think we might have a whole can of soy formula (or, you know, two and a half). I wonder if Wal-Mart would take them back. I'm not convinced this is going to go well. This is a baby who LOVES his bottle. But I'm going to get some whole milk at the store and try to get it started. Sigh.

Also, the house hunt is continuing. I don't remember if I posted that we're moving in August, but I found some interesting places in Milford, so we'll see if anything comes of it. There are nice areas of Milford, and I happened to discover a couple of them driving around recently, so if we can get in over there I'd be OK with it. It's just kind of a hassle to move, and have to change your address and whatever. Lots of things to think about that I haven't thought about.

Basically, this is just a short update to try and keep myself in the swing of it since I won't be doing monthly letters anymore. Probably every 3 or 6 for this year, but we'll see.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 22, 2011

Dear Calvin,

Happy birthday!

Well, we got you baptized Sunday. Hooray! And it was Daddy's first Father's Day. I really should have done more for him. We've been at the beach all this week, just south of Plymouth, and it's been a blast. You've been around Plymouth and in the bay and stayed in a neat old house. But today was your birthday, and I waited until the end so I could tell you all about it. Since you won't remember.

You had a whole cupcake all to yourself, and boy did you enjoy it. You also got some pretty awesome presents from some pretty awesome people, including a few trucks, a ball, a dress-up monkey, an Elmo phone, a DJ mixer piano, and some Mega Bloks (like Legos, only bigger). We spent your birthday traveling up the Cape, after lunch and cupcakes that is. Did I mention the cupcake? It was a giant mess. But also exciting.

It rained most of the day but that didn't stop it from being awesome. In Sandwich, a bunch of ladies who were on a church trip or something smiled at you at the glass museum and I held you up so you could watch glass blowing. In Orleans, you tried whipped cream and candy and ice cream. Ice cream is cold and therefore NOT GOOD. In Eastham we took you down to Nauset Beach and watched seals and crazy kids swimming in the ocean. And the best part: in Provincetown, after dinner (where you flirted back and forth with a slightly older little girl at the next table), you had a drag queen sing you Happy Birthday. She could not get over how cute you were, and she tried to convince me to take you to "baby's first drag show" which would have involved a performance of Lady Gaga and Beyonce's "Telephone" (which the two outside the bar were dressed as, and rather convincingly too) and as tempting as that offer was, we needed to get you home to bed because it had been a long day.

You're not walking yet but that's okay. I can't wait until you do, and yet I'm dreading it because you'll be all over the place when you can. This past year has been so wonderful, so exhausting, so gratifying, and I'm thankful for every minute I've spent with you.

Love you baby!


Friday, June 17, 2011

I Want To Be

I want to be thin, because I feel like carrying extra weight makes me seem irresponsible and a little bit sloppy.

I want to be in shape, because it's embarrassing to have to catch my breath when I carry the baby up the stairs.

I want my long hair back, because it made me look more feminine.

I want to be a good mother, because Calvin deserves it.

I want to be a good housewife, because I'm sick of doing freakout panic mode cleaning whenever people come over so that I can pretend that I am.

I want to be organized, because I can't find anything when I actually need it.

I want to be back in North Carolina, because I miss it and in some strange way I'm afraid that if we don't go back soon it will have turned on me and it won't be the place I love so much.

I want to have a tan, because albino skin isn't even cute on sparkly vampires.

(Not attractive.)

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Good Mother

(This is my first and possibly last post with pictures. Allie Brosh, I don't know how you do it.)

Am I a good mother?

Well...probably not.

But I'm not a bad mother.

I remember to change my son's diapers, feed him, keep him relatively clean, play with him, keep him from killing/seriously injuring himself, put him down for naps and to bed at reasonable times, and take care of him when he's sick or hurt. That's the important stuff, but it feels like the bare minimum. And that's kind of not a fair description. Those things I listed make up pretty much every minute of every day of my life for the last year. If it's not one thing, it's another. Sure, I have breaks to go on Facebook or write these blogs or occasionally clean my house or catch a nap or, you know, shower, but for the most part it's a constant job.

I've heard a lot of people talk about how stay-at-home moms are underappreciated, and I think we do a lot of it to ourselves. We view what we do every day as a bare minimum. I'm guilty of it.

I could make my own baby food! Because making your own baby food is healthier because you know what goes in it!

I would just like to note that "knowing what goes into your body" and "having healthy things go into your body" are NOT the same thing.

I could have continued to try to breastfeed for longer than one month!

He wouldn't eat. He developed bottle preference in the special care nursery. He was six weeks earlier and they often have trouble latching on properly, and with the amount of weight he needed to gain, a bottle was always more practical.

Still, I can't quite conquer the guilt over not doing it for longer.

I could lose my baby weight!

I see lots of moms who don't even look like they've had babies, and that's intimidating. I wasn't thin before, but I was a lot thinner than I am now, and I've actually gained weight since I had Calvin. I hear this is pretty common. Moms aren't able/don't have the energy to take care of themselves, because they're constantly taking care of a baby. This isn't so much a responsibility to the baby as it is to myself or my husband or the people around me, but I do feel like it's something that's expected of me that I'm not living up to.

These are not the only places where I'm insecure that I'm failing. I compare my parenting strategies to other moms. Is it bad that I comfort my child when he falls down? Is it bad that I leave my child in a diaper during the day any day I don't leave the house? Is it bad that my child has had eczema since he was three months old, and I can't isolate the cause or find anything to fix it? Is it bad that I do, occasionally, feed my child later than his schedule simply because I forget? Is it bad that he sometimes finds his way into dangerous things or hurts himself because I wasn't paying close enough attention? Is it bad that I let him cry, or worse if I pick him up every time he cries? I don't think anyone can answer those questions for me, but I also don't think anyone can convince me that everything I do is great, because I know better.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Didn't Think That Was Dangerous

See that drawer over there? And that toy laptop? And that door? And that cabinet? And that toilet seat? All of those things can be classified as "finger traps."

I've done a good job of childproofing most of the house. There's a gate around the whole TV area, and locks on the cabinets with hazardous materials in them. Most of the doors stay closed, and the trash and recycling are both in lidded containers. There are outlet covers on every plug that isn't in use (and most of the ones that are live behind gates or under desks or out of baby reach). Notice how often I use "most"? It becomes necessary to qualify after your child shuts his finger in the one drawer he can still reach, and then just screams because he can't figure out that he's the one who did it. Or when you're trying to load or unload the dishwasher, and because you've made your life easier by removing the gate into the kitchen and locking the cabinets, your child comes crawling in, pulls up on the open dishwasher, and grabs A KNIFE. Of all the things in the dishwasher that he could have grabbed, he goes for a knife. Does this bode well for our future?

We're watching They Might Be Giants: Here Comes Science, and the song that's on right now is "Davy Crockett in Outer Space." Calvin seems to appreciate it (he actually sits still for the Elements song) but more than that, I appreciate it. These CD/DVD combos are actually his birthday present--which is why I haven't opened the ABCs and 123s yet--but it's nice to have the DVD to play at home and the CDs for the car. Combine this with the Nerdy Baby flashcards, the planets on the wall, and...oh dear God, the fact that my child just raised his hand and inadvertently did the "Live long and prosper" gesture from Star Trek...and I think we're going to end up with either a super-nerdy kid or one who rebels violently against it. There's no possibility for middle ground. I'm hoping for a two-year-old who says he wants to be a paleontologist. Especially because then I have an excuse to hit up the Museum of Natural History as often as possible.

A few weeks ago when I was home, a friend of mine took photos of Calvin that I'm considering his first birthday photos (even though there was nothing birthday related in them and he was only 11 months old). They're absolutely beautiful and the above is one of the shots. I can't wait to get the high-res images--she includes a CD with all her sessions, which alone makes it worth it. Anyone in the NC/SC area who has any need for photography services, please check out her website: Caroline Jackson Photography.

Friday, May 20, 2011

In Case the World Ends Tomorrow

Dear Calvin,

If the world ends tomorrow, you may be screwed because you're not getting baptized until next month. But know that I thought really hard about it. And if you're stuck here, I want to be too, because you really aren't very good at taking care of yourself.

On Sunday you will be ELEVEN. MONTHS. OLD. You are HUGE. You want to eat all the time. You can call me "mama" now and seem to know that's my name. You want to be able to stand up (and you do, sometimes, for a moment, before you lose your balance and do a butt drop). You are growing two more teeth and are about to lose those adorable little fangs, and that makes me so sad. I loved having a little vampire baby.

I don't actually believe that anything is going to happen tomorrow, but let's take this opportunity to talk about it. First, the gentleman who claims to know that tomorrow is Judgement Day previously predicted that it would happen in 1994. As you can probably guess, it didn't. Many other folks have predicted the Second Coming on many other dates, and it still hasn't happened. There's no reason to believe that this one is any different. And here's the lesson to be learned from this: you can't trust people who claim to speak to God. Sure, I know there's Bible stories about people who talked to God, and that's cool, but most of the time those people are, for lack of a better term, BATSHIT CRAZY. I will be sorely disappointed if you end up joining a cult, or Scientology, and really confused if you start claiming to be the Messiah. If you are the Messiah, you can stop trying to choke me with my necklaces and pulling my hair out, because that is NOT Christlike behavior.

Also, can we discuss this whole moving around thing? You crawl fast, and you pull up on everything, and that can result in some pretty scary falls. Like when you pulled the baby gate over onto your face. And when you fell off the bed at your great-grandmother's house. Okay, that one was my fault for falling asleep with you on the bed, but you flail in your sleep, I don't care what my mother says, and that is DANGEROUS.

I'm cleaning up the kitchen and hiding the recyclables so you have another area to explore. I'm also going to have to post the number for Poison Control for when we inevitably forget to lock the cabinet and find you sitting among a bunch of bottles of toxic chemical cleaners (that I love to use because there's something about that astringent smell that just screams CLEAN) and we won't know if you drank them or just chewed on the nozzles, and we'll have to call and be Those Parents, and then the baby gate will go back up and your father will trip on it again and it will just be a huge long-term disaster. But isn't making ill-advised and potentially irresponsible decisions what being a parent is all about?

Love you, baby,


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Problems I Had with Toy Story 3

As an English major, I analyze things. I've seen any number of jokey infographics declaring that English teachers read way too much into things and that sometimes an author just meant that the paint on a wall was blue, whatever, get over it. That's fine, and I know I will probably read too much into things for the rest of my life, and now that I have a child I have more reason to do it with children's literature and film. So we watched Toy Story 3 a few weeks ago.

First, if you don't want to read spoilers, just stop reading here. It had been a while since I saw Toy Story 1 and 2 so I refreshed my memory on what exactly happened in them and, as a sequel and an end to a series, Toy Story 3 is totally fine. I like that they used the same voice actor for Andy in all three movies, I loved the ending, Bonnie was one of the cutest kids ever, and her toys were awesome in all kinds of ways. My problems all stemmed from the daycare element of the movie.

In case you hadn't noticed, Calvin's not in daycare. That's partly because we're lucky enough that he doesn't have to be, and partly because I'm a little panicky about the idea of leaving him with strange people in a strange place where I can't be with him. I have nothing against daycare as a concept--it's necessary and many are great, and I'll likely be utilizing one in the future. So here's the problems I had with this movie and this setting.

1. It's freaking scary. The toys sneak off to daycare, they meet the pink teddy bear who runs shit, they see the older kids playing peacefully with toys, and then they end up in the toddler room where they get absolutely demolished by these crazy two year olds. Not only that, but Lotso Huggin' Bear is pretty evil, and he never experiences the recognition that many villains do, especially in children's movies. Instead, he meets an unpleasant fate as a grill decoration on a truck. It's messed up. There is danger in the first two Toy Story movies--from the kid who wants to blow up the toys, to the collector's item who tries to take Woody from his friends--but this is a darker kind of nemesis, with conspiracy theories and outright meanness. It's more shadowy and I guess it makes sense that as the movies grow up, the dangers do too, but it even made me a little uncomfortable.

2. The idea that toys can only be played with as they're meant to be played with. This one gets tricky, so hear me out. Bonnie has a tea party with her toys and turns a dolly into a witch. She uses her imagination and plays with the toys creatively but respectfully. Cool. The two year olds in the Caterpillar room at the daycare smack the toys into railings, shove pieces up their noses, and paint using Jessie's hair. This is depicted as hurting the toys. I can remember multiple times that I played with my toys in fairly destructive ways as a child, and seeing the toys' reactions might make me think twice about it, if I had the capacity for reason, which a two year old lacks in large amounts. I also understand that many of the toys are listed as "for ages 3 and up." That's fine, but this is a recurring issue; Sid in the first movie takes his toys apart and rebuilds them into monstrosities. Instead of looking at this as a kind of cool scientific experiment, it's seen as Frankenstein-like and wrong.

3. The guilt trip. Kids, at some point you will be too old for your toys. That just happens. You don't have to hang on to them forever, and you don't have to feel bad about them going to someone who'll play with them. Andy ends up giving his whole toybox to Bonnie, which is great, but not everyone knows a Bonnie. There's nothing wrong with donating toys to daycare. Kids in daycare love those toys, however they play with them. They don't have to be kept pristine in an attic forever.

Anyway, I didn't like the movie that much, but maybe Calvin will. It's the first Pixar movie that I haven't gone head over heels for, EVER, so with a track record like that I'll keep going to see them. Plus, it was pretty, and you can't argue with that.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Not the Same

Brandon has introduced me to his coworkers, who are an awesome bunch of people. We've been hanging out with them occasionally, and as I'm starting to expand my social circle--to get to meet people and have interactions--it makes it suck a lot less up here. He also found out that the company is moving to a new location, because they don't have all the safety regulations met in their current buildings, so it gives us a reason to move out of this apartment complex when our lease is up. We were kind of looking for one anyway.

I'm looking at using my first paycheck from Sylvan to get my next tattoo--the Calvin and Hobbes one:

I don't know what it'll cost, but I'm excited and I picked an artist and this is HAPPENING. It's been two years since I got the turtle, which is small and hurt a lot. This one will be bigger (and probably hurt a lot). I like tattoos. I have the one after this picked out too, and from there...well, we'll see.

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 22, 2011

Dear Calvin,

Today you are ten months old, and I nearly forgot to do this letter. I've already written about all the things you've learned to do, like standing up and cruising, but you're so damn cute that I can't put it into words. Sometimes you just sit there and talk to yourself and then look up at me and grin with all four teeth showing, and it melts my heart because it makes me so happy.

It's getting harder to write these letters because I don't know what to say that I haven't already. This month we got to know some of Brandon's coworkers, including Chris and Kaitlin, whom you adore. I don't understand it; Chris is like a baby whisperer or something, and Kaitlin doesn't even mind it when you drool on her. We've lucked out meeting people who like babies. And I'm glad you're so good at being social, because it makes things a lot easier.

Anyway, I love you a whole lot, and I promise I'll try to think of more things to say next month.

Love, Mama

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dangerous Thinking

When it comes to politics, I find myself on the liberal side of things a lot of the time, especially regarding social issues. I voted for Obama and I don't regret that decision. I will probably vote for him again next November. I usually dislike Republican philosophies and policies, but I don't always agree with Democrats and as such am registered as unaffiliated. And I need to learn, above all else, to keep my mouth shut and not get involved. That makes me sad. Let me explain why.

I am not a person who seeks out confrontation. In fact, I avoid it at all costs. Anytime I try to get involved in political discussion--even just to offer a simple opinion--it leads to confrontation, people being angry, spouting their own opinions (reasoned or otherwise, but almost always vitriolic), and stressing me out. The problem is that I want to contribute to these discussions, I want to feel confident enough in my thoughts to engage in debate without shutting down and abandoning them. But the fervor with which people defend their opinions, with no regard for whether they're right or justified, scares me off. And so, I need to stop talking about it.

There are no right or wrong answers in politics. There is no way to say who's right or wrong except in hindsight. Even then it's murky. So I don't feel that I have the right to degrade someone else's opinion. If things turn personal or mean, I leave the conversation. It limits what I can do in a debate. So from here on out, I'm resolving to keep my thoughts to myself, not share them on facebook, not post about them on here, not discuss them in person. It's going to be hard and I'm probably going to fail, but I'm going to make a concerted effort.

If you're still reading, I commend you, and I would like to share with you the fact that Calvin is standing up against EVERYTHING:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sometimes--there's God--so quickly

I just finished mopping the entryway to our apartment. It was long overdue. There was some kind of sticky substance on the tiles that actually resulted in one of them being pulled up when it stuck to Molly's shoe the other week--makes me think they aren't very well adhered to begin with--and various scuffs and spots. I didn't do a perfect job, but I put some muscle into it, and got up most of the stains. After I finished I grabbed a few paper towels from the kitchen to dry it off, which I generally do in high-traffic areas, and as I was climbing back over the baby gate into the living room I see my adorable little nine-month-old determinedly crawling onto the tiles.

Well, he kind of followed me while I dried them, and I made sure he didn't attempt to lick the floor, so I'll assume we're okay. But as he moved around--on a surface that, mind you, he NEVER EVER GOES FOR, with an expression that said very clearly "Hey, Mommy has just exerted a lot of effort on this area of the house, so I should investigate"--he drooled all over my clean floor.

Then he laughed at the front door for no reason, and went off to attack the vacuum cleaner.

A year ago, I was facing the end of a job I no longer loved. My stress level was through the roof, and I was in a lot of pain from my pregnancy. My husband was looking at unemployment and we didn't know where we'd be at the end of the summer. We lucked out when things happened the way they did, and even if I'm not happy up here, we needed it. He needed the job, and I needed the opportunity to spend time with Calvin. The last nine months have been ridiculous. I don't know when he went from being this tiny, peaceful blob of a newborn to being the little terror he is today. Calvin six months ago couldn't have sat up on his own, let alone ripped the duct tape off of the drawers that I had hoped would keep them shut. Babies are scary.

I wonder sometimes if I should post more photos on here. I wonder if I should put clothes on my baby when he goes marauding around the house. I wonder if there's more I could be doing for his messed-up skin. I have all these little fears and worries, but I'll tell you this much: I'm happier in this role than I think I've ever been in my life. I do miss sleeping in on weekends, but when I walk into Calvin's room at 6:45AM on a Saturday and he's sitting up and banging on the crib bars and he smiles at me with his FOUR TEETH! and I think...yes, I'm exhausted, and yes, it's totally worth it.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Happened to March?

Well, I think that this year March was in like a lion and out like a lamb, because I didn't even realize it was over. Which it totally is. Tomorrow is April 1. WHAT? Good grief.

I have a job at Sylvan Learning Center tutoring basically whatever they need me to. I have some training modules to do as soon as possible, but right now I'm babysitting and blogging and I can probably get them done relatively quickly if I work tonight. Also, new tablet is coming today, allegedly, so perhaps I can work on that this weekend. But oh, yeah, Kim and Jessee are coming to visit, I have some minor housecleaning to do (not much, I managed to maintain after last week's Ginger Invasion 2011) and I have to drive to Boston at rush hour TWICE. Tomorrow and Monday. How bad will it be?

I have this sneaking suspicion that I'm coming down with something. The last two days I've had severe pains in my stomach and I've started getting those weird, pointed (that's the best word I can come up with) headaches that are concentrated to one spot, except they're recurring in the same spot. It's the right side of my head, and the pain shoots down into my neck and then fades. This has happened 5 or 6 times today. I'm going to chalk it up to tension, since while babysitting Jack he managed to UNPLUG SEVERAL CORDS FROM THE XBOX AND TRY TO EAT THEM. I was feeding Calvin a bottle, and I look up and there's Jack, with the Xbox turned around and cords clenched in his tiny fists. I yelled, "Jack, NO!" and he looked up at me like I didn't even matter, and went back to playing with these weird snakey things he had found, and weren't they fun? I stuffed a blanket in around the Xbox and will let Brandon deal with whatever has been pulled out.


(Oh, who am I kidding, he doesn't read this.)

I might like to go see Spring Awakening when it comes to Worcester. I know four kids in this cast (and generally like them, although I doubt they remember me from Elon). I'm not even that interested in the show, but I hear it's good and, well, it would be cool to see a bunch of Elon kids in a professional production. I guess we'll see if it happens.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 22, 2011

Dear Calvin,

You are nine months old today, which means that if you had stayed on the inside for as long as you were supposed to, you would have been out for the same amount of time you were in. I'm very sorry for any trauma that you may have gone through this month, including bonking your head multiple times while you LEARNED TO CRAWL WHAT IS THAT. You're moving now, and it's scary.

This month I lost a very good friend, someone who really wanted to watch you grow up. Instead of taking you to a wedding in May, we took you to a funeral. It was really difficult, and I hope that I can teach you some of the love of the arts that I know she would have instilled in you.

There are so many things I want for you, and so many things I want you to know, but I know that you won't always listen to me or trust that I know what I'm talking about. That's okay, and I'll learn to deal with it. For now I'm taking advantage of the few times you snuggle with me, and the fact that I can still carry you around and make you feel better when you hurt yourself, and doing the best I can as a mommy.

Love you, munchkin,


Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Stages of Grief

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross described the pattern of emotions that a person goes through when confronted with a tragic situation. She observed that people go through, in order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. There is apparently no scientific basis for this pattern. Which makes sense to me since I'm not going through them in order.

Ginny's death was such a shock to me that I kind of hit the depression angle first. I got angry yesterday, and cried the whole time I wrote my blog post. There's nothing I can bargain for or with. I guess right now I'm in denial because I'm removed from it, but I know that as soon as I see our friends or her family I'm going to jump right back to depression.

What I'm saying is, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is an idiot. I'm not saying she wasn't a smart lady, but her model is severely flawed. You can't map someone's grief. You can't define the way a person is going to feel in the wake of a tragedy. I reacted totally differently to Patrick's death last fall. Some people never even reach acceptance. You may be able to live with it, but you don't necessarily accept it.

I keep remembering all of these random things about Ginny that make me inexplicably happy. (No, not inexplicably; there are some HILARIOUS memories I have of her.) I almost feel guilty for feeling any happiness right now because nothing makes sense. But I want people to try to be happy whenever I die. I want the good things remembered. I think most people do, and I think it's wrong to try an shut down those memories because of some prescribed idea of what it is to grieve. Remembering happier times is getting me through this, and if I smile or laugh in the next few days, it will keep me from going to a dark, unforgiving place where acceptance isn't an option. It's what I need to make sense of something that you really can't make sense of.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
-E.E. Cummings

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Ghost in the Machine

I lost one of my best friends yesterday. Somehow it gets worse every time I have to say it or write it or even think about it. Personally, I don't want people telling me that she's in a better place or that it's part of God's plan, because where I am right now is: it's a stupid, messed-up world and stupid, messed-up things happen in it. This wasn't supposed to happen. And there's absolutely nothing I can do about it.

There are a lot of wonderful things I can say about Ginny. She was one of the most outspoken, crazy, fascinating people I've ever met. She was one of the best friends I've ever had. She gave amazing birthday presents, but more than that, she was always there for you if you needed to talk. She's the only person who called me on a regular basis after I moved just to see how things were going and how Calvin was doing. She's the one who gave me the idea of finding the baby tuxedo for him to wear to the wedding. She made me laugh, and she gave me a reason to go to the theatre. I know that I tried to be a good friend back. I'm not as good with the telephone, but we went through a lot of difficult stuff together. She called me on Sunday, the day before she went into the hospital, to thank me for a box I sent her with a whole bunch of random stuff in it--things to keep her entertained in the hospital, mostly--and then she wrote on my Facebook wall to tell me that she loved the CD I had made for her, that it was "like an aural photo album of the last 6 years!! LOVE YA SO MUCH!"

I told her a lot over the last few weeks how much I loved her. I'm glad I did.

What I keep thinking about, and what I can't escape, is how present she still is in my life. She has a blog that she won't write in anymore, a Facebook page that someone else will keep going, a Twitter account that will go dark. Her number is still in my cell phone, her email still in my contacts list, and more than 800 photos of her are floating around the Internet. In the last 12 hours her Facebook page has exploded with people offering condolences and memories, because that's how we do it nowadays: we maintain this presence, virtually, so that in a way we never have to totally let go. In many ways I'm glad of this. It makes us less alone. In some ways it's just a reminder of the things you lose, the voice you'll never hear again. That's especially hard, because Ginny was becoming a fantastic opera singer. She had pursued musical theatre for a long time and still did, but when she went to Italy senior year she dove into opera headfirst. I still have six recordings that she sent me at the beginning of December, before any of this blew up the way it did. There will be a time when I can listen to them again.

Every time I see the bridesmaid dress or the shoes I bought for the wedding, my stomach knots up, because there's this wonderful guy who loved Ginny so incredibly much, and I can't fathom what he's feeling right now. And there are her parents, for whom she was an only child, who were planning for a wedding that isn't going to happen. I know that as much as I hurt, what they're going through is infinitely harder. So even if you don't know them, please keep them in your thoughts.

I miss you, Ginny. Thank you. For everything.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Snow Is Disappearing

Wow, I almost took a drink out of Calvin's bottle instead of the 2-liter Diet Dr. Pepper I should have been going for. This is what happens when you don't sleep.

Last night was Calvin's worst in months. He's teething (!) so he's been fitful. He cried in his sleep and woke up several times and was just generally unhappy, and that made me sad, and I spent half the night in the spare bed in his room and the other half in my bed after I realized that I can't sleep with his nightlight and it was hot under that denim comforter. Anyway, by 2am I was back in my own bed, and managed to sleep about 4 hours before he woke me up at 6 with his leg through the crib rails. Anyone know how to stop him from doing that? Yes, I have a bumper, and no, he hasn't injured himself (yet).

We went to the doctor today about his atrocious rash. Note:

It's apparently just some crazy eczema and she prescribed some high-strength cortisone ointment, along with some baby Benadryl to stop him scratching. He's still, as she put it, "wicked cute." (That's the one expression I like up here. But only as a modifier, not by itself. Something must be "wicked ____" in order to be cool with me, not just "wicked.")

I desperately need to work out a GOOD organizational system for the diaper bag. I'm still furious about losing the changing pad at Christmas; it makes me really sad because it was all coordinated and APPARENTLY you can't just buy the pad by itself, so I need to get my spare out of Brandon's car someday. Perhaps when I actually buckle down and organize it I'll post it on here so that you, too, can be organized like me. I tend to make sure I have everything I need with as little extra as possible, but it can be customized to fit your needs. Give me a day or two to get everything sorted and I'll do that.


Saturday, March 5, 2011


Calvin has a tooth!

Yesterday Molly and I were at the Wrentham Outlets with our babies. Calvin was in the side carries and kept on flopping backward to look up at the ceiling, and at one point I could see up into his mouth and...wait a that a tooth? I managed to get a finger into his mouth and feel that it was, in fact, a tooth that had popped through, but it was in the wrong place. Everyone told me that even if it looked like other teeth were coming in first, the bottom center two teeth would be the first to break through. I guess Calvin's just doing things his own way, because this is the top left lateral incisor (your incisors are the two middle teeth, and the lateral incisors are right outside those). Ordinarily that is the 5th or 6th tooth to pop.

I feel disgusting saying things like this, but I love my child and think he's the most perfect thing in the world. He's so pleasant and smiles all the time and makes the funniest noises.

We also got some AMAZING cupcakes yesterday at (5 Bites in Wellesley. They were delicious and the people there were so awesome, they pulled some cupcakes from the next day's batch because we had driven 35 minutes to get there! I went because I had a Groupon but I'll definitely be going back soon. Certainly when Meredith and Seth come visit, which is going to be super fun and is ONLY TWO AND A HALF WEEKS AWAY!

Anyway, Brandon's computer has crap for battery so I have to end this, but that's about all for now anyway.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Parenting: Super-Serious

Molly and I took the babies to IKEA today. I did not buy anything. Aren't you impressed?

We were in the cafe and a couple walked up to us and asked how old our babies were. It's scary to think that they're eight and ten months old now.

"I have a five-month-old," said the lady. "A girl."

"Ours is in the car," said the guy. We all laughed. Molly said, "I hope you cracked a window!"

I tell you this story because I want to relay the importance of laughter and occasionally inappropriate joking to raising a child. You can't take everything seriously or you'll go insane. I love meeting people who can laugh at comments like that rather than going bananas over the very idea of leaving your child in a car while you shop.

My parents are coming to visit tomorrow! I'm excited.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Planned Parenthood

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way qualified to talk about this, having never actually been in a position to utilize the services of Planned Parenthood, but I have great respect for the organization and I just have some things to say. That's what a blog is for.

"Planned Parenthood" is a phrase that goes right along with "Family Planning"--you know, that aisle in Wal-Mart where they stock the condoms, lubricant, and other birth control. Somehow, Family Planning always gets shoved in the same aisle as what I still think of as "feminine products": tampons and pads and, occasionally, adult diapers, though those are not in that category. Family planning, and to an extent Planned Parenthood, is not about planning for parenthood or a family; it's about preventing it. Not indefinitely--just until you're actually prepared to have one.

In this aisle at the store there are condoms, which can be seen as a male responsibility (although I know many women who carry them in their purse for when their partners inevitably forget to purchase them), as well as many types of female "protection" in the form of spermicides. And of course, we're the ones who get the pill, the patch, the shot, the ring, or whatever newfangled method of prescription birth control is available. (The little under-the-skin implant is creepy. I have a skin thing.) We are responsible for our bodies, at least when it comes to how they interact with other bodies. We get a cervical cancer vaccine because there's this extremely common disease called HPV that, in some cases, can turn into cancer. If we mess up and miss a pill, we either hope like hell that there's a morning-after pill available in our area or we agonize until our periods come and we can visit that aisle at the store for more tampons, because we've inevitably run out and forgotten to buy more and RUINED another pair of underwear.

I did not intend to get pregnant last year, but I was in a position where it was okay that I did. It ended up working out really well. I can't imagine what would have happened had I gotten pregnant in high school or even college, and as a teacher I interacted with students who were managing to balance their children and their schooling, or failing miserably at one or the other, and the biggest game-changer was whether they had a decent family support network or a loving partner. Sometimes the responsibility of parenthood forced them to drop out or miss out on many of the moments of high school that define the experience; sometimes they started slipping and had to try again; and in a very few cases, I might not have even known that they had a child had I not shared stories or seen photos.

So many of the girls that got pregnant told me that they had either been using protection sporadically or not at all, and the most common reason was because they didn't want their parents to know they were sexually active. I was lucky enough to have a mother who was very up-front and nonjudgmental about sex, and started telling me at age 14 that if I was going to have sex, to get her to make me a doctor's appointment and get the pill. We had the kind of relationship that, at 17, I did. But here's the conundrum: unprotected sex is risky, and there's a damn good chance that something will happen and then they're going to know anyway. Like getting pregnant. Or getting an STD. It's tough to hide things like that.

That's why Planned Parenthood is important. Yes, one angle of family planning is abortion, but it should be a last resort in a lot of cases. Planned Parenthood provides a lot more than just abortion. It provides a place for girls who can't talk to their parents to get information, learn to protect themselves, and make responsible decisions. As GI Joe says, "Knowing is half the battle." And if you don't know how to protect yourself, you're taking a big risk.

And that's why I'm disappointed that Planned Parenthood is, itself, at risk, as a result of a House resolution that strips it of all federal funding. I have a feeling it won't become law, or at least I hope that it doesn't. Women need Planned Parenthood. It's already been neutered by protesters frightening away women who are there just for routine medical care; it doesn't need to be euthanized.

I promise not to skew into the political often on this blog, but I really do feel strongly about this, and this is as much a women's issue as a political one. Thank you for reading, if you still are.!/event.php?eid=189887001044118

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22, 2011

Dear Calvin,

If it were not for the calendar on my computer I would have forgotten that today you are eight months old. I am losing track of all the new things you are learning to do, but my favorite is the backward crawl. From your position on your tummy you push up, lean back on your knees, and then...plop back onto your belly and kind of inch backwards deceptively fast. It doesn't even look like you're moving, but you are, and when I turn back you've gone eight feet. You also may have sat up on your own in your crib, but I missed it. I can't remember if I had sat you up before I left the room or if you had been on your belly.

Anyway, we didn't get you the helmet, so I hope your lopsided head resolves itself and you don't have reason to resent me for the rest of your life. It doesn't look bad except from one angle, and even then it's not too bad, and when you have some hair it'll be fine.

You love music, and especially drums. I drummed on the couch today and you and Jack just laughed. So I know what to do if you need to be entertained later today. There are also toys and tickles and hanging upside down. I love watching you play with Jack, because the two of you interact and it's hilarious. He gets too close to the jumpy and I have to move him away because you jump so violently you could give him a concussion. Your leg muscles are insane. The two of you talk to each other and laugh at each other and mimic movements and share (or steal) toys.

You can also stand against the couch now, which is scary but cool. You've learned to feed yourself (sometimes). You just got over your first real illness, a stomach bug that tore up the whole family plus Jack and Molly. You took it like a trooper and got better quickly, even though it messed up some of your pajamas. That's OK. You'll be out of 6-9 month clothes within the month--the pants are already getting too short and I can't button a couple of your pajamas. You're taller than Jack, and growing CONSTANTLY. I can barely remember when you were too small for newborn size clothes.

I love you, munchkin. Thank you for being such a good baby.

Love, Mama

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spencer Reid

Hi, Spencer Reid. I know you are a fictional character and all, but can we be friends?

The other day I caught the old episode of Criminal Minds where the good Dr. Reid gets addicted to Dilaudid after Dawson Leery holds him prisoner because he's schizophrenic and thinks he's his father. (I love explaining things without context.) This is not the first episode I've watched, and every time I see it I can't help but want to give him a totally platonic hug and go out for coffee. I have a soft spot in my heart for awkwardness, and he embodies it. This is also why I want to hang out with the guys from The Big Bang Theory. Smart people who are just a little off the social grid. That's the group I ran with in high school and the type of people I'm closest to now.

My friends are computer programmers, video game designers, engineers, teachers, and all-around intellectuals. I like them.

All day I kept thinking of smart things I wanted to blog about, and then I forgot them all. Tomorrow is Calvin's eight-month birthday. I guess whatever awesome things I've thought of will have to wait.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sons of Mothers

My baby gets a lot of compliments when we go out in public. People comment on how cute he is, how well-behaved he is, and how toothless he is. Yes, he still has no teeth, and very little hair, but his eyes are starting to develop a little burst of brown around the pupils like mine have, which is cool. And he is very cute and very well-behaved. I love him more than I could possibly express.

But I've been thinking today about what's going to happen when he gets bigger. Jack is mobile, and crawls like a caterpillar on speed, not to mention creeping along anything he can get a handhold on and trying to climb over the back of the couch. Babies is dangerous. One day Calvin will be at that stage. And then he will walk. And then he will run. And then he will run INTO things. And around and over and under things. And he will climb and flip and wrestle and jump and do all kinds of stupid ill-advised things (because I can already see shades of my brother in him) and I will patch him up and assure him that I love him and he's going to be fine, there's a reason your head is so hard.

I'm terrified of my baby becoming a real child. Right now he's in his crib NOT TAKING A NAP LIKE HE SHOULD BE, but eating his feet and rolling around and yelling at the mobile and probably pulling the blanket over his face because that's what he does. I love watching him interact with things and people, whether it's strangers or his daddy or other babies or his own reflection. He's awesome. But he's still little and very easy to control. And thank God for that, because if I had a difficult baby I might not be thinking of having another one.

(WHAT?! Thinking of having another baby? Have I gone completely insane? Have I forgotten the pain and nausea and fatigue and swollen feet and high blood pressure and sleepless nights and constant need to pee and cravings for weird, random foods and bed rest and labor and bleeding and pain and recovery time and more sleepless nights because the baby doesn't have his clock set and constant diapering, feeding, soothing, and myriad other tasks that constitute the process required to create and maintain a baby?!!)

No. I haven't. But I want my children to be close in age, and it would be nice to take all my mommy time at once. I'm reticent to go back to work because I don't want to leave Calvin. I want to stay home with him every day and snuggle and play and argue about naptime and even change diapers and go to the store and make him laugh and play and so on. His laugh is hilarious and I've found consistent ways to bring it out. And I might not be the world's best mother, but he's my baby and I want to spend as much time with him as I can before he becomes this child I'm so afraid of. Fortunately, I don't have a lot of valuable, breakable objects, or we'd be in REAL trouble.

Someone is hammering somewhere around me and I don't approve. I'd like to take a nap, please.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bombs Away

Anna Lisa got married last week and I went. It was my first wedding with the baby, and he was a bit louder than I had hoped, and also spit sweet potatoes on my dress. Not cool, baby. Anyway, we ended up having to cut out right at the start of the reception because he was tired and it was past his bedtime, so that was a bit of a bummer. The wedding was lovely; she made paper flowers for the bouquets and centerpieces, which was cool, and they had cupcakes for the guests, and they walked in to an Owl City song that I had forgotten existed and have since been listening to on repeat because I love it. I need to update my iPod so I have it on there; I had to steal it from Brandon's computer. I also need to make room for my other movies.

I would like to get an iPhone. This is not something new; I've liked them for awhile and I've heard a lot of good things about the iPhone 4, and now that it's coming to Verizon and I'm getting close to upgrade time (assuming they still do that--I've heard they don't do New Every 2 anymore, and that would be a giant drag) I want to upgrade to it. Brandon might since he's actually eligible, but I'm not until September or something. Even though we upgraded at the EXACT SAME TIME.

It's still been snowing and icy and gross for the last week, and our snow accumulation is at like 60 or 70 inches...I don't even know. I just know that this has absolutely ruined me for snow. When we move back South and get three inches, I will no longer be amazed and excited by it. Because it's snowed almost constantly here. A foot of snow feels like nothing. This depresses me to no end.

And while I'm at it, Massachusetts NOW HAS SUN DROP. I AM SO EXCITED. This makes New England suck a little less. The other thing that makes it not suck is having friends. I love our friends.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The baby that makes people want to have babies

I'm spending the week in Gastonia with my family (although not that much, since my parents both have full time jobs and are working all this week) and on Tuesday I took Calvin to Mom's work and introduced him to everyone. Even Kristine, who doesn't like children, thought he was adorable, and he even drooled on her--she doesn't like drool--and did his weird little froggy-swim-crawl thing that he's been doing lately. Let me tell you about this crawl: He gets down on his stomach, pushes up on his arms, then throws his arms out to the side and kicks violently in midair. He kind of scoots backward a little bit.

Dad's actually been home the last two days because he's been working nights on something that isn't working properly, but it got fixed so he's back at work today. Calvin and I have hung out and played most of the day, and we took a nap a little while ago. He also kind of scoots, rolls over, pulls himself forward, flops onto his back, repeats. He was doing that on the bed and grabbing my face.

Yesterday I bought two pairs of jeans that fit me better than any pants I've had since I had the baby. I am pretty sure that my hips changed shape after I gave birth, but I'm also still heavier than I was, and working on losing the weight.

Since I started writing this last week I have gotten back to the frozen North, where it is thirty degrees colder than it was down South. It is currently snowing. I am cold.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 22, 2011

Dear Calvin,

I almost forgot to post this, not because I forgot that it was your seven-month birthday today, but because we spent the day with Todd, Molly, and Jack. You and Jack are actually acting like friends now. He pets your head, you try to grab his ears, and you poke and prod at each other until your mean mommies pull you apart. It's for your own good; babies are fragile things, and we don't want you causing any lasting damage.

You ripped a coaster in half this evening. It was one of those cheap paper cardboard coasters that you get at chain restaurants, but Molly was impressed. You also jump and kick like crazy and I can tell you're developing muscle. When you try to crawl it looks like swimming, but you're moving backwards a little and making progress. Jack is crawling and cruising now, and you'll be there soon.

I took you for a helmet consult the other day. It wasn't fun, because I don't want to get you a helmet, but it wasn't as bad as I had feared. Since I got your numbers I'm going to set up the follow-up appointment to get you all checked out so that insurance can tell us whether it's covered. I'm pretty sure you're not bad enough for them to cover it, so I'm not too worried, but if they do you'll have a cool space helmet to wear for three months. That's how I have to look at it so I don't worry as much. I feel like it's a mean thing to do to a baby, but I also don't want you to have a deformed head. We'll take care of you the best that we can.

I love you so much, and you're so cool.

Love, Mama

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Going Back to Carolina

Well, Calvin and I are taking our first solo flight (meaning: just the two of us, so "solo" is grossly inaccurate) Monday afternoon to spend a solid week in beautiful scenic Gastonia, North Carolina! I hope he's as good as he has been on other flights. I will be packing the baby Advil. Right now he's grunting in his room, trying to avoid falling asleep, I think.

Rather than spend a lot of time writing things, especially since I don't have much to say right now, I'm going to go get the baby and play with him for a little while.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My First Blizzard

Yeah...we have about 18 inches of snow, and there may be another blizzard next week. It's very pretty and I'm glad I don't have to drive in it. Tomorrow I will be taking Calvin on the baby sled. Molly, I miss you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sabado Gigante

xkcd 771: "Period Speech"

We are supposed to get MORE SNOW on Wednesday, starting around midnight. Our area's looking at about a foot, if the weather people know what they're talking about, but this week has reminded me why I don't want to teach up here: school doesn't get canceled if it snows. North Carolina (and the rest of the Southeast) got snow today, and most places are getting at least two days off because they lack the infrastructure to deal with it efficiently. That's all well and good, but up here they plow immediately and you're expected to just go on like normal. That's why people in the South love snow, I think, and why Northerners don't care about it. Up here, we can't enjoy it. Down there, everything stops and you can just...have a snow day.

Calvin has learned to sit up from a reclining position, say "dada" over and over again, scream VERY LOUDLY AND FOR NO APPARENT REASON, and inch himself backwards in a circle. It's the strangest thing to watch. It's also really scary how fast he's learning things, and I'm starting to think about childproofing in a big, real way. He's obviously my number one concern as far as that goes, but also, I'll be starting to take care of Jack regularly next week, which means making sure that there's nothing for him to seriously hurt himself on or with (and he crawls and cruises, dear God) and that the house is clean. So that's the rest of the week's assignment: make the house clean enough that a mobile baby can navigate it safely.

Also, I'm going home in two weeks for Anna Lisa's wedding (and a visit with the family, including my mom's parents, who haven't seen Calvin since we moved). This means Molly and I will have seen each other for just under half of the month of January due to our respective trips.

Also-also, Fallout: New Vegas has a ton of bugs, and is therefore not as much fun as I had hoped when I got it for Brandon for Christmas. Sad face.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Give me the gold

Brandon has given me permission to go clothes shopping. Now, before anyone makes any comments about the whole marriage contract and patriarchy or whatever (not that you would), he's the one with the job, so it's really all his money. I've been really careful about how I spend money lately, and I hate a lot of my wardrobe, so I'm going to go exploring around Natick tomorrow and hit up a consignment shop or two, as well as finally going to Savers and picking up a few necessities at Target. Oh, and I'm getting my hair cut for the first time since OCTOBER, good grief, and getting a massage. It will be a good day.

Oh hey, it's snowing. Apparently someone in New Hampshire fell through the ice on a lake while ice fishing--ice fishing? They do that in New England?--and I'm just hoping that the roads are good tomorrow. Shouldn't be a problem; it doesn't look like anything ridiculous. Also, some lady lost her snake on the T. WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN. I love local news.

I can't remember if I mentioned that we saw True Grit and it was awesome. I have a few upcoming movies that I'm really excited about, namely: The Green Hornet, The King's Speech (waiting for that on DVD), Rango, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, and The Tempest. Also, Sucker Punch looks interesting.

This is an old prompt from NaBloPoMo: Describe what happiness means to you using just six words.

"My baby has the best smile."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Hate Your Blog

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

This is going to be a blog about literature I don't like. That poem is one. I adore Lewis Carroll, and Alice is one of my favorite storybook heroines. She's very logical. I appreciate that. The world of Wonderland is a fantastical and bizarre creation, and the characters are rich and multi-dimensional (if extremely odd). But this poem depresses me for the simple, inescapable fact that they eat the oysters.

I also dislike the Brontes and Jane Austen. For the most part, Victorian literature is not my cup of tea, but especially that written by women. I expect men to have crappy female characters, but women! We have better things to do that simper and seek out husbands! Elizabeth Bennett might be my only exception to that rule, but all of Austen's other ladies are husband-hungry weaklings. And the Brontes! Jane Eyre is totally milquetoast, and Catherine Earnshaw is just heinous. There's some variety, at least, but none of it's good.

And while we're at it, I don't like The Catcher in the Rye. I don't identify with Holden Caulfield and I don't like how the book is written. He's a jerk and his way of talking, while quaintly conversational, belies the ignorance he carries around and even flaunts.

I love my friends, but sometimes I miss being around English majors. Lisa's friend Laura, who lives in Somerville, is an English person, and we share a mutual hatred of Noam Chomsky, who lives in the city. We went past his office, I think, and started going off about what a jerk he is. It was a thoroughly enjoyable conversation. Most of my friends (and Brandon's) are in the sciences, in some form or another--and I'm including computer science here--and it's rare that I can have a conversation like that.

So for those of you who don't care about my literary tastes, or the fact that Noam Chomsky is a phony (as Holden Caulfield would not-so-eloquently put it), thanks for reading anyway. The fact that you put up with me is why I like you.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What up, 2011

Well, here we are in 2011 and we have a long, holiday-less stretch of winter ahead of us. I sincerely hope that this is a better year than 2010 was. Although honestly, I think the best way to put it is that the 2009-2010 SCHOOL year sucked out loud, and after that ended things kind of slowly improved.

We spent Christmas in Texas, and had a lovely time; meanwhile, the northeast was preparing for the blizzard of the year, and on Sunday morning we realized that we might not be able to make it back. Our flight to Philadelphia was canceled pretty early, and so we rerouted ourselves through Charlotte and left earlier in the day. We spent the night in Charlotte when our connecting flight was canceled, but the nice thing about a flight through Charlotte is that I have parents who live 20 minutes away and have a guest bedroom and a Pack and Play. So we stayed there and ate Bojangles' and Krispy Kreme and got to see both families at Christmastime.

Calvin is the proud owner of a bunch of toys now, including a couple small ones I bought him and a couple big ones from his paternal grandparents, as well as some new clothes and pajamas. He received a Radio Flyer wagon and an activity table, which are on their way via the postal service, and we're going to have so much fun playing with them.

We spent New Year's with Todd and Molly (and Todd's mom, who is awesome), and Lisa's been visiting all weekend, which has been a lot of fun. She just got back from her Peace Corps stint in Ghana, so it's good to see her again, and we went into the city to visit her friend Laura and her boyfriend (both awesome people as well). I kinda wish we lived closer to the city. I love the subway and being able to walk places and all the cool stuff there is, like cupcake shops and weird eclectic stores.

Also, I'm thinking about applying for a job for which I'm not at all qualified, but would probably like a whole lot. It's a developmental editing position at Bedford/St. Martin's. I don't know when it starts, so I don't know how interested I actually am, but it's for English textbooks. And it would mean finding childcare, which is terrifying, and if it's this semester, messing up a prior commitment, so it's probably not happening. That was an example of me talking myself out of something.

New Year's Resolutions: Lose 35 pounds, feel better about myself, and clean something in my house every day.