Monday, November 29, 2010

Lullaby.

Quiet time today has been stretching on and on as I contemplate whether I am finally coming down with Bill's virus (in which case I should just kill myself right now) or simply suffering from yet another case of almost mastitis (mastitis-like symptoms that typically last less than a day). My skin hurts. My bones are cold. I'm stuffy and my head hurts. But Finn slept through the night again last night (glory be!) so I woke up with two rock hard red balls where my boobs used to be. (When will my boobs realize that not nursing for that long is a GOOD thing?) I'm really hoping it's almost mastitis. Heck, even real mastitis would be preferable to whatever hell Bill just came back from. (I think. Real mastitis might really suck. I have no idea.) But I can't go down that long sick road. I just...CAN'T.

So I'm taking full advantage of quiet time today and trying to will myself better. I took a bath with my baby (not exactly relaxing but it did help warm up my bones). I ate a kid grilled cheese sandwich with some tomato soup. I read pretty much ALL of the hilariously funny blog BlabberMouse (I don't really know her but I feel like I do - we live in the same neighborhood, we know the same people, we both have two sons, we're practically BFFs! - so when I saw her husband and sons at the neighborhood park recently I was like, "Hey! I'm Maggie! I know Amanda. Sort of..."). Liam must have tiptoed out to find me a half-dozen times but I just kept giving him the old, "just a little bit longer..." spiel and going on with my day.

"But Mama, I'm done. I want to finish watching Elf like you promised."

"Sorry, son. Laying on the couch and watching Elf if too taxing for Mama right now. I have to keep laying here feeling sorry for myself and poking around on the Internet. Go back to your room and I'll come get you soon. Listen to some music or read a book. Take a nap if you want. Just don't come out again until I come get you."

In my defense I really do feel like crap. And both boys are napping at the same time which is a holy occurrence worthy of celebration. AND Bill fixed our laptop yesterday (love him!) so it is able to connect to the Internet for the first time in months. I've got some serious catching up to do. (All it took to get Bill to fix the laptop was telling him I wanted an iPad for Christmas...)

So, anyway, when I finally went to tell Liam that quiet time was over, here's what I found:

video

Have I mentioned lately how much I love this kid?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday night.

As if I hadn't noticed, last night proved once and for all that Saturday night just ain't what it used to be.

I mean, I still hang out with cute boys.

And go out for dinner and drinks.

Sitting at the kids' table earns you the big drink.

And keep an eye out for sharp-dressed men.

And keep track of my drink so no one can slip me anything funny.

And end the evening with a night cap whenever possible.

But when we get home and throw off our clothes and crank up the tunes, it's just not like it used to be.

Don't get me wrong - we still know how to get wild.

But life is definitely different than it used to be.

Gas man!

I guess it's just like they say...

Sometimes different is very good.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving thanks.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. As promised, I kept my Facebook friends thoroughly annoyed all week by frequently updating my status with things I am thankful for. I didn't post about anything huge, just the little stuff I noticed as I went through the day. It was really fun, especially when I was able to incorporate a photo into my post. It made me slow down and appreciate things in a totally different way. And when I was having a dark cloud moment, it forced me to look for the silver lining.

I'm so thankful for these little hands.

Here's what caught my attention this week:

I'm thankful that pink eye only hurts the eye, not the whole body.

I'm thankful for incidental learning - Liam's writing practice equals my grocery list!

I'm thankful for these cheeks and the way they jiggle while riding in the stroller.

I'm thankful for 70 degrees in November, little boys dressed like super heroes, Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Sandy Atkins for giving my boys this super cool bike.

I'm thankful for the not-so-secret lake at Shelby Bottoms...and for lots of rocks to throw in the water.

I'm thankful for leftover birthday cupcakes (thanks Linnet!).

I'm thankful that Finn screaming in the car ALL THE WAY HOME only happens once in a while now. In unrelated news - I'm thankful for this bottle of wine.

I'm thankful for the REALLY LOUD soul music playing at my doctor's office this morning. It's weird but I like it.

I'm thankful that Cougartown quoted Antoine Dodson's, "You are so dumb!" in last week's show. I love that guy. And that show. And Tivo.



I am seriously thankful this damn dream catcher is finished. Don't let the kid-friendly packaging fool you - this craft was some serious business!

If my husband cooked dinner and it sucked, I'd still be thankful that he cooked. The fact that it's always great? There are no words.

I'm so thankful Finny found his fingers!

A full night's sleep! 9 hours!! Thank you, Finn! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

I'm thankful for found art - Liam loves cantaloupe!

I'm thankful that this little turkey is the perfect size for holding.

I am so thankful that Liam loves to read.

I'm thankful for Wheel of Fortune.

I'm thankful for a sweet smelling baby, clean sheets & an early bedtime.

There were many many more things I wanted to post but I was starting to get annoyed with myself and didn't want to have to hide Maggie Day Conran from my newsfeed. But I'm thankful for the mini photo journal I have from this week and am hopeful that I'll continue to spot the magic in the mundane.

Big picture wise, there's a lot that I'm thankful for. But mostly it's the people in my life. Friends who feel like family. Neighbors who have made this house our home. An incredible husband (and friend and father and person...) who has given me two amazing little boys and worked hard to ensure I can stay home to raise them (and never once has he asked what the hell I do all day). I'm thankful for my parents who continue to evolve and grow in their relationship no matter what kind of curve ball life throws at them and my in-laws who have become the kind of grandparents any kid would be lucky to have. I'm thankful for my sister and her lovely family who have taught us all about strength and courage this year. I'm thankful for my cousin who has always been the person in my life I've looked up to and aspired to be more like. I could seriously go on and on. But my husband just got home from braving the Black Friday crowds with a new pizza stone and he likes it when I sit in the kitchen and watch him cook. So yeah... you could say I'm a pretty thankful gal.

Thanksgiving 2010.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Attitude of gratitude.

What a weekend! In addition to my very first book signing (woo hoo!) we also had a five year old's birthday party (with a bounce house that I dominated...without peeing my pants!), a going away party (where Liam discovered a new bestie - she's my age - and Finn wore a tuxedo), a one year old's birthday party (beer and cupcakes in the afternoon...yes please!), and a wine-fueled clothing swap that I had to skip (by that point in the weekend I was pretty spent...and I had pink eye).

The whole thing left me feeling overwhelmed with gratitude (and just slightly uncomfortable in my right eye). Especially the book signing. I would say about 90% of the people who showed up were friends of mine who came out to show support and buy my book. It was incredible to look up during my reading to see all those familiar faces - friends and their children (and their parents!), my two beautiful sons and even my husband who's been knocking on death's door for a close to a week now.

Thankfully he hasn't shared his illness with the rest of us.

So, with Thanksgiving just a few days away, I have decided to dedicate this week (specifically my Facebook status updates...) to all the things I am thankful for. On Thanksgiving Day I will gather up all my weekly status updates (with photos when possible!) and post them here on my blog. I'm guessing I'll have a lot more updates than I usually do. Once you start noticing all the little things in your life that you're thankful for, the list really piles up. I'm hoping some of my Facebook friends will jump on the Thanksgiving bandwagon as well. I'd love to hear about all the things they have to be thankful for. And what a way to kick of the holidays!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book signing.

Even though it sometimes feels like I have done nothing but nurse my baby over the past few months, that is not entirely true. Between feedings I've managed to accomplish a handful of other things including my very first stab at marketing the children's book I wrote and illustrated last Christmas.

Christmastime to Me From A to Z has been available on Amazon since December 2009 (and is "frequently bought with The Hangover" I might add), but I wanted it to be available in stores as well. Because I self-published, the only way to make this happen was to pick up the phone and MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Let me stop you right there and tell you that while this might be no big deal to some people (i.e. my husband), it's sort of like my nightmare. I am somewhat socially awkward when it comes to things like small talk and can imagine nothing worse than calling a total stranger and trying to get them to buy something from me. I don't really even like calling my friends and not asking them to buy something from me. You can imagine how much I was looking forward to this.

So I put it off and put it off and put it off until like 3 days before I went into labor when it suddenly dawned on me that while it was going to be hard now, it was about to get a hell of a lot harder. So I did it. I picked up the phone and made some calls. And you know what? It wasn't all that bad. In fact, I could almost see why someone like my husband gets a thrill out of it. At first I wanted to chicken out and send an e-mail but soon I was calling and trying to catch the person I needed to talk to so I could make them say yes before I got off the phone. It was almost...fun. And when a few stores agreed to carry my book in their inventory (the Tennessee State Museum Gift Shop, Fairytales Bookstore and More , and Davis-Kidd Booksellers), it felt nothing shy of victorious.

You have to start somewhere.

Davis-Kidd and Fairytales also asked me if I would be interested in doing a book signing. Me? Do a book signing? Um, gee, let me think about that... YES! Of course. Who would say no to such a thing?

Although, almost as soon as I said yes, I started to wonder what I had agreed to. I had never actually been to a book signing so I didn't know what to expect. Never one to jump first and look later, I was relieved to see that Davis-Kidd had several book signings on the calendar before my scheduled appearance. Plenty of time to look, listen and learn.

Well, the first one I dragged my boys (and a friend and her boys) to was a complete bust. We sat in the children's section waiting patiently while the book signing took place in a totally different area of the store. By the time I realized what was happening and we packed up the troops and headed over, we had all but missed it. But I saw enough to know I had better be on time to the next one.

So early last week, I took Liam and Finn to a book signing by Robin Preiss Glasser. If that name doesn't sound familiar (as it didn't to me), it must be because you have sons, not daughters. Robin Preiss Glasser is the illustrator extraordinaire for the wildly popular Fancy Nancy books. And she is fancy. Very fancy.

Not only is she fancy, she made her entire audience fancy too. They wore feather boas, big straw hats and flouncy lace tutus. Everywhere I looked I saw sequins and pink and sparkles and GIRLS.

Okay, not everywhere I looked.

After the audience got all gussied up and finished making their fancy paper fans, Miss Robin Preiss Glasser made everyone even fancier by partying their faces with glitter. Yes, everyone.

"Yours are magic sparkles...like Harry Potter."

Fancy Liam.

Then she had all the girls kids practice walking like models with bananas on their heads because she used to be a ballet dancer and that is what ex-ballet dancer/illustrator extraordinaires DO at book signings.

You better work.

She was seriously the most fancy lady (besides my Aunt Jill) I had ever seen in real life. Which was great, for the kids, but not helpful AT ALL for me. I mean, come on. Talk about a tough act to follow.

But still, a few days later when I heard that Davis-Kidd had filed for bankruptcy and would be closing its doors before the date of my book signing, I was much too sad to feel relieved. Okay, maybe I was temporarily relieved (how could I compete with the rhinestone princess?), but mostly I was just super bummed out. We LOVE Davis-Kidd and will really miss having it on our list of places to go and things to do.

As for my cancelled book signing, there's no need to worry about that. Fairytales Bookstore and More is still live and kicking and will be hosting its 3rd Annual Book Signing Extravaganza TOMORROW, November 20th from 10 am to 1 pm. I will be there reading to kids and signing books and showing off some of my original cut paper art. Not to mention putting glitter on everyone's faces and bananas on everyone's heads! Just kidding. Although, to be fair, I have no idea what the other local authors and illustrators are planning to do. If anyone shows up in sequins though, I'm gonna be pissed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Morning soundtrack.

This morning on the way out the door to preschool, I was doing my best not to spill coffee or chocolate milk or peanut butter on Liam's school lottery form while trying to help him with his coat and his school bag in an "I'm not helping, you're doing it all by yourself" sort of way while guiding him out the door with my leg (not kicking...guiding), when all of a sudden I found myself singing a Ludacris song to my child.
Move kid! Get out the way!
Get out the way kid, get out the way.
Yes, I said "kid" instead of "bitch" which was nice. But Ludacris before 9 am? Ludicrous!

I had never even heard this song before I went to a bachelorette party a few months ago. Not that there's really a point to me sharing that bit of information with you. Other than it gives me a reason to show you this photo of me from the party:

Yes I'm modeling in front of a fan at an 18 and up dance club. What? I I don't get out much.

As for my inappropriate rapping this morning, all I can say is I've been tired for three and a half months and cannot be held responsible for my actions.

And you're welcome for getting that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Word problem of the day.

In the wee early hours of my 33rd birthday, after two drag shows and several hours of topless dancing (topless guys, not gals), a few friends and I discovered the answer to the age old question:

If a minivan of thirty-something women leaves da club at 2 am traveling 5 miles per hour on a seriously flat tire, how many gays will it take to change the tire?

One? Seriously? One's no fun. Don't even bother.

Two? Maybe. But one of them must take his shirt off.

Three? One to jack, one to screw and one to read the manual?

Yeah, okay. If you want the tire put on backwards.

Four? Could it possibly take four gays to change a tire?

Yes! Four it is!

So the next time it's your birthday and the middle of the night and you've gone way too long without nursing your baby and your boobs are about to explode and it's freezing cold and raining and your designated driver gets a flat tire in her minivan, you will need to call four gays to come to your rescue. (Note - this probably only works with four incredibly sweet and generous gays...it is not a hard and fast rule.)

Extra credit:

How many semi drunk, up past their bedtime, thirty-something women does it take to change a tire? I don't know. But it's definitely more than I was with!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Party foul.

Liam just came running past me yelling, "Emergency! Emergency! I need a towel!" I laughed a little and asked if he needed any help.

"No! I do not want you to see this. You are going to KILL ME!" (Imagine dramatic pauses between each word.)

"Buddy, I would never kill you."

"Okay, good. Because I spilled, like, A LOT of milk."

After he got it "sparkling clean".

Also? He woke up with pink eye.

Happy birthday weekend to meeee! Thirty three is gonna be crazy y'all.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Eye of the tiger.

Pop quiz: Being a parent is ______.

Don't worry if your coffee hasn't kicked in yet, there's not really a wrong answer here. In fact, there's no shortage of right answers. Awesome immediately comes to mind. So does exhausting, fulfilling, lovely, humbling, expensive, educational, hard as hell, and filled with joy. But right now at the very top of my list is confusing.

Being a parent is confusing.

Not as far as the little one is concerned. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's confusing as all get out that he is physically incapable of staying asleep for more than three hours at a time. For reals. But since he's mostly content when he's awake, I suppose I'll let it slide.

It's a good thing you're so cute, Muffin.

What I'm scratching my head about right now is the four year old stuff. It's pretty much all confusing to me but for your sake and mine, I will narrow it down to one story. And this one has a happy ending!

Back in September, Liam started saying he didn't like Playschool anymore. This was after months of going and loving it but a few things had changed. For starters, the kids he was with all summer moved on to Kindergarten while a new group of four year olds joined his class. Then he started Encore and REALLY loved it. (Maybe Playschool just wasn't cutting it now that he saw what else was out there? Or maybe he was getting burned out going to school three days a week?) Then we flew to Reno for two weeks and got all kinds of discombobulated. And when we got back his classroom had been relocated to the theater because of renovation.

(Plus, you know, WE HAD A BABY and his entire world got turned upside down. You think? Honestly, this never even dawned on me until like a week ago when I talked to his teacher and she brought it up. How sad is that? He's been super sweet with and about Finn since the beginning so I just never put it together. But now it seems pretty obvious that he could be struggling with one thing but acting out about it in a different way. Especially if having a problem was getting him lots of undivided attention from Mom and Dad. I know - duh. I blame the sleep deprivation...)

At first we tried to keep it positive saying things like, "I bet tomorrow will be a great day!" But soon we could tell it was really stressing him out. Nights before Playschool he'd have trouble sleeping and some mornings he'd say he was "too hot" to go to school. I blew it off as best I could but I couldn't help but worry that what his old Mother's Day Out director had told me - basically that he was so sensitive he might need to be home-schooled - might be true.

But it was tough because we didn't really know what was going on. It seemed strange that he stopped liking school out of the blue but Liam tends to be kind of tight-lipped about his day so the details remained fuzzy. Our after school conversations typically go something like this:

Me - "How was school?"

Liam - "Great."

Me - "Well...what'd you do?"

Liam - "Ugh, I don't want to talk about it! I just want to relax and chill out!"

Me - "Well...what was the best part?"

Liam - "Everything."

Me - "Okay...what was the worst part?"

Liam - "Nothing."

Me - "Sigh..."

Liam - "How was your day? Huh? Did you get any writing done?"

Finally one night he opened up and told us that there was a kid in his class who liked to play Tigers on the playground and when he growled it really scared him. Now this could go on and on (as, believe me, it did - night after night after night of tearful conversations about tigers and friends and being scared and you name it...) but all you really need to know is that he didn't want to go to school anymore because there was a kid he was afraid of.

Fair enough. We've probably all been there in one shape or form. But it sucks. And, as far as I know, there's no sure fire way to fix it. Bill and I still tried our darndest though, giving Liam several hours worth of bad advice every night before school. I mean, seriously. You name it, we probably said it. And I'm guessing none of it helped. (In fact I know most of what I said only made things worse - Liam's not a closed book about everything!)

At any rate, after LOTS of trial and error we finally realized that we were focusing all of our attention on the wrong thing. What was most important here was not the problem; it was our child. And no matter what, he needed to know how much we loved and accepted him. Not if he had a good day at school. Always! No matter what. Our love for him is unconditional (even if we sometimes forget and say stupid things that might make him think otherwise).

So we started focusing on the positive and giving Liam plenty of undivided attention for things not related to Mr. T (T for Tiger...no?) and making sure he knew without a doubt how much we loved him. I also talked to his teacher and set up a play date with another "shy" boy from Playschool (I don't actually think Liam is all that shy - he just enjoys chilling out by himself sometimes). What happened next was sheer madness.

Our play date was on Monday and when I picked Liam up from school on Tuesday, I could tell things had changed. His teacher said he had a great day playing with all the other kids and when we got in the car, Liam told me he did so good at school he deserved a trip to the soda shop. Then, over french fries and malts, he asked if we could invite his whole class over for a play date.

"Your whole class?" I asked skeptically.

"Yes! Even my teachers."

"You really want to invite all the kids from school over to your house," I said fishing. "What about Mr. T?"

"Sure, why not? We'll invite him and if he wants to come, he can. So can we do it? Can we invite my whole class to my house right now?"

I couldn't help but laugh. It was completely absurd! One minute he hates school and never wants to go back and the next he wants everyone to come over right this second? What the heck?

But he was really serious so when I laughed, it made him cry (I'm telling you - mother of the freaking year over here). So even though the problem was apparently solved, we still spent the rest of the afternoon talking and crying. I was capital C Confused and had no idea what to do next. When he asked me to call his friends' moms to set up play dates RIGHT NOW, I just went ahead and did it. And number one on the list was Mrs. T!

As soon as I set the date, I started to question myself. What if Liam was just acting brave? I know I had said what a great idea it was to pretend to be outgoing even if you weren't back when I was doling out bad advice. What if he glommed onto that stupid notion and decided to be someone else for a while? This play date with Mr. T could be a recipe for disaster! The other kids he had asked about were kids his teacher told me he likes to play with so I felt pretty good about our upcoming plans. But Mr. T? Mr. T is his arch nemesis! The person we had spent two months worrying about! Who's bright idea was this play date?!

Well, it was Liam's bright idea and you know what? It was freaking brilliant. I swear, all the time Bill and I spent trying to help him and we never once thought to reach out to the kid. But it actually makes perfect sense. You can't be scared of a friend. All those cliches like if you can't beat 'em join 'em and keep your friends close and your enemies closer are cliches for a reason. They work!

Yesterday was the play date and it couldn't have gone better. We met at a bouncy place which is a great spot for a high energy kid like Mr. T yet also somewhere that Liam feels confident. They played together the whole time, taking turns being the boss and not even fighting over who won at air hockey (they declared it a tie).

When Liam yelled out to me from the top of a slide, "Mr. T is my friend!" he didn't sound nearly as surprised as I would have expected or even like he was doing self-affirmations (yes, we made him do those). He sounded bold and confident and like a kid who had made a new friend. I was really proud of him. And, even better, I think he was proud of himself.

I just hope I can remember moving forward that my job as a parent is not to solve my child's problems for him but to love and support him in a way that allows him to solve his problems on his own. I'm going to have to - here we are in preschool and I'm already in over my head. Just imagine how confused I'll be by the time he gets to high school!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010.

Remember when Liam said he couldn't handle ghost makeup on his face or head? Well, he lied.

Move over Team Edward.

He handled it like a little champ! I think the secret was letting him go hog wild with the baby powder and agreeing to let him have "an extra" piece of candy after trick-or-treating if he went along with it (as if there was any stopping him from gorging in the first place).

Who knew playing with baby powder could be such a party? (And, yes, it is ALL over our house.) Way more fun than when Mom makes you stick your hands in the bowl of pumpkin guts "just 'cause".

Poor Liam. The grossest Finn's Halloween got was being carried around all night by head wound guy.

Luckily he didn't mind at all. He napped through almost all of trick-or-treating. Good thing we got a family photo before he fall asleep!

So, yeah, I guess we went with sort of classic Halloween costumes. I was a witch who didn't realize there wasn't a witch hat in the costume box until the eleventh hour and had to improvise with a big spider stuck to her head. Bill was a gross out head wound guy. Liam was a spooky ghost named Boo. And Finny was a pumpkin.

We went trick-or-treating with friends which made the whole thing way more fun.

Liam and Sia led the way, running from house to house together (they only tripped and fell about once every third house!). They had a great time and it was really cute to see Liam looking after his buddy. At one door he put his arm around her and said, "I hear a dog so step back a little." Adorable.

After they'd shout, "Trick-or treat!" Liam would ask, "Are you going to give us a trick or a treat?" When the grown up would answer "treat", he'd say, "We've been getting treats all night!" Then, right before they'd turn to go, Liam would shout, "Boo! I'm a ghost!" and Sia would say, "Meow! I'm a kitty!" Then they'd talk and talk until we coaxed them off the porch and onto the next house.

They scored loads of candy which Liam promptly ate half of before we realized he hadn't had dinner. Score!

Mmmm...Milkduds dinner.

But Halloween only comes once a year so we just went with it. And it was awesome. Hope your Halloween was just as fun!