Friday, April 29, 2011

Auntie M.

Finn and I recently got to spend a gloriously lazy two days in Reno with my one and only sister, Moose. The reason for the trip was twofold: one, I wanted to share my totally awesome baby with his extended family (he was decidedly less awesome last time I took him to visit); and two, I simply HAD to spend some time with my sister before she became a mom.

Right? I mean, just look at that beautiful belly! I couldn't not see her pregnant. My husband was like, "Why would you go see her now? Wouldn't it make more sense to wait until after she has the baby?" And sure, I guess there's some logic to that. But I'm not talking about logic, I'm talking about me and Moose. Okay, that didn't come out right. But you know what I mean. Oprah and Gayle would totally understand.

Besides the fact that I wanted to celebrate one of the most incredible, mind altering, heart exploding, completely transformative experiences she will ever go through EVER, there was also a teeny tiny (super selfish) part of me that knew that once she became a mom she'd be a little less mine. It's kind of like when she got married. While I totally adore her husband and think they have a wonderful marriage and truly special relationship, the bastard kind of stole her from me. You know what I mean. It's like she used to be mine and now she's his.

Or at least she was until this little bundle of love showed up.

My nephew, Jack William.
Stealing hearts since late last Wednesday.

I know! Isn't he the most beautiful baby ever! I mean, since my babies of course. He's just...I mean...he's so...the kid leaves me speechless! And I knew he was going to be like that. I just knew it. So I couldn't wait to visit Moose. I had to swoop in and grab one last weekend before he whisked her away forever.

So the weekend before her due date I hopped on a flight with my newest love bug and we flew across the country to hang out on the couch with my sister.

The only time on the plane he wasn't growling or licking the window...

Making the most of our four hour layover...

The weekend was perfect. Really truly exactly what I needed. One last hurrah. (If by hurrah you mean watching back-to-back Glee episodes while making our way through a truck load of fancy popcorn, leaving the house only to see grandparents or eat nachos or get pedicures, and having a non-stop Us Weekly fueled slumber party on her ridiculously comfy sectional.)


But maybe the greatest part of my selfish sister weekend was something I hadn't even considered. Finn got his first (and possibly only) shot at some one-on-one time with the most amazing aunt in the world.

And even though he probably won't remember it, I always will. Not only did I adore seeing them together (like love times cute to the power of awww...), it really made me think about the kind of aunt I want to be. Moose has set the bar unattainably high. She remembers to celebrate every birthday and holiday and first day of school and job well done. She sends letters and cards just because and takes gift-giving to another level (a karaoke machine for a four year old? really?). Plus her husband is a rock star uncle who invented the greatest game in the history of games and taught Liam how to play Angry Birds.

They win. No contest.

But there's no reason I can't at least try to come in second, right? The good news (or really really bad news...) is that I didn't even have to wait for Jack to be born to step up my game. I actually already had nephews (my sister-in-law's boys). And they're super fantastic! But I've been a terrible aunt. Like, not even in the same league as Aunt Moose. It's pathetic.

I blame my boys. I mean, not really, but sort of. I'm fairly certain that if I didn't have my own children to raise and love and think about ALL THE TIME, it might actually be possible for me to get a Christmas gift in the mail on time or remember a birthday once in a while. Maybe not. But I like to think that's why Moose is amazing and I am not.

Although, if that's the case, that means the days of Amazing Aunt Moose are over. Crap! Well, at least Liam got five good years with her. And Finn, well, I guess I'll just show him pictures from our fun-filled weekend in Reno and remind him that quality is just as good as quantity.

Or maybe I'm completely wrong. Maybe the reason Moose was a great aunt wasn't because she didn't have kids of her own but because she's Moose. And she's awesome! That's very possible, you know. She's kind of amazing. But wait. If that's the case then I have no excuse for being a terrible aunt other than I SUCK. Darn. But, you know what, as long as it means my boys will get to keep Auntie Moose, I suppose I could live with that.

Jack says he'll think it over and get back to me...

I talked to Moose on the day she got home from the hospital and she was completely over-the-moon in love. "We had the most incredible morning," she said to me as she started to cry. "Jack was on my chest just looking up at me and *sniffle* he's so strong! He grabbed onto my shirt with his hands and lifted himself up to look at me. Ohmygod, I'm totally crying. It was just...he's amazing! We just sat there staring at each other for like twenty minutes. It was incredible. I love him so much..."

I knew exactly how she felt.

I hate to break it to you boys but Auntie Moose is toast. My sister is totally a mom.

(Hopefully the slingshots and chocolate eggs I sent my nephews for Easter earned my boys some good auntie ju-ju...)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The infirmary.

We woke up this morning with just enough time to get dressed and out the door before we were late for school. While I hustled to make Liam's lunch and feed Finn, Liam hemmed and hawed about what to wear.

"Does this pocket on the back count as an extra pocket?" he asked, standing in the kitchen naked, scratching his head.

"No," I said. "But it doesn't matter. You're not going to Encore today, you're going to Eastwood. You can wear whatever the heck you want."

"But I don't want to wear Encore clothes to Eastwood. I need them for Encore."

"Just...get dressed. Wear whatever you can find. Like, look at me - I'm wearing the exact same thing I wore yesterday. See? It's fine. Just get dressed."

But it's never that simple, is it? By the time he finally came out of his room in a shirt AND pants AND underwear and socks, he announced, "Mama, school is starting RIGHT NOW. I guess we'll just have to play hooky again like we did last week."

"No, no, no," I said, scraping banana off Finn's jammies and slamming the rest of my coffee. "We'll just be a little late. It's fine. Just eat your toast and we'll be out the door."

Three bites in he told me he had a tummy ache.

"Maybe you have to poop," I suggested with a sigh.

"Well," he thought carefully. "I do have to pee." He ran off to the bathroom. Not ten seconds later he yelled, "Mama! I think I have to go to Yakima Valley!!!"

Yakima Valley is Conran Code for throwing up. You know, like yakking? Anyway. Yeah. He totally went to Yakima Valley. And while he was there he was crying, "Now you have two sick boys!"


Poor little thug.

Finn woke up on Monday morning with a fever and by the time Bill got home from work that evening his left eye had swollen shut and he'd been to Yakima Valley three times (on me, of course). I took him to the pediatrician on Tuesday and found out he had a clogged tear duct and (another!) ear infection. I didn't ask too much about the Yakima Valley part but after Liam's trip this morning, I'm kinda wishing I did.

Although Liam doesn't seem to mind at all. As soon as he was done yakking he said cheerfully, "Now we really will have to play hooky!" Then he stripped back down to his underwear, curled up on the couch and said, "You know what helps when you go to Yakima Valley? Watching TV or playing on the iPhone. Screens definitely help." When I brought him some crackers and ginger ale to help settle his stomach the look on his face was like, "Nuh-uh. For breakfast?! BEST DAY EVER!!!"

The next time he barfed he said, "At least we have a fun expression for it. That makes it not as bad." If it wasn't so messy, he might wish for Yakima Valley over school every day. But he's totally not down with the mess. He won't even wash his hands or brush his teeth in the regular bathroom because he's afraid he might catch a glimpse of himself in the mirror. "But buddy, I already washed your face. I promise - you look totally fine!" But he says he doesn't want to risk it. "I'll just take my toothbrush and go to the boat."

He's a total trooper. The only reason I'm not stroking his hair and feeding him chicken soup every second of the day is because he's mostly content curled up next to me with White Bi, playing Angry Birds on his iPhone (also, he hates chicken soup). Finny's doing a lot better, too. He only kind of looks like a tough guy now and he's almost entirely back to his happy self. So we're just chilling. As far as double sick days go, this one's not too bad!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How my day peaked at 9 am.

At preschool drop off, I struck up a conversation with one of the boys in Liam's class. We talked about our babies - how mine has less hair than his, but his is so soft he calls her "Softy Soft Softerton" - and about the beat up old broom he was dragging up the steps and into school.

"It's cool because it's a broom but it can be anything. Even just a broom if you want!"

"That is cool. You know, Liam has a box like that. It can be anything he wants. It's pretty much his favorite toy."

"You're Liam's mom?!"


"But you're so much younger!"

I'm sure his mom was less than thrilled (younger than who exactly...) but I practically skipped to my car.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baby eczema cure - it worked for us!

It's warming up here in middle Tennessee which can only mean one thing:


Well yeah, obviously, but that's not what I was thinking.


Dammit, no! I mean, not yet anyway. Yes, we will soon be sweaty and smelling like deet for months on end but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the return of the onesie. Which means, lots more exposed baby skin for me to love on!

I've noticed myself carrying Finn around a lot the past few days. Even though he's a squirmy worm and wants to get down on the ground ASAP so he can practice army crawling across the room, I can't help myself. His fat little baby legs are SO SOFT!

Maybe it's the exfoliation treatment he got on Sunday...

Yeah, his mouth is full of sand. He's soft from the inside, out.

But really, his soft skin is kind of a new thing. When we first got him, he was soft but also a little red and scaly and dry and kind of gross. His pediatrician said it was eczema and was probably flaring up because of the cold dry winter air. We did everything he told us to do - fewer baths in cooler water, Aquafor all over his body, hydrocortisone cream on the really scaly bits - but nothing seemed to help.

Then sometime after the first of the year, we took Finn on his maiden voyage to the YMCA pool. Not the one by our house, the fancy one across town with a saltwater pool. I figured with Finn's skin already a mess, the last thing he needed was a dip in chlorine. I wasn't sure about the saltwater either but he was in the pool for such a short amount of time, I didn't think it would hurt.

But we neglected to shower him off afterwards and he fell asleep in the car on the way home. So by the time we washed the pool water off of him, it had been at least an hour or two. I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried. I half expected to take off his jammies and find a mutant red lizard baby underneath.

Imagine my surprise when the exact opposite happened. His skin looked miles better than it had just that morning. And after a quick rinse in a warm (not hot) shower and a slathering with Vaseline (like Aquafor but cheaper - and we have tons of it left over from my 30th birthday pinata!) his skin was actually as soft as a baby's!

Now we always throw a handful of Epsom salt* into the tub with him and only use a little bit of Burt's Bees baby wash for the parts that really need washing (head, armpits, booty area...). After his bath we pat him dry and immediately rub him down with Vaseline. It's a little greasy and awkward at first but it soaks in pretty quickly. I usually just bathe him right before a nap so I can put him in cotton footie pjs and lay him down for a rest (fleece overheats him and upsets his skin). By the time he wakes up, he's a soft as a baby's bottom! (A baby without eczema, that is.)

His skin has been perfectly soft and flawless every single day since we started doing this. Not red or dry or scaly at all. What a happy accident! I just thought I'd share in case there are any other parents out there with mutant red lizard babies...

*Epsom salt is great for grown up baths too! It soothes sore muscles and can be combined with a few drops of lavender oil for relaxation or tea tree oil when you have a cold. And it's inexpensive so you don't have to feel bad about using a lot of it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The song that opened a can of worms.

Here you go, Moose - the World Premiere of Bright Son (Liam and Bill's band) singing, "Kissing" (aka - their Interpol-style version of the first comes love, then comes marriage song). Enjoy!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Born to win.

Well. It happened. The talk. Yeah. The Talk. I won't go into all the "ins and outs" of the conversation (ahem) because, thankfully, I wasn't there. I'm not sure if it's because boys are more comfortable talking about all the below-the-belt stuff with other boys or if Bill just stepped into the right place at the right time, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm glad I missed out. And it's not just because of the overwhelming awkwardness. It's because my husband totally knocked it out of the park.

When Liam popped out of his bedroom to go pee one last time before meditation and lights out, he couldn't help but hop onto my bed where I was reading to slyly ask, "Do you know where babies come from, Mama?" As shocking as this could have been coming from a five year old in Spider-Man tighty whiteys, I wasn't surprised.

Our house is pretty darn cozy - it's hard not to hear what's going on in the next room. So even though Bill and Liam were cuddled together on his bed with the door closed, I could still hear a few bits and pieces of their bedtime routine from my spot in the living room. First Bill read a few chapters from Matilda, then they sang their duet version of Stand By Me (or, Stand By LPP as Liam likes to say - LPP is his stuffed panda), and then there was some random yelling followed by a quiet conversation.

The yelling was part of their version of the "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage" song (sort of like an Interpol-style call and response thing...we might have to make a video). The conversation that followed was about how that baby got in there.

Bill started with the obvious. "A carriage is like a stroller. So, someone just puts the baby in there."

"You mean like a dodo?"

"A what?"

"A dodo. That's what Alexa called her stroller when she was little."

"Oh. Okay, sure. A dodo. Whatever. So yeah, someone just picks the baby up and puts it in the carriage. Or the dodo. Stroller. Whatever."

But that's not really what Liam wanted to know.

Bill reminded him about the "sperm and egg" conversation we had with him when I was pregnant but that didn't cut it either.

"That's not what I'm asking," he said, starting to get impatient. "I don't know how to say what I mean..."

I'm imagining Bill took a deep breath. "Do you mean how does the sperm get to the egg?"

"Yeah! That's what I want to know. How does that happen?"

I heard Bill clarify many times that Liam really wanted to know what he was about to tell him. I think it was one part buying time, one part being really sure that he was answering the right question. That's what the Internet told us to do. Don't tell kids more than they're ready to hear. I mean, imagine if Liam was really just curious what the word "carriage" meant but Bill launched into the sex talk? Talk about TMI! So he clarified and he clarified and he clarified again. Then, before he could launch into all the juicy details, I hightailed it to my bedroom and shut the door. This was one father/son moment that deserved a little privacy.

So when Liam jumped up on my bed a little while later to quiz me about the birds and the bees, I was ready. Or, at least, as ready as I could be.

"Mmmhmm," I told Liam. "I do know know how babies are made. Do you?"

"Yep," he said smiling. "It's pretty gross..." (For you Curb fans out there, he sounded just like Larry David when he said this.)

So I let him fill me in, adding only that this is something parents tell their kids, not something kids tell each other. But he told me he already knew that. Of course he did. He knows a lot for a five year old.

I had all but forgotten about The Talk the next morning when I challenged him to a bed-making race. He was dawdling in the living room so I started egging him on, yelling from my room, "I'm going to beat you! Even though my bed is bigger and messier than yours, I'm working so hard I think I might win!" He hates to lose so I wasn't the least bit surprised when I heard him running down the hall. But he wasn't running to his room, he was running to mine. "Mama," he said in the most sincere sounding voice. "It doesn't matter how fast you make your bed. You're already a winner."

"Thanks, bud!" Wow. Maybe all the "it's the journey, not the destination" pep talks I give him were finally starting to pay off?

But then he continued. "You'll always be a winner no matter what happens because yours was the very fastest sperm. There were like a million of them racing to the egg and the one that made YOU was the very fastest. Your sperm won, Mama! You're already a winner!"

I love my husband. Not only did he handle the awkwardest of awkward conversations, he somehow managed to do it in a way that totally boosted Liam's confidence and self-esteem. The sperm that made him must have been extra special.