Monday, October 31, 2011

Ghosts of Halloween costumes past.

Liam as a Sweet Pea, 2006

And as a chicken, 2006.

He was a spider, too.
What can I say? He was like a photogenic little doll.

Family pic, 2006.
Get it? Liam's a spider; I'm his web.
Bill's a sock monkey. Because he's awesome.

2007! Cutest little monkey EVER.

And to go with our monkey, a banana and a tree.

2008 - Mariachi Band!

I repurposed the tux he wore in my sister's wedding.

2009, AKA the year Liam started choosing his own costumes.
DJ Lance Rock (from Yo Gabba Gabba!).

We didn't quite know how to jump on the YGG bandwagon
so we just went as Mexican wrestlers.

El Ninja & Gatito de la Muerte.

2010 - Finny's first Halloween!

He was too little to enjoy it but we still
changed his clothes, propped him up and took his picture.

A lot.

Trick or treat! 2010.

2011 - Mario Brothers take two!
Bill had to go out of town so I got to be Mario tonight.

Finn was almost big enough to love it this year...
Liam had so much fun "his legs hurt".

I hope you all had a happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's getting Halloweeny up in here.

Never trust a baby with a mustache.

Help wanted.

This week I read a book called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller (thanks for the recommendation, Courtney - I loved it!). The basic gist is this: filmmakers come to Donald to make one of his memoirs into a movie and they realize his "story" is kind of boring. At least for the big screen. So they set out to embellish the heck out of his life to make it more enjoyable for the audience. As they create characters and plot twists and inciting incidents for the Donald in the movie, the real Donald starts to think about how the rest of his "story" will unfold. Not wanting any more of his life to require a re-write, he starts living with intention and dramatically alters the course of his life.

Talk about inspiring!

As a person with a story that may or may not be boring, I appreciated the reminder that it can play out however I choose. (I just have to choose!)

As a writer (who has somehow completely forgotten how to write), I enjoyed the bits of insight about writing (particularly about oneself). The following quote felt like it was written just for me:
But I didn't like thinking about myself anymore. You get tired of thinking about yourself all the time when you're a writer. It gets wearisome, all the bellyaching and feeling and thinking about the world and how you interact with it. Everything's a mirror when you're a writer; the computer monitor is a mirror. Who thinks they are so important that they need to write books about themselves? Who are these people who write about themselves, and how did I become one of them?
I know I'm not cranking out memoirs that people are begging me to make into movies. I know that. And yet, I totally identify with what he's saying. I think it's part of the reason I've been struggling with this blog so much. On the one hand I feel like I can't come up with a single thing to write about. But on the other hand I know that is total he-cow poo (what Liam says instead of BS). Of course I have things to write about. It's a blog. Blogs are built on making something out of nothing. And I have way more than nothing to work with. But I kind of feel like...who cares? And not in a self-depreciating, give me feedback kind of way, I promise. I'm just honestly starting to wonder if all the blog posts and status updates and comments and photos and tweets and whatever else might be teetering on the verge of enough is enough already.

Or maybe I'm just in a bit of a funk. I mean, I really don't want to walk away from my blog. And I definitely don't want to stop writing. But I feel like I've forgotten how to do it. And I have NO IDEA what to write about. So I'm asking for your help. If, for whatever reason, you're still checking in with this somewhat abandoned blog, would you mind telling me what you like to read on here? Maybe if I have a better idea of what you like to read it will help me narrow down what I should try to write.

Or maybe not. But I figure it's worth a shot.
There are certain stories you simply can't make happen by yourself. In order to make the story happen, we have to give it away, we have to ask for help, and when you ask for help, you are asking other people into the story with you, so it's no longer just yours, it belongs to the community that believed in it with you.
- Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's good to be us.

I had a moment at story time today. It's a moment I've had many times before and one I'm sure to have again. Only this time it ended a little bit differently...

It's the moment where I look down at the adorable boy laying his soft baby feather head on my lap and smiling up at me with that gappy toothed smile and realize HE is the most perfect child in the entire room.

The way he pulls himself up to standing just so he can hug my neck. And claps at the end of each song and story. The way his huge beautiful blue eyes take it all in, all the time. You can almost see him cataloging information as he stares and stares and blinks and stares.

The way he gets a little scared of high-fiving Library Pete and turns his face toward my chest. And dances to the music and smiles at pretty ladies and pats my arm. I swell with pride and love over and over again and feel overwhelmed by his cuteness and perfection.

And then I start to feel guilty. I glance awkwardly around the room at all the other parents and wonder if it's hard for them to be there with their children when MINE is so clearly the best. But then I stare a little longer (Finny gets it from me) and I notice they're not looking at me and my perfect boy. They're looking at their babies. But they're seeing them just the way I see mine.

A dad helps his little girl stand up without holding on and beams with pride when she lets go of his hands.

A mom gives her newborn baby an extra tight squeeze when Mary Mary sings What a Wonderful World.

Big hands help little hands clap to the beat while the parents with bigger kids sing all the words to all the songs.

And every mommy and daddy at story time feels oh-so-lucky as we look at our children, our PERFECT children, and realize OURS are the best in the whole wide world.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The grind.

Last week, out of the blue, our phone stopped working. Yes, our land line. I know everyone thinks it's so quaint and adorable that we have a land line but I can assure you that we really do need it. Our house is like a dead zone for cell reception. If we want to make a call that doesn't sound like, "What? Sorry. You cut out for a minute. Are you there? Dammit! Oh, hello? Sorry about that. I just... Hello? AURRGGGHHHH!!!!" we either need to stand outside or right next to the toilet in the master bath (who even knows how that discovery was made). Not only that, but I hate talking on a cell phone for more than a couple minutes. All that hot right next to my head. I can practically feel it giving me cancer. And since all of our family is long distance, not having a land line would be like smoking two packs a day. WITH OUR BRAINS.

So, anyway. The phone went out and took the Internet with it. Suddenly we were like, off the grid. For close to a full week. It was...strange. And yet, not all that different.

It was actually really nice not hearing the phone ring. Because nine times out of ten, I don't answer it anyway. Most of the calls we get are for Hair World or Robert Kardashi or Bill's older sister. And, while a wrong number is usually no big deal - "Sorry, wrong number" "Oh, sorry" *click* - that's just not how it works in Tennessee. If the call is coming from somewhere outside the South, it's short and sweet and normal. But if it's a local call, be prepared to make a new friend. Or at least spend five minutes of your life talking to someone you will never need to know. Five full minutes you will never get back. Some things I just don't understand...

And if it's not a wrong number it's an auto call from a politician who wants my vote or a researcher who just needs "a few minutes of my time" (they're not selling anything, promise). Or that charming guy from the fire department. I swear, let a fireman catch you at a weak moment ONE TIME and he'll never stop humping your leg.

But not having the Internet was a different story. Although I didn't miss it as much as you might think. As it turns out, Facebook is kind of boring. And all the blogs and other things I like to read were still there a week later when the phone company finally made it out to fix our connection. I could check my email on my iPhone (as long as I walked out into the middle of the street away from the dead zone). And it's not like I was sitting around with loads of idle time on my hands just wishing I could hop online.

Because there is no idle time. None! It's all scheduled and regimented and broken into bits and pieces. And that's what this whole being off the grid thing has shown me. Our lives are COMPLETELY different now that Liam is in school. We're like...busy. Or not busy so much as just...scheduled. It's like everything has to fit into it's neat little compartment otherwise it will all come crashing down. And we're doing it. It's working. But, jeezycreezy it's a grind...

Morning time: Get everyone dressed and fed and combed and brushed, make the lunch, pack the backpack, hurry, hurry, hurry, get out the door.

Walk Liam to school, talk with friends, park the stroller, grab the baby, go to the classroom, unpack the backpack, say hello to the teacher, find the library card lanyard, go to the library, choose a book, stand in line, talk to more people.

Stick the baby back in the stroller and take the long way home. Like down to the park and around the duck pond. Feeling crazy? JOG!

Get home: Breakfast, clean up, play, maybe get a little work done while Finny pulls everything out of the kitchen cabinets. Maybe not.

Nap time! This is the only idle time in the day. It actually stresses me out a little. I mean, talk about pressure. Should I take a shower and get dressed? Vacuum? Try to write? Work on my Julia book? (I know it's taking me like 13 years and I'm still not done. See all of the above.) Study for the MAT? Work on my application for grad school? (I decided to get my Master's in education so I can teach some day when Finn starts school - woot woot!). Usually by the time I decide on something, Finny wakes up. Damn.

More baby time: Make and clean up another meal, hang out at home or go to story time or whatever. If any errands need to be run, this is the time. Try to get outside if it's a nice day.

School pick up: Another walk, more talk, sometimes even a play date or extra long socializing at school. I'm more open to it on the days I chose to shower during Finny's nap. On the days when I'm still wearing the yoga pants I dropped him off in, I'm more likely to hightail it the hell out of there.

After school time: Finn goes down for a nap and I hang out with Liam. We play school (he's teaching me Spanish) or talk about our days or play cards or bad guys. Sometimes. Sometimes he wants to watch Inspector Gadget or draw new worlds for Mario Brothers alone in his room. Which means I can do one of the things I meant to do while Finn was napping the first time! Like take a shower...

Then it's time to make dinner. This generally coincides with Finn waking up from his nap. So while I'm cooking (which I've totally gotten the hang of, by the way) Liam plays with Finn so he doesn't cruise the hot oven or make me trip over him with a knife in my hand.

Daddy's home! Woo hoo!! We all storm him at the door and then make our way to the dinner table. If we don't eat by 6, 6:15 at the latest, the whole night falls to pieces. It takes us about an hour, start to finish. Well, it takes three of us about 15 minutes. But we get to spend another 45 reminding Liam to eat...

Finn hits the wall around 7 and we try to have Liam in bed by 8. So there's lots of teeth brushing, story reading, milk pouring, etc.

Grown up time! Now's our chance to clean up the kitchen! And sort through the insanely huge pile of crap Liam brings home from school each day! (I am totally overwhelmed by paper work). And maybe (finally!) take that damn shower I've been meaning to take all day! By the time all that is done, so am I. As much as I would like to write or work or read, I also need to spend time with my husband. And since I can do that while laying on the couch watching The Daily Show, it's kind of a no-brainer.

Next thing we know it's 10:00 and we have to start getting ourselves to bed so we can start the whole racket again the next day. Not that I'm complaining. I'm not. I actually really like our life! It just doesn't leave much wiggle room for anything that's not on the list at the moment. Although we still find plenty of time to socialize and do fun things. As a family. I guess it's the "me time" I've yet to put on the schedule. Which is probably why it feels like such a grind.

And this is why I love writing! I didn't even KNOW that was bothering me until right this second. I had to write about my cell phone making my head all hot and a fireman humping my leg and admit to wearing sweatpants to Liam's school (yoga pants, you're not fooling anyone) and spell out in excruciating detail all the totally boring things we do each and every day to realize that I need to add myself to our schedule. I am so glad I chose to write today!

Now, of course, Finny is awake and calling for me from his crib. But that's okay! Because I will come up with a plan. Right after he eats a quick snack and we go to story time and, oh, you know the drill.