Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Mensa Christmas

Ready for a fun holiday test?

Okay, so this isn't a Mensa certified test, but I have Mensa on my mind...and Christmas. Eric keeps toying around with taking the Mensa test because, well, I have no idea except that I think it is a nice follow-up to his stint with Jeopardy. I told him I would support the venture, as long as no magic cards were involved.

I had a great work holiday party this week. Full of games, trivia, dirty Santa, and food. Let me just say that I was first loser (2nd place) in all 3 games.

  1. It was between my drawing and another drawing for our timed "draw a Santa picture with your non-dominant hand". But I chalk that up to artistic subjectivity.
  2. I used my mad math skills to guess how many chocolates were in a mason jar. Clearly I calculated length x width x height. Well, so did a another coworker, and then she upped her number by 1. So her 126 beat my 125 (there were actually 139 in the jar). First loser; again.
  3. I got 11 (of course) out of the 20 "Guess the Christmas Carol" timed trivia, but someone was able to bang out 14 in 3 minutes.
Because the holidays are about expanding our waistlines and minds, I present to you "Guess the Christmas Carol". Give yourself 3 minutes (your iPhone's clock has a nice timer) to see if you can decode the following. Answers will be provided soon. Post your guesses in the comments below.

Winner gets a prize. Maybe.

1. Bleached Yule: White Christmas
2. Cold male with prosthetic eyes: Frosty The Snowman
3. Singular yearning for the twin anterior incisors: All I Want for Christmas is my 2 Front Teeth
4. Righteous darkness: Holy Night
5. Arrival time 2400 hrs - weather cloudless: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
6. Loyal followers advance: Oh Come All Ye Faithful
7. Far off in a feeder: Away in a Manger
8. Array the corridor: Deck The Halls
9. Bantam male percussionist: Little Drummer Boy
10. Monarchical triad: We Three Kings
11. Nocturnal noiselessness: Silent Night
12. Primary color festival celebration the savior's birth: Blue Christmas
13. Red man en route to borough: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
14. Frozen precipitation commence: Let it Snow
15. Proceed and enlighten on the pinnacle: Go Tell it On the Mountain
16. Laughing stock of the playground: Rudolph...
17. Query regarding identity of descendant: What Child is This?
18. Delight for this planet: Joy to the World
19. Give attention to the melodious celestial beings: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
20. The dozen festive 24 hour intervals: The 12 Days of Christmas

And...GO!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chri-mass time in Instagram

Blah, blah...Instagram wants to sell your photos. Listen, my guess is that come January 16, this all will be resolved, and because I've put myself on arm rest (precursor to bedrest), I can't use our nice camera and am forced to use the iPhone. Instagramming it up.

***

We are a day away from our big North Pole Limited train ride in Chattanooga, but we've been swimming in Christmas festivity for a fortnight (or Chri-mass as Felix says).  

OMG. Did I just use the term "fortnight?" Even more...did I just say "OMG" to distract you from the insertion of some old English? 

This is how my brain works--Christmas reminds me of John Denver and The Muppets famous record A Christmas Together, which includes the song "Christmas is Coming." You know, geese-fat-ha'penny, etc. And ha'penny makes me think of old English. And then fortnight bubbles up in my brain. See? And now I am off to find 21st century access to this album because I'm not sure I can "burn" our family's old record. 

Late November we said goodbye to Milky White (or Lily as I named her years ago--strange how that name still lives on in our family in human form!):


(Upgrade documented later)

We (read: my husband. I did not sign off on the volume, color or arrangement of the lights) decorated the peeling wrought iron steps. Nothing like 2 month old pumpkins, lead poisoning and barely enough LED lights.


We enjoyed the unseasonably warm days for weekly nature walks. (Santa's sleigh DOES work in leaf piles you know.)

We (I) said hi to nugget in early December and are confident this child is going to be a dancer. Specializing in jazz hands. (And let's just ignore that it looks like the baby is missing the top portion of its skull.)

We got our Christmas tree and enjoyed fire roasted marshmallows at the farm.

We decorated and learned about the difference between fashion and decorations. Yes. Santa has hairy legs AND wears house shoes!
 Speaking of fashion, we got dressed up and drove around to view Christmas lights.
Speaking of Muppets (see ha'penny above), we went to see the Center for Puppetry Arts's seasonal performance of Rudolph with our best friends. I know; I am entering this photo into some sort of photography contest. If you look long enough, an actual picture emerges.

And to date, we have visited with 3 versions of Santa. Although the one at the boys' childcare was the least realistic (hey, not all of the priests are okay with growing a beard all year round), the boys were the most excited and comfortable with him.


Next up--Train Ride and Minivan ride to Ohio!

Merry Merry!


 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hugs for Sale

Due to the gravity of the recent events in CT, I have unscheduled my woe is my suffering pregnant body post, and will reschedule at a later date.

In it's place, I want to share the following moment of today:

I drop Miles off every Friday from his PreK program to his old childcare facility, where Felix still goes. 
I usually do a drop and run because Miles puts up a stink and fusses that he doesn't want to be there and wants to stay with me. 
I mean, I don't blame him; I can be fun at times.

Today, unlike any other Friday, I saw Eric playing with all of the kids on the playground. His schedule this year does not allow him to go down to the center and spend as much time at lunch with the kids as he has in years past, but today he got a sliver of time to join the wild rumpus. 

I was glad Eric was there to soften the transition and quell the weekly tears. I got to steal a midday kiss from my husband, and spent a few extra minutes enjoying all of the kids. 

As I put Miles into the play space, I called Felix over to give him a hug before I went back to work. 
Immediately after giving both Miles and Felix a goodbye hug, one of their friends came over to me and asked for a hug. 
So I gave him a hug. 
Then another friend came over and asked for a hug, too. 
And I gave him a hug. 

In all my years at this center, this is the first time I have been asked by the other kids for a hug. 
As I walked back to my car, I thought how cute it was that I just got hugged by a brood of boys.

And then I wondered what their parents would think if they walked by and saw me hugging on all of their kids.

I got in my car, put it in reverse, turned on NPR and heard about the shootings in Connecticut.

Choking back tears, I realized that the parents wouldn't care. 
They wouldn't care in the least.

 



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide: Boys 2-4

I don't want to come across a Scroogette, but I get overwhelmed by the hysteria and consumer culture of the holidays. I prefer the comfort of my home to the over zealous Black Friday shopping at 6am. (And I am a testament that you can get just as good deals from your bed over the following weeks.)

Plus, our house is just going to seem smaller and smaller when Dumpling/Nugget/#3 arrives, so I am trying to keep our material footprint small.

For the holidays this year, we've opted for a big experiential gifts:
  •  North Pole train ride in Chattanooga, TN at the end of the month. 
  •  Puppet show with friends(Thanks AunT and Nuncle for the gift we can now use!). 
  • And we also spent a night with some other friends tooling around looking at lights. 
  • Oh, and we are doing the combo experiential/material with the 12 Days of Bookmas.
And when bullet pointed in the blog, it looks pretty substantial, no?

But let's be honest; kids love opening up gifts. The pressure from friends about "what you are getting" has started. (Apparently for 4 year old boys it's something related to ice man and cars with flames. oh joy.) I don't like to be a slave to the tangible toy, but I also don't want my children to not experience the fun of opening gifts on Christmas.

With a night or two on Amazon and ecomom.com, we got our lot of gifts. And thanks to Black Friday/Cyber Monday, coupon codes, free shipping and 2 vouchers, we saved quite a load of money. And a trip to the store.

At this point, all of the toys are labeled "To Miles and Felix." I like to see them fight over things on Christmas morning. Outside of Jesus's birth, that's a true gift, no? Now, we did get them each 1 big present "from Santa." We have written him a note and want to make sure our children understand the concept of "follow-through" (right after Eric describes the physics of getting a 200lb+ creeptastic man to slide down our chimney with a bike and scooter).

Oh, and because Felix's birthday is January 4, I've added in his birthday items as well. All he told us he wanted is a truck cake. This kid is easy to please. Although, what I am reading when he says "truck cake" is a chocolate zucchini cake with a dinosaur toy on the top--you are reading that too, right?

For under $25 (what up vouchers, codes and deals!), we got the following from ecomom.com:

Green Toys EcoSaucer Disc 

Green Toys Jump Rope
We are big outside people and I am always looking for new outdoor toys, and Felix proved to us this summer that he is a pro with disc, and Miles keeps asking for a jump rope so he can play this game he calls "hook 'n horse" where he wraps a line around a willing little brother and has them gallop around. Pants optional.

Green Toys Submarine
We currently referee nightly battles in the bath over bath toys. So with this sub and the sea plane Felix will get on his birthday, I am hoping the full nelsons and water boarding will be reduced.

Plan Toys Measuring Tape

Miles is obsessed with using Eric's measuring tape to see how tall everything is. But the thing is heavy and he has dropped it on various toes over time. 

Sprig Soarin' Sea Plane (for Felix's birthday)
See water boarding above.

Maxim Wud Workers Roller (for Felix's birthday)
This is pretty cool. It has 40+ pieces and you put it together yourself. Meaning, Eric gets to put it together while Felix throws pieces around. I think once it is assembled, he is going to LOVE it.


For over $25, we got the following from Amazon:
3 Schleich Dinosaurs (1 will be for Felix's birthday)


We have been collecting Schleich animals and dinosaurs for years. I have a very strong feeling that the collecting of barbie dolls or charms for a charm bracelet is just not in the cards,  but I really do want to have quality and nice items for the boys to collect and keep for when they grow up and (potentially) have children.

From Santa, the boys are getting (or so the Elves tell me)
Ybike Glider scooter (Felix)

I did lots of research on the best scooters for the 2-3 year old crowd, and think this one came in the lead. We love, love, love our Ybike (totally recommend) and think this will be a good addition. 

Huffy Bike with training wheels (Miles)


Okay, lemme just say that Miles has wanted a real bike forever. I am happily obliging. But it kills me that the options are limited to ones with Disney promotional characters and such. We did find another one that didn't have some sort of character on it, but it was poorly rated. So, I am getting over myself and the fact that his bike has a peplum Cars pooch/pouch in the front.

Given that most of the toys are contained to the outside or bath, I'm feeling pretty good about the house being littered with more junk. And I think with all the fun events and the few fun toys for the holiday and Felix's birthday, these boys should be feeling pretty fulfilled and lucky!

What are all of you getting the 2-4 crowd?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Note from my pre pregnant self...

You know those inspiring videos and letters people write to their 16-year-old selves? (Dear 16-year-old me. You won't marry your high school boyfriend and run off together to do theater in NYC. Even though you will still be straightening your hair religiously at 30 and covering zits, you won't care as much about the outcome. And all those girls who were supremely popular in high school and were kinda mean? They aren't nearly as cool at 30, and are far less accomplished than you will be. Stop worrying about being valedictorian. No one in the real world cares..etc). Well, here is just a PS note to my self from August 2012.

Dear pre-pregnant Ali at 32 years old,

You know those few pairs of really cute small undies with the bejazzled "PINK" on the lace waistband? First, what were you thinking; bejeweled/jazzled? Clearance isn't worth making it feel like you are posturing around like a tween with writing on her sweat pant bum. And haven't you learned those underwear are overpriced and understitched?

Second, pitch the undies STAT once you get a positive pregnancy test; trying to squeeze into them at 21+ weeks pregnant does nothing for your confidence or appreciation of the pregnant body.

Additionally, the jewels will just dig into your side and haunches...specifically where you get shot up every Friday with progesterone. It's like a cilce (hairshirt). But underwear. And instead of inducing discomfort as a sign of repentance and atonement, it's causing you pain as a sign of the excessive weight you've gained but are denying during this pregnancy. And you will contemplate free-vagina-ing it at work because the physical and emotional pain is unbearable come 1pm.

Warm regards, girl. Remember...you are only a few weeks away from those free granny-netted underwear that you secretly both love and hate.

***
This is my lead up to a post I am contemplating doing--after I rub salve in the jewel bruises I have inflicted--on how I have come to the realization that I don't love being pregnant. Before you get all huffy, you are going to have to hear me out...in a few days. Until then, I give you license to talk behind my back. I'll be too busy nursing my undie wounds.



Monday, December 10, 2012

The Twelve Days of Bookmas

As if opening 3 advent calendars a day in preparation for Christmas isn't enough in this house, a few months ago I decided I would wrap a book a night for the month of December to have the boys open for nightly reading.

Then I calculated how much money 25 nights of books would cost (because you know I am self proclaimed book snob and usually only buy hard cover books). So then I got more realistic and decided to do the 12 days before Christmas.

Then I re-calculated how much 12 nights would be, and still felt like we might have to switch to cereal for dinner for the rest of the year.

Then I contemplated wrapping books that we haven't read in a few months and having them open them in hopes of some book amnesia.

Then I discovered Amazon's used book selection and other online used book sources and spent a few weeks collecting used books in excellent condition and secured all 12 for between $1 and $3 a piece (and we had some Barnes and Noble gift cards that we used, too).

I used the boys's old art and cut out the numbers 1-12 and pasted them to the wrapped books. I'll place them all under the tree on December 13, and each day one boy will have to find the right # and can unwrap the book to read. You know, a twofor: learning #s and getting a gift. Well, maybe even a threefor in that we don't have to read James and the Giant Peach for a few nights (we are already on the re-reading it phase).

I present to you the 2012 Twelve Days of Bookmas:

Day 1:

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Day 2:
The Great Pie Robbery by Richard Scarry


Day 3:
Look! Another Book by Bob Staake

Day 4:
Who's  Hiding? by Satoru Onishi

Day 5: 
A Stick is an Excellent Thing by Marilyn Singer

Day 6:
Inside Your Outside by Tish Rabe

Day 7:
Bugs Galore by Peter Stein
Day 8:
Many Moons by James Thurber

Day 9:
The Big Green Book of Beginner Books by Dr Seuss

Day 10:
Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman

Day 11:
The Cat in the Hat Comes Back by Dr Seuss

Day 12:
The Big Book of Berenstain Bears Beginner Books by Stan and Jan Berenstain

No one can say we don't read to these 2.5 kids...



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Saving our marriage...one prescription at a time


Listen, marital strife is no joke, and I am probably taking this whole "how eye glasses saved my marriage" too far in that there is nothing in need of saving. But I am a girl of follow through, and I started it in a previous post and now feel obligated to finish it.

The day after I posted how free eyeglasses was the ticket to spicing up our marriage (I've now inflated it to saving our marriage), in that I think my husband actually commented on me looking [fill in with a benign adjective along the lines of "worth being seen with"], I got this postcard in the mail.

If you'll remember, I got this one below in the mail a few weeks back. At least I think I posted about it here. The glasses have sharpened my vision, but dulled my memory. If it wasn't posted here, it is definitely on my Instaobsession feed. I'm telling you...I'm a cheap date and sell. I don't even require full letter postage.
So the day I get the 2nd love postcard from Eric, I get a message while en route to pick up the boys that we are going on a surprise date night.

And dontcha know, we go and see a movie with 3D GLASSES.
See the theme, universe?

It was the first movie I have seen in 3D since Captain EO at Epcot circa 1986. In all honesty, Michael Jackson's Jerry Curl in 3D back in the 80s was more amazing. And I truly think that Life of Pi was probably just as magical without the tiger jumping out at my face. But really the glasses served a different purpose, no?

One prescription at a time, folks. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Spec-tacular!

In my old age, my eyesight is failing me. I might as well be legally blind. It's a good thing my computer has little nubs on the "f" and "j" keys or this could read a bunch of garbldy-gook.

Actually my eyesight is near perfect.
I have no wisdom teeth and my eyesight is crystal clear.
You know, my dentist told me I am higher on the evolutionary ladder.
You bet your bottom dollar that's a bullet on my resume.

Okay, so the wisdom teeth part is true, but I have to thank Emory Healthcare for good vision. I had awful vision until I got them all zapped and fixed in grad school. Please don't anyone find any pictures from middle school of me and post them anywhere public. So.very.tragic. But it is true that over time my balls (eyeballs that is) have changed a bit and the eye doc said I could get glasses just to make them all over-corrected again. Or, I could continue to see near perfectly.

I opted for the latter because Eric told me he fell in love with the "me" after 9pm when I took my contacts out (only on Fridays...you know I slept with those suckers in days on end) and put on the sultry library tortoise shell glasses I had prior to laser surgery.

And someone told Eric on our anniversary this summer that the 7 year itch is a lie...it's the 6th year that things fall apart. (Who does that? And no, they are not getting a holiday card this year.)

So I am upping my game, and I got a pair of specs for Eric. Actually, I got two pairs. It's a good thing, because now I can see those serifs so clearly, I might as well be a typographical guru. (Does that pay well?)

A few months back, I ponied up about $16 and got a pair of glasses from Global Eyeglasses. It was simple pimple and I used the live camera function to "try on" glasses. I also used a sewing measuring tape to guess-ta-mate my pupillary distance. I use them in the car for my driving-chic look. People take me SERIOUSLY when I pull a u-ee. But I take them off when parking because everyone knows (especially my old co-worker Ryann from work--calling you out) that I can't park. I can't let anyone take me seriously while parking. Although, it's a genetical issue, not visual. Just like my propensity for making up words.

And then I heard from a blog friend of a blog friend of a blog friend (and by blog friend I mean "blog I stalk and pretend I am friends with the author") that this company called firmoo has free eyeglasses! You just pay shipping.

Totally. Seriously. Legit.

And with my (lack of) prescription, I don't need any fancy-dancy lenses or any sort of upgrade. So for some change, I just got the following specs.

These are for my daytime look. 
And apparently my "saving my marriage" look.
Eric approved. Phew! I was worried about the stability of our relationship.

That bottom Instagram shot there? It's a two-for. You get to see the new glasses and my freshly $5 Natural Instincts Creme dyed hair. I couldn't hold out. Sorry nugget in the belly...but I had to. I Google'd the $hit out of hair dye and pregnancy, and am feeling okay with the 28 day dye choice. And think I'm sticking with #21 Natural Instincts Creme for the duration. Someone at work told me my face looked fat, and I credit it to the gray. Not the fact that I've gained a pile of weight while pregnant.


So, what are you waiting for? Go get a pair of glasses! It's the newest accessory. Right after the pick jetting straight out of the hair (that's still cool, right?).

And while you are at it, take 10 minutes and dye your hair.

It'll save our marriage.

Glasses and free marriage counseling. What am I doing thinking of a career change to typography? 

I have not been contacted, encouraged, or forced into writing about firmoo, Global Eyeglasses, or Natural Instincts regarding this post. All opinions are my own, but I am more than willing and ready to accept free swag, try it out, and/or do a giveaway from any of these companies. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lucky be a lady

With all this hoopla surrounding the mega-gagillionz happening, I am hoping it's directing everyone's attention away from the 5+ giveaways I'm entering through blogs each night. It's that or I'll spend my nights knitting while watching old episodes of Shark Tank on my laptop.

When the blog craze started percolating after I had Miles about 4 years ago, my chances seemed to be so much better. In fact, I think total I've won ~5-7 giveaways in my lifetime. All between 2008-2009. In 2010, all my luck was directed at kicking cancer's ass for Eric (and keeping a newborn and 19 month old alive), and now I'm feeling like it's about time to win a blog giveaway again--especially as every blog I follow seems to be doing a giveaway as the holiday approaches.

See--that's me doing "The Secret" without having ever read the book/guide.

Just one $25 gift card to Target would be appreciated. Or even an Oster blender...faucet from Moen? $10 to Olive Garden? Strike that. Cheesecake Factory. Beggars can't be choosers, but the can have preferences, no?

Something to restore my faith in humanity, please!

Okay, I know that made no sense but I've always wanted to say it.

'Tis the season of entitlement...

*Reality check: I truly hope my sarcasm and post doesn't come off as serious. I truly don't need anyTHING right now. In truth, I predominately enter giveaways for the sake of re-gifting to other people. I might just be brewing up some random acts of kindness for my January birthday and am looking to score some swag to pass out to unsuspecting folks.  

But you have to admit that there is a little part of everyone who likes to win regardless of the prize. In my case, especially if the payout is honor--like in the case of Scrabble.

So now go play the lotto. I hear your chances are really good. Leave those blog contests to me.

Lavatory love

Third day in a row I have walked into a bathroom stall at work and the toilet seat is up.
(read: Clean seat! That, or a man has consistently hijacked the women's WC.)
 
Coincidence or early Christmas miracle?
 
#thisisprobablyabettertwitterupdatethanblogpost
#ohwell

Monday, November 26, 2012

The naked backfire

 

Felix being, well, Felix after the bath.
 (First--dollar to doughnut that "The naked backfire" is going to go toe to toe with Toddler Porn for my most popular posts. If only I could track down who keeps these benign posts with leading titles so popular.)

Doesn’t it seem whenever you are focused on a particular topic or issue in life it appears in your Facebook feed, is a nightly news story, and is a current trend in your blog roll?
Maybe it is the season of potty training, but as we are finally ready to throw the hammer down on the final stages of getting rid of diapers for Felix, it seems the issue has exploded in all of my news sources. Yeah, Facebook is news.
 
I have learned a lot over the years in regards to potty training, and am glad to say that I know in my heart that the second go around is going to be far easier. While we have not done anything formal to date (he is burning off the fumes of Miles's "that which shall not be mentioned" endeavor), Felix has been potty trained to some degree since well before he was 2. Like at 19 months I asked him if he was willing to train his older brother. I think his response was a combo of a bark and a donkey kick to my gut. And outside of sleeping, I can say he is completely potty trained…
 
…as long as he is naked from the waist down.
 
He's a no shirt, no socks, no underwear kinda guy. It cuts down on laundry, so I don't argue.
 
Yeah, so you know that whole “naked weekend” technique that everyone boasts about? What happens when it backfires? For months Felix independently goes to the potty, puts on the Bjorn potty seat, flushes, washes his hands, cleans the bowl out with the brush, and refolds the towel into terry monkeys all by himself. Many times I don't know he has done it until I stumble upon his terry creation (or he comes out and asks for a Trader Joe's chocolate almond. Damn you lingering year old bribe!). He just has to be naked.
 
I think we've overdosed on the naked weekend concept with Miles and now Felix is suffering.
 
You put anything on Felix's southern hemisphere and it anesthetizes his bladder control switch. Actually, I think it anesthetizes his "caring" switch. Oh, he knows if he has had an accident. If it isn't soaking his pants, he'll just continue on living life, which currently consists of teeing his brother off or stealing produce from the fruit basket. But if he's really wet, he will come over and act like some third party got urine all over him. And if he is in a diaper? He'll happily run around with pee and poop in it until Eric and I play rock-paper-scissors to see who gets the lucky job. It's like, until it actually interferes with his playing, he'll withstand the soggies. And don't think he minds getting his diaper changed. It's like a free pass to play "kick Mommy in the uterus" and giggle. And I think us upgrading from the drier Seventh Generation wipes to the more sudsy Earth's Best hasn't helped.
 
I mean, I like my cereal soggy, but I'm afraid that soggy gene was passed on and transfigured when it was put into Felix. Who likes soggy pants?!?!
And I will readily admit we are diaper enablers. I might still have the shakes from the previous 2 years with Miles.
And it doesn't help that his older brother encourages him when they strip down after dinner every night and participate in what Miles lovingly calls "The Naked Run Off." (My parents were in town this past week and can "bare" witness. Oh silly pun.)
So while it’s been a pleasure watching a child essentially train himself 93.33% of the way, I think we are going to have to address the whole “how to operate in society with clothes on and no diaper" issue (ie, potty train) and soon do total diaper withdrawal. 1 and only 1 technique this time. Go big or go home.
While it would be great to say come January when Felix turns 3 that we are a diaper free house, as long as I can say 2 down 1 to go before this baby is born, I'll be a happy.
Here's to a lot more laundry and a patient/understanding childcare facility.
Worst case scenario, I reignite the hermitage plans for the backyard and make clothing optional.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving: Maslow style

I am thankful for...

Age 4: "God"
Age 3: "New pajamas"
Age 2: "Pumpkins"
Age 9 mo: "Boobies" (dictated by older sibling)

I think Maslow would agree.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ugg-a-Wugg

All I keep singing in my head is the Tiger Lily song from Mary Martin's version of Peter Pan.



Thanksgiving approaches...


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Off the grid

Yesterday's post was a slight departure from the mundane of late, and reeked of the old Alison. It was also my first attempt at making the "grid" for an online writing/blogging community called yeah write. I follow a couple of blogs whose authors participate in the weekly writing submission, and have always thought that once that elusive spare time returned, I could spend a day crafting an entry.

We all know that there is no spare time in parenthood, just moments of insomnia when you find yourself doing things like shopping on drugstore.com and scouring PBS.org for full episodes of a riveting documentaries or programs.

Tuesday night, 1am. All aboard my train of thought:

  • Hmmm, I think instead of posting all of the photos from our recent shoot and providing a long narrative, I'll spend the next couple of weeks selecting 1 or 2 photos and generating a story about how each makes me feel, or what they remind me of.
  • Oh! That one with Miles on the tree is perfect to start with; his hand grasping the bark, looking into the distance, but slightly afraid to let go of the protection of the tree. I could do a great entry on my internal challenge of living with a shy, introverted child. 
  • Whoa. I must find a traditional Ramen noodle house in metro Atlanta. That looks uh-mazing! (Side bar-please do yourself the favor of watching the few episodes of "Mind of a Chef" on PBS.org. Kimchi baby.)
  • I always have good intentions with blogging these days, but I'm taking advantage of the lack of accountability. Regardless of waning readership, I feel like I am missing the opportunity to document life. How do people do it? People like: [fill in the blank with my blog crushes.]
  • Ahhh! Coupon code! How are all the other products except the Seventh Generation dishwasher liquid on sale?
  • What if I just linked up with that yeah write group this week? I mean, you have to swing the bat, right? It's almost 2 am. If a carriage can change back into a pumpkin, anything is possible late at night.
  • Okay, let's do it. 
  • Ew, dehydrated pork shavings.
  • I should probably look over the requirements. Blah blah, 1000 words or less, blah blah...if I read anymore I'll get way too overwhelmed and chicken out.
  • Aaaand...LINK.
And guess what? I got rejected. Wah-wah. But you see, I don't do rejection well, because in my mind it rhymes with utter failure-loser-girl. I didn't have a "so what?" factor, and didn't have a traditional arc in my story with beginning, middle, end. But she liked my writing and said I would be a good fit. Thank goodness I wasn't an English major undergrad at Bates College, #7 in my class, summa cum laude, and feel especially stupid. Yeah, thank goodness. At least I can make the excuse my focus was on South Asian lit and we know that genre doesn't follow traditional arcs. Salman Rushdie anyone?

And guess what times two? I'm totally going to apply to the grid again. If you know me, you know that I don't take "nah, sorry!" lightly.

So we shall see. My goal is to get on the grid before Christmakwanzukah.

***
In relation to my struggle with Miles being exceptionally shy, I did have to make mention of the fact that part of my own journey of learning to manage my expectations has been guided by his exceptional other caregivers. My mother, his childcare director at Marist, and is current PreK teacher have all provided me perspective and reassurance that it is normal and manageable and that he flourishes at school, has friends, and is a joy to be around. So hermitage/homeschool plans are on hold...today.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Square holes

*all images courtesy of Kate T. Parker Photography (http://www.katetparkerphotography.com/)

I'm not the fly on the wall, but the fly doing backstrokes in your soup, trying to figure out your story and add you to my coterie of Facebook "friends". The anticipation of a mixer or business meeting is almost too much to handle. Any opportunity to engage in the nuances of relationship building is right in my wheelhouse.

I need noise, movement, and people to feel comfortable. As a child, I loved falling asleep to the sound of my parents bustling around downstairs, and think the entirety of my high school studying happened with Jammin' 94.5 playing on the radio in the background. Silence does not come easily to me as I know once my inner monologue takes over, the tendency for anxiety to ask for a piggy back ride is soon to follow. Or maybe I get lonely. Or lost somewhere in one of the universe's many black holes. If a woman is silent, does she exist?

Taking a tip from Paula Abdul's matchmaking advice, I found eternal companionship in my opposite: an introvert; someone adept at social situations, but not nearly as comfortable or excitable by the thought of name tags and  the back and forth of personal/professional resume volleying. It works because my husband is completely capable of governing his own social experience. Yin and yang. Peanut butter and super gregarious jelly.

Perhaps during a time that I was fraternizing with a space creature in a black hole, the universe missed my clarion call for me to birth progeny who were more inclined to mimic my own social needs and experiences. Four years down, and I admit that  I struggle, daily, living with a child who is an observer and not an eager participant in life's social situations. Whereas with my husband I feel little to no responsibility about his (anti) social idiosyncrasies, I have an overwhelming sense of ownership with my son's.

The seductive nature of new playground equipment becomes obsolete if strange kids are playing in front of him. He dissolves into a repetition of "I don't know how" or "I need a hand please" during new social situations.

I see his reticence at the start of playdates.
I hear him vocalize trepidation in regards to sharing the playground space with Kindergartners.
I feel him stroke and twirl my hair in concern when he sits on my lap during a concert.

But I don't get it.

Like any well intentioned parent, I have solicited the advice and recommendations from a variety of sources to see what I could do to change him. I have pathologized him and created a lens of disorder with which I view his behavior. I have secretly wished him to be more like [fill in the blank with a number of friends' children who are incredibly socially adept]. I have been operating under the premise that once we eliminate a general social anxiety, that an outgoing and socially comfortable personality will blossom and flourish. The sooner the better, because I operate under a false pretense that somehow his social comfort is a direct measure of my parenting success. And you know how amazing those end of the year parenting bonuses are due to commendable and successful parenting.

What I have been looking for is an avenue to change my son's inherent personality to resonate with mine. I've been so focused on fitting a square peg into a round hole, that I missed opportunities to look for square holes.

The element of narcissism in my approach is no longer lost on me.

My guilt has resulted in me imagining building a hermitage in our backyard and homeschooling all of my children just to eliminate the issue of ever having to participate in society. My guilt has also resulted in me saying some unsavory things to my husband and even denying advances for physical comfort from my son during periods of his nervousness. I have tried to truncate the periods of observation he finds comfort in when approaching a new social situation in exchange for ripping off the proverbial band aid and demanding he confront the fear head on.

While my responses have yet to be what I would consider measured, I have recently not only realized, but also believed that the goal of changing his personality may not be nearly as important as monitoring my approach.

I cannot change what I have done or felt, and much like I cannot get my son to understand what it feels like to get tickled and excited by new social situations, I also must accept that I may never "get" what it feels like for those situations to drum up feelings of worry or anxiety.

Finding middle ground is hard and taxing when it initially feels very non-committal and as though I am not honoring either of our approaches. Yet, there has to be a way to engender confidence, encourage growth, and hone skills to navigate this silly and crazy world. This journey is not about changing my child, but shifting my perspective and approach. It is admittedly uncomfortable, but worth the effort. I owe it to my son and I owe it to myself.

But what I promise you, Miles, is to start looking for those square holes and getting you through them with confidence. I vow to exploit your strengths and also honor your vulnerabilities. And I promise you can still sit on my lap and stroke my hair during concerts; just no twirling.




Goodwill Hunting: volume 9

I was dragged (insert opposite day) to Goodwill with my friend C, and of course walked away with a bag of clothes and shoes.

I'm trying not to fall victim to the "you'll wear this when you are not pregnant" because the truth is, after baby #3, I have no idea what shape this tattered corpse will be in.

But I did it anyway, and still tried to squeeze myself into small sized clothes. A girl can dream...

Ruffle-y tank top: Banana Republic, $2.50
Peek-a-boo layering tank in salmon: The Limited, $2.50 
Maternity black pants: Liz Lange Target brand from first pregnancy, $???
Way too old mini cardigan (circa 2003): Banana Republic, $???
Born flats (see below): $6.00

Goodwill outfit total: $11.00

You can almost see the flats in the original picture (before I cropped and insta-magicked my fugly face out. Yup. Made up that word. But the pale and tired face is for realz.)

And here is another purchase from this trip. It's a size bigger, so lots of room for the nugget to protrude. AND IT HAS POCKETS! Totally worth the full price tag.

Peasant chambray top (with pockets!): H&M, $5.00
Maternity black pants: Liz Lange Target brand from first pregnancy, $??? STOP THE PRESSES! Someone held me at gunpoint and made me wear the same pants 2 days in a row. I mean, I would *never* do that normally. Never, ever.
Born flats: $6.00 

Goodwill outfit total: $11.00

More from this trip to come...God I love Goodwill.


 

Monday, November 12, 2012

cricket...cricket...

I know technically, if you ask my 4-year-old, crickets don't say "cricket," but they say "chirp". But with all the twitterizing going on, I feel like you might think I am about to go on a tear about social media.

Nope.

I posted the last 7+ entries weeks ago (outside of some pictures), so in my mind it feels like an eternity since I have been here. I am in that slump again of not having much to write or say. (There are rumblings of a Felix/naked/potty post coming up. Cliff hanger!)

General status: Okay. Last week was tough for a number or reasons, and Eric thinks I am going through an existential crisis. But the baby is fine, I am slowly getting my husband back from months of Jury Duty and XC obligations, and the boys are keeping life incredibly fulfilled.

Non sequitor! (That's the old Ali we have missed and adore.)

We recently had a family shoot with Kate T. Parker, and again I am stunned by her ability to capture the essence of my family. What I love the most about her is that the process is not forced and we literally just run around a park for 30 minutes. When I first saw her images when a friend introduced me to her, I figure she had this huge camera with all these lenses and magical photography accoutrements. Nope. She has a camera and lens that is smaller than ours. And then she gets these images that take my breath away. Note--this is in no way a comment on the *quality* of her equipment, but more commentary on her composition and artistic judgement. And while it may not be the traditional posed and standard photography that some in my extended family prefer, her images are the ones I want to look back on in decades to remind me of what the boys were like.

I'll do a more complete post with images soon, but wanted to lay down 2 images that are keeping me going and positive today.

When these photos came in to my inbox recently, I was reminded how beautiful my boys are to me...