Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Alikes Attract: or Why I Didn’t Marry an Abercrombie Guy

The last couple of nights I have been devouring a book by Mary Roberts Rinehart called K. Oh, my, it’s good. And it’s in the public domain, so you can get it free online!

Anyway, last night, I couldn’t wait to get back to it. The kids were in bed and I’d just cleaned the kitchen. I jumped into bed and snuggled up with my kindle and started to enjoy.

Just then I was struck by how lucky I am to be married to Steven. You know those metrosexual guys with the pomade hair and creatine-chests who like hanging out with their buddies? There’s no way that someone like me could enjoy being with a guy like that. What would we talk about? How could we be comfortable being together and saying nothing? Steven is the perfect husband for a girl who can’t wait to cuddle up at night with a book that’s 100 years old and 300 pages long (and him). He’s the kind of guy who would (and did) get his own book and cuddle up next to me so we could snuggle up and play footsies while we read. He’d rather go to the symphony with me than go jet skiing with his buddies. When he comes home from work, instead of heading off for the gym, he becomes a jungle gym for our kids. Rather than protein shakes, he eats the homemade falafel pitas and cucumber sauce I made for dinner, and enjoys trying new things. He has a soft, calming voice that sings beautifully and says intelligent, kind, and honest things – never crude, harsh, or demeaning words. He has big, sexy hands that are perfect for playing the piano, writing code, making things with wood, stroking my hair, and unscrewing baby food jars. From this description, you’d think I’d made him up, but he’s real and really mine, and I really like him.

Moral of the story: it’s nice to be married to someone who appreciates the same quiet things. And, you should all read K, especially if you’re related to me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Little Girlies

This morning, a friend who has some older girls (who are some of our favorite babysitters) dropped off a bag of toys they'd grown out of: My Little Ponies and Polly Pockets. Immediately, and for hours today, this ensued:

It amazes me that kids don't have to be taught how to play with toys. See how the ponies are lined up? They're playing some kind of school/party/church thing. I hear them upstairs now singing "Happy Birthday" to somebody. (I was deftly evicted from the room as soon as I snapped the picture.)

Some of my fondest memories of growing up are spending hours playing with Barbies and Ponies with Brook and Crystal. We had this green shag carpet that was perfect grass, and the ponies frolicked through hours of storylines that spanned weeks - or maybe a day; time felt different then. Now, of course, I have to rack my brain to come up with bedtime stories (last night, Carmen made it easy by asking for one about when I was a little goat.) Maybe I just need to hold some Ponies in my hand to make the creative juices flow.

In any case, it makes my heart happy to see my girls entering Ponyland.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

12 hours, uninterrupted

It's been over a week now, so I feel comfortable saying that it's official: Damon is sleeping through the night. As in, 7:30 to 7:30.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Clothing the world's smallest bottom

This summer I ventured (forced by nature, chlorine, and cheapness) into a new domain in sewing: swim suits. Midway through the summer, Olivia's swimming suit died - one day the lycra just decided it had had enough, and we walked away from the pool with Olivia's swim shirt drooping past her knees.

At that point, I could have bought her a new swimming suit, but everything in stores needs to be altered anyway to fit her 4T length and 18 month girth (no, that is not an exaggeration). I've heard there are stores that carry slim sizes, but I didn't have time to order and have it get here before the end of the summer, and I didn't want to pay that much.

Instead I went, armed with a 50% off coupon, to Joann's. Their selection of swimsuit fabric wasn't great (I'll buy online next time), but they did have pink, which is always satisfactory to Olivia. A couple of hours later, I had a suit that actually fit my daughter and with which we were both pleased. I based the pattern on Carmen's swim bottoms (made slightly smaller) and one of Olivia's nightgowns. I love that she's covered on top for modesty and sun-safety, but it still looks like a swimsuit (and it's a two-piece, so she can put it on and go to the bathroom by herself!) And I love that the bottoms actually fit her!

Altogether, I probably spent $6 and 3 hours on the suit (shopping included). Will I do it again? Absolutely. (But maybe not next year, because I already found some next-year clearance suits for $4.)

Photo shoot

I took the kids to the portrait studio to get their pictures taken. We got some good ones for the wall and to send to grandparents (and anyone else who wants them - seriously, if you want 50 wallets of each of my kids, just say the word). favorite pictures of the morning were probably these that we didn't buy. They were the last ones taken, and the kids were obviously done. I would absolutely love to have this group framed together on my wall, but couldn't justify paying for it just so I could chuckle and snort as I passed it. At least I get to share them here with you, though. (I just love the succession.)


Olivia's been doing weird things with her smiles recently (much like her hopelessly unphotogenic mother). Can someone teach us how to look normal for the camera?

Carmen is so Carmen.

And here's Damon waking up with a goopy eye. He has a clogged right tear duct. It will be nice when that clears up.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Little Big Girl

Because Olivia:
  • Has 2 younger siblings
  • Speaks very well, and constantly
  • Acts old and not kid-spazzy
  • Looks long and lanky rather than pudgy,
I often forget she is only four years old. And that she's a cute little girl. I guess it's easy to have your cuteness overlooked when you've got a new baby and a roly-poly toddler to compete with. But, in addition to being intelligent and creative and beautiful and helpful and thoughtful and talkative (oh, yes, always talkative)...Olivia really is very cute.

Here are some things she loves to do:
  • Make things out of fabric scraps
  • Talk about her owies
  • Color and cut paper
  • Read books
  • Write letters
  • Throw birthday parties for White Kitty
  • Play mommy to numerous babies and kitties
  • Help me do things
  • "Help" me do things
  • Go to preschool
  • Have piano lessons
  • Go to Primary
  • Sing songs
  • Paint
  • Hear songs and stories
  • Play on the iPad
  • Look for confetti and small plastic objects at the park
  • Tell Carmen what to do
I'll post a recent picture later (Damon just woke up). But this afternoon was nice - Damon and Carmen napped, and Olivia and I sewed things. It was nice to just hang out with my first baby, who isn't such a baby any more (but is still a little kid).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Peeves and rants

I feel crabby, and I want to feel validated by writing it down. I was going to post this somewhere private, but I don't want to be private - I want to write what I want, and this is my blog.

Why does my 4-year-old daughter refuse to learn to spit or blow her nose? NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD doesn't know how to spit. No one else's mommy has to scrape vomit off their tongue with a washcloth because they can't or won't spit it out. Oh, I am frustrated with that.

I hate it when people give lengthy responses to emails they obviously have not read, expostulating on things they didn't bother to read completely.

I hate it when people reply to all on responses that really only apply to one person.

I hate having my solicited opinion denounced. Like, someone asks, "What do you think of this?" I respond, "It's not my first choice, and here are legitimate reasons A, B, and C, and proof I know what I'm talking about." Response: "Why are you being so negative? This will be great! Let's all be so excited about it!" Well, look. If you don't want my feedback, don't ask for it, but don't tell me I'm wrong. I'm not wrong. It's so frustrating when you want to respond, "Look, you bozo, you obviously didn't understand, and how dare you try to discount my legitimate feedback with your blind, forced assertions?" To avoid sounding like a troll, I have to be silent and just wait for experience to prove my point, and that's frustrating.

I hate having big, itchy mosquito bites on my legs. Seriously, it hasn't rained all summer. The mosquitoes should have all been fried up.

I hate it when Damon gets constipated. How can someone on an all-liquid diet be constipated? For heaven's sake, just poop it out and stop being so crabby!

(I guess I'm not one to talk there. About the crabby part, not the other.)

We're going on vacation tomorrow. None too soon, obviously.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Breaking news

We've got a roller - he goes pretty consistently from back to front, then gets ticked off because he's on his belly.

Carmen's doing well on potty training - except for when she poops in her undies. That's really gross.

Piano's starting up again next week. It will be fun, but it has been a nice break.

Does anyone know a mute hairstylist? We all know I need a haircut, but I just want to sit there and not talk while it's happening. I guess if it's someone who doesn't speak any English, that would work too.

Preschool starts next week too. Olivia's excited!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Damon stuff

There's a lot I never posted about Damon, such as how we chose his name.

As many of you know, there's a lot of thought and pickiness that goes into our naming process. We have many specifications that a name must have, so there's definitely an elimination process that happens even before preference comes into play.

Criteria include:
-Gender obvious
-Obviously spelled
-Obvious (correct) pronunciation
-Established name: nothing made up (nix on Quaiden or Fraiden)
-No direct, immediate nickname (aka, no David/Dave, Steven/Steve, etc.)
-More than 1 syllable
-Different first initial from other family members
-No sound slurring (aka, can't end in the first sound of his next name: so, LucaS-Steven or Caleb-Brown were out)
-Different first name from other immediate family members or close extended family (this pared it down a lot)

At some point while we were pouring over baby naming sites and books, it became evident that, as similar and compatible as Steven and I are, our male naming preferences were not quite as aligned as I would have assumed. Some of my favorite names were vetoed before the first cut, for reasons I still don't understand, but hope go away in case we ever have another boy.

However, we did at some point start to lean toward D names...something about them sounded right. And it so happened that for Christmas I gave Steven a book of short stories by one of my favorite authors, Damon Runyon. This put the name on our radar. While our other kids have Spanish names, Damon is actually a Greek name: Damon was a character in Greek mythology who was a selfless friend who stood in to be executed in his friend Pythias's place (both were eventually pardoned); Damon, son of Damonides was a Greek musicologist and teacher of Pericles. It passed our other conditions, and we both liked it. It sounded well with the names of our other children. For a while, Steven was holding out on commitment for something more revelatory, but the night after Damon was born I called him from the hospital to let him know his time was up - the baby was here, and we had to decide. In my head I had started referring to him as Damon, and it fit. While neither of us felt the same confirmation about the name as we did for, say, Carmen (who is indisputably a Carmen, if anyone ever was), Damon's a good Damon, and we're happy with it. And him.

Now enough talk. Time for some pictures!

Here's Damon's beautiful hair swirl. A lot of it is rubbed off now, but I sure loved it.

And here he is sitting next to his cousin, and showing how he has his mommy's scowl (I'm so proud!)

And here he is looking dapper in the blessing outfit I made him. This is the last time he will wear it, as I had to peel it off of him - I just needed one good picture before I put it away, to be worn again at some fabled day by another fabled little boy.

He's a happy boy, and I'm a happy mommy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Today's Tom Sawyer

My, but this boy looks cute in his overalls.

And that smile comes straight from my dad.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How we're doing

In the first couple of weeks after Damon was born, people would ask me, "Is he a good baby?"

It was a hard question.

Really, all babies are good, aren't they? And Damon wasn't really a very difficult baby...he just wasn't as easy as my other two. He didn't sleep as well as they did, he was colicky and gassy, and he was not snuggly (a hard adjustment after my uber-snuggly Carmen).

At the beginning of June our whole family went to California for a week for a family reunion. It was nice to see my sweet Grandma Anne (with whom we stayed for a while) and my parents and siblings. The kids had fun playing with their cousins. Traveling with 3 kids wasn't as hard as it could have been, and they were all angels on the airplanes. But the nights, and consequently, the days, were hard. Going across 2 time zones, adjusting to different food, and sharing the same room with 2 young kids (one of whom never wants to sleep) and a colicky baby wore Steven and me pretty thin. By the time we got home, I was ready to...well, I don't know. I was ready to do something to get away from fussy kids and get some sleep.

Somehow, though, that trip did the trick for Damon. Ever since we've been home, I can wholeheartedly refer to him as a good baby! He sleeps at night for 4-5 hour blocks. He manages to poop and toot without straining and fussing for hours. He does not need constant bouncing by a standing adult. He lies on the floor, by himself, for minutes at a time, looking around and cooing. He smiles and makes cute faces. He SNUGGLES!

So, this week has been a happy one, and I am very grateful. Looks like we won't sell him to the gypsies after all.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


So, apparently our due date estimates are really good.

Damon Steven Brown
Due date: May 8
Born: May 8, 12:13 pm
7 lbs. 12 oz., 20 inches

Yes, this is my second baby in a row delivered a little past noon on my due date. I'm not sure how we've achieved this level of precision in childbearing, but it sure is convenient.

You should go to Steven's blog for more info, pics and videos.

I was previously kind of uncertain over the idea of having a boy. But many of you know that I have an (arguably healthy) obsession for my husband. Damon's like a pocket-sized Steven that I get to dress in dinosaur onesies. And he has soft, soft black hair and a dimple in his cheek and a manly little cleft chin and he likes me better than anyone. So, I've definitely been converted to baby boys. Or at least my baby boy. I really, really, really like him.

Monday, May 2, 2011

They're really just guidelines, anyway.

Hungry Hippos and I hit 39 weeks yesterday, and are still quite attached to each other (and ripening nicely). I've been a lot more chill during this pregnancy than I was with my previous two. There are some factors that I think have contributed to this:
  • I have two other kids now that I have to worry about, so I don't have time or energy to obsess over the pregnancy
  • I skipped several of the monotonous OB appointments, and it made the pregnancy go a lot faster
  • I haven't felt as hormonally hypercharged as I did during my previous pregnancies, which I attribute to this baby's being a boy
  • Different expectations: Carmen broke me in by coming on her due date, with no prior signs - I just woke up in the morning, and she was ready to come out (Olivia was a week early, with plenty of forewarning)
  • My sweet mommy isn't coming out to help until Saturday, so I feel less pressure for him to come early, and in fact, it would be more convenient for him to be precisely punctual
  • I had a bunch of stuff I needed to get done by the end of April, so it was nice to be able to finish it
  • We don't have a first name for him yet, anyway
Last night (while I was awake, having to visit the loo every 15 minutes) I realized that part of the stress of the baby waiting game is that we often perceive due dates as deadlines rather than estimates. I know that's what I've done: if they're not here by my calculated 40 weeks, they're LATE! But that seems awfully unfair. Hungry Hippos doesn't even know how to count yet, and I'm sure he's growing as fast as he can. It's convenient that we have a general idea of about when he might emerge, for planning purposes, but if he's not ready yet to leave his nice, round home, well, he's not ready. And while I wouldn't say I'm comfy, we still make a nice, waddle-y team.

Last week I knew he wasn't ready to come out. But, I am feeling now like he might be ready this week.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Life plans

Oh, gosh.

Today when we were eating breakfast Olivia said, "Before I go to a different house I'll have to get all my stuff."

I was confused and asked her to clarify, so after a couple of repetitions she said, "When I grow up and live in a different house."

And so I said that yes, of course, when she grows up and moves to her own house she will be able to take all of her things with her.

Olivia looked relieved and said, "I'll have to find all my cats and put them in my kitty tent." Then she went through all the other things she'd have to round up before she moved to her own place: heart clips, her yelling toy (Sing-a-ma-gig), her stickers, books, and princess dolls.

She then noted that she would have to get a big car in order to move all her stuff, so we talked about how maybe when she goes to high school she can get a job and save money so she can buy a car, and she will drive it herself and go to college. And maybe while she's in college she can get a job too so she can make more money and save it, and then after she graduates she will get a job too, so that when she gets married and becomes a mommy she can buy a house.

Then Olivia noted that she will leave Black Kitty behind for Daddy to play with, but maybe she could come back and visit us and play with Black Kitty. I assured her she would always be welcome.

It was just so cute, and just so...real?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bumpity Bump Bump

Some people have recently compared my belly to a basketball. Well, I'm here to refute that right now.

See? A basketball has black lettering, and my belly totally doesn't.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mom

Yeah, I know that some people put flattering pictures of themselves online. Well, by gum, not me. This was some lunchtime last week. I promise that after the photo I went and actually took a shower and got dressed. (I think I got Carmen dressed too.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hungry, Hungry Hippos

I keep meaning to mention this on here. Especially since I've entered the home stretch with this pregnancy, people have been asking what we are calling our little boy.

Hungry Hippos.

This is what Olivia christened him soon after we found out he was a boy. We thought it was a one-time answer, but she was apparently more serious than we thought, because she started telling everyone that our baby was called Hungry Hippos. And, when they laughed, she confidently replied that she thought it was a good name.

I promise that "Hungry Hippos Brown" will not appear on his birth certificate. But, for now, it's actually been very convenient to have something to call him. And, I will confirm that he does seem very hungry, and is also a bit of a hippo: on Friday I was measuring 2 weeks ahead, which validated my having felt very full of baby. I'm planning on staying pregnant all through April, at least, but I'll tell you - Hungry Hippos is running out of room.

*Also, I wanted to mention that I am not being coy with the name thing: I'm no good at keeping secrets. We really haven't decided on a name, or even narrowed it down to a chosen few. Suggestions are welcome.

Money, money, money

I have been in major spending mode lately. I guess it's part of my nesting? Anyway, I just ordered some more stuff off of Amazon. It's all practical stuff, and not really for me: a birthday present for Olivia, a water filter for our food storage, and a KidCo Travel Bed that I've wanted for a long time (more portable than a pack 'n' play!). And, okay, I also got some Pilot Frixion pens that I heard about during my machine quilting class a couple of weeks ago. You can iron the marks away! I can see my mom and me going crazy with these when she comes out in a few weeks.

The good news is that I finally did our taxes, and what I'm spending is nothing compared to our rebate (yay!) I'm always proud of myself every year for doing our taxes. It makes me feel smart to understand how the process works and how things are calculated. This is the first year I have e-filed, so I felt smart for figuring that out too, especially since we couldn't do the IRS's FreeFile (we also don't use TurboTax or any other products - just the long forms and instructions). These accomplishments may seem petty, but it's nice to have something that's cerebrally validating beyond understanding phonics (which does make me feel like a big deal when I'm teaching preschool).

Monday, March 21, 2011

The plus side

As of today, nothing in Carmen's bedroom is going to get a diaper rash. Especially not the carpet. How wonderful.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Good day

Sometimes I look at my kids and just ache with how cute they are. I can't believe that they're really mine and I'm really their mommy. I can't believe I'm ANYBODY's mommy.

I love days like this when life is just simple. Carmen and I walked Olivia to preschool this morning, then came home and did errands and played for a while. We went and visited with friends at a sewing group. We picked up Olivia, came home and ate lunch. Then Carmen napped while Olivia helped me pin and cut out a maternity dress pattern (I need something new for these last 2 months). I took a break and made some dough for our dinner of Czech fruit dumplings (I'm determined to perfect my recipe). Now Carmen's up and the girls are pretending to change doll diapers upstairs. The weather is beautiful and we're probably going to go play outside while we wait for Steven to get home.

This is the life I always, always wanted, and I'm really thankful for it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Iron Maiden

I've been blessed to have very easy, uncomplicated pregnancies. So during the past month I was surprised to realize that I felt...dead. I didn't remember feeling so tired and worn out so early in pregnancy before.

I tried to explain it by figuring out what was different this time around: baby gender. Two existing kids. Nearing of the magical age 30 that reportedly changes everything about one's metabolism.

But none of those seemed satisfactory: other than fatigue, this pregnancy has not felt any different than my previous ones (except that I can tell I'm carrying lower). Having two kids who play together seems easier than trying to entertain one. My body doesn't feel different now, despite 2 years.

Well, turns out I'm anemic. So since ironing up during the last week, I have felt much, much better.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Family candids

Here are a couple of scenes I've walked in on in the past few days:

He was reading her poetry.

Steven is no poet, and Olivia is no snuggler. But there is a connection between them in which I have no part. Is there any wonder this girl adores her daddy?

Then today:

There was a time when I feared I might never have children. Considering I'm still under 30 (at least for a month), I realize that this was not wholly founded. But the memory of that time makes me even more appreciative of watching my darling girls making messes so happily together. It's a good life.