Saturday, February 23, 2008

can you guess which one we've done?

I have no idea what this website is about, as I am one of those completely ignorant Americans whose only exposure to a foreign language was two useless years of high French from which I have retained the ability to say "I love ham" and "turn right" ... or left, I can never remember the difference. (Although, I can still sing a passing version of the French national anthem.)

Regardless, Make Me Minimal has made my day for providing this bit of entertainment:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

burn, splat, and crash

Good (and bad) things always seem to come in threes, right? My clumsiness typically knows no bounds, but this has been quite a week for me.

Last Tuesday night, while cooking dinner, attending to River, keeping the cats from attacking each other, and generally working towards world peace, I set a kitchen towel on fire. I quickly noticed the inferno and pulled it outside where a good stomping took care of the potential disaster.

A woman walking past our house looked up and smirked as though saying, I may look like I'm laughing with you, but really I'm laughing at you. At least she had the grace to follow up that look with, "I do the same thing all the time, but I never think to bring it outside."

Dinner was salvaged, but it was close.

Yesterday, I spent a good hour making pie crust from scratch, steaming and sauteeing vegetables and assembling a quiche. Thom, River and I were all happy when it finally baked to a golden brown because we were a bit behind our usual dinner schedule. I pulled the hot pan from the oven and promptly dropped the whole steaming mass on the floor. Carnage was littered around our feet: splattered egg and broken ceramic mingling with my blue kitchen rug.

I stood there in horror for a good thirty seconds before I broke into the inevitable laughter and asked Thom what kind of take-out we were going to do.

Today, as part of preparing the house for the cleaners, I attempted to get Poe (Pissy McPooperpants) locked into the downstairs bathroom and away from the action. Apparently, last week she chased the poor cleaning ladies around the kitchen, swiping ankles and hissing. She wasn't happy with the prospect of being locked away and escaped my grasp a couple times. When I finally got ahold of her in the office upstairs, she was an angry angry cat and fought me the whole way.

Halfway down the stairs, struggling to hold Miss Squirmy I slipped and fell. I bounced onto my butt, slid down a few stairs and crashed into the wall. The pain in my ankle was incredible. Right away I could tell I hadn't done damage to my back, and thanked my lucky stars as I lay facedown moaning through the pain. After a minute, I got up and felt my foot. No broken bones! But I did sustain a nasty sprain.

Luckily my sitter was still around and agreed to stay the afternoon so I wouldn't have to be on my feet with River too much. I got my foot wrapped, iced, and elevated. And after Thom came home a little early, we went to his office to pick up a brace for my ankle (thank you Wellness Professionals!).

Dinner was take out.

It'd be pretty awesome if I could avoid causing irreparable damage to my home or body in the next day or two. I get real tired of too much take out.

P.S. Poe sustained no injuries from the fall, unless a sudden bout of conscience could be considered an injury--she's been snuggling and looking guilty all evening.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

chillin' at home for V-Day

Thom and I decided to avoid the crowds of couples last night and save our Valentine's Day outing for tonight. Still, I couldn't pass up the chance to make a redonkulously cute dinner. Kevin is rockin' the bachelor life for a few weeks, so we invited him to join us.

I was in the kitchen ALL day, so I made sure to document the outcome:

Valentine's Day Menu:

mixed green salad with crusted goat cheese, hazelnuts, and beet hearts

savory mushroom stew with heart puff pastry garnish

berry (gelatin-free) jello in heart molds (not pictured because I had some issues getting them out)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Great Riverini

It's a banner week for posts! Just couldn't pass this little gem up:

Monday, February 11, 2008

building a shell

One of the things about motherhood that has surprised me is not how much loving attention and care I give on a daily basis, but how much I must routinely steel myself for River's benefit.

The whole family was at Kevin and Crystal's this weekend, helping to put the finishing touches on their nursery (Thom and Summer adding wall decals, River tasting all the new baby's toys). Later, while we were hanging out in the living room, River took a tumble in the course of playing and bonked his head pretty solidly. Everyone in the room did what I wanted to--gasped sharply and readied themselves for the inevitable cry. Quite against my natural instincts, I reminded them to laugh it off and act normally until he actually showed signs of being upset. Low and behold, the little terminator shook it off and kept playing with nary a whimper or chin quiver.

That little act of restraint--not immediately rushing over to fuss and comfort my baby--has taken months of willpower to develop. It seems like such a cold thing for a mom to do, but I know in the long run River will be better and stronger for it. There is no way to avoid the many bumps, bruises, scrapes and falls he will encounter over the years, but my hope is that he will face each one on its own, dust himself off when he can, and trust me to be there to give hugs, kisses, and magic band aids when he really needs it.

Last night, as I was lying in bed thinking about this, we heard the tale-tell cry from the monitor. Months ago, one of us would have gotten up and gone to him, unable to leave him too long lest he build himself into a rage and refuse to go back to sleep. But after the (very successful!) sleep training we recently did I am much more confident he can actually get himself back sleep. So I waited. His cries rose and rose and I stayed where I was. Finally, after a minute, I heard the sound I was waiting for: the tapering cries, the little whimper, the tired last gasps before he fell asleep... all on his own. It was a miracle I couldn't have asked for just a few weeks ago, and now it is a nightly occurrence.

Still, the will-power it took to leave him there--to trust him to go back down and trust myself that leaving him alone was the right thing--was immense. It is hard-earned and does not come without a price. It's not as dramatic as the child who understands death for the first time, but it does feel like a kind of innocence lost.

The cover of pregnancy books always picture radiant women in sun dresses walking through fields of poppies in the afternoon light. It's as though new mothers are getting ready to attend a never-ending tea party, not deal with pain, poop, hurts, and heartbreak. If they wanted to be honest about the reality of motherhood, they would show an Amazon warrior gearing up for battle. Full belly covered in armor, face strong and stern: a woman willing to do whatever she must to protect her child.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

River Kong

Courtesy of Thom Doyle

Saturday, February 09, 2008

communing with the hippies

As I mentioned before, the whole family took a trip to the Berkshires last weekend to do a yoga retreat at Kripalu. The purpose of the trip was to give my best friend Jenn (out here from LA) and I a chance to unwind and have some solid girl time. (We considered NYC as a destination, but decided calming vibes would be more desirable than frenetic ones.) Crystal stayed with us for one night, then Thom came for the rest of the time--both so that someone would be there to take care of River while I was out gallivanting around.

It was really beyond fantastic, and I came home a bowl of centered, relaxed jelly. Kripalu is the kind of place that puts you instantly at ease when you walk through the doors: imagine a Buddhist Temple mixed with summer camp. Everything there encourages you to leave your stressful life behind and find a new way of being. It took an afternoon and a night of sleep before I could fully unwind, but when I did, I felt absolutely amazing. I let all of my tension and sense of responsibility go. I thought about what should happen now--in the moment--and didn't concern myself too much with anything beyond that. It couldn't have possibly happened that way if I didn't have someone I trusted taking care of River.

Our days were a beautiful winding path from yoga to meditation to sauna to meal to yoga... and I really could have just stayed on that decadent road forever. Jenn and I found ourselves talking like we haven't be able to in... maybe years now. It was like being back in high school: indulgent, girly, connected. I'm so glad she was there to share the experience with me.

I took few pictures, but here are my favorite ones. We took River out to play in the snow (notice the shopping bags on his feet) and gave him a nightly bath in our sink. I wish I had one of Jenn and I, but I guess we just weren't thinking about much more than relaxation. What a hard life.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

River News: Month Ten

Note to my lovely readers:

Sorry I've been so remiss with my posting duties. I spent a really fantastic long weekend with my best friend Jenn in the Berkshires at a yoga retreat (Crystal, then Thom, came along and were real champs taking care of River). We were extremely busy breathing, eating, and sitting in the sauna, so you understand why this is late. I wrote this post a few days before River's ten month b-day, and it already feels like I could add a novel to it, but I'll just have to save it for next month.

My handsome, handsome boy,

Every day I seem to find a new nickname for you, and I wonder if you'll go through your formative years thinking your name is Biver or Pook. Well, you've earned a new one this month: Beaver. Your auntie strapped that one firmly to your little person after you bit off a huge chunk of her wood coffee table.

As much as you do like a good gnaw these days, you're much less inclined to stick something new straight in your mouth. Your sense of touch and smell seem to be expanding, so you've learned some other ways of exploring.

This is the month I have finally (almost nearly) baby-proofed this place. The big project was locking up those cabinets and drawers you love so much. We've reserved you one cabinet in the kitchen full of fun plastic colanders and utensils, but those bathroom drawers--with their toxic hair gels and q-tips--are decidedly verboten. Of course, you'll always be able to find something you're not allowed to get into. But I think it's important to teach you that there are certain things off limits to you and that I'm not going to cage them (or you) in just because you're a baby.

It's not always easy, especially since one of your favorite activities is destroyong things. We stack blocks, you knock them down. We put puzzles together, you take them apart. We build train tracks, you trample them like godzilla. You pull books off shelves, dump toy boxes out, unroll toilet paper, turn bowls of cheerios over... You live to create chaos from order.

We've always tried to let you take the lead in deciding how you want to play, but you've really upped the game this month. You love to play chase and tickle games and you're very clear about initiating them. It always starts with you heading toward the dining room table. Halfway there, you'll peek back to see if we're watching, then off you go. We follow you under, winding in and out of chairs and table legs, making scary monster noises while you laugh and laugh. Of course, we have to catch you and tickle you or the game isn't as much fun, and you give ample opportunity for that.

When you're not running around, you are eating! You've had a real growth spurt this month, and we seem to be constantly shoveling food into your mouth. You love anything from our plate and anything you can pick up yourself. It's a struggle to figure out what I can make that will be both healthy for you and tasty for the rest of us. It's meant adding a few more soft canned veggies to the table than I like, but we're making it work.

We take you out to restaurants quite a bit these days, and though it's never mess-free or easy, you are very content most of the time. I always laugh when strangers come up to me and say what a "good baby" you are. It's a bit of a silly idea, that someone your age could be good or bad. You're simply happy. Your daddy suggested the next time I'm given the "good baby" line I should say, "That's because we ply him with liquor before we go out."

We've been doing lots of fun activities this month. Swim lessons, birthday parties, trips to the Children's Museum. You're so sociable and sweet to everyone; it's never stressful to take you out. We went to a fitness class this week and the only issue I had was keeping you from crawling over the other mommies and babies. Given the choice between that and a baby who stays glued to my side in fear, I'm really happy with the Pooker I got.

We have a nice little routine in the evening now. After your last nap in the afternoon, I'll get you up and put you in the highchair in the kitchen. You'll sit there happily munching on cheerios and watching me cook dinner for a good long time. We talk about what I'm doing and reminisce about our day, and then daddy comes home and you light up. There were so many months early on when I was just ragged by the end of the day, willing the clock to hit 6pm so I could get a break. I'm still tired at the end of the day, but I don't often feel desperate anymore. It's a wonderful thing these days, to share my time with you.

Well, I've saved the most significant news for last. You are finally finally sleeping through the night regularly. It took a bit of work, and you still fight us at bed times, but you are so much more likely to stay down for a long nap or a full night of sleep than you were just a few weeks ago. It's made everyone in this house so much happier. I just know you're going to feel so good and be healthier if you can keep it up. I feel lighter these days--less worried, less irritable. And I know it's the same for your dad. We need those hours to decompress, to rest, so that we can be good parents for you when we're together.

I love you love you love you my Pumpkin Doodle,