Saturday, February 28, 2009

River News: Month Twenty-Three

This month, River, I've invited your dad to take over the reigns and write your River news. After a couple years of hearing all of your adventures in my voice, I thought it would be nice to get his perspective for once. When he showed me this letter, we talked about what he had written; specifically, that he happened to leave out all of your stickier moments (like the fact that you haven't eaten more than a grape at one sitting for a couple weeks). He wanted only to reflect on the positive, and I proposed this blog will be much more affective birth control when you're a hormonal teenager if we include the parenting horror stories. Oh well, you certainly get enough of those from me.

I love you and I'll be back next month to recount all of your adventures leading up to your second birthday! xoxo, Mommy

Dear River,

I love you, and I hope this finds you well and happy when you are reading it.

This month February, 2009, your 23rd month you enjoyed leading (albeit in a somewhat bossy way). You were very clear with what you wanted. Some of my favorite phrases of the month were:
• "Getit" - meaning: "hey you, get me that thing that I'm pointing at right now" uses: cheesecake factory (see photo), in reference to bear (who is still an important member of the family), with any adult and even cousin Finn.
• "River doodit" - meaning: "hey you, hands off! I want to do this by myself" - uses: peeling an orange, brushing teeth, driving the train around the track, climbing into the crib.
• "Bear doodit" - meaning: "Mom/Dad, you hold bear and make him do what I want" - uses: turning off/on lights, turning water off on the tub, brushing teeth, kicking under the tent (see photo).
• "No talk" - meaning: "Hey adults, stop talking to each other and pay attention to me" - uses: at dinner every night, at thursday pizza parties, any time two adults are talking around you.

With these phrases and others you gave commands to adults, children, cats, and stuffed animals. Not everyone did what you wanted. I tried to teach you some ways to soften your demands and find more effective ways to get what you want, like adding a "please" or trading things with kids who had a toy you wanted. I don't think it took, though. Still I think it is a fun direction you are going in, and I know you will get better at getting what you want.

This month your great uncle Bruce died suddenly and unexpectedly. The whole family was shocked and saddened. It was tragic to experience the loss of such a wonderful, fun, loving, caring man. The good thing was that we got to see the family in Auburn, Nebraska. You met your cousins Nash, Chloe, and Cody for the first time. You played a lot with them. Nash and Chloe tugged you around and involved you in their games. You also got to see your Nanu/Grandma and Dadu again, which was a lot of fun because you have developed your language and intelligence significantly since Xmas.

On Valentines day you learned that "X" means kiss and "O" means hug, thanks to great cards from your grands. It was sweet to get many extra hugs and kisses as a result. You also surprised me when you decided one morning that you wanted to wear your train overalls that Oma got you last year. You had been unwilling to wear them, but you saw them in your drawer and you know that they were "chug choo" pants. We couldn't take them off of you and you had to sleep with them on that night. Along with the overalls, you finally decided that hats are ok, because there was a matching train hat. Now we just have to find more hats for you to wear.

One of your other favorites this month was Monsters. We read every monster book in the house 20 times. We watched Monsters, Inc. 3 or 4 times, pretended to be monsters, played with toy monsters, made monster pancakes, saw monsters at the museum ("moo-zee-mmmmm"), and your mom churned out silly, awesome monsters for HooberBloob. All in all, another great month.

Thank you, Summer, for inviting me to write this month. River, I love you, and I hope you are having fun.



Thursday, February 26, 2009

trash duck

River has been having a fantastic time with the block set his Dadu made him. Last night the boys built a pretty incredible tower together, and I was able to snap a few shots before destructo-boy tore it down.

This morning he was at it again. The first time we built something with these blocks I made a rough-looking structure and called it a trash truck, which just sent River to the moon. Ever since then we are not allowed to build anything unless it is some kind of trash truck. So we build towers with wheels (as you can see above) and call them trash trucks and he is happy.

This morning Thom branched out and built a little duck, and, as you can imagine, River was very disturbed by this development. To appease the toddler, Thom attached a barge to the duck and built a trash-holding structure behind. Of course that one was destroyed in minutes. The photos below are what I built afterward:

The key requirement of anything we build is some kind of open space in which River can stuff extra blocks as "trash." He then proceeds to fill it as full as possible until the whole thing comes tumbling down.

I have a feeling River's career choice will likely lean more toward demolition than architecture.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

don't count me out yet

A little blatant self-promotion here...

Guess I was being hasty when I said I didn't get in to the Jumpstart Contest on Ohdeedoh, because HERE I AM! I underestimated the time it would take to vet all the entries, but I am so happy to have made it through. I'm pretty proud of the work we did on this, and I know River loves the space, so I hope I make a good showing in the contest.

If you'd like show your love and help us win a little prize, please head over to Ohdeedoh and vote. You'll have to sign in - a simple process that doesn't require much. Once you're done, take a look around. If you're interested in home decor at all, Apartment Therapy (Ohdeedoh's mother site) is a fantastic do-it-yourself-inspired-space with categories for any interest: kids, kitchen, technology, and green living.

Random Tuesday Thoughts


I'm trying out a new thing. A few of the mom blogs I've latched onto (like a newborn at the teat) write Random Tuesday Thoughts in which they spew whatever...random... stuff that comes to mind. It ends up being pretty entertaining, in fact. I'm feeling randomy, so here goes:
  • I smell like a yak right now. I haven't had a shower in three days and instead of hopping in there right now, like I should, I'm spending my time doing this. Totally productive.
  • My sewing machine broke a week ago and I still haven't taken any definitive steps to have it fixed or replaced. I've gone to two sewing shops, researched new machines, and considered my options, but for some reason I feel paralyzed with indecision. I think because sewing is a major part of my business, I want to make sure I get the absolutely perfect new machine and there are HUNDREDS to choose from. Too many options! Just tell me what to get and I'll buy it!
  • My friend Jenn has finally nagged me into joining facebook. She was right. It is really simple and better than myspace. But I see it becoming another easy distraction, so I'm laying low.
  • Jenn has also inspired me to try to blog a little more often than usual. She did it in the most obvious way: by appealing to my ego. I check everyday, she says, and I always wonder why you haven't blogged for like a week! It's nice having a reader. You know, the one besides my mom and husband.
  • Maybe River's obsession is getting to me, but I think about boobs all the time these days. boobiesboobiesboobiesboobies. It's pretty fun to say. You should try it.
  • Thom has diagnosed our cat with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and I actually think he's right. Every morning when the coffee grinder starts running Poe freaks out and attacks her brother Edgar, makes the most pathetic high pitched squeal, and is generally manic until the grinder stops. Thom says if it was just anxiety, exposure therapy - hearing the damn thing every day for the past five years - should have worked by now. So PTSD it is. Poor girl. I wonder what horrible thing happened before we adopted her to create such black spot in her life.
  • Now that I'm near the end I can say I love these Random Tuesday Thoughts! It's totally liberating to get rid of all that useless stuff rolling around in my head and not have to make a funny, poignant, or meaningful post about it. Just dump it out!
I would do that linky thing other people have done, but I'm feeling too technologically lazy right now. Maybe next week I will have it figured out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

anyone got some duct tape?

River and I are enjoying breakfast at the Diesel Cafe in Davis Square (okay, that should read: River is running around in circles avoiding his muffin while I try to pound my coffee). After a few hundred laps around the room he jumps up on me and suddenly gets very snugly.

I should preface the next part by saying that though River has been weened for a while, he still has quite an obsession with my chest (he's a man; I suppose the obsession is hard-wired). He likes to use it as a pillow as he's going down for a nap. I've tried to discourage overt fondling, but occasionally he still sneaks in a few seconds of motor-boating. So he's there, resting his head on my ladies, when he suddenly looks up and shouts to the roomful of strangers, "BOOBIES!"

Saturday my friend Ben is in town to play a show (awesome job, by the way) and he crashes at our place. Sunday morning River is busy eating an apple in my lap and looks over to Ben, points to his apple and says, "Apple." He then points to my chest and says, "Boobies," whereupon he rests his head and finishes his snack. Just in case you wanted to know what I'm doing, Uncle Ben.

Back at the cafe... After River shares his love of boobies with the room, he notices his nose is running and he's conveniently left a slime trail across my shirt. He has to let the people know, right? So the next thirty seconds proceed with me turning a new shade of red as he screams, "BOOBIES! BOOGERS! BOOBIES! BOOGERS!"

I guess I should feel lucky he didn't feel the need to talk about his penis too...

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I've been thinking about the amazing art space we were going to create for River ever since we decided to buy this condo. I initially imagined dedicating a large wall in the family room in the basement for this purpose: the three-part wall would have a chalk board, a giant roll of paper, and a magnetic board. He'd be supplied with crayons, markers, paint, magnetic letters, construction paper, stickers, glue, and any other crafty thing I could think of. If there was ever an art-mergency we would be covered.

Since then, we filled half of the family room with our enormous book collection and I've taken the other half as my sewing/craft space. Sorry, River, no art space for you - you'll just have to get by with the crayons and scraps of paper I hastily throw your way every now and then.

Okay, okay, I didn't really abandon the idea altogether. I just decided that River's downstairs room (yes, he has two - see, the kid isn't suffering) was plenty large to house an art corner, and that is what Thom and I have been working on this month.

Here's what this space looked like before:

Pretty sad, huh? We've had the table and chairs for a few months (they were a part of my original design) and recently we found a cool roll of paper which we attached to one end of the table and anchored to the other side so pieces could be torn off and the roll moved forward.

The next step was to create the WALL OF ART, which is pretty much how I think of it. Imagine James Earl Jones or Patrick Stewart saying "WALL OF ART" in an epic, booming voice and you get the idea.

Around 5am one Saturday morning I woke up thinking about how I wanted to design the WOA, and started sketching a large chalkboard with a bright wooden border, shelves, and a decal that said "Imagine." When morning finally arrived we headed to Home Depot and bought chalk board paint, magnetic paint, and molding. I made the cuts on the molding myself (yea, handy!), nearly came to blows with the old lady trying to cut me in the paint line, but we got everything we needed.

We have a large collection of tools at home so we didn't need much besides some hardware. The original plan was to paint the magnetic primer with chalkboard over it, so the wall would serve two purposes. Turns out that primer works NOT AT ALL, so those three coats of magnetic paint were for naught.

The chalkboard paint worked significantly better and while I waited for coats to dry I worked on the accent pieces.

I painted the table, chairs, outlet covers, vent, and molding with four colors. We attached the molding withe nails, hung the shelves, and I made a fabric decal with the title of one of our favorite John Lennon songs.

Thom took on the enormous task of entertaining River and keeping him from stepping in paint cans while I worked. After about 5 days, this is what we had:

It didn't get nominated for a contest I entered on Ohdeedoh, but River loves it and I love it, so that's all that matters.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

all about my man

I saw this meme on Bartender's Wife and was inspired to do my own. Anyone who reads this blog knows that Thom is a fantastic partner and the love of my life, but you might not know some of the nitty gritty details about our relationship. So here you go:

What are your middle names?
Thom's is Sandford, after a grandfather. (That's where the "rd" in his business Kerdan comes from.) Mine is Ryan. Instead of cutting all my hair off or getting piercings, I started going by Ryan when I entered high school. It created a lot of confusion for people who knew me as Summer as well as those who only knew me as Ryan but kept hearing everyone call me Summer. Thanks to my best friends it was a losing battle.

How long have you been together?
We've been together since August 2001 and married since August 2003.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?
I met him in high school. How? you might ask, since he's six years older than me? Funny story. See, I dated his little brother in high school (who now happens to be married to one of my best friends from high school and lives just down the road from us). Thom and I kept in touch as acquaintances for about 7 years before we thought, hey, there could be something more here...

Who asked whom out?
I guess, technically, I asked him out (though really, it was just an innocent request to get together for dinner). Still, I should have known he was putting the moves on when he offered to cook at his place.

How old are each of you?
I'm *cough* *cough* 29. For another month. He'll be 36 in March.

Whose siblings do you see the most?
Definitely his. The afore mentioned brother and sister-in-law live in our city, so we get together about 2-3 times a week. I would love to see my brother more often, but since he's in Vegas, we can't just hop over to his place.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?
I think we could probably both use more sleep. Ever since we hired a sitter, I have more down time (but since I'm using that time to start a business, is it really "down"?). Thom has approximately ZERO down time. I know we both want to exercise more and have more time with each other, but I just keep telling myself the toddler days won't last forever.

Did you go to the same school?
We both graduated from the same high school (Jenna Jameson is one of our illustrious alums). For college he went to MIT and I went to Sarah Lawrence.

Are you from the same home town?
Pretty much. I wasn't born in Vegas, but it's the place I call home. Thom was born and raised there.

Who is smarter?
Thom is totally smarter. He has an incredible mind and is constantly working on new ideas. He has a much better memory for details than me and can enter a debate without breaking into tears. I'm constantly learning from him.

Who is the most sensitive?
Thom is incredibly sensitive, but he doesn't really stand a chance next to the tornado of emotion he's married to. He doesn't project his emotion all the time, whereas I can't help but spew my inner emotional life on anyone within a ten foot radius. In this area - emotional intelligence - I am probably the smarter one. I can read people, anticipate their needs, and react to them without really thinking about it. Thom has to think about it.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Eat out? Uh, what's that? We order from a great pizza place called Beauty's quite a bit.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
Fiji, for our honeymoon.

Who has the craziest exes?
Neither of us have that many, and they're not that crazy. I guess I did once date a guy who wanted to be Brandon Lee in The Crow, so I probably win.

Who has the worst temper?
Did I mention I'm an emotional tornado? Thom is so easy-going, sometimes it seems like nothing gets to him. I'm always surprised by those very rare occasions he gets mad (thankfully, I'm usually not the source of his anger).

Who does the cooking?
Me. And me. And, um, me. Thom used to cook more, but I'm kind of a kitchen nazi, and he's found it's just easier to stay out of my way than have me hovering over his burners and telling him to add more salt. He likes to get up on Saturday morning and make pancakes while I'm still in bed (I can't hover if I'm asleep).

Who is the neat-freak?
We're both incredibly messy by nature. And we both know our relationship will survive only if we maintain some kind of order in the house. I'm home more, so I end up working on the mess a little more than him. About once a month, when I have to do a large amount of picking up after the boys, I lose my s**t a little and start breathing fire. Thom knows it's best to just get out of my way for a couple hours and get me a cocktail once I'm done.

Who is more stubborn?
Neither is particularly stubborn, but since he's more easy-going we end up doing things my way more often.

Who hogs the bed?
We have a huge bed, so space isn't an issue. But he is a notorious blanket hog.

Who wakes up earlier?
Thom. I need a couple hours at night to wind down, so I stay up later. He's sensible and goes to bed early and wakes up with River most days.

Where was your first date?
His apartment in New York? Does that count? Our first outside date was at the Guggenheim Museum (where we saw a Frank Gehry exibit).

Who is more jealous?
What's there to be jealous about?

How long did it take to get serious?
I knew he was the one in a month. I think he did too, but he took longer to say it. On September 11 he was in Boston on business and I was in Manhattan working at Starbucks. He couldn't get in touch with me for hours and when we finally did touch base he told me he loved me.

Who eats more?
He eats faster and more quantity at mealtimes, but I probably snack more than him.

Who does the laundry?
Usually me.

Who's better with the computer?
Heh, heh. Yesterday I FINALLY figured out how to change my masthead. He went to MIT. What do you think?

Who drives when you are together?
I'm getting better about letting him take the wheel lately. But just don't ask us who's the better driver.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


In the course of my day it's easy to get caught up in all those things that don't really matter: matching River's socks to his shirt, putting on make-up before I go out, running errands, cooking dinner. So much of life is consumed by the little details that don't actually mean anything in the grand scheme. Still, every night I rock my boy to sleep and thank the universe for that time together, every night I kiss my husband goodnight and reflect on how lucky I am to have him, every day I think about my parents and Thom's parents and know that we would not be the people we are without them.

Is that enough? Should disaster strike, will I feel angry with myself for not relishing every moment? Will I regret all those opportunities to play with River I missed out on because I was doing laundry? If my world comes crashing down will I find peace with the way I've chosen to live my life or will I be filled with regret?

Last week my aunt and cousins were smacked in the face with unimaginable grief when my uncle Bruce was taken from them suddenly and unexpectedly. Shock and sorrow spread in a widening gyre as the news spread to his mother, his brothers and sisters-in-law, his nieces and nephews, his friends, his coworkers. He touched so many people and I'm sure that many of them feel as I do that he was too young, that we didn't get enough time, that it was too soon for him to go.

I spent the better part of a week alternately grieving and continuing to live my life (getting River fed and dressed, keeping appointments, going to playgroups). Part of me was relieved to have things to do, things to keep my mind off the grief, and part of me was irritated that life couldn't just stop so I could escape into mourning, bury myself in a hole and not come out until the sun was shining again.

Thom, River, and I flew to Nebraska this weekend to see my family and attend a service for Bruce. I was looking forward to having a chance to celebrate Bruce's life, finding a way to process the loss, crying and laughing together with so many people who loved and will miss him. And that happened, in a way.

But grief doesn't work like a lightbulb; you can't just flip a switch and turn it off. Instead, it seems to ebb and flow, alternately rising and falling like a stream. Eventually it may trickle down to nothing, that painful stab of loss gone, and I will be able to remember Bruce with only joy and happiness in my heart. For others, I imagine that trickle of pain may never end.

Right now I just feel sad. And I'm going to go hug my baby boy.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

River News: Month Twenty-Two

Dear River,

Evey time we go to a playgroup these days and run into someone we haven't seen in a couple weeks they look at you and can't help but express how much you look like a "Little Boy!" I see you every single day and I still can't get over it.

Much of it is the way you look - baby fat gone, you have long, lean, strong limbs. But it's just as much about what you can do these days. You walk with such confidence and are close to tackling stairs on your own. You can climb the ladder of your bunk bed (you always want someone near to "push butt," but all you need is the confidence a hand at the ready gives you). You can twist the cap off my contact case, you can pull your saggy pants up, and you can say, "Orange trash truck."

You amaze us every day with your growing independence. One of my favorite developing skills is definitely your language. You repeat about half of the words we say, following just about every sentence with some attempt to learn a new word. It goes like this:

"Let's take the recycling out."

"Thom, have you seen my cell phone?"
"Cell pone"

"Here's your vitamins, River."

"Do you want macaroni or peanut butter and jelly?"

You're refining the words you already know as well. Working on saying "adder" instead of "jzah jzah" for ladder, using "bana" instead of "lurlurlurlur" for banana (don't ask me how lurlurlurlur ever meant banana - it just did. It also means balloon). Two of my favorites are using "mommy" and "daddy" instead of "mama" and "dada". I love hearing that sweet little "ee" at the end of the word.

This month you've learned a bunch of new colors, numbers, and letters (your world is no longer only shaded in blue, 2, and D!). Green, orange, red, purple, brown, white, black are all part of your vocabulary. And every time you take the stairs you count them as you go (1, 2, 3...1, 2, 3). You have a firm grasp of opposites and like to explore under and over the blanket, jumping up and laying down, hot and cold, happy and sad.

We started a music class this month. I overheard one of the mother's in the class express disappointment that the music wasn't hipper ("you know, throw in some salsa or rock n roll"). It was a valid, and hilarious, point. But yes, what we get when you, daddy and me head downtown once a week is silly, tinny children's music to dance and move to. Perhaps it was the music that turned you off, or just being expected to do the same thing everyone else was doing, but the first couple weeks were a struggle. You fought us walking into the room, and then asked repeatedly to "go. go." On the third week, however, a transformation occurred and you lit up when the first song was sung, and you spent most of the class running in circles, showing your enthusiasm for the whole experience. Quite a welcome change.

This week you surprised both of your parents by climbing unassisted into your crib. At first you were tentative and careful, and now you just hop in every time I have my back turned. The obviously distressing deduction is that if you can climb in, soon you'll figure out how to climb out. And if we knew you would spend the time out of your crib entertaining yourself by reading books (and not, as we fear, decorating the walls with permanent markers) we wouldn't be quite so panicked by the prospect. I guess it's just a part of getting more independent, and if it means you move to your big boy bed earlier than I'm ready for, so be it.

As you develop more independence, I feel a little pang for those long-gone baby days. Every now and then, when you're sick, or woken from your nap before you're done, I'll go in your room and sit and rock you back to sleep. Watching my sleeping boy is such a luxury: feeling your hair tickle my chin, feeling you in my arms, relaxed and at peace. Every day you get older, and every day those moments start to slip through my fingers. I recently heard someone express it so well: the knowledge that the day is coming when it will no longer be acceptable for me to hug you so tight or to feel your sleeping body next to mine brings such a pain to my heart, I almost can't bear it.

I don't know how to balance it all - cherishing the baby you were, relishing who you are in exactly this moment, and looking forward to the man you will become. Seeing your whole life before me is overwhelming: when will I stop tying your shoes, wiping your nose, carrying you through the grocery store? School will come, and girls, driving, and sports. You'll get in trouble, you'll do amazing things, you'll graduate, and I will always be here for you. But the day will come when it's no longer my primary job, when you don't need me every day, when you need to be on your own. How do I even imagine that day? How is it possible to live with that knowledge and not feel my heart breaking?

I'm trying to get through it and realize that I still get a lot more time being Mommy with a capital M. There are a million days left for playdoh, splashing in the bathtub, silly games with your critters, playtime with Finn, chasing you around the house, and hugging you until your stuffing falls out.

I love you my little little man,

Sunday, February 01, 2009

stupid law reconsidered

An update on my previous post:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission just announced a one year stay on the testing and certification requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Presumably they're going to take the time improve the seriously flawed act.