Sunday, February 27, 2011

After staying up way too late cooking and straightening and drinking wine with my friend I woke up in a frenzy and, once everyone was wearing pants and shoes, insisted we leave immediately for breakfast tacos so that the restless big boys didn't eat the cake and destroy the pristine living room where we would be celebrating James's baptism with a brunch later on. We were almost there when I remembered that I hadn't brought James a bottle. And that is how I found myself huddled in the third seat of my car with my dress up around my armpits, feeding James in the parking lot of the barbecue place.

Ten minutes later we were screaming into the church parking lot where all of our family was already waiting for us, peeking out the window of the lobby. And ten seconds after that I had hastily assembled everyone in front of the sanctuary for a very confusing family picture.

It was time to go up front before I knew it. We had just begun the liturgy when Charlie looked up at me sweetly and informed me that he had to go potty. I told him he was going to have to find a way to hold it then spent a few minutes wondering what I would do if he wet his pants in front of the entire congregation. Luckily that never happened because the only thing I came up with was "ignore, take pictures from the waist up." James was a sweetheart despite not feeling very well and very content, even when the minister carried him around the sanctuary to meet his new family. He's been practicing for this moment, when lots of people are touching him all at the same time, his whole life.

Afterward the minister tried to hand him back to me, but I was holding Charlie and Ryan was holding Wes and he had to give James to my dad because dude, we are outnumbered by THE CHILDREN.

Look, the whole family was there! I promise we were all there. Just not all in the same picture. Nothing a few minutes with Microsoft Paint couldn't fix. Look! Ready for the Christmas card!

Family Photoshop

Charlie and Wes spent the entire service facing their "big cousins" behind us doing who knows what. At least they were quiet, right?

Ryan left early to go get the casseroles in the oven (I made this and this). When I came home with the whole big family the table was set beautifully and the house smelled like wonderful food.



So now we officially take up all five lines on the sign-in pad at church, including all three spaces for children's names. That's a LOT of kids.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why my house looks the way it looks

To those of you who have said to me "Whooo, THREE boys? I just don't know how you do it!"

To you, I say "409. Lots and lots of 409."

Wes was using the icemaker to get water for the garden because the hose is still wrapped up for winter. Animals. They're animals, I tell you!

And THEN, after I had already published this, I found my long-lost oven mitt outside with a ten pound hunk of limestone shoved inside. But look at how loveable they are!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

James in the City

Because we are wimpy Texans who are afraid of driving in *ONLY* four or five inches of snow, we are staying in Boston tonight in advance of our flight early tomorrow morning. We arrived in time for dinner so I suggested Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in America, fully expecting to get a sandwich takeout from the Au Bon Pain in the lobby of the hotel and eat it in front of the TV. But the "T" stop conveniently across from the hotel was calling our names and after dropping our bags off we were on our way into downtown for dinner.

I wrapped James up like a babushka for the frigid five minute walk to the train.


My mom and I were sitting at a cozy table in a cozy, dimly lit, second-floor room, drinking our wine and talking about all the historic statesman who had potentially sat at that very table when James started to fuss. I settled him in to eat on the right side then did the best I could with my salad with my left hand. It was still very warm and cozy and wonderful, but when I tried to switch him over to the left he seemed intent on calling attention to our situation to one and all.

"The British are coming! The British are coming! My mom's got her shirt off in the Union Oyster House!"

He would NOT latch on. He would NOT stop screeching. So I whisked him away to the bathroom, which was no small feat considering the amount of dark, twisty stairways involved and the half-drunk glass of Cabernet languishing back on the table. I changed a nearly dry diaper and headed back up to our table to give it another try. He lasted about two more bites of salad and several sips of wine before I had to take him out again, this time to a private party room upstairs from our table. I let him eat for several more minutes, settled him down, and headed back to eat my mushroom ravioli. I could have married this mushroom ravioli, by the way. One of my favorite meals of all time. Everything about it was perfect.

Except for the restless baby in my lap. My mom had finished her dinner, so she took James to the gift shop so I could finish mine. I savored the last few bites of mushrooms and sauce and freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a little more wine, then followed the sound of the angry newborn down to the gift shop. I secured him in the snuggli and we left raving about the amazing meal and laughing about the atrocious behavior of the newborn.

We had just stepped onto the platform for our train when there was an announcement on the PA. "Attention passengers: Due to a passenger being struck by a train in Central Square, inbound Redline trains will not run until further notice." What the heck.

One of the passengers on our train (which was outbound) had a lot to say about the announcement.

"How the F*** do you get STRUCK by a TRAIN?! I mean, BAM! That's IT! You're DONE! STRUCK BY A TRAIN?!"

My mom and I laughed nervously. This only encouraged him.

"I'm so f***ing high on Angel Dust right now. I'm tripping my BALLS off."

I have never been so happy to not have Charlie with me.

"Have you ever tripped?" he asked my mom.

The CPA-type next to us volunteered "I tried LSD once in college, but it didn't do anything."

"MAN you should try Angel Dust. It's like wee-ooo wee-ooo" He demonstrated by wiggling his fingers in front of his eyes. "I'm tripping my BALLS off!"

"STRUCK by a f***ing TRAIN! I mean, I know you can be struck by a fist. But a train? How does that even happen? What the F***?! How old's the baby?"

"Two months."

"A boy? I have two boys. They drive me f***ing crazy. But I love 'em."

He addressed my mom again "Struck by a train...That's my brother," gesturing at a man with crutches on the other side of the train, "He spent fourteen years in the state pen. I've only done seven! Now I want to be FREE!!"

The train stopped at a station and he got off (which I was very grateful for, he was funny on the train but I did NOT want to be on a dark platform with him!). His brother struggled to his feet with the crutches. The guy stood close to the door of the train and yelled "Hey Jimmy Fund, let's go!" He turned back to my mom. "You see what I have to put up with? Let's go Jimmy Fund!" The doors closed and they left.

Things are going to seem awfully tame in the big gold minivan this week.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

James Goes to Boston

James and I are in New England with my mom, visiting my grandparents (both sides). This is pretty much what I've been doing, holding the baby. He's feeling a little lost without his brothers. He's responded to that sense of loss by nursing every twenty-three minutes around the clock. You might be able to imagine that my one allowed cup of coffee is laughably inadequate.


Yesterday it was in the fifties and there was a blanket of snow on everything. It was beautiful, BUT ALSO WARM, and I was ready to move to a Quaint New England town where we could walk to a Quaint New England Church on Sunday and the kids could go to a Quaint Elementary School and we would all wear sweaters until mid-June. But today is in the upper twenties and the lady at the restaurant where I had lunch, when asked if the snow was expected on Sunday night or Monday night, waved her hand dismissively and said "I don't know, but it's only going to be four or five inches." This is not the place for me. At least not in the winter.

James says "I'm a Texan!"


We're having a great time visiting my family whom we usually only get to see in the summer (when it's *ONLY* a hundred-and-five at my house). All four of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Today while driving from New Hampshire to Massachusetts we saw a sign for this place and it was so funny we had to try it out.


You guys. If you ever find yourself in Methuen, Mass, do yourself a favor and GO TO THE ROYAL HOUSE OF ROAST BEEF. It's in a shopping center between a Dunkin Donuts and a liquor store. Methuen, Mass I think I love you.

We're on Cape Cod now, enjoying time with maternal grandparents and aunts and uncles. Tomorrow night it's back to Boston for the night and then our flight home. Our flight shouldn't be a problem, we're *ONLY* expecting four or five inches of snow!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Despite all the hippie humor on Facebook surrounding my decision to attend a postnatal mother and baby yoga class with James today, I think I might have actually been the biggest hippie there. At least, I was the first to get all National Geographic when James started to fuss. Ten seconds after the class began. Probably because I was really smug about how good and calm he was being. He sure showed me!

Several people brought bottles. Babies came in carseats, not slings, and no one said anything about burying their placenta in their yard. No one gave their kid a raw sweet potato to eat like at the one and only La Leche League meeting I went to. It was a little disappointing.

I set up my mat like the lady next to me. James went at one end, on a pile of blankets, my mat went by his feet, and then I set up a big pillow against the wall opposite James. The teacher explained later that I could use that to support my lower back if "James needed a break" (which he did).


When I did the hands and knees poses and downward dogs and lunges, I could kiss his little tummy. When we had to face the other way, we could touch our toes together. It was so wonderful to spend some one-on-one time with James.

We were supposed to have a word to focus on during the class. My first word was "calm". Then it was "I need to vacuum". Then it was "What time is it?" And then it was "FOCUS ON THE PRESENT LIKE THE TEACHER SAID, YOU IDIOT". And then it was "calm" again, for a while.

We stretched every muscle in our bodies. Even our wrists. After eight weeks of nursing a baby who now weighs as much as a good-sized Thanksgiving turkey, it felt amazing. Later we stood in a circle with our babies and sang songs to them while we swung them around and bounced them and did lunges. It was the best parts of storytime, neighborhood playgroup, and an exercise class, all in one.

Conveniently, James wanted to nurse during the hard-looking core strengthening exercises that followed. And then it was time to lie down with our eyes closed. Win!

At the end, the teacher left the room and returned with a tray of cups of chai tea for everyone. It did not take much convincing for me to sign up for eight more classes. It did take some convincing to get me to leave.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Tonight Ryan and I were sitting on our respective couches, working on work work on our respective laptops, when Ryan mused without looking up from the screen "Weren't you supposed to take muffins in for Wes's class tomorrow?"

"OH NO!"

Ryan jumped up. "Not to worry, I need to do some procrastinating!" He ran off to the kitchen and whipped up some cinnamon streudel muffins FROM SCRATCH.

While he was doing that I made the kids' lunches for tomorrow and THEN I remembered that Wes ALSO needed eight MORE Valentines to distribute among his diminutive friends. His class is different every day and he attends three days, so that's three parties. I only signed up to bring something on one day because I am a slacker. And then I almost forgot to do that one thing!

All this after I had to write in Charlie's class mascot's journal about the thrilling, educational weekend we had together (We ate at Rosa's! We got haircuts! Mama fell asleep standing up!) while sitting in the parking lot of the preschool before dropoff. Or, more accurately, DURING dropoff. Because even though we carted that bee around with us for four days, it completely slipped my mind this morning.

Have I told you how many times Wes's teacher has had to ask me for more diapers? It's shameful. And let's not talk about shot records and wellness statements, which might as well be a second dissertation as hard as it seems to be for me to get them turned in on time (or ever).

Preschool is not the only victim of my absentmindedness. I left my entire box of ungraded homework at school over the weekend and then this morning had to grade a stack of assignments WHILE I WAS PUMPING so I could hand them back today in advance of their first test on Thursday. I forgot the milk storage bags for the pump so I had to stick the whole pump into the office refrigerator while I taught then drive home holding it with my legs so it wouldn't spill (after an awkward walk from my building to my car HOLDING A FULL BREAST PUMP FOR ALL TO SEE).

I should have "I'm so sorry, I completely forgot!" tattooed on my forehead. Or get some more rest, or caffeine. Or start using my planner. Or commit to fewer things. I think the tattoo is the most likely of those scenarios to actually occur, honestly. Which is to say, it's not going to get better anytime soon.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hey Cupcake!

Twelve years ago, my first Valentine's Day with Ryan was another Sunday. He dropped me off after church (in my 1985 Toyota Supra, he didn't have a car) at my dorm and told me he had to spend the remainder of the afternoon studying, but that he would pick me up for dinner later on. He picked me up and drove me to a park where he proceeded to pull a four course meal OUT OF THE TRUNK OF MY OWN CAR which I swear I had locked after church. Crazy! Even crazier, he lived in the dorm and had to borrow a friend's kitchen (and car!) for the whole afternoon.

Today's Valentine's Day celebration also involved food and a car. But instead of a romantic picnic in my sweet little 1985 Toyota Supra (best car EVER, does not have LATCH, sadly), it was cupcakes in my enormous gold minivan. Rockstar!!

We went out for lunch after church at a deli that has free ice cream, I always like to start a fun thing by not letting them have the other fun thing that's right in front of them. You get more whining that way. The whining ended abruptly when I slowed to a stop in front of the Cupcake Bus. Something about the three foot tall pink cupcake on the roof, I would imagine.


Good things come to those who wait, kid. Just sayin'.


Unless, of course, you fall asleep on the way there. And then, in this family, you get totally hosed. Ryan did get another cupcake to share with Wes later, but Wes never brought it up so I split it with Ryan instead after everyone was asleep for the night.


James got his cupcake approximately two hours later in slightly refined form. He likes vanilla-vanilla JUST LIKE ME.


Meticulous Sparkpeople logging yesterday, four pound cupcake today. It's all about balance.


Ryan, ever-ready with a napkin, soldier in the war on chocolate icing on the upholstery, builder of walls, and fixer of garage doors, toilets, Christmas ornaments, and anything else the kids and I have accidentally destroyed. Twelve years ago he hid a picnic in my car. I knew then that we would have a great adventure together. At eighteen did I think that adventure would involve three children and a combined nineteen years of higher education? Not exactly, but I've loved every minute of it.


Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Best Laid Plans

There are a few things that Texans are good at--making delicious BBQ out of really cheap cuts of meat, for example--but one thing they are not good at is driving in winter weather. And so this morning, after I got up and learned that school would be proceeding today as scheduled, and after I did several back handsprings across the living room, I tried to hustle the kids into the car before Curious George was over so that we could drive slowly and carefully through the ice to school. Big mistake. The second I turned off the TV Wes dropped to the floor, screaming. Then Charlie picked a fight over a truck he hasn't shown any interest in in over a week.

I finally managed to drag both of them into the doorway of the car and started making chipper threats about what would happen if they didn't get in and buckle up immediately. Like NPR. NPR would happen and sorry, you'll have to listen to Lady GaGa another time. When I was buckling Wes in I smelled that something was amiss.

"Wes, did you poop?!"

"Yes, thank you!"

Always so polite, that one.

I reasoned that I would change him in the car after we were safely at school, nice and early, with plenty of time. I'm gonna get so much done today!! Yay for planning ahead, right? That's foreshadowing right there.

Somehow, by the time we left the driveway we were already five minutes behind where we would have been if I'd just let them watch the end of freaking Curious George. Humph.

At the end of our street a dog was running around outside with no one in sight. It was twenty degrees, and windy, and the grass was covered with ice. I couldn't leave him. So I pulled over and called him. He came close enough to see that he had a collar with a tag, then ran back into someone's yard. I was thinking about just forgetting about it and heading to school, but then I thought about Rossby shivering in the cold with no one to help him.

So I backed up, grumbling, turned around and followed him a little ways until "Snowdog", who now had a name thanks to Wes, stopped walking again, and got out to call his family.

I left a message explaining that I would drive the dog to the vet's office in our neighborhood where he would be warm and that the owner could pick him up there. I should mention that this dog was DISGUSTING. He had a lampshade thing on his head, his tail had no fur on it, and his feet were bruised and patchy. The poor thing. He did have a nice collar on, though, so he must have a family somewhere. I hope.

I followed Snowdog on foot as far as I was comfortable getting away from the car, which was about one house, and tried to get him to walk to my car. "Here, puppy! HEEERE PUPPY! PLEASE COME HERE SO I DON'T HAVE TO MAKE A DIFFICULT DECISION IN FRONT OF MY CHILDREN! PUPPY PUPPY PUPPY!" I waved invitingly at the open tailgate. He dug in his heels. Reluctant as I was to try and pick up what looked to be an eighty pound dog with a skin condition while my three children looked on, I looked around to see if there was someone around who could help.

Then he started walking around erratically and stumbling here and there. OMG DON'T DIE RIGHT NOW. So, so awful. The kids were yelling from the van, "HERE PUPPY! HERE SNOWDOG! MAMA WHY DOES HE HAVE THAT THING ON HIS HEAD? WHAT'S WRONG WITH SNOWDOG?" Oh hell. Oh hell oh hell oh hell.

I had just lifted my hand to knock on the door of a randomly selected house when Snowdog walked onto the neighbor's porch, nudged the door with his nose, and walked inside.

"Oh good!! He's home!!" I thought. Relieved, I got back into the car and put it in gear then left another message. "Your dog let himself into the house at 1234 Maple Street, I hope that's the right place. Have a great day!"

"Where did Snowdog go?"

"He went into his house!" I said, brightly. Laundry laundry laundry! I'm gonna finish the laundry!

"Why is the door still open?" Charlie asked. So damn observant, those four year olds.

"Ummm, I don't know, Sweetie. But he's inside now where it's warm so he can rest." Or die in the middle of a stranger's living room, possibly for them to discover when they return from work. Surprise!

We drove to school. We were only five minutes late. Wes still had a dirty diaper and both kids' faces were covered in jelly that I completely forgot about until a dear friend exclaimed "Oh, Baby, look at your poor chapped face!!" as she helped me carry him (smelly, jelly-faced and all) to his classroom after he refused to follow me up the sidewalk (family planning tip: space your children so you don't have to rely on the whims of a two-year-old when trying to get somewhere in a hurry). Their teachers have come to expect all kinds of wacky behavior from me and were very gracious.

I skipped back to the car, went to a doctor's appointment, then drove back to my house. And tried really really hard not to notice that the door of the house Snowdog had chosen to burglarize was still open. But I did, so then I had to call the SHERIFF'S OFFICE to ask them to come check out the house with the open door. Yes, the Sheriff. Because I live in a John Wayne movie. Let this be a lesson to you: NEVER GET INVOLVED. They took my name and address and so help me if a police car (or a sheriff on a horse) shows up here this afternoon I will be HIDING IN THE CLOSET and letting Charlie do the talking.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Things are deteriorating around here, you might be able to tell


Good morning! Or is it afternoon? It's so hard to tell with my party-till-the-sun-comes-up lifestyle. I'm supposed to be watching Curious George with the big boys, but I cannot control my eyelids. Or maybe I am just exhausted from waking up forty-seven times last night. Mom got the big mug out when she poured the coffee this morning. That's never a good sign.


UGH! Why is that sun so bright?! What time is it anyway?!


Hey, check out my teeny little T-Rex arms. I can't even touch the top of my own head!


Wait, I smell food. Where is it?




Oh darn, there go my eyelids again.


I promise to try and come up with a normal post soon. Maybe. It might have to be about The Earth's Tectonic Plates or something though. Send help!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Texas Snow Day

Just two days ago we had to pretend we were sledding on the stairs.


Today, we got SNOW!



Ryan stayed here a little longer than normal because of the snow emergency, naturally. He made a sled out of a cardboard box that was the hit of the culdesac.


James has no interest in his brothers' crazy cold weather shenanigans. He helped me make hot chocolate.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

And the really cool thing is the groceries stay fresh in the car for DAYS

I'm going to very uncharacteristically not complain about the absolutely ridiculously cold (for Texas) weather we've had over the last couple of days because I have faithful readers who are enduring the Blizzard of the Century up in almost-Canada.

But WOW. Three years in South and I have totally forgotten how to deal with temperatures in the teens. I had to put my coat on to drive to work today, you guys. And my car was parked IN THE GARAGE. Which might explain why I had to actually wear long pants to bed in my bedroom, which is directly above the garage.

James has not left the house in forty-eight hours, preferring to loll the day away layered in jammies and a sleep sack while his minions (Ryan and me) come and go and do what we have to to sustain the household.

AND THEN! THEN! The state freaked out because everyone fired up their heaters at the same time and so now we are having rolling blackouts. Which means they CLOSED the PRESCHOOL. It's like Little House on the Prairie around here.

(It was really cute on Tuesday when I took the big boys to school and they ran squealing and laughing about the FREEZING WIND all the way from the car to building, bundled in their L.L. Bean Three Season (one of those seasons NOT being a New England winter, which is what we are experiencing this week, so I hope they were warm enough) coats, fleece hats, one of my moody-academic scarves, and a scarf we took off of a stuffed animal. Running and screaming in delight. It was adorable. And the fastest we have ever gotten from the car to the building, EVER. But we didn't get to do that again. You know why? They CLOSED the PRESCHOOL. You know what would save some electricity? If they opened the preschool so everyone could TURN OFF THEIR TV'S.)

Like I said, I'm not complaining (kind of complaining about the no preschool thing, although Ryan had already planned to be home yesterday morning and the babysitter has them today, so it hasn't really affected me). I'm kind of in awe of just how cold it can get here. We have a chance of accumulating snow tonight. If it snows Charlie is going to LOSE his MIND and I am going to spend way more time than I want to standing on the back porch in my pajamas and coat tomorrow.

But as they said on NPR the other day "Artisinal cheeses are like Texas weather, just when you think you know what to expect, it changes!" (Schweddy Balls, anyone?) The high on Saturday is supposed to be in the low fifties. I might just go swimming!