29 April 2007

reason #93512 why i love my kid

James comes in from playing outside, whimpering about a scrape on his ankle. "Mom," he says, "will you clean it and put a band-aid on it for me?" I say yes and he says, "But first let's look at it under the microscope to see if there are any germs!"

(Because on Friday I found this microscope at a garage sale and we are having a blast with it. It may very well be the best $4 I've ever spent.)


27 April 2007

baby loves disco

When I saw this article a while ago, I thought, "Hey, what a cool idea: renting out a club on a weekend afternoon to hold a dance party for kids! I wish they did this in Rochester." And that was pretty much all I thought about it until Newsweek ran this article about it recently. Then I found that a blog I read occasionally had linked to the Newsweek article, appalled by the idea*. And almost all of the comments on this blog's post were in agreement.

I found this really weird. Now, you can think whatever you like about clubbing. I like it once in a while -- I love to dance -- but I can see that some people don't like loud music, flashing lights or sticky floors. But I think the articles make it clear that Baby Loves Disco is about translating the clubbing experience into kid-friendly terms -- kids' music at a reasonable volume, kids' snacks, bubbles, balloons... it sounds to me more like a party, just held in a space made for playing music and accomodating lots of dancing people. (There is alcohol available for parents who aren't driving, but please, tell me that you could be in a room with dozens of hyperactive small children for a couple of hours and not want something to drink.)

Some of the people on the blog post I mentioned expressed concern about this sort of thing leading to early drinking or pushing kids to grow up quickly. I think critics of this idea are taking their preconceptions of nightclubs and applying them to toddlers without stopping to think that no reasonable parent is taking their child dancing at a club in order to replicate the adult clubbing experience. I'd take my kids to this type of event in a heartbeat, and I'm sure Greg would be on board, too -- I think it would be a great way for all of us to do something we enjoy, together as a family. Music, dancing, snacks, lots of other kids... it sounds like my boys' idea of heaven. Just because it's held in a place normally used for adult entertainment and recreation doesn't mean it has to have any relation to adult activities in any way other than location. Besides, who doesn't love disco balls? I'm not sure my kids have ever seen one, but I am pretty certain they'd love it.

There were a couple of parents on the blog post, too, who mentioned that the fake tattoos available at some of these parties are just going too far. That just made me laugh, because, seriously? Temporary tattoos are a negative thing? I guess I'm a worse mom than I thought, because my kids have been wearing tattoos practically forever. For them, tattoos are like stickers that don't fall off.

Anyway, I spent a while looking at the group's website this afternoon, and I'm really disappointed that nobody's doing it around here. Maybe I'll look into it for the next time we're in Seattle, because the more I read about it, the more fun I think it would be.
*I'm not going to link to this blog because I don't want to put up for ridicule or criticism a blog that I often enjoy reading, but happen to disagree with on this topic. You can read some people's complaints and criticisms in the two linked articles.


26 April 2007


Via Ryan, I've discovered and become hooked on True Mom Confessions*. It's equal parts fascinating, depressing, heartwarming and hilarious. Some of the confessions I really relate to, and others I'm glad that I really can't relate to. Some of them are incredibly sad or even frightening, and you wish you knew who these women were so you could get them some help.

But what's most interesting to me is seeing so many different kinds of mothers sharing so many of the same fears and insecurities. It helps to disprove the notion that motherhood and marriage are always fulfilling, or that any one style of parenting is better than any other. You can see that other mothers are making the same mistakes you are, or feeling just as inadequate. You can see that lots of mothers are tired of trying to keep up with everything, and practically every mother gets sick of her kids sometimes.

After all the articles you read telling moms everything we're doing wrong, and all the things we should be doing to turn our kids into geniuses, it's kind of nice to see that I'm not the only one who can't keep up with the expectations.
*And I made a confession! Nothing dark or horrifying, I'm afraid -- just something petty, but it made me feel good to actually express it.


25 April 2007

my kid is the best

On Monday we had this year's parent-teacher conference at James' preschool. It's just incredible to look at his growth over the year, and especially over the last two years. Last year at this time we still had a lot of concerns over his emotional development -- for such a bright, confident, social kid, he has always been remarkably sensitive. But in the last year he has made huge strides in learning to control his emotions (i.e., being able to talk through a problem instead of simply bursting into tears) and this year, our biggest worries are his skill with scissors and his pencil grasp, both of which are proficient but not great. I'd say that's a lot of improvement.

Some highlights from his teacher's assessment:

James is an attentive listener... eagerly participates... works independently and creatively... exhibits excellent comprehension skills... responds creatively to literature, enthusiastic about play-acting the stories we read... generally cooperative and helpful... a pleasure to have in class... a bright boy with a lot to offer.
And on his emotional development:

James shows growth in the social/emotional realm this year. He is making a variety of friends and is well-liked by all. James is making positive efforts towards negotiating and compromising with others. His ability to deal with disappointment is much improved.
I think the bit about making a variety of friends is in there because last year, there were two boys who basically carried out James' every command, followed his directions, and copied just about everything he did, and this year, one of those boys is no longer in the class, and the other spends a lot of time with a friend of his who joined the class, so James has been forced to interact with the other kids. This was actually really hard on him at first: going from leader of your own little gang to just another kid in the classroom wasn't easy for James, but he has adapted splendidly. He makes me proud.

James' teacher writes in the letter (and has pointed out to me many times) that James "knows so much about so many things it is sometimes hard to remember he is still a 5 year old boy." Each of my kids has had that issue: being so advanced in one particular area that it's startling to remember that in other areas, they are typical. With Evan, his early speech fooled us into thinking he'd be quick at everything, and that's definitely not been the case. Likewise, James' aptitude for reading, science and math has made him seem so mature that his emotional immaturity seemed unusual, when actually that aspect of his personality was more age-appropriate.

But James is growing up, maturing in every way. First Evan starts changing from a baby to a toddler, and now James is changing from a preschooler to a kindergartener. Man, these changes bring out a lot of sappy mama talk from me. But I would have to say that this is my favorite part of parenthood -- witnessing this growth and development, guiding them through these changes. This is what I love about being a mama.


20 April 2007

friday photo

Just one photo today -- now that the weather is getting nicer, and things are getting greener, the deer are coming out to munch on our lawn. The photo isn't great quality since I had to take it through the window so as not to scare the deer away, but I think you get the idea:

We've been seeing deer almost every day this week , twice right out in the backyard. So calm and peaceful and pleasant... it's actually starting to feel like spring. Thanks, April, for shaping up!

I went a little crazy at the grocery store because it's spring! And spring means almost summer and summer means delicious fresh produce. We're breaking out the grill this weekend, so I bought red and green peppers, eggplant, and mushrooms. Can't wait until the prices of asparagus and summer squash come down, because there is nothing better than grilled vegetables. NOTHING.


18 April 2007

not a baby anymore

I have said since before Evan was born that he would likely be my last (biological) baby. Natural childbirth really confirmed that in my mind. No more pregnancies and childbirth for Heidi, please and thank you.

So for a while now I've been looking forward to leaving babyhood behind. I can't tell you how glad I will be to come to the end of dirty diapers and sticky fingers and food in the hair and the interminable slowness of a toddler trying to do everything for himself. I am so looking forward to the freedom we will have when we no longer need naps and strollers and the cumbersome toddler car seat. We took a major step last week when we took down the crib. His new haircut makes him look more like a little boy, and less like a baby boy. He is really, finally growing up. At last.

Lately I've been cleaning out a lot of our old things for an upcoming garage sale. Holy crap, do we have a lot of junk. We are clearing out vast expanses of space in the basement by getting rid of the huge stroller, the baby swing, and the baby bathtub, among other things. And the clothes! We have bin upon bin of old clothes in all sizes.

So today I was sorting the clothes. Putting away James' old clothes and getting out summer clothes for Evan, besides figuring out what to get rid of. And I went through the box of 2Ts, and ohmigod are they enormous. And I could not wrap my mind around the idea that my little, tiny baby boy is actually big enough to fit into those gigantic clothes!

It got worse when I made a realization. The realization was this: if I'm not going to have any more babies in the foreseeable future, then there is no reason to hang onto the mountains of tiny baby clothes in my basement. Shocker, right? But there is something about the idea of losing those baby clothes that is just so sad to me. I am giving away my boys' tiny baby clothes and dressing my baby toddler in real little boy clothes.

I have been looking forward to moving ahead for so long that I never really thought about the fact that that means leaving babyhood behind forever. And this is just one of those difficult stages of parenthood, happy and sad and bittersweet all at once, equal parts mourning and relief.

My little boy, my last little boy, is growing up.


16 April 2007

a few minutes of fame in the blogosphere

There's a good handful of people who've been reading my blog for a while. If you're one of those regular readers, you must know all about the ways in which I'm psychologically damaging my sons. You must be aware that I really want daughters. Certainly you'd agree that I'm sort of "loco", possibly "delusional", and probably a little "off". It must be obvious, because some of these guys managed to draw those conclusions from reading only one of my posts!

I'm fairly amused. This is the first time, to my knowledge, that I've been linked anywhere, and it's by someone who thinks I'm crazy because once, I painted my son's nails when he asked me to; because I did not forbid him from trying on a pair of my heels when he expressed curiosity; because I entertained the idea of buying him a skirt when he asked me to.

I'm actually quite pleased at the number of people on that forum who can recognize that I love my sons, and that I'm not willing to limit their self-expression based on some arbitrarily gendered cultural guildelines for appearance. One of them also pointed out that Jesus & Co. had "a certain propensity for long skirts", to which I say, right on! If it was good enough for the savior of mankind, it's good enough for my kids!

As to the allegation that I want or need a daughter: I have been known to say that the main reason I'm sad about not having any daughters is because of the adorable, ridiculously froufrou clothes. I guess it says something incredible about my self-restraint that I do not, in fact, force my sons to wear that sort of clothing. It helps that I have a niece for whom I can buy such things if I really can't resist. Or, you know, what with me being a woman and all, I could wear them myself. But other than clothes, I don't have any reason to desire a hypothetical daughter over the wonderful sons I actually have.

So it wasn't my influence (my example, perhaps, but not my suggestion) that led to James' nails being painted. Believe it or not, my son did ask, entirely un-coerced, to wear nail polish and a skirt. He tried on my heels because they were lying out on the floor, not because I bribed him with a Gameboy. In fact, a couple of months ago, he saw a grandfather and granddaughter at the library and said, "I want my hair to look like that." I thought he meant the grandfather ("What? Why do you want gray hair?") but he actually meant the little girl's long golden braid. So we started growing his hair. And I will admit that James' ponytail was my idea -- it was my suggestion for keeping the hair out of his face all the time, and he liked my bubble-gum hair ties. But the inconvenience of growing his hair long eventually made him decide to cut his hair a few weeks ago. I was glad, though, that his decision was practical rather than gendered.

By the way, James does not own a skirt. I looked briefly last summer for something kilt-ish, but couldn't find anything I liked, and it hasn't really come up since then. Although, this morning when I went in to pick him up from preschool, he was wearing a flowered dress out of the dress-up room. So I guess it's too late for James -- the psychological damage has been done. We'll have to count on Evan to be the manly man -- but wait! Evan likes to play with dolls!! God, what have I done to these children?!

Greg looked around on the forum for a little while last night, trying to figure out who these guys were and how they'd found my site. (Believe it or not, my gender-bending post is the most frequently visited page on my blog. A lot of people reach it by Googling things like "paint his nails" or "under his skirt". I don't understand it, but I hope I can be of service.) He pointed out to me that a lot of the guys on that site are into comics. I'm a fan of certain comics, and movies made from them, but I was not above pointing out the irony of guys who like to read about guys who wear tights finding fault with a little boy's experimentation with his wardrobe and appearance.


12 April 2007


Yesterday afternoon, I put Evan down for a nap and sent James outside to play. Ahhh, I thought, some peace and quiet. Time to relax.

But suddenly, I heard the pitter-patter of little feet running around upstairs. Was it the neighbors' kid? (Sometimes, with the way these apartments were built, something happening next door can sound as if it's happening in your own apartment.) No, this definitely sounded like our apartment. Did we have a ghost? If so, it would be the first time I'd seen evidence of a ghost.

So I went upstairs to check it out and found Evan in my bedroom. "Wait a minute," I said, "I just put you in your crib." Didn't I? Yes, I was pretty sure I had. Had James helped him get out? No, James was outside. That left one explanation:

(Sorry the video is sideways; I don't know how to fix that. And please ignore the fact that he's not wearing pants.)

He's not even two! James slept in that crib for three years and never made it out on his own. (He tried twice: once, he got stuck on top of the railing and got scared; the other time, I freaked out and scared him saying things like, "You're going to fall and break your neck!!!" No, I'm not proud of that lack of composure, but it was effective.)

But Evan, Evan climbs out of that crib like he's been doing it every day of his life. So last night we took the mattress out of his crib, and he's now temporarily sleeping on a tiny mattress on the floor. Only, to say he's sleeping is an exaggeration. Last night he played and ran around until he collapsed. I'm dreading trying to put him down for a nap today. With Evan, I don't think this will be an easy transition.

I almost wish it had been a ghost instead. I suspect that would have been easier to deal with.


11 April 2007

goodbye blue monday

Kurt Vonnegut has died.

Any of you who know me know that I'm a huge Vonnegut fan. His books have been really influential to me, in several ways. He's among my favorite authors ever -- not just because he's written great books, but so many great books. I've dreamed of having a grandfather like Kurt Vonnegut. I thought about naming one of my sons Kurt, in no small part because of Kurt Vonnegut. And now he's dead.

I told Greg, and he said, "Well, everyone dies." I know. I guess if I'd ever thought about it, I'd have realized he'd die someday, obviously. But I guess it's always a shock when living legends die. And now I can no longer hope that he'll write another book. Now I can never hope to meet him. Not that I could ever realistically have hoped for that, but maybe I could have seen him give a speech somewhere. And now I never will.

But I'm glad that I found his books. And I'm grateful to him for his impact on my thinking. I guess it's appropriate to end my little tribute here with a Vonnegut quote, from Isaac Asimov's funeral: "Isaac is in heaven now, that was the funniest thing I could have said to a crowd of Humanists. God Forbid, should I pass on sometime, may all of you say that Kurt is in Heaven too."

If there is a heaven I'd like to believe he's there.


spring things

Not much time for blogging lately, I'm afraid. I'm going out of town this weekend (a vacation! without my boys!) for my sister's bridal shower, so out of kindness to Greg, I'm trying not to leave him with piles of unwashed laundry and dishes, or shelves and drawers completely emptied of toys and books and games.

In addition to the routine cleaning and upkeep, we've also started spring cleaning. Last night we cleaned our computer desk, which was a much lengthier task than you'd probably expect for a desk. Today I'm tackling the basement, hoping to find lots of garage sale material.

I've also been working on my 101 Things list. So far the hardest part has been coming up with 101 measurable and (hopefully) achievable goals. A few nights ago I made it up to 77 in a burst of sudden creativity, but I've stalled since then. I could take the easy way out and list things that I know I'm going to do anyway, such as buying a wedding present for my sister, or going berry picking this summer, or taking the kids to the beach or the zoo or something, but I'm trying to challenge myself a little bit, and it's more difficult than I expected to even think of the possible ways in which to challenge myself. I'm still thinking, though.

Oh, but I've decided not to post the final list here, or maybe just an amended version, because some of the things on my list involve surprises for people who read my blog, and I wouldn't want to ruin the surprise by announcing it. Or, you know, fail to actually do the surprising thing once I've said I'm going to.

Easter was kind of uneventful this year, as far as holidays go. I slept late and the boys did the basket-finding and gift-opening and candy-eating without me. I was kind of upset about that at first, but now I've realized that I've got about 37 other chances in a year to see them wild with gift-opening and candy-eating excitement, so it's not such a big deal. I wanted to post some photos, though, of what happens when you dye eggs with undiluted food coloring. First, the eggs -- the all-green eggs are the food colored eggs; the others are painted:

Lo and behold, when I peeled the first green egg:

They were the most beautiful eggs ever:

And they made crazy-looking egg salad:

The crazy blue-green eggs kind of made up for missing the Easter festivities. That, and the leftover candy. So it's all okay.


06 April 2007

friday photos

Special haircut edition.


05 April 2007

an open letter to the month of april

Dear April,

I wanted to say thanks for the great time we had earlier this week. You took over right where March left off, and you were mild, sunny, and beautiful. The boys and I spent hours and hours playing outside on the playground and in the sandbox. It was so nice to feel like we were finally leaving winter behind. I made fruit smoothies for James' preschool class and we could sense summer in the air, on its way. I thought we were showing suitable appreciation for your kindness.

But then. Something happened. What happened, April? My frisbee league started last night and I should have been running around in shorts and short sleeves, but instead I was squinting against the raging wind, huddling in three layers against the snowflakes beginning to fall. I have to admit, it's nice to be able to run around playing frisbee for an hour without feeling like you're sweating... but that feeling was much nicer in October, when I was expecting it. I wore my winter hat last night!

How does that rhyme about you go, April? "April showers bring May flowers"? Right. Well, then, what do April blizzards bring? Lizards? Gizzards? Obviously, nothing pleasant. I prefer the flowers.

My neighborhood is having an Easter Egg hunt on Saturday, April, and we aren't really keen on the idea of hiding those eggs in snowbanks. My sources tell me you're not yet ready to change your mind and lighten up, but I do hope you'll consider the feelings of all of us who depend on you for relief after the long winter.

Hugs and kisses,


02 April 2007

what have i done?!

Apparently I wanted to start the week off in the most depressing way possible. What did I do this morning? I cut my baby's hair. His angelic golden curls, while torture to drag a comb through, were so beautiful. And now they have been chopped off. By me. He used to look like this:

But now he looks like this:

Now he looks like every other little chubby blonde boy out there. On the plus side, people will now know he's a boy. (You'd be amazed how many people think golden curls only exist on girls!) But. Those curls. Gone.

I. CUT. My little boy's curls. I miss them so much! It's going to take me a while to get used to this.