Tuesday, October 30, 2012


You guys!  NaBloPoMo starts on Wednesday!  Who's in??

I think I am also doing NaNoWriMo because I am trying to get back into the swing of daily writing, and I even have an IDEA this time.  I'd also love to trade manuscripts with someone on Dec 1, if any other NaNo participants are in for a swap.

I think honeycrisp apple season is almost over.  The last batch I got was small and bruised, and it didn't taste very good.  I have been spending right around $40 a week on apples for the last 6 weeks, so I should see a slight grocery bill reduction when I have to switch back to galas.

You know what is in season right now?  Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

Friday, October 26, 2012

No school! The horror!

I hate scheduling dentist appointments (for me or for the kids) because you have to book them six months in advance (our practice is really big, and they always ask you when you're checking out to book your next check up, and they book up quick, so rescheduling at the last minute can't ever happen without a 3-month wait).

 The problem is, I never know what I am going to be doing in 6 months, and I always manage to book the most inconvenient time in the universe.

Like yesterday. Ben had to be on campus by noon, and the kids were off school for teacher professional development, so I had to rush home from giving a midterm from 8-9:15 am to feed everyone an early lunch and wrangle them all at the dentist, so Harry could get a check up at 11:30. HOW COULD I HAVE KNOWN THAT WOULD HAPPEN when I booked the appointment in April?

Harry and Jack are on different schedules because it got to be really tricky to take everyone at the same time, but I am starting to think it's even worse to have them at different times because I am just getting screwed by scheduling karma more often.

Anyway, Harry went back in the exam room all by himself, and he was chatty as every, despite having someone's hands in his mouth. When the hygienist came out at the end to tell me he has 5 loose teeth, she congratulated me on the baby and said how exciting it was that it's a girl. Harry told me on the way out that she is also having a baby but hasn't found out the sex yet. Such a conversationalist, that one.

 It was a screamy 30 minute wait
Ben was home after dinner, and that afternoon dragged on and on while I sat on the basement floor surrounded by toys and had small people yelling at me and ordering me to bring them things.  I also felt really crappy (a cold--nothing serious), so I didn't go back to campus for a meeting like I usually do, but I totally regretted that decision hour four million of the afternoon).

Jack took this serious selfie during yesterday afternoon's interminable playtime. 
Cooper is part ape (mostly ape).
Today, the big boys and I were supposed to go ice skating and to a movie (Hotel Transylvania) while Cooper stayed home with a sitter, but that outing was canceled due to atrocious behavior, s we went to Trader Joe's instead where Harry and Jack pushed little carts and counted on Mr. Screams to distract me while they piled hundreds of dollars of junk food into their carts and mine (it totally worked-- I didn't realize what had happened until I was entering my PIN number).
All 3 boys ate pizza, strawberries, and Halloween Joe Joes for lunch.  They trashed the place while I made lunch and whipped up some pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  Look at he back ground-- trashed!
Seriously trashed.
Never fear, by the time the muffins were out of the oven, it looked like this again.
They boys played hide and seek while I cleaned up lunch and put away laundry, and it was adorable.  Jack shut the door of every room he hid in-- a dead giveaway.  Harry got sick of waiting and his disembodied voice wafted through the house: "I'm in the closet.  Come find me."  Putting towels away in the kids' bathroom, I found Cooper with the step stool pushed up against the tub, standing on the stool, wrapped in the shower curtain-- such a good hider already.

We have been letting Cooper curate the bottom shelf of our bookshelf, and this is his current collection:
Oh!  My lovely friend Kate sent me a box of completely precious baby girl clothes.  How awesome is that?  I am especially loving the dress on top-- newborn Harry had the boy version of that outfit from Carters-- so, so cute, as is the rest of it.  What a great package--totally made my day!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


If you thought I was going to get subtle with the pink after waiting THIS LONG to have a girl, you're totally ridiculous.

I will say that newborn girl baby clothes are completely impractical, and it took a lot of digging to find footie pajamas (but the ruffle socks were everywhere, and I bought 7 pairs).

Early in the ultrasound, the tech measured something or other, and we saw a pointed lack of penis. But she swore she hadn't checked the "gender" (this drives me freaking nuts-- people act like gender is a polite way of saying sex, but we're talking about SEX, not GENDER-- although this is all a moot point when you looks at all the pink shit because clearly this baby will perform "female" as long as I have a say in what she wears, which-- NEED TO BUY HEAD BANDS WITH GIANT FLOWERS ASAP), so we both thought may be we were looking at something else.  Then she slipped and said something about "her" leg, but it was so quick that I thought I was imagining things, although Ben did look at me funny.  FINALLY at the very end of an hour-long scan, she pointed out the telltale 3 lines, and I was so happy I almost cried.  (I did immediately feel bad because when she was taking 3D  face pictures I said, "OMG, this baby is totally a boy-- look at that face.")

The tech made us laugh when she talked about people's reactions to the 3D-- you can't always see all of the baby's features, and people have screamed and thought they had an eyeless baby, for example, and demanded she turn off the machine. 

To me, she just sort of looks like a Mt. Rushmore face (this is probably because the 3D picture is kind of mountain-colored on the screen and you can't tell what the hell she's next to-- it looks like rocks).  Which would be totally awesome, right?  If this baby grows up to be so important her likeness in dynamited into the side of a mountain?
 (She has eyes, I swear.  Probably blue ones.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekend Review

Ben and Harry and Jack and I went to the boys' school on Friday night for PTO event that Ben planned and organized. The kids were allowed to wear costumes, provided they had no masks and were not scary. This totally screwed with Harry's trick-or-treat scary/masked costume, so we quickly ordered another clown suit.

Here's a full body shot so you can see their silly shoes. They were a big hit, and all night long, people kept asking me if I made the costumes. At first I said no I got them on Amazon, but people seemed judgy (the school principal has time to make her kids' costumes, after all), so I started saying Ben made them, and what do you know, people were even judgier (what is wrong with that WORKING MOM whose husband volunteers at school? Is she actually a man, do you think?)
Saturday morning, I asked Harry and Jack to strip their beds, and they even took off the mattress pads.  Oops-- next time I will be more specific. I love how Cooper is one of the kids here, just playing in his silly jammies.
Ben and jack went to Jack's first Badger game on Saturday, meaning Harry and Cooper and I went to hockey.  It was my first time getting all of the equipment on a kid by myself, and a really nice man helped with the skates.  It was pretty easy, except for the screaming baby in the stroller next to me.

Cooper is a little tyrant.  He is perfectly lovely and pleasant and adorable as long as we are doing exactly what he wants to do (which is wander around the house barefoot with shit in his pants playing with whatever strikes his fancy, whether it be dirty knives with raw pork germs n the dishwasher, outlet covers, tiny Legos, or my iPad).  If we ask him to do something that is convenient for us (get his pants changed, ride in a shopping cart, sit in his stroller, be carried anywhere) he screams.  It's special.  On Saturday during his first nap, I baked chocolate chip cookies solely because I wanted to bribe him into his stroller at hockey so I could help Harry take his equipment off.  He will stroll for homemade organic cookies.   (And I am trying to make the PERFECT COOKIE.  I think there is no such thing.  My perfect cookie has oatmeal and cinnamon and 2 bags of chocolate chips and is a little bit crunchy.  Ben and Harry prefer super gooey, white flour, double chips themselves.  Jack and Cooper will eat anything that comes out of the oven.)

This morning, snaggle tooth ate a plum very happily at breakfast.  We also played peekaboo with a dish towel for almost half an hour and then took that towel with us to his room to change his diaper.  I turned around to grab a diaper out of the closet and bam!  The dish towel was in the pee-filled toilet across the hall.  My god I wish the big boys would either flush or close the lid. Mostly close the lid because Cooper will throw anything into any toilet any chance he gets.
His new favorite thing is to sit on furniture like he's people-- chairs, beds, couches, whatever. He just sits there and laughs-- it's pretty cute.  He also loves to dust and needs his own Swiffer every week.  Whatever.
Today, we decided to carve our 6 pumpkins.  We had 5 and then Jack brought home another from his pumpkin patch field trip and said it was for the baby in my tummy.  At first I was all, hey don't confer personhood on my fetus, but then I just thought, ahh, you're so cute.

Harry and I wanted our pumpkins sprayed black, and Ben was happy to oblige early this morning.
During Coop's second nap, we set up camp in the front yard and got carving!

In this picture, my pumpkin sort of looks like it says Boo, but in reality it says Boob because I messed up and then tried to make the B's into ears and added a mouth-- a disappointment to be sure.
This is out of order, but it's Harry on the kitchen counter getting the crazy hair day spray washed out of his hair.  He loved this, by the way, said it was relaxing, and asked if I would always wash his hair that way.
Cooper found these too-small New Balances on Saturday morning and insisted upon wearing them with his jammies
And after lunch, he helped me clean up.  Such a helper, that one.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Fresh Beat Band! zOMG!

Last night was the big night-- the one the kids have been waiting for since June when we bought the VIP Party Package to see the Fresh Beat Band in concert.

Look!  There we are with Shout! Marina! Kiki! and Twist!
We have been watching the Fresh Beats since their pilot episode when they were called the Jump Arounds and their first season when there was a different much older Marina, so you can imagine our excitement about seeing them for realz.  From the 4th row of the orchestra pit. (Harry later demanded to know why we didn't have a box.  His friend from school, who was in the second row, asked why she wasn't in the very front.  Kids these days.)

(also, do you like my scarf?  My friend Jamie made it, and I love it and it smells like cloves.  You should buy one of her beautiful scarves or other knits at her Etsy shop Jamie Sierra Knits)

We started our night where we ended it:  At Potbelly.  (Seriously, we returned after the show for a second round of Oreo shakes for the kids because we planned to hit Jamba Juice for a post-show treat, but it was closed.  Trust me when I tell you the return trip was necessary). Because we didn't have the baby with us, we could sit on the tall chairs and watch all the students and hipsters walk by the window. (Jack insisted on wearing a tie-- he was beyond excited).
As soon as we got to the theater, we got necklaces and wristbands for the post-show party.  I was so glad Harry and Jack got some merch (and posters!  that the Fresh Beats did not sign even though we were promised autographs.  Apparently, they got to the theater and said no autographs, which made me laugh to myself for a few minutes about their other demands.  Twist seems kind of freaky-- I bet his dressing room requests extend beyond only blue M&Ms) because I was determined to NOT BUY A DAMN THING at the show.  Not even a rock star jacket, much to Harry's chagrin.  Not even a glow stick, much to their combined shock and horror.

Jack was blown away.  Like could not believe how awesome it was that we were mere feet away from the Beats (as their back up dancers called them at the after party).  He screamed like a girl meeting the Beatles.  It was so adorable I cried a little.
Harry did his best McKayla Maroney impression.
Losing his damn mind.
Still not impressed.
At intermission.  Where I made them get drinks from the drinking fountain instead of schlepping all the way into the lobby for $10 water.  (This would have been totally different were I not pregnant because they had martinis).

Jack at the after party on the dance floor.  The Fresh Beats' back up dancers came to the party before the principles and taught all the kids a Fresh Beat dance.

Jack also loved  playing with the inflatable instruments.  Harry was still way too cool-- he decorated a foam star and reproachfully drank 3 complimentary water bottles and stayed by the pretzel table.

Cooper clearly had a great time hanging out with Ben, who selflessly volunteered to stay home with the baby way back when we bought the tickets, even though I assured him we could get a sitter.  He's such a giver.
Harry and Jack stayed up way too late last night and were crabby as hell this morning.  But Harry rallied because it was crazy hair day!  You can''t see it in this picture, but the other side of his head is electric blue. Tonight, we are going to press our luck with another late night because we have a PTO-sponsored Halloween party at school.  I predict costumes, popcorn, gatorade, and tantrums.  SO FUN.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Writing again.

It's no secret that I found graduate school to be totally demoralizing.  Not the whole thing, but the end there with the dissertation defense was pretty terrible.  I certainly could not imagine living anymore of my life under the shadow of a deadline.  The tenure clock made me want to vomit, and I was happy to have my academic staff position-- my dream job, really, a teaching job at the R1 I loved.  No pressure to publish.  Plenty of time to be with my family.  The opportunity to attend great lectures and talk with smart people whenever I want.  Life in the town that I have come to adore.  And just to be clear:  I still love my job and all of those things.  But lately, I have also been curious about what it might feel like to write again.  Not blogs and shitty novels in the month of November, but my scholarship.  The stuff I devoted years of my life to collecting and analyzing.

For awhile after I defended, I could not look at the desktop folder with my chapter drafts.  I shoved my archival research into the darkest corner of my basement.  The hardbound copies of my dissertation came, and I put them on the top shelves in my closet.  I submitted a chapter to a writing workshop group and then had an anxiety attack and did not make the trip to attend the workshop.

I watched friends graduate and publish books and move to new cities.  I greeted class after class of new grad students who assumed that I didn't have a PhD because I am not a professor.  I sometimes clicked on a chapter file or two.  One day I printed my favorite one out and carried it in my bag for 3 or 4 weeks like I was going to read it.

Last week, I attended a department colloquium about publishing articles aimed at grad students.  The main theme was get your stuff out the door.

This week, I started to do just that.

I am writing again, and it feels nice. 

I remember my process, the pre-writing, the writing, the shame spiral, the revision.

I remember being an undergraduate smoking cigarettes and writing shitty poetry I thought was beautiful.  Sometimes I want to go back in time and shake the undergrad me by the shoulders and say "Why the hell are you getting so fat?  Don't you know you'll never be this young and lovely ever again?"  Lately, though, I want to be her again for a few days, worrying about line breaks and relishing the wight of words without really understanding their significance.  She was not afraid to fail gloriously, took a class with a big time poet and wrote a terrible paper about a single word in a poem (avuncular) and always read her work out loud when the poet asked for volunteers.  She blithely entered writing contests-- and won them-- but didn't care when she lost (those assholes didn't know poetry).  She was too dumb to know all she didn't know, and I'd love to be that blissful again.

But for now, I am writing.

I've been teaching rhetorical criticism to juniors and seniors for 3 years, know all the critical methods, can recite scholarly conversations verbatim.  I should feel like I know what I'm talking about, but instead I am that nervous graduate student in a conference room, the one who had babies instead of going on the job market, who couldn't find her thesis sentence in her dissertation defense if her life depended on it (and it did, kind of), who told her nervous self that if she could make it through this next hour, she'd never have to do anything academic again.

Well, shit.  We've been in the third person for awhile, huh?

I'm writing again.  I have some anxiety about it.  Clearly.

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Computer

I got my new computer! It was waiting for me at the office today, which meant I had a MacBook, a MackBook Pro, an iMac, an iPad, and an iPhone in my office. Slightly obnoxious.

It's really big, which I love in terms of the keyboard but kind of hate because it weighs over 5 pounds and gets hot.

On the plus side, I have space to upload pictures again!

Here's Jack practicing his picture day smile
Here's Harry sporting an old lady bouffant, which is apparently what happens when I blow dry his hair, which I had to do because the kids are shamefully overdue for hair cuts.  Not Cooper.  We trimmed his baby mullet after bath a few weeks ago, and he looks normal.
The other two clowns, though, are slated to see my stylist a week from Wednesday, the same day we find out if this baby is a boy or a girl.
Cooper has been working on spoon feeding.
We're feeling good around here.  2 kids in hockey, 2 in karate, basketball and gymnastics and Spanish and soccer for Harry.  In other words, we're busy.

And gearing up for NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo-- who's with me?

Also, loving Homeland and Revolution-- best shows on TV.

And the debates?!  zOMG-- can't wait for tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Stop the presses! I'm in a good mood!

Even though I am STILL working on my IRB proposal that should have been off my desk a month ago and even though my computer's start up disk is too full for me to upload a single picture, including the cute ones I took of the kids practicing their picture day smiles this morning, I am in an uncharacteristically good mood.

For one thing, I am working on that IRB proposal in a coffee shop where I am enjoying a grilled cheese sandwich, side of greens, and a delicious mango italian soda.  For another, I have been hoarding university research funds a couple of years and have ordered a custom-built MacBook Pro that should arrive soon.  I cannot WAIT to have it for class-- look out Keynote, here I come-- and hopefully for 2 talks I have coming up in the next couple of months.  The luxury of a computer with enough hard drive space to save files!  A computer that doesn't make a weird mechanical stuttering noise for 15 seconds by the clock every time I open it!  A computer whose case is not almost unhinged that actually closes and goes to sleep!

I also spent the morning at Little Gym and in Harry's class.  I saw Cooper overcome his fear of the air track (So weird-- my kids have always loved the air track, and I have always side-eyed the moms whose kids did not like to bounce or were sensitive to the air noise.  AND THEN I HAD THAT KID) this morning-- he was so proud of his forward roll and his silly little jumps.  And the first graders!  My god were they cute!  Some of the kids were in kindergarten with Harry, and they have grown up o much.  I know Harry has too, but I see him everyday, so his maturity (ha!) doesn't shock me the way it does with kids I haven't seen since June.  I am so happy to be in his classroom every week and performing room mom duties-- it is something I always assumed I would do when I had my own kids, and here I am, doing it.

On the academic front, I have stopped procrastinating.  It's crazy.  When papers come in, I grade them.  When I have to fill out boring paperwork, I do it.  When it is time to sit down and write, that's what I do.  No more shame spiral step of the creative process, and absolutely no work hanging over my head, despite the 500 different balls I am juggling right now.  So liberating.

Add in chilly fall weather, maternity skinny jeans, a basket of honey crisps on the kitchen counter, a kicking 17-and-a-half-week fetus, husband at home making meatloaf, and a tummy that is starting to look pregnant, not just blobby, and today is pretty awesome. 

Saturday, October 06, 2012

So! Many! Pictures!

I got another new phone that is not an iPhone 5 on Thursday because the wind blew my dress over my head on my way from my office to the parking garage, and in my rush to cover myself, I dropped it on the ground and it shattered into a million pieces.  I had Apple Care, so it wasn't a huge deal-- but it's never fun to take Cooper anywhere in his stroller that he he despises.  I got a huge dorky phone case, so hopefully (?) this will be my last phone shattering experience (the previous one happened on August 15).

We've had an otherwise lovely week.  Want to see it?  Here it goes.

Harry's teacher sends home a weekly newsletter, and this week, she talked about doing math at home, telling us that the class is working on visual representations to "how many" or "how many more" questions.  To work on this skill at home, she suggested we take a nature walk, collect leaves, and graph them.  The she said, "But I am sure you are already doing things like that everyday."  Um?  No.  Never, really.  BUT WE TOTALLY DID.

I love the way he spells and talks.  Leeth Grath.

Cooper helped me unload the dishwasher.

Harry and jack wanted to make their own dinner.  I said go for it.

Cooper climbed in to help, abandoning the shoes he'd been dragging all over to walk around with a piece of bread that fell out of the wrapper while my little sandwich artists were hard at work.


The Potbelly craving has returned.  Cooper and Jack are always willing lunch dates.

I had to wake him up from his nap, and he was still pacified, warm, and primate-like.

At the freezing pumpkin farm today, they joined some scarecrows.

Ben had a Field of Dreams moment

This was totally going to be MY PERFECT PUMPKIN, but when I ran to it to take this picture, I noticed the back was flat and moldy.

Don't let Cooper fool you, this is MY NEW PERFECT PUMPKIN.  I am going to paint it black (saw it in Family Circle-- so cool), so the green streaks are okay with me-- it has the best stem ever!

Jack fell in love with this 70-pounder, so the little pumpkin heads helped Ben load it into the wagon

Aren't they helpful?

Downed by a vine-- he didn't mind at all, but he got FILTHY.

Jack kissed this pumpkin and called it a dream come true

Cooper was seriously bothered that he could not pull the wagon.  Jack began to contemplate how many pumpkin seeds he has to scrape out of that sucker.

Me and the pumpkin heads and our five awesome pumpkin (128 pounds of awesome pumpkins)

Next year, we will have enough family members to fill every window of this bus, but this year, only Jack was a good sport.

The three amigos
 Oh yeah!  We finally decorated our bedroom, which has been totally bare since we moved in last June, 16 months ago!  Over winter break, we are making over 3 kid rooms, so we knew it was now or never for our sad, empty bedroom.  Thanks to a quick trip to Pottery barn for bedding, Pier One for art, our front hallway for some shelves, our storage room for a second night stand, and our guest room for a bookshelf, our room finally has a little color.  I'd like to say that we spent the last 16 months cultivating pin boards and finding special treasures that truly represented our lives, but we went to a couple of stores and bought whatever we could grab before Cooper started screaming after I searched "bedroom" on Pinterest over morning coffee.  Magical and special.
Bed and new old night stand and finally!  a picture!  Also, when I opened this night stand in storage, I found a bag of pumpkin carving tools-- kismet.

Purloined shelves and more! pictures!

Stolen book self that we have nothing on because Cooper will DESTROY it

Cute little owl picture (that I have since moved to the wall beside the dresser)

Dresser with less crap on it and a picture that I swapped with the owls

It's so nice to walk in this room and see something besides bare.  Ben is right now hanging a new picture in our newly empty hallway.  I'd take a picture, but instead, I think I will relax in the post-kid-bedtime quiet and enjoy my new, more grown-up space.  And scope Family Circle for more pumpkin decorating ideas. BECAUSE I AM SO COOL.