Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Going Out With A Bang

I bet you are wondering how I spent the last few hours of 2008.

Reflecting on the highs and lows of the year?

Writing out my resolutions?

Stuffing my face with party snacks?

No. No. And no.

I spent my precious time taking care of this mess:

In case you can't quite tell, that is poop smudged all over Jack's face.  And yes, there is a vast quantity quite near his mouth.

The picture doesn't reveal that there was also copious amounts of excrement smeared up and down his legs and arms.

Oh yes, and my bedroom carpet, the dining room floor, my duvet cover and me.

How did this happen?

It is tempting to assume that I am an unfit mother and incapable of diapering my child, but don't think that.  I am pretty sure that gross and traumatic things like this happen to a lot, if not most, moms.

Somebody please tell me I'm right about that.

Moving on...

The Story:

Jack had been cranky all day.  Nothing calmed him down.  He didn't want to eat (which he usually loves to do) or play.  He took lots of naps.

By five o'clock he was just pitiful.  One thing that always works to cheer my boy up is a bath.  Usually it is part of our bedtime routine.  Bath, baby massage, bottle, bed.

In the recent months we've also added "naked time" to the mix.
  
I love naked time.  I love his squishy little bum and his rolly arms and legs.  So yummy!

I also think it is good for his little bottom to air out occasionally. You know?

So he crawls around for a few minutes, exposed, then I diaper him and we continue with bedtime rituals.  

Back to tonight, I decided to give him his bath early to see if I could calm him down for the evening.  We had a nice long bath.  I brought in extra toys.  He laughed and splashed. It worked like a charm.

When he was done I brought him out in his towel and let him crawl around.  As I've already explained to you, that is normal in our house.

While he was playing, I got sidetracked with FB, blogs, e-mail... you know how the web just sucks you in.  I could hear Jack playing, then saw him crawl into my bedroom.  That also is a totally normal occurrence in my house. My bedroom is super child-proof and I often let him explore there.

I was listening to him talk to himself and kind of guessing what he was doing.  Then it became very quiet.  I told myself, "just check this one last thing, then go get him."

Before I even navigated to my next cyber destination I heard it. I little grunt.  Then another. 

I bound from my chair and dashed to the bedroom.  Two steps away I smelled it!

OH NO!

Before I was even to the doorway I could see the smears on the carpet.  I found Jack standing, as pleased as could be, by my bed.  Brown, sticky lump in hand.  

I immediately scooped him up and brought him out to the smooth floor in the dining room, then called my sister (who lives in a condo below us).  I ran a second bath and once she arrived she put Jack in the tub while I took care of one of the most disgusting messes I have cleaned up in a long time.

Don't worry, for your benefit we made sure to get the photo-op before we washed his face.  We also made a sisterly-pact to repeat the story to his first girlfriend.  A mission which Andy heartily agreed to.

My Final Lessons of 2008:
  1. Be on friendly terms with at least one neighbor.  You never know when you will need a second set of hands.
  2. Naked time may be cute, but it is not without danger.
  3. Don't check e-mail during naked time.
  4. Baby poop may be littler, but it is no less stinky than an adult's.
  5. NOTHING is truly baby proof.
  6. If Jack is cranky all day, maybe he just needs a good BM.
  7. I am a good mom.  If I can handle a poop disaster and live to laugh at the tale, I can handle anything!
Okay, now that we have that mess cleaned up, on to the party snacks!

Yeeessss!


Red Shoe Revelations: Part II

Okay, so I broke my promise.  I should know better than to assume that any day will go the way I plan.

I am hoping you will forgive me when I tell you that instead of revealing my RSR:II yesterday I was busying learning the two-step with my adorable husband.  

This was a pretty major night since we have never, in our two years of marriage (and 7 month dating/engagement period) danced together.  Never.

Not once.

Until last night.  

We were both TERRIBLE, but we had a blast.

So now, on to last Saturday evening when I donned my Exhibit B shoes.

For Christmas, Andy surprised me with tickets to the Pacific Northwest Ballet's presentation of the Nutcracker. 

I really wanted to go before Christmas, but we decided that financially it wasn't the best use of our money.  Instead we made a plan to go next year as a belated anniversary celebration.  Do the whole dress-up, dinner out thing.

I was okay with that.

But I was even more okay when I opened my presents on Christmas Eve and discovered two tickets that Andy had sneakily commandeered by way of my equally sneaky mother. 

His hard work at making it a surprise was almost blown when Ellery wanted to tell me about the tickets early.

But that has nothing to do with my red shoes, so we'll save that story for another time...

So, I finally got the tickets and Andy's mom, Angie, offered to watch Jack.  

Earlier in the day I had been totally drenched in snow-muck, so I was so excited to redress and give the day another shot at being cute. 

Plus, what woman doesn't like to dress up when she goes out with her hunky man?

My mom had also given me a very swanky black jacket and I put it on with my red heels.  I remembered the afternoon's debacle, but my vanity won out.  I was determined to be fancy for the fancy Nutcracker.

So I got all dressed and pranced around the house, preening for Andy and his mom.  My heel-walk saying, "look at me, look at meee!"

We made our way out of the house and down the steps...

But my first step onto the side walk sent me right back up the stairs.  

I just KNEW that it would be foolish to try and make it through an evening with those shoes on.  
Another day would be fine.  But Saturday was just too melty and yucky.

So I went back upstairs, put on my ugly, snow-safe, clogs and then traded my swanky jacket for my still cute, but not special occasion worthy, green peacoat.

During my quick change Andy had warmed up the car and was waiting for me right outside our door.  I got in the car and he sympathetically said, "I'm sorry honey."

He knows how much I like being dressed up, and he knew that the weather was putting a serious damper on my style.  

But here was the moment that I had the chance to choose to either pout, and have my evening spoiled, or just roll with the punches.  

On our last several dates, 
I am ashamed to admit that I have been 
the most unpleasant version of myself.  
I have given into tears and tantrums 
and carried a dark cloud into our rare times 
without a babe.

I don't know why I kept doing that, 
but it was becoming an issue and I resolved to stop it.  
What husband is going to want to keep taking his wife out 
when all she does is complain and cry 
when he tries to do something nice.  
It just doesn't make sense.  

So there I was, in the ugliest pair of shoes that I own, on my way to the most extravagant outing, probably of the last year. 

But when Andy said, "I'm sorry honey," something clicked for me.  The dressing up is my thing.  Andy doesn't need me to be all dolled up to have a good time.  He just needs me to be happy and comfortable and companionable.  

Truth be told, he probably doesn't think those shoes are all that great anyway. 

So when I got into the car, I made a choice to not even mention the shoes.  I would carry myself and behave as if I was the hippest girl around. I would smile, I would laugh, I would flirt with my beloved.

And can I tell you what!

My decision to enjoy myself, regardless of my appearance, was honored. Our dinner conversation was significant, full of hopes for the New Year, thoughts on the state of the Church, musings of how we as a family can have a greater impact for the Kingdom of God.  

And our car ride was peppered with mutual admiration for each other.  My lighthearted attitude provided an open door for Andy to express his gratitude for something I had done earlier, a small act that had made a big impact on him.  I would never had known if I had let the storm simmer.

And while Andy was totally miserable at the ballet (he fell asleep in the first act) we both, with unspoken unity, resolved that the night would be a fun one.  I didn't shame him for sleeping, he didn't grumble about being there.

In the past I have let the small things become large.  I have let my evenings be spoiled by unmet expectations or minor offenses.  I have decided to be mad. 

What a waste!

I can build the habit of happiness.  I can make the choice to set aside my ideas of "perfect" and enjoy what is.  

For this New Year, I want to train myself to be content.  To choose levity.  To breath life into my husband and son with the words I speak and the peace I promote.  To be unruffled by the minors of this world.  

So, my dear red shoes, thank you for this lesson.  I am sure there are many more to be had.  But I will take a day, or month or lifetime to soak this one in.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."  
1 Timothy 6:6

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Red Shoe Revelations

On Saturday the snow was starting to melt, but because there was so much of it the side streets and driveways were treacherously covered in dark, gritty slush.  

Gross.

Very gross.

I had planned to meet my good mommy-friend at, where else, Target.  We both had money from Christmas and were eager for an excuse to get out of the house and swap mommy stories.

On Friday I had ventured out with Lizzie to spend some of my aforementioned Christmas cash.  I had found not one, but two dazzling red shoes on super clearance.  

Exhibit A: Deep red flats bejeweled with huge, bright gems ($10).

Exhibit B: Shiny ruby heels ($12).


That brings my red shoe total to three, or four if you count my satin zebra slippers with red leather accents.

Is that terrible?

You are probably wondering if my revelation from God was that I had too many red shoes.  It wasn't.  Whew!

Maybe he is saving that for another day. 

I hope not.

Anyway....

You know how it is when you have new things to wear.  You want to show them off as soon as possible.  And, seeing as how I was cooped up for weeks and weeks and weeks (maybe I'm exaggerating, but only a little) I was excited about the prospect of being SEEN.  It seemed like a good occasion to christen my new footwear.

Because it was a simple outing and I only expected to go from my car to the store, I donned the flats.  Sure there was still snow on the ground, but by Saturday it was very melty, remember?

My house to the car.  Fine.

My car to the store. Fine.

Inside the store, waltzing around.  Dazzling.

But then we added a trip to my bud's house.  She warned me that her parking lot was a mess and impossible to navigate with the said slush.  But never fear, there was a "trail" from a nearby strip-mall that would take us right to her door, and the public parking was much better for little cars. 

Great!  More visiting time!

It turned out though that my bejeweled shoes were no match for the muck.  My first step out of the car landed in a puddle up to my ankle, completely submerging my new shoes in dark, oily, ice-cold water. 

EWWWW!

The trail was no better. With each step, I saw my new, sweet slippers darkened, smudged, sullied by the snowy wasteland.  

I considered crying.  I considered whining.  I considered forgoing the whole visit in an attempt to save my shoes.

But my heart heard a little whisper.  "They are just shoes."

Okay, I realize that that may not be a major revelation to most of you.  But in the process of coming to terms with the mess that is motherhood, I have taken refuge in fashion.  I like looking together.  I like being "that mom" who makes it seem so easy.  

There is nothing wrong with looking good.  Or with my glittery red shoes.  But there is something wrong when they own me. Which I confess was starting to happen.

So as I sloshed through the puddles, and watched the toes of my shoes blacken (you can see it in the picture) I just smiled.  

I was with my friend, headed to a warm cozy house. I could have mourned the wreckage of my purchase, but instead, I choose to let it be.

We had a yummy lunch, lots of laughs and a successful hair-dying.  I would have missed out on so much had I been absorbed in the state of my shoes.

I wonder how many other moments in my life I need to say, "They are just shoes."?  "It is just..." I don't want to be a woman who is blown and tossed by the winds.  I want to be steady, secure, sure.  I do not want to be distracted by disappointments and miss the joy that is waiting to be lived. 

Exhibit A, the flats, were just the first taste of my realization.  The heels took their turn later that evening.  But I think, that part of the story will have to wait until tomorrow.  

Stay tuned for Red Shoe Revelations: Part Two.  

Tomorrow.

I promise.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Learned My Lesson

Do you ever have those days, weeks, months, or years when you know you are learning something good?  Something that you need to hold onto and let become part of who you are?

I had that day yesterday.

I had simple opportunities to be disappointed.  Discouraged.  Frustrated.  

If I had decided to pick up and carry those emotions, I would have missed out on what turned out to be a wonderful day.

Something happened inside of me that allowed me to quell the rising dismay.  I saw my moment of frustration in light of a bigger life.  Why waste my tears, emotions, time on a reaction that doesn't reflect who I want to be?  Why buy into a mentality that I don't want to define my character?

Instead, I respond with grace, with peace, and yes, with joy.

I know this attitude wasn't my own.  It can only be evidence of God transforming my heart.  I am glad to say that He is working in me. That is what I want.  

I will tell you the story, but in a future post. At this exact moment I have Eggs Benedict to make and a baby to play with.  I will tell you though, my revelation came from two pairs of red shoes.  Who knew that God could speak through fashionable footwear?  But He's God and I'm thankful He speaks to me at all!  

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sweet Moments

I hope you had a lovely Christmas.  

Mine was full of wonderful moments with my sweet, sweet family.  

Jack was loaded down with toys and clothes from all of his adoring fans.  I am embarrassed to admit that I was lavished with gifts as well.  I keep liking the idea of a simple, inexpensive Christmas, but I just like buying presents (and getting them!).

I received a new camcorder, so perhaps, when I figure out all of the nuances, I will be able to capture and share Jack's funny moments.

Until I am proficient with the moving pictures, these stills will have to do. 

Enjoy a glimpse of my beautiful family, in no particular order:


Happy Sisters

My awesome brother-in-law and nephew.

Grandpa Aichele and Jack

Jack's rockin' Christmas hair.  
Does anybody know of a good styling product for little boys? The stuff Andy and I use doesn't seem effective for Jack's do.
 
Oh my gosh, I love this baby!

Dane and Jack both opened most of their presents with Grandma and Grandpa Erichsen.  It was so cute to see my parents buried in a pile of paper, toys and babies.

Okay, this has nothing to do with Christmas.  It is just ridiculously cute.

Ellery giving Angie (my mother-in-law) the longest hug in all of Ellery history.  
Everybody was jealous

The Erichsen girls.  Doesn't Lizzie look especially beautiful?
And of course, everyone testing out Andy's new Wii ~ which is really quite fun.  Just let me know when you want to come try it out ~ our house is open!

This may have been one of my favorite Christmas' of all time.  And with that, the New Year looks bright.  I can't wait for the adventures of 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hi-So

I didn't end up getting ribbon.  

I called my mom to notify her that our yearly, unspoken competition to have the best dressed gifts is off.  

She was out of ribbon too, so it worked out.

This morning I noticed that I am nearly out of straws. Unlike ribbon, straws are not a frivolity.  They are essential to the smooth running of our house.

Somewhere in the last year or so, Andy and I both developed the habit of drinking out of straws. 

When you come to my house and I offer you a drink and you say, "Oh just some water please." I always ask, "With ice and a straw?"

Every morning when I wake up I make a cup of cold chai and drink it through a straw.  I like that the tea is not hitting my front teeth, leaving unsightly stains.  My dentist likes that too.

In the same way that I picked up fancy from England, I do believe our straw habit started on a trip to Thailand.

The summer after we were married we went with a small group of friends from church to Thailand.  Our good friend Leland had visited a church there and arranged for us to come help at an English camp.

It was a lovely trip and left a lasting impression on our lives (many of you know just how very lasting - but some things are just too personal for a blog, don't you think?)

So you are probably wondering, where do the straws come in?  

I'm getting there.

Our first week in Asia we participated in a cultural orientation.  We had classes each morning and then spent the day with some of the amazing Thai friends; seeing Bangkok and learn from them.

I loved listening to their beautiful voices, hearing their jokes, learning their animal sounds (a rooster here says, "cock-a-doodle-do" a Thai rooster says, "eggy-eggy-AY") and catching some of the "slang" of our international peers.

One of the most entertaining phrases was, "Hi-so." An abbreviation for "high society."  Anything rich or fancy was "hi-so."  The term could be used with admiration, scorn, excitement or simple factual descriptions.

The van we rented was hi-so.  It had twinkly interior lights and flip down tv screens.  That was fun.

During our meals together and trips to 7-11, we all noticed that our Thai friends used straws for any drinking occasion.  A bottle of Gatorade? Drink it with a straw. A can of Sprite? Drink it with a straw. A bottle of water? Straw. Everything.

The explanation was simple. Straw-drinking is much more fashionable, hi-so, than drinking straight from the can/bottle/glass.

Drinking without one was, not rude, but almost.  Definitely not cool.

So, while there, we drank with straws.  When we got home we didn't adopt the practice immediately.  It sort of happened gradually. I probably bough straws for Ellery or because I liked the colors, or for some silly reason.  Then, since we had them, we used them.  

And now, we use them every day.  

I love it. 

So, if you want to be FANCY and HI-SO use a straw.  I think you will be happy with the results.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Importance of Ribbon

Today my nails are painted a bright, Barbie pink.  I've been snowed in for what feels like ages  and my solution was to paint my nails. It only distracted me from the trapped feeling for about 15 minutes, but, hey, that's something.

You may be wondering, "Emily.  Don't you know it is Christmas?  Pink is not a very festive color.  Why not red?"

Well, the answer is that I just felt like pink.  Okay?  

If it makes you feel any better, the presents that I've wrapped are VERY traditional this year.  Red and green and that is it.  

Last year they were a lovely brown and gold and turquoise.  Sigh.  BEAUTIFUL!  And very elegant.

But this year, the classics called to me.  

I was feeling so smug about getting a jump on Christmas earlier in the month, but all of a sudden, the 25th is just two days away and I still have a pile of presents to wrap.  Albeit, most of them I am wrapping for other people, as in, I offered to wrap their gifts to loved ones, but still, the fact remains that I have wrapping yet to do.

But I'm thwarted.  I've encountered a problem.  

I have no ribbon left. 

Ribbon is essential!  

None of those plastic bows for me!  

Wired lined ribbon preferably. 

You are probably thinking, "Well Emily-of-pink-nails-even-though-they-should-be-red, why don't you just go get some more ribbon?"

The answer to that is not so simple.  

First, there is the issue of the snow.  

Who really wants to traipse around with a baby when it is frigid and wet and a little bit scary? Call me a wimp if you must, but all that festive frosting on the road is a little intimidating. Our little side street is still exactly the same color as the sidewalks, yards and roofs.  WHITE.

Second, there is the issue of... well... what to call it? Practicality?

Is it really necessary for me to spent $10+ on ribbon, just so I can show off my gift gilding skills? Like most, I went just a teeny-tiny over what I intended to spend on presents.  I just like giving people what they want.  

As the house-wife that I now am, I am very conscious that if Andy's job is to make money, my job is not to spend it, but to save it.  I tend to be a little self-indulgent (hard to believe, I know, but true).  That is a habit I am very much trying to break. So, is the purchase of ribbon just to satisfy my personal pride in presenting beautiful packages?  Or is it a legitimate purchase to help express my love for the recipients of gifts?

$10 could be put to lots of uses:
a new pair of pants for Jack
dinner at Gorditos (yummmmm)
half a package of diapers
a coffee treat for me and a friend to facilitate a much needed connection
admission to the Children's Museum
a box of crackers from Costco to stock Andy's lunch for a month

See.  Not so simple.

This quandary needs further reflection.  I think I'll feed Jack, take a shower, and see where the day takes me.  I have a feeling it will take me to Target and to the ribbon isle, but we shall see.  We shall see.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What They Don't Tell You...

Motherhood is an INCREDIBLE, life-changing experience.  One that moves you irrevocably from your old life.  The change is good, but as with any change, there is an adjustment period.  

The thing about a baby though is that you are always adjusting.  The baby grows, so you do to. The adjustment period never ends.

Let me give you a glimpse into the nitty-gritty, real-life world of Emily and Jack.

Let's start with the fact that as I type, Jack has crawled under his high chair and discovered a spoon dropped from a previous meal (and probably parts of that previous meal).  He is chewing eagerly on the spoon while taking momentary breaks to "push."  

Which means that in a very few short minutes a special smell will waft toward my nose and I will be called away from this note to change a diaper.

What they don't tell you before you become a mom is that you will actually think his pushing face is cute.  You'll laugh, you'll tell people about it, you'll change another diaper like it is no big deal, and tomorrow you will do the same exact thing.

Also, no matter what anyone says,
Pampers really are the best diapers.
There is a reason they are twice as expensive.
I hate it when you really do have to pay more for
better quality.
Pampers, I love you.
But I can't afford you.
What is a mother to do?

Moving on.

After about 8 months of perpetual regurgitation I think that Jack has finally outgrown that stage.  He was a champion of spit-up and although I swore it wouldn't happen, I fell into a routine of sweatpants and tee shirts at home.  The disappointment of getting dressed, only to be doused with white slime was too much.  

But we are past that now.

Or so I thought.

Last night we went on the a family outing (yay for family outings!).  I had just that very day purchased a lovely, v-neck sweater.  Soft and gray. Unsullied by the early baby stage.  

I cannot express in words how delightful it felt to put on something new and fresh.  I felt revived, I felt pretty, I felt like a woman.

An hour into our activity it was covered with baby-gross.  Not just a little dribble of formula.  But real, genuine vomit.  Complete with lingering sick-smell.  I wanted to cry.  But I didn't.

What they don't tell you about motherhood is that clothes are just clothes.  Things will get wrecked.  You will wear sweatpants to avoid the heartache. But you learn to smile and remember that you have a happy baby who loves you with our without bile adornment and you have a husband who will still tell you, "you look stunning" and hug you even if you don't smell nice.  

And finally, in this addition of "What They Don't Tell You..."

I was sick this week.  Really yucky sick.  Being sick with a baby to look out for is about the most miserable thing that I have ever experienced.  EVER.

-WARNING: disturbing, but real-life details to follow-

At one point I was sitting on the toilet, with the garbage can on my lap.  Losing it from both ends... and there was my chipper baby, holding onto my knee.  I could do nothing to usher him out.  I could do nothing period.  

Well, I did do something.  I had Andy call his mom.  She swooped into the rescue and relieved me for the day.  

What they don't tell you about being a mom is that you'll admit many times that you can't do it alone.  Your pride will be put in its place.  You will be given endless opportunities to say, "I need help."  You will learn to not only accept, but seek out help, or you will crumble.  

The list of people who have helped me is long.  I am grateful for each simple act of kindness.  

What they might have told you about being a mom, but you poo-pooed or simply forgot, is that it is a hard job.  It feels impossible some days.  But in each impossible situation you can choose which attitude you will adopt.  You can cry (and I do).  You can get angry (and I do).  Or, hopefully, you can thrive.  You can let your character be developed right along with each of your baby's new skills.  

To all of you moms.  KUDOS!  You are doing a lovely job.

To all of you pre-moms.  Well, just wait.  Enjoy what you have now, because you can never, NEVER go back.  Most likely though, you won't want to.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jack's Feet

This is Jack's Foot. 
Cute right?

I especially love his peas-in-a-pod toes.  

But do you want to know the one downfall of these sweet trodders?

I can't buy his shoes at Target.  I buy everything at Target!  All of my baby-needs come home in the white and red plastic bag (unless I remember my reusable ones, which, I'll be honest, is only about two times in ten).  

For the last month Jack has been "that poor baby who doesn't wear shoes even though it is December."  I just didn't have any that fit him.  So, the other day on one of my regular trips to the Baby Mecca I looked for a pair.  I tried every option on his pudgy little foot.  If it fit the ankle, it was a good two inches too long.  Nothing worked.  

I've had this problem with socks before.  They all leave a ring around his calf because his legs are so chunky.  In fact, if Andy hasn't already told you this story, Jack has a big scar on his leg from his first few days of life.  When we brought him home from the hospital I put a pair of socks on him.  They seemed to fit just fine and he wore them overnight.  When I took them off the next day there was an angry red welt where the sock had been.  It actually broke the skin!  Now, almost nine-months later, the mark is still there.

That problem was pretty easy to solve.  Now I just buy socks labeled for 18-24 months or 2-3 years. Yes I know he is only nine-months old.  But we have to be flexible as parents.

However, I didn't know about the shoes.  I was pretty shocked that Target could let me down like that.  

So last night Andy and I were finishing up some Christmas shopping at the Mall.  We sought out the specialty (read, expensive) kids shoe store, hoping for some options for Jack.  

He got to have his foot measured and everything.  Jack stood up (with my support) and happily complied with what the sales associate asked.  He did it all with a big grin on his face. He just loves having a friendly face to gaze at. 

So Jack's official size is 2 and a half.  We were instructed to buy a half size big, so that he could grow into it.  

But wait, the woman pointed out a few sizes that run especially wide, so we asked to try those.  Let me just tell you now that those pairs were priced at $45.  Forty Five Dolllars!  For baby shoes!!!  Ugh.  But I thought maybe we would just tell grandma to get them for Christmas.  Andy's response to that was, "Babies don't want shoes for Christmas!" to which I laughed heartily because babies have no idea about the whole thing.  I was just going to wrap up a box with paper scraps in it and let Jack go crazy.  

Anyhow, I digress.

So we tried on these supposedly wide-running shoes and they were impossible.  Never fear, says our assistant, "They come in wide."  Did the wide work?  No.  Did we have to by EXTRA WIDE?  Yes.  Did we also have to buy special socks that didn't have a band around the top to cut into his leg and that are thin so that the shoe actually fits?  Yes.

Oh Jack, I hope we don't have to buy you specialty shoes the rest of your life!  Our budget can't handle that.  

Perhaps I should compose a letter to Target requesting that they carry extra-wide baby shoes.  Hmmm... I'll consider that.

Until then, if someone happens to have an extra pair of extra wide shoes, in any size, please, please send them our way.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Can Do That

I made them.

They are good.

I won't make them again.

It took ALL DAY.  As in EIGHT-PLUS hours.

I'm still tired from it.

BUT, I feel very proud for having accomplished it.  Especially considering my track record with other baked goods.

I'm also feeling smug for being in the midst of a two-baby day (meaning that I have Dane all day, which is A LOT of work) and having gotten in a shower and now stealing a moment to brag about my accomplishment.  I ROCK!  

Also,

I had a mini-realization this morning in the shower.  My life as a mom is not glamourous.  Before 9:00 this morning I had already been spit on, peed on, had slimy banana in my arm hair, changed a poopy diaper, been pinched, and done a ridiculous dance to please a 17 and 8 month old.

The fact that motherhood is not glamourous was not the revelation.  It was the fact that I expected it to be.  

A lightbulb went on for me.  

So much of my discouragement, frustration, sadness or anger comes from unmet expectations. Many, many times I don't even realize that I hold those conceptions of what my life will, or should, be like.  Once I see them, then I can work on adjusting to a more realistic appreciation for what my life is, rather than what it might be. 

I aspire to glamour.  In my hair, my fashion choices, in my home, in the way people perceive me.  But it is just another endless chase.  

A few entries ago I mentioned a sort of fantasy book series that I had enjoyed.  The tales blend fairy-folk and other mythical creatures into the world as we know it (cheesy, I know, but guys, I love that kind of stuff).  The author describes the fae as "wearing their glamour."  The idea is that they don't want people to see what they really look like, so the create an image to portray to the world.  

That is what I use glamour for too.  I want to hid behind an image that says "I've got it together."  But sometimes, I just don't. Okay, sometimes I DO have it together, but I've already done my bragging for this entry... 

I want to use glamour to hide fatigue, discouragement, indecision, boredom, and a myriad of other hard emotions that seem taboo.

What I want more, NEED more, than glamour is satisfaction.  Fruitfulness in the things that bless God's heart: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.  

So instead of lamenting the fact that my life is messy, figuratively and literally, why not delight in the sweetness of what it is right now?  Today.  

Well, my time is up.  Messy babies are calling me to pull them from cribs and feed them and pour love into their day.  I can do that.  I can do it gracefully and honestly.  I can do that with no pretense and no need for a show.  And I will.

Here I come babies.  It is going to be a lovely day.






Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Five-year Plan

I want these.

Jack's latest antics:
  • At this very moment he is rolling and chasing a foam soccer ball all over the dining room floor and sort of singing to himself.  I love watching him play!
  • Yesterday while I was feeding him lunch (little pieces of leftover dinner, because he's so grown up and can feed himself) he picked up a piece of chicken and held out his hand to me.  It took me a second to connect the movement to the intent, but he was offering me his food!  Awww!  Thanks baby!  So now I am in that "pretend eating" phase.  That's right, I'll be the mom making exaggerated chewing faces and swallowing noises for the next few months. 
  • When I'm bustling about the house, especially when I'm making dinner, I still have a little shadow.  It is so, so endearing!  It makes it a little hard to move though, because if I stand still for too long Jack climbs right up my legs and stands that way, gripping my pants.  His balance is precarious enough that if I move too quickly, down he goes.  So I stand motionless or do a VERY slow motion shuffle across the kitchen floor.  But mostly I just laugh and then carry him back into the living room so that I have about three minutes to stir, taste, plate, before he is back, clinging to my leg.  
Perhaps it is an indicator that Jack will be more proficient in the kitchen than his father.  

For the sake of my future daughter-in-law, I sure hope so.

Although, GUYS, Andy made me dinner last week! It is true!  And, I think with a some slightly modified grocery purchases, he is willing to make dinner once a week.  I cannot even tell you what a giant leap this is for all of Aicheledom!  

I used to joke that I had a five-year plan to get Andy in the kitchen.  (His joke has always been that he married me for the food - It's only a joke people!)

The first phase of my plan was to send Andy on little grocery runs, all by himself.  For nothing too crazy, but things not found in the Hamburger Helper isle.  Maybe some garlic.  Maybe some olive oil.  Maybe some pimento peppers.  

An example of items on the list I give him looks like this:  Fresh basil - it is in the produce section, in the refrigerator case, on the top left hand side, in a little plastic box type thing, it should be 2.99.  Avocado - not rock hard, not too squishy, it should just give a little when you squeeze it.  

One time he OFFERED to get my whole list (double digit items people!).  I re-wrote the list in order of how he would find it in the store, isle by isle.

You may think I'm over the top, but the point is for him to feel like HE CAN DO IT!  Make it easy.  Make it not a chore.  

This was the first step.

Truthfully, I didn't know what would come after that.  But I thought, hey, five years is a good amount of time, I'll come up with something.

The next step ended up being Eggs Benedict.  Almost every Sunday morning we sleep in, get up and make coffee and toddle around for an hour or so, and then I make Eggs Benedict.  It is not a good thing to eat if you are watching your calories, or worried about cholesterol, but if you want to make your taste buds happy, give it a try.   

Anyhow, Andy KNOWS how happy it makes me to cook with people, especially him, so one morning he volunteered to help.  SERIOUSLY!?  YES YOU CAN HELP!  Be still my beating heart!

His big thing is he says he's not creative, he needs rules, instructions.  Well, the part of our brunch that has instructions is the sauce.  It is just a packet of sauce mix to which you add milk and butter and stir.  

So now, Andy squishes in the kitchen with me to man the sauce.  I love it.  I am grinning ear to ear just thinking about it.  

So I guess sauce mix was stage two.  

Thanks to Trader Joe's, we now are in stage three (I have no idea how many stages it will take to be cooking buddies, but I am now VERY optimistic that it will happen in my lifetime).  TJ's has very yummy frozen food.  In particular, I am thankful for the Orange Chicken and the microwave rice.  Andy has made this twice now, very successfully (I did sneak into the kitchen and add some broccoli, but veggies are a few steps away I think, so I'm okay with that).

I wish you could know the multitude of emotions that swell in my heart as he brings me a plate of food that I didn't have to lift a finger to prepare.  Gratitude, adoration, pride, victory, burning desire (after all, it has to be worth his while, no?).

Ah. Happy sigh.

The fine and tender nuances of married life.  

Andy, thanks for being willing to try something that you think you'll (and probably do) hate, just to make me happy. I appreciate you, and your efforts, very, VERY much.

Muah!

For those of you not in the know, 
that is a kiss noise.  
Like a highfalutin pair of ladies 
holding each other on the shoulders, 
with pinkies up 
and leaving an air kiss on each cheek. 
 "Muah, muah.  How aaaree you daaahhling?"
In our case it simply means,
"If you were here right now I would kiss you!"
Feel free to borrow it for all of your lovey-dovey needs.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Snack Review

Okay, my current FAVORITE snacking items:

Salty: "Everybody's Nuts Pistachios" in Salt and Pepper flavor.  SO yummy!  And they are pistachios, so you have to work really hard to eat each one which, in theory, means you will eat less at a sitting than say, Smokehouse Almonds.  I get mine at Costco, but I'm sure they can be found elsewhere.

Sweet:  TRADER JOES CANDY CANE JOE-JOES!!!!! AGHHHHHHHHH!!!! They make me so, so, SO happy!  I got my first package last night and the first bite sent me dancing across the living room.  I am currently working my way through a stack by the computer.  If you do not have access to a Trader Joes, please, let me know.  I will personally guarantee that you are able to sample these delicious treats.  Excuse me now while I take another bite and groan with pleasure.  YUM!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Highlights

What?

Your Thanksgiving didn't include 55 people, a power outage, a round-robin of crying babies, sleeping on a love seat, a gorilla costume and a teeny-tiny chihuahua?

I thought that was totally normal!

My mom's side of the family has always been big, but with my cousins getting married and having babies, the number just keeps growing!  

This year, to accommodate the whole crew we rented an old army barrack on the Washington Peninsula. We met there on Thursday, each family bringing a dish for the holiday meal.  We reserved the space through Sunday morning, so we all planned to spend several nights there.  

My extended family is full of wonderful cooks and funny people.  So we had good food, great conversation and a healthy share of competition in everything from card games to trivia to ping pong.

Several unexpected events did occur though.  After everyone had served up their dessert the power inexplicably went out.  One moment it was bright and cheery and warm, the next moment it was pitch, PITCH dark.  All the exits had emergency lights, so we huddled in groups around the doors or around those clever individuals who thought to bring flashlights and head lamps.  

The outage actually lent a festive, adventurous feel to the weekend, that is until about 11:00, when we all realized we hadn't brought enough blankets to keep us warm.  It was FREEZING! I packed way too few coverings and Andy and I spent the first night tightly huddled on a very squeaky twin bed. (I actually was very  happy about this because I LOVE cuddling to sleep, but Andy is of the variety that prefers to have his own space in bed.)    

Well, we started the night in the same bed anyway.  The other interesting dynamic of the late nights was the fact that there were... one, two, three four, (I'm listing names in my head)... 10 young kids at the fort.  Seven of those were sleeping in one wing.  And, oh yeah, there were no doors to our rooms.  So every little peep echoed down the hall for each mother, father and child to hear.  

That was hard for some of the babes... mostly mine.

How embarrassing.

And tiring.

Usually Jack will wake up a few times, and kind of talk or cry himself back to sleep.  But when I knew that every other kid might wake up any second to Jack's babbles, I spent the whole night on edge.  Once Jack was awake, he only would go back to sleep if I bounced him and would only stay asleep... in my arms.  Ugh.

The first night Andy took him downstairs and they slept together on a couch.  I made a bed on a love seat (it looked a lot longer in the dark) and later brought my nephew Dane to sleep with me as he was also having trouble sleeping in a new, noisy place.  

Have you ever slept crunched up on a love seat with a baby?  You don't really do much sleeping.  Babies are wiggly.  And sweaty.  And they have a tendency to head-butt you in their sleep. That really hurts.

Several moms decided it wasn't worth it to stay another night, but the Aichele's stuck it out.  

I spent another night on the couch with Jack.  

Actually, I took the first shift and Andy took over at about 5:30 in the morning. 

We left that afternoon.

Despite the hiccups and sleepless nights, it was a joyful holiday.  My extended family is kind and gracious and ready to enjoy every event.  They welcomed my mother-in-law (Andy's real mom who drove up from Texas with her chihuahua-service dog) warmly and eagerly accepted Jack when my arms were tired of holding him.

One of the most enjoyable activities for me was making a gingerbread house with Ellery.  In the weeks leading up to our trip, every time I'd seen Ellery she asked me if we were going to make a gingerbread house that day.  Each time she was been crushed when I said no.

I had resolved that we would not try that activity again this year since last year it was kind of a disaster.  The short version is that Ellery kept saying, "This isn't working!" and I, after calling my mom to come rescue me, dissolved into a sort of hysterical combination of tears and laughter.  Later that day when my mom asked Ellery how it went she said, "Emily laughed and laughed and cried and cried."  It was true.

But my sweet sis was persistent (and apparently oblivious to the failure of last year) and I wanted to redeem myself. My mom packed a kit and on Friday afternoon we created a masterpiece.  It was delightful.  I have conquered the gingerbread house (although I think I need to review the story of Hansel and Gretel as I stumbled as I told it).

If you ever are doing a gingerbread house with a young child, I HIGHLY recommend that you hot-glue the structure together before the child is involved and then do the decorating with the little lady (or gentleman).

Here is our creation:


Our method was for Ellery to tell me where to put the frosting and then she would stick the candy on.  After the first application of frosting I already had some on my hands.  Ellery noticed it and said, "Can I lick your thumb?  You have frosting on it."

Here are a few other photo gems from the Thanksgiving adventure:

 I love my family!  And my heart is full of gratitude. I hope you are able to say the same.   

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Part Three

I know you have been waiting.  I'm sorry to delay your curiosity.  

After the haircut yesterday I went grocery shopping and came home to make a bunch of batches of food for Jack and some dinner for the grown ups.  After all that cooking (and cleaning of the kitchen) I was really tired.

Our guest ended up falling asleep early (as is wont to happen after many days of traveling) so Andy and I had a nice evening snuggling on the couch.  We watched a fascinating documentary on modern day Geishas, had root beer floats, and teased ourselves about being such a nerdy couple.  

It was delightful.

But now Andy is at work and the rest of the house is asleep, so I am free to tell you about my hair.

Exciting!

Here is my new hair.  Please excuse the ridiculous face I am making as I have never been good at taking my own picture.  Just look at the hair. Please.


I think I learned something about getting a good cut from my current stylist.  Or perhaps I just lucked out this time.  But here is what I did differently for a great haircut day:

1. Before I left the house I read 1 Peter 3:4.  You know, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment... but a gentle and quiet spirit..."  I needed the reminder that my attitude is more important than my hair.  Can I be at peace with lame hair?  Yes.  Will I? With God's strength, yes.

By the way, I have always avoided this verse because I really like outward adornment.  I didn't want to be convicted of "adorning myself." But I noticed that outward adornment is not forbidden, it is just that those things are not the source of my beauty.  They become a problem when they are what I rely on to make me lovely, instead of challenging myself to be gentle and quiet.  So adorn away, just don't let the accouterments own you. 

2. I made the whole outing a treat.  My mother-in-law hung out with Jack, so I took my time. I browsed a magazine, I bought a coffee.  I relaxed.  That way, even if the hair was bad, the day was good.  

3. I scheduled my appointment right before my hairstylist's lunch and on her slowest day.  That way she didn't have to rush to finish my hair before someone else's appointment.  I think that made the biggest difference.  I had time to explain what I wanted and she had time to fuss over the tiny details.  

So ladies, glean from my experience and enjoy your next coiffing experience.  

Monday, November 24, 2008

Don't Worry

Don't worry guys.  My hair is GREAT!

Andy and I are having snuggle time on the couch, which is delightful and needed.  So you can expect a more in-depth discussion of my hair in the coming days.  I know you are excited for that.

Until then, I didn't want you to think that I was crying in my bed.  I know you would have worried, and that would never do.  Never!

Guys...

Guys, today is haircut day.  

The last haircut day was kind of disastrous.  I am a little nervous.  

I fear my resolution to resist the call to worldly beauty is going to be tested beyond what I can bear today.  

I am hoping that I have good news to report, but if you don't hear from me, I am probably crying in my bed.  Or trying really hard not to cry because we have overnight company, and who wants to cry in front of their guests.  NOT ME!

Wish me luck...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Little Baby All Grown Up


Today was a great-big day for Jack.

He is now in a "big boy" crib.  

Well, it is the same crib he's had, but we had to set the mattress at its lowest setting, lest we wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a sweet (heavy) baby falling from his supposed-to-be-safe bed.

Today I put him down for a nap.  That's normal.  Almost immediately he burst into sobs.  That is not unusual.  But soon the sobs were hysterical.  That is NOT normal.  I waited for a moment and when he continued at a frantic volume, I decided to go check out the situation.  

There, at the foot of the crib, was my little baby, face covered in snot, standing... STANDING... against the railing and unable to figure out how to sit back down.  

When I walked in he was so happy to see me.  Sort of proud to show off his new skill, sort of terrified at his precarious position.  

I called Andy and we both just laughed at him and watched him stand there. Then Jack started to whimper, in a "please get me down" sort of way, and we pulled him out of the crib.  Andy lowered the crib right then.

So, my little baby is now a big boy.  He pulls himself up on whatever he can and moves like the wind... sort of.  

He also has two teeth now.  TWO.

Oh my goodness.  

Enjoy the evidence of Jack's new ability:




Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seriously?

On Thursday I did some work on our family budget.  We usually do pretty well with budgeting, but as Christmas is coming up, I thought it would be a good idea to check in with what we planned on spending for the holidays. 

So, doo do dooo - singsong voice, I printed out a nice little blank spreadsheet of all the people we will be buying gifts for and additional expenses (decorations, wrapping paper... you know).  I printed two copies and had a beautiful plan in my head of Andy and I both individually considering what we thought was reasonable to spend.  Then our Budget Meeting could be short, simply us bringing our ideas to the table and finding a nice middle ground.  It was going to be easy-peasy-lemon squeezy.

What world do I live in?

What really happened was that I showed Andy the sheet and told him my plan.  He made a comment that hurt my feelings (not intentionally, I'm sure.  He would never be snappy on purpose!).  What resulted was a fit of tears and sobbing and hysterics... and blank spreadsheets. 

It was horrible.

But we got over it and went to bed on speaking terms. Always.

Friday came along and I was plagued by a day of indecision.  No choice seemed like the right one.  Lunch options, evening plans, discussions about what the weekend might hold, I was totally paralyzed.  I attributed it to the emotion-hangover from Thursday.  I just kept pep-talking myself and saying, just do SOMETHING. I know myself well enough to know that when emotion strikes, it will go as quickly as it came and I just have to do the best that I can until it washes away.

Saturday passed with nothing much to report, except an insatiable hunger (probably all that working out I've been doing) and Sunday was delightful (see my previous post) minus the blemish on my chin that Andy was kind enough to point and laugh at.

So you would think: emotional, hungry, indecisive... lady, don't you know what's coming?  No.  It didn't really cross my mind.  Every month I'm kind of caught off guard for a few days.  

Why am I so hungry?

Why is my skin weird?

Why am I SO tired, but can't seem to fall asleep?

Why did I TOTALLY blow that comment out of proportion and why am I in a sobbing heap under every blanket that I own?

Hmmm...

Sure enough, hello Monday.  Thanks for clearing those things up for me.  My sweet Andy was kind enough to keep his commentary to himself over the weekend, but once his theory had been proved his line was, "I wondered, but I thought I was better off not saying anything."

Right you were!

That never goes over very well does it?  "Honey, um, could it maybe, um, be that time of the month?"

NO! Uh. Okay, well maybe.  Let me check the calendar.  Oh.  Yeah.  Maybe. Sorry honey.

Seriously? I've been a woman for more than a decade.   How can I be so dense and unaware?  How? 

I was going to get my hair cut this week, but given the lame results last month and my propensity to get emotionally flustered this week, I thought I would postpone until next week. 

Luckily the worst of the hormonal torrent is over and in its wake I have the following entertaining tidbits for you:

One:  Jack now has a HURRY crawl.  It is mainly employed when he sees that I have left the bathroom door open.  He locks eyes on the doorway and then scrambles toward it.  However, his speed does not actually increase, he just pants really loudly like he would if he were in fact moving quickly, which he doesn't.  Yet.  

He tried to do the hurry crawl tonight in the bathtub.  He flopped himself on to his stomach and then got up on his knees.  His goal was to grab the bottle of baby shampoo on the ledge of the tub.  He got is hands and legs moving in coordination, but because the tub floor was so slippery, he just looked like a cartoon character with those spinning legs that don't actually move anywhere.

Two: This afternoon I watched my nephew Dane.  Dane has a cool trick that he does with his dirty diapers.  After he's been changed, you can tell him to throw the diaper in the trash and he walks to the cabinet below the sink and throws the diaper away.  

Today, I was fixing Jack some food, or doing something that had my attention.  I heard Dane behind me in the kitchen and then I heard foil hit the floor.  The only place he could get foil was from the trash can.  Before I was able to intercept, Dane had retrieved a piece of bread that I burnt while making my lunch.  Yes people, I do occasionally burn things (twice this week actually.  Can hormonal imbalance be blamed for burning dinner?).  And yes, people, he did eat that piece of bread.  

He actually carried it into the living room and curled up in the baby bouncer with the bread underneath him.  When he was ready to eat it he got up on his knees, reached under his rump and retrieved the burnt bread (can you imagine the crumbs?).  

Three:  I started cleaning my side of the bed.  My side of the bed is a mess of discarded t-shirts, half-read books, kleenex and bobby pins.  Would you care to guess how many bobby pins?  

Go on.  Guess.

Higher.

Higher.

Even Higher.

45

That is more than come in one brand-spankin-new box of bobby pins.  In addition there were eight other various clips.  

How does THAT happen?  

One of the wonders of the universe I guess.  

So if you ever need a spare pin, now you know where to find it.

And in case you've been having a few of THOSE DAYS in a row, might I gently suggest you check your calendar?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oh the Wonder of it All

Here are the highlights of my weekend:

Jack
  • Being followed by a crawling baby into every room that I go.
  • Discovering that Jack snuck into the bathroom, overturned the garbage can, and was exploring the contents with his mouth. 
  • Listening to the new, constant stream of syllables that come from my baby.  He even is practicing his "ma" sound!
  • Bringing Jack into our bed in the morning for family cuddle time.
  • Having raspberries blown on my shoulder and cheek as Jack snuggled in our bed in the morning.
Andy
  • Went out on Sunday morning and did the grocery shopping.
  • Came home from above shopping with a delicious Starbucks beverage, just the way I like it.
  • Remembered to buy organic, even the eggnog!  Even though he could care less.
  • MADE ME BREAKFAST!!
  • AND DID THE DISHES!
  • And folded about 8 loads of laundry.
  • And fed Jack dinner and dressed him while I got ready for church.
  • And declared that he will not watch any more Seahawks games this season because they are so terrible.
OTHER
  • Getting a manicure and massage with my mother-in-law.
  • Having the best deli sandwich I've had in a long time... turkey, avacado, facon (fake-bacon... you know that non-meat, supposed to be bacon stuff) and grilled red onions.  Yum!  
  • Ordering Christmas cards - I'm so on the ball this year!
It was a great weekend.  Now, on to the week!  

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Book Report

I try and make one or two trips to the Library each month.  It saves me from mindless tv watching and provides me with something to occupy my "me" time.

On top of that, I just love reading!  Words are so fascinating to me and I enjoy absorbing the wonderful (and sometimes not-so-wonderful) ways that writers string them together.

My usual MO is to go to the Library, return my previous selection then grab a few books at random.  My favorite sections are the New Book and Mystery isles.  I've also discovered the Board Books for check out and it has entertained Jack to no end!  

Given that it is now perfect snuggle-up-inside-with-a-good-book weather, I thought I would pass along some titles that have been entertaining me.  Just because I love you.

Here goes:

Gluten-Free Girl by Shaua James Ahern
I originally picked up this book because my dad has been having some weird medical issues which have been loosely tied to a wheat allergy.  I also have a cousin who has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, the topic of this book.

I'm not sure what I expected, but whatever it was, this book was far, far better.  The author is educated and passionate about sharing her experience with the diagnoses of CD and provides a glimpse of her life as she has embraced a new, gluten-free way of living.

The way she talks about food is beautiful and makes me want to stop by her house for dinner.  The whole thing was totally inspiring and challenged a lot of the ways I view food (she has some good, if not biting, commentary on the American way of eating).

Just be warned, Shauna is so good about touting the joys of gluten-free that you might just want to jump on her ship. I am seriously considering it :-)

The Ridiculous Race by Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasekaran 
This book is hilarious.  Really.  I was reading it in bed one night and burst out laughing.  Andy just looked at me and asked, "How can you laugh at a book?" There are some things that just can't be explained.

The premiss is that Steve and Vali (in real life they are writers for sitcoms) challenge each other to a race around the world without using airplanes. I don't think I would want to be friends with either of the authors, but i sure appreciated their sense of humor and friendly banter.  

How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill
I know that there are many, many thoughts about Starbucks.  Some good, some bad.  I confess that I really love the coffee giant.  I love the weekly planner I bought at Starbucks.  I love my iced Carmel Machiatto.  I love that if my drink tastes weird or isn't what I asked for, it is not rude to ask for it to be fixed.  I love that the baristas engage in conversation.  I love a meeting place that is outside of work or home, but still feels familiar.  On top of all my warm feelings toward SB, I also am completely fascinated with their ability to become such an institution, especially in Seattle.

So when I saw this book, I picked it up immediately.  Turns out, it is not so much about Starbucks, but more about a man's journey to understanding human interaction and satisfaction in life.  

It sounds a little cheesy I guess, and maybe it is a little, but I read it during a week that I was feeling a little blue and  a little discouraged and it kind of snapped me out of it.  It is a quick read and worth the trip to the Library (that totally sounds like a Reading Rainbow sum-up, doesn't it?).

Side Story:
A few quarters ago, Andy was taking a
Children's Literature course for school.
He was supposed to go the the library and
get a book to discuss on an online forum,
but forgot.  So instead he just went to 
Reading Rainbow on the web and listened to
one of the kids read the book out loud.
Ha!
Oh Andy!

So I had pretty good luck with my non-fiction selection, but my fiction choices were all a little mediocre.

Worth Reading:
Sammy's Hill by Kristen Gore.  Very Funny.  One of my all time favorite novels.  Another laugh-out-loud title.

Patricia Brigg's "Mercy Thompson Novels" These are only worth reading if you kind of like sci-fi/fantsy books, which I admit that I do.  The first book in the series is "Moon Called."

The Next Think on My List by Jill Smolinski.  I'm usually not a big chic lit fan, but I enjoyed this one.  

Don't Bother:
The Snow Empress by Laura Joh Rowland.  Maybe one of the most poorly written historical novels I've ever read.  I kept trying to give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume that it would pick up toward the end, but it didn't.  

I've got another trip planned for this week. Do you have any suggestions for me?



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

He waved to ME

Okay, so I know everyone is dying to know about my clandestine appointment with Clinton Kelly.  

In my previous post, I had a few questions about how the day would go, let me address those first:

Were there guards?  No.  Unless you count the woman turing away those hopeful of catching a glimpse of C.K. but did not have a ticket.  Fortunately WE had tickets.  Also, there were women of all shapes and sizes present, though the presentation was geared toward plus-sized frames.

What did I wear?  As usual leading up to an event, my closet's contents seemed woefully inadequate, but I told myself to get over it.  I spent much too much time lamenting my lack and far too little time celebrating what I do have.  So I wore a pair of grey tweed-ish plants (long and straight, just like Clinton and Stacy advise - thank you Value Village), an apple green wrap top that looks quite good with my red hair and a pair of metallic purple peep-toes.  It was a pretty good ensemble.  

Did I win the $500 shopping date with Clinton?  No. But he did wave to me when he was in the store.  Probably because when I saw him my face flushed and my mouth kind of went slack and my expression was both one of awe, fear and delight.  But still, Clinton Kelly waved at ME!

Also, let me clarify something.  I know that it is silly to get so invested in a tv personality.  I'm not really obsessed.  I just enjoy being dramatic about some things, What Not to Wear and Clinton happen to be a couple of the things I like to be dramatic about.  That being said, here are some of the tips that I remember...
  1. Shoes ALWAYS set the mood of an outfit.
  2. Get professionally fitted for a bra.
  3. Have your clothes tailored.
  4. When you find a pair of jeans that you love, buy two pairs - one to wear with flats, one to wear with heals (Of course this means that you will need to have them tailored).
  5. When assembling an out fit mix and match: color, pattern, texture, shine.
  6. T-shirts do not count as clothes.  They are only acceptable for layering, loungewear or the gym.
  7. To find clothes that fit and are fabulous - you have to try A LOT on.  He said that on average the women on the show try on 20 pairs of jeans before they find one that fits.
It was really such a blast to sit and listen to a charming, well spoken and handsome man.  I especially enjoyed his information about "what you don't see" on the show and his parting comments which advocated for women to embrace their beautiful selves and stop beating themselves up for not looking like the "fake" women in advertisements.

Thank you Clinton!

One of the startling things he said was that of the 240 women that he has worked with on WNTW, only two have been able to say they are happy with their bodies.  What a sad, sad number!  I left feeling very challenged to become one of those women and spur my friends on to the same.

Women are beautiful.  We receive so many messages that say we CAN be beautiful, but those messages are all conditional. If you buy this, if you wear that, if you change this, if you...

Am I willing to be the odd-woman-out and love the shell that God has given me to inhabit while on this earth?  Am I willing to talk nicely to myself, in private and in public?  Am I willing to ruthlessly edit the messages that I receive through media - cancel magazine subscriptions and delete shows from my DVR, if that is what it takes?  Am I willing to let others compliment me and receive those kind words as truth?  Am I willing to train my thoughts to dwell on the positive and stop comparing, stop chastising, stop chasing?  I think I am.

Are you?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Accomplishment

For the record (and for Jack's grandmas who read this blog) this week has been a momentous one for Jack.

Not only has his slither-scoot-army crawl blossomed into a full fledged, if not somewhat awkward, hands-and-knees crawl, but he has a TOOTH!

I was picking him up from the Y's Childwatch and the sweet lady who was caring for him said, "And I see that he's getting a little tooth."  I played it cool, "Oh yeah!  He's growing so much!" But in my head I was thinking, "A Tooth!!!  How did you see it before me?!"  I've been faked out so many times by Jack's "teeth" that I almost didn't believe her.  But sure enough, when I stick my finger in his mouth, I feel a tooth! Wow, this is a big week for the Aichele baby!

I wish my accomplishments racked up as quickly!  My mind is pretty ambitious about what I want to do "some day" but it seems like it is going to be an awfully long wait for that day to arrive.  

For example, I would really love to be a life coach, which will require some more schooling (read, heavy investment of time and money) but as of right now, it is ambiguous if/when that will ever happen.  I love the idea of being a momprenuer (a new buzzword of the business world by the way) but am thwarted again by all the hurdles, perceived and actual, that impede that goal.  

I would like to participate in a triathlon, have rockin' hair, go on What Not To Wear...

Okay, total side note... 
Tomorrow is the day I am going to meet Clinton!
What am I going to wear?!  
How am I going to get past the guards that will try
and keep me from entering 
because I don't fit in the 14W-24W sizes?  
Will therebe guards?  
I hope so, that would be so exciting... 
Anyhow, wouldn't  you know it, just the day before 
the big rendezvous, my skin is misbehaving!  
Bad skin!  
Months and months of a radiant, blemish-free complexion
 and suddenly I'm spotted!
Oh well, life goes on.  
I'll console myself with dreams of 
what would happen if I were to win 
the drawing for a $500 shopping spree... 
*daydreamy smile*

And now back to the real stuff...
 
... invest in marriages, have the house that all the kids want to hang out at, travel the world, invest in my community, learn web design, plant a garden, live mindfully, challenge people to live more joyful lives, sell a painting... my list is long...

Many of these things feel like they will be on hold for a while.  Some of them I've made excuses that keep me from starting.  I wonder why I do that. Whatever the reason, I don't like that I do it. The paralyzed life is one that I do NOT want to live. 

So this week I have been making strides toward accomplishing items on my list.  I spent yesterday morning at MOPS, taking the first steps to meet other moms.  I made a trip to the craft store and bought supplies to make Christmas presents.  I've cleaned my house each night before I go to bed so I can wake up with a fresh start, I even went to Zumba at the gym to practiced groovin'.

I am satisfied with what I've done.  

My greatest accomplishment today?  Getting a seven month old and a four month old to take naps simultaneously (without one peep!) and during that time, taking a shower, doing the dishes and posting a blog.  It may not be the finish line at a triathlon, but it is surely something worth celebrating!
  


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Beets

Have you ever eaten a beet?

The last time I was at Trader Joe's I noticed a package of pre-peeled and steamed beets and I remembered that I had read that they're a good root to make into baby food.  So I thought, "Why not?  Jack has been a great eater so far, maybe he'll like these too."  I picked up a pack and brought it home.

Yesterday I was feeling like Jack might like to try something new... but what?  Oh yeah!  We have beets!  Woohoo!  

So I opened the package.  Have you ever even seen a steamed and peeled beet?  It looks a little like someone took a big melon scoop and pulled out a perfect sphere of canned cranberry jelly. Weird.  The color was lovely, but I was skeptical about the taste and texture.  I also realized that there was a very high possibility that Jack's clothes would be permanently stained bright pinky-red.  

It is my general policy to only feed Jack things that I am willing to eat also.  I think that might be why I opt not to buy baby food in a jar.  There is no way I would want to stick a spoonful of that in my mouth!  Anyway, in keeping with my policy I figured that I should at least try this foreign veggie.  

So I did.  

You know that little rabbit face you make when you are trying a little "bite" of something sketchy?  Your face wrinkles up and you kind of make your teeth stick out from your face so that the only thing that touches the new food is your front teeth as they scrape off the tiniest little sliver?  I made that face. 

I had to take two bites because the taste was totally unexpected.  I needed to confirm that it really did taste like... DIRT! Yep. Beets, in my experience, taste EXACTLY like dirt. 

So I did what any good mother would do.  

I mashed up the beet and added a little applesauce, hopping that the sweetness would sort of mask the dirt flavor.  I tried the mixture and discovered that mostly it just tasted like an apple covered in dirt.  

I fed it to him anyway.

I was kind of looking forward to him making a really grossed out face.  Who doesn't like to laugh at a baby when he is trying a new food?! I even had the camera at the ready to capture the moment because I knew it was going to be great.  Just to clarify, I wasn't going to make him eat it all, I was just going to have my laugh and then make him something else.  I'm not THAT mean.

But I was to be sadly disappointed.  

I offered Jack the first bite, barely able to contain my anticipation.  And... 

nothing

NOTHING!

If anything, he really liked it.  He ate a whole bowl of beets and applesauce without so much as a grimace or gag.  *shoulders droop*

The only thing I could think of was that he hasn't had a good fistful of dirt yet, so maybe he just doesn't have the association that it is a yucky taste.  Then I thought, "Great, now my kid is going to think that things that taste like dirt are supposed to be eaten!"  I'm going to have the kid who eats dirt and sand at the playground.  Oh man, what I have done?!

I guess we'll cross that sandbox bridge when we come to it.  But in the present, I still haven't gotten to see Jack make faces at his food.  He happily eats anything I give him.  Don't get me wrong, I am pretty ecstatic to have a perfect baby, but I feel deprived of the yucky face.  

I think today I'll give Jack a pickle.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Muahhh ha ha!!!!