Tuesday, November 28, 2006

We celebrated Thanksgiving on Fire Island as we have for about the past 8 years (with one exception when Jason ruined everyone's plans by saying he was going to come to NY and then cancelling at the last moment). This year it was appropriately cold (allowing for the use of fire places and cute footed pyjamas) but not desperately so. Christine, Kevin and baby Silas came up as well and stayed with Aunty Minkie. The food was good, the table looked beautiful and I got away with only one fight with each parent. Not too bad for one of the high stakes holidays. When I was in nursing school we learned of a study that looked at the relationship between anger and heart attacks. I believe that the researchers had set out to show that people who yell and scream had more or less of a chance of dying from a heart attack than people who stew. Instead what they found was that it was the experience of anger that was the greatest predictor--it didn't matter whether people did or didn't express it. Not to prevent a heart attack, but just because I think it will make life so much better, I'm trying to move myseld into the 'feels less anger' category. We managed the trip back on Saturday night, complete with traffic on the Belt and at the turnpike merge and I believe I was reasonably pleasant.
By Monday I could barely walk because my back was hurting. I told Al that I've read that women's back pain is often tied to the repression of emotions. He said he'd rather have me walking and yelling than calm and immobilised. What a guy!

Monday I had the hospital orientation for my new job. I have been in such successful denial about the reality of starting a new job that I got up Monday morning with no idea when or where I was supposed to show up. It was about 8 hours of sitting in a basement auditorium watching videos and listening to talks on topics such as corporate compliance, HIPAA, and sexual harassment. The sexual harassment videos were definately the high point of the day what with the sexual innuendoes and all the inappropriate touching. Penelope did fine with Al--took 3 bottles with no problem. And I got a lot of knitting done.

Guess we know who Silas got the cheeks from...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

So it seems that the blog is now another thing to feel vaguely guilty about--like uh oh I haven't written anything on the blog in a few days. We've been busy around here!
Saturday was the Winter Fair at the Waldorf School of Philadelphia, which is basically one fabulous kid-centered craft show with delicious organic food, puppet shows and a great playground. As we were leaving the house, Al said "I should get cash." But since he had $20, I told him not to worry about it. Boy was that a mistake. I had to borrow money from Nikki's husband to buy a Laura Ingalls bonnet for Penelope. I think you'll agree it was well worth it.
Note also the pink courduroy smocked frock and bloomers--P's ensemble for brunch at the 4 Seasons for my mom's b-day.

It is grey and rainy here--a good day to make apple pie. I sort of wish I'd kept Diego home from school but with his unpredictable napping and all the packing needed for our weekend at the beach, I decided it would be a more peaceful day (for me at least) if he went to school. Plus, I sort of think there's no point in trying to keep him home a few days a week since once I start work he's going to need to go every day while Al and Penelope get used to each other.

I know that if I hadn't been hired in this job, I would not be enjoying this time at home so much. I'd be wracked with anxiety about my career and what I was going to do with my life. Having been hired, but not actually able to start working has been ideal and I sort of wish it could go on like this indefinately. There are two classes at the art's league I'd sign Diego up for--an art class and a music class. We'd have Monday playgroup--that's 3 mornings already accounted for. I'm hoping that Al will be able to do some of that stuff with him. I really don't think it's ideal for him to be in school as much as he is. And it has really ruined him for low-key down time at home. Maybe ruined is too strong a word, but he definately seems to have a hard time with the concept of not doing much of anything which is really my favorite way to pass a day...

A WPM gathering at Lori's Monday night. Hope many more will follow...

I've been knitting away--I want to finish the noro sweaters for the kids in time for Christmas. Diego's is almost done (and it fits Marisa!):

And here is the yarn for Penelope's. Isn't it delicious.

I also made this turquoise sweater for Diego. I finished it ages ago and have been saving it for his birthday. He hasn't seen it yet and I think he will like it (even though its not striped) because it has pockets and a zipper (well it doesn't have a zipper yet because there is no good way of getting to JoAnn's and it always ends up taking a whole day. Once I get said zipper, I'm taking it to the Chinese cleaners to have it put it since I have had bad experiences attempting to put zippers into knitted garments).

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (although Halloween has been coming in a close second the last few years). We're going to have quite a gathering out at the beach this year. Hope any and all who might read this have a restful and thankful holiday.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

November 17

My friend Kathleen loaned me a book on motherhood and materialism. It was called "Consuming Motherhood" I believe. It took reading the first paragraph 3 times to figure out that it was about 4 grades above my reading comprehension at this point. It took less than the first paragraph to figure out that the book was really going to annoy me. I returned it to her without reading any more and decided to go shopping. Ha.

I just received the Nova Natual Toys catalogue (www.novanatuals.com). What's the big deal? Well for one thing they are such an environmentally responsible company that they only send out their catalogue once a year, so I've been waiting for a while. Really. It was packaged more beautifully than our wedding invitations were. When I say that I was moved to actual tears twicewhile reading this catalogue, I am not exagerating. I took it to the coffee shop to read it the first time, sipping a latte and chewing a biscotti. The second time (the weepy time) I read it in the bathtub with a glass of wine. I know it is foolish to believe that buying certain toys could make your children grow up better or make my own life more joyful but looking at the catalogue, I sure could come close to believing it. I suppose that is just really good advertising. (I vaguely recall feeling a similar sense of longing about the J. Crew catalogue when I was in high school). Knowing that I'm both a sucker and a materialistic consumer did not stop me from dropping a hefty chunk in their coffers (from the check that my generous, English uncle sent when P was born--everyone should have a generous English uncle...). The wooden blocks that I got for Diego were made by mentally and physically challenged individuals in a Camphill community in Upstate NY. Seriously. Read it and weep: http://www.camphillvillage.org/

I was at the Green Line (our local coffee shop) with the kids today (what else is new) and we seemed to be attracting an inordinately large number of dirty looks from the other folks there. I had the giant pram which was loaded down with Diego's school blankets, his lunch box, blankets for P, my knitting bag (it's really a sickness to carry it everywhere just in case, even though I have never in my life had a moment to knit), the diaper bag, a shopping bag with wet diapers in it and my coat hanging off the back of the pram. Jesus that's a lot of crap. Plus I was trying to negotiate Diego's hot chocolate with a spoon and top (but of course I can't put the top on until he's eaten the whipped cream off with a spoon), napkins and my coffee on a table that wobbled. And of course I was paying with quarters because my wallet got stolen the other day (a story too depressing to recount), while bouncing P who was crying with a wet diaper and Diego whining to come "Uppy." So we were a little bit of a scene, but honestly better than the philosphy students, I think. I couldn't decide though, if I was being one of those parents...the loud mouth oblivious ones whose children are named Anastasia and Henry. Speaking of...I started chatting with a man who was sitting outside with 3 kids, two of whom were about D's age, and a 3 month old baby. The girl was wearing a leopard skin polar fleece hat. The kids names were "Cella" (pronounced chella) and "Luke," and the baby was "Rocco." "Oh, just like Madonna," I said. Then I asked if they were from NY. He wanted to know how I knew. Yeah right.

Enough rambling. I have to go to bed, but before I do, I must adress a serious misunderstanding that has come to my attention. I understand that some people in my circle believe Penelope to be a less attractive baby than Diego was. This cannot go on. Behold, equally cutest babies.
Can you tell who's who???

And one for the grandparents...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Naked house

Our neighbors cut down the big old pine tree in our front yard. We now have shockingly unobstructed views down the street and it is like high noon in our bedroom all day long.

They claimed that the tree was dying. It didn't look like a dying tree to me.

Al tried to argue that it was on our property too, but apparently that was not a tenable argument. Al says they probably don'thave a good homehowners policy. I guess I wouldn't trade dappled shade and a habitat for birds for the structural integrity of my home either, but our house sure feels naked without it.

I'm trying not to be too angry--they are a nice elderly couple, and the lady (whose name I am incapable of remembering) did drop off presents after Penelope was born for "the new baby and D'Angelo." I guess I'm not the only one with a name problem...

So tomorrow Diego and Penelope and I will be picking up a half bushel of apples from the farmers market. We have preordered them. Do you know that half a bushel is really quite a lot of apples. So we will be making applesauce and attempting to can it. Neither Diego, Penelope, Al, nor I have any experience with canning. I also have a deep fear of botulism (who doesn't really), but we're going to give it a try.

Behold, the naked house...
I've kept Diego home from school two days this week and therefore am mother of the year. He can be pretty good company if he is well rested, hence our ongoing battle about the naps. Honestly, if I could either 1) be guaranteed that he would nap or 2) be given permission to drug him without guilt or repercussions, I wouldn't have any need for preschool at all. Today I read him a bunch of stories (including one pop up book, God help me), nursed him, offered him songs (all while bouncing a fussing, overtired P) kissed him and told him to stay in his room while I had a rest. Of course he didn't stay in. A few rounds later, I locked myself in my bedroom while he cried in the hallway. In these moments I feel guilty and sad for him, but mostly was I feel is anger. I wanted to burst out of my room and snatch him up and hiss "GO TO SLEEP" then toss him on his bed and slam the door. And I actually feel a sense of entitlement about it--like "if he doesn't nap then he'll be so tired that our whole afternoon will be ruined as well as dinner which I probably won't even be able to make etc etc." Thankfully I didn't do that. There was a really amazing discussion on mothering.com about mothering and rage. It was a revelation to me to see how many other women struggle with this. In real life, I feel like I have the worst temper of anyone I know (except maybe my wonderful friend Wendy who had to go to anger management counseling for work and can make that a funny thing). I've really been trying to embrace the idea of setting boundaries around things that really make me nuts so that I don't become scary hissing mom. A tired kid who won't sleep really pushed my buttons. Hence locking myself in my room for timeout. Eventually I came out (probably all of 5 minutes later) and lay with him in his room. I left him alone again when I could hear P fussing in the other room, and when I went back he was asleep. And our afternoon was quite pleasant...cause I got my way, ya know?

Here is a picture of P in the Miss Dashwood hat from www.knitty.com. I think she likes it. It's not a very good picture and it still needs to be blocked (I only finished it in June, after all).

She's also wearing the Easy peasy cardigan from www.littleturtleknits.com (one of my favorite knitting websites) in a lovely hand-dyed blue-faced leicester that I picked up at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival last spring. My feeling about ridiculous handknits is as follows: I will love my kids unconditionally. They will always have food to eat. Their educations will be paid for. If they want to be lesbian--gay-bisexual or transgendered, that will be okay with me. But they're going to have to wear the goods...To wit:

They'll thank me some day. I just know they will...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

First Post!

Okay, well I decided to start a blog. That ofoto site was just getting too cumbersome and I really wanted to be able to share my thoughts about the pictures I was sending to people without it having to be a big drag.

Here are a few that I am belatedly sharing from Penelope's first trip to Fire Island (she was 3 weeks old--were we nuts or what). I can't remember the car ride home at all, which makes me think I might be blocking it out...

She actually did really well on the car ride down. I do remember that. There was a lot of reminiscing on the ferry ride about how I was first brought out to the beach when I was 3 weeks old also. I asked my mom about the car ride back then, and guess what...she can't remember it either...

Uncle Jason and Auntie Jessica meeting baby Penelope for the first time.

I was right to be worried that mom or Maggie might lose a kid in the surf, wasn't I.

We went up to NY for the New York Sheep and Wool festival at the end of October. It was totally wonderful with lots of amazing yarn and crafts, animals, good food and beautiful foliage. Somehow we managed to spend two days there and half a day with the alpacas at Eric's and not take a single picture. Not even of the brand new baby alpaca who was nursing (much to Diego's amazement..."Him havin' milk? Why him havin' milk"--he really does talk like that, I swear). We got to see the site for the new house, where the footprint was laid out with stakes and ropes. It looks really small! Joyce said that footprints always look small... Al and I are both really excited about the new place and think that we will use it a lot. Although the drive home that weekend was SUCH a FUCKING nightmare (can I curse on my own blog...you goddamned right I can) that I decided that we would actually never go up there again. Picture traffic as far north as Southern County, a deranged GPS guiding the route, a screaming baby and a dead deer and you will start to understand. I asked Al what he would think about drugging the children with Benadryl the next time we make the trip. He thinks I should put earplugs in and take the Benadryl myself...hmmm.

Here are some more recent pictures of the kids. Diego picked out the green yarn for that hat himself.
Penelope is trying to learn to suck her thumb...she hasn't been successful, thus far, but seems to be enjoying the process. The bottle is another story though--no luck and no joy there. I am trying to keep the anxiety at bay (what good does worrying do, after all) but I have my hospital orientation November 27th.

Here's one that Diego took. Not so bad, huh?

Below, you will find a picture of the kids on Halloween. Sadly, I fell of the maternal bandwagon with a loud thump this year at Halloween and neither of my kids had a real costume. Diego was wearing his "working man" tool belt with a cool striped shirt from Hanna Andersson (he's into stripes). Although no one in our family has much of a relationship with Bob the Builder, apparently he's a pretty important guy in the world of 2 year old boys, and somehow we managed to capture his essence with D's "costume". Yes, sure, he's Bob the Builder... I'd say the best thing about Halloween was the wagon. Don't they look cute? (In case you couldn't tell, Penelope was a princess...)

Having 2 kids is so great. Al and I were talking last night about whether things are harder or just different. He thinks a little bit harder, but that it's not going to be harder for long. I think things are actually easier (no one ever said that was a possibility). I think it's easier because having one kid brought out the worst in me as an overbearing, overprotective mother, and in Diego as a whiny, clingy, needy kid (although still fabulous and funny of course). Having 4 people in the family seems like such a better balance. It's also been so amazing to find that Penelope is her own person...not just another Diego, which I guess I sort of expected her to be (that sounds idiotic, I know). And it has made me see Diego as his own person too--in comparison to her.
Diego is like Al (I always sort of thought so--laid back, mellow, easy to get along with) and Penelope is like me: easily stressed out, hating noise and needing lots of time alone to decompress...
It makes me want to have more kids--lots more--because this process of watching them develop is so amazing. And, as I say to Al all the time--we made them! They're alive and we made them! I can't believe that happens every day.