Thursday, November 17, 2011

4-month stats!

Annie had her 4-month check-up Tuesday. I was really curious about her height and weight because she doesn’t really look bigger to me, but she keeps growing out of her clothes. She’s in 9 month jammies for crying out loud. . . but doesn’t look like that big of a baby. . . ?

Anyway, she weighed in at 14 lbs., and 9 ozs. Crazy enough, that is LIGHTER than Amelia was at 4 months! I can’t believe it. I remember Amelia just exploding in weight around 3 months and then surpassing the 50th percentile, but I anticipated Annie keeping her lead on Big Sister since she started out 2 whole pounds bigger! She is still in the 72nd percentile, so not a small baby, but I was a little disappointed. Less than three pounds in 2 months? And I get up every other hour through the night? What gives? Her doctor didn’t seem too concerned about the weight drop in percentile so maybe she’s in for a growth spurt. Heaven help me. The kicker though is that she is 15.5 inches long! WHAAAAT? Yeah, Amelia was 14. She’s growing out of her clothes because she’s so tall. Oh lawd, another tall baby? We are not tall people! So yeah, she’s grown 6.5 inches since birth. Helps me feel better about the weight. A little.

She got her shots too. Thankfully, this time she didn’t appear to have any reaction. Justin even took the day off just in case! It was pretty nasty last time so I’m relieved that she rebounded well this round. It was crazy too because she hardly even cried. Most babies just scream and scream but she took them pretty well. It always helps to pull out the magic boobies immediately after. Works like a charm every time.

This is our little Nugget on the way home from the doctor.

Saggy cheeks. Hand holding blanket. Sleepy baby.

Annie 4 mos


Ummmmm. It kind of reminds me of this other picture . . . of this other baby . . . on her way home from her 4 month appointment . . .

Amelia 4 mos

Saggy cheeks. Hands holding blanket. Sleepy baby.


Crazy right? Yeah, it trips us out too. I even got one of Annie from the same side.

annie 2


Now that Annie’s 4 months old, I have to come to grips with the fact that she’s not a new born anymore. Not in that I’ll miss the newborn phase but in that she shouldn’t be treated like she just came home from the hospital. The months have really flown by so it does feel like it was just yesterday . . . but it wasn’t. And maybe because she’s such an easy baby, we’ve continued rocking her to sleep, cuddling for hours before putting her in her crib, and letting her nurse for longer than she needs. I don’t really mind any of these things in moderation. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know how to go to sleep on her own and requires a lot of holding. It’s unfortunate that you have to think is these terms, but to continue with treating her like a newborn, we’ll set us all up for failure. So some of the hard work begins and we move into the next phase. In exchange, we get to hang out with her more and play more as she grows more alert and interactive. Each phase gets easier and harder. . .

Can’t believe we’re headed to Thanksgiving already! Wonder what the new year shall bring. . .

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Occupy Wall Street?

I grew up in a working class family that struggled to make ends meet on a monthly basis. Both parents worked full time but at mediocre jobs, doing what they could to raise a family on two high school diplomas. I started working and paying as much of my own way as possible at 16. I had to get a ride to work and home after stocking a salad bar on the dinner shift. From that job, I worked my way into bussing tables, running plates, and eventually waitressing while in college. I waited tables at two restaurants while also coaching kids soccer and attending full-time classes by 19. I continued working full time through college, paying off my tuition, which I always had to charge, each semester. In the hard times, I went to classes 5 days a week, worked closing at the restaurant on Thursday and Friday nights, and pulled an obscenely early morning bookkeeping shift followed by the busy waiting shift late on Saturday and Sunday nights. I went entire semesters without a single day off between work and school and found myself writing papers and studying for exams between 2 & 5 am. I completed 2 Bachelors Degrees on my own dime, but it took 6 years.

When I entered graduate school, I moved into a full-time ‘real’ job for the State of California. It offered me a stable income and reliable hours. I took the bus to school after work, carrying a change of clothes, my books, dinner, and a can of pepper spray for the 10-block walk home from the downtown drop off. I was one of the only people in the Masters program with a full-time day job, plugging along, and only taking 2 classes a semester, both at night. On the weekends, I struggled to maintain the 500-1000-page per week reading assignments and 25 page papers due. I did little else but clung to the faith that someday, I wouldn’t be in school and I could allow life in a bit. While I was in school, I was offered several promotions within government work. I turned them all down, resisting the urge to make more money, become reliant on a big salary, and therefore unable to afford my dream job of teaching at the college level. I worked out of my duty class a lot, doing the jobs of higher-paid employees, but refused to settle into a more posh life. When it was time to complete my thesis, I had to compile all of my research on Wednesday evenings and one Saturday a month—the only times when the archive was open during non-business hours. It took three years.

After ten years of higher education, I finally reached my academic finish line and received a Master’s Degree in History. Finally! With school coming to a close, I agreed to marry my boyfriend of 6 years. It was all coming together, we thought. He’d already established a modest, but solid career as a Probation Officer after working full time to pay his way through college as well. All of the hard work was sure to begin paying off as we headed towards our thirties. Two weeks after finishing grad school, I entered the classroom as a professor for the first time. It was one of the single biggest moments of my life. I’d returned to the very community college from which I’d graduated only 6 years prior. For the first two semesters, I played it safe and stayed on at the state job, always worried about money. I’d work all day, teach at night, and then return home to write the next day’s lectures until 3 am. I’d taken three classes, was teaching for the first time, and still working a normal day job. It was one of the toughest times in my life. And more exhilarating because finally my work was going towards a career.

Once married, my husband and I began looking at homes to buy. We’d rented for several years and watched the housing market balloon into horrific price points. Every time we looked at potential houses, I came home in tears. We saw houses that were completely filthy and in terrible neighborhoods and we couldn’t afford them. Houses were selling at an alarming rate. Builders were taking plots for one home and building three and people were buying them. There was the feeling that if you didn’t get something ANYTHING in this market, you never would own a home. Those disgusting houses we saw would be sold in a few days. There was a real sense of panic that after all the hard work we’d put in, we’d never have a real home. We initially held back and balked at high prices, waiting for the downturn. . . that didn’t come. In just a year, houses were $75,000 more expensive than the previous. We felt punished by our own caution and conservatism. It was fairly devastating to think that I’d worked so hard to break the cycle and get an education only to find that I couldn’t afford a home in the underprivileged neighborhood in which I was raised.  We remained patient and saved as much as possible and finally found a house. It was new and $30,000 less than the median home price was at the time. We didn’t want anything fancy. Just a home!  It was, in essence, a great deal.

We signed the papers on our home on our first wedding anniversary. Before the deal closed officially, we’d sneak into the house and sit on the floor in the empty rooms for hours. This is our home. It was twice the size of the tiny house we’d rented for years and nicer than anything either of us ever expected. The brand new neighborhood was filling up with other young couples eager to begin families. Grocery stores proudly hung their “Coming Soon” banners on the corner intersections. There were schools and parks in the growing plans. Even though we thought we might have to eat top ramen for the rest of our lives, we had a home. It was perfect.

In the next couple of years, I took the full leap into teaching, taking work at two schools to cover a modest, but middle income. I taught 9 different course topics in only 3 years and often worked into the wee hours preparing, preparing, preparing. All the while, I knew it was just creating a foundation for my career, even if it left little room for the married life I’d just begun. Every semester, I taught classes in the morning, the afternoon, and in the evenings. Oftentimes, I taught on Saturdays as well, just trying to make it. Whatever it took to build my reputation as a hard worker and to build a steady and reliable economic situation for our budding family is what I was willing to do.

You see, what I’m trying to say is that we followed the rules. Justin and I did everything you are supposed to do to have a decently comfortable life. We put in the hard work, broke the cycles of low income families, and took minimal risks. We focused on building a stable foundation and working hard to achieve your goals. We never expected or desired wealth. We didn’t want a house to make a profit, but to make a family. We had a modest lifestyle and expected to keep it for the long-term. We did not ask for handouts and laid the groundwork ourselves. We did everything right. 

After a couple years, the housing market finally began to deflate. As it turned out, mortgage banks had been selling average working people loans based on shady fine print and impossibly low interest rates. Often times, these loans were for a set amount for several years only to explode into a much bigger payment later or start with a low rate (to get the buyers sold) only to skyrocket in the future. Essentially, they loaned too much money to people who couldn’t totally afford the payments by making it appear as if they COULD, even if only for the short-term. Therefore leaving the buyers to figure it out on their own later at their own peril. This created a housing boom making homes very expensive as there were too many people desperate to get in on the rising costs (or not be left out as the case may be) . . . and these loans continued. The frantic lending included selling homes at 100% financing (the prices were so high that nobody could really afford a down payment), meaning that the house would have to rise in value in order for the owners not to end up in trouble. As the prices continued to rise, the lenders continued to qualify virtually anyone for a home loan . . . and so it all continued to grow. And grow. And grow. The problem? The growth was on inflated numbers because those loans were not going to last. They’d made it seem like everyone could afford to buy a home and that it was a sure moneymaker, flooding the market. It’s like building a house of cards . . . you can only go so high on so little before the tiniest gust knocks it down. And it all just . . . popped.

We’d been happily living in our home when the market crashed, making our payments diligently each month. And when the economy crashed (there was more to it than just the housing too, of course!), we saw it immediately in our neighborhood. The oversaturated housing market came to a halt. The community was only half finished, but the construction just stopped. There were entire streets with just the frames or lots exposed—and no homes. Plans for the schools, stores, and parks dissipated. And as the years went on, the first wave of neighbors, who’d bought loans that were to adjust in 5 years, began to leave. They couldn’t sell their houses because the house wasn’t worth what they owed on them and they suddenly couldn’t afford the payment. So they couldn’t afford a house that now had no value. Imagine the struggle! Do the ‘right’ thing by the bank and harm your family’s financial future . . . ? Struggling to make payments on a sinking ship. Neighbors disappeared in the middle of the night. They’d pack up and move before anyone could ask them why. Normal, educated, well-paid families were losing their homes in a humiliating way—and the rest of us schmucks continued paying mortgages for nothing because no value was in the home. These vacancies only made the remaining homes continue to lose value, leaving us all on the sinking ship. Further, as the houses emptied around us, crime rates skyrocketed. Our neighborhood began to fall prey to home invasion robberies and other crimes. As the banks sold off foreclosed homes at rock-bottom prices (further plummeting our home’s worth), the neighborhood took on a different atmosphere altogether. Suddenly, I found myself in a neighborhood much like the one in which I grew up, where you don’t feel safe walking in the streets or opening the door to strangers.

Except we’d worked so hard to avoid this.

When we realized that our house was worth $100,000 less (yes, one-hundred-thousand) than we paid for it, we called our lenders. We were current on our mortgage(s), in good standing, and not seeking to leave the home. We just wanted to stay but not sink. We asked the bank about modifying our mortgage to make it more affordable and realistic in terms of what the home was worth. Would they really want us to pay our whole lives on this house that would never again be worth the initial price? Of course they did. They refused to talk to us. We were told that if we missed a payment on the house, they could deal with us but that as long as we were in good standing, they couldn’t help us. Yes, as long as we paid our bills and did the responsible thing, we were screwed. If, however, you wanted to totally eff the bank by NOT paying your mortgage and walking away, then they’d negotiate. It made no sense and it was clear that the banks—who’d created this shit to begin with for their own profit—had no desire to keep average people from losing their homes. In fact, they were encouraging it. So why didn’t we? Because we had a conscience about it and we’d agreed to pay the mortgage. And the banks knew this. They knew that most people do not want to leave their homes in the middle of the night or struggle to find a place to live—that working Americans have a sense of value and obligation that worked in the banks’ favor. As we talked to neighbors all facing the same dilemmas, everyone had a similar story with the banks. Nobody could get through to the institutions that if the banks would just work with the owners, everyone would win. Surely the bank would fare better by keeping people paying their mortgages than abandoning their homes, no??

It made no sense except in spite. The banks were spitefully punishing people for signing on to terrible loans. They wanted us to struggle, even at their own profit loss.

As the story goes, the economic downturn affected much more than just the housing market. Business scaled back, local governments lost a fortune in property taxes and cut employees, and so on. Not only did we find ourselves fighting a losing battle over our home, but we both suffered losses at work. As a two civil-servant household, we were hit disproportionately. Justin was dropped a rank, watched his career path disappear, and took a tremendous pay cut. He also took cuts in his retirement and medical benefits. I lost one class at first and then took a salary cut as well. Then as other, more seniored (privileged) colleagues took their pay cut, they demanded more classes to make up for it, and I lost further work. And suddenly, it was we who were struggling to pay for a house that wasn’t worth it. And we continued paying. We cut all excess and buckled down to pinching pennies to pay that mortgage. We again called the bank. They again refused to work with us. As far as they were concerned, as long as we paid the mortgage then we were not deserving of negotiation. . . even if we were starving in the process, so we learned!

We put the house up for a short sale—selling it at the market value and taking a terrible hit in our credit and losing all of the money we’d put into the house. We never considered a foreclosure because we wanted to do the ‘right’ thing and take the hits. When we talked to the banks about short selling the house, we were told they wouldn't even consider an offer unless we stopped paying the mortgage. They wanted us to default. And we did. And we cried about it and lost months of sleep over it. And received the threatening, hateful, horrible phone calls from the very banks that took us down this path. We had to submit every financial document we had to the banks every month so they could determine that we were appropriately poor enough to sell their house. We got an offer on our house—for $200,000 less than we paid for it—and the banks took so long verifying us and requiring us to resubmit all of our paperwork over and over . . . that the buyers finally walked. They didn’t want to wait anymore. Despite that the banks do better when they can sell the house, they made it difficult and torturous just to punish us. . . when we’d offered to pay for the house at a much higher price than the one offered. When our realtor was on the phone cancelling the buyers’ offer, another department of the bank called at the same time to say that they’d accepted the offer. . . but it was too late! They waited all of that time just to accept?

It was a horrible rollercoaster experience for us. We didn’t close on the sale of our house for 12 months. It was emotionally draining, ego shattering, and eye-opening. . . It seemed that so many other hard working people were in the same boat as us. Why wasn’t anyone calling out the banks?! Unemployment is skyrocketing, millions of middle class Americans are homeless. School is impossibly expensive, yet teachers are making less. Public safety is out the window and civil servants are taking a clubbing. And the housing market was among the biggest catalysts to this whole mess? And who was behind the housing crisis? Who was gambling with Americans’ money and then leaving them out to dry when they had nowhere to go? And most infuriatingly, who threatened to halt the nation if they didn’t get a hand out from the government . . . after denying any amount of cooperation with the average citizen. . . ? They refused to take offers from homeowners for reasonable adjustments to value when the alternative was foreclosure and a total loss. They wouldn’t negotiate with those wanting to do the right thing. They punished those who continued paying on homes. And then they took a bail out and sent their executives on vacation with millions in bonuses. And the government shook hands with the bastards while ignoring the pleas of the people.

We, however, are living in a rental home (we moved shortly after listing our house, again not wanting to make money off unpaid mortgage, but just somewhere to live), rebuilding our credit, and still struggling. I’m facing complete unemployment next year as the cuts have only increased and probably headed back to government work as a copy maker to make ends meet. Changing careers in my mid-thirties and with two children and without a home to call our own was not the vision all of those years in school. I am not a lazy, druggie bum. I am not asking for a handout. I am not jealous of the rich. I do not want a life beyond my means. I’ve worked my whole life to avoid being here. I was supposed to have a better life than my parents. I want a better life for my children. I pay my bills. I went to college. I am ambitious. I work harder than most people I know. I want to live in a country where people matter more than companies. I believe in civil disobedience.

I am the 99%.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Sometimes Amelia comes up with things that completely blow me away. I used to try to write them down, but she adopted that book and it’s since disappeared. And then most of the time, I commit her stroke of brilliance to memory only to space out when I try to record it. So annoying. Sometimes she something so sweet it brings tears to my eyes . . . and then I don’t want to rush to facebook or blogspot because it should be just a special moment. . .

Anyway, yesterday we pulled her big, red chair out for the 4-month photo shoot. After dragging it inside, she wanted it to stay in the front room to play with. This is what she created.



It’s her ‘shop.’ See the register? She tipped the chair on its back and hopped on the platform with her counter. She even hung some cloth bags on the corner. Then Justin and I had to spend the evening and all day today buying things from her. She’d put our stuff in a bag, take our money, give change, and then chime, “Have a great day! See you again soon!”  

How does she come up with this stuff? How creative are you when you see a fluffy chair as a market? Making Mama proud, that one.

4 Months?!

I never posted about Annie’s 3-monthsday. Why? Because just before she turned three months, she stopped sleeping. Almost completely. For two and a half weeks or so (who can remember?!), she got up every hour through the night. The baby who’d slept through the night into morning a number of times at only 2 months old, stopped sleeping entirely at three. It was a little rough, especially since it was not long after Justin went back to work and I found myself having to get up with Amelia in the morning as well. So that went on for what seemed like forever and it’s only just now starting to level out a bit. It was a rough month for sure and I couldn’t THINK much less write or say, THINK.

The good news? This is my second baby and I just kept telling myself that this is all temporary. It will pass soon. When it’s your first baby, you think it’ll be forever. That simple perspective makes a lot of it far more survivable.

In any case, Annie is four months old! Can you even believe it? I really can’t. I wish there were appropriate words to describe the difference we’ve had with her to this point than with her sister. By the time Amelia was 4 months old, I’d lived an entire lifetime it seemed. I’d spent hours and hours sobbing in the closet (true) and just willing her to grow older. With Annie? It’s just flown by. The stages just come and go in a flash. I swear I still consider her a newborn. And today, a tiny baby rolled by at the grocery store and it made me realize that Annie is not going to be a baby but for a minute. It made me tear up! I’m actually sad at the thought of her growing out of the baby age. I look forward to her being a little girl whole heartedly, but will also be sad to see the baby grow away.

Why? Well, she’s just totally enjoyable. She’s such a sweet, mellow, easy, contented baby. I feel stupid even writing that. It can’t possibly be!

But it is. And she brings only joy (and some exhaustion from time to time). She smiles constantly, laughs easily, and snuggles readily. She’s as sweet as they come and doesn’t even cry when she’s hungry or needs a change. The only time she gets fussy is when she’s tired and even that is more of a complaint than a cry. It’s really . . . crazy. . . and we find ourselves marveling every single day at how easy she is at this stage. Annie is so incredibly lovable. And I do love that babychild. . . until my insides ache. I could easily spend all day running my cheek against hers and nibbling on her chubs. After Amelia and before Annie, I would see people with babies and think “thank heavens that is not mine!” I saw babyhood as something to endure and survive to get to the good part. And here she is, teaching me with her silly, drooly smiles that babies are to be treasured and soaked in because the speed at which they grow is not always welcome.

At four months, Annie is sitting up on her elbows when on her belly and rolls over a lot. She doesn’t roll every time I put her on her tummy, but maybe half of the time. It’s definitely something she can do, even if not all the time. She sucks and chews on her fingers all day and has discovered the magic of the thumb’s perfect fit a couple times. She only nurses for a few minutes at a time and only uses a binky to settle for a few minutes before falling asleep. She falls asleep in the car, sometimes as soon as we get moving, and still loves to sleep in her swing for short morning naps. Since we started putting her to bed earlier (before 8), she’s been sleeping much better too. Getting her to sleep at night is as easy as bath, jammies, milk. Even though I pull out a book every night, we never make it that far before she’s asleep. She typically wakes once in the middle of the night and then is up again in the early morning—usually an hour and a half after going back down. When she wakes in the early morning, I bring her to bed with me and she nurses and sleeps snuggled into me. It’s the only way I’ll get another hour or so before Amelia gets up and since my first baby would’ve never done that, I relish the sweet, warm baby sleeping beside me.

Annie’s starting to babble too and I can’t wait to hear what she has to say. She squeals often and appears to adore her sister. Already looking up to Amelia with astonishment. Amelia readily accepts the role of her sister’s entertainment. She sings and dances for Annie until they are both giggling at the other . . . and their mama dissolves into a puddle of sappiness.

Here’s to (3 &) 4 months!


HA! A kiss smack from Sister Mollie


DSCN3367  DSCN3374




     Getting big!


4-month bald spot!









Friday, November 4, 2011

Totally Buggin Halloween

Halloween didn’t get its due respect this year. Still tired from my brother’s wedding, on a Monday, and with a new baby? I mean, recipe for an under celebrated holiday right there. We didn’t even dig our fall and Halloween decorations out! gah. It started off a bit tricky too. Since Amelia goes to a hippy-dippy preschool (if only public elementaries were as good!), they have a no holiday policy. I mostly appreciate this policy because we are not religious and don’t really want religion creeping its way into her schooling. However, when it comes to the fun holidays like Halloween or say, Valentine’s Day, I think the kids are missing out. AND I kind of thing they’d learn more by being exposed to lots of different and diverse cultural experiences. ANYWAY, since they don’t celebrate Halloween, I sent her to school in her cute Halloween outfit but not in costume. Lo and behold, we show up to school and all of her friends were WEARING THEIR COSTUMES! So yeah, WTF? I looked at Amelia and while taking it well enough, I could immediately see her sadness. I said, “well you have your super cute Halloween skirt on today right?!” And that sweet babychild agreed with me, “Right mama.” All the while I knew she was just aching to be in costume too as her friends were running around with capes and wings and pretending to fly all over the place. Mama meet heartbreak. What’s a mama to do? Load the baby into the car, drive home, unload baby, gather costume, load baby, drive back to school, unload baby, dress child, load baby, drive home, and unload baby?

That would be goddamn crazy!

But I did it anyway. I couldn’t stand that brave, sweet, but quietly sad little face. I couldn’t take it. Call me goddamn crazy.

And you know what? I walked back into that school with her costume in hand and watched her smile slowly. Not the big, cheesy grin she gets when she’s happy, but the teeny, tiny subtle smile she gets when she’s thrilled. Off to the bathroom we went and as we’re dressing her, she says, “I’m SOOOO glad you brought my costume for me mama!!!!” And off she pranced back to her class, twirling for all to see. And she buzzed around the playground all day I heard later.

Insert satisfied sigh here.

That evening, we ate dinner early, dressed the girls and headed into our new neighborhood curious about trick-or-treating. There aren’t a ton of kids here in this immediate area and it’s fairly remote in a way. We don’t live on a cookie cutter block, but on a street where  you have to hike up and down hills to get to front doors. Curious indeed.

But before we left and before any tears,

Amelia halloween

Complete with a stinger. bzzz

But wait. It gets better. This bee needs some company.

smiling bug

Can you even handle it?! Because I am barely hanging on. The striped tights on both? STOP! It’s too much. And you know that my favorite name for Amelia is Bug right? So yeah. Oh and Amelia loves the Ladybug Girl books. In one of them, she meets Bumblebee Boy and they make the Bug Squad. Perfect all around.

The Bug Squad!

Bug squad

The Disinterested Bug Squad!

bug squad2

Mama and her babies (I still can’t believe I have TWO!)

close up mama n bugs

Daddy’s Bugs

daddy and bugs

It’s okay Annie. You’ll get it someday.

So it turns out that our quiet, peaceful, and outdoorsy neighborhood ROCKS! Holy crap I can’t even believe it. We went to about ten houses (and seriously had to hike) and Amelia scored THREE full candy bars, a full (sealed) bag of microwave popcorn, three fruit roll ups, and handfuls of other stuff. It turns out that a lot of our neighbors are retired (read: big lovers of babychildren) and there aren’t a lot of kids in the area and most of them go to the more suburban neighborhood a mile away (more bang for the buck I guess), so each house only gets a handful of treaters at most. But they are beloved! Not only did she score major loot, but we had to stop and introduce her and us at every house, tell everyone where we live, all about the girls, etc. We literally stopped and met the people at every house and hung out talking before moving onto the next house. So small town. And so sweet and loving and safe. There is something so comforting in being surrounded by people who adore your babies. And there were no punk kids out being assholes. Just good, innocence all abound. Several of the houses were decorated really spooky only for us to find out they didn’t have small children anymore! They just liked to be festive and participate. My favorite house? We walked up to it and I could see through the kitchen window two women about 50ish hanging out watching tv in furry, sparkly tiaras. When Amelia rang the doorbell, they both jumped up and RAN to the door giggling. And oh, did the fawn all over the girls, gushing this and that. So fabulous all around.

bee front

amelia back

Amelia was really dialed into Halloween this year. Not only asking Trick-or-Treat and saying thank you, but also totally chatting it up with everyone who looked at her. As we were leaving one house, she tossed over her shoulder, “You have a really beautiful yard!” And as the owners closed the door, I heard the wife say to her husband, “Wasn’t she just a doll?!” Swoon.

And Annie? She was the perfect little ladybug! It was definitely pushing into her bedtime and she didn’t fuss at all. And she stayed in that costume the whole time! Who does that? We could’ve never gone out that late with Amelia at that age and I’m pretty sure she was over the costume after a minute. Ah, the second baby. They are more flexible and agreeable just by the nature of their existence, no?

annie face

And speaking of first Halloweens . . . we took this picture of Annie

annie remake pic

Because we have this picture of Amelia

Please note the cheeks, nose, lips, tongue, eyes. And CHEEKS. Is it wrong that I feel as if I rolled the dice and hit the jackpot. . . twice?

It was a good night all around, even if not given its proper due.



Ghosts of Halloween Past

I never got around to posting about Halloween last year, so here are a few pics of our last Halloween with an only child.


We had no idea what was about to happen . . . from this

to this

all 4 halloween

Amazing what 12 short months can do! Ohhhh, I look so much more tired in the second one. Sigh.


Since nobody around really takes a lot of pictures, Halloween is one of the only times a year that I get a picture with my kid(s).

2008 (Poor, tired mama)



(side note: good grief, I miss our house. sniff.)


mama and bugs

mama and amelia edited

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Punkins for the Punkins (part 4)

We’ve been running through the standard fall activities this year. And with a baby, it really is running. When a baby wakes up, it’s like turning over the hourglass and you’ve got to get through your day in the short spurts when the sand pours. When it stops, everyone stops. Even though I’m not working this semester (why, why, WHY can’t I just stay home until they go to school?!), it’s still been difficult to get through the various festivities. I remember when Amelia was a baby, it was kind of like going through the motions that first year as well. We are doing our best at hitting the important things, but not feeling very um, festive about it. It’s all just tiring. This fall has been particularly exhausting because my brother got married on the 22nd. Holy crap that added a ton of events into an already eventful month (pics from that to come soon). Not to mention that a little SOMEbody was in the wedding as the flower girl, which created about 6 months of mama stress leading up to the big day. Oof.

Anyway, we did the major October events—plus some.

On the Monday after the Wedding Extravaganza, Amelia’s school went to the Pumpkin Patch for a field trip. And guess who drove/chaperoned? Moi! Despite the fact that I wanted to crawl into a hole and sleep for a month (oh, did I mention how Annie stopped sleeping almost completely for two weeks before the wedding?), I loaded my car with kidlets and headed to the Patch! Now I don’t typically post photos of other peoples’ children without their permission, but just this once. . .

car group

This is what my car looked like—plus a teacher as passenger. Could they be any cuter? I mean seriously. Now this might sound weird, but this scene found me very emotional that day. I always wanted to be the kid whose mom drove to the field trips and visited class on party days and now I am that mom. I felt fortunate that despite how disillusioned I am with work right now (as in looking for another job kind of disillusionment), but it does allow me an alternative schedule to be available for things like this. And I feel grateful that we have a vehicle that allows for so many people. When we bought the Pilot, we envisioned it full of children on the way to fun times like this. I can’t believe how quickly it’s begun—and that I have a life that allows it. It made me tear up like an exhausted and emotional mommy! Amelia was so excited that I was there and proud that her mama was with her school. And it just about melted my heart into a puddle when I was holding two little hands that were holding the hands of other little people. Adorable.

I was dreading the chaos of herding a bunch of preschoolers through a pumpkin patch, but it was surprisingly easy, organized, and quick. Amelia pumpkin patch


Looky my pumpkin! Amelia picked the smallest one she could find and adopted it. While everyone else put their bigger pumpkins on the cart, she carried hers all the way to the car.


And since she got to go to the Patch with her school, we planned on just skipping the hectic family trip this year. And then we felt guilty because Amelia went to the PP as a baby and we should at least get a bigger pumpkin for the porch (because we MAY actually carve one this year) and because Annie deserved her own first Patch experience. . . blah blah. The second kid thing is tough like that. So we actually went to another Pumpkin Patch only 2 days before Halloween. Seems like too strong a tradition not to I guess. I mean, we have pictures of us all going since Amelia was 5 months old. 

We went to a small place in our new town. It was okay, but my favorite is still Fog Willow near our old house. I’m pretty sure that the man driving us on the hay ride at this new place was drunk. Seriously. Anyway, it still had the usual suspects—pumpkins, slides, hay ride, and bouncy house. Wait, bouncy house? What the . . .? Seriously, when did bouncy houses become mandatory at every kid function?? It was pretty small though and all the pumpkins were bunched together. I prefer it when you can walk all around and look for the perfect punkin. Like looking for the Christmas tree. And the funny thing is that though we were really there out of guilt for the second baby, it was still Amelia’s fun. It’s always like that.


family patch day


justin and amelia

No sleep for two weeks doesn’t photograph so well . . . but I figure may as well document the exhaustion.

annie and mama

my babies


When we went to the community Harvest Festival here in town a couple weeks before this, Amelia bought tickets to go into the big bouncy obstacle course thing. She got halfway through, then stuck, and then took that crawl of shame back to the front. Then she wanted to go on the big bouncy slide, got two steps up the ladder and right back down. She is a very fearful kid, low on the courage side and high on the careful side. We always call her our little Hall Monitor because she plays by the rules and insists that everyone else does too. With exception to the hardship in getting her to do something new (ahem, like swim lessons), I’m mostly pretty cool with the carefulness. Perfect for the older sibling, no? And of my blood for sure.

In any case, we thought we were destined for tears and doom when we saw this monstrosity.

dragon slide

She wants to go on these things so badly. And then she feels just terrible when she can’t convince herself to try. It’s a serious battle and after the Harvest Fest incidents, she put her head down and pouted till we got home. So sad. But here were were and she said she wanted to go down the slide. Great. So after some serious pep talking on our part, she headed up. . . and right back down.

coming down ladder     

Sigh. What are parents supposed to do in this situation? You don’t want to force them and make them miserable, but then you know that if they’d just try, they’d love it. ACK! Well this time, we were not having it. No. Our kid was not going to miss out on the goddamn bouncy dragon slide thing. So . . .

daddy going up

And once he got her up the ladder, all she had to do

coming down slide

Now this slide had some real speed and she had her worried face on the whole way down. It went so fast that she tumbled to the end. Promptly stood up, smiled, and up she went again. On her own. Again. And Again. And Again. She even lost the worried face after the first um, ten times and got crazy with her approach.  Stupid, bouncy slide ladder terror? Done.

And of course, there were punkins too.

wheel barrel

Oh and Annie was there too. lol In her Halloween shirt that was too hot to wear until the weekend before Halloween. I hereby declare NOT to buy long sleeved Halloween shirts again. It’s always too hot to wear them more than once if at all. So annoying. On another, far more important note, do you see those thighs? I cut off her head just to get those chunks o’ meat in the picture. I just want to bite them! I can’t stand it.

Annie patch

And just for kicks, here’s Amelia on her first trip to the Patch, five months.