Jr. Associate

I see a lot of parenting articles that float around on the Internet about how all but the person who posted the story are terrible parents for various parent-child routines (birth plan, attachment parenting, nursing, parent-led sleep issues, baby-led weaning, TV-watching, dog fighting, diapering, potty training, JFK, blown away).  It’s very important to absorb every other parents’ judgment of you and adapt what works best for your child to what works best for someone else’s child’s parent.  Otherwise  your kid will grow up to be a horrible, unhealthy person who leaves trash in his/her wake.  I’m not sure how our own parents managed to raise us without Internet acquaintances telling them what to do.

Baby Sleep Positions

Baby Sleep Positions

JK.  I sometimes feel self-conscious about choices we’ve made as parents, but my kid is happy, smart, and gives lots of hugs, so you can’t tell me I’ve gone wrong somewhere, with the exception that I often do not have tissues or napkins handy and her face is covered in goo.  That is clearly something that I have done that has made an impact, although a temporary one, on my child.  But I recently bought pocket tissue packs and stuffed my purse and her diaper bag with tissues and snacks, so I’m pretty confident right now about my parenting.

Whenever I get worked up about possibly messing up, I remember that people my age with young children were raised completely different from how we raise our children, and as adults we don’t stop and say “this went wrong in my life because I had to cry myself to sleep as a baby” (well, I guess you could say that).  It wasn’t until I was pregnant that I had any idea how my parents treated us as babies.  It turns out, they treated us as best as they could, which is what any decent person does.  Although don’t bring up my teeth to my mom because I think she feels really bad that I spent half of my childhood at the dentist (I don’t even HAVE those teeth anymore, Mom, don’t worry about it).

While I wholly support things that make babies/toddlers/children feel secure and happy, it doesn’t stop or end with one specific element of parenting.  And you’re never going to know how you were as a parent until years later when your child is an adult and is interviewed on a podcast, probably Marc Maron’s WTF ,where he always asks about parents.  The people who you would want your children to emulate all say that their parents were supportive and communicative.  I’m sure there are many ways to get there, not entirely dependent on where your child slept as an infant (unless dog bed – that lands your kid on Mental Illness Happy Hour).

Yes, this was all a ruse so that I could recommend podcasts again.  My associate is the only person I know who listens to them, and we only sometimes listen to the same ones (we talk about Kulap and Howard of “Who Charted,” as if they are pals).  Even though I don’t see any friends enough that podcasts would come up in our catching up conversations, it would be nice to know that I’m not the only one listening to a particularly good episode of the Bugle or something.  So, listen to podcasts, unless you want to be a terrible parent.

The saga of the stupid owl door hanger has ended. In the end, although I did bring the power drills back to life, I used an adhesive that supports up to 5 lbs to hang the hook on her door. Sure, it’s not strong enough to be useful, but it’s up and therefore it’s a goal met. Hooray for me! Hooray for the world.

The Vandring

The Vandring

On the opposite side of the room to this dumb hook is this amazing bookshelf that my dad made. I love it. It makes me feel like I live in an Apartment Therapy post, and isn’t that the dream? My dad has made several things for me/her, including a desk, a CD cabinet, and a tower for her to stand in while we’re in the kitchen.* If he opens up a shop I will let you all know.


Also exactly what our real house looks like.

I have two house projects that are in the planning stages — making a compost pile that works this time, and a washing-machine-that-is- ruining-a-floor situation (these have been in the planning stages for a seriously long time).  I will hold off on writing about those until I have made progress. So, since this has basically become a mommy bjournal, here’s a toddler conversation:

Jr. Associate likes to say “knock knock” and when you say “who’s there?” she says “uh . . . “ and her name or any member of the Fresh Beat Band (though the other day “Play Legos” was there). My mom told me that my first joke was “knock knock/who’s there?/hatch/hatch who?/gesundheit.” I have taught her to say “bless you,” because although I’m not really a “bless you” person it’s already a stupid thing that we even say things after we sneeze, so might as well go the most polite route.  After I told her “hatch” and to say “hatch who?,” this was the result:

JA – Knock knock
Me – Who’s there?
JA – Catch
Me – Hatch who?
JA – Knock knock
Me – Who’s there?
JA – Catch
Me – Hatch who?
JA – Knock knock
Me – Who’s there?
JA – Bless you.

As of yesterday she says the joke correctly.   And it’s funny when she says it.

*If I’m in the kitchen for longer than 20 seconds she stops whatever she’s doing and shouts “I get-a my tower,” and then she pushes it from its storage corner until she gets it to the kitchen and then I carry it to the counter for her. Also, keep in mind she still adds “a” to the end of most words because she’s an old Italian grandmother who doesn’t get English.

It’s not the end of the year if I don’t have a best of list, right? In no order and not including life events (becoming an aunt, duh):

Best things:

  • Microtel in Jonestown, NY
  • Stella’s in Richmond —  I dream of pastichio
  • The scene from“Louis” when he performs the Who song in the car in front of his unfazed children (Season 2, episode 5, “Country Drive”)
  • The reaping scene in “The Hunger Games”
  • Marisa Wompler’s “Comedy Bang Bang” podcast appearances and on her own Christmas special
  • Going to the houses of people who already have small children
  • This recipe (creamy lemon pasta with spinach and greens
  • My daughter yelling “COME ON, MAN” when I wouldn’t let her put on her favorite shirt which has a skateboarding hot dog on it
  • Amy Poehler’s performance this year on “Parks and Recreation,” especially the Halloween episode
  • Jens Lekman
  • C&M Galley Kitchen – It’s going to be the only restaurant we go to from now on when we’re not in the mood for something specific.  It’s so close, it’s reasonably priced, it’s kid-friendly, and I once had an apple juice/bourbon cocktail there that was very good.
  • NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts — Two or three songs performed by almost every musical act that I like
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – We went for the first time to see the butterfly exhibit and never left we have gone many times since then. I had no idea that the children’s garden existed. Definitely worth the membership fee.
  • Renting a cabin in James River State Park in September
James River State Park. COME ON!

James River State Park. COME ON!

Worst things:

  • Virginia General Assembly vs. women — Sadly, there will surely be a 2013 edition and then a special gubernatorial election edition, but we are ready.  By “we” I mean the people on Facebook who tell me where to go and quietly chant things.
  • My last dining experience at Don’t Look Back — Seriously, the worst.   Although the waiter was nice enough, by the time I had to point out the 6th thing that was wrong I thought I was maybe secretly being taped for a reality show about pushing mild-mannered people to the edge.
  • Contraband — A movie.  A very dumb movie
  • The end of “Everyday Food” in print form
  • Rainbow Fish —  It’s like 4 pages long, one page is the fish asking a starfish why no one likes him and the answer is “I don’t know, ask the octopus.” WHY EVEN BOTHER WRITING/DRAWING THE STARFISH PAGE? Was the book just accidentally written during a lesson on how to draw starfishes?
More like RainBORE Fish

More like RainBORE Fish

Not sure:

  • Our daughter going from shouting “you butt” when she’s mad at us to “you bad boy,” because although “you bad boy” is very funny it’s still her basically swearing at us. However, she has many times said quietly to herself “you bad boy, Charlie Gown” and it’s adorable to hear.

So, the good outweighs the bad. I win this time, year!

When I was pregnant and at a friend’s house playing with her kids, I marveled at a wooden food play set made by Melissa and Doug. I played with it (probably without the kids) for a few minutes. I thought it was so cute. You could cut the vegetables and bread with a little knife because the parts were connected by Velcro.
I had never heard of Melissa and Doug before, so I assumed it was some indie toymaker and you could only special order toys from its one storefront in someplace like Portland, Oregon. I was so surprised that it was on Amazon.com like a normal company. I think my initial discovery of this toy went something like this:
Me: Oh! How delightful. Melissa and Doug? Am I saying that right? We need to remember this next year” (but since this was pre-baby I probably used the “f” word like twelve times).
I had no idea that Melissa and Doug is basically wooden Fisher Price and the toys are stocked everywhere. You can probably get a Melissa and Doug farm animal puzzle at 7-11. Two and a half years later, I have had so much M&D toys cross into my house that I get anxious whenever I see that red and white logo and hate all people named Melissa or Doug (sorry, Doug).  We like what we have but we have enough. The company won’t stop making quality wood toys! People won’t stop buying it and making me put it somewhere in my house!   Do they think I’m made of closets?
In short, contributions to a 529 Plan are an excellent Christmas gift if you are wondering what to get the small child in your life.

More like Melissa and UGH

More like Melissa and UGH


ps — I do LIKE the toys, and the people giving them (especially the wooden block set, although the U for urn block will lead to some serious talks I’m sure).









Please, benefit from my wisdom. Here are some life lessons that have come to me from my two years as a mother.

1. Multigrain Cheerios are delicious.
2. Whole Grain Goldfish crackers are delicious.

Since I already have to pay attention to my child anyway, it’s hard not to think/talk about her all the time and disregard the fact that I want to have an identity other than the best mom in the world.  In honor of our daughter’s successful completion of a second year (as she would say, for no reason that we’re aware of, “Yay! We did it”), here are some fun facts that I want to say about my Jr. Associate:

 -Her favorite song to sing is “Happy Birthday”. I say “favorite” but I don’t know for sure if she loves to sing it or if she thinks something terrible might happen if she doesn’t always sing it.

-She has special ways of saying things and it’s hard not to repeat it the same way, which is why you might hear me call a donut a “doo-nut” or say “mo chips pleeze” when you are holding a bag of chips and I want you to give some to me.  Her pop and I will sometimes make light of a funny way she says something only to realize she doesn’t say it that way anymore.  No more “mank you.”  And as her vocabulary grows and evolves, her accent is one of someone who is doing an offensive impression of an Italian or Chinese person speaking English.

-She has instantly taken to some of our favorite things like the songs from “Singin’ in the Rain,” They Might Be Giants, dinosaurs, sausage, and pizza.  When you ask why I no longer have a heart it’s because it burst with pride the first time she chanted “pizza, pizza.”

-She recently started to say “Spiderman” and shoot webs from her wrists, although she has never seen Spiderman in action.  She’s just picked up this and other habits from the mostly boys she is around while in daycare.

-I once made what I considered to be the most delicious homemade macaroni and cheese I have ever had, and she refused to even try it.  This is not really a fact about her, but it really was very good mac and cheese.

-It’s always funny to me when she puts on my shoes and slowly shuffles across the house to find me so that she can show me she’s wearing my shoes.  When I was in middle school I babysat a toddler who would do this and I thought it was the worst and never appreciated it. She must have been doing it wrong.

-I think she has only fallen off our bed twice, which before it happened was the thing I was most afraid of happening.

More importantly, here are some fun facts about me as a mom:

-It’s possible that I will burn a copy of her “Fresh Beats Band” CD and play it when she’s not around.

It was a great day.

-I love reading Dr. Seuss books out loud.

-I think buying clothes for her is more fun than buying clothes for myself.

-Of the various anxieties that come with being an owner of something (pet, house, small person), my anxiety about her getting too many gifts and presents is the most easily avoided yet the most challenged.  It’s number 1, followed by my fear that my neighbors all hate me as a dog owner, and my useless quest to get our cats from sleeping on the dining room table.

-I can’t get that girl to eat a vegetable anymore, so I will stop worrying about it for now.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t eat any vegetables other than tomatoes and iceberg lettuce until I was 21, and I’m healthy.

-Sometimes we dress alike, which has never been on purpose but I get such a kick out of it that it might eventually be on purpose.

-I’m still not interested in dressing her up for Halloween.

And here is one fun fact about her papa (though there are many):

-He has been successful in getting her to say the word “baby” in a “heavy metal voice” and it is adorable.

I have mentioned before that I am not much of a reader anymore. When I was a kid I read all the time, but after I finished college the number of books I read decreased (I know this because I tracked it for years). Now I probably read about ten books a year, but I’m trying to get reading back into my daily routine like it was before. This inspired my “summer of reading.” I probably haven’t read any more than I usually would, but I think I’m not going to read less this year for once, and for a little while this summer I did put a book in my hands when I normally would have cruised on the internet.   And if 1,000 reads of a children’s books equals one novel, then I have read this adorable novel about a talking pig named Olivia.

I thought I would be a more dedicated reader if time was against me, so I checked out books from the library (I hadn’t been to my neighborhood’s location since we moved into our house, although I still have at least one book out from there from when I was in elementary school).  On my first visit, I checked out “Maus” by Art Spiegelman and “Living History” by Hillary Clinton.  I read Maus during lunch breaks, but it probably only took up a tear-soaked hour overall. I checked out Hillz’s book week after week.  What’s the point of due dates if I can just keep the book for infinity?  She is a long-winded writer (she has to have at least one sentence of bio for every person she mentions, and she knows thousands of people and they all became close friends, and subsequently, most of them died before the book was over).  I read the first half of the million-page book and then skimmed the second half, but I have to say that I love her.  We are idiots for not choosing her as our president, and I will do whatever I can for Hillz 2016.  I will argue anyone who has anything illogically negative to say about her.  Bring it.

from textsfromhillaryclinton.tumblr.com

Other books I read:

“Man Made” by Joel Stein. I like info-packed memoirs.  It’s pretty funny, a little too jokey sometimes, though.  I really liked the LAFD and turkey-hunting sections (turkeys are great source material; also the best subject in Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”).

“Are You My Mother?” by Alison Bechdel. Not as enjoyable as “Fun Home,” but still really liked it (also I have learned to stop calling these graphic novels since they are memoirs). It’s all about her mom this time (Fun Home is about her dad), and has given me well-drawn instructions on what not to do as a mother.

I started to read “Flowers in the Attic,” but I can’t get over the prose to get very far (like with “Twilight”). Instead I’m reading “What is the What?,” which is an engrossing/devastating novel about a Sudanese refugee. I’m reading it in ten-minute installments on my lunch break. Because of the subjects (war/watching everyone die) it’s hard to enthusiastically pick up and not a good before bed read unless you like to sob to sleep, but it’s written so well that I’m sure I’ll finish it soon.  After that I want to read something classic like “Wuthering Heights” (please put your book recommendations on hold; if you want me to read something bad enough, just give me the book).

I have really enjoyed the classic kid’s books, most of which I don’t remember reading as a child. I read a lot as a young kid, though, and my parents gave me a book subscription when I was young and a book was mailed to me every month. My child reads (and has torn up) some books that we owned as kids.   When a children’s book is good it’s so good, but when it’s bad it’s so hard to read (RAINBOW FISH). I have contemplated throwing some away because she finds where we hide the ones we don’t like and then focuses on those to be read the most (the condition is never good enough to give it away). When  she rips the pages of a book I don’t like it takes me a really long time to say something to her about it.

She has some books that made me laugh out loud the first time I read them (the first Olivia and Runaway Bunny).  I also really like to read Dr. Seuss books out loud. It’s fun.

Everyone is expecting me to finish this with “But you don’t have to take my word for it.”  WELL YOU DON’T.

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