Friday, December 28, 2012

Top Ten Mommy Moments of 2012

You know what I love best about the post-Christmas season? All the "Best of" lists that come out.

Best Movies of 2012. Best Books of 2012. Best or Worst Dressed of 2012. Time's People of the Year!

So in honor of that awesome tradition--here is my

Top Ten Best Mommy Photos/Moments of the Year 

(Do you hear the epic music in the background? No? Read the title again then, this time with feeling and a slight echo effect):

#10--This picture was taken in January of 2012 when Judah was a mere 16 months old.  It was the first time he went up the stairs and down the slide ALL BY HIMSELF!  Well, the first time I witnessed it anyway.  It really highlighted to me how grown-up my helpless baby had become.

#9--I love this pic because it shows Judah's incredibly nurturing side.  He often cradled his stuffed animals (and later on, his baby doll once we bought him one), swaddled them in a blanket, and fed them pretend milk bottles.  Later on he showed his nurturing side by constantly showering my preggo belly with slobbery kisses and hugs and squealing "I love you dai-dai (translation--baby brother)!  I miss you!" and bringing an endless array of toys and books to show dai-dai.

#8--There's nothing special going on with this pic.  I just love it.  My baby and me.  Actually, now that I think about it, this pic was taken a few weeks after I completely weaned Judah and represents our successful transition from only mommy-milk to only cow's milk.  I was afraid that weaning would diminish our bond (esp since Judah LOVED his nursing time), but this pic shows that we're as close as ever.

#7--Likewise, there's nothing special going on here either.  I just love that it captures my favorite thing in the world--kissing my baby.  In 2012 Judah finally learned to say "I love you mommy!" and really understood what he was saying.  I have to milk these moments as much as possible before he turns into a surly pre-teen and tells me he's completely embarrassed by my presence.

#6--This pic was taken a week after his 2nd birthday.  I just love the expression on his face and his little posture (his favorite pose--arms behind his head).  Relaxed, confident, a little mischievous.  This pic really shows, what I believe to be, his true essence.

#5--Another uneventful mom and son pic.  I just love how relaxed and happy we look.  Being a mom is the epitome of the paradoxical experience.  I love every moment of being with Judah and I want to run away and tear my hair out almost every moment I'm with him too.

#4--This pic was taken by the spouse while I was slaving away at the office.  I like the look of delight on his face.  It represents Judah's love of all things with wheels--trains, motorcycles, cars, police cars, firetrucks, tow trucks, and ESPECIALLY garbage trucks.  He's really blossomed into a stereotypical boy-in-love-with-vehicles this year.

#3--This pic represents Judah's blossoming individualism.  It was also taken by the spouse while I was slaving away at the office.  Judah chose this outfit 100% all by himself.  He has an inordinate love of stripes, especially red stripes and has thrown many a meltdown tantrum when we don't let him wear this exact combo.  I can no longer be held responsible for how my son looks in public--he has a (deranged) mind of his own and clothing aesthetics is just not a battle worth fighting.

#2--This year we bought our first house where we plan on living in until the kids move out to college, God willing.  And to me, nothing says house in the burbs like opening presents under a tree on Christmas morning.

Actually, we almost didn't get a tree this year--I was too overwhelmed by everything else to even contemplate the whole tree thing--and Target, Home Depot and Michael's were completely sold out.  Randomly I went to my local Rite Aid and lo and behold--they had an awesome fake tree marked 60% off.  And that is the story of how Rite Aid saved Christmas.

And the #1 Best Mommy Moment of the Year........drumroll please.......
The moment I found out I was preggo with Baby #2!

We had tried for an uncomfortably and somewhat nervously long while and finally, unbelievably, seemingly randomly, it happened!  I hesitated putting this pic up since it's so...biological.  But it really does capture the best moment of 2012 for me as a mom.

I took this test at around 6:00 am in the morning, well before the spouse would wake up and took this pic since I needed evidence to show him before it faded away!  I was soooo excited for him to wake up and see this in an email attachment and wet his pants in joy, that I ruined the whole moment.  I just couldn't wait for his normal wake up time.  I actually prodded him awake way too early and shouted at him to CHECK YOUR EMAIL!  Which he grumpily did, stared at the pic befuddled, and grunted something incomprehensible after I explained everything.

What a buzz kill.

But in RETROSPECT--this was an awesome moment.  Indeed, the MOST awesome moment of 2012.  With #2 we feel like our family is complete.  Done.  Finito.  Just right.

It's always hard to predict the future, but I'm pretty sure the Most Awesome Moment of 2013 will be when we get to meet this new dude.

Any day now...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

From Us to You

In lieu of real Christmas cards (do I really need to explain why we didn't have real cards this year?) we send you this awesome virtual card:

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Judah demonstrates the joy of receiving...a new mini-kitchen set!
May this new year bring you all your heart's desires.

Judah demonstrates the pain of learning to share his new mini-kitchen set.

And may your mom never be required to force you to share.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Les Miserables

Sometimes I just have to marvel at this whole parenting thing.

Every sociological survey shows the same thing--parents are miserable creatures.  On every possible scale of happiness, parents of young kids score significantly lower than people without kids.

And man, is that an obvious 'duh' conclusion to me.  As a parent, I realize now that sleeping more than 3 hours at a time is a privilege.  Not a right.  A privilege.

And so is eating when you're STARVING.  And private bathroom time.  I can't tell you how many times I'm trying to have a private moment in the bathroom and for some inexplicable reason my toddler is there.  Even if I tell the spouse that I'M IN THE BATHROOM SO DON'T TAKE HIM NEAR ME--after about 20 seconds of alone time I'll hear "Let's see what mommy's doing.  Let's go find mommy."  WTH?!

And you know your life is sad when going to the office feels like going on vacation.  How sad when you happily exchange the stress of constantly wrangling with your kid with the stress of high-pressure deadlines and cranky bosses.  At least my cranky boss doesn't follow me into the bathroom stall and whine unceasingly when I'm on the phone or surfing the internet for 5 minutes.

The other day, in utter exhaustion, I told my spouse "I think we made a huge mistake having a kid.  Huge mistake."  It was yet another long day of wrangling and administering multiple time-outs and all I wanted was to have a peaceful dinner, with the spouse, in front of the tv, watching whatever documentary Tivo deemed worthy of our preferences.  That's not asking much right?

Do you know when the last time we got to do that was?

That's right, before the kid was born.

Now we never watch Frontline.  We never even eat at the same time.  Come to think of it, we never go on dates.  We never go on hikes.  We never watch movies in the theater.  We never go to restaurants.  We never go shopping.  So in short...we never have fun.

All this to say, why do people do this to themselves?

Maybe with your first kid, you didn't know any better.  You were young, ignorant and childless.  But why do people then have a second kid?  And some have even more after that?!

Because.  As a parent, you discover an amazing paradox.  There are moments.  Brief shining moments when you realize there's something so inexpressibly divine about loving another human being simply for no other reason than his existence.

There's something so incredibly freeing about being completely tied down.

To give your whole self without reserve and without conditions.  To make your happiness forever and directly proportional to the happiness of another.

To love with your whole heart.

As that great last line sung by Jean Valjean reminds us (sigh, yet another awesome movie I will probably never see in the theater thanks to parenthood)--to love another person is to see the face of God.

Who knew wiping another person's poop day in and day out is indeed holy ground?

Saturday, December 15, 2012


It's often said the opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.

To make someone feel truly awful, just ignore him.

If you hate them, revile them, insult them, rage against them, at least they know they are worthy of your attention, however negative.

But if you simply ignore them, they realize they are worthless--their existence has no significance whatsoever.

There is a theory that massive public shootings, starting from Columbine, are motivated by the desire to be known.  Notoriety, revilement, negative attention (even posthumous) is better than no attention whatsoever.  Better to be significantly hated, than to have no significance.  Period.

I don't really follow the details of mass shootings very closely, but my vague recollection is that all of the gunmen have been loners, outsiders, marginalized outliers in their respective communities.  This current gunman most certainly was.

We ignore the marginalized at our peril.  And we publicize them posthumously at our peril as well.

May the press and public not reward this kind of behavior.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sh*t Just Got Real

When I think about the fact that there's only 4 weeks until my due date, I kind of want to cry--just curl up in a fetal position (how appropriate) under my covers and cry.

If this baby comes even just a little bit early, we are really screwed.

Here's a list of all the things I have NOT done yet:
--find an OB in my new city.  EEEK!
--register at the labor and delivery department in the hospital in my new city.
--find someone to watch Judah while I'm giving birth.
--find someone to help with the newborn after the birth.
--dig out Judah's old baby stuff--all still in boxes!
--obtain and install an infant car seat.
--unpack 80% of our crap from the move.

It just seems like daily maintenance chores takes up 95% of the day--and the list of to-dos just gets longer, no matter how much I manage to cross off.  Yes, some progress has been made, but for every one thing I do, 3 new things manage to pop up!  It's like a whack-a-mole game from hell.

These days I'm so stressed out of my mind I think I have a permanent scowl on my face and the poor spouse has had to put up with my incredibly short fuse and grumpy disposition for weeks.

Of course it doesn't help that I like to distract myself from my stress and misery by surfing FB and other sites periodically throughout the day.  Argh.

It's times like these I really need to just keep looking forward instead of regretting the time I've wasted and the fears and what-ifs that may or may not happen.  As Daenerys Targaryen, the Stormborn, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Trueborn Queen of the Andals, Rhoynar and the First Men (so sue me, I'm a Game of Thrones nerd) always says:

If I look back, I am lost.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Another one for the virtual scrapbook

Last week I was about to leave your room after putting you to bed when we had this short exchange:

Me:  Okay, good night Judah.  Mommy's leaving now.
Judah: No!  No mommy, don't leave!
Me:  Sorry Judah, Mommy has to go sleep in her own bed.
Judah: Okay, but don't close the door though.

What?!  You know the proper usage of the conjunction 'though'?!

Thursday, December 06, 2012


Every night (pretty much since Judah slept through the night around 9 months) I've been gripped with fear as I torture myself with thoughts that Judah might be kidnapped from his bed while I'm sound asleep.

To make matters worse, I like to wear earplugs to bed because I married Mr. Snoresalot.  I can't hear a thing with those things on!

Many's a time I actually got up out of my comfy bed at 2 am and laid next to Judah's bedroom door, like a human guard-dog--so gripped by fear was I that an intruder might come and take my precious baby.  I'm not proud of it...but it's the sad, sad truth.

So yesterday, I finally decided to arm myself with some knowledge--well, actually I was too tired and lazy so I asked the spouse to arm me with some knowledge by googling 'kidnappers'.

Apparently, in 1999 (yeah, these kidnap sites need to update their stuff) only 115 kids in America were kidnapped by strangers (80% or so are kidnapped by a family member or acquaintance).  Of the stranger kidnappings, the vast majority happen either on the street, or the kid is lured into the kidnapper's car.  There is almost no incidence of a kid being kidnapped from a home invasion.

And, sadly for parents of girls, the vast majority of stranger kidnappings are of girls.

So, turns out stranger kidnapping of boys from their home at night is pretty rare--one might even say, nonexistent.

Thank goodness!  Knowledge really is power.  For the first time in a long time, I slept like a baby last night.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Mommy Has a Sad

Today sucked.

We spent 2 terrifying hours in the ER  to have a doctor check out a major contusion Judah got from a horrible fall.  He basically ran, nose-first, into the sharp edge of a bookcase that the spouse was constructing on the floor.  His entire body weight and all his momentum fell squarely and solely on his poor little nose.

We're going to tell people we enrolled him in the Toddler edition of UFC.  You should see the other 2 year old!

As the blood started pooling and the swelling began, we freaked out and hurriedly rushed to the nearest hospital, cursing every stoplight along the way.  We tried putting ice on it right away but quickly gave up when Judah screamed bloody murder each time.  So much for that.

The entire wait time, the spouse kept saying how Judah's nose was probably broken and there might be some painful 'resetting' needing to be done.  Thanks for scaring the crap out of me honey.  We braced ourselves for the worst.

In the end, the doctor sent us home with some neosporin and an icepack (which remains unused).  Nothing serious, apparently, just a really badly bruised nose.

As the hours ticked by, I kept replaying the event in my head.  Could we have prevented it?  Was there anything we could've done?  And honestly, my quick conclusion was and still is--no.  There's just no way we could've anticipated or prevented this--short of putting him in a strait-jacket and/or human cage.

There's just a hundred and one ways a crazy active toddler can hurt himself and there's just no sane way to really protect him all that much.  But that certainly didn't stop me from being a crazy vigilante after we came home.

Judah acted like nothing happened and even started skipping around the same fatal bookshelf.  How does this guy not have a healthy fear of that evil object now?!  He gallavanted about the house like he was invincible and I hovered around him closely, shouting constantly--don't run!  be careful!  don't touch that!

Sigh.  I know this is all futile.  He's a crazy active boy and one day (maybe more than once) he's going to break some major bone(s).  So what's a mom to do?

I know the right answer is to let go and accept the inevitable.  But seriously, I'm thinking...look into full-body armor for kids?  Padded helmets maybe?

Monday, November 26, 2012


Sadly we had to say goodbye to Judah's nanny now that we've moved away to a new city.  And besides, I feel like it's time Judah had more social interaction with other kids instead of just him and the nanny hanging out all day.

And so begins the daunting search for a good daycare.

The first place I visited was a Montessori daycare/preschool in a really nice neighborhood close to our house.  I don't really know anything about Montessori schools (besides that they're pricey), but I figured it sounds reputable and high-quality.  They probably know what they're doing there, right?

To say it was disappointing is a bit of an understatement.  Really, it was...sad.  It made me crying, on the inside.

Maybe it was the fact that 20 little 2-3 year olds were supervised by only 3 teachers.

Maybe it was the fact that none of them were having any real interaction with the adult supervisors--the adults were just there to make sure no one made a huge mess or did anything physically injurious to themselves or others.

Or maybe it was the fact that none of the teachers smiled.  Ever.  Not ONE the entire 2 hours I was there to observe the class.  Their expressions changed from boredom to exasperation and back to boredom.  I can only imagine how "lively" and "loving" they are when they don't have a prospective client visiting!

For two hours the kids are just left to their own devices.  I saw a chubby boy basically cry and meltdown over and over again for two hours.  I saw one little girl on her own, just holding a doll, sitting on the floor.  I saw one kid, by himself, munching on rice cakes.

But perhaps most disturbing was the 3 kids that came to hang out with me and Judah when they saw that an adult (me) was actually interacting and playing with a kid (Judah).  It's like they were hungering for that kind of positive relationship and kept coming to give us toys and talk to us.

One little girl stared at us with big shy eyes and didn't say a word for 20 minutes.  But she tried to play along with Judah and me and eventually I got her to say her name (Olivia) age (2?) and got some excited giggles and exclamations out of her.  She looked so sad when we left.

Later on, in the second hour, a new teacher came to relieve one of the morning shift teachers.  This lady was awesome.  She smiled, she talked to the kids, she led them in circle songs and actually had energy.  But this is one person in a sea of 20 toddlers.  Not nearly enough to go around.

I'm pretty sure we're not going back here.  I feel a little disheartened.  I mean, for a place that charges about $12 an hour for each kid, you'd think you'd be getting some really top-notch care!  But this place was just so...depressing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Idiots

I think we (the spouse and I) might be 2 of the dumbest people on the planet.

Who the heck thinks it's a good idea to host Thanksgiving dinner for 12 people 4 days after moving in to a new house?!?!

At the time, the spouse and I thought it would be an awesome way to do a little housewarming AND celebrate T-day with friends.  But very quickly we realized--we are truly stupid.

I may be smiling here, but on the inside I'm crying.

Those 4 days or so leading up to Thanksgiving was one of the most exhausting and stressful patches ever.  We could barely find clean socks and floss, much less all the pots, pans, utensils, plates, cups, platters and seasonings for real food.  You do the math:  

Thanksgiving dinner prep + 4 days after moving in + 8.5 months preggo + cooking and grocery shopping for 8 hours + 5 completely new recipes + really needy 2 year old = INSANITY (and really sore feet).

Thank GOD for my co-chef who made an amazing turkey and some great sides.

But it was a labor of love and despite the stress, I'm glad we did it.  We love our friends and we love opening our home up for food and company.  What else is a house for really?

Some of our lovely guests who made it all worth it.

But I'm even MORE glad we never have to do that again (i.e., move and host in quick succession)!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wherever You Are

Well, my dear, 10 years (and 1.5 kids) later, we finally bought a house.

Technically, I bought a house for you (for us)--my job having paid for it all.  But that's beside the point.  Who cares about houses?  A house is not a home.

Do you remember our first home?

We were poor as church mice, just married, and oh so ridiculously young.

Remember the awful smelling elevator that brought us to our third-floor apartment--that made me always turn blue holding my breath?  Elevator aside, I loved that space.  There was nothing special about it, but for the fact that you were there.

Our second home was on the opposite side of the continent, in a "charming"  and historic New England flat, again on the third floor.

We found out that "charming" and historic meant no elevators, no air conditioning and old plumbing and radiators hissing steam.

But we got to experience 4 real seasons in all their glory and realized only Fall and Spring are truly glorious.

Our third home was back where it all began for us--another move back to the other coast.

This time, no stairs!  A standalone unit in a wonderful complex--surrounded by urban blight and pollutants from 3 separate recycling plants.  Ah, home sweet home--but not literally as the rotten stench from EBMUD, our waste treatment center, daily wafted by.

It felt so familiar to walk down Telegraph and eat at Durant Square.  But so different...being on the other side of the looking-glass of time and memory.

So much happened in this last much good stuff.

And now here we are, on the threshold of another home--a house in the suburbs, 5 minutes from our choice elementary school, like the fuddy-duddy traditionalists we never wanted to be.  Like our parents before us.

Months of scouring real-estate listings, weeks of closing transactions, 5 trips to the paint store, 8 shades of yellow samples, 235 boxes, and 3 contractors we are.  I can't believe we're moving in tomorrow!

I hope our new house will be a place full of people--big and little.  I hope our new house will be full of grace, mercy, kindness, and forgiveness.  And full of food.  Food-food and soul-food.  A well used place.

But I know what's coming next--chaos, upheaval, sleep-deprivation, frustration, anxiety and all those other wonderful things that come with a new baby and new home-ownership.  Lord have mercy!

At least we'll be together and we'll be home.  Because home is wherever you are.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

For the Ol' Virtual Scrapbook

Today Judah blew my mind by saying/doing the following random acts:

Judah: Lift your belly, I want see dai-dai!
Me: Okay, here you go.
Judah: Dai-dai, I love you!  My neck hurts, dai-dai, kiss it!
[Judah pushes his neck towards my belly-button.]
Judah: Ah, feel better.

What the heck?!


[Judah eats an orange slice by holding it in both hands and sucking in the middle.]
Judah: Look mommy, I eat it like a watermelon.

What?!  You know about similes?!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gratuitous Picture Break

I'm tired.

Getting ready to move is kicking my butt. There are a thousand details, a thousand and one significant expenses, a thousand and two hidden costs, and decisions, decisions, decisions.

I have neither the time nor inclination to be reflective, but I really wanted to post some recent pics.

I love this guy so much.

And this guy too.

I love all-things autumn.

That is all.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Every morning, the first thing Judah says to me is "I want see dai-dai!"

I obligingly lift up my shirt so he can hug my belly and plant kisses on it, all the while squealing "Dai-dai, I love you!  I miss you!"

"Dai-dai" is Cantonese for "little brother" and even though we don't speak Cantonese, he's picked it up from being in the church nursery.

So now, all day long, Judah makes me lift my shirt up so he can 'interact' with dai-dai.  He wants dai-dai to listen to the story he's reading.  He wants dai-dai to watch him play with trains.  He gives dai-dai snacks and drinks and often instructs me, "Don't close your belly!" because he wants dai-dai to see what's going on.

Giving a milk bottle to dai-dai--a favorite daily activity.

Incidentally, everything is directed toward my belly button, where, I suppose, the concentrated essence of dai-dai resides.  Frankly, it's pretty annoying (and now that winter is coming--cold) to be constantly baring my mid-riff.  But who am I to get in the way of some toddler-fetus-sibling bonding?

I've explained to Judah that dai-dai will get bigger and bigger until one day mommy will push him out of her tummy.  He seems to understand and get really excited about that prospect.

I can't wait to pop this baby out and watch Judah's mind get blown.  I'm sure he'll go through the natural feelings of jealous rage when he realizes this kid is going to have all of mommy's attention for a while, but at least for the first few minutes, it'll be pretty freaking awesome!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Oh Yeah, Did I Mention I'm on "Vacation"?

So I'm technically on vacation this week (and the next 5 weeks to come).

But don't start hating cuz it's not awesome at all.

"Vacation" does NOT mean relaxation, going to a fun destination, eating some amazing meals, or even getting a little bit pampered with a mani/pedi.

"Vacation" means packing up years of accumulated crap in boxes, wrangling endlessy with a 'strong willed' toddler, and dealing with contractors who are walking all over my naturally accommodating and compliant disposition.  Man do I hate conflict.  So much so that I may have been known to let contractors charge me an extra $500 for stuff that clearly, according to the contract, they should not.

We are moving into the new house in  T-8 days and it is FAR from fun.

Vacation schmacation.

Monday, November 05, 2012

But Daddy Say No

I'm finding out more about myself than ever before now that I'm trying to parent Judah.

For one, I realize he is a strong-willed child (a la the best-selling book, Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child).

And I, as it turns out, am a weak-willed, naturally compliant doormat.

Very bad combo, this.

Basically, Judah steam-rolls right over my gentle 'suggestions' every time.  Unless he really is asking to risk his life (for example, wanting to use the butcher knife), I usually cave.  At the first sign of his crumpled up face and his high-pitchy wail, I give in.

Okay, okay, you can bring your toy car out (even though I know it's going to be a disaster when you misplace it and cry bloody murder because you can't find it the next day).

Okay, okay, you can play another 15 minutes in the car (even though we're way behind schedule).

You get the idea.  Judah leads, I follow...reluctantly.

Which is why, more and more, I've defaulted to saying, "Why don't you ask daddy?"  Obviously Judah gets his strong-will from the spouse and I'll let the two of them duke it out.  Pretty much 100% of the time, Judah ends up crying and wailing "Daddy say no to me!"

Ah, sweet proxy.

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Ghost of Halloween Past

O Judah, you lucky lucky boy. (I know, I keep saying that!)

My nurturing little cop with his new favorite toy--his baby stroller!

You had your first real trick-or-treating experience this year, complete with fancy store-bought costume! I hate to keep harping on this, but when I was a kid, I NEVER got to go trick-or-treating (except once in 3rd grade) and I certainly NEVER got to have a store-bought costume.

(Side note--I realize these posts are making it sound like I grew up in some kind of Dickensian poverty. Let me just state for the record--that was totally not the case. We were solidly upper middle-class, nice suburb, great school districts, green lawns and minivans, etc. It's just that my parents had a certain parenting philosophy...that...well, let's just leave it at that.)

I was that sad kid at the back of the Halloween Parade at school that teachers felt sorry for. Bless Mrs. Cole's heart. In 2nd Grade she let me hold the tail of her dragon costume so I could participate without looking quite so...pathetic.

But the truth is, I did have a costume that year.  I woke up that morning and there was a costume waiting for me in the living room.  It was a brown grocery bag with arm-holes and a neck-hole cut out and aluminum foil balls stuck all over it.  It was home-made and I decided I'd rather not have a costume than wear that 'thing' and possibly die of embarassment.

Trick-or-treating with our lovely little ladybug neighbor.

Next to my home-made costume was one exactly like it, sized a little bigger, for my brother. He had stayed up that night to make them for us. I always feel a pang of guilt thinking back on how disdainful I was of his really generous and thoughtful handiwork. In my defense, I was 7! I wanted to be something pink and purple and lovely!

"What is this?" I remember saying "Am I supposed to be a garbage can?!"

"It's a robot," my brother said.

I said something sarcastic and disparaging and trudged off to school without my 'robot' costume.

Argh, looks like this cop lost his cop belt, billy-club and badge along the way.  Oh well.

Oh how I treasure the memory of that sad costume now.

What a cute couple...but what's with the Oliver Twist face?  Please sir, can I have some more...candy?

I guess I was a lucky lucky kid too, in my own way.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Zoo and Other Privileges

O Judah, you lucky lucky boy. We recently bought you a year's membership to the Oakland Zoo.

Judah loves spotting little black bears.  He exclaims "So cute!"

When I was a kid, my parents never took me to the zoo. I think I literally went once. ONCE. In my entire life, until this past year.

We looked at those bears for a really loooooooooooooong time.

Gosh, I sound like one of those parents that recount how, when they were kids, they had to walk a mile to school, in the snow, WITH NO SHOES!

For the first time ever, Judah actually REQUESTED that we take his photo here, in front of the otters.

But seriously, you have it so much better than me in so many ways. Don't even get me started on how many books and toys we buy you constantly. You know, when I was kid, I NEVER got toys except once a year, for Christmas--I got ONE toy. And you know what I got on my birthday?  Not toys--pajamas.

Judah is terrified of the monkeys.  Somehow I find that hilariously delicious.

Man, I hope we're not creating a privileged, entitled monster.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

He, Me and You

One of the funnest and trippy-est (yes, Ms. English, I know those are not words) things about having a kid is seeing parts of you and the spouse in him.

Everyone is always so quick to point out that Judah looks EXACTLY like his dad--long face, skinny and tall, gravity-defying hair, etc. Seriously, we get stopped by total strangers in the grocery store all the time saying (mostly to the spouse)--Yep, definitely yours! Can't deny that one! He looks just like his dad!

We live in an urban ghetto area and even had HOMELESS people stop us on the street and comment that Judah looks "Just like his dad!" Ok, I get it. The resemblance is obvious.

But you know what? I think Judah looks a lot like me when he smiles.

Me, not sure when but definitely before I turned 2.

Judah, right before he turned 1.
But even more than physical resemblance, I think Judah takes after me in a lot of crucial ways.

First, he loves music, loves dancing, singing and drawing. These are things the spouse has never cared for a day in his life. Seriously, I've known my spouse for 15 years and NEVER, not ONCE have I seen him bust a move. Ever. For any reason. Judah, meanwhile, has been shaking his booty to the beat since, well, since he could stand on 2 feet.

Second, Judah is a total extrovert, loves socializing and has more empathy in his little pinky than my spouse has in his entire body. He's a people person. I first realized this when Judah was barely 1 and started to wince in sympathy anytime my spouse or I clumsily hurt ourselves. Seeing others in pain makes Judah feel awful.

Once the spouse was trying to pop a really deep zit and wincing in pain.  And Judah kept saying "No, no, no, Daddy, no more!"  He just couldn't handle it.  Sweet boy.

As I was making these mental notes, I realized...hmmmm...I'm only noting the "good" traits that Judah supposedly resembles of me. I wonder what bad traits of mine he picked up?

And because I'm a selfish, delusional, conceited person, I couldn't think of any. Ha!

But of course I could think of lots of bad traits he picked up from my spouse!

But to show some measure of self-criticism and objectivity, I'll say this.  Judah can sometimes be quite selfish and possessive.  He loves to grab his toys and say "Mine! Es mio!"  Even when no one is challenging him and it's just me and him.

Dude, I BOUGHT you that toy.  Technically it's MINE.

And sadly, I'm pretty sure Judah got that trait from me.  I've always known the spouse to be a generous person, but I can be kinda grabby.  A little catty.  A little possessive.  A little jealous.

But isn't every girl?

Ugh, it was so much funner (yes, I know that's also not a real word!) pointing out the 'good' traits.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cut Me Out. Now.

Ugh.  This is the second time this month I want someone to cut me out of my pants.

Even though I'm wearing maternity pants with an elastic waist, it's so freaking uncomfortable when I sit down!  Not so bad when I leave for work in the morning--vertical.  But after sitting a while at my desk I feel like I'm seeing spots due to my circulation being cut off around my waist.

I'm such a huge whale.

The last time this happened I literally took a pair of scissors and cut my pants waist-band.  Off.  All the way.

Worked great when I sat at my desk.  In my office. By  myself.

Not so great stepping out into the hallway.  Where people can see you.  And your weird cut-off pants.

I'm making a vow.

From this point on, I'm only wearing soft yoga pants or leggings.  I'm so over 'real' clothing.

Now, excuse me while I try to find a pair of scissors to cut me out.

Monday, October 22, 2012

When Toddlers Dress Themselves

I only have one problem with the outfit Judah picked for himself:

(And no, it's not because he looks like a total insane weirdo.)

It's that, as a product of TWO Cal grads, his outfit is offensively sympathetic to Stanford. Apparently he loves that stupid red hat (that his nanny bought him), even though a lovely friend recently got him an awesome Cal cap (thanks Priscilla!).

I mean, it's like another fresh wound coming on the heels of Cal losing the Big Game this weekend.  Betrayed by my own baby.  Ouch, Brutus, ouch.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Signing Our Lives Away

Why, what's this giant packet of documents on my couch you ask?

Oh nothing, just the signing documents to OUR NEW HOUSE!!!!

That's right, we are 80% through the whole home purchase process and by the end of this week, should be getting the keys, eek!

To be honest, I was never the home-owning aspiring type.  In fact, I was never the have-a-kid (or 2) type either.  Okay, as long as I'm coming clean, neither was I the marrying type!

Growing up I never fantasized about weddings and suburbs. I always thought I'd live some kind of Indiana Jones/Boho/Broadway musical/country cowgirl kind of life.  Or live in Africa.

So maybe I was a little all over the place--but one place I NEVER thought about ending up was the suburbs. Married. With 2.5 kids.

So what the heck happened?

Ah, another time, another post...

For now, I have a suburban home to remodel, furnish, and move into!  Pinterest, Home Depot, Ikea, Crate and Barrel, and Benjamin Moore--here I come!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Judah By Proxy

Judah has an alter ego.  His name is Brian.

I kid you not.

It all started about 6 months ago.  I was trying to help Judah wind-down for his bedtime, giving him a bottle of milk in a darkened room (while cradling him in my arms because he HAS to be in that position) but the dude was squirmy as heck, playing with his bottle, dripping milk everywhere. 

Wracking my brain in frustration for a way to distract him and keep him calm, I hit upon the brilliant idea of...yes people, shocking patent-pending innovation...telling him a story!

I know that doesn't sound earth-shattering, but up until then I've only told him stories in books (which is really the only way to keep him from squirming for any meaningful length of time).  But I decided, hey, he understands a lot of words, maybe I can tell him a story without pictures!  Cognitive paradigm-shift for this little dude...maybe it blew his mind a little.

So I started making stuff up about a boy named Brian.  And because I was limited by the world that Judah knows, I pretty much made Brian do everything that Judah loves to do.

Brian went to the park (just like we had done that day).  Brian climbed up the ladder and went down the slide.  Brian played with his ball and threw it to mommy.  Brian had mashed potatos and mac n' cheese for dinner (and not-so-coincidentally so did Judah).

Judah was quiet and mesmerized.  It worked!  I gave myself a genius-mom award.

And then forevermore Judah asked for Brian stories everyday.  Multiple times a day.  I took back my genius award cause it's kind of annoying to constantly have to make up some story about Brian.  But on the other hand it's become quite a helfpul teaching tool.

Exploring the world, one Brian story at a time.

I now make Brian go through things that I want to prep Judah for.  Lately, half the Brian stories are about how Brian is using the potty and doesn't need diapers anymore.  He's a big boy!  To which Judah always pipes in, "I big boy! Grande! I no baby.  Baby diaper."  Yes, the goal is to potty-train Judah before baby #2 comes.  Eek.

The other half of the Brian stories is about him getting a new baby and how to handle a baby.  And moving to a new house.

For a while, Brian stories were about Brian doing bad things and getting time-outs.  And sometimes, right in the middle of a melt-down, a story about Brian melting down about the exact same thing will help Judah calm down and accept not getting what he wants.  Sometimes.

I wonder when Judah will finally catch on that Brian is Judah.  I kind of think he already knows.  It's just a little wierd when we actually meet people named Brian.  Judah gets a puzzled look on his face.

Ah, mysteries of the toddler mind.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Living with Rain Man

Remember this awesome movie from the 80's?

I won't give it away, but it's basically about Tom Cruise trying to handle his autistic brother (Dustin Hoffman) on a cross-country road trip.

The spouse and I randomly caught it on the tube this weekend and as soon as Hoffman's character started acting up, we both looked at each other and said "That's Judah!"

And furthermore, when we saw Cruise's exasperated and exhausted expressions, we said "That's me!"

Let me explain.

Hoffman's character has a lot of irrational demands. 

He HAS to watch The People's Court every day.  He HAS to buy boxer shorts from KMART ONLY.  He refuses to travel by plane.  He refuses to leave the house if it's raining.  He HAS to eat only specific foods and then only with toothpicks.  Etc, etc, etc.

Judah is pretty much the same.

He HAS to wear his WHITE flip-flops (not the brown ones that actually stay on) when we go out (which I forbid because they are literally 2 sizes too big and keep falling off his feet--which always precipitates a meltdown). 

He HAS to have a LITTLE bottle of milk (not the 8 oz bottles, the small 5 oz bottles ONLY) when he wakes up, a story in his rocking chair, and a stroll around the housing complex after his nap with mommy (only mommy, NOT daddy) holding him in her arms (NOT in a stroller!) (otherwise he has a total meltdown). 

He will ONLY wear certain pants or shirts (or have a total meltdown). 

He HAS to sit in the driver's seat for at least 10 minutes every time we get home and HAS to get an Altoid and pop in a CD (or he has a total meltdown). 

He HAS to drink out of a cup with no lid, which causes a total mess (or has a total meltdown).  Etc, etc, etc.

An all too familiar scene from this weekend.
But it seems that Judah has kicked up his, how should I put this...annoying, irrational, non-compliant behavior yet another notch or two over this past week.  There were several times this last weekend that I honestly was one-thousandth of a hairs' breadth away from straight up screaming in a crazy woman.

The only thing holding me back was remembering how much mom guilt I felt the last time I straight up lost it and screamed at him.  (That scene in Rain Man where Tom Cruise stops the car, gets out and screams and rants at Dustin Hoffman?  YES!  That's me in my head!)

But there was a new twist--this time he kept saying "I do myself!!"  Oh sweet toddler independence. 

While mommy would love for you to pour your own juice, use the knife and cook your own food, there's no way I'll be letting you do these things by yourself for a very long time.

And, cue the meltdown.

I don't know how stay-at-home moms do it.  I really don't.

After about 2 hours with the dude, I'm done.  I'm just straight up burnt toast done.

So what do over-educated, real-world naive and helpless, amateur parents do?  We buy books!  Which is why we raided the parenting section at Amazon and bought the top 6 books on handling toddlerdom.

Save us Amazon!  You are our only hope.
Probably should buy some books on deep-breathing and how to have the patience of the Dalai Lama too while we're at it.