Thursday, July 31, 2008

With my face in a book

I’m a mid-level tech geek and I do like to stay in the know about the fads but I’ve been avoiding Facebook for what seems like forever. Partly because it’s another time drain – but that never stopped me before. What appealed to me about Facebook was the opportunity to get in touch with some people that I fell out of touch with. Sometimes I feel like parts of my life didn’t even happen because I’m no longer in touch with any of the people from them – my days at Pitt and studying abroad in England specifically. But that getting in touch is also what was preventing me from joining. Namely answering questions about what I do.

I love being home with my boys. I am incredibly thankful for it everyday. Honestly I don’t know how I would juggle raising them and having a career. I imagine I’d be incredibly stressed out and feeling spread too thin. And their young years are such a gift. They are going by so fast and I’m lucky enough to have the chance to savor them. I AM happy with the choice I’ve made to stay home with them and generally happy with the job I’m doing. But when I think about reconnecting with someone and telling them that I’m “just a Mom” I have to admit I’m a bit ashamed. To the outsider I’m sure it doesn’t sound very exciting, unique or cool. And I fear that I will be perceived as merely stereotype and not an interesting person. I want to explain that I have a journalism degree and an interesting and varied employment history – that I live in the city and that it truly is our playground. That I’m still that girl who drove into Manhattan at 16 to see bands, that stayed out clubbing in London til the wee hours, that interviewed famous musicians and actors for my college newspapers, that took a break from college to live with and promote a rock band, that was eager to see the new theater piece, indie film, and eat in the new restaurant, that’s been to Paris and Marrakesh and wants to see the world. That’s me, I swear. I’m obviously feeling defensive at the prospect of being judged. And aren't I a little old to be feeling the need to convince others and myself that I'm at least a little cool? But when it comes right down to it I am that girl, and I’m also a Mama that’s at home – playing with Little People, transforming a cardboard box into a pet carrier, singing to The Backyardigans, planning tomorrow’s trip to the Natural History Museum. And I should be proud. And anyone I should really want to reconnect with would be able to understand all that. Or F off.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

V 34.0

I turned 34 last week. In response I’ve decided to do some upgrading. Things are good, but I could be a bit better. And since Ray’s first year has flown pass, I can take a deep breath and let the reins out a little bit.

I’ve joined Weight Watchers online in the hopes of losing 20 pounds of baby weight and I’ve made plans to start a yoga class in August. Weight Watchers is a challenge because I’m trying to stay away from “diet” foods which I feel are too over-processed. I’m not really into fat-free, sugar free anything. It seems weird that it’s harder to be on a diet and eat healthier – but it’s the case. The yoga class will be tough because once a week I’ll be leaving the house at the start of the bedtime ritual. This means Mark is going to have to figure out a way to get Ray to sleep without nursing. And occupy Noah while doing it. I don’t know who is more nervous about it, Mark or me. Probably me.

As for goals for the next year – we are indeed considering having a third. We’d like to get pregnant again in the next year but with our fertility history you can never really make a firm plan. We will try and see what the fates have in store for us. Right now we are still on hold though because believe it or not I still haven’t gotten my period. Ray still nurses about 5 – 6 times a day and he’s keeping my cycle at bay.

I’ve also decided to make a goal of reading one book a month. In order to do that I’m going to have to be more disciplined about when I read. Make it part of a ritual. I finished Eat, Pray, Love with some mixed conclusions. I loved Eat, enjoyed Pray (but she could have seen some more of India!) but was bothered by Love. I liked the Balinese culture stuff – my issue was don’t tell me your doing a big spiritual, emotional journey to learn to better care for yourself and not let a man dictate your life and then end up dating your Daddy. I ain’t buyin it as a fitting ending. And now I’m on to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle which Mark bought me last year. And then to a book from Patrice, which surprisingly isn't titled with three ideas seperated by commas.

In more entertainment news – we finished Dexter Season 2 & Wire Season 4 and are now watching the new Weeds, Mad Men, Project Runway (!!!) and about to embark on Oz Season 1. As for movies – I don’t remember the last time I watched one. We just can’t seem to ever find the energy to say “We’re committing the next two hours to this.”

Back to upgrade talk – I’m considering getting a smartphone. I started doing a lot of texting in the last couple of months and I’m hungry for a QWERTY keyboard. So I’m on the lookout for the most practical and economical way to go with that. Part of my new love of texting I owe to Twitter. It’s kind of like mini-blogging, something I definitely have more time for. If you are interested in the Twitter stuff my last five tweets are on the right side of the blog. For those unfamiliar with Twitter- it’s short statements that you can even text from your phone that in essence let those interested know what you are up to. It’s fun. And I like getting some twitter feeds sent to my phone too – that way I can get little bits of info from friends while I’m out and about. It makes me feel more connected to them. Now if only the site was acting less glitchy.

The boys, you say? They are excellent. More later.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Obviously a one year old does not understand the goings-on of a birthday party, nor that a party is for them. However I think the first birthday party is the most fun. Not for the baby mind you, but for the family and friends. It’s a party to celebrate a momentous year and to reintroduce everyone to the baby as a child. Sort of like “Hey guys, check this little dude out!” So we held a big party not for Ray, but about him. We invited our families and all our friends with families and in the end we hosted 28 adults and 18 kids. It was a bit chaotic and messy, but a lot of fun. And of course Noah had the best time – helping to decorate, plan the party and then running around with his friends. This video shows Ray getting a little help from Noah and his pals for a big birthday wish. A major thank you to everyone who came and helped us to commemorate his first year. Love you.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


My baby just turned one. He's officially no longer an infant and now a toddler. I can honestly tell you that a year has never gone so fast. And this boy with his exhuberance, charm, and independence blows me away everyday. In this jet-fueled year he teethed early, crawled early, walked early, ran early, forsake baby food for table food and banished the spoon handled by anyone other than himself. Though he doesn't like it one bit when I walk away from him, he's more than happy to toddle off into the sunset with barely a look backward. And though his stubbornness and anger are already becoming legendary, his otherwise sunshiney dispostion justify his name. He is a Ray of it.
GOD. I love him.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

It's his jam.

In general Ray doesn't pay too much attention to the TV. Some things crafted explicitly by evil geniuses to entice babies will briefly pique his interest - Elmo and The Teletubbies for example. But NOTHING is quite as exciting as the theme song to the Backyardigans. He LOVES it and since Noah watches an episode almost every day he hears it often. He'll come scurrying from wherever he is to the TV and then clap and spin until it's over.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Beach, Sand, Love

Last week we were in Ocean City, NJ at the beach house my Mom rents every year. It was our fifth year of this new beach family vacation tradition. Mark’s mother’s family were big beach goers and when Mark told stories of having family beach outings I wanted that for our family – the tradition, the quality time, the nostalgia, the fun - and after I got pregnant with Noah I suggested it to my Mom. Lucky for us she wanted in on that too. And now it’s five years in and it’s something I really value – not just for a week away but for strengthening family bonds. And of course also testing them – it can be a bit trying having a bunch of people all staying in one house, wanting to do things their own way and having their own expectations. I know I have my own moments of childish grumpiness but we’re family and we all want everyone to have a good time so we all try to reign them in and remember that we love each other anyway. And what stays with us after the week passes are the lovely memories of kids playing, growing, and spending time with family. Cue the schmaltzy music. Each summer at the beach I remember the year previously and am blown away by the changes. Noah has grown so much in the last year – shedding the last vestiges of babyhood and becoming a little boy. And of course most notably was that last year I was a hugely pregnant woman and this year there is Ray prancing down the beach. It really has flown by – especially when measured in beach time.

Here are a few of the more notable things about our week:

- There is an entrance to Congo Golf where we hit the beach at 12 Street. Most notable about this locale is the large helicopter perched over the roof with two animatronic gorillas that talk and sing songs. Noah LOVES these “monkeys.” Every time we would go near them he would comment on what song they were singing. And he was so obsessed with them that Mark promised him he’d put the four songs that they sing on his Ipod when we got home. I’ve listened to “Noah Mac’s Mega Monkey Mix” at least ten times since we’ve been home. And for those of you dying to replicate this playlist for your very own the tracks are “Hot, Hot, Hot,” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Under the Boardwalk” and “The Banana Boat Song.”

- Last year our plan to take a boat trip got squashed because of an evening of thunderstorms and since Noah still wanted a ride on a boat I was intent on taking one this year. When I saw a flyer for a “Pirate Adventure” riding a pirate ship on the bay I knew Noah would love it. Of course because of the price only one of us could take him and since it’s always easier for me to take Ray (because of the Mama stage, the nursing, etc.) I always get the infant end of the stick when we divide and conquer. But I HATE to miss out on things. I love to see Noah take something like that in but I bowed out gracefully – and only violently insisted that Mark take insane amounts of pictures and video so I could experience it later. And what an experience it was. There was face painting, sea chanteys, water cannons, a pirate battle, a map and a treasure. Noah took it all in with a very serious expression – he had to concentrate to remember every detail. Staff member Matey Matt apparently commented several times on how he wasn’t smiling. But I assure you he enjoyed every minute of it. And Noah was so excited to show me the pictures. And then to Grandma. And to Nana. I think we will be knee deep in all things pirate for quite some time. Yesterday Noah gave a businessman a good chuckle when upon hearing that I intended us to share the ice cream we were on line to purchase Noah said “Pirates don’t share.” He’s also told me recently that pirates don’t say please to which I responded by telling him that pirates never disrespect their Mamas. But the weirdest and oddest thing that has happened is after seeing a particular homeless man with a red kerchief on his head he now seems to think that all vagrants are pirates. I should have corrected him but it was so darling I let it stand for the moment.

- Noah also mini-golfed for the first time. (And again I didn’t get to go. Boo hoo.) Though sometimes it may have resembled hockey more than golf, he learned a bit and enjoyed himself even more which is really the point. And he even got a hole in one. Afterwards he was asking to golf at every other course on the boardwalk.

- Ocean City is a dry town which means not only no liquor and drunk teens on the boardwalk but also no gambling and games of chance. Thank God for that because we waste more than enough money on the amusement piers. Good lord what a racket those things are! And Noah is all about the rides. And not just the kiddie ones where you drive in a circle and beep the horn either. He rode the serpent mini-coaster 4 times, climbed around in the fun house and obstacle course, tackled the junior bumper cars and even rode the swings. I always loved rides as a kid but oddly enough since having Noah I am far more cautious and even more nauseous. It makes me both nervous and proud to see how bold he is. And that look of joy on his face is priceless – ticket prices be damned.

- For two nights my Mom’s husband Larry’s daughters and grandkids stayed at the house. Those were hands down the most exciting for Noah. He had so much fun playing with his cousins. Jumping in the waves, playing in the sand, going on the rides – together. He really was a bit depressed after they left.

- Noah is in love with the ocean. He was constantly in the water, begging to be taken deep into the waves. He jumped, boogey boarded and was waterlogged a few times but bounced back quickly. Ray was equally in love with the sand. He was covered in it from head to foot. He’d dip his food in it before putting it in his mouth. He rolled around in it naked and content.

- One very unfortunate thing about the beach this year is that my Mom was saddled with horrible back pain the entire week and it really hampered her enjoyment of her vacation. She wasn’t as able to spend as much time cavorting with the kids, walking on the boardwalk or shopping as she would have liked. And though she was really in some severe pain she just kept pushing herself and we’d all be scolding her. It had her a bit down in the dumps which I could totally understand because it was very similar to how I felt last year when I was pregnant and having a lot of early contractions. It really sucks to be limited and feel like you are missing out on the fun. Her back is doing a bit better now and we hope that she’s as good as new very soon.

- Ray is a ladies man. That little man got insane amount of attention at the beach. Large gaggles of bikini clad teenage girls would stop to ooh and aahh at him. Waitresses would marvel at his hair, his eyes, his huge smile. And he ate it up. What a flirt.

- New on Noah’s photo flickr button to the right of the page you will notice photos Noah took on a walk to the bay with Mark. He took 100 photos on that walk – but I whittled it down to the best of the best.

And now vacation is over. It always sucks a bit to come back from vacation. Luckily Noah started his summer camp program this week so we had that to look forward to. For the next two months he has school from 10:15 to 12:45 three days a week. Twice this week I was able to take Noah to school and put Ray down for a nap and READ for a whole hour! Damn that felt good. I always feel so guilty reading – like I should be cleaning if I ever get free time (HA!). But reading is really important to me. So much so that I’d say it is one of the things that makes me ME and I really do need to make time for it. As for what I read - I favor literary fiction set in different countries and different time periods so that I can accidentally learn a few things while following the plot. And TRAVEL – I like to feel like I’m traveling when I read – to China, to Africa, to Europe but most of all India. Just last week I finally finished The Inheritance of Loss and now I’m halfway through Eat, Pray, Love – which is really making me feel like I have to get back into a yoga practice, after of course eating insane amounts of pasta and gelato.

From sea to shining sea