A Slacker’s Christmas Card

19 Dec

It’s been almost 37 years that I’ve lived on this planet, and for not one of those years have I managed to coordinate a Christmas card. I’ve gotten close; one year I actually purchased cards, wrote them out, enveloped them, addressed them, STAMPED THEM, and….just as swiftly lost my mojo. The cards languished in a basket by the front door until the heat of July caused the stamps to peel off, at which point I took a cue from the universe and finally chucked them in the trash. Such is my dedication to Christmas card-ery.

In this day and age, what with the Facebook and the Instagram and the Twitters, etc., is a lengthy Christmas card even necessary? I think I’m not the only one asking this question because, of the Christmas cards I’ve received this season, not one has included a “here’s how we’ve been” piece. Mostly they’ve just been glamour shots of mom, dad, kids, and occasionally a somewhat forlorn looking pet (that is, when the pet doesn’t take center stage, begrudgingly wearing an ugly sweater, santa hat, jingle bells, etc).

I wrote a post a couple years ago about how I felt a little guilty for never having had Seabass photographed professionally. Eventually, my mom generously coughed up quite a hefty amount for the most beautiful pro photos of our little guy, but we never revisited the idea for precious Sweet Chuck. That girl, God bless her, has no clue what she’s missing, but will one day come to see the discrepancies between documentation of her older brother’s childhood and her own. I figure she’ll be stronger for it. Right?

So, in lieu of a pretty printed Christmas card this year (and, ahem, every year), I’m posting these shots of my kids on our front stoop, where we always take pictures. This is the best I could manage. And as for the “how we’ve been” piece, life is good. I have the big smile, the gorgeous husband, the healthy kids, the rad neighborhood, and the big fat therapist’s bill to prove it! But really, all joking aside, all is calm, all is bright.

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May this season’s greatest joys – laughter, togetherness, peace and beauty – be yours throughout the year. Merry Christmas!

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Newsflash? Hardly. Second kid gets the shaft.

29 Oct

So I usually put together a little video for Seabass every time he has a birthday, and my intention was totally to do the same for Sweet Chuck. Only…it never really happened. How is a mother supposed to wipe two noses, two behinds (more on this another time), make enough money to send her kids to the fancy preschool that emphasizes emotional intelligence, wash her hair, train for a half marathon, answer a barrage of kid questions about spiders/space/homeless people, put a healthy dinner on the table every night AND make a birthday video for each child, each year? She’s not. Hence, my tardiness.

Still, I finally managed to pump one out for Sweet Chuck. While she’s been pretty miserable lately with molars emerging, an ear infection, and some classic two-year-old defiance, she’s still my precious little dumpling of love, which shows in every frame. It’s my pleasure to present Sweet Chuck: Year Two. Enjoy!

First day of school photo fail.

25 Aug

Today in our school district, thousands of kids are going back to school. My own two are starting preschool – Seabass in his second year, and Sweet Chuck her first – and we’ve all looked forward to a fresh start.

But while so many kids posed with a sign announcing their first day of ____grade, mine were doing this.

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Hard to tell what’s going on there? Allow me to explain.

I was rushing off to work at 7am (my new start time, which gets me enough hours to pay for their rather expensive preschool, which is held only from 9-noon) and Jake was handling breakfast. Sweet Chuck had a leak in her overnight diaper so I made the split decision to change her into her first-day-of-school clothes and take a picture for posterity. You know, on the front porch, all Americana-like.

As anyone with two small children knows, however, whatever you do for one, you must also do for the other. So I tiptoed on eggshells to convince Seabass to change into school clothes in preparation for a photo. I tell ya: the amount of energy I spend on selecting the right words to a) not upset him and b) get what I want out of him could power an offshore oil rig.

It was all downhill from there.

“Pick out some shoes, please.”

“I DON’T WANT SHOES!” Weeping, moaning.

“You can wear whatever kind you want except flip-flops.”

“I WANT FLIP-FLOPS!” Gnashing of teeth. Flailing.

And that’s how this photo came to be. I told him I just wanted a picture to document his first day of the last year of preschool, and he threw himself on the threshold of our house, crying for who-knows-what reason. In a flash of inspiration, I took the shot anyway because, if we’re documenting reality, this more than captures life around our home at the moment.

Meanwhile, you’ll notice Sweet Chuck decked out in puffy piggies, jeggings, and pink cowboy boots. That girl was ready for action.

The moral of this story is three-fold:

1. Life ain’t clean. I’d love to have a cute chalkboard or sign announcing my kids’ first day of school for a picture in a scrapbook I actually end up making for them. And, by the by, I’d love it if they were smiling in that picture. But this is what’s up right now: crying, shoeless kids.

2. Smiles come and go. Look at this picture of Seabass from last year’s first day of school:

Maybe next year he’ll be smiling again. And who knows? Maybe Sweet Chuck will be a wreck.

3. There’s nothing wrong with walking away. For the first time since Seabass was born, thanks to preschool, I am now working three mornings a week. To some moms this might seem like a piddly-diddly amount of time away from kids, but for me it’s an awful lot. I’ve spent years nursing, wiping butts, and catering to the demands of young kids at home, but today is the first day that I’ll be doing less of it, three days a week. And THAT is why I gave up on a perfect first-day-of-school shot, grabbed my purse, kissed the kids’ crying heads (and Jake’s – yes, he was crying, too), and walked out the door.

Here’s to change, messy and complicated as it may be.

A quiet night at home, just us girls.

23 Jul

Jake took Seabass to the state fair tonight to ride the Ferris wheel, eat a corn dog, and watch the mutton bustin’. Sweet Chuck isn’t quite ready to stay up that late, so I kept her occupied at home with cooking dinner, picking blackberries in the yard, and reading some books before bedtime. We were just a couple of girls, enjoying one another’s company.

In the middle of our dinner preparations, Elliott Smith came on the stereo and everything suddenly became perfect – the music, the weather, the occasion – so I decided to document it. The results can be found here: http://youtu.be/0XiEqEYL554. Hopefully YouTube doesn’t put the kibosh on it because of our dearly departed friend who supplied the music.

I once heard that a man who endured horrible, terrible hardship in his life, when asked what he missed most from before tragedy struck, answered, “A quiet night at home.”

Spending the evening with Sweet Chuck may not have been the most obvious or monumental subject for a video, but there might come a day when I long for these wonderstruck July evenings when the kids are small and our biggest problem is getting them into bed by 8pm. This little movie will help me to remember.

Quick endorsement: I’m not usually one to pitch products, but I really like the results I’ve been getting from the Cinamatic app. It’s sort of like Instagram, only it helps users to create beautiful, meaningful videos quickly and share them via social channels like a Facebook, YouTube, etc. They didn’t pay me to say that, by the way. It’s really true.

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The annual birthday film tradition.

29 May

0115041534aOh man, I feel sorry for you. You are about to be accosted by birthday videos for Seabass. I’m so, so sorry.

Having celebrated Seabass’ fourth birthday recently, I was reminded that we have made a little film to honor him every year for four years, including the year he was born. As I looked back over each of them, I was struck by just how much LIFE is packed into the years when children are small. For every smile captured in these slideshows, there was at least one grimace that went unphotographed, a downturned mouth and probably a skin-crawling whine. This is life: joy, sorrow, anger, and laughter all bottled up together, ready to fizz out and splash all over us.

Happy birthday, dear beautiful Seabass. We are stoked to do LIFE with you.

 

 

 

 

Dear Hormones.

11 Apr

Dear Hormones,

I first heard about you in 5th grade Sex Ed. The school nurse came in with something that resembled a tackle box full of pamphlets and giveaway maxi pads, ready to reference heady Latin-derived words like cervix, vulva and urethra. (Et tu, Uterus?) The girls were separated from the boys for the first hour, while we gawked at charts and graphs that told us, in a roundabout way, that we would bleed for one week each month, starting soon, and that this was somehow normal and okay. We were ten.

When the boys and girls reunited for Q & A afterward – a horrible idea, in hindsight – the school nurse used your name to explain why our bodies acted the way they did. Jimmy King, who had older brothers, snorted and guffawed at the word. Hormones. Everyone else did too, because he did. That’s when I suspected our relationship would be complex.

As of today, I have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for nearly five years straight. While I’ve never enjoyed a calm, predictable relationship with you since our introduction, the past five years have taught me the true definition of volatility. It’s one thing when you’re talking about the stock market or real estate. It’s another thing entirely when it best describes your own insides.

Being hormones yourselves, you can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be affected by you. Demonic possession comes to mind. Hiroshima. The last Challenger mission. Being trapped in an elevator with a swarm of bees. Later, a gaping, yawning sadness. A black hole that steals light, even light from billions of miles of way. And then, just when everyone is ready to buy a neck brace to wear around you, enters a euphoric, creepy happiness. Oh, and you get fat and then skinny again.

Here’s what I want to say, on this, the last day of nursing my precious baby Sweet Chuck: IT’S BEEN REAL. You’ve made it possible for me to conceive and bring two children to term, and then you’ve made it possible for me to feed them from my own body, prevent illness, and bond with them in a way nothing else could have done. For that, thank you. Thank you.

But you’ve also made me hell to live with – hell to live inside of! – when I really needed stability and strength. For that, good riddance.

Until retirement,

Jaime

Sweet Chuck Salad

19 Mar

sweet chuck saladSweet Chuck Salad

Ingredients:

  • One Sweet Chuck (the sweeter the better)

Directions:

Place Sweet Chuck in salad bowl. Toss to combine.

Epilogue: I discovered soon after taking this video that Sweet Chuck had a turd in her drawers. I always wash the bowls she plays with, but this one got an extra vigorous scrubbing.

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