January 23, 2013

Top-down View.


Here's my bird's-eye view. Please excuse the linty shirt. 
(On an unrelated note, "linty" is an excellent Scrabble word.)

I haven't really talked much about the last 8-or-so months of gestating here on the public version of the internets. I figure your tolerance for anecdotal vomiting and photographic evidence of elephantine ankles is on the normal side....where "normal" means "pretty low." (Though, to be fair--in the interest of honesty for my posterity--to describe my ankles as "elephantine" would be to pay them a compliment. "Elephantine" is what my ankles aspire to these days, and "elephantine" is really a best-case scenario. I'm pretty confident that an elephant would look at my ankles and feel badly for me. Further, I'm entirely sure that a pregnant elephant in month, like, 47 of her pregnancy would look at my ankles and have a sudden self-esteem boost.)

And that might just be the most I've ever written about my ankles ever in my life. Also, elephants.

We're in the home-stretch--with only 3(ish) weeks to go. Baby Boy is going to be chubby (just how we like it) and--like Blake--tall. (That's still remarkable for me to think about, given the vertical challenges of his genetics. I'm just sayin'. Sometimes the gene pool gets a little bonus, I guess.)  Unlike Blake, however, this baby likes to hang out in the lung area, causing me all of those breathing problems I'd always heard about from other people, but didn't have first-hand knowledge of since Blake decided that he wanted to hang out in the feels-like-a-bowling-ball-between-your-legs position. 

(On the other hand, Blake DID score a lot of bonus points by transitioning from inside to outside precisely 30 minutes before his due date. And given my robot-like compulsion for punctuality, it still warms my heart to think of it.)

So things are humming right along here in the department of gestation. We're excited for his arrival, and I'm nesting like a crazy person. Crazy-with-a-capital-C. (I'm nuts. Really and truly. But my house is clean most of the time...which I call a win, considering the glacial pace at which my waddle-y body moves at this point.)

Now I'll just try and take that deep breath that has been eluding me for weeks.


January 16, 2013

Things I learned in 2012

It's that time of year where several of my real-life and e-life friends post their yearly round-up of the books they read over the last twelve months. And I love these posts. Some of the best books I've read have come at the recommendation of these look-backs, and I honestly don't know if there would be any other way for me to cross paths with the titles. 

I had really good intentions of reading 40 books this year. Really good intentions. And I was totally on-track...until...well....I started throwing up as a result of all the gestation. That was the time where my best literary intentions were usurped by my best take-a-shower-make-boys-sandwiches-remain-upright-for-at-least-3-hours-per-day sort of intentions. KnowwhatI'msayin'? {See below for my veryverybrief book recap.}

What I did find out about 2012, however, was that it was a pretty self-illuminating year for me. Translation: In 2012, I discovered/made-peace-with/reconciled/made-sense-of a lot of things that had heretofore been living in that more abstract and floaty and attic-like part of my brain. You know, that place in your mind where you file things that don't otherwise have a neat and tidy place to gather dust. (I suppose it's mostly the psychological equivalent of shoving things under the bed and into the coat closet when your guests are arriving.)

So without further ado (and probably too late to be called a yearly recap), my [non-exhaustive] list of things I learned (and re-learned) in 2012:

1. People need to stop freaking out about women wearing pants to church.
2. I cannot make hollandaise sauce from scratch.
3. Sometimes emotional eating is my only choice---a yummy choice.
4. "Feminist" and "Feminism" are not dirty words---even when applied in a Mormon context.
5. I am a feminist---especially in a Mormon context. (This was especially moving to me today.)
6. I wish I were the kind of person who liked obscure music. I aspire to that. (See also: #9)
7. I [shockingly] can't control everything. (!!!!)
8. I am not a phone person. See also: I'm not proud of my blatant inability to remember to return phone calls. Send me an email. You'll have a lot more luck. (Unless you're my friend, Liz, who just got her email reply four weeks after an email she sent me on December 11th. Consider this my public shaming. Sorry, Liz.)
9. I'm not very comfortable when my house is silent--and too often I make my own thoughts take a back seat to NPR or reruns of The West Wing. (Though admittedly, taking a back seat to Aaron Sorkin's writing  isn't all that bad.)
10. Receiving a thank-you card never, ever gets old....and sending one needn't ever, either.
11. When it comes right down to it, we're all just flawed people trying to do the best we can...and we make a lot of mistakes, and that's okay. The U.S. government, our local church congregations, the IRS, our kids' elementary schools, customer service at Target.....they're all just run by regular people who have talents and weaknesses and biases and mess up sometimes. We have to be patient. (Except you, Congress. I'm losing patience with you.)
12. Children come how they come...and they certainly don't hatch from the same mold. The same two parents can raise children who are so different, you'd wonder if the mailman was involved. A one-size-fits-all approach to motherhood is a recipe for some very long days and many frustratingly late nights. Why this took me until 2012 to fully internalize is beyond me. We're just being honest, here.
13. Jimmy Fallon is Funny-with-a-capital-F. Also by way of entertainment truth: Jon Stewert has never let me down, and he and I eat breakfast together four days a week. Thank you, Hulu. 
14. Some of my quietest, most reserved friends have very strong political opinions. I like that about them.
15. I'm significantly warmer if I roam the house with a scarf around my neck.
16. You guys, Season 2 of "Downton Abbey" jumped the shark. I'm glad that Season 3 seems more promising.
17. Online shopping has ruined me. Buying something in a brick-and-mortar store is now downright paralyzing without knowing instant price comparisons and [more importantly] reading all of the customer reviews.

********************

In all, I think I read about 15 books this year [insert losing game show buzzer sound here], with my favorite five being Game Change (John Heilemann & Mark Halperin), Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving my Neighbor (Jana Riess), The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories From An American Faith (Joanna Brooks*), Bossypants (Tina Fey), and That Used to be Us (Thomas Friedman & Michael Mandelbaum).

*If you haven't seen her interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, you should. It's fantastic. Watch it here.

November 29, 2012

'Tis the Season

Remember that time I was so pumped about NaBloPoMo?

Well, I sort of lost my blogging mojo in or around mid-month. And you know what? I'm not feeling so badly about it. {insert shrug here.} It's not a competition. 

(My waddling mojo? Totally intact.)  

BUT.

Things have taken a turn for the awesome, since IT'S CHRISTMAS CARD SEASON! I've talked about my obsession ad nauseum, but let's do it again! I love this time of year. I love addressing envelopes. I love buying stamps. I love making neat little piles and I basically want to kiss my excel spreadsheet of addresses on the face. 

And if I may pat myself on the back a little bit, they're done



(My waddle is beginning to be prohibitive to, you know, doing stuff. So I'm trying to get everything done for Christmas in the next week or so.)


Want to hear this year's Christmas card trivia stats?
(Bear with me--I'm a geek like that.)


Farthest distance to be traveled by one of our cards: 10,249 miles* (to Annie et al, in Australia)
Second-farthest distance: 7,315 miles to Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands (hi, Florence!)
Closest journey: About 5 feet to our neighbors with whom we share a duplex
Number of U.S. states to which cards are headed: 30
State receiving most of our Christmas cards: Massachusetts (36)
Other high-volume states: Utah (23), Maine (10), and Arizona (9)
Number of foreign countries: 4
"Highest" Zip Code: 99163 (Pullman, WA)
"Lowest" Zip Code: 01730 (Bedford, MA)
Most envelope real estate taken up by an address: Bridget's. It's 6 lines and 22 words (including post codes)
Number of states receiving only one card: 14 (Alabama, Washington DC, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming)

*I'm sorry, but this never ceases to amaze me. I mean, think about it: I give the United States Postal Service $1.05 (one dollar and five cents, people!!!), and A TEAM OF PEOPLE MAKES SURE MY CHRISTMAS CARD GETS TO SOMEONE'S DOORSTEP IN AUSTRALIA. It's the best deal in town, my friends. Also? Possibly a miracle. 


November 15, 2012

Life at the B&B

When I was younger, my grandparents used their [lovely Cape Cod] home as a Bed & Breakfast, entertaining many summertime guests over the course of several years. I've always been intrigued by this--the idea of providing a cozy bed and a warm morning meal to travelers....and getting to know people from all spectra of [mostly American] humanity. 

(Also, I've wondered what it must be like during those summers, when you have to be on your toes and up-to-date with your grocery shopping, your laundry, and your other cleaning chores. I don't know about you, but when we have visitors, my house is always cleaner--and better maintained--than when we don't.)

This week, we had a little taste of that life, though. 

AND IT WAS AWESOME.

Because of a variety of different scheduled trips, we had people staying with us from Sunday until Thursday of this week. 

(SIDE NOTE: One of the magical things about living in the greater-Boston area is that people...well...actually want or need to come here. Friends and family come through several times a year for a number of different reasons. It seems that most roads lead or pass through Boston! From business trips to job interviews to weddings to your run-of-the-mill sight-seeing trip, we get to be "on the way" for a lot of people. And we love it.)

Our B&B week began with Jake, a dear friend from our freshman year in college whom we have not seen for about 10 years. He was in New England for a wedding and was able to see and do something in each of the six New England states while he was here for only one week. (And he didn't just clip the corners of states, either. He did it for reals.) 

After Jake's departure on Monday morning, my excellent cousin, Melanie, flew in from Utah with her daughter that evening. We were able to share dinner and catch up on lovely things, and put her on a train to Maine the next morning. 

But it was back to the train station on Tuesday afternoon to pick up none other than my own mum, who was coming down from Maine to spend Tuesday-Thursday with the boys and me while Joe headed to Virginia on a business trip.

Lessons learned:
-my house looks great when people are here.
-when people aren't here, I should probably be a lot more proactive in the upkeep part of housekeeping.
-having actual adult conversation between the hours of 9am and 5pm is both delightful and refreshing.
-my. kids. love. guests.
-we are far too unaware of the towel status in our linen closet. 
-when my mother does laundry, she can make my yard smell like fabric softener. As in, outside

Wanna come visit? 

November 12, 2012

Helping Hands

Last night, my stepdad and little brother returned home from a weekend in the Rockaway area of Long Island, NY after assisting in the clean-up efforts following Hurricane Sandy. Because my house happens to be right on the way from the Rockaways to Maine, the two of them stopped by...had some pie and a hot shower...and began to tell their tales.

The destruction is horrific, they said. But that's not the whole story. As they were working throughout the day, a man (presumably a local homeowner who was, no doubt, facing the destruction of his own property) walked up and down the street giving cups of homemade chicken soup and corn bread to the volunteers. At other times, large tables full of donated hot meals would appear. 

Humanity, it turns out, is doing alright. 

We're all in this together--Mormon or not--and even in the midst of crushing devastation, our better selves tend to be the ones that show up. 


 
Mormon Helping Hands :: Hurricane Sandy :: Rockaways, NY from Joshua Brown on Vimeo.

November 8, 2012

Second Child Vocabulary

I've said on a number of occasions (out loud as in: in conversations with real, live people) that parenting Ian did almost nothing to prepare me for the adventure of parenting Blake. They're two different creatures, those boys, and what it took to keep the first one fed and watered and happy and thriving just isn't the same recipe as what is needed for son numero due. That's not to say it's different worse, or even different better. It's just different different. Put another way, all of my tricks that once worked in magical ways with Ian are completely useless to me. From the minute he was born, we knew that Blake would teach us how to be different kinds of parents*. 

One of the things that struck us as wildly different from his older brother was the way in which Blake began acquiring language.....and the words he deemed to be most useful. What was further surprising was that words began to appear in Blake's vocabulary that took years longer to appear in Ian's. 

So what were these words/phrases?
"Mine"
"Blake's Turn"
"Move over"
"My [fill in the blank]"
the addition of the 's indicating possession
"Before"
"After"

It was very interesting to me to see Blake's use of prepositions come so much earlier than it did with Ian. But being a second child and needing to find his place in the scheme of things made sense. Ian never had to delineate what was "his," because...well...essentially everything was his. Ian didn't have to ask for turns, because I like to think that Joe and I have a really well-honed ability to gauge turn-taking.

It's been fascinating to see how Blake's vocabulary has been inextricably linked to his environment and to birth order--not really something I'd considered. It's just a testament to the fact that language is really a tool to help us make sense of (and fit into) our unique social paradigm.

Now the trick will be to see what Child #3 finds to be most worthwhile in his language acquisition process. (Or will it be more-of-the-same, but at a higher volume?)

*It wasn't long after that realization that we were clued into the fact that we were not parenting geniuses...but rather, that Ian was just an inherently easy baby. It had nothing to do with our skill and everything to do with his temperament. Go figure. 

To any lurking plagiarists

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