Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Will you read me this story, Mama?

Today I added to my list of Mama Job subtitles Book Re-Binder. (That's in addition to my current repertoire, which is extensive and includes Bottom-Wiper, Cheek-Smoocher, and Getter Of Cottage Cheese Out Of Hair.)

Bug comes from a healthy heritage of book lovers on both sides of her family, and she has a decent sized library for someone who still likes swirling her apple sauce all over her tray at lunch time. While many of her nicer, paper-paged books are kept in a basket on top of her dresser, she has a large storage drawer on her floor that is full of board books she can play with anytime she wants.

Buggy loves to read. She recently got this book in some sort of kid's meal at a fast food joint, and we read it together at least twice a day. I can stop reading at any point on any page, and she'll confidently finish the remainder of the page from memory. She calls it her Little Cribber story, which is freakin' adorable.

Over time, her fondness for books means that her beloved stories get a little worn. As a book lover myself, I have to remind myself occasionally that her books are there for her to love, and resist the urge to get upset when she drives cars all over them like a road, or when a smaller Bug used to suck on the corners of the pages.

Armed with clear packing tape, I joined what I assume is leagues of mothers before me in repairing a few of her more damaged books. I'll admit I was not thrilled to find myself fixing the binding on her Numbers Book which was ruined when she joyfully tossed it down the stairs repeatedly, watching it tumble and bounce to the bottom. That little incident, which happened about a year ago, resulted in one of her earliest lectures on taking care of the nice things we have.

Next up, though, was a book she has very literally loved to pieces. I smiled as I found myself gently replacing  the cover page of her most favorite story ever. I could hear in my head her little voice begging "Yiddow Mouse story, Mama!" while I lined up the binding. I imagined her chubby little fingers turning the pages over and over again, her face lighting up at each familiar picture until the cover page fell off entirely.

I have read The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood hundreds of times. I've blindly recited it from start to finish -- completely from memory -- in the car late at night to stave off her tired tears. Even after she stops asking for it every day, I am certain I'll remember the rhythm of that story until I read it again to my own grandchildren.

Want to know how I know that?

Because of the smile on my mom's face when she starts reciting the first page of my own favorite story from when I was tiny.

I am a bunny. My name is Nicholas. I live in a hollow tree.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Six months, Mister

My dearest, darlingest Mr. Baggins,

Six months, son! It's been entirely a half of one year since you slid out into the world all screaming and pink and who knows what to think about that? Here's the thing. Mama loves babies who are four months old. Four months old is the very best age in baby land, what with the snuggles and the cheeks and the sleeping through the night and the chubby-yet-not-too-grown up status of your cheeks. I loved you to pieces all the way through month four in a desperate attempt to keep you that way, and now here you are at six months old no matter all my efforts.

And what do you know? I still love the stuffing right out of you!

Today we visited our very favorite pediatrician to update him on your recent doings, and guess what? You're a giant! You are taller than 93% of other babies your age. Sheesh. You are getting better at this whole sitting independently business, though once your heavy noggin starts drifting to one side or the other, the rest of your squirrly little self usually follows and you topple over into a tangled little pile of deliciousness.

And here's the thing about all that growing you've been doing (quite without any input from me, I'd like to reiterate.) I realized that there are things about you already that you have grown right up and out of that I hardly remember anymore. That little growth you had on the inside of your lip, for example, and the way we had to take you to that oral surgeon. You were his youngest patient ever, Baggins, and all he had to do was say, "it'll be fine!" and just like that, it went away. Magic!

Or the way we had to switch from Costco formula because your poop said No bargain brands for me!   And trust me, when poop speaks, we listen. That's also the reason we switched to better diapers. (Between Mama's name brand Mac and your fancy-pants diapers, we'll end up in the poor house, just you watch.) The thing about diapers is that if they don't contain the poop like, ever, then it doesn't much matter how much cheaper they are, they've sort of ceased to be diapers and started being really bunchy underpants. Can't have that for my Baggins!

Poop aside, Mister, and ignoring all the curdled milk you happily urp up regularly on your Mama, you are just the sweetest, gentlest little pumpkin baby that ever was. You are quiet and pleasant and every time I try to describe you I just end up saying the word 'sweet' a billion times and nuzzling your neck for half an hour. People are constantly asking if you are always that well behaved, and I just smile. Because, YES! You totally are!

So here I am blogging about the unbelievable way you are so old, and you are looking up at me from the bed with a drooly smile when Daddy decides it's high time to work on your ball handling skills because--did I mention this?-- you are to be a Tight End someday at BYU. I mentioned that I thought there was a stuffed football in your room someplace and Daddy popped back in the room with his eyebrows low and said, "WTF, wife?" (which he has never said before, I'll have you know) just like that, double-yew tee eff, all because when he found that stuffed football, it was red. The horrors.

And that's unimportant, of course, colors of footballs and whatnot. It doesn't matter in the long run, even to your Cougar daddy. What is mportant is that you are happy and well and we love you.

We'll always love you, all the way to the moon,


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Cheesiest Argument

Paddy and I recently locked horns in an epic marital battle, and I think it's important to document these things from time to time so we can learn from our mistakes, you know, or at least remember how right I was. We're not typically fighters, but sometimes a girl's gotta engage when the stakes are high.

The whole scene began when Paddy returned from a grocery shopping trip to WinCo and complained about the (apparently excessive) cost of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

"The off-brand is fifty cents cheaper," he said, eyebrows raised emphatically as if that would be the difference between sending Bug to college and finding ourselves living under the viaduct with all of our belongings perched in a stolen shopping cart.

I argued the extra half dollar was worth it for the name brand stuff, especially since we eat boxed macaroni and cheese as a family just this side of never. He argued that when that fifty cents represents a 100% mark up over the other options, it was silly.

(I'll admit it; when you say it like that, it does seem a bit unnecessary.) In general, I'm totally on board with generic brands. What can I say? I'm a bargain shopper! But there are a few things in life that require the expertise and research and development background only found in the name-brand product. Peanut butter, for example. Q-tips. And, I'll argue, boxed macaroni and cheese.

Anticipating my response, Paddy had come home with several boxes of the off-brand and a couple of the familiar blue one, and challenged me to a taste-off.

To begin with, I say he cheated, because he got the regular boxes of Kraft and the spiral boxes of the off-brand, and everyone knows that spirals are way better than regular. No matter, though. I still won, and won handily. The verdict is in. If I'm going to eat neon orange powdered cheese product, by golly I'm paying a premium for it.

Agree? No? What do you only buy the name-brand version of? Perhaps most importantly, did your mom put hotdogs in your Mac when you were little?

Monday, August 13, 2012


During my (semi) daily morning run, I spend the vast majority of my time searching for something, anything to keep me trudging along. Just get to that garbage can, I say, and then that one down there. (Garbage days are inspiring.) Now get to that tree.

It's awful.

I've got the Chili Peppers on the iPod, yes, and scored some new Nikes a while back, but good tunes and decent shoes barely touch the corner of the awfulness that is running around my neighborhood in a Salt Lake City 5K shirt that I can't begin to place the origins of, shoving a double stroller with, I don't know, something like 45 pounds of kid in it.

And so I think up all sorts of bizarre scenarios and reward systems to keep myself engaged. Let's face it, though, at the end of 4 very long, sweaty miles, there are really only a couple bits of inspiration that can hold my attention.

(Hint: it's not Bug asking repeatedly over and over again and until the end of time, But Mommy, what are we doing AFTER our run and AFTER we go home and AFTER I eat some goldfish for a snack?)

Oh yeah. My Bug, covered in orange Crystal Light, and her Mr. Baggins, covered in adorable.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer Projects: The Front Porch

I have made more than a few crappy decisions in my life, I'll tell you what. Did I ever tell you about the time I accidentally dyed my hair jet black in the bathroom of my college apartment? Oh yeah. Hot. I've even made some terribly dangerous decisions in my life, like the time this future trauma social worker rode a motorcycle without a helmet.

But let me tell you all about the horribly stupid decisions I have never made. I've never smoked crack cocaine. I've never killed a man. And, in a deliberate lifestyle choice for which I am eternally and forever grateful and for which I should be praised by all future generations of homeowners, I have NEVER INSTALLED GREEN OUTDOOR CARPET ON MY FRONT PORCH.

We could spend a couple of hours contemplating what awful set of circumstances would lead a person to believe that green carpet on the exterior of a home was a good idea, but at this point that's neither here nor there. Besides, I have clear photographic evidence to unequivocally back up my position that it is nothing but inconvenient and awful. Note:

Do you like those cool paint footprints that happened when we were completing the initial renovations of this house 4 years ago? Yeah, me too. I'll tell you what I'm not going to spend time doing, though, and that's removing paint from forest green outdoor carpet.

So anyway, we pulled up the carpet. We anticipated adhesive stuck to the concrete underneath, but our sweet child-like innocence prevented us from anticipating that underneath the yellowish glue seen below, we would find they had used black roofing tar to glue down the carpet. Let me spell that for you in case you missed it: R-O-O-F-I-N-G T-A-R. Oh, how naive I used to be.

Maybe I dripped a little blue paint on the cement when I painted the door. Oops.

Have I mentioned how difficult it is getting to write this post without peppering it with profanity? No? Well, it is. Not wanting my posterity to someday think I sound like a hardened sailor is basically my only motivation to keep it family-friendly. POSTERITY!

And so it came to be that we experienced a taste of Dante's fifth circle of hell. (Anger, in case you were wondering.) Using a powerful solvent, a straight garden hoe (don't laugh)(OK, go ahead. Get it out of your system) and a metal putty trowel, we scraped that tar with nothing but our elbow grease and sheer force of will to someday, SOMEDAY, have this house ready to sell. Both Schmoopsie and I lost chunks of flesh from the palms of our hands and probably gallons of sweat.

It. Was. So. Awful.

I honestly don't have words for how awful it was. This is the kind of labor that should be reserved for, I don't know, violent felons or something. Terrorists should have to do nothing but scrape tar off of concrete in the middle of August, only I bet there's something in the Geneva Convention that prohibits that kind of inhumane torture. I'm serious.

(Posterity posterity POSTERITY.)

When the tar stubbornly remained stuck to the ground despite all of our efforts, the wizards of the Internet suggested we try soaking it in WD-40 before scraping. This actually worked fairly well, though it still took about 80 million applications. Plus, then I had to scrub the area with dish soap and a scrub brush before we painted it so the paint would stick.


We chose a paint that was as close to concrete color as we could get. We used a product designed for walkways and pool decks, and it has a bit of very fine sand mixed in so that the surface doesn't get slippery, even when it's wet. A bonus benefit is that the texture helped to mask whatever adhesive residue we couldn't get off the concrete.

You guys. The finished product looks SO GOOD. It was almost worth all the agony.

We've been walking on it for several days now, so it's getting a little smudged. It looked even better before that!

The before and after:


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Snip snip.

The first time I saw my Mr. Baggins I was shocked to to see all of the lovely hair on the top of his head. After Bug was born, I grew quite fond of little bald babies, and her shiny little noggin will always be the cutest bowling ball I've ever seen, but HAIR! I grew a baby with hair!

Maybe it was all the excitement about it, I don't know, but it really hadn't occurred to me that anyone in the world wouldn't be head over heels for those floppy long locks, even 5 months (FIVE MONTHS! IMPOSSIBLE!) later. Bug didn't need a haircut for, I don't know, like 18 months or something, so I forgot that maybe things might look a little scraggly.

Finally, Daddy grew tired off the crazy professor look, and with his encouragement, the silly long strands on top had their execution date set.

We set up shop in the kitchen this morning. It takes a real man to look that confident in a bright pink Bumbo seat. 

Never once would my teenage mind have imagined I'd catch that much slobber in my hand without even flinching. Proof that kids make you insane.

Once I got the hair wet and tried combing it back, I conceded that it really did look pretty ridiculous. Point one for Daddy.

A few clips later, and my man is sporting a very handsome shorter 'do. Couldn't you just DIE?

If he's missing later, it's because I smeared some peanut butter on his round little cheeks and ate him whole. Admit it, you'd do the same.