Thursday, August 7, 2014

who am i

Wouldn't it be funny if I really tried to wax Socratic or Shakespearean or what-have-you in this inconsequential space of internet? "And today we shall be discussing the id vs. ego as it pertains to one, Jessie Pope..." No.

Who am I? That is the question, properly accentuated. The reason I ask is I feel like I'm going through some kind of midlife crisis at the tender age of 28. A few fundamental things are just...changing or leaving or evolving. Not anything serious! In fact, you'll probably eye-roll vehemently when I expound on what I mean.

Take...alcohol. Jess of yesteryear (Jessteryear, if you will. You totally will.) had the palate of a nine year old. My buzz was attained through purely sugarfied means e.g. Mike's Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice (barf), Angry Orchard Hard Cider (stilllll a fave, mind you), or some concentratey juice blend that was ever so unobtrusively spiked with a quarter jigger of vodka or rum. Keep wine or beer or anything whose taste remotely resembles mature out of eye line, earshot or taste bud. But now? A glance at the happy hour menu of one of our favorite haunts stirs up a longing for a pretty pint of their microbrewed honey blonde. Wine tasting has become my jam. I like whiskey now. I just...what? I have to ask: who am I.

Or perhaps take the state of our apartment. I've never considered myself a slovenly person. My mom is not permitted to weigh in here. It's not as if I would have won any Mrs. Meyer's trophies or anything, but I've always erred on the side of tidyishish. Ok but in the last few months I've become a little obsessive about a-place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place. I can't sit down to begin an evening with Sean post-Bedtimeageddon until toys away dishes clean clothes folded. And I'm kind of annoying myself. Sean will do this Tazmanian Devil type thing where the room is picked up in literally 17 seconds but I can't have it the way he does it. Because toys that have pieces? All the pieces need to be accounted for and put together (like those stackable cups and woodenblock towers.)

all the offenders pictured

The kids' DVD basket? Alphabetized. (Nope. I jest not.) Not to mention I've completely overhauled the kitchen such that there is nothing on the counter that doesn't absolutely need to be there (microwave, latte maker...yeah that's it actually.) Knives have been mounted on a magnetic strip. Paper towels hang from under a cabinet. Produce in wire baskets on the wall. Kitchen Aid found a new home atop the fridge. I've rearranged every room we have and when the kids nap during the day I use the time to reorganize or stare at the wall and wonder what and how to reorganize next. I feel like I'm on speed. That's what speed feels like right?

Here's what I'm thinking after ruminating on the cause of all this maturation. Necessity is the mother of invention. Wait, no. Survival of the fittest. There's an adage that I'm trying to apply here, but they're not panning out so I'ma make one. Mothering necessitates survival. Or something like that but I think what I'm trying to say is I'm evolving to suit this particular season of my life. A liberally spirited drink spurs a moment of unwinding. A clean room produces order in my mind and soul. As a mom I'm pulled in various directions throughout the day. Well, not too many because our apartment is pretty small but it's kind of like, "wait you guys need to eat again?" and "Mom, can you wipe me?" and "[something unintelligible which loosely translates to "Mom that blond girl who you call my sister hit me in the face again."]" There are emotions felt and tantrums had, and the surest thing about each day in unpredictability. Which means it's kind of nice to have that glass of wine to run to and a spotless floor to cling to and a Good Wife ep to zone out to. (Julianna Margulies - so zen. I crave her stability.)

Those are the constants in my ever changing environment. I like my ever changing environment - it's funny and full of life lessons and opportunity and there are two freaking adorable kids that live there. But you know those tops with the trippy patterns that spin and spin and spin? Eventually they have to come to rest. In this case rest just looks like a whiskey ginger and alphabetized DVDs.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

and just like that

She's three.

Today this very day my firstborn achieves the elite status that is three. Not a girl, not yet a woman. 

I deeply doubt I'm the only mother ever that becomes a little introspective on the occasion of her child's birthday. I've been thinking a bit this week about what this year was to me, to us, to this family. How much much much Jordan changed; what/who we've added to our lives since her last birthday; how I've had to adapt as Jordan grows and tests and pushes and experiments with the circumambient boundaries of home life. 

This year. Hm. This was a tough one. It was gratifying too, and frequently punctuated with the hilarity that is the sibling dynamic, and a two year old's increasing vocabulary. But the newness of juggling what were, at the time, two difficult children (Jordan = terrible two's, Weston = colicky + what is sleep?), in addition to acclimating to was a strange few months there for awhile. All the while Jordan was keeping me sharp. She alternated fitz n the tantrums for the world to hear/see/sense deep within its soul with the most comic genius since Mitch Hedburg. I wasn't sure how to combat meltdowns that saw her hurling her entire body against a closed door, when the next sentence out of her mouth could be, "Why is your fo'head sad Mom?" (She thought the sweat produced from a Jillian Michaels workout was tears. The tears of my forehead. You guys...) And what to do, when she pinches Weston (hard!) for some offense that was probably not offensive, when a few minutes later it's: "it's okay buddy, I'm right here. I not gonna leave you. I not goin' anywhere."?

Ok I feel like I'm deviating from the traditional sing-the-good-stuff birthday post here. And there is so much good stuff. Jordan is this person who encompasses so many antonyms. She is unpredictable and yet steady. She is generous and loving and selfish in the same breath. She is a friend and a mother to her little brother - but watch carefully because that plastic saucepan could come smacking down on his skull should he overstep. She is frank, sincere, and devious and deceptive. She cares fiercely and rejects harshly. She does these, all of these, whimsically and seamlessly and in a toddler fashion that is also beyond her years.

As I laid in her bed last night and sang her the nightly lineup in my broken, harpy voice (Barney Song, Let It Go, "Mass One" (Glory to God), You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch, Winnie the Pooh - IN THAT ORDER DON'T SKIP A SONG MOM) the thought crossed my mind: it's you're last night to be two, girl. Which I promptly voiced to her and received, "Yeah....I'ne ahmost three..." in a deflated little voice that undoubtedly was meant to mirror my own. Of course her concept of the passage of time is close to nonexistent ("We're going to have Christmas tomowwow?") but there is an old soul wisdom about her that could just know that these are good years. These young innocent years where fun is an overheated park slide, and a splash pad fountain that unexpectedly shoots water up your nose, and a session of methodically emptying all 68 stuffed animals and puzzles from the toy box, and snapping an empty Pez dispenser repeatedly to hear the belly laugh your brother gives you. I want her to know that these are the good years. And I want me to know that too.

So happy day, to my Jordan Girl. You keep doing you - it's just really fun to watch.

Monday, June 9, 2014

it's his birthday

Hey, it was Sean's birthday yesterday.

I told him to pose for a birthday picture. He did this. I told him I was posting it. I think he didn't think I meant it.

The big 2-8. Sean was being all drama about it too, how he feels so old and he doesn't like getting old and his life is over...I told you, drama. Then my uncle the mathematician (actually) told him 28 is a perfect number because the sum of its factors add up to it. I think it made him feel better? Sean is mathematically-minded. I'm literary-minded. Opposites [attract].

On Saturday evening we had a bit of a party for the old man. Sandwiches, mac & cheese, beer - a few of his favorite things.

Sean opened the fridge and he allllmost cried. (See: this commercial.)

It was super fun and pretty chill, much like the subject of the party himself. We dipped into the hot tub, talked on the patio, and busted out some beer pong. I know, I know, we're getting too old for that right? If there's one thing about Sean though, his interests don't expire with age. The guy has seen Top Gun upwards of 30 times.

Okay and I am honestly the worst documenter of anything ever of all time. I took zero pictures with the exception of the first one in this post (a winner though it may be) and stole the rest from Kimmy and Sean.

brothers [-in-law]

PS we're all hunched over kinda weird in that first one because Kimmy (on the left) is taking a picture from her real, actual, big-girl camera that was set on the countertop...with her phone. In her hand. My mind was blown. 

Yesterday - the actual birthdate - was slow and easy and beachified. Like a dutiful wife, I let Sean take a Coveted Beach Nap (theeee best kind that there is) while I took the kids shoreside. And because I left my phone plugged in at home (please refer to worst documenter of anything ever of all time) I have no pictures of the pleasant day and pleasant(ish) dinner in which Weston decided to put on his difficult pants. (Jordan was the most angelic she's been since...almost ever, so it was a wash.)

In the craziness of party prep and beach day, I did not wrap Sean's presents at all. I handed them to him unceremoniously. But I really loved one of the presents I gave to him, and it wasn't the Corona boardshorts from Target. Personal Creations was so kind as to send along the cutest little engraved cutting board:

which is actually quite perfect since Sean - resident BBQ-er - is constantly stealing the cutting board I use for veggie & side prep to season uncooked meat. Cross contamination!! Inconvenient sterilization!! And so now he has own ("you has ya own" as Jordan is wont to say when I snack off her plate) and it's cuter than mine. Maybe I'll switch him.

(You should head on over there and check them out because they have some super great ideas for gifts. Their grilling section is just the picture of an awesome summer and I was halfway tempted to order this but to be honest, we don't host that many parties. The cutting board will get more use by leaps.)

A very very very happy birthday to my main man of almost 9 years. You're pretty old now, but like a fine wine (or maybe a Coors Light?) you better with age. I love you, boyfriend.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

three days

From one end to the other, Memorial Day Weekend was a pretty righteous one. We did family things, we did friend things, we did some normal things, we did some unusual things.

the normal things

// We started the weekend with an earlyish lunch at our fave Mexican spot, where Sean, Jordan, Weston and I scored some steak burrito/plethora of chips and little else/tureen of refrieds/chicken soft taco, respectively.

// Sean consumed many beers while building from scratch and installing a computer at my parents' place, to replace the one he previously made that lasted seven years (quite the life span). And the new computer works fabulously! How he can booze and build like that is pretty beyond my capacity to comprehend. I have a margarita and I start veering off pathways and into bushes.

// We went to the beach Sunday AND Monday. (Well, Monday's not the norm, but beach as much as possible is the norm.) Jordan played alternately with cousins and all by her lonesome. Sometimes we just look down to the shoreline and she's doing weird karate-esque moves on the waves and clearly sing/shouting some fabricated tune or another. Plays well with others (mostly), but decidedly an introvert, that one. Weston, he just ate sand and squinted into the sun a lot and was mainly content to study Mum Mum crackers before ingesting them whole.

the unusual things

// Saturday night, Sean and I went on this epic date.

It was crazy, really. We left the kids with my parents around 4:30 and met a couple friends for drinks at this pub type place in the "old" part of town. Great vibes, friendly service (the bartender bought us a round!!) Our friends could only stay for a bit and took off to go pick up their babe. Sean and I headed in from the patio area and decided to play a game of pool.

the Paul Newman to my Minnesota Fats

I haven't played in, oh, ten years. Since I first met Sean, actually. Totes held my own though. The second game, there were only three of my balls left on the table, so basically I won.

Around 8, the bar started Karaoke Night. We are so not those people. But we got a round and grabbed a chair to watch people who were those people. A guy named Lester sang Jethro Tull and Margaritaville while his wife cheered him on, and eventually Sean got curious enough (...liquored enough...) to check out the song list. He rattled off an Eric Church song while I played supporting vocals from the sidelines, and we sat down to enjoy our drinks and applaud the string of valiant vocalists.

I couldn't help it though. On my way back from the bathroom, I detoured over to the DJ and asked if he had Idina Menzel's Let It Go. He did and I was feeling diabolical I guess because I signed him up.

Sean dedicated the song "For my daughter Jordan," and off he went. IT WAS TERRIBLE. I thought Sean knew the song's cadence from hearing it so many times but he was like a stanza behind and there I was dying laughing. The crowd was completely cheering him on, much like Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend's Wedding. Eventually I did step in to get him on track, but I refused to sing into the mic. I think the moral of the story is I'm the meanest wife. But the other moral is we had an awesome time.

PS Sean signed me up for Boston's More Than a Feeling and I made him duck out with me before they called me. See: meanest wife. (But also - that is the HARDEST song to sing in all of history. My singing voice? Like the goat in that Taylor Swift vid.)

// The beach was strikingly glorious TWO days in a row. And there was zero - talking, zilch - traffic on either days, when Sean and I suspected Memorial Hell. Instead we enjoyed this


with no money spent (except gas because it's pretty much ouch these days) and no aggravation felt. Essentially the most celestial sequence of days one could ever ask for. And we all pretty much felt like


on Monday evening.

The End.

Oh you know what, Sean made an excellent point over the weekend. I had never fully appreciated the gravity of Memorial Day, really, until this year. I said something off-the-cuff about the Day as juxtaposed to the 4th of July. How it's always more celebrated, or something. And Sean said, "Yeah, but it shouldn't be. Memorial Day is a day to honor all veterans in all wars in American history." That's a lot of wars and a lot of lives. So, I'm three days late in saying this here, and it's supremely inadequate besides, but Thank You, American Soldiers. To those who have fought and to those still fighting for this country.

Monday, May 19, 2014


I bodycheck the hand-me-down couch - recently acquired from my parents - with all the force and disorientation of a tornado touching down. The couch is slightly sagged in the center from years of use, which serves to make it more restful, if less aesthetically pleasing. The down feathers pull my cheekbones, rib cage, hips and knee caps down, down, down into their comfort as if with magnetic force. I feel heavy all over; eyelids, body, brain - not from a glut of knowledge or anything, because thoughts don't bear physical weight anyway. But wouldn't it be great if they did? Karen Smith would be walking around with her head practically flying off her shoulders with its weightlessness

while Bill Gates and Ke$ha walk around with their heads bowed down near their ankles.

No, my brain is heavy not with cognitive power but with grog. The poor Weston child contracted a "viral infection" last week, the diagnosis of which could not possibly be more vague and all-encompassing. With it, he has seemingly lost the ability to sleep within the proper time confines as most of the general populace. 

Sean and I hit up urgent care a few nights ago after a battle to the death between Weston's vomit and the elephant print sheets (bile won), accompanied by a fairly high fever and complete listlessness. The poor little guy. He was so lethargic and lifeless, it hurt to see it. We stayed long enough for them to bring his fever down and were sent home with a prediction that the virus will stick around a few days.

The day after urgent care, I carefully planned our morning. I calculatedly timed meals and errands and cleaning around afternoon naps. At 12:30, both kids were freshly fed and diapered and pampered and loved, and firmly put in their respective prisons. I promptly proceeded with the formalities outlined in the first paragraph. But I had forgotten. I had forgotten Weston's superpower.

There is this fuzzy, nondescript place in my mind that directly follows consciousness but teeters on the precipice of full on sleep mode, wherein I know myself to still be connected to my time and place, yet things are a little nonsensical and bizarre. I think it's my brain trying to convince my body to let go and fall into total unconsciousness, but the two of them duke it out for a little while in the in-between. It is this Carroll-esque state that seems to eep from my cranium, traverse the 15 steps from living room to bedroom, wind up the legs of my baby's crib and set alarm bells off in Weston's head. Because - almost without exception - Wes has woken a-wailing at THE EXACT moment I pass into naphood. For ALL eight months of his life. Whether he has slept fifteen minutes or two and a half hours, he is acutely aware of any attempt on my part to take a day snooze. 

Sean frequently asks why I don't try more often to nap when the kids do. The truth is, I think I've had three successful endeavors. Weston's Spidey senses are finely tuned, and so I busy myself with other things during naps, be they restful or choreful. So long as I am deadly silent, of course - and believe me, I've mastered this. I mean, it's a gift.

And then over there, there's Jordan with her superhuman ability to volley from cutesy flirt to screaming banshee to polite debutante to violent ax murderer to overprotective sister to sobbing depression master to studious crayon wielder to backtalking teenager. Annnnd repeat, with all the volatility of a superball on a trampoline. 

Amusement park of emotions and all, this girl is a straight up character. Her comedic timing rivals Woody Allen's and she's about as introspective as a Wes Anderson flick. Her budding conversation skills quite often give me pause to wonder where in the H she picked that one up from. The other day, she and my brother were having a tea party and, as she poured herself a cupful, my brother requested one as well. She told him, "No, Unca Lukey, you can has your alkyhol." (oh, perfect.) The same brother asked Jordan's permission to pinch Weston's cheeks and, lioness of an older sister that she is, she reprimanded "NO! ONLY kisses." 

These kids and their heroics, I tell ya. I'd really love to hear what your babes are doing these days. Are they quirked kids like mine?

PS - Wes is doing just fine. He spent the weekend at the beach and couldn't have been happier about it. He even felt well enough to eat some sand.

totes recovered

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

a serving of brazen toddler with a side of emma stone

The other day I followed a weird spike in my blog traffic that landed me at GOMI on a forum where people were asked to link their favorite lesser known blogs. To my shock n' awe, someone had linked mine (*blush*). I followed the comment thread, and it garnered one response from someone who said something like, "I want to like this blog, but it's just another oversharing mom." (*blush again*)

It's SO TRUE though. My blog posts are rife with feelings caused by my children, stories featuring my children, pictures of my children. My sister Audrey of the Great State of Washington called me the other day to object to my blog desertion. And I know she mourns not the loss of content but of her niece/nephew photo fix. I simply told her, "I just don't really know what to write about right now." To which she advised, "Just write your thoughts."

My thoughts:

Emma Stone is my spirit animal.

Circa 2001 a young girl named Jessie stared at her 400 pound computer monitor, patiently sitting through the 12 minutes of cacophonous dial up that would eventually land her on AZ Lyrics, that she could repeatedly read chorus and verse to Blues Traveler's Hook until she could recite them without a hitch. I loved that song. And when Emma Stone got up there on the Jimmy Fallon stage I rapped transfixedly along with her. It just goes to show that sometimes following Buzz Feed LOL (on which I found above gem) isn't totally worthless. Even though most of their stuff is like, what Anime character are you? Well, the only Anime reference I even know is Pokemon. And only because Pokemon and pogs are the love language of my generation.

Jordan is simultaneously sage and sassy.

Case #1: I had a slight - read VERY SLIGHT - case of road rage the other day during which I berated my fellow driver to "come onnnnnn get overrrrrr." Backseat driver numero uno chimed her two year old cents in with a decided "Mom. Calm down. Don' be mad. Take a walk."

Um, ok.

Case #2: A few weeks ago, the totally old man car that I drive around suffered a slight case of vandalism. Overnight, the license plate was stripped from it's poor little old man bumper and the gas cap was mysteriously clipped off for some unfathomable reason. We had the car fully checked out to make sure nothing sinister was afoot, but I blame adolescence and the mostly empty bottle of pomegranate vodka I found under the car. Anyway, Sean replaced the gas cap with a locking one. It is super impossible to unlock it. Utterly. Post gas cap wrestle, I informed Sean as much. He explained the complicated and innumerable steps ( step...) that must be utilized to prise away said cap, and I was indignant that he hadn't explained as much before. He said, rather quietly, "I guess I thought it was obvious." From the backseat (again) Jordan let the tension settle in before all too sarcastically claiming, "It's ozzious, Mom."

Go to your room Jordan.

Weston is weaning.

Which is nice because, freedom. But also not nice because breastfeeding has been my lone form of exercise. I've been eating just the same as I have the last 8 months but my muffin top reached Panera status in the last week. I guess it's time for that double jogger now. Because unlike Grace, I like to nurse my recovery (yes, pun intended, what do you think?) for about 8 months longer than she. Weston is 8 months and 5 days so once you crunch the numbers I think you should give her like a hundred clappy emojis.

Ok the kids have been sleeping a suspiciously long time now. I'm not complaining but I think I should check on their welfare. 

But to recap: I've had three whole blogthoughts in about a month's time. Oversharing mom FTW.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

margaritas and scissors

If pressed, and if I'm being honest, I'd have to say it was the fault the margaritas. 3 margaritas. 3 margaritas that I foolishly permitted Sean to make, rather than myself.

Alternately, I could blame the decision on my running into my hairdresser in a coffee shop the other day, who I hadn't been to see since last May. Which got me thinking about how much my hair is the pits. THE PITS.

Be it the Sean-made margaritas scenario, be it the fateful meeting of the hairdresser in the coffee shop scenario, something happened this weekend:

Let's start at the beginning. Once upon a time, Sean and Jessie wanted to be prudent with their spending and with their public exposure of their children to unsuspecting fellow restaurant go-ers. Both were quite keen to hit the local Mexican restaurant for endless chips and salsa and, more importantly, salted & rocked margaritas. They decided to use their better judgement (ironic snort reserved for a few paragraphs down) and have a patio date. As fate - for better or more likely for worse - would have it, a CVS run yielded the discovery of Sean's favorite tequila on sale. It further produced Tostitos and that kind of gross queso dip that Sean's obsessed with; the one that I strangely can't stop eating despite being perturbed by every bite I take.

It's 75 degrees. The kids are being oddly simpatico - simultaneously. A couple hours of talking and beveraging go by. We hit the hot tub, and I'm pretty sure this is where it went wrong. I dunked my head, you see, thus making my hair wet and manageable. By the time the errant whiff of a not-great idea penetrated my foggy brainwaves, it was too late. Even Sean doubted my judgement - and that means something's really off.

I'll paint the scene here: still sopping from the pool and clad in my "bathing suit" (track shorts and sports tank) I sought out the scissors at the back of the medicine cabinet. I did my best to remain stationary as I held a struggling Weston in my right arm and Jordan stripped down to nakedness at my left (see pink tutu'd bathing suit splashed in split ends, above). And here, here  is where I should have stopped the whole thing:

when I realized that this was the face of my soon-to-be hair-shearer. As Sean brushed my hair out (leaving what I'm pretty sure are permanent track marks down my back from the brush because OW, it's not an Iron Man competition, Sean, it's my frail straggly hairs) I realized I could still stop this, but Tequila said "sh, it'll be fine."

"Oh, Mom, why you doing? Why your hairs cutting?" 
"Don't worry about it, Jess, I think it's a straight line." (<----DIRECT QUOTE)
"Maybe I shouldn't have let you do this."


So I saved about $60. I cheated on my hairdresser (with my husband). It's way way shorter than I instructed and it'll take roughly a year to recoup those losses (slowest growing hair in the land). But it's actually only approximately half-bad.

Oh and I just realized Weston makes that face in that last picture. I always wondered where he got it from.

There's a moral here somewhere. Don't make decisions - weighty or flighty or otherwise - when you're on tequila? Don't keep scissors lying around? Don't quaff & coif? Learn from me, friends.

I'll see you sometime next year, hair. I miss you.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

productivity in the time of babyhood

o - m - g   you guys, this last week. A crazy train, I tell you, and I'm all aboard.

Last Saturday night, Sean and I and a few members of my posse (...siblings) attended the annual dinner dance that benefits Life Centers of Ventura County. It's always a grand time and I, being stellar blogger extraordinaire for the ages, took approximately zero pictures and therefore have no proof that I curled my hairs and shadowed my lids and coated my lashes and inserted contacts into my eyeballs for the first time in a century. No testimony showing I put on a nice dress and adorned my feet in not-Uggs/flip flops and practically re-pierced my ears trying to put a pair of danglies in because it had been that long  since I did myself up enough to justify earrings. It did happen though. A few whiskey cokes happened too and holla at the husband who gave up drinking for Lent - as good a DD as a pregnant! (Ok fine he may have started his "Sunday" a little early but who am I to huck him under the bus?)

For about a decade or a little more, I've helped the Life Centers out with the dinner dance when and where needed, and have chiefly been in charge of working up bid sheets for the silent auction. Every year on the week leading up to the dance, there's a big push for last minute donations to the auction, which loosely translates to me staying up much too late working on bid sheets and emailing the other members of the committee frantically trying to get details on the items or starting bids or whatever. It's always been relatively stress free; it's as hard as inserting info into a template and coming up with a little tagline to make it sound enticing. I mean, there were 115 items, so it's time consuming, but it's not rocket science.

But this year: I have two kids. This year, one of these kids has some attitude, um, quirks  that are in perpetual need of adjustment or consequence

"I'm funny Mom" (on repeat)

and the other of these kids would prefer his person to be Krazy glued to my person, please and thank you.

"Let's run away together Mom."

Friday, the day before the dance, I of course had 285 things to do - give or take - to make the deadline. The kids, in turn, had 285 tricks up their 2T'd sleeves (yeah..they pretty much wear the same size now) and took alternating micro naps that did not coincide in the slightest. Every time I cracked the laptop lid, a needster got it's wings and flew into one kind of demand-fest or another. Both kids were finished with their naps for the day at some ridiculous time like 2 o'clock (naps start at 1, so) and I was powering through bid sheets to a soundtrack of Super Why and Weston Cry.

At a certain point I could no longer stand the wailing and indignation of it all, and succumbed into a defeated heap on the floor, that Weston could crawl and gnaw and touch touch touch until his needy heart's content. As Weston attempted to clamber up the summit that is my bum, a concerned Jordan lay next to me on the ground as I enumerated the thousands of wispy soldiers that had abandoned my head during these months of post partum hair loss, in favor of entangling themselves in the sheisty company of the carpet. She alternated between ardent professions of "I luss you, Mom" (we'll purchase "proper pronunciation of V's" Vanna) and earnest pleas of "Mom, could you moose over?" so that she could slide between my hulking frame and the couch. I obliged and scooted a millimeter to the left, simultaneously turning my head to be greeted by Weston's uvula as he made his best effort to ingest eyebrow to cheekbone of my terrified face.

Jordan can be heartbreakingly intuitive about people's feelings, and she addressed my crumbled stature with repeated appeals to "don' be sad Mom"  and lots of pats on my head and cheeks. It was there as I lay prostrate on the floor underneath the weight of my fat baby son and beside the worry of my sweet albeit crazy moody toddler daughter, that I pondered whether God had neglected to fully equip me for this stage of motherhood. By my estimation, I was lacking at least one of the following necessities:
more patience: this is a character flaw on my part. I have patience up to a certain point and then I explode over the drop of a cracker or the spill of a milk drop.
more sleep: Wes plays a cruel joke about once a month where he sleeps relatively well for two nights in a row, and I'm convinced my exhaustion sentence has been lifted. He's done this probably three times over three months, and follows up each of these periods with horrifying nights for the next week. Aside from this, an average night sees us up together twice or so, which isn't horrible but I'm over it.
more help: the three of us stumble our way through the day until 5 when Sean comes home, and he's good for a pool date with the kids (Weston enjoys observing the splashy antics from his rocker) while I recuperate by compulsively cleaning the living room or making dinner. He'll often do the dishes and he always does the Jordan half of bedtime duty, but he is not the Weston Whisperer. Nor is anyone, really. I'm seriously considering some sainted mother's helper; I love that red headed angel-monster to the moon and back but I need to escape the cling. Just for a minute.

a slight variation of a recent 'gram of mine..but this is more or less any of Weston's waking moments

Naturally, all three of these would be ideal. But I feel that if I had even one! Sigh...the possibilities. I remember being grateful in that moment that, of all the blog skipping or skimming I've had to do recently (because of the dinner dance, I mean. I fell SO behind on my e-stories. There were like 55 in my feed at any one time), I hadn't missed this one of Jenny's about how these everyday, grueling, tiring trials and tribulations can be acts of love.

>>Our mortal toil here on earth is exactly that: work. A lot of it. No matter the circumstances or situation of one's life, nobody gets out without putting in some hard time. And children are a lot of work. In fact, they're kind of the perfect means by which those of us called to the married life can work out our salvation with fear and potty training. 

But they're more than just work, however ardently popular culture - and tired mommy bloggers like me - might try to convince you otherwise. They're also immortal souls. Little images of the Word made flesh, Who dwelt among us. And they deserve to be seen as more than accessories or add-ons to an otherwise 'perfect' and ordered life.<<

So I remembered that post - thanks Jenny - smiled at Jordan reassuringly and picked up Weston for another round of "let's trick him into being distracted by some toy in Jordan's room and then sneak out real fast and stay hidden from view and see how long he forgets that he needs my presence." Don't get me wrong, I still led a harried and rather frustrating day, trying to meet the quickly approaching deadline while trying to keep children happy and healthy and out of the pantry wherein there is always some inevitably accessible something or other that makes a colossal mess while my back is turned. But it goes a long way to have a good shot of solidarity every so often.

The dinner dance was super fun. Sean and I dressed up and got a little break from the babes; my siblings and a few friends and I sat around an outside patio table in ridiculously pleasant weather with some delightful alcoholic beverages; I didn't win anything in the auction but it was great looking around at the work we had put into it and the huge success that it turned out to be; we raised a really good chunk of change for an important cause. Not to mention, my sweet cousin who babysat the youths for us insisted "everything went so great!" (I later had my youngest sister, who I had sent over to help with Jordan, give me the real skinny. She informed me that "...yeah, Weston cried almost the whole time.." but I was so grateful that my cousin brushed it off and put on a brave face so that I could feel better about the night.)

And what is all this to say? Aside from a narration of my every complaint and whine? I don't really know, except maybe that being a parent is kind of a mysterious and wonderful thing. Kids - or my kids, anyway - do their very damnedest to give you hell, but they honestly can't help but be our little glimpses of heaven.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

case study

I was talking to one of my sisters recently, who is currently taking a child psychology class. I don't know why I never thought to take one back in my college hopping days. (I attended one..two..three colleges total. Not for extra degrees either. No doctorates here.) Psychology is fairly fascinating to me. Child psychology would be even more so, I think.

Anyway, my sister was telling me that personality formation generally takes place within the first three years of life. In other words, you can tell what kind of person a child will be - independent, generous, controlling, et cetera - by the time they're about three. Nurture notwithstanding, of course; traits can be attained through example and instruction and reinforcement, just as manners or reverence or whathaveyou can be learned and taught.

I had never heard of this three-year statistic, but danged if it doesn't make total sense. Jordan-girl, for instance: 100% who she is today as she was from hour one. She appeared physically fragile at birth

but it seemed as if she would never suffer an ounce of dependence in her life. She was alert, loud, willful and wonderful. Brown eyes that bored right to your soul, she had - and has.

Jordan of yesteryear has seemingly only changed physically. Oh I know, we've hit a lot of milestones since then. She converses, skips, hops, jumps and sleeps in a big girl bed. But she

is still she

And West-O. You want to know my first encounter with ex-utero Weston? They laid him atop me in Recovery after my c-section, and he LATCHED. Like, hard. He found what he wanted with no direction and just knew he was home.

6 months later, if he's not within a couple of feet of me, he's fretful. The boy is a sweet, good-natured, dependent lover of his mama.

But more fascinating to examine is the sibling dynamic. Would their relationship be so totally different if they were both boys or both girls? Or if Jordan had been a boy and Weston a girl? I look at Jordan, maternal and concerned, but SO in charge and sometimes controlling nearly to the point of bullying. Every morning Jordan asks if Weston can play with her in her room. She pulls out the kitchen set for him and sits next to him and flips through her books. But if he grabs something that "belongs" to her, watch out boyfriend. I've seen many a (minor) abuse delivered that Jordan has had to answer for. Meanwhile, Weston looks on adoringly and confusedly while Jordan plucks a hair from his head or pinches a fingerful of his fat. He loves unconditionally, as does she, but she is the Alpha in the relationship.

*Somehow Jordan has become hilariously honest. If I don't happen to see something mean that she's done, but I hear Wes whimper, I ask her pointblank and she answers with soulful browns: "I pinch him." or "I pull his hair." Even though she gets punished, she never fails to deliver the truth.*

Occasionally their relationship reminds me of one in my previous life....

Fortunately, my brother Luke is a happy exception to the "your personality at three is your personality forever" rule because he was a BEAST. And I was definitely a Weston. I just sat there smiling like a three month old idiot as he sat on me and watched my face turn red to purple in consternation. Ok Jordan's not quite like how Luke was, thankfully, but she does like to exercise power and authority, as he did. Mostly they're in love with each other and there's minimal refereeing involved but we'll see how it goes once Weston discovers how to use his significant weight to his advantage. Unless he just turns out to be a gentle giant, which is entirely likely considering his passive personality.

So tell me of your children's relationships with each other. Or your sibling relationships. I just think it's so funny the similarities and dissimilarities depending on age gap, sex, which sex came first, and all that. Am I the only one?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

relentless for lent

So, this happened. It happened in the ten minutes it took me to clean the kitchen after breakfast. The greater part of me thinks that this is hysterically funny. Jordan lines things up - it's her thing. Puzzle pieces, food pieces, shoes -

- and every single solitary stuffed animal in her possession. Then there's the part of me that sees this...and gives up. Why bother? Does anyone care if I clean? Does it matter if anything looks tidy? It's just we three for most of the day, and do you think the two year old and the 6 month of old give two poops?

I give two poops Mom. I tucked them in my diaper for you.

Nope, they don't. So should I?


I have been on this weird, incredibly productive clean/declutter bender for the last two weeks. In fact, Sean completely deadpanned to me the other day, "Jessie -(and he only calls me Jessie when it's serious. otherwise it's Jess)- are you pregnant?" And no, I'm not, but it's a valid question. It's been nesting on speed around here. What I've noticed is this: I feel better that I've done something tangible with my day. I'm happier, and I treat people (husband+kids) nicer. I'm more patient. It's glorifyingly freeing to be rid of so much junk that has smothered the atmosphere of this apartment for three years. My physical environment is cleaner, therefore my internal environment is at peace.

After some contemplation, I landed on my Lenten resolution(s). It's usually something like no sugar, no candy, no junk. That's hard for me, but I haven't been buying that kind of thing of my own accord for quite some time now. My only indulgence is Hershey's chocolate milk on the regulah. So I don't think it'd be much of a sacrificial change to give that up this year. I have decided to DO more. Vague? Let me clarify. I need to stop laying around waiting for the day to defeat me, because it inevitably will if I let it. Instead, I will be making a concerted effort to accomplish even the menial, the trivial, the mundane. Homecooked meals every night. (Right now you all are like, yeah duh. But for me, not duh. I know, I'm awful.) A clean bathroom. Books read to my kids - with all the voices and all the enthusiasm. A made bed. A carpet that knows the glorious feel of a vacuum blowing through its hair.

I'm not saying all at once and I'm not saying burn out or exhaust myself. I'm saying, do something everyday! I want this place to become a welcoming environment. I want my babies to have good memories of Mom when she was young and of their very first home. I want Sean to not come home to me watching Finding Nemo alongside my young while the kitchen produces nothing but a feast of squalor in its undone dishes and unwiped counters.

I know, I know. Lent isn't about doing things for you, it's about giving things to God. That's what I'm hoping to do with this Lenten plan, though. I intend to DO in God's name, for my family's sake. Double whammy, see. So, in the words of this shirt that I absolutely must buy:

I wish you all a blessed Ash Wednesday and a successful Lent.