Tuesday, November 30, 2010


This Thanksgiving, I was thankful for:

My sweet parents, who drove 800 miles to be with us. And by "us" I mean Calvin. Nate and I have gracefully accepted our demotion to chopped liver.

(This is terrible of Cal but so cute of my parents that I had to include it.)

My lovely and always generous in-laws, who hosted Thanksgiving for 20 people and three dogs (Sorry, Denny...I only got a picture of Mary!).

Another holiday with Grandma Adele, who made her famous lefsa.

(Not as thankful for the lefsa itself, though. I try it every year, and every year I make a similar "you people are crazy" face. Calvin seemed to enjoy it, though.)

A sleeping Matilda, something never before seen at a family gathering.

Time spent with people we love (some of whom didn't make it on the camera, unfortunately).

My amazing pie-making skills, without which we would have been starving and dessert-less.

(Yeah, not even close.)

My incredible husband, who really is just the cutest guy ever.

And, finally, my precious Calvin, for whom I am thankful every single day.

In case you were wondering, yes - that last one is a picture of Calvin's first kiss. The first of MANY first kisses he had with Madelyn that night. Luckily, Miss Madelyn is more than capable of sticking up for herself.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Turns out I have no idea what I'm doing with this whole parenting thing.


My usually sweet child has turned into a part-time hellion. This weekend he started throwing full-blown toddler tantrums. Of course I have no clue how to handle this kicking/screaming/crying/hitting/headbutting/total desperation thing he's got going on, because like everything else he's thrown my way over the course of the last 18 months, I haven't gotten to that part of the book yet.

Really, it's humbling. As soon as I start to feel an ounce of pride in my parenting skills, he enters a new phase of terrible that knocks me on my rear. What's that old adage about pride and falling...?

On the flip side, he's suddenly saying well over 100 words. And a few phrases, such as "I did it!" "I don't know!" "I cook!" "Bye, Mama (or Dada, Mattie, Nana, truck, etc.)." He's pretty much repeating everything we say and whipping out new and unexpected words left and right. My favorite? He's started telling us when he poops. "Poop, Mama. I did it!" Funny, funny boy.

Seems to me each phase brings both good and bad. Newborns are sweet and cuddly and unable to move, but they keep you up all night. And 18-month-olds are adorable and smart and sleep all night, but they are also opinionated and embarrassing and disobedient.

Such fun.

For kicks, here are Cal's 18-month stats:

Weight: 26lbs, 13oz (63rd percentile)
Height: 33.5 inches (85th percentile)
Head: Big (90th percentile)

Also for kicks, a photo April took while she was visiting. I love his curls in this one. He might look just like his Daddy, but he's got a bit of his Mama in him, too.

I don't love the tantrums, but I sure love the boy who throws them...

Against all odds.

Against all odds — including pink eye, severe colds, sore throats, migraines, nausea, and sub-zero temperatures — April and I made it down to First Avenue to see Joshua Radin in concert last Monday night.

I am happy to report that the experience was totally worth dragging my sorry, exhausted, sick, sad self off the couch, out of my pjs, and into real clothes.

Me and my pink eye, and April and her glasses (we heard he likes girls in glasses).

Yep. As suspected, totally adorable in person.

He looks less adorable and more crazy in this one, but look! He's so close! Behind that girl's arm!

Minnesota girls don't wear socks with skinny jeans, even in winter. Or coats in 15-degree weather when going out downtown Minneapolis at night. At least that's what I told April. (She may never forgive me. That was really stupid and we totally froze. Plus we're both Chicago girls, so what on earth was I trying to prove?)

I love having a friend who will fly two states over and lie on my couch for three days with me while we're both sick just to see a concert. I'd like to think it's because April really loves me, but I know the truth:

Joshua Radin is really dreamy.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

True story.

Once upon a time, on the Saturday night before Thanksgiving, a Girl Who Worked a Crappy Job That Got Her In Loads of Debt was set up with a Guy She Didn't Want to Meet by a Friend Who Also Worked the Same Crappy Job. The Friend had a Boyfriend who was the Guy She Didn't Want to Meet's best friend from high school.

The Girl told the Friend that she wasn't interested in being set up, but the Friend told the Girl that she thought she would hit it off with the Guy She Didn't Want to Meet. So the Girl reluctantly agreed to go out in a big group that included the Friend, the Boyfriend, the Guy She Didn't Want to Meet, and a few other people.

It was fun. The Girl Who Worked a Crappy Job liked the Guy She Didn't Want to Meet. They played Golden Tee at the bar and she used all her best flirty moves and he used a few clumsy lines and they drank a little and laughed a lot.

Then a Charming Scottish Guy tried to pick up the girl at the bar, and the Girl was flattered but not interested, so she grabbed the hand of the Guy She Didn't Want to Meet and claimed he was her boyfriend. The Charming Scottish Guy smiled, shrugged, and walked away, but the Guy She Didn't Want to Meet kept holding her hand. He held it as they left the bar and crossed the street and until they got back to the car, where he let go so he could pee in someone's bushes. Once that happened the Girl didn't want to hold the Guy's hand anymore, but she did find his off-key rendition of Britney Spears' "Crazy" kind of endearing during the drive back to her Friend's house.

And she was a little thrilled when he called a few days later to invite her over for movie night with friends.

And somewhat suspicious when movie night turned into date night because everyone but the Guy She Didn't Want to Meet left as soon as she got there.

But the Girl was happy as the night wore on and the conversation got deeper and the Guy She Didn't Want to Meet sat a little closer and the first date turned into a second date which turned into a third date which turned into love.

And nine years later, the Girl Who Worked a Crappy Job That Got Her in Loads of Debt and the Guy She Didn't Want to Meet found themselves living happily ever after with a Sweet Little Boy and a Small Brown Dog.

And the Guy She Didn't Want to Meet still holds the Girl's hand whenever they cross the street.

The End.

Monday, November 15, 2010

18 months.

Before bed each night, Calvin and I pray together. And almost always, mid-prayer, I burst out laughing at the thought of something funny he did or said that day. I end with a giggly thanks to God for the joy Calvin brings to our home.

I think joyful is the best description of life with Calvin. There's plenty of frustration in parenting a toddler, of course. But the overwhelming feeling I have each and every night as I laugh and play and talk and read with my son is joy. He delights me. His enormous smile, his silly antics, his narration of our daily activities. His vocabulary, which has taken off like a rocket these last few weeks, is endlessly entertaining. I know it will get old at some point, but right now I could listen to his excited "Mama! Mama! Mama!" all day long.

Yesterday I let him "help" me put together my Thanksgiving centerpiece, which led to tiny broken pieces of angel vine all over my floor. He reluctantly helped me pick it all up and put it in a Target bag, only to dump it all back out on the floor when I wasn't looking. When I asked him where the bag went, he threw his hands up, shook his head, and said "I don't know!"

I've been trying to teach him to use "please" when he needs something. We're working on the sign (rubbing in a circular motion over your heart) because even though he knows how to say the word, he just hasn't been able (or willing?) to put two and two together. So after scarfing down a few fruit snacks yesterday, he came to me asking for more. He signed and said "more!" and I asked him to say please. Instead of saying it, he started rubbing all over his body, desperately. Like "Oh no, which one is it? I know it involves rubbing...here? No? Here? No? C'mon, Mom! I'm trying! How about I just start clawing at my neck??"

There are a number of books he loves right now (and that we read over and over and over and over...I've started hiding books in the chair cushions when he's not looking) including Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Big Red Barn, New Socks, and Teeth Are Not For Biting. Each of these stories has an expression he anxiously waits to say — in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom he says "Oh nooooo!", during Big Red Barn he says "Mooooooooooooo" when he sees the cow and "Dog! Dog! Dog!" when he sees the dog, in New Socks he says "WHOA!" when the character goes flying across the wood floor, and in Teeth Are Not For Biting he likes to smile and say "CHEEEEEESE!" at the end.

He's also begun offering hugs as repentance. Last week he relapsed and bit another child at daycare. The incident report always outlines how they dealt with the situation, and on this one they wrote "give hugs." This weekend I noticed any time Calvin did something naughty and was caught, he would smile brightly and say "hugs!" and lean in to hug the offended party — me, Matilda (not interested), the book he tossed across the room, etc.

He's smart, this child of mine. He is also charming, mischievous, silly, independent, stubborn, loyal, endearing, and loving. I don't think I've met another kid who willingly gives as many hugs and kisses as he does (which has led us to wonder if he'll turn into that creepy guy who tries to give everyone back rubs...we'll work on that.). While he's inherited an noticeable blend of traits from the two of us, Calvin has a BIG personality that's all his own. What a blessing it's been for us to watch him grow from helpless infant to independent toddler these past 18 months.

Parenting Calvin is not and will not be easy. He challenges me in a million different ways every day, and he's not even three feet tall yet. But the joy he brings to our family and our home is indescribable.

And what's joy without a little suffering?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A relaxing weekend.

In my mind, I woke up this morning at a reasonable hour to a clean house and child who's eyes weren't crusted shut. I didn't find three inches of snow in my yard and I didn't have to cancel brunch with my brother due to Calvin's increasingly red eye. I didn't have to bundle up my son and drag him out into the cold and snow (which I didn't have to spend 15 minutes scraping off my car) or drive 45 minutes across town in treacherous conditions to urgent care. I didn't have to hold my son down so the doctor could examine him and diagnose him with pink eye, and I didn't have to drive another 45 minutes back across town in treacherous conditions to get his prescription filled at the Target near our house. I didn't spend 20 minutes wandering around Target trying to console/entertain/constrain a hungry, cranky little boy who was getting dangerously close to naptime, nor did I find out upon my return to the pharmacy that they didn't actually have the medication I was waiting for. I didn't have to wait even longer while they called other pharmacies in the area to see if they had it, only to determine the closest place was a Walgreens in the opposite direction of my house. I didn't have to drive my overly-tired-darned-near-starving kid to yet another place in treacherous conditions to drop off the prescription, and I didn't have to sit in the parking lot and feed him a random assortment of groceries purchased at Target for lunch while we waited for it to be done. I didn't hear from the Walgreens pharmacist that the Target pharmacist had miscalculated the dose and they'd probably had enough back at Target after all. And I certainly didn't come home to even more snow needing to be shoveled or the task of putting eye drops in an ridiculously exhausted and very crabby boy.

In my mind.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shopaholic and friends.

I spent last weekend with six women I adore: my mom, the two Marys Breyer (my mother- and sister-in-law), and our friends Lisa, Karen, and Dawn.

Five years ago, my mom, the two Marys and I pioneered the first of many shopping trips to Galena, IL — home to many adorable things available for purchase. It started as kind of a mother/daughter trip (my SIL's mom and sister came, too), and ended up expanding just a bit to include a few other friends. We rent a darling little cottage that fits our group perfectly, and then spend the weekend shopping, eating, drinking, playing games, and talking late into the night.

It's REALLY fun.

And a little tiring. Because we don't just shop in Galena. We S-H-O-P. We shop like it's our full-time job. We wander up and down the main street for about eight hours on Saturday, and then usually a few more on Sunday. The second day of shopping is always the result of Saturday evening's show and tell, because inevitably someone wonders how they missed something someone else found and insists on going back to get it the next day.

I got home Sunday night at 4:30 and whined to Nate about how tired I was. I had no business whining about anything related to sleep after he survived two days of single parenting our toddler and daylight savings time...but I was tired. Shopping (er, S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G) will do that to you.

So, what did I buy during our little excursion?

Here are my finds, minus the big one — a gorgeous paned mirror for my dining room. It was too big for us to bring home in our car, so my mom took it home and is bringing it to me at Thanksgiving. I can't wait.

I got a few fun things for the kitchen, including a cookie scoop (it's almost time for holiday baking!), a really cute cutting board, new dishcloths, a Christmas dishtowel, a set of Halloween dishtowels (a gift from Mom...thank you!) and a little Halloween ghost bowl (all the fall holiday stuff is on clearance when we go, it's kind of fun).

I also got this sweet set of three antique puzzles. I'm going to mat and frame them for Calvin's room.

And these tin stars, which were on clearance at the first store we visited. I think I'm going to hang them at various lengths from navy ribbon on my front door for the Fourth of July.

Every year we all gravitate toward these little seasonal signs/figurines. I have a bunch of them. We all got the "Rejoice" one this year, I thought the mummy was cute (and appropriate), and the crow made me laugh. But nothing made me laugh as hard as my mother-in-law figuring out that her pair of pilgrims consisted of two women and not a male/female couple. The lesbian pilgrim figurines are officially my new favorites.

The only things I purchased for myself (well, it's all for me...but for me to wear) included a teal infinity scarf (one of those big loop ones), a scrunchy brown pashmina-y scarf, and a cool pair of earrings from a handmade jewelry store.

This year when I got home Nate actually complimented me on my shopping choices. I think he was just relieved to see me come home with a single bag. I also think he forgot about the massive mirror that's yet to arrive.

Wild hair on the streets of Galena:

With my lovely sister-in-law:

The girls (Lisa, me, Mary):

The ladies (Mary, Dawn, Mom):

And Karen (she was goofing off in the group shot, so she gets her own here):

The goods:

Relaxing in our cute house:

And Mary with her hat. She's definitely a hat person, don't you think?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful for Thursday: Part Deux.

By reader request, another Thankful for Thursday post. I don't know why this has been requested of me, but it seems like an easy enough way to get something new on the blog. Sorry for the dud of a week, gang. I'm kinda tired, and no blog post is better than boring blog post.

Without further ado, today's list of things for which I am thankful:

1. 102.9 LITE FM. I keep this station as a pre-set in my car even though it's full of stuff I hate like Phil Collins because come mid-November it becomes all Christmas music, all the time. And today while flipping through my stations I landed on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. HOORAY! (Somewhere Nate is crying, because it's highly unlikely we'll be listening to anything else between now and December 31.)

2. Pumpkin spice creamer. I can't afford a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks everyday (though I'd like to think I can), so I was anxious to get this beloved creamer for work and home. It took multiple visits to multiple stores and a few fist shakes to the sky (WHY IS SUPER TARGET ALWAYS OUT OF EVERYTHING I WANT?), but I finally found it last week, and I'm enjoying a steaming cup of happiness as I type. Nate recently said "Why don't you and fall just get a room?" and to that I would like to publicly reply "If only!" because I love fall and would gladly get a room with it if for no other reason than the ability to sleep in.

3. The shirt I'm wearing. It looks like a blazer but it's a sweater. Similar to leggings, this jacket allows me to be dressed down while looking slightly dressed up. If I keep this up, I might be able to patent an entirely new genre of work apparel. It will be called "Business Lazy" and I will make millions. Which I will use to buy more leggings and sweaters that look like jackets, of course.

4. Boden. I remain hopelessly devoted to this brand, because they give me no other choice. I got a clever little letter from Mr. Johnnie Boden this week, thanking me for helping to make Mini Boden a success "across the pond." It came with a $25 voucher for Mini Boden, no minimum purchase required. Which is like a free item of clothing for Calvin! (Almost.)

5. The power of social media. There was a Twitter/Facebook firestorm yesterday over Amazon selling a disgusting, disgusting book that is extremely harmful to children — and they ended up taking it off their site. Seems all you need to change the world these days is a web-enabled mobile device and a hashtag. Technology is good. And, thankfully, people still are, too.

6. Glee. This week's episode tackled bullying in all forms, and led to a shocking and sweet turn of events. It's been kind of weird this season, so I was glad to be sucked back in.

7. Tuesday nights. My mother-in-law spends every Tuesday night at our house with the munchkin so Nate and I can have some free time. I love and appreciate this so much; if not for Mary I would never get to have dinner with my friends, get my hair done, or have a date with my husband. Tuesdays and Mary are the best.

8. Google. Every time I hear a song I like in a commercial, I Google some random vague description of whatever I can remember from it and wa-la! Google figures it out. This week it was the song from the McDonald's McRib commercial, which for some reason I thought was a Target commercial about sandwiches. Google still figured it out. Matt White, Love. Cute song.

9. Infant's Motrin (Target brand). LIFESAVER. It's been a rough week in our house and Calvin's mouth.

10. A plans-free weekend ahead of me. Nate's working and it's supposed to snow(!!), so I'm going to decorate for Thanksgiving, bake, and spend some quality time with my little man. Can't wait.

Happy Thursday!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful for Thursday.

In no particular order, these are the random things I'm thankful for today:

1) The pumpkin spice latte keeping me awake this morning. Calvin got up at bloody 4am and spent the next two hours rolling all over our bed. Nate and I were like zombies heading off to work.
2) Leggings. I don't know why I shunned this trend at first — it's like wearing pjs to work.
3) A work environment where leggings are considered appropriate office attire. At least I think they are. No one's said anything to me yet...
4) The tv show Castle. I love it. I don't know why, but it's kind of addictive. Actually, I do know why: Nathan Fillion is quite charming.
5) My sweet husband, who is flying solo again this weekend so I can get away for my annual shopping trip with my mom, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and friends.
6) My college roommate, who is flying from Michigan to Minnesota to go see Joshua Radin in concert with me two weeks from now.
7) Calvin's latest and greatest phrase: "Whasat? Whasat? Mama, Mama, Mama! Whasat?"
8) Peanut butter-filled pretzels from Trader Joe's.
9) Trailers for the upcoming Harry Potter movie, which I'm pretty darned excited about.
10) A lunch date with my girlfriends from work this afternoon.
11) The conclusion of political ads on tv.
12) Bobby pins. I am way overdue for a haircut and I would probably shave my head out of frustration if it wasn't for the bobby pins containing (most of) my frizz.

Things I am not thankful for today:

1) Teething.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

And earlier that day...

We went to the park with Uncle Mike. Calvin is waaaaay into Uncle Mike right now. In fact, while trick-or-treating that night, he kept saying "Mike!" and reaching up to be held by him.

This came as no surprise to us. Uncle Mike is the coolest.

A few cuties of my cutie at the park:

And where was I during all of this?

At 31 years old, it's still hard for me to pass up a swing.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Itsy bitsy.

Enthralled by the spidery legs of his costume...and his ability to hit the dog with them.

Really into the pumpkins. Kind of hard to get him off that stoop, actually.

My favorite. He didn't sit still much. What spider (or toddler) does?

Our attempt at a family photo. Calvin was out of there almost immediately.

Next best thing.

Again with the pumpkins. Once we lit them he was no longer interested in anything else. Baby pyro?

Striped heiny.

Starting out with Daddy.

The addition of gloves, per Mama's order. Hey, what's another set of stripes?

Checking out his loot. A full basket after a loop around the block. Tip: the itsier and bitsier you are, the more you get.

Reward for being a brave little trick-or-treater? A sucker.

Which he kind of loved.

A lot.

And a mini 3 Musketeers. Which I finished. Not so much with the chocolate yet.

Candy Man. (We gave out 150 pieces of candy and had to turn our lights off at 8pm because we were out!)

Nate and Calvin's pumpkins were scary...

As you can see by my pumpkin's expression.

And, finally, a silly video of Calvin, his spider legs, and his Grandpa Breyer.

Happy (belated) Halloween!
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