August 31, 2010

the cruelest magic trick

Last week's weather was dry, cool, and crisp ... Could it be that fall is right around the corner?!

In years past, this notion would be welcomed and wonderful. I have always been a big fan of the fall.

This year might prove to be a little different.

I may have to start hating the fall from this point forward because, when dressed in his weather-appropriate clothing, Malcolm somehow changes from a baby to a little boy right before my very eyes. Now, this whole "aging" thing is hard on me as it is (last year at this time he wasn't even born yet!), so, to have my little guy morph in a mere instant is almost too much.

I don't really understand it, but dress the kid in shirts and pants that are separate from each other (not onesies) and a pair of sneakers and ... POOF!

Hello, little boy!

I mean, look at him!

It can't just be me that sees it ...

Long-sleeved tee-shir
t: Old Navy (thrifted for $1.00)
Jeans: Baby Gap (thrifted for $2.00)
Socks: Walmart (pack of ten for $6.00)
Shoes: Everlast (thrifted for $1.50)

I guess that summertime with it's one-piece outfits, puffy diapers, and bare feet has its perks, after all.

August 30, 2010

making it up as i go

Motherhood is about 25% planning and 75% improvisation.

Case in point:

Among the list of projects this summer was replacing our old backyard "patio." I use the term patio loosely, as it was made of masonry bricks (the ones with holes in them) and the grass from the rest of the yard had nearly covered it up. Knowing that we'd be hosting a large family gathering for Malcolm's first birthday party, my husband and I were in agreement that something had to be done ... Namely getting rid of the old and putting in something new.

The entire project went smoothly for the most part ... If you don't consider extreme sunburn (on my husband, not me), extra trips to the store for sand and supplies, increasing the size of the patio (almost on a whim) to use up more of the new pavers, extending the working timetable by about three days, and intermittent rain showers during the whole process "bumps in the road." I'll just say that I'm insanely lucky that my husband and I work pretty well together and balance each other out ... If not, someone may not have survived the ordeal (him not me).

Anyway, once the new patio was complete, we ended up with an extra bag of "special sand" (it actually solidifies to become like concrete between the paver joints) that needed to be returned to the landscaping supply store. With the summer quickly passing us by, the business hours of said store were cut back, preventing my husband from making the trip there after work. So, it was up to Malcolm and me to make the final return and consider the project to be DONE ...

As we drove out, I tried to reason in my mind how I'd juggle a baby and a fifty pound bag of sand ... I considered pulling up to the store's drive through window (I'd have to figure how to get over to it, first), entering the store with Malcolm (and leaving the sand in the car) then having an employee assist us, and even carrying the sand (and leaving Malcolm in the car ... I know, terrible mother alert!). When all was said and done, I decided that I'd be self-sufficient and get the baby and the sand into the store at the same time ... So, I pulled out the stroller and began to fasten Malcolm inside.

Then I had a "scientific epiphany" of sorts and thought back to all the basic physics I had taught ...

The bag of sand weighed fifty pounds.

The baby weighed just under twenty.

Pushing an object on wheels is easier (less work) than lifting and carrying that same object.

If I carried the sand, I'd be doing more work than if I carried the baby ...

With that dilemma settled, I hoisted Malcolm out of the stroller and promptly shoved the sand inside, then I pulled that beast into the store.

Like I said ... 25% planning, 75% improvisation.

August 27, 2010

attack of the fifty foot baby

Many of my recent photos of Malcolm look a lot like this one:

The kid moves too quickly ... And, as you can see, he has it out for my camera!

August 26, 2010

slap happy

In addition to using his hands to point and/or gesture at EVERYTHING, Malcolm has realized that they are also good for slapping his parents silly. On more than one occasion, he has faked either my husband or myself out by being completely adorable and then rewarded our cuddliness with a major smack to the face.

As I have mentioned before, he gets extremely upset when told "no" about anything ... However, slapping us must be so fun that our reprimands are falling on deaf ears. Instead of looking wounded, Malcolm will shoot us his biggest, broadest smile, slowly lean in, and then rest his forehead against our just-slapped-faces as if to say: "You don't really mean that, look at how cute I can be!"

I am having an increasingly hard time maintaining an angry face through all of this.

My husband, who used to keep a good, stern front, is beginning to crack.

The charms of our abusive little baby are starting to get to us. There are weak spots in our parental defenses ... And he has taken note of them!

We better get this figured out before we have a teenager on our hands ...

August 24, 2010

baby boyle

He may only be eleven months old (as of Monday!), but I can already see so much potential in Malcolm.

Maybe it is just because he is a boy and has a knack for getting into things, but he seems to be inquisitive by nature ... Always checking out his surroundings, and rooting around through whatever is in front of him to try and figure it out. He has started to take a liking to his board books, too, paging through them for fifteen minutes or more in a single sitting.

I would be blatantly lying if I said that seeing this aptitude for such thinking-oriented activities didn't excite me to my very core ... Just as I hoped for a child that would look like me, I'd be equally thrilled to have one that thought like me, too! Bring on the smart!

But he's still a baby.

He's probably only doing what babies do.

And what do I know, anyway?

So, in an effort to encourage the nerd in my son (in reality, he will probably end up like his father and love all things movie-related instead), I find great amusement in putting him in the science-themed clothing that I have accumulated. Today's onesie was another CafePress find, and it has always gotten a reaction from all those that see it:

Onesie: CafePress ($10.00)
Shorts: Circo (thrifted as part of a onesie/shorts set for $1.50)

Yes, that's a periodic table.

I guess a baby sporting one is somewhat unexpected.

Unexpectedly adorable.

*For those not "in the know," scientist Robert Boyle first defined what an element was way back in 1661 ... Hence the title of this post.

August 23, 2010

internal monologue

Every time I hear that another friend or loved one is having a baby, I have to remind myself that popping out offspring is not a competitive sport.

I can't really explain it, but there is a part of me that feels like I have to "keep up" in the baby-making arena. For example, if a family member who has been married for as long as I have (or less) is on baby number two, I feel like I should also be on baby number two ... Or, if a close friend is expecting, I should also be expecting (so as to have a child of my own that can grow up with that friend's child).

It's all quite maddening.

I've got one child under the age of one as it is!

I'd be crazy to want another one already ... Right?

It doesn't help my situation that Malcolm has been such a perfect little angel thus far. He was sleeping through the night like a pro by two months of age and has never given us any problems to speak of ... He nurses well. He eats well. He adjusts to new situations (and/or people) well. He travels well. He even takes his vaccinations well (with minimal crying!). He has the most bubbly, easy-going personality of anyone I know. And, like the proverbial cherry on the top of the sundae, he's adorable!


This kid is the all-around perfect first child ... Everything I could have possibly wanted, and more!

(But, I'm pretty sure my opinion is extremely biased.)

Anyway ... Back to new babies ...

From the time Malcolm was about four months old, I thought: "I could do this again. I could take care of another one ... Right now, in fact."

I almost initiated "the talk" with my husband, before stopping to really think about what another baby would mean.

I'm glad that I hesitated.

For one, my husband would have surely laughed in my face and sought me professional help of some sort. But, more importantly, if I had rushed to baby number two, I wouldn't have been able to appreciate (and ultimately experience) all the awesome little moments with baby number one. I would have been focused on the next step, what was to come, without really living life in the moment with my current child. Not that I would have completely ignored Malcolm or anything, I just would have been a little preoccupied.

So, obviously, I'm truly happy and content with my life and the baby I have now. I'm full on blessed and I honestly wouldn't want it any other way.

Why, then, do I still get that little twinge of jealousy that other people are pregnant and I am not?

That little "push" to go make my own baby number two?

That inkling that I need to catch up?

Maybe I need to take a deep breath, relish in the now, and stop thinking about what is to come ... Things will happen as they are meant to happen ...

Or I have to stop being so darn competitive.

August 20, 2010

living the dream

Had you asked me what I thought my life would be like today five years ago, I don't think I would have predicted my current situation.

Back then, I was a scientist. I have always liked that label. There is just something about working in a lab, designing and conducting experiments, or growing and monitoring cells that seems sort of glamorous to someone on the outside. Sure, there is a lot of grunt work involved, and experiments often need tending to at crappy hours (such as early in the morning or GASP! on the weekend), but my time in the lab was really fulfilling ... Intellectually and otherwise.

Even so, knowing that I'd be starting a family at some point, I wanted to pursue a career that was more "family friendly." So, I made the jump (or maybe leap of faith, if you will) to teaching science. It wasn't that far-fetched of a career switch ... I had all the content down and I had planned to get into teaching at some point, but the time had never been right. Once it was, I went for it. Although the label of "teacher" by no means packed the same punch as "scientist" (I think, in terms of career, I will always refer to myself as a scientist first, teacher second), it was a welcome change. A very, very difficult change to be sure, but a welcome one. So, when I got pregnant, I fully expected to continue along my path as a science teacher ... To take the minimum amount of maternity leave, go back to the classroom, and never look back ...

It's funny how life works, sometimes.

Within weeks of settling into my new role as "mom," I knew that I didn't want to return to work. I weighed out my options in my head, calculated our household's finances on a reduced income, considered a plethora of possibilities, but each time my heart screamed at me to just stay at home. My mother did it. My mother-in-law did it. Many women across many different backgrounds have done it ... Why should I be any different? Still, it was strange for me to fathom the idea of not working a "typical" job. I had always insisted that my husband would be the one to stay home and raise our children. True story. Ask him.

My current label as "stay-at-home mom" is the least glamorous by far. But, I love what I get do on a day-to-day basis (which, if I were to describe it to you, would seem like nothing at all). I love being at home with my son, watching him grow and change and really develop into a little person with a big personality ... Yet it's not without its moments.

Nothing in this life is truly perfect.

Even so, I know that I've made the right decision every evening around 4:30 pm. That's the time when my husband arrives home from a dirty day of welding. He's usually stinky and sweaty, covered in grime, but that doesn't phase Malcolm at all. Upon hearing the back door, he comes tearing from whatever corner of the living room he is in, squealing his excitement until he is face to face with his dad (and then promptly hoisted up off the ground).

Words can not express the feeling this daily scene gives me.

Words wouldn't do this moment justice.

And to think, this is something that many mothers don't get to witness.

One of my (small) handful of readers once told me that she liked that I don't use this space to complain, but rather to speak about the many blessings I receive every day. From the start, I knew that I wanted this blog to be positive. Being someone's mother (or parent) is tough work, but the pros completely outnumber the cons. While I wouldn't have predicted this set of circumstances five years ago, I seriously wouldn't want it any other way.

August 18, 2010

to fifty and beyond

With babies, talk is always centered around milestones ...

Although this isn't exactly the same thing, I have been at this blog for about three months now ... And today marks my fiftieth post! According to the little sitemeter (that you may or may not have noticed over there in the right hand margin), I can tell that I have more visitors than just myself, some of which have returned on more than one occasion!

To you, valued returning visitors, I say "thank you" and humbly ask:

What sort of thing do you like to see when you visit this blog?

What can I do to keep you coming back (and maybe even recommend this blog to a friend)?

Basically, how am I doing?

Am I striking a chord with any of this, or is everything just pointless drivel? I like to think that I have something to add to the vastness that is the internet, that my experiences matter or that I have something worth saying, but I can never be sure.

I started this blog as a chance for me to sort out the thoughts and occurrences of my day-to-day life ... And now, fifty entries in, I'm pleased that I'm still going strong. Unlike my previous blogging attempts, I'm not running into too many writer's blocks and have been consistently posting three days a week. It's funny that my seemingly hum-drum days are filled with blog-worthy moments and material that I can write about ... And, as Malcolm gets older, I have a feeling that that will only continue to increase.

The only thing that is missing (right now) is an audience response.

While part of me is perfectly content writing each entry just for me (with no need for any comments), part of me yearns for the validation ... And gets really excited if a post yields a comment! I guess it's just one way for me to know that my words or pictures have been met with enthusiasm from someone other than myself.

So, please take a moment, after reading this entry, to send a little feedback my way!

I'd love to hear from you!

August 17, 2010

lovable little lobster

You may be wondering: What is the reason for this toothy, little smile?

The answer is quite simple.

No, it's not that Malcolm loves his lobster shirt as much as I do ... It's that, at this particular moment, he was very proud of himself.

Only seconds before, he saw his red sippy cup on the table and hoisted himself up to grab it!

Sleeveless shirt: Jumping Beans ($1.00 from the sale rack at Kohl's!)
Shorts: Miniwear (thrifted for $1.00)

Good thing I was ready with the camera!

August 13, 2010

points of interest

Malcolm's been giving me the finger a lot lately.

The pointer finger, that is.

No matter where we are or what we are doing, my little guy has begun to make it known that he notices the world around him ... And what a big world it is!

Gone are the days when a single cry was all I had to go on:

Want some more Gerber puffs with lunch?

Point at the container.

Intrigued by the box fan in the window?

Reach out for it.

Feel like playing with (Mom and) a particular toy?

Hold it up and wave it around.

Want a closer look at something in the house (like a lamp, a photograph, or even the cat)?

Point, point, point!

While it will probably become annoying in the not-too-distant future (I'm imagining all of the "whys" I'm going to get once he is able to speak), right now Malcolm's new skill is quite a thrill. This tiny person, who merely one year ago wasn't even born yet, is already capable of so much. I know I've commented on it before, but it is shocking how much a baby grows and changes in such a short amount of time. Not only has he gone from being completely helpless to only slightly so, he has also figured out how to communicate with us without the use of crying!

When he utters that first word it's going to blow my mind ... I just know it.

(Even if it turns out to be "Dada.")

August 12, 2010

water bug

Malcolm loves the water (I don't think he ever lost his gills as he progressed through the stages of fetal development) ...

It's a good thing, though, because he tried to *float away while we spent some time at Conneaut Lake last weekend.

*No worries! Grampa was with him and ducked underwater for this quick shot ... Much like he did twenty-seven years ago in a similar photo of me as a baby.

August 10, 2010

nerd in training

When Malcolm was still a squishy little thing, laying around all day in sleepers, I went on a shopping spree for when he was "bigger." Searching Google left and right for science-related baby merchandise, I stumbled upon CafePress and wasn't disappointed.

In that single visit, I spent more than I usually do in a thrifting trip and received far less ... But it was worth it! You can't put a price on seeing your cute-as-a-button baby in periodic table or phagocytosis onesies, or shirts like the one featured today.

Titled "Cellabration" on the website, today's tee shows different cells having a party ... One is wearing a party hat, one is using a party noisemaker, and two others are saying "oh yeah!" and/or "get funky!"

Get it? Cell-abration? Like celebrating, but with "cell" in there instead?

Tee-shirt: CafePress ($14.00)
Shorts: Wilson (thrifted for $1.00)
Pocket calculator: Casio (hand-me-down from Dad)

The only thing that would make this whole outfit just a little more awesome would be a pocket complete with pocket protector ... And maybe some thick-rimmed glasses to help Malcolm see the numbers on his calculator as he figures out how many cells will be present at this party in forty-eight hours.

August 9, 2010

taking the good with the bad

Through every stage of Malcolm's life so far, I have noticed that for each negative experience, there is a positive one ...

You know, kind of like Newton's Third Law ("For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction") for mothers!

Negative: Enduring a good four hours of excruciating back labor (with no drug assistance)
Positive: Feeling like Superwoman for a good week after that ridiculous delivery

Negative: Being outnumbered two to one in the household
Positive: Having a "mama's boy" that completely adores you

Negative: Getting very little sleep due to nursing demands
Positive: Having that oh-so-lovable (and cuddly) snuggle time every two hours

Negative: More dirty diapers than seems humanly possible for such a small creature
Positive: The smiles that ensue while on the changing table

Negative: The strobe light that is the baby monitor cutting through the darkness of the bedroom
Positive: Hearing that sweet little sleepy sigh ... Or that giggle ... Or that sneeze ...

Negative: All the extra laundry!
Positive: Seeing that basket of clean and folded, tiny baby's clothes

Negative: Having a crabby, uncomfortable, drooly baby during teething
Positive: The cuteness of a single-toothed smile

Negative: Making "raspberries" with a mouth full of baby food
Positive: How cute those "raspberries" look (even if they are messy)

Negative: Perpetual dirty knees and hands ... And the ability to get into EVERYTHING
Positive: Watching the glee on your child's face as he explores his world

Negative: The whining ... Oh! The whining!
Positive: Putting an end to the whining with the power of a hug and and a cuddle

Negative: Knowing he's just going to keep getting older ...
Positive: Being there to experience it with him

August 5, 2010

out of this world party decorations

It's never to early to start planning for a party!

Right around the time that Malcolm turned six months old, I found myself "researching" birthday invitations on Shutterfly. After finding a really cute one, I decided that, for his first ever birthday celebration, my little guy would have a space-themed party. Not only could I see myself finding (or making) decorations that fit the theme rather economically and easily, I was thrilled to incorporate something science-related.

What can I say?

If you haven't noticed already, I'll say it again: I am a total science nerd!

The first thing that popped into my head regarding cute decorations was to create the planets of our solar system from inexpensive foam balls and paint them using craft paint.

A quick trip to my local craft store yielded all the necessary ingredients ...

Foam balls of different sizes (and a couple foam rings):

Acrylic craft paint in a variety of colors and shades, some foam brushes, and other assorted paint brushes for smaller details (like Jupiter's "Big Red Spot" or Earth's land masses, for example):

From there, it was as simple as letting my creativity (and science geekiness) take over.

Since I planned to make multiples of each of the planets, I completed them in batches. The following tutorial shows you how to make Saturn (the most complicated planet, because of its rings).

First, I painted all of the foam rings and balls that I would need to complete my batch ... This can be done as simply or as intricately as you want! I chose my colors and patterns from memory, but you could certainly find a book with accurate pictures of each of the planets. To add dimension to the rings (and a little sparkle) I used some glitter glue pens that I had laying around.

Next, I took some 2.5 inch floral pins (for pinning boutonnieres) and removed the "pearls" using a pair of wire snips.

Once the "pearls" were gone, I carefully pressed one pin in on each "side" of the ring, making sure it passed all the way through the ring and into the ball. I did this four times to ensure that it would have a secure hold.

Here are the finished Saturns:

Here are *all of the finished planets:

*My husband was "disgusted" that I did not include Pluto (his favorite planet). Unfortunately, since it has been demoted to "dwarf planet," I couldn't, in good faith, add it with the others. If I did, I'd also have to make Ceres and Eris ... And that would just confuse everybody! This is a one-year-old's party, after all!

Pictures of these decorations in action will follow in September!

August 3, 2010

my favorite pajamas

I think that Malcolm looks cute in whatever he wears ... I'm his mother. I obviously have a very biased opinion of anything that remotely relates to him.

(This should come as no surprise!)

Even so, there are things that Malcolm wears, outfits that I put together, that have the power to make him even cuter ... If that is even possible. One such "outfit" that I will be really sad to retire is his snap-up fish onesie, something he wears as pajamas on warm nights. While it is as simple as can be, there is just something about it that I loved from the moment I first put him in it.

Maybe it's the fact that it has always been a perfect fit, hugging his little baby body from head to toe:

Maybe it's the fact that it makes his little bubble butt, look a little bit bubblier than usual:

Maybe it's the fact that he always seems so darn happy when he is wearing it:

Onesie: Gymboree (thrifted for $1.50)

Whatever the reason, this simple onesie was well worth the price I paid for it (and then some)!

Maybe I can locate one in a bigger size ...

August 2, 2010

the mundane days

Some days, the realization that "this is really my life" hits me like a ton of bricks.

I look at Malcolm and my mind turns somersaults, reeling with the fact that he is here. There was a time, not too long ago (although now it feels like ages), that I wished and prayed and grew jealous that I didn't have him. I was consumed with the need for a pregnancy, a baby of my own. I saw friends and family members and even complete strangers with their babies and I almost couldn't handle it.

I wanted it to be me.

Now that it is, I almost can't believe it.

After all that needless stress, I'm somebody's mother. Somebody's lifeline. There is a little person crawling this earth that needs me.

The love I have for my little boy is intoxicating. There is no food, or drink, or other vice that could bring me the same feeling ...

Some mornings, when I see his smile or hear his raspy squeal upon entering his bedroom, I almost can't contain myself. Even the most mundane days, those ruled by the usual baby routine of "wake up, eat, play, nap (for the baby, clean up for me), repeat" are worth getting out of bed for. Even the most mundane days make me wonder: "What was life like before he was with us? How did we ever get along without him?"

In fact, it's those boring, nothing's-really-happening mundane days that show me how blessed I truly am. While I can't ever be "off" and I must always be ready for whatever the little guy needs ... His hunger, or waste, or need for attention always trump my own ... I can't believe how lucky I am. Sure, there are days where I don't get into the bathroom to take care of myself until well into the afternoon. Or days where a certain someone is crabby and only wants to be held (on the hottest day of the summer) ... But it is all worth it.

The mundane days remind me.

On special days like wedding days, or birth days, or even vacation days, the world always looks beautiful. Yet, it's the mundane days that show you true beauty.

I know because I am a someone's mother.

This is my life.

I almost can't believe it.