Sunday, January 2, 2011

{catching up} farewell, mullet

Connor was born with a full head of dark hair. After 11 1/2 months of growth, his baby mane was making a definite style statement: muttonchops are back in.

Except that they aren't.

So, we took him to my mom's stylist for his first haircut a few weeks before his first birthday.

We started with this-- a mullet in its full glory:

With the assistance of 5 adults, including a professional stylist {who, to my great relief, did not lose any fingers in the sometimes-harrowing process}...

...and lots of bottled water & cookies...

our shaggy baby emerged as a respectable little boy:

Connor did not cry & neither did I.
Nor did I save his hair in a little baggie.

He's had two haircuts since, and has consumed in the process approximately 7 snack-size {slightly hair-covered} chocolate bars, and at least half a dozen {similarly hair-covered} sugar cookies. Feel free to judge. But my kid doesn't sit still for carrot sticks.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

{catching up} learning to walk

Looking back, I can hardly recall a time when CP wasn't scrambling all about the house. At 15 months old, he's long since traded his penguin-like waddle for a full-on toddler run. As such, he has about as many facial bruises as you might expect would appear on a semi-blind, semi-drunk amateur stilt walker.

But, in fact, it wasn't all that long ago that our little nugget became uprightly mobile. Connor took his first lurching steps forward at exactly 11 months old, on August 29, 2010. It only took about 4 weeks to go from this:

note: no babies were harmed in the filming of this video, I promise.

and this:

to an independent explorer:

and brave ambulator:

With a little bit of direction & a lot of practice:

Connor shortly perfected the art of forward progress & added some fancy moves for style points:

At any given moment these days, you can find him (1) squeezing behind the living room gate ineffectively cordoning off the fireplace and TV wires; (2) turning on the cold water faucet in the bathtub; or (3) flushing every toilet in the house. He never. stops. moving. I follow behind, doing my best to save his beautiful face from the wrath of hidden hazards, documenting his steps, and beaming with pride.

{catching up} lee & matt get married


Labor Day Weekend 2010: Shawn's brother Matt & his longtime love Leann finally tied the knot. During the entire wedding weekend, I managed to snap only this one shot of the happy couple: a blurry rendering of Matt and Lee practicing their vows during the rehearsal.

My dearth of documentation of the blessed event can be attributed to multiple factors, including lack of photographic skill {obviously}. But mostly, I chalk it up to the fact that for the duration of the rehearsal and the wedding I was: (a) six weeks pregnant, (b) foolishly teetering in three-inch high heels and spanx-ed into a size 6 sundress from my honeymoon, and (c) single-handedly responsible for wrangling this lunatic:

I managed to keep him off of the altar during matt & lee's vows, which was really no small feat. No sacraments were disturbed, despite Connor's mangling of the Holy Water font.

The ceremony was beautiful, even viewed from the confines of the {locked} cry room, and the reception was absolutely spectacular.

Lee was, unsurprisingly, a stunning bride. And Matt wore a tux.

My newest sister in law has been a fixture in Shawn's family since before Shawn and I started dating so she is hardly new to the family. She's the kind of girl who is so pretty you might want to wish her a stretch mark or two, but so kind and sweet that you never could. Whereas total strangers think that I may be a pregnant 40-something, Lee is often mistaken for the middle school students she teaches {although with many decades ahead of sleeping next to someone who refuses to repair his wheezing deviated septum, she's bound to get a few wrinkles eventually}. Needless to say, I won't ever be posing next to her in any Fenwick Island beach photos. In fact, I should probably refrain from taking any photos with her ever, really.

A rare exception: The bride & I at her bridal shower, July 2010.

We wish Matt & Lee a lifetime of happiness, filled with love, laughter, and beautiful blue-eyed babies! {on the latter subject: Lee, please note that your husband tried to feed Connor a whole grilled cheese sandwich when he was only 8 months old. When Shawn objected to the sandwich, Matt defended himself on the grounds that "it doesn't have ham in it." Good luck.}

Friday, November 12, 2010

{on turning 30}

I'm 30 years and 4 days old young old.

So far, it feels a lot like writing checks on January 1st of a brand new decade. Date: January 1, 200... oh crap, new check. Is 2010 really here? It really exists? Do people even write checks anymore?

Not that anyone is really in the habit of asking me how old I am, but if someone should dare to ask {really, you shouldn't} I know that "twent.." will start to roll of my tongue before I train my mouth to accustom itself to starting that answer with "thirty" for the next ten years. Now that I think about it, the last time someone asked me how old I was, other than a doctor or other medical professional, was a woman in line with me at the downtown Rite Aid sometime in the summer of 2009. I was obviously pregnant with Connor, and was waiting to pay for my daily candy fix. The woman in front of me asked when I was due {normal}, whether I was having a boy or girl {normal}, then told me "it's so brave of you to have a child in your forties! how old are you?" {NOT NORMAL}. I choked a little, turned bright red, and mumbled something along the lines of "lady, I'm 28!!" To which she actually replied {REALLY NOT NORMAL} "oh, you look like you are in your forties. or maybe late thirties." My only choice here is to assume that this woman was either (a) completely out of her mind; (b) blind; (c) on some hard drugs; or (d) all of the above. The alternative is just too soul-crushing.

To celebrate the big 3-0 this year, I took the day off work {yay} and spent the day engaging in Thirty Random Acts of Kindness. Except that I sort of lost track of my list, and cannot entirely verify that I did thirty things precisely, but that's probably beside the point anyhow. {except that when I think about the fact that I was trying to do thirty things on my thirtieth birthday... thirty seems to be the entire point. oh well}. Among other things, I put Giant Eagle gift cards on car windshields, left other cars with notes wishing them a wonderful day, baked brownies for our postman, left a thank you note for the garbage men, taped 2 dollars to a vending machine, gave the YMCA babysitting girls batteries and a thank-you note, returned stray shopping carts in a Target parking lot, visited my grandma and brought her strawberry filled cookies. I did some things on my list more than once, but never made it to a few other things I'd planned out. By the end of the day, I realized that I'll probably never have time to do thirty random kindnesses again in a day, but I'll almost always have time to do one-- so I'm hanging on to the unchecked-items on my list, and doing them one by one each day.

In my twenies, I wore a lot of different hats & lived a lot of different lives.

At 20, I was a mostly-single college student. At 21, I triumphantly graduated summa cum laude and phi beta kappa from a school that had originally sent me a rejection letter, and left home for my Peace Corps assignment in Togo. I spent every day of my 22nd and 23rd years on the continent of Africa, promoting girls' education, tearing my hair out with frustration, meeting the best friends of my life, and sleeping every night from 7 pm til dawn. When I was 24, I came home, moved to Chicago, fell in love with Shawn, moved to New York City, and started law school. At 25, I was engaged, and was a new bride at 26. When I was 27, I graduated from law school, moved back to Pittsburgh with Shawn, passed the bar exam, and started practicing as a litigator at a large firm. At 28, I got pregnant, bought a 99 year old house, gutted and remodeled a large portion of the house, and had my first baby. At 29, I reveled in my role as a new mother, stumbled through the juggling excercise of work-life balance, and got pregnant for a second time.

In my thirties, I'm looking forward to putting down deeper roots, picking out the few hats I like best, and wearing the hell out of them. More time with Shawn, more babies, more making our house into a home. Now that I'm 30 I don't feel particularly, or suddenly, wise, but my twenties have taught me some good lessons and I'm at least the wiser for having run that crazy gauntlet.

And at the very least, I know enough not to ask any Rite Aid customers for their age.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

{shaking hands & kissing babies}



Well, election day is {finally} behind us! Hope everyone got to the polls yesterday. Like any good citizen, Connor voted early & often...first with my mom in the morning, then hitting the polls with Shawn and I in the evening.

I think the particular act of voting is exciting, but, in general, abhor politics. I don't believe a single thing that any politician says in a campaign, and resent being campaigned-to as if my brain has already been preserved in a jar of formaldehyde. I'm a registered Independent, and loathe both the the Republican and Democtratic parties for multiple reasons. As you might imagine, hating everyone and discounting everything that everyone says can make deciding who gets my vote a bit challenging.

Several weeks ago, at our town's fall festival, Congressman Jason Altmire's campaign team gave CP a balloon. Connor loved that balloon. So, I figured I'd vote for Jason Altmire.

Then, last week, Jason Altmire sent us a campaign brochure. CP picked it up off the couch, carried into the kitchen, and unceremoniously dumped into the trash. So, I thought- maybe not, Altmire.

The one thing I will sincerely miss about this election season: the nightly automated telephone calls to our home from the candidates. Shawn got in the habit of answering our home phone with an exuberant: "hello, Joe Sestak!" before he had any idea who was on the other end of the line. Shawn would talk-back to the automated messages until I was rolling on the floor laughing. Example:

{ring, ring, ring.... where's the phone?? oh, Connor hid it under the console table...}
Shawn: Good evening, Joe Sestak!
Candidate: Hi, this is Jason Altmire!
Shawn: Hi, Jason!
Candidate Hi, this is Jason Altmire!
Shawn: um, hello.
Candidate: Hi, this is Jason Altmire!
Shawn: Does this thing re-start every time I talk into the phone?
Candidate: Hi, this is Jason Altmire! I'm running for re-election because I'm just as disgusted with Washington as you are!
Shawn: Thank you for taking the time to get to know me and call me personally!
Candidate: As a member of Congress, I'll make sure to always listen to you.
Shawn: Jason, right now is not a good time-- I'm on the crapper.
Candidate: I ensured that the Mexican border fence was made with American steel, not Chinese!
Shawn: That is totally irrelevant. And again, I'm on the crapper.

Now the only phone calls we will get are ones from Verizon asking us if we want to upgrade to Fios.

Monday, November 1, 2010

{big news}'s been a slow two months of posting here at the fourth house on the left. I'm sure this has greatly disappointed my {single-digit} blog audience. Alternatively, you may not have noticed the blog silence at all, in which case I would gander that you find my life about as interesting as reading Chaucer. If you were sincerely disappointed by the non-posting, I do apologize; and if you didn't even notice, truly I can't blame you. I didn't notice, either.

So, why the dearth of chubby-cheeked photos and mildly humorous accounts of baby/toddlerhood? Well, I've spent the past 2 1/2 months trying not to barf during every waking moment, and promptly passing out for the night {in my work clothes} when I put Connor to bed at 8:30 pm. So, you can imagine that, along with a few other things {a groomed personal appearance, nightly toothbrushing, laundry, and any semblance of a professional work ethic} this blog was summarily abandoned for the duration. I suppose this is only a preview of what's to come, since {you may have guessed this}:

We are expecting baby #2 in late April!

Normally, my body-intuition is laughably incorrect {e.g. I was totally convinced that Connor was going to be a girl, and came within 2 clicks of purchasing the PBK Penelope bedroom set in anticipation of meeting a baby who I thought would be named Madeleine. When I found out at our 20-week ultrasound that CP was, in fact, CP, I forced a smile, then went out for Chinese food with Shawn and sobbed over wonton soup that I didn't even know my baby, what kind of a mother would I be?? Then I ate all my cashew chicken and half of Shawn's. And went to Coldstone for desert.} This time, however, I just knew that I was pregnant, and knew that I knew. Since I wasn't charting, I had only the vaguest general idea of when I could take a pregnancy test and expect a conclusive result. So, I just started peeing on a stick every day, sometimes twice a day. All of which were negative results. Shawn caught on to this after a few days and was like "uh, don't those things cost like $10 each??" To which I replied "um, no, they cost $8 each. honey." He asked why I couldn't just wait "like 2 more weeks, see what happens, then take one test." I told him that only normal people could do something like that, and he married a good old-fashioned-crazy, so the "wait and then test once" option was clearly not a possibility.

Undaunted by the 10 negative pregnancy tests I'd taken, I stopped by the Dollar Store one day after work and bought 7 more {much cheaper} tests. Five days {and 6 negative pregnancy tests} later, I was 98% convinced that, yet again, I was wrong and didn't know anything about my body. So, on the evening of August 15th, I drank a beer {oops, sorry baby}, talked to Shawn about how disappointed I was, then got ready for bed. On a whim, I decided to take the very last test. The second line didn't appear right away, and I was just about to toss it the test in the garbage, when I looked closer and saw the faintest pink line emerging from the white background. I ran down the stairs, waving the test and shouting to Shawn "do you SEE this LINE?!?!" He replied "yeah, i see one line." To which I countered: "no, not the line that's obviously a line, I'm talking about the line that is HALF IMAGINARY-- DO YOU SEE IT?" He refused to believe that there were two lines on the test. Luckily for me, I knew the internet was as full of the crazy as I was, so I did a quick Google Image search for "positive Dollar Store pregnancy test" and THOUSANDS of comparative images appeared. {yes, dear reader, thousands of women have, in fact, posted pictures of their dollar store pregnancy tests on the interwebs. There are even websites staffed by pee-stick gurus, wholly dedicated to pregnancy test analysis.} Shawn was still skeptical, but became a believer the next morning when a digital pregnancy test indisputably read "Pregnant."

I'm 15 weeks now, happy to be out of the first trimester, and I ate an entire 16 oz steak for dinner on Saturday.

{happy halloween 2010}

Last year at Halloween, CP was only 4 weeks old. Our little pumpkin was barely bigger than a jack-o-lantern. He went trick-or-treating but, as far as I could tell, had no idea what was going on, and couldn't have cared less about this thing called "candy."

What a difference a year makes.

By the time trick-or-treating started this year, Connor had already eaten at least 3 kit-kat bars, and knew how to sort the good stuff (the reese's) from the merely mediocre candy (plain hershey's).


When he found out that he was going to have to share this bounty with the trick-or-treaters who came to the door, he did his best to scare the neighborhood away:

I wasn't sure what to expect from this year's trick-or-treating. I'd kind of anticipated that CP might spend about 10 minutes outside, visiting our next-door neighbors, then hanging out inside, watching the costumed kids from behind the glass storm door for the rest of the evening. CP totally blew those expectations out of the water. I should have known that any event would be a hit that involved (a) people loudly exclaiming how cute he was; and (b) giving him candy.

Our little frog liked to pick out his own candy-- waving the twizzlers wildly, giving the mike & ike's box a good shake, grabbing an entire handful of mini milky ways. Sometimes he would put the candy in his orange plastic pumpkin. Sometimes he would keep it grasped in his tiny fist. Sometimes he would slowly and indecisively select 3 different kinds of candy. Sometimes he would just stare, wide-eyed, until someone plopped a bag of mini-pretzels into his pumpkin bucket. Sometimes he would take a piece of candy, then re-gift a piece out of his pumpkin to the halloween hostess. Sometimes he would abandon his orange pumpkin and run away giggling and grasping a snickers bar. It was so much fun.

He only trick-or-treated about 4 houses away in each direction, but loved bopping around our driveway all evening, watching all of the older kids. He put his full prince-in-disguise frog charm on a 3 year old ladybug who wrapped her arms around Connor and exclaimed "he's just so cute!!!"

Unfortunately for Connor, we ran out of candy at 7:15... {this MAY be POSSIBLY related to the fact that Shawn and I single-handedly ate 2 bags of our reese's and a bag of kit-kats before any kids showed up at our house but this theory has not been tested in a double-blind peer-reviewed clinical trial so let's not jump to any conclusions}... so we had to give away the peanut's loot. Then we turned off our lights and hid in our house until 8:00 so as not to either (a) break the hearts of earnest trick-or-treaters arriving after 7:30 and/or (b) get our house bombarded with flaming toilet paper thrown by enraged, barely-costumed teenagers.

It was a good day.