Tuesday, April 30, 2013

enjoying this phase as best i know how

these days, evelyn won't sit still long enough for me to take a photo, brush her hair or cut even one of her disheveled fingernails. every iphone picture of her is blurry, and her nails are dangerously sharp and lined with dirt. (there must be a secret to clipping toddler nails that i don't know about. i've considered clipping them in her sleep, but that seems just as complicated for different reasons.) that's not the worst part: overnight, her favorite word became no. when i ask questions that should evoke happiness and excitement—like, "do you want to go upstairs and play?"—the answer is usually no. even when she means yes. (but to open-ended questions, she likes to respond with "apple." kid loves a good, juicy apple.) 

yesterday was the first time this phase completely overwhelmed and embarrassed me in public. i thought it'd be fun to spend the afternoon at the library, where evie could sit on the floor and flip through book after book, just like she does at home. she loves books. turns out darting up and down the aisles flinging books off the shelves is much more fun than reading quietly. (don't let the pictures above fool you. she stayed in these positions for no more than three seconds.) i couldn't put the books back on the shelves faster than she could hurl them off. i struggled to carry a diaper bag, my purse and my giant camera while picking up after evie and firmly whispering (because we were in a library) to stop, hold still, and sit down and read a book for the love of pete. 

as i fought to keep the aisles clean, i snatched twelve board books off the floor to take home with us. i walked to the service desk juggling a purse, a diaper bag, a large dslr camera, a crying evelyn (she didn't want to leave) and twelve books in my arms. (twelve! without even a bag or basket to hold them!)

it was really hard. i remember the newborn phase being hard, and the sleep training phase being really hard, but this is a new kind of hard. in public. everyone around me could see my exhaustion, not only from carrying too many things but also from evelyn's constant stream of no's. some eyes i met were sympathetic, others were annoyed. (i assumed the latter never had kids.) i couldn't wait to get in the car. when we got in, i breathed a huge sigh relief and just sat there, eyes closed, while evelyn played in her car seat in the back.

i googled toddler discipline. i wondered, how do i know if evie's deliberately doing something wrong (crying to get her way, making a mess for mommy to clean up) or if this is just normal 16-month-old behavior that i have to deal with? if she knows what she's doing and it's wrong, what's the best way to teach her it's wrong? should i avoid all public places for a few more years? probably not. i found some great articles that i think will help. until the techniques are put into practice, wish me luck. :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

little video: a day in the life of evelyn

when i was about evie's age, my parents made a movie called a day in the life of meghan. it featured many hours of my one-year-old self playing, eating, bathing, and so on. i absolutely love watching little meghan for about 10 minutes, and then i die of bordom because there's not a whole lot a one-year-old can do.    

i thought it'd be fun to create a similar (but much more entertaining) 70-second movie of evelyn (16 months). thank goodness for modern technology that allows us to cut, edit and add music to otherwise uninteresting clips like the one of her eating oatmeal and bananas.

here's my take on the day-in-the-life movie. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

planting party

when i decided it was time to get my little backyard ready for spring, i put my troops to work: my mom helped me shop for plants and flowers, jeff poured heavy bags of soil into to big pots, and evelyn got down and dirty "planting" rocks in little buckets of mud. (okay, so evelyn wasn't super helpful. but she kept herself busy while we worked, and that counts for something.) i wanted to turn my patio into an oasis, a sunny retreat. i wanted to sit out there with a magazine and glass of wine and relax after a long day. god knows the days can be long.

it was so much fun planting flowers all afternoon with my little family! it was different, and doing something different is always refreshing. bonus: with everyone's help, my patio became the oasis i imagined. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

meet freddie kruegar

this is fred, named after freddie kruegar because we got him on halloween and wanted to name him something spooky. i don't talk about him much. since evie was born, he's been like the harry potter of our family—forgotten, dismissed, stepped on a few times—and i've been like his evil stepmom. one time, jeff and i left for a long weekend in san francisco without giving jeff's parents, our cat sitters, a key to our house, leaving them no way to get in and feed poor freddie potter. so freddie went without food for three long days. lucky for him, i leave lots of half-drunk water glasses around the house because it's impossible to remember to bring them downstairs from my room or evie's room and put them in the dishwasher. i don't know why it's so darn hard to remember. but it is. and so freddie had plenty of water while we were off having a ball in san francisco. 

before evie was born, i couldn't get enough of fred. he would sit on my lap and purr in my ear and put his sweet paw on my shoulder to say hello. these days, he has to get my attention by clawing furniture, jumping on counters and darting through the house at full speed, completely wild. i give him as much attention as i can, but i know he's starving for more. he just wants to cuddle all the time. sometimes, when evie and i are reading in the play room, he watches us with big sad eyes and i know he's wishing he were the one on my lap.

i let evie feed him every once in awhile in hopes that he'll realize she's not an evil step-sister—she's a kind family member who loves him. but sometimes evie doesn't even try to pour the measuring cup-full of food into the bowl; she just dumps it right onto the kitchen floor. and so poor fred, who we're trying to show love, has to eat his scattered kibbles off every corner of the cold tile floor, one at a time. 

(just so you know, fred is curled up right next to me as i type. i'm not as evil as i sound.)

^^this is when i decided to put the camera down and prevent a giant mess^^

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

i hope my neighbors don't read this.

i didn't want to write about this today, but i need to confess, for i have sinned: the most beautiful trees in our neighborhood are now in full bloom, and when i walk by a neighbor's tree with flowers that look and smell heavenly, i snip the flowers right off the tree, take them home and arrange them in a vase. as if i'd just bought them at trader joe's. (i'm a thief!) usually the flowers i take are daisies, which count as weeds (right?), and no one wants weeds in their yard. when i take daisies, i tell myself i'm doing my neighbor a favor. weeding for free! i'm practically a saint.

today, though, i feel a bit guilty. i saw these gorgeous purple flowers that smelled so good i just had to have them. (what are these called again?) the tree wasn't in a yard; it was in the grass that lined the sidewalk, just beyond the homeowner's fence. part of the tree hung over the fence, but i honestly don't know if anyone owns this tree. (or was it a bush?) before i made the first snip, i asked evie what she thought. she said, "fwuh-bees." (translation: flowers.) she wanted flowers. and so flowers she would have.

^^my little accomplice^^

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

looking for the good

today, i'm looking for the good in the bad. the happy in the sad. what makes me grateful, not hateful.

but it's hard.

i'm so angered by yesterday's events in Boston i could scream. i'm tired of the news, the never-ending stream of tragedies. i'm tired of wondering what kind of world my daughter will know when she's my age. will it be even scarier in twenty-five years? i don't want her to miss out on exciting events like marathons because she's worried about bombs exploding or guns firing. what kind of life is that?

since i can't stop tragedies or violence, i'll show my daughter how to be brave by teaching her to love others, to find the good in the bad. if she were old enough to understand what happened yesterday, i'd tell her about the civilians and first responders who helped. i'd talk about the exhausted marathoners who, after twenty-six miles, kept running to the nearest hospital to donate blood. i'd talk about all the brave spectators who ran toward the explosion to aid victims when others were running away from it. i’d tell her our world has many more good people than bad, and more beautiful things than ugly. 

but she's not old enough to understand just yet. 

so, instead of giving her my spiel, i'll simply remind myself of the good things that happened and the good people i encountered yesterday:

+ the fred meyer employee who laughed instead of scolded when evie put an avocado in her mouth and then put it back on the big pile of avocados

+ the man at pete's coffee who asked about evie's eye and told me not to worry about her upcoming surgery; his cousin had the same droopy lid, and the doctors gave the kid the best looking eyelid he's ever seen

+ the girl at work who brought in chocolates for everyone, just because sometimes you need chocolate on monday

+ all the bloggers who blogged about this very same thing, sending love and lifting spirits via the airwaves

sometimes i have to remind myself: there's so much love all around us every daythe news just doesn't report on it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

in love with the coast all over again

i love the beauty and breadth of the oregon coast, the smell of saltwater and feel of grainy sand between my fingers. i love how the beach is never cluttered with sunbathers and the ocean never crawling with boogie-boarders. most of the time, the place is deserted, alive with its beauty alone. it's more powerful, more meaningful, more pure that way. when i look at the ocean, i feel like just a spec in a big, big worldand that feeling is pretty cool.

it was raining, windy and icy cold there this weekend, but instead of staying inside, we walked to the cafe for lattes and cinnamon rolls and moseyed along the beach. we forgot the stroller, so evie got some good walking in. (we also forgot my good camera. argh.) we cozied up by fires, cooked dinner, drank wine, and toasted to life and friendship and babies and more weekends like this.

evelyn was so pooped we put her to bed at 6:10 tonight.

{ it was awesome! }

Thursday, April 11, 2013

unconditional love

every night, after jeff and i pull evie out of her bubble bath and get her ready for bedput her pajamas on, brush her teeth, say goodnight to the duck nightlight that illuminates the bathroomshe sinks into my lap and we read book after book, swaying in the rocking chair my grandfather made. the chair is beautifully crafted from cherry and maple, and it has just the right squeak. (all rocking chairs are supposed to squeak, according to grandpa.) 

this week, evie's favorite book is the very hungry caterpillar, so that's what we read first. she loves the second page because she gets to shout "pop!" after i read "one sunday morning, the warm sun came up and"  

i laugh every time.

after the books are read and the lights are low and i'm still not quite ready to say goodnight, i sing. i'm the world's worst singer, but i sing anyway because that's what mamas do. they sing lullabies to their babies before bed. around here, it's usually twinkle twinkle little star, but this week, i decide to perform an old favorite: you are the best thing by ray lamontagne. 

it's hard to sing, and every few words i can tell i'm completely off-key, but evie seems to like it. love it, actually. as i make my way through the chorus, her eyes lock with mine. she's listening so intently, so deliberately, and looking at me with such purpose i'm convinced she knows something i don't, that she's trying to tell me something with her eyes. maybe she just wants me to know that she was meant for me, and i was meant for her, and we were always meant to be here, singing and rocking like this, together. 

our eyes don't part until the last deviant note leaves my lips. 

and then she asks, "eh? eh?" (that's evie speak for again, please.) she wants more. i'm stunned. not only does she like my singing, she likes it enough for an encore. 

and then i remember, babies don't care about their moms' imperfections: how many freckles or wrinkles they have, whether they're too tired to put on make-up, or whether they have god-awful singing voices. babies just love their mamas. period. 

as i begin round two of ray lamontagnesilently apologizing to jeff, who's downstairs and surely hearing my horrible singing through the baby monitori'm reminded of the unconditional love between mother and child. and i'm overwhelmed with happiness.

Friday, April 5, 2013

these are a few of my favorite things

{1} toothbrush parties in the middle of the day, because someone loves brushing her teeth
{2} introducing my feet to spring
{3} snuggle time, even when it's in front of a basketball game
{4} making vanilla lattes with my totally awesome cappuccino maker 
{5} the first cherry blossoms of the season

{6} blazer games in the corporate suite (thanks, mom!)
{7} our wedding invitations from last year. i'm not always 100% satisfied with my diy projects, but i am with this one.
{8} this little person in general. just everything about her.
{9} the bacon bleu burger from fire on the mountain, a restaurant famous for its buffalo wings 
(not burgers)
{10} family time + silly photo ops
{11} our friday night tradition: pizza and wine at home

{12} oh, and jeff and evie jamming out on the keyboard, sharing their passion for music. i think that's my most favorite thing of all.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

happy day

the sun woke us up on easter morning.

actually, it was the sun and an ear-piercing alarm i'd set on my iphone the night before.

jeff popped right up, wide-eyed and happy, and went to the kitchen to start a batch of deviled eggs, our contribution to one of the two easter parties on our agenda for the day.

the smell of burnt firewood hung in the air from the night before, and it mingled with a heavy coffee aroma that drifted from the kitchen. to celebrate my birthday, we'd stayed in the "mother-in-law suite" of a house off hawthorne as a fun and funky alternative to a hotel room. it looked like an old log cabin, the furniture made of warm-toned wood and the rich red and blue fabrics hinting at a western theme.   

i felt ill. my headache reminded me that i couldn't drink like a 21-year-old anymore. 

"want to try an egg?" jeff asked. i ran to the bathroom.

i felt better once i saw evie in her pretty pink dress and the festivities began. with jeff's family and my family close by, we had two easter celebrations: twice the food, twice the eggs to hunt, twice the candy to take from evie's basket and keep for ourselves. (she doesn't have enough teeth yet to eat jelly beans.) (that's my story and i'm sticking to it.)

it was a happy day.

Monday, April 1, 2013

let's do this, 27.

today, i'm 27. no longer in my mid-twenties. closer to 35 than i am to 18.

and that's just fine and dandy with me.

i'm happy with my accomplishments thus far: family, house, job, and jumping at the opportunities i've had to travel and experience new parts of the world. according to this hand-written letter from my dad from 1986, torn from my baby book years ago because the words are so precious to me, i think i've lived up to my parents' expectations too:

dear meghan,

our ambitions for you are that you be happy. but one person's definition of happiness may not fit another's. as you choose your path in life (remember, it is not chosen for you), think of yourself and the people you love. you will make mistakes, but the biggest mistake you can make is to be a bystander instead of a participant. i have no doubt you will jump in with both feet.

if that jump turns out to be a mistake, remember, daddy will always be here with a helping hand. always.

i love you,

*      *      *      *      *

on saturday, i got to soak up the sun and one of my last days as a 26-year-old:

on saturday night, jeff and i stayed at our first airbnb place, which was fun and funky and totally portland. (we joked that we could've written an entire episode of portlandia based on our stay here.) it was a "mother-in-law suite" with a private entrance, full kitchen, full bathroom, wood-burning fireplace and murphy bed. as part of the deal, the owners gave us a bottle of wine upon arrival and breakfast in the morning; our fridge was stocked with eggs, bread, homemade almond milk (!) and organic oatmeal. it was such a cool alternative to a standard hotel room.