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Archive for September, 2011

Lulu chills with her scary peeps.

I love horror movies. I have for as long as I can remember – ever since I was a kid watching Chilly Billy Cardille’s Chiller Theater on late night TV. I especially love the old black and white Universal ones – Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man – but there are plenty of newer ones that I love too, from The Exorcist to The Ring. (But don’t get me started on splatter or torture movies. They show an alarming lack of imagination.)

This is all a long preamble in order to say that I don’t scare easily. Things that go bump in the night? No big deal. Thrills and chills? Bring them on. But here’s my confession: Babies terrify me. They terrify the sweet bejesus out of me.

I think it’s the fragility. I’m afraid to pick one up, worried that in one brief moment of clumsiness, I might break the baby. (Have I mentioned that I’m a worrier?)

This fear of the wee-est of wee ones was raised to Full Red Alert when I watched Nursery No-No’s featuring friend of the blog and American Baby Magazine’s Senior Lifestyle Editor, Jessica Hartshorn.

I trust Jessica. She knows her stuff. And apparently, on top of all the other stuff I was already worried about, I now have to add these to the list: blankets, pillows, baby monitors, and cribs.

So you’ll forgive me when I say that the most terrifying creatures on the planet are the little peanuts. And my future peanut will be the scariest of them all.

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The Wild West had it right. From what I gather from the 2 or 3 Westerns I’ve watched parts of, homemade whiskey appears to be the panacea of choice. Have a cold? Mom has just the cure for you, little cowpoke, here’s a shot of whiskey. Broke your arm wrestling a bear? Have a few shots of whiskey while Doc saws it off. Found a snake in your boot? Have a swig of whiskey to calm your nerves.

Wild West Birthing Kit

It is along this vein that I propose the next pregnancy craze. We’ve already got silent birthing, hypnobirthing, water birthing, so why not Wild West birthing? You will require the following to do this properly:

(1) leather strap to bite on (the dental night guard of yesteryears)

(2) bottle of whiskey to swig (as needed) to assist with labor pain

(3) tin basin for the damp forehead cloths (and to catch the future cow wrangler as he springs out and catches his first breath)

Also on the plus side, you can give birth in boots!

Let me know if you’re interested, as I’m already busy preparing Wild West Birthing Kits. I know this is going to be a hit! If not, I’ll assuage my crushed pride with some whiskey.

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A friend of the blog and soon-to-be eccentric Swiss baroness recently said to me: “I was a much better mother before I had children.”

This made me think, because I am a really, really awesome dad now that I don’t have children. I’m a playful, loving, fun, and wise father for these future offspring. But is that because I don’t, well, actually have them yet?

Granted, I do actually have 7 nieces and nephews, and I am an awesome *actual* uncle to them. But it’s a lot different being an uncle than a father. (For one thing, there are no givebacks.) They all turned out great, but I may have to acknowledge that their actual parents had something to do with that.

But what will I be like when I’m tired, or trying to juggle home, work, and parenting responsibilities? Sometimes I worry – okay, worry is my natural state of existence, so most of the time I worry – that I will struggle to find the balance. And I do wonder if my friend is right, and it will all be uphill from here.

So, let me ask you, readers of the blog, what are your secrets? How does one find the energy, the patience, and the perseverance to be a good parent – actual or imagined?

Will I wield a Jello Pudding Pop or Red Light Saber?

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Me and mum at the finish line!

Last January, I decided I wanted to start the year off in a new way. I participated in a local Run and Plunge. It was a 5-mile run that ended in the chilly choppy waters of the Long Island Sound. It was headed by a group of serious marathoners. I wanted to start the New Year by pushing myself to the limit–trying to keep up and plunge in!

I was visiting my parents in Connecticut solo. So January 1, 2011, I screwed up my courage and showed up at the start line knowing no one and not quite sure if I could keep up and take the plunge at the finish line. Long story short, the “run” was practically a walk because this group of 100 did not want to leave anyone behind. Most of the runners there were seasoned marathoners who just came for the fun and left the competition at home (or wherever they keep it). The run wasn’t just about the icy finish; it was about enjoying the views and chatting with your neighbor. It was slow, social, and silly. People were wearing tutus and costumes. Bottles of various types of alcoholic beverages were being passed around. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was the perfect way to bring in the New Year. Plus, it was unseasonably mild that day, which helped tremendously!

So far my experience with TTC has been just like that New Year’s run. I braced myself for a sprint to the finish line, only to find that this is not that kind of race. I wrote an initial post about my expectation to get pregnant right away, and it is safe to say I have not experienced immediate results. I intentionally took activities off the table, like training for a half-marathon in Boston with Patrick and a friend. However, as we continue on, I am feeling more Zen and less rushed about the process. There is nothing I can do to control this, so I am no longer trying. Admittedly, I won’t be training for a half-marthon any time soon, but I am excited to get back on the treadmill for some good 10Ks and continued degradation of my knees. I still won’t touch a drink during the second half of my cycle and will be taking my vitamins, but those days of abbreviations (BBT, OPK, POAS) are a thing of the past. For now, I am taking in the views and a few swigs of cheap wine and enjoying the run. The finish line will still be shocking. The amount of time it takes to get there doesn’t change that.

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We love fresh basil and rosemary but hate buying it every week at the market. This summer we grew rosemary, basil, flat-leaf parsley, and mint. Now that Fall is upon us, we brought the herbs indoors. Still on the look-out for some flat-leaf parsley (we killed ours)…

Dr. Livingston, I presume?

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Dear Future Baby,

Lulu experiences The Bad Beginning

Boy (or girl), are you in luck! Your future mama and daddy have found a place you are surely going to love – merely one of the coolest places in the world. This place, dear baby, is our small town library, where they will loan you a ukulele if you ask. But the real treasure lies on the shelves – the many, many shelves, all lined with fabulous books! (Just don’t ask your mama where the card catalogue is unless you want to see her laugh.)

You’re going to learn quickly that your mama and daddy love to read. You’ll soon notice the stacks of books lying around your home. (In fact, little bookworm, I suspect that we will need to keep them out of the way until you’re old enough to know that books are for reading, not for eating.)

From Seuss to Zeus, there will be stories to tell. We’ll show you Where the Wild Things Are and Where the Sidewalk Ends. We’ll introduce you to a curious monkey named George and a Very Hungry Caterpillar. As you grow older, we’ll feed you a Giant Peach and take you on a tour of a Chocolate Factory. You’ll learn what lies inside an unusual Wardrobe, and how to make the best out of a Series of Unfortunate Events. You’ll be educated at Hogwarts, go There and Back Again (meeting a furry-footed friend along the way), and learn what Hugo Cabret invented.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! And in A Wrinkle in Time, you’ll be one of the most well-traveled children in this great big world!

Love,

Your globe-trotting, time-traveling daddy

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My darling future baby,

We did it! I was beginning to think we’d never do it. I was beginning to think that only a select few had what it took, and I would never be part of the club. But last night, September 21, 2011, we made a scrumptious apple pie! This apple pie was perfectly tart, sweet, and fitted with a golden rustic crust. There are lessons in this second pie, baby, that I wanted to share with you.

First, that old saying, well I guess it is a new saying  to you, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” is not just meant to annoy people; it has merit. First pie – undeniable disaster. Second pie – a sweet success! Your dad and I try, tried again and huzzah — a bloody good pie!

But, baby, this is not just a get-back-on-your-horse lesson. I’ve learned some things about myself from pie-making that you may want to know in advance:

My oh my! Look at that sweet rustic pie!

1. Your mom gives into cyber peer-pressure. I was seriously finished with baking after the apple crumble disaster I detailed in my previous letter. But my friendly blogging pals, tweeps, and FB friends refused to quit on me. They are the real reason I tried again.

2. Your mom resists following instructions. This appears to be a serious problem that goes way beyond throwing away IKEA instructions. This meant that dad had to re-read the pie recipe and perform accuracy checks at each step. It also meant that dad had to hide the zester and all other ingredients not called for in the recipe.

3. When your mom botches something, she calls it “rustic. When the crust tore into 1 million pieces as I attempted to tranfer it onto the pie-top, I pieced it together (like Frankenstein’s face) and called it “rustic.” Your dad just interrupted and wants you to learn from the start that the green monster with the flat-top and platform boots is not called “Frankenstein,” but “Frankenstein’s monster.” Daddy is serious about monsters, so this is important. We’ll get into this more later…

4. Your mom doesn’t entirely hate doing the dishes. Dishes are much more fun to do when you think you have a successful pie in the oven!

5. Your mom is just not that into dessert. Even if a pie tastes good, warm, and homemade-y, I still prefer savory over sweet. Where’s the Chex-Mix?

Anyway, baby — we didn’t give up on pie, so we’re not giving up on you. But do hurry, I am excited to try my hand at rustic diaper changes.

Lots of love,

Your future mama

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