maybe I’m not smart enough to be a parent (oops too late)

alligator t shirt

I don’t know how you’re feeling about your intelligence these days, but mine is definitely in question. I’m tempted to build myself up here by listing all of my academic accolades…I realize, however, that these are ancient and utterly useless when it comes to the kind of knowledge I am lacking. (And maybe useless just in general but let’s not visit that sad, overgrown island.)

For example, until about three minutes ago, I didn’t know the difference between a crocodile and an alligator. I wouldn’t have been able to pick them out of a police line up. More relevantly, I didn’t know which one is featured on my 19 month old’s T-shirt, pictured above. (Love this handcrafted shirt – my husband got it on the street in NYC from the person who crafted it.) I have been calling it an alligator. My son is now therefore calling it his “alligator shirt,” quite proudly, and I had no idea if this was correct.

While folding laundry today, I decided enough’s enough – I’d better consult the google machine for the sake of clarity. Turns out I may have been right: the main physical difference is in the snout – the alligator’s is wider and shorter (like on this shirt?) while a croc’s is longer and pointed. I’d like to dedicate my correct guess on dumb luck.

I know this is just the beginning of the informational “winging it” that’s about to happen in this household. We are coming upon the Time of a Million Questions with our son and I won’t be able to answer many (any?) of them without looking them up. Just as I can’t do even the simplest math without a calculator.

Feeling similarly, my husband purchased this book, Homework for Grown-ups: Everything You Learned at School and Promptly Forgot:

Homework for Grown-ups

(For the record, I am not worried about my husband’s knowledge base – he’s way way ahead of me, especially when it comes to trivia and general knowledge. In fact, I’ll probably refer Ian to him by answering many of his curious inquiries with, “I don’t know, why don’t you ask your dad…”)

The chapters in this clever book include: English Language and Literature, Mathematics, Home Economics, History, Science, Religious Education, Geography, Classics, and Art. There are tests at the end of each chapter, with answers in the back, eek! And there’s even a “Recess” section in the middle explaining hopscotch and how to make the perfect paper plane. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Where did it all go? Everything we learned at school now seems a distant memory. We sit slack-jawed when our children ask us which planet comes after Jupiter, or what the capital of Bulgaria is, or what quid pro quo actually means. Have you ever found yourself making up your own version of the Pythagorean theorem in order to avoid the humiliating scorn of your offspring? Have you ever started blithely on a list of the thirteen original colonies only to find yourself stuck at eight? Have you ever succumbed to the temptation to use the embarrassing cop-out clause “Ask your father/mother?”

I should definitely read the rest of this book, though I have no idea how or when I’ll fit this in. Maybe in the next few years my stupidity will become even more glaring and I’ll blaze through it in a series of all-nighters. This is, after all, pretty much how I operated in high school, college and grad school. And though I resisted mentioning this above, I now feel the overwhelming need to share with you that I did very well academically.

I also feel the need to share with with you another one of Ian’s cute shirts, this one obviously depicting a camel:

giraffe t shirt

I wonder: are you feeling smart enough to be a parent?

some burning questions about cracked pepper

cracked pepper smile

Last night I made a simple salad with arugula (a.k.a. rockets) which, as many of you know, is leafy green with a rather “peppery” flavor. I put some cracked pepper in the dressing along with some lemon, olive oil, and fresh garlic. I added pepper to the salad. Then I ground some more pepper into the bowl after I chopped it. I ask you: is there anything more delicious?

arugula salad

(Actually, it might have been even one pinch better if accompanied by the peppery notes of a nice red zinfandel, but unfortunately I didn’t have any of that on hand or…in hand.)

I put a significant amount of pepper on just about everything: pizza, tucked into a grilled cheese, eggs — oh, definitely eggs. I do stop myself at Indian and Chinese cuisines, but just barely. I wonder: is it normal to get jittery if I’m in a restaurant where there isn’t a pepper grinder? I’ve considered carrying one of my own. Perhaps I could invent some kind of holster or purse-sized mill for ~Pepper Lovers on the Go~. Maybe it could double-time as a pencil, since I always seem to need one of those, too. James Bond could borrow it (endorse it?) if he ever needed to jot some blog notes and spice up his calamari with one quick sleight of hand.

I also wonder: how much of the allure is the flavor, and how much of this is about appearance? This butternut squash and sage ravioli was delicious with a bit of butter (btw, not home-made) but don’t those little speckles just seduce you? (Note to self: take a “before” shot first so you can demonstrate the contrast.)

black pepper on ravioli

And, finally, is it wrong for me to have introduced pepper to my toddler? This is the newest method of getting vegetables moving from bowl to spoon to mouth. A quick google search suggests that there aren’t any adverse affects. Except, one day, he kept asking for “more! more peppers!” and, in some kind of delirious flurry of pride and wayward desire to share my predilections, I kept turning turning turning the grinder as if it was filled with magic.

When his next bite resulted in coughing, red eyes and a look of confused pain, I apologized and said, “well, yes, there is such a thing as too much.”

Of course, I haven’t taken my own advice on that yet.

Did someone say peppers (sic)?

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Oh okay. I’ll eat some of those carrots.

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Yum.

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And this right here makes me a very happy mom.

Hey, if loving pepper is a crime, then lock me up and throw away the key. But just let me have this, okay?

pepper mill

How about you – are you a pepper enthusiast? Or are you of the opinion that I have officially…cracked? Please leave a comment below.

why a water table is one of the best investments we’ve ever made

Step2 WaterWheel Activity Play Tableimage source

(fyi, I did not get paid for or compensated in any way for the following post.)

Before becoming a parent, I’d heard of water beds, but not water tables. Turns out this is a completely unnecessary yet wonderful “invention” for those of us with toddlers who don’t have pools and are trying to find ways to cool down at home without relying on that extremely popular invention called… television.

Our 19 month old can spend hours, literally hours, scooping water with a simple cup and pouring it: back into the water table…into another cup…onto his feet…on our feet…on the ground…on the nearby mulch, on a pile of rocks he has collected, into the flower pot, etc, etc, etc. The possibilities are endless and each new iteration is accompanied by a squeal of delight followed by all kinds of business-like concentration as he repeats the same action to slightly different effect 150 times.

water table

It’s not that water tables are the ultimate toy, it’s that water is. And this thing puts it exactly at his height. Besides, while playing with this, he is cooling us down, he is cooling himself down, the slate floor of our porch is getting clean, the flowers are getting watered, and well, basically everybody is happy. In fact, watching him play with this is somewhat meditative. It’s almost like being at the beach except without getting stuck in traffic or getting sand in every orifice.

My husband calls this (and all the corollary research our son does in the bath tub) hydro-dynamics. Indeed, this seems like a good foundation for becoming an oceanographer or hydrologist. Maybe he’ll be an engineer with a specialization in the science of…fountains or…man-made water falls…or water parks (ooh, I hope he can get us some free tickets). But once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

water table happy

The point is that I recommend this. And I’m not getting paid to say so. When this water table plays out, we plan to fill it with sand, since we don’t have a sand box. I am hoping he still enjoys this to some degree next summer.

Do you have one of these? Do you want ours when we’re done with it? Or are you one of those sensible types who has every right to tell me that the exact same amount of joy can be extracted from a simple bucket? Feel free to leave a comment below…

there’s a carrot in my shoe and other developments

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Announcement: the home tome headquarters have recently gone through a significant reorganization. This includes changes in both staffing and office space.

First, we have a new CEO. He has been a strong candidate for this position for approximately 18 months and we he recently decided he is ready for the promotion.  While he is rather young to be running the whole operation, he has a lot of fresh ideas and a great deal of energy. Mostly, we are impressed by his leadership skills; he is a man of action and isn’t afraid to implement changes, especially when it comes to re-arranging the space.

For example:

From now on, shoes will serve as the appropriate receptacle for carrots, and all other pretend edibles, for that matter. See above.

Refrigerator magnets will be kept in the recycling bin.

Though we did not formerly realize this, it now makes the most sense to keep measuring cups on the bathroom floor.

Note that an infinite number of tiny supplies can be tucked behind the couch cushions.

The official break room for all teddy bears is now located under the dining room table.

It has been decided that all full length mirrors and glass doors are to be covered with tiny handprints and copious amounts of saliva.

And finally, big news: Several new staffers have been hired on and awarded with the coveted office space under the chair:

little people

We’d like to officially welcome them to the team and thank them in advance for all their hard work!

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Please feel free to share any new developments at your headquarters. And hope you are having a great summer so far!

thoughts while scraping gum off the bottom of my son’s tiny shoe

gum shoeThis is the most tedious micro-management project yet. Except less  management and more tedium.

But I must [scrape] get rid [scrape] of this glob [scrape with disgust from another angle] so he doesn’t spread someone else’s mouth germs all around our house. 

Then again, this gum does smell refreshingly minty and it appears to have conveniently picked up a good amount of dust, granola and stray hairs that I missed when I swept today last week whenever that was.   

Maybe this could be a new cleaning trend. Come to think of it, Magic Gum Shoes just might be my million dollar idea…”Clean your house without lifting a finger.”

Should I throw away this butter knife when I’m done? 

Where did he step on this gum, anyway?

And I’d like to know who has the nerve to just spit out their gum willy-nilly when they’re done chewing it. How exactly does that work? Is it an open-the-mouth-and-let-gravity-take-over kind of thing i.e. just letting it fall or does it require a more dramatic pah-tooey spitting action? Or did he/she call in the help of a hand to transport the unwanted gum from point A (the mouth) to point B (the ground)? Because I definitely AM holier-than-thou and I just can’t picture how that goes.

Whatever the case, the perpetrator should, no doubt, be tarred gummed and feathered.

Have you taken on (or been forced to take on) any good scraping projects lately?

exclusive preview of the baby scrapbook I’ll never get around to

scrapbookThis is the scrapbook I bought more than a year ago when our son was still napping twice a day and pretty much immobile. (He is now 17 months old, napping once a day, and aspiring to move at the speed of light.) This book represents my high hopes for documentation and a desire to express myself through hard-core collage-ing. After all, the work I did on our honeymoon and wedding scrapbooks could surely qualify as an extreme sport.

Here is the super-fun paper (180 sheets of fun, to be exact) that I knew would inspire all kinds of creativity:

scrapbook paper

How great are these stickers?:

scrapbook stickers

This bag is overflowing with items to cherish and display with an artistic flair all my own:

20140529_125954For example, I was careful to save the tiny bracelet that was around our son’s wrist in the hospital, lyrics to the wonderful song my step-mother composed and recorded for him, congratulatory cards, the breastfeeding log I kept for several months, his first boarding pass, a tuft of hair from the first haircut we gave him, etc etc.

And, finally, here are the photos I planned to include:

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There are only about 2.7 million photos to go through from his first year. I just need to edit that number down to what, maybe 100 photos? 150?

Some of the things I have learned from motherhood is that you have to go easy on yourself and be realistic about what you can handle. Alas, this is why I’ve accepted I will never have time to complete (or even start) this project.

Instead, I suppose a blog post will have to suffice!

How about you? Have you been able to keep a scrapbook of your child and if so, did you have to pull all-nighters in order to complete it?

on the fence

fenceLet me share with you a frightening formula:

corner lot + busy street + toddler who is clearly going to be an Olympic sprinter (as long as races are held on a zigzagged track) + no fence = fretful nights where sleeping is replaced by nail biting and days are spent inside holding your increasingly curious (and heavy) child up to the window to teach him about nature from afar.

We’ve been having the fencing debate since the day I got pregnant. Actually: we started discussing fencing for this lot long before baby, when we bought this house. Truth be told: I guess we mentioned it the first day we saw the house.

Our house doesn’t have a back yard – there are a few feet of sloping ground cover spotted with trees, all of which abuts our neighbor’s driveway. So it’s all side yard (this is the busy street) and front yard (this is a busy-ish street.) This means that any fencing we get, whether we go big or keep it relatively small, will be very visible and change the profile of our property.

Turns out that fences are not cheap. And, unless you own a house that calls out for a cute white picket fence (ours does not), they are mostly ugly, they seem to degrade quickly and, from what I can tell, they tend to strike up intimate relationships with weeds.

In order to give our son a proper play space outside where we don’t have to put him on a leash, we have been shopping for fencing. And by shopping for fencing, I mean trolling the web and our local neighborhoods to see if we can find anything that won’t make our beloved mid century modern home look like prison grounds.

Chain link? Vinyl? Wrought iron? I don’t think so.

This is our fantasy fence, stained wood with horizontal boards:

horizontal fencephoto source

But we are afraid to get an estimate. (Hereby proving that it’s possible to get sticker shock before there is even a sticker.) We are concerned about how often we’ll have to get it stained and how much all this maintenance will set us back. We also wonder if it will beckon burgeoning graffiti artists (although that could be kind of cool.)

So here we sit. On the fence. Or more literally, inside…reading books to our son about glorious places with grass, with bugs, and these cute little critters called squirrels.

Do you have a nice fence?