Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Check Me Out!

I'm a guest blogger! 

Usually I'm just excited when someone is happy to admit they know me but allowing me to put my random musings on their very own blog as well? It's almost as good as the day I discovered Reese's Pieces made cereal. 

Check out Kristie's blog Blushing Basics for my post and all her great make up and style tips!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

5 Reasons Why I Love Having a Toddler at Halloween

1. It is only socially acceptable to go trick or treating as a 27 year-old if you have a 16 month-old decoy to collect candy for you.

2. He will eat none of said candy because he doesn't understand what it is yet. If he does have an idea, you can give him the mini packages of pretzels that those "halloween-hating" houses give out while you keep the good stuff.

3. You don't have to spend hardly any time or money on your child's costume because they look cute in anything. Halloween party tonight? Shoot. Um, just go wind yourself up in toilet paper again, Johnny.

4. Toddlers have no idea they are even wearing a costume and walk around as if being dressed like Snookie is a normal daily occurrence. Maybe it is. No judgements.*

5. Because a green (green?) hippo has never been so cute.
Please, Sir. My Mother wants some more candy. 

*Actually, did you hear the hint of me judging you? Because it was totally there.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Picture Perfect Outside the Lens

Fall has arrived as evidenced by football, red and gold leaves, crisp afternoon air and the inevitable desire to drive half an hour to a farm, get hay in every crevice on your body, let a goat lick your son and then trudge out to the field to get your own dang pumpkin off the vine while you pay the farmer for your labor. 
 Ahh, the smell of cider and irony.
Tyler had a rare afternoon home last week so we decided to take Landon to Circle S Farms, the same farm where Tyler grew up picking his pumpkin (from a perfect patch of pretty plump pumpkins with his pal Peter). (Not really Peter). (Although I wasn’t there so I don’t know). (But I’m pretty sure). 
It was actually really quite a fun experience being able to be on a real farm with real animals and real hay barns with slides (which must make collecting hay in harvest season pretty fun) and take a real tractor ride out to find our very own perfect pumpkin (I have nothing to say here, it just felt like time for some parentheses). I am still finding pieces of hay in Landon’s diaper and, thanks to this experience, we now know that he is terrified of chickens. 
Landon's ultimate nightmare
Needless to say ( ), it was a memorable experience. And that, my friend Peter, is my point. 
We came away from that evening with close to a hundred pictures, not counting video footage. From the second we stepped out of the car, both Tyler and I felt the need to document every second of this “memorable” experience to ensure that it would truly be “memorable.” We have pictures of us walking from the car to the ticket booth. From the ticket booth to the farm. From the farm to the barn. We have pictures of Landon in every conceivable corner of the farm, with every conceivable animal and sitting on every conceivable bale of hay and next to every inconceivable giant pumpkin. We wanted Landon to play on the tractor, to hug the scarecrow, to lie on the gigantic pumpkin because Oh! What a cute picture that would be! The point was to document this “fun” experience by posing him “having fun.” 
The funny thing was, the more we tried to capture his “fun” the more he wasn’t having any. We wanted him to sit on the tractor and laugh for the camera as he pretended to drive. He wanted to pick up chicken poop. 

Seriously, Mom. What more do you want from me?
It wasn’t just us, either. All around us were parents struggling with wailing kids in order to get just the right shot (Parker, I don’t care if the hay scratches your legs, roll around in it like you love it!). The interesting thing is that by documenting the memory with such fervor we tend to lose out on the experience itself. 
After awhile, we calmed down with the camera and took in the scenes around us. That’s  where, at least for me, the real memory begins. Landon laughing as the goats licked his hand and running to hug my legs as the chicken came closer. Tromping through the hay barn, sinking every couple steps like quick sand, letting Landon plop! into the pile at the end of the slide and hearing his delighted laugh. Tyler holding Landon’s hand through a row of corn stalks. Watching Landon’s little face switch back and forth from slightly worried to exhilarated as the tractor lurched it’s way across the field. These are the pictures indelibly imprinted in my mind. These are the memories worth remembering. 
That’s not to say taking pictures is not a good idea. I am glad we took a lot of the pictures that we did. Many pictures that we have invoke happy feelings of wonderful memories. The importance, I think, is to allow the moment to dictate the record, not the other way around. 

Okay, I do love this one. Probably because we weren't forcing him to look happy.
Perhaps I need to learn to find a happy medium, or at the very least, get better at taking actual candid pictures. But until then I am going to try to make an effort to experience moments with my family by taking in the total sum of the moment and etching it in my mind - the light, the smell, the laughter, the subtle expressions and nuances - unencumbered by a lens. Or guilt. 
Because I’d take the memory of my son’s giggle as the goat licks his hand over a picture of him crying next to a giant pumpkin any day. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself

This is so much easier to do when your neighbor is yourself.
I want Landon to have high self-esteem, but this is getting a little out of control. 
I will draw the line the second he starts giving the image in the mirror the wink and the gun. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hi, My Name is Debbie and I Have a Problem

Well, um...let's see. I guess it was around age 5 or 6. Amelia Bedelia. I saw the other kids reading in the library and I thought "they're doing it, so no big deal, right?". I figured a book about a misfit, simple-minded nanny with a ridiculous name couldn't possibly be too much for me. So I picked it up. I thought, "just this once. I just want to see what it's all about." But then there was Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping, Merry Christmas Amelia Bedelia and Come Back, Amelia Bedelia. Pretty soon I had read every Amelia Bedelia book there was and had even gotten one signed by the author (the kingpin). I thought, "no big deal. I can stop anytime." Little did I know that Amelia was just the beginning.

The gateway 

Pretty soon I found that I just wasn't as amused with Amelia's inane predicaments. I mean, really. How many times can a grown woman bake a date cake using a cut-up calendar? But I still needed that excitement, that thrill of a brand new story just waiting for me to turn its pages. That's when I found Felicity from the American Girl series. Felicity's colonial-era adventures were enthralling, educational and a little dangerous. I liked the way learning made me feel. I liked the person I was when I learned something. The thing about American Girl is that you can't just stop at one. After Felicity I found Samantha, Addy, Kirsten and Molly (my favorite). By this time I found that books were beginning to take over my life. I played with my Felicity and Molly dolls during the day, dressing them in different period-appropriate outfits (cotton dress and bonnet for 18th century Felicity, plaid sweaters and mary-janes for 40's Molly) and devoured their stories at night. My parents didn't know, but there were quite a few nights that I stayed up hours past my bedtime just to read a little longer, find out a little more. Every page was supposed to be my last one.
Come on Debbie, everybody's doing it

From then on I dabbled in a little Babysitter's Club here, a little Beverly Cleary there. All the while thinking that I was totally in control and that I once I got older I would just grow out of this phase. But around the time I hit my teen years my sister introduced me to the world of World War II literature. Ambrose, Brokaw, Pellegrino, I couldn't get enough. I had filled myself with such a vast amount of information that there was no turning back now. No more going back to my days of innocence. I was in it.

I spent the last part of high school in a dizzying haze of classical Russian literature and religious books. Some times I read, sometimes I didn't - the ebb and flow of addiction. College was a bastion for my obsession, though. The second I stepped foot on campus, learning surrounded me. Undergrads, grad students, law students, professors, discussing, debating, lecturing, cross referencing. I devoured it all. No matter how late I stayed up with friends, I always had to end my night with a little bit of something - I couldn't sleep unless my eyes had glanced across a page, taken in another line. It was now a part of me, something that I knew I couldn't shed even if I wanted because that would be like asking me to leave behind my arm and be happy about it.

By the time I got married, things had calmed down a bit. I guess I was distracted by my new stage in life and all the changes that accompanied it. I was holding down a job, making friends, going out at night. Okay, not really going out at night. But I could have. But after a year or so I felt like something was missing and my old friend was there to greet me - the library. Soon I was going to work bleary-eyed and droopy-tailed from a late night. My husband, now apathetic, got used to falling asleep with the light on. Quantity took place of quality. I didn't care what it was I read, as long as I read. Twilight, Leon Uris, Harry Potter, Markus Zuzak, the back of the cereal box. It didn't matter. As long as it had writing, I would read it.

Did you know there are four species of Puffins? Just something I learned from this trove of knowledge

I finally hit rock bottom after I had my son. Staying home left me a little more time to read and it was actually socially acceptable for me to take a child to the library so there was really no excuse. I tried to limit myself by placing a book on reserve, thinking the whole time that I would go to the library, pick up that one book and leave. But the second I stepped foot in that literary lair I couldn't help but be drawn to all the possibilities around me. The story of North Korean emigrants here, the tale of a young Jewish boy in the 70's over there, a Russian girl's memoir on the shelf in front of me. They called my name. I had to listen.

A little Woodstock-y, don't you think?

So that's how I got here. To the point where reading has almost lost a sense of joy because I read one book only to feel the need to rush through it in order to get to the next. I feel numb to everyday life unless it has a moral meaning or clever twist. Which, fortunately, it usually does.

I guess my biggest fear is that my son will make my same mistakes. I don't want him to wake up one day to find that that his eyes are blood shot, his fingers are marred by paper cuts and his skin is pasty white because he's been too busy reading to go outside. Plus, he really has to pee because he also forgot to go to the bathroom while he was on the last chapter of Ender's Game.

But my biggest fear of all is that I'm too late.