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November 2009
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January 2010

Still Rippin' on Ripa

Ripa I know it's not the season to be a hater but ... I can't help it.

Kelly Ripa, The super mom, according to her appliance commercials, when asked "What does every woman need?" Responds with: "A really big shoe closet."

Shallow much? To me she looks like she needs to hide some food in her closet and take a bite every now and then but then again that makes me sound a little bitter.

If you missed it, my article ripping on Ripa got a second place award this year from the National Newspaper Association. You can read it here.

Gettin' all Crafty and Crazy for Christmas

Stockings.09 (2) Stockings.09 
"I'm so crafty, I make people!" That sign cracked me up the other day. In addition to making Baby Jake, I finished making and embroidering our Christmas stockings! Matt is totally right that glitter and glue would've been a better option at this point but whatever ... here they are! The only thing I'm planning to do is give my new seam-ripper (courtesy of the Great Loretta) one more work-out by taking out the "M" on Matt's and making a new one.

"Really?" Matt shook his head and pointed at the calendar. Sure. Why focus on the million other things I need to do when I could hyper-focus on the fact that I'll always hate the "M" on his stocking if I don't fix it? He said he'd rather have a "crappy 'M' - and not that I'm saying it's crappy" than have a stocking that says "att" or have me stressed about fixing it. We'll see.

In other news --and this is just hysterical-- we are sick, snot everywhere, coughing like crazy sick. Just a reminder to paint an accurate picture - I'm 37 weeks pregnant with a cracked rib. Like I said, hilarious. Also I just found out my in-laws are planning to come visit overnight on Saturday. I did announce that I'm no longer bending over and there's only so much I can do with my grabber. I'm sure they'll be understanding and not at all concerned about the conditions I'm raising their grandson(s) in.

Speaking of questionable parenting ... and this is the kind of thing that makes me think a suitable title for my memoir would be Did I say that out loud? ... the dryer stopped working the other day. Of course it did. I could make it work with a pair of pliers and a haphazard guess as to what cycle I was using but that would only last so long so Sam and I went to the appliance store yesterday. Sam dropped something and said in a sweet voice, "Oh, shoot!" The saleslady smiled at him and started to say something complimentary but was interrupted by Sam's loud outburst of "Oh, Dammit!"

Those of you trying to weigh the pros and cons of having kids in daycare, well ... just think, there's no pretending for me as to where Sam might've picked that up ... I'll have to talk with his father.

Sam's surprise

Christmas Tree.09 (5)
"Christmas tree!" Sam squealed when he saw the surprise in our living room. Then he surprised both of us: "It's perfect! Thank you, Daddy!"

Christmas tree.09 Ahhhdorable. Matt had to use some tools to get the tree steady in the stand. Sam ran past me in a hurry, "'scuz me!" He came hurrying back with his own tool box. He proceeded to walk around the tree and "tighten" the branches with his wrench. Then he helped us decorate the tree ... sort of.

Decorating.09 Decorating.09 (3) Decorating.09 (2) 

Satsuma snobbery

IMG_1263 I don't know if Satsuma snobbery is genetic or if Sam is just that smart but he's got it figured out. He loves Satsuma mandarins as much as I do. Of course, I don't get as much out of the "ball" factor as he does but we eat a lot of them together. Enough that I thought it was getting to be a pricey habit so I bought some Satsuma knock-offs. After biting into one of those fakes, he made a funny face and said: "This not juicy!" He was totally right. It sort of sucked. For the rest of that box he called them "not juicy" every time he ate them. When I got the real ones he laughed and said, "That juicy!" I adore my little mandarin connoisseur. This morning, instead of coming into the closet and wreaking havoc while I get dressed he snuck downstairs while I thought he was playing in his room. I heard suspicious noises and realized the gate was open and sure enough, I found him in the pantry. He'd opened and unpacked a  box of "Daddy's cracker bars. Sam have some, please, can you?" No, I told him, but you can have something else. Back to the pantry he went and out he came with this armful of Satsumas. "Something else, please, can you?" He said as he deposited them on the table and climbed into his high chair. IMG_1265



Other people's assiness

My husband leaves for work by 5 a.m. and for the second day in a row calls in the evening to tell me he has to work late. Then, he thanks me for being so understanding. Which gives me some pause because what else would I be, really? I mean, it's not that I'm excited about having no break from my little sprite's antics sun-up to sun-down but it's Matt working his ass off that keeps mine warm and housed. Kind of hard to bitch about that. Which is not to say we don't both work had at what we do but, technically, his income is what makes it so I can stay at home with Sam and write. (Or think about writing!)

I try to think about things like that when I get the call that says "hey, I'm stuck in traffic. Looks like there was an accident." Sucks to be stuck in traffic but it's better to be thankful you weren't the one in the accident, right?

Right now Matt's working like crazy to deal with all the frozen pipes bursting and I just have to be thankful that a) we have heat and b) no flooding here. Pause to knock on wood.

I'm trying to focus on the positive things because it's easy to get tangled up in other people's assiness. The last few days have brought unwelcome and harsh comments as a result of me doing what I do - putting myself out there on paper - and it's tempting to get all stuck in wondering what possesses people to go out of their way to be rude, mean and sarcastic. Really, it's not like I'm not smiling and thinking shit sometimes but what happened to the old "if you don't have something nice to say, shut up and wait to tell a friend later."? I might be paraphrasing.

One example of the aforementioned assiness was getting my first negative comment on my column in the News-Register. I got a lot of positive feedback from friends and from strangers who went out of their way to e-mail me. I felt good about that because even though some didn't agree with all I'd said, it was cool to hear their stories and reasoning. Then I saw this comment on the paper's web site:

Wed, 12/09/2009 - 12:18am - Posted by: jcoburn

Wow...first time I've ever spent three minutes reading something and still didn't learn anything valuable. Thank you, News Register.

In other news Sam and I sat down with a pile of Christmas books last night. One of them was about Rudolph. You know, the red-nosed reindeer? Well, Sam insists I have it all wrong. All day today he's sticking with this story: "Rudolph red-nosed cow, Mama!"

The screw not swallowed

IMG_1256 IMG_1257

Or the story of the boy who didn't swallow the screw. Or, a variety of other plays on the word screw to describe our stupid Sunday. Or this post could be called what we did instead of getting a Christmas tree.

The day started normally enough. All of us a bit bleary eyed from loosing sleep to a windy night and parts of our roof hitting the side of the house but for the most part in a good mood. Matt and I were looking forward to taking Sam to the tree farm and spending the afternoon decorating.

Then I asked Matt to do something with the table blocking the hallway for weeks. He had to put a few screws in it first. Sam wanted to help. Up they went. Matt ran downstairs for something and there was a strange coughing, choking sound upstairs. Matt got there first. Sam was holding a screw in one hand and looking suspicious.

Me: "Did you put a screw in your mouth?"

Sam: "Yeah."
Me: "Did you swallow the screw?"

Sam: "Yeah."
Me: "Did you swallow the fork?"
Sam: "Yeah."

To Matt, "This is not a credible witness."

I called doctor. As I waited for the call back, I realized he was no longer our doctor and I'd yet to find a new one since Matt's company changed our insurance from a decent plan to the communist Kaiser system. Damn.

I didn't mention this change in plans as I talked to the on-call doc. She advised we head into the ER for an x-ray. Just in case. She agreed with us that it was unlikely he swallowed it in such a short amount of time with a small amount of fussing but it was a sharp, spirally wood screw and suggested we be on the safe side. She also gave Matt credit for creativity for wanting to find a metal detector and conduct a DIY scan.

So we packed up and headed to the ER. I packed our sweaters and camera thinking we'd just stop by the tree farm on the way home since I was pretty sure this was just for peace of mind. (It was, by the way).

Matt insisted we try to locate a metal detector which involved a series of phone calls, including one to our local PD and Bi-Mart. Matt bought a stud finder but no metal detector. I couldn't help but wonder if that would be like me stopping at the scrapbook store on the way to the ER to get some "materials" to document this event.

So we're in the hospital parking lot and again realize, we have this Kaiser thing to contend with. We didn't have our new cards yet and I was put on hold for long enough to have been well into our ER trip but whatever. The Kaiser lady made us an appointment clear in Clackamas. Really? We were in Newberg. Clearly this was not an emergency and she said if we went to the Newberg ER it would be a lot more expensive. Fine. So we kept driving, until I realized the granola bar, fruit leather and two mandarins in the diaper bag wouldn't pass for lunch for one much less all three of us. After a quick stop at Safeway we got to Clackamas were we went into the wrong building (we didn't know this until we checked out, of course.) They checked us in, saw the appointment for urgent care in the computer and admitted us to the ER. You see where I'm going with this?

Sam was awesome despite being scolded by one idiot nurse for being "too wiggly" when she tried to get his oxygen with a toe clip. Even giraffe wore a little paper towel "shied" on the x-ray table. No screw ingested. We headed home.

And ran out of gas.

Luckily, and ironically, it was right in front of our local gas station owner's house and in walking distance to our house (freezing temps aside).

Maybe we'll get a tree next weekend.

Parenting a moving target


New realities should play into decisions

Along with the joys and tidings of this time of year, there's no shortage of stress and potentially awkward moments. Like, say, when your kid gets a gift that makes you cringe.

When it comes to parenting, it's inevitable for values to collide. How you handle these occasions is key in maintaining healthy relationships with family and friends. 

Recently, Sam's Nana and Papa brought him the cutest pair of pajamas printed with little brown Labradors resembling our Lucy Brown. Sam calls them "Good Girl jammies."

He was especially excited about the matching fleece robe. He still strolls around the house, hands tucked casually into his pockets, like a little Hugh Hefner wannabe in search of an ascot. 

Nana and Papa also brought toy wooden guns for Sam. This created a different kind of excitement.

In their defense, Matt's parents meant to ask us how we felt about it in advance, but Sam saw them first. Matt managed the classic "hide and distract" maneuver and a conversation between the adults ensued.

My husband and I grew up with different ideas about a lot of things, including guns.

For him, rural life included a healthy respect for guns. For me, growing up in Tacoma, guns were something gang members had; I was terrified of them. 

Before I was a parent - cue laugh track - I was certain I'd be the "no guns for us" kind of mom. But the more I talk to people about guns, the more I realize it's important to me to teach my children what they are, how to use them and why I don't ever want them to have to pull a trigger in a hostile situation. I realize I can't ban guns completely. 

Although it's not unusual for me and my father-in-law to come at something from opposite points of view, we are getting better at finding the middle and lowering our voices along the way.

He mentioned that he grew up playing with all manner of toy guns, and he turned out fine.

But he grew up in a different setting. He grew up in a country that didn't have the phrases "school shootings," "went postal," and "Columbine" in its regular lexicon.

The reality today, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, is that more than 40 percent of American homes with children in them include guns, many of which are kept loaded and unlocked. In a world where an American child under the age of 10 is killed or disabled by a gun every other day, according to the AAP, I think it's fair for a parent to be concerned about the issue. 

That being said, it's also necessary to keep the spirit of the gift-giver in mind and be tactful in handling gift situations.

If there's something you feel strongly about, I suggest you have a conversation in advance with potential gift-givers. Feel free to use our awkward moment as a segue to preventing your own. 

Ultimately, we decided to keep the toy guns. We agreed that a conversation prior to having them in the house would've been helpful, but we let Sam take a turn with them.

He thought they were "pretty cool" as he used them as makeshift hockey sticks. They are now tucked away until we've figured out how we want to handle gun-play. 

I'm not looking for Mayberry. I'm just saying that parents today can't make their decisions based on what our parents and grandparents did, simply because they turned out OK.

Using some of the common sense that seemed more prevalent in prior generations, however, isn't such a bad idea.

When someone gives us a gift, we say thank you. If the gift comes into conflict with our values, talk about it respectfully and see if you can't find a middle ground.

Isn't that, after all, what you're raising your kids to do? 

Nathalie Hardy is a local freelance writer who can be found at random hours, taking notes as she walks Sam in his stroller. She invites your feedback - provided it doesn't include the phrase "unfit mother" - at

All it's cracked up to be

When we picked names for the boys I considered some of the common advice like calling it out loud, writing it down to make sure it didn't look stupid on letterhead, that sort of thing. But never once did I consider, hmmm ... would this be an easy name to embroider? And that's because I didn't do that sort of thing. Didn't dream of it. Flash forward to my new reality and picture me sitting on the couch with an enormous belly, feet up on Sam's slide to get the swelling in my feet down and learning how to use a seam ripper to undo the letters on Sam's stocking over and over and over again! Three curvy little letters and I can't make it happen. I'm starting to think glitter and glue.

Meanwhile ... four days since the last post ... let's just say I try not to post when I'm feeling all sorry for myself and after the fall, being sick, gallstones scare, cracked rib and puking I was pretty much nestled into my deep, dark place and planning on staying awhile. Then I did that whole counting my blessings thing, the sun came out and things started looking up.

It's fair to say this hasn't been the easiest pregnancy on record, but by no means even close to awful and the really cool part is that as the calendar flipped to December today it meant I am going to meet my son soon and I can't wait! Meanwhile, I'm thrilled to have The Holidays to share with Sam and use as a distraction from the waiting.