Monthly Archives: May 2012

We All Have the Plague. Also, My Kid is Cute.

Ok, we don’t actually have “the plague”. But mini Gwinn, Captain Laser Pants and I are all feeling a little snotty this weekend. But, the good news- we bought a seriously swanky (well, for us it’s swanky) new car that we can enjoy when we’re not all sick. We can even watch movies in it, like the rich folk! And, since Jeep Grand Cherokees (Ok, ours is much newer than the ones listed on the top ten list, BUT it has a hemi) were listed in the top ten best cars for the end of the world (as seen here), Team Gwinn feels confident in our ability to pack up the entire family, load our arsenal, and venture into the world to fend off zombies.

I feel like poo, so I’ll dedicate this post to displaying the adorableness that is mini Gwinn. Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend, folks, and thank a veteran for his service to our nation.

Bath time cuteness!

 

He owns “blue steel”.

 

Super Fletch!

 

Check out that awesome hair line.

 

Where’s his neck? Who cares! He’s adorable!

 

If you aren’t smiling at this picture, you don’t have a soul.

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Pinterest Makes Me Feel Like a Moron

I’ve joined the cult. I’m drinking the Kool- Aid. But, as cool as Pinterest is, it makes me feel like a moron.

For those that haven’t been sucked into the biggest time waster since Tetris, Pinterest is an online pinning board (think like a virtual bulletin board) where you can “pin” an unlimited amount of stuff (such as fashion, hair styles, tips for the home, decorating ideas, cute pregnancy photos, etc) onto categorized “boards” for organization. It is the new version of the Facebook “like”- you can like something, pin it, put it onto a board, and come back to it later without having a huge list of favorites on your internet browser. You can follow people you know and people whose pins interest you and you can comment and/or like pins. It is a really cool idea. The pins I have seen range from photography to cake ideas, awesome cars to awesome fashion, history, landmarks, children’s clothing, party themes, recipes, home cleaning ideas and everything in between. There are the obnoxious pins that include “text as decoration”, “self- deprecating motivational posters of naked models to encourage me to workout!,” and “mason jar EVERYTHING!”, but like your younger brother’s creepy, mouth breathing friend that came over after school, you can ignore these.

Let me clarify. I am horribly average in the craft department, the decorating department, the fashion/ appearance department, and most definitely uncreative overall. Without fail, of course, the pins I love are usually incredibly intricate, crafty, or involved. I have neither the time nor skill set to try these things at home (but I somehow find time to sit on Pinterest, hm…). I’ve tried the DIY (do you like to do it yourself?) t-shirt scarf, the DIY “turn a man’s large shirt into a cute fitted women’s tee”, recipes for oatmeal breakfast bars and Amish caramel, and a few other things. Most of the recipes come out fine (I’ll admit, I can cook and bake), but anything that I’m supposed to wear, make for decoration or anything not for eating usually turns out to be crap.

Who are these people that are so good at crafting, taking pictures of said crafts, and posting them online? Are they just showing off? Not only are the photos of the crafts beautifully done, but the crafts are impeccable and the women modeling the clothes or whatever they’ve made in their spare time (between preparing four course meals, donning lingerie and taking care of kids while their husband is at work) are always gorgeous. It’s like Martha Stewart and Charlize Theron joined their DNA to create super women, gave them some speed, and set them loose on blogs for average women to pin their ideas on Pinterest.

For a summary, not only am I bad at making crafts/ clothing/ decorations, but I’m not even creative enough to come up with anything original for Pinterest. Pinterest is like that really cool, beautiful girl in high school you really like hanging out with but makes you feel like an awkward klutz because she’s so awesome (even though she’s really nice about it and still hangs out with you).

So, while I’m trying to make homemade labels to stick on my not- so- cute mason jar gift sets (just kidding, everyone. I don’t think mason jars are cute. They’re just old fashioned, glass storage containers) and totally embarrassing myself in the gift giving process, I’m going to go sift through Pinterest to look for something much easier to do, like putting a $20 bill into a clever card from Hallmark.


Motherhood on Trial

It’s funny to me, keeping in mind all that a mom does, that the “career” of motherhood is so looked down upon today. College educated women are putting off marriage and procreation in the pursuit of a successful career- sometimes at the sake of personal relationships- to support themselves in an ever increasingly expensive America. Our society encourages selfishness. Buy more expensive cars. Live in the “cool” part of the city. Wear the best brands/ designers/ styles. Wear expensive shoes. Coordinate your pets to your lifestyle. Don’t let anyone, be it the government, a member of the opposite sex, your parents, or your own misgivings, stand in your way to keep you from what you want.

Don’t misunderstand me- making and spending money is absolutely fun. To an extent, it is fulfilling. I am not “bashing” education, a successful career, having nice things or pursuing a fun life. But, eventually (I would think), living the “Peter Pan” life- the life where one never truly grows up, but merely prolongs adolescence in the pursuit of the next party- just looks silly. By “looks silly”, I mean, truly, the people that live the Peter Pan life, look ridiculous after a certain age. There’s no number for that, but the women in their 40s, wearing tiny clothing and getting trashed at the dance club, look absurd. So do the men picking up girls half their age. Having minimal adult responsibilities and putting off adulthood eventually produces an emotionally infantile grown- up. Relationship skills are pretty low on the importance ladder when you’re always on the playground.

What, pray tell, does any of this have to do with motherhood?

I’ll get there, itchy britches.

There’s something that bothers me greatly in our society today, and not just for the moral degradation of us all. Today we are bombarded with images and media telling women to quit acting like ladies if they want to “get the man”. What these girls, because let’s face it, women who aren’t ladies are really just big “girls”, fail to see is the flip side of this coin: the man they’re trying to “get” has already been “gotten” multiple times, by other girls, just like them. The sexual revolution has afforded girls the pretense of having adult things while still getting to act like girls (this goes for men too). You can have a big girl job, wear big girl clothes, live in a big girl apartment, and have big girl sex. There’s no trying involved- if you want sex you have it- and there aren’t any real repercussions for doing so. The men that jump in and out of bed with multiple women aren’t going to respect the girl beforehand, and he certainly won’t respect her after, so there’s not much to lose. There’s no courtship, no pursuit of a relationship, and half the time there isn’t even a phone call or breakfast after. Society tells women it’s ok to keep pushing off marriage (and who wants to marry bed hoppers when you can just keep bed hopping?) to keep having fun.

Do you remember that scene in Pinocchio when the puppet boy realizes that the party isn’t so fun anymore?

The degradation of society may lead to or stem from the complete deterioration of the nuclear family. Chicken and egg here- I don’t know which came first. There are single mothers, single fathers, and families where there aren’t children at all. Some of these situations occur by choice, others by circumstance- that’s not to say any given choice is “wrong”- but our society began to decline when the nuclear family began to do the same. Don’t agree with me? Look at the statistics from the sexual revolution to now- when women began to have children without a father in the home, when men and women began to be more promiscuous and flippant with their sex lives, when men and women began disregarding the importance of relationships, crime went up, welfare went up, and the cherishing of life went down.

Changing gears. I actually know people (women) who are literally grossed out by motherhood. They exclaim “EWWWWW” when they hear about breast milk. To be fair, motherhood is not a clean and neat job. It’s full of puke, spit- up, poop, pee, slime and goo of unknown origin. It’s messy, both literally and emotionally. You cry when your baby won’t eat, you are physically ravaged by the lack of sleep and what pregnancy has done to your body, and you feel isolated from the rest of the grown up world. But, good readers, I will tell you, that after all the jobs I’ve had, all the college education I trudged through, and all the hard work I’ve endured, there is nothing so difficult as motherhood. It is certainly the job at which I’ve worked most hard. I utilize every mental and physical resource I have every day to care for my child. When women without children say to me, “Oh, you’re a stay at home mom?” like it’s a freaking social slight, I want to punch them in their moronic throats so they can never speak again. I haven’t chosen to be a urine soaked homeless woman, I’ve chosen to raise a human, you ingrate. And, I bet, if these people are asked to step up to the plate in exchange for their responsibility-less at the moment they look down on mine, they wouldn’t be able to deliver. Until they’re ready to grow up, it’s too hard a job to do. It’s too selfless.

judgement day -dumdumDUUUM-

To make matters worse, other mothers judge one another. Back off! You know how hard this job is. For the mothers that breast feed until their children are 22, more power to you. I’m so glad that you are able to make that much milk and give your growing child what she needs. But don’t judge the mothers that can’t make milk, or whose baby wasn’t able to nurse. Mothers do what is best for their family, not for any one else’s. If a mom isn’t following all the rules of the ten thousand parenting books out there, chances are she’s found her own parenting style that works for a particular child. Don’t beat one another up because of different styles. Unless you see another mom feeding her baby broken glass, it’s not your place to judge. If the Time magazine headline “Are you mom enough?” didn’t grind your gears, then you are either mom enough (and good for you if you are!), or you haven’t given thought to the idea of pitting mothers against one another.

As you can see, I’m pretty fired up about all this “motherhood on trial” business. I am not opposed to having a career and living the fun single life. I really enjoyed it when I had it. I wasn’t pushed into marrying my husband, but we did unexpectedly have a baby. I put away “what I wanted to do” for what was required of me. I’m not less of a woman for doing so; I would venture to say that I’m more. To all of you enjoying the life you’ve made for yourself- awesome. I’m really not judging you for what you’ve chosen (this post is really me thinking aloud), so please don’t judge me for the life I’ve made for myself and my family.

This is a pretty heated blog post. If you have thoughts on it all, share it. Like I said, this post is me thinking aloud- it’s harsh (as my inner dialogue can be), it’s raw, and if I offended you, it was not intentional.


The Illusion of Being Impervious

I won’t lie to you, good reader. Coming across as reserved, intelligent and impervious is something I desperately attempt to maintain. Being judgmental certainly helps, and the appearance of reservation and intelligence are pretty easy- just don’t say much, and when you do, say it well. Ahh, but the ever elusive quality of being emotionally impenetrable- now that’s something I don’t think I’ll ever fully grasp, try as I might.

 

Do you remember the old children’s rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” We said it on the playground to hide our feelings from bullies; we muttered it to ourselves in middle school when the slightly less awkward preteens taunted the slightly more awkward us. Maybe some of you, like I did, waited until you were in the private confines of your bedroom before you sighed or cried over what had been said.

Thirteen years ago I went on a white water rafting trip with my youth group. We were on the bus to get to the water when the youth pastor shouted, “Hey, Bethany, you better wear a helmet over your face too. Wouldn’t want to break it!” and the whole bus erupted into laughter. Honestly, even now, I don’t get what that means. I was the youngest one on the trip at fourteen, and I remember being baffled about why the youth pastor, of all people, would single out a teenage girl to ridicule. I wasn’t particularly pretty at fourteen, and I certainly wasn’t petite (something I’ve struggled with emotionally my entire life)- I had sprouted by age twelve to be taller than my sister eight years my senior- and, it wasn’t like I was sitting on top of the food chain in the church youth group, if you know what I mean.

 

Why would a man in a spiritual leadership position pick on anyone, especially a young girl? I grew to loathe him and dread going to youth group. Lucky for me, my parents began going to a different church soon after, so I wasn’t stuck around him for much longer. Four years later I avoided him at my brother’s wedding. Obviously, what this man had said to me stuck around for years. Regardless of what the old rhyme said, words clearly hurt. And, even though he’s a diminutive 5’6 and much older, I still haven’t found the courage to write him a letter to tell him how I felt. In this one rare instance I am avoiding the confrontation.

 

Years later I would be in a relationship where we both verbally battered one another. I’m sure I raked his ego through the mud; he put my psyche on a spit and roasted it to a crisp. We brought out the absolute worst in one another, partly because of arrogance and insecurity, and partly because we were totally wrong for one another. Captain Laser Pants came along and quenched the fires, but the damage had been done. I walled up, in fear that he too would hurt me, and I would be left a little more broken. I fought to be a citadel wall against his kindness. Thank God for Captain Laser Pants and the power of love (I don’t care how cheesy that sounds- it is 100% true). I shudder to think about where my life would be without my husband’s love.

 

Maybe being impervious, or even seeming that way, is the totally wrong route. Maybe if we were all more honest, more vulnerable, our relationships would be fuller. If we dropped the facade of arrogance and we were honest with our insecurities, we’re left without armor, yes, but that’s one less layer to remove before we get to the heart of who one another is. I am going to try to skip the pretense of being put together and calm, cool and collected- I am a new mom, with fears and desires and rough patches and big, black circles under my eyes. I need makeup to look human and clothes to hide the parts of me that aren’t magazine- worthy. I want to be real, the people around me to be real, and the relationships I have to be real.

What about you?


The Crazy Beast Keepers

It is a well known fact that the ratio of dependents to adults directly correlates with just how crazy said adults are. Captain Laser Pants and I have a baby and three high energy dogs- we are officially crazy beast keepers. If we had two Golden Retrievers or Basset Hounds, our life would be much, much calmer. Instead, we have a baby who moves constantly and three dogs that don’t rest until their batteries are fully drained.

This is Lenny. His official name is Leonard Lewis. He is a Beagle- Corgi mix. Somehow one of the smartest breeds jumped out of math class and mixed up with one of the, ahem, “most stubborn” (that is code for dumbest) breeds, and -tada!- we have Len. He is absolutely cute and takes FOREVER to warm up to people. Lenny is the oldest and smallest, weighing in at 35 lbs. He is vocal like a Beagle, long and midgety like a Corgi, and has personality for days. He does the cutest crawling/ bounding/ head tossing like a pony action when he’s excited. Captain Laser Pants told me a story about Len when he was about six months old- he pulled a chair out from the table, jumped on the chair, jumped on the table, and then ate dad’s wallet. Considering his legs are like, three inches long, that’s pretty awesome. Seriously, he’s our little Lou, and he’s presh.

Jovee looks fast with her Greyhound ears.

This is Jovee. Her name is taken from the word “jovial”, and believe me, she is the happiest dog ever. She is also the most energetic. She is an Australian Cattle Dog mixed with a Greyhound- too energetic for her own good, and ridiculously fast. If she gets out of the house, we are hard pressed to catch her. When she’s not mauling her brothers, she is chewing eagerly on her tennis ball, staring intently at her tennis ball, or inventing games with her tennis ball (she buries it in blankets and then “digs” it up). She potty trained in a week, and learned to ring a bell to go outside within a few days. Jovee Bean can often look like Ed from the Lion King. People have asked me if she was a “deer” (yes, a deer. Seriously!), a “dingo” (because it’s totally legal to have Australian wild dogs as pets in the US), and “the kind of dog that eats other dogs” (there are cannibal breeds as domestic pets?!). Aside from not looking particularly dog-like, she is an awesome running partner. She is the sweetest/ craziest animal I’ve ever, ever met.

Gambit dressed himself in my shorts.

Let me introduce you to Gambit. If he could speak, he would sound like Antonio Banderas. He is a Basenji- Lab mix (Basenjis are African barkless hunting dogs). He whinnies and yodels, but doesn’t bark. He can put on a pair of shorts by himself, loves to wear scarfs, and is a very, very prancy boy. His nicknames include: Prance, Gambo, Bambo, Bambit, a curse word that sounds eerily similar to his name, and Prance Pants. He is usually found laying on someone (read: anyone) or acting as Jovee’s chew toy. His singular mission in life is the pursuit of food. He is infamous for his ability to jump onto counters to retrieve brownies, cake, pie- you name it, he’s eaten it off the counter. He is the reason our house has baby gates. As a street puppy, he must have hunted for his food, because he loves to stalk squirrels. One night in Minneapolis he got out, and a few minutes later, came back with a plum. He has launched himself out of the car window on two separate occasions, eaten glass from baking dishes after knocking them off counters, eaten pounds of chocolate fudge, and lived to tell the tale. Or tail.

When I was pregnant we had predicted that Jovee would be the most protective of the baby, Lenny would be the dog most likely to bite the baby, and Gambit would be ambivalent. After mini Gwinn came home from the hospital, Lenny was the first to receive him into the pack. Gambit, as we predicted, was totally ambivalent, and Jovee was quite unsure of the new bundle. Now that we’ve had the little dude around for six months, Lenny and Jovee fawn over the baby. Lenny is incredibly protective of him, and goes so far as to mean mug or growl at newcomers holding the kid. Jovee alerts me when he’s crying (“Um, mom, I know you’re in the shower. But he’s crying, and I can’t get in his crib. Please help.”), poking her head into the shower of death to risk her life for the baby. Gambit is slowly warming up to him, sniffing and licking on occasion, and “keeping him warm” by laying close to him. They all let mini Gwinn pet them, to varying degrees.

Canine Gwinns

So, in the zombie apocalypse, my bet is that Gambit will be the one with whom to hunt- we will just have to take the food from him before he eats it all himself. Jovee will be the one with whom to run through the rubble of the cities, and Lenny will be the alert dog (although Jovee would be the one to actually kill zombies). In my Mad Max mental image, we’re all decked out in torn, post- apocalyptic clothing, the dogs have gunner turrets on them, and mini Gwinn is wearing a bullet belt in the style of Rambo. After saving a pocket of barely surviving humans from destruction, we’ll hop into our family-sized SUV and ride off into the sunset, dog faces hanging out the windows in bliss.

Gambit and Jovee

People told us that our dogs would take a “back seat” once the baby was born. In some ways, yes, they don’t have the same amount of attention as they did when it was just the five of us. But, instead of losing our love for them, we’ve really just made room in our hearts (and our bed). CLP still walks them almost every day, we take family walks, we play outside together, and they are still our constant companions on the couch after the little duderino has gone to bed. They’ll be in our Christmas family cards and our family photo albums. Crazy beast keepers or not, we love our dogs.


My Vampire Child and My Inability to Escape Him

Mini Gwinn has attempted to suck my blood, or at the very least, gummed my shoulders, hands and face. He is a drooling, grumbling mess of a six month old baby. Over the weekend he cut one of his canine teeth (there is a tiny little bud sticking out- adorable and disconcerting all at once), and it looks like the other is soon on its way. As an avid sci- fi and fantasy fan, I’m quite happy that mine is a vampire child, complete with vampire teeth and a suddenly nocturnal nature, but also missing my previously happy and cuddly baby boy that was sleeping peacefully for thirteen hours a night (for real).

 

blue steel

the mini Gwinn has a killer “blue steel”

Teething, I’ve been told, lasts until children are seventeen years old, give or take a few years. This concerns me, largely because he’s not going to be adorable or cuddly ever again. His funny personality has been overcome by a perpetually grouchy persona that, when paired with incessant drooling, completely detracts from his good looks. Rather than having strangers approach us wherever we go to tell me how beautiful my baby is, we now part the crowds like Moses and the Red sea so they can avoid this howling terror.

 

To make matters worse, I managed to injure myself while attempting plyometrics a few weeks ago. Super. My options are a) quit running, b) physical therapy, and/or c) surgery. I’ve worked on giving my stupid knee time and rest to heal, but between constantly moving to appease vampire mini Gwinn and my absolute need to stay active, rest really isn’t an option.

 

To add insult to injury, my car has finally been put out to pasture. That blissful hour of escape from mini Gwinn at the gym (God bless those sweet women in child care at our gym) has been stolen from me. Captain Laser Pants is buying me a new mom-mobile (no minivans, people) in the next few days, but until then, I am (mostly) homebound with a monster attempting to convert me to his vampiric, nocturnal ways. We’ve been walking through our absolutely wonderful neighborhood, but that’s not exactly rest for the old knee.

 

So, I’m carrying around this nineteen pound six month old (he’s a giant vampire- a new breed of monster for the horror films) all day, letting him gum my shoulder and scream at me when he’s uncomfortable (I really do feel terrible that he’s in pain, honestly). My right arm and hand have been going numb from the weight, and I’m fairly certain I’ve lost hearing in my right ear. Perhaps, after the new car purchase, I should look into a bionic right half of a body to buy.

 

Can vampires turn robots?