Monday, February 27, 2012


i realized when i shared the forty cent dresser knobs jack and i added to his dresser that it's been awhile since i've shared anything new about jack's room. and, i have been busy doing some tweaking in there. sidenote: check out urban dictionary's definition of tweaking. which, when you think about it, is remarkably similar to what i've been doing in there. you know, freaking out about the position of frames and art. worrying about whether white vs. brown frames are a better choice. obsessively rearranging and re-organizing storage bins and containers in the closet. contemplating and re-working and analyzing options for storing books. yes, totally tweaking.

while it isn't exciting or discernible from pictures, i did line jack's curtains with white block-out-every-tiny-bit-of-light panels. my little vampire can enjoy his cave in pure darkness now. i am totes jelly of his curtains, and need to finally make a decision on fabric for our bedroom so i can block out some light up in there...

and, peekaboo! the gallery wall for which i've been collecting art, prints and "stuff" is finally done... for the time being. and i can officially say that i. LOVE. it. if only i could create gallery walls all throughout the house. maybe i'd love each room that much more...

as is my tradition with gallery walls, there was a bit of drama on the way to getting it done. first, i hung it on the wall above the changing table. as in, i arranged all the frames, hemmed and hawed, then pounded the nails INTO THE WALL.

and then john and i watched a movie with ryan gosling. and i spent half the movie thinking that ryan gosling is pretty cute and the next half thinking that the gallery wall looked wrong above the little changing table. it needed to spread out on the wall above the dresser. so, i took it all down, and re-hung it. ahhh, wall gallery indecisiveness. nothing a little nail hole filler and some leftover paint can't fix. it looks about 7,000 times better on this wall. and there's so much more room for all these special pieces i collected. like this one...
which is a quote from one of my favorite avett brothers' songs.

and this one for my little iowan.

i am also super excited about the addition of the hooks since i can now showcase jack's expansive tie collection. is there anything cuter than miniature ties? that's doubtful. (ps. the ties are from here; SO cute and the perfect gift for the little men in your life)

ps. just for old time's sake: THIS is jack's original "gallery wall." pish posh... SO much better now...riiight?
(and yes, that heart garland was my attempt to valentine-ify jack's room - without the colors pink or red, which were forbidden by john)
the mirror that i painted green, hated, then painted blue has been relocated to the space above the changing table THAT WE NEVER USE. i know, i know. i should have listened to the veteran moms who told me not to buy a changing table because i'd never use it. i was into that, "oh, it's going to look so cute in his room with the matching crib" thing. and then i had to go buy the adorable changing pad cover from the land of nod, so everytime i think about getting rid of this unused piece, i'm all like THAT COVER IS SO ADORABLE. IT MUST STAY RIGHT. HERE. i suppose it does provide some function since we have toys and books stored in the bins underneath. but anyway - to make a long story short, my next mission is to replace this table with something a little more functional for his room.

one of my favorite additions to the room is this DOUBLE ENTENDRE above the glider rocker. a little towhead with a guitar that bears the caption "rock on." oh, and you know i got totally OCD about having a dark frame next door to the white frame gallery wall. i chewed off a few nails during my analysis, but ultimately concluded that the print looked so much better with the dark frame.

i got some free zulily credits (thanks for shopping, friends!) and added a little humidifier to jack's room. he loves the cow. almost too much, and we i live in a state of mild fear and paranoia that he might try to knock it over. until disaster strikes, though... how cute is that cow?!

along time ago, i pinned THIS idea for book storage for jack's room. apparently, so did everyone and their mother because on a trip to ikea a few months ago, i was told they were sold out of the spice racks and there was no telling when they'd be back in stock. i waited a few months, and with no chance of re-stocking on the horizon, i began brainstorming new & cheap game plans for this unused wall space.

i loved this option from the land of nod, which is no surprise because i love pretty much every thing made by the land of nod, including their quirky item names. it was just a wee bit more than i wanted to spend.

also, loved these options from pottery barn kids.

i was at ikea this weekend and picked up these photo ledges (below). they are PERFECT for displaying jack's favorite books. since he can see more books, he's more apt to change it up a little instead of requesting that we read the same 3 books exhaustively for a 2 or 3 week period of time. plus, i love open book storage. so cute!

jack, demonstrating how to use his new reading nook

so, that's what's been going on in jack's room lately... any tweaking going on at your houses?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

wee hands.

oh give me patience when wee hands,
tug at me with their small demands.
and give me gentle and smiling eyes,
keep my lips from hasty replies.
and let not weariness, confusion or noise,
obscure my vision of life's fleeting joys.
so when, in years to come, my house is still,
no bitter memories, it's silence may fill.

i love this poem. it's always in the forefront of my mind when jack hands me the same book time and time again, and i want to say, "REALLY? BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR AGAIN?!" i think about how these moments are so precious and will one day be gone, and i oblige him. anything for that sweet smile.

and when he wants to do things himself? i think about these words and let him take his time. because all we have is time, right? someday he won't be here with me. but for right now, he's mine. and i should soak up every little moment i can.

it almost breaks my heart to think about my house being quiet some day in the future. no toys under foot, no books strewn about the living room, no little voice yelling "DADDA? MOMMA? PUP PUP?" but, as the poem concludes, i would much rather the silence be filled with precious memories instead of regrets.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

[as many as i can think of] things.

my dear friend heather requested that i do a version of "twenty-five things" about myself/my thoughts/random observations for a post. truth be told, i don't know if i can think of twenty-five different things about myself to put into list form, but i will certainly try. here goes nothing...

[1] if i wasn't an attorney, i think i would like to be a police detective. or a private investigator. one of my favorite parts of my job is meeting with and talking to my clients. i love the interaction and the getting to the bottom part of what i do.

[2] speaking of police detectives, "the wire" is such an amazing show. stringer bell is deliciously attractive, ps. he makes drug dealing look glamorous. like after i see him, i'm all like, "oh, i could put up with that lifestyle. uhhhh huhhhh, yeah i could be his shawwwwty." which is ridiculous because NO I FRICKIN' COULDN'T. but that's beside the point. the bad part of watching "the wire" for me is that i end up doing exactly what i did the first time i watched it... researching the crime rates in the baltimore city projects, searching old news articles that discuss the problems facing the city and trying to decide just how much of the show is real (most, it seems). inevitably, each 53 minute episode spawns a 37 minute pillow talk discussion with john that goes something like: me: "john, you know how stringer tells d to withhold money from the hoppers to find which one has enough? because that one is the one who's dealing on the side or working with another outfit?" john: sleepily "what are you talking about? what time is it?" me: "i was just thinking that that's a very intelligent way to figure that out. i mean, these people are very savvy business-wise. if someone could go into these projects and offer these people a legitimate business opportunity, they could really be successful." john: "please go to sleep, stephanie. i beg you." and while the conversation might end there, my thoughts on it don't. but i love it so. i'm actually limiting myself to one or two episodes per night so i don't watch the entire series too soon.

[3] does that happen to other people, too? you finish a book or a television series and you feel depressed? happens to me everytime. i guess i form intense bonds with television characters or the heroines/antagonists in the books i read, and when our time together has ended, i always feel that pang of "no, wait, don't go." and i feel out of sorts for a few days because i poured so much time into really getting into the storyline, and now it's over.

[4] speaking of pouring myself into new storylines, bethenny ever after is back for another glorious season. it started yesterday evening, and no, i haven't yet watched the new episode. john came into the kitchen at approximately 8:30 and said, "i have some bad news and some good news. do you want the bad news first?" i looked at him nervously, and then he replied, "well, the bad news is that bethenny ever after started up tonight." "OH NO!" i interrupted, "i thought that was next week, and i didn't DVR...." he continued, "and the good news is that i already set the DVR to record it for you at 11:00." john might publicly shame me for my reality tv watching, but the truth is, he's a very supportive enabler, and i love him for it.

[5] john and i don't watch many shows together. it's not because we don't like the same things. it's because I AM TOO INTENSE ABOUT MY TELEVISION. we did watch "the wire" together the first time around, but when i got to the point of being OBSESSED and feeling that it was perfectly acceptable to watch 8 episodes in a row in one day, i sort of ruined it for john.

[6] i do that with music, too. john is, and always has been, the creative genius behind our music collection. meaning that he does the legwork and spends his time on pandora, the music cable channels and in the library finding great new music for us to enjoy. and then he introduces it to me. and i promptly hate it for 3 days (because i'm a creature of habit), and then i start to sing along with it (*this is how john claims to know i'm about to fall in love with it), and then i play it obsessively and declare my undying love for it. the upside to this obsessive behavior is that particular albums always remind me of a particular phase in my life because i play them so much around that time. and that's sort of nice and nostalgic for me.

[7] speaking of music and nostalgia, i recently got into our escape (which is pretty much john's car) and a cd he had made me back in 2005 was playing. it was christmastime 2005, and he and his family were about to head to germany to visit his brother who was in the army and stationed in stuttgart. i was going to miss being with him over the holidays, and before he left, he gave me a cd that he had made for me. he had made the cd jacket to look like a professional one, and the front cover depicted a little boy giving a girl flowers, and there were lots of random letters on it that i didn't understand. the music was amazing. and then, a few days later, after he had left, i was getting ready to meet some friends at the bar, and the cd was sitting in front of a full length mirror on the ground. and i could read the words, which had been backwards, but in the mirror read, "little bean, you are a great person and an even better girlfriend. i love you." of course, i cried for like 15 whole minutes.

[8] on the day after valentine's day (last wednesday), john and i went out to dinner at a local italian restaurant, mario's. john ordered a steak, and for some unknown reason, i decided to order panzerotti. i had never eaten it before and truth be told, i wasn't really sure of what it was. i still have no idea what i was thinking. when it arrived, it was a deep fried pizza. i took two bites, and the grease overwhelmed me. usually mario's is spot on for me, but i should have known better than to have ordered deep fried dough. john cut his steak in half and we shared it. it was amazing. (the steak and my husband's generosity)

[9] it is also amazing to be able to communicate through words with your baby. i am CONSTANTLY in awe of how much jack is learning. i look at the picture of the little one week old baby he used to be and then i see the boy that's running, laughing and playing in the living room, and i can hardly believe this has happened. if i say "it's time for a bath," he goes to the bathroom, and starts getting undressed. if i say, "let's go up to your room," he's scaling the stairs immediately. if i say, "do you want some milk?" he hightails it to the fridge and waits for me to catch up with him. it's so fun watching him learn and grow.

[10] i like to rotate coffee creamers based on the season. which means now that valentine's day is behind us, i am flavoring with irish cream (in honor of the rapidly approaching st. patty's day).

[11] i did my entire week's worth of grocery shopping at fareway last night. i have stopped in there a few times to grab items here and there, but never completed an entire list there. i like that place. the meat counter men are very helpful. also, the grocery baggers accompany you to your car and pack all your groceries into your vehicle. this is extremely appreciated when you are wrangling an almost 16 month old.

[12] speaking of which, yesterday i settled a big case at work and since i was scheduled to have been out the entire day (and today and tomorrow), i left my office at 2 p.m. to spend some QT with my boys. jack and i accomplished several errands. i brought a little bag of the aldi version of goldfish "shark bites," in case he started getting antsy, and when we got to our last destination (fareway), i was keeping him pacified solely through the use of the tiny cheese crackers. can i confess that i always feel like that's cheating? whenever i do something like that, YOU KNOW - APPEASING MY SON AND EMPLOYING RESOURCES TO KEEP HIM ENTERTAINED - i always feel that twinge of "you should really be able to handle your baby without the use of these aids." that's silly. i know it is. like, do i really expect to be able to keep jack calm and entertained by reciting poetry or something? i'm ridiculous.

[13] i feel that same twinge of whatever-it-is resembling guilt when i buy storebought spaghetti sauce. my mom always used tomato paste to make hers from scratch, adding veggies she grew from her own garden and letting it simmer all day. or at least that's what i remember. i have since discussed this with my mom and she informs that she bought the pre-made sauce now and then. yet another reason i should let that go...

[14] when john and i were engaged, his grandfather was moving into a nursing home, and we drove to his home in indiana to assist him in packing up his things. he gave us a bedroom set of furniture (including a tall dresser, a shorter dresser with a mirror, a beside table and a headboard), our dining room table and chairs and a china hutch. because (as previously noted) i am a creature of habit, i had a difficult 2 - 3 weeks of adjusting to having all this new furniture in our apartment. it did not seem to fit my general design aesthetic, and it made me feel all crazy and out of control for a little while. and now, i love that damn bedroom set. i was on looking for a bedside table for our spare bedroom, and i picked one out. when i showed it to john, he said, "it looks exactly like the one in our room." and it did. i have grown to love these pieces, and now i can't ever see picking something else.

[15] i get sentimentally attached to people's houses. like, for example, my friend liz's house. she and her husband bought a foreclosure and did an ENORMOUS amount of work that's resulted in a fabulous end result with a to-die-for kitchen. and she and i have talked about how that's not going to be their forever house. and when i think about it, i get sad. like, "oh, but i love your house, and i love your yard, and i love thinking about the memories of parties and gatherings we've had here, and oh, you can't ever leave." and that's silly. but really, whenever anyone tells me they're thinking of moving, i feel sad/stressed about it for a few hours. maybe even a day or something. isn't that weird? very odd.

[16] speaking of houses, my sister lives in michigan, on this cobblestone street that reminds me of the street that steve martin lives on in father of the bride. whenever we pull up to their house for a visit, i immediately feel all cozy and ready to snuggle up in their living room with a mug of hot chocolate. it's just that kind of vibe in there. so they better not think about moving any time soon. (see #15)

[17] i am not a good swimmer. like i can swim/doggy-paddle for a while, but it has never been my forte. on our honeymoon, we went "scuba-diving," and john was diving way down and looking at an old shipwrecked boat, and i was staying right at the surface, content to peer down with my goggles and observe from afar. i want jack to be able to swim like john. so i should probably get the little guy into swim lessons or something. my parents have a pond at their house, and we spent every summer swimming almost every day in our own private "lake," and still, not a strong swimmer over here. we would float for hours on rafts and noodles and in innertubes, but i just never had to hone my swim-without-a-flotation device skills.

[18] we have a wooden box with blocks in it in our living room. and apparently it did not get moved back under the window were it is normally stored, and i went downstairs in the middle of the night on sunday to put something in the kitchen, and i fell on it. like tripped over it, fell hard, hit my head on jack's wooden play kitchen, sprawled out on the floor, moaning in agony, fell. when i went back upstairs, john was very concerned and asked if i needed stitches. which i didn't. so then he concluded that i was being dramatic. well, it is black and blue and purple now and hurts like hell, so yeah, john, NOT SO DRAMATIC.

[19] when john and i lived down in carbondale, we routinely loved to go to dinner at 17th street bar and grill in murphysboro (a tiny town a few miles west). it was a little hole in the wall place with EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT barbeque. like, national contest, award-winning eats. everytime we go back, which is not often enough, we make it a point to stop and have lunch or dinner, and we make sure to buy some of their bbq sauce and their dry rub to bring home. i was DYING for some bbq last night when jack and i were wandering through fareway, so i brought home some of their bbq pork. it wasn't as good as 17th street, but we both liked it. i immediately missed living in southern illinois for the rest of the night.

[20] i finally got around to unclipping the fabric i've had hanging in my living room and dining room to actually hem for curtains. first i decided to throw everything in the wash in the event that it would shrink a bit. WHY THE HELL DID I DO THIS? the fabric is now so frickin' wrinkly i almost contemplated driving to joann's and buying new stuff. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? i should definitely have just sewed it as is. like i would ever really wash my curtains regularly in the future anyway. who do i think i am, martha stewart herself? i actually offered to buy john the new gun he wants if he irons my curtains. that's how DESPERATE i am to avoid having to do it.

[21] i made a valentine's day garland using some burlap (among other fabrics). it was super cute (i realize i forgot to share it). i also made another st. patty's day garland for my front entryway that involves burlap. i really do think i have a burlap obsession. no matter what happens, i'm all like, "put some burlap on it." got a problem to solve? use burlap.

[22] i got jack this melissa & doug puzzle as part of his little valentine's day treats, and the damn thing is pretty involved. it's like 6 puzzles in one and each piece is a cube with the picture of a different puzzle on each side of each cube. it's pretty awesome, but it takes awhile for me to put it together. i spent 10 minutes last night doing the goldfish one with jack. he wasn't even interested, but it was my own personal mission to complete this puzzle.

[23] going right along with things i bought for my son, i love the kohl's cares program. it's a good cause, and they always include the best children's books for five measly dollars. right now, they have more books by eric carle. of course, we bought them all: the very busy spider; brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? and does a kangeroo have a mother, too? jack apparently shares his mom's bursts of obsession over things because we read each of these books like 5 times a day. he is especially fond of "brown bear, brown bear." uncle chris stopped by last night, and he was not allowed to leave without jack climbing up on his lap and requesting one read-through.

[24] i wish i lived closer to my sister-in-law, oksana. she has a ukrainian accent that makes me feel calm and happy when i talk to her. she's younger than me, but sometimes i swear she seems 20 years older and wiser. wish i could share a cup of coffee or a long island iced tea with her right. now.

[25] i can't believe i actually made it to twenty-five things. i can't believe you actually read all of them. i am about to go consume a lot of food at my firm's fat tuesday potluck. yes, we celebrate this gorge-filled day. and yes, i love it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

the gift of the magi.

have you ever read that story... i think it's called the gift of the magi? it's about a young couple with very little money, both struggling to buy something for their significant other. the woman has beautiful hair, it's like her "thing." the man has a treasured watch that he polishes, adores and prides himself on owning. and because of their undying love for each other (or because they fear the wrath of the other if they don't buy the perfect xmas gift), the woman cuts off her beautiful hair in order to buy an expensive chain for her husband's watch. and the man sells his beloved watch to buy some expensive clips for his wife's beautiful tresses. and so, as they open their gifts, they are confronted with an EPIC catch 22. or maybe that's the definition of ironic. or maybe it's just the way the cookie crumbles, as they say.

anyway, i have found myself confronted with a very real catch 22. my dear sweet husband gifted me the complete series of HBO's "the wire" on dvd for valentine's day. and a show about drugs, corruption and violence was the perfect gift for me because, you see, i love that show. it is amazing. i watched the entire series when i was on maternity leave, and i may or may not have spent the entirety of a few a lot of my days watching the goings-on in the projects of baltimore. so anyway, back to the catch 22. i finally own "the wire," and i'm too damn busy to watch it.

i have been stretched a tad bit thin lately. for some reason, i decided to schedule all these hearings, deadlines and a bitterly contested custody modification trial for the final two weeks of february. i have no earthly idea how i thought this was a good idea. i don't know how i thought i was going to be able to spend 98% of my time lawyering, and then cut up the remaining 2% into being a good mom, wife, HBO series enthusiast. anyway, i'm sort of surviving. with a lot of coffee, very little sleep and by repeating "this too shall pass. this too shall pass." over and over and over again.

because of the fact that i have been trying to pretend that i'm some superhero with the enviable power of adding more hours to the day, i've been trying to soak up any time i can with my son, which is not, i suppose, very different from my normal schtick. but when things get going, you do have to cut stuff out, and inevitably for me, i end up cutting out showering and craft time. which is unfortunate. because when you're stressed, you should definitely be washing yourself daily and making sure to release your stress into your creative outlets. i feel much calmer and collected after using my sewing machine or completing some pinterest-inspired task on my never-ending "JOHN, WE NEED TO DO THIS TO OUR HOUSE!" list. the old cliche is true, there just aren't enough hours in the day.

but anyway, lately, i have been completing only those crafts/projects/etc. that can be done quickly and with jack's "assistance." here's what my little sidekick and i have been up to:

we FINALLY completed the third of the rescue mission thrift store chair makeovers (here's part I and part II). this was just a simple $5 chair; nothing too extraordinary, but i decided it was a perfect chair for my sewing table.

the seat was covered in a tablecloth-y vinyl with a horrid floral print. i don't know if it was years of grime that turned it a weird off-white-dirty-brown-with-pinkish-red flowers, but it needed a slight update.

jack brought his tools upstairs and helped me unscrew the top.

and, the AFTER. the perfect place to read "brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?" for the 14th time.

i have to admit: i have a slight problem throwing things away. not just anything, mind you. i am skilled in the art of picking through john's t-shirts and deciding which ones belong in the bottom of our trash can, and i can peruse boxes of old home decor, furnishings and unused kitchen items and donate them to goodwill without a second thought. i am, by no means, a hoarder. except when it comes to christmas cards, birth announcements and the like. a thank you card that someone wrote me four years ago? it's saved in a box somewhere because it doesn't feel right throwing it away. my mother-in-law's christmas card circa 2009? i've got that organized with other precious pieces of mail in that box right over there. it doesn't feel appropriate to me to take people's prized family photos that they painstakingly turned into a holiday greeting card and throw it away. i know, i know, who keeps everyone's christmas cards for years to come? we definitely do not have the space for me to keep up this little habit, but i have not yet been forced to make a change.

until the other day when i was in our upstairs storage space and realized i have not one, not two, not even three or four, but no less than seven separate boxes dedicated to storing cards. i realized i may have a slight problem letting go. so jack and i were off to hobby lobby to rectify the situation.

half off rustic barn frame + some twine and some hot glue = a nice way to display announcements, thank you cards and recent pictures. and once they've spent an appropriate amount of time up on the wall of fame, i can feel better about lovingly placing them in the garbage can. (oh, who am i kidding? i am not going to throw them away, but i will hand them to john and ask him to dispose of them.)

the pictures are hanging with miniature clothespins that i, or should i say, we used apple cider and steel wool to age to match the barnwood. yes, it works - but you should wear gloves.

for our final trick, we decided, over a shared snack of goldfish and valentine's day candy corn, while wandering the clearance aisle at hobby lobby, that we would give jack's dresser a little upgrade. we found some new knobs for 40 cents each and brought them home. while i switched the knobs, jack assisted by rearranging the contents of each drawer.

aren't these little knobs the cutest?

we thought so!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

public service announcement.

just popping in for a quick PSA. you might have seen this technique all over pinterest. you can make new wood look old using cider vinegar and steel wool. i was working on a project this weekend, and put this pin to the test.

just wanted to let everyone know that yes, this does work.

it also has a nifty side effect: it makes your hands look like they belong to a mechanic who's been working hard without washing them for 5-7 years.

Friday, February 10, 2012

playing with your food.

i like to tell people that i cloth diaper because i'm an eco-minded, green-thinking tree hugger. mhmmm. and that wouldn't be a complete lie because i like the earth, i like trees and i once won 1st place in a poster contest sponsored by some regional conservation district where my tagline was "crop rotation prevents soil migration." that tagline was worth $10 in 4th grade, but if you ask me, the folks at the conservation district were a bit stingy in rewarding *GENIUS* poster taglines. that's another story for another day.

today's story is about how cloth diapering makes it possible for me to waste money in many other unnecessary ways to buy things i otherwise wouldn't be able to afford.

like this...

i could pretend that i bought this for jack for valentine's day or that i got an early start on putting together his easter basket, but in the interest of full disclosure, let's just say that i am VERY MUCH looking forward to playing with my food.

stay tuned for some creative renderings as soon as this baby arrives on my doorstep.
this post was sponsored by CLOTH DIAPERING.

ps. to clear up any confusion, i wanted to let everyone know that yesterday, around 10:30 p.m., my husband joined facebook. this was not in response to any prompting from me. in fact, i was seated across the room, on the couch, engrossed in teen mom, righteously indignantly yelling at leah for cheating on corey. next thing i know, john is giggling evilly and saying, "i joined facebook." i couldn't believe it either.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

the one wherein i become "chopped liver."

i knew this day would come. i was *sort of* mentally preparing for it, but i thought that it would be something i'd encounter a year or two down the line. i thought it would be a more subtle shift culminating in me arriving home from work to find jack and john snuggled on the couch, both laughing at the same simpson's episode or both playing some video game perhaps, sharing giggles over inside jokes to which i am not privy. i expected that there would come a point when my son would realize that john is clearly the more fun parent, but i really did think that i had some time left to enjoy being the center of his world.

well, apparently not. last night we were out running some errands, and we perused the toy aisle because i am working on a project that may or may not go better with some little matchbox-type toy cars. so the three of us are enjoying a jaunt down the aisle when jack starts motioning that he wants out of the cart. he wants to walk, and so we oblige. he is walking down the aisle now, pointing at things, looking at stuff, and then he grabs a thomas train and... throws it into the cart. and i can't help but laugh because it's so cute. i mean, we're not getting that train, but we can pretend til we hit the end of the aisle.

and we carry on this way for a little bit, and then we reach the end of the aisle, and jack's getting pretty handsy with the merchandise, so it's back into the cart he goes. and he starts pitching a fit because HE DOES NOT WANT TO SIT IN THE CART. he's arching his back and throwing his head back and making it quite clear that HE IS NOT SITTING IN THIS CART. NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT, MOM, NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT. after walking up two aisles with this crazed 15-month-old maniac, john picks him up, hums a little tune, and baby INSTANTLY melts onto his shoulder and sighs. calm and content. we walk a little bit, and john hands him to me, and he begins WRITHING in anger again. "THERE'S THAT WOMAN THAT MADE ME SIT IN THE CART!" his eyes seem to sneer. "DON'T LET HER NEAR ME, DADDY, PLEASSSSSEEEEE." so, john again picks him up and calms him down with some soft words and quiet humming.

you all know that i am inwardly SEETHING now, right? outwardly i am all like, "awww, good boy. being so nice to daddy. that's nice. good boy." and inside i am like, "ohhh really, jack? you want to calm down for your father, do you? where was daddy dearest when you couldn't get enough of the boob during your 3 month growth spurt? where was daddy at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. the first week home from the hospital? and where was your precious daddy when mommy was freezing cold in her car pumping to gaping onlookers in an attempt to provide you with every ounce of sustenance?" but i mean, i totally wasn't bitter or anything. i was just delivering an epic monologue in my head.

so this continues on, and jack is all nestled up on dad's shoulder, walking through the store all "i won! i won!" and instead of looking at this whole situation rationally like, "wow, isn't it nice that my husband can get our baby to calm down when he's having a tantrum?" or "isn't it nice that my husband takes a very active role in parenting our son?" or "in the future, you shouldn't give in to your son's whims and let him down from the cart in the first place," i analyzed the whole situation and decided instead that obviously my son hates me and loves john more.

so i did what anyone faced with this situation would do. i ate a piece of candy. i opened up a candy wrapper and loudly and conspicuously started to eat it because i knew that would get jack's attention and he would want to be near me, his mom, the one with the candy.

and of course, that's what happened.

i am not proud of what i did, okay? but it was an irrational, emotional response to an incorrect assumption and when that happens, what do you really expect?

i feel compelled to provide the following details: at the time i got the candy out, jack was fully calmed down. i was not rewarding bad behavior with a snack. i was merely trying to reinforce the fact that I AM A SUPER COOL MOM, JACK. i was merely trying to stay in the good graces of my 15-month-old son. we all need reminders of things. we need bonuses from our jobs to remind us to keep doing our best. we need sweet cards and chocolates from our significant others to remind us that they love us and appreciate all we do. and we need to share candy with our parents to remind us that they're super awesome and super cool and we should love them EQUALLY. (hear that, jack?!)

oh, by the way, i don't PLAN on doing this regularly as i am working on fully accepting that john is more fun than me. I ACCEPT THIS. it is just going to take some getting used to, okay?

judge me. judge away.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


if you haven't heard of the avett brothers, then i think you should stop reading this, make your way over to pandora and take a listen. because they're awesome. i've been listening to them for a few years now, and i love basically every single song i've ever heard, with some clear favorites, of course. i have a special place in my heart for their emotionalism album which i listened to A LOT when i was pregnant with jack.

it seems only fitting that my favorite album of one of my favorite bands would be titled emotionalism. because i'm pretty emotional, as you might either know from experience or have gathered from reading this blog. my friends would definitely describe me as a "hugger," who melts at the sight of tiny babies, newborn puppies and other adorable miniatures. i cry easily upon watching extreme makeover: home edition or listening to sarah mclachlan songs. i've been known to get all choked up reading quotes i find on pinterest. and i'm a definite sucker for sappy love stories. (not cheesy love stories that leave you wondering, DUDE... is that guy for real? but real life persevering through struggles to find joy and happiness love stories). sometimes i have to look away when i encounter a sweet old grandma or a kindly gentleman at the grocery store or the bank because it reminds me of my grandparents and missing them and thinking that they won't be around forever... and i feel tears welling up.

while i could try to blame being emotional on having had a baby, that's not exactly fair. i was like this before jack, though i will admit that it's become distinctively more prevalent postpartum. it is what it is.

and it was taken to new levels today when i met my husband and son for a quick lunch at red robin. we were waiting for our food to arrive when john held a cup out for jack and JACK USED A STRAW TO DRINK MILK. like a real person. like he was just some guy out to lunch, sipping on a cool beverage. all nonchalant like.

so naturally, i started getting all misty.

does this happen to other people? do you cry over the fact that your baby is NOT spilling milk? do you stop and ponder how exactly they went from being attached to your boob to independent little beings? "he doesn't need me anymore!" i complained to john the other day. which is obviously not just something a hyper-emotional person would say, but also something an irrational and melodramatic person said. of course, jack needs me. who would help him cook his favorite cheese, lettuce and tomato stew? and who would painstakingly draw stick figures in washable bath paints on the side of the tub? and who, pray tell, would make up elaborate stories in an attempt to keep him calm while waiting in line at the grocery store? yes, yes, jack still needs me and i know that's true. but there's no denying that he's getting older and bigger and more self-sufficient.

PEOPLE - he's drinking out of a straw now. (excuse me while i go cry into my coffee.)

what do the rest of you do when faced with the inevitable aging of your wee ones?
(sniffle, sniffle)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

two recipes.

two recipes to share. i've been meaning to post the first for awhile, but was reminded of my grandiose failure to do so yet again this week when someone else asked me for it. here is the recipe i use to make my own cloth diaper laundry detergent.

i've been using this detergent for 4 months now, and i really like it. it was less than $30 to make, and it makes a very large amount. i'll probably be able to use this batch for as long as i have children in cloth diapers. seriously. i poured some into a little container so i wouldn't have to lift the big tub i have the batch stored in, and i've not yet had to refill the littler container. i have an HE washer, so i use 1/2 Tbsp. per load (i do a cold wash and then a hot wash, so i use 1 Tbsp. total each time i wash, or approx. 2-3 times per week).

so anyway, there's the recipe i used. the only hassle was finding a way to mix all the ingredients since you have a pretty large amount you're trying to combine.

.... annnnnnnnnnnddddd, recipe number 2.
i can't take credit for this because john made it for dinner last night, but it was EXCELLENT! definitely a great way to satisfy that brat craving when grilling weather still seems so far away...

Monday, February 6, 2012

M is for mustache.

i know mustaches being funny is like so five years ago. i get it. i'm behind the times.

but i still think they're funny. (see above)

i've often said that i can't get a tattoo because i don't like anything enough to permanently put it on my body... buuuuut if someone forced me to do it, i think i'd get a tiny little mustache on one of my fingers. an elegant kind that curls at each end and says, "i'm very proper and important, and i sip scotch." you know. one of those kinds of mustaches.

so anyway, on a related note, two out of my three brothers have february birthdays. add birthdays to my love of mustaches and you get the following:

while i made these glasses, jack whipped up a devine concoction of carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese.

he cooks better with one sock off.

he let me sample his creation, but not until he'd made sure it passed the ole taste test.

i reaaaaallly wanted to do a mustache party for jack's birthday, but then we sort of merged the big day into fuegerfest. i regret not planning a party all around that little line of hair that grows above the upper lip. maybe for his 2nd birthday? maybe a for-no-reason-at-all-mustache party? i'm totally planning this. starting NOW! who's in???

what's it all mean???

this weekend i had a dream. one of those really vivid dreams where you wake up reeling, pondering the illogical steps, wondering if you dreamt it for a reason, questioning what it might mean. when i woke up saturday morning, i remembered that the dream had begun with me driving jack to the home of the people i baby-sat for when i was in 7th grade. i drove up the winding driveway, and i have no knowledge of what i was actually doing there, just the impression that i had dropped jack off and drove away.

then john and i were at some country club-ish type place having dinner. it was warm, and we were overlooking a golf course. other people were there. and we were engrossed in conversation. and then i remembered...

jack was alone at this house. i had dropped my son off and no one was watching him.

john and i immediately got into a golf cart and tried navigating our way through a maze of cars, trying to find ours, so we could hightail it out of there and get to our son. we were scanning the rows and rows of cars, but we couldn't find it, and i was panicking.

all of the sudden, some random man offered to drive us, and we got into the back of his pick-up truck, silently praying that jack was ok. i just kept thinking, "oh my god, if my son dies, it will be my fault. how could i have left him alone?!? what was i thinking?" and john kept staring at me, not saying anything, but i could tell he was thinking, "what the EFFFF, stephanie? what in the world would possess you to leave a 15 month old alone?"

on this ride from the country club to the place i had dropped off my son, i kept thinking of my mom and how i would have to tell her what i had done. how she would be disappointed in me. how she would think to herself, "what was she thinking? what kind of a mother does that?"

and then i started thinking about what i would do if he was gone. and in the dream i felt so nauseated at the idea, so upset and heartbroken that i screamed out, and john looked at me as if to say "SHUT UP! you got us into this mess." so i'm emotionally writhing in the back of a pick-up truck driven by a man i don't know on a road i'm not familiar with desperately trying to hold onto the hope that jack is alive and well.

i don't know how the dream ended because i woke up sweating, my heart racing. i immediately grabbed the video monitor and turned it on to see my sweet little peanut, breathing in and out peacefully. all was right with the world. i went downstairs, threw in a load of laundry, made some coffee and took a few things out for breakfast.

but i couldn't shake the dream. how had i managed to make such an egregious error in judgment, even in a dream? what did it mean? did it mean that i'm not paying enough attention to jack? that i'm too consumed with work, with john, with myself, with projects, with housework, with friends?

when john woke, i relayed the dream to him, still panicky about it. "john!" i wailed, "seriously, it was so awful. is this an omen? what am i forgetting? what are we letting slip us by about jack? is something wrong?"

"what? you're crazy. seriously, it was a dream. should i get some beer for tonight? do you want to have a movie night?" he shrugged off my worries, as per usual.

"JOHN! I AM SERIOUS! this is bad. i just know it. it was so real. and it's been eating at me ever since!" my voice reached that pitch that signals hysteria to john.

"ok, that's enough. WHAT is going on with you? are you fishing for compliments? (he asks me this everytime i worry about something i've made, sewn, cooked, etc.) you know you're a good mom and you know jack is fine, so just. stop. it."

and that was the end of our conversation about it, but not the end of my worry over what it might mean. because isn't that motherhood, to a t? a lifetime of busy fragmented by tiny moments just long enough to catch your breath and point a magnifying glass on yourself and your parenting and worry if it's good enough? am i reading to him enough? am i feeding him enough of a variety of foods? is he social enough? is he too social? does he have an appropriate fear of strangers? is he adventurous? is he too adventurous? does he have an appropriate grasp of concepts of danger and safety? do we need more of a routine? are we being too rigid about a routine? while i do worry, i have to say that as jack's gotten older, i've gotten better about worrying. i just don't have enough time to do it.
but in the lull before the day begins, in the early hours of the morning, as the sunlight peaks in through my kitchen and i sip on my freshly brewed coffee, i do find myself wondering if i'm doing a good job, if the way i'm navigating motherhood is the right way.

it's an awesome responsibility, no? to be in charge of shaping and directing and molding and teaching someone else? i am often struck by the mountainous undertaking of raising a child. because it's not like you can correct missteps in judgment easily. it's not like you can change course immediately if you decide your disciplinary methods or your overall approach is lacking. you basically have to figure this shit out and have it down. and execute, execute, execute. and there are no do-overs. you get these little people for a very small window of time, and then you have to give them up and hope you gave them enough to help them succeed.

and so it goes. life continues, a string of moments where you're feeding them, changing their diapers, soothing their owie's, reading them their stories... but mixed into these seemingly ordinary moments are extraordinary opportunities to shape them into good people. people who know right from wrong, good from bad. people who will (hopefully) grow to be intelligent, strong and compassionate leaders. i just hope i'm doing a good job.

maybe i talk about being a mom too much. on this blog, in my life, in general. maybe you're tired of hearing about it, and for that, i do apologize. i guess i never expected to be so changed by this. yes, i knew it would be amazing and life-changing and a huge and awesome responsibility, but i guess i just couldn't even comprehend what that even meant. sometimes i don't even get it know, but then it overwhelms me, after a dream like i had friday night. or in the aisle at joann fabrics when i say "1" and jack counts "...2! ... 3!" and i get tears in my eyes because he's so proud of himself and i'm so happy for him. after i say "give mommy a hug" and he wraps his arms so tightly around my neck and nuzzles his little face in so sweetly, and i think, "i hope i always remember this moment." or when he wakes up at night (just the past few days) because he's cutting his eye teeth, and he looks up at me with that face of misery that screams "hold me, rock me," and we cuddle together until his breathing finally gets rhythmic. or when he crawls into my lap begging me to read "five little pumpkins" or "are you my momma" for the 8th time that day, and i am powerless to resist his excited little smile. no matter how many times i've already said it, i have to say it again, i love being a mom. i love it more than i knew that i could, and there is nowhere i am happier than when i am with my son.

any moments of worry over whether i'm doing this right are certainly overshadowed by the moments of pure joy and happiness that accompany them. and i guess that's what i'm choosing to take from my dream nightmare. mothering will always include some modicum of worry over whether i'm doing this right. there will never be a day that i won't feel some anxiety about my son and whether he's okay. and from talking to my mom, who's over 27 years into this mom thing, apparently that's going to be true FOR.EV.ER. FOR.EV.ER.

so, if you're a lifelong worrywart like i am, just know... we got this! if you're up around 6 a.m. on saturdays and you're in the dubuque area, feel free to come over for a coffee/conversation support group in my kitchen.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

mr. independent.

a friend who struggled with a strong-willed child once told me she'd read a book that strong willed children grow up to be independent, self-sufficient leaders. well, i hope that's true. because i have a very strong-willed little man on my hands.

i was in one of those out of control moods this morning prompted by the fact that everywhere i looked there was a pile of junk waiting to be cleaned, organized, put away, dusted, mopped, etc. when i started to feel the familiar rise of panic and brink of mom-meltdown consuming me, i put my shoes on and got jack dressed to go on a nice, long walk. mr. independent went to the front closet, grabbed his "SHOE! SHOE!" and proceeded to put them on himself. he didn't want me to help him, so it took a little longer than expected, but we were on our way.

halfway through our walk, he started yelling and pointing. "DOWN, DOWN!" so i let him out of his stroller, and he pushed it back home. it was a very slow second half, but who could resist his squeals of delight at his own success? he was so proud when we FINALLY made it back to our house.

at lunch, he insisted on feeding himself his yogurt with a spoon. "ME! ME!" nevermind that a lot of it most of it ended up on the sides of his highchair and on the front of his shirt, he wanted to do it himself.

i would say that it's annoying to have to wait for a 15 month old when we have deadlines, and to-do lists and mile long weekend agendas to complete, but that wouldn't be true. i love watching jack learn things, and i love the little smile he gets when he's doing it for himself. if it takes us longer to get where we're going, i try to think of it as a built-in reminder to take the time to appreciate all these sweet moments that pass me by too quickly.

happy superbowl sunday!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

on kindness.

a lot of people see movies or television shows about attorneys and assume that we're a group of angry bulldogs who get off on starting arguments with people and who are driven by an all-consuming need to be right. all. the. time. and i can't say that some in our profession don't fall victim to this lawyer stereotype. what i can say is that i am lucky to practice in a firm with good and honorable attorneys who believe in the nobility of this profession and who are genuinely committed to ethically serving their clients and the practice. i feel privileged that i can say this so easily because that's the kind of lawyer i strive to be. that's the kind of lawyer i hope people think of me as being.

when i was younger, i did like to argue a lot. about anything. about everything. mostly with my dad or my siblings, but i enjoyed a good political debate as much as anyone who enjoys a good political debate, and i really thought it was important to have these sessions/conversations/arguments often. the older i've gotten, the more i've realized how very naive it is to assume that with one conversation you're going to change someone's deeply held beliefs about anything. when i was sworn in to the practice of law in iowa and began getting down to the business of lawyering, i realized that one of the most important skills a good attorney has is knowing when not to argue. when to lay your cards on the table. when to compromise. when to have the "come to jesus" talk with your client. because the skill of knowing when not to argue serves your client's best interests and ultimately, that is my job. doing the best work i can for my client. zealously representing their interests. in knowing when not to argue, i serve my client, my firm, my colleagues, my reputation and the profession.

yesterday, i had a phone conversation with an individual on behalf of a client. and i got ahead of myself and committed the cardinal sin of an attorney. i took something that was said in the middle of settlement negotiations personally, and i reacted to it. i was rude. i ended the phone conversation on a bad note, and it bothered me.

i laid in bed last night thinking about the way the conversation had gone. it was eating at me. i don't like to be like that. i don't want to be forceful and mean and ignorant to any viewpoint other than my own. that doesn't serve my client's best interests, nor does it serve my own interest in building a good reputation and being the best attorney i can be.

so after a restless night of sleep, i dialed the person i spoke with yesterday when i got into my office this morning. he answered the phone on the first ring, and i told him who i was. and i said, "listen, i wanted to talk to you about our conversation yesterday. i just wanted you to know that i was thinking about the way it went and i wanted to apologize. i felt like i was rude and i didn't explain my position clearly, and i don't want to interact that way. i'm sorry." he didn't say anything for a minute, then cleared his throat and said, "i really didn't think you were rude, but this is probably the nicest phone call i've ever gotten first thing in the morning." we proceeded to have a very cordial and productive conversation, and he made my client a better offer than he had previously... which was right in the range we hoped. more importantly, i feel better about the way the situation was handled.

because while law & order episodes showing that spunky blonde making vicious little comments under her breath to opposing counsel are fun to watch, i never want to be that blonde. i want to be the blonde who does her best for her clients, her firm and HERSELF every day. i get far too few hours of sleep to lose any of them to worry about whether i did the right thing that day. some cliches aren't true (fight fire with fire), but some are: you get more bees with honey.