Thursday, May 27, 2010

Our aluminum anniversary

Today is our 10th wedding anniversary. That's right, one decade ago, I put on the poofy white dress with the sequins and the pearls and the long, heavy train, and I flounced down the aisle toward my man's beautiful smile. If you'd asked me on that day what we'd be doing on our 10th anniversary, I probably would have told you we'd be spending it on a tropical beach, or maybe in Europe, or at the very least, at a romantic little bed-and-breakfast in the mountains.

Ha. Nope.

Instead, because neither of us could come up with an acceptably romantic plan that didn't involve logistical nightmares around the care of our newborn who won't take a bottle, and because we're pretty much broke, we decided to have a low-key evening out as a family. After all, as Chris put it, this is the birthday of our family, so we should celebrate it together. And, really, he and I have spent every day together for the last three months, so a night out as a twosome, though it would be fun, wasn't really necessary.

We left the house for dinner at 3:30, thinking this was before the dinner crowd would mind our screaming baby or our rowdy kid and early enough that we could take our time and not worry about bath or bedtimes. We went to our favorite family-owned pasta place -- a restaurant we used to frequent in our pre-kid years. It's about a 10-minute drive, but I noticed 4 minutes into the trip that Hayden was sound asleep and drooling in his booster seat. So we drove around Delaware for a half-hour to let him snooze. (Interestingly, the part of Delaware that we drove around is about the ugliest part of Delaware, during which time I stared out the window thinking, how the heck did we get here?)

Lucky for us, when we walked into the restaurant at 4pm, there was only one other couple there -- and they were at least 85 years old and speaking loud enough to one another that I knew they had hearing trouble and wouldn't even notice us. We hadn't been to this restaurant in years (and the decor was outdated 10 years ago), and everything looked pretty dingy, including the waitress's funky-ass rotted teeth, but the food was just as delicious as I remember. Hayden was charming, Jake was smiley, we all pigged out on pasta, and we left giggling. It was a nice family time out.

We went to Borders afterward (not really sure why, other than it seemed too early to go home), where I nursed the baby in the back corner of the children's book area (add it to the list!) and Hayden and Chris read to one another. What could be better than a huge pasta meal and some quiet time in a bookstore? Two of our favorite things.

But then we got home. Where all the ants in the neighborhood had converged on our kitchen. There were ants covering every surface -- counter top, floor, cabinet door. AGH! We cleaned that all up, mostly (leaving a few carcasses on the floor as a warning). Chris went outside to spray the perimeter of the house with Ortho, and I got the kids bathed and in bed.

OK, deep breaths, she thinks. Everything is quiet, it's time for the married people to spend some time alone...

I walked downstairs in my pretty nightie so we could cuddle up, watch a movie, and have some us time, and dammit if a thunderstorm doesn't roll through. Hayden freaks out every time he hears thunder, and sure enough, within 35 seconds, he was hysterical and screeching down the stairs so fast I thought he'd hurt himself. He plopped himself between me and Chris, wailing about how we have to protect him, how we have to come upstairs to bed right now, and how we have to let him sleep in our bed.

So here we are. Celebrating 10 years, all sitting on the couch in our respective boxer shorts watching nonsense television. And I'm sure Jake will be waking up screaming to eat any minute.

Not exactly the romantic anniversary celebration I pictured all those years ago, but perfect because this is who are.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My life as the lunch wagon

Mom-Guilt Confession #879: I pretty much hated breastfeeding the first time around. It hurt. A lot. I felt like my body was not my own. I was embarrassed by my ginormous, leaking breasts. Most of all, I hated that I had to excuse myself from social settings, hide in the car, or just stay home when it was time to feed the baby -- every hour and a half!

This time around, knowing how freakin' expensive formula is, I decided to give it another go. The big difference this time, though, was deciding I would not be embarrassed about breastfeeding; I would own it. After all, I've waited my whole life for these double-D's, why not make the most of them? I'm not talking plopping myself in the middle of the mall and whipping out my boobs for all to see. I'm discreet and usually cover us both up with my fabulous baby sling. But with an active almost-5-year-old, three months off with my family, and a spring season of amazing weather, I refuse to go through this child's infancy in self-imposed busty exile.

So I've embraced my inner earth mama and my new motto is "have boobs, will travel." Chris and I have made it a little game, too, to keep track of all the interesting places these boobies have been over the course of Jake's infancy. So far, the list includes
* The children's section of Barnes & Noble (twice)
* The back pew of All Saints Roman Catholic Church at the end of my sis-in-law's wedding (then the unoccupied private dining room at the reception)
* A park bench near a random playground in NJ on our way home from my grandmother's
* The reference section of the Brandywine Library (and the bench next to the Talley Day Park playground right after we left the library)
* A bench by a scenic overlook on the outskirts of the Wilmington Flower Market fair
* My seat behind home plate in the top of the 8th inning of the Wilmington Blue Rocks game

The girls have also been put to work in various parking lots in the tri-state area, including those outside Target (more than once), the Herr's Factory, a pizza place on Rte. 202, a restaurant in Bucks County, and Hayden's preschool.

So far we're doing ok, my boobs, my baby, and me. Jake sure is rocketing up the growth chart, and I feel a special sense of pride in knowing that my super-milk is responsible. I may have become so comfortable with breastfeeding, though, that it's going to kick me in the butt when I go back to work next week. Jake still won't take a bottle from Chris; he goes completely berserk whenever you even put the bottle near his face, screaming like a dragon with a toothache. Ironic, eh?


Do you remember the first time you rode a bike? I do. The nervousness in my tummy, afraid that I'd fall or go too fast and lose control. But more than that, I remember the thrill, the feeling of autonomy and freedom. The "wooo-hooo!"

We bought Hayden a bike for his 4th birthday last July so he could feel the wind in his hair, too. But he wanted no part of it. As in, he refused to even step near the thing, except to have his photo taken on the day he got it. We decorated his red bike with Spider-Man stickers and a Spidey bell to make it more appealing. We let him pick out his own helmet. We bribed him with ice cream! But every attempt to get him to ride ended up with Chris frustrated, me annoyed, and Hayden crying.

So imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago, almost a year after the bike had been shelved in the garage, I looked out the front window and saw my son riding down the sidewalk!

As with every other major milestone -- crawling, walking, potty training -- Hayden had to do this in his own time. But now he can't get enough of that bike. Every day he begs to ride, rain or shine. Yesterday, our little friend across the street came banging on the door, asking those magical words this mommy has waited to hear: "Can Hayden come out and ride bikes?"

And the entire time Hayden and his buddy rode their bikes up and down the sidewalk, even though they were only riding about 500 feet per hour, my big boy yelled "Wooo-hooo!"

Wooo-hooo, indeed, my love.