First Christmas

Reasons for Future Therapy

I’m not into human experimentation when it involves drugs and stuff, okay?  Let’s just get that out into the open before you read this.

I’m a big fan of this blog called Sociological Images.  All kinds of stuff is discussed on there, and since I have an obsession tendency with analyzing media, particularly that which is blared at girls/kids, I was drawn to this particular post about gift giving.  Basically, Jimmy Kimmel asked his viewers to give their children gifts they knew would not be well received (aka, that they would totally hate), and film the kids opening them.  The intent, I’m sure, was to see kids freaking out, maybe pitching a few fits, and to laugh at their crazy reactions.  The blog author focuses on what constitutes an inappropriate gift – it’s either something that I would consider trash (a black banana, half-eaten sandwich, or juice bottle that just has a little left) or “the gift is considered bad because the recipient is a boy and the gift is for a girl” (Wade).  This was particularly interesting, since the boys mostly showed disgust, cried, or otherwise made fun of the gift.  Mostly, the kids were at best very disappointed and at worst completely pitched a fit.

After reading this blog post and watching the video, I just kept thinking about why the kids were so upset.  I mean, I would definitely not be happy if someone gave me something that was clearly trash (who wouldn’t think they were being pranked?), but a lot of these kids were totally rude if the gift was something they just didn’t want, like a stapler.  A parent admitted it, saying, “Jimmy Kimmel told me to do it,” to which this 8-or 9-year-old boy said, “Well tell him to suck my balls.”  Seriously.  The kid said that, the parent still filmed & submitted the tape.  The issue switched over to materialism, the culture of deserving things, and parenting for me, so I just had to know – what would Hazel do if I did this to her?  After lots of thought, I decided her gift would be a package of dish sponges, clearly opened.  This isn’t trash, it’s not gender inappropriate (because there’s no such thing in our house), but it’s definitely not something she would identify as a toy.  Here’s the video:

I love my daughter.

So This is New Jersey

It’s been so long since I updated, so much has happened, that I am just not going to spend all that time recalling, in minute detail, all the stuff we’ve been doing.  I mean, most of it is common to anyone who’s been moving, anyway!  So here’s one of my preferred numbered lists:

  1. We packed, we lived in a hotel for a week (kind of fun, having a staff of sweet maids who tucked in Hazel’s Corduroy every time they made her bed), and then we moved into our apartment and started unpacking.
  2. I unpacked a bunch of stuff we didn’t have out in KC (picture frames, decor stuff, too-small clothes from pre-pregnancy), sorted it, and repacked some things into a smaller number of boxes that are currently lining our garage.
  3. I sorted Christmas, put up our tree, and wrapped stuff.
  4. I’m applying to approximately 100 of the 1500 schools in this densely populated area that offer a MA in English, so I’ve been doing a lot of transcript uploading and statement of purpose writing.
  5. I’m studying for the GRE subject test in literature, so I unpacked a lot of dusty books from my undergrad years and I’m currently sneezing my way through An Introduction to Literary Theory.
  6. We are researching preschools and daycares, which is only slightly less logistically difficult (with one car) than teaching yourself to hang glide with a broken arm.
  7. Amos goes to work, does secret Samsung stuff we can’t talk about, and comes home, shell-shocked from the intense traffic.
  8. Hazel and Julia run and army crawl through their super huge room.  We gave them the bigger bedroom because the smaller one has a bigger closet.

And so there you go.  I haven’t been doing a whole lot of photo-taking, but I do plan on taking some of our place/this cute little town so all you interested family can see.  It’s a curious mix; we live on a rather busy road, but if we walk east about two blocks on some dirty, small, cracked-up sidewalks, we go across a gorgeous river on an old wrought iron bridge and can walk through a couple of blocks of cute shops housed in historic buildings.  AND there is a yarn shop there, with a sort of cutely curmudgeonly proprietor who took away my coffee because “we’ve had spills before.”  One day I’m going to be like that surly old bird.

Overall, though, I think we all like it here.  Now that we’re getting settled, too, I plan to be back blogging like before.  To send you off here’s a hilarious video of Julia discovering one of the snaps on her diaper.  In the background you can hear the wonderful sounds of Hazel whining because she pitched a slapping fit and got sent to her room, by herself, until bath time (she was sitting on her bed, amidst all her toys and books, but was totally miserable because she was segregated from the rest of the fam…ULTIMATE PUNISHMENT).

All Hallow’s Eve

Or whatever!

In the middle of all this goofy are we moving, okay when, okay we still don’t really know exactly, we don’t have a house there yet business, the holiday season began.  And yeah, I think Halloween marks the beginning of three super fun holidays (Thanksgiving gets points for being smooshed in between two cooler holidays), culminating in CHRISTMAS!  I love Christmas, people.  Anyway, I would have just skipped this holiday except I have a three-year-old and a new baby in need of a 1st Halloween costume, and so we did it up, Confer style.

Typical family portrait, and typical Confer costumes.  Hazel’s was particularly fun this year, I think.  Since she’s old enough to really express herself, I thought it would be fun to let her design her costume.  She came up with this idea, which is a pink monster with white polka dots and two sets of ears (one big girl, one mouse).  The bow, though, is because we’re growing her bangs out.

Julia was a muscle man!!  She kept eating and eating on that belt.  I thought she might find her little chest hairs, but nope – just the belt.  I took the girls trick or treating at the shops yesterday, then we picked up Amos from work.  Instead of going door-to-door after that, we opted to take Hazel to Glace for an ice cream treat and next door to the Apple store for a treat (a keychain) and to play on the ipad (her favorite thing).  I was hoping Hazel would choose flavors that are seasonal and kind of Halloweeny, but I don’t know why.  Sometimes I have these really domestic thoughts, like I’m going to switch out all our bathroom and bedroom decor for all matchy seasonal ones and everyone will take Christmas photos wearing matching red and white sweaters with deer knitted into them.  I don’t know where they come from – leftover HCGC reserves? – but I was having one MAJOR last night.  I was all, “what flavors do you want?  Roasted pumpkin, banana, maybe squash, even rum raisin?”  And she looked right at the server and said “I want that blue cheese one and the spicy chocolate.”  When she says stuff like that, it snaps me right out of those weird SkyMall fantasies and back into our real world, the one where she orders blue cheese and spicy chocolate and eats them together.

Halloween and Other News

I never thought that we would be so crazy busy after moving to Kansas City.  Maybe it’s because we dislike being in our tiny, beige apartment, or because we have never really lived in a big city all together before, but we are CONSTANTLY on the go.  These past couple of weeks have looked like this:  go to a new park 40 minutes away.  Get a super puking virus (AGAIN) and spend the next five days drinking diet cherry 7 Up (me) and Pedialyte (aka sick juice, Hazel).  Drive to STL, spend the weekend, drive back.  Act crazy all week, taking very long walks, going to the playground, and eating lots of Korean.  Aunt Laura visits, and we drag her all over the city to a park that has a giant penguin and an outlet mall.  Now we’re in the middle of another week of playgrounds, walking, and being outside while it’s still fall, and we’re going back to STL this weekend.  And the next.  And then after that my mom is visiting.  Seriously, could we be any more popular right now?

One thing we consistently do during the week is go to the story time at the library.  It’s small, and fun, and about a 3-block walk, so we all really enjoy it.  Today the librarian asked the kids to come dressed in their Halloween costumes.  So, unveiling Hazel’s 2011 costume, a creature that sprang fully formed from her own imagination (for the first time!):  a scary pink monster with white polka dots!  She was pretty excited about seeing herself all dressed up, and was even running around pretending to eat me!  We had fun at story time, and I know she’s looking forward to trick-or-treating this year.  She’s so ridiculously proud of the costume.  We let her tell us what she wanted to be, and then draw a picture of it, which was a super fun idea I highly recommend to other parents.

As if things in Kansas couldn’t get more hopping, I have some news.  We’re moving!  Again!  Across the country!  Again!  Can you believe it?  Aren’t we the movingest people you’ve ever met outside the military?!?!!?!!  I don’t know how many this is for Amos, but this will be the 16th time I’ve moved.  GAH!  Anyway, here’s how it happened:  important people want Amos in New Jersey.  Yep, that’s all it takes!  Plus we agreed, for lots of reasons, and so while I have really loved this city I am excited to live in that area.  It’s in Bridgewater, which is approximately 30 minutes from the shore and Ikea, 50 minutes from NYC, 1.5 hours from Philly, and 4 hours from Clinton.  We are spending Thanksgiving here, and immediately after we’re headed out.  That means we have a month left to explore the city and eat as much of Mr. Gyro’s as we can!!

Happy Father’s Day

There are some holidays that I don’t get too worked up about; stuff like Labor Day just doesn’t really get me going.  Amos, though, takes holiday apathy to a-WHOLE-nother level.  That guy, if he had his way, would not celebrate anything from President’s Day to Christmas.  It particularly bothers him, he says, when presents are expected.  He’d rather give and receive gifts on the fly, not dictated by the day on the calendar.  I get it, I truly do, but now that we have kids, and especially one old enough to realize what all this stuff means, we’ve made sure to celebrate every birthday and holiday in some way.  With the small, notable exception of Mother’s Day.  He didn’t acknowledge that at all beyond saying, “Happy Mother’s Day” in the morning.  I get that’s his thing, but I was totally let down.  Plus, it turned out to be one of those awful parenting days where everyone is crying, running away in public, not napping, and just being irritable.

Neither girl could sit still!

Because Father’s Day comes after Mother’s Day, I thought briefly (ok, maybe for longer than I’d like to admit) about wreaking some kind of karmic vengeance for the screamy holiday I had.  But really, I thought I would use this as an opportunity to show Amos how we can exploit these kinds of holidays to do the fun stuff that we really like but don’t do that often.  Soooooo, I planned a fancy antipasto dinner for Amos (really for all of us).  As a gift, I bought him a natural foods cookbook (used, $5 with shipping, and totally rocking) and helped Hazel make him a shirt that reads, “Hazel Loves Daddy.”  She also made a tank top for herself and a onesie for Julia.

We had SUCH a lovely time!  This antipasto was one of the funnest meals we have ever had.  Because it was for our dinner rather than an appetizer, I made sure to have a couple choices for each of the basic antipasto elements.  Here’s a rundown of the menu –

Fruit:  heirloom tomatoes, cantaloupe, and cherries (all served at room temp, thankyouverymuch)

Meat:  speck, an aged soppressata, and anchovy fillets

Veg:  roasted cauliflower, asparagus, a roasted pepper salad, and artichoke hearts tossed with sundried tomatoes and fresh thyme

Cheese:  Shropshire blue, a young manchego, and a 2-year-old aged gouda

It was just lovely.  Nothing was really difficult to put together, either.  In fact, most of the food just needed to be basic prepped, like slicing the melon.  The veg I just roasted in the broiler with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and the roasted pepper salad that actually required a recipe was just mincing a bunch of delicious stuff up together.  We toasted with prosecco, which I thought was an excellent palate cleanser for this type of meal.  Hazel went nuts (check out this hilarious video of her, plus my first attempt at subtitles for her!), probably because she got to stay up a whole hour and a half past her normal bedtime.  It was one of the best nights we’ve had together as a family, and I just love that I got to be a part of it with those lovely people that make up my family.

The Beginning of the Summer

This was the best picture I could get in the blazing sun

With the temperature steadily in the 90s, I feel like summer has truly begun down here.  The fruit and veg I’m seeing at the market is starting to get truly exciting again, the sprinkler has been out several times already, and I have herbs exploding all over my back patio.  I might sweat like a trucker, but I do love what the crazy summer heat does to our little herbs out there.  Plus I LOVE how summer smells…mint, citrus, grass, coconut, suntan lotion, mojitos, BBQ, yeeeeeeeesssss.

Daddy and Julia

To kickstart our summer, we visited Nana and Papaw’s pool twice in one weekend!  Even Julia joined in on the fun.  Though she’s making a kind of old lady sourpuss in this picture, she really enjoyed the water, not complaining at all about the relative coolness of the water.  It’s so fun to go through all these firsts again!  Hazel’s only 2 1/2, but it feels like her first experiences are slowing down.  The absolute wonder and discovery of a child’s life is one of the coolest things about being a parent; you not only get to watch them find out all these things about life, but you get to introduce them to it!  And they think you’re some kind of magician!!  So fun.

Now that I feel like I’m coming out of the pregnancy/newborn haze, I’m hoping that Hazel, Julia, and I can have some fun adventures this summer.  There are all kinds of crafts I want to do with Hazel, and I think she may be old enough and have enough cognizance to do more than just color and do simple play.  Father’s Day is approaching, and while Amos may not be too interested in celebrating any holiday, I hope to make something with Hazel for him that he will enjoy.  Oh, and we are TOTALLY doing an antipasto dinner that night!  Any excuse to buy fancy cheese, anchovies, and wine is an excuse I’m taking!

Easter!

Today Hazel got to participate in her first egg hunt, and let me tell you – she had a great time!  We have been talking about dying eggs for a couple of days, so she was more than ready to get to the fun this morning.  Although we were careful with the dying, and she mostly just watched this year, she was very happy to dictate all the color choices and messages/decorations in wax on the eggs.  We took our boiled eggs and combined them with Nana’s plastic ones, and those kids got to hunt probably 40 eggs this year (which was fortunate, since we had four kids looking for eggs in one yard).  I think we’ll probably be doing egg hunts for another month or so until Hazel moves on to another fun game.

As usual for our family, we also had to make some Old Lady Crabble eggs as well as the colorful ones.  Here’s the rub on Old Lady Crabble:  when Amos’s grandpa Barney was a boy, he had a mean neighbor they called Old Lady Crabble, and she hated children.  One year she stole all their Easter eggs and replaced them with ugly black eggs.  Upon seeing the tears and sniffles of all the kids, she had a change of heart and brought back their colored eggs, telling them that the Easter Bunny made a mistake by delivering the black eggs meant for her to their house instead.  Every year, now, his family makes at least one Old Lady Crabble egg, which is the prized egg at the hunt.  Now that Hazel is a bit older Amos was really excited to introduce the story to her.  She seemed to think it was hilarious, telling me that Old Crabble was “mean, mean, mean” to her grandpa and then she had to say (spoken in a teeny, creaky voice), “I’m sooooorrrrryyyy.”  We also dyed some colorful eggs for my family’s egg hunt.  The grandkids got to hunt down tons of plastic and real eggs hidden in Nana and Papaw’s yard, and then we had a nice dinner together.  Hazel and I took over dessert this year and made an orange cake with strawberry orange frosting.  I was proud of that cake; it’s the first one that I’ve made completely from scratch, and I think it turned out well.  I’d show you a picture, but we ate all the evidence of that cake’s existence!

Happy Balentime’s Day

Hazel has been talking about Balentime’s (you locals may understand her accent to mean “Valentine’s”) Day for a couple of weeks now, mainly because she’s been a little obsessed with heart shapes.  She could recognize that shape early on/months ago, so I think she was pretty delighted to find out there is apparently a whole holiday dedicated to the heart shape.  Last week, her doctor told her she was going to listen to Hazel’s heart and asked if Hazel knew where it was, and she said it was on Valentine’s Day.  It was pretty sweet.

Happy Valentine's Day!

This morning I peeled myself out of bed long enough to trade Valentines with the family.  I’m super sick – again – with a horrible cold that has me wheezing all night and just staring into the distance all day.  I was up for a few hours this morning just coughing, so I didn’t get up on time to do our normal morning routine.  But I wanted to see Hazel before she went off to daycare on her first big Valentine’s Day!

We got Hazel a balloon and I knitted her a doll (better pictures of that later), and Amos got both of us very sweet cards.  Last night we all baked our favorite Buttermilk Snickerdoodlers, which will be Hazel’s special snack at her daycare party today.  Valentine’s Day was never a big deal for the two of us before kids, so I didn’t expect tons of flowers or candy.  What I did get, a goofy card with this goofy poem in the characteristic way of my husband, is way better than that:

Here’s a Valentine

with a sappy rhyme

For a lady who’s fine

Carrying babies of mine

From time to time…

Don’t hurt your spine

Cutiepie Valentine

Love, Amos

 

Dear Santa

Tonight Hazel and I decided it would be a fantastic idea to write a letter to Santa Claus.  She’s very into Santa and Christmas trees right now, and when I broached the idea of writing Santa a letter in the mail Hazel was overjoyed.  Amos and I helped her out a bit with the content, but it should be pretty clear which sentences were Hazel’s idea.

It may be hard to read, so here’s a transcript:

Dear Santa,

Do you want to sing the ABC song?  Our neighbor has a statue of you.  I love Christmas!  I like jingle bells, Christmas trees, and Christmas lights.  Thank you for having Christmas.  Santa is my friend.

Love, Hazel

Underneath there you can see where Hazel drew “letters” for Santa.  All those zigzags are how she draws ABCs!  After that we sat down and had a nice chai tea.  She’s been expressing interest in drinking our coffee and tea lately (most of which is decaf).  We have let her have sips now and then, and tonight I gave her a little of my tea in her own cup.  It was adorable.

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