Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kwiss-tus 2012

An exchange I had this morning with the coffee shop barista:

Him:  Did you have a nice Christmas?

Me:  Yeeeeeaaaahhhhhh (lots of subtext in that answer).  You?

Him:  Yeah, but I think it's a sign I'm getting older that my favorite part is just getting the day off work.

Me:  No, the sign you're getting older is when you're grateful to go back.

Don't get me wrong, this year's Christmas was pure holiday bliss.  The family and I were bombarded with such an overwhelming deluge of yuletide joy that my bones are literally aching from it.  The boys' faces were beaming with holiday cheer 90% of the time.  It was the sweetest thing to witness.  The other 10% of the time their faces were contorted in pure holiday anguish.  This was, more often then not, a hilarious thing to witness.  The latter was brought on by things like having to share new toys, being denied a cookie, or going to bed.  Consequently harsh restrictions like these were rarely enforced.  "Hey, it's Christmas" we'd say, and pour another glass of wine.

Liam is three going on four, and is, for the first time, really getting this whole Christmas thing (or Kwiss-tus as he calls it)  He loves the Kwiss-tus twee, the Kwiss-tus wites, and especially all the Kwiss-tus pwesents!.  Finn is one plus a few months and decided he would start walking full-time this week.  This milestone meant that while we were guests at other peoples' homes, he could better appreciate all the fragile Christmas tree ornaments, the antique nativities, and the delicate porcelain Christmas village scenes all carefully arranged twelve inches from the ground.  Needless to say it was a juggling act.....a happy, booze-fueled, dessert-heavy, exhausting, dancing-in-your-jammies, juggling act, and I loved every minute of it.  I think you've done the holiday right when you're relieved it's over.  

So now I'm back at my desk, slumped in my chair, with heavy eye-lids like a prize fighter in his final round.  I dragged my haggard ass out of bed and made my way in here a day early, which earned me a few "ambitious points" from my colleagues, though I think those points might be cancelled out by the fact that I haven't picked up a razor or successfully completed a load of laundry in six days.  I look homeless, but a quick look around the office tells me that this is, in fact, "the look" today, so that's a comfort.

Ha!  I just noticed that the only other people here today have kids my age.  Every one of them.  That's absolutely fantastic.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Santa 2012

A few months ago I was wasting time in downtown Healdsburg with the boys and we ran into my buddy Adam.  Adam is kind-hearted and wouldn't hurt a fly, but he's a little crazy looking.  He's a bit wild-eyed, broad-grinned, heavily tattooed, and usually sports a Salvador Dali mustache, but all in a dashing way.  I was on my own without a stroller that day, which is fun for the boys but for me is a little like juggling pigs.  Upon seeing Adam I generously offered up my youngest son to him, as Adam is yet without children of his own.  He kindly accepted and took off at a modest pace down one of the side streets.  Finn was fine with this, Liam was not.  Liam took off after them shouting "no no no!".  Adam of course didn't go far and, hearing Liam's protests, allowed him to catch up.  Liam grabbed onto Finn's foot and gave me a look that said "Come ON daddy! We can take this guy!!"

I was so proud.  I mean Adam isn't the biggest guy but he could have been dangerous.  Nevertheless, Liam threw all caution to the wind just to save his baby brother.  I saw this as the beginning of what would forever be their unwavering lifelong bond.  The bond of brotherhood.

Then we went to see Santa.

Santa was looking a little weather-beaten.  I mean, I get that it's not the easiest gig but come ON.  Make it a little easier for the kids will you?  You signed up for this, you knew what you were getting into, is it too much to show a little sparkle?  At least glue your friggin' beard on right, Christ!

Anyway, the creepy vibe hit Liam from about ten feet away.  His pace slowed, the finger went in his mouth, he paused, and then he slowly began to back away.  I saw where this was going so I decided to just get it over with.  I picked him up and he turned into a feral cat.  Meanwhile, Erin was placing Finn on Santa's right knee and he wasn't thrilled about it, but he was okay.  Liam hit the left knee and bolted.  This shifted Finn's unease into full panic mode and he was left screaming with his hands outstretched, pleading to be rescued by his faithful brother.  No such luck this time.  My hero.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Nugget with Attitude

He's known by many names: Baby Finn, Shotgun Finn, Shark Finn, Finley McPoop, Fingelbert Humperdinck, Slut Bunwalla, Jerry Dorsey, Mr. Saturday Night, The Easy One, Pac-Boy, Finnanigans, The Boy Who Would Be Finn (most of these aren't true) but most of all....."The Nugget".

I've been doing my end of the year 'reflecting' and have decided that 2012 was the year of the Finn.  My little nug started out the year as just a booby-obsessed pillow with eyes and ended the year walking and correctly identifying the cast of Lady and the Tramp as "dogs" (his first word after "uh-oh").  What a difference a year makes.

So to honor my fine second-son I'm letting him star solo in the traditional "Bairdsmith Holiday Jib-Jab Film".  Last year with The Buttcracker we did the Xmas theme so this year we're doing an homage to the most fascinating person of 2012.  No it's not Barack Obama, or Malala Yousafzai, or even Honey Boo-Boo.  I think you know who I mean...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Just Humor Me!

The other day I sent a text to my sister-in-law, asking if her oldest son would be home from college for Christmas. Every year I send this family a box of tasty treats from Trader Joe's just for fun. They all have insane sugar addictions since they're Mormon and aren't allowed to be addicted to anything else. Since I like to be an enabler whenever possible, this is my one shot. I like to put my own somewhat-healthy spin on the sugar-pushing though, so I send unusual things that they likely won't find in the very small Midwestern town they live in. Chocolate-covered edamame or candied mango, for example.

After establishing who I was (I guess she doesn't keep me in her phone. Hmph, whatever) and what I was preparing to do, she said that he would indeed be home, but "we do not deserve goodies from you, I can't even get around to acknowledging your kids bdays despite best intentions! Grrrr!"

Rather than stand there in the frozen food aisle of TJ's and one-finger text out the reply I wanted to, namely "since when is giving for the sake of knowing it will bring a smile to my loved ones' faces something that is 'deserved' or not based on what you do or don't do for me in return? Um, hello? 'Spirit of giving' ring any bells? Not sounding very Christian right now!" I instead said "deserve, deschmerve" and happily continued my shopping. Tra la laaaa!

Fast forward a few days. The kids and I had a super-fun all-out art show/craft fair weekend, looking for things that might catch our eyes for gifts. At one such event I saw something pretty cool, and sent a text to my boyfriend to ask about it. I'd recently come up with the genius idea that since we're a 'couple', we can give gifts from both of us. This eliminates a ton of hassle and extra money. Just wrap something thoughtful and fantastic up and slap a tag on that says "from Papa AND AMANDA." Like I said, genius.

So I texted him that the tough part about trying to find the right thing is that I'm never quite sure what his kids will like. His response: "Yeah. That's a fun idea but probably won't work in reality. You don't need to get them anything, they won't get you anything most likely. We don't really get into that gifty thing much."

Well, *harumph* to you, too!

This time I did take the time to stand there among the crowd, one-finger texting him back, basically to say "fuck off. I don't give gifts just to get gifts, that's not the point, dummy, and p.s. thanks for totally bumming my ride." (I don't think I said most of that, now that I think about it). Anyway!

I'm starting to understand why people hate Christmas so much! Of course it sucks if you look at it as this big obligatory burden. Oh shit, now I have to buy something for that person because they bought something for awkward, what to get...what to get...I hate this! Or god I've really flaked on keeping in touch with that person, I wonder if they're going to get me something. Dammit, does that mean now I have to get them something, too? What to do...this sucks! I HATE this time of year!

I used to get wrapped up in all of that bullshit, too. But mostly only if I had to get something for a person I didn't know very well - like an aunt who decided to unexpectedly visit at the last minute, and I'd never actually met her before. But really, overall I love Christmas. I love the whole dang season! The parties, the spiked hot cider, the roaring fireplaces, the jingling horse-drawn carriage rides, the smell of thousands of dying pine trees in the air...that particular holiday 'feeling'. There's just something sparkly in the air, and I want to enjoy it and share it with the people I love! If they'd stop being such fucking downers all the time.

Isn't there some old saying like 'To Give is to Receive'? That's how I feel. If I'm giving you a gift it's because something about it made me think of you, and I like you, and it makes me feel kinda happy to give it to you, even if you think it's stupid. And guess what? I don't expect anything in return.

So listen - get over it, people! ENJOY CHRISTMAS! Stop whining about all the shit you have to buy (says who?!) and how busy you are and how all of this just sucks so much. YOU are making it suck, just so you know. And I'm not going to let you ruin it for me. Not this year.

Merry Christmas!

*If you really want to hate Christmas though, you can find the fat cat shirt claiming as much here*

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Noise Cancelling Sleeping Helmet

Hi there.  Good morning.  I know what you're thinking, "Good morning?  F*ck you, asshole!"  If you're like me you just googled 'noise cancelling sleeping helmet' in the hopes that there might exist some kind of device you could shove your head into so you could hide from the reality of late-night parenting and get a good night's sleep.  All that came up was some biker chat forums and this blog.  Sorry about that.

No such device exists, but you wouldn't want to use it even if it did.  You'd be lying there thinking about what you're not hearing.  You'd be worried that something could really go wrong and you'd miss it.  Or what if someone broke into the house?  You'd be oblivious!  Plus you'd be restless knowing that at some point your spouse's elbow is going to find that tender spot on your spine when it's "YOUR TURN!!".

Here's a bit of consolation:  You're not alone.  I too have been jolted awake after only an hour and a half of sleep by that muffled wail.  It starts out small, building in pitch like a siren, followed by that awful and abrupt silence when they draw in a deep breath, and then the real fireworks are unleashed.  Holy shit, no no no no no no.  "Not tonight" you're thinking, right?  Please not again tonight.  Well I'm so sorry but, yeah...again tonight.

I know opinions are like assholes but here's mine:  You're still a lucky bastard.  You have people in your life who you envy because they're either sleeping soundly right now, or out drinking with friends, and you're not. Well those friends are either childless because they're not ready yet (remember, you were there not that long ago) or they're childless for other reasons and they'd give up a limb to have what you have.  It's a difficult exercise, especially with sunrise looming just a few hours away, but try to imagine life without your kids.  What if they suddenly vanished from your life?  Unthinkable right?  Yeah, I know.

Here's something else you don't want to hear:  Advice.  Try more exercise and less booze during the week.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive and my friends know that for me to recommend drinking less is pure hypocrisy, but it's a good target to shoot for.  Even if you fall short, it helps.  Also, coffee is ubiquitous these days so take advantage and use it well.  I'd stay away from energy drinks because I blame them for landing me in the ER with atrial fibrillation a couple of years ago (you'll be googling 'synchronized cardioversion' at 2am instead, FUN!).  Good old-fashioned coffee and tea shouldn't do you wrong, but I'm no doctor so take that with a grain.

Also, blogging is pretty cathartic.

That's all I've got.  It's okay to be angry and frustrated.  It's healthy to swim in it a little bit rather than suppress it.  What do the Buddhists say?  Turning your mind's eye toward it and facing it helps to diminish it, or something?  Yeah, do that.  You're going to be all right.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Baby Steps

Late Saturday night, December 1st, Finn took his first steps.  Both Erin and I saw him do it.  I immediately grabbed my iPhone, hit the 'weather' button, cursed, hit the 'camera' button, slid it over to video, and caught the following moment...

We Bairdsmiths aren't ones to perform on command so you'll just have to take my word for it.  He totally walked.  This got me thinking about Liam's recent milestones, so the next morning I recorded him showing off one of his new tricks.  Okay, sometimes we Bairdsmiths do perform on command, but when we do it's very quietly so you might have to crank up the volume if you want to hear this one...

Yes, reciting your ABC's is more of a two-and-a-half-year-old's milestone than a three-and-a-half-year-old's, yes, Liam has a "developmental delay", yes, he's in a special education program three days a week and he's doing great, and yes, all of this will one day make for one of those interesting and ironic prologues to the biography of his life, like Einstien failing math or Madonna being named after a virgin.

Or, I should be taking a more hard-lined approach to Liam's recitations?  Should I be stoking the embers of his burgeoning mind with a red hot poker?  I'm sure Leopold didn't build blanket forts with baby Wolfie, am I doing it wrong?  I think I heard an "Elmo pee" in there right before he got a little dreamy look on his face.  Is he messing with me?  Plus there was a bit too much whimsy in his singing, right?  I shouldn't stand for that kind of nonsense.  That's it!  No more of this ABC's bullshit.  It's all "Baa-baa Blacksheep" from hear on out.  The sobering reality of Medieval English wool taxation should wipe the smile from his insolent (sweet) little face.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Hobo Who Loves Me

Recently a man came into my store who was obviously homeless. I'm not trying to generalize here, but his odor and the layer of soot covering him just gave me a hunch. I certainly could be wrong. Given the location of my shop, I get riff-raff in from time to time, and that's okay with me. Sure they stink up my bathroom and sometimes stare at me just a bit too long, but I try to be friendly and human, as a rule.

This guy walked around looking through drawers of baby onesies and socks before finally coming over to me and offering to wash my windows. He introduced himself and looked over his shoulder as he loosely accepted my offer to shake hands. I was helping a very pregnant woman carry many boxes and bags of clothing at the time, so I listened to his muttered schpeel and then said "sure, that sounds great, go for it" before turning back to my task. 

He proceeded to wash my windows. He would stop from time to time to squat on the sidewalk and contemplate life, watch passing vehicles, or to simply have a brief but animated conversation with himself. He was very thorough with his cleaning, even taking the time to wash the inside of my doors - which have several paper, handwritten signs on them. Those he just washed right over. They're all very blurry now. 

My younger brothers arrived shortly before he'd finished, having just spent the day wine tasting. I was relieved to see them, having wrongly convinced myself of the possibility that every time the man stopped to self-chat, whoever was there was slowly convincing him to kill me. 

When he finally finished, he came in, ignoring my brothers, and said it would be five dollars. I gave him ten, because there are a lot of windows, and aside from completely ruining my signs, he'd done a good job and could obviously use the money. He was very pleased and offered to wash the inside of my windows as well, but I glanced at the doors with their soggy signs and politely declined, telling him to take care and have a nice day. 

After he'd left, Ben laughed and asked me what the hell I'd been thinking, giving the guy more money than he'd asked for? He said "you realize that now all the homeless people are going to start coming in here looking for work, right?" I wondered aloud if they had a system like the Hobos do, where they leave a mark to instruct future wanderers what to expect from certain houses. Like, a smiley face means you can sleep in the barn; four lines means the woman of the house will feed you; a rectangle with a dot inside means Danger, and so on. I was going to walk out front to see if there were any new marks or symbols on my planters, but decided against it when I saw my window washer out there, setting up camp in front of one of my now-clean windows.

It appeared as though he wanted to keep me for himself.

As my brothers were eager to continue their wine country experience, they stood near the window giving the guy a 'get lost' vibe, which he eventually did. I guess I'll see him the next time my windows need a shine.