Sunday, November 27, 2016

someone turned three (ahem, two months ago).

Well, I was about to launch into a self-propelled guilt trip about how I never posted about Rowan's third birthday, but you know what? Who cares? Here it is, two months late, which is actually less late than I was with the post about her first birthday party. Thumbs up.


Rowan's birthday was full of the little traditions we've picked up in her three years - but now all of them are infused with her own personality quirks, which makes them so much more meaningful. As usual, we started out her actual birthday with a special Rowie-Daddy trip to the store to get a bunch of rainbow balloons for her annual birthday picture in the backyard...

She was actually less cooperative this year than she was on either her first or her second birthday. It's harder than ever to get her to smile AT the camera, so I guess we're lucky we got any good shots at all! And we did end up with this funny one, where it looks like she's mega-pouting. I think she was just looking down, but it cracks me up:

"It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to."

A collage of pics from Birthdays One, Two, and Three:

We halted the photo torture session after just a few minutes and went inside so she could open her presents from J.J. and me before her birthday party started. We don't go overboard with birthday presents, since her aunts and uncles and grandparents tend to provide her with plenty of awesome gifts. This year, we got her exactly what she asked for: a little Kermit to hold in her hand (since she's been holding an Invisible Kermit in her hand for a couple months now), a soft Kermit to sleep in her crib with her, a dress-up doctor costume (because she wants to be a "cardi-lol-ogist for grown-ups" when she grows up...seriously), and a little mermaid toy, since she was on a kick of making us refer to her as "ABCD Monster Mermaid Ariel NOT Rowan".

I mean - when's the last time you were this excited about...well, anything?!

Just as she finished opening her presents, our family started arriving for her party. We chose not to invite her friends to the party, just like we did for her first two parties. Our families are pretty big, and our house is pretty modest. Plus, it's always hard to judge what the weather will be like. At the end of September, it could be 80 degrees and sunny, or it could be 42 degrees and raining. Of course, since we didn't invite her friends, it was beautiful weather; had we invited them and needed the backyard for overflow space, it would have been crummy. (Or that's what I told myself so I wouldn't feel bad about not having her best little buddies over.)

We decorated the house in her favorite colors - pink and yellow balloons, pink and yellow streamers, and pink and yellow paper products. We ate pizza and all her favorite snack foods: popcorn, mini chocolate chip cookies, and pink lemonade. Oh, and we served her signature "Rowie salad". It's actually the salad I make for myself for lunch every day, but she's co-opted it and named it after herself. It has spinach, quinoa, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, red onions ("But only TINY onions," Rowan demands), walnuts, cilantro, and Gorgonzola cheese, with fresh lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar splashed on top.

The best food at Rowan's birthday party this year, though, was her birthday cake. J.J.'s mom made her an EPIC cake last year (there's a link at the bottom of this post to pictures of it, but it was Anna and Elsa from Frozen standing back to back, with their skirts forming a cake. UNREAL), and she offered to make her another cake this year. When she asked Rowan what she wanted, Rowan didn't hesitate: "A Lina's house birthday cake." Gramma and I were both a little confused. "What do you mean?" I asked her. "A Lina's house birthday cake!" she repeated. Lina is our neighbor, and Rowan worships the ground she walks on. "Like, a cake that looks like Lina's house?" I said. "Yeah," she replied. "With BB-8s on top."

And what Rowan wants, Rowan gets, apparently:

You have never seen a human dive into a cake the way that Rowan devoured her Lina's house birthday cake. She absolutely loved it - like, couldn't take her eyes off it, even for a quick family picture.

After her party, Rowan crashed for a good long nap, and then we rounded out the day by taking her to "the donut farm" (Three Cedars Farm). The donut farm is, by far, her favorite fall destination. She wanted Gramma to come, too, and Gramma was a good sport and joined us, even though she'd already spent her weekend making a Lina's house birthday cake and hanging out at Rowan's birthday party. 

We almost got a picture with all three of us looking at the camera...

...and we let our daughter shove even more sugar down her gullet, since apparently copious amounts of cookies and cake that morning weren't enough.

She also got to ride the "donut train", which was the real reason she wanted to go to the donut farm. Rowan is o.b.s.e.s.s.e.d. with this freakin' train. Like, it has made her shimmy with excitement in the past:

She was thrilled to ride it once again, and then she did everything else the donut farm has to offer: belly-flopped into the corn box, scaled the climber, rode the tiny tractors, milked a pretend cow, played on stationary trains, and leapt off giant hay bales without giving Daddy any warning.

It was awesome to brainstorm about all of Rowan's favorite things and try to combine them into one special day, all to celebrate the kind, hilarious, loving kid she is. And we continued the celebration the next day at her preschool by bringing in a special birthday snack (frozen yogurt tubes and pretzel Goldfish, her faves). She was still so nervous about school at that point. Even though I stayed that morning as an assistant, it was only her third day at preschool, and she was just so unsure of everything. Here she is, painting at the easel, wearing her birthday crown, and trying hard to hold herself together. Poor sweetie.

I have another post in the works about my three-year-old and what she's like these days, but in a nutshell? I feel lucky every day that I get to be her mama. And for the rest of my life. 

{here's the post from Rowan's second birthday}
{here's the post about Rowan's second birthday party}
{here's the post about Rowan's first birthday party}
{here's the post from Rowan's birth day}

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

this is my angry post.

This is the one where I'm just going to be angry. Not unifying or healing or advocating or moving forward or "classy" (eye roll). Probably not even thorough or sensical. Just fucking angry.

I've done my best to refrain from replying to anything on social media. I'm not going to change anyone's mind via Facebook (except maybe that one chick who discovered that actually, yes, abortions DO save women's lives, that's not just "liberal media rhetoric"). But this...hurts. It hurts my heart and my head to see what some of you actually believe and support, to learn that you are knowingly ignorant, to read your actual words claiming that you are happy to hide behind your cloak of faith, regardless of who that hurts. So no, I'm not going to fan the flames on your Facebook feed, but here's a small sampling of what I've wanted to say.

I'm all done with Trump voters claiming that you're not racist/sexist/xenophobic/homophobic. What, exactly, is the difference between being racist/sexist/xenophobic/homophobic, and "just" supporting someone who made promises to promote those paradigms? "I don't agree with him on that," you huff. "I'm not racist; I just voted for him because he's pro-life." Do not be mistaken: If you voted for him, you voted into office his ideals. You are promoting all of it. The wall. The narrowing of women's rights. The ethnic cleansing. The right to grab me or you or my daughter by our pussies. Yes, you are part of the problem. Yes, you are promoting the problem. Yes, you ARE the problem.

And those of you who are just so disappointed by people's emotional reactions today, because we just need to come together and move forward as a united front? Yeah, no. If Hillary had won, would you be happily supporting her and joining hands across the aisle? You fucking wouldn't. Your own candidate said he wouldn't, either, when he said he wouldn't necessarily accept the results of the election if Hillary won. Also: your candidate does not believe in coming together and being united. Trump's goal, as he has not only overtly stated but also personally demonstrated over and over and over again, is to marginalize those who are different or in the minority. He often switches up the flavors of difference he wants to dispose of, but his model is not one of unity. So, you know. Give us a minute to put aside our fear and shame and disbelief before we're ready to be united. And please, please don't waste your fucking breath telling me that the "classy" move is to support Trump simply because he'll be the president. I refuse to support hatred. He doesn't reflect what the majority of Americans want; the electoral college voted him in, not the people. And (like I read somewhere else today) - aren't those of you dictating that we be classy the exact same people who purposefully blocked President Obama at EVERY turn for the last eight years? "Classy" means nothing in a society plagued by class segregation.

Also? I have zero sympathy for those of you who whined about how very hard it was to publicly support Trump throughout his campaign. Actually, negative sympathy. Aww, did someone scrape off your Trump bumper sticker? Oh, boohoo, did someone call you out for supporting and promoting racism, or question how you could vote for Trump as a woman? Fucking wah-wah. Hello, welcome to life as an outsider. I have friends who are flicked off (or shoved, or shot) for holding hands with their same-sex partner in public. I read about a friend's Mexican-American niece who fled her high school this morning as her classmates chanted, "Build a wall, build a wall." I have friends who, during a family visit to the zoo, had a dirty diaper smeared on their car because they are lesbians. I have friends who worry every single day when they walk around because maybe their skin is too brown or their bellies are too large or their wallet isn't fat enough or their hoodie is too threatening - they worry that they'll be judged (at best) or killed (at worst). Was that hard for you, then, when someone gave you a dirty look because of your Trump lapel pin? Good. Maybe you'll take that and learn from it.

I'm not perfect. No one is. Not Trump, not Hillary, not Bernie, not Obama. Maybe Mr. Rogers was, which is probably why he never pursued politics. Either way, because I know I'm not perfect, I'm going to do my best to stay open-minded. Not because I owe that to Trump, but because I owe it to my daughter, and to myself, and to everyone in my life whose rights, livelihoods, and lives are directly threatened by Trump's campaign promises. 

I want to tell Hillary that it's not her; it's us. We failed her. She's been working her ass off for this for decades, and not enough of us did enough to meet her there. She shattered the glass ceiling, and we covered our eyes while a rich white dude ordered it reconstructed. Right now, I'm so, so ashamed of myself for believing in the bubble. If that's not taking advantage of my privilege, I don't know what is. It is shameful.

I hope I can find effective ways to enact the ideals of common decency once the shock and grieving have subsided, but I'm just not there. No, this is just my angry post. When I get there, though, this is what I want to remember:

On Monday, I explained voting to Rowan, who just turned three. We were driving and talking about what we were going to do the next day, which was Election Day. I told her we'd be going to a school to share our votes, and that it was our job to pick someone to be a new country leader who helped people feel kind, loved, and safe. I was ready to leave it at that. She was quiet for a minute and then said, "So we want to vote for someone who follows the rules of our house!" Uh, yes. Exactly. And in our house, we believe in kindness; in making sure the least among us are cared for; in making our voices heard, even if they're shaking (or "shrill"); in science and research; in questions and curiosity; in hope over fear; in the importance of welcoming and celebrating difference; and in equality. In our house, my daughter is valued as a whole person, not as a commodity. In our house, we believe that Black lives matter. In our house, we teach our daughter to smash the patriarchy, because (in the words of HRC), "When there are no ceilings, the sky's the limit." 

And in our house, we believe that action creates change. So once I'm done wallowing in anger, I really hope I can embody the rules of our house and be the model of leadership my daughter is going to need. And that I'm going to need. I'm at least thankful for the wake-up call that no one else can make it happen for me.

It has to be me. It has to be us.

Friday, November 4, 2016

so I guess we're THAT family on Halloween.

Shhh, let's pretend I haven't been trying to juggle three part-time jobs, being home full-time, taking two weekly classes that are supposed to be self-care time but are actually just sabotaging bedtime every Monday and Wednesday evening, plus a preschooler who's still struggling with separation issues that are manifesting in so many nighttime wake-ups that I finally bribed her with Oreos if she'd just stop crying out for me three, four, five times a night. Which, you know, goes against all of my early childhood social work training, except the part that proclaims you gotta do what you gotta do.

Ahem. Right.

My point is, someday I'll get around to posting about Rowan's third birthday and all the other things I wanted to share during September and October. But in the meantime, how about some Halloween pictures? Yes? Yes.

Early last spring, totally out of nowhere while we were reading books together, Rowan told me she wanted to be a ghost for Halloween. I was 100% on board with this costume idea (cut some holes in a white sheet + smear on some face paint = my idea of a good Halloween costume), but also acutely aware that she was likely to change her mind a dozen times between March and the end of October. Then, over the summer, J.J. and I went out to see the new Ghostbusters movie, and Rowan had a million questions: What's a Ghostbuster? What do they look like? What do they do? How do they catch the ghosts? Why is the movie not for kids? Why won't grown-ups get scared about it? And then she told us that she wanted all three of us to dress up like Ghostbusters for Halloween.

Now, a Ghostbuster costume is a little more complicated than a ghost costume, but I sorta loved the idea of tramping through the neighborhood with my tiny ghostbusting girl, complete with a tiny proton pack. In September, we started talking about Halloween more and more, and - just in the nick of time, before we started actually putting costumes together - we parsed out that Rowan didn't actually want to be a Ghostbuster. She thought Ghostbusters were ghosts. Once we got that straightened out, it was decided that J.J. and I would be Ghostbusters, but she would be a ghost. A "spooky" ghost. And when I showed her the face paint, the deal was sealed.

My unbelievably amazing mother-in-law (who is the reason I've survived this crazy busy autumn without running away and/or selling my child) made Rowan a ghost costume that was WAY better than a holey sheet (it even shimmered and sparkled), and she got to practice wearing it to her friends' joint Halloween-themed third birthday party a couple weeks ago.

SO excited to try out the face paint for the first time. "But
not IN my eyeballs, right, Mommy?"

Ghost in the bounce house!

Took off a few layers of costume to paint a pumpkin.

My mother-in-law (have I mentioned lately how awesome she is?) also made a "Halloween house" with Rowan one day when she was babysitting...basically a gingerbread house, but for Halloween. Rowan loved decorating it, and I loved dipping the candy in the frosting for the next week or so.

When Halloween finally arrived, Rowan was out of her mind excited. That morning, her preschool did a low-key "trick or treat" through their building, which was so cute. She wore her costume the whole morning and wanted it back on IMMEDIATELY after waking up from nap. We waited until after our traditional Halloween pizza dinner to actually put it back on her, along with her face paint. And check out the "spooky ghostie face" she made for all the pictures we took:

J.J. ended up going as an old-school Ghostbuster, but I did my best approximation of Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon's character from the 2016 reboot). Our light-saber ghost blasters, DIY'ed by J.J., definitely completed our looks.

You might not be able to tell, but my glasses are even yellow
like Holtzmann's. Just missing some salty parabolas.

We went trick-or-treating with our next-door neighbors, who have an eight-year-old daughter (or maybe she's nine?). She was a total trouper for letting Rowan tag along, and Rowan really did a good job at keeping up with her. They ended up trick-or-treating for a looooong time, making it almost all the way to the end of our street and back - somewhere between a mile and a half and two miles! Our neighborhood boasted some pretty sweet decorating, including "haunted tunnels" in garages and hot cider stations, complete with adult beverage add-ins. Rowan found some ghostie pals in a yard along the way...

Still making her "spooky ghostie face".

...And chose exactly one piece of candy from her sizable stash when she got home. I told her she could have a couple, but she said, "No, just one," and asked for the candy necklace that someone had dropped in her pumpkin.

Supremely pleased.

She's already planning what our costumes will be for next year, which I think is adorable. And although I never would have guessed that we'd turn into the kind of family that does group costumes every year, it seems to be a tradition now - minus, of course, Halloween 2013, when Rowan was five weeks old and donned a Yoda hat as her costume. I managed to get dressed that day and answered the door for trick-or-treaters with some approximation of a smile, which was about all the postpartum costuming I could manage. It's gotten a little easier since then:

2014: Darth Vader, Padme Amidala, and their
daughter (spoiler alert) Princess Leia

2015: three Spideys

2016: two Ghostbusters and a "spooky" ghost

We'll see what her plans for next year turn out to be. In the meantime, let it be known that I am getting really, really good at eating Kit-Kats from my daughter's trick-or-treat stash with her less than ten feet away and without her noticing. #ParentSkills #HadToCapitalizeThatSoItDidntLookLikeParentsKills #PossiblyOnAHalloweenSugarHighRightNow

In case you missed it: Halloween 2015: A Very Spidey Halloween


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