Category Archives: Jeff

Evading cabin fever

I had the best intentions to blog yesterday, but it didn’t work out.  It shouldn’t really be working out today, either, but I’ve bought Simon’s silence with an oatmeal cookie (we baked them this morning.  Pecans, dried cherries, cranberries and blueberries. Yum!)

So here we are.  Better make this quick!

Our weekend was pretty darn close to perfect.  On Saturday we went up to Cleveland to check out West Side Market (I had SUCH a fun time there last fall with Megan and Marin, and wanted to share it with Jeff) and play tourists for a while.

I love that place; it’s well worth the drive!  Of course, it’s completely different on a Saturday morning than it is during the middle of the week (DUH), and crowds are, err…not our favorite thing.  But Simon was snug in the Tula, so Jeff and I dodged the crowds and bought all the pastries our canvas bag would hold:

And fancy olives.  And dolmas.  YUM.

So crowded.  So neat!

Then we walked over to Great Lakes Brewing for lunch.  I had fish and chips; Jeff had a ridiculously good beer, one of their brewery exclusives (I had a few sips) and a really good brat with pierogis (he alleges.  Like hell I’m touching a flesh-stuffed intestinal tube.)  Simon made do with scraps from home, like usual. Poor baby.

We weren’t quite ready to head back to Akron after lunch, so we decided to check out Cleveland’s natural history museum.

And there we saw OMG DUCKS!

Pretty sure this was the highlight of Simon’s little life; he was absolutely captivated.  And chilling there with his sleepy eyes in his little stroller, it was more than a little reminiscent of an old man sitting at a nursing home (and would’ve been sorta sad if it hadn’t been so cute :-P).

We eventually dragged him away, though, and he quickly resumed his ornery toddler-y ways:

Little stinker. He’s my favorite.

As one might expect, he conked out on the drive home and was OK with a quiet evening with Mama Daddy.  On Sunday we just hung out around the house and did some chores; pretty quiet.

Yesterday was “challenging”.  Someone was in full-on Toddler Mode all day, and it wasn’t necessarily the person you’d expect.  By 5:00 I was ready to scream, so we escaped to the post office and the grocery store (exciting!), then picked up Jeff from work.  Jeff made the very wise decision to entertain Simon almost all evening, leaving me free to unwind (you know…do dishes and laundry. :-\)  It was actually a pretty good time for everyone.

He determined earlier today that sleep is for babies and since he is a big boy, naps are completely unnecessary.  See how well that worked out:

We worked on a nap for 2 hours, including a 20-minute intermission in which I took a nice long shower while he stood at the baby gate and talked to me.  I warned him that his days of endless pacifier boob are numbered, but to no avail.  Toddlers are not well known for their foresight or appreciation.

So, bedtime tonight should be interesting. I predict he’ll either  go down in 5 minutes, or 75.  Who wants to take bets?

I’m starting to feel guilty about parking my butt in front of the computer for so long, so I’d best be off.  Simon and I have been reading “Where Is Your Nose?” off and on as I write.  He can now consistently identify his eyes, nose, mouth, chin, ears, hair, tum, hands, knees, and feet.  Even when the book isn’t in front of him.  Big smart boy!  Tomorrow we start calculus.


It never. stops. snowing.

I tweeted this the other day, but I seriously feel like I am the only person in the northern half of the US who isn’t sick to death of snow by now.  We got another 4″  or so overnight, and with today’s shoveling the drifts are officially higher than our car.  I’d take a picture but I haven’t been outside yet (Jeff missed the bus and drove himself to work).  I think Simes and I are going to take Roxie on a walk later, though, because despite the snow it’s actually not super cold.

Let’s see…it’s been over a week since I posted.  What’s been going on?

I finished an AWESOME project and am dying to show it off but I have to keep it under wraps for a while yet (the recipient checks in here every now and again).  I’m also trucking along on Jeff’s mansocks (yawwwwnnnnnn) and when I finish those I’m going to reward myself by FINALLY casting on for Catkin.  I’ll only be, like, the last person on earth to knit it.  I have some yummy Dyeabolical Tenacious Tencel fingering weight set aside for it.  It’ll be the first thing I’ve knit for myself since, well, those stripey knee socks (which are now hibernating) that I cast on right before we moved to Ohio.  SOMEONE (a pointed look in Simon’s direction) has severely curtailed my knitting time, what with his need for “food” and “diapers” and “stories” and “playing” and “interaction”.  Jeez.

We managed to get our act together and hit storytime on Thursday.  These storytimes are SO much better than the one we went to in LA.  More chaotic, but more fun.  Also, there are at least 4 other pregnant moms in the toddler group (plus the teacher/librarian, too).  I’d try to make friends if I weren’t so damn shy.  And of course the kids are still a little too young to really play with each other, so there’s not even really the whole “hey your kid and my kid like to play together! Want to come to our house for a playdate?” opening.  Ah well.  Moving in 6 months anyway; I’ll just try harder to make more friends in our next city.

Simon was LOVING the tunnels during the free play time:

After storytime was over we weren’t quite ready to go home but didn’t have any errands to do, so I called Jeff and asked if we could take him to lunch (one of the benefits of living 5 minutes down the road from his work!).  We also seized the opportunity to get official “helping Daddy at work” pictures for this office:

Simon is terribly helpful, you see.

Because Jeff and I are boring and old, we didn’t make any plans for Valentine’s Day.  But then it turned out that Sarah was free, and there was a showing of the Lego Movie that ended before Simon’s bedtime, and when the stars align so perfectly you can’t just not take advantage of it.  So we ditched the baby and went on a romantic date to see a kid’s movie (lol).  AND IT WAS AWESOME.  It’s one of those movies that really truly isn’t just a kid’s movie or a grownup movie.  I really can’t remember the last time I liked a movie so well.  Can’t wait to get it on Blu-Ray and share it with Simes when he’s a bit older 🙂

On Saturday we decided to head up to Cleveland and visit the children’s museum, since our last couple of family adventures have been more grownup oriented (the Akron art museum doesn’t really hold a lot of entertainment value for the under-2 set ;-)).  It was a little bit expensive for the three of us to get in ($8/person, even though there wasn’t really anything even remotely interesting for grownups), but Simon LOVED the whole thing so I guess he got $24 worth of fun out of it for all of us.  (Seriously though – since kids get reduced/free admission to a lot of grownup events, doesn’t it seem like grownups should get it for kid events?  It’s not like Jeff and I were personally enriched by the fake grocery store or fire truck setups).

Here is where I spam you, big time.  Sorry (not sorry).

We spent the first half hour or so in a play area that was done up like a farm, for the really young crowd:

Simon spent most of his efforts repeatedly mowing the carpet, but he also took a turn on the tumbling/crawling mats and played with the silo/crops activity.  At one point when we’d just been there for a few minutes, Jeff and I were watching him play and Jeff said to me:  “See how he’s over playing all alone?  I wish he’d play with the other kids.”  I told Jeff, “What do you think we’re doing?”  We looked around and sure enough, across the room was a cluster of other parents all socializing, while we were off in the opposite corner with our arms crossed.


At least we know where he gets it 😛

Also, one of the moms in the room was wearing a “flags of the confederacy” t-shirt with camo pants and combat boots.  I’m not sure they would’ve been our type, anyway.

More than the farm area, though, Simes loved the suspension bridge that was in the “city” (bank/grocery store/doctor’s office area):

After a few hesitant steps, he was trotting back and forth across it like a pro.

But the best thing of ALL was the water activity.  This thing was so cool, even as a grownup.  (Maybe I did get my $8 worth after all)

They had rain jackets in every size and step stools for the little ones, and Simon immediately cozied up to the table and set to work.

For a while, his primary occupation consisted of holding his arm over a spout and sending water jetting up his sleeve (so much for the cute little rain jacket).

Explaining his master plan to Daddy:

They had a bunch of bath and pool toys, magnetic fishing poles and random floaties:


Further upstream (we were at the downstream end) there were more complicated things set into the table – mechanical water wheels, locks, etc. – but those were arranged at a higher level (apparently for older kids and, you know, gravity) so we didn’t mess with them too much.  Not gonna lie, I sort of wanted to go play, but Jeff wouldn’t let me shove 6-year-olds out of the way.

Once the little dude was thoroughly waterlogged and getting cranky, we headed home (after a full wardrobe change in the car, of course).  He conked out before we even made it onto the highway.  Success!

Sunday was quiet – Jeff judged a mock trial thing and we ran out for haircuts and FroYo – and that was our weekend!  Just right 🙂

We’ve officially reached the stage where I adore sleepy Simon pictures more than ever, as they belie the sheer chaos that encircles his every waking moment.  I look at pictures like this and he’s just so quiet and peaceful and I love it.  But then he wakes up and we go spin in circles and play fetch with the dog and build  massive block towers just to kick them down, and that’s even more fun.

Isn’t he just utterly kissable?

This afternoon we’re making 12-grain sandwich bread:

I use this recipe and Bob’s Red Mill 12-grain cereal, which makes the whole thing so easy that most of the time it’s honestly more convenient than going to the store.  And it tastes like a gazillion times better too, because DUH.  (Also I add 2T each of vital wheat gluten and soy lecithin, because I can.  It also helps the dough have a little more resilience, while still being soft and tender.  Come to think of it, I could use some vital wheat gluten and soy lecithin for myself. :-P)

And now I need to go tend to my dough and build some of those aforementioned block towers.  Hi-YA!

4 to go!

I should be packing, not sitting on my butt eating cold mac and cheese and icy Diet Coke.  BUT LOOK AT ME GO.


Part of it is because Simes is asleep in the bedroom, and I’ve learned the hard way that I really cannot pack while he’s napping.  The RRRIIIIIIPPPPPP of the packing tape, the clanging of pots and pans – it wakes him right up.  So instead I shall sit on my ass and knit a knee sock and talk at y’all.


We’ve had a busy morning.  Drove Jeff to work since I packed his bike pump (after he pumped his tires, TYVM) but his front tire isn’t holding air.  So this is my penance for being on top of things. 😛  Then Simon had a pediatrician’s appointment way up in Pasadena – just a quick jab for his flu shot.    After that, I decided to reward myself that he barely cried (shut up, there’s logic there).  So I went into this coffee shop by the pediatrician’s office, feeling all righteous and “lah de DA look at me not going to Starbucks!  I’m supporting a local business! Hurr durr durr”.


My reward was a creepy little place that was empty at 10:00am, a green tea smoothie made from powder + ice + milk, and (I noticed in the bakery case on my way out) a spot of mold on the displayed muffins.

I will not be going back.


As I’ve been doing these last-minute errands before the move, knowing full well I’ll never see any of the people I interact with ever again, I’ve been saying little goodbyes inside my head:  “So long, Brenda the receptionist at the vet’s office!”  “Goodbye, bank teller lady who always compliments my wraps!”  “Rudy! Our favorite photographer at JC Penney!  Farewell!”  It’d be pretty damn lame to actually say goodbye to any of these people – like they know me from a hole in the wall anyway – but I still feel the need to inwardly commemorate the occasion.


I’m also doing it to places:  “Au revoir, stupid weird intersection!”  “Adios, Target Starbucks that always screws up my chai!”  “Sayonara, mail drop box that looks like it wants to give me tetanus!”


Probably should see about adjusting the ol’ meds, eh?


I’ll end with a couple pictures from Simon’s 1-year session.  It continues to baffle me how I managed to create something so stinkin’ beautiful.

(My real kid – the one with the lazy eye and mole-y skin and lank hair – is probably still waiting to be picked up at the St. Mary’s NICU.)


(I love that one.  A grandma in the waiting room nearly had a heart attack when we took it. :-D)


So dignified!


That last one reminds me so much of Jeff’s official clerk portrait:

So maybe Simon’s not a NICU switcheroo after all. 😛


Time to stop dredging apple slices in Greek yogurt and get to work.  TO ZEE KUH-NITTINK!


Less than a week!

This weekend was pretty awesome.  Jeff and Simon enjoyed a LOT of quality time together, while I worked on packing.  (Jeff says – rightfully so – that it’s better for him not to try and pack, since I’d just yell at him for doing it wrong.  Smart man.)  So my boys left me at home to get stuff done, while they went off on such exciting adventures as “get the oil changed!”, “buy more bubble-wrap!” and “walk the dog!”.  Regardless of the packing, though, I think some one-on-one quality Daddy Time is good for Mr. Simes.  Learn that he can exist without a boob 2 feet away, you know.

It all paid off, too.  The living room is now completely packed, except for the things we can’t do without (Simon’s toys, iPod dock, and PS3), and that’ll all be quick and easy to pack on Saturday or whatever.  The blue room is long since done.  The bedroom is mostly done, except for my top-of-dresser stuff (jewelry boxes, hankies, coin jar).  That’s 1 box and will take about 10 minutes.  Bathrooms will just take a minute and obviously need to wait a few more days.

That just leaves the kitchen.  Ugh.  Jeff got all our appliance boxes out of the storage unit on Saturday (knife block, KitchenAid, slow cooker).  I just need to buckle down and do it.  I hate packing the kitchen.  Everything is so fiddly and breakable and I always pack up some tool then realize the next day that I need it.  But last night I made us channa masala and naan and these little tandoori wraps for dinner (thank you TJ’s frozen section!) and I made a big deal about it being the ceremonial LAST COOKING EVERRRRR in that shoebox kitchen, so now we’re on tofu dogs, sandwiches and yogurt full-time.  Whee!

Yesterday while I was packing, I came across a box of Jeff’s old family photos.  Look what I found?

Who does THAT look like???

And if that’s not proof enough of Simon’s parentage, check out this one:

I showed that to Jeff and said, “NOW do you believe he has your nose?!”  (Jeff had previously maintained that “all baby noses look alike” and “it’s impossible to tell”, every time I or any of Simon’s grandparents insisted that there is great probiscular similarity.


Finally, a little glimpse into Simon’s future:

It’s the feet that kill me, there.  So wee!


What’s interesting to me is that Simon looks so much like my dad one minute, and so much like Jeff the next.  With just a change of posture or expression.  Genetics are awesome!


I’ve had a hankering for donuts for a few weeks now.  We were going to go to the iconic Randy’s, but that never worked out.  So yesterday afternoon we ran to Abuelita’s (the LYS here in SouthPas) so I could get a sock bag since I packed all mine.  (I may have also run out with a skein of Pagewood Farms merino/bamboo sock.  Ssh!)  And while we were at it, we stopped by Winchell’s and got a few donuts.  They’re adequate – nothing to write home about – but to my donut-needing self they’re OMG SO GOOD.  I can’t keep my face out of that damned box.  This is why we never buy them!


But yay for breastfeeding – these things aren’t going to my hips!  Whoopee!  I may have to breastfeed someone forever.  Become a wet nurse or something.  It’s the best diet plan out there.  It will be a sad day when I must once again refuse cheesecake and hollandaise and french fries.


Now I’ve gotta get to work on that ( ::sigh:: ) kitchen.


Simon is currently occupied with his IKEA stacking ring toy.  He works tirelessly to get a ring on:


And then balance it carefully on the rubbery post.  Mission accomplished, he turns to me for grins and accolades:

And then I die of love and happiness.


Have a great day, y’all!

I’m loading the moving truck as we speak…

May I brag on Jeff for a minute?


We all know I have the smartest, kindest, most handsomest husband ever, right? (I think consensus must be “yes”).  After all, last year he landed the awesome clerkship that sent us here to LA.  Which is why we’re living in a little apartment in South Pasadena now, spending a year seeing the sights and making friends and working really hard for an amazing judge.


So why do you think Simon might be decked out in his finest celebratory attire and grinning from ear to ear?

Because by jove, Daddy’s done it again!


Yep, my aforementioned brilliant/nice/dashing husband, the father of my child, one of my top two most favorite people in the world, has procured a highly-coveted federal circuit court clerkship for next fall!  He’ll be working for a judge in the Sixth Circuit.


A judge who happens to work in…

(this is not a skyline one likely recognizes upon sight)




I may be the only person in the history of the *world*to actually say aloud “OMG YAY WE’RE LEAVING SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AND MOVING TO AKRON!”


But I mean it.  Every blessed word of it.  LA is nice enough, sure, but you know it ain’t my scene.


My beloved future hometown is just a hop skip and jump away from two blogfriends, firmly in the land of proper winter and nice people and affordable housing.  Jeff says the city reminds him a lot of Columbia, which I find very promising because Columbia is my second-favorite midwestern city (after, y’know, Duluth.)




I can’t wait. I want to start packing now.




Next year, y’all. OMG.

(ganked from here)


Granted, it’s only for another year (just like how this current clerkship is just a year).  But still.  It’s a year!*


We’re a happy house (err…small apartment), guys.  And I hope y’all are too.




*Just like last year, the firm in DC is going to hold Jeff’s job open for another year.  The only thing a firm loves better than an associate who clerks is an associate who clerks twice!

PS> My new most favorite gif ever:

(full clip here)

Revenge is a dish best served partially-digested

It all started the Sunday before last, when Jeff wanted to grab  some Subway on our way home from some errands (getting our holiday pictures taken and taking Simon to his first movie, if you’re curious).  Jeff ordered his favorite sandwich made of extruded pink slime:


Unsurprisingly, an hour and a half later he started feeling unwell.  Not too long after that, he started feeling particularly unwell. And moments later, Jeff’s body began expressing just how unwell he really felt, through a form of interpretive dance called “projectile vomiting”.

(The location, extent and manner of this vomiting is irrelevant to this story, but let me assure you that he can no longer possibly harbor any doubts about how much I love him.)

Later that night I ran to Target to fetch the standard “sick stuff”:  some Diet 7-up and ibuprofen, as well as a pack ‘n play for Simon to sleep in next to me on the couch, so we could leave Jeff in  quarantine  peace in the bedroom.  As luck would have it, while we were turning out of the Target parking lot to go home some jackhole decided that turn signals are highly overrated.  Said jackhole also decided it would be fun to turn abruptly in front of my car, thus causing his car’s front bumper to sweetly kiss mine in a sloppy smack of metal and plastic.

Because everybody wants to stand around making police reports and exchanging insurance information at 9:00 on a Sunday evening when one’s husband is at home puking up everything he ever ate.

The next day I occupied myself with composing numerous angry letters inside my head to the villainous Subway franchise-owner who had cursed us so and idiotic drivers of crappy Nissan Altimas, all the while keeping Jeff’s soda full and stuffing bits of white bread down his throat as he recovered.

Jeff, meanwhile, held that this sudden illness, which had struck just after eating a sandwich of dubious origin, could have been caused by an unrelated virus.  Surely his beloved Subway would not betray him so!  Never in a million years.

It all played out pretty much like this:

See Marge’s look? That’s me.  Only less yellow and even more dubious.

With Jeff on the mend by Tuesday, our week resumed its normal activities.  I made us an abridged version of Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday,we Skyped with my parents and Simon played with the mirror baby to their delight, and all was well.  A continued bastion of health, I felt thoroughly vindicated in my indictment of that damned sandwich as the cause of Jeff’s misery.

(Y’all know where this is going…)

On Friday I took the car to a Geico-approved repair shop, then stopped by the post office on my way home.  While in line, I started to feel just a bit…icky.  Since denial is a large and ugly beast, I pressed onward through my morning’s chores, but at noon I finally succumbed to the siren song of bed and heavy-lidded misery.  I snuggled the baby in next to me, crammed a boob in his mouth, and fervently hoped that I was just imagining the rising tide of sickness.

No such luck, of course.  Soon I had to call Jeff home from work; I knew I was surviving on borrowed time.  He walked in the door just in time to see me launch myself, bare tits a’flyin’, toward the toilet to begin the retching, gagging song of defeat.  He grabbed Simon and retreated to the living room for an afternoon of a horrible game called “entertain the baby without using boobs”.

Friday night was mostly a blur.  I knew I had to keep drinking so that 1)my body would have something to puke up and 2)what little it might be able to retain could turn into milk for the LIVING BEING I HAD TO SUSTAIN.  So I mostly remember it as a grotesque torture theatre: Jeff looming over me with our household’s sick cup of Diet 7 up, forcing sips down my throat.  Simon fussing for attention and food, and Jeff situating him on my breast then snatching him out of the way every time I had to lunge yet again for the toilet.

It was super fun, let me tell you.

The good news with this particular strain of the plague, though, is that it departed nearly as quickly as it arrived.  I spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday on the couch, watching Doctor Who, rehydrating, and nursing.  Simon seems no worse for the wear and Jeff gets to enjoy that wonderful smugness that comes with a total reversal my former, insufferable vindication.  I’m pretty sure he plans to celebrate with another extruded chicken sandwich at lunch today.

Now we’re all chipper, bright eyed and rosy cheeked and ready to start the week.  Simon decided it would be superfun! to wake up at 7:00 this morning (after only 9 1/2 hours of sleep), so he’s now conked out on my lap while I write this. Which is why this post-about-nothing is so goddamn long – I can’t reach my phone, the TV remote, or even a fresh Diet Coke (somebody pass me a Diet Coke?).  Like hell I’m going to disturb a sleeping baby.

So fine, Jeff.  It wasn’t the damn sandwich.  Happy now?

I want all the holidays I can get, yo

Jeff and I sort of got into it back in May.  On a particular Sunday in May.  A particular Sunday that is well recognized in our culture for being an over-marketed, trite recognition of a normal human act.

I’m talking, of course, about Mother’s Day.

You see, Jeff didn’t plan anything for Mother’s Day.  I promise, wasn’t looking for a parade or a grand gesture or anything.  But a “hey happy Mother’s Day” might’ve been nice.  Some sort of little recognition that I had spent the past 6 months getting increasingly fatter and off-balance (physically and emotionally) AND IT WAS HIS FAULT.

But nothing was forthcoming.  So while we were watching the previews before the afternoon matinee of The Avengers, I briefly mentioned why I’d been in a bit of a sore mood all day and he apologized and I really truly wasn’t mad or anything (I’m not a complete shrew, you know).  But the next day there were beautiful flowers waiting for me at home because Jeff’s really a sweetheart and felt bad, even though I’d absolutely forbidden him to beat himself up over it.


I did tell him, though,that part of the reason I’d been so looking forward to this first Mother’s Day (and the subsequent first Father’s Day for him) was that I’d come up with a brilliant and clever gift idea and I honestly couldn’t wait another year to give it to him.  But I couldn’t just go and do something for him for Father’s Day without him recognizing Mother’s Day the month before, because then that would make me look like an asshole (or maybe he’d look like the asshole there. I’m not sure which direction that guilt river should flow.  But anyway – no inadvertent assholeishness could be allowed, because that’s no fun for anyone.).


This is a REALLY REALLY REALLY roundabout way of saying that I did something mildly awesome for Jeff’s first-ever Father’s Day.  Because I am just that nice, and also because dude deserves some sort of recognition for all those back rubs I’ve coerced him into giving me since January.


On Sunday morning I woke up and did my usual stuff, and then around 11 I made maple-cinnamon french toast and OJ and set a lovely table, along with some cards (one from me, one from the cat) and a couple little gifts wrapped in brown paper*.  If I were a fancy person like in my dream life, I’d go out to our cheerful flower beds and pick some pretty what-have-you’s and put them in a mason jar adorned with raffia.  But that’s laughably implausible given our current apartment-dwelling living situation and my own inherent laziness, so I didn’t.  But feel free to imagine that added to the spread, if it helps.  Think whimsical!


ANYWAY.  (Jesus H. Christ this is long-winded).  This is what I had found on Amazon, many weeks prior, for Jeff’s first-ever Father’s Day:

I inscribed that with a loving sentiment – something about not killing our baby, logically enough.


Then Macbeth and Roxie gave him these, to read to Hoopling:



I love these so much there aren’t even words.  Is there any better way to raise a tiny geek?  (Answer: No.)


With any luck, next year Father’s Day will look quite a bit different (hopefully in a good way).  But I’m glad that this year, while we’re in that odd limbo of childless-but-not-really, I was able to do something for Jeff to tell him how much I love and appreciate him.  Because he’s my nice husbandman and is going to be an *excellent* father to Hooplings.


Assuming he doesn’t accidentally kill them, I mean.


*I love wrapping gifts in brown paper.  Rather than looking cheap and bleak, I like to pretend that it’s utilitarian and rustic and customizable to any occasion.  Except I’m always too lazy to fuck around with curling ribbon or anything, so it’s always just plain brown paper and my gifts end up looking like Soviet-era rations.