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November 3, 2018

Hallowiener

Decisions are so much easier to make now that I'm with Jason. I try to pick what he likes because not only might it make him happy, it spares me from having to spend days stressing over the unimportant things. No matter how mundane the decision, I am obsessed with finding a way to make everyone happy. Then I spend the rest of the time telling people that they can't make everyone happy and to stop stressing about it.

It's true though. There will always be that person who doesn't like a certain food no matter how it's prepared. With kids, it's easier to deal with. You don't like eggs? Then you can't have cookies. They have eggs in them. Grownups are less flexible. They need to be shamed for being uncultured. Unfortunately, there are also people who are proud to be xenophobic and have no problem rudely refusing a meal if it's not staring some kind of meat dish. Then there are the people who, no matter what, say, "It would have been better with..." As I said, it's impossible to please everyone, and some people make sure of it. 

If it truly matters to me, I speak up, like insisting that Jason watch Call the Midwife with me. He did, which is reason enough to marry him. Since then, I usually let him pick what we watch. The only thing I put my foot down about is The Blair Witch Project. Scary movies are too much for me, and just being told the plot of it many years ago gave me nightmares. Jason asks all the time if we can watch it, but I refuse to be worn down. I'm such a wiener that I even got a nightmare from a Halloween episode of Pretty Little Liars. 

So for Halloween, I picked out a lion costume for Zach because it's Jason's favorite animal. In fact, this is why he has been a fan of the Detroit Lions since he was a kid. We brought Zach to the Waterfront mall for trick-or-treating because it was free, easy, and fun. Then I insisted we get in line early for the baby costume contest. It never occurred to me that Zach wouldn't win because Zach is clearly the most perfect baby ever. Then as other contestants arrived, I soon realized that I was out of my depth. One baby was half Zach's size and dressed as a turtle. Two kids were mac n' cheese. There were princesses who looked like contestants on Toddlers and Tiaras. Some had elaborate homemade costumes that their parents had clearly spent all week on. I regretted wasting my time in line instead of getting candy.
The costume came with a zebra to snack on.

Zach without the mane was much happier, albeit less adorable.

Sure enough, when they announced the winners, none of them were Zach. Second place was a radio, but I thought they said "rainbow" and screamed to the girl dressed up as one, "YOU WON!!!" only to be politely corrected by the crowd. The winner was a little girl dressed as an angel on a wagon turned into a cloud of feathers. Her dad was in his army fatigues, clearly to tug their hearts. Well played, soldier. 

Later that night, I put my loser baby in his R2-D2 pajamas. I'm going to try and find him a pair every year because his first Halloween costume was R2-D2. 
2 Weeks Old
One Year and Two Weks Old

October 28, 2018

First Birthday

October 18th was Zach's first birthday, and it seemed like he knew because he was in a fabulous mood all day. That isn't like Zach. He's a very happy baby, but he also whines a lot. Once he made that discontent whining sound for so long, it took everything in my power not to unleash the earth's loudest "SHUT UP!" I've taken videos of him making that sound to guilt him later in life.

We started our festivities after midnight, which is the tradition I created for our family. Jason works evenings, so we are all on a late schedule. I decided that on birthdays, we would have a household celebration before bed, and then a celebration with the rest of the family later that evening. That way we can both start and end the day with a celebration.

I set out the presents people had sent us, as well as the ones we bought. The first one was a plush avocado from my best friend Meghan, which Zach decided he was content with and no longer interested in the rest of the presents. We persevered and opened up the ones from my sister and her family which included his first set of Legos. Instead of waiting for me to step on them, he makes it easy and just puts them in my shoes. His godparents generously sent nearly an entire winter wardrobe, which we needed because Zach went from a size 6m-9m to 18m-24m in a matter of weeks. He somehow skipped over a growth phase. At his 12 month doctor's visit, we discovered that he is in the 97th percentile for weight, which is incredible considering that he started out in the 3rd.

Last of all, he opened the ones from us which included a night light that displays the Lions mascot, courtesy of Jason obviously, and from me got everything needed to convert the walk-in closet into his own bedroom. Jason isn't a fan of this idea because making a kid live in a closet borders on abuse, but I think it's the perfect size for a toddler and a creative use of space.

Afterward, we went to bed and woke up ready to party again. I made his first scrambled eggs, and he spat them back at me in disgust. We played with his new toys until it was time to get ready for dinner. Since we were meeting up with Jason's family at a restaurant, I put Zach in his fancy suit and wore a nice dress. Jason asked if he should dress up too, and I told him no because we live in Pittsburgh. I'm not from here, so it's not pretentious when I dress up. The rest of the city has to wear the standard uniform of cargo shorts or blue jeans.
My little dandy
After dinner, we returned to our place, and Zach had his first piece of cake. I wasn't paying attention, and Jason's kids, in being good siblings, made sure that Zach got enough frosting to eat. By the time I turned around, Zach had gotten frosting all over himself, including in his hair and ear canals. He also got plenty on the inside too because later he vomited and the following day had colorful diarrhea. It reminded me of my twenty-first birthday.

At some point, Jason steered the conversation to wrestling. Unfortunately, I had already fallen in love with him by the time I found out about his WWE fandom. If you are wondering if I'm referring to the "fake sport", nope. It turns out, I'm referring to the "scripted sports entertainment." Jason explained that it's not fake because they genuinely get hurt. Now I just call it his "stories."

He was telling me about a wrestler's intro music being "Line In The Sand" by Motörhead, then played it for me. As soon as it started playing, Zach, who had never heard it before, got a big grin, scrunched his nose, and began headbanging with his arm raised. I'm not making any of this up. Since then, I've been testing which bands he enjoys, and he likes Def Leppard, Kiss, doesn't like Ozzy, and loves AC/DC. I found out about AC/DC because we were watching Daddy's Home 2, and when Will Ferrell's character sees Mel Gibson's, "Thunderstruck" plays. Zach abruptly stopped eating peas to raise his arm and headbanged. Last night Jason asked me which AC/DC song do I consider the best. When I said, "Shook Me All Night Long", he said no, it's "Hells Bells". Then he played it, and as soon as Zach heard it, he grinned, raised his arm, and bobbed his head to the beat.
Thank you for making me a mama, Zachy.

October 15, 2018

Rosie the Robot Vacuum

For my birthday, Jason's parents gave him money to pick out a present from them. Jason picked a robot vacuum because he knows what chicks dig. It was a rose gold colored one, so I named it Rosie.
Like this Rosie, but lazier and less sassy
I used to dream about having a baby and getting it a Roomba to sit on, like in YouTube videos. This proved very disillusioning because by the time Zach could sit up on his own, he was too heavy, and Rosie just beeped while grinding into the ground. 

Soon it became normal to have Rosie buzzing around, and when she would go by, I would say, "Zach! There's your sister Rosie," and Zach would watch it with interest. Since Zach was too heavy, I would put a stuffed T-Rex on it and sent it into the bathroom after Jason. 

After a while, Rosie began getting on my nerves. She got stuck places she never should have been able to fit in, couldn't handle the incline from the floor to carpet, and beeped while being charged. Basically, she was getting stupider. I think it's because Zach had learned how to crawl, and when I had my back turned, he would find her and beat on her with his little fists. 

Finally, the day came when I had to retire her. Zach was sleeping in the bedroom with the door closed, and she kept smacking it, trying to get in. When she finally succeeded, I yelled, "Get out, Rosie, you dumb bitch!" Upon hearing myself say that, I realized that I was taking this vacuum way too seriously. I packed her up and put her in the closet for the time being. In the meantime, I still have two other vacuums I can tell myself I'm going to use. 

October 12, 2018

Cleaning the Irritation Valve

I finally have an opportunity to write, and I'm grumpy. The annoying things in life have crept up on me, and it's finally time to unleash them. Here's this round:

1. Snapchats filters with babies.
Me-ow., Zachy.
2. Jason's crush on late 90's pop musician Michelle Branch.

3. People thinking my social media posts are about them and getting offended. They've been wrong 100% of the time.

4. Stating outlandish things without fact-checking first.

5. Sharing a bathroom with a boy.

6. Having to put on clothes that aren't pajama pants.

7. Hamsters that eat their babies.

8. The weather in Pittsburgh. I've seen all four seasons within the same week. It's creepy.

9. Not changing an opinion despite being given factual information to the contrary.

10. Responding to what they interpret the photo or tagline to mean without reading my blog post. Like, they noticed the post, it interested them, had time to reply, and blatantly decided not to read it.

11. The "Just Say No" campaign of the 80's. It was proven to have done exponentially more harm than good.

12. Unaffectionate people. They're reptilian, and I don't like it.

13. Affectionate people. Gross.

14. Spammers calling when Zach is asleep on me.

15. Having people watch me while I clean.

16. Responses that start with "You just think that..."

17. Blonde jokes because they're generally about women being intellectually inferior or shame their sexuality.

18. Unhealthy foods high in carbohydrates cost the least.

19. How patronizing it is when someone must always respond with "wise lessons" or advice.

20. People grabbing pitchforks because they got their political information from a meme. Just because it's in meme form, that doesn't automatically make it true. 

October 11, 2018

Baby Debauchery

Last winter, I got an LG phone, and the autocorrect kept changing 'Zachary' to 'debauchery'. Little did I know, this phone had insight into his character. He's almost one and has made it clear that he's a pervert. Like when Zach hears Jason in the shower, he zooms into the bathroom to throw back the curtain and watch him. By the time I get there, Zach is soaking wet from leaning over to get a good look.

It's not the only bathroom activity Zach enjoys. Once I heard a thud and walked in to find that Zach had figured out how to open the cabinet and was eating the empty toilet paper rolls from the garbage. Peeing is another hassle. Jason said that out of the three kids he has had, Zach is the only one who tries to put his hand in the pee stream and swirl it in the bowl. The others would just run in to watch in fascination. All of this could be fixed by simply closing doors, but we aren't the door closing kind of people. That takes a minor amount of effort which we are both unwilling to exert.

Along with this behavior, Zach has also made it clear that he prefers being naked. When I change his diaper, he does a contortionist act to get out of my hold, then flees. When I try to put clothes on him, he acts like he's being tortured. Then one day, he figured out how to take his pants off. I can only fight with him so much before I go dead inside, so most of his baby pics are him in just a diaper. I often have to blur the background so that people don't see how messy our place is, especially the floor. We had a robot vacuum that Jason told his parents to get me for my birthday (yes, a vacuum for my birthday) but Zach wails on it like he's in a prison yard.
There wasn't room in the fridge to cut up the watermelon, so I told Zach it's his new brother.
Then there's the nipple twisting. It's called 'twiddling', and I read ages ago that they do it to increase milk in the other boob by nipple stimulation. Zach digs his razor claws into it and twists like a stuck ham radio knob. If I cover it with my hand, he tries to remove it, then swipes at my face like a feral cat.
Zach at 6 months running off with my breast pump. 
I'm trying to teach him boundaries, but he's too young to understand and just thinks I'm mean or that I get off on withholding. I'm both, I just hoped he would learn that when he's a bit older. 

October 10, 2018

We're Pumpkin Spice People Now

Since we are just starting out as a family, the time is now if we want to start traditions. Here are some that I have come up with:

1. Each vacation, buy a Christmas ornament. That way when we decorate the tree, we can reminisce over past trips. This was my mom's idea.

2. Buy the whimsical seasonal flavors at the grocery store. My goal is for us to eat healthily while still enjoying life. Growing up, my mom considered fruit to be an appropriate dessert. It's not. No kid deserves to be rewarded for eating their vegetables with an apple. A cup of cocoa with peppermint Oreos sounds like a nice way to end a Winter's day. I recently welcomed Autumn with Halloween Pop Tarts for Jason and Pumpkin Spice Cheerios for Zach. 

3. Christmas gifts before bed, then stockings in the morning. Since Jason works evenings, we have grown accustomed to a late schedule. This way Zach can still be excited to wake up on Christmas morning, we can go back to bed, and I have time to cook before his older kids and parents come over.
Christmas 2017. I ruined the first part of the morning by asking if I could return all the lotions Jason got me. 
4. Changing the TV screensaver for birthdays to celebrate the person. This is only my tradition though because Jason doesn't know how to change it, and I assume he prefers it that way. 

5. Zach gets Jason silly tee-shirts for occasions. I didn't know what the baby was supposed to get him for Christmas, so I wrapped up a shirt that said, "Chicken" with an arrow pointing to its butt and said it was from Zach. Now Zach gets him stupid shirts for his birthday and Father's Day too. 

I've been thinking about this stuff lately because Zach's first birthday is coming up. On one hand, it will set a precedent. On the other, he's a baby and won't care. Part of me wants to just get him clothes and wrap them up because he needs them anyway, but then again, I'm his guardian and legally required to clothe him. That's like packing him a lunch and putting a bow on it. 

October 6, 2018

Moootherhood

My weight has yo-yoed since I was a preteen. Part of me assumes that I was predisposed to be a huskier gal because my parents were big, but clearly, there's a diet aspect of it. The best way to curb my sweet tooth has been to limit carbohydrates, which was hard enough when I lived alone but is an uphill battle since getting pregnant. My doctor told me when I was a few months in that I didn't need to eat carbs during pregnancy, but Zach begged to differ.

When it was just me, I could buy low carb food and cook because I had all this energy from not giving a shit about anyone else. Now I can't even count the times I had to turn the stove or oven off in the middle of cooking something because Zach was having a meltdown. The counters are cluttered with stuff that I have had to move out of Zach's reach, and I'm too short to reach the high shelves. This also wasn't a problem when I lived alone, because I easily climbed all over countertops and furniture like the nimble thirty-six year old I was. Then when I was in my third trimester, I was hanging curtains, and the chair I was standing on buckled beneath me. I texted Jason crying that I was now the fat sidekick in a buddy comedy.
Six weeks pre-pregnancy, all fresh-faced and relaxed.








I assumed after giving birth, I would lose a ton of weight pumping and breastfeeding, but my body decided against that plan. For the past year, I have felt a combination of physical exhaustion and insatiable hunger. The more solids Zach eats, the better I feel, and the more energy I have. He really is a little parasite. My understanding of breastfeeding was that I would get back to my pre-pregnancy weight within a year while experiencing an extra special oxytocin bond with the baby. Maybe with the breast pump too. Instead, it feels weird, and sometimes like I'm a hostage.
Me now, suckled dry. 

The older Zach gets, the more awkward the breastfeeding gets. He does weird gymnastics during and if we are in public, has no problem suddenly moving to expose me to the world. So on one hand, yay, I'm nourishing a life. On the other hand, I miss wearing a bra with underwire that keeps my boobs and dignity in place.

Now that I'm trying to wean him, I have hopes that I can start bouncing back, but this is dependent on my not getting pregnant again. Now that I'm breastfeeding less, I'm ovulating again, so it's a possibility, so I have to either go on birth control or run from Jason when the Lions win. Fortunately, that a rare occurrence.
Zach's bizarre breastfeeding position. My boob has been censored out because I'm only comfortable with immediate family, friends, distant relatives, Denny's, and Ripley's aquarium seeing them. 




Instruction Not Included

Since my entire day is consumed by Zach, it would be helpful if he was a better muse. I don't know how there are so many parenting blogs out there because babies are boring. Also, if I tell the truth about my parenting style, there's always some guy quick to make a joke about calling child services. They can't comprehend the mama bear nerve it hits to tease about taking my baby away. Next time I'll joke right back about taking their cat, and they always have cats, and sticking it in a blender. That would only give them a glimpse of what I feel.

In my desperation to be a good mother, I read a lot of those parenting blogs. I also read parenting books and listened to too much advice. Very little of it was helpful. The most helpful thing was my realization that I am Zach's mother, and I know my baby. When he wouldn't latch, several people told me that it was "nipple confusion" because I was using bottles. His doctor disagreed, and so did I. My hunch was that because he was born early, his mouth was small and having trouble, but as he grew, it would resolve itself. Sure enough, by the time he was six weeks, he was only nursing and refusing bottles. Until then, it was painful thinking that I was failing as a mother because I couldn't feed him properly.

Not only does he refuse bottles, he finds sippy cups perplexing. It's embarrassing for all of us. I've now filled bottles and cups with every spout, nipple, and design out there with lemonade flavored Kool-Aid and stashed them all over the place. That way when he's exploring, he will come across one and try to figure it out. Instead of sugar, I use stevia or sucralose so that I can drink it all day too.

He also gets plenty of screen-time even though it's recommended that they don't get any in the first two years. I didn't do the best job of building a community when I moved to Pittsburgh, so it's just the two of us all day. It's too much for me, so I put on YouTube videos of kids' songs for him to watch so that I can do simple tasks.

The list of what I'm doing wrong is endless, but it must be right for Zach because he is thriving. At eleven months, he's already starting to walk and talk. When he wants to climb onto something, he finds something to drag across the room to use as a stepping stool. He went from being in the third percentile for size to the ninety-fifth. Most importantly, he is extremely happy and loving. I just wish he wasn't so curious because he destroys everything in his path, but I'm also proud of his curiosity. I just wish he could figure out a damn sippy cup already.
Zach's favorite thing to do is dance. If you even start humming a song, he will start dancing along. 


September 28, 2018

Pile-Driving Me Crazy

Thanks to Jason, I know more about sports and sports entertainment than I ever wanted to. He loves football and the WWE and has a captive audience with me because I once read a one-sided piece of paper on listening skills. It was handed out in a tenth-grade meeting of peer counselors, and I still remember the gist. It basically says to listen without judgment or advice. Since then, I've discovered that most people know how to solve their own problems, it's just hard. When they're stumped, they'll directly ask for advice. Giving unsolicited advice comes across like "I think you're stupider than I am. Incompetent too." In any case, I've mastered the head nod. 

In return, Jason is a good listener but will text me a "Wrap It Up" GIF when the subject no longer interests him. 
Courtesy of the Chapelle Show
When I began writing again, I told him, and he said, "That's great!" Then I told him again, and he said, "Okay." Then I told him again and sent him the links, and he didn't say anything. When he got home, I asked him about it, and he said that he read them. Then a tumbleweed flew by. I got upset by his withholding of praise, so he said, "They were very good," which may as well been a hearty "Good for you!" I huffed off, and he called me back to thank me for recognizing Newark as the armpit of America. (Last year I tried to convince him that Western Illinois is.)
Western Illinois is just this for five hours.
Even if my blog was terrible, he should be reading it as a courtesy to my spending countless hours hearing about his emotionally abusive relationship the with Detroit Lions,
Jason was born and raised in Pittsburgh, so his fanship for the Lions must be some kind of masochistic fetish. 
and his speculations on The Undertaker's retirement. 
The other piledriving man in my life.
If I asked him to read my stuff, he would, but then I would lose my leverage when picking activities. I've already learned that the key to a happy relationship is accumulating leverage and using it properly.
I convinced Jason that the Lions always lose when Zach wears their fan gear. 

My Tweetheart

Even though I pick on Jason for not reading my blog, he plays my Twitter games without fail. That's how we met, through his playing my games. Among all those players, he stood out immediately because he's so damn funny.
Occasionally a picture of my son will pop up on the feed, or I'll get a notification that he mentioned me in a tweet. I regularly do a search to see recent batches of tweets about me and Zach. Here are some of my favorite ones in chronological order: 

This is from before we met, which makes me wonder if I fell for some kind of scheme:
These are from right before Zach was born:
Here's the birth announcement. This photo was taken twenty minutes after Zach was born:
Now our life with him. The days are long
but the weeks fly by: