Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Merry Christmas, Then & Now

This shit should go viral. Serious.

I won't claim to have thought of this photo re-creation idea myself. I saw it on the interweb some time ago. I made a mental note (and a digital one, in my iPhone under the Reminders app in a category for "Gift ideas") to look through pictures to do something funny for my dad. I found a few possible pics to re-create, but opted to shoot the holiday one and make a Christmas gift for Al out of it. After all, I don't want to give the man more shit that he'll just "sell on ebay." I gave my brother a heads-up before he came to town last month, and I made a quick trip to Goodwill to see if I could come up with a satin, poofy-sleeved plaid Christmas top. Not exactly the same, but good enough. In the interest of frugality, We recycled one of Alex's old sweaters and collared shirts for Bri. Alex was our photog, and we did a bit of Photoshopping to get the coloring a bit more similar. It takes a bit of tweaking to get that 1980s yellow, you know? Anyway, I was psyched about the final product. And like I said, this shit should go viral.

Christmas in Tahoe

Pictures are worth a thousand words, and I took a million of those, so this post is, like, 1,000,000,000 word equivalent?!? Here are my favorite memories from this holiday week in Tahoe Vista. Thanks, Paul and Chris for hosting so generously, thanks Dad for making the trip to join us, thanks Lisa for letting us stay at your house, and thanks Brian and Jen for the great company! This was truly a wonderful Christmas.

First Tahoe snow.

The grandpas - Beebee and Papa.

With Daddy and Uncle Brian in Tahoe City.

"Red hat. Beebee. Beeuh. Eechy."

Aunt Jen.

Her stocking is so big she can wear it.

And discover more presents inside.

Uncle Brian.

Reading potty books with Mama.

Papa and Mimi smiles.

The multitude of facial expressions are priceless.

Beer holder belt buckle. Thanks, Jen.

Sledding at Mount Rose!

Never eat yellow snow.

Proof she's a Hartman, too.

So big at the Lake.

"One, thwee, fiuh. Wee!"

New backpack, thanks Jen.

Christmas at Home

Because we were to spend Christmas in Tahoe, we knew we weren't going to haul Francie's gifts along with our presents for the rest of the family. Alex and I each got the Bean one gift, and Uncle B's Amazon orders arrived in time for our early celebration. Here she is with her new grocery cart from Mama, and loving her new play kitchen from Uncle B. So much so that I couldn't even get her to take a picture for me. I've never seen her play independently for so long, as she did with that kitchen setup. We put her kitchen in our kitchen, in the hopes that she can pretend cook while we do the real thing.

Sacha Baron Cohen Lookalike

Granny panties? Or belly holster?

1st Haircut

Somebody got her first hairs cut this weekend. The Bean didn't exactly have long hair yet, but she was definitely rocking a baby mullet. Mullet no more - girlfriend's got a stylin baby A-line. So hot. 

And being the creep that I am, I even got a tiny locket if her hair. I'll just put that right next to the heart-shaped dried umbilical cord in her baby book. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

21 Months

Two word combos. Like a boss. ("baby cow" "uncle Brian" "more please" "green ball" "Papa hat" "no Daddy" etc).
Regularly says "pease" and signs "thank you." If she doesn't, we cue her to "use your manners."
Needs more assistance to go to sleep at night. Insists that one of us "sit" next to her while she takes 20+ minutes to fall asleep.
If cuddling in bed, asks to hold "hans."
Loves to be sung to, and starting to sing along. Favorite songs include "Wheels on the Bus, Twinkle Twinkle, Row Your Boat, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Jingle Bells.
Lover of Papa, blueberries, applesauce and cottage cheese.
Uses her mama mostly for milk.
Refuses to go to school in the morning, and then refuses to leave school in the afternoon.
Favorite word = "no," even in her sleep.
Pretend play - making food and giving tastes, more baby play, shaving, going potty and wiping, makeup, etc.
Nurses before nap and bedtime consistently, nurses upon wakeup inconsistently.
Talks about pooping, farting, and wiping. But hates diaper changes.
Is in the toddler class at daycare, and still loves Jessica and Dani, her main teachers.
Likes to hug and give kisses.
Testing boundaries - hitting mama, throwing food.
"Doeeeee." (aka "I do it myself").
"Mine!" Even if things aren't hers.
Likes music and loves to dance. Likes to make her animals dance. Or her spoons.
Pretends to talk on the phone. With an iPhone, a card, or a banana.
Speaks or sings to herself in the carseat.
Displays signs of FOMO - wants to be involved in everything.
Likes horses and saying "nay." Likes dinosaurs, babies, trucks and buses.
If you ask her if she's a Franimal, she growl/roars.
Is more likely to cooperate if asked to "help" rather than told to do things.
Responds better to choices than demands (duh, who doesn't?!?).
Seems to like cooking and being in the kitchen. Uncle B gave her a play kitchen for Christmas that she played independently with for several hours, far surpassing her prior independent play time record of 11 minutes.
Doesn't like beards, and insists on kissing her daddy on the forehead only. "Bea. Eechy. Shave."
Talks about Santa. All. The. Time. But can't stand the man, for fear of the beard. "Sansa. Bea. Eechy. Home?"
"See? See?" Very curious and wants to see what we're doing.
Loves looking at pictures of herself and others, and watching videos. Can name all the people on our fridge.
According to Alex's technical measurements at Home Depot, she is 2.75 feet tall.
She still hates green foods (as in, she won't eat vegetables).
Somehow knows Elmo and describes him as "see see" (silly).
Calls herself "see see" (no more "eesh").
Her hair is getting long. Tried to get her first haircut last week but the shop was booked.
Runs, jumps, dances, plays, crawls, climbs.

Outtake #1: She refused to put on her white onesie. I figured neked is cute too. This was just a few minutes before she peed on the fabric.

Outtake #2: Since she refused to willingly model for me, I bribed her with opening a present early. It worked, but she still wouldn't look at me and smile.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


There was some definite Mrs. Claus'ing this holiday season. I managed to: 
1) send out holiday cards to over 120 people - many of whom I barely know, but like to touch base with once yearly (like my 3rd grade teacher, or my mom's college roommates, or long lost but once adored friends);
2) make several pounds of cinnamon-sugar roasted almonds for coworkers, daycare teachers, and neighbors; I have been saving peanut butter and jelly jars for the last several month, spray-painted the lids, cut out some festive fabric, and ta-da, we have Christmas goodies;
3) create the Pinterest-worthy frame+wire contraption for displaying Christmas cards received; since taking the photo below, we've received nearly two dozen more;
4) labor over the winter "jelly roll race quilt" for my in-laws; I'm still not enough of a perfectionist to call myself a true quilter, but I am definitely getting a little bit better with time, and am pleased with the final product; 
5) I "pinned" a few wooden craft ideas for Alex to make, including an iPad holder for recipes and a Michigan-shaped address for Brian and Jen;
6) put together some "before" and "after" kiddo photos for both Alex & Brian and myself and my Brian;
7) sew up a last minute holiday skirt with the fabric for her 21 month photos (that I have yet to post)

Cinnamon-sugar almonds

Holiday card display

Jelly roll race quilt in "Winter's Grey" fabric by Moda

On display at Close Quarters

Logan and Francie decorating the felt Xmas tree Auntie Rach made last year

Eating with the tractor fork from Beebee's advent - she also got a tool puzzle, tutu, wind-up elephant, bear, washcloth, bath bubbles, headbands, sunglasses, dino tattoos, scratch-and-sniff fruit stickers ..

Toddler circle skirt

Alex-made Michigan address

Wooden iPad holder

Couch Surfing

Alex slept part of the last two nights on the couch. That's how good our new sectional is. We totally splurged on this Macy's oversized chenille sofa I'd been eyeing for months. We sold our own Craigslist-purchased sectional, again on Craigslist, for $100. It took only 7 minutes to get my first of several dozen emails inquiring about the fairly priced furniture, and in just a few hours a sad 40+ year old man arrived and took away our (secretly broken) couch. We never did mention that we had a dog who likely peed on it when the Bean was born. Or that I breastfed hours and hours away on that couch. Or the fleas. Oh, the fleas. We spent a couple days furniture-free, and I was more delighted than a kid on Christmas morning when the Macy's deliverymen arrived and assembled our new slate-colored sofa. Because the sectional was far beyond our budget ($2700 at full price, and I only disclose this here for the sake of posterity), we financed the bad boy, budgeting about $175/month for a year, no interest. So far, we are so in love. Swooning. Finding excuses to laze around, watching Burn Notice, reading to the Bean on the couch rather than in her room. Most luxurious purchase I've ever made, and worth every penny we still owe.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

School Pics and Ponytails

Because these are my favorite photos and memories from the last month. 

Don't mind me, I'm just riding this cute antique tricycle with the fall colors in the background.

Sure, I'll smile cheerily for this strange photographer, even if my mama can't get a blur-free photo of me looking happy.

On Monday of the Dollar Store Hair Rubberband Brigade week at daycare, she came home with her first ponytail.

On Tuesday, she came home with pigtails.

On Wednesday, she came home with a pony-hawk. And she refused to let me take them out or wash her hair during bath.

And here she is, going "home," donned in my infinity cowl, her knit hat, gloves, boots, sunnies and with crackers in her purse.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Shy Times

She stares, mouth agape, puts her fingers in her mouth, throws her head back against me, then puts her arms over her head, smiling coyly, hiding half of her face in my legs.

How is it that I may have re-produced a shy child?

Personally, I have experienced shy feelings approximately a dozen times in my whole life. Seriously. Sometimes it has been associated with feelings of shame, like the time I accidentally peed in the back of my neighbor, Renee's, car when I was 4 or so years old, and tried to explain the mess by saying I had spilled my can of Coke. I was shy around her family for some time after that. Or the time I dropped steaming hot mussels on a sexy male customer where I was waiting tables - I felt shy with my boss and coworkers, embarassed of my errors. Other times the shyness was related to starting a new life. I'm sure I felt shy when I first went off to college. Bear in mind I went to a college where I didn't know a soul, meanwhile my three BFF's all ended up living together at the same school. I was probably shy when I first went to Block Island and started a new job waitressing. Or when I studied abroad in Ireland. Or when I moved to Telluride. Or Tahoe. Or started graduate school. Or my new job. You get the point. So how is it that someone like me, someone who is relatively comfortable (though not all that energized) in social situations - talkative, assertive, gregarious - can produce a reticent, timid, reserved little Bean?

Let's start off with some definitions. In most of the psychology chatter, shyness is defined as  a tendency to feel awkward, apprehensive, uncomfortable, or tense in social scenarios, particularly in new situations or with unfamiliar people. There is often a component of fear or worry about what others might think. According to Susan Cain, author of the 2012 book aptly title Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, shyness is a fear of negative judgment.

Interestingly, shyness and introversion are often confused as synonymous. Apparently this is not the case. Introverts prefer solitary activities over social ones, while shy folks avoid social interactions because of anxiety. According to Cain, introversion is simply a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments. Per Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology, introversion is the manifestation of reserved or solitary behavior. In other words, an introvert is someone who is more concerned with one's mental life. They might prefer to concentrate on a single activity at a time, to observe situations before they participate, they are more analytical before speaking, can be overwhelmed by too much socializing, or just prefer a quieter environment.

According to these varied definitions, the Bean, so far, fits some pieces to a T and others not so much.

With regard to "shyness":

- tendency to feel awkward? doesn't seem like it, plus she seems a little young to really be described as feeling awkward

- apprehensive? true

- uncomfortable? maybe

- tense in social scenarios? doesn't seem like it

- in new situations or with unfamiliar people? definitely

- fear of negative judgment? it's unlikely that my one-and-a-half-year-old is commanded by a fear of negative judgment

And for "introversion":

- prefers solitary activities over social ones? false, she always wants attention and to be playing with someone else

- quiet, minimally stimulating environments? doesn't seem like it

- concentrates on a single activity at time? hmm, maybe, maybe not; she's been known to pretend to talk on the phone AND comb her hair

- observes situations before participating? definitely

- more analytical before speaking? she only knows about 100 words that all sound very similar, but there's no indication that she is careful with her words

- can be overwhelmed by too much socializing? I think maybe this is true, but it's not as if she breaks down crying or shuts off in stimulating environments, she just quiets down and watches; and then later, once she's more comfortable and maybe a bit tired, she hams it up like she's the lead actress

- just prefers a quieter environment? can't tell her preference, per se, but doesn't seem to mind when a lot is going on around her; she is apt to stare, mouth agape, rather than dive right in and participate

So maybe she's a shy extravert? She has always seemed socially inclined, in that she wants to watch, participate, communicate with others - but she is reticent to do so with those outside her immediate circle. I blame Alex. For her shyness and her eczema. Thanks a lot, babe. No, really, though, what's my concern with all this shyness/introversion business anyway?

I definitely did not bear a child to create a mini-Me (maybe a BFF, but not a mini-Me), or with specific hopes and expectations that she would be a certain way. By all means, I want her to be herself, to prosper from her own strengths, and to learn from her weaknesses. I guess I just never anticipated having a shy kid, because it never really crossed my mind. Because shyness just doesn't cross my mind. Until recently, I'd been saying to Alex, she's not shy, she's just an observer. So why the aversion to calling her "shy"?

The thing is, we live in a society that highly undervalues the quiet, introspective types. I, too, tend to like extraverted, boisterous, do-ers. We empower the alphas. The louder kids in a classroom get more teacher and peer attention, whether positive or negative. The squeeky wheel gets the grease. Per Cain's New York Times Op-Ed from 6/25/2011: "As a society, we prefer action to contemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt. Studies show that we rank fast and frequent talkers as more competent, likable and even smarter than slow ones."

I myself am an alpha. I like to talk just a little and then do. I thrive on change. I am quick to make decisions and don't spend much time with doubt. I've been described as having a "strong personality." I often speak without thinking. People assume that I'm self-confident and have high self esteem. I care only a little what other people think of me - it's not that I'm immune to criticism, it's that it just doesn't often occur to me what someone else might think of what I say, how I act, unless my performance is specifically under review. I like to spend time alone and consider myself somewhat introspective (although I think neurotic would be a more fitting word), but I'm comfortable socially. I certainly don't get my energy from a busy social calendar, but I've purposely worked in people-oriented helping professions, and I prefer drinking a cup of coffee and people-watching in a crowded cafe than sitting alone for hours watching the waves crash. I guess that makes me an outgoing extravert, by these definitions.

Studies indicate that extraverts have higher rates of relationship difficulties, hospital stays due to injury, and even of driving accidents. Sure, they make friends more easily, are more likely to take rewarding (and dangerous) risks, and seem more comfortable in their skin. But the introverts - a "sitter" kid - is more likely to be careful and astute, to learn by observing rather than by acting, to be more sensitive and aware of scary things, but also to ALL things. Per Cain, "Once they reach school age, many sitter children use such traits to great effect. Introverts, who tend to digest information thoroughly, stay on task, and work accurately, earn disproportionate numbers of National Merit Scholarship finalist positions and Phi Beta Kappa keys ..."

So if I'm going to raise a shy or introverted daughter, I want to be educated and prepared, to the best of my ability. I want to study up on what shyness looks like, what it means, and how best to support my reticent daughter. And being a parent, I'm eager to espouse all the good qualities about shyness and introversion that get overlooked.

In my research, the often cited strengths of shyness include being a good listener, increased sensitivity to other people's feelings and emotions, stronger proclivity for empathy, caring, and interest in how others feel.  Research shows that shy and introverted people might choose to spend their time in behind-the-scenes or passive roles such as "inventing, studying, or holding the hand of the dying." Some might take on leadership roles, though lead in a very different, quiet way - which some studies have actually shown to be more effective and efficient than a take-charge kinda gal.

Perhaps most interestingly, is that there are introvert-types in the animal kingdom, too. These are the critters who are watchful from the sidelines, sometimes called "sitters" in the Circle of Life (as opposed to "rovers"). Apparently these introverted animals favor a survival strategy akin to "look before you leap." Per Cain's Op-Ed, an evolutionary biologist conducted an experiment to illustrate this concept. He dropped metal traps into a pond of pumpkinseed sunfish. (Her words, not mine). The rover fishies investigated and were immediately caught. The sitter fishies stayed back, making it impossible for the biologist to catch them. Next, the biologist used fishing nets to catch both rover and sittter fish and brought them to a new environment, his lab. The rover fish acclimated quickly, while the sitters took five days longer to start eating in their new home. The biologist concluded that "there is no single best personality ... but rather a diversity of personalities maintained by natural selection."

Would I be proud to be the mother of a soft-spoken, loving, empathic girl? The one who comforts the bullied victim? The one who cries for the hurt bird? The one who spends time alone creating an artistic piece? The one that helps her friend process her difficult times? The one who thinks before she speaks? A Clara Barton? A Barbara Walters? A JK Rowling? A Tina Fey? Hell yeah! But I'd be equally as proud of a loud, fast-talking alpha dog, too.

One of the neatest parts about this parenting journey is thinking about and processing the things that I'VE NEVER EVEN THOUGHT OF. I feel so grateful to have my world expanded and my horizons broadened and my mind blown by a little Bean who can't even speak a full sentence yet.

A link to the original article, which I've practically plagiarized. Are their blogging rules about how I cite info and words that are not my own?!?

Monday, December 2, 2013


Lots of firsts this weekend. First thanksgiving to actually eat the delish spread. First hot cocoa. First roasted marshmallow. First "baby cooooooooow. Moo." First viewing of "What does a fox say?" (and second and third). First bubble bath. First crying at Santa - make that a second. "Everyone needs a photo of their crying kid with Santa." We now have two years in a row - she acknowledges she's afraid of the "beeuh ... mah" (beard ... man).

Stealing mama's hot cocoa.

Learning to use a saw.


Santa ... man ... beard .... no!

Tis the season - tree up and lit, advent filled, felt tree decorated, and front stoop cheer.

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