I never do this, but it’s been a rough day, particularly for the youngest member of the family that isn’t canine. Gwen appears to be having some feels, and some rather intense feels at that, because the last week’s behavior can be summed up in one word: THREE.
She’s approaching that boundary-pushing, limit-testing age that requires infinite patience and consistency. I need a reminder of simpler times to get me through the next epic tantrum-fest.
Initially I was kind of an anti-iPhone-photographer snob… but I’ve found I’m way more likely to document the moment with my phone than dig out my hulking digital SLR with its inconvenient manual-focus portrait lens, not to mention the time it takes to transfer the resulting photos to my computer (provided I can find the camera cable, which is a challenge in and of itself) and process them in Photoshop, then wait for them to upload to the printing company. In the face of all that hassle, the simplicity and ease of use of the iPhone camera cannot be denied. It may not be fine art, but my family memories aren’t fine art, and truth be told, I love some of the photos I’ve taken with that camera.
All but three months of Gwen’s first year were stored not in an album or keepsake box, but on Flickr and Instagram. I thought about this a few weeks ago — I haven’t printed a single snapshot since Gwen was three months old. And I thought about how strange and uncomfortable that felt. Ellie has a thick baby album full of 4×6’s, Gwen has… an Instagram account.
I love digital photography, but there’s something satisfying about holding a photograph in my hands, the tactile richness of a stack of freshly-printed images, the thrill of receiving a new packet of photos in the mail. So I decided to do something about it! I went back through my archives, beginning with this photo, taken last Christmas when I first got my iPhone:
And the latest photo of my little mischief-maker:
… and everything in between, which, when I sorted through it all, came out to about 300 photos.
That was almost enough to make me throw up my hands and add a few dollars to Gwen’s therapy jar (I have a few years to come up with an excuse as to why her sister has an album and she doesn’t, anyway) but after some research, I settled on PostalPix, which lets you order prints (and other products) directly from your iPhone. A few weeks later, I have a handful of envelopes full of beautiful prints, and I’ve assuaged my guilt (at least temporarily — I still haven’t worked up the ambition to put them in an album). Plus, new photos never have to touch my computer — I take them on the phone and have prints in my cart with just a few clicks. So easy.
My only complaint is you can only print in batches of 40 (when I started this process it was 60) so having a large backlog of photos meant I had to be methodical about what I’d already printed and what I hadn’t. Now that I’m caught up it’s better, but it would be much easier to purchase unlimited prints in one go. All the more reason to keep my standard printing company (iPrintFromHome — have to plug them because I love them) for large orders, and use PostalPix for snapshots.
Another iPhoneography-related service I tried recently was StickyGram, which turns your Instagram photos into magnets (I’m kind of a magnet addict). Sure, I could just use an ordinary magnet to stick my kid’s photo to the fridge, but what would be the fun in that? Photo magnets up the cute-factor. While I won’t be using StickyGram as often, it has nothing to do with their quality or service — it’s just my bank account might get mad at me, and my fridge can only hold so many magnets.
I have this annoying aversion to buying Halloween costumes.
Annoying, because that puts the burden of effort on me to make something, since the kids are too young to make their own.
Annoying, because I will spend just as much (if not more) on supplies to make said costumes than I would on a mass-manufactured, made-in-China number.
Annoying, because the kids could care less about the costume as long as they get candy.
In other words, this is a neurosis of my own making, and I know it.
Unfortunately for this neurosis, I don’t sew. I don’t even craft, when it comes down to it. Last year I basically glued some felt onto plain-color clothes and that worked.
Side note: Ellie kept telling everyone I was going to crochet a Halloween costume this year — not only for her, but for Gwen, myself, and Tim. I’ve never crocheted in my life, but I’m glad she still has that kind of faith in me.
Originally, Ellie wanted to go as Rapunzel from Tangled, and I was thisclose to buying the costume dress and calling it good. But then she asked if Gwen could go as Pascal, which started a frustrating chain of events that led to a new plan: Ellie and Gwen would both go as cupcakes, and I would make the costumes.
So, here’s how you, too, can make an adorable cupcake costume the lazy way, no sewing required. I can’t promise your kid will still talk to you when this is done, though.
How to make a cupcake costume, sanity not included
1) Don’t use a pattern — that would make too much sense. No, just take rough measurements of your kids while they’re squirming around — even better if they’re naked and coated in Crisco — and follow the detailed instructions that sound so simple in your head.
2) Buy fleece fabric at the store. Eyeball it, because you’re not using a pattern, so you don’t know how much you actually need. You have the money, why not waste it?
2a) Buy fancy, $9-a-tube fabric glue at the store, after being assured by the saleslady it will work. Get it home, realize it takes 24 hours to dry — screw that. Plug in the trusty glue gun.
2b) Also buy scissors, since you don’t have any that are sharp enough to cut through tissue paper, let alone fleece.
3) Attempt the hat design first, because it’s simple, in theory. Overcomplicate it by cutting out a series of isosceles triangles and spend an hour and a half gluing them together. Realize later you could have Googled “no-sew fleece hat” and been done in ten minutes. You barely have enough fabric for the second hat now. Feck.
4) Move on to the frosting part. Don’t make the smaller, easier infant costume first — that would be silly! Go big! So big, in fact, that you size the costume for a ten-year-old instead of a three-year-old!
5) Experiment with sizing. Bully your three-year-old into trying on multiple variations of the frosting to get the measurements right. If you have difficulty with this, bribe her with TV and candy.
6) Using a large needle, thread yarn through the outer edge of the cupcake frosting to gather it. Yarn will break and fray after you’ve spent half an hour with this. At this point, your significant other may want to bring the children upstairs, “until it’s safe to be around Mama again.”
7) Brilliance ensues. Substitute the frayed yarn for a spare shoelace! You are a crafting genius! Children are allowed to return to the room, Mama no longer a threat.
8) Cut out sprinkle shapes from colored pieces of felt and hot-glue them to the surface of the cupcake. DO NOT DO THIS WHILE YOUR CHILD IS WEARING THE COSTUME. Especially if she’s still coated in Crisco. Ahem.
9) Realize the frosting piece is stupidly huge. Cut it back to a manageable size, re-thread the shoelace for the third time.
10) Cut out a rectangle from the brown fleece, and poke holes along the top. Realize you have to re-thread the shoelace for the fourth time to connect the frosting and the base. Cry.
11) Put it all together. Force your child to try it on “just one more time.” (You may have to promise her a pony.) Put $20 in the therapy jar for good measure.
12) Step back. OMFG it looks like a cupcake! You did it! Now, where is the awards committee? What do you mean there isn’t an awards committee?!? Disappointed.
13) Realize this took five hours and you still need to make another costume. Cry.
I started composing a post about two months ago and never finished it. I kept coming back to update it, tacking on bits and pieces here and there, until I realized I’d built a schizophrenic Franken-post. So in an effort to condense this summer into something someone might actually read, I put Frankie out of his misery, and here’s an only-slightly-incoherent bulleted list:
I joined the ranks of Automattic in May.
Las Vegas trip was Las Vegasy!
Work. Work, work, work work worky work work.
“Vacation” to New York to visit extended family. (I put “vacation” in quotes because a twelve-hour road trip with two young children hardly qualifies, but it was a surprisingly good time nonetheless.)
Germany, Tim was in you! I was home with a sick baby and a three-year-old. Guess who had the better time.
Winnipeg, I was in you! You were fun and only slightly haunted. Also, my co-workers are brilliant.
The baby is finally sleeping through the night! In other fantastical news, unicorns are real, and if that wasn’t awesome enough, they poop Skittles! Life is AMAZING!
The baby is going to be 1 (ONE) next month. Life is horribly continuous, what with time and the going forward-ish-ness of it all! Make it stop!
Overuse of exclamation points? Don’t mind if I do!
Ellie graduated from pre-pre-school today. She’s going to pre-school. I am feeling pre-nostalgic and pre-grumpy about this whole babies-growing-up business.
Tim and I were married five years ago today. We’re celebrating in true parents-to-two fashion — he fell asleep on the couch at quarter to ten, I am writing this disjointed post. Oh yeah, it’s business time.
Themes. Themes, themes, and more themes.
We’re moving in the next year, but that’s a whole post in and of itself. Construction! Renovations! Secret mystery destination! Stay tuned!
The baby has discovered she can grind her newly-minted top and bottom teeth together. Please scrape me off the ceiling when she loses interest in this fingernails-on-a-chalkboard-esque habit.
“Mama,” says Ellie, after listening to her sister SCREAM in the car all the way home from Ellsworth, despite being offered a bottle, a binky, and a clean diaper, “babies don’t know what they want.” Wiser words have never been spoken, kid.
Ellie is throwing a ball and encouraging Gwen to go get it. Yes you read that right–she’s trying to play fetch with her baby sister. I am witnessing the source of some lucky future therapist’s paycheck.
A letter to my youngest: Umm, kid? I know you want to keep up with your sister, but this whole cruising thing is a bit much. You’re EIGHT MONTHS OLD. Please feel free to slow it down. Short of putting you in a padded room for the next month, I’m not sure what to do with you, so please stop bumping your head on everything. Love, Mama.
Life with a three-year-old in a semi-crowded restaurant: “Excuse me! Sorry. Thank you. Excuse me… thank you! Sorry, excuse me, thank you… Ellie! Oops, sorry, excuse me, thank you!” Repeat.
Second-guessing our decision to watch The Daily Show while the kids are awake. Normally it’s pretty tame, but tonight one of Jon Stewart’s punchlines included the word “penis” and now Ellie is chanting, “penis, penis, I love the penis! This is my penis!” Oh, dear.
Clothes shopping with a three-year-old means a loud, running commentary on the entire dressing room experience. “Mama, why are you trying on THAT new bra? Mama? Why doesn’t your shirt fit? Mama, you’re squishy!!!! Squishy SQUISHY BELLY! Ahahahahahaha! Oh Mama, those pants are beeYOUtifull!!!!!” I hope the rest of the store enjoyed the show.
Evening’s highlights: Ellie stomping through Gov’s after we’ve been to the restroom saying (in an uncomfortably loud voice, of course) “Measure your pleasure!” (NO idea where she got that from, but it sounds like a condom commercial.) Then we get home and she starts randomly taking off her clothes. Tim asks what she’s doing and she replies, “I haven’t the faintest idea!” Kid is crazy.
By the time I returned from Vegas, Gwen had begun pulling herself up. One month later and the standing is a regular thing, along with creeping alongside the couch (leaving a lovely trail of drool on the cushions behind–apparently she keeps her sense of balance in her tongue.) I can’t say I’m ready for this. She only started crawling for real 2-3 weeks ago, but apparently she’s taking AP courses in mobility. Also, she’s learned to feed herself finger foods, clap, give kisses, and wave hello, all in the span of the last week and a half. If she keeps up at this developmental pace, she’ll be starting college in about, oh, three years. Two if she really applies herself in toddler school… but those quadratic equations are a bitch when you don’t know how to properly hold a crayon. 😛
Now I not only have to keep Ellie from unintentionally giving her sister a concussion, I have to keep Gwen from giving herself a concussion. Double your pleasure, if by “pleasure” you mean “number of small heart attacks.”
Gwen is also teething, and I don’t remember teething being this… nerve-wracking. Maybe I’ve blocked it from my memory for a reason, but Ellie cut all her teeth in the span of about six months, so it was wham, bang, done. No muss, no fuss. In contrast, Gwen’s chompers are taking their pleasant time. Apparently she’s going to draw this out as long as painfully possible and suck down every last ounce of my patience in the process.
Speaking of patience or a lack thereof, let’s talk about Ellie.
I have mixed feelings about three as an age in general. I realize my experience in this arena is limited, and those of you who are familiar with teenagers are looking at me with “Oh, honey, you have no idea” eyes. Ellie may have an attitude, but at least she doesn’t have car keys, a credit card, and a hulking boyfriend named Todd, right? I still have some illusion of control here.
Ellie, oh my sweet Ellie. I know a big part of my struggle comes down to a difference in personality. She is so fiery, and I am not. I don’t know how to handle all her passion and angst. That’s not to say I’m not angsty, but I’m not outwardly angsty. Keep that shit to yourself, please!
But Miss Three does not know how to keep her shit to herself. Miss Three wants us to know about everything–every single thought in her adorable blonde head. All. Of. It. All the drama, all the time, like a Lifetime movie marathon on constant repeat.
And the noise! “Mama? Mama?!? MAMA! Hey Mama! MAMA!!!!” By the time I go to bed, every last nerve is fried and overstimulated to the point where I can’t sleep. I’m physically buzzing in an effort to keep up with my kids. Like a junkie who gets high on silence and desperately needs a fix.
Mostly, I can’t believe they’re growing so fast. Every time I look at Ellie climb the rope ladder to get to the big kids’ slide, Mama!, and every time I look at Gwen’s chubby legs taking tentative steps alongside the furniture, I am reminded of how much has changed in the last three years. I’m frustrated because I can’t hold onto it. The kids are always slipping out of my grasp, literally and figuratively. They want to move, they want to go, and I won’t hold them back, but part of me wants my babies to stay innocent and sweet and chubby and attitude-free. So much change in such a short period of time is overwhelming. Such is parenthood, I suppose.
If you have to ask why there are so many more photos of Gwen than Ellie on Flickr these days, then you’re probably not parent to a hyperactive three-year-old. Most photos of Ellie are nothing more than a blur, because she gives me all of half a second to take a photo, stopping only briefly to yell “CHEESE!” before finding something infinitely more interesting than mama and her camera phone.
Gwen, on the other hand, is mostly stationary… at least for the time being. I don’t expect that to last for long, as she’s discovered rolling over allows her to get from point A to point Toy, albeit more slowly than she’d like.